Lockdown diary

I’m still finding it difficult to summon the energy to read much, let alone post, so today I thought I’d do another account of recent events.

My first cake

My first cake

Before lockdown ended last Wednesday I thought it was time I baked my first ever cake. With some supervision from Mrs TD – an excellent cook and baker – I produced this beauty: a Victoria sponge, with raspberry jam in the middle. It was delicious.

Next day the weather finally improved, so we went for a walk on the north Cornwall coast. The beach at Crantock was our dog’s favourite place, and is still one of ours.

Polly Joke

Polly Joke

We love the walk along the coastal path to the next bay: Polly Joke. I’ve posted here earlier this year with pictures of the beautiful display of poppies there in the summer. My picture shows the aftermath of the stormy weather during the preceding week.

When lockdown ended we found ourselves in Tier 1 – one of only a few areas in the country not to face tighter restrictions because of the recent surge in Covid cases here in the UK. On another fine sunny day we went to the south coast.

St Austell Bay

St Austell Bay

We took a picnic: Mrs TD’s home-made roast tomato and red pepper soup and a sandwich, which we ate on a bench overlooking St Austell Bay. My picture shows the sea as flat as a lake, gleaming like polished metal in the low winter sunshine.

On Monday I walked alone locally while Mrs TD had her Zoom yoga class at home. There were angry-looking dark clouds being buffeted across the sky by a blustery wind, but in between the sun was bright and the sky blue.

Pig lane view

This is the view from a lane that runs along the valley cut by the river Allen. There used to be a huge pig that wallowed in the mud beside the river below the farm, so we call this the Pig Lane – even though she’s long since gone for bacon.

Yesterday for another walk around Feock and the creekside paths (very muddy after all the recent rain) to Penpol and back.

I’ve posted before about the lovely little church in Feock, and the saint after whom the village is named. I finally traced the location of the holy well named after him: websites gave conflicting information.

Steps leading to St Feock's Well

Steps leading to St Feock’s Well

It’s a fairly modern-looking brick structure at the bottom of a slope, reached by a set of rough steps. Iron bars – like a prison cell’s – are the only way of seeing inside, so it’s very dark. Murky water the colour of milky tea looks uninviting. I can’t imagine this water having very curative powers – rather the contrary.St Feock's well






Since the lockdown ended the town has become very busy again. Everyone seems intent on making up for lost time, doing their Christmas shopping. I prefer to avoid the crowds and stick to my rural walks. As always we feel so fortunate to live in such a lovely place. The scenery always lifts our spirits.

So do the plants and wildlife. My bird feeder is regularly visited by a handsome nuthatch. The bullfinches that were regular visitors earlier in the year are also starting to return after the summer hiatus. Mrs TD insists that the birds fend for themselves during the summer. She says naturally foraged food is bountiful at that time, and they’ll become lazy and probably delinquent if we carry on feeding them through those months.

She’s not usually so tough.

22 thoughts on “Lockdown diary

  1. I very much enjoyed the post, as I also look to nature for solace/survival in these difficult times. It’s a lot of fun for me to read about natural surroundings so different from my own, which tend towards palm trees, Spanish moss and slow-moving semi-tropical rivers! (many years ago I lived along a very scenic coastline, all rocks and crags; my walks were wonderful). I do envy you those bullfinches, which are among my very favorite European birds; alas, I’ve only seen one or two. And, heavens, that cake does look yummy . . . .

  2. After many moves over many years, I currently call “the west coast” (of Florida, that is!) home. It’s north of Miami, so not tropical, but it’s certainly semi — those rivers have alligators, many yards (would this be a “garden” in the U.K.?) have orange trees and my hibiscus plants haven’t stopped blooming for months! Native cuisine tends towards biscuits and fried shrimp and away from sponge cakes, I’m afraid (although there was a delightful British tearoom close by, in pre-pandemic days, which served fabulous scones with Devonshire cream).
    In addition to bullfinches, I have also seen British nuthatches, which are very nice birds indeed (although not in the same league as bullfinches). I just did a quick memory refresher — your nuthatch closely resembles North America’s red-breasted nuthatch, which I think is mostly in Canada and the northeastern U.S. My most common nuthatch when I lived “up north” was white-breasted, which quite often hung around my bird feeder. Guess a nuthatch is a nuthatch, regardless of nationality, right?
    Like you, I’m having great difficulty in reading seriously these days. I’m mostly going for re-reads of old favorites and novellas, which are about all my attention span can handle . . . .

    • Thanks for the info. I’ve been to South Beach a few times – friends of ours had an apartment there. First time they went we all drove down from New York – an amazing trip, over three days. My hibiscus only produced a handful of blooms over several years, so I gave it away to my sister-in-law, who has a sunnier garden. They don’t do so well here – climate not warm enough, I suppose. Yes, what you call ‘yards’ we call gardens. Cream teas are very contentious here in the SW of England. In Cornwall, where I am, you must put the jam on first, then the clotted cream. In Devon it’s the other way round. Both counties claim to be correct. Good point about re-reading old favourites. Might give that a try. Not getting much reading done at all at the moment.

  3. Many thanks for the info regarding the controversial nature of cream teas! If I ever visit these parts of the U.K., I must remember your pointers, as I wouldn’t want to become embroiled in any cultural disputes.
    Re reading: the re-reads are really working for me. It’s actually been quite fun to track down and sample favorites of yesteryear. Some hold up surprisingly well and some, well — don’t!

    • Janakay: I dropped off a pile of books yesterday in a village phone box that’s now a book sharing library. Maybe I should hang on to the rest and revisit some of them. As for the cream tea controversy- at least we agree on scones…

  4. Some lovely varied Cornish scenes with its distinctive light. Like you I’ve been so grateful to have lovely rural walks on my doorstep, along Devon lanes, up hills, to nearby river and sea. There are also some old village wells tucked in a local wood, Downs Copse, a little like the well image you posted. ‘Bat Well Spring’ is one evocatively named one, still used by local smallholders. And, yes, good home made/baked meals have been one of the comforts of lockdown; your Victoria Sponge looked excellent!

    • Glad you liked the pictures, Helen. The light changes all the time, especially at this time of year. I like the sound of that well! I made my first soda bread recently, too. Quite therapeutic,this baking business.

  5. Your pictures of nature soothe my soul, as does the “picture” of you enjoying roast pepper soup and a sandwich so lovingly prepared. These are the things that sustain us, physically and emotionally, during trying times.

    • Thank you, Karen. I had a piece of love cake from a Persian teashop in town today, and looked up the recipe online: think I’ll have a go at that next. Jam first is logical; it creates a firmer base for the cream.

    • Thanks, Jane. Yes, some Cornish placenames are unusual. Just up the road from me there’s Come-to-Good and Playing Place. I’ve a soft spot too for nearby Foxhole and Frogpool. Pronunciation of the names is another tricky issue: Mrs TD took a while to get her tongue round Lostwithiel. We lived for a time in Tywardreath (which gave its name to Daphne du Maurier’s novel The House on the Strand – its rough English translation); I heard native locals pronounce it in at least three different ways! Visitors often get Fowey wrong (should rhyme with ‘cloy’).

  6. Thank you for taking us on these lovely walks – very restorative to your readers, too.

    It’s a funny old time, isn’t it. I am reading pretty well and managing to do my reviews, but became completely unable to continue blogging about my running (though fortunately the running blogger women I befriended when I was doing it are still there and I get to read and comment and feel community with them in other ways). It was just too miserable with all the restrictions and, when there were fewer restrictions, pulls between people who were happy with different sizes of running groups.

    But please keep going in the standard and the blogging sense! And well done on the cake. Mr Liz’s first cake was a pancake as we discovered during the process he had no idea what folding in was and stirred all the air out of it (his second one was fine!).

    • Liz: thanks for the endorsement. Shame about your posts on running, but I understand your feelings. My stepdaughter has become addicted to cold water swimming and loves the exhilaration and camaraderie. Mrs TD was very firm with me on how to ‘fold in’ without losing all the air in the cake dough ( is that the right word?)

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