Monday, May 4, 2020

Quarantine Quandaries

To start off, I have to say that,  if someone put a gun to my head and forced me to pick a period in my life where I had to suffer through a global pandemic, this would be the perfect time to choose.

Neither my wife nor I have jobs, so we don’t have to worry about losing them, yet we’re still young enough to escape being put on the “Vulnerable” list. We don’t have anyone depending on us, we’re not dependent on anyone else and we’re not stuck in a one-bedroom, inner-city flat with three kids we need to home-school while worrying about how we’re going to pay the rent. Quite the contrary; our days consist of a refreshing walk around our lovely town park followed by a range of indoor interests to keep us occupied (now, now, I’m talking about arts and crafts), and very few worries.

The sudden halt of social interaction, retail activity and travel plans was a bit of a shock, but on the upside, we’re saving a lot of money and, incredibly, losing weight. So, swings and roundabouts, as they say here.

(To explain the previous paragraph: Pre-COVID, our walk in the park always ended at a café and generally included a nose around the shops. Tea in the café wasn’t a problem, but, gee, those triple-chocolate muffins look good and, bingo…there goes the diet. Likewise, forays into shops—even when we didn’t go in to buy anything—rarely saw us emerge empty-handed. I hasten to add that none of this was a problem: treating oneself is what makes life worth living, and we were content knowing that we were helping the UK economy chug along. Now, however, when we go for our daily walk, I have to wonder about all the stuff we used to buy, and what we did with it.)

In short, quarantine isn’t as much of a hardship for us as it is for many, many others, and we are pretty much okay with it.

Pretty much.

Contented we may be, but we are now starting week seven of our Lockdown (Your Lockdown May Vary), and things are beginning to pinch around the edges. Consequently, an issue arose. The problem was our hobbies or, more specifically, my wife’s hobbies.

Unlike me and my writing, my wife’s hobbies take up room. Early on, she did a lot of knitting while seated on the sofa watching telly. This worked until she ran out of wool, so she has recently attempted to do some sewing, which has reminded her why the sewing machine she got some years ago has since been collecting dust: there is no place to use it.

Sewing requires space, and the ability to leave a project as it is and come back to it later, which takes the dining table out of the running. With nowhere else to put it, the sewing machine continued to collect dust. Likewise, art, which, in addition to being messy, requires a permanent and more spacious area than one end of the coffee table.

And this brought us back to the unassailable fact that we live in a tiny flat.

Now, we have, in the past, been able to “find” space using a variety of clever methods, but this was a big ask, and we had already wrung as much hidden space out of this rabbit hutch as was humanly possible. More, in fact. But, undaunted, we put our minds to it, hoping, once again, for a triumph of will over physics.

And we found some. Quite a lot, as it turns out.

The second bedroom, which is too small to raise veal in, is where I have my office. We tried to shoehorn a second desk in here when we moved in but abandoned the idea and, instead, I built a storage unit, so my wife at least had a place for her stuff. Most of it, anyway.

Wife's side of the Office

My Side
 But now she wanted a place to call her own. Fortunately, when I built the storage unit, I made it modular, so we were able to dismantle it and re-stack it, like a set of Tetris blocks, into a storage unit that contained a two-foot by three and a half-foot, flat, and pleasingly desk-like, area.

Same amount of storage space, but with a desk.
It looks the perfect solution, and makes me wonder what other bits of space I’ve overlooked. I’m in no hurry to search for any, though. I just hope we get released before my wife decides she needs a walk-in wardrobe.


  1. Yes, I understand... we are in our 7th or 8th week of sheltering at home here in Texas. And no, since we're retired and don't really need to go out except for groceries, it's not so bad... especially if you have things to do. We can communicate with kids and grandkids via Skype, text, and email... as well as phone (but does anyone actually use their phone to talk anymore?) I do understand about needing space for crafts (mine especially since they involve pottery, quilting, and knitting - lots of stuff to find space for). But we are in a house not a flat. It does get messy (with clay and fabric and yarn) - but that too is not a problem since we're not likely to have visitors during this pandemic.

    1. Always wanted to have a go a pottery, but space, you know. At lest now we both have enough room to do what we want.