Well, what a complete turnaround this month has been, huh? It’s fair to say that everyone is feeling it a bit lately, whether working from home, being laid off, or going through it all to keep people alive. I think we can all agree that the NHS deserve not only a huge round of applause but some actual real support and recognition for what they do, right? Let’s also not forget the shop assistants and everyone else who is any way, shape or form helping to keep things ticking over.
The nation and beyond, essentially in lock-down, it’s all a little bit weird isn’t it? Yet through it all has come some good. Of course that is incredibly easy to say as I sit in the comfort of my own home, lucky to have a garden to venture out to and housemates to keep me sane – or occasionally support through shared insanity. Everyone’s experience of this is going to be a little different, but still a lot of things will be fairly the same. For me, new rituals are being born; drinking my morning coffee in the garden, dedicating time to reading, writing, even working out (sometimes). Structures for time spent at home are finally being built, as well as reminders to make the most of my surroundings on those occasional dystopian government-sanctioned trips outside. It isn’t just me that feels super weird and even a little guilty about leaving the house right now, is it?
Further changes at home have resulted in a temporary rearrangement in the communal space; moving my spare sofa from dining area to living room, right underneath the skylight. It’s a shame that the sofa is a little too big to sit there permanently because I have a new favourite place to sit during the day, lounging around as the sun shines down. A rare bright corner that brings the smallest comforts alive. I mean, normally it lives by the window so, same difference. I guess little changes are novel at the moment.
Not only are there changes in home life, friends and family from all over are connecting in more ways than ever. The other day my sister inadvertently introduced the magic of video calling to my dad, much to his excitement, being able to chat face to face from one county to another. I certainly feel like that won’t be the last time, quarantine or not. I will admit I haven’t quite jumped on the bandwagon of video calling anyone and everyone 24/7, but it’s nice to know that it’s there.
Now for the food segment. If February was about tomato sauce, then March is definitely the month of the butternut squash. Aside from the occasional thai squash and pineapple curry, it only took me two years of being vegetarian to fully appreciate this vegetable. It all started after a shopping trip where shelves were mostly empty, while the butternut squash were in abundance. I picked one up in haste, imagining it would be quite some time before I would actually use it. With a lot of time on my hands however, and a sudden reminder that I had some red lentils in my cupboard, I decided to make some soup right there and then. These truly are unprecedented times.
With my squash and lentils cooked, and my housemate’s mega blender to boot, I had four batches of soup made up in no time (relative to having all the time in world of course). Deliciously spicy and the perfect creamy texture. Back to the shops for another butternut squash I went, expecting to use it for another soup or perhaps some risotto. Instead I insisted on cutting it into cubes and roasting with honey, cinnamon and various herbs for a little social distancing barbecue for the household. I’m telling you now, I have never been so eager to roast up some veg for a barbie, but here we are. I was fairly happy with how it turned out but could definitely have used more fresh herbs than dry. The third squash of the month was reunited with the remaining lentils stuffed inside, and roasted with some cheese on top. The recipe I used actually produced plenty of lentil mix surplus to requirement, and so the lentil ‘cottage pie’ came into fruition. Sure, the circumstances aren’t exactly desirable, but here’s looking at you squash, getting me cooking proper food, good on ya. Anyway, enough about squash.
Of course music is as always, helping me to get through. A surprise release from Childish Gambino took its time (okay, like, a day) to get fully into my head. It’s not exactly what I expected, but then again I’m not even sure what that would have been. Listening to the new album while drinking my tea in the garden, exactly a year after seeing him at the o2 was quite something and I’m shameless enough to say that for me, the man can do no wrong.
I also got really into a band called Talk Show after reviewing their debut EP for Underscore Part 3. It has that South London post punk sound all over it, and is honestly such a well timed release. From the first song ‘Stress’ kicking up a storm, to ‘Banshee’ delivering a delicious goth pop love song, I have been listening to this over and over. I guess you have to hear it to know what I mean.
As for playlists, I have of course been listening to Vinilo’s ‘Music To Get You Through’. Surprise, surprise. It’s a great mix of things I already loved and new tracks to keep things alive. The Southampton record store is still running online with free delivery and I am so keen to order something soon, I just need to figure out what. Their playlist gets updated pretty regularly so I’ll link it below for you all to check out. There are plenty of genres for all to enjoy on there, and whether you’re playing it in the background or dipping in to find new artists, it is such a sweet little life saver.
This month has been all about uncertainty, from being laid off to being taken back under the government scheme of supporting businesses with 80% of staff wages. The term emotional roller coaster does not even begin to describe the feeling, and I don’t think I’m about to get off the ride any time soon either. Still, I’m one of the lucky ones, and even if I wasn’t, it has never been so clear to me, not only what, but also who really matters in life. The world is a little chaotic at the moment but hopefully we can take some of the lessons learned forward with us to the eventual return of normality.