IT is a fortunate person indeed who is able to turn their hobby into their job, writes the musician and columnist Piney Gir.

Arts lover Ceri Ashcroft is an actor, clown and puppeteer who runs Oxford’s Tiny Light theatre company, making shows for babies and children.

Her acting as taken her around the world, from the Norwegian fjords to the Sydney Opera House.

“I’ve danced 40ft off the ground from a crane, played Moomintroll (a life long ambition), swum with puppet mermaids and sent a puppet elephant to the moon,” she smiles.

“I love my job.”

Ceri lives in Florence Park in East Oxford, with her Norwegian-speaking husband P-C Rae, and their three year-old daughter.

“Florence Park is a really friendly place to live and that’s just increased during the lockdown,” she says.

“As well as everyone making sure their neighbours are doing okay, someone near us plays party music for a socially distanced block party every Saturday, and there are always lovely messages and games chalked on the paths in the park.”

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The lockdown has hit her profession hard. Her latest Tiny Light puppet show, a collaboration with The Theatre Chipping Norton and The Mill Arts Centre Banbury, is a Christmas show for under fives planned for December, but which may need to be postponed until 2021.

She says: “There is still plenty of work to be done remotely, as we started making the show in February in Oxfordshire and Iceland, and we’ve been invited to bring back a show to Iceland in October if international travel is permitted by then.

“All the admin and planning work can still be done from home, and some of the design and making work, though – and the puppets will be made even if the timeline changes.”

The hiatus has given her plenty of opportunity to put her theatrical supplies to good use, however.

“The mountain of delivery boxes means I’ve made a lot of cardboard dens, castles, wings, trolls houses, animals, swans, crowns, pirate ships – anything and everything a three year-old can imagine.

“Luckily making costumes and props for Tiny Light has prepared me well and means I have a good amount of crafting supplies to help entertain our daughter.

“Instagram has been brilliant for toddler entertainment ideas, as well as a trampoline, face paints and cake making.

“After years of not learning Norwegian from my husband I’ve also finally started learning.

“We’re lucky enough to have a sauna in our garden and my husband has a cocktail making hobby that has definitely improved lockdown evenings.”

Like all of us, Ceri admits the lockdown came as a surprise.

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She says: “We were in Austin, Texas, for a festival from the beginning of March and hadn’t thought too much about the possibility of coronavirus hitting the UK at that point. About a week after we got there, they cancelled the festival and things started to look a lot more serious – it took a while to rearrange our flight home, so we ended up in lockdown in our Airbnb. Luckily there was plenty of food in the shops and the warm weather meant lots of walks exploring the neighbourhood, if nothing else.

“A lot of the mini free libraries around Austin had also been made into free pantries, which was lovely to see.

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“Our flight back at the beginning of April was very stressful as it was the first time we’d seen everyone wearing gloves and masks, and everyone was nervous being in groups.

“All the passengers were spaced out around the plane and the airports were largely deserted, but it was actually much easier than we expected and went smoothly.

“It was a huge relief to be home and closer to our family and friends, even if we couldn’t actually see or hug them.”

While her daily routine has changed, Ceri is enjoying the quality time spent with her small family.

“Pre-lockdown, my days usually varied quite a lot as a freelancer, apart from regular toddler activities like swimming and play dates,” she says.

“Lockdown is the most consistent my days have been for a while. We’ve had to put a schedule in place so that we can work around the demands of a preschooler. That means I do all my working, cooking, tidying or doing laundry (all the fun adult stuff) in short bursts while she is doing yoga, listening to audio books or watching a bit of TV.

“The rest of the day we’re playing, reading or making, going for walks and trying to cram in some DIY.

“Evenings are generally for far too much eating, cocktails, saunas or Netflix.

“We’ve found we’re speaking much more than normal to friends and family all around the world, which has been a welcome surprise benefit to isolation.”

Has she found anything positive about being in lockdown?

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“We’ve got so many DIY bits and pieces done in the house that we’ve been meaning to do for years,” she smiles. “Little things like remembering to paint a door or fix a handle. Since we both travel often for work, spending so much time in our house all together has been lovely, as has walking around East Oxford and seeing things we’ve never seen or noticed before.”

And the new way of life could feed into future routines once lockdown has ended.

“I’d like to imagine we’ll keep making bread and spending more time together as a family at home, as well as taking walks together,” she says.

“It’d be great to keep up talking to family and friends more too.

“I’m really hoping it’ll help us all relish the normal everyday things we’ve missed, especially time with our friends and families.

“I can’t wait to hug people again, go to the theatre or cinema, and eat some food that I haven’t cooked. For now I’m trying to focus on taking one day at a time.”