21st July 2020

  • Feeling: Better
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Bake Off: The Professionals

A quiet day today. Mainly work for me and D while the kids mainly amused themselves. Woke at a reasonable time – D already awake of course – and got up while the kids stayed in bed for a while.

D had to go into work for a couple of hours and the kids only just made it up before she left. They played on computers until I suggested they do something non-screen based so F did some “paint by numbers” (dolphins) and I asked B to try to work out the best way to use all the decking off-cuts to build planters – maximising the volume of the planters I could build – that kept him busy until lunch!

D was back for lunch and we ate on the deck. She’d gone to Homebase on the way home to pick up a roll of lining paper. B has set himself a challenge of reading a “Bryn height” stack of books this summer – so he wanted the paper to draw an outline of himself which he can use to record each book as he reads it.

I only had one call today so quite a laid back day for me. In the evening F had a tutoring session and then the kids went to bed, I spoke to Mum and that was almost it for the day. I haven’t made bread in ages so I mixed up some poolish to bake a couple of spelt flour loaves tomorrow.

Stay safe, stay strong.

20th July 2020

  • Feeling: Better
  • Listening to: The Killers, Hot Fuss
  • Watching: Stumptown

Felt much better today, and was especially perked up after finally successfully booking a holiday cottage in Wales for a week in August. We (mainly me persuading D) splurged twice as much on the cottage rental as we might normally, but with the cancelled holiday at Easter I felt like we could afford to splash out. The property looks amazing and now really looking forward to our break (and hoping nothing happens in the meantime that will stop us going).

It was the first day of the school holidays and D had taken the day off to spend with the kids, while I was still working. D, B and F walked to Warwick in the morning, had a chat to Mog and Pauline at Warwick Books and walked back via the park with some tree climbing en route.

Despite the walking they all seemed very cheerful when they got back and we had a nice lunch before I had to go back to work for the afternoon while everyone else watched a movie.

In my bad mood / tiredness yesterday I also forgot to recount some excitement making a bottle rocket with F. On Sunday morning F wanted to make a balloon powered car, but then found instructions for making a bottle rocket with a bottle, bicarb & vinegar – so we decided to give it a go.

Our first attempt was a failure – we got a small bit of fizzing but that was it. The second attempt (made with a variety of ageing vinegar from the back of our store cupboard) was an amazing success – F gave the mixture in the bottle a good shake, put the bottle down, and whoosh – the bottle exploded into the air, going right up I should say at least twice the height of the house.

By the third, and final, attempt we were down to some Black Rice vinegar that I think must be at least 20 years old (I drew the line at using the recently purchased sherry or balsamic vinegar!). We followed the same procedure as the previous attempt as we’d decided the problem with the first attempt was we hadn’t shaken it enough or given it enough time. Sadly, this time nothing happened. We shook it again, and again nothing happened. F asked if she could give it one last shake – I said yes but didn’t really think it was going to change anything – then as F put the bottle back down BANG the cork popped out and the bottle went straight … into Fs face 🙁 Poor F – the shock and a face covered in vinegar was too much and tears began to flow – but luckily she wasn’t really hurt and was OK after a cuddle and a wash.

I stank of vinegar for the rest of the day – I just couldn’t get rid of the smell!

Stay safe, stay strong.

19th July 2020

  • Feeling: Down
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • WatchingBloodshot

Feeling a bit down this evening.

Woke at a reasonable time and had breakfast outside (on the deck!) but then didn’t seem to really do anything in the morning. I’d planned to make some planters from the left over decking timber but only got as far as drawing some sketches to work out dimensions.

The kids were booked in at Mopp heads for haircuts at 2pm, so after lunch we took them into town (all equipped with masks). After the haircuts we walked to The Muse coffee shop (one of our favourites, but we haven’t been since March) and got drinks and cake/ice cream before heading home. It was nice to be out, and the kids both have nice haircuts.

I was feeling out of sorts when we got home, but recorded myself singing for a virtual choir project, while F watched Toy Story 4 and B did stuff on his computer.

I tried to stir myself out of my mood at tea, and succeeded for a while, and D and I watched a crappy film as a distraction. Unfortunately after that we got into a discussion about what we are going to do with our two weeks off. I want to book a cottage and go somewhere, but D isn’t so keen. In the end we agreed to book something, but then the booking process failed and/or the property has already been booked.

I’m now feeling down again, and tired which might be the underlying problem, so I’m going to sleep now.

Stay safe, stay strong.

18th July 2020

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

Woke up around 8am – B and D had both woken around 6am though (although D managed to get a little more sleep). Once I’d managed to get up and have breakfast I went out to work on the deck again. By the end of the day I’d finished the deck off (bit of tidying up and the edges adding) and given it two coats of a light stain – hope that it had dried enough for the drizzle that is now falling outside!

That’s the deck done – although of course it isn’t 🙂 Next up is to build some planters from the left over decking boards, put a gravel border around the deck and put the planters on that (the gravel is on order but probably going to be a week or more before it arrives). I’ve also got a sail shade on order but no sign of that yet – hopefully soon!

D took the kids for a walk and picked some blackberries.

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Just a few minor scratches as we foraged for blackberries

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In the afternoon B spent a lot of time on his computer and F watched the Wizards of Waverly Place movie. D cooked tea for us all, and we all watched Taskmaster (PG version) after we’d eaten.

Not a very exciting day all told, but very glad to have a working deck. Tomorrow the kids get haircuts which is probably as much excitement as we can take in one weekend 🙂

Stay safe, stay strong.

17th July 2020

  • Feeling: Tired out, glad it’s Friday
  • Listening to: Hamilton soundtrack
  • Watching: QI

Woke early this morning (between 5 and 5:30) and went downstairs to listen to a podcast without disturbing D and to try to get back to sleep. Dozed off on the sofa after a while and woke up again when D came down around 8am.

Spent the rest of the day feeling tired out, and fell asleep for a bit during the afternoon. Luckily my usual Friday meetings had been cancelled so I was able to take it easy work-wise, but I felt a bit guilty by the end of the day that I hadn’t been more productive.

We realised yesterday that B had never had the chance to bring his PE kit home from school, and so got in touch with the school who said we could pick it up today. I drove B over and he went to pick up the kit from his locker – he was a bit surprised to see the school busier than he expected and also he saw some of the measures they’d put in place (distance markers in corridors) and what they hadn’t (he said there didn’t seem to be a one-way system in place for the main corridors).

F had her lesson with Liz and shared a slidedeck she’d done on her recent school topic – and then afterwards was inspired to re-write every slide as a poem – which I thought was great.

That’s it for school for both B and F until September, although F has said she’d like to keep having the sessions with Liz if possible and they both have their Explore sessions which I think we’ll keep doing online even though the centre at Sainsbury is going to re-open now.

This evening I put an extension on the garden hose so we can keep it off the deck (unfortunately the outdoor tap is where I’ve put the deck, and leaks when you use the hose – which won’t be great for the wooden deck unless I can find a way to catch the drips! I also started just sanding down places on the deck where the drill or screws created some splinters – more to do on that tomorrow, along with fitting the side boards and then applying some stain before declaring the decking finished!

Stay safe, stay strong

16th July 2020

  • Feeling: Bit tired but OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Bake off: The professionals

Really didn’t want to wake up this morning. I was still feeling down after the upset with F last night and just felt completely drained of energy and not ready to face the day.

D let me sleep in until 9am (getting F up, fed and to school) and B (who didn’t get to sleep until late) slept in as well (not like him). Even after getting up (and walking to school to drop off F’s water bottle) I still felt quite down but gradually through the morning as I worked the bad feelings drained away and by lunch time I felt more like myself.

It was F’s last day at school before the summer break today – so now 6 weeks of finding ways of keeping her (and B to some extent) occupied at home – I think it’s going to be a real challenge to be honest.

We also got a letter from F’s school about arrangements for September – which is clearly still going to be quite different to normal – with staggered start and finish times, keeping children with their own “bubbles” (but it looks like the “bubbles” will be the whole class – so twice the current size), and of course plenty of handwashing.

We also got F’s school report yesterday which I couldn’t properly celebrate after our falling out, but it is a delight to read: “she is inquisitive and witty and shows a love of learning in every aspect of her life … she is a great inspiration to others”. We’re so proud of her.

In the afternoon I was helping deliver an online course which took up most of the afternoon, and then cooked some Yorkshire puddings, sausages and onion gravy for tea.

A good end to the day (especially as it’s one of F’s favourites)

Stay safe, stay strong

15th July 2020

  • Feeling: Lucky / Sad
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Lucifer

I’ve been married for 15 years to D today and feel very lucky.

The beautiful Bride

We’re not exactly big on celebrating our wedding anniversary and some years we’ve both forgotten about it only to be reminded by friends. But this year we both remembered it, but didn’t really have any way to celebrate.

We decided we’d have a nice meal (lemon sole baked with tomatoes and olives) and a bottle of bubbly and enjoy it.

F got home from school with her report which was excellent, but unfortunately I then told her off about something and she exploded with rage – upsetting herself and me. Even though later we did make up it really spoilt my evening and left me feeling really down – which rather took the shine off the dinner and anniversary celebrations, such as they were.

So feeling rather sad now and not exactly in the anniversary mood, even though I know I’m so lucky to be married to D.

Stay safe, stay strong

14th July 2020

  • Feeling: Still meh
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Warrior Nun

Woke up feeling tired and drained this morning and it took me quite a while to get going. Work seemed to fill most of the day with calls through from 12:30-5pm without a break 🙁

F got a certificate from school today for “good home working” which was great and we get her end of year report tomorrow. B has been working on machine learning program to break simple substitution ciphers – so it isn’t very successful (best performance is it guesses letters correctly only 16% of the time) – but he’s learning some code and principles which is great.

Spoke to Mum for a long time this evening, watched some TV with D, then got dragged back into some more work (by my own traitorous brain).

Time to sleep now

Stay safe, stay strong

13th July 2020


One of those Mondays when I felt like I needed another day off to recover from the weekend. F woke up very cheerfully (not really in character) and I dropped her at school, while B, D and I settled into work at home as usual.

B got his results from the Junior Mathematical Challenge which he did online earlier this month – and got a Silver (one up on his Bronze from last year) which I think puts him in the top 20% – so very proud of that (although he was, I think, a little disappointed as he reviewed the things he’d got wrong and felt he should have got right).

D was in college later in the day, and I was delivering some online training in the afternoon – so we didn’t see much of each other after 11 until the end of the day.

D finished the latest 1000 piece jigsaw (which means she did the whole thing pretty much by herself) – a much quicker puzzle than the Discworld one!

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Another jigsaw done, now time to do some spotting

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With the deck in the final stages I’d hoped to do a little bit each evening to avoid having to put time aside this weekend – but of course it rained this evening so that nixed that plan.

Instead I made some soda bread at the end of the day (after failing to get round to baking bread at the weekend) for us to try the raspberry jam we made last week – very nice!

Stay safe, stay strong

12th July 2020

  • Feeling: Tired but pleased
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Black Panther (a bit)

The kids woke at 6am to make us breakfast (or brunch as B insisted it was because we didn’t eat it until 9am!) This meant we were all up way too early – but it was lovely to have them so keen to treat us. There was a menu for the “Food Thyme” café with a wide variety of breakfast options…

Thankfully everyone chose waffles to eat – which kept things as simple as possible. F made me coffee (she’s pretty good with this now although I always worry she’s going scald herself on the espresso machine) and we all sat on the deck to eat it – and was an absolutely glorious morning and clearly too sunny for me and B to open our eyes properly!

Most of the rest of the day I spent trying to get the deck completed (while D made impressive progress with our latest jigsaw) I had a break after lunch because it was sooo hot, helped out a little with the jigsaw before watching Black Panther with the kids (although I went back out to work on the deck again so didn’t see it all.) We also had our weekly quiz with my family which was really nice and some great quiz questions from I.

By the end of the day I’d got all the top decking laid – which means just the edges to do – and of course the whole thing needs treating & staining to make it weather-proof. I’m feeling really good about getting this project done – it was several years ago that I first had the idea of putting a deck in this spot, so very pleased to have finally done it and despite a few hiccoughs along the way (including somehow managing to break a tape measure today) I’m pretty pleased with the job I’ve done.

The next steps are:

  • finish the edges
  • treat & stain the decking
  • put up a sail shade (on order)
  • order a table (and maybe chairs – although we do already have some garden chairs)
  • use the spare timber & decking to make planters to go round the end of the deck

That should keep me busy for the rest of the summer!

Stay safe, stay strong