2 months ago

Coping With Cabin Fever: Planting, Reading & Records

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Penny McCormick, Deputy Editor

Reading … Hannah Rothschild’s House of Trelawney, the tagline of which – “old money, new money, no money” – seems spookily prescient. Set during the financial crisis of 2008, the book recounts the eccentric, aristocratic Trelawneys who live in a crumbling Cornish castle. Living on their wits and value-pack mince, I’m loving the great one-liners and hoping for a happy ending.

Planting … my patio pots one at a time. Having watched Monty Don on the new series of Gardener’s World (Fridays, on BBC2 at 8.30pm), I was inspired by one of the participant’s whose patio was filled with over 300 pots. I have 20, looking decidedly forlorn. I hope to change this over the next few weeks. The only thing I could find this week was white Saxifrage, but it’s a start.

Grooming … I admit to being hopeless with my hair. Last week I picked up some “Full & Vibrant” shampoo from Pantene’s new Hair Biology range and have noticed a distinct difference in shine and texture, so much so I’m now enjoying a weekly hair mask. The scent is lovely too.

Listening … to my old singles. Full disclaimer – I’m a little bit country and a little bit rock ’n roll. It started when Kenny Rogers died last week (did you know he was part Irish?) and I wanted to check if I had his iconic Islands in the Stream single – a great karaoke number. No, I didn’t, but I did unearth his lesser known Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (!), as well as many others. I’ve enjoyed playing my much-loved Style Council singles in addition to Roachford’s Cuddly Toy, Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love and Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer among others. A trip down memory lane and a therapeutic bop around the living room at the same time.

Watching … The Art Mysteries with Waldemar Januszczak, every Tuesday on BBC 4, at 8.30pm. This sounds very high brow but isn’t; there’s none of Brian Sewell’s archness. Last week was a Van Gogh masterclass, this week’s 30-minute episode was on the dotty world of Georges Seurat.

Tuning into … The mother and daughter podcast of Lady Pamela Hicks in conversation with her interior designer daughter India Hicks (available on Apple Podcasts). Lady Pamela is the youngest daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten, and former lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth II. In this series of chats from Lady P’s Oxfordshire drawing room, she’s decidedly indiscreet. If you enjoyed reading Lady Glenconner’s memoir Lady In Waiting, this will appeal. Pass the fruitcake!

Síomha Connolly, Digital Editor

Reading … I’ve sorted out my reading pile for the next few weeks. Having finished Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal of The Sea last week, I’m moving on to Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, which by all accounts sounds like a really moving, special read. It’s a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read, detailing his family’s history. I’m drawn in by the first chapter: “You once told me that the human eye is god’s loneliest creation. How so much of the world passes through the pupil and still holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn’t even know there’s another one, just like it, an inch away, just as hungry, as empty. Opening the front door to the first snowfall of my life, you whispered, “Look.”

Attempting … to knit a jumper over the next few weeks. Before “mindfulness” activities were a thing, people used to knit, sew, draw, colour for pleasure, a pastime used as a way to fill their empty hours – before we lived in a world full of distractions from which we needed an escape. After just a couple of days I can already feel the benefits of knitting. Crafts (knitting, sewing, embroidery) are one thing we do have access to during this downtime, and I’d urge anyone with restless hands to pick up a needle and give it a go.

Watching … Disney +. No, there are no kids in my house, but something about returning to favourite childhood movies feels right for now. Just launched this week, Disney + is a streaming service (similar to Netflix) which houses all the old Disney classics as well as Pixar, Marvel films and new specially created films and TV series exclusive to the platform.

Sarah Halliwell, Beauty Editor

Re-reading … Lucy Irvine’s incredible Runaway, by the writer who, aged 25, spent a year with a stranger on an uninhabited desert island (her novel about the experience, Castaway, was made into a film with Oliver Reed). Runaway begins when Irvine runs away from home aged 12 and is full of astonishing travels, adventures and traumas – the gripping story of an extraordinarily resilient woman who has lived a life less ordinary.

Watching … I came across Andy Murray Resurfacing (Amazon Prime) and found it utterly compelling. Granted, I’m already a devoted Murray fan, and absolutely love playing and watching tennis, but I feel that this documentary is inspiring beyond those two interests – watching Murray battle to regain fitness following numerous operations is really inspirational, and his relentless drive and determination in the bleakest times makes this one to watch. It made me cry as well as cheer.

Listening To … Nothing highbrow I’m afraid – it’s 80s pop to listen to while walking, from Love & Pride through to a bit of Spandau Gold. The Police’s Don’t Stand So Close to Me is also rather apt right now, and the Black Eyed Peas (Where is the Love?). I’m also the only person in Ireland who hasn’t listened to the West Cork podcast, so that’s on my list.

Exercising … I’m dragging the dog down the pier every day (he is exhausted, and stole six hot cross buns the other day in protest) and trying to do a bit of yoga at home. And swimming in the sea is keeping me sane – it wakes you up, clears your head and gets the circulation going. I have my eye on this €20 gold costume from Dunnes (and they also have some handy swimshorts).

Cooking … lots of dahls, as they’re tasty and make a good healthy lunch. Though it’s not going down well with my family, who won’t countenance lentils of any description. I’m also baking Richard Corrigan’s brown soda bread, which is easy to make and entirely delicious, recipe here.

Grooming … If you apply teeth whitening strips while sitting at the computer you eat less biscuits. Also, now is the time to use up all those pots of hair mask that are sitting in your bathroom. Instead of wearing make-up in the day, I’m putting on lots of Biologique Recherche Creme VG Derm, a really rich moisturiser, with an SPF when walking (Vichy’s LiftActiv SPF25). For an at-home facial, Herbivore’s Prism Facial Mask is a weekly treat: it’s a natural exfoliator, with lots of naturally derived acids, including sugar cane glycolic acid, and it’s active but not harsh on the skin, for that post-facial skin glow, and has this amazing transparent texture (€56, www.CultBeauty.com, free delivery). And I’m finding that wearing perfume every day makes me feel more “dressed” and pulled together, preferably something citrussy and uplifting, such as Roger & Gallet’s Bois d’Orange cologne.

Marking … the days off, prison-style, with a Sharpie on the kitchen wall.

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