My first rose of the season has bloomed – it’s a Desdemona from David Austin, and it smells heavenly.

I finally picked up speed today somewhere around about lunchtime, having spent the morning surfing waves of intermittent period pain. Monday’s huge burst of energy, editing photographs for hours and drafting posts that just needed a final polish before hitting the publish button, was cancelled out by spending the whole of yesterday napping and reading EM Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady, floating away on codeine and chocolate.

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When my large pot of mid-morning coffee finally kicked in, I whisked through house and garden ticking off tasks as though there was a prize waiting for me at the end. I emptied and bleached bins, hauled rubbish bags outside, washed up a pile of pots and pans, hung up a basket of washing, started to put back the garden furniture, displaced after the Easter jet-washing frenzy, and scrubbed the kitchen counters with wire wool and elbow grease.

I’m trying to spend an hour each day on the kind of non-essential housekeeping that never, ever gets done in the usual way – think cleaning silver photo frames or polishing cutlery. Today’s task was to try to clean the dusty faux flowers that are in each room of the flat: I piled them all in the dishwasher baskets and resisted the temptation to post on Instagram Stories before I knew if it was going to work or not. Happily one quick wash later, no melted or destroyed flowers. (I wrote about it here.)

Lunch at 3pm, when hunger stopped my housekeeping whirlwind, was a bowl of tiny pasta shells that I must have once bought for minestrone; my other lockdown aim is to eat my way though all the random dried goods that have been languishing on shelves for years. Doused in butter, black pepper and grated cheese, they tasted of childhood and familiarity.

I popped myself up on my bed with my laptop for the rest of the working day, editing photographs and drafting posts. Hannah FaceTimed to check I was alive around 630 which I took as a sign to stop work.

Minutes later I was freewheeling my way towards the Gloucester Gate of Regents Park, wobbling slightly as Lettice shifted her weight in the padded dog box attached to my handlebars. After months away from cycling, my rhythm was off but I picked up speed as we headed south past the Nash terraces on our left, decorated by pink blossom-laden trees.

Lettice loved it: she sat with her paws up on the front bar, ears flying back in the wind, happily barking at all the passersby. It was one of the best moments we’ve had in ages.

However, being constantly overtaken by sweating plague-carrying MAMILs (middle age men in Lycra) trying to set personal bests on the Outer Circle was starting to get up my nose, so I hooked a right into the Park and set off for a sedate circumlocution of the Inner Circle far from the Covidiots.

I finished our outing by cyling up the Broad Walk towards home, stopping briefly to let Lettice out onto the ground so that she could run along beside me, gradually picking up pace until she resembled nothing so much as an abbreviated Greyhound at full stretch.

We took a slight detour along the south side of London Zoo to wave at the camels, as is tradition.

And then home around 8 pm to do some more work until midnight or so, editing pictures and posting on my social media platforms, resisting the lure of the new Lisa Regan Detective Josie Quinn novel sitting on my kindle.

The new normal: a cycling outfit in the age of Coronavirus.
Jacket by Protected Species (press sample)
Sunglasses: J Crew
Faux crocodile leather embossed cycle helmet: Sawako
I found Lettice’s padded dog box which converts into a carrier and slips over my handlebars on Amazon here.

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That is the most stylish cycling outfit I have ever seen in my life. And I am in awe, bc it has never occurred to me that it is possible for a cycling outfit to be remotely stylish – in the general sense of the word, I’m sure there are levels of accepted style in the lycra crowd. I don’t cycle, so this is not the least bit relevant to my personal life, but style is style and I was super impressed. Fabulous job, really.


I’ve been infuriated by selfish cyclists who weaponise their machines and swoop between walkers coming in opposite directions with no regard for social distancing.So , after weeks of suffering this the other day I set off with my rolled up purple umbrella swinging it at arm’s length so they had no choice other than to give me a wide birth. It also worked for walkers two or three abreast who don’t change to single file when necessary on narrow paths. I got a lot of muttering and baleful glares but just responded with a cheerful “ thank you” and dotty old lady smiles, summoned up all my acting chops and “ stayed in role”. I’ve been doing this ever since and no longer worry about falling into the lake as I take cover! Looks a bit odd as we’ve been having perfectly sunny autumn days here in Oz but I don’t give a f..k.


BERTH. Bloody autocorrect!

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