21st September 2020


A bit of a mixed weekend. Really great Saturday – we’d booked tickets for Packwood House first thing and also ordered some pastries from Haddie and Trilby, so we had breakfast while walking around the Packwood House park, and then back to the café for second breakfast and coffee and hot chocolates.

Then across the road to the main grounds of the house and more park land to walk and climb the trees

The rest of Saturday was pretty relaxed, but unfortunately I slept really badly on Saturday night (with nightmares inspired by something we watched on TV!) and I could feel a headache and sore throat coming on – and so Sunday I was completely wiped out. I spent most of Sunday moping on the sofa feeling exhausted and feeling sorry for myself.

Happily feeling a bit recovered today – not 100%, but not wiped out like Sunday. I even managed to go for a run. I’ve decided I need to start exercising again, so I’m starting with a couch-to-5km style program to get me back into it.

In Covid19 news, things are looking pretty much like we are going to have some more severe restrictions again soon – I’m guessing in the next week. Fs school has asked parents to start wearing masks when they drop off and pick up their kids and most people seem to be following this request.

Think B and D might have picked up whatever I’ve had as they both have gone to bed early with paracetamol 🙁

Stay safe, stay strong

18th September 2020

  • Feeling: Good
  • Listening to: Lost in the woods / Country Roads / There she goes
  • Watching: Terminator: Dark fate

A reasonably standard Friday overall. There have been several colleges and schools affected by COVID-19 cases, including B’s school, but so far no direct impact on us. Meanwhile nationally the talk is of a two week “circuit breaker” (don’t call it a lockdown!) to try to get the rising numbers back under control (although around 15% of the UK population is already under additional local restrictions of some sort).

To be a bit more cheery, after her online session with Explore this week, F decided that the online learning games they had were no good (she says the animations are no good, and the questions and/or answers are sometimes wrong). So F decided to build her own online learning games using the Scratch programming language – she has big plans for a full set of animal themed games covering all areas of the curriculum, but is currently working on “Spelling Shark’s Memorising Mouse” spelling game.

F is showing the same kind of tendencies as me and B when it comes to programming – by which I mean once she is working on a problem it’s hard to drag her away – we were almost late for school this morning as she tried to fix something!

The weather this week has been so nice, and we enjoyed our Saturday morning walk at Charlecote so much last week, we thought we’d better book another National Trust property for a walk first thing tomorrow – so we are booked in for Packwood House at 9am (and have an order for breakfast pastries in at Haddie and Trilby as well – so hopefully we can pick those up on the way.)

And the Heavenly Blue continues to bloom and even this late in the year is attracting bees (picture by D).

16th September 2020

  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Country Roads / Gilmore & Roberts
  • Watching: Miracle Workers

First post since the weekend. Since the kids went back to school, and D went back to work, my days have become very routine all of a sudden – whereas all through lock down it felt there was almost always something that had happened of interest during the day, now it feels like the days are just very “normal” with nothing of note happening – so it barely seems worth posting about.

Since Sunday at Bs school the whole of Year 9 has been asked to stay at home after a Y9 student tested positive for covid-19. The communication from the school was good I thought – we got an email explaining what had happened and what action the school had taken/was taking. However, while Y9 students have to stay at home, siblings of Y9 students should still attend school – I can see the logic (you only isolate the direct contacts of the confirmed case not the “contacts of contacts”) but it feels like this means it is only a matter of time before there are more cases.

D was working at home today – I was happy to have the company, and D was happy to be able to spend a day without having to put a mask on 🙂 Unfortunately I had a rather busy afternoon with lots of calls, so I wasn’t the most sociable.

This evening we had our first choir sectional (baritones) rehearsal of the new season. This was on zoom, but was quite good fun – the first song is an arrangement of “Take me home, country roads” . A group of six had got together in a garden (socially distanced obviously) to join the Zoom call and it looked like that worked well – so I think we’ll have some more “small groups” together through the season.

In the garden a plant (Calyopteris x Clandonensis ‘Heavenly Blue’ – aka Bluebeard) that Mum bought us in remembrance of Dad is coming into bloom – it’s a lovely plant with slightly silvered leaves and small blue flowers. It was really nice to see it out this morning.

And finally this evening my favourite folk duo Gilmore & Roberts did a free concert on Facebook (with a tip jar, half of any money donated to go to Refuge). It was a great set, and recommended if you are looking for a nice mix of modern folk.

Stay safe, stay strong

13th September 2020

  • Feeling: Bit tired
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Miracle Workers

Quite a lazy day today. Got up about 9am and had a leisurely breakfast. B had to do homework and was finding it hard to focus (bit of a shock to have homework again) so I sat with him and offered some moral support while he did his maths, Spanish and French. Meanwhile D was out in the garden cutting back raspberry canes and F was on the sofa reading Harry Potter, wrapped in a Harry Potter blanket, with a foot rest made out of Harry Potter books.

It was our turn to set the family quiz for today, and usually the kids do most of the work, but since B was doing his homework and F was not bothered, I spent some times creating some “what are the missing words/lines from this poem” style questions (D’s idea) as well as some music questions.

Between lunch and the quiz D did some drawing (the last assignment in the online drawing course she’s been following) and B and I sat reading on the deck (another lovely day today). I got some ribs in BBQ sauce on in a low oven (about 100℃) to have for tea.

It was great to see everyone for the quiz, and after that I sat out on the deck for a bit longer and then we had tea (D made cauliflower cheese to go with the ribs).

In the evening D had to record a student induction video for work, so I helped with that (which, of course, took longer than expected) as well as reading to the kids (we’ve just started Sabriel by Garth Nix – really great book and they are already drawn in after just a couple of chapters.)

Sad it’s the end of the weekend 🙁

Stay safe, stay strong x

12th September 2020

  • Feeling: Relaxed
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • WatchingZodiac

Despite it being the weekend, we were up early today because we’d booked tickets for Charlecote Park for 9-9:30 this morning. Charlecote is the nearest National Trust property to us and has a lovely big deer park where you can walk. We were really glad we’d booked the early slot because it was a beautiful morning, and we were able to do a nice walk and then get a coffee at the café while it was still quiet, and then walk some more before heading home.

It was really nice to just wander and enjoy the sunshine and the fresh autumn air, and D took some lovely photos of us all.

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Morning stroll in Charlecote

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B is all legs!

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We had a quiet afternoon – I hadn’t slept particularly well (woke around 2am and was awake for a little while) so I had a nap in the afternoon while B did homework and F watched a film (The Spiderwick Chronicles). I probably would have slept for longer but was woken when F somehow managed to re-open the wound on her finger that we thought was pretty much healed (not exactly sure how – but something to do with her skateboard). D kept F calm while I bandaged it up again – hopefully it will start to heal again!

D did a bit of gardening, in particular repotting and supporting a bell pepper plant that’s got a bit out of control.

We had a nice evening watching some TV and eating left over pizza from yesterday, and overall a lovely relaxing day.

Stay safe, stay strong

11th September 2020

  • Feeling: Bit stressed, but OK
  • Listening to: Take me home, country roads
  • Watching: Prodigal Son

End of the week. Work felt like I did a lot but every step forward had two more steps back 🙁

More new shoes for the kids today (trainers this time) and the new cable modem from Virgin Media which should mean we can get a faster internet connection. Getting the modem working took a little while this evening (at one point I gave up and put the old one back in so we could watch something on Netflix) but it’s now up and working.

Realised today how little time we all get together as a family now everyone is back at work and school. I feel like I’ve barely seen B this week since he’s basically out the door before I’m awake and when he gets home we’re all tired out. F I see a bit more because of the extra time in the morning and then picking her up at 3pm, and D I get to spend some time with in the evening (although we’re mainly just vegging out in front of the TV). Although the last few months have been really tough and being on top of each other all the time has its own challenges, I am missing aspects of it.

Think we’re all glad it’s the end of the week – tomorrow we’ve booked tickets for a local National Trust property first thing (Charlecote Park) and hoping we can have a relaxing weekend.

10th September 2020

  • Feeling: Busy but good
  • Listening to: Take me home, country roads
  • Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

A week since the kids went back to school. Feeling like we are gradually getting back in the rhythm (actually I think it may just be me who isn’t really quite with it yet).

Bs school bus service has introduced seat numbers so that they know where people sit in case of a COVID case they can advise just those sitting near the person with the confirmed COVID19. This doesn’t seem hugely practical since they are on that bus for 45-60 minutes each way – I’m not sure the virus is really going to observe the 2m rule over such a period with many people in the space and also touching the surfaces etc. It doesn’t sound like the seating went to plan today, but maybe tomorrow will go more smoothly with people more used to it.

Usual pattern for me today – drop off F, work, pick up F, work, everyone gets home, bit more work, tea, TV, bed! Major excitement was new shoes for the kids – I bought a foot measure so we could measure the kids at home and order online, although I was a bit late for the start of term! The kids have been putting up with slightly too small shoes for the last week, but hopefully tomorrow they will have comfortable feet again. F was especially pleased with her “tarantula” themed shows with a spiders web sole pattern!

Tomorrow expecting equivalent new trainers to arrive for the kids, plus a new cable modem to take advantage of higher internet speeds now available at home – all the excitement!

Stay safe, stay strong

9th September 2020

  • Feeling: Good
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Stumptown

Woke around 7:30 again although struggled to get moving until about 7:50. Gone are the days of just having to worry about getting myself up in time to have breakfast – we are back to getting the kids up and out of the house – and for me and F that means a slightly earlier start than previously because we have to get F to school for 8:30 rather than 8:50. Lying in until 8:30 but still being ready to work at 9 is something I miss about lockdown!

After dropping F off at school I had to drop a facemask off for D (she forgot to pack her’s this morning) and then to work. That was basically the rest of the day – work, pick up F, back to work until time to stop for dinner.

F had her weekly Explore tutoring session this evening – she never wants to do this and always ends up enjoying it – just one of those things that seems like it isn’t going to be fun at the end of a long day I guess (but by the end she was all smiles – she does really enjoy doing the English and Maths – especially today with lots of similes, metaphors and idioms to enjoy in the English work)

Aside from work, I’ve been working with the choir committee to put together our autumn season. Unfortunately even before the new, stricter, guidelines we’d concluded that meeting up and singing together just wasn’t going to be possible. I think we’ve put together as good as virtual choir schedule as we could have done in the circumstances, and smaller groups of six within the choir will be able to meet and sing together (at least under current guidance) if they want to and are comfortable/able to do so. We’re focussing on easy to learn, well known, songs which are being arranged for us by our talented pianist – I really love singing these original arrangements as I think it makes us stand out against others singing the more widely available arrangements which you can buy off the shelf. The aim is to be able to learn and record (unfortunately individually) our parts for six songs between now and Xmas, and have all the recordings brought together into a virtual choir performance.

The first two songs are Take me Home, Country Roads (John Denver) and A Little Respect (Erasure) and I can’t wait to start working on these next week 🙂

Stay safe, stay strong

8th September 2020


Today was much better than yesterday as I felt human again. Awake early enough to say goodbye to B before he left for school (around 7:30), and then up to take F to school (8:30).

Worked hard today (had several things to catch up with after being off yesterday) and although I barely had time to think about it, I did start to feel a bit alone in the afternoon – still getting used to the house being empty during the day.

At 3pm picked up F, then had a call before we went off to Fs piano & drum lesson and my singing lesson (I’m learning “Lost in the Woods” from Frozen II – a loving parody of soft rock / 80s power ballads – which my singing teacher is delighted about as he’s not been able to persuade anyone else to try it!).

Then home for tea, F had her 11+ tutoring after, B had a bit of homework (although that’s still not kicked in properly yet) and now everyone’s in bed – think we’ve all had tiring days!

In the actual news, the covid situation in the UK seems to be going downhill again pretty quickly. Eight and a half thousand positive tests have been recorded in England in the last three days (a massive leap from previously), there are delays in testing, and this evening more restrictive measures have been announced for England – with gatherings of more than 6 people banned (previously it was up to 30 people, although there were various conditions around when that was meant to occur and how many households could be present) – this will come in from Monday (although why let the larger numbers run over the weekend I don’t know – seems like asking for people to get together before stricter limits are applied).

Because we’ve got family there, we’ve also been very aware of the local lockdown affecting Bolton (which has got even stricter today with restaurants/cafés now take away only, and no visits to other households allowed). Its all a bit depressing and slightly worrying, although locally in Warwick cases continue to be very low so not too worried about our immediate situation.

Stay safe, stay strong x

7th September 2020

  • Feeling: Sick
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Ultimate Beastmaster

After a lovely day on Sunday, and overall feeling like it had been a pretty good weekend, on Sunday night I had a stomach upset that woke me and kept me awake for several hours. Even though I got some sleep, when D tried to wake me in the morning I just felt awful – so D sorted out the kids and made sure they got to school while I sent my apologies for my meetings and went back to sleep.

Happily whatever caused the stomach upset it didn’t last long and by the time I woke and got up (around midday) I was feeling better, if still a bit out of it. I spent the rest of the day resting and re-hydrating and went to bed early.

Today (6th) I spoke to a work colleague who said her partner had a similar brief gastric issue accompanied by a raised temperature (which I didn’t have as far as I know) and ended up having a test for COVID-19 (although it turned out negative). I don’t think I’ll send for a test (and it’s not clear I could get one right now even if I wanted to) – as I didn’t have the raised temperature, and looking at gastric symptoms that can accompany COVID-19 they don’t match what I had.

Second time in only a few days I’m having to catchup with a blog post a day late. Wondering if the universe trying to tell me to think about posting less often 🙂

Stay safe, stay strong.