How much time have you spent in front of a screen since the lockdown started? I’ve always been partial to video games and am no stranger to being in front of a monitor; but so much of my life is now online that it feels as though I’m always tied to my mobile phone and laptop.
That’s why it’s been nice to get away from them occasionally and do something completely different. Although I can’t deny how grateful I am for the extra free hours that social-distancing has allowed me to dedicate to my gaming backlog, I’ve also found myself seeking out other activities which don’t involve a screen or making myself available online. Here’s a round-up of the hobbies I’ve been trying out since the lockdown started at the end of March… along with an old one which hasn’t been going so well lately.
I’ve always enjoyed baking and you’ll generally find me in the kitchen when I’m not playing video games. But since being unable to find bread in the supermarket back when panic-buying was a thing, I’ve taken up making it by hand once a week. Teri-Mae from Sheikah Plate has been giving me plenty of great advice and it’s thanks to her that I’ve created a recipe I’m almost happy with. I now need to work on getting more hydration into it to make the bread lighter and fluffier – keep an eye out for more photographs on Instagram as I progress.
Working from home for over two months now has given me the chance to spend much more time with our cat Zelda and she has really come out of her shell. She used to be a nervous little thing who preferred to be alone in another room; now she’s always nearby (except when she’s sitting underneath her favourite bush in the garden) and can regularly be heard meowing when we’re streaming. It won’t be the same when I have to return to the office and don’t have her trying to sit her furry butt on my keyboard all day.
Despite not having picked up a needle in thread in over 20 years, I started cross-stitching again recently and I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. It’s proving to be a great way to wind down for half-an-hour after work in the evenings because you find yourself concentrating on the pattern and forgetting about everything else for a while. There’s a chance I may have bitten off more than I can chew because I’m attempting this huge Gamer Nouveau pattern created by Medusa Dollmaker, but I’m going to keep it up and try to get it finished.
After being introduced to the Ravensburger Escape Puzzles at the start of the year by Katie from Musings of a nitpicking girl and trying to complete one during our 50-day challenge for GameBlast, I’ve since gone on to buy two more recently. As I wrote in April, I got more fun out of completing the jigsaw itself than solving the puzzles within the image, but it was the escape-room-premise which attracted me to these originally and makes them a little different. There may be reviews of The Witches Kitchen and The Curse of the Wolves editions coming soon.
When The Gaming Diaries mentioned she was participating in a scavenger hunt with work colleagues via WhatsApp, I thought it was such a good idea that I stole it for my family! I’ve since been sending them challenges every morning via our chat group and awarding points to everyone who complete them. The best responses so far have been to sending photographs of ‘a drawing you’ve done of Pete’ and ‘your worst outfit’. Once the lockdown is over, we’re all going to get together for a barbecue and an awards ceremony to celebrate the winners.
Many bloggers have taken up streaming over the past couple of months and it’s lovely to see so many blogger friends online. It means there’s something good to watch so much of the time: shout-outs to Athena from AmbiGaming for taking on Fable, Ian from Adventure Rules for his first stream, Brandon from That Green Dude for playing L.A. Noire and Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes for showing off his Hollow Knight skills. Congratulations too to The Gaming Diaries for hitting affiliate status, and thank you to Jett from In Third Person for giving so many of us great advice about our streaming set-ups.
When Kevin from The Lawful Geek invited my other-half and I to participate in our first tabletop RPG, we had some concerns because it was something we’d never tried before – and Shadowrun looked damn complicated. But we’ve found ourselves looking forward to the fortnightly sessions and are really getting into it. After mentioning it to my stepson one weekend, he told us that Dungeons & Dragons was something he’d always wanted to try so we set up an afternoon where Kevin could take him through a short game. It now looks like it could become a regular family thing.
Running… not so much
I took up running in September 2019 after several years away from it so I could participate in the ASICS London 10k for SpecialEffect in July 2020. The cancellation of the event and the whole pandemic situation has really knocked my motivation though and I haven’t done a proper training session since early March. I know it’s something I need to pick back up because I’ve got to lose all this lockdown weight I’ve gained and get fit again; I just can’t seem to bring myself do it at the moment. I need to force myself to stop making excuses.
Although I’ve been trying new hobbies during the lockdown and am hoping to keep some of them going once it ends, I’ll never give up gaming or change the focus of Later Levels. In fact, I’ve completed more titles in the past couple of months than I have done in a very long time and it’s great to see some of them finally knocked off my backlog! My Steam wishlist is starting to get a bit out of hand though and I’m surprised at how much it has grown recently. Check back on Friday for a post about that and what I’m hoping to do about it.
Have you taken up any new pastimes during this time of social-distancing? And have you found that your gaming habits have changed as a result?
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.