24th May 2020

  • Feeling: Tired and like I’ve “caught the sun”
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Stumptown

I woke sometime in the early hours but managed to get back to sleep and then woke again at 7, and finally got out of bed around 8 when I gave up trying to pretend I wasn’t awake yet.

I’d started some sourdough starter off last night to have some to make bagels and pancakes this morning, so I started off the morning baking.

View this post on Instagram

Sunday pancakes

A post shared by Owen Stephens (@ostephens72) on

View this post on Instagram

More bagels

A post shared by Owen Stephens (@ostephens72) on

Alongside the baking I also worked (with F again) on the potting table project – and we now have a potting table ready for D to use – although F still wants to add some more details like a holder for the pots.

View this post on Instagram

Pallet potting bench

A post shared by Owen Stephens (@ostephens72) on

D got out for a run again, and we were all going to go for a walk in the afternoon, but then ____ rang having had some bad news (a friend had died suddenly) so I stayed and talked to ___ while everyone else went for a walk.

B wanted to work on a new programming project – to write a “2D rigid body physics engine” (basically a computer program that makes the physics of games like Angry Birds work) – and wanted me to help. This is definitely outside my comfort zone and I’m not sure I was lots of help, but I suggested some basic steps to get started and he gave it a go.

We also had a family quiz again with my family, and I made roast chicken + roast potatoes for tea.

We finished the day snuggled up on the sofa watching TV.

I’m feeling tired this evening but happy that its a long weekend!

Stay safe, stay strong x

23rd May 2020

  • Feeling: Up and down
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Been a bit up and down today emotionally, which I think is probably down to being a bit tired. Had some really good moments with the kids, but also got very upset with both of them during the day.

After watching Shop Class yesterday F was keen to make something, and for a while we’ve had a pallet sitting in the back garden which I’d promised D I’d make into a potting table for her – so we worked on a design together and after a bit of planning started pulling the left over nails out of the pallet wood and then started constructing the table.

This project took up most of the day although with lots of breaks, and we’ve not finished yet (the legs still need to go on and F has plans for a “pot holder” on top and some decoration), but I’m pretty pleased with what we’ve done and it was (mainly) really good to work on this with F.

D spent some time cleaning the kitchen this morning and organising plants, and then had a quiet afternoon mostly curled up on the sofa with a book (F and I had contributed to making her morning more stressful than it needed to be – sorry).

Despite being pleased with the potting table project, by the evening I was feeling a bit down after another falling out with F (because I said “No” to some TV), and not really in the mood to do the weekly quiz by C – but I was really glad we did because it cheered me up and I got to spend some time with B who I’d not really seen much during the day as I’d been focussed on the project with F.

Unfortunately I had another “down” dip when it came to the kids bedtime – which wasn’t a great way to finish the day with them.

After flipping channels for at least 15 minutes this evening eventually D and I watched “Birdman” (my choice) which is a film I’ve had on my “to watch” list for ages – it kind of suited my mood as it’s both funny and tragic by turn, and quite an odd movie overall. I quite enjoyed it though.

I’ve fed my sourdough starter this evening and tomorrow morning hoping to have enough to make bagels plus pancakes for breakfast.

Stay safe, stay strong.

22nd May 2020


Pretty good day today. All up a bit late (even D was a bit later this morning). I had a pretty heavy day of work with calls morning and afternoon, but it was all pretty productive. I also managed to make some soda bread this morning.

View this post on Instagram

Soda bread

A post shared by Owen Stephens (@ostephens72) on

D was also working hard, and even managed to get herself out for a run at lunch.

F created a presentation on parrots and their reproductive habits (!) with more transitions than you can imagine (text appearing on the screen only to be whipped away and appear somewhere else as you eyes desperately chase it round the slide trying to read it). She also declared an interest in doing some algebra so I had a pretty successful maths lesson with her later in the day – which finished with a discussion of “R” and whether people who had already had COVID19 could be re-infected (which seemed like a pretty perceptive question from a 9yo).

B had a Spanish test in the morning, and in the afternoon both kids worked on creating collages on the computer using images made available by the British Library and the instructions in the British Library pamphlet “How to make art when we’re working apart“. Later in the afternoon the kids went upstairs armed with the iPad and wooden swords to “make a film” – we haven’t seen the results yet, but it was hard to tell if they were having fun acting or having a raging argument.

We decided to treat ourselves to a chinese takeaway this evening which we all enjoyed, and then watched “Shop Class” on Disney+ – a show where kids and “Shop Class” teachers (what I think we’d call Design & Technology in this country – basically design and engineering + wood work/metal work etc.) compete to make things. It was good fun, although I think F is getting some pretty big ideas about what we might be able to build at home now!

At the end of the day we’re pretty relaxed and looking forward to the bank holiday weekend

Stay safe, stay strong x

21st May 2020


Slept surprisingly well and everyone except D slept in this morning – both kids struggled to get to sleep last night because of the heat.

Both B and F have music lessons (piano and drums respectively) on Thursday. B had a Grade 1 “mock exam” with his piano teacher this morning – and his teacher said he did well enough to pass – which is great since its taken him a long time to get to this stage – shame he can’t do the real exam at the moment!

F has definitely taken to the drums (we got her a drum kit for Xmas last year) and has a good sense of rhythm. More practice wouldn’t hurt but she enjoys it and its something of her own since none of the rest of us have any idea (although she does pass on her knowledge to me in occasional lessons). Staying with drumming (sort of) we watched the first episode of SK Shlomo’s Homeskool Beatbox Adventures today which she really enjoyed (we saw SK Shlomo at the Cheltenham festival last year and he was great – I’d love to be able to beatbox with some degree of skill and credibility – which I suspect at my age isn’t going to happen!). F immediately wanted to know how she could be part of the “Zoom Room” which is used to get some interactivity going in video.

F also had a session with Liz/Mrs C today which she really enjoyed – she was just overflowing with chat and wanting to share poems and stories she’s been working on – it was really lovely to see and I think was something F needed.

I had quite a full work day, and didn’t finish until 9:30 due to some interviews with people in North America – but because I knew I was going to be working in the evening I tried to take it easier during the day, especially straight after lunch – I was able to take time out and cook bolognese for tea.

And in the garden another rose is open, revealing this beautiful centre.

Stay safe, stay strong.

20th May 2020

  • Feeling: Tired during the day, better this evening
  • Listening to: Nothing today
  • Watching: Great British Sewing Bee

Really hot today, which left me feeling very tired during the day (and even had to have a nap in the afternoon). Although I had some training to deliver first thing, overall I had a quieter Wednesday than usual due to a couple of cancelled meetings – which was a relief.

B had “Food Tech” homework and had to cook something so decided to make pita bread – which was a great success.

Very nice virtual choir this evening, and a chat online with a few choir friends was a nice pick-me-up this evening.

In the garden one of our new roses (a Ferdinand Pichard) is out which is lovely – mainly pink with small flashes of white.


Hoping it cools down a bit tomorrow!

Stay safe, stay strong.

19th May 2020


I think both D and I have been feeling restless the last couple of days. Work dominates most days for both of us, and we are feeling cooped up (of course – this states the obvious!). Hopefully the upcoming long weekend will be a chance for a bit of a rest and a re-set.

Spoke to F’s teacher this morning and hearing her voice really cheered F up – she had a real smile on her face afterwards. It’s amazing what these little bits of contact can do to your mood.

B was up and working early today – not sure what time he started but by the time I woke he was already at his desk and working away.

Conversely I found it hard to focus on work today and ended up having to do some catching up this evening instead.

Meanwhile the kids virtual art lessons the last two weeks have been on “colourful cats” which has been going really well – the most successful of the art projects they’ve worked on since lockdown began.

My dad’s name was added to a memorial stone in the churchyard near their house today and E sent a picture, and meanwhile, out in the garden our peony has just come into bloom.

Stay safe, stay strong.

18th May 2020

  • Feeling: Sleepy
  • Listening to: nothing today
  • Watching: The Mandalorian

Woke up reasonably early today to get myself ready for teaching an online course this morning. After I’d got that out of the way I had a load of other meetings through until 4pm. I did manage a short break at lunch and it was nice enough to eat in the garden.

It was my nephew (I)’s birthday today so the kids did a jibjab card for him in the morning, and spoke to him on FaceTime in the evening. Apart from that a pretty standard day for them – some school work, Art and online tutoring sessions are the usual pattern for Monday.

F has been re-watching A Series of Unfortunate Events and today watched the final episode which left her a bit sad – lots of characters die across the series and the last episode is no exception. It also refuses to end neatly and although it does tie up a lot of loose ends, it also leaves the main characters fates as broadly unknown (although apparently the book series is bleaker in its ending!). F struggled to sleep tonight with thoughts about the story still running through her mind.

We had a nice tea thanks to D’s decision to buy a sticky toffee pudding last week which we had with custard this evening – we don’t usually have desserts so it was a nice treat.

D has also been working on a basket to hold our remote controls which she finished this evening. I don’t really imagine the remotes will stay in there, but it is a lot more attractive than the current cardboard box they fail to stay in.

Stay safe, stay strong.

17th May 2020


The morning started with a very cheerful F trotting into our bedroom pleased to be “awake first”. I made tea for me and D, and we all shared some left over pastries for breakfast.

D and I put together the new cold frame which arrived last week and got the tomato, sunflower and nasturtium plants out in it.

C from choir had posted a little video tour of her garden on Facebook and it was so nice, we decided to do one as well (although slightly annoyed with myself that I filmed it in portrait mode).

In the afternoon we watched the latest Star Wars film, which was fine, although having really enjoyed The Force Awakens, the last two films have felt a bit ponderous and I’ve not really been grabbed by the storylines.

After that B and F had put together a quiz for my side of the family using Kahoot (inspired by a similar quiz done by R, one of their cousins from Ds side) – which seemed to go really well.

I had to do some work for tomorrow, so I spent most of the evening doing that, and now a bit tired, but it’s been a good day and I’m feeling very positive this evening.

Stay safe, stay strong.

16th May 2020


A very lazy day today. I got up to get breakfast pastries from Haddie and Trilby first thing, but after breakfast ended up nodding off on the sofa. While I was asleep D, F and B went for a walk.

This set the tone for the day – I did a bit of reading, listened to some music, and eventually managed to get myself into the garden and constructed a sort of camp stool out of the hedge trimmings.

F was a bit bored today, although she did try to fly a kite in the garden (unsuccessfully) and did some spray painting later on.

D made some flower headwear for C’s quiz this evening (each week there is a dressing up theme – this week “flowers”)

C had included a Harry Potter round in the quiz for Freya – which cheered her up (especially as we got full marks on that round – but then badly let ourselves down in the Sport round!)

This evening D and I rented the Birds of Prey movie to watch which was quite fun. Now bed time.

Stay safe, stay strong.

15th May 2020


Got up early (6) to try to catch up on some work this morning – although it took me a while to get going at least I was working before 8am and got quite a lot done this morning – although the early start rather caught up with me in the afternoon.

Had an OK day, and dropped some plants and other things off for C – and got to see N – a real life friend in the flesh! (albeit from a distance) and with two deliveries (pillows and a cold frame for the garden) – by lockdown standards this was already a pretty interesting day 🙂 However, the real excitement of the day wasn’t until the evening when we sat down to watch the final / banquet episode of the Great British Menu.

What seems like an age ago, although in reality just a few months, B was invited to attend the children’s literature themed banquet at Exeter (aka Jordan) College in Oxford by Scoop magazine (an arts & literature magazine for children) – because he has written book reviews for them.

On a very stormy day in February B and D set off to attend the banquet, only to find that trains were either cancelled or extremely delayed. So F and I interrupted our breakfast at the nearby Costa to go and get them and drive them to Oxford.

While F and I went on and spent a really nice day with my Mum in Cheltenham, B and D got to enjoy the banquet and to meet some of their heroes. It probably goes without saying that they thought the food was amazing, but it was also an opportunity to meet a whole range of brilliant people from Lemn Sissay to Nina Wadia to Cressida Cowell to … too many to name (not forgetting, of course, Susan Calman).

It was so exciting for us to see the results today of what was a very long day and for D and B to relive the experience with us – and even in this digital age it was still incredibly exciting to see them on the actual telly!

I’m still feeling excited by it now! (and also still chuckling at B saying “possibly the best dessert I’ve ever had” as if he had some other contenders to consider alongside the amazing edible book cooked up by top chef Alex Greene!)

Stay safe, stay strong.