Making sourdough in lockdown: many tried, a few succeeded, others simply ended up with a fridge full of yeast...
Here at Daily Info we pride ourselves on being open to new experiences and eagerly seeking out exciting things to do. In normal times, our collective calendar would be packed full of gigs, stand-up shows, evening classes, festivals, pub trips - and all the many other things that make Oxford so special. However, there’s no ignoring the fact that when everything closed down, in March 2020, our world suddenly appeared to shrink.
Now, with the end of restrictions (sort of), this seemed like the right moment to acknowledge that for all the struggles of the past 16 months, we have also made exciting new discoveries, which have seen us grow, experiment, and go on new adventures. And many of these are things we would like to see continue.
Needless to say, there are many, many things we’ve missed. In some cases, more than we really expected to. Oh for the heady pleasures of a spontaneous museum visit, or choosing new glasses with a full view of your own face! Giddy times!
Here are the Daily Info team’s favourite lockdown discoveries, and the things we can’t wait to do again!
Over this strange time I've been delighted to discover I could bake gluten-free sourdough bread! Always fun to jump onto a trend. I gave that up when work got busier again, but some changes have lasted longer.
My other discovery is Instagram’s fantastic range of communities, particularly based around art. Highlights include printmaker John Pedder’s One of Many initiative, in which you donate to charity and receive a lovely selection of artists’ postcards, and the work of local painter Tom Croft, who started the huge Portraits for Heroes campaign, where pro artists offered free portrait painting for NHS workers. I've also found Insta great for hearing authentic voices. I've learned a lot about the reality of racism and transphobia by following Black and trans campaigners and educators directly. I am sometimes challenged by what they say - but it's the sort of challenge that keeps you growing.
I miss hugging, but I do have a two year old, so I really have more sticky hugs than anyone could possibly want! I really miss people-watching and the sort of events like Cowley Road Carnival or festivals, where there's a whole crowd feeling like one. But I guess we've had the football for a little taste of that! And I know the rest will come back, when we're ready.
The past year and move to virtual events has presented an interesting challenge for film festivals. But it has given film fans like myself the opportunity to – virtually – attend events throughout the country. I’ve ‘been’ to some of the finest options in London, Manchester and Glasgow and seen a diverse range of indie and world cinema, all from the comfort of my living room.
I’ve also found the time to join in on the podcasting fun. I had the idea for Not Just For Kids in October 2019 but couldn’t find the time between work, a family, and a social life. But with two of those put on hold last summer, it gave me the space to put together a podcast looking at family films throughout the ages. I’ve chatted about great films with great guests and it is the thing that has continued through each lockdown and beyond.
I miss live events. Oxford has always had a vibrant scene, catering for most tastes. I’ve been lucky that my last live events in the city before the pandemic properly took hold were great ones. I saw Pride & Prejudice (Sort-of) at the Oxford Playhouse, Bear’s Den at the O2 Academy, and a terrific fundraising comedy night held by QED Comedy Lab at Tap Social. Whenever the city (and the country) are ready to properly awaken from the lockdown slumber and events can return to their former glory, I’ll be there!
One of my new things actually came about because of what I was missing! It took a bit of time getting used to teaching guitar lessons via Zoom. One problem was that there was a plain white wall behind me which reflected sunlight at certain times of day. I decided to decorate the wall to make things seem a bit more interesting. I missed playing gigs in the evening, so I spent that time creating a 'tropical beach' in my studio.
The weather was fine during the early days of lockdown so the children spent a lot of time outdoors exploring parks, playgrounds and nature reserves. We discovered that there are 87 playgrounds in Oxford City and have tried as many of them as possible
I'm really looking forward to live music returning. The best venues in Oxford are the small, late-night pubs like The Half Moon.
I feel very lucky to have discovered the joy of remote film nights. It’s been surprisingly lovely reconnecting friendships that had become intercontinental - while watching the good, the bad, and the quite frankly mystifying.
I am massively looking forward to getting into the city centre again - I’m looking forward to judging books by their covers! Oxford has such a brilliant selection of libraries, charity shops, and second-hand bookshops, and I can’t wait to make poorly-informed, snap judgements about their wares.
Before lockdown I was a regular at several of Oxford’s folk sessions, and worried that this musical community would feel very fragmented without the usual venues and events. However, that community responded brilliantly - the team behind Folk Weekend Oxford quickly set up a series of Zoom gigs, sessions and dances. I’ve also been able to enjoy live online gigs by international bands who rarely play in the UK in normal times, including Bargainatt and Väsen.
Like many people, I’m looking forward to live music returning to Oxford. However, I’ve managed to play music with people in various outdoor spaces, so I’m not missing it quite as much as I might otherwise be. One thing I miss more than I expect to is being able to pop into local museums and galleries on a whim, especially the Ashmolean, and being able to invite people over to stay without needing to double-check what’s allowed or thinking about lateral flow tests.
Image credits: Anshu A via Unsplash; Jen Pawsey/One Of Many; Not Just For Kids; Richard Brotherton; Dustin Tramel via Unsplash; Joel Stewart Instruments.