Day 48 – May the Fourth…

We live Star Wars in this house, and both the kids got very into it. Alexander wore his sith costume, and Lucy did her best. I had a star wars t-shirt on, but Tracy had to wear her uniform for work.

School was Star Wars themed for Lucy. She wrote a review of why Rey was her favourite Star Wars character, and when reading time came she read a page of a Star Wars roleplaying game sourcebook before swapping to a Lego Star Wars book, because she said the print was too small. Being fair it was about 9 point font on a page a bit bigger than A4.

After dinner the kids staged a lightsaber fight on the drive. Although Lucy had a stick rather than an actual lightsaber.

We also watched the Phineas and Ferb Star Wars special, which was really good and well worth watching. After dinner Disney+ served us up Episode III Revenge of the Sith, which unsurprisingly is Alexander’s favourite.

Day 12 – Sunday 29th March 2020

Today is the first day of British Summertime, so of course it snowed, hailed and rained for most of the day!

Hail and Snow

When it wasn’t doing one of those it was noticeably colder than yesterday with a biting wind. We did manage to paint the shed though before the first hailstones started coming down. I also cleared away the rest of the stuff we’d cut down, and was just spraying some weedkiller before covering it in black fabric when it started. There will be other days, and it’s not like we have anything else planned for the next couple of months.

We’ve started gardening most years, and what usually derails our attempts to keep it under control is an active social life and weekend trips away. That doesn’t look like it’s going to be an issue this year. Sadly.


I’m starting to get used to staying in, this is my third consecutive weekend out of what might be described as my normal routine. Usually Saturdays involve taking Alexander and Lucy to martial arts lessons in Redhill. They go consecutively, so Tracy and I take Alexander for breakfast in West Central while Lucy has her lesson. Alexander then has an hour and a half of jiu-jitsu and we do some shopping in the market with Lucy and then go for a drink and a snack before collecting Alexander. Sundays are more varied, but if the weather is good gardening happens, and if not sometimes we go to the cinema. Either way we usually go out for some reason.

On 10th March I came down with cellulitis and sepsis. So my routine was disturbed, mainly because I had a couple of days in hospital and then daily IV antibiotics and a couple of follow up trips to hospital as an out patient. That was just when we were all starting to worry about the Covid-19 virus, but before it was properly declared a pandemic.

Just as I was getting better Lucy developed a cough and a temperature. So we went into sled isolation, following the government advice at the time. It’s been a pretty odd couple of weeks. I doubt anyone hasn’t felt that way, and there’s been way more than the usual mental strain. I’ve certainly been fractious at times, and I know my family have been too, although thankfully not all of us all at the same time. What seems to be helpful is realising that we don’t need to do everything all the time.


I think this is going to be a standard heading!

We used up the last of the sliced ham for sandwiches, and finished the fresh orange too. I also finished off the lettuce in the salad I made to go with the pulled pork at lunchtime. That said there’s loads of fruit and vegetables, and also rather a lot of sausages.

Tracy made shepherds pie and a pork stew. Both of them are for other days. The shepherds pie is going in the freezer for later in the week. I’m going to do some dumplings in the pork stew for tomorrow night. It seemed a bit pork heavy to have it this evening, after bacon sandwiches for breakfast, and pulled pork for lunch. The kids and I did have sausages and chips for dinner though. I also had more apple crumble for dessert, although I had it with ice cream this evening. Alexander and Lucy had cupcakes that Lucy made this morning.

The Mandalorian

The TV has yet to move channel from the Amazon Fire Cube that arrived yesterday. As well as a bunch of random TED talks and Jeff Goldblum, we started to watch The Mandalorian this evening. Disney have only released three episodes so far in the UK, which is slightly disappointing. However I really enjoyed both the episodes we watched this evening. It’s pretty awesome, and a great expansion to the Star Wars universe.

Map Making

Apart from the dozen blog posts, which are all easy reportage, I’ve not written any fiction for almost three weeks. It’s was too hard to concentrate on creating things when I was unwell, and since I’ve recovered there hasn’t been enough peace to get into the headspace I need to be properly creative.

When it was alternately hailing and snowing this afternoon I had an attempt to digitise some of my hand drawn maps into inkscape. It sort of worked, but I got bored before I finished. It would be really nice to be able to have digital copies of the sort of thing I can happily draw freehand. It just seems to take so much longer digitising them than it takes me to draw them. I suspect that the answer is to find a way to draw them on a computer.

Day 11 – Saturday 28 March 2020

No work today!

We spent most of the morning and some of the afternoon in the garden. Mainly clearing the area just outside and behind the potting shed. Like lots of the garden it had become more than a bit overgrown.


While Tracy got started with the hedge trimmers, Lucy and I prepared some pots to plant some seeds. We did four trays, with small stones in the bottom and compost on top. One tray was a 50/50 split of flowers. Another got tomatoes, peppers and some chillies. In the third there are spring onions, lettuce and more tomatoes. We also planted some sunflower seeds and some beans. We ought to start seeing some shoots in a week or so.

Outside Tracy cleared the back of the hut, which had Bamboo growing in the space between the hut and the fence. She trimmed up the canes and we’ve kept them for supporting the plants when they finally get planted out.

In front of the hut, out to where one of our plum trees is, we took several passes to chop everything down. About a decade ago this space was a couple of vegetable beds, but some of the large grasses took hold over the winter and they’re pretty hard to get rid of. So the area had lots of brick edging, some wooden boards and also paving slabs hiding under the growth. When we got down far enough I lifted all of them and stacked them out of the way. I also tried to very roughly level it off.

If the weather stays good then tomorrow we’ll put some fabric down and then weigh it down with the paving slabs.

Over on the patio Alexander had the pressure washer out. He moved all the furniture off it and cleaned about half of it. We also managed to clean our very muddy boots too!


Normal breakfast all round. Although we carried on the pattern that’s developed of substantial lunches. Today we had sausage pie and beans. It was our last tin of Heinz baked beans, something else we’ve run out of.

The pulled pork was fab, but we ended up having pasta for dinner with ape crumble and custard for dessert.

Fire TV

The Amazon Fire TV Cube arrived this afternoon. After a short amount of faffing about to find an ethernet cable, and pulling the TV out so that I could get to the sockets, it was working. The first thing I did was turn the microphone off. With just the remote it’s a really fast and responsive box. It has all the streaming services we use on it and a load more besides.

The reason we got it though was Disney+ on the TV. So within about twenty minutes of it arriving Lucy was on the sofa with me and Tracy watching Pixar in Real Life. Lucy then decided that she wanted to watch Descendants. That’s when I went off to make dinner and prep the crumble for dessert.

Day 7 – Tuesday 24th March 2020

For the first day of general lockdown the street outside my window was pretty busy. I saw several people make multiple journeys, and quite a lot of others taking their exercise on the green. More than I usually see when I’m working at home (I tend to look out the window when I’m on conference calls).

We decided last night not to sweat the schedule and to set staying sane and happy as our primary priority as a family. Tracy had today as her normal non-working day, and we all managed a lie in until about 8am. I got straight on with work while Tracy looked for Lucy’s tablet, which was last seen on Sunday. In the meantime I gave Lucy my tablet, and she and Alexander got stuck into the newly released Disney plus.

With Tracy off I was able to get quite a lot done, mostly reading in the morning, and several chats in the early to mid afternoon. This despite some IT issues with the worm laptop. Some of which were user error, and others bandwidth problems. I also got three texts from the government, two identical ones that I think every phone in the UK got telling me to stay at home. I also got one from DWP informing me that I’m a key worker and an essential part of the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Search for the Lost Tablet

Tracy was determined that she was going to find Lucy’s tablet. The last time that anyone remembered seeing it was Sunday morning. Lucy was certain that she’d had it in our bedroom. Yesterday we’d already looked in and under the bed, and on the bedside surfaces. We’d also looked on and under the sofas in the living room.

While I was firing up the work laptop Tracy had another look around our bed. It wasn’t visible, and we thought maybe it had been taken elsewhere. So Tracy went downstairs and moved the sofas and cleaned underneath them. All sorts of interesting things were found, but no tablet.

Shortly after that Tracy came upstairs and pulled everything out from under our bed and swept all the rubbish and dust that had accumulated between all the suitcases that live under there. At one point I came back into the bedroom with some coffee, where I was working in the corner, and all I could see were Tracy’s flip flops sticking out from under the bed. She was completely under the bed! Tracy found £1.35 in coins, but no tablet.

Freezer Diving

Frustrated by the inability to find the tablet Tracy went into the garage to see what we actually had in the freezer. We’ve run out of bread, and the next food delivery isn’t until Friday.

The results of the freezer Diving was an eclectic lunch. When I was called down to eat Tracy was eating some crab sticks. On the kitchen worktop was a pile of small wholemeal wraps, carrot and cucumber batons, hummus, salsa and a baking tray with a selection of Swedish meatballs, fish fingers, vegetarian sausages and a small pizza.

It was a case of last to arrive doesn’t get to choose. I was third in. So I had quarter of the pizza, some meatballs and salsa in a wrap, and a couple of fish fingers along with hummus and carrot. It was a pretty good lunch.

Technology Wrangling

While I ate lunch I plugged an external hard disk into Tracy’s Lenovo Yoga 300. It hasn’t been happy with Windows 10. So I copied all the music, photos and documents off it.

Later on, after dinner, I formatted the hard disk and installed Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS on it. Then I set it up with user accounts for Tracy and Lucy. It was a really smooth install and it was noticeably more responsive with Linux than it had been under Windows. The only functionality glitch was the right click on the trackpad didn’t seem to work. However a minute in Google revealed that it just needed a two finger click.

On my way back to work after lunch I had a very quick look for Lucy’s tablet. I thought about the behaviour of putting it down. Usually I try to plug it in, and I hate leaving it on the floor because there’s a high chance someone will stand on it. So I looked around. Tracy has a movable table with her sewing machine on it, so I looked there. On the lower shelf, under the box with the nail varnish, was Lucy’s tablet.


I’m going to try and preserve my non-working day tomorrow so that Tracy can get more done. It worked pretty well for me today. I worked pretty solidly from half eight until six, and barely stopped for lunch.

I’ve got to make sure the kids get some school work in, but no more than they would normally do if they were at school. It’s pretty noticeable that Alexander’s teachers are pretty optimistic about what can be done in a given time. Messages on the mum network, and the teenager channels, show that everyone is on the same page. So there’s been some gentle pushing back on the school.