Let’s get baking

Before lockdown part of my weekend routine would be to go to a local garden centre in Maidenhead called Stubbings for a mooch around the plants and have tea and cake.

The star baker there is Trudie. She makes amazing cakes. Over time we got chatting about baking. In February Trudie gave me a baking masterclass. It was amazing. I’d found a relaxing new hobby.

Then COVID struck and I never expected what would happen next…

Over the last 8 weeks Trudie has helped me with baking via FaceTime – new recipes, top tips and sourcing ingredients. Victoria sponges, scones, Marmite biscuits, banana and custard loaf were just for starters. This weekend it’s lemon drizzle cake.

It goes without saying that these are challenging times. Having something calming to do to switch off from the world has made a huge difference.

I can really recommend baking. It’s super relaxing. If you ever need any simple starting out recipes please let me know, I’d love to help if I can.


Curry night

One of my neighbours made a curry for our street – chicken Kuzhambu and Idli (rice steam cakes) – to raise money for children with autism and sensory needs in the UK and India. She cooked a mass curry in her kitchen and personally delivered them to the street. Wonderful!

Sleep tight

I used to fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Not any more.

My brain activity has just been off the charts over the last few weeks. I found it difficult to properly ‘switch off’ and sleep. In the morning it felt like I’d been awake for hours and be shattered.

Sleep is SO important. Thereโ€™s no magic bullet. I had to improve my sleep process. After trying a few things a mix of these seem to work for me:

โ˜•๏ธ Cut coffee early pm, go to herbal tea
๐Ÿ“บ Turn off TV, stay off the Twitter, phone down < 10pm
๐Ÿง˜ Walk / yoga clears Covid cobwebs
๐Ÿง€ Avoid late night fridge cheese raids
๐Ÿ“š Read an adventure; ‘The Name of the Wind’ is great
๐Ÿ— Evening project; I’m building a giant Lego Batmobile which is super relaxing
๐Ÿ›€ Neatly fold the airing cupboard
โœ๏ธ Write / draw; working on my 1st stand up comedy routine
๐Ÿง  Get Headspace, the 45 min ‘Cat Marina Sleepcast’ is simply wonderful
๐Ÿ“” Keep a sleep diary

These have helped me sleep better. To improve a process keep things simple. See how things work with ‘pain points’. Try out new things and keep track so you can see what works.

Our brains are wired in complex ways, finding a path to relax will be different for all of us. I hope these may help you find calm.

Stay safe. Sleep tight.

sleep tight


One of my weekend lockdown projects has been overdue for years – sorting out the junk in the loft. Boxes and boxes of stuff, books, clothes and the like. Last weekend I came across a box of old photos. They made me smile.

The 1st pic is from the late 70s when I wanted to be a highway patrolman. The 2nd is from the late 90s dressed as a mouse to support an office ideas scheme. It was a horrible polyester thing. The 3rd was taken last year after running a half marathon as a dog. More polyester, very stinky at the finish line.

Seeing these made me reflect how my life has changed in some ways (losing the hair), stayed the same in others (love of dressing up!) and new things I love to do (running). If it wasn’t for COVID I likely wouldn’t have found the old pics for some time and made these connections.

This is kind of like managing change. Keep hold of the things you cherish, ditch the stuff you don’t while exploring new ideas. I hope when we look back on this time we’ll maintain and build on the positive things arising from this and change for the better.

Stay safe. Stay indoors. Stay away from polyester (and naked flames).