As we all watch this incredible scenario play out, it’s safe to say that no one can really believe the far-reaching effects of this pandemic. Loss of life and livelihood are everywhere.
It’s up to all of us to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
People like those in the healthcare industry are doing an incredible job, putting themselves in harm’s way to help others.
My sister is one of those.
She is an endoscopy specialist in London usually away from the main part of the hospital. But she is now working as a general nurse with people suffering with Covid-19.
Her courage – and the courage of others like her – deserves all of our respect… and whatever we can all do to help control the spread of this disease honours their bravery.
For us, Christina and I have decided to self-isolate. We have elderly and at-risk friends and family, and the thought of passing this terrible illness on to them horrifies us.
Remaining isolated and continuing to tell stories and (hopefully) entertain is what we can do to help the situation.
So here’s what we’ve been up to in our isolation. And if you’re also on lock-down, we’ve got some tips on how to make the most of your isolation.
Stay safe, keep dreaming of distant lands… and keep washing your hands!
Cheers – Jim & Christina x
The hardest thing about isolating is staying indoors a lot, especially when the day’s as pretty as this. But isolation doesn’t mean you have to live like a hermit.
As long as you’re careful, avoid any close contact and choose places that aren’t busy when you go out, you should be ok.
The worst part of this virus isn’t that you might catch it; it’s that you might pass it on without knowing. That’s the part that scares us.
Christina and I are lucky that we have this beautiful garden at our disposal. After a long day of being cooped up inside, we’re enjoying a delicious glass of vino and a few games of backgammon.
If you have a favourite board game (not Monopoly), now’s the chance to bring it out.
It looks like Christina and I won’t be travelling again any time soon, so we’re doing some of the things that we’ve wanted to do but haven’t been home long enough to finish.
My chilli plants have started pumping out crops and crops of fruit, so I’m drying them to make chilli oil. It’s very easy – find a sunny window and just hang the chillies up by their stems. I’ve used a length of picture wire.
They take between three days to a week to dry completely. Then you chop them up and put them in a jar of oil. After a week or so, you should have a tasty spicy dressing.
Tonight, I’ve cooked up an Indian curry for dinner. Just melting a blob of butter into the saag tarka dhal with my blowtorch. Nothing like a bit of food theatre!
One thing we’ve changed that’s made a big difference to our days in isolation is we’re eating up to the dinner table more. Rather than eating on the sofa in front of the TV, this change of scenery helps with the tedium of being stuck at home.
We’ve also started a new thing where we put on music that represents the food of the country. Spotify has playlists specifically for international food! Tonight is obviously Indian music, but other nights we’ve played Italian classics (That’s Amore!) for our risotto and French cafe style tunes to go with our cheese plates.
It’s fun and a way to travel without leaving the house.
I love getting into the kitchen and this isolation is creating the perfect opportunity.
Christina’s about to tuck into one of my signature sausage rolls for lunch. These are super easy by the way. Frozen pre-rolled puff pastry sheets and sausages with the skins removed.
Lay the sausage meat on the pastry, roll it up and seal it and whack it in the oven (180ºC for about 15 minutes).
Before you cook them, these freeze really well too by the way. Cook them from frozen at 160°C for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
It’s important to keep doing the things you normally do – especially those that make you happy. Thankfully we have plenty of gin, dry vermouth and olives in the house at the moment for martini o’ clock!
Back in the kitchen, I’m baking my weekly loaf of bread. You can use regular flour but strong bread flour is better. Then you can add all the seeds and things in as you go.
If you’re interested, I’ll be sharing my recipe and method for baking bread later this week – though if you’re thinking of baking your own, best start hunting for baker’s yeast now – there seems to be a shortage for some weird reason.
If there’s one thing I am genuinely happy about it’s my wine club subscription to Cupitt Estate. These guys – with their beautiful cellar door in Ulladulla, NSW – make superb wine and are still sending out their top picks.
This is a great way to keep your wine stash topped up and also to help local producers. If you have a favourite winery, why not look into whether they have a club you can join or if they’re still delivering?
Tonight, we’re enjoying a bit of cheese with one of our new wines from Cupitt’s – the Slaughterhouse Red – a Shiraz Cabernet blend – while we finish this surreal miniseries on Netflix.
If you’re looking for a really weird show to watch, check out the Tiger King.
Travel tips for self-isolation
So much of travel and our motivation to see the world is based on creating memories, so why not tap into those memories you’ve already made and revisit some of the incredible places you’ve been to?
Whether that’s just looking through old travel photos – or even making them into an album you can have pop up on your TV when it goes on standby, or making a dish that you ate while you we were away (like the taralli from Puglia we made at home) or music that reminds of that time you were away.
Here are some other clever ways we’ve found to travel without leaving your house.
Visit virtual Chicago
Our friends from Choose Chicago tourism board sent an amazing list of things you can see and do just with the aid of wifi.
Click here to download the pdf and sit back to explore the Windy City!
You can take an architectural tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, visit the beautiful Art Institute of Chicago, go into the Adler Planetarium, peer into the wildlife of the city’s zoos and aquariums, learn recipes from Chicago’s finest chefs, and even hook into the world-renown music scene here all through the click of a hyperlink.
Cook along with Thai chefs and eat like you’re back in Chiang Mai
The Thai tourism board – Hug Thailand – is working with Chat Thai, an excellent Thai restaurant in Sydney running live-stream cooking classes on Facebook!
Every Friday at 4pm, check out what the kitchen is cooking.
This really reminds me of when we had a cooking lesson in Bangkok recently – the most fun we’ve had on the road!
You also get the recipe and can watch the lesson in your own time!
Get help with that novel you’ve been thinking about
They say there’s a book in everyone, the only problem is never having the time to get it started.
Well, you’re at home now, so why not try your hand?
If you’re not sure about where to start, how to get the middle going or what you do to finish, you should check out the online lessons from the Australian Writers’ Centre.
I did a course for feature writers years ago with these guys and it was brilliant. I’m sure their fiction-writing course is just as good.
If you can’t go to the places of your dreams, perhaps you can create them.
The AWC also does a course on content creation, which is just about the smoothest segue to my last idea…
Start your own blog!
One of the main reasons we started Mr & Mrs was so that we could google our own lives! Having a searchable resource online of what you’ve done stops the frustration of trying to remember what you did at Christmas last year.
It also started out as a creative outlet for me and a place for Christina to put her beautiful photos.
From that, I’ve turned this into my full-time job and Christina – as well as Hair Romance now runs Photography Romance with her sister Mary.
There are so many more reasons to start your own blog too, and if that’s something that interests you, check out our post on how to start your own blog here.
It explains the basics of starting up and has advice about hosting (use our special link to BlueHost here), platforms and domains and platforms.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Weekly Edition and that you’re safe and well.
Keep your chin up and let’s hope we’ll all be free again soon!
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
You had me at homemade saag tarka dhal – please tell me you’ve got a recipe!?
(+ How necessary is the blowtorch?)
That’s a good point, mate! I’ll have to write it up. The blowtorch was just for a little drama… and because the butter I’d dropped on top at the end wasn’t melting quickly enough! Watch this space – I’ll get the recipe up. 😉