Outdoors Skills

Life on the doorstep during lockdown has meant that we have both honed some unexpected skills that we hadn’t encountered in day to day life living in Milan. With Em on the rural ligurian coast, and Zo in the slightly more rugged North Yorkshire hills, it’s fair to say that the surroundings on our doorsteps present different joys, tasks and skills.

As i’m sure is the same for most during this time, one day at a time is the best way of thinking, before you spiral into dark apocalyptic webs. Nonetheless, it has felt productive to get back to basics and learn some skills that could be more essential in a world that looks a little different to our own.

What have we learnt?


Have you taken a look around your garden lately? It may be more interesting than you give it credit. Did you know that stinging nettles make a delicious herbal tea and add a delicious flavour to your pasta dough? Em discovered that her garden is full of wild garlic, which can be made into a delicious pesto, you can find the recipe here. We’re feeling the need to be a little more self-sufficient and conscious in general and so have started learning about local herbs and edible plants, you’d be surprised how much there is to eat right on your doorstep.

100 ways to use lemons

With several lemon trees at her fingertips, Em has been discovering the joys of lemons. She’s discovering how to use them in just about anything from lemon cake to limoncello, and just about everything in-between.

Log chopping

Growing up we never had a real log fire, rather a gas one. My Dad was truly shocking at managing and barbeque and we rarely partook in the traditional bonfire night celebrations. As a result my fire making, log arranging and chopping skills are minimal. Whilst all in the house for longer, we have turned to long evenings huddled around the log burning fire in the cosiest room. As my boyfriends father is a tree surgeon there is an ever growing pile of large logs that need cultivating into indoor appropriate sizes. Donning a lumberjack outfit, I was taught how to swing an axe, where to position the blade and how to overcome a tree knot. The pyramid shape is also key to starting a fire, although i’m not sure i’m quite ready to try it out in the wild!

Constructing a vegetable patch

Finding themselves with some time on their hands and stranded in the Italian countryside, Em and her boyfriend set about constructing a vegetable patch. They picked a sunny spot in the garden and started digging, and then set about sowing salad seeds and planting a variety of vegetables, found at a local garden centre. Many a youtube tutorial later and the plants are in and the irrigation system is on its way to being fully functional.

Chicken rearing

Whilst staying at my boyfriends parents (and him I might add), I have been forced to become more hands on with one of their residents- the 15 chickens at the top of the garden. I can safely say I have never held a chicken, nor grabbed one in the ‘correct’ way to stop its wings hitting me. The new additions, I learnt, needed to be coaxed in to the hutch at night, to avoid them cuddling together on one perch and feeling the nip of northern England in March. Finally, I have learnt how and when to collect the eggs that they lay and something I almost certainly never wanted to know- how to unblock the tube should an egg become stuck.

Sewing repairs and knitting

My boyfriends mum is a keen member of the WI and well skilled in various useful departments, inclding knitting, crocheing and sewing. I spent a happy sunday afternoon helping her to make a pair of pyjamas on a traditional sewing maching, something I used to love at school. We have also been knitting blankets for premature babies in the evenings, they only need to be small, like the babies so great for a beginners project, and fantastic practice for making an adult size blanket to take on adventures when the winter months come back.

Have you learnt anything new on your doorsteps whilst indoors? Drop us a message we’d love to hear!

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