Diary of a coronavirus self-isolator - Days 6 to 8

Biscuits made with pea and rice flour Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Biscuits made with pea and rice flour Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis is one of millions of people social distancing during the virus outbreak. She is sharing a diary of what daily life is like.

It’s been a weird old weekend. Waking up today to another full week of working at home and schooling my kids didn’t seem real. They relished the lay-in. I prayed they’d actually stick to the lesson plans I’ve created for them.

On Friday we set out and supported a favourite local restaurant of ours, just as it received the news it would be the last time it could open to the public (asides from a takeaway service). Multiple businesses have been forced into this position, and they’ve been incredibly quick to act given the circumstances- many of them having to make staff redundant while simultaneously drawing up new menus, figuring out online payment systems and buying in bulk loads of takeaway containers.

The takeaway we collected was brilliant. A remarkably tender steak and ale pie with flaky pastry, new potatoes and buttery sprouting broccoli, followed by their ‘famous’ lemon tart with poached rhubarb and lemon gel. It’s our plan, for as long as we are able, to make use a couple of times a week of these new takeaway options at all the restaurants we love the most. Other customers doing the same will be their lifeline. Take a look at what your local cafes, pubs and eateries are offering. In most cases you order online, arrive, and they will bring the food, sealed to your car, minimising any social contact.

On Friday night, in lieu of a trip to the cinema, we saw that services like Amazon Prime and Sky are now showing the latest releases online. OK, so it’s £15 a pop, but when we factored in a family ticket and popcorn and drinks on the average night out, we were quids in. Knives Out (featuring Daniel Craig as a compelling detective with an awful accent) was a hoot. Definitely one to watch if you like whodunits and Agatha Christie-type mysteries.

On Saturday I began properly organising my social life. The paper’s quiz was photographed and shared amongst my close friends on our Whatsapp group for us to dip into. Loads of us downloaded the Quiz Planet app (where you can play quizzes against one another and anonymous players around the world), and I signed up to Davina McCall’s Own Your Goals programme, which she’s giving free to users for 30 days to help them keep fit while stuck indoors. After popping in your height, weight, average level of exercise and goals, you’re prescribed your own workouts, many needing no special equipment. I’ve yet to do one, but over the weekend I did join the live streamed dance workout with The Fitness Marshall. Again, you usually pay for these, but he gave the funky (and fun) session away for free. There’s a whole bank of dance workouts on his Youtube channel you can watch without paying- they are great for the whole family. My friend Rachel and I (pre-virus) could often be found strutting our stuff to his instructions in my front room.

Much of the weekend (especially as everyone in my house forgot about Mother’s Day) was dedicated to getting the house in order and making a start on the garden. Mr Jarvis put the concrete base in for our summerhouse (arriving imminently) while I got cracking on the lawn. With the warm spring sun beating down, it almost felt ‘normal’ to be out. Obviously everyone else had similar plans. Across the neighbourhood there was an orchestra of hums as garden machinery was put into action. I almost thought we should synchronise ourselves. How nice would it be to arrange to all mow together and sit on our own front gardens, with a cuppa and a biscuit, chatting across the road?

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I feel a plot formulating.

As Sunday night rolled in, I was still disturbed by the shocking images on the news and social media of shoppers crowding in supermarkets, throwing things at one another, and being so close in queues they could probably smell what they each had for breakfast!

Mr Jarvis laying the concrete for the summer house Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Mr Jarvis laying the concrete for the summer house Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

Come on everyone, let’s be sensible. I went through all my cupboards and made an inventory of what we’ve got (see my list). We hardly need anything else. A little cheese maybe. Some meat. Fresh vegetables and fruit when we run out. Now is the time to assess what you have and work out what you’re going to do with it. From that forgotten bag of cous cous, to that tin of sardines...be creative. Have a root around and you’ll be amazed at what you find. Those of us fortunate to already have dried goods in our kitchens shouldn’t need to be stockpiling.

I’ll soon be producing recipes for our websites and papers showing how to use all those random storecupboard ingredients and the detritus left on shelves in the supermarkets. If you’re at a loss as to what to make, drop me an email and I’ll see if I can help. And if you have any recipes to share with our readers I’d love to see those too. Get in touch

Sorting out the kitchen cupboards Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Sorting out the kitchen cupboards Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

Charlotte’s cupboards/drawers/shelves included:

Wholemeal bread flour

Rye, pea, gram, self-raising, spelt, white flour

Demerara, caster, jam and icing sugar

The unloved bag of wholemeal bread flour came in handy Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

The unloved bag of wholemeal bread flour came in handy Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

Custard powder





Baking powder

Bicarbonate of soda

Walnuts, almonds and cashews

Dried cherries, dates, apricots, prunes

Food colouring

Desiccated coconut


Basmati rice

Pasta - four various types

Popping corn

Seaweed sheets


Tom puree

Red lentils

A bagel

Quinoa mix

Yellow split peas

Pearl barley

Risotto rice

Dried chickpeas

Dried green lentils

Dry polenta

Bulgar wheat

Spring roll wrappers

Sunflower seeds

Tinned anchovies

Various teas

Various spices

Vegetable, chicken, beef stock


Curry concentrate

Coconut cream

White wine vinegar

BBQ beans

Chocolate spread


Nutritional yeast

Ground flax


Peanut butter

Gravy granules

Tinned pears, mandarins and peaches

Mulling syrup

Pancake mix

Olive, sesame and vegetable oil


Miso paste

Worcestershire sauce

Cider, sherry, balsamic, rice wine and red wine vinegar

Pomegranate molasses

Sriracha sauce

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