21st September 2020

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A bit of a mixed weekend. Really great Saturday – we’d booked tickets for Packwood House first thing and also ordered some pastries from Haddie and Trilby, so we had breakfast while walking around the Packwood House park, and then back to the café for second breakfast and coffee and hot chocolates.

Then across the road to the main grounds of the house and more park land to walk and climb the trees

The rest of Saturday was pretty relaxed, but unfortunately I slept really badly on Saturday night (with nightmares inspired by something we watched on TV!) and I could feel a headache and sore throat coming on – and so Sunday I was completely wiped out. I spent most of Sunday moping on the sofa feeling exhausted and feeling sorry for myself.

Happily feeling a bit recovered today – not 100%, but not wiped out like Sunday. I even managed to go for a run. I’ve decided I need to start exercising again, so I’m starting with a couch-to-5km style program to get me back into it.

In Covid19 news, things are looking pretty much like we are going to have some more severe restrictions again soon – I’m guessing in the next week. Fs school has asked parents to start wearing masks when they drop off and pick up their kids and most people seem to be following this request.

Think B and D might have picked up whatever I’ve had as they both have gone to bed early with paracetamol 🙁

Stay safe, stay strong

13th September 2020

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  • Feeling: Bit tired
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Miracle Workers

Quite a lazy day today. Got up about 9am and had a leisurely breakfast. B had to do homework and was finding it hard to focus (bit of a shock to have homework again) so I sat with him and offered some moral support while he did his maths, Spanish and French. Meanwhile D was out in the garden cutting back raspberry canes and F was on the sofa reading Harry Potter, wrapped in a Harry Potter blanket, with a foot rest made out of Harry Potter books.

It was our turn to set the family quiz for today, and usually the kids do most of the work, but since B was doing his homework and F was not bothered, I spent some times creating some “what are the missing words/lines from this poem” style questions (D’s idea) as well as some music questions.

Between lunch and the quiz D did some drawing (the last assignment in the online drawing course she’s been following) and B and I sat reading on the deck (another lovely day today). I got some ribs in BBQ sauce on in a low oven (about 100℃) to have for tea.

It was great to see everyone for the quiz, and after that I sat out on the deck for a bit longer and then we had tea (D made cauliflower cheese to go with the ribs).

In the evening D had to record a student induction video for work, so I helped with that (which, of course, took longer than expected) as well as reading to the kids (we’ve just started Sabriel by Garth Nix – really great book and they are already drawn in after just a couple of chapters.)

Sad it’s the end of the weekend 🙁

Stay safe, stay strong x

12th September 2020

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  • Feeling: Relaxed
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Zodiac

Despite it being the weekend, we were up early today because we’d booked tickets for Charlecote Park for 9-9:30 this morning. Charlecote is the nearest National Trust property to us and has a lovely big deer park where you can walk. We were really glad we’d booked the early slot because it was a beautiful morning, and we were able to do a nice walk and then get a coffee at the café while it was still quiet, and then walk some more before heading home.

It was really nice to just wander and enjoy the sunshine and the fresh autumn air, and D took some lovely photos of us all.

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Morning stroll in Charlecote

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B is all legs!

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We had a quiet afternoon – I hadn’t slept particularly well (woke around 2am and was awake for a little while) so I had a nap in the afternoon while B did homework and F watched a film (The Spiderwick Chronicles). I probably would have slept for longer but was woken when F somehow managed to re-open the wound on her finger that we thought was pretty much healed (not exactly sure how – but something to do with her skateboard). D kept F calm while I bandaged it up again – hopefully it will start to heal again!

D did a bit of gardening, in particular repotting and supporting a bell pepper plant that’s got a bit out of control.

We had a nice evening watching some TV and eating left over pizza from yesterday, and overall a lovely relaxing day.

Stay safe, stay strong

6th September 2020

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  • Feeling: Pleased
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Strike: Lethal White

Lovely day today with a visit from my Mum. D was up around 7:30 and by the time I got up about an hour later she had B doing hoovering and F cleaning windows (not at all sure how she managed this). I had a text from Mum saying she was on her way, and so I got on with cleaning the bathroom immediately (no breakfast for late risers today).

After the bathroom was done I started to tidy up various junk that was piled by the backdoor and had just managed to get it looking presentable when Mum arrived.

We spent a lovely relaxed day with Mum, mainly spent on our deck (the weather being good) and taking a walk along the river in Leamington. Driving isn’t something Mum enjoys doing, but she is determined to make it something she does as a matter of course, which is really good to see – and doubly nice to have her come and visit us.

After Mum went (around 4pm) we had the family Zoom quiz and after I chatted to M and L in the US (and exchanged baking tips with Z), while D cooked some puri for us to have with the remains of yesterday’s takeaway.

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Not sure I’m really ready for Monday tomorrow, and news this evening a bit depressing with a huge spike in positive tests for COVID-19 reported today. But overall a lovely weekend.

Stay safe, stay strong x

5th September 2020

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  • Feeling: Tired
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Miracle Workers

Saturday morning – woke about 9 feeling tired after yesterday’s stress. My Mum is planning to visit tomorrow and I wanted to try to make the house slightly more presentable. We aren’t the tidiest or most house proud family (although D does the most), and visits from friends and family are usually the motivators for tidying and cleaning. This meant I started the day in a bad mood since I hate cleaning and tidying.

We spent the morning doing what we could – I managed to do one side of the kitchen and the hallway (this felt like I’d run a marathon even though basically what I’d managed was to do the washing up and put out some recycling) while D tidied the living room. Not sure what the kids were doing most of the time but as it got to lunchtime I got them to get out the lunch things and set up for lunch on the deck.

After lunch I collapsed a bit (tiredness biting as well as just having hit the limit on cleaning I was prepared to do) and didn’t do much until we decided to head out into town to drop some books at the library and get some ice-cream for a treat. It was busy in Leamington – seemed as busy as any Saturday I’ve known – with only things like facemask use (and not being able to go into the library without a booking!) reminding you that things weren’t entirely normal.

We dropped the books off and took advantage of a photo opportunity at the library before getting cakes (rather than ice-cream in the end) from The Muse Рone of our favourite caf̩s Рit was lovely to see, and chat to, the owner, Tracy, again after so long. We had our cakes on a bench outside the town hall before heading back home.

Once home we sat down to watch TV and ordered a take-away (Indian again) for tea – a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening.

Stay safe, stay strong x

31st August 2020

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  • Feeling: Better
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Magic Camp

Had quite a lazy Bank Holiday Monday. Woke up at 8am and got up before 9. It wasn’t sunny but warm enough to have breakfast outside – I had to remake my coffee because of sour milk but apart from that it was very pleasant.

After lunch and a bit of lazing around, I finally got round to mowing the lawn – the front now very quick to do now I’ve dug up a significant proportion of it!

D was sewing facemasks while I mowed the lawn, and once I was done I sat down with B to fix an issue with his website (to deal with a change to the Google Sheets API he uses for his book reviews) – we started on this yesterday but today we were in a position to fix it which felt good.

We had lunch on the deck as well, and then went for a walk – and unusually no moans or complaints accompanied this decision (or at least hardly any) and we had a nice walk just from the house, probably out from about an hour.

Once we got back home we watched “Magic Camp” on Disney+ – it was pretty good fun as a family movie and F was in stitches – always nice to hear her properly laugh.

Overall a lazy day, but I don’t feel like we’ve done nothing and both D and I were feeling a bit better and it was a nice family day.

Stay safe, stay strong

30th August 2020

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  • Feeling: Up and down
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Strike

Up late today (around 10am). I’d decided to try a pulled-pork recipe today which cooks for 5 hours (ended up being more like 6 hours, and I even think it could have done with longer to really get to the “falling apart” level) – so getting that in the oven was the first thing which meant I didn’t get breakfast until about 11am.

I was feeling a bit better today (although I hit a wall in the middle of the afternoon and got tired and grouchy). Unfortunately D wasn’t feeling so good today and spent a lot of it curled up on the sofa reading.

After I’d had breakfast and had coffee while watching F do a self-designed obstacle course in the garden (a result of watching too much Ultimate Beast Master), I started off some dough for some brioche buns – I wanted to try a different recipe to the brioche I made in May and I thought I might as well try the one recommended alongside the pulled-pork recipe. I had some misgivings about the recipe (who measures butter in tablespoons?) and I struggled with the recipe a bit – despite 20 minutes kneading I didn’t manage to get the dough to the kind of consistency I’d expect. However, despite this (and it contributing to my grouchiness in the afternoon) the results were OK.

The final part part of the dish was a barbecue sauce made with the juices from the pork. I half (or even quarter) followed another BBC Good Food recipe but mainly did it by taste and ended up with a couple of jars of tasty BBQ sauce.

The end result was a success – F, B and I all enjoyed the pork & BBQ sauce and we all enjoyed the brioche buns (D had her’s with veggie sausages)

Stay safe, stay strong

29th August 2020

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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

23rd August 2020

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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.

16th August 2020

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  • 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