The news came as a big surprise. “Lockdown measures are now in place. You mustn’t leave your home for anything other than essential trips.”
Panicking, you rushed to the rear of your property to survey the environment and breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, your garden was still there. Not everyone has a garden, of course, but you do. And if you don’t, why are you reading this? Didn’t you check the title? Get out.
Although the lockdown is beginning to lift in some areas, our gardens provide a pleasant escape and welcome respite from the world outside, even if you haven’t been blessed in the size department.
Having a back garden — or backyard, depending on where you’re reading this from — isn’t exactly like boasting the comical acreage of Hollywood celebrities, elite sportspeople, or legally-questionable entrepreneurs. The clue is in the yard part, meaning that an Olympic-size swimming pool — along with anything else that won’t fit in a yard, really limiting your options — wouldn’t be a viable investment even if you somehow had the money.
Necessity is the mother of invention, though, and you can make that space your haven. In fact, you can give it a holiday vibe to help you forget the troubles of the world. Here are some suggestions for doing just that without racking up an obscene bill (just a moderate one):
Pick up an inflatable pool
You can’t do cannonballs into the deep end when you don’t have a deep end, but you can still get a relaxing experience with an inflatable pool.
Grab one without a pump if you just want to keep your spending down, or spend more to get better build quality and easier setup. Put down a base to protect it from punctures, fill it up with a hose, chuck in some chlorine granules, and cover it up whenever you’re not using it.
If you want to step things up, you can even go for an inflatable spa with a heating element and jets. They’re relatively inexpensive these days, and can really make you feel like you’re at a moderately-priced holiday resort with average facilities. On the whole, that’s a great result.
Invest in a decent sun lounger
When you’re done pooling around and you want to dry off so you can fully enjoy that trashy paperback you’ve been saving without getting the pages soggy, what should you do? Sit on a bench like you’re in a locker room at a sporting facility? No, that’s ridiculous. There’s only one reasonable option, and that’s the classic white plastic sun lounger.
There isn’t one definitive model, of course, so you’ll still need to choose from available options. You can find a cheap white plastic sun lounger, or a moderately-priced white plastic sun lounger, or an expensive white plastic sun lounger. But if there’s plastic that’s white and in the shape of a sun lounger, then you’ve happened upon a winning combination.
Break out the cocktail umbrellas
Some people laughably claim that cocktail umbrellas slow the melting of ice cubes by providing shade for the drinks in which they’re placed. Absolutely not. They’re 100% decorative. You take tiny little paper parasols and pop them into your drinks where they bob around, make it very slightly harder for you to drink, and achieve nothing of note. It’s a perfect holiday pastime.
What do you want from a holiday atmosphere if not frivolity? Stock up on cocktail umbrellas, pop them into all of your drinks, and run with any accompanying accoutrements that spring to mind (novelty ice cubes, wedges of lime, sprigs of mint, etc.). If you generally make an effort to spruce up your piña coladas before you consume them, then drinking them will feel so much fancier.
Listen to gently-lapping waves
If you simply go outside and recline on a lovely sunny day, you’re more likely to hear a gently-napping neighbour than any relaxing water — but you don’t need the real thing in place. You could set up some speakers (or a multi-function white-noise machine) to pipe some chilled-out tracks or lockdown anthems into your garden, but I suggest taking the headphone route.
If you get a pair of decent noise-cancelling headphones on to first block out the aforementioned napping, then you can play some ocean-lapping sounds very quietly and still hear them. It’s the best way to approximate being at a beach or by a pool. With sunglasses on, a hat draped over your face, and lapping water in your ears, you’ll be immersed in a wonderful fiction.
When I think about holidays, I think about the classic by-the-water experience of taking a dip, soaking in some rays, and reading something simple — and you can replicate that pretty well in your garden. Give it a shot and enjoy your own relaxing staycation from the comfort of your own home.