April 1

This April Fool is not exactly tickety-boo. Snippets of world news trickle out of BBC Sounds as I lie on the sofa. World Bank forecast bleak. Virus creating panic in India. NSW, Australia forbids gatherings of more than two and will impose ‘hefty fines’ on those who break the law.

All night bizarre fever dreams see me pursued by a pangolin. I didn’t even give pangolins a second thought till the pandemic, but I should have! Is it possible to have a three-day headache? I have a burning feeling in my bones.

Over 500 dead in the UK… unspeakable.

Wimbledon cancelled. Tired of the chopping board.


April 2

Dreamt I was on my way to the airport but had left all our passports at home. Did a wide arcing U-turn, neatly ejecting Jack from the side buggy of my motorised shopping trolley and we miss our flight. Wake up with the same headache I went to sleep trying to avoid. 

Today mounting criticism of the British government over lack of testing.

Exhausted. Laundry pile mountainous. Keep falling asleep every time I sit down and emitting strange sighing noises like a… narcoleptic pangolin?

April 3

Dreamt I finally opened my café and then immediately had to close it.

Homeless people here in the UK are being accommodated in empty hotels! Amazing that decisions such as these are made with breath-taking swiftness in a time of crisis.

Utterly no sense of smell or taste today and a sick feeling my gut. Our dog, Freud, is bewildered by the family’s sudden ubiquity. 

Evening News bulletin –Boris in Hospital with Coronavirus! Insert Edvard Munch scream emoji here.

April 6

Yesterday, a sunny Sunday and I had phone switched off all day to quell anxieties. Sat and read Camilla Lackberg instead. Turned phone back on this morning to read more about Boris in hospital. Unsettling!

April 7

 Boris now in INTENSIVE CARE.  Shit just got real!

The teenagers are a law unto themselves and domestic-lockdown parenting strategies have gone to Hell in a handbasket. Still recovering, I fall into blessed sleep at 9.30pm and am awoken at 1am by thunderous Houseparty chats from children’s bedrooms. This must be stopped… but not right now. I’m too tired.

 April 8

Feeling incrementally better.

Freud’s jostling jowls provide a welcome distraction from the dust and smeary-ness on all domestic surfaces. The house hasn’t been properly cleaned for a month.

Seder night with my mother-and-father-in-law this evening via Facetime on Jack’s iPad. When we reach the bit about the 10 plagues we include Coronavirus as an 11th, dabbing our mark for the modern plague down in kosher wine with pinky fingers, along with the locusts and rivers of blood.

Unseasonably warm. I counted three different mothers of young kids having meltdowns near the park, one venting frantic rage while folding away a stroller.

Today we cleaned the BBQ with a turnip… as they used to in medieval times! 

April 9

Boris still in hospital.

France in recession.

This is the first morning in ages the BBC reports some NON-cancellations and certain sectors are reluctantly returning to work. The Passport Office have been instructed back, and Ascot will apparently go ahead ‘behind closed doors”? All those horses peeping through the keyhole. There’s even distant chat of kids going back to school in May.

Drowning in laundry and yesterday too tired to get off the sofa with bad headache. My parents, back home in NSW, are deliberating over flu jabs. My mum said that the frail, elderly must wait in their cars for the pharmacist to appear, Zorro-like in white cape brandishing a syringe! I’m still eating from a pot of Greek yoghurt that I bought before lockdown two weeks ago and it was already PAST USE BY DATE when I bought it. (Shame on you M&S). I wonder if my inability to smell or taste will end up poisoning me.

April 10

Finally! I have more energy. Back to the kitchen I go. I choose to bake vegan oatmeal cookies from a recipe in Gwyneth’s first cook book. Hers look chewy and delicious. Mine feel gritty as I form them into balls for baking but I remain optimistic.

“Tastes like the desert,” declares Edie, chewing exaggeratedly.

 “Mine is a rock,” said Jack. “There’s no moisture.”

The dog eats the biscuit Tom rejects and his jaws are unable to get traction. Eventually he swallows it whole. Will he pass it out the other end?

April 11

Forecast is for a really warm day (by English standards), so we go for our daily walk at 6.30am. There are already people up and about with the same idea.

We are averaging about four hundres hours of telly per night! The news is still the highpoint; it makes us feel connected to the rest of the country and to the world. Oxford University may have a vaccine ready in September. Hoorah.

Jack has an ulcer on his gum and I make him a poultice from Grey Goose vodka and Manuka honey. It seems to do the trick!

April 12

Easter Sunday. Boris is up… risen indeed.  He declares his ‘love’ for the NHS, singling out the fearless nurses whose efforts undoubtedly saved his life.

The death toll here has surpassed 10,000. All those people dying without their loved ones by their side is unfathomable.

April 13

Cold again, the Easter heatwave has passed and it’s a bitter bluster on our daily walk. My bones feel like rubber, I’m so unfit after two weeks of this virus. Once Easter is behind us I’m going to pop my exercise clogs on and move my butt. 

We are paying our cleaner to stay away. Everywhere you look there’s mess.

April 14

Please, no more service station bought Easter Eggs. It feels like my 900th day of recovery from the bug and I went a much longer distance than usual on my walk. I also got out of bed at 6.30am and almost immediately started vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms. The dust is thick on the sideboards too.  I rescued a bumblebee on the end of my feather duster. 

It’s a new phase of lockdown for us; a phase where no family member is unwell. So, I ought to be doing Yoga or something. (Not stockpiling old Easter buns.)

Trump has been blasting the media, accusing them of fakery when all the reporter asked was ‘what action did you take against Coronavirus in February?’ But still, his die-hard supporters think he’s doing great, greatly great. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live inside his head. Whenever you’re confronted with something you don’t like the sound of you just yell ‘fake’ and point the blame at someone else. I’m going to try it next time someone accuses me of baking extremely dry biscuits. 

About to don gloves and tackle the kids’ bedrooms. One teen has morphed into the Easter Vampire and its tricky to get daytime access.

April 15

Trump’s recent actions have given me a sick feeling in my gut. Scapegoating the World Health Organisation to deflect from the crisis in his own country is beyond. This virus hasn’t even taken hold in Africa yet and the world needs the WHO more than ever. 

I know I should be washing/ vacuuming/ writing/ tidying but instead watch Whiplash with Jack at 10.30am despite the fact that it’s sunny outside. Some days, perfecting the art of knitting/ reciting Jabberwocky/ baking short crust pastry from scratch need to cave for Netflix/ Ben and Jerry’s.

April 16

And exhale. The kids are all online learning in their bedrooms. At least I think they are. Anyway, I don’t care, they’re out of the kitchen for a change and it’s nice and quiet. The bright sunlight reveals dust bunnies now calling my name from every corner but I’m resisting! I’m reading Anne Tyler’s new book instead. That and admiring the tulips now in bloom. Today the talk on the Heath has switched from Covid and vaccines to browning carrots in olive oil vs butter.

Last night we finished watching Quiz on ITV which was the perfect tonic to Corona Stress.

I’m trying to stretch my outfits over two days to create less washing. Chic this situation ain’t. Same old blue jeans, bandana, long sleeve t-shirt with a khaki jacket borrowed from my quaranteen. I’m slightly freaking out about my anosmia. I can’t taste coffee, grapes, ergo white wine (feels like vinegar on my tongue), I couldn’t smell the cigarette someone was smoking in the park, I can’t smell the dog’s fur!  I can smell honey.  I would say I have about 40%  back.  I fear I’m driving the rest of the family (and you) mad, going on and on about it.

April 17

Last night I made a curry from an online recipe and Edie reckoned it made her ‘bear nauseous, fam’. I couldn’t taste it so really couldn’t tell you whether her thinly veiled accusation that I am attempting to poison the entire family holds any water.

 Apparently, a head NHS doctor has begged Burberry to make PPE as medical staff have been forced to re-use theirs due to desperate shortages. Chinese officials have altered their death toll (to 50% more deaths than they had previously specified.)

April 18

Long ago, when we went into lockdown and the panic buying was at its worst, I found myself unable to get any online grocery deliveries. A farm in Sussex called Field&Flower https://www.fieldandflower.co.uk  was recommended by a friend of a friend. Their produce is grass fed and sustainably sourced. But back then in the Panic Buying Era, everyone else had the same idea: so, I wasn’t able to obtain a delivery date… till today! Two cardboard boxes of delicious produce are delivered to our doorstep. There’s a cheeky cheese called Sussex Charmer, a lemony smoked trout dip, ingredients for a fish pie and farm butter. Everything is so lovely. We have a sort-of-party with our teens to celebrate, cooking a stroganoff with ingredients from the farm box. I can almost taste wine again. Ditto chocolate! Anthony makes a martini with spaghetti sauce! Want the recipe?

April 19

The Sunday papers are full of blame. Boris and Co not looking good in light of new allegations on their early response to the crisis.  Comparisons to South Korea, Singapore and Germany make us look like dithering incompetents, now paying the price. There’s not enough PPE, huge amounts were sent to China from the UK and China have not reciprocated, so our doctors need to resort to wearing bin bags. They are wondering if the government underestimated the willingness of the public to lock down early. Instead we got ‘wash your hands and we will get through this.’ There are reports that the economy may be  irreparably damaged. 

It makes for unsettling reading while we’re still in lockdown. 

 April 20

After a week of full on cooking, and everywhere you look espousing the joys of cooking, I look at my fish pie ingredients and then at the accompanying recipe. Suddenly, the idea of boiling a clove stuffed onion in milk and rolling bits of haddock in flour seems… overwhelming. I’ll do it, for sure. But not tonight. How do beans on toast sound?

April 21

People are removing their own teeth here! REMOVING THEIR OWN TEETH.

After several nights of sleeping 8 hours straight (unheard of) I’m back to fretful snatches throughout the wee hours. Is the unholy fox chorus keeping me awake? They, and the squirrels have gone mad, high on their unfettered access to roads and gardens. I swear a squirrel paused at the kitchen window, winked at me, then walked, very slowly, away.

Conservative American protestors compare themselves to Rosa Parkes. Trump staff members are stoking these protests, Trump himself Tweeting encouragement.

In Sweden the unique, more relaxed approach to Covid 19 is a point of great interest and their state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell is a sensation. Many are copying his geek chic in admiration. This involves wearing a smooshed up collar on a wrinkled shirt.  Hey, Anders, I’m all set to adopt your trend. 

April 22 Earth Day

Last night I Zoomed with my book club. My Zoom savvy not up to the standards of even my 13-year-old who’s been doing maths by Zoom for eons. Anyway, once I got the family to help me migrate from my tiny phone screen and switch to laptop, I could more easily join in. Seeing the state of my regrowth on screen makes me shudder. (Not to self: must order home colour kit… and Veet strips). I’m concerned our family will emerge from this lockdown in much the same way as Julian Assange exited the Ecuadorian Embassy:  long, grey hair, talon-like nails and straggly beards!

Gave my 16-year-old, who has waist length hair, a ‘trim’. She takes the disastrous results in her stride, cheerfully publishing the results on Snapchat.

April 23

Margaret Atwood interviewed on BBC Radio 4! Her picks for isolation reading include The Brothers Karamazov and Beowulf (in its original language). She says the world will not go backwards, we can only go forwards, but with a reset: with changed attitudes towards nature and wealth.

 Big Night In on BBC One is a welcome bright spot after our terrible news bulletin.

Miranda always, always makes me laugh no matter how grim the evening. Then, Prince William and Stephen Fry exhort us to run to our doorstep and bang saucepans in appreciation of the NHS. It’s a Thursday night national pastime.

Big Night In raises £27.4 million.

 April 24

A bestie-beastie birthday Zooms in, reuniting old friends! Happy Birthday https://skillings.com.au

My heart soared at these words in tonight’s news: Immunity Passport. Will I qualify? Are my damaged taste buds proof I can travel? When will we know?

Trump suggests drinking / injecting bleach to combat virus. WTF. Why isn’t Bill Gates president?

 April 25

Anzac Day. Missing home. A lot of argy-bargy in lockdown at home, tempers boiling over as we jostle for space. Eventually we decide to order in 5 Guys and celebrate Edie’s 17th early as she has a maths paper on her actual day. I realise I have no aftertaste. Could this be turned into a superpower?

 April 26

Didn’t look at phone all day- felt soggy and somnambulistic (not unlike a narcoleptic pangolin). Sat in the sunshine and read The Discomfort Of Evening from cover to cover. Not sure I wanted to spend a sunny Sunday inside a Dutch dairy farm with a wildly dysfunctional family, but it was transporting! Unsettling! Genius! 

April 27

Edie’s Birthday. Way to spend your 17th!  A Year 12 Maths paper in the morning, watching Totoro with the family at lunch and then studying for another exam all afternoon. Anthony makes her favourite Coffee Cup dish Penne Florentina, here at home (where else?) https://villabiancagroup.com  We have a thimble full of Mip Rose and then a text alert that her best mate has arrived (SURPRISE). They spend 30 minutes ‘catching up’ at a safe social distance while her friend’s mum waits in the car. Essential travel alright, Officer. Edie’s mood goes from zero to hero. We managed to nab the last 6 red velvet cupcakes from Primrose Bakery www.primrose-bakery.co.uk   and stick a candle in one to sing Happy Birthday.

As I drift off to sleep I ponder…is Kim Jong-un dead or is he recovering from a lengthy bout of Corona? Where has he gone?

April 28

Raining and freezing. Last night I dreamt I was living in a bright blue apartment in China and we were coming out of lockdown. Apparently, coming out is the hardest part (always has been) so it’s elbowed it’s way into my dreams.

 It’s as if we have moved into a new phase of quarantine. An era where it’s less about tidying the attic, learning how to crochet or making pie crust pastry from scratch to choking down the impulse to strangle each other. Close co-habitation, trying to be respectful of each other’s space and finding patience is hard. If I linger in the kitchen too long I end turning into Edward Saucepan Hands, making little snacks on request, stacking and unstacking the dishwasher. By the end of the day I want to scream into a damp tea towel.

Sometimes it’s best to switch on Tiger King, order in and zone out.

 Today there’s a minute’s silence in honour of key workers who have lost their lives in the fight against Corona Virus. It’s unbearably moving.

April 29

 We’ve been on lockdown since March 23rd and they’re saying it will continue till May 7th at least.  Apparently, there’s an asteroid headed for Earth. Scientists say it gives the uncanny impression that it’s wearing a mask. They must have PPE where he comes from.

The death toll here in the UK reaches 26,000 as new figures reflect care home fatalities too.

April 30

It turns out Kim Jong-un was on holiday. He has his own train, which must be nice.

Captain Tom Moore, who helped raise £29 million for the NHS doing laps of his garden, turns 100 today. Two flypasts are due to take place over his Bedfordshire home.

Tonight, via the daily press conference from Downing St, new Dad Boris will tell us precisely how the country will Unlock. I’ll have fingers and toes crossed for the success of Oxford University’s vaccine trial as we bang our saucepans for key workers everywhere.