22nd June 2020

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  • Feeling:  OK
  • Listening to: Taylor Swift
  • Watching: Black and British: a forgotten history

It’s funny how F going back to school has changed the pattern of our day and the feel in the house. Of course it means we have to be up in time for her to have breakfast before heading off to school. It means my coffee has to wait until I’ve dropped her off. It means less interruptions throughout the day and less need to move into a different room to do work calls on the computer. It means a much quieter house with three people just staring at their computer screens.

These changes makes it easier to get on with work – but I’m missing having her at home! When she gets back from school I want to hear all about her day and what she’s been doing – while she mainly wants to watch TV – so I can’t tell you much about her day except she enjoyed it but its still strange to be at school with all the distancing rules. And that she had a delicious hot chicken wrap for lunch (apparently we have never let her have a *hot* chicken wrap).

B was practicing for the Junior Mathematical Challenge today – the real thing is next Monday. It was fun to discuss some of the questions with him and interesting to see his approach to the questions – even at 12 he is skilled at using the potential answers in a multi-choice situation to give him clues to the right answer (which is probably an indictment of how much testing he’s already been through by 12 and how much we teach children to pass tests – but still very interesting to observe!)

Later in the day he had his online tutoring session where he was doing work on A Christmas Carol (seasonal!) and doing some work on angles in which the computer managed to set impossible questions which resulted in some of the angles in a triangle being 0° (as B said “its almost as if they found a diagram and put some random numbers on it”).

In the garden unfortunately D’s sunflowers have been demolished by slugs and/or snails, so she moved some of the borage plants to where the sunflowers are no longer taking up space.

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Bee meets Borage #garden

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Stay safe, stay strong x

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.

19th June 2020

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  • Feeling:  Tired but OK
  • Listening to: Happy music
  • Watching: Vagrant Queen (until I fell asleep)

This is (I think) the 90th day I’ve written a post since I started writing about our experience of quarantine (initially) and then lockdown.

I was up early (6:30) to get some work done before a meeting at 10. No school for F today because they close the school to deep-clean on a Friday. She had her Friday morning session with Liz which seemed to go well as always (although I didn’t hear it as I was in my meeting at the same time).

Once I’d done with my meeting I found it more difficult to settle to work for the rest of the morning (which caused a bit of friction with D as I was looking for distractions while she was trying to work).

At lunchtime I got some bread going ready for a planned picnic with my Mum tomorrow. We’ll still be socially distancing (Mum is part of a bubble with E and family as they live 5 minutes walk away from each other), but it will be lovely to see her and for the kids and D to see her – and hopefully have a nice walk in the countryside and a picnic.

Picnic baguettes

B had been planning to make a lemon meringue tart all week, and so with his schoolwork all done by lunchtime he decided he should make it this afternoon – his first attempt (as far as I know) at pastry. He had a Mary Berry recipe (I have to admit I’m not that keen on her recipes – they always seem a little off to me) and started well getting the pastry together – getting the flour and butter to breadcrumbs in the food processor without any help. But after adding the sugar and eggs it all went a bit wrong (I think it was probably a mistake to carry on with the food processor when adding the liquid to be honest – mixing by hand would have been the safer bet) – and ended up with a past instead of the promised (by the recipe) ball of dough.

I wish I was better at helping B at these moments rather than just taking over – but whatever my failings at teaching I did manage to rescue the pastry and we got a reasonable ball of dough to chill for a bit. It was still incredibly delicate when it came to roll it out – and again I had to help and we ended up doing a bit of patching once it was in the tart case – but it went better than I expected to be honest.

The rest of the recipe B got on with pretty well – although he needed reassurance from me several times he was able to make the lemon filling and the meringue pretty much by himself (he was remarkably patient while zesting 6 lemons which seemed to take hours!), and the result was pretty damn good.

B isn’t the tidiest of cooks, and I felt like I spent the whole afternoon tidying up after him – but he did show willing and he’s getting better at doing these things for himself, or at least realising that he does need to wash things up or put them in the dishwasher!

I was trying to work alongside all the cooking, but my back was aching and I decided to stop a bit early and rest it a bit. We ate late (because of the ongoing lemon meringue tart baking) and after the kids were in bed I pretty quickly nodded off on the sofa and didn’t wake until after 10pm.

Need to be up reasonably early tomorrow to pick up some bakery treats before we head over to Mum’s, so time to sleep (again) now.

Stay safe, stay strong

18th June 2020

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  • Feeling:  OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Giri / Haji

Been tired today and although I think I worked hard, I don’t feel I got a huge amount done 🙁

F was in school again, and D was at work for a couple of hours. B had a piano lesson in the morning but despite that managed to finish all his school work by lunchtime.

B has started working on some Project Euler problems (basically a list of mathematical problems you solve by writing computer programmes) and has been enjoying the challenge.

Water butt update – pretty much both water butts are now full – that’s 400 litres of water collected since the weekend! I’m starting to feel I should have gone for a bigger butt (!). But actually tempted to order more to collect water off the front of the house – seems terrible to me now that we’ve just been letting all this water go to waste!

We had pre-prepared pizza & garlic bread for tea – nowhere close to a homemade one in terms of taste but sometimes it feels like a treat to have a “lazy tea”.

I should sleep now, otherwise I’m going to feel tired again tomorrow.

Stay safe, stay strong.

17th June 2020

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  • Feeling:  happy
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Staged

Big day today for F as she went into school for the first time since 16th March. The children and staff are divided into “bubbles” which have up to 15 children in them (so half the usual class size for F) and are with one member of staff the whole time (F is with her usual class teacher who she loves which is really nice).

I dropped F at school – they have separate entrances per ‘bubble’, and was able to chat (at a reasonable distance) with a few of the staff – it was lovely to see them as the staff across the whole school are really nice and friendly, and most know B as well as F and were asking after him as well.

After dropping her off it was then through the one-way system (which goes round the outside of the school buildings) to get back to the entrance/exit to the school. It was pretty well organised and not too busy (they’ve staggered start times for some children I think) and they close on Friday for a deep clean.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the children being back at school, she was obviously delighted and came home full of excitement and chatter.

Meanwhile B was still at home – but that was fine. I think it was nice for him to have more of our attention (although I think D spent quite a bit of the day worrying about F). B made borage tea and waffles for us as part of his “FT” (food technology) work. The borage has been growing in the garden (D planted it as its meant to be good for bees) and it has pretty blue flowers you can use to make a (mildly laxitive B informs me!) tea. I guess overall the waffles were the better of the two cooking experiments today 🙂

Once F was back home after school (3pm) B was less settled – I suspect because it was then that F had all the news and excitement whereas B had just spent another day at home with us. F said she had done “tests” and it was “great”.

In the evening D and the kids had a quiz with cousins, aunts & uncles while I had choir – which was fun. Chatting to others in the choir someone (Seb?) recommended Staged which is on iPlayer and features Michael Sheen and David Tennant as themselves trying to rehearse a play during lockdown (via Zoom) – we watched the first episode tonight and really enjoyed it – definitely recommend (episodes are about 15 minutes each).

Overall a pretty good day, and was really lovely to see F so happy.

Stay safe, stay strong.

16th June 2020

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  • Feeling:  tired but ok
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Stumptown

I had good intentions of getting up early this morning and doing some work before everyone else was awake. Unfortunately I woke about 4am and at the same time F woke up and got into our bed. It was quite stuffy and I think that’s why I woke so I opened the window, but then the sound of water dripping on a roof kept me awake, plus having an extra body in the bed made it a bit crowded – so I ended up sleeping on the sofa instead. Unsuprisingly I wasn’t interested in getting up when my alarm went off, and I didn’t get up until D made tea.

I spent the rest of the day feeling pretty sleepy and F also seemed quite tired – we’re hoping that she manages to sleep well tonight in advance of her first day back at school tomorrow.

D went into work this morning – first time since March 16th! Of course it was nothing like going into work normally since it was really just her and a skeleton staff on the site. She was just there for a couple of hours and home again for lunch.

We had several powercuts today caused by our breaker tripping – but we aren’t quite sure of the cause. The trips didn’t seem to be linked to anything we were doing in the house (no particular surges in power use as far as we know) and I’m hoping it was just some external power surges and we just have a particularly sensitive breaker switch. I guess if this carries on we’ll need to get an electrician out.

The powercuts were quite frustrating as each time the power went down we lost wifi of course, and because I’m working on a desktop at the moment my computer rebooted each time – it made it difficult to get on with stuff and interrupted calls during the day.

Spoke to Mum this evening and made tentative plans to visit her at the weekend – as long as the weather is good so we can have a nice socially distanced visit – planning a walk and a picnic.

Tomorrow we’ll have all the excitement of F going to school – so I’d better get some sleep!

Stay safe, stay strong

15th June 2020

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  • Feeling: a little frustrated but OK
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Parks and Rec

Monday again – felt quite tired today and apart from various work calls (which, to be fair, did eat up most of the day) I don’t feel I was very productive – which is a bit frustrating.

Adding to the frustration I spent the majority of the evening working out what materials I need for the decking project, created the order on a builders merchant only to have the transaction declined as possible fraud (my bank obviously sceptical I’d suddenly spend money on DIY materials!) and lost the whole order. Eventually I got everything ordered again and now its all on order and hopefully I’ll be taking delivery in a couple of weeks.

I did two bakes today – some sourdough in the morning (which we ate for lunch) and then some baguettes this evening.

After lunch F and B had their online Art. F struggles so much with this – she reminds me so much of myself when it comes to drawing – she gets so upset when she can’t draw what she sees in front of her. I was really proud of her this afternoon because she kept going (with a little persuasion and support from me and D), even though she was finding it really difficult.

Since Friday when F’s school let us know they were opening to year 4 this week, D and I have been talking about her going back to school – thinking about the pros and cons and trying to decide if we feel it makes sense for her to go into school. Although we have some concerns and aren’t completely sure its the right thing, while new cases and deaths are still going down, and without any cases at the school, it seems like the right thing for her to go back for now – and we can always decide to change our minds if the situation changes.

We talked to the school today which we found reassuring, and we talked to F and she is really pleased to be going back and can’t wait to see her teacher. With F going to school on Wednesday and D going into work tomorrow (just for a few hours and it won’t be at all like her usual work) there’s a lot of change this week.

Feel like I’ve not really spent much time with B today. He was struggling with his Spanish this morning and was a bit frustrated. I think F going back to school is likely to make him feel a bit down as well (although he may enjoy a bit of time with me to himself when F is in school and D at work on Thursday morning).

It’s been raining this evening and our new water butts have been doing their job – the first butt is already a quarter full and its still raining!

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Second bake of the day

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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.

12th June 2020

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  • Feeling: unsettled
  • Listening to: Nothing really
  • Watching: QI

Its been a hard week. Work has been constant for me, I’ve been tired and not really found the time for D, F and B like I should. F has found the last few days difficult and was worrying about me today.

Today we got notification that Fs school will be opening to her year group next week. This was rather unexpected and has left me a bit unsettled – I still feel rather wary about the rate at which various lockdown measures are being eased, and very unsure that having kids back into school is a good idea. On the other hand it might be good for F – and of course the kids have to go back to school at some point – maybe its better for that to happen for a short period now rather than wait until September. I really don’t know.

We haven’t talked to F about this yet but will need to before Monday – and I think she’ll be very eager to go back – although the reality of it might be a shock I guess.

I’m trying to look forward to the weekend and hope to do some work clearing the area where I’m planning to put the decking and actually ordering the materials to start work. We are also all looking forward to watching the new Artemis Fowl movie on Disney+ over the weekend (although the reviews aren’t great!)

I should say F had a really nice session with Liz this morning and she was laughing and chatting away – I love seeing her like that.

B cooked pizza for tea – perhaps not quite as successful as his last attempt (he tried, at my suggestion, a sourdough pizza recipe and I don’t think it was as successful).

Anyway, for tonight I’ve eaten too much chocolate and now I’ve poured myself a glass of brandy. Hopefully I’ll sleep well and tomorrow will be able to approach things with a clearer and less stressed mindset.

Stay safe, stay strong everyone x