28th June 2020

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  • Feeling:  Tired
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Parks and Recreation

Woke up around 8 and got up to make tea and to get some bread going (as D had mentioned I hadn’t baked in a while) – I didn’t manage to get it done for lunchtime in the end but we have a loaf waiting for us tomorrow now.

I was feeling a bit lethargic first thing, and so rather than start on the decking straight away I did some more jigsaw and then F and I sat on the sofa and read to each other.

Eventually I worked up the energy to go and tackle the next stage of the decking project. I’ve reached the stage of the project that I find stressful – measuring and cutting and levelling – and I spent a long time trying to position and level paving stones to support the deck frame – it seemed to take forever and by the end I still wasn’t happy I’d got it completely right. Extra stress when it decided to chuck it down with rain – only for a few minutes in the end, but still a rush to get tools and timber out of the rain.

This is where I’d got to by 4pm. It doesn’t seem a lot of progress for several hours of work, but it’s as far as I can go until I get a delivery of supplies (hopefully Tuesday) – and by 4pm I was tired out!

While I was working on the deck, D took F and B out for a walk (they also got caught in the rain) and the kids prepared a quiz for my side of the family in the afternoon.

D made some more progress with the jigsaw – but C, who has the same puzzle, messaged me earlier to say she’d finished it, winning our informal competition to see who would complete the puzzle first. We’ve still got a way to go!

Stay safe, stay strong.

27th June 2020

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  • Feeling:  Relaxed
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • WatchingInception

After two days in a row waking early, I slept in today and only woke at 9 – the last to be out of bed (although not by much – no-one was awake before 8).

I felt quite tired this morning, and it was raining (and thankfully much cooler), which gave me an excuse not to start work on the decking project straight away. Instead I returned to a jigsaw D and I started weeks ago but then had not returned to. I decided I’d complete the edges (and I literally just found the last edge piece this moment) and both D and I worked on the puzzle throughout the day.

It was very relaxing to just work on the puzzle for a bit, and hopefully we’ll do some more tomorrow.

Yesterday F was trying to get herself setup to borrow e-books and audiobooks online from the library (she enjoys listening to things but we don’t have a lot of audiobooks so she wants some more variety). Yesterday there was a problem with the online service and she couldn’t get it to work – but happily today it was all working and she got setup and spent some time reading an e-book (Phoebe and her unicorn) and listening to an audiobook (Tom Gates).

Having declared he was going to take a break from his animation/special effects work, B (predictably) changed his mind and did some more work on adding special effects to video clips of his cousins – he’s even managed to teach me a little of how Blender works.

Fs Kung-fu instructor had arranged a call this afternoon to talk about resuming classes. I joined the call, but D and I don’t feel its the right time for this kind of class just yet. I really want to see what happens to all the indicators after the additional relaxation of the lockdown on 4th July – which for me means waiting for at least 2 weeks after the 4th to see what the impact is. Although some of the other parents felt the same as us, some were very happy for the classes to resume as soon as possible – which brought it home to me how varied people are in either their assessment or acceptance of the risks involved.

After lunch the rain had stopped and I had a bit more energy so I decided I’d make a start on the decking. I managed to lay the landscaping weed suppressant fabric, get the gravel down and check the level in anticipation of putting the outer timber frame down (maybe tomorrow if the weather holds). I’m a little limited as to what I can do tomorrow because I’m still waiting for the timber preservative (for cut ends of the timber) and some joist hangers which won’t come until next week.

I’ve done a bit more than this picture shows, but as my mum immediately quipped when she saw the picture, “looks better already!”

In the evening we had our usual quiz and then (after some initial upset) some nice time watching TV with the kids before bed. Hope tomorrow is just as relaxing and productive.

Stay safe, stay strong.

20th and 21st June 2020

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  • Feeling:  Restless and happy and sad
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Thor: Ragnarok

I completely forgot to post yesterday – first day I’ve not posted since 22nd March when I started writing to try to record something of what it’s been like living through this strange period of time. What I’m finding at the moment is that coming out of lockdown is in some ways stranger than going into it.

Yesterday we all went to visit my Mum. The first time the kids and D have seen Mum since February. It was, of course, lovely to see her, but difficult as well because we are still socially distancing and a lot of the time I felt I was having to watch the kids (and to some extent Mum!) to ensure they weren’t getting too close. We also saw E who came to drop something for Mum while we were there – it was really good to see her.

We went on a nice long walk (a little too far for F’s tastes) and had a lovely late lunch in Mum’s garden despite the very changeable weather.

We came back home mid-afternoon and did C’s quiz which was lovely as always and during that talk turned to whether the pubs might reopen soon and Saturday evenings might return to being a time to go out rather than stay in. I’d love to see friends and family properly again but I have to admit I’m not sure I’m ready for a return to socialising yet. I think it’s going to take some time for me to adjust again (just as it took me time to adjust to the lockdown) and I need to find a way of acclimatising myself to this mentally so I can actually enjoy people’s company rather than worrying about the risk. Not sure how though.

Today has been a pretty quiet day. I was up last, but it wasn’t that late. My neck and back had been aching since Friday so D suggested we tried a yoga session she’d found helpful before – so we did some Yoga with Adrienne before we had breakfast. My neck and back haven’t ached all day, so either it worked, or just two days away from my desk is good for me.

For breakfast we had some treats (chocolate almond croissants for me, D & B, cinnamon toast for F) and in the morning the kids made some lovely Fathers Day gifts for me.

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Poems & 3D pen artworks from B & F

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After coffee I tackled the front lawn/meadow which we let grow during “no mow May” (I’ve been so dedicated to this that I’ve been not mowing the lawn since the start of the year), and trimmed back one of the plants at the front (at the same time trimming into a cable into our neighbour’s house – which luckily turned out to be out of use already!)

And then another coffee and an origami session with the kids – F challenged me to make a parrot following a YouTube video and I think it turned out pretty well (apart from the beak which I made a mess of).

I really enjoyed this (and another bit of origami inspired by someone from choir and her daughter which I did together with B). I think I’ll try some more origami when I need to switch off from other things.

This afternoon we watched Thor: Ragnarok with the kids, had our quiz with my side of the family and I made spaghetti bolognese for tea followed by sticky toffee pudding – yum!

Finally thinking about my own Dad today. Yesterday while we were with Mum we went to visit the garden of remembrance where his ashes are buried (first time D and the kids have had to do this), and in Mum’s garden she had a metal forget-me-not that was part of a display at Gloucester Cathedral earlier in the year. We never got to see the display at the cathedral (we’d planned to visit with Mum on Mothers Day and then lockdown happened) so it was lovely to see the forget-me-not in her Garden as a memory of Dad.

E sent a picture of some some beautiful flowers she and Mum had picked from Mum’s garden and placed in the garden of remembrance today. It was lovely to see.

Stay safe, stay strong.

14th June 2020

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  • Feeling: more settled and calm
  • Listening to: Nothing really
  • Watching: Sing it Loud TV

I slept much better last night and woke up not feeling tired for the first time in days – which was really nice. F slept late (after a slightly disturbed night) and also seemed to be much more refreshed when she did finally wake up.

I ate breakfast out in the garden, to give me some motivation for my decking project – and then spent some of the day clearing the area where I’m hoping to do the decking.

We had a nice day overall. In the morning D spent some time doing some gardening (clearing lily beetle larvae off her lilies) while I fitted a water butt (hoping to catch some of the rain forecast for this week!). After lunch we all played a game “Head hackers” that the kids got for Christmas last year. I also got some sourdough going which I hope I can bake first thing tomorrow morning.

In the afternoon while I was clearing the area for the deck, D took the kids to the park where they played football which they enjoyed. After that the weekly quiz for my side of the family (set by cousin B this week) – F and I teamed up and won.

In the evening I tuned into “Sing it Loud TV” – a initiative by R (chair of the choir I sing in) to keep a sense of community and fun while we are unable to rehearse together. Lots of people had sent in little videos (including me) and it was lovely to see people.

Stay safe, stay strong.

13th June 2020

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It’s been an odd day for me. I woke about 7, still feeling absolutely shattered. No one else was awake so I came downstairs to listen to a podcast and went back to sleep on the sofa. I woke again later (maybe 9?) and went back up to bed. and D was awake by then, but I slept a bit more (until 10) when we all got up.

Despite of the extra few hours of sleep, I was still feeling shattered and feeling emotionally fragile. This stayed with me for much of the day and several times during the day I felt like bursting into tears.

D had suggested we go somewhere for a walk but I was still nursing my coffee at 11 and I think she had given up on me doing anything with the day – so she started to get the kids out of the house to do a short walk in Leamington. All F wanted to do was go and play in the playground (the signs saying you weren’t allowed to do this have now been removed) and that was creating some friction – so I suggested to D that she could take them to the playground and then we’d all go somewhere for a proper walk afterwards – this was my own attempt at making sure I didn’t just spend the day moping around the house feeling sorry for myself.

Once everyone else had left the house I had a look for places we could go (and even paid a subscription for the Ordnance Survey maps so I could try to plan a route) but without a lot of success – so instead I got myself ready, filled a couple of water bottles, and went to meet everyone at the play ground – only to find them heading back!

So eventually we decided we should head to Charlecote – where there is a National Trust property with a large deer park and I’d found some other foot paths on the map. We found that the NT property (Charlecote Park) is limiting tickets and only taking online bookings – and they were all sold out for the day – so instead we drove a mile along the road and walked by the River Avon.

It was a beautiful day and we had a really nice walk seeing enough people for it to be nice without so many you felt like you were constantly avoiding them.

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Been outside

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I really enjoyed being out, and thought I’d shaken my mood, but when we got back home for a late lunch I felt down again. We had an afternoon of games playing another Unlock card escape room and the Harry Potter SceneIt game that C dropped off for the kids earlier this week.

Rather late in the day I decided that I should bake some bread so we could have hot dogs for tea, which meant eating late – but since we’d been late all day that didn’t really matter. We had C’s quiz at 6 which always cheers me up, and baking (as long as it goes well) often improves my mood – so by the time we sat down to eat (in front of the TV as a treat) around 7 I was feeling much happier and balanced.

After the kids had gone to bed, D and I settled down to watch Blinded by the Light. Its a film, based on a true story, of a British Pakistani boy growing up in Luton in the 1980s who dreams about becoming a writer and falls in love with the music of Bruce Springsteen. For the most part its a feel good movie, and the for children of the 80s like me and D, it was very nostalgic. At the same time, seeing a National Front march in Luton in the 1980s in the film when we’ve seen such similar images from London today was really difficult and it had me in tears that we are still dealing with these problems today. Overall though the film is uplifting and the music – both by The Boss and the other music from the 80s that makes up the soundtrack – is a joy. I’d really recommend.

I’m feeling more settled this evening than I have all day and hope this is a good sign for tomorrow.

Stay safe, stay strong.

7th June 2020

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  • Feeling: Relaxed
  • Listening to: Apple Music “Chill Mix”
  • Watching: Hawaii 5-0

After a lazy afternoon yesterday we had an even lazier day today. D and I both slept in and F eventually woke us at 10:20! After a late breakfast D and the kids watched the new Maleficent film (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) while I listened to some music and generally did very little.

In the afternoon I edited together a video for something the chair of our Choir is planning, and managed to fit one of the water butts I had delivered a couple of weeks ago.

For tea I made Yorkshire puddings and onion gravy to go with sausages – bit success all round (F loves onion gravy, and we all love yorkshire puddings).

This evening was the Bare Necessities music showcase to raise money for a Coventry-based charity (you can donate at Feeding Coventry) – which I’d recorded a couple of songs for. The whole showcase is available on Facebook if you are interested.

All in all a very relaxing day.

Stay safe, stay strong x

6th June 2020

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  • Feeling: Tired but happy
  • Listening to: Hamilton
  • Watching: The Unicorn Store

Nice day today. I got up about 8am to get some bread in the oven and do a bit of tidying around the side entrance to the garden – because C and N came over for a socially distanced visit in the garden this morning. The weather could have been nicer but it was so good to see them and just sit and chat for a bit. We ate pastries and drank tea & coffee while the kids played in the garden.

In the afternoon we played a game that D had ordered which is an escape room card game called Unlock which was mainly fun despite a few frustrations when we couldn’t solve some of the puzzles – but we got there eventually (although just over time and with a few hints).

We chilled out for the rest of the afternoon, I dozed on the sofa, B worked on a quiz for tomorrow, D worked on a jigsaw and F made a board game of her own which was some kind of energy/food chain based game where you worked up from sunshine through algae, plankton & fish up to human. I didn’t completely understand the rules but we played an enjoyable game where we both seemed to win!

We carried on the lazy theme (and bread based diet) by ordering in pizza for tea and then did C’s weekly quiz which was fun as always (fancy dress was historical figures and so B came as Einstein and F as Alexander Hamilton)

Time for bed now, but a nice day and so nice to spend time with C and N. Stay safe, stay strong x

31st May 2020

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  • Feeling: Good, but wishing the weekend was longer
  • Listening to: I can go the distance / Your song
  • Watching: Avenger Assemble

Woke pretty early (around 7:30 I think) and got up as D had suggested we should go for a walk before it got too hot in the morning, and I also had some sourdough bread on the go overnight that I wanted to get on with.

Kids got up around 8 and came on a walk without complaint (which is a minor miracle at any time of day). We walked along the north side of the river Leam through a small bit of woodland, and then back along the other side in Victoria park. It was lovely to be out while it was cool and not too busy (although the park was busy enough and hot enough by the time we were walking back).

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Morning stroll before it gets too hot

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When we got back home I tried to make crumpets out of some sourdough starter I didn’t need. It was a mixed success – the results were quite delicious (with maple syrup, blueberries and sour cream) but more like pancakes than crumpets (crumpcakes? pantpets?)

In the afternoon we followed up last week’s viewing of Thor with Avengers Assemble (first time for the kids). I’m not so bothered about the more recent Avengers films – I prefer some of the other Marvel films especially Captain Marvel and Thor: Ragnarok – but the first Avengers is good fun I think.

In celebration of my niece (R) 10th birthday, D made chocolate cake and I had it with an oat milk iced coffee – very nice! We celebrated with R over Zoom at the weekly family quiz, although F got a bit upset because she was last in the quiz 🙁 Hard being the youngest sometimes.

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Iced coffee and cake

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D (and I) like to watch the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen YouTube channel and recently they did a video on grilled cheese sandwiches. This had left D craving a grilled cheese, so my sourdough baking was partly to get some bread she could use. The sourdough turned out OK, although the crumb is a bit soft for my taste it is probably pretty good for grilled cheese sandwiches and D had a grilled cheese and soup for tea (while me and the kids were having ribs in BBQ sauce).

The evening I’ve spent recording myself singing the two songs for the Bare Necessities fundraiser next weekend. Recording yourself singing can be a bit soul-destroying sometimes and I tend to start getting very picky about what I’m doing – but I think I got two reasonable takes of each song in the end so I’ve submitted them.

Over the weekend I completely failed to install the new water butts we had delivered last week, and also didn’t manage to get to play the Maponimoes game that C sent us (something we are looking forward to trying), but its been a good day today and now I’m tired so I’m going to have some toast and tea and then head to bed.

Stay safe, stay strong x

30th May 2020

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  • Feeling: Recovering from a grumpy day
  • Listening to: I can go the distance (from Hercules)
  • Watching: Lovebirds

Me being tired and grumpy on a Saturday is turning into a bit of a pattern (unfortunately). I woke early (5am) and then dozed on the sofa, and slept until 10am. D had been up for a while and had been out for a run but the kids were only just getting up when I woke.

My singing teacher is organising an online fundraiser event for a charity called Bare Necessities in Coventry which provides essential (non-food) items to those who need them – including sanitary and baby products. I’ve volunteered to record a couple of songs, and I spent most of the day trying to do a decent recording of “I can go the distance” (from Disney’s Hercules) and “Your Song” (Elton John). Unfortunately singing practice has taken a backseat during lockdown, and no choir means no regular singing – so I’m a bit rusty.

I managed two recordings in the end, but I’m not really happy with them – so it’s good that I’ve got a few more days before I need to send them in.

F created a quiz for us all to do in the afternoon – although computer problems caused her a huge amount of frustration we eventually got them sorted and the quiz was really successful – we all had fun.

B spent time doing calligraphy and working on adding some special effects to a video from his cousin B – he was rightly pleased with the results as the effects looked pretty good!

Meanwhile, D did a bit of gardening and cooking and spent some time reading.

Just before tea I shouted at Bryn which really upset F – she felt I’d been very unfair, and she was probably right (in my defence, B had been a bit thoughtless, but I had probably over-reacted). I cooked tea for the kids – and despite the fact I over-cooked the chicken a bit, they seemed to really enjoy it, and I apologised for being grumpy with them.

After tea we had our usual Saturday quiz (thanks C) which we thought was tough but did very well – so that was a nice boost. After that we went for a short walk – nice to get out into the cool of the evening. I showed the kids something I used to do as a kid – firing (I think clover?) seed heads from a stem.

Meanwhile D took some lovely photos instead of destroying the wildlife!

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Early evening sun

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Finally we watched some TV and ate ice-creams with the kids, and once they’d gone up to bed we opened a bottle of wine and watched a movie. So now at the end of the day I’m feeling much more mellow and not at all grumpy!

I think my frustration with Saturdays is I tend to be exhausted from the week, but yet feeling like I should be doing stuff – so “wasting” the morning by sleeping in leaves me feeling bad from the start of the day. Added to that Saturday is probably the day I feel the restrictions of lockdown the most in a way – as it’s when we’d usually go to the shops, have a nice lunch out, etc. etc. Its almost like I need an extra day every weekend at the moment to re-set.

Stay safe, stay strong everyone xxx

25th May 2020

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I woke early (5am) with a headache and pain in my leg (which usually means I’m dehydrated) so got up, drank some water, and tried to get to sleep again on the sofa. After a while I managed to get back to sleep and then woke again around 9:30 – still with a headache – but felt much better once I’d had a cup of tea and a shower.

F’s hair has been getting a bit long and bothering her (getting in her eyes) for a couple of weeks now, so this morning I agreed to cut it (before I’d even had breakfast) – my first foray into hair cutting beyond my own beard!

Before and After:

The rest of the day was pretty lazy overall. F and I worked on one of the extra features F had designed for the potting bench – a place to safely stand pots while you work:

D spent the morning digging out a very stony bit of our garden (with a bit of help from me) to plant sunflowers out – although they look like they are suffering a bit this evening (I suspect the heat). She also used the potting table for the first time to put a cucamelon plant into a hanging basket.

B and F both had online tuition sessions today despite the bank holiday. F wasn’t keen at all to do her’s but with some bribery (promise she could watch “Thor” – a film we stopped her watching some two or more years ago on the basis she was too young at the time – a decision she is still holding against us somewhat) she did do it and enjoyed it (she always does).

B did a bit more work on his physics engine code project and managed to get a 2D ball moving around the screen with a bit of help from me, and we started to work out how to simulate gravity in a 2D world. In his online tuition B is now working on pretty advance maths I think (simultaneous quadratic equations today!) and it’s good for him to have a project to actually apply some of the maths he knows.

We all enjoyed watching Thor after the tutoring sessions were done, then cauliflower cheese and sausages for tea, and ice creams for me and D after the kids were in bed – all in all a pretty good bank holiday Monday.

Stay safe, stay strong x