29 March 2020: Leaving the house


We left the house today for the first time since St Patrick’s day (17th March). We didn’t go far and were probably only out for about 20 minutes. It was odd to see other people out walking (and felt very strange that we were trying to plot a course that avoided them as far as possible).

Going back to the start of the day, I woke around 4am and found it hard to settle again. Eventually I moved downstairs and did manage to get back to sleep on the sofa listening to the “No such thing as a fish” podcast.

When I woke again it was after 8am, and it turned out both D and I had the same thought on waking: “how lovely to have slept until after 8”, until we realised the clocks had gone forward and it was really only just after 7!

We got up at a very leisurely pace and it wasn’t until after 10am I got out in the garden to pick up from where I left off yesterday. It was cold out and I needed my woolly hat and coat first thing. I managed to tidy up some of the junk I’d found in the hedge on Saturday, avoiding starting trimming our other hedge until as late as possible so as not to disturb our neighbours. Eventually I got the trimmers out and went into battle with the hedge, taking several feet of growth off the top!

I couldn’t reach all the way across the top of the hedge to completely trim the top, and I don’t really want to try going around to the neighbours to work from that side at the moment – I think I need to find a way of hooking or looping the growth to pull it over to our side – I’ll have to think how I can do this.

I wasn’t quite up to tackling the leylandii that makes up the rest of the hedge today – it will be a bit of a tough job, but I’ve got plenty of time.

F has been struggling today. She’s had several melt downs, and was crying as it was time to go to bed claiming it was “too early”, until after questioning she explained that “there wasn’t anything happy to think about” when she went to bed. To try to cheer her up I’ve downloaded series two of Cabin Pressure for her to listen to (I’d originally promised this as a treat for when we drove to Wales for our Easter holiday. She’s also been enjoying John Finnemore’s (writer of Cabin Pressure) “Cabin Fever” videos which he has been posting on YouTube to entertain people (and possibly himself!) during the lock down.

I’m hoping tomorrow the promise of an Art class and an online tutoring session from “Explore Learning” will help cheer F and B up, although that said last week F struggled with the Art lesson – so it might not go to plan. Fingers crossed anyway.

Apart from our short walk, D, B and F spent quite a bit of the day inside. D made good progress with a “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” jigsaw.

Meanwhile the kids played with their “Turing Tumble” – a great toy which uses some cleverly designed plastic “switches” and ball bearings to let kids (or adults) build mechanical computing devices. The kids managed to build a machine that counted in binary today!

F has been making good use of our new Disney+ subscription to work her way throughh the “High School Musical” films, and Number 3 was on her afternoon viewing list.

This afternoon I had a call with the rest of the choir committee to discuss how we should keep the choir going while we are on lock down. We’ve done two online “virtual rehearsals” so far and we want to take the most successful elements and use them to build an approach that can work over weeks to keep people engaged and involved. It was really great to see the rest of the committee and talk to them, even though we were mainly talking business. I can’t wait until we can all meet up again and actually see each other.

Another day done, and another week done. I started this blog a week ago because it felt like I should really document a period of time that is likely to have a huge impact on everybody’s lives. Writing everyday hasn’t (so far) been a chore, although sometimes it has kept me up later than perhaps is wise. I also suspect that as we settle into our routine more, documenting the minutiae of each day will become less interesting for me and for any readers – but at the moment the idea of being able to go to the shop tomorrow seems exciting and slightly shocking!

28th March 2020: Last day of isolation


Saturday, and in theory the last day of isolation for us because it’s now 14 days since B first developed a persistent cough. B is still coughing, and still doesn’t seem quite 100%, but the rest of us haven’t shown any symptoms thankfully.

I spent a lot of time in the garden today. First F and I cleared the rest of the grass from the path – it’s a long time since parts of it have seen the sun!

After that F and I dug a hole to sink a small trampoline into and make it level with the ground. The trampoline was one she got for her third birthday, and its been sitting unused at the back of the house for a while now – so good to see it get a new lease of life.

It was fun little project to work on together and F has discovered a love of digging and started digging holes in other parts of the garden – not sure what we are going to do with those yet!

After lunch I started to trim the hedge, but a basic trim turned into a full scale cut back as I decided to cut it all the way back in an attempt to reclaim some of the garden!

Damyanti had been up early drawing pictures of objects from the Ashmolean museum and B, F and I all wrote descriptions of them based on our own version of where the object had come from and its history. We read them out to each other over lunch and had to guess which object we were describing.

B still seems tired and not himself – I think not just being ill but also the situation – he loves school (as does F) and misses it. He is in touch with a few friends, but its not just seeing his friends that he loves, but interacting with the teachers and learning. He does like to learn by himself as well but I think he’s missing the stimulation of school.

After all the gardening B, F and I were going to have a band rehearsal, but unfortunately tiredness led to F and me both behaving a bit badly/grumpily and we didn’t manage to get to any actual practice – hopefully we can do that tomorrow.

Pizza delivery from Basement Browns and a Zoom call with my brother & sister and their families, and my Mum, was meant to cheer us up and it was lovely to see everyone, and B and I had a nice chat with them all. Unfortunately, it was a frustrating experience for F – she had something very specific in mind she wanted to discuss (planning a musical play with her cousins) but it wasn’t really the right environment for that, and she felt no-one was listening to her – so got frustrated and upset again.

However a quiz organised by C from choir (again on Zoom) was a real pick me up at the end of the day (and coming third was very pleasing) and we all enjoyed taking part (although F opted for watching a cartoon on the iPad after the first two rounds). It was a really nice way to use Zoom – just the right amount of structure with chance to see and hear each other. Big thanks to C for organising it.

One other high point of the day was finding that the Golden Monkey Tea Co. in Warwick could deliver us some much needed tea and coffee. It was lovely to talk to M even though it’s obviously a really hard time for the business.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to do the top of the hedge I started today and then attack the other hedge in the back to see if I can reduce the height. Although isolation ends today I’m not sure we will go out tomorrow with B still coughing – while he shouldn’t be infectious at this point I’m not sure people want to see someone with a cough walking around currently. I guess we’ll see how he is tomorrow.

Stay safe, stay strong everyone.

Starbucks in Twickenham


Just driving home today we noticed that a Starbucks is going to open in Twickenham. Damyanti is quite upset, worrying that it might drive other coffee shops out of business. I don’t think this will happen – the other places are far too nice to be driven out by Starbucks. However, I’m wondering if it might push them to do some more innovative stuff like Wireless access.

Madame Butterfly


We have come up to London town today to see Mark, and the brand new shop ChoChoSan (it means Madame Butterfly).

They sell some beautifully designed stuff, but sadly outside our modest budget! Damyanti also worries that she is going to break one of the glass bowls before we leave…

Later we are heading down town to see Eleanor and John (who have been to see Anything Goes today), and I want to browse some computer books, and buy a backup device for the Mac (so I can finally upgrade to OS X 10.3)

Weekend in Eckington


Just got back from a lovely weekend with Alan and Anna in Eckington (Worcestershire). Not a particularly busy time, more relaxing. We saw part of the local ‘raft’ race on the river Avon, and went to the ‘Hog Roast’ in the evening (although all the Hog had gone).

Today we went for a walk at Croome Park – a National Trust property (well – just the grounds actually, the house is now luxury appartments). The gardens were apparently Capability Brown’s first commision when he went ‘freelance’, and the NT is now restoring them to his original design. Unfortunately they were dredging the lake, which meant we didn’t see it at it’s best, but it will be really interesting to go back at some point and see how it’s developed.

We’ve been looking at more properties online this evening, and seen a couple of larger properties outside our ‘maximum’ distance – shows how you get more for your money outside Twickenham. We might take a stroll down to one near St Margarets to see how long it takes.