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7 ideas for how not to be bored, already

Don't fear the empty diary! At last there is free time to learn something new and create the self-improved you! Who's joining me for belly dancing?

Keeping calm and carrying on? Or sitting head in hands wondering how you’re going to fill your time for God-knows how long? Muddy to the rescue! Here are seven life-affirming ways to fill that empty diary and make you the accomplished guitarist//linguist/belly dancer you always knew you could be.

1/Take it away, mam

Forever banging on about how you wished you’d learnt an instrument when you were younger *holds up hand*. Now is the perfect opportunity for you to start online lessons, including with the marvellous ASRM qualified Devon piano teacher, Colin, who has reduced his usual online fees to half an hour for £16 during the lockdown. More Chrissie Hynde than Lady Gaga? Dan Maynard offers online week-day and evening guitar lessons with a range of options including groups of up to 10 for £10 per person/per hour. Take it away, maestro.

2/Unleash your inner Mary Berry

Learning to cook – or even just cooking itself – is a rewarding experience and has the added bonus of making food go further when kids are eating the cupboards bare. Holly and David Jones of Manna from Devon release weekly tutorials on cooking in a wood oven, including pizza, bread and the like which will give you a looking-forward to summer al fresco vibe. And we could all do with a bit of that right now.

For anyone who’s tried baking and is fed up of producing bricks, Penny and Dragan of South Devon’s The Artisan Bakery School will show you how to make awesome home-made bread (even for complete beginners) – the kind you would normally be buying from those farmers’ markets and upmarket delis you’re missing right now.

3/Make yourself useful

If anything good has come out of this crisis it’s the outpouring of altruism and community-coming-together. For once, there is the double-bubble of time and the real potential to make a difference locally. Join the Exeter Covid-19 Group on Facebook or one like it to help people in your area or to get support for yourself or someone you know. Failing that, offer to Skype and entertain the children of a friend who’s tearing her hair out for an hour or two, so she can have a cup of tea and a breather – rewarding for both of you. And she’s bound to repay the favour when it’s you having a meltdown.

4/Green up those fingers

Everyone, even perennial house-plant killers are wishing they were self sufficient right now. Time to dust off the gardening gloves, dig out some seeds and get sowing. You could tune into Mr Muddy’s – aka Toby Buckand’s Sunday morning gardening show on Radio Devon. Put him to the test with a tricky question, he loves it! And he knows his onions, and his dahlias, sweet peas, and…you get the idea.

If you’re looking for ideas for kids, I love the ex-Blue Peter gardener, the Skinny Jean Gardener. His funny, rough and ready podcasts (with singing, don’t say I didn’t warn you) are a joy and he’s just done his Top 10 Tips for Kids Garden Self Isolation Activities.

5/Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Ja!

Just think when life goes back to normal, we can actually go on holiday. Yes, abroad! Learn a new skill for the future place that you would like to visit. It will help keep you focused and you will feel like you are achieving something, which is vital if you are to survive a lockdown in a good mental headspace. I use the Duolingo App, it’s free and not too demanding, and it gives you a nudge if you forget to do it.

6/Take up belly dancing

Exercising and running on your own is so booor-ing, but keeping active is very important, even if you live alone. My big sis is raving about the free NHS aerobics workouts, which are aimed at beginners and have a thumping 80s disco soundtrack. I’m rather taken with their belly dancing for beginners. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, that’s what I say.

For fitness fans, Sinead O’Meara Fitness in Torquay is runing online HIIT and workout of the day, as well as Family Fit all via Zoom which she’s happy to explain how to use too.

Need to align those chakras? Viveka Gardens has just started online yoga and meditation, which is going down a storm if the shout-outs on Facebook are anything to go by. Ommm.

7/Sort your sh*t out

Have you been living with a background niggle there is something personal you need to attend to – maybe you’re over-spending (or what I prefer toI call under-earning), or you’re just too tired, busy and stressed. Normally we all have so much hanging over your head, it gets put to the side and nothing actually ever changes. Now you can do something about it with help from the always effervescent Jade Nyx, a qualified North Devon who specializes in happiness, personal growth, self-love and body positivity. Book your Skype call today.

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