Catherine’s Diary (13)


8C6ED23C-F159-41D3-B590-262D88ED1C1FMy aunt, Catherine, has been writing a ‘Diary’ of her time in ‘Lockdown’.  This is her thirteenth entry, recording the day to day life of someone living on her own.  It has been a challenge to try and match today’s Diary with a tea towel, so I have chosen a Fortnum and Mason one, since she had Afternoon Tea there.

There have been themes throughout Catherine’s story:

“At last, I have my deluge of birds; they wake me up early, all Starlings, parents and youngsters.  I put the food out at night so it’s waiting for them in the morning.  They are going through the suet balls like a dose of salts.  The Starlings are so greedy, good job I have all the birdseed and mealy worms (dried).

Last week I started a new venture, attempting to make pancakes, not very successful, wrong sized pan to start with and too much filling (bananas and sultanas).  I made two large zig-zaggy, leathery pancakes.  I did eat them because I was hungry.  Amanda did order me the right sized pan and it’s coming on Friday.  I texted Barbara for a recipe.  Liz found one of Delia Smith’s.  Barbara texted the long recipe then I realised I had a Delia Smith cookery book too!  Ah well, it gave Barbara’s fingers a bit of exercise.  I will be practicing again at the weekend.

Tonight I have been in the garden, having a ‘chop’ around; gave the jasmine and rosemary a good cut, chopped brambles.  They never seem to die, they keep growing in all weathers and so prickly.  The maple sycamore that grows on council land next to our house is shedding it’s whirly-wings like mad; they have covered the back garden.  In the front garden I have a beautiful, half-tree half-bush, white lilac.  I see the blooms from my stair window and outside in the evening I can smell the scent of them.  I’d love some indoors, but as you know, it is unlucky.

Started to wear perfume even though I’m not going anywhere.  Two years ago, Amanda took me to a perfume shop.  I’ve always wanted to have some expensive perfume, trouble is when I did go out, it was only me that could smell it!  No one remarked how nice it was.  Still, I’m the important one.

Last year, also on my Bucket List, was to have my nails done.  Amanda treated me.  We were on our way to Fortnum and Mason for Afternoon Tea, when I fell over at Green Park and was more panicked that I had damaged my nail varnish!  Amanda, strong, bodily picked me up.  It’s all due to “exercising with weights” she said.

New TV programmes being tried out now are ‘Death in Paradise’, not mad on Kris Marshall but passable and this week started watching ‘Downton Abbey’.  I think I could like this one.  I know I loved ‘Upstairs Downstairs’.  Why don’t they bring that back for a re-run?

Well, I’m off to practice my lawn-mowing skills before the storms come.  I hope they miss Harlow.  The latest update is that onions and lemons are keeping the cats and dogs off my front lawn!” 

Thank you Catherine for another diary entry.  Will ‘Lockdown’ disappear soon and will we be able to meet up?  Who knows, but until that point in time i look forward to hearing about life in Harlow.

Mimi’s Tea Towel Story


I love Instagram.  It’s not stressful (at least not with the people I follow), not political with lots of great photos.  There are the professional photographers or those that try to make a living from using photographs; then there are those people who record aspects of their daily lives.  In the time of ‘Lockdown’, those ‘ordinary lives’ are not necessarily what people were expecting.

One morning, strolling through the latest on Instagram, I came across Mimi.  She had posted the above photograph; I looked at it and exclaimed “I’ve got that tea towel”.  Followed by “I wonder if Mimi would like to be a Guest Tea Towel?”.  I love reading the ‘bio’ for people’s Instagram account; you soon know if you want to follow someone.  Mimi describes herself as “Nature explorer.  Flower enthusiast.  Scoliosis warrior.  Guinea Pig mumma”  You should go and look at her photos of Guinea Pigs; they are so cute.  And here we are with Mimi’s Tea Towel Story:

“Thank you for wanting to feature me in your Tea Towel Museum .  I absolutely love tea towels too. (I didn’t know that when I invited Mimi to be a Guest Tea Towel!)

We went for a 6 mile walk all along Salisbury Plain, then we decided we needed a good picnic with a beautiful view!  I actually used the tea towel to wrap the mugs up for the coffee!  I didn’t buy it too long ago, though; I know it’s quite new out but I absolutely love it”  (I didn’t buy mine too long ago.  I got it from the Emma Bridgewater factory and the ‘full frontal’ is below).

Thank you mvmking for a lovely story, and I love the flask!


Catherine’s Diary (12): 9 to 10 May 2020


After eleven editions of Catherine’s Diary, it seems unkind not to include the photographs of her cats and Teddy Bear that she sent to me and asked for inclusion.  Her view is, if her Diary is going world-wide, her co-stars should share that fame.  Seems reasonable to me.  The Teddy Bear (Rupert, I believe his name is) is, of course, in celebration of the work of the NHS, along with the rainbows and displayed in a window.

Besides the cats, one of Catherine’s other interests is crosswords.  Catherine doesn’t have access to the internet, Google or whatever.  She uses her numerous dictionaries and reference books; failing that she texts her brother Christopher and me for help with the answers.  Catherine has a system of asking Christopher for any ‘across’ clues she is stuck on and me for the ‘down’ clues.  How she remembers where she is at with the crossword I’ll never know, but she does.

9 May 2020

“5 am.  I put the bathroom heater on, ready for a shower at 6.30 am.  Another 3 mile, 1 hour walk.  Yesterday, I wasn’t ready and had to go out without a shower.  Amanda thinks I need the exercise.  We were first in the queue for the paper; we beat the ‘old boys’!  After Amanda went home, down to breakfast and crosswords.  Texted Barbara for help; was she ‘away with the fairies’?  She didn’t know what day it was!  Mind you, I had to ask her what the lines on a guitar were called; my mind had gone blank (strings is the answer!!).

Must have had a load of energy today, after Amanda had gone.  I mowed the front lawn and it looks great.  I know I’m blowing my own trumpet.  Last night I had to remove the ‘little presents’ that cats and dogs had left on the lawn.  I know it’s supposed to be lucky if you tread in it but how much luck do you want?  Years ago, I used to put moth balls on the lawn which kept the cats and dogs off but you can’t get them now.  So today I put diced lemon and raw onion on the front lawn.  Will let you know if it works.

I had a late lunch.  Predicament: do I have a Banana Sandwich or a Honey Sandwich or a Honey and Banana Sandwich?  What a dilemma!  Ended up with new potatoes and left-over chicken-in-breadcrumbs which I had made the day before.  I’m getting a dab-hand at cooking.  Also made two single portions of apple crumble with cream.  Delicious.

This evening I actually indulged in a Banana and Honey Sandwich.  Fab it was!

10 May 2020

I will be going soon into my seventh week of Lockdown.  It doesn’t seem possible.  I seem to be set in my ways now, not so stressed out.  The cats and I are getting along really well now though Tilly was really picky with her food two days ago.  If she doesn’t eat, she doesn’t ‘perform’ and I have to give her medicine.  It’s judging how much to give, as it’s my responsibility now, where before it was Bruce who gave it to her.  It’s taken at least four weeks to realise you have a totally different way of life and it’s been frustrating.  Amanda said on Saturday that I was “frustrating”.

The routine changes, what time to get up, go to bed, what time for meals and locking up the front door at night.  A lot of people have gone ‘Housework Mad’.  I’m afraid I’m not one of them.  I did rearrange my bookcase and took a lot of books to the Charity Shop (just before Lockdown) and I do keep it dusted, books arranged in size order; can’t stand them looking big, small, big, small!

The Lockdown for me is a new experience.  I’ve learnt to cook again: apple crumble, banana pancakes, croquettes.  Not much you say but it’s a beginning.  It’s about bothering to cook, I make myself do it.  Every week, Amanda delivers my shopping, always a surprise in there, which I haven’t ordered.  A couple of weeks ago, I had strawberries, so lovely and sweet, didn’t need anything on them.  I ate them naked (not me, the fruit).  No cream.  Grapes, chocolates, steak , extra cakes.  It makes life exciting for me.

I hoover upstairs one week and the following week downstairs.  Actually it’s stuck half way down the stairs, reluctant to come right down.  Also I have more contact within Barbara (it’s a bit strange writing about yourself, part of me wants to remove that bit but it wouldn’t be the diary as Catherine intended ).  If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be writing all these letters; it’s given me an incentive to do something, helps pass the time.  I wish Bruce was here to see it all.  Tilly, Tinker, Blackie and Rupert are famous.  We are being read by lovely people all over the world.

Being in Lockdown, I have ‘inherited’ more friends: Sue, Vivienne, Wendy, Pat, Jennie, Lindy, Anna, Sarah, Tom and Gareth, Gary, Della and, of course, Christine who phones every day to check on me.  Today, though she spent a day in hospital, well looked after and fed, outcome was a frozen shoulder, the most painful ailment you can have for a shoulder, but she still found time to check on me.

The things I want to do after Lockdown is over: visit Wilko, have a haircut, meet my daughter in the same room, meet Barbara and Liz, see my friends old and new, eat an oyster and go to New York.  When we get our freedom back, Rupert will go back upstairs to my bedroom.  I’ll look forward to going back to the Thursday Club, just going out generally.  When we take that first step will it be nerve-racking?  Amanda tells me that in about three weeks I can sit in her garden, in a mask, when not eating burger and wedges.  The mask is waiting for me.  BJ (Boris Johnson) on Parliament Today said you are not compelled to wear one.  Will I continue to wear one?  I don’t know, though if it keeps other people safe then perhaps I will”

Today’s Diary has been a challenge to find a tea towel.  You don’t get many about hoovers, cat pooh, Banana and Honey Sandwiches, housework, apple crumble, lawn mowers………….It will have to be cats again

In Conversation With……. Emma Ball



Emma Ball is a well known name in the field of tea towels, although tea towels are just one of a whole range of goods she designs and sells, like my biscuit tin, but that Also doesn’t include her original paintings, framed and unframed.  Her style is so easy to spot, very happy colours that you associate with a summer holiday with lots of puffins and seagulls.  My ‘Sidmouth’ tea towel appears at the top of the page because it is associated with great memories of my family (blogged about on 2 June 2015).  They are the sort of designs that just make you feel happy.  When you see lots of tea towels (and other things) by one designer, you imagine that the business must be huge but I am beginning to learn that that isn’t necessarily the case.

I was delighted to hear from Emma, at this very strange time, and one of the questions that I was interested in was about how Coronavirus has affected her business:  “We’ve had an increase on web sales of greeting cards during the Lockdown.  In fact, web sales, at the moment, are what’s keeping our heads above water.  As we don’t really sell our discounted cards to shops, it’s currently helping us clear out a lot of them!  I think next year will be tough whilst we come out of this but good solid, practical products that are reasonably priced, and make people smile, should be OK”

My first question is always about how people describe themselves: “I see myself as more of an illustrator, as I’m always working to deadlines.  I trained at Nottingham Trent University and have a BA in Graphic Design”. But did you always want to be an illustrator?  “No I wanted to be a window dresser.  The good thing is I get to do this now, at Trade Events”

So, how does your business work?   “I set up my business in 2001, beginning with a range of limited edition prints.  The company has grown since then with our range of quirky gifts, stationery, homewares, textiles and greetings cards.  We are based near the centre of Nottingham.   I’m the only in-house artist and I oversee all the designing and products.  I have a side-kick in the studio called Sharon who works with my art work, creating patterns and products for me from my illustrations.  We also licence artwork from other artists.  Caroline Cleave, Abigail Mill and Eric Heyman are the three that we have developed tea towels with.  We mainly go to Trade Events and sell to retailers worldwide, both with shops and some online retailers.  We also have our own website, as most shops only sell a selection of the wider range we do.  This means someone can buy a tea towel for a friend that lives in Suffolk when, perhaps, they live in Cornwall”


Where does the inspiration for your work come from?  “Anything and everything.  I generally have an idea whilst laying in bed, which then gets developed and turns into something totally different to what I originally thought up.  I love painting seagulls, oh how I love to do that, but also other birdies too”

How many tea towels have you designed?  “Gosh, I genuinely have lost count as I also design lots of bespoke ones for the customers we supply too!  I haven’t got a favourite.  It would be too hard to chose, I love them all”

What does an illustrator, as prolific as Emma Ball, do in their spare time?  “The simple answer is knit: hats, jumpers, socks, cowls….. it helps me cope with stress”.   And maybe that’s where the inspiration for ‘Sheep in Sweaters’ comes from?


Thank you, Emma, for taking the time to be in In Conversation With… and thank you for the images of tea towels.  I know in Lockdown, working from home, it has been difficult to access some pictures (good job I had some of my own!!).  For Readers with a liking for Emma Ball designs her website is full of online ideas, especially the cards which are on sale.  Enjoy a browse at

Catherine’s Diary (11): 6 to 8 May 2020


My Aunt Catherine has been writing, her Diary Under Lockdown for many weeks now.  She lives alone, having lost her husband in October last year.  Her daughter, Amanda, lives a few miles away.  In her diary, she records her day to day life in this ‘strange new world’.  She writes by hand, posts her letter to me while taking her daily exercise.  Today’s letter contained photos of her three cats which she asked me to post, since they get a regular mention they should share the fame!  They will be posted in her next Diary entry but, today, the tea towel is the one my chiropodist gave to me on 4 March 2020 at my first, and only, appointment with him.  Who else gets a tea towel from their chiropodist?

6 May 2020:  “I started revising my new ‘Bucket List’.  Always at the top was an oyster, then America, see family and friends, hairdresser and chiropodist.  However, I was desperate to see a chiropodist and that went straight to the top of my list.  I asked Amanda if I could have a home visit; she said, as long as he had all the’ gear’ on, it was ok.  Today was the day, in Seventh Heaven.  I can walk in comfort without the nails scratching my skin and my slippers are comfortable!!

Last week, Amanda ordered some dried mealy worms and birdseed; it arrived in two days.  I asked the van driver to put the seed inside the doorway.  Boy, was it heavy?  It took two cups of tea, three restings and four ‘pulls’ to get it into the dining room which is like a storeroom now.  In there is: loads of bird food, cat food, hedge trimmers, new lawn mower, obsolete handbag and shopping bags, boxes of tonic water and ginger ale to go with the next delivery of alcohol!

In the past week, I’ve had four picture postcards: Oreo (Amanda’s cat), one of me at the seaside having a dip in the sea (feet only), me drinking cocktails and Barbara sent one of the two of us both looking really miserable.  Must be something she said to me!  (I would point out it was taken more than 60 years ago!!).  Where do people unearth those photos from?  Still, I had a good laugh.

Also this week, I had a surprise parcel from Amanda: a BIG book of Daily Mail Quick Crosswords.  As I am a bit of a ‘peeker’, looking at the answers, I tore out four pages of solutions and gave them to the recycling men.  I have to work harder now, keeps the brain ticking over”.

8 May 2020:  “The moon, this week, has been fascinating.  It’s been huge, clear, bright, lighting the sky up.  Last night it was low, horizontal in line with my head, a light film over it and a slight orange tinge.  So excited I was that I texted Barbara.  No reply (must retire early) so I phoned Wendy.  She likes the moon as well but she couldn’t see it; the houses were in the way.  When I went to bed it had risen in the sky.  Outside my bedroom window, I have permanent star.  For some reason I call it ‘The Epping Star’.  

Talking about stars, Amanda gave me a ‘star’ as a present in 2003.  My star number is P15842367.  My celestial address is Oh47m13.5s; I am located in the constellation Pisces.  I am duly certified and henceforth be known by the name “Catherine Watts, all my love, forever, from Amanda”.

I liked your piece on Halloumi, Barbara.  I felt proud that you would almost, but not quite, eat it, if we could meet up”

The photos of Aunt Catherine’s cats will appear in her next Diary entry.

Lockdown and Home Schooling: Umaynah (aged 11)


My grandfather was Australian, born and brought up in Australia.  Rumour has it that he was from a sheep-farming family.  I suspect there is no evidence to support this assertion but it comes from a stereotypical view that all Australians are sheep farmers.  However, we are talking about 100 years ago.  I never met him, my Dad never met him.  He died in 1919, in a Quarantine Ship in Sydney Harbour, from Spanish Flu along with up to 50 million people across the world, between 1918 and early 1920.  Over 500 million people across the world were affected, one-third of the world’s population.  The Spanish Flu Pandemic was handled in a strange way; a pandemic after the First World War was going to affect morale and so details were underplayed in a very political manner.  Is this sounding a bit like COVID-19?

I don’t have a picture of my grandfather; I don’t know whereabouts he came from in Australia; I don’t know anything about his family.  The only thing I know is his name because it was on my Dad’s birth certificate: Jack Craufurd.  Australia holds a bit of a fascination for me; I have thought about going, seeing if I could trace my grandfather’s family but then part of me  thinks ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.  However, Australians love a tea towel and, although I have never been there, I have loads.

Umaynah is the daughter of someone I worked with between 1999 and 2015; she still works in the same place and we are still in touch.  Umaynah is one of the children affected by Home Schooling who took up the challenge of writing a 7 Day Diary about Life Under Lockdown.  Completing the Diary, I asked her if she wanted another challenge and she eagerly accepted.  I asked her to find out 15 facts about Western Australia (because I have a tea towel of Western Australia).  While I know which side of Australia the west is, I’m not sure I ever thought about the fact that there was actually an area called ‘Western Australia’.  This task wouldn’t necessarily be easy.  Umaynah found out some really interesting facts, things I’d never heard of (I did check that these facts were not a figment of Umaynah’s imagination; sorry Umaynah).  The second part of the challenge was to use some of the facts, not necessarily all, and write a Tea Towel Blog, which would then be part of ‘We’re all in this together’; what I didn’t say was, that if it is good enough for a proper Blog, it would be published there too (  It is good enough and will be published there too.  Here is Umaynah’s ‘take’ on Western Australia:

“When Lockdown started, I was feeling quite bored and upset as I could not meet my friends and family.  So, when my Mum’s former boss, Barbara, asked if I would like to take part in a variety of challenges, I thought it would be a good way to use up some of the free time I have.

Above is a very colourful tea towel of a map of Western Australia.  My second challenge that I was given, was to find 15 facts about Western Australia.  To find the facts, I started by writing down the different headings for each fact.  Once I was done, I searched each heading and found more detail about them.  Some of the facts that I found out, and thought were very interesting, are:

The capital city: the capital city of Western Australia is Perth.  It is known to be one of the most isolated cities in the world.  As you can see on the tea towel, Perth is in the south west part of Australia and it is the only city in Western Australia on its own and not surrounded by towns.  This is why it is known as an isolated city.

Tourist Attractions: Western Australia has a lot of tourist attractions, some of which are Western Australia Museum, Perth Zoo, King Park Botanical Gardens, Swan Bells, Krajini National Park and St Martins Tower. 

Ancestry and Immigration: Western Australia’s population is made up of people whose families are originally from different countries which are England, Australia, Ireland,Scotland, Italy, China, Germany, India Netherlands, Philippines, New Zealand and South Africa.

Before I started doing this challenge I did not know a lot about Western Australia.  I have enjoyed learning about it, although I don’t think I would want to go there.  I have found out that there are many species of venomous spiders in Australia!!”

I think this is a really good way of using random facts and bringing a piece together.  It will be a Tea Towel Blog.  In my usual way, I got distracted by the Swan Bells and needed to find out more.  Now there is a place I would like to visit.

Lockdown and Home Schooling: Lyra (aged 9)

While I know that Home Schooling has been a challenge for both parents and children, I am very privileged to have been asked to devise the occasional ‘project’ for a few children, Lyra being one of them.  Any ‘project’ that I might think up will always have something to do with geography, history, travel and, maybe, even a tea towel.

Lyra’s ‘project’ had two parts to it.  The first part was to come up with 15 facts about the Canary Islands.  Why the Canary Islands?  Firstly, I’ve never been there but I know Lyra has; secondly, I know nothing about the Canary Islands but I know Lyra does because she went there last summer; and thirdly, because I have a lot of tea towels of the Canary Islands, and probably Lyra doesn’t.

Lyra came up with a number of interesting facts about the Canary Islands like they are owned by Spain.  The second part of her ‘project’ was to use at least three of her facts and write the story of her holiday, what she remembered.   In the final sentence she should say whether she would like to go back.  An illustration could be included and the word count would be around 150 words.  As with any article included in ‘We’re all in this together’, I will provide the tea towels (and I do have a lot, for a place I have never been).

Here is Lyra’s story:

My Holiday in the Canary Islands

“Last year me and my family went to Lanzarote and it was fun and I enjoyed it a lot.  Lanzarote is in the Canary Islands.  When we got there all the buildings and houses were white.  It was my 2nd favourite holiday.  You also have to take a 4 hour plane to get there.  It was very hot when we got there so we went to the place we were staying in to get some supplies.  The money was Euros and we got about 8 pounds each to spend but me (being me) spent it all at the airport.  When we actually got there we stayed in a little cabin next to the pool.  There was a boy there and a………. LIZARD.  I kinda…… nearly stepped on it.  I was quite scared and the boy there didn’t make it any better by asking me if I wanted to……. dissect it.  Instantly, I got out of the pool because that’s just disgusting.  We went to the beach and a fair….. which woke literally everyone up by going “Bing Bong! Ride the Roller Coaster” in the middle of the night and blasting really loud music!  I think I would like to go back again because there is a nicer cabin that we looked at last time with a hammock”

I was fascinated to know what her favourite holiday was, if the Canary Islands were her second favourite.  “My favourite was Austin in Texas last year and my third favourite was Italy in 2014″


Thank you Lyra for the story of your holiday and for the great picture of the Yurt you stayed in, by the pool, where you obviously sunbathed.

Lockdown and Home Schooling: Hamish (aged 11)

Weeks of ‘home schooling’ can be a challenge to parents.  Jai asked her mother if she and I would set some ‘projects’ for her children.  My ‘project’ was always going to have a link to history, geography and even a tea towel if possible.  There were two parts to the project.

For the first part, I asked Hamish to find out 15 different facts about New Zealand, without the help of Google.  Why New Zealand?  Because I know that Hamish spent a whole month there with his parents, because I know he will have no memories of New Zealand as he was only 6 months old at the time, because I have never been there so know very little about the country and because I have a lot of tea towels of New Zealand!

Hamish came up with some really interesting facts about New Zealand; the only one that I knew was that the journey to New Zealand was Hamish’s first time on a plane.

The second part of the ‘project’ was to interview his parents to find out what they remembered of the holiday and then use at least three of the facts in an article about New Zealand.  A drawing could be included.  The word count was about 150 words.  This is Hamish’s Project, with drawing, and as with every other article in ‘We’re all in this together’, I provide the tea towels!

                                        New Zealand

“If I were to go to New Zealand I would go to the North Island as it is more inhabited and has more cities to do stuff in but also tall mountains that I would climb.  The indigenous people of New Zealand (Maori) migrated there over one hundred years ago away from the southeast of Asia to the North Island of New Zealand.  New Zealand is part of Australasia and it is off the coast of Sydney and Norfolk Island.

A traditional celebration for the Maori is called Waitangi Day.  This is where they rejoice the day where their rights were secured as people.  On this day the Tino Rangatiratanga flag (New Zealand’s Maori flag) is raised as a symbol of unity.  Also on this day the Maori wear skirts called Piupiu made from flax plants.

Did You Know?

New Zealand is the easiest country to do business in

I would like to go back to New Zealand because I think I would like the scenery”.


Thank you Hamish for your work about New Zealand; I quite fancy a trip there.  I love your drawing, and the ‘play on words’.  It’s good enough to be a tea towel!

Catherine’s Diary (10): 3 May 2020


Readers will note that my aunt Catherine has been posting a series on ‘Diary Entries’ in this personal record of Life Under Lockdown.  This is her 10th episode.  The tea towel recognises some of the things that she looks forward to eating: Pork Pies!

“Two weeks ago, Amanda (daughter) came round (at a distance) with 6 boxes of Felix, or 240 sachets (to keep the three cats fed).  Now down to 4 boxes plus what is in the cupboard.  Blackie, the cat that lives in the greenhouse, averages 5 sachets a day.  A boy with a healthy appetite.

On Friday, Wade (son-in-law) came round with my new lawn mower.  I disappear while he puts it together (it came in bits).  Up and running in no time, tested it on the grass, perfect.  Got emotional, what’s new?  I wanted to jump for joy but because I am obese I couldn’t get my feet off the ground!  I mowed the back lawn, four bags of grass cuttings, rested then I did the front, two bags.  The mower is so light; I kept going out and admiring the lawn.  It looked fantastic.  Thank you, Amanda and Wade.  No more shearing, thank goodness.

It’s the little things that you run out of: white bin bags, foil, freezer bags (for the sprouts), food caddy bags; all now replaced but suddenly I ran out of shampoo.  Amanda bought me some Herbal Essences, really nice smell (I normally use Simple) but what a job I had to open it!  Amanda would say ‘it’s not rocket science’ but it was to me.  I pressed one side and luckily the other side opened up.  I was so happy I achieved it.

Fruit and vegetables still coming but not so much.  Plenty of normal groceries still coming: bread, butter, pork pies, sausage rolls, eggs, Chicken Kiev.  Getting self-sufficient now, will I leave the house again?  Saturday, I had asparagus, love it, could eat it every day, with lots of butter on it.  Amanda brought round some salted caramel chocolate brownies, absolutely delicious, so chocolatey.  I will have them as my ‘Last Meal’.  Amanda said when I’m on ‘Death Row’ in America she will pop over for some for me!  So, asparagus for a starter, Brownies for dessert, not sure about the main course yet.  Barbara, will your last meal be halloumi with pomegranate seeds? (And my answer is absolutely, definitely no).

After posting my electric bill last week, on the way home, I noticed one of the ‘turnings’ off the main road had bunting going across each house, a joy to see; it’s giving hope, isn’t it?

My clocks are still going well even if they all show different times: 11.55pm, 11.35pm, 8.10pm and 1.50pm.

No more ‘Inspector Frost’ or ‘DCI Banks’; can’t cope with two lots of ‘Poirot’ each day or ‘Inspector Morse’ or ‘Father Brown’.  Freeview, give me a break!  This Saturday, I watched ‘Agatha Raisen’, quite good, kept me awake, a quirky detective series”

Bye for Now, Catherine 

And for most of us, in Lockdown, food takes on a whole new meaning.  Meals are the ‘clock’ that reminds us where we are, food is something to look forward to, fear of running out of something takes on ridiculous proportions but many of us have learned to appreciate the smaller things in life like an easy-to-use lawn mower!


Dear Liz: Coronavirus Update


Ishbel is someone that Liz and I met on the Creative Writing Course we attended.  While none of us are currently doing (taught) Creative Writing, we have all kept in touch before, during and, hopefully, after the Coronavirus Lockdown.  Here is a letter Ishbel wrote to Liz (which she gave me permission to use) as her ‘take’ on Lockdown.

Ishbel’s reference to Scottish foods means that the most appropriate tea towel is that of Scottish Recipes!

Dear Liz,

Just touching sides to see how you are doing doing in these ‘new normal’ times?  Hope you and your family, particularly the old (your aunt) and the young (your grandchildren) are weathering these winds of change.

Arend and I have not really been seriously impacted, as we are not really gadabouts, certainly not to pubs or to dispensers of pricey, plastic food.  Admittedly, we have recently eaten some very strange combinations, as I single-mindedly am determined to eat our way through the deep-freeze.  Ah, the treasures  that I find!  Rhubarb, pumpkin pieces, kale, soup galore etc.  But, most exciting of all, those bags of ‘god knows what’.  That Scottish blood runs thick, not given to disposing of anything unless it is absolutely beyond redemption.  Would that this deep-freeze would turn up a Forfar Bridie, a Scotch Pie, an Arbroath Smokey or a good bowl of Cullen Skink.

Just remembered!  I have a Dundee Cake somewhere in a tin; hope, when I retrieve it, it hasn’t gone mouldy.  We can have it with some Blue Cheese, and pretend we are Yorks.

We certainly have not had problems with essentials, food etc but, oh dearie me, getting things like nuts and bolts and compost, frustration reigns supreme.

We are eating home-made chutney dated 2010, like a good whisky, the older the better.  Jams of various varieties are likewise all vintage, but none the worse for being shelved for a number of years.

The new 55+ Creative Writing term begins this week.  I am glad not to be a student.  I understand a lot of Zooming is going to take place.  At my age, a steady pace is what is required; Zooming is not on my ‘Bucket List’.  My resolution about getting my projects finished is something like a New Years Resolution, or giving up chocolate for Lent, they never go the distance.

Today is Domestic Goddess Day, as I get out the antique Dyson (no spares available) and push it around, even behind the sofa, just so that I can feel a sense of achievement and a job well done.  How low ambition has sunk!

Stay safe and strong


Thank you, Ishbel, for letting me use your letter in ‘We’re all in this together’.  There will be people reading this thinking ‘I’m glad I’m not the only one eating out of date food’.  ‘Best before’ will have a new meaning for anyone in Lockdown.

In Conversation With….. Morag Lloyds


Since there are so many sources of tea towels these days, everything from supermarkets to Pound Stores, tourist agencies to Post Offices, people often ask how I decide on who is invited to join In Conversation With….  For me, it has to be someone whose tea towels I love: for their beauty, for their quirkiness, for their originality, for their art work, for their colour or any other manner of things.  It will always be someone whose art work is not boring, ordinary and unimaginative.  It may be someone I discovered through buying one of their tea towels or someone I’ve come across through my adventures on Twitter or Instagram (I don’t use any other forms of social media).

I saw Morag Lloyds’ work on Instagram.  She produces fascinating and quirky work but she also announced that she had just started designing tea towels, as part of her collection; when ‘Lockdown’ came upon us so they weren’t all printed.  I was interested in what inspired her work as an artist and why she wanted to include tea towels.  Let me introduce you to Morag.  I always start by asking how people describe themselves:

“I am an artist and designer.  I started off life as a designer in London, in the early 80s, mostly with Rand and Alfred Marks.  (For those of us from London, you will remember Alfred Marks and Rand advertising on the tube.  They were employment agencies).  I had a spell doing in-house training on display for shop windows in London during this time.  Several years later, I moved to the Medway Towns and spent some time training at Kent College.  I tried a bit of fine art, ceramics and design.  I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go in, because I loved everything!

In the late 80s, I moved back up to my homeland, Scotland, and worked as a freelancer.  It wasn’t until later that I went to college full-time, and trained in Illustration and Graphic Design, and went on to a Post-Diploma in Fine Art.  (It was then I realised that computers were not my thing!).  Painting was my first love and I had work accepted for both the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour and Royal Scottish Academy.  I am now a member of Glasgow Society of Women Artists.  I have a handful of galleries I show with, both in England and Scotland. I have been represented by some at the Affordable Art Fair in London, Glasgow and, once, in New York which was very exciting”. 

I’m always interested in what artists dreamed of doing as a child, and what they ended up doing:

“An artist!  My mother was very creative.  She was a potter and she was a big influence on me.  My parents had a business, so in my younger years I spent time helping with that.  I had a brief spell travelling and doing lots of different jobs: as a  waitress, in cinemas, in shops, in care homes and hospitals etc.  I have worked a lot in health care.  Combining art with health care was very hard but rewarding.  I was an Art Lecturer at College and I taught Art in Community Education which I loved.  I also had a brief three-year life in Scottish Tourism and have researched, and had published, two local history books”.  (Morag is obviously well equipped for Lockdown).

I was interested to know how Lockdown has affected Morag’s business.  “In one way it has been awful because all my outlets have closed for the moment.  I’m worried about them and hope they can get through this, especially the outlets on the Western Islands, as I imagine the ferries will take a while to be running again, and not a lot of people will be keen on cruises.

BUT there is another side.  It has given me space and time to focus, instead of the normal running around from here to there, with no time to just sit and paint for a long period.  Right now, I am producing a lot of new designs; I have all my paperwork up to date; my Folksy Shop is filling up nicely so that’s all GOOD!  I miss meeting art friends and sharing ideas but we chat online.  Some of my galleries are very proactive, thinking of ways of being seen online which gives me hope.  Now, more than ever, we need people to put real thought about how they spend their money and to focus on ‘local and handmade’ to keep us all going”.

I was interested to know how Morag got her inspiration:

“I am inspired by lots of things: nature, the sea, history, buildings, landscape.  For many years I have painted, put my work in frames, and sold with galleries around UK.  However, some years ago I decided to get some art work produced on to cards and prints.  I attended some bigger shows such as the Edinburgh Festival to sell directly to the end customers and got some feedback too.  It was fun and I was inspired…… and ready to take the next step.  Unfortunately, just as I decided to pursue this road, I became rather ill.  It has been a long road to recovery, not complete recovery, but enough to work more hours, at what I love.  Though a complicated time for my business, I am back on track five years later.

Last summer, whilst in Argyll and travelling around the Islands, I created a collection of work for products.  I decided to start with some tea towels because these can be used for a practical use or for display on a kitchen wall.  I loved the idea that my designs could have a sort of message in them.

The first collection is about ‘Life under the Harbour Wall’: just because we can’t always see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and it’s so beautiful.  The sea really must be protected, respected and loved.  I have two designs printed and two waiting for print when things open up again.  I am working on lots more that are going to be full colour.  One tea towel has gone to America and another to Australia.  

I also have a real soft spot for the Western Isles and my work sells on Mull.  These are the small island communities I would like to sell with more and more, and my tea towels have found their way to several Island shops”.

Finally, I was interested to know how Morag’s business works and what she hopes for the future:

“My business is small.  I am a sole trader.  I sell my work online in my Folksy shop.  Sometimes I attend fairs at Christmas but mostly I now supply shops and galleries by attending Trade Fairs.  (The photograph at the top is of Morag at the Glasgow Trade Fair in January, before Lockdown!).  I sell small, or mini, originals often through my Instagram page (Moraglloyds_Art).

I would love to be able just to keep doing what I am doing, but better.


Love the feet in the photo!  Thank you Morag for a great story and beautiful tea towels.  I can see these would be very popular in the Western Isles, once we are allowed to go there.  Can’t wait to see how your tea towel range develops.  Keep Safe

All photographs copyright Morag Lloyds.

Catherine’s Diary (9): 20 to 21 April 2020


For any article in “We’re all in this together” I said I would find an appropriate tea towel from my collection.  The pressure is on: crosswords? Staying in bed? Clocks? Inspector Frost? What about Pasta Sauce? Or Afternoon Tea?  Afternoon Tea it will be!!

“Good weekend.  Amanda arrived at 8am on Saturday and we walked in ‘tandem formation’ to get a newspaper.  I stood in a corner, Amanda queued.  She got me a paper, fruit juice, wine, eggs and two lots of washing up.  Crossword difficult this week; Barbara is good at words that require 9 letters or more.  Amanda walked with me to post my letters so I had more time with her, makes a difference.

Sunday, I had a visit from Jennie.  Stood for an hour outside, talked about everything.  We wanted to give each other a hug but, of course, we can’t.  Then Lindy came with the Sunday Mail and M&S Victoria Sponge Cakes (miniature ones I should point out); I only had two left.

General Knowledge Crossword took three hours, with some breaks.  Barbara in top form.  I wish I had her expertise.  The Prize Money is still going for Afternoon Tea and a ‘posh phone’ for me.  A phone that does automatic punctuation, spaces words, texts as fast as I can talk and tells me if I am going to press the ‘Off’ button by mistake and erase what I have written.  Another feature would be a ‘Zoom’ button.  I started a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle last Wednesday, done the outside but only put in 8 pieces, so the ‘Zoom’ button would tell Amanda what piece I need from the box, and then where to put it.

Talking about punctuation, I used to read Amanda’s school essays to see if they made sense.  One day she asks why I was reading it so fast.  I said ‘No fullstop or commas and I’m getting out of breath’!!

It’s a sunny day here.  This morning I sheared the front lawn, just needs a rake over it now.  I apologised to the daisies when I lopped their heads off.  They are so pretty, not so bothered about the dandelions though they are colourful next to the Bluebells.  So this morning, I got my vitamins C and D but with all that fresh air I fell asleep through Inspector Frost.

Just made a batch of meat sauce for pasta; not sure how I am going to get it in the freezer.  The frozen veg isn’t going down very fast; I have to eat the fresh veg first!  Is there such a thing as a Brussel Sprout Club?  I want to join!!

21 April 2020

Feeling a lot better today.  Yesterday I had bad indigestion, put down to cauliflower, broccoli, onion and cheese.  I took four glasses of tonic water (minus the gin, ice and lemon) to no avail.  Then about 8pm I had the shivers, muscle ache and felt sick.  I was in bed by 9.30, unheard of so having a slow day today.

Amanda mentioned she has got me a ‘Face mask’.  This afternoon I was lying on the bed thinking about the ‘Face Mask’.  Suddenly, I had a fit of the giggles, trying to imagine us at Claridges for Afternoon Tea, sitting two metres apart in our best bib and tucker, with a face mask on.  I laughed so much I ended up crying, realising I had no one to share this with.

Talking about clocks, which I wasn’t, they are the bane of my life.  Bruce had four clocks, all key winders.  The one in front of me is a pendulum.  When its going, its the only one that dongs the right time.  I think I have overwound the one in the bedroom.  The one on the stairs has stopped completely, the mantelpiece one is doing ok.  Where are you Bruce when I need you?  I need you for my duvet cover to get rid of the lumps and make my cover smooth!”

Thank you Catherine for another great diary!


Catherine’s Diary (8): 14 to 17 April 2020


Catherine lives on her own in Harlow with three cats.  Being alone is a new thing for her; her husband, Bruce, died last October.  Adjusting to widowhood and Lockdown is a Big Ask.  Her daughter plays a huge part in her life, as do longstanding friends and those she has met more recently in a couple of clubs she has joined since Bruce’s death.  Catherine knows how to keep in touch with people and she does this with enthusiasm.  Her diary, here, is written by hand and posted to me because she doesn’t haven’t the technology to send it online.  She is looking forward to a ‘Flash Phone’ when Lockdown is over; the ability to send and receive photographs would be a real bonus although I’m not sure the world would want to see the cobwebs under her kitchen units………….

The tea towel I have chosen picks up the theme of Catherine’s Blog1

14 April 2020

Last night I attempted to cut my toenails as I can’t get to the chiropodist.  I tried with the kitchen scissors but the nails are so hard hard so tried to file them instead!

Also can’t get to the hairdresser.  My hair is starting to ‘fray’ round the ears and neck.  It will be sticking up soon.  I will probably do what I did years ago and resort to cellotaping it, though painful to remove it does work. 

Up early this morning to post two letters to Barbara and two competitions to Norwich; the prize money we are going to win will be for Afternoon Tea at Claridges, arriving in a huge limo.

I am helping Christine with the crossword questions out of the Daily Telegraph.  It’s quite funny having three-way calls between Christine and Barbara.  I once asked Beatrice (Barbara’s mother, Catherine’s sister) if we could play Scrabble by telephone; she said “Yes, why not?”.  It didn’t materialise but I can’t look back (that has to have been more than 30 years ago).

I found a Nutrabullet in my cupboard and have revived it; it took more than half an hour to remember how to use it!  Now I have healthy fruit drinks.  The ‘Mandolin’ I found only manages to slice onions so I am sending it to ‘Mandolin’ Heaven.

17 April 2020

Oh please, oh please someone help me!!  I thought I could see a light at the end of my freezer drawer.  Of course, I am talking about Brussel Sprouts, thinking there was one small bag left.  My daughter informed me this morning that she had popped another bag of frozen sprouts in my vegetable delivery.  I think my skin is getting a greenish tinge!  How many sprouts can one eat?

I have ordered my thyroid medication from Boots; they were very helpful (more than I can say about the Doctors).  It will take 7 to 10 days but I am happy I managed to do it.

Everything now is routine under Lockdown: get up, feed everyone (the cats), wash up, shower, dress, combing Tilly and Tinker, do cat trays.  I try to get up later now, then the day is not so long.  Every day do something different: dusting, hoovering, washing.  Highlights of the day: phone calls from Amanda, Sue, Christine, sometimes Wendy and Vivienne.  Anna calls every week; she is making bags to put scrubs in for the NHS.

The biggest part of my day is deciding on meals.  My fridge and freezer are well-stocked thanks to Amanda and her deliveries.  So well fed am I!  Bruce would have laughed at the fruit I’ve got (I’m not good at eating fruit); that is why I put it in the Nutrabullet.  Bruce loved fruit.

I seem to be getting through a lot of Fairy Liquid with all this washing up I’m doing.

P.S: At the end of this Lockdown, I shall be obese!!

It’s funny, so many people I have spoken to are worried about (a) their hair, their grey hairs and their roots (b) the biggest problem of the day being what to eat, not because they haven’t got enough food but because it’s boring always having this as the centre of the day and (c) how many more fruits and veg they have been eating.  All I want is a big bar of Fruit and Nut!

In Conversation With…..Heather McLennan


One of the interesting things about In Conversation With…. is the chance to be able to talk to small, independent artists, sole traders and to look at their style, inspiration and ethos.  Quite often, tea towels are one of a range of goods produced by artists with small businesses, along side mugs, cushions, coasters, table mats, key rings, fridge magnets…….

Small providers often do not have the people power, or promotional facilities, to be able to widely advertise their goods.  Forums like FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter, along with eBay and Etsy, are often used rather than having big flashy websites.  It is through  Instagram that I was first introduced to the work of Heather McLennan.  I saw one of her tea towels and thought ‘There’s someone who would be good for In Conversation With…, unique, out of the ordinary and I am delighted that she agreed to be interviewed.  Heather’s website describes her as a Scottish Artist, even better!  Here is her story:

“Ok here goes, a little bit about myself….. I am an Artist, who paints mostly in Acrylic; however water colour is my first love, and pastels.  I have drawn and painted for fun pretty much all of my life… I am totally self taught, and learning all the time.  Having been in travel all my life, in my middle 50’s I contacted Visit Scotland with my coasters and card designs, asking if they would consider me for gifts in some of their Tourist Information Centres.  Delighted, they said yes and I have been with them for 3 years now.  My range of goods are now, Coasters, Cards, Clocks, Chopping Boards, Placemats, Tea Towels, Tote Bags, Cushions, Mugs, Key Rings, Note Pads. 

I started printing tea towels, as tourists love them as a keepsake; they are lightweight and easy to take back as gifts from their travels.  I am working on my first children’s book at present and hope to have this adding to my range in 2020.”  

But did Heather always want to be a tea towel designer, I ask with a smile on my face?  “When I was a child I dreamed of becoming  Zookeeper with the BIG CATS… I helped in the Children’s Zoo area in Edinburgh Zoo in the mid 70’s.  

How do you see the future?  “I do not wish to become a big brand name, I want to keep small and be able to manage my very small modest hobby/business myself.  I have a small online shop (closed just now, because of Coronavirus lockdown).   A wonderful little shop called Purdie’s of Argyll sell some of my range, along with 8 Visit Scotland Shops and The Biggar Gallery in Biggar.  I have had 3 Art Exhibitions, and been overwhelmed with selling pretty much all my paintings; they are affordable and not over priced.  

I would love to see myself in 5 years time, still happily creating art which people love and hang in their homes.  I love painting for Charity.  Very proud to say my last large Canvas sold for £2750.00 in November 2019, for a wonderful Charity called ‘Its good to give’ for children fighting cancer.  

My favourite design is Brodie Highland.  He is the lead character for my children’s book; tea towel wise Heather Honey and Hudson are my favourites.  All my cows are named by lovely followers on my Face Book page.  I did not always paint cows, this just evolved….

What do you like to do in your spare time?  “My hobbies are, yes you have guessed, drawing and painting, riding my horse which I sadly lost the end of last year at the grand old age of 32, walking my Labrador with Malcolm, my husband, having my son home from University to cook for and spending quality time with my girlfriends.   Oh, and I eat far to much chocolate.  I received my bus pass last year, that pretty much sums me up.  

P.S. I painted live in the Scottish Parliament to celebrate 50 years of Visit Scotland, there is Heather Honey and Hudson tea towel hanging in full view. (January 2019)


Thank you Heather for taking part in In Conversation With….. It’s been really interesting seeing life from the point of view of a very small business.  I’ll keep watching out for any new tea towel designs.









Anne’s Story of Coping with Lockdown (Part 3)


This is the third part of Anne’s Story about Lockdown; the rush back from France, how to occupy yourself during Lockdown and now: Food.  I’ve not been able to get a supermarket delivery for nine days but I hadn’t thought about cannibalism: sounds like a good idea.  But Anne’s right, Lockdown does make you think about things in a different way.  I’ve certainly rethought my priorities.  My garden has taken on a whole new meaning.

Today’s choice of tea towel has been tricky once again.  Maybe, it just has to be about food, Baked Beans as a last resort!

But I think one of the real shared joys has been the sitting in the sunshine in the garden together, having a BBQ in the evening.  Yes, even at the end March and beginning of April.  The true outdoor people we are, Caravaners too; in Steve’s case, ex-Boy Scouter, with fond memories sleeping under a blanket under the stars on summer camps.  I do, at times, think he thinks he’s Jesus, who was born in a stable.  Often I get back into the house of a winter’s day and all the windows are flung open wide, it’s freezing.  Meanwhile he’s sitting in a T-shirt, as he’s been working outside with a fleece on and once he’s inside he’s too hot.

We’ve sat, even on cold night, fleeces on, with the Chiminea burning brightly with dried twigs pruned from the garden.  Of course, after washing lines are empty, no breeze  and far enough down our long  garden not to waft over people hedges to add to breathing  problems.  My Steve’s a real stickler for abiding to the rules of fire making, (not like one of our neighbours, who are burning their rubbish and plastic, midday near the house). Maybe they’ve heard Steve slamming the bedroom windows, and heard his loud tutting as he walks down the garden, or perhaps they’ve burnt all the rubbish, because it appears to have stopped now thankfully.   Although, so have we,  with the Chiminea since hubby heard this mentioned on the virus updates.

 Well, back to the BBQ evenings, during our self isolation, and with leaving France so quickly, we realised the problem was I’d tried to be efficient, (this is not the norm) and ran the freezer down and cleared the fridge, before we went.  It dawned on me, on the way back, we’d really not got much more food than that we hadn’t eaten in France and that I’d brought back with us.  So now we had to be really frugal.  The three sausages and two burgers became an issue.  The third sausage  needed to be divided equally into two,  and not my husband’s idea of half.  We’d just have to fill up on bake-in-the-oven bread, like we did when we were kids.  That night it was obviously bothering me, how little food  we had.  I’d be positively saying “Oh, don’t worry.  You can live for 3 weeks without food but only 3 days without water” I’d once heard it said.  I’d recalled the story our Infant Teacher had told us, about a family whose plane had crashed in the jungle and had survived on toothpaste until they were found.  Mind you ,we hadn’t got that much toothpaste either.

I’d gone to bed and dreamt of cannibalism, waking in a fright, would this be the future if we couldn’t get food?  I shocked myself into thinking ‘Well I’d be ok for a while, but I didn’t fancy my husband’s chances with the recent weight loss I’d had’.  Fortunately, we didn’t need to resort to that.   I found a standard letter from our new next door neighbours posted through the door, saying if you are vunerable or self isolating to ring them.  Ah, we were very touched by their kindness.  I remember saying, ‘they must think we look more elderly than we are’.  But my gosh, after five days, and food dwindling fast and people reporting  supermarket shelves were empty, I felt very vulnerable.  Finally,  I found the letter, sank my pride and asked meekly if they possibly could, and if they had a chance, could they get us some bread or milk or meat or fruit, even if only one thing, as I realised products were limited to how many you could have and I didn’t want them to deny themselves.  They were great about it; they said they worked next door to a big supermarket.  They rang the door bell and scurried to the end of the drive, leaving a bag of food.  Inside the bag were all the items.

I think all the emotions of the last few weeks, and the act of kindness, made me cry, with happiness, but maybe also the sort of feeling Robinsin Crusoe probably had when the ship came to rescue him from his island.  I never expected to feel so overjoyed at the prospect of fresh bread and fresh milk after such a short time.  Poor lad, he stood there aghast, he asked if he had got the right things; after all, they were new neighbours so he was unaware of my  slightly ‘nutty’ nature.  I just said “Thank you so much.  You have made me a very happy woman and I will toss a bottle of  wine and some money over the hedge” (gently on the grass of course). 

Well, our ‘official’ two weeks of self isolation is now over.   There begins more.  All in all, this ‘Isolation Thing ‘ is going ok.  We’ve not killed each other yet.  We still talk and eat together; we still bicker over what to watch on TV, but I really think we’ve coped very well and, God willing, hope for us all to ‘Stay Safe ‘.  I feel we’re having the time I’d always imagined we would get when we were older, instead this has slotted in among our frantic days of rushing around from first thing in the morning to the evening.  Busy doing nothing, working the whole day through; in other words, feeling shattered with not much achieved to show for it.  If life was like a set of office trays, then our ‘Pending ‘ tray never got a look in.  The ‘In’ tray kept mounting and refilling, a lot going in the ‘Pending ‘ tray but very little left the ‘Out’ tray.  So I’d say, this isolation involves finally working through the ‘Pending’ tray of our life, before that ‘In’ tray starts back again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d give anything to wrap my arms around my wonderful family, hug them and my friends.  But let’s Stay Safe and I can’t wait for the big ‘Reunion’ and won’t there be some very special hugs?🤔❤”
Thank you Anne for your ‘take’ on Lockdown.  Highly entertaining but seriously makes you think about ordinary, day-to-day life.