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.
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.
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 – one of our favourite cafés – it 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.
Yesterday (Friday) I didn’t write a post – I think just the second time I’ve missed a day since March 22nd. Yesterday was a slightly odd day altogether, and rather stressful and tiring at the end – hence not managing to write a post. So here is Friday’s post, a day late…
Friday morning I got up in time to walk B to the bus stop (just) and bumped into a friend who’s son goes to the same school – we chatted for about 30 minutes (having not seen him face-to-face for almost 6 months) before I had to head back home to take F to school while D went off to work.
That left me at home all by myself for the whole day (at least until 3pm when I had to go pick up F), which felt quite odd and was very quiet. I had work to occupy me and again after a six month gap, it was basically the first “normal” work day I’ve had. Because I work at home by myself, unlike the kids going to school or D going into work – as soon as I’m by myself at home its “back to normal” – I haven’t got any adjustments to make, or new rules to get used to, or one-way systems to observe, or other people to worry about – I’m just sitting back at my computer getting on with stuff.
After I’d fetched F, she did some Minecraft while I had another call 4pm-5pm during which time D and B both got home. This was the point at which the day got stressful – D’s Dad was flying home from India yesterday, and was meant to get to Manchester airport (flying out of Mumbai and transferring in Frankfurt) at around 10am yesterday morning. At 4pm we found out from D’s brother that he’d not arrived. D’s brother had spent most of the day at Manchester airport trying to find out what had happened with no luck. We immediately rang the airline, but got the same answer as D’s brother – they couldn’t tell us whether their Dad had got the flights because of data protection. We also range the airport but they were unable to tell us anything (in this case because they didn’t have any information rather than having information they wouldn’t tell us).
Since the obvious sources of information either couldn’t, or wouldn’t tell us what they knew, we decided the only option was to phone the police – using the “101” non-emergency number. It took at least half an hour to get our call answered (no queuing system or information – just rang and rang and then went dead – and you had to start again – not great), but once we were through they took it seriously and started to take details. At this point D’s eldest sister rang – she’d spoken to someone (at the airline I think) and they’d confirmed that their Dad had missed the connection and was waiting in Frankfurt for the next flight to Manchester – which would get in at 11pm (over 12 hours later than the planned flight). D’s sister is obviously a lot more persuasive than me when it comes to getting people to share information!
What a relief – and around 11:30pm we got confirmation he’d landed and D’s brother had picked him up. At this point D went to bed, but I was pretty wound up by this point and needed to watch TV for a while before I calmed down and was able to go to bed – by which point I was too tired to write anything – hence this is a day late.
Listening to: Lost in the Woods (Frozen II soundtrack)
Watching: Miracle Workers
Both B and F back at school today – so for the first time in months we had to be up and going through the school routine. It felt very strange, especially to be sending B off to school again since (unlike F) he hasn’t been at all since March.
D woke B up and he was ready in reasonable time – although having to turn back during the walk to the bus stop when he remembered he hadn’t brought his timetable meant we almost missed the bus. Luckily the bus driver was the same one from last year who B knows well and gets on well with – so she stopped just on the road next to us to let him on saving us a dash to the bus stop.
D dropped F at school and I did the pick up later in the day. Despite the staggered drop-off and pick-up times (so just two classes at a time) it was pretty busy – which feels uncomfortable although I’m not convinced this really matters given the kids spend the day together.
Both kids came home seeming very happy and pretty excited after having a whole day out of the house – which was good to see – especially for B who seemed quite apprehensive going in this morning. B had chosen to wear his mask most of the day but said most people didn’t (except teachers in classrooms where 2m distancing was impossible). Overall it seems like the schools are trying to do the right thing, but ultimately I’m not sure the conditions (lots of children in a small space) are in any way conducive to meaningful distancing or “bubbles”.
For D and I at home it all seemed very quiet, and with D going back to work on site from tomorrow I’m going to be home alone again – which will be very strange after 6 months of constant company.
Listening to: Lost in the Woods (Frozen II soundtrack)
Despite good intentions to get up earlier this morning as a pre-back to school test run, everyone except B failed at this. B was up and about at 6:45, while the rest of us didn’t manage to get moving until gone 8.
Not a terribly exciting day overall – work for me and D, while B was working on his 3D model of a panther and F was amusing herself reasonably well. F watched the Lego movie 2 in the afternoon and that inspired her to get out the lego and play for a bit, and she started to try to film some stop-motion animation with it. Unfortunately she struggled a bit, so B agreed to help, and then they fell out … so not sure much got filmed in the end.
My main “excitement” for the day was replacing the battery in B’s iPhone. We bought B a refurbished iPhone 5S when he started secondary school, and overall it’s worked pretty well – but the battery has always been a bit crap. In the last couple of weeks it’s completely given up the ghost and so I decided to order a “battery replacement kit” from a company called iFixIt who specialise in making it possible to repair devices that are really not designed to make this easy. The kit was about £30 including shipping – so it seemed worth a go, and if I bodged it then we weren’t really in a worse position.
The biggest challenge was getting the old battery out as it’s held in by glue strips which really didn’t want to let go – eventually I managed to get it out and the rest of the process was relatively straightforward if fiddly and slightly nerve-wracking. The result seems to be a working iPhone – hopefully it stays that way 🙂
D was the only person in the house who managed to get out of bed at a reasonable time this morning – which doesn’t bode well for Thursday when B will have to be at the bus stop by about 7:40, and F will need to be at school for 8:30 (F’s school is staggering start times and she is in one of the early slots)
I woke at a reasonable time but could not get myself moving and despite setting several alarms only managed to actually get up at 9am. Breakfast outside then on to a work call at 10am.
The rest of the day was work for me and D. B was working on a 3D model of a panther-like “spirit animal” based on concept art by his cousin (also B). Meanwhile F has belatedly realised that the tree at the front of the house is perfect for climbing and hiding in (and she got me to chop some branches off to improve it further).
In the afternoon F did a repeat watch of the new Disney film “Magic Camp” which we watched as a family yesterday.
At the end of the day F and I had our first face-to-face music lessons since March – all at Totally Rad Music in Leamington. F has had some drumming lessons on Zoom but she hadn’t had a piano lesson since March – and she had both today. I had my first singing lesson since lockdown started – with a big perspex barrier between me and my singing teacher. F and I were the first students in the afternoon/evening slot and it was very quiet overall – which was nice. The studio has been adapted as well as possible for the conditions I think and hopefully we’ll continue to feel comfortable there (because it is all one-to-one it feels pretty safe overall).
After the singing lesson then had a meeting with the rest of the choir committee about plans for between now and Xmas. Unfortunately it isn’t as easy to get the choir back together as to do individual lessons like I had today – but we have a clear plan to keep singing even if we can’t do proper rehearsals and performances – which is, of course, what we all want.
Need to get some sleep now as tomorrow we (me, F and B) need to practice getting up a little bit earlier so it isn’t so much of a shock on Thursday when we have to do it for real!
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.
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)
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%.
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!