LEISURE: Lockdown doesn’t have to be boring – Be inspired!


You’ve cleaned and tidied every room of your house, twice (or several times a day if you have children), read until your eyes ached and binged all the TV series you’d put off watching until now. With news that the lockdown has been extended for at least a further 3 weeks, we’ve assembled a list of activities to help you beat the boredom until lockdown ends. 

Outdoor Activities

Photo by Cat Bolado

For anyone lucky enough to have access to some outdoor space, whether it’s a garden or a nearby park, there’s a lot you can do within the confines of the lockdown. Here are a few things you could try: 

  • Build a bug hotel. Insect houses and bug hotels are a fun, easy activity and something children in particular can get a lot of joy from. All you need is scrap objects like bits of old wood, pine cones, dry leaves, woodchips, bricks and soil, and you can make a home ideal for isopods and brilliant for beetles. After you’ve made it, watch regularly and keep a record of what you see. For more info on how to build a great insect home, visit the RSPB website.
  • Make your own bird feeder. There are literally dozens of ways you can do this but the easiest is to use a pine cone from a nearby park. Tie some string around the base of the cone, then mash together a little lard, some good quality seeds and add in some dried mealworms and raisins, if possible. Squish the mixture into the crevices in the pine cone, pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden and hang outside from the nearest tree or anything else away from cats. Note: if you have dogs, omit the raisins. Also, try to avoid seed mixes with wheat in, which can’t be eaten by anything except pigeons.
  • Start a lockdown adventures scrapbook. Whenever you go for a walk or a cycle, try to choose a different routes as often as possible and bring home a souvenir or take a photo of something you’ve seen while you were out, then write about what you saw or did during your trip. Anywhere can seem exciting if you imagine you’re new to the area.
  • Consider camping out in the garden overnight. This works well if you already have a tent and sleeping bags. Dress up in warm clothes, pack some snacks, light a candle or two for toasting marshmallows, and experience the great outdoors from the safety of your own back garden. Just remember to warn your neighbours and try to keep the noise down overnight. If you don’t have a garden and fancy giving this a try, camp in your living room instead!
  • Get gardening. With the good weather we’ve been having and the warmer sun, now is the perfect time to do something wonderful with your garden. Plant some seeds (there’s a wide variety available online) to grow herbs or salad leaves or even vegetables. Make a rainbow for the NHS in your front garden using bedding flowers. The options are limited only by your imagination and what you would prefer to grow.
  • Create a fairy garden or an ogre cave. Find an empty plant pot and get your kids to paint it, then surround it with pebbles or wood chips and flowers, a little moss for carpeting and anything else that will help make a little fairy or ogre feel at home. 
  • Bury a time capsule. This is a very unusual time we’re living in, and it will be remembered all over the world, so why not mark the occasion with a time capsule? Find some form of water-tight container and have every person in the house write a letter describing life for them right now. You could include photographs and if the capsule is large enough, other items that will help you remember this time. Anything goes as long as it’s not perishable and won’t biodegrade in the meantime. Make sure you also include the date you bury the capsule. Then choose a spot in the garden, bury it nice and deep and find a clear way to mark its location because in ten or fifteen years, you’ll have forgotten exactly where it is. 

Indoor Activities

 To get the most out of your time indoors, try to create a combination of work and play activities, so you feel challenged, rather than focusing solely on having fun. 

  • Organise a family Bake Off challenge. Make sure everyone agrees on a recipe to try, whether it’s the perfect Victoria sponge or something more difficult like eclairs. Then, take it in turns to make it. Once everyone has finished, vote anonymously for the winner. For bonus points, create a silver star from cardboard and kitchen foil to award your ‘Star Baker’. Freeze leftovers for another time.
  • Grow plants on a sunny windowsill. Gardens are nice but they’re far from the only option for those who wants to grow flowers or food. The combination of glass, heat and sun can have a similar effect as a greenhouse, making it ideal for first-time growers. Herbs do very well on a warm windowsill, as do peppers, chillies, salad leaves and many flowering plants.
  • Invent a new board game. New board games are being invented all the time but this could be your chance to come up with something unique. Think about the features you love most in your favourite board games, then create something that incorporates those features with a few new elements thrown in for good measure. If you make a prototype of your game, you could even play with friends or family when lockdown ends. 
  • Make a tournament out of an old game. If creating something new isn’t your sort of activity, setting up a tournament for your favourite games can be a lot of fun. You could even do this over video conferencing with family you can’t be with right now. Uno tournament, anyone? 
  • Learn something new. This is a great opportunity to learn to do something new. It could be as academic as re-learning the biology you forgot after you left school, or it could be something creative, like learning to use that sewing machine you bought 5 years ago and never used. If you start putting an hour or two a day into learning a new language or studying crochet for beginners, you could be a pro in no time. 
  • Spend some time with your children (or embracing your inner child) and build the perfect fort. There are hundreds of guides out there that can help you turn a minor structure of chairs and mattress covers into something seriously impressive. Some time, some bedsheets, a few cushions and a rug, and you’ll have a boast-worthy den of solitude that will be the envy of all. If you want a guide to help you, this one is my favourite.
  • Spread the fun around by organising a quiz. If you’re using video conferencing to stay in touch with friends and family while you’re at home, organise a quiz. Cover a wide range of topics (think of Trivial Pursuit) and include questions that will appeal to all ages. There’s no point asking 20 questions about current chart acts if Granny thinks all music after 1990 sounds the same, and little ones won’t know anything about the Falklands War. You can even come up with prizes and forfeits to make it a little more fun, and get you out of the washing up if you win.

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