Lockdown Day 18: How long will the ‘home help’ survive?

I’m a few days behind the rest of the UK as far a Lockdown goes, having joined the party late from Thailand.

I’m rather pleased to report no coronavirus symptoms, despite the epic four flights back to Manchester.

Ms Marple and I have been keeping each other sane with bakery, cooking and gardening. I’ve also been catching up with the most recent season of Doctor Who, which has really buggered up the viewing preferences the TV thinks are Ms Marple’s.

With all of the food (and apparently she’ll be billing me for cookery lessons once this is over)…

…it’s a good thing that UK Lockdown rules allow daily exercise.

I’ve been out exploring every morning, usually up and out around 6am for a walk by the river or to the local park or out following paths through the countryside.

Being able to be out in green space is making a huge difference for me and, as I mentioned, there’s also been some gardening.

As the UK heads into Springtime, the days are longer and the weather is warming up, so we spend a lot of time outside. I do wonder how easy Lockdown would be to cope with in the Winter – with its very short and cold days.

Everyone else is out in their gardens too, apparently with angle grinders.

Capability Brown, two doors down, is definitely cracking on with this year’s outdoor tasks. Either that or he thinks his garden is the size of Chatsworth. (It really isn’t).

Most days are spent listening to various power tools.

Guantanamo, at the back meanwhile, is tidying up the barricade, half grown half constructed of leylandi and wood panels.

Why has Ms Marple nicknamed this neighbour Guantanamo?

He’s only ever spotted in orange overalls and the barricade, at around 15 feet high is definitely defensible. It’s unclear whether something is being kept in or of anything is being kept out.

Lockdown could get interesting though frankly, the times are interesting enough already.

So, to deal with the noise, Ms Marple asked me to set up the ‘home help’, of the electronic variety, that had been sitting in a box unopened for several months. She was keen that we get it set up to play her Spotify playlists.

I’ve been instructed not to interfere with this so that I don’t bugger up the preferences on this. (TV is one thing, music would be unforgiveable).

Several brands of (electronic) home help are available – often answering to the name Alexa or Google.

You thought we’d got a robot didn’t you? Sorry.

Ms Marple had thought this would be a labour saving device and that life would be so much easier… because of the use of voice commands.

It’s really not working out that way.

After a few days I’ve concluded that Ethel, the electronic home help, is somewhat obtuse or possibly a little stupid.

Commands are frequently met with a: “I’m sorry I don’t know how to do that.”

Asking her to play Graceland, the album by Paul Simon took around 15 minutes of negotiation. After twice playing the title track and then playing random artists… “Who asked you to play Bob Dylan?”

Ethel claimed not to know what the Graceland album was and presented individual tracks from the album.

This morning, Ms Marple asked Ethel to start a shopping list…

I think Ethel might be deaf.

“Ethel, add cheese to the shopping list.”

Sure, I’ve added cheese to the shopping list.”

“Ethel, add milk to the shopping list.”

“Ethel, add milk to the shopping list.”

“Ethel, tell me what is on the shopping list.”

“Sure. You have cheese on the shopping list.”

“Ethel. Add milk to the shopping list.”

“Ethel, tell me what is on the shopping list.”

“Sure. You have cheese on the shopping list.”

Before Ms Marple could brandish a meat mallet, I made a note of the shopping list on a piece if paper.

The home help isn’t going to help anybody’s stress levels at the best of times, nevermind during a Lockdown.

Ms Marple says Ethel just needs training.

This could be entertaining. I’m going to see if I can get some popcorn delivered. This is going to be better than watching any movie.

This week’s recipes:

Chimichurri Sauce

Bread Rolls

Souffle – (using parmesan rather than breadcrumbs)

Pea and Ham Soup – (using dried peas rather than split)

Categories: Lock Down, Public HealthTags: , ,


  1. Maybe Ethel needs a young, funkier name in order for her to embrace the advances in technology she’s being asked to carry out 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL!!! There is an alternative name but it’s not printable. At the moment Ms Marple is argung with her as if Ethel was human. I can’t see this as a positive development.


  2. It looks like a lovely break from it all. Nice food, nice environment and a bit of real life sitcom action. Hope you don’t get too stir crazy. The electric saws and drill and hammers are out here too, I’ve just been using a paintbrush.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is lovely. Staying with an ex-restaurant owner is a bit of a win and the sitcom is highly entertaining. Today I discovered we have a singer three doors down. He’s very good!

      Liked by 1 person

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