Where Were We? Ah Yes…..

image via Dig Delve

Good grief! As Charlie Brown might have said, we go off air for an extended sabbatical and when we come back, all hell has broken loose.

It’s good to be back, sort of, although I wish it was for a nicer reason. We hope you are all holding up ok and coping. And those readers who are key workers, nurses, doctors, paramedics, food suppliers, community workers, you are frigging AMAZING and you’d better get one hell of a pay rise when things return to whatever normal is going to look like.

I count my blessings every morning that youngestson – who is still living in the house with us – is not nine years old and requiring home schooling. How the heck are all you mums doing out there? How’s your new school coming along? Jeez.

There’s lots to catch up on and so much to talk about but, fingers crossed, we’ve all got plenty of time so we’ll take it slow.

As always we aim to be helpful, so as a warm up post I’ve made a list of things that are keeping me sane currently. This may change – I’ll add things on as I find them and PLEASE do add your own suggestions in the comments below.

Yoga With Adriene

Like Jane, I’m loving Adriene as an online yoga source. I’ve been using her lessons for a year or two, mostly when I was travelling or needed to target a stiff neck or arthritic wrist, but now I’m talking to her every morning as I go through her 30 Days Of Yoga on YouTube. We chat – or at least I chat to her – every morning before I begin my day, practising my reverse worrior squished between my clothes rail and the jumper drawers, usually with a cat on the mat. If I’m not half a stone lighter and ten times as toned when this whole thing finishes, I’m going to be pretty disappointed. Her style is delightfully inclusive and she’s really good at explaining stuff. A life saver.


We’re all on this now, right? Zoom for work and HouseParty for talking to everyone in the family at the same time, as loud as we can. And the pub quizzes.

Although half way through last week I felt like I’d spoken to every single person I had ever known at least twice, we’ve never been so connected or communicated so much, I’m practically living on Instagram. Who said isolation was going to be quiet and boring? I have not had time to sit and read Hilary Mantel’s long awaited new book yet because I’m too busy talking.

Middleson is in India and we’re a bit worried about him being on his own over there, but he’s coping bravely and HouseParty allows us all to see him and make him feel connected. Anyone else started to curate their screen backdrops to look like you’re living in an Elle Dec photo shoot? Just me then.

Art Classes and Things

Grayson is starting an isolation art class on Channel 4 on Monday nights, which I can’t wait for. I’m hoping it’ll be a bit like Valerie Singleton on Blue Peter but for grown ups.

Also, I still absolutely love the podcast Fortunately with Fi Glover and Jane Garvey, and I’m thrilled they are still broadcasting through the madness. They’re now being turned into a R4 radio programme for the duration of the pandemic, so start listening if this is new to you (but really, where’ve you been?)

And if your brain needs a bit of cultural stimulation, how about taking the free short course on The History Of Royal Fashion at Future Learn, from the Historic Palaces site, ideal if you’re further through The Mirror And The Light than me and need more Tudor stimulation.

Celebrities Going Bonkers On Insta.

We try hard not to be judge-y on TWR, but blimey, what’s going on with the crazy celebs let lose without agents or assistants to curb their behaviour on Insta? I hope this never stops, it’s actually made me like Robbie Williams and Chris Martin much more without the glossed up polish of the celebrity filter.

Other people who are inadvertently making me laugh include Florence Pugh cooking (well she’s really just frying things and shouting, but bless her), Sam Neill singing and washing his trainers (thanks to Hadley Freeman for this tip) and Richard E Grant quoting bits from Withnail & I. Isabella Rossellini is always fabulous, particularly when she’s being chased by her chickens. More of this please.

The Tiger King on Netflix.

Have you watched this yet? If not, it’ll help. If you thought Covid-19 was bad, you come away from this series thinking ‘well at least I’m not stuck living next to a big cat owner in America”. What? You didn’t realise owning a tiger in the US was a ‘thing?’ FYI there are more tigers in captivity in the US than there are in the whole rest of the world. If I lived in Florida or Oklahoma I’d be less worried about CV and more about the state of the fencing around the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary and what happened to Joe Exotic’s 200plus big cats once he went to jail…

One Man, Two Guvnors

The National Theatre is offering free theatre streamed on YouTube every Thursday evening, first up is One Man, Two Guvnors with James Corden. I missed this when it was on first time round and I’m thrilled to be able to see it from the sofa. There will be a new show streamed every Thursday. Link on the National Theatre’s site.


Anyone else a little fed up of people still trying to flog us stuff on Instagram? I get that many influencers – and indeed retailers and brands – are earning nothing while the shops are closed and that does not bode well for anyone but it seems a bit untimely at the moment to post about a cute sandal from John Lewis’s summer collection. A lot of youngsters I know are terrified of having no jobs to go back to so buying isn’t at the top of their agenda.

We DO need to keep buying things from our artists and artisans if we can afford it, so they actually earn money while we’re all housebound, there’s an excellent idea called #artistpledge on instagram, where artists are pledging to continue to buy each other’s work and are encouraging those who can afford to buy, to keep doing so. Buy local and buy small, which we’ve always championed, is still very relevant.

I do miss shopping, but I’ve learned to use Collagerie, a sort of stylishly shoppable pinterest board by ex-Vogue editor Lucinda Chambers, as my happy place. It’s like the equivalent of a therapy pet, I just scroll through and kind of therapy-shop without buying (although you can buy if you want).

Lucinda and her co founder Serena Hood have terrific taste and are good with ideas for both our wardrobes and our homes. IMHO Lucinda’s artful style has found a much better home here at Collagerie than at the challengeing Colville collection, where she also is a co founder.


I’m so lucky to have a garden, it’s giving me so much joy currently I feel guilty about enjoying it so much, but I realise that’s bonkers so I’m getting on sowing seeds and talking to the roses. Monty Don and Gardeners World are extremely soothing and prod me to do all the right things over the weekend, which of course I have no excuse currently not to do (although what even IS a weekend any more?) I also dip into Dan Pearson’s weekly newsletter at Dig Delve, although he’s a bit above my pay grade in terms of knowledge – he’s a serious chap, but the picture are lovely and there are recipes too. And Flora Starkey does the odd flower arrangement using odd bits from around the garden that I can almost replicate at home.

Anyway, what are you all doing to stay busy and sane?


  • Pamela says:

    Welcome back, I feel like I asked the question at just the right time! I am sure you were considering it anyway…
    I am dressmaking and trying to take my time to fit properly. I find it hard to settle down but once I do it’s very absorbing.
    Thanks for pulling us together and keep the sharing going, we appreciate it x

  • Claire Be says:

    So glad you’re back, I’ve missed you! What a great post, lots of inspiring ideas there. So far we’ve been decorating, trying to be inventive with cooking and I’m painting. And yes, we’re very grateful for our small garden! It’s hard not seeing family and friends but thank goodness for all the various ways we can keep in touch, it would be so much harder without. Thanks anyway, I look forward to catching up with you again!

  • Juliette Chisholm says:

    Hello Amanda (and Jane), and how lovely to have you back, I have missed your news and recommendations. I have been trying block printing – I was supposed to fly back to the UK to attend one of the lovely Molly Mahon’s workshops at Charleston House but sadly cancelled – so my sister sent me one of her kits for us to do ‘together’ on Zoom, which was the next best thing. Like you I have been very grateful for my garden and am trying to grow dahlias for the first time though waging a slug battle to make sure I succeed. ‘Unorthodox’ and ‘Ozark’ have been my Netflix standouts, and now the second season of ‘My Beautiful Friend’ on Sky has me gripped all over again, it’s such a fascinating study of the intricacies of female friendship. Lastly, I am quite addicted to Collagerie and particularly love all of Lucinda’s suggestions. I have taken to asking myself whether Lucinda would wear it or use it when about to purchase something, which is not necessarily a money-saving exercise, but certainly a style-improving one! Best wishes to you both.

  • Thanks for bringing this topic up. During the pandemic, I also realized that I urgently need to find some kind of occupation for the soul. So I opted for gardening. It seems to me that this is a great opportunity to relax the soul and strain the body a little in order to eventually get a tangible result. But what started as a small hobby has suddenly grown into almost a profession. I started to buy some professional chips and grow on myself. This is how, in fact, during a global pandemic, you can master almost an entire profession.

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