A British couple on lockdown in Spain have been keeping themselves entertained by wearing a different fancy dress costume for every day of quarantine.
Pete and Jo Cleary are originally from Harwell, Oxfordshire, but moved to the Costa Blanca 18 months ago after retiring from their jobs with the fire and rescue service.
The couple were enjoying a new, more relaxed chapter of their lives, until the coronavirus pandemic hit and they were forced into lockdown.
Spain has issued some of the tightest restrictions in Europe, meaning the couple could only leave their home to buy food or seek medical care.
So, looking for ways to pass the time and raise the spirits of their loved ones back home in the UK, the Clearys decided to dress up in a different costume for every day of lockdown – and share pictures and videos of their efforts online.
Their amazing costume parade has seen the couple dress as everything from bungling burglars and gormless gardeners to French fashionistas and deep-sea divers.
As well as entertaining their friends and family in the UK, the couple have been thrilled to hear they’ve also raised the spirits of their fellow ex pats.
“Where we live in Spain has quite an elderly community,” Jo, 48, explained.
“We know a lot of people who are isolating alone, both here and back in the UK, who have been telling us that they look forward to our pictures every day and to seeing what we’ve come up with.”
The couple have always been fancy dress fans, often going to themed diner parties and enjoying a Spanish-themed party before leaving the UK for Spain.
And though they didn’t intend to bring their collection of fancy dress outfits with them to Spain, somehow a box of costumes made it into their new home, something they became grateful about when the country was put into lockdown on March 14.
“It would have been so easy to spiral downwards and start to dwell on the fact that our friends and families were so far away, in another country, where we couldn’t get to them,” Jo says.
“But, instead of giving into panic, we wanted something to take our mind off it all.”
After setting themselves a list of DIY jobs, the couple hit upon the idea of wearing a different fancy dress costume for each day of lockdown.
So, on March 16, a couple of days after the restrictions were announced, Jo and Pete donned their first costumes, dressing up as punk rockers in black leather and Mohawk wigs.
The next day was St Patrick’s Day, so they donned novelty hats, shirts and glasses they had picked up at previous years’ celebrations.
And, before long, they had gathered an army of fans who were waiting to see what kooky costume each new day would bring.
Their outfits to date have included jungle explorers, cyclists, pizza delivery drivers, surfers, pirates, a zombie bride and groom, and tourists visiting London.
Being unable to go out and source new props has also meant being extremely resourceful.
“Pete is very artistic, so he makes lots of props. He made a fake pizza box out of some cardboard we had lying around for when we were delivery drivers,” Jo explains.
“He’s made a beard out of a paintbrush and fake teeth out of card, too.”
She added: “The best so far has to be when he dressed as Worzel Gummidge and made himself a fake nose and hair out of an old mop. Everybody loved that one.
Not only does their quirky challenge put a smile on their faces, but it also helps them stick to a routine at such an uncertain time.
“It helps us to focus our days,” Pete continues. “We’ll get up, put on our costume for the day and do our photos and video. Sometimes that can take a good while. As we’re still learning the ukulele we never get it right in one take.
“Then, we’ll edit everything and upload it by lunchtime, before spending the afternoon planning the next day, and getting all our props ready.”
Jo and Pete say the main benefit of their hilarious costumes is being able to spread joy to those struggling with the lockdown.
“Everyone thinks we’re bonkers, but the feedback we’ve got is that people are really looking forward to our pictures each day,” Pete says.
“It’s lovely to be able to give people a laugh, and we’ve had so much fun doing this. It’s our way of entertaining those who need it from a distance.”
But the daily dress-ups have come with certain drawbacks.
“It’s been really nice to make people laugh, and help in our own little way,” Pete, 54, said.
“The only downside, from our point of view, is that we’ve both got spots from all the make-up and rashes from the fake beards.”
Additional reporting PA Real Life.