Five ways to enjoy a heatwave outdoors during lockdown, without breaking the rules
A 40km cycle, a trip to the beach and the ultimate barbecue – they’re all doable
Swim and go: the reopened Forty Foot in Sandycove, Co Dublin. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Assuming you abide by the distancing advice (2m or more), travel limits (5km, once a day) and handwashing guidelines (before and after being outdoors), you can still do quite a lot outside in a heatwave. Here are five activities to consider.
A 40km cycle, walk or run
The 5km travel and exercise limit doesn’t mean you can’t make a far long journey. It’s even possible to run a marathon within that area, without ever having to retrace your steps. A simple way to undertake a longer walk, cycle or run is to travel from your home to the perimeter of your 5km zone, then travel the whole perimeter – a distance of 31.4km – before going the 5km home again. This is more than 41k, just 800m short of a full marathon. Use the website 2kmfromhome.com (switch the setting to 5k) to work out the route that looks the most scenic, novel or interesting for your area.
Make an improvised table tennis table
Get those weeks of annoyance and stress out of your system by trouncing your sibling/partner/parent/child in the world’s most competitive family pastime: table tennis.
You don’t need a real table to get a game under way. A full-size table is 9x5ft, but the competition is just as white-hot on a home-made 8x4ft/2.4x1.2m version – one of the standard sizes of wooden sheeting material. Buy a sheet of MDF (18mm thick) from a local hardware store for about €40, place it on or fix it to the top of any table (76cm/2.5ft is the regulation height if you’re particular about these things) and you’re nearly there.
Ideally you will be able to rustle up two bats and a ball from somewhere. (You can’t really play without a proper table tennis ball, but you might be able to fashion bats from odds and ends.) They are widely available online. So are nets, but a net (15.25cm or 6in high) can also be improvised with a plank of wood, a piece of chicken wire, or some string and fabric.
A frisbee session
It’s mildly active without being strenuous, it’s socially distant but still interactive, and it might just be the perfect outdoor activity for the regulation four people or fewer. It can be played in a park, on a road or in a medium-sized garden. If you’ve a more sedentary lifestyle, just count the number of people in your local park throwing various discs and hoops to or at each other. It’s infectious without being, you know, actually infectious.
Swim and go
Swimming is not available to everybody, but much of the populations of Dublin and Galway, and many more people in towns and suburbs around the country, live less than 5km from the sea.
The key guideline is to observe the swim-and-go principle: arrive at a seaside spot, get into the water, change and dry, then leave. The idea is to keep beaches and swimming area free of crowds where infection might spread. Do your sunbathing in the garden.
A perfect barbecue for four
If all that activity makes you hungry, we have a few ideas for that too. Four people can gather in an outdoor setting, so it’s just about possible to have a barbecue with some friends or family. But there’s an art to a good barbie. Did you know that fatty burgers taste better than lean ones? That there’s a simple but effective way to flavour fish? Or that some of the best chefs get great results from cheaper cuts of meat? You can find all these and more in The Irish Times’s ultimate summer barbecue guide, which includes recipes, oven recommendations and more. And if you want some ideas for all-day drinks, try these delicious, low-alcohol cocktails from John Wilson.