Rosie and Jim: ‘I’m fairly sure the elderly lady with excellent hair doesn’t usually winch her shopping up through a second floor window’

Country Life's Rosie Paterson and James Fisher are, separately, in isolation at opposite ends of the country.

Country Life’s team has been sharing stories, tips, ideas, recipes and random thoughts to help spread a few smiles. We’ve shared recipes, looked at clever tributes from farmers and celebrated the power of flowers.

Our writers Rosie Paterson and James Fisher — who have both, one way or another, ended up alone for the duration — are sharing slices of their lives. 

My parents had no idea what a meme was three weeks ago. That fact remains unchanged, but they sure as hell now know how to share them on WhatsApp.

One pinged through the other day: ‘Anyone who is single, be careful who you take home this weekend. You might end up with them for a fortnight.’ I don’t know what they think I’m up to down here in Devon — but an episode of Love Island it is not.

What is it about a global pandemic that sends people into meme-sharing and banana bread-baking overdrive?

From working his or her way through Nigella’s recipe repertoire, to embracing DIY with hands used to little more than pressing control, alt, delete (which won’t help you right now, I’ve tried), everyone is approaching the situation differently. No doubt teams of psychologists and scientists are watching eagerly, to see what we all do next. A Netflix documentary must surely be in the works. If they’re watching the South Hams, however, they might be wondering if life has changed at all.

Not that there aren’t some changes: a slight uptake in cycling, maybe (it’s far too hilly for running). And I’m fairly sure the elderly lady with excellent hair — whose house I walked past at the weekend — does not usually winch her shopping up through a second floor window (with staggering efficiency and speed, by the way). And this part of Devon doesn’t normally resemble a ghost town in the run up to Easter — and my heart goes out to all of the small businesses who rely on the seasonal traffic.

But otherwise, the fields I look out onto change from green to brown, as they always do at this time of year, to make way for spring wheat and potatoes; the ewes birth a new flock; the birds continue their incessant song in the rush to find a mate.

We need our farmers and the countryside now, more than ever. While we can all do our bit by staying put at home, the farmers will do theirs: working tirelessly to stock our supermarkets with essential and seasonal produce. And the countryside will carry on, quietly (or not so quietly, in the case of those birds) doing its own thing, as it has always done. A timely reminder that, like Nature, we too can handle anything life throws our way.

They teach you a lot of things in school, some of it useful, most of it useless. I got a letter through the post the other day from HMRC about taxes, and I have no idea what any of it means, other than that it’s probably bad news because a lot of the words are in bold. For some reason, society has progressed through the ages with little emphasis on life and how it is lived, and more emphasis on the mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell, which is a piece of knowledge that has been burnt on to my brain and is completely useless to me and HMRC.

I would happily trade away Pythagoras’s Theorem for a GCSE in de-frosting food quickly. I don’t like going to the shops at the best of times, even less so when every sneeze is treated like a gunshot, so with that in mind, I ordered a box of frozen food from a game dealer. I was smug: ‘look at me,’ I said to no-one, ‘I’m supporting an independent business, producing responsibly sourced meat, and I won’t have to go to the shops while being leered at by a man with clingfilm wrapped around his face in lieu of a protective mask.’

That was, until, I opened the freezer and discovered that it was already full. Full of fish. I had 48 hours to make enough room to store my substantial order and what the neighbours have seen in the past few days is nothing short of a piscatorial massacre — cod, seabass, salmon, you name it. I have eaten enough fish in the past two days to make Jesus weep. I grew a beard in a day and have a strange lust for polo necks. I sweat nothing but omega oil. I have evolved.

The good news is that the plan worked, and I have more than enough room for my frozen game. The delightful partridge was a welcome relief from the rampant sea-life, so much so that I even lit a candle while I ate to celebrate. I have conquered the sea, I will conquer the sky, and soon, too, the land.