DAY 35: SUNDAY 26 APRIL 2020. CORONAVIRUS LONDON LOCKDOWN DIARY
It has been the most beautiful spring that I can remember: my early evening walks in Regent’s Park take place on paths bordered by white hawthorne blossom, and big blousy clouds of cow parsley. There is a patch of cowslips by one of the lakes, their heads a trembling flash of yellow if you know where to look. At twilight the park takes on a magical aura, the silvery beeches and the cow parsley glowing faintly.
It’s only when you really look that you see things are slightly not as they should be: the elderly gentleman power walking wearing sunglasses and gloves and a mask at twilight, the two couples having a conversation on either side of the path, with at least 10 feet between them as they bellow civilities at each other, the empty playing fields stretching out over acres with not a football or softball in motion.
My sanity has been maintained over for the past four or five days by being able to sit in my garden to work, but the weather forecast from Tuesday until next Sunday is terrible, torrential rain every day. So that’s no early evening bike rides with Lettice round the park, no sitting in the shade in the garden to listen to the birdsong .
I’m having a break from pizza, now that I’ve spent five days breaking in the in the Ooni oven which I have been sent gratis for review. In fact I don’t want to eat pizza again for quite a long time: it would appear that my stomach and digestive system cannot tolerate a surfeit of wheat and dairy.
But I’ve moved on happily to flatbreads: my new ritual is to lumber out into the garden when I put Lettice out first thing, turn on the flame, and then jump in the shower. By the time I have washed and dressed, the oven is at heat and I pop in a flatbread fashioned from the dough I make each night. A minute later I have a puffy fresh pitta to accompany my eggs. It’s a very lovely way to start the day, before I read the news and feel my spirits plummet again.
Daily deaths are down, but the mortality rate is still in the 300s, and I’m quite sure that there are care home figures that have not been taken into account. I don’t want to think about what the numbers would’ve been like if we haven’t gone into this protracted lockdown.
I just cannot imagine what on our new normal is going to look like. It’s not like lockdown will lift, a magic wand be waived, and we will go back to our old lives. For most of us things will never be the same again and it’s hard to see how any of us won’t be touched in some way for the worse, whether it’s by a bereavement, a job loss, a relationship irretrievably cracked, a tenancy relinquished, a business folded, savings plundered…I don’t think any of us will continue our existence in the same way again.
For me, my entire business plan for this year has gone up in flames: I was on the cusp of launching cookery lessons, a supper club season, summer literary events in my garden… All of these things require people in reasonably close proximity to each other, and I can’t see realistically how any of these can go ahead. So I’m having to adjust to what my new normal is going to look like, what work will look like moving forward for me.
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Otherwise, today has been about small things. Putting on a load of washing, changing the sheets, making an enormous salad from the seasonal spring veg box delivered as a gift by my friends at All Greens yesterday. (They are the parent company to Parkway Greens, much mentioned by me on here and on social.) There is a 15% discount for new customers using the code GREEN15 – click here for more info.
Shaving fennel from my veg box for salad. It’s the only way that I can tolerate fennel. The aniseed flavour is unsupportable cooked!
These were the last of the orange heirloom tomatoes from the salad box from Westlands in Worcestershire, which I dressed in a mustardy sherry vinegar vinaigrette.
Eschewing pizza today, instead I experimented with a cast iron frying pan in the Ooni pizza oven which I am reviewing: this was a huge success. The halloumi becomes simultaneously fluffy and crispy, with no oil.
I spent most of the day writing and editing images, but managed to hop on my bike around 7pm to wing it to the park so Lettice could stretch her legs. We did a circuit of the Inner Circle, Lettice sitting bolt upright in her basket, ears flying in the wind, before I dismounted, popped her on the ground, and wheeled my bike through the paths, Lettice sprinting ahead in search of squirrels.