Hello! Hope you’re keeping safe and well. We’re on our 5th week of lockdown here (I think – we’ve all lost track of dates, right?!) and I’ve decided to start doing a 5 Delights post every Monday. Thursdays will be posts on other creative and style orientated topics!
These are 5 new things I’ve discovered in lockdown, that give me a sense of delight and I never used to do before we got in this situation. I hope it might be a way to discuss and share ideas, and to start each new week on a positive note! I’d really love to hear your thoughts too, so do get in touch.
But first of all, I want to caveat these posts by saying that I recognise this is a really horrible situation – I fear for my loved ones, for my community, for my industry, finances and future. I don’t need to tell you what my fears are – I’m sure you share them, we all do. But in these dark moments, the little things that give light should be even more appreciated and celebrated. They’re what get us through the day.
The idea for this new series of posts is from J. B. Priestley’s 1949 book of essays called Delight. Each short essay details one specific thing that makes him feel delight, with a dedication at the front to his family for putting up with his generally grumbling ways. These delights include seeing a fountain; reading in bed whilst a storm battles outside (especially when you’re reading about a character who is also in awful weather); having a bath during working hours on a weekday; golden misty mornings in early summer; and the achievement of an office with a really good view. Written with a glance over his shoulder to the darkness of WW2, it is a really interesting and helpful read in our current crisis. There are a few dated essays in the collection but there’s plenty to really connect with!
So, how specific can we get about our current moments of delight? Here’s my first 5:
1. Early mornings at the local cricket and rugby club
This perfectly exemplifies something that never, ever, would have made my list if we weren’t in lockdown. I’d always avoided going down to the cricket and rugby club (about a minute from our front door), even though my partner strolls over every summer Wednesday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday for cricket training or a game, and often stays for a drink afterwards. I could go and watch, and join for a drink, but it always felt so intimidating. Somewhere I didn’t fit or understand.
During lockdown, we’ve been going for a walk round the club grounds every morning. I love those pitches now – the freshly mown grass, the birds flitting round their fielding positions, the trees around the boundaries unfurling their leaves, the sunlight or cloud settling in to weather the day. This has been our special spot, providing exercise and mental relief. Every day, we open the creaky wooden door into the grounds with the delight of escaping into a secret garden. I’m so grateful for the club being round the corner.
And I never thought I’d say that!
2. The slow, rising joy of baking bread
I am not a very patient person, and bread would rank high up on the things I’d consider not worth the faff. I’d happily bake a cake – but kneading, proofing, rising, proofing, baking, prodding – why would you bother? You can buy a good crusty loaf baked by someone who knows what they’re doing!
But my partner was keen to try baking bread, and I agreed to assist. We started with soda bread (super easy, and I wouldn’t be saying that lightly! You don’t even need a tin or bread flour, just regular white or wholemeal flour). We then progressed to baguettes.
This past Sunday, we got up after a bit of a lie-in, made our baguette dough, proofed it while we ate breakfast and read, kneaded and shaped it, proofed it again whilst doing our weekly clean, and then baked it ready for lunch. We then filled the warm baguettes with bacon. The result was pure delight – with a hint of amazement that we’d actually made this from scratch.
Bread is very suited to the slow and home-bound pace of our lives just now. It gives you a chance to step out of what you’re doing to tick off the next stage, and it’s much less intimidating if you just focus on each individual stage at a time. I know that flour is a struggle to get hold of just now – we found that Doves Farm, which is local to us, does a mixed flour box that you can have delivered to your home (they also deliver throughout the UK).
I think we’re going to try a wholemeal loaf next. There’s also a delight in the anticipation of the next experiment!
3. Having a self-determined routine
It’s a very pure and simple delight to decide what you want to do today and get on with it. After years of working for other people, predominantly at home, I’d got used to constantly existing in reaction to other’s needs and suppressing my own. As I build my own business, it’s been a big relief and delight to start from scratch and plan my own week.
Over the past few weeks, the thing that has anchored me and got me out of bed in the morning is a strong sense of routine. I have a work day plan for each week day, and a plan for Saturdays and Sundays. I like even my fun to be scheduled! As a couple, my partner and I also have a shared day plan (like the time we wake up, exercise, eat, etc) and a plan that makes each weekday evening different. We have freedom to deviate from these schedules but they’ve really helped give us purpose, which has made us productive, and therefore positive.
So nerd that I am, I delight in a schedule. Especially one I’m really happy to stick to because it’s all my own creation!
4. Milk in glass bottles, sitting on the doorstep
Before lockdown officially started, we signed up with the local milkman to get a couple of glass bottles delivered every Thursday. The original idea for this was to cut down on our carbon footprint and single use plastic but it’s been a really useful service during lockdown to ensure we have milk each week. We’ve since added in bread and yoghurt to our delivery as well.
I get a thrill from waking up early on a Thursday morning, pottering down to our front door, and opening up to discover our provisions on the doorstep – not in plastic bags, just waiting out there to be rescued. I pick them up, carry them to the kitchen, wipe them all down with anti-bac spray, wash my hands and then pack them away. I think I’ve now slightly equated our milkman with Santa. But this ritual fills me with delight.
We’ve bought little colourful tops that clip over the open milk bottles – making the bottles look like they’re wearing berets. The delight in this is almost enough to justify a whole point in itself!
5. Winning a card game
As part of our scheduled week, my partner and I have non-screen evenings on a Tuesday. We started off playing a Jane Austen’s Sweethearts card game we’d been gifted by his grandmother a few years ago but not got round to playing. We then ordered a pack of regular playing cards and started mixing in simple games like Beggar My Neighbour and Gin Rummy.
My partner has been playing card games for years, learnt from his granddad, and used to spend hours practising card tricks as a child. I’d never played anything more elaborate than Snap. My family have a horror of board games, and group competitive games generally. So before all this, I could barely tell a spade from a club. I’m still a bit woolly on the ranking of joker, king, queen and ace (is that right?…) and struggle to hold more than about three rules of play in my head. But each week, I’m getting a bit better.
So the other week, when I beat my partner at Gin Rummy three times in a row – that felt so good.
And that’s my first 5 delights! All of these have been giving me a brand new thrill during this time. I’m looking forward to making next week’s round-up and I hope that this prompts a few thoughts and delightful plans for you too!