2021: Learning From Lockdown... Part 6!

From banana bread to home workouts, we have all found things that have occupied us through these three UK lockdowns. For me I wanted to be working in China but that wasn't going to be so, finding myself experiencing life through three lockdowns wasn't the plan. Getting things together, I found things that got me through the 'stay at home' period. Miss Rona, get out now!

Music has always been something that I have loved, I would always have my my family perplexed with my international music choices. Throughout the first lockdown I found myself listening to a lot of music from Cuba. Those choices would influence my cooking in the months that would follow. From 'MC Chocolate' and 'Chacal', the first 'Cubaton' song that had me hooked was 'Jacob Forever' with "Hasta Que Se Seque el Malecón". I had my Spanish challenged and enriched through branching out into such a musical genre. I found through the medium of translation that 'malecón' meant 'promenade' in English. I couldn't get enough of the blends of AfroBeat, Reggae, and other Caribbean/Hispanic influences that the Cubaton music gave me the ingredients to create that escape! Miss Rona was creating some straight up witchcraft, of course I found a song by 'Yomil Y El Dany' called 'Brujería' meaning what I just said in English. The rich beats and vibrant scenes of the Caribbean in the videos had my head in another place entirely! 

As the second lockdown happened the weather was icy, it was the first time I was experiencing those darker and longer evenings for the first time in a few years. To combat those lockdown blues I saw my Cuban music taste centre between a select few artists that were still releasing new music throughout the pandemic period. For my 30th birthday I bought three Spanish language albums by 'El Chulo', 'Yomil Y El Dany' and 'Gente De Zona' because those winter blues weren't going to get me! I found myself picking back up that broken Spanish that I had picked up during my times that I had working in the United States. I needed the 'fuego' of the Cubaton music and if truth be told those male rappers were questioning my specific East Asian tastes. 'Chacal' and 'Tempo' released a banger at the most appropriate time, 'Me Quiero Perder' had me wanting to switch bodies with one of the video vixens who wore her green swimsuit very well, lockdown had me questioning things! From video honeys to yet another class act, I found more Cubaton! Siii!!!

BORIS, ARE YOU SURE??? Throughout 2020 and into 2021, I have been loving every post that @whatstheteakeekee posts on Instagram! Dianne Whatcock has been entertaining me with her real and down to earth outbursts, all truth and no shade she serves regarding the epic mess the UK has been in during the pandemic. All of our mental health has been on a serious nose dive! Our Dianne has made it her best duty to call up Mr. Johnson to bring up every single issue with her 'no holds barred' attitude. She's wanting a motorway not a roadmap for this final supposed lockdown relaxation for 2021, I am with her because its absolutely disgusting! We all need some good news! Along with her sister Denise, they both escaped to Greece during the Summer, we definitely knew that they would take that holiday regardless of Boris's new quarantine rules! We have all been bugging out something different during this period of isolation! But has Nigel been paying for them babbies? You're vulnerable, you're shook and you're panicking! No, don't mess! 

It's no secret that my life has been based in China over the last few years, accessing certain applications within social media can be challenging. Being in England due to the pandemic has opened up certain possibilities, nowadays I am using Instagram a lot more to follow the stories of the various personalities of which I follow. From across the pond I stumbled upon @roybnschallcomic goals for 2020 video post, it was a moment that had me laughing and feeling some kind of way because of the aspirations that Robyn explained. Identifying that we have all hit rock bottom during this pandemic, our goals list for 2020 have been destroyed! @hearthrobanderson has educated me with his #gayscience videos on his Instagram account, all of them have been so funny to watch and learn from! @elliottnorris welcomed me to his Gay Kitchen with his innovative meal options and recipes, his adventures to 'Trader Joe's' make me miss the USA! Regargless, if I want to watch videos and stories on Instagram... I whill! BORISS! 

During lockdown people have been cooking up a storm since those restaurants and fast food joints had to close, well unless we're talking about takeaway. From banana bread to many other different combinations, the nation has had a lot more time to spend at home to make those home-cooked meals come alive. I had been stuck in three hotel rooms during my post-employment gap before it turned into an absolute nightmare. During that original Beijing lockdown, everyday my meal choice had to be a takeaway even though I had got used to my food being delivered anyway. Cooking wasn't something that I wanted to do whilst I was in Beijing, my head wasn't in the right place during that final stretch before the pandemic revealed itself. In the Summer of 2020 I cooked up a lovely Puerto Rican breakfast, to the approval of my Puerto Rican friends, they were impressed by the photo. Inspired by my attempt I had a window of opportunity during the week when my parents went on holiday. How would YouTube help me?

During that week I found several YouTube channels that had me listening to some serious Spanish without letras included! After watching carefully and taking many notes, I was able to cook my first mofongo that was served with prawns! My 'Recipes with Miss Rona' blog series had been activated, I listened well and went on-to cook more plantain based meals with the addition of black and red beans to add substance. I taught myself to make my own sofrito, a roux used in Puerto Rican cooking that consists of onions, garlic, coriander and green peppers. I loved teaching myself these new cooking skills in the kitchen during the second lockdown. As my birthday neared I wanted to cook up a feast the weekend before that possessed a certain Cuban twist. Cooking my own picadillo con papas with rice was just what I wanted! I made my own beef mince empanadas and also enjoyed several freshly whizzed pina coladas! Lockdown had me cooking foods from other parts of the world, it was my own lockdown cooking revolution! Yes!

During the first lockdown I was not interested, I didn't want to go for a walk at first but as time went on I decided that a little bit of exercise wouldn't do me any harm. Getting out of Bilston always helped me, within lockdown rules I managed to stay with a family member who lives in a rather picturesque South Staffordshire village. I found myself enjoying the walks that would take me past stretches of the canal that didn't question the safety of its path because the local demographic didn't come close to my home location. The fresh air and the steps walked helped me process the maddening situation that was unfolding before our very eyes. I remember making my first 10,000 step count and now ace that most days as the third UK lockdown has been in effect for 8 weeks. Walking continues to be a free source of exercise and therapy, those endorphins help get me through a life that has been away from China for 12 months as it stands right now. Take me back to that South Staffordshire village, please? Every step counts? Yes, yes! 

Within my local area I have tried to keep my walking consistent, I look back to my taxi commute to my previous school in Beijing. I was so fancy, taking my 50p taxis from my then apartment block to my workplace when I could have walked without any physical issue. So, I did bike mostly but I kick myself that I didn't make use of my legs that I had done in Newark, NJ during 2012. Learning from these lockdowns, I now try and not beat myself up if I haven't been for a walk but I cannot deny the physical and mental benefits that I get from each walk. Undoubtedly, once this pandemic ceases and I can get back to some normality, I will be able to get a stable exercise routine that doesn't involve the gym. To just walk a manageable distance each day without any fancy 50p taxis required will help me ensure I can be healthy. Lockdown has taught me that those guilty pleasures need to be used frequently, we need to have outlets and use things that give us life. From music, social media, cooking and exercise, they've helped me out a lot, B!

Nah! Regargless! It's Dzgustin!

Joseph Harrison 


  1. I love reading how you chose to fill your time instead of focusing on what you couldn't do🤗 I'm definitely gonna try and make walking a part of my life even when I'm vaccinated 👌🏽💕

    1. It’s been such an experience that has pushed us to do things and listen to things and watch things that we never knew that we needed to! Yes, me too!


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