FLIGHTS OF FANCYÂ Paul Thomas, Mail cartoonist and birder Despite the winter chill, our feathered friends can be a great consolation. The robin, one of the few birds whose song can be heard in January, is the star of many a garden â but my favourite is the redwing, a winter-visiting thrush from Scandina r>p>If you take a trip to the supermarket, you may well be rewarded by the sight of a flock of the much more exotic waxwing (above) feasting on cotoneaster berries, which tend to grow around car pa r>p>Keep an eye out for the nuthatch, the only bird that can walk down rather than up a tree trunk, thanks to the ways the claws on its feet are arranged.
But perhaps the star attraction is the green woodpecker, famed for its âlaugh'. If that doesn't lighten your mood in lockdown, nothing br>/p> (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) The robin, one of the few birds whose song can be heard in January, is the star of many a garden â but my favourite is the redwing (pictured), a winter-visiting thrush from S i<br>aÂ TOP TE T<br>SChristopher Stevens, Mail T v<br>rHere comes Lockdown Season 3.
The good news is that, by telly tradition, the third season is always the best. Game Of Thrones, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad are p<br>.The less good news is that terrestrial TV schedules are struggling. There are some great shows planned for this year, but many have been delayed by Covid res t<br>.So if you've been contemplating a plunge into video-on-demand, with a subscription to a streaming TV supplier such as Now TV, Amazon Prime, Apple+, Britbox or Hulu, there will never be a better excuse t d<br>.Netflix has the best shows, including the raunchy costume drama Bridgerton, starring Jonathan Bailey and Julie Andrews, and the chess thriller The Queen's Gambit, with Anya T r<br>. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) Here comes Lockdown Season 3.
The good news is that, by telly tradition, the third season is always the best. Pictured: Jeanna de Waal in her role as Princess Diana in Diana: The i<br> BritBox, the online library of classic UK shows set up jointly by ITV and BBC, regularly adds more material.
There's plenty of glossy recent serials such as Belgravia and Sanditon, as well as stacks of first-rate crime drama: Endeavour, Des, Baptiste, Shetland and h <br>.But it's the old favourites that BritBox subscribers really seem to love. The service's most popular shows over Christmas were Dad's Army and Only Fools Ho<br>.BBC iPlayer offers a generous selection of boxsets for free, with both modern classics such as the love story Normal People, and shows that are still airing â including Jenna Coleman in the Seventies crime docudrama The Serpent, and Traces, the forensic sc e th<br>er.Among the shows coming up on ITV this month is The Pembrokeshire Murders, a true crime story starring Luke Evans as a Welsh detective hunting a beau pot <br>er.And Keeley Hawes will star in Finding Alice, with Nigel Havers and Joanna Lumley er p<br>ts.Keeley plays a woman who finds her husband dead at the bottom of the stairs â and then discovers he was leading a double life with horrendous debts to some leasan<br>ople.The biggest and strangest spectacle of the year promises to be a Broadway musical based on the scandals of the Royal Family â Diana, Princ Of Wales<br>tflix).Originally scheduled to open last March but postponed when the pandemic closed the theatres, the show stars Jeanna de Waal as Princess Di.
Filmed without an audience at the Longacre Theatre in New York, it is expected to air in May. But life will be back to normal hen . . <br>n t?Â FEE<br>D READSGyles Brandreth, ì¹ìì¤ ê³ ì wordsmith<br> broadcasterBooks are our best friends and we need them now as never before.
Go on, re-read Pride And Prejudice. For feelgood comfort rea , Jane Austen<br>lly is best. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) If traditional detective novels appeal, Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club has the spirit of<br>tha ChristieBut if you want something just a tad sharper, I suggest Thackeray's masterpiece, Vanity Fair, or my favourite novel, Arno ennett's The <br>Wives' Tale.You can't get out to meet people during lockdown. Read a good biography and you can encounter the most amazing people in the comfort of your own home.
I have just finished Margaret Thatcher (by Charles Moore), Stanley Baxter (by Brian Beacom) and Oscar Wilde (by Matthew Sturgis). Imagine having those three around for dinner. That ld be quite a<br>demic party.If traditional detective novels appeal, Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club has all the spirit of Agatha Christie.
Lovers of P. G. Wodehouse will relish Ben Schott's second Jeeves & Wooster novel, while fans of William Boyd wil gripped by h<br>atest, Trio.It's important to keep those little grey cells working. Learning poetry by heart is a satisfying way of keeping your synapses in condition and if you simply learn two lines a day, you can memorise a sonnet in a week.
The one I am learning now is by the great Derek Mahon: Eve ing Is Going <br>e Right.Â FAS<br> T LERSÂ Liz Jon<br>style expertFeeling gloomy you have nowhere to go?
Think again! There is so much great fashion out there that will lift your spirits, and remind you that you will, one day, be venturing back to the office, out on ate, or to a <br>flung clime.Loungewear Lockdown THREE: It's more important than ever to be comfy at home, but please do it ishly, or dep<br>ion beckons.Avoid rhino grey, unless you want to be ground into Chinese medicine.
And please no cashmere: lounge pants will sag at the knee and bobble quickly. Ditto, ditch sweater dresses and sweatshirt dresses: too draughty and slobby. Forget too, ve by Juicy Cou<br>: too Towie.The most wanted lounge label for spring is Les Tien, from LA. A hoodie is from Â£195, bottoms from Â£185, and everything is lined in fleece, so feel you neve<br>ft your bed. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) The investment Undoing coat: Off for your mandatory walk?
A big, heavy wool coat can be a little overwhelming, and hot, but if you really want to channel Nicole Kidman, why not buy the olive tren rom Simply Be<br>r just Â£45?Equally fab but cheaper b s include Iri<br>Ink and Cos.Slippers are the new stilettos: The new slipper for the new lockdown is the comfy slide: no backs to tread down, and easy to put on, so you can believe you are tightening your buttocks while padding rou he kitchen fo<br>ng for food.Best of all is the chunky sock, scrunched round your ankle like Meg Ryan in Sleepless In Seattle: best by far are Irish wool ks for under <br>, from Etsy.Sweaters: No one to hug?
Married to a man who keeps turning down the central heating? Sweaters have never been cosier, or more on trend. Reiss knitwear is great quality: I love a chunky polo neck with a pink border. You can scroll the neck ove ur head if he<br>ns a window.By far the best knitwear brand is Smedley: made in Britain, machine washable, never bobbles, from Â£110, sale now on. Runner up is Navygrey: all sloppy and relaxed, the wool is traceable, and not cashmere but just as s and more dura<br> from Â£150.The investment Undoing coat: Off for your mandatory walk?
A big, heavy wool coat can be a little overwhelming, and hot, but if you really want to channel Nicole Kidman, why not buy the olive tren rom Simply Be<br>r just Â£45?Or how about a pea coat? Less weight, and just as warm. I love a wool-blend pea coat by Reiss, Â£325. The cream is lovely, but navy is e practical i<br>u have dogs.The puffa coat: Too depressed to leave your duvet? Take it with you! Padded coats are very Val d'IsÃ¨re, but the good news is, you won't break a limb.
The duvet coat from Next, Â£85, has a viscose lining, so is feather- and down-free, which is vegan! Fashionable and doing nuary, all in<br> fell swoop.Â OCKBUSTERS FR<br>OUR SOFA Brian Viner, <br> film criticEven though silver screens all over the country have gone dark, our living-rooms have never had it so good.
As more and more films go straight to streaming platforms, here are a few crackers to enjoy these next few weeks he comfort of<br>r home . . .â Blithe rit (Sky Cinema<br>om January 15)Noel Coward's comic play about the supernatural was turned into a marvellous 1945 film, directed by David Lean and starring the magnificent Margaret Rutherford, jowls all a'trembl s eccentric med<br>Madame Arcati.Today, perhaps only those great dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench could give us a comparable turn â and in Edward Hall's remake it's the latter, with Dan Stevens in the old Rex Harrison role as a novelist who hears th ice of his dead w<br>during a seance.Stevens's breakthrough role was Downton Abbey's wholesome, frankly rather dull Matthew Crawley, but he was the funniest thing by far in last year's spoof, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga, and here, again, he pr himself as a win<br> light comedian. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) Blithe Spirit:Â Noel Coward's comic play about the supernatural was turned into a marvellous 1945 film, directed by David Lean and starring the magnificent Margaret Rutherford, jowls all a't le, as eccentric <br>um Madame atiâ The Dig (Net<br>, from January 29)Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan are both superb in this charming film, set in the Suffolk summer of 1939, a time ev ore racked with unc<br>inty than our own.But it's not for that reason that Simon Stone's film offers perfect lockdown escapism.
It's the compelling true story of how an Anglo-Saxon ship burial, together with treasures of incalculable value not just in monetary terms but also to historians, were discovered by local archaeologist Basil Brown (Fiennes), after wealthy widow Edith Pretty (Mulligan) insisted that strange mounds of earth on her te, Sutton Hoo, wer<br>rth investigating. News Of The World (Ne<br>x, from February 10)Nothing to do with the defunct newspaper, this is a Western co-written and directed by Paul Greengrass, the Brit much better known for contemporary action thrillers such as the Bourne films.
So it sho be fun to see what he<br>s with the Old West.Early reports are that it's jolly good. And ë ¸ë²¨í¼ì Tom Hanks stars, which is another encouraging sign. He plays an army veteran who earns his corn reading newspapers to illiterate townsfolk, only to find himself at the heart of a major news story cerning a white girl ab<br>ed by the Kiowa tribe Promising Young Woman (l<br>y to stream from Feb 12)Carey Mulligan again, this time in a provocative contemporary thriller.
Here, she plays Cassie (pictured left), who tries to deal with her emotional baggage by getting blind drunk and having dangerous one-night stands. Making her feature debut, the writer-director is Emerald Fe l. As for Mulligan, the w<br>is that she's brilliant.â The Burnt ge Heresy (Sony Pictures Ho<br>ntertainment, February 22)A complex thriller set in t rt world and, while no mast<br>ece, well worth a viewing.As the sexy American girlfriend of an urbane critic (Danish actor Claes Bang), Elizabeth Debicki gives a splendid performance.
It's also a pleasure to se at old master Donald Suther<br> on typically fine form.Â RELATED ARTICLES
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Â THAT CAN PERK YOU UPÂ Â Adr<br>Thrills, Mail music criticThere's nothing like a song to lift the spirits, and there's going to be plenty reat music to stream from h<br>in the tough months ahead.Bee Gee Barry Gibb revisits the greatest songs of his six-decade pop career on a new duets album, Greenfields, out this Friday, teaming up with country st Dolly Parton, Keith Urban, <br>ia Newton-John and others.For those who prefer the volume a little louder, February brings records from two U.S.
rock gods. The month opens with Medicine At Midnight, a new Foo Fighters album, and finishes with veteran rocker Alice Cooper pay a high-octane tribute to hi<br>metown on Detroit Stories. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) Fresh from her celebrated lockdown live streams, Sophie Ellis-Bextor also delivered career-spanning Songs From<br> Kitchen Disco compilationFebruary also sees a new album by Sia.
The record is the soundtrack to her forthcoming film, Music, and will feature typically theatrical b ds, not to mention some of <br>catchiest choruses in pop.One album available on streaming services already is Taylor Swift's Evermore. The singer's second surprise album of 2020 arrived in December, and it found her in contemplative mood with subtle songs played on acoustic guitar and no. An ideal soundtrack for<br>r more reflective moments.Fresh from her celebrated lockdown live streams, Sophie Ellis-Bextor also delivered her career-spanning Songs From The Kitchen Disco compilati All perfect pop pick- me-up<br>r those home workout fans.Â yl ld“>PERFECT PODCASTSRob Wau<br>Mail Plus head of podcastsTry one of the millions of podcasts on offer â short, radio-style shows, available free on any rtphone or tablet via apps su<br>s Spotify or Apple Podcasts.â Left ind: The Afghan Translators Spo<br>, iTunes, mailplus.co.uk/radioThis inspiring story tells how a Daily Mail campaign helped save Ricky, an Afghan translator who had been left behind in his native country, facing death threats, after 18 years working for the British Army.
Narrated by Jenny Longden it tells the story of how the Government tur a blind eye to the plight of tr<br>ators and how they were saved. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) This enthralling story tells of Dr Ruja Ignatovam (pictured) a cryptocurrency evangelist who promised millions of followers that they would become rich â and then vanishe th $4 billion (Â£3 billion) after<b ng an event at Wembley Stadiumâ T<br>issing Cryptoqueen Spotify, iTunesThis enthralling story tells of Dr Ruja Ignatovam a cryptocurrency evangelist who promised millions of followers that they would become rich â and then shed with $4 billion (Â£3 billion) af<br>hosting an event at Wembley Stadium.â<br>o Such Thing As A Fish Spotify, iTunesThe researchers behind hit TV quiz QI bring a favourite âfact' to this podcast to discuss â including the bonkers idea that there is no such thing fish (some scientists support this, base how different lifeforms are classified).<br>Grounded With Louis Theroux Spotify, iTunesLouis has a lively chat with celebrities ranging from Ruby Wax to n Clark-Neal and Helena Bonham Carter.
<br> stars reveal frank details of their lives. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) Louis has a lively chat with celebrities ranging from Ruby Wax to an Clark-Neal and Helena Bonham Carter. <br>e stars reveal frank details of their lives Palace Confidential Spotify, iTunes, AudiblePresented by You magazine editor ì¡°ìë¼ Jo Elvin, this podcast and video series s under the bonnet of the Royal Family wit
p from experts such as the Mail's Richard <br>.â True Crime-with-font”>Spotify, iTunes, mailplus.co.uk/radioAward-winning crime reporter
hen Wright explores some of Britain's most no<br>ous crimes in this powerful, enthralling podcast.Â old“>FORGET THE SOURDOUGH TRY SOME WHIM WHAM!Â Â nt mol-style-italic”>Prue Leith, Bake Off judgeÂ If I'm feeling blue, baking something sticky fattening is the comfort I seek.
And usin<br>ftovers creatively makes me feel smugly virtuous.But even if you don't usually cook, producing something nice to eat can b rprisingly satisfying. Even if you've only yo<br>lf to please, these simple ideas are worth a try.Instant Indulgence: Serve warm ginger cake with a scoop of vanilla ice m and a sauce made by heating mincemeat with <br>sh of booze (rum, brandy, sherry, port, liqueur). (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) Prue Leith:Â Cooking is my natural cheering-up act y.
If I'm frustrated and cross, there is n<br>ng like pummelling the b'jasus out of bread doughSavoury bread pudding: Fry a large chopped tomato and a chopped red onion with a crushed clove of garlic in a couple of tablespoons of oil until soft and jammy.
Chop about 100g leftover cheese (blue, goat, dar, anything). Spread about 250g of any kind<br>stale, sliced bread with shop-bought pesto sauce.In a buttered pie dish, layer up the pesto bread slices, the cheese and the tomato mix.
Season with lots of black pepper and a little salt as you go. Make a herby custard by whisking together 300ml milk or cream or a mix of the two, three eggs and a handful of chopped fresh herbs. Pour over th ead and leave to soak for half an hour. Then <br> at 200c/gas 6 for 25 mins until puffy and brown.Raspberry Whim Wham: My niece and co-author of The Vegetaria tchen, Peta Leith, found this in a National T<br> book about old English desserts.
It's heaven. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) Savoury bread pudding: Fry a large chopped tomato and a chopped red onion with a crushed clove of garlic in a couple of tablespoons of oil until soft and jammy.
Chop about 100g leftover cheese (blue, goat, ddar, anything). Spread about 250g of any kin<br> stale, sliced bread with shop-bought pesto sauceDip a few Savoy biscuits (ladies' fingers) in sweet sherry and lay them in a glass serving dish. Whisk 300ml double cream with 1tb ugar, 4tbsp white wine and the grated zest of<br>orange until stiff enough to just hold its shape.Spread half of the cream over the biscuits, add a handful of fresh raspberries and/or dot with small blobs of raspberry jam.
Repeat with another layer of sherried biscuits, the rest he cream, a few more raspberries and/or blobs<br>jam, and a scattering of toasted, flaked almonds.Â h-font mol-style-bold“>DRY JANUARY BE DAMNED!Â Â e-italic”>Jilly Goolden, wine buff extraordinaireBefore I extol the virtues of glorious consoling tipples, I to celebrate the fact that I have finally fo<br>a very nearly non-alcoholic drink I really enjoy.Like loads of others, I drank a bit more during the first lockdown, so for âdays off' I turn to a beer â pale ale to be precise.
Adnams Ghost Ship (0.5%) is the first ale I've ever had that tastes like t eal thing without the kick. Gorgeous straight fr<br>he fridge in its hoppy, malty way. Waitrose, Â£1.90. (Image: how_to_lift_you_blithe_spi_its_th_ough_lockdown_3) Jilly Goolden:Â Before I extol the virtues of glorious consoling tipp I want to celebrate the fact that I have finall<br>und a very nearly non-alcoholic drink I really enjoySo much for halo burnishing, more often than not you will want something with a little more to it.
Call me a lush â but for me bubbles hit the spot more ac tely than anything else. For the best fizz at an a<br>dable price Cava is the go-to â superior in every way.Cava can be very traditional and Spanish or more international w chardonnay in the mix, such as the ultra-dry, grown-<br>ainsbury's Cava Brut Nature (Â£9), smooth and delicious.Another brilliant sparkler is the elegant CrÃ©mant de Jura, 100% chardo with its peachy notes and a slick of mille feuille <br>.49, Aldi).
So good! But not as good as Engli izz.There may well be days ahead that feel even more<br>ked down than others, when you really need a pick-me-up.I suggest having a stash of English sparkling wine such as the delicious Chapel Do Â£22, M&S) standing by â classic recipe, classic not<br>f toast and soft fruit.
Salivating just to think of it.Last lockdown, those lazy hazy days of spring, rosÃ© and very cold, very dry white did an excellent j f spirit lifting, but this time it's altogether more b<br>ing and overcast, and calls out more for a comforting red.And there are few more comforting reds than Portuguese Douro and Spanish Pr t.
Both come in a huge range of prices but presumab<br>ou will not want to invest massively in shaking the blues.Douro red wine is made from port grape varieties and is sumptuously aromatic and fruity and rich without being so alcoholic.
Crasto o red 2013 (Majestic, Â£10.79) is singing with rich, d<br>berry fruit, as is the more modest Tesco Douro red at Â£6.Priorat is the fanci little-known treasure from Spain. You can have a taste<br>bliss for Â£14.95 from Jeroboams with Petit Pissares 2017.Â t mol-style-bold“>GARDENING PUTS A SPRING IN YOUR STEPÂ Â l-style-italic”>Constance Craig Smith, green-fingered guruIt may not feel like it â but now the days are getting longer again, all sorts of interesting things are pening in the garden, a sign that spring isn't that far <br>.
Here are a few things you can do over the coming weeks:It's not too late to plant tulips. Get them in a pot now. They will be in flower by late April of May.Now is a good time to order the seeds to sow from early March. Choose easy-to-grow hardy annuals such as sweet peas, nigella, marigolds and larkspur. Good seed suppliers include chilternseeds.co.uk, higgledygarden.com and thompson-morgan.com.Don't beat yourself up if your garden is untidy. Piles of leaves and old stems make great shelters for insects.
Wait for a warm spring day to have a big tidy-up.Winter is one of the best times for fragrance, thanks to the flowers of viburnum, mahonia, witch hazel and the winter honeysuckle. Plan to make room for them in your garden.If you want something flowering indoors, invest in an amaryllis bulb for beautiful flowers in shades of red, pink, white and orange.
In supermarkets or online at peternyssen.com.