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Upskilling (sort of) in a time of lockdown

Matilda Duffecy

Enjoying a new fix
I've replaced coffee with Canton's ceremonial grade matcha as my morning caffeine hit. It's the first thing I do when I get up. It's a bit of a ritual in itself to prepare the matcha with the bamboo whisk, though it’s still doable when you're in zombie mode. Matcha is known to have the same amount of caffeine as a cup of brewed coffee, but thanks to L-theanine, the release of caffeine is slower and longer-lasting. I feel way more energised throughout the morning, so much so that I went from having three cups of coffee to just one cup of matcha.
Sakiko Suga, Associate Strategist

Climbing the walls (so to speak)
I'm lucky enough to have a garden, so have been spending any spare moment encouraging it to grow and bloom. I'm training clematis, jasmine and honeysuckle up the walls and keeping the snails off our baby tomato and courgette plants. Lockdown has meant I'm noticing all the tiny changes and keeping on top of the weeds!
Louise Sheeran, Content Director ‍

Mastering karate... online
I, along with the majority of the nation, am doing PE with Joe before our 9:30am call, initially, with the kids but they got bored after day two. I feel way more energetic and ready to work. I’m also doing more karate as my teacher runs classes online, so I’ve upped my usual once-a-week session. Plus, we now have students from all over Europe and Africa – it feels great!
Sergio Agosti, Lead Developer

Toasting in style
I'm a Freeman of the City of London and from time to time attend dinners at the various Livery Companies (one day I will drive sheep over London Bridge, I hope). Last week, I attended a “dinner” over Zoom in full black tie. There was no dining as such, but wine was taken and we did enjoy all the formalities, including hearing a speaker and doing the various toasts over the internet. It was very strange but it was the largest zoom gathering I have been involved with – more than 70 people on three pages of pictures!
Clive Stevens, Chairman

Training the big guy
Not being able to ride out of the yard has let me do lots of training work with my horse, Mr Ads. He's coming on in leaps and bounds! Meanwhile, the ponies are keeping me busy as the warm weather means it's time to get those winter coats in check with a haircut.
Sharon Booth, Partner, Finance

Observing a special daily ritual
For me, the single best thing about the current situation is getting to sit down and eat as a family. Normally I am commuting and don’t really see the kids during the week, but we have made a point of sitting down together at meal times. It’s been truly rewarding and something that I’ll miss when things get back to normal.
Dale Smith, Operations Director

The habit I’ve developed since lockdown began is standing in my garden – maybe once a day, perhaps a few times on the weekends – and just listening. The quiet around my home in South East London has felt profoundly beautiful. The birds are the first thing I hear and try to listen to, like I did as a child at my family’s rural home in Canada. Then you hear people, usually just getting on with their own lives. Passing by a window while talking to someone else in their house, or having a laugh with a family member via some digital stream. But it’s that sound of us all just living here that’s so new, no longer drowned out by our usual insistent white noise of hurry and clatter and hubbub and the flat-out din of us all. From my back step, it’s like we’re on a sound stage, and the play is us. For this tragic, strange, fleeting moment, this London feels so humane, like a chorus of our daily routine, no longer brash, loud and reeling, but also not frightened or downtrodden. For a few minutes a day, I can sense maybe just a hint of this place in a way I don’t know I ever will again. It’s worth listening to.
Don Hoyt Gorman, Content Strategist

Working on my love-hate relationship with cooking
I love eating but have always struggled to accept the amount of time it takes to cook something remotely exciting, and which inevitably leaves a trail of destruction behind. But I do like a challenge and in this strange time I’ve been embracing this one. What, for instance, can I cook from some scraggly carrots and half a pot of yoghurt without having to venture outside and queue for hours? After discovering the BBC's "search by ingredient" tool, I’ve been using up random leftover ingredients and making new creations, with plenty of time to fail, eat and try again. There’s also something very satisfying about using every morsel of food, avoiding waste and being more grateful than ever for having colourful food in my fridge to experiment with.
Daisy Lockheart, Account Director

Digging deep
I’ve developed a huge motivation to start many jobs around the house, including digging a trench to build a wall in the garden. I really have no idea what I’m doing, but this feels like the right time to just give it a go. For me it’s currently very easy to start a job; hopefully it won’t need a miracle to finish them all.
James Trowman, Partner and General Manager

Taking flight with crafts
This situation has afforded me more time for one of my most loved side projects: illustrating little graphic birds (come and follow the flock on Instagram @birdsbyrose). And, more than illustrating, I’ve also had time to explore other media for the project, too – picking up clay or carving lino. It’s been lovely to be creative off screen as much as on, to learn something new and to solve problems of my own making.
Rose Stewart, Design Director

Enjoying a breather
Having actual hobbies. Sewing. Reading. "Just because I can" stuff. This lockdown has literally forced us to stay indoors, where we can no longer hide behind being perennially busy. And yes, I do still struggle with feeling like I need to be super productive all the time but, now that I’ve literally got nowhere else to be, it feels good to let that go.
Maja Radosavljevic, Creative Strategist

Hitting the books
Like a lot of people, I’ve started reading more. With seemingly endless Zoom quizzes, daily news briefings, and multiple streaming platforms competing for our attention, all packed with an abundance of TV Shows and films, it’s a welcome break to just switch off the screens and reach for a book.
Ross Sweetmore, Senior Designer

Seeing the season through
My gardening philosophy is usually that if I can't do it with a lawnmower or – at a pinch – a pair of shears then it's not really for me. Some years I ambitiously plant veg in the spring, completely failing to take into account holiday plans and the withering on the vine that inevitably follows. So if not this year, when holidays are basically off the table, then when? Oh, and a shared effort to get to "Genius" on the New York Times Spelling Bee is now a firm part of the daily routine.
Ben Bush, Partner and Head of Strategy

Arting up a storm
Basically, I am working out of my craft room. I used to spend many hours in here making handmade cards so I have all the kit – paints, brushes, stamps and more ink pads than you can throw a stick at. Being in here again has certainly inspired me again. Everything is within reaching distance, so even if I take a small screen break, I can easily doodle something for a few minutes. I've tried to make it a routine too - that when I finish work, I grab my paints and a sketchpad, and try to do a page. I call it “arting”.
Mayuri Premdjee, Account Director

Becoming entirely self-sufficient at home
I’m pleased to say that I haven't ordered takeaway once and I’m loving cooking lots of Thai dishes. I have even experimented with a home haircut.
Nicholas Caruana, Technical Account Director

Having a green lunch
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to indulge in some lunchtime gardening. Getting some fresh air and getting away from the screen is so important during these challenging times and it’s been great for my mental health. The garden is thankful, too.
David Alexander, Creative Director, Head of Studio

Feeling zen
One of the benefits of not having to commute is that you can use the time to focus on yourself, meditate and get a good round of exercise in before the day starts.
Ian Dykes, Digital Designer

Counting my lucky stars
A few months ago, if I wasn’t at my desk, I’d most likely be catching the sunrise, walking in parks, cycling through London, delighting in cloud colours, moongazing, squirrel spotting... the list goes on. I never imagined that my love of the great outdoors would get even stronger, but I feel so lucky to be reminded of just how much of a luxury it is as I savour the window for exercise during lockdown.
Matilda Duffecy, Senior Writer and Editor