30th June 2020

  • Feeling: Low level stressed
  • Listening to: Sk8er Boi
  • Watching: Staged

Didn’t sleep well – things buzzing round my head all night waking me periodically. I think partly my mind worrying about work and partly worrying about getting the decking right. Also – I can’t believe it’s the end of June! D went for a run first thing this morning and I was still asleep but the happily the kids got themselves up and dressed and so no rush when it came to getting F to school.

I was delivering some training today – another course that I teach regularly moving to online delivery for the moment. This was via Adobe Connect which made a change from Zoom. Overall it went well and the people on the course seemed engaged. I guess everyone has adapted a lot more to being part of an online gathering and it was easy to get people talking in the online forum (despite them not having met before or being able to see each other) – much easier than my pre-pandemic experiences. Second half of the course is on Thursday, and I’ve got material for another course to prepare by Friday – so lots to do.

D was in work again for a couple of hours – she said the college was busier than previously. B is finding ways of getting his Blender obsession (Blender is software for doing 3D animation and effects) into his schoolwork and today he used it to do work for PRE (Philosophy and Religious Education) and English.

F managed to hurt her ankle this evening – I think she just turned it while dashing around upstairs – hoping that it is just a minor sprain and will be OK by the morning.

D made chocolate brownies this evening with added raspberries from our garden – yum! And in the garden her peony poppy is flowering – it’s a beautiful dark purple colour.

Talked to Mum for a good hour this evening – she’s been able to have a few visitors which is really nice for her. Then did a bit of the jigsaw – it feels like we are just coming to the final stretch (most of the credit should got to D)

Stay safe, stay strong x

29th June 2020

  • Feeling: Low level stressed
  • Listening to: Alanis Morrisette
  • Watching: Bake off: The professionals

Got up early to do some work first thing, although that meant I flagged later in the day.

F told me rather forlornly this morning that it “wasn’t quite as exciting going to school this week” – which I think was as much to do with the rather grey skies outside as it was to do with actually going to school. Of course she had a great day in the end, the highlight being a debate on whether “humans should be allowed in the sea” (I think not literally just allowed in the sea because the debate had obviously encompassed fishing and pollution). She was against and explained some of her killer arguments to me on the way home (“the fish have been in the sea for millions of years before humans even existed” and “ultimately it doesn’t matter if humans die out like dodo’s and dinosaurs”)

B had a busy morning as he was doing the Junior Mathematical Challenge as well as his usual school work – but we won’t find out how that went for over a week (and sadly there is no opportunity to do the usual follow up events this year because of the pandemic).

I’m feeling a bit stressed this evening, but I’m not really sure why – I think maybe I just need a break from work in the near future. D has to take some holiday as well and I guess that going away in the UK could be possible now – although the announcement this evening of an extended lockdown in Leicester makes us wonder how predictable things might be over the next two months.

Apart from that nothing very exciting today – but hopefully tomorrow I’ll take delivery of the remaining things to complete the decking project so if it manages to stay dry this weekend we might have a finished deck by the end of Sunday (maybe).

Stay safe, stay strong.

28th June 2020

  • Feeling:  Tired
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Parks and Recreation

Woke up around 8 and got up to make tea and to get some bread going (as D had mentioned I hadn’t baked in a while) – I didn’t manage to get it done for lunchtime in the end but we have a loaf waiting for us tomorrow now.

I was feeling a bit lethargic first thing, and so rather than start on the decking straight away I did some more jigsaw and then F and I sat on the sofa and read to each other.

Eventually I worked up the energy to go and tackle the next stage of the decking project. I’ve reached the stage of the project that I find stressful – measuring and cutting and levelling – and I spent a long time trying to position and level paving stones to support the deck frame – it seemed to take forever and by the end I still wasn’t happy I’d got it completely right. Extra stress when it decided to chuck it down with rain – only for a few minutes in the end, but still a rush to get tools and timber out of the rain.

This is where I’d got to by 4pm. It doesn’t seem a lot of progress for several hours of work, but it’s as far as I can go until I get a delivery of supplies (hopefully Tuesday) – and by 4pm I was tired out!

While I was working on the deck, D took F and B out for a walk (they also got caught in the rain) and the kids prepared a quiz for my side of the family in the afternoon.

D made some more progress with the jigsaw – but C, who has the same puzzle, messaged me earlier to say she’d finished it, winning our informal competition to see who would complete the puzzle first. We’ve still got a way to go!

Stay safe, stay strong.

27th June 2020

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

After two days in a row waking early, I slept in today and only woke at 9 – the last to be out of bed (although not by much – no-one was awake before 8).

I felt quite tired this morning, and it was raining (and thankfully much cooler), which gave me an excuse not to start work on the decking project straight away. Instead I returned to a jigsaw D and I started weeks ago but then had not returned to. I decided I’d complete the edges (and I literally just found the last edge piece this moment) and both D and I worked on the puzzle throughout the day.

It was very relaxing to just work on the puzzle for a bit, and hopefully we’ll do some more tomorrow.

Yesterday F was trying to get herself setup to borrow e-books and audiobooks online from the library (she enjoys listening to things but we don’t have a lot of audiobooks so she wants some more variety). Yesterday there was a problem with the online service and she couldn’t get it to work – but happily today it was all working and she got setup and spent some time reading an e-book (Phoebe and her unicorn) and listening to an audiobook (Tom Gates).

Having declared he was going to take a break from his animation/special effects work, B (predictably) changed his mind and did some more work on adding special effects to video clips of his cousins – he’s even managed to teach me a little of how Blender works.

Fs Kung-fu instructor had arranged a call this afternoon to talk about resuming classes. I joined the call, but D and I don’t feel its the right time for this kind of class just yet. I really want to see what happens to all the indicators after the additional relaxation of the lockdown on 4th July – which for me means waiting for at least 2 weeks after the 4th to see what the impact is. Although some of the other parents felt the same as us, some were very happy for the classes to resume as soon as possible – which brought it home to me how varied people are in either their assessment or acceptance of the risks involved.

After lunch the rain had stopped and I had a bit more energy so I decided I’d make a start on the decking. I managed to lay the landscaping weed suppressant fabric, get the gravel down and check the level in anticipation of putting the outer timber frame down (maybe tomorrow if the weather holds). I’m a little limited as to what I can do tomorrow because I’m still waiting for the timber preservative (for cut ends of the timber) and some joist hangers which won’t come until next week.

I’ve done a bit more than this picture shows, but as my mum immediately quipped when she saw the picture, “looks better already!”

In the evening we had our usual quiz and then (after some initial upset) some nice time watching TV with the kids before bed. Hope tomorrow is just as relaxing and productive.

Stay safe, stay strong.

26th June 2020

  • Feeling:  Hot (again)
  • Listening to: Now that’s what I call music mix
  • WatchingThe Saint

Woke early again (before 6) because of the heat. I thought I’d have the house to myself for a bit, but both the kids woke early as well and were downstairs not long after me. Unusually this meant D was the last up, but she then braved the heat to go for a run.

I managed to get a good chunk of work done before 9 and despite flagging a bit mid-morning, by lunchtime I’d been pretty productive. Unfortunately in the afternoon the heat and early start caught up with me and I didn’t get a lot done and was quite grumpy at times. It was too hot to be out in the garden for long, but D and I caught a bee busy at work in the afternoon.

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Fuzzy buzzy bee meets my delphinium

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F has been complaining that we’ve made Friday’s too busy because all the things she was previously doing on weekdays have been moved to Friday now she is at school Monday-Thursday. This only actually means 2hrs 20minutes of scheduled time for her, and the biggest issue for her today was boredom (and the heat and tiredness didn’t help) so I think her sessions with Liz, Explore and her drum lessons were probably the most enjoyable parts of her day despite her complaints.

We really noticed during F’s session with Liz how her brain races ahead of her explanations when she’s doing maths leaving us often confused. I’m not sure how Liz copes – it drives us potty with both kids when they are already three steps ahead of any explanation they are giving us about their work!

B did his school work in the morning and then more work on animation/special effects projects in the afternoon – he can be a bit obsessive when he’s got a project like this – which is exactly the same as me.

The forecast for tomorrow is cooler although the likelihood of rain and thunder seems to have dropped considerably. I’m hoping it will be cool enough and dry enough to get going on the decking – although I’m still waiting on delivery for some things that I need so there’s only so much progress I can make at the moment.

Stay safe, stay strong, keep cool

25th June 2020

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

Another hot day. I woke up early feeling OK and glad to be awake before it got too hot. The forecast for tomorrow is “thundery showers” and I’ve been a bit worried that the decking timber would get wet through before the weekend. At the same time F had been begging for a fan because of the heat – so I decided to do a quick order from Screwfix of a tarpaulin and a fan and went to collect it before taking F to school.

Picking up from Screwfix was well organised – people kept separated, order numbers for collection taken before you enter the store, and some protective screens in place at the counters.

D was in work for a couple of hours again today. B and I drove to pick her up and popped into Warwick Books to collect some books that had come in for us. The book shop has pick up from the door only for the moment – again all well thought out and effective. I think good for all of us to go out and although the roads were busy the town centre was very quiet.

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Bee meets dog rose

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Decided to get pizza from Red Hot Mamma for tea as a treat and worked with B on transferring some of his animation/special effects work over to a different computer to speed up some of the processing.

Hope the thunder comes with some slightly cooler weather, but that it’s not too wet to get started on the decking this weekend!

Stay safe, stay strong.

24th June 2020

  • Feeling:  OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Staged

It is so hot! Woke this morning not really feeling like I’d slept, and spent the rest of the day complaining about the heat. But of course rain is forecast for the weekend when I could do with some dry weather to get some work done outside.

It’s hard to think about anything but the heat this evening, the air is heavy with it, but its been an good day overall. I had some good work calls (although slightly frustrated that I’ve not got more done today), D went into work briefly to record a video for inductions for students starting in September, and B had his usual school work.

F helped me cook lamb burgers for tea and got experimental adding some cinnamon into the burger mix. Despite her urging me to add more, I was a little too conservative with the spicing for it to come through in the final product – but lamb and cinammon is a classic curry flavour combination so I think it could work – next time!

The government is further easing the lockdown conditions from 4th July and I read the guidelines today – but they make little sense to me – it appears there is a difference between “social distancing” and having “social interactions” but no definition of what that difference is.

I don’t suppose we will be rushing to do any of the things that will be allowed after the weekend. At choir this evening I was talking it through with N and he pointed out that given sensible behaviour the chance of encountering someone with COVID19 is pretty low – which made me feel a bit more comfortable about the risks we are likely to be exposed to.

While I was at choir (always enjoyable) D and the kids were meant to be doing their weekly quiz with cousins, aunts and uncles. F invented a new game for them to play – an online version of “chinese whispers” in which the first person sends a private message to one of the people in the group, they change one letter of the message and send it to the next person and so on – until the final person has to guess what the original message was – apparently it was quite successful!

Going to try and ignore the heat and sleep now.

Stay safe, stay strong.

23rd June 2020

  • Feeling:  OK
  • Listening to: Taylor Swift
  • Watching: Vagrant Queen

Was woken this morning when D got back from her run to find Travis Perkins parked outside to deliver the timber and other materials for the decking. I hastily got myself dressed and we moved everything from where it was unloaded at the front through to the back. So by 8:30 I felt like I’d had a real workout (and D had had two workouts).

I’m still waiting for some additional decking supplies from another supplier (Wickes) before I can start properly assembling the deck – but I can get landscaping fabric and gravel down now which is the first job for the weekend.

I managed to grab a tea before taking F to school (just very slightly late). Had nice chat to a couple of the teachers both of whom taught B and were asking after him.

The rest of the day was pretty standard – just work for the three of us at home, then D collected F from school and D, F and B had ice cream (there were only three left so I opted out). It seems to have got gradually hotter and stickier through the day and this evening its unpleasantly warm for me.

B made chocolate hazelnut mousse to a Nadiya recipe this afternoon. I tried to help with whipping the cream but I think I overdid it, and we ended up with a grainy mess. Happily we still had some cream left and I managed to rescue the problem (that was probably caused by me in the first place), and we ended up with a delicious dessert.

We shared two between the four of us for dessert – it was really good and despite the hazelnuts we had in the house being somewhat past their “best before” date (by a couple of years) the hazelnut flavour came through really well. Definitely recommend.

Stay safe, stay strong

22nd June 2020

  • Feeling:  OK
  • Listening to: Taylor Swift
  • Watching: Black and British: a forgotten history

It’s funny how F going back to school has changed the pattern of our day and the feel in the house. Of course it means we have to be up in time for her to have breakfast before heading off to school. It means my coffee has to wait until I’ve dropped her off. It means less interruptions throughout the day and less need to move into a different room to do work calls on the computer. It means a much quieter house with three people just staring at their computer screens.

These changes makes it easier to get on with work – but I’m missing having her at home! When she gets back from school I want to hear all about her day and what she’s been doing – while she mainly wants to watch TV – so I can’t tell you much about her day except she enjoyed it but its still strange to be at school with all the distancing rules. And that she had a delicious hot chicken wrap for lunch (apparently we have never let her have a *hot* chicken wrap).

B was practicing for the Junior Mathematical Challenge today – the real thing is next Monday. It was fun to discuss some of the questions with him and interesting to see his approach to the questions – even at 12 he is skilled at using the potential answers in a multi-choice situation to give him clues to the right answer (which is probably an indictment of how much testing he’s already been through by 12 and how much we teach children to pass tests – but still very interesting to observe!)

Later in the day he had his online tutoring session where he was doing work on A Christmas Carol (seasonal!) and doing some work on angles in which the computer managed to set impossible questions which resulted in some of the angles in a triangle being 0° (as B said “its almost as if they found a diagram and put some random numbers on it”).

In the garden unfortunately D’s sunflowers have been demolished by slugs and/or snails, so she moved some of the borage plants to where the sunflowers are no longer taking up space.

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Bee meets Borage #garden

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Stay safe, stay strong x

20th and 21st June 2020

  • Feeling:  Restless and happy and sad
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Thor: Ragnarok

I completely forgot to post yesterday – first day I’ve not posted since 22nd March when I started writing to try to record something of what it’s been like living through this strange period of time. What I’m finding at the moment is that coming out of lockdown is in some ways stranger than going into it.

Yesterday we all went to visit my Mum. The first time the kids and D have seen Mum since February. It was, of course, lovely to see her, but difficult as well because we are still socially distancing and a lot of the time I felt I was having to watch the kids (and to some extent Mum!) to ensure they weren’t getting too close. We also saw E who came to drop something for Mum while we were there – it was really good to see her.

We went on a nice long walk (a little too far for F’s tastes) and had a lovely late lunch in Mum’s garden despite the very changeable weather.

We came back home mid-afternoon and did C’s quiz which was lovely as always and during that talk turned to whether the pubs might reopen soon and Saturday evenings might return to being a time to go out rather than stay in. I’d love to see friends and family properly again but I have to admit I’m not sure I’m ready for a return to socialising yet. I think it’s going to take some time for me to adjust again (just as it took me time to adjust to the lockdown) and I need to find a way of acclimatising myself to this mentally so I can actually enjoy people’s company rather than worrying about the risk. Not sure how though.

Today has been a pretty quiet day. I was up last, but it wasn’t that late. My neck and back had been aching since Friday so D suggested we tried a yoga session she’d found helpful before – so we did some Yoga with Adrienne before we had breakfast. My neck and back haven’t ached all day, so either it worked, or just two days away from my desk is good for me.

For breakfast we had some treats (chocolate almond croissants for me, D & B, cinnamon toast for F) and in the morning the kids made some lovely Fathers Day gifts for me.

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Poems & 3D pen artworks from B & F

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After coffee I tackled the front lawn/meadow which we let grow during “no mow May” (I’ve been so dedicated to this that I’ve been not mowing the lawn since the start of the year), and trimmed back one of the plants at the front (at the same time trimming into a cable into our neighbour’s house – which luckily turned out to be out of use already!)

And then another coffee and an origami session with the kids – F challenged me to make a parrot following a YouTube video and I think it turned out pretty well (apart from the beak which I made a mess of).

I really enjoyed this (and another bit of origami inspired by someone from choir and her daughter which I did together with B). I think I’ll try some more origami when I need to switch off from other things.

This afternoon we watched Thor: Ragnarok with the kids, had our quiz with my side of the family and I made spaghetti bolognese for tea followed by sticky toffee pudding – yum!

Finally thinking about my own Dad today. Yesterday while we were with Mum we went to visit the garden of remembrance where his ashes are buried (first time D and the kids have had to do this), and in Mum’s garden she had a metal forget-me-not that was part of a display at Gloucester Cathedral earlier in the year. We never got to see the display at the cathedral (we’d planned to visit with Mum on Mothers Day and then lockdown happened) so it was lovely to see the forget-me-not in her Garden as a memory of Dad.

E sent a picture of some some beautiful flowers she and Mum had picked from Mum’s garden and placed in the garden of remembrance today. It was lovely to see.

Stay safe, stay strong.