21st August 2020


First week back after a two week break has been a bit tiring – partly just missing being on holiday, but also with the tail end of the summer break for the kids (assuming schools go back and stay back in September) it’s been hard to get back into the right mindset.

D and I both working all day of course, F had a great session with Liz and both B and F had Explore sessions online. F still gets a good deal out of the Explore sessions, but I think we might have got to the end of the road with it for B – he seems intent on just rushing through things as quickly as possible, and although he says he enjoys it, from what we can tell he isn’t really getting much out of it at this point, so probably time to stop – especially as school starts up again.

We had a takeaway from Baabzi in Warwick and it was pretty good. I think it’s the first time we’ve had an Indian takeaway with the kids where they’ve tried and enjoyed multiple dishes. F even coped with the samosas being unexpectedly spicy (too spicy for her – but that didn’t stop her enjoying the rest of the meal). Really nice to sit and eat together this evening.

The weekend is ahead, and if the weather is good I’m going to try to do some more work in the front garden and both the front and back lawns really need mowing (not my favourite job). I also need to come up with some use of the remaining left over timber from the deck build (mainly joists) – I’ve not got any ideas right now but I’m sure the must be something I can do.

20th August 2020

  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Texas
  • WatchingBitten

Been a bit up and down so far this week so far. Today was a little down again – just feeling a bit lacking in direction and energy. I guess just being back at work and trying to get back into the routine of things.

As we start to look to the start of school in September it seems a lot of things are trying to “return to normal”. The music studio where F has drumming and keyboard lessons, and I have singing lessons, is opening up and asking if we want to go back in for face-to-face lessons. The Explore centre where B & F have maths and english sessions is re-opening and are asking if we want to start attending or to carry on with the online sessions. The kids art class will start again in September – again face-to-face.

For much of the last months we’ve kept ourselves pretty isolated – perhaps aside from when F went to school just before the summer break. We’re now faced with this changing quite rapidly – kids back a school, other activities resuming, D back in work more. It feels like lots of decisions to be made at once which I’m finding a little stressful.

Trying to take a sensible view of the risk – I suspect that all these activities individually are relatively low risk – but combining them together will increase the risk. And today its been reported that Birmingham has seen an increase in cases and might be facing a local lockdown – emphasising that things aren’t really “back to normal” however much we’d like them to be.

Stay safe, stay strong

19th August 2020

  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Peter Gabriel
  • Watching: Stumptown

Not a very interesting day – and after yesterday evening’s excitement we were pretty happy to have a boring day 🙂 As an aside I was reading an article about how we won’t remember much of what we did during the lockdown because our day-to-day experiences were too similar to each other and our memory just compresses all these similar days spent in the same location – so when we look back it doesn’t feel like we did much – perhaps this blog will help me realise exactly how much happened during this time!

Had a reasonably intensive work day with lots of calls which went on into the early evening. I made some bread dough before coming to bed but (for some reason) pulled out the wrong recipe so ended up doing more work than I intended – leaving me a bit grumpy just before bedtime. It’s also pretty hot & sticky in the house which also makes me grumpy.

Time to sleep now. Stay safe, stay strong x

18th August 2020

  • Feeling: Exhausted
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: MacGyver

I woke at 3am both Monday morning and this morning – hoping this doesn’t repeat tonight. Monday I was awake for quite a while, although this morning I managed to get back to sleep quite quickly, I was still tired when it actually came to be time to get up.

Luckily today was very quiet work-wise and I was able to take it reasonably easy, but I was tired all day, despite having a nap after lunch. Not much else to report from the day – D went into work for a bit, and the kids entertained themselves (F spending most of the time listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows audio book).

In the evening it all got a bit more exciting – I was opening up a computer that got water spilt on it yesterday to see if I could work out why it no longer worked (my overall conclusion – it stopped working because it got water spilt on it), when suddenly B came running downstairs shouting, and F started screaming for D.

F had been adjusting (or trying to adjust) the height on her drum stool, and as she was doing this B sat on the stool. The pad of F’s left middle finger got caught between two bits of metal, and a chunk was cut out of the finger. There was quite a bit of blood, F was in pain and crying, B was worried and upset. D was valiantly trying to deal with F, but finding the blood a bit too much (as did F and B!). Once we’d got a good look at the damage, I thought the cut was big and deep enough that we needed a trip to hospital – so D packed us a bag with water, snacks, ipad and face masks while I put a temporary dressing on the finger and off we (me and F) went.

F was still upset and in pain, but when we got to the hospital she asked for a tissue, wiped her face, and calmed down. We went to the usual A&E entrance but got redirected to “Minor Injuries” around the back (despite the entrance we had gone through being labelled “Minor Injuries Registration” and the route we had to take to the right place being boldly signposted “No Public Access”).

Once we got in there and registered I could see we were in for a pretty long wait. The waiting room was well organised with chairs (in pairs) distanced from each other so everyone could wait safely. Everyone was wearing a facemask and no drama – just waiting patiently.

We got seen by a doctor after about an hour, and she decided we should get an x-ray just in case there was any damage to the bone when the finger got caught. I don’t think she thought it was very likely, but on the otherhand it made sense to check while we were there (much better than having to go back if there turned out to be a problem). So more waiting for that, and then finally, after the x-ray showed no damage we got the wound dressed and got sent home – it was probably about 3 hours from leaving home to getting back home I think.

F was great once we were at the hospital – she didn’t complain once about waiting, or anything. She watched Upstart Crow on iPlayer and raised a smile from some of the other people waiting with her infectious giggle.

Staff (receptionist, doctor, radiographer, nurse practitioner) were all great as well, keeping F at ease and talking to her first rather than me. Also loved the fact that the doctor we originally saw came back and watched the dressing being put on (I think to see the technique the nurse practioner used) and shared that the little gadget he used to put on the outer bandage was something she remembered from having her own finger dressed when she was about 6 – just a lovely way of making a connection with F again.

Obviously D and B had eaten by the time we got back at 9pm, but D made us tea (F didn’t eat much) and then kids to bed. I collapsed and watched some trashy TV with D.

Stay safe, stay strong x

17th August 2020

  • Feeling: Zoom’d out
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Fort Salem

First day back at work today and around 5 hours of Zoom calls – back to earth with a bump. While I wasn’t on zoom I was trying to catchup with email and Slack messages.

Didn’t get to interact with the kids much today, but they were very happy playing something called AI Dungeon which is (for those of you who remember them) a text adventure created entirely by machine learning (or AI if you like) based software – it creates realistic prose, although non-sensical plots and game play – which suited the kids perfectly!

D was also back at work and also seemed pretty immersed.

So – back to the grindstone!

Stay safe, stay strong

16th August 2020

  • Feeling: OK, bit sad holiday is over
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Derren Brown

Last day of the holidays today. Our house feels totally overcrowded compared to the cottage we’ve been staying in, and I think we’ve all been feeling that. F even got us all tidying up this afternoon – and she hates tidying up.

I felt a bit blue about being back home and about going back to work tomorrow, so I tried to spend a bit of time relaxing on the deck – but the weather didn’t really cooperate (and it’s really chucked it down this evening). I did manage to have a coffee outside while I read How To by Randall Munroe.

F decided she’d take us all on a virtual holiday next week – and spent the morning putting together a “fact file” on Australia, with somewhere different to visit each day. She also got dressed up smart to be our tour guide (I think she looks great in a jacket!)

We did a bit of tidying (as per Fs instructions) and D did the holiday washing (although it didn’t get chance to fully dry).

Back to work tomorrow – I’m not really looking forward to it, but I’m sure it will be fine once I’m into it. Also thinking about how we can make our house a bit nicer to be in (I suspect that means actually getting rid of some stuff which doesn’t come naturally to any of us). I guess now the deck and front path are both done I need a new project!

Stay safe, stay strong

15th August 2020

  • Feeling: Tired but happy
  • Listening to: Songs from the Musicals
  • WatchingProject Power

Got up early (before 7am) to have time to pack and tidy the cottage before checkout at 9am. We headed off at 9, sad to say goodbye to the cottage that’s been home for the past week.

We decided to detour to Tintern on the way home (although we almost changed our minds because of the rain) and were glad we did, although we skipped the Abbey to stop at the “Old Station” which served us coffee/hot chocolates and cakes, and we spent 20 minutes or so having a wander around and admiring the wooden, chainsaw carved, statues in the “Circle of Legends“.

We then headed back to Cheltenham to take Mum home and have lunch. I’d agreed to help with a few issues (mainly computer-based) Mum was having – although ultimately with mixed success, I was trying to shut down old emails and various linked accounts that were Dad’s.

When I’d done all I could (for today at least) we headed home via Big Yellow Storage in Cheltenham where I had to recover a padlock from a storage locker door so I can close down my account with them (we used them to store furniture to fit Dad’s hospital bed into the house back in December). The storage facility itself seemed deserted and the staffed reception area was the only place I interacted with others – and that all at a 2m or more distance with masks and plastic screens – probably the most thorough setup I’ve seen in a place of business in terms of distancing and barriers.

We finally got home around 6pm, having diverted to get some fish and chips from The Chip Shed in Warwick after seeing recommendations on a Warwick Facebook group. Fish was good but I wasn’t so bothered about the chips.

We got home to find the garden blooming (thanks to D).

Stay safe, stay strong

14th August 2020

  • Feeling: Tired but happy
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Fort Salem

Last day in Wales today, as we have to be out of the cottage by 9am(!) tomorrow morning and we’re going to take Mum home then head home ourselves.

We went down to Oxwich Bay on the Gower – it was quite a grey day, and much cooler than it has been most of the week, but that was really nice for me!

We walked the length of Oxwich Bay (about 3km each way) at a pretty leisurely pace with the kids, especially F, playing in the surf all the way

At the far end of the bay we had lunch and then me, D and F walked back along the beach the way we’d come, and Mum and B walked across the dunes instead.

When we got back to the car we’d promised F she could get into the sea properly rather than just paddling. F and B have both had swimming lessons at school, but they’ve done barely any swimming outside of that (which we really should do something about), but F was very keen to swim, and asked me to help her – she did a really good job and was really proud of herself (and I got my feet wet as well!).

We got back to the car and bought a cup of tea from the kiosk – and it started to rain – so we had the tea and some bara brith in the car before heading back to the cottage for homemade pizza for tea. A really lovely day.

Stay safe, stay strong x

13th August 2020

  • Feeling: Tired and a bit down
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Fort Salem

Feeling a bit down this evening, and tired. We had a quiet day today and didn’t try to do too much as I think we were all quite tired after yesterday. I got up a bit later (9am) and we went to the Craig y Nos country park which is just a ten minute drive away.

The park isn’t that big, and the paths through the park are all very easy walking, but it was wild enough to make it feel like you were exploring. We did a lot of wild life spotting, making use of some nets that Mum had brought for B and F to do some pond dipping, and F using Dad’s old binoculars to bird spot.

It was very pleasant to wander around without any hurry or need to get anywhere, and the kids really enjoyed skimming (or throwing) stones in the river and looking at the various pond life we found.

After lunch which we took with us, and ice cream from the shop, we headed back to the cottage mid-afternoon. The rest of the afternoon unfortunately was a bit of a trial, with both me and F tired, which made for a bad combination and several fallings out.

I think I’m also feeling a bit down that tomorrow is the last day we are in Wales, and the end of our holiday is approaching which is making me sad.

Tomorrow we are planning to head to the coast (Oxwich Bay on the Gower the other side of Swansea) so hopefully that will be a good way of shaking the blues and enjoying the last day in Wales.

Stay safe, stay strong

12th August 2020

  • Feeling: Loving family, missing Dad
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Fort Salem

Today (12th August) would have been Dad’s birthday. Because of this we thought it would be nice to meet with my sister, E, and her family, and we met at Dyffryn Gardens, a National Trust property near Cardiff.

The gardens were very tranquil, and although the carpark was full it didn’t seem crowded in any way. We had a lovely picnic and then wandered around the gardens and grounds as far as we could (parts were still closed). The children played together (especially the younger 3) and we all got a chance to chat and walk together. I think Dad would have liked it.

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Dyffryn Gardens with added dragonfly bonus

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Stay safe, stay strong