29th August 2020


Woke around 6am, which was too early – especially for a Saturday. I managed to go back to sleep for a bit and eventually got up at 8am. We’d booked tickets to go to Upton House at 10am, so we didn’t want to hang about, and got the kids up as well.

We were one of the first arrivals at Upton House, and it was quiet as we started to walk around, although it quickly got busier. F had brought a kite and we tried flying it on the large lawn at the back of the house with a little success, although the wind wasn’t constant enough to get it flying properly.

The grounds of Upton House are pretty (designed by Kitty Lloyd-Jones, a Welsh garden designer) but not very extensive, and we wandered around them quite quickly, getting to the café just in time for an early lunch. D tooke some lovely pictures as we walked.

After lunch we headed home and we all collapsed a bit – I think D has picked up whatever virus I’ve got and we both stayed on the sofa for most of the rest of the afternoon. I slept again for about an hour.

A nice family day overall, even if D and I aren’t 100%.

Stay safe, stay strong

28th August 2020


During Fs session with Mrs C (Liz) last week they planned an experiment that F could do to create a line graph. The experiment was to heat different liquids and see how quickly they evapourated over time. F had a whole list of substances she wanted to try and had planned out the whole thing – but not actually done the experiment. So this morning when I woke (late – about 9am) I was informed we had to get the experiment done before her session with Liz today at 10am. So I spent the first hour of my day (before breakfast or coffee) boiling water, milk and vinegar (I drew the line there although F also wanted to do apple juice, tea and ketchup).

Despite having the smell of vinegar in my nose for the rest of the morning, it all went surprisingly well, and F did a nice chart for her session, and talked about the shortcomings of the experiment design. I even think we were able to make a reasonable observation that the vinegar evaporated more slowly than water – which I think will be true because acetic acid has a higher boiling point than water (although I’m prepared to admit that this could have just been flaws in the experiment.)

I’ve not really been myself this week. I felt a bit better today, and not like just going back to sleep, but still not really feeling great. I even managed to do a bit of work, although in the afternoon I was hampered by computer problems which meant I got next to nothing done 🙁

Tomorrow we’re booked to go Upton House in the morning which should be a nice change of pace – hopefully it will have stopped raining by then!

Stay safe, stay strong

27th August 2020

  • Feeling: Still not 100%
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • WatchingSpaced

After a short attempt to work this morning – maybe for a couple of hours – I decided to take the rest of the day off because I just felt I had no energy. I slept for an hour before lunch, then spent the afternoon just reading and relaxing quietly.

Hoping that tomorrow I’ve got some energy back and feel like working again before the weekend.

Stay safe, stay strong

26th August 2020


After a couple of days of feeling a bit off, woke this morning with a sort throat, headache and sore eyes – which could be a cold or could be hay fever, but either way feels like something that’s been building for a couple of days and might explain why I’ve felt lacking in energy.

D was also feeling a bit lethargic today (although she was up early to speak to her Dad – still in India – and for the Sainsburys’ delivery).

B spent some more time playing with the Turing Tumble today, but F seemed pretty bored – she got up later and then didn’t really seem to settle anything all day. I think she’ll be very glad to be back at school next week.

Weather was much better today and we even managed to eat lunch outside, but apart from that was just glad to get through the day, and I stopped work a bit early because by 4pm I was exhausted. After D finished work we watched some trashy TV and in the evening we had a quiz with Ds family this evening (the first time for a few weeks) – it was good to see everyone.

Stay safe, stay strong.

25th August 2020


Woke late this morning – but had a bit more energy today. The weather has been pretty poor all day (Storm Francis) – apparently lots of trees down across the area although none near us as far as I know. There was a minor casualty in the garden – the sunflower head broke off in the wind much to D’s disappointment.

F had declared today a “reading day” but not sure she got very far with that. She did do some reading, but also Minecraft, playing with her brother, watching TV – all the things you might expect of a 9 year old to be honest. Later on she had her drum lesson and 11+ tutoring – which was on poetry this week – so sweet and nice to hear her declare “I love poetry” – and she really does. She’s planning a poetry reading, writing and performance day for Thursday.

B worked on his computer as usual, and then went back to the project of building a game on a mechanical computer (with F) later in the day – and got it working. This was the first working version, although he got a slightly more sophisticated version working later in the day. The rules are:

  • You and the computer take turns sending balls down the course with the aim of being the player who sends the final red ball down the course
  • Each player can send 1, 2, or 3 balls down on each turn by hitting the lower left lever the appropriate number of times
  • For the computer to take a go you reverse one of the pieces and hit the left lever to start its turn
  • Once the computer sends a ball down that hits the right lever it’s your go again (for which you reverse the same piece and then hit the left lever for however many balls you are going to select)

Played according to the rules above, the computer always wins – (see this YouTube video on the Dr NIM game for more on the original game and how it works.)

Meanwhile we got B’s bus pass for the upcoming school year and the government has changed it’s policy on pupils wearing masks in schools (from recommending against it to “headteachers discretion”) which is what Bs school had basically decided anyway I think…

Stay safe, stay strong

24th August 2020

  • Feeling: Slightly under the weather
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Cursed

Not felt 100% today – just a bit drained and a headache on and off through the day. Week days seem very “samey” right now and when I sit down to write a blog post in the evening I’m left feeling I’ve not done much and I don’t really know what anyone else has been doing 🙁 In just over a week the kids will be back at school, which will be a big change I guess – I’m expecting to miss them once they are not in the house all day.

F was persuaded by D to find some non-computer things to do today – so she did some lovely colouring and painting this morning and planned out some activities for the rest of the week – tomorrow is a “reading day” and she’s going to try The Book of Three and Cogheart.

B was doing some more animation/special effects in the morning, but in the afternoon inspired by a Matt Parker video about a game called Dr Nim he decided to try to recreate the game using our Turing Tumble (a marble powered computer). He roped F into this as well and they tried to work it out together although so far without success.

Meanwhile in the garden D continues to have success with flowers.


Stay safe, stay strong

23rd August 2020


Woke at about 8am and managed to get out of bed to make D tea for a change. Then I’d promised F pancakes so I made up some american style pancakes (using Yeo Valley Vanilla Yoghurt for the acid to get the bicarb working – which worked really well).

We had breakfast outside on the deck, although F fell out with D because she was asked to put some shoes on before going outside – which rather took the shine off a nice family breakfast.

After breakfast D spent some time sketching for a free online course from the University of Newcastle in Australia, while I was going to mow the lawn. However, I ended up digging up more the front lawn instead of mowing it (on the basis that there was no point in mowing it before I dug it up, and now I’ll never have to mow it again). That left me with no energy left to actually mow the remaining lawn of course! D was more successful with her project.

We also had the excitement (?) of getting a new landline handset delivered today – we don’t use the landline very much, but the old phone had developed a crackle which we are hoping the replacement handset will solve. Considering they do so little, landline handsets seem weirdly complicated to use – so we end up barely using any of the features and just hitting ‘redial’ a lot for our most common numbers (our respective parents basically).

The afternoon was very relaxing – I read the book I picked up yesterday (Angel Mage by Garth Nix – a fantasy which has a lot of nods to The Three Musketeers), we all watched The Sleepover (closest I can get is The Long Kiss Goodnight for kids) which was fun, and then family quiz with my side of the family (which the kids had spent the morning putting together).

All in all a nice relaxing Sunday.

Stay safe, stay strong.

22nd August 2020


Woke late this morning – about ten to 10 – D had been up for a while and was just about to tell me to wake up anyway. The dressing on F’s finger had come off overnight, so I had to clean and dress the wound – which seems to be healing very well – I think it will be healed quicker than the two weeks the nurse estimated.

By the time we were all up & breakfasted it was gone 11. D had suggested we walk to Warwick, so we decided we’d do that and get some lunch from a coffee shop and find somewhere to eat outside. Buying lunch in a coffee shop which was previously a regular weekend occurrence now seems like the height of decadence and a huge treat!

The walk went OK although we had a bit of upset when F said “my coat’s a bugger to do up” and both D and I (very gently, and not at all trying to make her feel she’d done anything wrong) said probably not the phrase to use in the park. Unfortunately what we saw as very mild request F saw as a real rebuke (and probably hypocritical as it’s exactly the sort of thing I’d say) and got quite upset and started to walk back home without us. D eventually managed to catch up with her and calm her down, and we made peace.

We got to Warwick ready for lunch, and B suggested we went to Jack’s Shack – we’d never been there before but B noticed it as we walked past, and I’ve seen video’s from them on Facebook during the lockdown which had made me intrigued to try them. They were lovely, and had a little “garden” out the back which was empty when we got there – so we had the whole area to ourselves for most of our lunch. Definitely recommended for sandwiches, cakes, shakes and coffee.

After lunch we went on into town and got tea from the Golden Monkey (thank goodness – we’ve been on tea bags for the last few days and its been a bit desperate). We also popped into Warwick Books and picked up a pile of books – F was especially pleased with two poetry books she picked out and later she enjoyed reading them allowed to my Mum over FaceTime.

We walked home (with a bit of moaning from F who was tired by this point – I carried her for a bit) and talked to my Mum, before tea (left-overs from yesterday’s takeaway) and TV and eventually bed.

It’s been a very nice day but for some reason I’ve felt a little restless in mind and spirit this evening – I expect it will pass. Hope that the weather stays fine tomorrow so we can get out in the garden. I’ve promised F pancakes for breakfast tomorrow …

Stay safe, stay strong

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