Magazine Monday: The Simple Things April 2020 Kind

Bluebell Woods and Treasure Hunts

How is your world in Lockdown? Life gets very essential, doesn’t it? As in, it’s essential that I spend a lot of time on Twitter or Facebook communicating to family and friends as life whizzes by.

I never realised how much we take simple things for granted, but actually when a good belly laugh can leave you wheezing and the simple act of showering has not been a daily activity (mea culpa, some days it was literally a choice between showering or doing anything else: I have showered today, I promise, but it’s a good thing we don’t have smell-a-vision as well as video calling) then essentialism becomes far, far more than just a title of a book on my to-be-read pile, and becomes a choice between shall I risk a couple of lines of crochet (hurts the shoulders surprisingly more than I was ever aware of before) or shall I read a magazine, which you can do sideways lying on the bed, but the back gets twisted, and every position is uncomfortable in the end.

Today’s essential task is this blog post. I have also had a shower, and washed my hair, so I’m only starting this at midday, but hopefully I can fit it in before getting my simple lunch and then rest up this afternoon with my current obsession.

Of course, I’ve not been to the supermarket or any shops to purchase anything for over a week. I rather suspect now will be a good time to establish clean shopping habits, focused on essentials and leaving the fripperies behind. Fortunately my magazine habit is fed by a variety of gifted subscriptions so no contact with anyone, not even my lovely Postman, was necessary to get my hands on The Simple Things. I know it’s again, it really is one of my favourite magazines, as so much of it is connected to the true essentials of life: food, family, friends and the beauties of the World in all its glories, animals, natural wonders and mankind.

April’s edition is themed around Kind, with a beautiful watercolour cover of birds huddling together. At the moment magazines are in the between-lands of having been written and produced pre-Corona yet being read as escapism by people in lockdown. Already we get the chance to be both nostalgic for a time past (without making madeleines: terribly fiddly cakes to make) and anticipate a time future when walks, gatherings and getting out will happen again. The theme of Kind is perfect for us at the moment: we need to be kind to ourselves and each other as tempers fray, panic resolve, Corona coughs develop and Standards are Let Slip.

And yet, despite not having even had Coronavirus on the kitchen table when writing her editorial, Lisa Sykes captures a feeling that we need to remember: “When we reach out and show kindness to others, whether through tea and cake at our kitchen table or by supporting just causes, it makes us feel good and positive, powerful even, that our small actions have changed our world just a little bit. Perhaps part of the solution to a problem is simply sharing it.” If nothing else, having the World go through an experience like this altogether has created a community online that, for once, know what each other’s lives are like, because they’re our lives too.

The Simple Things always has a broad range of articles: recipes, travel stories, inspiration for things to do, books to read and ways to build your life around the simple things: the simple pleasures that have gained extra significance now. I am desperate to make the Orange Pekoe Fat Rascals from the recipes for afternoon tea, to make a vegetable pie from the woodland picnic section, even if the wood I eat it in is no further than my doorstep, and the simplicity of making an indoor garden with a small succulent and gravel is appealing when big gardening seems to be on hold at the moment. I can’t decide whether going to buy a small succulent will count as essential shopping… but if it keeps me sane, then I suspect it might well be, and the caring for another living creature may well be better for me in the long run.

Environmentalism always looms large in The Simple Things. This month’s inspiring people are the wooden carver (carving a spoon is a craft that I may well have a go at later this year: I treated myself to a basic carving set for Christmas last year), Sir Tim Smit KBE who founded the Eden Project and advice on finding and shopping at zero waste stores. Certainly, I’m more conscious of what I’m buying at the moment anyway, so as to avoid waste. There were untold stories of panic buying a week ago and then, of course, the natural follow on of food waste this weekend. Fresh food will go off, whether you sit at home or not, and seeing shelves of meat and bread cleared out was shocking unless you were sure they would be taken home and stored in a freezer.

My non-food shopping has become more focused as well. It’s been products we really need for the house (bathroom sealant for a fresh leak in the bathroom) and, of course, my essential companions when I’m left alone, books. There are several book recommendations in this month’s magazine, but the two that have caught my eye are Happiness, a Mystery and 66 Ways to Solve it by Sophie Hannah and A Place Called Home: Print, Colour, Pattern by Cath Kidston. I’ve read books by both people before, and I’ve loved Cath Kidston’s home when I’ve seen it before, so these have both been added to my (rapidly growing) future hopeful list.

I still have further articles to read. It seems silly to race through a magazine in an hour at the moment, so I’ve saved articles to read little by little over the week, when I’ll turn my attention to another magazine.

Keep well, dear readers. It was lovely to have comments, both here and online, wishing me well and hoping for a speedy recovery. Well, a recovery is happening, and I think it’s as speedy as possible for Coronavirus, which is to say slowly, and not steadily. Bless those who have it badly, and those few who will not recover. And bless those family members who will struggle to find a way to show their love at a time when kissing or holding your deceased relative is seen as risky. I will be back later this week. Blog writing is one of my essentials, after all.

Want to help me feel better? Buy a book… full details here.


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