PADDLING, rock-pooling and fishing for crabs became the new norm during our family holiday.

It was like stepping back into childhood; ice-cream, chips on the beach and sandcastle building, made for a general feeling of wellness.

Every two years our three generations pack our bags, pile into overflowing cars and head for the airport for a week in the sun – usually of the Portuguese variety.

Our chief researcher does us proud with spot-on accommodation for our expanding family – latest baby making us a group of six.

Lockdown changed all this. 2020 being the year for our family holiday, we chose a destination in the UK. Ever keen to hunt down the sun we chose the furthest point south in the country – Cornwall.

It’s a helluva long way from Cumbria, particularly with two young children but with an overnight stop it is doable.

It was well worth the drive. Covid restrictions were still in place but rather than make us feel restricted, they made us feel safe – even in that nightmare that is service stations.

While others wrangled with airport queues and the fear of quarantine for a trip abroad, our holiday in the UK gave us the chance - and the time - to explore previously unseen places.

Each time you climbed a hill to be rewarded by a tiny deserted cove with sparkling blue sea, you could believe for just one moment that you were the first person to have walked that stretch of shore.

Long sandy beaches with their rocky coves are a joy to explore particularly for five-year-olds with their inherent sense of adventure. Cornwall’s rugged coastline once provided a haven for pirates a

nd today it is the perfect setting for fertile young imaginations.

The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth continued the adventure theme with its Monsters of the Deep exhibition whetting appetites even further and kept conversations going for days.

By keeping off motorways and sticking to A, B, and even unclassified roads you can believe you are anywhere in the world. Our staycation gave us access to vineyards without crossing the Channel - the Camel Valley in Cornwall is a wonderful example of British winemaking.

We zig-zagged the country taking the chance to visit friends and relatives we hadn't seen since before lockdown. Meals early in the week were subsidised by the Government’s half-price deal making eating out for six more financially manageable.

We visited towns and cities previously just a name on a motorway signpost. Giggled over rude place names. The River Piddle, Upton Snodsbury with neighbouring North Piddle and Crapstone are a few which come to mind.

Silly songs were made up, children were “rescued” from rogue waves, games were played, and stories read. It wasn’t all idyllic. Arguments ensued about where to go, what to eat and whose turn it was to change that dirty nappy.

This staycation lark may become a habit; pass me the UK atlas someone.

Updated: Apr 27

Never mind stockpiling toilet paper, paracetamol and tinned tomatoes - something of a staple in my kitchen.

It seems the new trend is for Tsundoku, the Japanese word for gathering books and letting them pile up on your bedside table without reading them.

Professor Andrew Gerstle, a teacher of pre-modern texts at the University of London explained to the BBC that the word appears in Japanese writing from 1879.

Apparently doku comes from a verb that can be used for "reading," while tsun is "to pile up."

On my dressing table I have an ever-increasing aspirational pile of reading material which I bought long before the current Coronavirus pandemic. It seems that however many unread books I may have, I can't enter a bookshop without buying yet more.

Illustration by Quentin Blake for Matilda by Raold Dahl

Not for me the digital book, whether that be on Kindle, iPad or phone. I need to feel the weight, smell the aroma and physically turn the pages of a novel

At the moment mine vary from crime novel Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, which sees the return of private detective Jackson Brodie, to Tin Fish Gourmet by Canadian foodie Barbara-jo McIntosh which tells you how to turn tinned fish into an exotic meal. I kid you not.

My problem is that I have a limited attention span which sees me downing the book in favour of a tantalising movie on Netflix.

However, you choose to while away the lockdown hours perhaps now is the time to hunker down and work your way through that pile of books, do a bit of home cooking with the meagre supplies left on the shelves. Tinned fish perhaps?

Speaking of cooking my kitchen has never been cleaner. Husband Phil and myself argued over who should have the “joy” of that normally awful job of cleaning the oven. Our bathroom is sparkling and the vacuum is virtually on its last legs due to overwork.

Not normally one of the world’s natural organisers Covid-19 has seen me transformed. No longer is my side of the bed a hazardous obstacle course; spices dating back to the 1990s have been chucked from the kitchen cupboards and my wardrobe has been decluttered with overflowing bags ready for the charity shop. Ancient lipsticks have been binned and I have even cleaned my make-up brushes

Now the weather has warmed up significantly for the time being,I would love to do some planting and am more than a little dismayed that garden centres are disposing of their stock because of Coronavirus. Wouldn’t it make more sense for plants to be left outside their premises so people can help themselves with a donation to charity?

Whenever this is over, and over it will be, I’m hoping to maintain some of the tidying habits I have developed over recent weeks. Watch this space…..

It was my fourth or should that be the fifth time of trying that I finally got to grips with this breadmaking malarkey.

Having eventually bought a #panasonic #breadmaker after years of dithering I eagerly ripped open the box, got my specialist #allinsons bread flour from the cupboard and set to eager to produce the #bestbreadontheblock.

Always keen to crack on, I never bother with instruction manuals; how difficult can it be? A bit of flour and yeast, a smidge of sugar and salt and a dash of water.

I timed it to be ready for 9am; what better than homemade bread for breakfast? Just as well I had that @warburtons loaf in the freezer then.

Keen to graduate to brioche, pizza and sourdough bread, I waited with anticipation for my first attempt to emerge. The world of baking was my oyster.

However, my homemade offering was as flat as a pancake. Cue laughter from daughter who has always scoffed at my breadmaking efforts.

"Don't throw that bread to the ducks mum, if you hit one it will kill it. It's like a brick....."

I have never forgotten this comment which was made more than 20 years ago. It rather put me off breadmaking but I was determined not to be defeated.

So to find my foray into the world of hi-tech breadmaking such a failure, I did what any sensible person would do from the start when using a new piece of kit - I resorted to the manual.

"Don't throw that bread to the ducks mum, if you hit one it will kill it. It's like a brick....."

The reason for my disastrous debut was easy and simply rectified; I had forgotten to fit the kneading paddle.

A pattern began to emerge. My second attempt saw me forgetting to add the yeast; third attempt the sugar and fourth I used the wrong programme. Memory seemed to be the issue.

My next go worked. I produced a perfectly seeded specimen. The reason being that I followed the instruction manual to a T. A lesson to be learnt there, I think. Use your loaf!

Still on the subjects of food and forgetfulness don’t you just love a pancake. Shrove Tuesday can’t come round quick enough in our house. However this year my passion for pancakes – and an eagerness to get that frying pan - got the better of me.

I bought the ingredients, told my friends not to forget this special day in the culinary calendar and planned the evening meal around the beautiful batter. There was only one problem – I had got the wrong date and was a week too early

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