This lockdown is much more boring than the previous one was. On one hand we’ve got used to staying in, so there’s a little less mental strain on not being able to go anywhere. On the other hand the weather is cold and wet, then it gets dark early. So there’s less happiness to be got from being out in the garden. It’s pretty easy to sit outside on the patio and be with nature when it’s moderately warm and daylight after dinner. It’s entirely different when it’s the same temperature as your fridge, drizzling and dark.
The highlight of my day was a walk with Lucy to the local co-op. We went the long way round to get some exercise, and played three rounds of the A-Z game. One on things you can wear, one on animals, and one on things you have actually eaten. The items you can wear was the hardest of the three. Although things you’ve actually eaten is quite tricky for the fussy eaters….
At the co-op Lucy chose a packet of Rolos as her treat for going on a long walk (by her standards). On the way there she’d told me all about a wedding planner game she’s been playing in her tablet. On the way back I explained to her about the last rolo. I also told her that we’d had a single rolo wrapped in the end of the roll in our wedding favours. I had to eat a lot of Rolos in the weeks leading up to our wedding!
I did manage another trip out. We had some parcels that needed dropping off at the post office. This included the replacement control circuit for the Kenwood Chef that I ordered in error. Even with four parcels, including one to Belgium that turned out not to fit through the large letter slot, it took me about ten minutes. What was a bit of a surprise was that the postage of a hardback book to Belgium on the cheapest option was £8.70. This takes 15-80 business days according to the time estimate. Maybe someone is walking there with it? Fortunately there’s no rush for it to get there.
We had snow and ice overnight, although by the time we’d noticed it the rain had turned it into slush. I think that’s a sort of metaphor for 2021 so far, the promise of something good that doesn’t quite turn out to be as pleasant as we might have hope for! It would be nice to have a couple of proper snow days though, it would redeem the winter.
I took a couple of pictures on the way to school with Lucy this morning. There was evidence of a strong snowfall on the grass and the cars. It looked like there was an inch, or maybe more, of snow. The rain had removed it all from the ground though.
I finished off a short story for the Write Club Surrey January session. The Mother’s Dream is a creation myth for the world I built for Fierce, the fantasy novel I finished in November 2020.The world starts off in ice and darkness, and warms up as it is populated and the movement of things heats it with friction. Eventually one of the goddesses sets a small sun going.
Somewhat mysteriously the Kenwood Chef stopped working a few days ago. I used it on New Year’s Day, and the next time I tried to use it nothing happened when I turned it on. So I watched a YouTube video on how to disassemble it. Having done so, along with some general web searching, I identified that the controller was burnt out. Very literally, you can see the carbon scoring in the picture.So we found a replacement part. It looked like an easy fix given the modular nature of the components.
Unfortunately in trying to find a better price for it I managed to get slightly side tracked. The link I ended up on looked like it was the same one, but turned out to be for a slightly different model of Kenwood Chef. So when I had it all apart to fit the replacement I discovered that it didn’t fit. So it’s all packed up to be returned, and we need to wait longer for the replacement to arrive.
Food – National Shortbread Day
According to Lucy today is National Shortbread Day. I guess in honour of all the packets and boxes of shortbread doing the rounds for New Year. At school today Lucy made shortbread, and it was very nice indeed. It went down well after dinner. I do really wish she’d been able to make more, or at least brought the recipe home too.
Another Scots delicacy that I managed today was some fried clootie dumpling. There was the end of a piece I’d made in the bottom of the bread tin. It was fairly small, and I was very hungry, so I decided to shallow fry it with a small knob of margarine. The margarine wasn’t the right stuff for that, butter would have been much better. That said, I suspect that when I had this as a kid it was probably fried in a mixture of bacon and Lorne sausage fat. Practically lard. The margarine burnt a bit, but the dumpling was still good to eat.
As of midnight we’re back in Lockdown. I think it’s our third time, but seeing as the brief spell in November was both short and the schools stayed open we’re not counting that one.
Lockdown 2 School
Schools are closed, just like in Lockdown 1. However this time round things are a bit more organised. With Tracy working for the NHS we have the option to send the children to school. We didn’t need to ask Lucy. She watched the announcement with us and noticed that key workers’ children were allowed to go to school. So she decided that meant she would go to school today.
Lucy didn’t enjoy school from home, even though she got really good with Lego and read lots. So Tracy took her in this morning. When I picked her up she was pretty excited about her self-described ‘best school day ever’. She had seven class mates today, and they talked a bit about Covid-19, did a worksheet, and then played and watched a video. She’s keen to go back tomorrow.
Planning Lockdown 2
As it happened neither Tracy nor I were at work today. We’d previously planned our day to pick up things we needed for later. Those plans got cancelled, and instead we did the shopping at Priory Farm.
We also spent some time thinking about how we help us all get through the lockdown. The key was something to look forward to. So after a bit of back and forth we decided that the plan is for themed days every fortnight. Starting on 16 January we will do a movie themed day with food, clothes, and viewing related to the movie or show in question. In the intervening weekends we’ll do a local takeaway.
This way helps sort some of the stress we had from the country themed meals we did last time round. Although we’re taking turns picking the theme we can all help with preparation. We’re also only doing it every other week, so there’s more time to get ready. As themes we’ve got
It’s been a pretty busy week, non-stop since Lucy’s birthday. I’ve only got to writing the blog posts this morning, following a review of the photos I’ve been taking last night. You may have noticed a flurry of catch-up posts, and there’s still a gap. I expect the rest will follow over the next couple of days.
This weekend has been one of finishing off things, largely as parts arrive. On Friday the new garden shed arrived and we started building it yesterday. Today we finished it off.
We had a pretty slow start to the day. With no alarms and no pressure we all slept late. I spent the morning writing captions on the pictures and starting the backdated blog posts while Lucy sat on the sofa watching YouTube videos of Lego Friends builds.
Garden Shed pt.2
Yesterday we left the shed with four walls attached to the floor. We still had the windows, door and roof to do today, as well as painting it.
The first thing we did today was to fix the covers over the gaps between the panels. Once we’d done that we fitted the windows.
The windows are moulded plastic, which only fitted one way, so we didn’t need to worry about putting them in the wrong way. They’re held in place with a three strips of wood.
Lucy helped by screwing in the bottom screws on each bar with the electric screwdriver. She also helped by passing the screws, until she got bored.
We found the door a bit trickier, mostly because of the hinges. The instructions just had a single vague image, and it took a bit of experimenting and thinking about before we were sure enough to screw the hinges on.
Before that we had to put the slam strip and weather strips on the doorframe to fit it for the way we wanted the door to open.
Once we’d done that it was time to start painting, and both kids spent some time painting the front of the shed and the door while Tracy and I worked out how to do the roof. I also had a small repair to do to the shed. One of the planks in the side of the roof got cracked in transit, and when I was inside the hut with Lucy after we put the door on we noticed that it was a really wide hole.
It wasn’t the only hole we noticed though. Lucy also spotted that there was a knot on the other side that had fallen out, and we could see through it. She made me go out to the other side so that she could wiggle her finger through the hole and I could catch it. Once she’d done that we had to trade places so that she could do it from the other side. It was a shame to plug the hole with the knot again.
The cracked board wouldn’t sit together, so I got a long board from one of the fence panels we’d taken down and sawed it to fit either side of the join. I initially intended to nail it in, like the way the rest of the boards are attached. However without the roof on it bounced too much and the nails wouldn’t go in. So I gave up and screwed it in place with some of the spare screws.
This was by far the most time consuming part of the build, and I’m glad that we left it until after lunch. When we’d finished the leftovers from last night’s dinner we assembled the roof on the grass.
Three sheets of OSB, which I’m not sure what it is, and four 30x30mm strips of wood made a rather flexible roof. Tracy and I hoisted it onto the top of the hut with some difficulty. The individual boards flexed and caught on the supports as we tried to slide it across. It got there eventually, although I realised when we did that the supports weren’t quite in the right place as the overhang wasn’t equal on both sides. Alexander commented on this at some length, but then realised that his friend was running a D&D game shortly and asked to be allowed to go play. Which we did.
That was just the start. What I realised when I was screwing the roof onto the shed was that I’d not cleared the tree branches enough. So I took some time to get the loppers and cut all the branches that I could reach that went over the shed.
With the shed roof screwed on the whole shed was a lot less wobbly than it had been. Once I’d got most of the screws in it felt stable enough for me to crawl in top, which made the next stage much easier.
Lucy helped me measure the shed, and the overhang so that I knew how long the felt had to be. Then we unrolled the felt and measured it with the tape measure. Lucy was quite surprised by the small stones on the outside of the roofing material. We cut out a piece and then Tracy helped me drag it onto the roof. While I crawled on top of the shed Lucy helped Tracy fetch nails, hammers and anything else we needed to get it in the right place. She also played with the tape measure and measured several things while we were hammering in the felt.
It was time for a break about then, and while we had a cheeky ice-cream, Tracy ordered in pizza for 1830. We didn’t stop for long, just enough to eat the ice-cream.
While I finished off getting the felt Tracy resumed painting the outside of the hut. She managed to get most of it painted while I sorted out the rest of the felt with Lucy, and then dragged it onto the top of the hut. We had another spell of working together to get it in the right place, and then Tracy did more painting while I hammered in tacks.
Once the felt was secured to our satisfaction I did the fascias while Tracy did even more painting. Lucy went off to play, and Alexander re-appeared briefly, but only to collect his music box before returning to playing games with his friends. At this point the build was more or less complete.
Tracy finished painting it while I collected up the spare screws, instructions and tools we’d been using. I also tidied away all the power and other tools into the shed, because it isn’t complete as a shed until you are using it.
This isn’t really the end of the shed build, just phase 1. We’ve got to add in some shelves to put things on. Brackets for the spades and forks etc to hang from. Maybe a work surface on the side of the base for when we need to do things. There also needs to be a better tidy up and a small ramp built to make it easy to get the wheelbarrow and lawnmower in and out of the shed.
As a reward for getting the shed built Tracy had promised us a delivery from pizza hut. We shared two large pizzas between three of us. Lucy had almost half of one which had Margherita on one side and American Hot on the other. Alexander had the American Hot half and also 3/8 of the Texas BBQ that I finished off.
As if a load of pizza wasn’t enough the deal also came with a tub of Caramel Chew Chew. One of my favourite ice creams. I interrupted Alexander’s attempt to serve it up by cutting the tub in half with a knife. He was aggrieved that he felt he was getting less than Lucy and I, but accepted in the end that we all had an equal portion.
After dinner Tracy and I put some of Lucy’s toys in the garage. We had her barbie dolls, including the house, and her baby dolls with their pram and cradle. Lucy had suggested putting them away yesterday when she was tidying her room. They’d been blocking the hallway since then. It took a bit of tetris like stacking to get them neatly into the garage in a way that didn’t stop us getting to the other things we might need.
After that it was back out into the garden to get the kids to jump on the trampoline to burn off some of the ice-cream and pizza before bed. While they were jumping I finished the tidy up and also found a large bag of rubble hiding in a bush at the back of the garden. I offered this to my neighbour over the hedge for the ballast he’s looking for to fill the base of the chicken enclosure he’s building.
A fairly standard Monday, even though it followed my five day weekend and everyone else’s four day weekend. Tracy was back at the hospital and I was working from home with the kids doing their school work.
For her writing challenge Lucy decided to write thank you notes for her friends that had dropped off presents in her birthday or shortly afterwards. So she found some paper and envelopes and wrote them out.
In the afternoon when I took some time off from work to help her with school we went for a walk to deliver the cards. We started with Amalie-Grace who lives a few doors down, and then walked through Furzefield Woods to deliver Kirsten & Ella’s card. We weren’t able to deliver Isabel’s because I didn’t know her address, but we did a circular walk back to the house, clocking up a mile.
Even though it was Sunday we still got a delivery this morning. A plush toy Baby Yoda arrived for Alexander. He ordered this using the CBG reward money he’s been earning by helping out.
We lived watching season 1 of the Mandalorian on Disney+. One of the cutest things in the Star Wars universe is the baby Yoda, no-one who’s telling know his real name, so everyone just calls him baby Yoda.
We all love baby Yoda, and there was a bit of a fight over him when he was unpacked. When Alexander went off to do something Lucy appropriated baby Yoda to have some fun.
For our daily exercise, and combining with some shopping, Alexander and I walked into Redhill. Tracy and Lucy drove the car and went round the park while waiting for us.
We took the national cycle route 21 for some of the way. It goes through a little bit of a nature reserve. Some of the low lying land has been allowed to flood, creating a pond that has some wild birds in it, including some nesting swans and some mallard ducks.
We had another full on day with prepping for the afternoon socially distant VE Day 75th anniversary celebration, although the start was a bit later than yesterday, and we had a slightly more relaxed evening as there was nothing else to prepare for tomorrow!
The first step I took in getting ready was to chalk out some squares in our driveway. I wasn’t sure how distant we’d be with our neighbours, so I got the kids pavement chalk and a tape measure out. The first line was the yellow one just over two metres from the pavement edge of the drive (I measured two metres, and then drew the line in the middle of the next whole block along). As it turns out our drive is a bit more than 8 metres from front door to the public pavement.
I did the chalk outlines yesterday, but thought I’d keep the description clear from Lucy’s birthday celebrations. We also put up the bunting and improvised a flagpole with some old gazebo poles last night.
We decided to dress for the VE Day 76 celebrations, and Tracy has some 1940s style dresses. Alexander thought he could pull off a typical 1940s schoolboy look, but he needed a haircut for that. So we got my clippers out and Tracy obliged his desire for a lockdown haircut, a short back and sides 1940s style!
Here they are dressed in their 1940s outfits.
While I got the table and chairs out of the garage and put them on the drive, Tracy was very busy in the kitchen making a sumptuous buffet that our forebears in 1945 would have been jealous of. We also had a slow conversation with our next door neighbours over the fence. Dan told us that he had re-joined the Army Reservc, and showed off some of his new kit (he’s a year younger than me and spent five years as a regular infantry soldier in his teens).
It was a beautiful summer day, so we baked on the drive while eating in the late afternoon.
While we were eating a few of the neighbours stopped by on their daily exercise walks and said hello from the end of the drive. When the light faded we went indoors.