Like most non key-workers, these last three months have been a challenge and a holiday simultaneously. I’m not exactly fighting the global pandemic so I can’t complain too much. But, I’ve never been more anxious about the world, or more relaxed during the day. It’s a weird combination to get used to and, naturally, I’ve gotten a bit too used to it. So, now that we’re starting to ease off the lockdown restrictions I’m worried about what will happen when things fall back into our ‘normal’ state.
Picture this: a brisk walk in the cold air to the train station, being packed into the tube like sardines, sweet release as everyone steps off together, followed by the rush to get into the office. And then sat at a desk for 8 hours, laughing and joking with colleagues – perhaps even a tea round is thrown in the mix.
It seems like an illusion, doesn’t it? Or some distant dream. Instead, our new reality could be alternative shift patterns, company-wide zoom meetings and making individual teas. (The horror!)
And faced with this new world, I wonder: will I be too accustomed to the ‘work from home’ lifestyle and forget that my commute takes over an hour? Will I use that time to recoup my lost sleep or will I pick up reading again? Will I come to resent that commute? And what about my fitness routine? I’ve been so used to working out whenever I please that the idea of having to wake up in the small hours to fit in a gym session before work makes me physically sick.
And yes, I know these are small and petty things to be concerned about, but I am genuinely worried. Worried that after all this time at home, revelling in the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want (within the parameters of lockdown), I’m no longer fit to rejoin society. I’ve forgotten the expectations of the world. I don’t remember in-person social cues. And meal prepping has gone to hell.
How about you? Are you ready to rejoin the workforce? Or maybe you never left it? Let me know your thoughts – we’re all in this together after all!
The coronavirus pandemic has really put a spanner in the works for most people’s summer holiday plans. Tourism and travel are expecting record low visitors, especially for travel abroad. As a travel blogger, this does have me worried – already I’ve had three trips cancelled. But better safe than sorry!
The UK government is now hoping that our infection rate R will be low enough by the summer for some hospitality services to reopen. So, with that in mind, here are some UK travel ideas, including beauty spots and roadtrips galore.
Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
Set within the Mendip Hills in Somerset, Cheddar Gorge was England’s top road trip according to Click4Reg who found the location was tagged almost 60,000 times on Instagram. At 400 feet deep and nearly three miles long, this collection of cliffs is well worth a visit.
One of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Britain’s largest National Park and World Heritage Site in Cumbria was tagged over 2 million times on Instagram, according to data from Faraway Garden Furniture. It’s a spectacular beauty spot in the UK and makes for an ideal walking holiday or day trip.
Hardknott Pass was rated as one of England’s top road tripping destinations, too. So, kill two birds with one stone by visiting this stunning nature site, while also experiencing an exciting journey.
This National Park spans across Derbyshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Yorkshire, so if you live in any of these areas count yourself lucky to have such a stunning spot on your doorstep. As well as being a top walking destination, according to data commissioned by Click4Reg, two popular road trips cross through this site.
Snake Pass, was hashtagged over 12,000 times on Instagram. The road links cities in Greater Manchester and North Yorkshire and is often used by commuters. But it still ranks highly as a destination in its own right, especially for cyclists and driving enthusiasts. Woodhead Pass was less popular, with just under 2,000 hashtags. This route is a major A road, but utterly beautiful as it passes through the Pennines.
Home to ponies galore, the New Forest in Hampshire is a nature lover’s dream. Featuring winding forest trails, points of historical interest and rare species of birds and mammals. It’s also one of only three parks in the UK that is still governed by verderers, who keep an eye on the fair usage of the park as a grounds for cattle grazing. If you’re keen to encounter animal life during your nature walks, then this is the perfect place for you.
London to Bristol
The Great West Way is an iconic 125 mile drive that will take you from central London to the vibrant city of Bristol, with tons of historic points of interest along the way. I’ve driven this route myself and it’s difficult to concentrate on the road when you’re faced with such epic scenery, like Windsor Castle and Stonehenge. If you’re not up to driving such a long way in one day, you can plan a short tour with stops in different towns along the way – but perhaps wait until the pandemic subsides a little bit. In the meantime, you can take a virtual tour instead.
Somerset to Cornwall
If you’re based in the South West and looking for a scenic coastal and countryside route, then the Atlantic Highway is ideal. The entire route spans three counties – Somerset, Devon and Cornwall – and would take almost 8 hours. While in lockdown, even though it’s eased slightly, it’s difficult to justify that kind of mileage. So consider taking short day trips along the route. You’ll see the best of British countryside, while being able to visit some major cities and landmarks.
Once the pandemic subsides and tourism picks up again, it’ll be worth travelling the whole route, stopping off in different towns along the way. You’ll get a mixture of stunning rural scenes, like Exmoor National Park, and breezy coastal views, especially once you hit Cornwall. Plus, you can visit the westernmost point of the UK’s mainland: Land’s End.
If being alone with my phone and my thoughts has taught me anything these past few weeks, it’s that my thoughts are not very interesting.
So, rather than spending 8+ hours online, I’m trying to develop some new skills and hobbies so that I can leave lockdown a more well-rounded person. Or just rounder; I’ve been eating a lot…
So if you’re struggling for a new hobby have a look at my list and see what takes your fancy!
1. Self care is high on my list. It’s something I definitely didn’t do enough of before lockdown. Now that I’m feeling powerless and even more stressed than when I was working a full-time job, I, like many others, feel my skin taking the hit. So, I’m making use of the skincare gifts I got for my birthday (in quarantine) and am looking after my skin with different creams and serums.
I’m also taking care of myself by keeping up with my regular exercise routine and healthy eating – although snacking is definitely still happening. I’m trying not to feel too bad every time I eat and entire bag of popcorn though – lockdown is a testing time…
2. I love cocktail hour, so is it any surprise that mixology is a skill I’m learning? I’ve managed to perfect my mojito and pina colada recipes, but the pornstar martini is definitely lacking… If you’ve got any fun drinks recipes, please do share! No more Quarantinis though!
3. Reading is high on my list, too. But only because my goal for 2020 was to read at least 2 books. So far, I’ve read Jini Reddy’s Wanderland which is a travel and nature piece that takes the reader all over the British countryside. I’m now part-way through The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni which is a retelling of an ancient Indian epic, The Mahabharata, but from the point of view of the female protagonist – I’m all about South Asian women’s voices being heard. I fully recommend both as excellent ways to escape the monotony of both lockdown and general life.
Plus, you could try joining or setting up an online book club so that you have a group of people to enjoy your new-found literature with.
4. Adventure is out there, but we’re stuck inside. So, I’ve put together a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, which we play remotely. Now, this is no fleeting hobby so be warned – it takes a lot of work, whether you’re creating the fantasy world or just a player within it. But it’s a great laugh and provides hours of boundless entertainment.
5. I plan on leaving lockdown with at least one new skill (and it’s not going to be baking…) so I’m focusing on the art of threading. Beauty parlours up and down the country are closed, so I’ve been learning how to thread my eyebrows. It’s slow going but I’m getting there, and definitely propelled by all the money I’ll eventually save on salons!
So these are some of the ways I’m keeping busy during quarantine, but do not underestimate the importance of sleep and Netflix.
I know a lot of people are insisting that we all come out of this with amazing new skills and a fully-fledged side hustle, but I’m perfectly content with passing the time doing things I enjoy, and catching up on my sleep.
I’m taking this time to relax and recharge, because once the daily grind comes back, it’ll be a whirlwind. How about you?
My skincare routine is normally pretty varied – depending on how much makeup I’ve been wearing all week. Well, no more! Since March 23rd, I’ve stopped wearing makeup and am taking better care of my skin.
“How?” you ask. Well, water for a start. I’ve been drinking buttloads of water since well before March, but now I’m making an conscious effort to drink good old tap water and keep my skin hydrated. Dr Jina Yooh is sk:n clinics‘ leading dermatologist and she advises a daily intake of 6-8 glasses of water, regular ventilation and application of moisturiser to help improve the hydration in your skin. “Vegetables and fruits are also a good source of antioxidants which can help to boost your immune system,” she says.
But I’ve also taken on board the lessons learned from London Fashion Week (remember, before the pandemic?). The Spring/Summer 2020 show saw Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria Beckham and Burberry, among others, sporting fresh and natural looks. So, naturally, the beauty world is taking note.
So, here’s a rundown of my Lockdown Skincare Routine, for a natural glow, and to give my skin a break.
Morning:I start simply by washing my face in cold water. Then, I use Kiko Milano’s Green Me Facial Cleansing Bar to wake up my face and remove any dirt (and sweat) from the night before. I absolutely love the Green Me range – all products are made up of 98% natural, raw ingredients, cruelty free and suitable for vegans.
To protect my skin from London pollution (less necessary now) I use Sephora’s Super Radiance Serum, which hydrates and protects the skin. It is crucial that you get some fresh air and time outside though. Dr Yooh says, “Fresh, moist air is key for allowing your skin to breathe. Your skin creates a barrier against the environment. The climate created by central heating – a high temperature combined with low humidity – can make your skin drier.” So, I like to add another hydrating moisturiser on top. Namely, the B. Radiant day cream, available at Superdrug. It’s a lightweight formula that keeps my skin hydrated all day, even while I’m spending extra time indoors.
Evening: Before the lockdown, I’d remove makeup with a clay formula, but now I use it every night as a cleanser. I love using liquid or foam formulae over makeup wipes as they’re more environmentally sustainable, and often way better for your skin. The clay formula feels so fresh and hydrating and it honestly helps me sleep better, knowing that my skin is fresh for bed.
I’ve been loving self-care during this time, too, so I’ve been trying to add facemasks to my weekly routine. The most apt one of these was Catastrophe Cosmetic from Lush – honestly, just the name made my Sunday. And it left my skin feeling soft and supple.
Crucially, though, less is more. Dr Yooh reminds us not to overdo it. “You could find that your pores start to clog up with too many products. Instead, I recommend that everyone starts off by making sure they are using the correct products for their skin type when it comes to cleansing and moisturising.”
What products are you loving this lockdown? Have you been taking any extra skincare steps? Let me know in the comments!
From the very beginning, 2020 has been a whirlwind. When we rang in the New Year with our Roaring ’20s themed parties and sophisticated looks, did anyone ever think that World War Three was imminent? Or that bushfires would ravage Australia while we all decidedly didn’t freeze in one of the warmest and wettest winters to date? Did we ever dream that all that would be overshadowed by an even deadlier pandemic?
World-ending events are inevitable. Just as the dinosaurs were wiped out, humans will be too – eventually. And possibly due to events of our own making (global warming really isn’t helping anyone) but this pandemic isn’t something we could have seen coming. Okay, sure – we knew about the novel coronavirus as early as January, but it seems that no government was able to predict how quickly it would spread or how deadly it might be.
And now we’re a quarter of the way into a new year and people around the world are locked in their houses (with some countries placing heavier restrictions than others), many workers now find themselves out of work, and small and big businesses alike find their very existence hanging in the balance.
But what does that mean for the rest of the year? Well, so far we still don’t really know what the global cost will be, in terms of human life and also to the economy. We know that a worldwide recession is likely, and that many people are going to die. But we don’t know how we will cope with these losses just yet.
But I remain hopeful that we’ll emerge victorious from the quagmire and perhaps go back to a better version of our society. Ideally, one where we truly value our key workers and pay them accordingly – and I don’t just mean health workers, but binmen, supermarket staff and transport officers, too.
Let’s become a society that values the little things, too. Like taking a walk outside to hear the birds sing, or making a short phone call to tell someone you love them. Capitalism has consumed us with the search for money and profit in everything we do – enjoy hobbies again, don’t search for the monetary value in everything. Your mental health and happiness should be value enough.
We might also create a more inclusive society. All those jobs where we were told that working from home was impossible? Turns out it’s possible in times of crisis. So let’s demand more flexible working, for mothers and fathers, for less able-bodied people, for when you’re feeling under the weather and could be contagious, but are well enough to work.
And let’s not forget the environment. With each city’s lockdown, pollution levels have dropped and it appears the Earth might be starting to heal. So let’s give her a helping hand. Walk where possible, run if it’s further. Only take long journeys in the car if they’re absolutely necessary – public transport networks connect us all over the country. And maybe airlines will do their bit to reduce emissions or even flights worldwide.
We have the power to make demands, and this crisis makes you wonder if the rest of 2020 will mark a big societal change, from caring only about capital, to actually caring about workers. And caring for our most vulnerable with decisive actions, not just words.
All I know for sure, though, is that I can’t wait to hug my loved ones again ❤