Lockdown activity highlights
I haven't posted for a while as I felt quite uninspired during lockdown, which I know many of you can relate to. However, as restrictions ease, I've been able to look back and recognise that the slower pace of life provided some cool lockdown activity highlights. From spending more time in the kitchen to exploring alternative ways of working out, you may want to try these activity highlights as part of your ‘new normal’ routines.
Favourite sweet recipe
So you know when you find the recipe you’ve been looking for all your life? That’s Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake. This is easily one of my lockdown activity highlights. When eating this, I honestly thought I had walked into Choccywoccydoodah (so sad it went into administration) or another top notch cake shop like Cutter & Squidge. It tastes like a chocolate cake but there isn’t a dry crumb in sight. Pure gooiness. My autocorrect tried to update that to goodness, which also works well to describe this cake. My recommendations are to add at least another 30g of cocoa powder and to use plain or Greek yoghurt if you don’t have any sour cream. You can also add a dash of lemon juice to the yoghurt if you so wish to imitate sour cream. Let’s just say that the cake caused a rift in the family when the last slice was thieved from its rightful owner.
I’ve personally never been a fan of workout videos. Okay, let me rephrase. I knocked it before I tried it. Pushing myself too far on a run during lockdown made me reflect on what form of exercise would be a happy medium between high intensity and low impact. I’d noticed loads of home workout videos popping up all over my Instagram feed as lockdown took hold, so I decided it was time to give some a go. I realised why many of my friends rave about them because there is genuinely a trainer out there for everyone who will fit your pace and style (from bodyweight to resistance band workouts).
I loved the Psycle barre workout as it was a totally new way of moving my body. I also tried an Alice Living video but I found it quite repetitive and a little slow. A friend recommended MadFit's YouTube videos and they're definitely a lockdown activity highlight. The videos vary from 10-40 minutes, so you can fit one or a combo of them into your schedule easily. She even has apartment-friendly workouts, which is perfect when you’re in the attic like me. What makes these videos more unique is the lack of repetition as they’re no repeat workouts, so you never know what move is coming next, which keeps it exciting. To top this off, most of them are 45 secs on and 15 secs off giving enough time to get my head, well body, around the impending move. Or you can forfeit the rests if you want to ramp it up a notch. Check out my post on how to stay energised at home for more ideas on feeling good inside your four walls.
Favourite savoury recipe
This recipe wasn’t strictly discovered in lockdown but it’s the sort of dish that you need time on your hands for, making it the perfect lockdown recipe. Sweet potato gnocchi. I compared three recipes (one from my Women's Health mag, food with feeling's and pinch of yum's) to make sure I was fully informed of any artistic differences. I discovered that this was the the use of cheese in the mixture, so take your pick of recipe based on this. Essentially, you just roast the sweet potatoes, scoop out the flesh, mix it with flour, egg, salt, (cheese), and voila. It's so sticky you will spend a while getting your hands dirty. And you’ll need to roll it into long cylinders, cut it up into 2cm pieces and press the back of your fork in, so it looks like proper gnocchi purchased in a delightful Italian restaurant. Then when you add it to your pan it really will be a sink or swim moment, preferably the latter after about two minutes! Different recipes provide varying advice but for a slightly crispy edge, fry it in a pan for a few minutes in butter before adding your sauce. I made a roasted pepper sauce as well as a carbonara one; you might want to freeze this alongside any extra dough (this can be done before or after the dough is rolled out).
A bit like the baking, when you have time on your hands you can justify picking up a 900+ page book. Winter of the World is one of my lockdown activity highlights. It's the second book in Ken Follett’s Century trilogy, the author who is most well-known for the likes of Pillars of the Earth. Set in World War II, it follows the lives of five families from the USA, Russia, Germany, England and Wales over a 15 year period, as their lives intertwine at key historical moments. As a history graduate I don’t like facts to be bent too much in fiction and Follett does an excellent job of keeping to real life events; it’s gripping to see the stories told on different sides of the ocean. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you have to pretend that it’s plausible that a character is an aide to the President or accidentally bumped into Hitler, but overall it’s gripping and a great work of storytelling in what was a very tumultuous two decades politically, socially and economically. For me, it was a stark reminder that staying in our homes was no way near as frightening as being bombed or being sent to fight. And that three months or so of lockdown, is not six years at war.
I won't pretend that I’m the biggest virtual games fan but there’s a few out there I imagine people will continue to play when COVID-19 is a pleasantly distant memory. I’ve found some funny Cards Against Humanity rooms online you can pay with friends. The Psych! Outwit Your Friends app is also a great virtual Balderdash, while Scrabble Go (and Words With Friends 2) says what it does on the tin.
Another lockdown activity highlight for me is all the free time I’ve had to go on walks. Since restrictions eased, I’ve explored every square inch of the parks in south London. I'll definitely be dedicating a full post to these at some point. I think there's no better time than now for people to start implementing walking into their daily routines when they are saving ample commuting time. Lockdown has given us some real breathing space to go back to basics and enjoy the comforts of our own homes and local surroundings.