Jack in the Bottle

That flicker of light at the end of the lockdown tunnel is getting brighter. Our days in the sun (or beer garden) will soon return. Meanwhile, we continue to do what we can to stay safe and sane. I hear sales of jigsaws have gone off like a rocket. It’s not the sport for us. We have neither the patience nor the table space in the micro-cottage. No, we spend our days playing hide the sausage and naked twister – sometimes at the same time.

You’ll be relieved to know there are no images of either for me to share. We don’t want to frighten the horses (or pheasants, pigeons, blackbirds, robins, doves, ducks and tits great and small). There is, however, this little vid of my favourite lockdown pastime. It’s not me (obvs) but you get my drift.

Cheers!

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

A light dusting of the fluffy white stuff generally brings the entire nation to a shuddering halt and a lot of huffing and puffing over the airwaves. But, as we’re already under house arrest, this year’s avalanche has made little difference to our daily lives – except for one thing. Our Sainsbury’s supermarket delivery was cancelled and we were forced to venture out into the snow and ice to buy bog rolls, booze and our daily bread.

Still, the kids seem to be having a ball. Beats school any day. Oh yes, I forgot. They’re not at school anyway!

Hairy Marys

This lockdown malarky has played havoc with our sense of time. Samey days have merged into one and our weekly routine now dances to an entirely new rhythm – the supermarkets giveth, the binmen taketh away. Much of our recycling rattles. Despite daily trips on the exercise bike and scenic walks down by the River Chet, we’ve both piled on the pounds. I daren’t pull on a pair of skinny jeans as it might cut off the circulation.

Personal care has suffered too. We wash, of course, but other essentials – shaving, haircuts and judicious pruning of other important little places – are on a strictly when-we-can-be-arsed basis. So much so, Liam is starting to resemble Catweazle.

For those not in the know, Catweazle, was a British children’s TV series back in the day. The eponymous Catweazle is an 11th century wizard who accidentally travels through time, arriving in 1969. Poor old Catweazle mistakes all modern technology for powerful magic, particularly ‘elec-trickery’ (electricity) and the ‘telling bone’ (telephone). It was a hugely successful show and I loved it as a 10 year-old!

Jack Frost

Jack Frost

Brisk walks are the best way to burn off all those festive calories, especially during lockdown when keep fit options are limited. Timing is everything at this time of year. The distant sun is low on the horizon and, at its height, peeps only briefly above the tree line. A midday stroll is best, crunching through the frost, bubble-wrapped against the winds that blow across the East Anglian flatlands. Then it’s back to the cottage to put all those calories back on again.

Top of the Pansy Pops 2020

What a year. Who would have predicted that 2020 would have brought a pandemic to strike us down and trash the global economy? Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus dominated the pansy charts this year. And there was death too but not because of the virus. Professionally, I lost a fellow author in a horrific murder and, personally, I lost my oldest friend to a sudden and totally unexpected cardiac arrest. But then came the COVID-19 survivor close to my heart and a birthday milestone, both of which brought some hope and happiness to a tragic year best left behind.

Despite the hurricane that swirled around us, Liam and I have been incredibly fortunate and life remains calm and peaceful. We know how lucky we are. The pansies remain forever perked.

Ladies and gents, both, neither and all those in between, I give you top of the pansy pops for 2020.

RIP, Lindsay de Feliz | Missing You Already! | A Trip Down Malaysian Memory Lane | Our Independence Day | Don’t Be a Twat, Wear a Face Mask | It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry if I Want To | Mad Dogs and Englishmen | Lucky Jack | Living Angels | London Calling

The most popular image of 2020 was this fuzzy black and white photo of my old primary school in Malaysia during my army brat years. Usually it’s something smutty or a hunk in the buff.

Mountbatten Primary School

2020 was a write-off but do I see more hopeful times for the New Year? I think so but then I’m an eternal optimist. Clearly, the vaccine will be centre-stage. With a bit of luck and a fair wind, life should start returning to normal. Wishing us all a safe and sane 2021.