…(and keep calm!) in the times of Coronavirus
It is Easter hols here and I have a whole week of annual leave which I will be spending at home. If you told me this a month ago, I would have laughed in disbelief. In the last few years, I have planned a trip around every single day of annual leave I have taken. The coronavirus pandemic has turned all our travel plans null and void though.
The first few days I spent watching a lot of TV. Mostly news. Which is depressing. Then I turned to binge watching Netflix but that got boring after a while too. I had travel on my mind but also anxious, depressing thoughts. Some of my colleagues were off sick with coronavirus-like symptoms. I felt lucky to have this precious time to spend with my family and didn’t want to spend it worrying and fretting. What then do I do to keep calm, enjoy my time off at home and at the same time satisfy my wanderlust? I came up with a few ideas and thought of sharing them here. If you are feeling worried , restless and miss travel therapy, then read on for some ways to beat those blues.
Make a photobook
We all take plenty of photos while travelling but how many of us actually look at them again? Digital formats have made it easy to store hundreds of photos on your laptop/cloud but printing some of the special ones is a great way to store those special memories. I printed a few select pics from our recent Africa trip and got them printed via Tesco’s online photo print service. I then spent an evening with the kiddo sticking these photos in this vintage-style photo album. We reminisced about our exciting safari and I was surprised to find he remembers a lot of details like the birds we saw and the food we ate! Definitely a nice way to relive your travel experiences!
I love books. They have this magical ability to take you away from all your present worries and anxieties, into a make-believe world where Covid-19 doesn’t exist. And if the books are based in Paris or Rome? Isn’t that the best?! My collection includes both fiction and non fiction. Not necessarily travel books but say, a murder mystery based in Venice or a romantic one where the lovers meet in Granada.
My favourties? Hemingway’s Moveable Feast. Based on his days as an unknown writer in Paris, this is the book to read if you love the French capital as much as I do. A close second is Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad – a hilarious take on his travels through Europe and the Holy land in 1867. If fiction is more your thing, then Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith set in Moscow gives a fascinating glimpse into life in Communist Russia. And The Tea-planter’s Wife will transport you to the verdant tea plantations of Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka).
I love cookbooks but never seem to have the time to try new recipes. If I do find the time, then the right ingredients elude me. This time, I made a list of recipes I want to try so I can shop appropriately. The Afro-Vegan book was recommended by my hostess in South Africa and the Italian one seemed to have good reviews online. I can now vouch for them both. Trying the local food has always been an intrinsic part of my travels. So even though I can’t physically go there, I decided to bring a bit of Italy to my dinner table 🙂 With the right music (think Andrea Bocelli) and wine, you can’t go very wrong!
Now you might think baking is a type of cooking, right? Wrong. I have cooked from the age of 13 but I first baked just a couple of years back. Believe me, it needs a different skill set. Firstly, I learnt that as a novice baker, I need to follow the recipe exactly. Unlike a vegetable dish or pasta sauce, tweaking ingredients or measures works only if one is an experienced baker who understands the chemistry of flour, eggs and baking powder (I don’t). Also, while cooking can be complicated with a lot of chopping and frying, baking is for the most part calming. Almost therapeutic. You mix together the wet and dry ingredients, pour it in a pan, pop it into the oven. And voila! A beautiful cake/muffin rises right in front of your eyes. Sheer magic!
I chose to bake some lemon and poppy seed muffins this week. We ate them warm-from-the-oven right before our morning game drives in South Africa and I served them the same way at home. Another day we set about baking a buckwheat apple cake with strawberry jam marbled through for breakfast. A recipe from the northern regions of Italy. Simple isn’t it? A slice of the world right on your plate!
Look through and organise your souvenirs
I love to buy souvenirs. Paintings, fridge magents, touristy T-shirts, postcards, painted ceramics. I have them all. I took this opportunity to sift through them, discarding the rubbish ones (a plastic Eiffel Tower, what was I thinking?!). I then framed the paintings, stuck the magents on the fridge, unwrapped the handpainted salt and pepper shaker from San Gimignano. We also made a scrapbook and stuck all our postcards. Adi then wrote the dates of our trip above each postcard. A lovely way to save our travel memories for posterity 🙂
And that is 5 great ways to keep calm and carry on in this stressful time. And once this Coronavirus nightmare is over (and it will be), we can pack our bags and travel again. Till then, keep safe and stay home!
Read this for NHS advice on mental wellbeing in these difficult times.