25 things to do at home in Hertfordshire during lockdown
PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:58 06 November 2020
Alison Burrows Photography
As we lie low to limit the spread of Covid-19, we need to find new ways of doing things and to find the positives – and there are plenty of them.
The isolation period is well underway and we are all going through it. It’s in many ways strange and tough but there are silver linings – time to do things we have always wanted to do, but have been too busy, and the chance to take up new interests. So instead of binge watching on Netflix, try something new to keep your mind active and your body moving. And looking ahead, it’s important to remember to do what we can to support Hertfordshire’s communities, charities and businesses.
DINE IN STYLE
1. Their doors may be shut to the public but there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in Herts offering a takeaway service. Whether you fancy a Turkish delight from Lavish in Stevenage Old Town, Asian fusion courtesey of Elle’s Kitchen in Hertford or good old fish and chips from The Great Northern Pub and Kitchen in St Albans, you can order or even buy a voucher for future use to help our food industry.
2. The supermarkets and big food delivery companies are facing unprecedented demand as a result of the coronavirus outbreak so perhaps turn you attention to independent suppliers instead. Order spring lamb and seasonal veggies like purple sprouting broccoli, celeriac and parsnips from Foxholes Farm in Hertford and pick up ready boxed. foxholesfarm.com
3. Cooking can be wonderfully therapeutic. Why not indulge your sweet tooth and try a bake off masterpiece of your own or try new recipes with the family? There are some fantastic chefs delivering delicious recipes and inspiration. See Humble Herbs’ mouthwatering recipes on Instagram and on p45 in our May issue, cook with the kids with Knebworth-based daisybake.com and sign up to Cobbled Kitchen’s newsletter for tips and recipes. If you feel the covid blues, Yvette’s Chocolates in Potten End and The Secret Truffletier in Woolmer Green are still making chocolate for delivery to cheer us all up.
4. Just because you can’t get out to your favourite delicatessen doesn’t mean you need to skip your next cheese fix. Award-winning The Cheese Plate in Buntingford is on hand to deliver fabulous cheeses. An ultimate cheeseboard with crackers to complement right to your door.
5. Many of you will be missing Friday nights at the pub with friends or dinner out with family, but thankfully there is a solution – host a Zoom party. As we confine ourselves to our homes to stop the spread of coronavirus, thousands of us are using the video conferencing software to beat the isolation blues. Previously the preserve of boardroom meetings, it has become the hottest virtual destination for cancelled everything. To add to the fun, Tring Brewery is offering a beer to your car service or enjoy a Campfire gin and tonic. Order at tringbrewery.co.uk and puddingstonedistillery.com
6. Self isolation is the perfect excuse to dedicate some new-found free time to sorting out your clothes. Ditch those items you haven’t worn for ages and give them a second chance by donating them to charity shops when they reopen. Try on every item in your wardrobe and see if any new outfit combinations jump out at you. Or go one step further and ‘Marie Kondo’ your drawers.
7. While spending the time working through your wardrobes you may come across forgotten pieces in need of a little TLC. From a simple alteration to a repair, why not order threads and fabric swatches and get creative? Or maybe repurpose fabric from those items earmarked for charity. There are plenty of tutorials online with step-by-step assistance.
8. Take this time to tackle those interior improvements you’ve been putting off for months (or years?). Whether it’s painting the walls, reupholstering a piece of furniture, redesigning a room or changing that blown light bulb, there’s no longer an excuse to procrastinate. There are some fantastic interior shops for you to purchase products online and still some hardware stores delivering the essentials. But do be safe and don’t take on projects beyond your skills, you don’t want to clog up A&E at this time.
9. Gardening is great for mental and physical health. There is some fantastic inspiration and advice available online (and in this magazine) from container gardening to potting new flowers. Give your garden some love and attention and it will reward you with beautiful blooms. If you don’t have a garden, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy plants. See thehertfordshiregardencentre.com and rhs.org.uk/advice/get-growing
10. Whatever the size of your outdoor space, you can still create a haven for wildlife. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has great tips on making a nature-friendly garden. Create a hole in your fence to provide an easy passage for roaming hedgehogs or have a go at making your own bird box or bug hotel. For more advice on how to help wildlife, including handy guides, visit wildlifetrusts.org/actions
11. Being connected to nature in these times of uncertainty is a great balm and it can be fun too. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has exciting things you can be doing with your children in the garden or indoors. Each week the #WildAtHome project gives ideas and tips for such things as creating a mini-nature reserve, identifying wildflowers or an evening of stargazing. hertswildlifetrust.org.uk
12. Self-isolating with young kids can be challenging but there’s plenty more to do than watch TV. Embrace your inner children’s presenter and get crafty. Try papier-mâché masks on balloons, carve potato stamps, make a robot out of boxes or, if your kids love writing, get there imaginations firing with a story challenge. Having creatively challenged them in the day, the evening can be spent enjoying a film or TV show together. Go to creativehertfordshire.com
13. It’s scientifically proven that pets offer a great way to reduce anxiety and stress and will no doubt lift spirits at this time. Dog walking with the children in a green space near home has never felt so refreshing. To help its animal rescue centres, which are currently shut, the Blue Cross (there’s one in Kimpton) is hosting a fundraising Rescue Run Virtual Marathon Challenge until June. Take the kids and pooch for excercise, maybe a mile or two a day, clock up the miles and you’ll be helping vulnerable pets too.
14. It’s recommended that those aged between five and 18 should do around 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day. The internet is awash with so many fitness workouts for adults, but what about youngsters? How about dancing in the living room with Rise Studios? The Watford and Rickmansworth dance school has now gone virtual with online classes for all ages. Moves and grooves to keep little ones happy and energised.
15. Home schooling has been thrust on many parents but to help there are many fantastic free education solutions, learning tools and entertainment resources available. Of course, your children will be missing their school friends too, so why not try the House Party app where they can do an interactive class together?
WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE
16. If you find yourself with free time and a thirst for knowledge, it would be a shame not to gain a new skill. Research shows that learning new skills can improve mental wellbeing by boosting self-confidence and self-esteem. Whether you’ve always wanted to speak French, learn ukulele or take a qualification, the world is your oyster with free video tutorials online.
17. Our NHS organisations and local charities really need us right now, so perhaps consider volunteering. It’s a great way to get involved in the community and help others. You can help those at high risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus by joining NHS Volunteer Responders. If you can’t volunteer, maybe donate to your local food bank. nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/about-the-nhs/get-involved-in-the-nhs
18. While we can’t physically get there at the moment, virtual tours can take us to fascinating locations. You can take a digital tour of St Albans Cathedral or deHavilland Aircraft Museum hosted by a curator, and look out for the live streams from Paradise Wildlife Park on Facebook – the cheeky lemurs will brighten your day. stalbanscathedral.org/digital-guide; dehavillandmuseum.co.uk
19. Since the instruction to stay home, social media and YouTube have been brimming with inventive new avenues explored by businesses and bloggers. Foodies are getting creative online, posting tips, while gyms are streaming live sessions. Herts personal trainer Amy Gypps is offering online health and fitness support on Facebook @Primalivin, and Odyssey Health Club and Spa in Knebworth is offering a special online membership. odysseyhealthclubs.com
20. Just like the rest of us, celebrities have all been told to stay at home. Being natural-born entertainers and creatives, they have been keen to share their experiences of self-isolation. What about our Hertfordshire stars? BBC Radio 2 presenter and Hertfordshire Life contributor Janey Lee Grace has launched a Facebook group called Imperfectly Natural Selfcare Isolation. And did you know Matt Baker, who lives on a farm in Herts, is also a talented artist? See his work (and peek into his home) on Instagram. @mattbakerofficial
GET LOST IN A BOOK
21. George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright and writer of Pygmalion, called Shaw’s Corner in Ayot St Lawrence his home for over 40 years. Get to know his maverick, funny, controversial and inspiring works in preparation for a visit to his Herts home, now a National Trust site, when all this is over. We love his quote, well suited to these times: ‘Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.’ nationaltrust.org.uk/shaws-corner
22. Missing your weekly book club? Just because you are confined to home doesn’t mean this can’t still go ahead. Reconnect with your club via a video conferencing app, raise a glass of wine and share your weekly book. Or start one now by reaching out to friends. The shops may be shut but Herts bookshops are still offering online inspiration and Herts Libraries’ online collection of audiobooks and e-books, BorrowBox, has never been so busy. chilternbookshops.co.uk; hertfordshire.gov.uk
23. Revisiting your children’s tired bookshelf for a bedtime story giving you a bit of a downer? Book Trust has a vast selection of children’s authors reading chapters from their books, or take part in the ‘draw along’ sessions, which provide entertainment for the whole family. There are also quizzes, print out activities and book-themed recipes – a wealth of fun and brain challenges.
24. How well do you know the county’s history? Hertfordshire is a surprising place. Discover more with tales shared by Hertfordshire Archives, hertsmemories and Hertfordshire Libraries. Visit their websites or browse their ebooks and reference materials. Brush up on that knowledge ready for the eventual return to the pub quiz in the local. hertsmemories.org.uk;
BEST EVER HERTS LIFE SUBSCRIPTION
25. We could be preaching to the converted, but if reading the county’s favourite magazine is not a monthly occurrence for you, make sure you don’t miss an issue of Hertfordshire Life by subscribing. You can stay home and stay safe and still recieve this monthly bundle of features, news, advice and ideas. With your choice of print, digital or both, subscribe or make a one-off payment and get the first six issues for only £10 (our best offer ever). During these times of social distancing you can still expect us to bring you the best of Herts. We’re proud of the county and we know you are too.