A to Z of a lockdown

Animals – as soon as we were able, we did our bit to support animal attractions that had been forced to close for months. All the animals still had to fed, watered and cared for during lockdown and some came close to having to put animals to sleep. Edinburgh zoo is currently considering whether they have to send their two giant pandas back to China as they’ve had very little income for twelve months.

Baking – I, along with most of the UK going by the empty flour and sugar shelves in the supermarkets, felt a need to bake. Very yummy it was, but unfortunately not good for the old waistline!

Crochet – I’ve never crocheted so much in my life! Lockdown made me feel that I needed to be productive and crochet was one of the ways I did this.

Dog bite – I got bitten by a dog on the beach in Norfolk in between lockdowns and ended up in A&E and on antibiotics.

Exercise – I managed to mitigate the baking a little with exercise. The gym was closed so I found other ways of exercising, enjoying the outdoors when the weather was good and building our home gym for when it wasn’t.

Fur babies – a massive upside to being home so much has been spending lots of time with Olive and Tinkerbell. It’s really comforting to look round during a day of working to see them snoozing on the bed.

Garden – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve thanked my lucky stars that the pandemic didn’t happen when we were in our tiny flat with no outside space.

Harry Potter – bizarrely Harry Potter has played a big part in keeping me sane over the past year. I listened to all the books on audible and hearing those stories again was strangely calming. When I was furloughed we set the spare room up better for working from home and gave it a Harry Potter theme. I made 3D models and splashed out on Lego Diagon Alley which I love love loved building.

Improvements – we made several home improvements. Apart from the Harry Potter room, we also stripped the wood chip and redecorated our living room, built a catio so our furry girls can get some fresh air, had our loft insulation upgraded and replaced all our double glazing.

Jigsaws – I’ve done loads! My friend sent me this one which I really enjoyed.

Kindle – once I’d worked my way through all seven Harry Potter books on audible, I switched back to my Kindle and I discovered the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley and read the six that are already released. They’re really good. I’ve got loads of books on there so I’m all set for the rest of lockdown.

Lego – hubby bought me Lego Hedwig for Christmas which triggered my Lego joy!

Masks – I was hesitant to start off with because BoJo was telling us that masks didn’t help with stopping the spread of covid, but once they told us we had to wear them I embraced it and made a few. It’s become almost a fashion statement. In Scotland I wore my Harry Potter one when we went to the Elephant House cafe where JK Rowling wrote some of the books and my dinosaur one when we went in search of wee Nessie.

Netflix – along with Disney+, Prime TV and iPlayer, Netflix has kept me entertained. I’ve watched Tiger King, Picard, Safe, Bridgerton, Mulan, Moana, the Stranger, Fleabag, Pete’s Dragon, Inside Out, Brave, It’s a Sin and goodness knows what else!

Online deliveries – many of them entirely superfluous to my needs! I ‘needed’ heart shaped cutters to make heart shaped sandwiches for Valentine’s Day and glitter for us to make Valentine’s cards so we could avoid shops. Our poor postman looked absolutely terrified every time he knocked on the door, which was almost as many times as the Amazon delivery driver.

Pooh bear memes – there have been loads of memes and funnies around. If anyone is yet to see David Attenborough narrating Boris Johnson cleaning a chair in a vaccination centre, I urge you to visit YouTube to rectify that. Anyway, me being me, I was drawn to the Pooh bear memes.

Quizzes – during the depths of lockdown we joined two friends every Sunday evening on FaceTime to do a quiz that their local pub quizmaster had moved online. I’ve been so grateful for technology during this time – I was able to virtually see more of some friends than I did before lockdown.

Rowena – this is my great aunt, Rowena. She passed away in February and I wasn’t able to go to the funeral because I was still in my isolation period after catching covid. I watched it online though, giving me another reason to be thankful for technology. It was hard seeing my family on the screen, but not being able to see them in person when it’s been so long.

Staycations – we were really lucky that we’d booked a foreign holiday at the end of January so we had the memories of that to keep us going, but we still felt the need to get away when we were allowed and we went to Norfolk in July for a couple of nights and Edinburgh for my birthday in September.

Tennis afternoon tea – I had tickets booked for the ATP Tour Finals at the O2 in London in November and that got cancelled so I made us a tennis themed afternoon tea as recompense.

Unbooked holidays – we should’ve been going to Jamaica in May and that was cancelled so we had a non-Jamaican party for two instead with Jamaican themed food and Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff playing all day. We swapped that holiday for Orlando in April this year, but that’s been cancelled too so, unlike the photo below, the adventure doesn’t begin, not just yet.

Virtual tours and shows – tour guides have become creative whilst they’ve not been able to offer physical tours and they’ve moved on line. The tour below took us all round the different Harry Potter locations in Scotland. I’ve also watched several West End shows on line, and Cirque du Soleil and next week I’m going to Iceland (virtually).

Working from home – this was my first day working from home when I actually bothered to get dressed before lunchtime and clearly made an effort with my breakfast. you can see why I had to rearrange the room – it was a bit depressing facing the wall all day.

Xmas – I don’t like shortening Christmas, my Grandad used to say that shortening to Xmas was crossing out Christ, but X is such a stupid letter and I couldn’t think of anything else. Despite the restrictions, we had a good day. We walked in the park in the morning with some family and then my Dad (who’s in our bubble) joined us for the rest of the day, the first time I’ve seen a member of my side of the family on Christmas Day for years.

Yawn – working from home has meant an extra hour of sleep each working day which I really appreciated through the Winter when I normally struggle with seasonal affective disorder and live in an exhausted fog for four or five months. I also appreciated it when I did succumb to covid because it really wipes you out and I needed sleep. Of course there’s no change for our Olive – she’s a gold medal snoozer!

Zoom calls – thank goodness for zoom, teams, WhatsApp calling and FaceTime. They’ve kept businesses going, but they’ve also kept friendships going and families together.

Diagon Alley Lego Reveal

Yes, I know I’m approaching my mid forties and I don’t have children to use as an excuse, but much of the past ten days has been filled with building Lego and I have LOVED it!

I shared some photos of my Lego Hedwig, Harry Potter’s owl, that my hubby bought for me in my Christmas Catch Up post at the beginning of January. Here she is in all her glory posing in front of our fireplace.

I have vivid memories of a cardboard box of Lego living in a white wardrobe in my bedroom at my Dad’s house sometime in the 80s, but I don’t think it held my attention for long. It more than likely belonged to one or both of my brothers. I think back then, Lego wasn’t aimed at girls. I wouldn’t have been discouraged from playing with ‘boys’ toys but if it wasn’t marketed towards me then it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to want to play with it. Making Lego Hedwig made me realise how much fun it is though, and now Lego have got their marketing spot on and the second I saw their Diagon Alley set I knew I’d end up owning it. I ummed and ahed for a few days because it is quite a financial investment but, hard as lockdown is in so many ways, it does mean I’m not spending nearly as much money on things like diesel, lunches out and sale table plants, so I went for it.

It took a week to arrive (damn you Amazon Prime for giving me unrealistic expectations for every other delivery service!!) during which time I must’ve checked my inbox a thousand times looking for the tracking email. It was well worth the wait. Look at the size of the box!

Ok, not much to give perspective, but it was big! It contained bags numbered one to twenty, but there were two for each number so forty in total plus the base plates and some roof plates and a bonus box twenty one.

Then there were four instruction manuals. As you can see from the back of the box above, the set was made in four parts which can stand alone or join together.

I tried really hard to pace myself to make the build last longer. This was partly enforced by having to work all day, but I still only managed to make it last ten days. I would estimate that it took me about twenty five hours to complete and I enjoyed every second!

Book one contained the instructions for bags one to five and it built Ollivanders wand shop and Scribbulus which sells quills, parchment and other magical stationery requirements.

Book two covered bags six to nine and contained lots of pink bricks which made Quality Quidditch Supplies and the Daily Prophet.

This build was three storey and even had detail crammed on to the roof. You can see the copies of the Daily Prophet newspaper stored on the roof and in the attic space.

The instructions for bags ten to fourteen were illustrated in book three and they produced Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour and Flourish and Blotts book shop where Hogwarts students buy their school books.

The detail in this block is amazing and so realistic. We had ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and it really looks like this. In Flourish and Blotts the characters can even read copies of Gilderoy Lockhart’s latest book.

Finally, the most ostentatious of the builds came in book four and bags fifteen to twenty – Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.

Also incorporated in this build is Knockturn Alley. This is where you’ll find Death Eaters (followers of he who shall not be named) and other dark witches and wizards, hence I’ve positioned the Draco and Lucius Malfoy characters at its entrance. The detail in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is stunning too. There’s a mechanism hidden in the roof that allows you to raise and lower the top hat and you can see the various jokes and potions for sale on the shelves inside the shop.

The set can be displayed alongside each other and each block has a connector so they sit perfectly together. The set is over a metre long.

Or they can be put shopfront to shopfront to form a real street feeling which is really cool!

You’ll have noticed all the characters strategically placed in the most relevant places.

There are fifteen in all, although Harry is included twice – once in his Hogwarts uniform and once in the clothes he was wearing when Hagrid liberated him from the Dursleys and took him to Diagon Alley for the first time – ‘yer a wizard ‘arry’. For the benefit of non-Potter enthusiasts, in order left to right, the characters are Hagrid, Harry, Ollivander, Gilderoy Lockhart, Ginny Weasley, Molly Weasley, Ron Weasley, Fred and George Weasley, Harry again, Hermione, Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, the Daily Prophet photographer and Florean Fortescue.

Bonus box twenty one contains the pieces to built a welcoming piece and includes the second Harry model.

There really isn’t much room for improvement in the set, but if I was going to nit pick, it would be nice to have Hermione’s cat, Crookshanks to add to Harry’s owl, Hedwig, who sits on Scribbulus’ sign and Ron’s rat, Scabbers, who’s up in the roof space of Quality Quidditch Supplies. I suppose it could be argued that they are a random owl and rat, rather than being Hedwig and Scabbers.

It also seems quite odd to have the Daily Prophet photographer – Rita Skeeter would maybe be more exciting. Having said that, the photographer’s camera is quite cool.

That’s it! Everything else is perfect. I hope Lego are working on some of the other significant buildings in Diagon Alley and also Hogsmeade. Gringotts Bank would be an amazing addition as would Honeydukes, the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks. Oh, and the Ministry of Magic.

Right, now if I could just wave my wand and magic up some space in which to display Diagon Alley that would be most welcome.