Back in early March a cousin who lives in Rome sent me some hilarious short videos of ‘before’ and ‘after’ lockdown – my favourite was of a hot Latino guy dancing the salsa to some Cuban tunes, his chest was muscular and his hips moved sexily, it then faded to ‘after lockdown’ to be replaced by a now chubby guy smiling and dancing wearing a straw hat, his tummy wobbling to the rhythm.

I’m beginning to realise that within a few more months this could happen to us all. In fact, I fear that it has already started! According to a nationwide survey mentioned on BBC2’s The Ranganation show, we’ve all put on a few pounds over the last couple of months and among our top five favourite snacks are bacon sandwiches with ketchup, along with cheese on toast and salt and vinegar crisps.

I guess we need to replace these with more nutrient-rich, but still tasty snacks like popcorn, yoghurt, a bowl of fresh strawberries, brazil nuts, olives or cucumber sticks dipped in houmous. Controlling food portions is another thing we need to consider.

Then of course, many of us have started baking for the first time in years. Simple apple or pear crumbles, rock buns and chocolate brownies have become my speciality. It’s such fun to mix the flour, sugar and spices into a big bowl then get my hands sticky with butter, eggs, honey and just make a mess before popping it into the oven.

I’ve enjoyed having a chance to slow down and savour some warm bread straight from the oven with butter melted in, or to bite into a soft ginger biscuit washed down with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea.

With the days flowing at a more tranquil pace, I suppose there are a few things we could all do to stay fit on a regular basis, like spending 10 minutes doing a morning yoga stretch, dancing to some upbeat dance music with the kids, cycling down picturesque leafy lanes or taking a walk after dinner on warm evenings.

I used to feel great after a Pilates class, but what I miss most is walking around London, that’s when I feel truly energised - enjoying an exhibition, meandering around all sorts of shops then stopping off for a cappuccino along the way. How wonderful it feels, wandering around a great metropolis, packed with people, noise and colour and becoming lost in the cityscape, not even realising how much ground I’ve covered. When I get home, I fall onto my sofa, exhausted but happy.

In March, we decided to buy an exercise bike and positioned it in a sunny spot in our small garden. I go on it most days before dinner while listening to some feel-good music. I don’t achieve a great deal and only burn off about a hundred calories twenty minutes at a time. I know I can do better but if I push myself too hard I’ll just lose interest and the motivation to go on it the next day. It’s not about being ultra-fit for me, but about keeping active, losing a few calories and pushing myself beyond my limits in small ways. If I’m not enjoying it, there really is no point.

On some days, I feel less motivated and would rather walk mindfully, feel the warm breeze, let the sun cover my face, listen to the swishing trees and connect with my breathing. Like Thoreau and Wordsworth, we can become attuned to our surroundings. Fortunately, living in Hertfordshire offers us plenty of green spaces and opportunities to take many interesting routes on our daily walks as, especially during these last couple of months “The city has withdrawn itself and left the country to the country.” (Robert Frost)

After lockdown, a deep tissue or aromatherapy massage will be long overdue. The scent of jasmine or frankincense, the feel of the oil rubbed into my skin will be so uplifting and strong hands kneading into my back will feel so grounding, releasing knots and tension from being hunched over my laptop; such a perfect treat.

In the meantime, a hot bath infused with the calming effects of Neal’s Yard or Radox aromatherapy range sounds good to me, along with a few scented candles and Chopin’s piano etudes playing in the background. Then before bedtime, a hot mug of herbal tea and a good book of poems, or maybe a quick note in my gratitude journal about the good things that happened to me either on this very day or in the past.

There’s nothing like a buoyant and happy memory to trigger an inner sense of peace and send you off to sleep, like that Christmas morning back in the late seventies when I unwrapped a huge teddy bear that was almost as big as me! Or the day I stepped into the sea a few years ago and was introduced to a smiling dolphin, held onto her shiny fin and swam away with her into the distance. Zzzzz.

  • 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 92.6FM Radio Verulam at .