Updated: Mar 31
I'd been meaning to start writing a blog for a while now. Never could have predicted that Covid-19 would be the catalyst for me getting my arse in gear... but here we are.
I have already had quite a few people asking me for advice on working from home as well as book or TV recommendations and thought perhaps the following might be of help to some.
WORKING FROM HOME 101
1. My first tip, for everyone, is GET DRESSED in the morning! I don't mean you have to dress as if you would going into the office or wherever, but change out of your jammies! Else mentally you'll still be in bed, and you'll start to smell.
2. Speaking of which, SHOWER. Oh and open some windows, just a crack at least, get some fresh air in.
3. Make sure to get up and move about at regular intervals. Go make a cup of tea, put the washing on, open that window, look out of said window and wave to passersby should you wish to.
4. Where at all possible, don't work near a TV. The temptation is great and we are but human.
5. Have a proper lunch break. Eat away from your computer / desk. Wave at more passersby through the window.
6. If you're after a little background noise, but don't want anything with lyrics, I can heartily recommend anything by Tycho.
And one last thing, whenever I start to worry that I'm not being productive enough or I feel guilty for having taken a 10 minute break to either get a snack or sort my laundry, I try to remind myself what my levels of productivity were like when I was working in an office, or indeed at any other job I've had. How many times a day did you skip off to the kitchen for a brew? Or chit chat with your desk buddy? You never worked 100% of the time when you were at the office, did you? (If you did, well then, WOW)
ISOLATION ISN'T FOR EVERYONE
As an introvert, this isolation situation isn't quite as daunting for me as it is for others, however even introverts get cabin fever! There are many helpful lists of things to do circling on social media at the moment - start on that new hobby you've been thinking about for the last 3 years, clear out the back of the wardrobe, call your pals, clean the bathroom... and read.
I was a bookseller for many years and in and around that, worked in the publishing industry for a good 10 years so I've read a fair few books! My most recent 'proper job' in this area also touched on TV and film which offered a good excuse for all the hours I'd already spent watching Netflix and the rest.
So I thought I'd share some of my own personal favourites :) These are all fun, feel-good, cosy, light-hearted distractions.
The Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim
A beautiful story from the 1920's about four very different women who, each rather dissatisfied with their lives and relationships, come together for a life-affirming holiday in a dilapidated medieval Italian castle in April. You can feel the sunshine on your face and smell the wisteria.
Whatever Happened to Margo? - Margaret Durrell
Exhausted all of Gerard Durrell's literary output? Bemoaning the end of The Durrells on ITV/Netflix? Read this, you won't be disappointed. This highly entertaining account of Margo's business venture in setting up a boarding house in Bournemouth after returning from the continent with her two sons is sure to lift your heart.
Something Wholesale: My Life & Times in the Rag Trade - Eric Newby
Travel writer Newby turns his comic penmanship to the years he spent working as an apprentice and commercial buyer in the improbable trade of women's fashion. Gentle comedy, quick wit and self-deprecating charm.
Black Mischief - Evelyn Waugh
I realise there are other slightly more famous books of Waugh that people know and love, but this is probably my favourite of all his novels. When an Oxford-educated Emperor succeeds to the throne of the African state of Azania, he finds himself in charge of an unruly and corrupt land. With the aid of his Minister of Modernization, Basil Seal, the Emperor plans to introduce his people to the civilized ways of the west, but as you can probably guess, things don't go smoothly...
My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin
When you read this you won't believe me when I tell you it was written in 1898, by an eighteen-year-old girl living in the Australian bush. But believe it baby. Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin was simply a natural born storyteller and this is so much fun to read. Her heroine is 16-year-old Sybylla Melvyn who, though trapped on her parents' outback farm, longs for a more refined lifestyle -- to read, to think, to sing -- but most of all to do great things. Suddenly her life is transformed and those great things no longer seem so impossible.
Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
Not sure this book needs an introduction. If you don't fancy reading Austen's most popular will they/won't they novel, head over to Netflix and watch Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle spar with their words and wit.
The Earth Hums in B Flat - Marie Strachan
I must confess, I haven't read this for some time, but I do remember the 'feeling' of reading it and whenever I see it on my shelf it makes me smile. It's about a little girl called Gwenni who lives in a small Welsh town and who is a little 'different'. She's inquisitive, bookish and full of spirit, and loves playing detective. When a neighbour mysteriously vanishes, it seems to Gwenni that no one is asking the right questions, so decides to conduct her own investigation.
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (Netflix)
An incredibly fun and entertaining, Agatha Christie-esq series set in 1920's Melbourne, starring Essie Davis as the incomparable Lady Detective, Phryne Fisher. (Based on the book series of the same name, by Kerry Greenwood)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime)
1950's New York. Midge Maisel is the turbo-charged, clever, witty wife of Joel Maisel who fancies himself a bit of a stand-up comic. Big surprise, she's funnier, by a long shot. And she's going to go far.
Pride & Prejudice (Netflix)
You haven't watched this already??
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
The series follows the life of Penelope, a newly single Army veteran, and her Cuban-American family, as they navigate the ups and downs of life. Binge-worthy.
An Australian series that surrounds the fallout of a dramatic revelation about the genetic origins of hundreds of adults. Great fun.
Do I really need to explain this masterpiece to anyone?
Two Weeks Notice (Netflix)
Had me at Sandra Bullock.
The Road to El Dorado (Netflix)
Bright, colourful, packed full of songs courtesy of Elton John. Pure escapism.
The Secret Life of Pets
Remember when you used to go out to work? And you wondered what your pet would get up to whilst you were out? A glimpse into a simpler time.
Mysterious woman moves with her little girl to small, unhappy, unwelcoming French town. Woman melts the hearts of said town with yummy chocolates and the help of Johnny Depp's gypsy-swinging friends.
Julie & Julia (Netflix)
Julie Powell, a young blogger, is determined to emulate Julia Child's cooking techniques. Though separated by time, the two women share a common passion for food that intertwines their lives. Directed by Nora Ephron.
Made in Dagenham (Netflix)
Drama starring Sally Hawkins, Rosamund Pike, Miranda Richardson and Bob Hoskins, all about the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 that aimed for equal pay for women. Up the women.
Erin Brockovich (Netflix)
Unlikely woman takes on mega chemical corporation with great determination and wit. All whilst wearing high heels in a desert.
Akin to Two Weeks Notice, had me at Jennifer Aniston. Sweet, cosy '90's rom-com with great fashion inspiration.
Check back next week for more!