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Jigsaw 1
Jigsaw 2

As with many people, when lockdown began I was anxious and uncertain about what the future held.  In the attempt to distract my mind from the world at large (and help to manage the boundaries which blur somewhat when your work comes into your home!) I rediscovered my love for jigsaws – which was previously solely for the annual Christmas themed jigsaw with my mum!  I must have done 15 or so over the period of lockdown, the concentration required is really helpful as a mindfulness activity and also time away from a screen.  I was very glad when charity shops reopened as it made this a more affordable hobby.  I have done jigsaw swaps in car parks with friends and had very large boxes delivered…

The impulse for something a little more creative led me on to ‘diamond art’.  Essentially sticking small beads onto sticky canvas in a pattern, a little like cross stitch – again, very meditative!  I’ve completed a version of ‘Starry Night’ which will go on the wall, and am working on a Pokemon picture for my son.

-          Mel Hardy (CoSS Wellbeing Officer – Social Policy)

Growing

Lockdown has affected us in more ways than we will ever know; some of us can’t wait to leave our homes, others maybe feel too scared to venture outside back into the ‘real world’, no two experiences are comparable. Now more than ever, it is crucial we take time to manage and maintain our mental health and wellbeing. Our bedrooms are places where most of us feel safe and relaxed, as it becomes a refuge away from daily struggles. During Lockdown, I decided to decorate my bedroom with a fresh lick of paint and introduced some houseplants to my room to liven it up a little. I purchased and replanted 3 varying species, all with unique appearances to create as much of a ‘green space’ as possible, whilst making the room feel more alive. Saying that, I have had to limit how many additional plants I would like to add to the collection as the calming effects of having houseplants around your room can get addictive! Having to maintain these plants as well as reaping the benefits they provide such as reducing stress, boosting concentration and being a source of therapeutic calming has helped to balance my mental health and has allowed my bedroom to become a lively and serene sanctuary.

-          Matt Read (CoSS Student Experience & Wellbeing Apprentice)

Sunflowers1

During lockdown we tried to get creative as a famiy. We have two young children who were not able to go to nursery and it was hard to keep them entertained in the house. We tried to do something creative each day which meant that we all had a break from watching tv! We enjoyed doing some arts and crafts and I found the colouring so relaxing that I even bought some adult colouring books. We also had a go at growing some sunflowers and have enjoyed watching them grow.                        

-          Fran Bertram (CoSS Wellbeing Officer – Business School)

At the start of lockdown, I was in the process of planting seeds as I usually do. I think this year I planted more, because every year I do plant more seeds than before, and I also usually expect most things won’t propagate.

I jokingly referred to it as Armageddon planning (at the time, panic buying was in full effect. At least we’d be able to feed ourselves). I also had a friend post me his spare seeds (as he’d ordered too many).

I sowed French beans. These didn’t work out for some reason – they just haven’t grown properly.

I sowed Basil and Thyme. These have done well – we gave away a few plants to friends/family, and currently are drying out some of both, as well as eating fresh basil in many dishes almost daily.

I did my usual sowing of too many tomato seeds. Again, have given away a number of plants. The plants are currently covered in flowers, and a few green tomatoes. There are about 30 plants, and they don’t go off too quickly, so we probably will have enough tomatoes to last til early December!

A friend gave me a tray of pepper plants they had germinated, and these are currently flowering (a few fruits have formed).

I sowed a lot of parsnip seeds. These are devils to germinate, and I only have 3. However that is enough for a Christmas dinner!

I sowed Leeks, and a fair few came up. These will be harvested across late august into late November, provided they don’t go to seed.

I have about 30 sprouts plants doing really well. These will grow through winter, so again, Christmas dinner is sorted! We just need those pesky caterpillars to stay away!

We’re just coming to the end of the Pea crop. I love peas – my fave veg.

For the first time, I am trying to grow sweetcorn. It is very different to anything I have grown before. It looks to me like they have pollinated. Time, as ever, will tell.

We’ve also been able to harvest a lot of blackcurrants and raspberries this year, and the blueberry crop is just coming to an end. Great for breakfasts, with yoghurt, custard, or in crumbles and pies. We have a freezer full. Someone I know wanted me to waste them by making jam…

As well as food, we planted a number of bulbs last year, and these have provided great flowers – I have been boring my colleagues with photos of them each morning! Another friend posted me some sunflower seeds, but none germinated. However, one rogue sunflower has grown in the middle of the veg patch! I also found a seed pod on a balloon plant, so have tried to grow these. This year I am collecting Fuscia seed pods to try growing them from seed. We also ordered some Pampas grass seeds, to grow to hide the compost bins.

We’re also about to collect Lavender,  as it can be used as a scent for your home, but also keeps moths away from clothes!

-          Warren Evans (CoSS Wellbeing Officer – Government)