After a couple of months of very busy, and then not so busy, I was furloughed last week. The UK furlough scheme runs in three week cycles, so I have at least another two weeks. Most likely they will re-up and I won’t be working until the end of June, but that isn’t guaranteed.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I have plenty of projects that I’ve ben neglecting, so keeping busy has not been an issue. The garden has gotten some much needed attention, in time to become a useful space during this lovely weather. And my office/studio, which had descended into chaos when it suddenly became a workspace (and therefore not a place I wanted to also spend my evenings/weekends in) is now back under control.
The cats have also benefited as I build them a cardboard cat condo in a fit of craftiness, John was definitely worried I had lost the plot, and it is a bit more rickety that I would like, but they seem to like it.
Star Wars day falls on a Monday, which is when we play our Edge of the Empire weekly role play, so that works out.
Besides that we’ve been playing various boardgames from John’s collection. Some Imperial Assault, the app version. Some random small games like Welcome to Dinoworld, which I am abysmally bad at. But mostly Arkham Horror, we’ve played several kinds but this weekend we started the app version, which is not bad at all.
Meanwhile I’ve finally gotten back onto the PS4 on a regular basis, sinking my teeth into Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s a very pretty game, with enough of a variety to keep me focused. It’s been a while since I played enough of a game to actually get decent at it, so that’s nice!
John and I take turns cooking dinner, just like before lockdown, we were already pretty good at using up our veg box to get a nice variety of dishes. Obviously now we also eat weekday breakfast and lunch at home, usually breakfast is just toast or cereal, lunch we have together but it’s mostly random who makes it, plus lately the weather has been nice enough we can have it outside. We were a bit surprised that our grocery bill has gone up, but of course we’re buying the larger sizes and planning ahead for things that we might need a week down the line since you can’t just pop out for an onion or whatever.
And then there’s delivery! Thankfully a lot of local businesses have set up delivery services, restaurants of course; we’ve been getting delivery food at least once a week I’d guess. Nominally it’s to support the local places we would miss if they didn’t survive, but really it’s to cheer ourselves up. Nigerian food from Afritopia, pizza from Pizza Roma, fried chicken from Star Chicken, kebabs from Best Kebab, fish and chips from Ted’s. Yeah, we’re doing okay on that front.
We’ve also continued our tradition of date night/day – once a month we take turns figuring out something special – a nice meal or little surprise, nothing major but a little special treat. It was my turn this month and I was stumped until I found The Vintage Tea Room, which delivers a full afternoon tea on china plates! It was very reasonable too, just lovely.
Add in SoRoast coffee and the Butcher’s Hook beer delivery services, and we’re sorted. Given what a huge part of our entertainment food has become, that’s super lucky!
Lockdown is a month old now, things are still going as well as they can here.
Both of us are still working, my job is slowing down a bit but with big swings as circumstances and regulations change in various countries. Work helps but we’ve settled into a few routines that help give the week shape; both of us get up at the same time, and for the past week or so have been taking our exercise in the morning so the park isn’t as busy. I usually make coffee and toast or cereal while John does the litter and feeds the cats. We have breakfast together while reading comics, and I’m at my desk by 8:30. Sometimes one or both of us pops into a casual discord morning chat with some of Third Row fandom. We’re both mostly keeping office hours, although things are still pretty chaotic with my work so I’ve had to put in a few hours on the weekend and evenings.
Monday night is our Star Wars roleplay, using rpgsessions and Discord. Ironically I use my laptop in the living room so that our audio doesn’t overlap. Thursday evening Alison Scott has organized a fannish Zoom after work. Saturday morning I make pancakes, sometimes Sunday as well. Wednesdays (if we remember) we get some sort of pastries and make espressos for breakfast. John has a couple of other regular game nights set up with other fols, of course, and last Saturday the Third Row gang organized a Zoom quiz which might become fortnightly if enthusiasm maintains. Add in a few external reminders of the outside world like veg box delivery on Wednesdays, and I’m usually no more confused about the day of the week than I ever was.
Normally I’d start off with the usual apologies for not having posted in ages, but that seems silly under the circumstances.
Long story short, I stated working from home from March 19th and John was already doing so by then. Lockdown followed on the 23rd, and fortunately we’d been pretty stocked up between regular shopping habits, Brexit prep, and a few additional bits and pieces. We were already getting a weekly veg box, there are several good delivery services for bread, coffee, and beer, plus quite a few take outs and restaurants for the occasional treat. Our neighborhood is pretty conveniently located; we’re close to the river and riverside park, not too crowded around here, and there’s a good neighbourhood Facebook and street Whatsapp. The wifi is good, we have the cats to entertain us, and the garden to get some sunshine if the park looks busy. We’re incredibly lucky, in short.
Whoops – left this in drafts!
So the good news I hinted at came through, but then I got so busy I forgot to post; I have an exhibition at the local bookstore through March 28th. The opening was yesterday, and while it didn’t exactly get crowded it was a fun time with a bunch of friends and a few strangers who were kind enough to buy some of the art, can’t ask for much more than that.
On the crafts front, there’s a local antiques/crafts place that has opened a new location in town and I’ve secured a little shelf there. The timing was tricky because of the above, but I got enough stuff put together to get a start and am really looking forward to doing more crafts.
So, a very busy February, not even counting my actual day job, which has been a bit chaotic as all the cruise lines are changing itineraries and cancelling cruises outright.
And now it’s my birthday month, with several weekend visitors planned through the month and we’ve even had several hours of sunshine.
Well, not for everyone. Generally the news has been pretty dismal, but on a personal level I got a raise, and some adjustments to my job, and some other good news hopefully tab. So that’s something. Then this past weekend Josh visited, which meant John played a LOT of boardgames and was very happy. We played the last on an Unlocked box, which was an excellent Sherlock Holmes mystery. So a good month so far in that sense.
We also finally have a date for getting our bathroom re-done, it’s a few months away, and we’ll have to sort out what to do with the cats during the festivities but it will be great to have a shower again.
In the meantime I’ve been getting some 2019 Hugo nominating reading done; The Ten Thousand Doors of January is going on there, as probably is Gods of Jade and Thunder (I haven’t finished reading that yet, though). It’s a rich field this year, I think.
So far 2020 has been chock full of culture for us, we’ve fitted in two museum visits and a movie trip and the month is not over yet.
First Saturday of January we took the train into the New Forest to see an exhibit at the St. Barbe Museum and Gallery in Lymington. The idea behind the exhibition was what would Romantic art look like today, and while it was a mixed bag there were artists and pieces I liked a great deal. Primarily we were there to see a big intricate piece by local Southampton artist Greg Gilbert, who we first found at the local museum here. We also had breakfast at Hoxton, visited every single charity shop (I found a Hario Jumping Leaf teapot), and had a lovely lunch at Lemana.
The next weekend John’s parents visited and was beer, Costco, and boardgames mostly. They kindly brought the things we hadn’t wanted to lug home after Xmas, so I now have a light box and a paper trimmer, amongst other things. Oh, and a hammer drill!
Finally las weekend we went to our local Southampton City Gallery for an exhibition called Beyond the Brotherhood: The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy, which is basically what it says on the tin. It had a wonderful range; the first section includes a wide range of pieces and types of art, from big familiar pieces to illustrations, sketches, and ceramics. I was delighted to see ‘Vanity’ by Frank Cadogan Cowper, which is just beautiful up close. The exhibitions then goes on to show the legacy in later art and illustration, up to and including recent and contemporary fantasy art, including Brian Froud and Alan Lee. It wraps up at the end of the month here but then moves on to the Russell-Cotes Gallery in Bournemouth, whose collection is the source of a lot of the major pieces in the exhibit.
All that, and we even made it to the movies for once, to see Jojo Rabbit, which I really loved. I expected the humour, but not the emotional depth necessarily, or not on that level. I basically cried nonstop the last ten minutes. Waititi is doing his own things, but there was a lot of Vonnegut in there, and not a little Dr. Strangelove… it also made me want to watch the original version of To Be or Not to Be. I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while.
Well here we are in the far-flung future of 2020!
We had intended on a relatively low key NYE at Unity Brewing’s taproom, but both of us had sore throats so we scaled it back to a couple of pints at the Butcher’s Hook, where I had a lovely marshmallow porter and we had a nice chat with some strangers at our table. Back home we played a board game, ordered Indian food, watched the first half of Point Break, and were in bed just in time to wish each other a happy new year snuggled up with the cats as the fireworks went off outside. Perhaps not the most exciting new year’s ever but enjoyable all the same.
We headed up to Peterborough on Monday, everything went nice and smoothly and the trains were not too busy so we got there in time for dinner. This year was a lower key Coxon Christmas, mainly John’s parents, his aunts, and us two – with guest appearances by George and Kathryn, and by his grandmother on Christmas day.
We were also only there through the end of the week, so no panto this year. All in all it was very chill, we ate lovely food, drank wine and beer, saw old friends, watched quiz shows, and generally relaxed. John and I also squeezed in a viewing of John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch, which was odd but worth watching if you like his sensibility.
Finally, we closed out the year with the Lulzine Holiday Special!