How is the Cotswolds coping during the coronavirus?

PUBLISHED: 13:20 18 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:20 18 May 2020

Have you ever heard such a glorious cacophony of sounds now birds are able to sing their little hearts out without having to compete with rush-hour white noise (photo: Getty Images)

Have you ever heard such a glorious cacophony of sounds now birds are able to sing their little hearts out without having to compete with rush-hour white noise (photo: Getty Images)

Sander Meertins Photography

We face an invisible enemy that is changing forever the way that we live our lives. But we are resilient people – here’s how we’re coping with the lockdown and social isolation

We may not have the singing skills of the Italians or the gun-toting I’m-protecting-what’s-mine sensibilities of the Americans, but we Brits are dealing with the coronavirus in our own special way.

And we have form, of course. The Blitz spirit displayed during the Second World War saw us making hearty dishes out of Spam, powdered egg and allotment runner beans, while singing our hearts out in Anderson shelters with bombs raining all around... and there were no home wine deliveries then, either. The enemy we find ourselves facing now is a very different beast to any we’ve experienced before, but it’s heartening to know that – bar the odd squabble over a four-pint bottle of full-fat – the same sort of resilience is being exhibited across the Cotswolds, and even as far as Swindon.

So, in the spirit of coronavirus we’re-all-in-this-together sharing, here are some highlights of what we’ve learned so far...

Pantry appreciation

Use-by dates are for wimps. This isn’t a flagrant disregard of government guidelines, this is basic common sense. That tin of corned beef that’s been keeping the spiders company for the past three years is (probably) fine. Did 17th-century man have date stamps on his food? No, he did not. He had a similarly-designed nose and sense of taste we’ve been gifted with (with the exception of some who may have come into contact with ‘the enemy’... just another example of the baffling array of symptoms we’ve been told about). Common sense is your friend, and he knows good corned beef from bad.

And, though we may be limited on some of our store-cupboard essentials (I can’t remember the last time I had tagliatelle), there are still plenty of decent vineyards and breweries delivering straight to our doorsteps. Enter and their brilliant pantry pairings...

Baked beans on toast? What you need is a good fruit-driven red, such as Chilean Merlot or Aussie Shiraz.

And chicken and mushroom instant noodles? A bit more of a challenge, but it’s gotta be a lightly-oaked Chardonnay, natch.

Show us your #shelfies

You show me yours and I’ll show you mine has taken on a whole new - wholly more innocent - meaning.

While we’re all self-isolating, our homes have never been tidier, and Twittersphere has been taken over by a plethora of images that suggests we’re all classics-reading bookworms. Gone are the Jackie Collins and Dan Browns, and in come the vintage, embossed leatherbound Dickens sets, rubbing shoulders with (don’t books know about social distancing?) 200-year-old heirloom Iliads and Infernos. Instagram is awash with guides to the ‘perfect shelfie’, including colour matching, symmetry and correct placement of cacti, so there really is no excuse to get it wrong.

And in a less cynical vein, while actual literature festivals aren’t permissible right now, is bringing us an online anti-viral festival, from April 27 to May 3, with confirmed authors so far including Robert Webb, David Lammy, Max Porter and Sarah Perry. (This event has now passed but all the streams are on the BookBound 2020 YouTube channel.

Boredom killers

I know it’s been said before – and I can sense your eyes rolling now – but board games are not just for Christmas. Along with #shelfies, we’re seeing pictures being shared of whole families sitting down together to play Scrabble, Monopoloy and Trivial Pursuit with flick-knives (why does it have to be so god-damn competitive?). And you don’t need to invest in expensive boxed sets, either; there’s always good old-fashioned charades, and a simple pad and pencil is all you need to play hangman. Just don’t take it too literally when stress levels get too high.

Talking of parlour games, did you know that lingerie brand Pour Moi has revealed there’s been a 30% increase in sexy lingerie and ‘marital aids’ since lockdown? We’ll be needing all those extra Nightingale Hospital beds nine months from now.

Art appreciation

Now is most definitely the time to explore the healing powers of the arts. You have all those shelves of books, of course (some even worth reading), but the arts are getting high-tech now, and if the mountain won’t come to Muhammed...

Art galleries are rescheduling exhibitions, and to keep our culture quota up are even presenting virtual online galleries (take a look at Pangolin’s here). Theatres, too, are bringing the live experience to our living rooms in the form of live streaming. Cirencester’s Barn Theatre are doing a particularly good job of this, but so too are Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre and The Playhouse. Even the animals are getting in on the act. I urge you, if you do only one thing to improve your sense of wellbeing today, visit Cotswold Wildlife Park’s penguin and meerkat live cams. Don’t mention it.

Getting back to nature

While we’re all desperately trying to find positives in these strangest of strange times, there’s one you can find just by opening your window. Bird song.

Have you ever, ever heard such a glorious cacophony of sounds now they’re able to sing their little hearts out – Italian style – without having to compete with rush-hour white noise. The skies are clearer, thanks to a reduction in (jet, not feathered) flights, and now is the time to get out and do some stargazing if you’ve never tried it before.

And, while we’re at it, that fresh air! Fill yer lungs; what you’re breathing in is Mother Nature’s wisdom, letting us know it’s time to take stock of what we have and just slow down.

And finally...

If you’ve already taken your allowed daily constitutional, have tried all the above and are still finding your anxiety levels climbing, then how about making your own set of bagpipes from a bin bag, straw and couple of recorders?

So, come on, let’s make sweet music together and stick two fingers up to the virus.

Stay safe. x


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