What I have learnt in lockdown – or – necessity is the mother of invention

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. During the coronavirus / covid-19 lockdown, I have come to realise just how true this saying is.


Here are a few of the things I have learnt in lockdown.


The practical stuff:
  • You can keep ants at bay with peppermint and lemon essential oils. I only had lemon balm essential oil. It worked.
  • You can unblock your bathroom sink by mixing 1 cup of 9% hydrogen peroxide with 1 tbsp baking soda and pouring it down the drain. (You’ve got to be super careful, the 9% hydrogen peroxide is very irritating to skin.) Anyway, it makes a very entertaining fizzing sound when it is going down the drain, but don’t put your ear too close. The icky stuff might shoot up in the air.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is also great for sterilising stuff, but I use the food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide for that. Have done for decades. I spray it on everything, even my face. Not sure you’re supposed to do that, but I was glad to have it when some silly woman touched my face to show me how cold she was. I mean, this was pre lockdown, but post coronavirus. And she had just told me she had had a “mild exposure” to it. I mean, honestly.
  • You can use Listerine to clean your toilet and make the bathroom smell lovely.
  • You can also use Listerine to clean your washing machine and make the clothes smell lovely. I used 3/4 of a cup.


The financial stuff:
  • You can live off of Huel (get Β£10 off here), oats (my no-cook recipe is here), red split lentils and a good multivitamin for a very long time, and it keeps for ages. Bonus: You can switch off the fridge and save money on the electricity bill.
  • Monthly grocery shops are the way forward. I’ll just need to top up with a bit of veg every week – if I ever dare to go out amongst people again.
  • You don’t need to keep the water heater on 24/7. The washing machine (and dishwasher, for those who have one) heats itself. I switch it on 2 hours before I take a shower.
  • A mini solar panel in the window can generate enough power to recharge your iPhone, even in the UK in May. I use this one from Goal Zero along with the Anker PowerCore+ Mini. (For some reason the iPhone won’t charge directly from the USB port on the panel, but it works fine with the PowerCore.) This is very helpful when the power suddenly cuts out and you need to use your iPhone’s hotspot to keep working.
  • Budgeting is kind of … fun. (Who said that?) With less work coming in, I went through my finances and figured out how much less money I spend due to no gym, no physio, no petrol, no travel, no shopping, no socialising… And by putting on 7 jumpers and doing star jumps. I then calculated how much less I needed to earn, so I could stop panicking on days when no work came in. Being your own boss isn’t always fun (but 99% of the time, it’s great!).
  • There is some warmth to be had from lighting candles. It is also very cosy. But not great for reading unless you have a backlit screen. (In case you’re wondering: yes, I’ve had some crippling electricity bills lately.)


I made a corona budget. But I didn’t photograph it. So this is a free stock photo by Northfolk from Unsplash.com.


The psychological stuff:
  • Being single and living alone in a lockdown ought to be lonely, but I am still remarkably happy on my own. (I have always been a bit of a misanthrope.)
  • That said, talking to cats is fine. Talking to squirrels and birds is ok. Bumblebees is a little on the kooky side. Spiders … that is crossing a line.
  • My new landlords are absolutely wonderful people. I suspected as much, but now I know for sure.
  • Having a small outdoor space is worth its weight in gold. I must remember this if when I come to buy my own home.
  • BUT: The sun will insist on moving westwards, which means that if you try to keep your back to it because you’re a tad sunburnt, the left side of your face will invariable become more tanned than than the right side. It is quite the look.
  • Reading what my friend refers to as mis lit (misery literature) during a pandemic is weirdly uplifting. I am currently reading The Warlow Experiment. Unlike Mr Warlow, at least I get daylight and fresh air.
  • I love being read to. Not in an audiobook kind of way (although that, too), but in a ‘reading Harry Potter to my nieces with my sister via Facebook Messenger’ kind of way. (We had to take a break. The Triwizard Tournament is too scary right now.) And in a ‘Jennifer Ehle reading Pride and Prejudice with her dog Violet (so cute!) in her car on YouTube‘ kind of way. It’s the best.


my year in books 2019
Reading is creative … isn’t it?


The creative stuff:
  • I actually have an idea for a novel. (Who knew?) And I am considering doing something about it. Hint: It involves time travel. Sort of.
  • I am not really that creative, though. Unless reading is creative. Let’s say it is.
  • If your Kindle Touch from 2012 dies, try connecting it to your computer anyway. Search for .mobi and .epub files. I rescued 57 novels downloaded from other sites that way. They are now waiting for me on my Kobo Aura One, which I bought specifically a few years back because it allows me to read library books via Overdrive. (Alternatively, you can get Β£3 off your first Kobo book here).


what i have learnt in lockdown
From my 5 am morning walk. Unedited.


The physical stuff:
  • Working out at home with a trainer via FaceTime is just fine, even if you’ve only got about four square metres of floor space. I’m very glad I went straight to Tesco and bought two 3 kg dumbbells and a resistance band when the lockdown was announced, though. That and a chair (for easy burpees, I’m not that fit) is all the equipment I need.
  • The early bird catches the worm. And the early person gets a morning walk without having to worry about whether other people will observe social distancing. I got up at 5 am yesterday and went for a stunning sunrise walk by the beach. The only other person I saw was in the sea. (He was also in a wetsuit.) Walks timed to one hour before sunset are also pretty quiet.
  • I miss being in my car. It’s weird, I know. I have considered using the backseat as a reading nook, but my drive is so steep that I would probably wind up in the footwell. Now that we are allowed to go driving again, I think I will go to my favourite carpark in the woods and read for an hour before going for a walk.


I hope your lockdown has been ok, too. Stay safe!


Love, Neens xx


PS: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. Using them won’t cost you any more, but it might make me a few pennies to put towards the hosting of this blog.Β  πŸ™‚

7 comments Add yours
  1. A great post, and I just love the sunset photo – it looks like it could be somewhere in the Serengeti πŸ™‚

  2. Nice to see a post from you. You sound like you’re rockin’ in this strange situation. You go girl. 😊.

  3. What a lovely positive blog, despite these strange times. And great advice ( definitely trying the bathroom sink one!)
    Gorgeous photo too looking out towards the otter estuary. We were fortunate enough to be in Budleigh the week before lockdown & absolutely love it there. That walk before sunrise must be amazing. I can’t wait to dip my toes in the sea again. Take care & stay safe

    1. Thank you very much, Debbie! Strange times indeed. Hope the sink unblocking tip works for you and that we can safely spend ages on the beach again soon! πŸ™‚

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.