How home baking, witty memes and vegetable patches are bringing reasons to smile among the tears - Christa Ackroyd

I am going to let you into a little secret but I don’t want you to tell anyone, especially him indoors.

Whilst in their homes, people are turning to baking, as well as gardening and cleaning.

Actually that’s a phrase I’ve always hated. Only sadly it’s now a pretty accurate description of our life and the lives of millions of others. Indoors is where we are.

OK, here goes. Confession. He is just ever so slightly starting to get on my nerves. There, I’ve said it. I’m starting to feel better already.

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This growing feeling of irritability began at the start of what is now Week Four of self-imposed isolation for us.

Christa Ackroyd says hearing about baking, vegetable patches and home schooling is keeping her going.

It crept over me just moments after our eight-month-old puppy discovered and shredded two toilet rolls. I am sure you feel my pain.

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I nearly choked on my indignation. To be fair, he had a point. Like thousands of others I have inexplicably turned into Mary Berry.

Well, a less-accomplished, more disorganised, messier version of Mary Berry. He, on the other hand, has turned into Kim or Aggie from How Clean Is Your House? It is not a great combination.

While he is planning what to scrub, dust or polish next, every morning the second I open my eyes my first thought is ‘What can I eat/cook/bake today?’

It seems I am not alone with friends not, shall we say, known for their culinary skills posting amazing photos of cakes, scones, biscuits and home-made food with the message ‘Look what I’ve made!’

And why not? We all have to find new ways of occupying the time we now have in abundance.

Though having spent hours making from scratch a chicken curry with home-made rotis, and having even lit the candles and picked flowers for the dinner table, the comment, “I am not sure I really fancy a curry” nearly resulted in him wearing it rather than eating it.

But food, as we know, is important right now and for the first time in our busy lives it’s become the highlight of the day, something to be savoured and for those lucky enough to be together, something to be shared.

And while we are on the subject of things to eat, I would like to say a massive ‘thanks’ for the newly set up charity Food4Heroes, which in just a week has raised more than £25,000, enlisted the support and expertise of a host of top chefs and delivered more than a thousand meals to NHS staff on the frontline. Look them up and see if there is something you can do to help.

I would also like to praise Leeds City Council which has housed a hundred or more of my homeless friends in a hotel on the outskirts of the city. So thank you to them too.

I have been worried sick about those sleeping rough on the streets. My lovely friends at Leeds Homeless Street Angels are continuing to support dozens of vulnerable families with food parcels, families for whom the future seems especially bleak. So if you can, please support them too.

You see, I am not trying to make light of the situation. I know it’s tough. As the numbers rise so does my anxiety. I know people with the virus. I now know people who have died from it and I reckon I wobble at least once every five days. But, like you, I am trying to make the best of it.

Until it is all over I am seeking images to make me smile. So I will not be Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I couldn’t care less.

I have nothing to say about Harry and Meghan moving to California and even less about Disney’s ill-timed announcement that the Duchess has voiced a film about elephants.

Who cares? Though I thank Prince Charles for his address to the nation. He boosted my spirits as one who has been through it and come out the other side and that’s what we need right now.

As to those people who questioned the legal rights of police officers to stop and fine people who are out and about when they have no good reason to be, how dare they?

The day after that particularly depressing news the numbers of cars on the roads rocketed. So fine away, officer. And make it a big one.

I’d also like to see an end to people spreading speculation and conspiracy theories and presenting it as fact. Reality is bad enough as it is. We certainly don’t need to add to our burden.

So here is my advice for us all. If you want to bake, then bake. And yes, I am interested in your perfectly formed lemon drizzle cake. If you want to eat it, eat it. There will be plenty of time for diets later when we waddle out the front door, whenever that may be.

If you feel the need to clean, then clean away. I am also genuinely interested in your home schooling, your plans for a vegetable patch or your witty memes. Because they are keeping me and others going. So keep them coming. We need reasons to smile among the tears.

I have to sign off now because my husband wants to hoover downstairs. I’m also awaiting the arrival of my first home delivery, which is very exciting.

But before I go, let me share my favourite social media post of the week. It went as follows “God was seen walking around Yorkshire. He was stopped and asked what He was doing. ‘I’m working from home,’ He replied.”

Perfect. And if you are too, do whatever makes you happy. Stay safe. And remember every day that passes is a day nearer to all this being over.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson