19th April 2020: Lockdown Birthday


My birthday today! I woke in the early hours (around 4:30) but eventually got back to sleep and so slept through D and the kids getting up to get my presents, a cup of tea and toast and jam for me to have breakfast in bed.

We always open presents and cards first thing – before getting out of bed – and today was no exception. I got some lovely cards including a handmade coffee-themed one from B & F (Espressily for you!) and from my Mum a lovely photo of me and my Dad from my birthday last year. I also got a book (“Shadows of the Short Days” by Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson – Icelandic urban fantasy I think), a handmade, personalised, wooden whisky tumbler & some single malt Speyside whisky, and a wooden automaton to make.

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Lovely collection of cards and presents

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B and F have designed me a picture frame which B has created in some 3D modelling software – ready for printing once we get the 3D printer back up and working.

B was already baking by the time I got up (lemon cake ) and F was determined to read a book from one of my favourite childhood series The Song of the Lioness, and spent most of the morning curled up on the sofa with a book (F loves to read but only when she chooses – both the time and the material – never if we suggest reading something). After second breakfast and cake baking/reading was done we all went out for a walk in the beautiful sunshine. Spring really is moving on and it was lovely to see flowers out – even this simple sea of daisies in the park…

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Daisy ocean

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…and this beautiful blossom.

We had lunch in the garden and then I started to build the wooden automaton – a guitarist. It was fun to do and I finished it just now.

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Timberkits guitarist = done!

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In the afternoon we watched a film “Four kids and It” – a modern re-working of Five Children and It (the original by E. Nesbit, the new novel by Jaqueline Wilson, now a Sky film) which was a good fun family film. I talked to E and family and my Mum during the afternoon and it was lovely to talk to them. There was also more baking as D and F made me cinnamon buns with a salted caramel sauce – yum!

After the kids were in bed, D and I watched (well I watched, and D tolerated) Streets of Fire – which has become a bit of a birthday tradition for me. If you haven’t seen it (and you probably haven’t) it’s a sort of action/musical with music by Ry Cooder and Jim Steinman, costumes by Armani and directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors). It is about as 80s as you can get, with a 50s meets 80s aesthetic with Rick Moranis, William Defoe and Diane Lane playing second fiddle to more obscure 80s actors Michael Paré, Amy Madigan and Deborah Van Valkenburg. The whole thing comes across as a dark neon fever dream that takes itself slightly too seriously – and I love it. D puts up with a lot xxx

I had a lovely day and was spoiled by my lovely family. What more could I want?

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Out in the sun with the birthday boy

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Stay safe, stay strong x

11th April 2020: a 9th Birthday in lockdown

  • Feeling: Pleased that F enjoyed her birthday
  • Listening to: Apple music “Chill” mix
  • WatchingSpiderman: Far from home

I’d been worrying about Fs birthday and it being a special day for her despite the circumstances. Happily she seemed to have a great day, and even though at the end of the day she was a bit tired and grumpy, I think that was just normal over-tiredness after an exciting day – to be expected on any 9yo birthday.

She was really pleased with her presents – from sweets, colouring books and pens to spray paints to a computer of her very own (an Acer Chromebook 11).

F had specifically requested to wake at 7am and got me to set her alarm – I think she was worried about missing out on some fun if she slept any later. I made sour cream waffles for breakfast and after coffee F made us do a read through of another of her presents – a script from Cabin Pressure – a radio comedy written by John Finnemore. Since there are four main characters (and this particular episode, Limerick, only features the four leads) we were able to take one part each and read through the whole episode.

F played a computer game B had written for her specially for her birthday (the actual present B had ordered for her didn’t arrive in time but I think will provide some extra excitement when it does reach us).

Then the kids played outside a bit while I started to mix some dough for some pita bread so we could have it for lunch.

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Pita bread

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Inevitably the kids fell out after a little while, and F came storming in – but luckily we’d saved another birthday treat for her – a special birthday message from Tweedy the clown.

Tweedy is a stalwart of the Cheltenham Pantomime in the winter and Giffords Circus in the summer (although sadly not this year), and is a firm favourite with all the family (my Dad in particular would be reduced to hysterics watching him). I’d seen him offer on Instagram to do birthday messages, and emailed him, and got a video back – and F loved it. She must have watched it 4 or 5 times back-to-back immediately, reduced to fits of giggles each time.

After lunch in the garden we spent the afternoon out of the sun, with F starting to setup her first website from her Chromebook, and doing some drawing and colouring using her other presents.

F had requested spaghetti bolognese and a Victoria sandwich for her birtday tea. Luckily we’d been able to get everything except the spaghetti – and somehow I’d got the last packet of linguine in the supermarket – so she pretty much got what she wanted.

I got a bit (lot?) grumpy while I was baking the cake as our hand mixer broke while I was trying to cream the butter & sugar, and I made a bit of a mess as I tried to beat the mixture by hand. I think I was a bit tired by that point, as I fell asleep later in the afternoon. Anyway – the cake turned out great and B helped me do the butter cream & jam filling.

In the afternoon we had a Zoom call with most of Fs close family – aunts, uncles, cousins and her grandma – we all got to sing happy birthday and she blew out the candles (a feat she then repeated later during the weekly quiz we are doing on Zoom).

Overall a very successful day. Happy Birthday F. Stay safe, stay strong, keep smiling.