Lessons from Lockdown, Part Two

As I write this, lockdown is easing, visitors have arrived in droves, and there is a sense of greater freedom for some. Others, though, are still wary – and who knows what will have happened by the time this is published! So the oapc guide to home-based activities continues…

TV and streaming

With most of the nation having to spend more time indoors during the pandemic, Ofcom’s latest survey confirms many people’s experience: we have been watching a lot more TV!

Traditional broadcasters saw their highest combined monthly share of broadcast TV viewing (59%) in more than six years in March, as people turned to trusted news services for updates on the virus. According to the report, British adults spent more than six hours each day watching TV and online video.

As lockdown progressed and broadcast TV began to run out of new programs, many turned to streaming services. Often associated with younger people, online films and TV kept us entertained for one hour 11 minutes each day, double the pre-lockdown level. And Ofcom found that one-third of 55-64 year olds signed up for paid-for services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Demand became so high that streaming companies had to lower the quality of their output to avoid literally breaking the internet, an approach that ITV2 adopted some years ago… But don’t forget free services like BBC’s iPlayer and Channel 4’s All4, or even Youtube.


“In an uncertain time books provide not only an escape but also a means to find hope, companionship and comfort.” – Joseph Coelho.

As book shops shut and even Amazon took print books off priority delivery, publishers rushed to make as many books as possible available as e-books. Physical (real) books are still selling online, with a notable shift to for support independent stores. Let’s hope this continues in the ‘new normal’.

E-readers are widely available to download books – Amazon’s Kindle is the best known, but other services such as Kobo are available – and your mobile phone or tablet will have its own version: Google’s Play Books, Apple Books and, I believe, the Nokia Scrolls might still be available.

Do remember, though, that you never own an e-book – it is simply licensed to you: if your chosen supplier ceases to exist, it’s very likely ‘your’ books will simply disappear.

So just visit Norfolk Library’s ebooksdelves and gorge on what’s available there, including newspapers and magazines.

Online theatre

Those who love the theatre will find many online options, too many to mention in fact. Search online for your favourites – but here are a few to start you off:

Google ‘National Theatre online’ or ‘The Globe online’
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatre site has information on shows, plus some videos, at https://lwtheatres.co.uk/celebrate-theatre-at-home/

and you can find other options here:


Cultural tours

Why not widen your horizons with a tour of the greatest art, historical sites and museums in the world from your own armchair? So many to choose from (search for “virtual tours” for inspiration, or narrow it down by using the name of the place, gallery, artist or country you are interested in).


The Natural History Museum, The British Museum and the Royal Naval College, as well as many wonderful regional museums, have good online sites, which may include tours and short talks.


The National Gallery, The Royal Academy, The Louvre, The Vatican and The Uffizi are all online.

You can find a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel here:

Other ideas:


Monuments and historical sites

CyArk (a non-profit organisation) has, since 2003, been digitally recording and sharing online the world’s cultural heritage:
And, if you’re at all unsure of your eyesight, why not try a virtual tour of Barnard Castle? Much safer than driving the family all that distance in these worrying times. https://360barnardcastle.holoscribe.com

Garden tours

There’s lots online for garden lovers, especially nice when the weather is disappointing at home!

National Trust: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/virtual-tours-of-our-places
Royal Horticultural Society: https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens
National Garden Scheme: https://ngs.org.uk/virtual-garden-visits/

Games and puzzles

Many of us dug out our old jigsaw puzzles to while a way an hour or two, and found it to be therapeutic. Others may have been playing card games or board games (Scrabble is the favourite in our household).

Many of these are available online, to play with others (human or robot) or alone, so why not search for your favourite and see if you can find an online version? Examples:
Online Scrabble https://wordfinder.yourdictionary.com/blog/10-places-to-play-single-player-scrabble-online-free/



Puzzle grids (for Only Connect fans) ranging from easy to fiendish https://www.puzzgrid.com/

On phones and tablets, there’s the very popular Words with Friends in your app store, and thousands of games besides, of very variable quality and often ‘supported’ by adverts – check the reviews before downloading!

For the more active – fitness

When the government ordered a nationwide lockdown, many people’s regular fitness schedules (whatever they are) were cancelled. But Bupa UK reports that two in three UK adults have been taking time in lockdown to exercise – 28% upped their usual activity and 17% were inspired to try something new.

This is not an area of which I have a lot of experience but apparently the most popular types of exercise include walking, gardening, jogging, cycling, using home gym equipment or joining in with online classes. 66 per cent of Brits credit regular exercise with helping them maintain good mental health while in lockdown.

Trainers and studios moved quickly, creating daily schedules of live-streamed workouts.

Local trainers Suzie Povey and Jaime Parry have kept many of our friends busy with online classes via Zoom, Facebook or YouTube. More info here:

Suzie https://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/category/Gym-Physical-Fitness-Center/Suzies-Fitness-1464249640459851/

Jaime https://www.facebook.com/JaimeFitSteps/

The most famous non-local is Joe Wicks, whose classes for children were rapidly adopted by the whole family (and some adults without children too, I gather). https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxW1XT0iEJo0TYlRfn6rYQ

The NHS has some online starter classes of 10-45 minutes here:


For other ideas search the Internet for “online fitness”, and see what inspires you. (Some will be chargeable, but many are free, so be careful to check.)
So there you go, a few ideas perhaps to keep you occupied, entertained and fit, until the world begins to return to normality. Whatever that is…

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