This week… in lockdown (two)

If someone had told you last year that you would have weeks at home to do whatever you liked you would probably have been delighted. But it’s not at all easy being shut in your home. Of course, I’m disapointed to miss out on all the trips I had planned, exhibition previews and so on but it’s the face to face contact with family and friends that I miss the most. In a climate of fear and panic in the first week of lockdown, I found it difficult to concentrate on anything, at all. This week I seem to have made a major adjustment.

Getting into a groove

How’s your week been? My sense of self preservation has kicked in and I’ve developed a new rountine purely by instinct. Although freelance work is scarce I’m still working a few hours a week from home in the tourism industry. I’m also volunteering with some PR to spread the word about a community group which aims to support the vulnerable with assistance, shopping and wellbeing in my home town.

I understand why our ancestors worshipped the sun that, thankfully, rises like clockwork in an otherwise uncertain world.

I take a brisk walk once a day early in the morning. As well as aerobic exercise it affords me the rare chance to see the sun come up, and with a new appreciation. I understand why our ancestors worshipped the sun that thankfully, rises like clockwork in an otherwise uncertain world. On every walk I notice the wildlife. There’s a little blackbird I see in the same spot every day. A buzzard sits high on a post surveying the landscape for prey. This week a squirrel ran along a telegraph wire, as surefooted as a high-wire walker!

I’ve always exercised but now I go through a routine of weights and yoga with increased mindfulness. More than ever, this is about survival. I’m trying to add meditation to my day but my mind is still is little distracted and I’m working on that one. I love my food and have always cooked from scratch, as this is how I grew up, but now meals become the structure of my day in isolation. I have also managed this week to reconnect with other loves in my life, books, art and films.

Books and podcasts

Books – real books – have always been important to me and I’ve read since I was very young. In a family of five siblings I would read whatever was lying around. From dad’s heavy biographies to my brother’s SiFi (Hello, Robert Heinlein). Recently, I haven’t been able to settle to a good reading session but this week I returned to Sinatra: The Life a chunky biography which delves into the private life of the ‘Big Bang of popular music’ (Bono). It’s impossible to explore Sinatra’s life without covering his lifelong obsession with Ava Gardner and in this wonderful tome their tumultuous relationship is examined in some detail

I have also been able to settle once again to listening to podcasts. For interesting discussions on health Dr Mark Hyman, MD and Functional Medicine practitioner, has some thought-provoking ideas on food as medicine. What I especially like is his campaign to change how food is produced in the United States. Although he focuses on America there’s a lot of reasonance with food production and consumption in the UK.

Tea and Tattle with freelance writer and photographer, Miranda Mills, features chatty interviews with women authors, whether internationally renowned or debut novelists. Miranda encourages the listener to ‘pop the kettle on, find a comfy chair and settle down to enjoy a thoughtful, bookish chat.’ Highly entertaining and informative. My reading list is growing!

Something Rhymes with Purple is a podcast about words and language. Featuring Susie Dent (star of dictionary corner on BBC TV’s Countdown) and Giles Brandreth (writer, broadcaster and actor) it is fun, educational, and fast moving, an important feature when my attention span is all over the place.

Art

Jeanne-Antoine Pompadour (1721 to 1764), une femme d’esprit known famusly as Madame de Pompadour, is a fascinating character. A member of the French court, Jeanne-Antoine was the highly influential chief mistress of Louis XV. She remained an aide and advisor to the king long after the monarch moved on to new conquests in the bed chamber. The wonderful Louvre Lens Museum at Arras in the Pas-De-Calais features an excellent collection changed every December with pieces from the Louvre Paris. View a tutorial documentary which explores the magnificent pastel Portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour by Maurice-Quentin de La Tour. Jeanne-Antoine died at only age 42 of Tuberculosis but what a life of achievements!

[Tips for watching: Click on the box in the top right to select from options Observe, Understand or Compare. Once the film (in French) begins, click on the icon in the top right hand corner to select subtitles.]

This sketch for a portrait of Madame de Pompadour by François Boucher circa 1750 is part of the collection at Waddesdon Manor.

In my inbox…

This week an update from Promote Iceland shared Iceland Music on Spotify. Lists are featured under different genres, jazz, contemporary etc. Björk is the most famous Icelandic singer but the music offering isn’t mainstream here in the UK, so now is a good time to explore further. Iceland holds a number of festivals throughout the year.

Beautiful Iceland

“In October each year Cliveden House …provides a stunning backdrop to an elegant and erudite festival,” read on…

Take a walk on the wild side

I was also sent a link to a video of the animals on safari in South Africa which I enjoyed as a coffee break diversion. While you’re isolating find out what a safari offers from the comfort of your sofa courtesy Makanyi Private Game Lodge (look out for the lazy cheetah sprawling in the tree).

Makanyi Private Game Lodge

For a LIVE safari experience watch the wildlife at water holes at Djuma (Sabi Sand Wildtuin), Kwa Maritane Waterhole (Pilanesberg Game Reserve) or Pete’s Pond (Mashatu Game Reserve) via WildEarth LIVE Cam. Other spots to watch wildlife LIVE include Tau Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve. Just like a real safari you have to wait patiently for wildlife to appear!

#staysafestayhome

What do you have planned for the Easter weekend? I’ll be having a Zoom coffee morning with family, well, maybe a glass of bubbly too. If we’re still able to go out once a day for exercise I’ll continue taking my daily walks. If the sun is shining I’ll be sunbathing on my balcony. And, of course, I’ll be exploring the world online. Gotta get my fix!

Please share your recommendations for podcasts, books, films, workshops online in the comments for everyone to enjoy. Have a good week!

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