The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)



It was a bit rich of Mrs F to whoop with glee when I mentioned that I might have to go into self-isolation at some stage. She seems to think that me being confined to the spare bedroom with no physical contact will open up an exciting range of possibilit­ies for her, including peace and quiet, access to the TV remote, the possibilit­y of cooking food for herself that I dislike and the chance to occupy more than her usual one quarter of our bed. Unfortunat­ely, her Highland background has bred her hale and hearty like a thistle and she’s convinced that those of us from the other side of the Great Glen are the human equivalent of dandelions; one blow and we fall apart. I do hope if the virus comes calling on Fyne Place it’s not her that succumbs. The thought of her being confined to the house while I play nursie is too scary a prospect for me even to consider. This weekend, back in 1912, Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated South Pole expedition was in its final stages. Earlier, brave Captain Oates had said: “I’m going outside, I may be some time.” Well, as it might be some time before some of us can get outside, other than for a wee solo walk, here’s some things that might pass the time when you’re stuck indoors.


Home-made vegetable soup. Ideas from a book or internet. Freeze to eat later

As I write this, supermarke­t pasta is harder to find than the Holy Grail and loo roll rarer than a rabbit in spectacles, but there’s no shortage of fresh vegetables and that’s perfect for making a fabulous pot of broth that costs very little. I regularly make steaming vats of the stuff which I then store in serving-sized containers and freeze. That gives us a quick, healthy and tasty bowl of broth whenever we want. I favour carrots, neeps, cabbage, leeks and some dried pulses you can buy as broth mix. Use a bit of beef or chicken or stock cubes as the base, chop the veggies up finely then simmer until tender. Let it cool then freeze in containers. You can also make exotic soups to your taste but I’m not one for carrot and kangaroo or chickpea with caviar croutons. Just ask whoever is doing your shopping to get what you need, then get chopping.


Learn a new skill or language. Lots of options online. Many different courses available

Were I to be confined to barracks, a daily diet of daytime TV would probably send me round the bend. Much better to spend that time learning a skill I don’t have, or brushing up on one that I’ve forgotten. There are dozens of options to choose from. Learning a new language is an obvious starting point, whether it be Gaelic or French, Russian or Mandarin. Perhaps you have neglected your knitting pins or don’t know how to service the lawnmower. Maybe it is just your general knowledge that needs improving, or your grasp of history. Whatever it is, if you’re confined to the house for some weeks and aren’t working from there, you have ample time to take up a challenge that will keep your mind fresh and will ensure your time isn’t wasted. I plan to fulfil a long-held ambition by learning Morse code, so I’d better dash dash dot.


YouTube, online, TV channels. Lots of entertainm­ent available to suit your hobbies and tastes

There’s a generation that has grown up with online video channel YouTube, so they will be well into it already but equally there are others who don’t know it, or shun it because they think it’s all about crazy people doing dodgy stunts or providing a platform for those whose views would be better left unsaid. OK, some of that does exist but if you have a computer, laptop or smart TV and haven’t explored it yet, do have a go. There are many wonderfull­y made videos about whatever you are interested in, from music to travel or soup-making to space flight. There’s even stuff on Morse code. Just type your interest into the search box and you’ll find what you want, and also lots of splendidly nostalgic stuff to remind you of better days. It could open up a whole new TV world for you that doesn’t involve Phil and Holly, so it’s not all bad.

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