Don't knock Liz Hurley's lockdown hobby – we're all finding odd new ways to entertain ourselves

Guy Kelly
·5-min read
Liz Hurley has made more than enough marmalade in lockdown - Liz Hurley/ Instagram
Liz Hurley has made more than enough marmalade in lockdown - Liz Hurley/ Instagram

If you’ve been following Liz Hurley’s social media feeds for the past few years – and you really should – you’ll know that, in the best possible way, she’s mad as a chair.

If she’s not posing in a bikini with Damian, her eerily identical son, she’s posing in a bikini with a Photoshopped family of polar bears for a Christmas message; if she’s not bantering with old flame (and Damian’s godfather) Hugh Grant, she’s holding her spaniel puppy, Ava, like a hostage in front of a bonfire.

So it wasn’t entirely surprising last weekend, when Hurley uploaded a photograph of herself holding two jars of homemade “Jan ‘21” marmalade, at her home, Donnington Hall in Herefordshire. “Lockdown has turned me into a demented housewife,” she wrote, “47 jars of marmalade nestling in my larder with more Seville oranges awaiting me.”

In normal times, this would be Hurley being Hurley: just another delightful turn from one of Britain’s most eccentric, professionally bored actresses. This being the third national lockdown in nine months, though, means we looked on with renewed admiration and understanding. Who can sniff at 47 jars of marmalade? At least she’s found a hobby.

Up and down the country and all across the world, under-occupied people are finding creative ways to pass the time. The sourdough’s proven. All the banana bread’s baked. The hot tubs have frozen over. So, what else is there to do now?

Follow Queen Liz, and get in a jam

Maybe it’s because it lasts for an age, maybe it’s because home-workers are turning to toast for their mid-morning, post-lunch, mid-afternoon, early evening and late night snacks, but jam – all spreads, in fact – has made a roaring comeback. According to the latest figures, sales of preserves rose by £120 million during lockdown. And that excludes the army of Hurleys who are making their own.

Jam is simple to make, satisfying to stir and, if you make enough of it, stocks should leave you well covered for post-pandemic presents to gift neighbours, teachers, friends and family for years to come. It also makes perfect sense: in the first lockdown, we all baked bread. Now we need something to put on it. Baby steps.

Appoint yourself neighbourhood watchperson

On every street, there is at least one person who has become the unofficial community sentinel in the past year. They subtly investigate every strange car, could tell you what time the postman’s arrived every day for the past four months and feel physically anxious whenever somebody who’s normally visible at their window desk momentarily isn’t.

This blend of busybody-ness and amateur sleuthing has become a lockdown pastime to conquer all others. And it’s certainly the most British. “I gazed out of my kids’ window for ages the other morning, as there were loads of shifty men sitting in cars, passing each other keys… convinced I’d rumbled a dangerous criminal ring,” one colleague confides, movingly. “Turns out they were just builders waiting for access to a house to build a new conservatory.” Well, Boris did tell us to stay alert.

Get really into pot(tery), like Seth Rogan

You might associate the US actor Seth Rogan with little more than slacker comedies, a healthy interest in marijuana, and the perpetual appearance of a teenager. Well, to that list you can now add “potter”. Last month, Rogan’s newfound love of ceramics topped a list of “best celebrity quarantine hobbies” compiled by Vogue.

Rogan, who is actually 38, began tinkering at the kiln last year with ashtrays (of course), but now he’s onto genuinely impressive vases, sculptures and pots. He makes it look joyous. Assuming people follow suit, next year’s Great British Pottery Throw Down might be a bit more competitive than usual.

Roller skating through 2021

If The Crown is anything to go by, Diana was frequently skating around Buckingham Palace - Des Willie/ Netflix
If The Crown is anything to go by, Diana was frequently skating around Buckingham Palace - Des Willie/ Netflix

Have you noticed them? Flashing by, barely keeping balance, rattling on the pavements and hurtling through the park? Or maybe that person is you: a newfound roller skater. Understandably, people are sick of putting one foot in front of the other and propelling themselves for a walk or run and given we’re not allowed to cycle far, or play team sports or meet anyone else, the only thing left is to pretend it’s 1977 and let gravity help.

One roller skate shop, Slick Willie’s, has seen demand on its website increase by 1,017 per cent year on year. Celebrities, of course, are all over it. Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum, Leslie Mann… And let’s not forget the original influencer, Lady Diana Spencer. Did she really cruise around the corridors of Buckingham Palace on wheels, as The Crown suggested? Who cares. We’re all having a go now.

Chanting sea shanties

Nobody thought a song about 19th century Kiwi whalers would go viral in 2021, as a TikTok cover of Soon May The Wellerman Come did last week. To be fair, though, nobody thought any of this would happen.

Shanties are easy to learn, collaborative, motivational and originated as an aid to keep sailors’ spirits up and concentration sharp. Perfect for being stuck at home, in other words, so we might as well jump aboard with the crowd. After all, in lockdown, we are all the drunken sailor. Now, what shall we do with ourselves?