For my latest blog, I thought I’d take a light hearted look at some of the benefits of lockdown – after all, it’s not all doom and gloom – you need to look on the bright side occasionally.
At the time of writing we’re in the midst of lockdown two in November 2020. Hopefully, with all the positive news on vaccines this will be the last, but there could well be a third lockdown post Christmas to get the numbers back down to a reasonable amount. From then on we should be vaccinating in decent numbers and starting the long road to normality (old normal not new normal!).
So here’s Ten Reasons to be Cheerful During Lockdown:
1 Less shaving
Ok, so this is mainly for the men reading this, but I for one really hate having to shave every day. It’s one of life’s necessities to look smart to welcome guests into my home but I prefer not to bother. At the moment I have quite a beard growing as I’ve not shaved for almost two weeks. It’s all change tomorrow though as I’m one of the panellists on a webinar I’m taking part in for Visit Britain so I’ll be on camera. I suppose I’ll have to wear a shirt and do my hair too – I’ll still be in my jeans and slippers though!
2 Less ironing
Yay! Yet another bonus of not really seeing anyone apart from in my coat when I’m walking the dog in a morning is that I don’t have to wear a different shirt to “work” every day. I don’t like guests to see me in the same shirt two days in a row, so I tend to have quite an ironing pile each time I get round to it. I’m also not running round the house cleaning and doing all the other physical jobs like carrying our laundry delivery up two flights of stairs twice a week so I’m also not washing my cleaning clothes all the time either as I can get through a logo-d polo top a day too. And I’ve also just thought, as a knock on effect, this cuts down on electricity use with less use of the iron and less water and electricity, washing powder and so on from less washing too. Win:win.
3 More time with the dog
Working in our home as we do running a bed and breakfast in Torquay, we already probably spend more time with Patsy, our Miniature Schnauzer than most pet owners are able to if they go out to work. However, at the moment, as I’m not cleaning for several hours each day, I’m in the office with Patsy’s bed located just behind me for most of the day.
It’s a particular blessing at the moment as we had some sad news a couple of weeks ago that she has an inoperable tumour which has spread and only has limited time left. Thankfully she is in no pain and to look at her running around and her normal self, you would think nothing was wrong with her. At least in lockdown we can make each day count and spend plenty of quality time with her.
4 Tea in bed
When we’re open I generally get up at 5:30am. It’s the best time of the day to achieve things without interruption, and there’s also plenty to do to get things ready before guests come down to breakfast.
During lockdown, it’s therefore nice not to have to set an alarm at all and wake up naturally. When I say naturally, it’s usually accompanied by the sounds of Patsy sniffing under the bedroom door wondering when she can expect breakfast to be served and be let out for a wee.
Julian and I usually take it in turns to get up and let the dog out, bringing a cup of tea back to bed whilst we watch the news and fuss the dog. It’s a real treat and one that I can go months without having during summer. When you’ve got up at 5:30am for six weeks in a row, seven days a week, you crave a lie in. Now, thanks to lockdown we have as many as we like. I still try to be up, dressed, dog walked and breakfast had by 9am though so I’m in the office and working and don’t waste the day.
5 Clearing the to do list
I’m a lists man. Everything has to be written down and on a list or it doesn’t get done. Unfortunately, during our main season, it doesn’t matter how many times things are written down or on which list, I rarely have the time or the inclination to do much off them after all the other daily duties involved in running a bed and breakfast. More often than not, a well planned quieter day goes out of the window when an email is received or the phone rings. Our plans can change by the second when something urgent comes our way like “can I interview you on X Radio in an hour” or “can we send a camera crew now” or “can you give comment on this” or “fill in this questionnaire”. We’re pulled in lots of directions and there’s only the two us. We have no staff at all so after serving and clearing breakfast, checkouts, cleaning, check-ins and chatting to guests coming and going, there’s not much time left even under normal circumstances.
During a lockdown though, most of our usual time pressures are removed thus leaving a lot more time to clear our to do lists. I’ve achieved lots in the last couple of weeks. I’ve designed, had printed and written 200 Christmas cards, updated my website, written blogs, filed my press cuttings for the year, cut back plants in the garden and lots more besides. I still have plenty to keep me busy, but it’s satisfying to be getting up to date and on top of so many things.
6 Trying New Recipes
I enjoy cooking and baking but when we’re open I’m generally cooking out of necessity. I have trouble keeping up with our homemade yogurts, granola, chocolate brownies and the daily treats for guest rooms.
Now we’re closed, I’m able to spend some leisure time in the kitchen and have a go at some new recipes. My cousin is in Canada so I had a go a Maple Syrup Flapjacks the other day. I also made Paul Hollywood’s Jam and custard doughnuts (the technical challenge on a recent episode of The Great British Bake Off). Don’t be expecting these as the daily treat any time soon though. They tasted amazing but the time and effort involved in making them means they’re just not suitable for guests.
Next on my list is a Terrys Chocolate Orange cake. I usually amend recipes if I think I can improve on them, and I often convert loaf cakes to tray bakes too as they work better as guest cake portions. I’m doing the same with this one so look out for photos on Facebook soon. The downside to all this baking is we’ll be putting weight on again.
We don’t do much relaxing when we’re open. Even though technically we have our evenings to ourselves, we’re often dealing with guests, researching, reading trade magazines, answering the phone and dealing with emails so it’s not proper relaxation.
Lockdown means we can have proper time off though and once we’re done for the evening now, we generally can watch TV un-hindered so we’re catching up with various Netflix series and favourite programmes we’ve recorded on Sky.
8 Becoming Healthier
A benefit of lockdown is we should be healthier. There’s good and bad sides to this. I think we are healthier in general as we’re not having contact with anyone so we’re not exposed to colds, bugs or flu. There should be less of these to worry about this year anyway with everyone wearing masks and washing their hands more. We’re eating more home cooked food rather than processed which must be good for us too. The less healthy part is not doing as much physical exercise each day now we’re not cleaning and running round for hours at a time, and we’re busy eating all those cakes I’m baking!
9 Saving money
A big benefit of lockdown has to be saving money. There’s the obvious things like we can’t go for a drink with friends on the seafront on a sunny afternoon or to one of our fabulous local restaurants on the English Riviera. Then there’s the fact that we’ve not flown to Gran Canaria for our usual November holiday which has saved us a decent chunk of money. I’ve also still got my gym membership on hold.
The additional savings for us are great as when we’re closed we only heat and light where we are in the building. During the day we have an electric heater in the office and save money by not heating and lighting the whole house. When guests are in, all public areas need to lit and heated.
10 Enjoying the Sun
Ok, so as I couldn’t think of a tenth benefit I’ve had to return back to the main lockdown over summer. Usually whenever the sun is shining, we’ll have a full house so we see little or nothing of the sunshine. Our guests have a fabulous time enjoying the delights of the English Riviera whilst we’re sweating buckets cleaning all day. They come back having not listened to our warning to wear plenty of sun cream looking a little pink, ready to freshen up for an alfresco evening overlooking the sea eating locally caught fish and enjoying a cold glass of wine.
However, for the first time, lockdown afforded us the opportunity to enjoy some sun. Many an early evening was spent on our sun terrace enjoying the sun with a G&T, and we even had a few BBQs. The first lockdown was much stricter so the road was literally deserted, and you could hear the birds singing. It was absolute bliss, and we made the most of it whilst we could.
So there you have it – it’s not all bad. It pays to look on the bright side occasionally and cheer yourself up. Hope you’ve enjoyed hearing more about our lockdown and we hope to see you during 2021. Book up as soon as you can as we already have way more ahead bookings than we usually have by this time of the year and some summer weekends are already full.
You can check availability, prices and book at www.the25.uk