The cherry tree in the garden is about to burst into rich clusters of candy-pink blossom. Its flowering branches are growing heavy with radiant blooms. Spring is here at last. The splendour of its infinite light and colour slowly emerges taking over the dark winter days. I turn my face to the sun and close my eyes.

These are indeed strange times, so strange that I’ve actually started gardening. My husband watches me incredulously. Born and bred in the Yorkshire countryside, he is teaching me about the difference between plant varieties and showing me how to weed.

"I’ve never done this before." I smile at him.

“You don’t say.” He smiles back, feigning surprise.

Much to my delight I am actually finding it therapeutic. Immersing my fingers in cool damp soil and turning it over with my fork. Digging into the soil with my trowel. I love the fact that it’s a silent activity and that it is helping me to think things through and come to terms with the fact that we have a pandemic on our hands.

Some of these weeds are almost waist high, and as I disturb their little eco-system and pull out some deep roots, I sense they are firmly settled and do not like to be disturbed.

I remember a sci-fi book I read years ago by John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids, published in 1951. It was about a post-apocalyptic world where, after a devastating meteor shower, an aggressive plant species begins to spread voraciously all over the land, knocking people to the ground with one stinging lash of its poison before sucking them in. Such a weird book, inspired by Wyndham’s experiences in World War II.

I make a tea, sit back and admire my achievements. Not a weed in sight now in that patch. It looks lovely. How did it ever get so bad? Well, when am I going to get the time to do weeding, of all things? Under normal circumstances, I'd rather go out for lunch with a friend or pop into London to see an exhibition.

Life is slowing down now for most of us and we are beginning to perceive things differently. Taking a look at our homes, taking a look at our lives. By the time we come out of this, we may all feel like we’ve moved on. Perhaps it is a chance to begin anew for many of us. We may emerge as a stronger community, co-operative rather than competitive, or maybe I am just a foolish idealist.

My husband’s shopping trips are becoming more random in nature. This morning, I have a look at what he’s bought home. “Mmmm, caramel rice cakes and a tin of pork meatballs!” I laugh. Life is getting more and more surreal. “When have you ever seen me eat a rice cake?” I ask.

Next, I spot a rectangular tin of corned beef with a key affixed to their side. “Are you planning a future camping trip to the Himalayas?”

My daughter hears our voices and joins us in the kitchen. I discover the reason for the tin’s shape, in line with the way the meat is cut. I look at my husband. “Well I had to improvise a little,” he replies. I smile at him, grateful that he has braved the crowds and long queues. Meanwhile our daughter is happily crunching her first ever caramel rice cake.

“And what’s this in a flat round tin?”

“It’s a Fray Bentos meat and onion pie!’

“A pie in a tin? And why does it have such an unusual name? It sounds celtic.”

My daughter quickly googles it on her phone and informs us it’s is the name of a town in Uruguay.

“It’s a delicious meat pie. I remember eating them occasionally when I was a kid," my husband assures me. Now I must be hallucinating!

For dinner tonight it’s a delicious chili con carne. We chat about how we’ve had to cancel our hairdresser appointments. I mention that I recently saw Nicky Clarke being interviewed and how he’s mostly worried about two types of clients: women who desperately want their hair dyed as the greys begin to come through, and men who like a clean cut whose hair will grow unruly. My daughter adds her teenage evaluation of the current situation: “By the time this is all over we’re all going to be skinny, with long hair and no social skills!”

  • Marisa Laycock moved to St Albans in 2000. She enjoys sharing her experiences of living in the city. These columns are also available as podcasts from 92.6 FM Radio Verulam at