This kitchen accessory makes rinsing the sink out so much easier and can help reduce your water bills.'Wish I'd got one sooner' »
It really is a strange and unsettling year when Sweden is not regarded as a paragon of fresh air, clean living and gentle beauty. But 2020 has been no one’s idea of normal, and even this vast piece of the Scandinavian jigsaw – a country that often seems to be sheltered from life’s concerns – has not been immune to Covid’s death grip. Anything but.
French cooking is just an excuse to eat French bread. Country pâté? Goes on bread. Escargots with parsley butter? It’s a dip. The bread is everything.
I only buy perfume when I’m travelling, both for sentimental and cost-effective reasons. I remember the first bottle of perfume I owned, acquired in Lisbon: a whiff of the (sadly now expired) scent brings back memories of sprinting down the mosaic pavements in Baixa, giddy with my milestone “adult” purchase.
2020 has made a mockery of long-term planning for my partner and me. Our dream trip to New Zealand was cancelled with three days’ notice; a documentary that I have been developing for a decade was shelved; and our wedding was postponed until (hopefully) next year. Travel quarantine has made things even weirder: when lockdown finally lifted, our pre-booked holiday to Ibiza was back on the cards, only for it to be snatched away again when Spain was red-listed. We then switched our flights to Croatia, and made it back the day before that quarantine was announced. Just as long-term planning becomes futile, short-term planning has become vital: our local pub often reaches its newly-reduced capacity, so “popping out for a pint” requires pre-booking online. National travel is trickier too: when I tried to get home from York on Bank Holiday Monday, I had to wait three hours before I could get on a train, because new Covid guidelines limit passenger numbers. We happily tolerate these minor frustrations because we understand their importance to public health. But it leads to a defensive mindset, in which it is safer to just do nothing, because that’s the only way to avoid disappointment. Don’t plan anything, in case it gets snatched away; and don’t be spontaneous in case logistics are too hard. This mindset can spill into everything. Last week, we had planned to visit a friend in Kingston, who had recently bought some second-hand kayaks. But, it was raining hard, with the possibility of thunderstorms. What if we went all the way there and it was too unsafe to go out on the river? We became frozen in indecision: do we head to Kingston and risk being disappointed again; or do we stay at home for another evening on the sofa? I reasoned that, with the nights starting to lengthen, and autumn already in the air, getting outdoors was only going to get harder. Besides, we could handle a bit of rain and, if the risk of lightning got worse, we would just have to find something else to do. Unlike the enforced disruptions of Covid, it was only our own timidity that could stop us this time. The moment we got on the train, we knew that we had made the right choice. We were only going a few miles down the tracks, but lockdown has made us all a bit reticent, so even small journeys can now feel like an adventure. By the time we put the boats in the river, the sky had cleared and the water was flat. It was the first time that my fiancée had been kayaking on the Thames, and she loved it, paddling under the bridge as a train thundered over, and passing the swans as they prepared for sleep. We only had 30 minutes on the river before it got dark, but by the time we hauled ashore, we were completely refreshed. The debates and anxieties of earlier seemed ridiculous and we knew that, no matter what was taken away next, we would always have the joy of that evening on the river. We even managed to find space at a pub for a post-paddle pint. It’s easy to put things off until some indeterminate future, and I won’t wax lyrical about the values of saying “yes”. But I might recommend that we say “yes” for now, because we don’t know when opportunities might be snatched away again. When it comes to planning, the best approach that I’ve found so far is to block out time, but be willing to change plans at the last minute. “Spontaneous forethought,” as I like to call it. If you’re lucky, circumstances will drop extra time in your lap, so you better be ready to make the most of it. With three hours to spend in York, I rang my mate Wisey, who lives in the countryside nearby. “I’ve just started bee-keeping,” he said. “Fancy checking out the hives?” So we suited up and, for the rest of the afternoon, I learned about the culture of a colony, and handled frames full of pollen and late-season honey. It was far more fun than an extra few hours at home, but I had no idea it would happen until I rang Wisey that afternoon. The kayak and the bees have been the highlights of my year: one nearly didn’t happen, and the other appeared out of nothing. So, watch out for complacency and keep an eye out for spontaneity. You might just get some honey. How has 2020 changed your perceptions of spontaneity? Are you more likely to say yes or no to impromptu plans? Comment below.
Hottest front-room seats: the best theatre and dance to watch online. From live-streams of new plays to classics from the archive, here are some of the top shows online now or coming soon
The practice of forest bathing has been proven to be good for your mind, body and soul – but what is it exactly, and how do you do it?
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged on Friday to hold a Senate vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg had died just hours earlier of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer at the age of 87. Ginsburg herself said just a few days before her death that she did not want her seat to be filled until after the election. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she told her granddaughter. In the months leading up to the 2016 election, McConnell refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland after the death that February of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. But this situation — in which he’s trying to shoehorn a justice picked by President Trump just 46 days before a presidential election — is different, he says, making sure to justify his decision by reminding us that Republicans are, in fact, in both the presidency and the U.S. Senate. “Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” McConnell said in a statement. “By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we worked with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise.” A right-wing justice would give the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority, which could affect all types of issues from the Affordable Care Act to Roe v. Wade. So far, at least four Republican Senators have pledged that they will not consider a Supreme Court appointment until after the next inauguration, including Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney.Democrats are calling for the Senate to wait until a new president is installed to vote on a Supreme Court nominee, saying that McConnell set a precedent with his refusal to consider Garland.“Mitch McConnell set the precedent,” Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey wrote on Twitter. “No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.” But McConnell has shown time and time again that he doesn’t care about precedent, or being a decent human — he only cares about power for the Republican Party.> Don’t for a minute think they won’t do it.> > — jess mcintosh (@jess_mc) September 18, 2020Register to vote here.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Died At Age 87It's RBG's 87th Birthday & Fans Are Honoring Her<em>On The Basis Of Sex</em> Review
First came ‘Attack the Block’; now two new releases are redrawing how we see young inner-city kids on screen. The directors tell Beth Webb why it’s time to see teenagers differently
‘Us’, the author’s study of a marital crisis amid a family trip to Europe, is coming to BBC One tonight. He talks to Martin Chilton about his late-blooming career and why Brexit is a ‘terrible mistake’
She excels at playing shambolic ‘sad hot girls’ in shows like ‘Love’ and ‘Community’ but the actor would rather be listening to a podcast than wreaking havoc, the actor tells Annabel Nugent