Ah 2020, what a weird year you are proving to be. Especially since mid-March. But still, as I mentioned in my gratitude focused weekly blog a couple of weeks ago (read episode 12 here), it is good to look around us and notice the things we are enjoying, the stuff that makes us smile, and generally count our blessings. And that is what I like to do with my not-quite-monthly currently loving blog posts.
My currently loving feature is my excuse to share with you a few of the things, some the new pile, others that I’ve had or known for a while, that I’m particularly enjoying right now. It’s always a varied list – this month there’s an audio book that has made me laugh, footwear for inside and outside, a film streaming service, and the bestest of all the fruits. Read on…
Currently Loving | April 2020
01. Being Safe at Home
I’ve heard it said a few times that we’re not stuck at home, we’re safe at home, and I hope that is as true for you as it is for me. I am incredibly fortunate that I live in a house that I like, with a person that I like, in a neighbourhood that I like. I have a safe, secure, happy home, and that has to be included in my currently loving list this month. Yes, I’m frustrated with lock down and, despite completely understanding the need for the restrictions and not having any desire to protest against them, am pining for my freedom. But I don’t hate it. I don’t even mind working at home, or that I’m spending my “spare” time looking at the boring homey jobs that need doing (not that I’ve done many of them yet). If only I was doing this by choice! Do you like my key fob? My nephew and niece (well, my sister…) got it for me from a friend who runs Made by Louise Wood – very cute and being material it doesn’t take up any space or get in the way.
02. Colouring Book
Colouring-in is a wholesome activity, right?! Colouring books aimed at adults are all over the place now, and it’s just one of the things I like to do to relax when I don’t want to concentrate on a screen. I’m told that colouring in has the ability to relax the “fear centre” of your brain, which sounds a bit hippie, but I would attest that it works. Concentrating on colouring is a form of meditation as it reduces the thoughts of a restless mind, allowing the practice of mindfulness and producing a sense of quiet, which allows your mind to get some rest. My colouring book of choice is the Great British Colouring Map, it’s a large format book with pages full of blank OS Maps, some urban and some countryside. The page you can see completely coloured in (not using the correct map colours, apologies if you find that triggering!) is Canterbury, which allowed me to take a trip down memory lane as I coloured in my old house, primary school, grammar school, church, friend’s houses, favourite sweet shop, and more. If you want to join in the mappy colouring in fun, you’ll find the book over on the Ordnance Survey shop, and here on Amazon.
It’s no secret that I’ve already had my money’s worth out of Disney+ – if you’ve been reading my weekly blog series you’ll know I’ve been spending an awful lot of time watching it since it launched at the back end of March (on the same day we started our lock down in the UK, perfect timing!). I took advantage of the pre-order offer earlier in the year, and I’m glad I did. I’ve been making my way through the old classics, singing my way through the musicals, watching some films I didn’t get to see when they came out at the cinema, enjoying random Disney and National Geographic documentaries, and have started watching the Simpsons from where we left off when we got rid of Sky a few years back. They’re also going to premiere Artemis Fowl, a new fantasy film directed by Kenneth Branagh, on the platform in June instead of postponing the release until cinemas are back open. You won’t find any of this stuff on Netflix or Amazon Prime (use my affiliate link if you’re thinking of getting Prime), so if you want to stream Disney, Pixar, Marvel or National Geographic movies then I would highly recommend Disney+ to you.
04. Blueberries: The Best of the Fruits
What is your favourite fruit? I am a little addicted to blueberries at the moment it has to be said, they are just so sweet and sharp and yummy. Apparently, they are a “superfood” thanks to them being both low in calories and high in nutrients. Did you know that blueberries are full of antioxidants, making them great as a recovery snack after illness or strenuous exercise? But that’s not why I eat them, I just think they are delicious! We have a small blueberry bush in the garden which is just budding now ready to provide me with a handful or two of my very own fruits, but in the meantime, I will have to keep making regular trips to the shop for my fix.
05. Good Honest Home Cooked Food
As I mentioned in my weekly blog on Sunday (read episode 14 here), I have always enjoyed putting home cooked food on our dinner table. But one of the benefits of lock down and being at home all day is that I have the time and facilities to eat proper food more than a few times a week. And even at lunch times! I know! Illustrated here by a couple of packets of flour – I’ll take gold bars in exchange if anyone wants some – I’ve been very happily cooking soups, stews, tarts, salads, sweet treats, and all kinds of other things. I’ve tried new-to-me recipes, and have filled my freezer with curry, chilli and bolognese so we should always have something nice to choose from. I’m not spending any more time cooking than I was before, but it feels less rushed and bothersome. I did wonder if cooking would be more stressful at the start of all this, but I’m finding it very good for me, a set part of my daily routine that gives me a satisfying meal and feeling of accomplishment. Not all the time, I might add, there is still a place in my kitchen for toast with peanut butter and from-the-freezer potato products, along with the occasional takeaway pizza, but in the main it’s good honest home cooked food all the way, and I’m loving it.
06. Matt Lucas’ Book, Read by Matt Lucas
I haven’t laughed so much courtesy of a book for a long time, and so this had to appear in my Currently Loving this month. Little Me: My Life from A-Z by Matt Lucas is an absolute gem, made even better because it was read by the man himself in the version I listened to. I honestly didn’t want it to end, which is certainly the sign of a good book. The stories Matt Lucas tells speak of his achievements, but also his humility and normality. I honestly think I got to know the “real” Matt Lucas through listening to this book – he comes across as a very brave lovable man, a very funny brave loveable man! I swapped struggling with printed booked for enjoying audio books a couple of years ago now and I recommend this to anyone else who doesn’t enjoy sitting and reading very highly indeed. I might not sit and read a book in a chair for hours, but it means I can access great stories (real and fiction) when I’m walking or painting the garden fence (or colouring in a map…), and get that escapism and interest. Don’t forget to use my affiliate link if you fancy signing up to Audible yourself with a free one month trial.
07. The Most Outdoorsy Indoor Slippers Ever
What’s the one thing you can get away with splurging on during lock down? Slippers – of course! My Baabuk slippers are coming to the end of their useful life, and having had a couple of pairs of The North Face Tent Mules before now, I decided that seeing as I would be wearing slippers for the vast majority of my days for the time being, I would treat myself. These are the latest iteration of my old favourite super warm and cosy slipper, called the Traction Mule V. Using synthetic Thermoball insulation inside the puffy design, made from partly recycled material (a step in the right direction), and having a decent sole that should hopefully last a decent length of time even if I occasionally wear them outside, they are definitely the outdoorsiest indoor slippers going. Find out more about them on The North Face website, but I got mine from Amazon.
08. Exploring my Local Area
The message from the government at the moment when it comes to spending time outdoors is that it is recommended that we get out once a day for exercise, but that we should stay local (read my interpretation here). And while I have found the rules and restrictions of this period of lock down quite difficult to deal with, especially because I (as with most other people) have had to cancel fun plans and trips and exciting things, I have very much found solace in the fact that I can use this opportunity to explore my local area. Enter my local Explorer Map (and my OS Maps subscription – ask me for my discount code if you’re thinking of treating yourself, there’s 15% off if you do), these have helped me find footpaths I did not realise were there, and have helped me find my way into open countryside in just a few minutes from my own front door. I have also been very much enjoying hearing about the gems that my friends and family have been able to find from their front doors too – share your finds on Instagram or twitter using #OneHourOutside so I can see!
09. Being a GetOutside Champion
I absolutely love being a part of the Ordnance Survey family, and am a proud GetOutside Champion. I’m now in my fourth year, and while we couldn’t have a physical get together for our launch this year, the team did send out goody boxes with this year’s kit – I’ve used my new Craghoppers Haidon jacket as an illustration. The GetOutside campaign is designed to help more people get outside more often, as an active outdoor lifestyle helps you live longer, stay younger and enjoy life more. This might mean anything from a lunchtime walk to the shop to an expedition through the Amazon (!), the only thing that matters is that you’re outside and not inside. Of course in these times, that active outdoors lifestyle is a bit limited due to the restrictions we are facing, but there are still things we can – and should – do outdoors. There’s a whole GetOutside Inside hub here supported by over 50 outdoor companies and organisations, which should provide you with ideas for things that are good for now.
10. New Trainers for the Trail
I mentioned in a weekly blog a few weeks back that I had to chuck one pair of walking shoes and that the other pair were just about hanging on, and I have finally got around to buying a pair of trail style trainers for walking which were a bit of a risk in some ways but that have already proved to be a good buy. These are the Haglofs Gram Women’s Trail Running Shoes, which I bought from SportsShoes.com, they are designed as a multi-function shoe, reinforced where you need support and with a very grippy rubber outsole. You could run in these if that was your think, but they are ideal for walking. They are a “nice-day” shoe in that they are not waterproof (by any stretch), but that means they keep my feet nice and cool and comfortable in the sunshine. I might still want to look at a waterproof pair of hiking shoes at some point, as something in between these and my hiking boots, but these are ideal for the kind of walking I’m doing at the moment, and I’ve been very happy wearing them every day since they arrived – if I’m not wearing those slippers I’m in these!
What are you currently loving this month? What do you think of my choices? Tell me in the comments below.
Want to see all my Currently Loving posts? This link should help.
PS… Don’t forget to read the first in my new series of Weekly Blogs. There are more of my favourite things in there, and probably my not so favourites some weeks, too!
In the interests of full disclosure, the Craghoppers jacket is this year’s GetOutside “uniform” and as such was a gift. There are affiliate links on this page, including all Amazon and Ordnance Survey links, the funds from which help me keep playing at this blogging game.