The pandemic has changed all our lives profoundly, sometimes, sadly, with devastating effect, but sometimes, perhaps, even for the better. We have all had to have find ways to adapt and to cope. One of my strategies is my lockdown lunch club that Grace and I enjoy every Sunday…
Obviously lockdown has been one of the most difficult and testing times for many people. Although, maybe, there are some who might even have heaved a sigh of relief to be able to actually pause, think and reassess their busy lives. I’m old enough to remember the Anthony Newley song “Stop the World I want to get off” And, yes, I think that could be me!
Having said that, living alone during lockdown, even with my little dachshund (my constant companion), I found it hard. Also for Grace, newly divorced, dealing with one huge lifestyle change was difficult enough, but with Covid as well, life was certainly challenging.
During the first lockdown we formed a bubble, and it was then that we had the idea of taking it in turns to make Sunday lunch. 18 months later our little lockdown lunch club is still going strong and it is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Being suddenly alone, I think you lose confidence in yourself generally, and certainly in your cooking. I know I did after the death of my darling husband and I know Grace felt the same after her breakup.
Gone are the days of family cooking, dinner parties, cooking for the masses! Grace and I both love to cook and still, pretty much, cook from scratch for ourselves. Of course, this is helped by the fact that we both love food!
We have found that our Sunday lunches help to form a structure to our week and are a focal point for our weekends. We try out new recipes on each other – currently from our two new favourite cookbooks, Le Rouzet and Jane Lovett’s Just One Pan. We also have the pleasure of cooking for someone else and (hopefully!) seeing their enjoyment of eating the food we have prepared… a very basic human instinct. So we can plan what we’re going to cook and experiment with new dishes that we would never bother doing on our own. We frequently cook enough for four and share the leftovers for our lunches the following day.
We have started a new tradition of having a half bottle of champagne to start things off on the right note. This is enough for two considering one of us always has to drive home. We set the table with flowers and generally try and make an effort for each other.
The other ‘rule’ is that whoever cooks provides everything – the booze, canapes, lunch, pud and coffee. This means that the ‘visitor’ just pitches up empty handed ie no bottle of wine, flowers or other gift -and gets spoiled rotten, swanning off back home afterwards feeling sated and without having to lift a finger!
We also have time to relax and chat about things which may be bothering us, as well as generally putting the world to rights. More importantly, to listen to each other which, on our evening WhatsApp calls, doesn’t always work very well as we’re probably both talking at the same time and clattering pans (mainly Grace!) while preparing our individual suppers!
I hope that our little idea might inspire you to organise something along the same lines if you live alone. We’d also love to hear from you if you have started anything similar during or after lockdown. All ideas welcomed!
This is the first in a series of articles that celebrate singledom. It can be a very fulfilling way of life. You may also like our new article from Age Space which features some top tips for solo travellers.