3. Go to a shop and buy a book. Last time, WH Smith closed most of its stores. This time, your access to its plethora of magazines, greeting cards, gel pens and Toblerones will be unfettered. Wander in at your leisure and buy those 12 books you plan to spend November reading, but almost certainly won’t.
4. Get stuck into DIY. That project you didn’t quite get around to last time but promised your partner you would tackle at some unspecified point in the future? No excuses not to do it now, since hardware stores remain open again. Why not build a garden shed? You’ve already got one? Build another! The only limit is your imagination (and the size of your garden).
5. Use a public toilet. Ok, it’s not exactly an excursion in itself (depending on how much there is to do in your local area); but it’s a blessed relief to know that when you’re out and about, pottering between the garden centre and the offie, you won’t be caught short. Public conveniences are open for business, something we really shouldn’t take for granted after last time. So what if they smell? You won’t be able to tell from behind your mask. (Though if you pull your mask down and still can’t smell them, book yourself a coronavirus test immediately.)
By the end of the first lockdown, you’d played every board game, had every argument (twice), baked every cake and then started on the board games again. This time, in the interests of your own sanity and that of your closest contacts, take advantage of being able to:
6. Meet up with one of your parents in the park, your under-five in tow. Under the current rules, you can meet one person from another household in a public outdoor space, and under-fives don’t count towards the numbers. There also seems to be nothing in the rules to stop your parent taking your pre-school child for a walk in the park without you, in fact. Bear in mind you will have to take your child back at the end of the day though. (No set of rules is ever going to be perfect.)
7. Take your child to the playground. Last time, playgrounds were closed, for reasons that to many were unfathomable. This month, you don’t have to explain to your kids for the hundredth time that it’s not OK to just climb over the railings and break into the playground anyway – because the gates will be open.
The science has consistently suggested that outdoor activities are relatively low risk. Meanwhile, parents have consistently suggested that shutting down every single possible form of children’s entertainment is lunacy. Someone seems to have listened.
8. Send your child to school or nursery. Home-schooling was a laugh, wasn’t it? A right old giggle for all concerned. Well here’s a reason to be cheerful: you don’t have to do it again (unless your child’s bubble has been temporarily quarantined due to a Covid outbreak). While your children are at school, if you squint you can just about pretend that life is normal and that we’re not actually in lockdown.
Take a friend
One plus one equals fun. If that isn’t the catchphrase of this lockdown, it ought to be – though we would like to stress that we only advocate responsible, socially distanced fun. Still, there are various ways you can make the most of the rule.
9. Go for coffee in a public outdoor space. You can pick up a takeaway coffee with a friend and walk to the park. With a warm drink inside you, you might be able to stand being outdoors in November for at least 15 minutes.
10. Autumn takeaway picnic. Likewise, if you dress as if for an Arctic expedition, you could collect a takeaway lunch (a pizza that’s already been sliced would work well) and take it to a park or hillside or moor or beach or woodland or river, spread out a blanket and enjoy a rare November lunch al fresco with a friend. Don’t forget a hip flask and possibly a husky dog.
11. Non-competitive fishing. Tennis and golf are inexplicably banned but you are allowed to go angling, and you’re allowed to do it with one person from another household. What do you mean you don’t angle? Now’s the time to start.
Health and fitness
Gyms might be closed, but this time around there are less restrictions on exercise, which means lockdown is a good opportunity to give your body a four-week blast…
12. Get an MOT for your body. Dentists, opticians and osteopaths are all open, so now is your opportunity to get a once over – because, let’s be honest, who finds the time to get their eyes checked in normal life? (One word of caution: many dentists are still struggling with a backlog from the first lockdown.)
13. Work out with a PT. Outdoor one-on-one sessions with personal trainers are permitted (perhaps since the Prime Minister has seen the benefits of working out with his own PT, Harry Jameson). And the science says they work, too: according to a study by the University of Wisconsin, 60pc of people who are guided by a fitness coach improve the shape they’re in.
14. Build up to your first 5k. An achievable challenge, advocated by Adrienne Herbert, personal trainer, podcast host and author of the upcoming book Power Hour: How to Focus on Your Goals and Create a Life You Love. She advises starting with intervals of jogging and walking, on a ratio of 3:1: “So jog for 90 seconds, then run for 30 seconds and repeat for 10 minutes to start with.” Try this three times a week, building up as you go. If it sounds too hard, rope in a buddy: studies show you’re more likely to keep up the training if you make a date with a friend, plus it combines socialising time.