15th August 2020

  • Feeling: Tired but happy
  • Listening to: Songs from the Musicals
  • WatchingProject Power

Got up early (before 7am) to have time to pack and tidy the cottage before checkout at 9am. We headed off at 9, sad to say goodbye to the cottage that’s been home for the past week.

We decided to detour to Tintern on the way home (although we almost changed our minds because of the rain) and were glad we did, although we skipped the Abbey to stop at the “Old Station” which served us coffee/hot chocolates and cakes, and we spent 20 minutes or so having a wander around and admiring the wooden, chainsaw carved, statues in the “Circle of Legends“.

We then headed back to Cheltenham to take Mum home and have lunch. I’d agreed to help with a few issues (mainly computer-based) Mum was having – although ultimately with mixed success, I was trying to shut down old emails and various linked accounts that were Dad’s.

When I’d done all I could (for today at least) we headed home via Big Yellow Storage in Cheltenham where I had to recover a padlock from a storage locker door so I can close down my account with them (we used them to store furniture to fit Dad’s hospital bed into the house back in December). The storage facility itself seemed deserted and the staffed reception area was the only place I interacted with others – and that all at a 2m or more distance with masks and plastic screens – probably the most thorough setup I’ve seen in a place of business in terms of distancing and barriers.

We finally got home around 6pm, having diverted to get some fish and chips from The Chip Shed in Warwick after seeing recommendations on a Warwick Facebook group. Fish was good but I wasn’t so bothered about the chips.

We got home to find the garden blooming (thanks to D).

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.

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.

1st August 2020

  • Feeling: Tired out
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Vagrant Queen

First day of holiday so of course I woke at 5am! I was awake for a couple of hours, but as everyone else in the house started to wake up, I drifted back to sleep. I eventually got up at 8am and went to collect some “it’s the first day of the holidays” breakfast pastries from Haddie and Trilby.

After leisurely breakfast I went out to start building another planter from the left over decking materials, while D and the kids walked to Warwick (I hadn’t realised they were going that far, and started to wonder where they had got to before D texted to say they were on their way back at about 1:30). They went to Warwick Books and all really enjoyed themselves – B declared it the best treat ever, and it cheered them all up.

Once they got back we had a late lunch, and in the afternoon D, B and F watched the live action remake of the Lion King while I went back to work. By the end of the day I had two additional planters (plus the one I made last week) and so tomorrow or Monday we can gravel the area round the deck and setup the planters (although I think we’ll need some more earth to fill these).

We had a takeaway (Chinese) for tea. All in all a pretty good start to the holidays – but I’m exhausted now 🙂

Stay safe, stay strong x

26th July 2020

  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today 
  • Watching: Bringing up Baby

Slept in properly for the first time in a while today. Didn’t wake until 10am, but got up pretty much straightaway. D was already up but the kids, although awake, were both reading in bed.

My plan for the day was to work on the area around the deck – which we’re planning to cover with gravel and put planters and pots all around it. We had the gravel delivered last week, but first on my list was to make three planters out of the decking board off-cuts. I’d envisaged making all three planters in a day, but actually only managed one – I really made life difficult for myself by deciding to do mitred joints at the corners which would look nicer if they were perfect, but to be honest I’m not sure I’d do that again (except obviously I now have to do it for the other two planters to keep the look the same!)

Once I’ve got the other planters made and the gravel down we are going to plant these up with herbs to have a little herb garden around the deck, as well the flowers and plants we already have in pots.

We had our weekly family quiz in the afternoon and then I watched the rest of Bringing Up Baby with F. Its such a great film and F was in fits of giggles througout. After F said the only thing they needed to do to improve it was “add subtitles, and make it not in black and white” 🙂

D has been sewing face coverings this afternoon & evening Рespecially one that is small enough for F and just some extra ones to have with us. We need to remember to take these with us when we go out from now on (for example we had to have one to go into the takeaway caf̩ at Hidecote yesterday).

After the kids were in bed D gave my hair a long overdue trim – now I just need to tame the beard as well!

Stay safe, stay strong x

25th July 2020


Woke up not feeling great – tired and aching (both head and my left leg which I’ve had some trouble with over the past few weeks). We had booked tickets for Charlecote Park at 10am, so it was pretty much just getting up, having breakfast, and going straight there.

We had reasonably nice walk around the deer park at Charlecote, and it didn’t rain, but it did feel a bit close and so it wasn’t particularly refreshing. By the time we got back home my headache had got worse, and I was feeling like just slobbing on sofa for the rest of the day. Luckily because we had tickets booked for Hidecot at 2pm and we were meeting up with my mum and E & family I wasn’t able to give into that urge, and instead I took some paracetamol, we had lunch, and then we headed off.

Hidecote and seeing my mum, sister, brother-in-law and nephews and nieces was just what I needed. Even though it rained a bit and was generally quite damp, it really lifted my spirits – and I think that went for all of us. Lovely to see everyone and also to see the kids all chatting & playing.

Hidecote was looking lovely

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Pretty flowers at Hidcote

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Both the National Trust properties were well organised. Charlecote is big open spaces and so no problems with distancing there. Hidecote is a little more restricted and felt more crowded, but the one way system (which isn’t that different to the route you’d typically follow anyway) worked well and for the most part it didn’t feel like you were on top of other people.

We spent about two hours at Hidecote and then headed home. I was feeling much more relaxed, if still a little tired, and watched the first half of Bringing up Baby with the kids while D got dinner ready.

A good day, topped off by the fact that my choir’s latest virtual/lockdown singing project was released this morning. Miss seeing and singing with this lot so much.

Stay safe, stay strong.

19th July 2020

  • Feeling: Down
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • WatchingBloodshot

Feeling a bit down this evening.

Woke at a reasonable time and had breakfast outside (on the deck!) but then didn’t seem to really do anything in the morning. I’d planned to make some planters from the left over decking timber but only got as far as drawing some sketches to work out dimensions.

The kids were booked in at Mopp heads for haircuts at 2pm, so after lunch we took them into town (all equipped with masks). After the haircuts we walked to The Muse coffee shop (one of our favourites, but we haven’t been since March) and got drinks and cake/ice cream before heading home. It was nice to be out, and the kids both have nice haircuts.

I was feeling out of sorts when we got home, but recorded myself singing for a virtual choir project, while F watched Toy Story 4 and B did stuff on his computer.

I tried to stir myself out of my mood at tea, and succeeded for a while, and D and I watched a crappy film as a distraction. Unfortunately after that we got into a discussion about what we are going to do with our two weeks off. I want to book a cottage and go somewhere, but D isn’t so keen. In the end we agreed to book something, but then the booking process failed and/or the property has already been booked.

I’m now feeling down again, and tired which might be the underlying problem, so I’m going to sleep now.

Stay safe, stay strong.

18th July 2020

  • Feeling: OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Sahara

Woke up around 8am – B and D had both woken around 6am though (although D managed to get a little more sleep). Once I’d managed to get up and have breakfast I went out to work on the deck again. By the end of the day I’d finished the deck off (bit of tidying up and the edges adding) and given it two coats of a light stain – hope that it had dried enough for the drizzle that is now falling outside!

That’s the deck done – although of course it isn’t 🙂 Next up is to build some planters from the left over decking boards, put a gravel border around the deck and put the planters on that (the gravel is on order but probably going to be a week or more before it arrives). I’ve also got a sail shade on order but no sign of that yet – hopefully soon!

D took the kids for a walk and picked some blackberries.

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Just a few minor scratches as we foraged for blackberries

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In the afternoon B spent a lot of time on his computer and F watched the Wizards of Waverly Place movie. D cooked tea for us all, and we all watched Taskmaster (PG version) after we’d eaten.

Not a very exciting day all told, but very glad to have a working deck. Tomorrow the kids get haircuts which is probably as much excitement as we can take in one weekend 🙂

Stay safe, stay strong.

12th July 2020

  • Feeling: Tired but pleased
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Black Panther (a bit)

The kids woke at 6am to make us breakfast (or brunch as B insisted it was because we didn’t eat it until 9am!) This meant we were all up way too early – but it was lovely to have them so keen to treat us. There was a menu for the “Food Thyme” café with a wide variety of breakfast options…

Thankfully everyone chose waffles to eat – which kept things as simple as possible. F made me coffee (she’s pretty good with this now although I always worry she’s going scald herself on the espresso machine) and we all sat on the deck to eat it – and was an absolutely glorious morning and clearly too sunny for me and B to open our eyes properly!

Most of the rest of the day I spent trying to get the deck completed (while D made impressive progress with our latest jigsaw) I had a break after lunch because it was sooo hot, helped out a little with the jigsaw before watching Black Panther with the kids (although I went back out to work on the deck again so didn’t see it all.) We also had our weekly quiz with my family which was really nice and some great quiz questions from I.

By the end of the day I’d got all the top decking laid – which means just the edges to do – and of course the whole thing needs treating & staining to make it weather-proof. I’m feeling really good about getting this project done – it was several years ago that I first had the idea of putting a deck in this spot, so very pleased to have finally done it and despite a few hiccoughs along the way (including somehow managing to break a tape measure today) I’m pretty pleased with the job I’ve done.

The next steps are:

  • finish the edges
  • treat & stain the decking
  • put up a sail shade (on order)
  • order a table (and maybe chairs – although we do already have some garden chairs)
  • use the spare timber & decking to make planters to go round the end of the deck

That should keep me busy for the rest of the summer!

Stay safe, stay strong