Hampstead life in lockdown: Watching the weather and completing that wine cellar

Mike and Beatrix Clark in the new wine cellar. Picture: Simon Hookway

Mike and Beatrix Clark in the new wine cellar. Picture: Simon Hookway - Credit: Archant

Columnist Beatrix Clark finds that the weather has become more important in recent weeks - as has wine.

For a short while the easing of lockdown seemed promising. There we were buying tomato plants again and basking in the best spring on record, heartened by the prospect of a spot of al fresco entertaining. But no sooner had we replenished the rosé and made a couple of non-virtual arrangements did the Mediterranean style climate desert us.

I realise we’ve been spoilt in that regard (that regard only) but as a massive sun worshiper addicted to weather.com I find grey skies challenging at the best of times.

In the current circumstances in which any semblance of a social life is limited to outdoors, they’re a major spanner in the works. What are we supposed to do with our five friends in the garden when it starts raining, evict them midway through their halloumi kebab? How will we fill our weekends if we can’t sunbathe or escape to the countryside for a picnic and hike? Obviously we can wrap up and take a brolly but it isn’t the same.

On the home front my husband has finally completed the wine cellar he’s been wanting to build for 20 years – a process involving daily deliveries of very large boxes - though whether there’ll be any wine left in it by the end of this pandemic remains to be seen.

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The youth are grappling with remote end of year university exams, job hunting in a decimated Covid 19 economy and seeing a few mates, while regularly reminding us that at their age we were at raves.

How lucky we were, in fact how lucky we were four months ago, we just didn’t realise it.

Businesses and the workplace at least have picked up; the bookkeeper’s return was a highlight as were the arrival of a new microwave (the last one exploded, probably from overuse during lockdown), and a live-streamed talk on How Women Can Prevent Dementia. The fun never stops.

The news, both coronavirus-related and non, has been so gloomy of late that I have drastically reduced my intake. If it’s not mounting death rates and deficits it’s police brutality, German paedophiles, and criminals posing as NHS track and tracers so they can steal our bank details. Where even is track and trace? Boris told us it would be up and running weeks ago – there again he also told us he’d send the virus packing in twelve weeks.

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The ‘rules’, meanwhile, just become more convoluted. Face mask, face covering or neither? Are protests legal? Can we go on holiday, what’s the deal with travel quarantine and how will they enforce it anyway? So many questions, so few answers and is anyone still listening?

We count our blessings but as weeks become months, distracting ourselves from the dreariness of semi lockdown and concern about what lies ahead doesn’t get easier. Hang on - weather.com’s looking up a bit. Let’s raid the cellar and have another barbecue – I’ll wear my wet weather gear if I have to.