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19.06.2020- Lockdown Lunch #8: Briony Whitehouse

Well, here we are- another Friday! I think this is now week thirteen, but to be honest I've really stopped clocking up the specifics- focusing instead on just taking one day at a time. It's been such a strange phase of life to be living through- sort of like a perpetual Groundhog Day or a constant feeling of being in limbo- and as I said to some friends at the weekend, we're all just coping at the moment- not thriving. This week started off quite slowly for me, and my energy levels have definitely been a bit of a rollercoaster too- and I've also found myself getting frustrated at how difficult I'm finding it to concentrate on things, particularly reading which is getting me down a little bit. Having said that, I'm now on the third week of an online course which I'm enjoying, and have found a few more to sign up to as well- so hopefully my brain will be able to focus a little bit better with something else to think about!

This week's lockdown lunch guest is also giving me some serious inspiration for how to make the most of life at the moment. The lovely Briony from A Girl, A Style kicked off lockdown with a brilliant post of 60 Feel-Good Ideas for self-isolating, which is at the top of my list of bookmarks and is a post which I keep coming back to for hints and tips about coping just now; reminding me that even if I keep reaching for a repeat read of The Princess Diaries instead of tackling something new, it's nothing to stress over. Her guide for wardrobe organisation is also giving me some much-needed motivation for tackling my own mountain of clothes over the next few weeks- after a lovely chat with the author, of course:

How are you coping with things at the moment? 

I am extremely fortunate that I get to be safe at home, when I know so many others cannot right now. Aside from a major existential crisis ('what it the purpose of my life?!') approximately once a week - usually triggered by something which normally would feel minor, but under current circumstances feels like the world - rather well! My husband and I made a rule on day 1 of lockdown that we weren't allowed to bicker or get annoyed over little things, and I've been trying to prioritise small pleasures and focus on all the things I can be grateful for. 

What are you missing most about life? 

Aside from the obvious (seeing friends and family and being able to travel or go home to Australia), I really miss just being able to potter around my favourite places; strolling through London parks, browsing in bookshops or museums, sniffing everything in Liberty, buying macarons at Laduree and plants at Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden, and having lazy brunches at Granger & Co on Westbourne Grove. 

Which foods/recipes have you been reaching for? 

Happily, I love cooking and pottering around home at the best of times, so I am well-equipped for life in lockdown. But we've been experimenting more and doing a lot more 'slow' cooking; making all those things that might ordinarily feel too labour-intensive. My husband baked (scones) for the first time in his life, I made my own hot cross buns for easter, and this weekend will make a batch of homemade pizza dough and sauce. Being Australian, we always take brunch seriously, but that has been a nice way to make the weekends feel a little more distinct from weekdays. I'll make something extra delicious (my current favourite thing is eggs, chipotle mayo and avocado on cornbread, with a squeeze of lime and fresh coriander from my balcony), putting on jazz to pretend we're at a cafe, and just sitting at the table and talking.

What small things are making you happy? 

My cat, Coco, who is an endless source of joy, the beautiful spring weather we have been having which makes everything feel a little easier, all the green spaces we're lucky enough to have on our doorstep in Cambridge, sending snail mail and books to friends, more time spent reading and relaxing, and trying to elevate normally mundane activities into more pleasurable experiences by using all my favourite things (my best skincare, scented candles, wearing my favourite pyjamas and summer dresses, making something delicious for breakfast, etc.) every day. My current motto is: treat yourself like you're a guest at a 5 star hotel. 

What's the first thing you're planning on doing when lockdown is eased? 

Getting on a train to London, seeing my dentist (I chipped my front tooth on the second day of lockdown), getting a much-needed hair cut + colour, planning a sleepover and weekend of 'favourite things' with my friend who has just moved to Notting Hill, and booking tickets to a show (though I don't expect I'll be allowed that last one for a while yet).

Treating yourself like a guest in a five star hotel has got to be one of the most perfect pieces of advice I've heard so far- not just for lockdown, but for life in general too. Like Briony, I'm also desperate to get back to Petersham Nurseries and can't wait to settle back into a seat in the theatre- although who knows how long we'll have to wait for that special experience.

A huge thank you to Briony for taking part this week- find her wonderful blog here, and her Instagram here.

(Image credit: Briony Whitehouse, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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