In today’s post, I’d like to talk about how my family and I have been using al fresco activities to get us through isolation. It’s been just a few short weeks since we started self -isolating, but it feels like a lifetime ago. And who would have thought that things could change so dramatically in such a short time? I’ve been struggling to process the situation up until this week, but it’s starting to sink in and I’m feeling much more positive now that the initial panic has subsided.
It’s taken me a good three weeks to work out how to make isolation more bearable. I don’t know about you, but I find that it helps to stop focussing on the long term and to take each day as it comes. I’m not planning for tomorrow, for next week or next month, I’m simply getting through each day. I’m setting myself some small tasks each day, which are giving me a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I’m having plenty of family time and playing with the girls, and I’m allocating myself some much-needed downtime.
It’s been a real Godsend that the weather has been glorious recently and every day I thank my lucky stars that we have a garden. This whole situation must be so much harder for those of us who sadly don’t have a garden. I haven’t been further afield than about 100m from our house since mid-March so the garden has been our sanctuary, even more so than the house.
We’ve spent a lot of time outside just to get a change of scenery, so we’ve been doing a lot of the activities we would normally do inside, outdoors. One of the al fresco activities I’ve dedicated a lot more time to is reading. I’ve been taking my book outside to bask in the sun with a blanket (and two jumpers) because it’s still bitterly cold. I’ve been encouraging my eldest daughter to do the same so we can keep on track with her reading practice.
I’ve also been doing some colouring in, which I find is one of the best ways for me to switch off. I have a super overactive mind that constantly wants to overanalyse everything and it gets very stressful if I can’t silence it. But I find that colouring in, or dot to dot, are great activities for mindfulness. The kids love it too and so far I’ve managed to keep my Johanna Basford colouring book to myself. They are desperate to get their hands on it though as it’s so pretty. In order to distract them, I’ve been printing out the free printable colouring resources that Johanna has on her site.
One of my personal favourite al fresco activities over the past few weeks has been the laundry, believe it or not. It’s been my one constant while things have been changing almost daily. I never thought I’d get to the point where I’d started to rely on the never-ending washing that needs doing, but these are unprecedented times, right?
Since we transformed the room under the steps up to our flat into a utility room, doing laundry outside has become infinitely easier and more enjoyable. We can now take it straight from the washing machine and it’s a few short steps to the rotary clothesline.
We’ve had this rotary clothesline from Brabantia for four years now and every Spring I really look forward to getting it out of the shed so we can dry our laundry outside. There really is no better feeling (or smell) than freshly air-dried laundry, is there? The only downside is that each year I have to spend about 20 minutes crawling around on my hands and knees looking for the hole in the ground so we can pop the rotary clothesline back in it. But it’s a small sacrifice!
What I love most about this washing line is the sheer amount of clothes that you can fit on it. We also have a regular straight washing line that is about four metres long, but it is so inefficient in comparison to our rotary clothesline. I mostly use it for sheets and bedding now or as an overflow washing line.
I’ve also taken to doing my ironing outside on the decking. I’ve got this beautiful Brabantia ironing board that we’ve had for a few years now. It is a pretty sizeable ironing board though so it takes up a lot of room in our little flat. It’s proving much easier to take it outside and do the ironing in the open.
Al Fresco Dining
We’ve also been trying to eat outside as much as possible. It makes a nice change from eating at the dining table. Yesterday’s al fresco activities involved my husband taking the girls to the field next to our house to forage some wild garlic. My husband then added it to the flatbread he made on the portable induction hob in the garden. The flatbread became pizza bases that we topped and baked for dinner. They were absolutely delicious and the girls loved the fact that they had helped to find and pick the wild garlic.
We’ve also been doing a tiny bit of planting with the girls. Our very kind neighbour gave us some seed kits which we have planted up. The kids are now eagerly waiting for the plants to sprout although they have very unrealistic expectations of how long it takes to grow a carrot.
My husband’s al fresco activities have included a fair bit of DIY construction. Today, he has raided his supplies of old wood and paint in the shed and he and the girls have attempted to make a birdhouse. With any luck, we’ll also be able to do some bird watching in the coming weeks. We’ll add that to the list of potential homeschooling activities.
So that’s how we’ve been rediscovering the small pleasures in our garden recently. What have you been doing to get through this unusual period of social distancing? Have you been getting out in the garden? Going for long walks? Or rediscovering the small pleasures inside your home? Let me know in the comments.