Nine-hole golf course round the house and motorcycle map are among our amazing lockdown hobbies
- Credit: Clarissa Place
Have you taken up any unusual new pastimes during lockdown? Our readers and staff have thought up some amazing ideas, from creating a home golf course and beach to Nerf Gun battles.
Clarissa Place has created some off-the-wall entertainments at her home in Norwich.
She writes: “A couple of things I have done on days off was make a beach in my back garden and also made a nine-hole golf course around my house to entertain myself.
“With the lovely weather we have been having and the importance of staying home, it just inspired creating a beach in the back garden. I had the pebbles, and used a blue towel, some tinsel, Christmas tree beads, a clothes horse and a rubber duck to make it relaxing.
“For the golf course, I was inspired by a YouTube video. The fun part was designing courses just with what I had in the house.
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“It probably took me an hour to make and about three hours to try and complete. I didn’t even know if the courses were feasible, but it was definitely a lot of fun. I used a broom and a ball of kitchen foil as my ball and golf club.”
Clarissa videoed herself doing the course, and even awarded herself a medal after completing all nine holes!
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Mapping out motorcycle routes for the future
Simon Weir has created a giant map on his wall of the places he plans to visit. He writes: “I’ve stitched/taped together Michelin maps of Europe (national series, 1:1,000,000) and hung it on the wall of my home office. From Germany and the Czech Republic in the east to Portugal in the west, with all of Austria, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and Switzerland... The Continent is literally at my fingertips when I spin my chair around.
“Initially I did it to make a more interesting backdrop for my colleagues when we do video meetings, but now I’m gradually marking it up with motorcycle touring routes. I haven’t (yet) narrowed it down to which I’ll do first when lockdown ends.”
Stewart Hewitt, from Barford near Norwich, is busy experimenting with animation during lockdown.
He writes: “I tried my hand at putting together a not too serious A-Z guide of Norwich and Norfolk on an animation app.
“Never really did anything like this before, but I was always interested in animation when I was younger, and as I’ve been furloughed I’ve had a bit more time on my hands.
“A few people have seen it and some have responded that it made them laugh or they enjoyed it.”
The video includes tongue-in-cheek tributes to Norwich City and Delia Smith, and much more. Visit: https://youtu.be/77zKbk-5khY
Two different artistic projects appealed to Claire Sargent. She writes: “Some of my friends were struggling for things to keep the kids occupied, so I found a brilliant YouTube channel from Disney to teach people to draw some very familiar faces.
“I started with Mickey Mouse and was so surprised at how easy it was to follow, I got slightly addicted. They are aimed at kids but hey, when in lockdown, why not!
“Lockdown has also created the perfect conditions needed for me to complete my home darkroom project. I’ve been up and running for a little while, shooting and developing my own film, but being able to print those images too is very satisfying. Film photography is unique, and nothing beats seeing the magic of an image forming in the developing tray.”
Memories of theatre shows over the years
It might not be possible to go to the theatre at the moment, but arts editor Andrew Clarke is busy gathering memories of shows over the years.
Andrew writes: “They say that the past is another country, but because of lockdown I found myself revisiting old familiar landscapes in the form of old theatre shows.
“When my mother-in-law, Pat Taplin died, we inherited her mammoth photograph collection. Pat was the founder of the Gallery Players (which are still going strong) but the photos remained untouched, uncatalogued, unscanned until lockdown. Now, was the perfect time to sort them out, scan them into the computer, file them and create a photographic archive of past shows.
“What started out as a technical exercise has been transformed into a trip down memory lane, revisiting old friends who clearly have remained as fresh-faced as ever but also been saddened by how many Gallery regulars have now left the stage for good.
“As packets of photographs are opened and sorted, the task gets longer as Helen, my wife, and I swap pictures and say: “Do you remember so and so?” or when was this show? Did it come before or after the time we were thrown out of that church hall for rehearsing The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas?”
“Happy memories, which will continue, because we still have plenty of boxes to go.”
Learning sign language
Many people are using lockdown as an opportunity to learn something new.
Cheyanne Lowther, of Hoveton, writes: “My daughter, Isla, aged 11, and myself are learning BSL sign language. We have completed six out of the 10 modules so far and we are really enjoying it.
“I’ve always wanted to for many years. With my daughter, we watched Mary Poppins at the Theatre Royal, and on that particular day they had a lady to the right of the stage signing the whole play and ever since then my daughter also wanted to learn, but never really had the time.”
‘My online diary is brimming!’
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis writes: “Not so weird, but pretty wonderful. When lockdown was announced I, like loads of others. wondered how on earth I was going to fill my weekends. What about country walks ending at the pub? What about fish and chip Fridays at our mates’ houses? And, being a massive foodie... what about going to restaurants?
“I needn’t have worried. Thanks to the world wide web my diary is positively brimming - from weekly Pilates classes on Wednesdays, to Jay Flynn’s virtual quiz on Thursdays, and Tallulah Goodtimes’ incredible Party in your PJs, streaming live from 8pm every Friday.
“The absolute highlight of my week though has been Saturday nights - with our close-knit group of mates taking it in turns to host family games nights. I have to say they really have put me to shame. While my effort involved us doing Pictionary on pieces of paper and trying to decipher drawings via the power of Zoom, the others (mostly tech-head men) have done a blinding job.
“We’ve had properly presented quizzes with slide shows and video. Catchphrase. And even Play Your Cards Right (which involved a friend actually printing off, and laminating giant playing cards).
“We’ve had shared cake. Pub snacks delivered to our doors. Fancy dress. And, most recently, as late night set in, readings from one nature-loving member of the gang on the ‘mating habits’ of various animals. You really don’t want to know what snails get up to. Oh, and then there was the time my friend Claire decided to give her poor teacup lhasa a hair cut live... only to discover she could have gone to a ‘poodle parlour’. I can’t say lockdown hasn’t been a challenge, but it’s also been a riot and has proven how creative we can all be when we put our minds to it. I can’t wait to get ‘out out’ though!”
Going Dutch... and building a hot tub
Staff at One Sixth Form College in Ipswich have found some varied ways to use their spare time.
Paul Hinchcliffe, who teaches accounting and business at One Sixth Form College, said: “I’ve been learning Dutch for about a month now, spending one hour a day to master the language. The motivation to learn Dutch is because it’s one of the closest languages for native English people to learn, but a language that no English person actually seems to learn or speak.
“Through the invaluable medium of technology, I have been having lessons online via Skype from a native Dutch teacher in Amsterdam, and I can hold a basic conversation in Dutch.
“I may even be able to order some Edam and some tulips on a future visit!”
Charlotte Rayner, also from One, said: “We’ve built a hot tub from scratch mainly using old scafford boards.”
Science teacher Sinead Moore has been keeping incredibly busy. She said: “I’ve been putting my phone in a kitchen cupboard above the chopping board so I can FaceTime my sister and her kids while making the dinner and I’m writing a novel. I’ve already sent the first section out to family and friends to read.
“We are also playing more games and have a lockdown (games) championships going on. I’ve also started running and stopped drinking.”
Annabel Mapperley (receptionist at One) said: “My daughter, Lillia, has been reading to her favourite teddy bears – Paddington and Minnie. She has also been enjoying our daily walk by pacing through the bluebells in a nearby spring wood.”
Sports teacher, David Robinson, has found it hard not being able to watch any sporting activities on the television. However he continues to remain busy. He said, “I have taken the opportunity to set up a YouTube channel. I have sent random challenges to students. It has also been shared with staff, my wider community of friends, as well as runners from my running club. The activities have been set up to be carried out whilst in isolation.”
Foundation teacherulie Goodway has done he bit for the community and signed up to be an NHS plus responder. That aside, she added, “I’ve been creating quizzes for students, selling things online and the lockdown has given me a chance to prepare for a house move that has temporarily been put on hold.”
And Justine Rawlings, learning support co-ordinator, took inspiration from Bake Off to help celebrate a missed birthday party. She said: “We had to postpone the surprise party for my mum’s 80th, so my family and I had a virtual Zoom afternoon tea for my mum instead. It was actually a really lovely thing to do and made the day very special.”
Musical response to isolation
Meanwhile, Andy Culham, a foundation teacher at One, is going all rock and roll. He said:, “I’ve been involved in doing some online recording with musician friends.
“The challenge of learning and doing something new as well as being creative and expressive has been enjoyable.
“It has also been a great excuse to keep in contact with musician friends and colleagues who are obviously not out playing at the moment.”
Craig Shimmon, marketing manager at Suffolk New College, is helping to home-school his eight-year-old son, Niall, and helping him to discover the joy of making music. The 35-year-old from Ipswich said: “I’ve been playing the drums for 24 years and we recently went off curriculum and combined music and IT skills at the same time. We went head-to-head in a stop motion drum battle and created a YouTube video.” See www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6icemJoYUA
“I nearly broke my toe by doing the toilet roll challenge”
John Nice, from Bury St Edmunds, said: “At the start of this, back in March, lots of sporting challenges were set. I had a go at the toilet roll challenge and almost broke my toe when trying to break a record in this football-related bit of fun.
“Like many, quizzes have been the new way of catching up with friends and family and I really enjoyed taking part in a Mr and Mrs gameshow Zoom competition set by my sister. Thank goodness I remembered my wife’s maiden name – that could have been an awkward evening of silence if I didn’t get that one right.
“My main lockdown aim is to try and master the ukulele. I received one as a Valentines gift a few years back but so far I’ve found more joy cleaning windows as opposed to doing a rendition of When I’m Cleaning Windows by George Formby.
“I’ve also been getting creative. I lost at a quiz and my punishment was to write a song which I had to perform online. And I wrote a short play for my friends and I to perform online – so increased time at home is not entirely going to waste.”
Games, both on- and offline
Video game consoles apparently soared at the start of lockdown, and many people have been letting off steam by mastering a particular game.
Abigail Brown writes: “My partner and I have gotten really into Spyro the video game on PS4 - incredibly interesting I know! In some of our spare time, which we obviously have a lot of, we have been playing this game and have almost managed to complete it at this point... no idea what we’re going to turn to next!
Off-screen games are also proving popular.
Neil Perry writes: “We’ve been engaging in house wide Nerf Gun battles.
“It’s been a good way to break up the day for the kids whilst I have been working from home.
“We have set times during the day that we play, so it gives them something to look forward to and you can set a quick ten-minute time limit on the battle. It’s great fun!”
Binging podcasts and Status Quo
Danielle Lett writes: “During lockdown, I’ve found myself binging podcasts a lot more, and through that, finding a lot more music to listen to.
“Music podcasts are great as you’re exposed to album reviews and recommendations that you might not have come across otherwise — and with all of the extra time on my hands at the moment, I’ve got plenty of time to get stuck into some new music.
“My favourite podcast is one called ‘That’s Not Metal’, which focuses on the world of rock and metal music. There’s a tonne of episodes to lose yourself in, and due to lockdown, the guys who host the podcast have been doing quarantine pub quiz specials — which are proving to be just as much fun as playing an actual pub quiz.
“Whenever I get a notification that there’s a new episode out, it’s the highlight of my week.”
And Kahn Johnson’s lockdown hobby is what he describes as: “A very unhealthy fascination with Status Quo’s back catalogue. ‘Just listen to one album,’ my friend said. ‘What harm can it do?’ Then you discover the three covers albums...
“The deal was to listen to all of them. Which I survived. But may have bought four as a result...”
Deputy Principal at Suffolk New College, Alan Pease, says he is working longer hours than before lockdown, but has enjoyed some other activities in his spare time, including binge watching.
“Away from work, I enjoy going for a daily walk around a nearby lake with my dogs and I was introduced to House Party by my daughter and our son in law recently. We played Pictionary and did some quizzes and thank goodness for box sets and on demand TV – Gangs of London, Manifest, Save Me Too and Cobra were devoured in record time.
“I also enjoy a gin and tonic in the evening with my wife where we have reflected on the cancellation of our honeymoon. So many plans have fallen by the wayside for us all – so the things we take for granted (like holidays abroad and honeymoons) will become real treats when the lockdown is eventually lifted.”