11th August 2020

  • Feeling: Exhausted but in a good way
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Fort Salem

Weather today could hardly have been more different to yesterday – hot, with bright sunshine throughout the day. We’d already decided to get going reasonably early to do the Four Falls Trail from Cwm Porth – our original idea was to avoid rain forecast later in the day, and although in the end we didn’t need to worry about that, we were glad we’d gone early because it got pretty busy (and the car park was full) later on.

The walk was lovely, although challenging in places as we had to descend to the second, third and fourth falls and then climb back up – which was pretty tough going.

The second and third falls were the biggest success, with F even able to go for a bit of a dip in the river between them, but overall a really lovely walk

The last waterfall was a bit of a disappointment only because it was a very steep descent (and of course climb afterwards) but it was far too busy when we got down there to take any pleasure in it – and we pretty much just turned around and went straight back up to Fs frustration and disappointment.

We took several hours to do the walk even though it’s only about 5 miles and stopped for lunch on the way – except I forgot to pack a sandwich for D which I still feel extremely guilty about.

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More walking & waterfalls in Wales

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Once we’d finished the walk we went and got ice creams, and then went to pick up some more groceries – and noting that no-one in the shop was wearing a facemask except me and the staff I checked the guidelines for Wales and realised that it’s not a requirement in shops in Wales – which explains why so few people wear them!

We got back to the cottage quite tired and I’m feeling tired still now so better get some sleep. Tomorrow would have been Dad’s birthday and we’re meeting up with E and family at Duffryn Gardens.

Stay safe, stay strong x

10th August 2020

  • Feeling: Wet
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Fort Salem

We went to the National Botanic Garden of Wales today. It felt a lot less organised than the National Trust properties we’ve visited over the last few weeks – with quite a big queue to get in (there were no booked time slots so no way to control when people turned up.) F wasn’t too pleased when we asked her not to climb the trees in the car park as we waited to get in, and that set her mood for the next hour.

Once we were in the garden, it wasn’t busy, and we wandered through a wooded area and then to the arboretum – but at that point it started to rain so we decided to head to the great Glasshouse which is at the centre of the gardens – and enjoyed walking around there until it was time for lunch.

At that point, the skies opened. Luckily while I queued for the toilet (another place where I felt the organisation could have been better), D and the kids found a table under some shelter where we could eat our picnic. It really tipped it down, plus lightning and thunder moving around us – very dramatic and F found it a bit scary.

At this point we were pretty damp, and our spirits were a bit low (although slightly buoyed by tea and hot chocolate) – so we headed to the exit via the walled garden. Happily the rain eased just as we got into the walled garden which was beautiful, and we were able to spend some time looking around and actually enjoying the plants and flowers

We headed home via Tesco to pick up some bits and pieces we’d realised we needed – lack of face masks very noticeable again 🙁 .

By the time we got back to the cottage it had stopped raining, and we were able to have dinner outside and cook homemade lamb burgers on the gas barbecue. The burgers were made with rosemary we’d liberated from the “Pottager Garden” earlier in the day) and with some black pudding chopped into the lamb mince. I’d made some bread dough before we went out for the day (despite the lack of scales or any kind of measuring jug in the kitchen), and so we had the burgers in homemade buns with sautéd potatoes and salad – really good.

In the evening D and I tried to resurrect very rusty cue skills on the pool table in the cottage.

So despite a wet day feeling pretty satisfied this evening. Tomorrow we are hoping for slightly drier weather and planning to tackle another waterfall walk.

Stay safe, stay strong

9th August 2020

  • Feeling: Happy and tired
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • WatchingCursed

We walked to Henrhyd Falls today (tallest waterfall in South Wales and used as a location in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises). The falls themselves are only about 15 minutes walk from the cottage we are renting, so once we’d admired them, and clambered behind them (to F’s delight) we walked along the river down the valley and back along the road to the cottage in a circular walk of about 4 miles (which tested F’s patience a little – probably as well we didn’t go any further).

The falls and the walk were beautiful, the weather was perfect, and exactly the kind of thing I was hoping we’d be able to do. The falls themselves were pretty busy, and on the walk we passed (or were passed by) quite a few groups doing a similar walk to us. Almost everyone was thoughtful and sensible waiting for people to pass and making sure there was plenty of space.

We’d taken snacks with us and enough for the kids to have some lunch, but for the rest of us we had a late lunch when we got back to the cottage around 2pm.

In the afternoon I fell asleep for about an hour, and so the afternoon went quite quickly and D cooked fish pie for tea which we ate outside.

Tomorrow we are planning to go to the National Botanic Garden of Wales, and hoping the weather is OK.

Stay safe, stay strong.

8th August 2020

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

Its seemed like a long day, but after a morning packing and stressing slightly about everything fitting in the car, this evening we are in Wales where it is hot, but hopefully we’ll have a good week.

Took ages to wake up this morning – D was out for a run and when she got back made me a cup of tea which finally helped me wake up properly and get out of bed.

The morning was spent sorting out clothes and packing, then lunch (left over pizza) and then packing the car to head off to Wales via Cheltenham to pick up my Mum. We’d originally planned to eat at my Mum’s then head to Wales in the evening (check in times are much later than usual on cottages because of the extra cleaning that needs doing between rentals.) However, we got a text from the owners to say the property would be ready by 6pm and so decided to go a little earlier than planned and eat when we arrived.

Drive was fine (if hot), but stopping for petrol it was very noticeable that several customers didn’t wear a mask or observe the one-way system in the petrol station.

We got to the property about 6:30 and ate dinner outside – very glad to be in a different location for a few days.

7th August 2020


Hot today! Despite this I was determined to get the path at the front done before we went away (tomorrow!) and with some help from D we got it done.

Very exciting when a delivery man (some new reading lamps for us all from Habitat) was the first person to use it to come to our door 🙂

After we’d done that I was pretty exhausted and didn’t get much done the rest of the day (except making a bolognese sauce to take with us tomorrow). In the afternoon, sheltering from the heat, we all watched TV (Merlin, followed by The Boy who Harnessed the Wind – based on a true story about a boy who taught himself enough electrical engineering from a library book to build a wind powered generator.)

It was too hot to be outside most of the afternoon, but in the evening we ordered pizza’s and had them out on the deck. I’ve finally managed to put together the timelapse footage of me building the deck into a video.

Tomorrow we head to Wales (via Cheltenham to pick up my Mum). So excited.

Stay safe, stay strong

6th August 2020

  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: The Umbrella Academy

Woke at about 9 feeling a bit under the weather – sore throat & generally a bit lacking in energy. The kids were awake but in bed reading, and they both stayed that way until about 11am. D was already up of course and waiting for a shopping delivery.

Had breakfast on the deck, and then actually read a book for the first time for ages. I’ve been in a reading slump since we went into lockdown and have barely read any fiction since March. When I have tried to read I’ve just not managed to get into the book and given up. So this morning I sat down with a book I got for Christmas: Starsight by Brandon Sanderson. It’s a sequel to Skyward which I really enjoyed, and so I’m not really sure why it’s taken me so long to pick up this one. Immediately I was back with familiar characters and an exciting dogfight in space for the opening chapter.

While D tried to get the kids to leave their beds, I did some more work on the path at the front – I’ve been wondering if I really ought to get something to edge the path, but eventually decided to keep it simple for now so I can hopefully get a path down before we go to Wales on Saturday.

After lunch we went to Hanbury Hall – a National Trust property about 45 minutes drive west from us (we were booked in for 2-2:30). It’s got some pretty formal gardens then some extensive parkland and we had a walk – but it was hot and muggy, with occaisional rain or drizzle – enough to make us damp but not enough to clear the air. F was also a bit grumpy about the whole trip, and going later in the day the property was quite busy – so all in all not as successful as our outing to Packwood House on Tuesday – although still nice to be out and D got some good photos.

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Out & about

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When we got back I made tea (spaghetti and meatballs) and after some TV & stories the kids went to bed (although B was still awake when we came up about half-an-hour ago. It’s still hot and muggy and its left me feeling a little drained.

Tomorrow I hope to finish the path and make a full list of things we need to pack for our week away.

Stay safe, stay strong.

5th August 2020

  • Feeling: Good
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Vagrant Queen

Had a lie in today and didn’t get up until 10am. In the meantime D had been for a run and persuaded (somehow) B to go with her – I was very impressed with both of them!

This morning we did a bit of meal planning for when we are away next week and made a shopping list (we also found out that the people who rent out the property also run a butchers so they can provide meat and fresh produce which is great).

In the afternoon I started the next garden project – a new path in the front. I didn’t make a lot of progress (most of the time was spent making space for me to dump the soil and turf I’m digging out) but it was good to make a start.

Later on in the afternoon we went to visit C and N and spent a very pleasant hour and a half sitting in their garden (although it rained!) and just chatting and passing time. Really nice to be able to do that.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to do some more work on the new path and in the afternoon we’ve booked tickets for Hanbury Hall.

Stay safe, stay strong.

4th August 2020


Was up first this morning – we had to be up early-ish (for a non-work day) because we had tickets booked for Packwood House at 9am. We went straight after breakfast and it was pretty quiet when we arrived (although it was much busier by the time we left). We went for a walk that isn’t in the main grounds, but goes through some small woods. Although the walk was only about a mile we took a good hour to do it because we kept stopping for the kids to play and climb trees!

After the walk, we got a drink from the refreshment stand and went to the main grounds. The house was open, but we didn’t go in, and while the majority of the grounds were open, the formal garden wasn’t, which upset F as she wanted to play hide-and-seek around the yew trees & hedges.

We headed back home for lunch and had a pretty lazy afternoon (introduced F, and ourselves, to “Ultimate Beastmaster” – where you watch people complete extreme obstacle courses – which F is very keen on).

I got a message from Screwfix that some fixings I was waiting for had arrived, so I went to get those and then put up the sail awning over the deck – and with that I think I’m declaring the decking project officially done!

We had dinner out on the deck and after a couple of glasses of wine I’m now feeling pretty sleepy.

Stay safe, stay strong.

3rd August 2020

  • Feeling: Fidgety
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • WatchingThe Speed Cubers (Netflix)

Didn’t wake too early today. It was nice to wake up at 9am on a Monday morning and not to feel I was late for work! D had been out for a run already and made me tea.

It was Rakshabandhan today which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters, and Ds eldest brother rang her this morning and D and B (who were up first) spoke to all the family (V is the cousin on Ds side of the family who is closest in age to B and they get on well).

After I’d had a luxurious breakfast (which meant having some left over double cream on my porridge) F also appeared (having spent an hour or more listening to a Harry Potter audio book before getting up) and had her breakfast as well.

Eventually I decided it was time to put gravel down around the deck, and B helped me while D did some gardening and F did some spray painting in the garden. We worked pretty quickly and by lunchtime we had all the gravel done, the planters in position and partially planted up and other plant pots back in place around the deck – it looks fantastic (in my opinion at least). The big planters are going to have herbs in (we already have some rosemary and sage in one) and the smaller planter has a Caryopteris x clandonensis (or Bluebeard) which Mum bought us in memory of Dad.

I’m still not really feeling relaxed and feel fidgety when I’m not doing something productive at the moment, but tomorrow we’re going to a National Trust property (Packwood House) first thing (booked tickets for 9-9:30) and hopefully a walk in the surrounds will help me get into the holiday spirit a bit more (although it means an earlier start than today!)

I’m also hoping to get fixing for our sail shade/awning – and once that’s up it really will be the end of the deck project (and I can make a start on the next project which is a new gravel path at the front)

Stay safe, stay strong.

2nd August 2020

  • Feeling: Tired (still)
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • WatchingA Suitable Boy

Woke reasonably early again (about 7:30) and feeling it this evening as I’m tired out. It was a beautiful day today – ate every meal outdoors today, although I caught the sun a bit as a result and I’m a bit pink this evening!

The main event of the day for me was a socially distanced choir committee meeting. It was great to see the rest of the committee (although I’m not used to seeing people and interacting for that length of time face-to-face!).

It’s really difficult to know what we can do regarding the choir this autumn and the worse case scenario (not being able to sing together) is depressing and still seems pretty likely at the moment – especially with the local lockdowns in Lancashire and Yorkshire announced on Friday, the slowing down of changes to the lockdown conditions, and general noises from the government about measures that might be needed to stop a “second wave” in the UK. However, we did some good planning and even with the current uncertainty I think we came up with some good ideas we can investigate and hopefully turn into a plan for the autumn.

I got back home to find scones had been baked (yum with homemade raspberry jam) and D and the kids watching Doctor Strange. After that we had a bit more time out in the garden, I played a couple of games with F (the “Rush Hour” puzzle game and a Taboo clone for kids), and took up a little bit of turf for the area we’re going to gravel – although I didn’t actually get to putting any gravel down – I think that will be tomorrow.

We had our family quiz after that (lots of Billy Eilish questions I didn’t know the answers to!) and then tea out on the deck.

I’m not quite in the holiday mood yet, and this evening found myself with “Sunday blues” which would normally be related to going back to work on Monday – I think it’s hard for my brain to accept that although we’re at home I’m not working! We’ve booked tickets for National Trust properties for Tuesday and Thursday which hopefully will help boost the holiday aspects of this week.

Stay safe, stay strong.