25th April 2020

  • Feeling: Restless and cooped up
  • Listening to: Catatonia
  • Watching: Knives Out

Its been a slightly unsatisfactory day. I’ve been a bit out of sorts all day, and I think others have been have well – F certainly seemed to be (maybe picking up on my mood) and maybe D.

We had a nice laid back start to the day. I woke at the same time as D and so managed to make a cup of tea for her for once (scant repayment for the cup she makes me pretty much every other day). We got up slowly and after we’d had breakfast, and I had coffee, I worked with the kids on a little project with a Raspberry Pi – this is a mini computer (a footprint slightly larger than a credit card) and can be used to control electronics. I’d originally intended to use it to add some fun interactivity to the wooden automaton I got for my birthday, but I’d encountered some problems so I decided to take it back to basics and do a simple project to just turn an LED on and off. The kids were interested in helping, so we worked on it together, wiring up the very simple circuit, connecting it up to the Raspberry Pi and copying a programme to turn it on & off – and then playing around with extending the program to do other things.

F especially enjoyed modifying the program and with help from me and B got it to do a countdown with the light switching on and off more and more rapidly as it reached the zero – and then printing ‘blast off to the moon’ on the screen!

After we’d got this working (which also told me that my earlier problems trying to get the Pi working were not due to defective hardware – so one potential issue ruled out) I wanted to tackle trying to breakdown the branches I removed from the hedge into small, bits that I could stack and so regain the bottom end of the garden. Unfortunately this didn’t go to plan.

I got my big electric mitre saw out thinking I’d go through the wood really quickly, but after only cutting a few branches, I somehow managed to blow the extension cable and, not having a spare, the whole project ground to a halt. This left me in a pretty bad mood – not sure why I let it upset me so much, but sometimes these things do. Later I worked out the problem was the fuse in the extension cable plug – so a simple fix (except I don’t have any 10amp fuses in the house, so have had to order some).

After lunch (throughout which I maintained my bad news), I joined a virtual session from Seb, our choir musical director, about how he records the guide tracks for us to practice from (we were originally meant to have a choir rehearsal today in advance of our now cancelled concert next weekend). I found it really interesting and it me geek out and be a bit jealous of his setup and mastery of various software packages – but it was quite long and I’d been on the ‘seb-inar’ for over 2 hours when F and B fell out and decided I better see if I could help rather than leaving it to D (who was out in the garden drawing).

We decided we should all get out of the house and went for a short walk in the local park. F cheered up a bit, but still wasn’t in the best of moods. She told me she was frustrated with not being able to go anywhere or do anything. I asked her what she where she’d go if we could go anywhere – and she said she’d go to a shop and buy “wires and electronics and metal and stuff to make things”. It turns out she wants to build a robot.

I know F misses being able to play in the park and so I’m wondering if we can do anything in the garden to give her something to play on (we only have a very old and battered swing which really is far too small for both F and B now).

After the walk the kids both did some music practice, and I browsed online and ended up ordering a random selection of electronics and accessories for the Raspberry Pi, a pack of 10amp fuses (for the extension cord) and a billhook (which I’m hoping might offer a manual alternative for breaking down the hedge trimmings). I also looked at (but have so far resisted) more audio kit for my computer (because I was jealous of Seb’s setup – but then he’s a professional musician while I just potter around occasionally with recording myself) and buying a huge playground set for the garden (they are quite expensive!)

As we got tea ready the kids watched some videos of the Mischief Theatre cast (of the “The play that goes wrong”) watching back and commenting on episodes of their recent BBC series (The Goes Wrong Show). We were meant to see their latest show (Magic goes wrong) for Fs birthday and all loved The Goes Wrong Show, so it was nice to see them talking about it (“like Gogglebox but more interesting” said B).

After tea we had the weekly choir quiz organised by C, and then bedtime – which didn’t go completely smoothly with F being alternatively obstinate and sweet, but not going to sleep.

Finally D and I sat down and watched Knives Out on the big screen – which we really enjoyed. I finally opened and sampled the whisky that D got me for my birthday – and very nice it was too. The colour is a deep amber, and its very smooth with a subtle woody/smoky finish.

I don’t feel I made the best use of today – I wanted to make bread, jam, get the wood chopped, and generally “get stuff done” – and I failed at all that. I did enjoy doing the project with the kids in the morning, and didn’t have a terrible day overall – I think maybe I worry about time wasted at the weekend because work dominates the week so much. I need to find a better way of balancing this, and also making sure I enjoy the things that do go well and don’t let the setbacks dominate my mood.

But ending the day safe, with a good film and a nice glass of whisky (or two), with D next to me is a pretty solid win – I’ll take that and try to be in a better headspace tomorrow.

Stay safe, stay strong x

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