The pandemic forced the majority of the world to stay at home at some point. The longer the lockdown was, the more boring it felt. Even the nearby park with cute, friendly squirrels wasn’t enough to fill all of my spare time. It felt a bit like long, dark winter evenings, just with considerably more sunshine. One of my favourite time killers in winter are jigsaw puzzles, and it was one of the things I did a lot during lockdown.
I’ve always enjoyed jigsaw puzzles. They’re both relaxing (when you put the last piece down and complete the picture) and good as an exercise for your brain. However back in my family house the space I had in my room was highly limited and having a jigsaw puzzle in progress meant I had to jump over it when moving around the room. The luxury of moving out and living on my own is that I can use all the space in the flat and there’s no one to complain about the floor in my living room being all taken by a massive jigsaw puzzle and a bunch of DIY projects in progress.
The first jigsaw puzzle I bought after moving abroad was one of the best bargains ever. A 1000 piece puzzle with a pretty picture of unicorns on a flowery meadow in the mountains, that glows in the dark, for just £2.99 in Lidl. They had more designs available and I still regret not having bought them and keep checking if they have them back in offer. When they do, I will probably buy all of the available designs – finding a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle with a pretty picture for under £5 is almost impossible.
The second jigsaw puzzle I bought is more of a retro style. Titled “Norway”, it’s a bunch of pictures of Norway and Norwegian things. Not entirely my cup of tea as far as the picture goes (I prefer colourful designs, much like a 5-year-old), but for a £1.5 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle I can’t really complain. Either way, the puzzle filled a few boring, cold winter evenings and that’s all I ever needed.
The next puzzle I bought was a pretty picture of a cartoon village. It’s one of my favourite pictures (after the unicorns), but it’s also probably the easiest one to complete.
I bought the next jigsaw puzzle in early spring, shortly before coronavirus lockdown. I put it in the cupboard and soon left to spend the lockdown with friends at their house. During that time we watched Tiger King on Netflix and I remembered the jigsaw puzzle that I’d bought and couldn’t wait to start it. I completed it within the first few days after returning home after lockdown. The title on the box says “Tiger Sanctuary”. Carole Baskin, is that you?
My newest jigsaw puzzle is this 2000 piece picture of a castle. I think this type of picture is the most typical photo for jigsaw puzzles – I have a 600 piece puzzle in my family home, with a different castle in the middle of a forest. I bought this puzzle second hand on eBay. It was significantly cheaper than brand new puzzles of the same size and came in perfect condition (the original owner had “attempted it once”). The only drawback to buying jigsaw puzzles second hand is what I call a “missing piece anxiety”. Every time I couldn’t find the right piece for the spot I was trying to fill, I thought it must have been lost by the previous owner. Luckily, no pieces were actually missing!
Usually, when I work on a 1000 piece puzzle I have all pieces on the table and don’t really stress too much about grouping them, except from taking all the edge pieces out at the start. With this puzzle, it would have taken too much space and it would have probably been quite difficult to work with 2000 pieces all at once. For the first time, I actually worked on a jigsaw puzzle in a more organised way. While going through all the pieces to fish out the border, I grouped them into a few piles: the edge, the sky, the castle, the trees, the mountains and the fog. It made things a whole lot easier and completing the puzzle didn’t take long at all – although it was definitely much more challenging than the previous puzzles I’d bought. Not so much due to the number of pieces, but mainly due to the more challenging picture.
I have a 3000 piece at my family home which I had never completed, I will need to get it sent here with some of the other things I’d left at home. It’s a pretty challenging picture of Westminster (can you tell that I was obsessed with the UK before I moved here?).
The biggest commercially available jigsaw puzzle in the world is a 40320 piece Ravensburger puzzle with 10 pictures from Disney films. I can’t even describe how much I’d love to have that puzzle. A lot. Although not enough to justify spending around £550. The puzzle weighs almost 20 kilograms and when completed, it’s 6.8 metres long and 2 metres wide. I’m not even sure if my living room is 6 metres long!