Sunrise Sunset

‘One season following the other, laden with happiness and tears.’

So go the lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof. And we’ve all certainly experienced the happiness and tears over the last year. Some things don’t change though, and it is nature’s constancies that have helped keep me going during the coronavirus pandemic. The seasons, the tides, the phases of the moon, all these patterns help me remember I’m part of something much bigger (and far more important) than myself. Continue reading “Sunrise Sunset”

There’s a fruit fly in my office – a different type of productivity

‘I’m currently harvesting a great crop of Drosophila melanogaster from my compost bin.’

Remarked my neighbour over the garden wall. Remembering secondary school biology experiments, I nodded wisely and responded,
‘Me too but mine are in my office.’

There would have been a time when an abundance of desk-bound fruit flies would have shocked me. Not any more. My home office is currently doubling as a greenhouse. This former spare room isn’t alone in its multi-occupancy status. The kitchen has developed into a sourdough micro-bakery, and the lounge has gained additional status as a flour warehouse.

There would have been a time when all of this would have annoyed me but these days I find it exciting. Please allow me to explain.

A couple of years ago I enjoyed a session of business coaching. I learned many useful business skills but the one thing that has really stood the test of time is the idea that for me, business success relates to the concept of livelihood.

It was a seminal moment. I realised I wasn’t out to conquer the freelance writing world, make millions of pounds or mash my rivals into submission. All I really wanted was a livelihood. A way of living that would provide the physical and emotional necessities of life for both me and my family.

Which is probably why, when March lockdown reduced my income, I didn’t panic (too much). I worried of course but turned my thoughts to how I could use my newly spare time to ensure the continuance of those necessities. So I turned to gardening. Permaculture gardening to be precise. All summer and autumn I have grown, foraged, baked, and preserved food for my family.

With a small, north-facing garden, we haven’t even come close to self-sufficiency. However, I’ve realised this doesn’t matter. What’s more important is that this year has helped me redefine my ideas of personal productivity. Whereas my previous ‘good days’ were all type-till-you-drop ones, they now also include garden and kitchen tasks. My concept of ‘work’ has stretched, leaving me more satisfied than I have felt in many years.

Which brings me to productivity. The business world is full of it. As a species, increasing our productivity should apparently be our end goal but what is this doing to us, our loved ones, and our planet? Perhaps if we all focused for a while on the idea of livelihood, the concept of just having enough, we might find ourselves in a happier and healthier place.

Living frugally? Sir David and I recommend giving it a try

Frugal has surely to be an unusual favourite word, especially for someone  who struggles to correctly pronounce the letter r. With its rather Dickensian hints of struggle, dearth and hunger, frugality is perhaps not the most popular of life goals. It does however have its own rewards, and not just financial ones. Sir David Attenborough would agree with me on this point. Continue reading “Living frugally? Sir David and I recommend giving it a try”

Gardening and freelance writing… a match made in heaven?

I’ve always been an eager gardener but I know I’m not the only one who’s found renewed interest in all things horticultural since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. My particular gardening focus has been growing my own food (I do sometimes share the bounty with the family). This includes vegetables, fruit and some rather unusual edible flowers.

Continue reading “Gardening and freelance writing… a match made in heaven?”

Working from home. Is our new normal good for us?

I’ve been working from home as a freelance copywriter for five years now. I’m a big fan of the home office (and indeed the camper van office) but was fascinated to see how the rest of the world would take to it when the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown hit us back in March. RBS has recently told 50,000 employees to stick with home working until 2021. It seems likely that many big employers will take the same approach.

Continue reading “Working from home. Is our new normal good for us?”

Fiona’s Corona Diaries (27th April)

With the current changes in employment arrangements, I am considering rewriting my copywriting bio. The outdoor writer part of it will go something like this:

“Fi is an outdoor writer based in Devon and specialising in the streets of Torquay. Her particular areas of interest include the greenhouse, circuitous routes to the beach and vegetable box number four. Fi loves showering in her waterproofs, watching TV from her bivvy bag and playing the piano wearing a rucksack. She has absolutely no idea how to pitch a very large tent in a very small garden.”

Corona diary updates

  • Mr Darby and YouTube have been fixing our downstairs toilet
  • Apparently there is a website called ‘fix the bog’
  • It isn’t this one (that’s a different kind of bog)
  • I would really like to see a field
  • An actual farmer’s field
  • But then the farmer would probably really like to see the sea
  • I need to go and buy some more compost
  • I realised this while I scraped compost out of my nails back into the bag
  • Shopping at the moment feels a bit like a lottery
  • Last week we walked to the shops and came back with a cauliflower, some baking parchment and some Simple soap
  • We accidentally walked past an open ice-cream kiosk
  • I had an enormous cornet
  • So did Mr Darby

Conversation of the day

Upon entering Mr Darby’s home office (previously known as the spare room)

Me: What were you doing just then it sounded like fun

Mr D: I was having a Zoom meeting

Me: I haven’t Zoomed yet

Word of the day – daggy

Whether you are antipodean or not, daggy is not a good thing to be. If you are a sheep you will have lumps of poo hanging from your backside. If you are a person, you will be wearing unattractive clothing, allowing your hair to do what it wants to and cutting right back on the showering.

I have to confess to a recent touch of daggism (I blame the lack of Zooming). I have made amends today and even smell nice.

Mr D. noticed.

Which was nice.

Fiona’s Corona Diaries (24th April)

Yesterday I felt as flat as an apple cake

Not a term I would use often but as my apple cake had just turned out like a nutmeg flavoured custard frittata, it seemed apt. I am not very good with recipes, either for baking or for life. If there were instructions for life somewhere, I must have lost them along the way. This isn’t really a problem because any set of instructions that included something as bizarre as coronavirus lockdown would take up far too much room in a cupboard (we didn’t have databases when I was born).

Continue reading “Fiona’s Corona Diaries (24th April)”

Fiona’s Corona Diaries (22nd April)

On the topic of lockdown health

A recent survey by the Institute of Employment Studies suggested that during the initial fortnight of lockdown a third of people in the UK were eating more and exercising less than they usually do. This does not appear to have been the case in our house. Despite regular biscuit bakes and outdoor sausage sizzles, we have been suffering from mysterious (but welcome) weight loss.

Continue reading “Fiona’s Corona Diaries (22nd April)”

Fiona’s Corona Diaries (20th April)

The thief of days

Benjamin Franklin once said that time was money. He was so wrong…

Has anyone else just lost ten whole days?

Continue reading “Fiona’s Corona Diaries (20th April)”

Working at home… does anyone actually know what a VPN is?

As the UK coronavirus lockdown continues, many of us are settling into our new working from home routines. Whether that means setting up a home office for the first time or learning how to share working space with family members, we are all on our way up the rather steep Covid-19 learning curve. Hopefully your remote working technology is now set up and functioning well but if it isn’t, or if you would like to understand it all a bit better, we answer a few technological working from home questions below.

Continue reading “Working at home… does anyone actually know what a VPN is?”