Now that you’ve completed Netflix, beaten the Instagram algorithm and conquered your wardrobe re-sort, you’re probably looking around for the next thing to master whilst cooped up in isolation. Here are a few things you can teach yourself from the comfort of your home.
There have been few times when we’ve all felt so helpless as now. While Covid-19 ravages our planet, all we can do is stay out of the way and hope we don’t become one of the dreadful numbers.
My sister is a nurse in London, working with victims of this coronavirus, and hearing her stories from the front line is not a pleasant thing. It makes me feel even more helpless.
But while we all wait and hope, there’s an opportunity to turn this situation to some good.
Dusting off the old mortarboard and putting your grey matter to work on these ideas will not only fill the time and keep you away from the news, they might even start a new passion.
1. Bust these wine myths
Nic Bowen, winemaker at Hardys Wines, has shared some interesting facts that debunk common misconceptions of wine.
Busted: a teaspoon in your sparkling keeps it fizzy for longer
“Keeping a spoon in your sparkling wine defies the laws of physical chemistry and will not help it stay fizzy! Instead, keep the bottle ice cold with a ‘champagne’ stopper in it.
“This will reduce the amount of gas released and help preserve some of the bubbles. If you are keeping it in the fridge, refrain from placing it in the fridge door or laying down as the opening and closing of the fridge will disrupt the bubbles.”
Busted: red wine comes from red grape juice
“When you squeeze most red grapes the juice is clear. The colour, and indeed a lot of the flavour in red wine, comes from the skins of the grapes and that is why they are fermented in contact with the whole berry.
“You’ll also find that very old red wines are paler in colour than when they were first harvested.”
Busted: people only swirl their wine because they’re wankers
“For many, swirling your wine may seem like a social norm, or what wine enthusiasts do to display experience. However, it actually has a purpose!
“When you swirl your wine, it liberates aromatic compounds, allowing you to uncover the full sensory qualities of the wine. You don’t need to give it a vigorous washing machine spin, just a light slosh will do the trick.”
Busted: wine grapes are the same as the grapes you buy at the supermarket
“Wine grapes are a lot smaller, sweeter and contain more seeds that the grapes that you would buy at a supermarket.
“The smaller sweeter berries allow a higher juice-to-skin ratio, which results in more pleasurable wines, as most of the grapes’ flavour and aromatic compounds are found closer to the skin and in the seeds.”
Here are more wise words from another great winemaker – we interview Ed Carr, the man in charge of making Australia’s best sparkling wine: the House of Arras.
2. Learn a handicraft
There’s a reason our stash of snacks is pretty low at the moment: we need something to keep us busy while we watch TV. After all, what’s the expression? Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
I don’t know about that, but I do know why there’s a shortage of Cheezels at the moment!
Our friend Carly, who also runs a lifestyle and productivity blog Smaggle, has become something of a crochet cognoscenti.
She now runs Crochet Coach – an online teaching forum where you can learn everything from what a crochet hook is to how to make the most impressive designs, objects and clothes.
Alternatively, if you have long hair or kids with long hair, you should check out Christina’s site Hair Romance. It’s the ultimate authority on haircare, styling and braiding.
Christina’s ebooks show you in easy step-by-step photos and instructions how to braid hair and create many different styles.
Also on her YouTube channel, she reviews products, gives braiding and styling tutorials, and has great advice on maintaining a magic mane.
3. Get that blog started
You finally have some time to sit down and get the blog you’ve been thinking about off the ground at last.
A blog has so many different positives to it. It can be as simple as a record of your life – and one of the main reasons we started Mr & Mrs Romance. It can also be a way of communicating and sharing your ideas with others.
It can even be a way of making money or adding a more dynamic element to your business and driving traffic to your site.
Whatever reason you have for starting a blog, now’s the perfect opportunity. And to get it going, we’ve put together some tips and how-tos to help.
And if you’re wondering how to set up your home office, we’ve got some advice here too.
4. Learn the arcane craft of writing
As the saying goes, there’s a book in everyone, but getting it out and then knowing what to do with it is another thing.
Thankfully there are courses out there to help and the Australian Writers’ Centre is one of the best.
They run regular novel-writing classes online with a mentor to lead you through.
They also have feature-writing courses that not only show you how to structure a feature article but also how to interview, pitch and submit work to editors. Teachers critique your work and – speaking from personal experience – you come out the other end a better writer.
The Australian Writers’ Centre runs a whole gamut of other writing courses too that are worth looking into.
And if you want to get your novel out in record time, keep your eye out for the annual NaNoWriMo – the National November Writing Month – that guides you through the word count so you can achieve novel in 30 days!
It’s pretty intense, but it gets results. I’m guessing those 30 days don’t include editing, pitching or any of the other behind-the-scenes stuff that go with the ardour of book-writing, but it’s a bloody good start.
5. Learn Latin and the art of drinking at the same time
Michael Fontaine, Professor and Associate Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education at Cornell University, has taken the trouble to revive a forgotten classic first written in 16th Century.
How to Drink – a classical guide to the art of imbibing is a wonderful witty view of society’s relationship with alcohol that still stands up 500 after it was published.
Its author, Vincent Obsopoeus, goes into great depth on the positives of alcohol, drinking at home and at large, who to drink with and how to win drinking games.
Perhaps the reason this essential literature for the drinking classes has remained in obscurity for so long is that Obsopoeus wrote in Latin.
But now that Michael Fontaine has translated it (with the corresponding original Latin text on each facing page), we can now get to grips with our best friend: booze.
I hope these ideas drive you towards a more productive time in isolation and that we all come out of this terrible situation not only healthy but also more enlightened. Stay safe.