Grant Shapps has closed the national borders, Boris has nicked the best camping spots in Scotland and you’ve got as much chance of finding a spot on Bournemouth beach as Gavin Williamson has of becoming popular with students.
Fear not. We may no longer be able to head to the shopping centres without looking like extras from Zorro, the local parks may be fuller than the moshpit at Glastonbury – and more smelly – and the prospect of watching live sport is more remote than Tristan da Cunha – it’s an island 2,800km from the nearest mainland and it only sees a mailship once a year. We’re good at our research, innit.
As men descend on the Sainsbury’s baking isle and women descend on B&Q in our gender-neutral, gender-fluid, I-self-identify-as-a-spirit-penguin epoch, we have all you need to get through the weekend.
Fancy a spot of DIY? We’ve got it covered. Want to bake like Mary Berry? No trouble. We’ll super charge your soggy bottom and put glitter in your chocolate sprinkles.
Feel the need to fix the car? Great. We’ll get it purring like Lewis Hamilton’s Merc. It is time to descend into madness as we present your perfect Guide to the Bank Holiday.
Our helpful friends at The Money Pig – no, we’ve no idea who they are either, but they sent us a prescient press release so they’re in – have drawn up a list of five jobs to tackle this weekend.
Thankfully, The Brains Trust – a boss named Cazza, a man called Desperate Dan who eats seven cow pies and lifts girders before shaving his not inconsiderable beard, a designer called Hot Si who has more art than John Paul Getty, a writer called Hevva who knows what it’s like to be a worker in a thousand different professions and a production mini gaffer who is the glue that binds – have tweaked their suggestions to keep you entertained.
Think of us as your own personal Google, answering your questions before you even knew they needed to be asked. School’s out. It’s time to tear it up for the Bank Holiday Weekend…
The sensible people at Money Pig – no, still no idea who they are – say we should be rushing to our brushes and slapping on the magnolia.
“Whether it’s the garden fence or touching up the bedroom wall, painting is something which can easily be done without employing a painter. If you’re painting a room ensure that all the furniture is in the centre of the room. Start by going around the edges with a smaller brush to ensure you don’t get any paint onto the skirting boards or door frames, then switch to a larger brush or roller for the walls.”
Ha. What do they know?
There’s still two-and-a-half days before we head back to work. And in that time we can turn you into Banksy.
As the great graffiti artists said: “Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty, you can make someone smile while they’re…….” We left out the last bit. It was too rude. If you want to take your weekend painting to the next level, this is what you’ll have to do.
One – buy a real live elephant. Now we know this may be tricky given the short window that is the Bank Holiday Weekend.
And when we typed ‘how to buy an elephant’ into our internet search bar, we found this: “In the UK it is utterly illegal to keep elephants as pets in any capacity.” Banksy, however, was a man, not a mouse.
At his first 2006 exhibition in the USA he took a real live elephant into the room. His show, named Barely Legal, was filled with A-list celebrities and, of course, the elephant.
The two other things you’ll need to do if you want to forsake painting the skirting boards for becoming an internationally-famous, jet-setting, multi-millionaire artist are these: break the rules and take a stand.
Banksy famously hung his own artwork at the New York Metropolitan Museum and became dubbed the ‘hang and run’ artists.
He deposited works at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum. That built his legend, though it wasn’t without its challenges.
At the time, Banksy said: “It’s a very frustrated feeling you get when the only people with good photos of your work are the police department.”
So there we have it. You have two choices.
Head to your local B&Q and queue patiently for the white gloss or become the world’s most famous stencil artist by buying a pair of scissors, coming up with memorable slogans, taking a stand on capitalism and coming up with a provocative slogan – or five.
Okay. The sensible bit first. Here’s those Moon Pig, Money Pig, Do-A-Jig people.
“Often a job which can be avoided, having a tidy and colourful garden will transform how you use it and make it a space to be proud of. Start by cutting back overhanging trees, mowing the lawn and picking out any weeds. This will make a huge change. Depending on what you want to do with your outdoor area you could then plant colourful flowers, or even lay down decking to add more levels and socialising areas to the space.”
But we all know that’s boring. And if there’s a choice between a can of Bank’s, a bottle of chateauneuf du pape or a roaring barbecue and cutting back overhanging trees, we know which you’ll choose.
The best advice we came up with while trying to find out how to create a cutting edge modern garden in a day was this: “Bekijk de foto van wenneke1 met als titel ruimtelijke indeling voor een kleine tuin. en andere inspirerende plaatjes op Welke.nl.”
We know. It is literally in Dutch. So we forsook the option of learning a new language in order to devise a brilliant layout for a small Dutch garden and turned instead to our good friends at the RHS.
If you’re short on time – and remember, your aim is to transform your garden in just a weekend – they say this – buy containers.
“Containers are excellent for adding a dash of seasonal colour to areas close to your home. It’s easy to ring the changes, keeping the garden looking fresh whatever the time of year. Use them for shrubs, bulbs or annuals or topiary. Many pots are also perfect for fruit and veg – a great low-maintenance alternative for grow-your-own beginners.”
If you’re not up for containers, there’s another way to square the circle: Furniture.
“With the addition of furniture, your garden can become an outdoor room, which, weather permitting, provides more welcome space. Choosing the right style is important – furniture can enhance the garden style you’ve chosen and blend with the surrounding scene, or become a focal point. There’s a bewildering choice available to suit most pockets.”
Our favourite piece of advice, however, is to add water.
“Be it a cascading waterfall, a bubbling fountain or a glassy, still pond, the addition of a water feature to your garden adds an appealing focal point, creating lovely reflections and sounds. Water is also the single most important addition to a garden if you want to attract more wildlife. If space is limited, consider a bubbling millstone or trough filled with water and aquatic plants.”
Remember, water is for life, not just the Bank Holiday Weekend.
And if you get bored of watching it bubble through millstones, you can always use it to load a Super Soaker Floodinator Water Gun, which you can turn on your kids.
Come to think of it – and I’ve no idea how we’ve gone from RHS gardening tips to recommendations for the most powerful water pistol on the market, but, hey…. If you’re feeling flash and really want to endear yourself to the kids, go for the Super Soaker CPS 2000, is widely considered the most powerful mass-produced water gun in history.
Released in 1996, the CPS 2000 offered a 50-foot range and a 30-ounce-per-second output, easily outclassing any other gun available.
Right. Back to those Pig Money Moon people.
This is what they say: “If you have some tired looking furniture which you’ve been wanting to replace, why not spend some time upcycling it instead? Wooden furniture is great for this. Use wood paint in a colour of your choice and you could even use a scourer to distress the paint making it look “shabby chic”. Finish by changing the handles and you’ll have one-of-a-kind, statement items of furniture.”
The Bank Holiday is the perfect time to upcycle old pipes into funky steampunk lights.
Take inspiration from some of the most fashionable home brands, like the cheap-and-cheerful Audenza, who provide a quirky take on accessible luxury. The online boutique features a range of furniture and home accessories, all dripping in glamour: think shiny metallics and plush jewel coloured velvets.
We turned to our good friends at power tool maker Bosch for their top five tips on how to upcycle. Amid plenty of encouragement to buy their products – who’da thunk it – this is what they said:
“Select materials carefully – Upcycle items and materials that will be able to withstand cutting, sanding and painting. If you’re new to upcycling, we suggest starting with wooden furniture as it’s an easy material to work with. Once you feel more confident you can move onto metal, stone and plastic.
“Use the correct tools – cordless screwdriver, cordless jigsaw, cordless combi drill, cordless multi-sander.
“We love using cordless tools as it gives you the freedom to work indoors and out as well being able to manoeuvre around projects easily. One last necessity for every toolkit, is safety equipment. Don’t forget your gloves, goggles, face masks, ear plugs and screw clamps.
“Be brave and take risks – Have self-belief in what you are creating and don’t be afraid to take risks with your projects. There are no set rules when you’re upcycling, anything goes. Just let yourself be creative and have fun.
“Experiment with colours – Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colours and materials. We love chalkboard paint at the moment as it gives wooden furniture the perfect modern twist. Also give stencilling a go for an extra personal touch to your finished projects.
“Mistakes aren’t always bad – You won’t get it right every time and you may make mistakes but it’s not always bad. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn something new that’s why some many people enjoy upcycling as you can always learn a new skill.”
Right. We’ve turned you into Banksy, given you better gardening skills than Monty Don and brought out your inner upcycler. It is time to turn your attentions to (drum roll, purrlease)…
Those people from Money Pig are still hanging about. We can’t get rid of them.
This is what they say: “Whether it’s for the kitchen or bathroom, tiling can seem daunting at first but once you have the materials and know what you’re doing, it will take you no time. Simply apply adhesive to the wall, place your tile on and use tile spacers to ensure that your work looks neat. Grouting is then used to fill in the gaps and finish your wall.”
Tiling is great. It’s a relatively inexpensive way of turning your humble abode into something more in keeping with a 5***** luxury hotel.
This is what the experts at tiling specialists Walls and Floors say: “Work out how much you need and add 10%. Use the handy Walls and Floors Tile Calculator to work out how many square metres you’ll need to tile your wall or floor. You will find a Tile Calculator link on all tile product pages! Add 10% to allow for cut pieces. This way, you won’t be caught short and left ordering more. Don’t worry – if you wind up with unopened boxes, you can return them to Walls and Floors.
“Planning is crucial. Plan your tile rows well, to avoid a messy and unprofessional finish. Always tile from the centre line of a wall or floor – so that any cut pieces end up at the sides of the room, and are the same size. This will give you a symmetrical and professional finish. To help mark out your tile rows, use a tile gauge (a length of wood with the length of your tiles marked onto it).”
After that, it’s bish, bash, bosh and you are sorted. Or, more sensibly, you’ll tune into their suggested video and take your time.
Here are the Moon Money Pig people.
“Spending time cleaning will make your house a lot brighter and more comfortable – without having to pay anyone else to do it for you. Simply putting everything back where it belongs, dusting and hoovering will have a large impact on the space.”
Whatevs. It’s the Bank Holiday.
There’s no way we’re channelling our inner Mrs Hinch today. Kim Woodburn can do it.
The Money Pig Moon people didn’t suggest baking a cake. So we’ll add that to our Magnificent Seven.
If you want to bake like London’s Dusty Knuckle or Baker & Graze in Cheltenham, you can sign up for an online baking class.
The Spruce Eats has helpfully listed the eight best baking classes, including details of their specialities. Here they are:
Best Overall: The Butter Book
“There is a vast library covering topics like pastry, bread, cake (both baking and decorating), pie, cookies, petit fours, and more.”
Best for Bread: Bluprint – Peter Reinhart
“One of the most respected baking instructors in America, Reinhart teaches at the renowned Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts.”
Best for Pastry: Masterclass – Dominique Ansel Teaches Pastry Fundamentals
“Today, Ansel’s marvellous and whimsical sweets are the driving force behind a growing empire of bakeries in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Hong Kong.”
Best for Cookies: Learn the Pastry Arts – The World of Cookies
“The cookies course includes 25 lectures in three and a half hours of on-demand video, 10 articles, and 23 downloadable resources.”
Best for Beginners: Baker Bettie’s Baking Fundamentals
“Each lesson includes a video, clear explanatory text, photos, and links to recipes for the assigned homework.”
Best Gluten-Free: Gluten-Free Baking From America’s Test Kitchen
“You’ll put your knowledge to work on three guided recipe lessons: Yellow Layer Cake, Chewy Sugar Cookies, and Blueberry Pie.”
Best Free Class: Christina Tosi’s #Bakeclub
“Calling the project #bakeclub LIVE, Tosi goes live on instagram with a new recipe tutorial every day.”
Best for Kids and Families: Bake For Good Kids, by King Arthur Flour
“Hosted by Paula Grey, the class unfolds in four episodes, showing how one basic dough can be used to create different breads and treats.”
Fix the car
We couldn’t forsake the old faithful. Bank Holidays are car fixing days.
Truthfully, this isn’t something you’re going to learn in a fast-paced 48-hours.
So, instead, it’s time to invest in F1 2020 online.
Forget fixing Lewis Hamilton’s car – it’s time to be him.