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.

A Teddy Bears’ Picnic

I have a confession to make! I have an addiction. A pretty serious one. A life long one! It’s cost me a fair bit of money and I have several stashes of my addiction around the house.

Teddy Bears!

Stuffed toys strictly, I suppose, rather than bears, but to me they’re my bears. A friend of mine challenged me to take a photo of all of them so yesterday I gathered them from all their various homes (and they all have definite homes) and assembled them together on our bed.

Wow! That’s a lot of bears! I have to admit, I didn’t realise I had quite this many. Am I sorry? Absolutely not! They give me lots of pleasure. There are worse addictions to have.

I’ve always loved bears and I think it was inevitable that when I grew up I’d choose to be a cat Mum instead of having babies. I didn’t play with dolls as a little girl. I found them cold and hard and in stark contrast to the soft, fluffy sqidginess of bears. You can’t rest your head on a doll when you’re tired.

My bears aren’t just random though. I can remember where each one was bought, and many of them are reminders of special occasions. Most of them have names.

This is the oldest bear that I still have, and she’s called Dilly Trent. When I was twelve I broke my leg and this was a catalyst for my parents to get a second car because they needed to be able to share the school run whilst I was unable to walk. The car was a bright yellow mark one Fiesta registration TDD 358X (weird what you remember!) and its horn sounded like a duck so it inherited the name Dilly the duck. We bought Dilly from Lichfield, and on the same day Mum and Dad bought me this bear so she was named Dilly (after the car) Trent (after Lichfield Trent Valley).

Pendigo was a Christmas present from hubby a couple of years ago. He was from Resorts World at the NEC which overlooks Pendigo lake. He’s so big he needed to use the seatbelt on the way home!

These are my Wimbledon bears bought from the shop at Wimbledon during the championships. Two of my passions rolled up in one (or three as the case may be) bear! Fingers crossed for this year’s ballot so I can get another one!

These are my bears from Cliff Richard concerts. Don’t think I’ve mentioned this particular little secret before, but here’s the evidence.

My best friend and I used to go on an annual Christmas pilgrimage to Harrods until Al Fayed sold it and it went downhill! There used to be a MASSIVE teddy bear room and it was my heaven, but the new owners drastically reduced it. This is my Harrods collection.

These are my Steiff bears. You could say that these are an investment because Steiff bears are very collectible. You may have spotted that the delight on the end in the waistcoat has appeared in both the last two photos. This is because he’s a Harrods Steiff bear. He was ridiculously expensive but I couldn’t care a jot. He’s beautiful. He used to growl when you tipped him forward but I noticed when I got him down to take the photo that he seems to have lost his voice. Poor thing. The little rabbit next to the Harrods bear is my newest bear. I spotted him in Frankfurt airport on the way home from a work trip and couldn’t resist. He’s called Hoppi and he’s the softest rabbit ever! The little blonde one, Sammy, was my first Steiff bear and I got him with vouchers that my Dad gave me for a very special trip we took to London in 2007. Little Wonky Donkey on the end was also from Harrods, although he’s not a Harrods branded Steiff bear. He’s just adorable.

Jellycat! Who can resist a Jellycat bear? Clearly not me! Sweetie kitten at the front was a must because well, she’s a kitten! Grey sitting behind is a bit obscured by Sweetie kitten, but he’s an owl. Hubby bought him for me on a day when I was feeling a bit under the weather. Grayshott the elephant I bought from a village in Hampshire when I was visiting my Mum called Grayshott (hence the name). Dapple the giraffe and Bashful lamb came from a shop near us that I have to do my best to avoid (for obvious reasons!)

These are all bears that I’ve gathered on my travels. The purple Triceratops was from Orlando airport. I have an affinity with the Triceratops because I used to call them TriSarahtops when I was little after myself! The two Toys R Us Geoffreys are both from Toys R Us on Times Square bought on different trips to the Big Apple. The Ocean Village bear is from our first cruise. He’s called Mr Shel which is made from the initials of all our ports of call on the cruise (Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, Heraklion, Ephesus and Limassol). In the pink jumper is Macy who came from Macy’s in New York and in the stripy jumper is Treasure who came from Las Vegas. Finally is my coati and her baby, Conchita and Chica, who hopped in our suitcase when we came back from Mexico.

Last but by absolutely no means least are my gloom of Eeyores and his Hundred Acre pals. Gloom, I have decided, is the collective noun for a group of Eeyores. You may argue that nine Eeyores is enough for one house. We’ll see! There are Eeyores here from New York, Orlando and London – he gets around! The group of Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Owl and the nearest Eeyore to Pooh Bear were also bought with the Harrods vouchers on that special London trip.

So, there you have it. Lots of bears, all very much loved and here to stay!

Enchanting Edinburgh part three

Morning all. Happy Sunday. It’s a bit of a miserable day outside today so it’s ruined my plans of getting out in the garden. Apparently Storm Freya is on her way. She’s not headed our way but I guess we’ve got her to blame for the pants weather. It feels a world apart from this time last week when I was headed up to Edinburgh.

Speaking of which, here’s the third and final instalment of my Edinburgh trip. This one will be mostly pictorial I think.

I had some work to do first, so I was up early and headed back over to Waverley Station to get the Airlink 100 back out nearly to the airport where I was meeting some colleagues. That went well and before I knew it I was back on the Airlink 100 again headed for the zoo, which is in between the airport and the city centre. I’ve mentioned my quandary with zoos before. I don’t like to see caged animals, but I do find myself drawn to zoos and safari parks because I just love to see animals in the flesh, and I know that zoos work incredibly hard to maintain endangered species and that they need entrance money to do so. I have to say, on this sunny day the animals seemed to be loving basking in the rays, even the penguins to whom it can’t come naturally.

The zoo has lockers available to rent which I made use of to store my laptop bag whilst I wondered round. I’m so glad they have this facility because my laptop bag is pretty heavy, and the zoo is built on quite a steep hill so I’d have struggled if I’d had to carry it all afternoon. My back was really achy as it was by the end of the day.

First port of call was a cafe! It was about one o’clock by this point and all I’d had to eat was Belvita Breakfast biscuits on the bus so my tummy was somewhat rumbly. I grabbed a sandwich and a scrummy piece of rocky road and headed outside. Picnic in the sun, in February, in Scotland! Bet that doesn’t happen often. I was sat in my shirt sleeves and the sun was beating down on me. Bliss!

My train home was just before five o’clock so I prioritised the animals that I really wanted to see most in case I didn’t have time to get round the whole zoo. Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK which has koalas and giant pandas and I was very excited to see them so I headed in their direction first.

There are two adult koalas, a male and a female. I couldn’t get a clear photo of the female because she was hidden up safely at the top of her enclosure because she has a tiny joey that she’s very protective of. The zoo keepers don’t even know yet whether the joey is a girl or a boy.

The male koala was in the next door enclosure, and he was just hanging around in a tree seemingly unperturbed by all the people gawping at him.

Their enclosures weren’t huge, but I’m sure I’ve read that koalas don’t have a big territory in the wild. I remember images of them in wild fires in Australia where people were having to climb trees to rescue them because they were too lazy to bother moving. Amazing that they found the energy to make a joey really! Having seen them in the flesh now, I’m even more convinced that they should officially be called koala bears even though they’re officially marsupials, because they just look so cuddly like bears.

Next off to the giant pandas. There are two, a male and a female on a ten year loan from a Chinese zoo, but I only saw one of them. They’re in identical adjacent enclosures, but they only come together for the small mating window between March and May. Giant pandas on average only spend two to four days a year with a potential mate – this could be the secret to a happy marriage! She’s perfectly free to arrange her bamboo however she fancies with no one to mess it up!

I made my way over to the penguin enclosure next. At two fifteen every day they do a penguin parade. This was accidentally started in 1951 when a keeper inadvertently left the gate open and the penguins followed him round the zoo in single file! The keepers don’t encourage the penguins out using food so it’s entirely up to the penguins if they want to come out or not. I wasn’t in luck – apparently it was vaccination day the previous week and the penguins were still wary of the keepers. There are some great videos like this one on YouTube though if you want to have a look.

I headed over to the grey kangaroos next. There are four of them, an adult mating pair and their adolescent offspring and, I was delighted to see, a joey still living in its mother’s pouch. I haven’t got a photo of it, but I saw the joey poke its head out and have a look around. It was just like a scene from Winnie the Pooh with Kanga and Roo. I stood there, camera poised, for ages after this hoping to catch it on film, but it didn’t reappear. You can see from the first pic below though that there’s definitely a sizeable joey in that pouch.

I also saw the mother and the teenager have a boxing match over some minor disagreement. Maybe he’s annoyed that he’s having to play second fiddle to the new baby!

I was right to prioritise the animals that I really wanted to see because I didn’t have time to make it round the whole zoo before it was time to head back to the bus stop unfortunately. I won’t bore you with every animal that I did see, but here’s a few of my favourite photos that hopefully need no explanation.

So here endeth my Edinburgh ramblings. I had such a fantastic time and I would love to spend some more time up there. I was so so SO lucky with the weather and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do so much if it’d been wet or super cold, but really, there’s a lot of indoor stuff to do as well so it really is an all weather destination. Five stars to Edinburgh!