21st May 2020


Slept surprisingly well and everyone except D slept in this morning – both kids struggled to get to sleep last night because of the heat.

Both B and F have music lessons (piano and drums respectively) on Thursday. B had a Grade 1 “mock exam” with his piano teacher this morning – and his teacher said he did well enough to pass – which is great since its taken him a long time to get to this stage – shame he can’t do the real exam at the moment!

F has definitely taken to the drums (we got her a drum kit for Xmas last year) and has a good sense of rhythm. More practice wouldn’t hurt but she enjoys it and its something of her own since none of the rest of us have any idea (although she does pass on her knowledge to me in occasional lessons). Staying with drumming (sort of) we watched the first episode of SK Shlomo’s Homeskool Beatbox Adventures today which she really enjoyed (we saw SK Shlomo at the Cheltenham festival last year and he was great – I’d love to be able to beatbox with some degree of skill and credibility – which I suspect at my age isn’t going to happen!). F immediately wanted to know how she could be part of the “Zoom Room” which is used to get some interactivity going in video.

F also had a session with Liz/Mrs C today which she really enjoyed – she was just overflowing with chat and wanting to share poems and stories she’s been working on – it was really lovely to see and I think was something F needed.

I had quite a full work day, and didn’t finish until 9:30 due to some interviews with people in North America – but because I knew I was going to be working in the evening I tried to take it easier during the day, especially straight after lunch – I was able to take time out and cook bolognese for tea.

And in the garden another rose is open, revealing this beautiful centre.

Stay safe, stay strong.

20th May 2020

  • Feeling: Tired during the day, better this evening
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Great British Sewing Bee

Really hot today, which left me feeling very tired during the day (and even had to have a nap in the afternoon). Although I had some training to deliver first thing, overall I had a quieter Wednesday than usual due to a couple of cancelled meetings – which was a relief.

B had “Food Tech” homework and had to cook something so decided to make pita bread – which was a great success.

Very nice virtual choir this evening, and a chat online with a few choir friends was a nice pick-me-up this evening.

In the garden one of our new roses (a Ferdinand Pichard) is out which is lovely – mainly pink with small flashes of white.


Hoping it cools down a bit tomorrow!

Stay safe, stay strong.

19th May 2020


I think both D and I have been feeling restless the last couple of days. Work dominates most days for both of us, and we are feeling cooped up (of course – this states the obvious!). Hopefully the upcoming long weekend will be a chance for a bit of a rest and a re-set.

Spoke to F’s teacher this morning and hearing her voice really cheered F up – she had a real smile on her face afterwards. It’s amazing what these little bits of contact can do to your mood.

B was up and working early today – not sure what time he started but by the time I woke he was already at his desk and working away.

Conversely I found it hard to focus on work today and ended up having to do some catching up this evening instead.

Meanwhile the kids virtual art lessons the last two weeks have been on “colourful cats” which has been going really well – the most successful of the art projects they’ve worked on since lockdown began.

My dad’s name was added to a memorial stone in the churchyard near their house today and E sent a picture, and meanwhile, out in the garden our peony has just come into bloom.

Stay safe, stay strong.

18th May 2020

  • Feeling: Sleepy
  • Listening to: nothing today
  • Watching: The Mandalorian

Woke up reasonably early today to get myself ready for teaching an online course this morning. After I’d got that out of the way I had a load of other meetings through until 4pm. I did manage a short break at lunch and it was nice enough to eat in the garden.

It was my nephew (I)’s birthday today so the kids did a jibjab card for him in the morning, and spoke to him on FaceTime in the evening. Apart from that a pretty standard day for them – some school work, Art and online tutoring sessions are the usual pattern for Monday.

F has been re-watching A Series of Unfortunate Events and today watched the final episode which left her a bit sad – lots of characters die across the series and the last episode is no exception. It also refuses to end neatly and although it does tie up a lot of loose ends, it also leaves the main characters fates as broadly unknown (although apparently the book series is bleaker in its ending!). F struggled to sleep tonight with thoughts about the story still running through her mind.

We had a nice tea thanks to D’s decision to buy a sticky toffee pudding last week which we had with custard this evening – we don’t usually have desserts so it was a nice treat.

D has also been working on a basket to hold our remote controls which she finished this evening. I don’t really imagine the remotes will stay in there, but it is a lot more attractive than the current cardboard box they fail to stay in.

Stay safe, stay strong.

17th May 2020


The morning started with a very cheerful F trotting into our bedroom pleased to be “awake first”. I made tea for me and D, and we all shared some left over pastries for breakfast.

D and I put together the new cold frame which arrived last week and got the tomato, sunflower and nasturtium plants out in it.

C from choir had posted a little video tour of her garden on Facebook and it was so nice, we decided to do one as well (although slightly annoyed with myself that I filmed it in portrait mode).

In the afternoon we watched the latest Star Wars film, which was fine, although having really enjoyed The Force Awakens, the last two films have felt a bit ponderous and I’ve not really been grabbed by the storylines.

After that B and F had put together a quiz for my side of the family using Kahoot (inspired by a similar quiz done by R, one of their cousins from Ds side) – which seemed to go really well.

I had to do some work for tomorrow, so I spent most of the evening doing that, and now a bit tired, but it’s been a good day and I’m feeling very positive this evening.

Stay safe, stay strong.

16th May 2020


A very lazy day today. I got up to get breakfast pastries from Haddie and Trilby first thing, but after breakfast ended up nodding off on the sofa. While I was asleep D, F and B went for a walk.

This set the tone for the day – I did a bit of reading, listened to some music, and eventually managed to get myself into the garden and constructed a sort of camp stool out of the hedge trimmings.

F was a bit bored today, although she did try to fly a kite in the garden (unsuccessfully) and did some spray painting later on.

D made some flower headwear for C’s quiz this evening (each week there is a dressing up theme – this week “flowers”)

C had included a Harry Potter round in the quiz for Freya – which cheered her up (especially as we got full marks on that round – but then badly let ourselves down in the Sport round!)

This evening D and I rented the Birds of Prey movie to watch which was quite fun. Now bed time.

Stay safe, stay strong.

15th May 2020


Got up early (6) to try to catch up on some work this morning – although it took me a while to get going at least I was working before 8am and got quite a lot done this morning – although the early start rather caught up with me in the afternoon.

Had an OK day, and dropped some plants and other things off for C – and got to see N – a real life friend in the flesh! (albeit from a distance) and with two deliveries (pillows and a cold frame for the garden) – by lockdown standards this was already a pretty interesting day 🙂 However, the real excitement of the day wasn’t until the evening when we sat down to watch the final / banquet episode of the Great British Menu.

What seems like an age ago, although in reality just a few months, B was invited to attend the children’s literature themed banquet at Exeter (aka Jordan) College in Oxford by Scoop magazine (an arts & literature magazine for children) – because he has written book reviews for them.

On a very stormy day in February B and D set off to attend the banquet, only to find that trains were either cancelled or extremely delayed. So F and I interrupted our breakfast at the nearby Costa to go and get them and drive them to Oxford.

While F and I went on and spent a really nice day with my Mum in Cheltenham, B and D got to enjoy the banquet and to meet some of their heroes. It probably goes without saying that they thought the food was amazing, but it was also an opportunity to meet a whole range of brilliant people from Lemn Sissay to Nina Wadia to Cressida Cowell to … too many to name (not forgetting, of course, Susan Calman).

It was so exciting for us to see the results today of what was a very long day and for D and B to relive the experience with us – and even in this digital age it was still incredibly exciting to see them on the actual telly!

I’m still feeling excited by it now! (and also still chuckling at B saying “possibly the best dessert I’ve ever had” as if he had some other contenders to consider alongside the amazing edible book cooked up by top chef Alex Greene!)

Stay safe, stay strong.

May 14th 2020

  • Feeling: Tired
  • Listening to: The Well-Tempered Clavier (Bach, played by Angela Hewitt)
  • Watching: nothing much today

Feeling tired again, and had a headache through the day again – although it has eased up now.

Woke early feeling OK, but feels like its been a long day. F seems to have struggled this week and really didn’t want to do much today. We did get out for a short walk this afternoon (definitely more people out and about now) and this morning played a game F made yesterday with the help of a book “Board games to create and play“. It involved an invisible player and a search for treasure. I lost!

A much nicer day today and we had lunch outside thanks to D (who now, sadly, seems to have picked up whatever I’ve got and is sniffling away).

I had lots of work calls, but took a bit of a break during the day because I knew I had to work 6-8 this evening with some extra Zoom calls with people in the USA.

Really looking forward to the weekend – suddenly feels like its been a long week. I’m going to get to bed early.

Stay safe, stay strong.

May 13th 2020

  • Feeling: Tired and headachey
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Great British Sewing Bee

It should have been a good day but a bit spoilt by tiredness, a persistent headache and computer problems 🙁

The big triumph of the day was my brioche baking, which turned out pretty well – its nice and light, and tastes like brioche and is incredibly moorish.

But on the upside I think I’ve just managed (after several hours of trying) to fix my computer woes, so hopefully tomorrow will go more smoothly.

Stay safe, stay strong, stay ways from computers that don’t work properly.

12th May 2020

  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Kylie
  • WatchingLife drawing live (well, D is, I’m writing this instead)

Overslept today and didn’t wake until almost 9am – and B did the same. D had been up and about for a couple of hours at least by the time I got downstairs, taken a shopping deliver and done some exercise.

I feel like we were all working hard today. F watched some BBC Bytesize programmes, I had a few calls, D was working and B got on with his school work. B and F also worked on various side projects they’ve got going on. The both updated pages on the websites (http://freyapatelstephens.com/poems and http://www.brynpatelstephens.com/brynsbooks/bookreview.html respectively), and B also followed a tutorial for some computer graphic software called Blender to create a 3D illustration of a doughnut – which looks delicious!

Over lunch and across the afternoon I started on my attempt to make some brioche – the dough was sticky to start with and once the (huge quantity) of butter was incorporated it became very difficult to handle – more like an over soft pastry than the sort of dough I’m used to dealing with – I can see why lots of the video tutorials for brioche I’ve seen use a mixer with a dough hook to incorporate the butter! I’m not sure how its going to turn out, but it seems to be proving well, and I’ve just put it in the fridge to stop it over-proving before the morning

Fingers crossed that I can bake it successfully tomorrow!

Stay safe, stay strong.