This lockdown I’m encouraging everyone to really embrace the idea of hibernating.  I know you’re tired and worried and probably quite frustrated this time around but while we have a duty to our communities to stay at home & keep people safe; we also have a duty to ourselves of self-care.

Whether you’re working from home, home-schooling, furloughed or at leisure, your free time is certain to spent differently to usual and even from the lockdown last spring. This time around the weather is not ideal for long stints outdoors.  My most emphatic piece of advice is that taking your daily exercise should not be skipped (time in nature is vital for wellbeing) BUT once you’re back home really sink into making yourself as cosy as possible.  There really is nothing better.

The Danish word ‘hygge’ really epitomises what I’m talking about.  Hygge is the concept of staying warm, cosy & finding joy in the little things that can improve our environment & how we spend time there.  My point being that if we have to stay at home we can make our living spaces as welcoming and conducive to wellbeing as possible.  By approaching this lockdown with a positive mindset & indulging in some good old-fashioned comforts, it will pass much more enjoyably.

Blankets

Whether you’re reading, watching TV, listening to music or cuddling the cat blankets make all chair-based activities infinitely better.  We always have several to choose from, but every home should have at least one. There’s nothing cosier than cocooning yourself in a fluffy blanket and enjoying the warmth & safety of home.

Warmth

Put on extra jumpers, socks or maybe even gloves if you’re a Raynauds sufferer like me. Light the fire, put on the heating; whatever it takes to make your home an oasis of warmth – you’ll appreciate it so much coming back inside from your daily exercise.

Lighting

Lighting is crucial to making your home feel inviting and cosy.  Instead of using the main ceiling light, why not switch to a few lamps with warm-toned bulbs.  If you’re not doing anything that requires bright light or visual concentration, soft lighting is wonderfully calming. Candles are also a welcome addition to any room, the flickering light can make you feel warmer & scented ones are great for creating a relaxing environment.

Entertainment

More than ever in the last year we’ve been learning that productivity is not the yardstick to measure ourselves against. So I don’t think the focus during these weeks in lockdown should be even remotely on ‘keeping busy’ but more on keeping entertained.  Think of things that bring you joy, make you feel absorbed and plan those things into your day. These activities don’t have to be anything ‘useful,’ in fact I advocate that at least some of them shouldn’t be, just something that makes you smile. Do something crafty, cook something delicious or curl up with a book.  We have a free library outside the pub with books, DVDs & sometimes puzzles for people to stay entertained.  BBC iplayer has some amazing programmes to access, including a shed-load of Attenborough.  We are living in unprecedented times, which we (hopefully) won’t ever see again so use your time for joy, not worrying about how productive you can be.

Food and drink

Punctuate your day with nutritious meals and cups of tea – it’s a great way to get your body into the rhythms of the day and making sure you take good care of yourself.  Make sure to treat yourself with the odd indulgence too: Lots of places are doing amazing menus of takeaway food & we’re offering drinks deliveries to anyone in a 5 miles radius so you can still treat yourself to a draught ale in the evening.

Tribernation

However you choose to spend the next few weeks make sure to stay in touch with friends & family – they’re crucial to boosting our wellbeing & avoiding feelings of loneliness.  I’m hereby coining a new word: ‘tribernation.’  It’s the knowledge that whilst we might be all hunkering down in our separate houses; we are all in this together. We’re staying home for the good of the whole community, and also; we have universal understanding of what life is like for our friends, neighbours, colleagues etc right now. Make sure to check in with people you care about and think of those in your community living alone.  And please please feel free to get in touch with us here if you need anything – we have a collection of helpful people on hand who can bring you some shopping or just phone for a friendly chat.




I can’t wait to host live music again at The Sweffling White Horse. Our music or open mic nights were always the highlights of our calendar and during 2020 I’ve really admired how independent artists and creatives have adapted and found ways to survive in such a challenging climate. After all, isn’t it music, books, art and various forms of creativity that we’ve all turned to to see us through bleak months of lock-down & uncertainty?

Until musicians can go back to live performances here are some ways you can support your favourites:

  • Follow them on social media and like, share save and comment as much as you can – these actions boost the visibility of their page so more people are likely to discover them.
  • Always see if you can purchase physical (CDs, vinyl etc) or digital content directly from the artist. Check which their most beneficial provider is eg they can make decent money from bandcamp but almost nothing on Spotify.
  • If you’re streaming music do everything you can to support them: Saving tracks to your devices, following the artist, pre-saving or listening to tracks on their release date all help to raise the profile of your favourite artists on streaming services. These things give them more chance of being picked up by the algorithms on these sites and having their tracks added to popular playlists which will help get them better known & maybe even earn them a little revenue.
  • Join their mailing list if they have one.
  • Actively seek out and support crowd-funding campaigns. If you’re not financially able to support; why not share them on you social media pages to encourage greater exposure?
  • If the artist has a Patreon account support it at whichever level you can afford. Most artists will offer tiered support, with the lowest being a few pounds a month.
  • Actively seek out new music. Search online or on streaming services, ask your friends for recommendations. There are also loads of apps and websites that will generate a recommended playlist based on your current tastes. There’s a lot of music out there with artists just waiting and hoping to get heard.
  • If you’ve just discovered an artist and they have a back-catalogue of releases; buy it when you can afford to do so. It may have something different/interesting on there. But also, many artists will have boxes of old releases in the lofts & garages so buying their back-catalogue is a great way of putting cash straight into their pocket.
  • When gigs start again PLEASE come out and see them, buy a ticket or put some money in the hat.
  • While gigs are impossible consider hosting a home-concert. Hire an artist to play via zoom (or similar) and raise some money in the process.

This winter is going to be a difficult one for a lot of us. As yet we don’t know how/if pubs will be able to trade – but one thing we know for certain is that it is safer to socialise outdoors  A Japanese study has found that it can be up to 20 times more likely to catch coronavirus indoors than outdoors, and scientists advise that ventilation is key if you are indoors. So this winter we are all going to have to learn a new way of socialising, and we’ve got some top tips and advice on how to stay comfortable as well as safe:

Warm Clothing

Invest in some thermals & make sure you have a nice warm waterproof coat. Tights under trousers is a great way to keep warm, and knitted wrist warmers are surprisingly helpful. Layering up is the best way to stay warm, especially slightly loose layers as they trap a layer of warm air between each garment, keeping you extra toasty!

Go undercover

If you have a frame tent or awning this could be a great, well ventilated space to socialise with friends and family. Make sure it has enough room for your group though – even in well ventilated spaces it is recommended we sit at least 1m away from those not in our household. If it’s safe to do so, you could run a cable and add an electric heater to your outdoor space.

Fire it up

On dry days/evenings, you could use a fire pit to keep warm. If you don’t have a fire pit or BBQ suitable, you could invest in one of these portable ones for less than £20. Here’s a photo of mine from when I visited my mum. We shared a takeaway and spent an evening together outside her house safely.

Pick your moment

Check the weather – cloudy evenings may look a bit daunting but can often be warmer than clear skies. This is especially true once the wind has dropped. At the coldest time of year, it might be better to socialise during the daytime rather than in the evenings.

Bring your own..

To be as safe as possible, take your own eating & drinking vessels to friends’ houses, and avoid touching each others’ items. If, like me, you suffer from bad circulation you could make or buy a cup-cozie like this one. This will make drinks easier & more comfortable to hold – especially if you’re wearing gloves.

Also plastic-backed mats like this one can be a really useful way to stay dry and warm

Santise

Always carry a little pot of hand gel with you. This way you can protect yourself and others if you need to handle each others’ things or if you need to pop indoors to use the loo.

Socialising has been difficult for some months in the wake of social distancing measures and lockdowns. I do think it is going to remain so for the next few months. Spending time with people is a really important way to to boost your own wellbeing & support your friends through difficult times so let’s not let the colder weather put us off!