Day 31 – Last Friday of the Easter Holidays

Tracy spent the day at work, and I had an annual leave day. This is the last day of the Easter school holidays and it rained just at the point when we were going to go out for a walk to get some exercise. Lucy also had a bit of a meltdown at that point and she had an afternoon nap while she calmed down. I suspect she’s been staying up a little too late and then waking up when it gets light in her bedroom.

Lego Houses

As with most of the last week Lucy built and rebuilt rooms in a Lego friends bungalow. She also played out some scenarios in the bungalow between the building.

Today she talked me through the bedrooms for the family members. There were three, one for the parents with a double bed. One for their son, and a third for twin girls who had bunk beds.


Alexander and I finished off a two stage bread. Yesterday we mixed some self-raising flour with water and oil. Separately we made a loose dough of spelt flour and the sourdough starter. Today we mixed it all together, kneaded it for a bit and put it aside to prove.

At lunchtime Alexander made some flatbreads in a frying pan using some of the mixture. Afterwards he used most of it to make some pizza bases. We had pizza for dinner, and the remainder went in a loaf tin for later.

Green belt

During the afternoon Mrs E dropped by with Lucy’s new green belt. She did testing over zoom earlier in the week, and is now the proud owner of a green belt.

Fixing Spindles

We’ve had three broken spindles at the top of our stairs for some time. We’ve been meaning to go and get some from a DIY place but not quite got round to it. With the lockdown Tracy ordered some online and we’ve been waiting for a rainy day before putting them in.

So it rained this afternoon. While it did I got the tools out from the garage, measured up the spindles and cut them to size. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Once they were all in place, I dragged the vacuum cleaner upstairs to clean up all the sawdust.

Last Emperox

The third book in John Scalzi’s latest trilogy got released earlier this week. So between all the other things going on I got stuck in to reading it. It’s pretty good, if you like science fiction I’d recommend it to you.

Day 28 – Back to Work Tuesday

The four day weekend is over, although the kids are still off school. Tracy was back on the ward, and I rolled out of bed and logged into my work laptop to catch up on what happened over the weekend before Lucy woke up.

Last night Lucy had decided to sleep under her bed, which I only realised this morning when she told me. She wanted a change and built herself a nest in the area under the bed. If you look closely you can see her bedtime reading, Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls. She’s gone to sleep in there again this evening.


My work was in three distinct phases. From 0700 until just after ten, and then from 11 until after half two, and then three until just before five. Lucy had a martial arts grading by zoom and a birthday party. In between those I read a lot of emails, and spent some time on the phone and video. Over the weekend I found an attachment to hold a mobile phone on a camera tripod. I fitted that to my mini gorilla tripod and am now using that for video conferencing.

Birthday party

Lucy’s friend Amalie, who lives round the corner, turned 8 today. Because of the lockdown she couldn’t have a proper party, so her mum organised one on houseparty. Lucy wrote the card out, and wrapped the present (Lego dots – a flexible wrist band with Lego studs on it that you can decorate with Lego pieces). Then we decided to go and deliver it in person just before the party.

We met another of Lucy’s friends on the way out. Lola and her mum had the same idea as us, and their car was parked in front of our house. So we waved and said hello for a minute. Then Lucy and I went round to Amalie’s house and left the present and card by the door. We waited at the end of the drive and had a chat with Amalie and her mum for a few minutes before going back home.

Once I’d got Lucy logged into the houseparty app on Tracy’s phone I hid in my bedroom so that I could carry on working. From the excited shouting coming from downstairs I’m pretty certain Lucy enjoyed the party. I only had to intervene once!


It’s Lucy’s birthday in a few weeks, and I needed to go to the Argos at the back of Sainsbury’s in Redhill to collect the present I’d ordered. We also needed a few things, including cheese, diet cola, pasta, flour, cotton buds and any cheap Easter Eggs that might be left over. Immediately after dinner I took Alexander with me to help carry it all.

We did OK on the Easter egg front, scoring four medium and one large egg for £5. I also found the pasta aisle had been restocked, although only with penne and fusilli. There still wasn’t any flour, but I found the paprika that we hadn’t been able to get last time, and everything else that was on our list, plus half price grass seed for outside my hut. We also got a video that Tracy said she wanted to watch and some sweets as small treats.

With the shopping done we collected Lucy’s present. It was rather larger than I’d expected!


Having spent most of the day behind my work laptop I needed some exercise. So I took the kids on four laps of the green in front of the house, and we had some fun with a ‘magic’ stick. Alexander pretended to be Boblin the Goblin and did a character voice and walk. Lucy turned herself into Vikki the Fighter from Carmena. I was Dad the Bad, and we each took a turn wielding the stick to chase the other two round the green. There was an extended roleplay story going on as we raced round at a fast walk.

Once Lucy had done four laps I took Alexander on a longer walk over the railway and back down through the rec to home. We got in about three miles. That gave Lucy enough time to be in bed so that we could stash her present in the garage.


The last thing I did, before writing this and going to bed, was to try to fix a couple of issues Alexander has been having with his laptop. His school uses Microsoft office 365 for the schoolwork, and go4schools to allocate homework. Alexander hasn’t been able to print to our printer and couldn’t open PDF files or PowerPoints from the browser. Each time he tries to open one (from a link in Firefox) it causes a cascade of new tabs. You need to kill Firefox to make it stop.

I installed a PDF reader to solve that issue and it was straightforward. I tried the same with a PowerPoint viewer but that didn’t work. It garbled the presentation. But I did discover that saving the file locally and then uploading to open in the PowerPoint web all worked fine.

Alexander’s printing issue from Office 365 is a feature, not a bug. The web versions are not as good at layout as the native apps. So they produce a pdf instead. You are then supposed to print the PDF from your preferred PDF viewer app.

Day 27 – Easter Monday

The second day of the weekend for us. Quite a.lot colder than yesterday too. We spent a large chunk of the day in the garden, digging and cutting. We even ate lunch al fresco. Between getting up and making breakfast I had one last look over the model I built on Friday, and uploaded it for a blog post. If you are wondering how long the lockdown will last then my Covid-19 model might help.

Buttering the Toaster

Over breakfast I managed to butter the toaster. I only really like buttered toast when it’s done immediately and all of the butter melts into the toast. I never have butter (or margarine) on anything that won’t melt it, I can’t tolerate the texture/feel of it.

So I had put some margarine on the knife ready to start spreading it as soon as I’d got the toast out of the toaster. When it popped up the toast stuck in the lip of the toaster and I needed to wiggle the lever while trying to get the toast out. This needed two hands, and I had the loaded knife in my right hand. So I used that. As I wiggled a dollop of margarine came off the knife and fell into the toaster. It started smoking.

Somehow it had missed the toast, and fallen down to the bottom of the toaster. As it turned out the toast wasn’t quite ready anyway, toasters only seem to do stale bread or burnt. I removed the toast from the toaster and took the crumb tray out. The margarine hung over the gap, taunting me. A large pile of crumbs covered the worktop under the toaster. It took some thumping and banging the toaster in the worktop to dislodge the margarine, and a double handful of crumbs.


Tracy and I finished off clearing the brambles and other weeds from outside the hut. While she got stuck into the digging I moved the spare topsoil to the raised beds at the back of the garden. When I’d got it looking a bit more level I then started moving the roots, leaves and branches we’d dug up to the back of the garden. Normally I’d have a fire to burn them when they’ve dried out a bit. However we’ve not burned any garden rubbish since the autumn. Initially this was because it was too wet, but we’ve not done it recently because everyone is at home and we don’t want to smoke people out.

Alexander started to mow the grass, but it failed almost immediately. A couple of wooden skewers managed to get trapped in the blades and stopped it turning. There was smoke coming out of the motor when, after unplugging it, I helped unstick the blades. It wouldn’t restart. Fortunately though we still have the old lawnmower, and he was able to mow the grass with that.

When we finished the digging out of roots we stopped for a bit of lunch on the patio. We had biscuits and cheese, olives, hummus and crisps. While we ate the robins, blackbirds and wagtails took turns finding the insects and worms on the patch we’d dug up. They also sang quite a bit too. It was a nice moment in the sunshine.

After lunch Tracy took the children, on foot, to the Co-op to do some shopping. While they were away I carried on with putting fabric over the area we’re going to pave and then moving the paving slabs that were in front of the hut. These had all been grown over because there wasn’t fabric under them when they were put there a decade ago. This is the next area to be cleared, some of the soul from here will go into raised beds. Then the spare concrete slabs at the back of the garden will go on top of fabric to make a level path under the washing line.


Just before Tracy for back I moved to the front garden to carry on some of the work we’d started there. As I was tidying up a bit and starting to dig out a stump, I realised that Vinny from No18 was rotivating a bit of the nature area on the green. Vinny is a cub scout leader in the same group that I help with, he’s on Monday cubs and I do Thursday. So I went over for a chat, from over the road to maintain our distance.

Vinny was prepping a bed for some wildflowers, and I offered the box of wildflower seeds that I had spare. While we were chatting a woman came by with her teenage daughter and said hello, again at a safe distance. They lived on Taynton Drive and were out for their daily exercise. We had a friendly chat about how things had changed before they carried on.


I’ve got quite a bit of exercise in the garden yesterday and today. So I didn’t go for a walk after dinner. I can really feel my shoulders and arms from swinging the pickaxe!

Day 26 – Easter Sunday

I was woken this morning with a about of “Hoppy Easter!” before Lucy threw a Cadbury creme egg Easter egg at me. So I did what any sled respecting Dad would do in that situation. I got out of bed, made some coffee and ate the chocolate egg for breakfast.The kids each got a present for Easter and one chocolate egg. Alex has a baby Yoda plush somewhere in transit to the UK. Lucy had an LOL Easter Surprise. They also got some money from their Nanna and Grandad, and Lucy used hers, along with the pocket money she’d saved to buy the Lego Mia House. I’d anticipated this and already ordered it from Amazon, so it was on top of the shelf until she’d negotiated the purchase from me.

So the morning was pretty relaxed, mostly featuring chocolate, hot cross buns and Lucy building her Lego. I went upstairs and sat with Alexander for a bit as he built things in Minecraft. I experimented with a painting app on my tablet and a stylus. It was pretty good.


After lunch, which was the rest of the jambalaya for three of us, I went out into the garden to cut things down. My first thought was to try and clear some of the back of the garden before it turned into a jungle. So I rolled the extension cable as far up the garden as I could and set the old lawnmower on the longest setting. At the time I thought that Tracy was going to come out with the kids, but that didn’t happen.

It was pretty hot, 22°C according to the forecast, so I didn’t knock myself out at it. I mowed a path up to the compost heap at the very back of the garden. The compost heap itself is covered in nettles and brambles. I’d quite like to get into it and move some of the compost in the raised beds. However when I got that far the cable didn’t quite reach and the lawnmower choked on the long grass/bramble/nettle mix.

So I switched to weeding the raised beds. There were a couple of green shoots I’d missed in the first one. I took them out and then spent about an hour clearing the second one completely apart from the ten strawberry plants that were growing in it. There were quite a few weeds around the bricks on the raised beds, so I fetched some shears from the shed and cleared round the outside of three of the beds. I also started on the brambles that had infested the main strawberry bed.After a break Tracy wanted me to finish off putting fabric on the area outside the shed. So I left the back of the garden and took up the pickaxe to dig the ground and clear the roots. I ended up lifting some of the path too, as many of the roots went under it. Tomorrow I’m hoping that I’ll get to finish this off.

Evening Walk

Alexander and I went for a short walk so that he could get some exercise. On the return leg we spotted some things outside a house in Radstock Way with a sign saying “Please Take Me”. There was a battered trangia camping stove. So I picked it up to bring home. It’s clearly spent some time on a shelf somewhere, and it will need a serious clean. If it works then it will come in handy for the scout camps when we are allowed to do that sort of thing again.