Day 2 – Snow and Disappointment [L2]

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.

Snow on a car windscreen 6th January 2021 (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Creative Writing

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.

Repairs

Some of the innards of our Kenwood Chef Titanium, including the burnt out controller on the bottom left. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

The burnt out circuit board for the controller, you can see the carbon on the yellow component and the metal plate on the left. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Lucy with the shortbread she made at school. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Supplies Arrive

This is what greeted me when I went out this afternoon to collect Lucy from school. Tracy put the toilet rolls on a quarterly order in the summer, and this was the latest installment. I think this should be enough to see us through Lockdown 2! (Photo: James Kemp)

Day 61 – Finishing the Shed and Other Things

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.

Lucy eating breakfast on the sofa while watching Lego Friends videos. (Photo: James Kemp)

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

Lucy holding the electric screwdriver while she was helping fit the windows in our new garden shed. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Windows

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.

Lucy gives the thumbs up to the newly installed windows from inside the new shed. (Photo: James Kemp)

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 screwing in the windows on the new shed. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Door

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.

Tracy peering through the window after we’d fitted the door to the shed. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Proving that the door actually opens! (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

One of the shiplap boards in the side of the shed split in transit. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

A spare board from one of the old fence panels was pressed into service to cover the gap. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Roof

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.

The OSB base for the roof on top of the hut, with some overhanging branches. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Tracy and Lucy dividing labour while painting the hut, Tracy did the parts Lucy couldn’t reach. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

The roof with the felt in place and the last fascia screwed in place. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Build complete, and Tracy is almost done painting the shed. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Dinner

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.

Working shed. All the tools at the back end of the garden got put in the shed overnight. (Photo: James Kemp)

 

Day 52 – VE Day 75 Celebrations

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!

In a moment of boredom and anticipating the VE Day street party I got some chalk and a tape measure to make safe 2 metre squares on my drive. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

1925: We put some bunting up round the house for the VE Day celebration, as well as improvising a flagpole. (Photo: James Kemp)

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.

Alexander getting a short back and sides for VE Day, a lockdown haircut! (Photo: James Kemp)

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!

Alexander as a 1940s schoolboy, with Tracy. (Photo: James Kemp)

Here they are dressed in their 1940s outfits.

Tracy looking fabulous 1940s style! (Photo: Jame Kemp)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

A laden table our forebears in 1945 would have dreamt of, no rationing here! (Photo: James Kemp)
Lucy and Alexander enjoying the buffet on the front drive as part of the socially distant VE Day celebrations. (Photo: James Kemp)

 

 

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.

Dusk on VE Day, and the lights came on as I was tidying everything away from the drive. (Photo: James Kemp)

Day 51 – Dawn until Dusk

It’s Lucy’s birthday and she was so excited that she woke us all up at 0530, not quite dawn because it was fully daylight. We had a pretty full on day, and there were an awful lot of pictures.

Lucy at 0542, happy and super excited because it is her birthday!
0545, we’re downstairs and Lucy is playing with her first present. (Photo: James Kemp)

 

 

 

 

0630: We had to wait until Nanna and Grandad woke up to video call so that they could see Lucy open their present. (Photo: James Kemp)

 

 

 

 

 

0654: Lucy sits amidst her presents and plays with them.
0702: Alexander made waffles for breakfast, Lucy got a malteser waffle! (Photo: James Kemp)

 

 

 

 

0710: A happy birthday girl! (Photo: James Kemp)

 

 

 

 

0906: Decadence personified, an extra long straw to save her having to pick up the glass of cherryade while she builds lego. (Photo: James Kemp)

 

0928: Thumbs up for Nanna and Grandad who gave Lucy the lego friends lighthouse. (Photo: James Kemp)

 

 

1007: Concentrating on the build, Lucy working through bag three of the Lego Friends Lighthouse. (Photo: James Kemp)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1016: The Lego Friends Lighthouse build is complete, including a working light! (Photo: James Kemp)

 

1323: Birthday cake being dropped off as an essential supply! (Photo: James Kemp)

 

1322: Lucy blowing out the candle on her birthday cake (Photo: Geoff Low

 

The sparkler 8 candle on the cake (Photo: James Kemp)
1323: Lucy slices the cake and pulls out the first rainbow coloured slice! (Photos: James Kemp)
rainbow cake slice
1325: A slice of the rainbow birthday cake so that you can see the full glory. (Photo: Geoff Low)
1425: Cheers! Lucy with a glass of fizzy (cherryade) on her birthday. (Photo: James Kemp)

 

1925: We put some bunting up round the house for the VE Day celebration, as well as improvising a flagpole. (Photo: James Kemp)
2037: Lucy’s LOL Surprise house with the lights on at bedtime. (Photo: James Kemp)

Day 42 – Rainy Tuesday

For the first time in weeks it rained all day. It also felt noticeably colder, although that night just have been psychological because the sun wasn’t out.

A slighty soggy garden at about 7 this morning (Photo: James Kemp)

The first thing Lucy said to me his morning was the number of days it was to her birthday. I spent a big chunk of the day working while hiding away from everyone else. Tracy had the day off and went out shopping with Lucy after her schooling was done.

Lego

Lucy adding extensions onto Mia’s house (Photo: James Kemp)

Lucy has been ‘renovating’ Mia’s Lego house. It now has a two floor extension on the side and at the back of the the main part. If only real builders worked this fast!

Painting

Tracy took the opportunity of not being able to do things outside to do things inside. One of these was to paint (or rather stain) the spindles at the top of the stairs. Now the three that I replaced a couple of weeks ago don’t stand out against the rest.

She also made some scones and we had an excellent cream tea when she came back from shopping.

Sheds

Sketch plan for the back end of our garden where the vegetables get grown (sometimes). (Image: James Kemp)

After work I did a sketch of my plan for the back end of the garden. We’ve got most of the stuff already, although the one thing I need is a replacement for the hut we took down a couple of years ago. So we spent some time finding a new shed and a supplier that can deliver it. Not sure if we’ll actually get one before the lockdown ends.

I also need some timber and glass (or a substitute) to fix up the potting shed. A couple of the window supports have rotted and the glass fell out during the high winds.

The potting shed with a jury-rigged replacement for the lost windows. (Photo: James Kemp)

Day 40 – Sunshine, Trampoline Fun, Party Prep, and Marshmallows

The original meaning of quarantine was forty days. So I’ve been not going to work for longer than an old fashioned quarantine period.We’ve had a great day today. Most of it spent outdoors enjoying the sunshine, apart from a bit after lunch when we stayed indoors because it was too warm to do more digging. We’ve also eaten well.

Clean Trampoline Fun

While I was digging the patch in front of the hut in a search for the old concrete path, Alexander and Lucy decided to clean the trampoline. Armed with a bottle of washing up liquid, a couple of brushes and the garden hose they bounced and scrubbed the trampoline. As always it quickly turned into a water fight. Tracy and I threw buckets of water at the kids and they sprayed us with the hose.Lots and lots of fun on a lovely warm day.

Food

We had croissants with raspberry jam for breakfast. These came from yesterday’s shopping trip and made a nice change from cereal.Lunch was a home made quesadilla. We also had nachos as a small starter. Tracy made it all while the kids were getting dried and changed from their time on the trampoline.Dinner was even more special. Tracy cooked steak with a blue cheese dressing. It was really good, melting in your mouth and pink in the middle. There was no real need for chewing.

Party Preparation

After lunch we stayed in for a bit to organise things for Lucy’s birthday party. Although it isn’t for a couple of weeks we need to lost things to people so they’ll have part bags, prizes for the games and also some other things.Lucy helped us both sort it out. She enjoyed loading the laminator with the bingo cards. She got pretty efficient with it after she’d done a couple. She also decorated the party bags and helped Tracy sort out the contents.

Garden

After dinner I went back out into the garden. I delivered another wheelbarrow load of topsoil to the furthest raised bed. Then, with the wheelbarrow empty I took a layer of clay soil off the first bed and carted it up to the back of the garden. This was step 1 of the plan to establish a new compost heap on the left side of the garden.I then daisy chained both the garden extension cables so that the hedge trimmer reached the back corner of the garden. Then I cut and raked up the brambles and all the other weeds until the light failed. It took two or three passes, raking up in between each one, to clear the area. I think I completely cleared about a dozen square metres. Here’s the after photo that matches the before photo above.I saved a half dozen nettle plants for an experiment I want to do with Lucy and Alexander later in the week. I’d like to use the leaves to make nettle tea, and the stems to make string.Once I’d cleared enough space I decided to start prep for the new compost heap. This started with a bringing an old rug to throw over the fence to stop things growing through it, and also to contain the compost on this side. I then dumped the wheelbarrow load of clay soil and used it to flatten out the slight slope at the very back.

Marshmallows

We’ve got several piles of woody garden rubbish, and of brambles, that I don’t want to compost. The larger one has been building on our burning circle since the end of last year. The other piles only exist because we’ve tried to avoid burning garden rubbish.Tonight we decided to give in and have a fire. Alexander started it by flicking a lit match at the pile. It caught really quickly.While I was keeping an eye on it Tracy and Lucy came out to watch, and they brought marshmallows with them. The fire was a bit too hot to start with, but it soon died down. We spent a happy half hour watching the flames and toasting marshmallows.Eventually it was time to go in, and I turned the garden hose on it.

Day 37 – St George’s Day

I was working from home again while encouraging the children to do their schoolwork. Alexander seems to have done a fair amount. Lucy less so, but she has done quite a lot of computer skills, specifically finding images and saving them. Also the importance of file extensions, what they tell you about the type of file, and also how to attach files to email. Learning a lot, but I’m not sure how much of it is on the national curriculum!

Car Problems

The car is unwell. The electronics have been cutting out intermittently. When Tracy came home from the hospital yesterday the electrics failed while she was driving down the hill from Caterham, even though the engine kept going. It cut out again when she pulled up on the drive.

So at lunchtime the recovery truck came to take it to the garage. Before that though I persuaded the kids to help me empty the car of all our stuff, and to put the rubbish in the bin. The crate in the boot went into the garage, and a load of Lucy’s books and toys came into the house.

Breadmaker

While we were stashing things from the back of the car in the garage I spotted our breadmaker. We thought we’d given it away, because we’d stopped using it. It was in the part of the garage where we stage things before they go to the tip or a charity shop. There were other things on top of it, which I moved to make space. So I brought it back into the kitchen and cleaned it up.

The instructions were tucked inside it, with the specific recipes optimised for it. In my lunch break I decided to make some bread with the wholemeal bread flour we got at the weekend. I couldn’t find the measuring cup that came with it, so I extemporised with scales and a rough approximation of a cup being 8 ounces, a tablespoon one ounce and doing teaspoons as 5 grams.

As you can see it sort of worked. I think I might have got too much fluid in it because I used milk in place of dried milk powder. I also measured everything by weight rather than volume, and that’s likely to have skewed it a bit. It tastes fine though and has a good crumb, even if it has sunk on top.

Food

With us both working, and Alexander catching up on a heavy day of school work, I went freezer diving to see what would go with fresh bread. We’ve got a lot of meat still in the freezer, but it’s a lot emptier looking than it usually is.

The cancelled Easter trip to see Tracy’s parents meant that it didn’t get filled with fish and farm meat. Trips to Lincolnshire always have a full coolbox on the return leg because the market in Cleethorpes is close to both the fishing industry and the food preparation factories that get it direct from the farm. Everything is both fresher and cheaper than Surrey.

I eventually pulled out some bacon and tomato based pasta sauce we’d prepared some time ago. There was also some ham and cheese tortellini in the freezer. I thought that might supplement the dried penne and go well with some fresh bread.

Scouts Promise Renewal

This year’s St George’s Day event was online rather than in person. We got 47 families connected on our zoom account, many with more than one beaver, cub, or scout. We renewed our promise and then we watched a video from the Surrey Scouts County Commissioner. Lucy thought it was a very nice video. She also enjoyed the opportunity to wear her cub uniform for the first time at an official event.

After the event we went out for the Thursday evening clap for carers and essential workers. We took a couple of photos because it was suggested as a good idea by the scout association.

When the clap was over Alexander and I went out for a walk to get some exercise. We stopped and had a chat with a couple of neighbours, maintaining a safe distance. One of our neighbours thought he has had the virus. He’d just got up from ten days mostly in bed. At one point he was coughing up blood and was seriously considering dialling for an ambulance.

Car postscript

Tracy was a bit late home, which is getting pretty normal lately. However she came home in the car. The garage ran a load of tests, cleaned some bits and took it for a test drive. It seems to be okay, for now. If it goes again we’ll need to get a specialist mechanic to look at the electrical systems in it.

Or maybe we’ll just trade in for a newer car.

Day 36 – Stories, Sunshine and Scouts

My turn to be off work today, while Tracy toiled saving people from the pandemic at the hospital. We had a morning of Lucy writing a story, and building the scene to go with it. Then we sat in the sunshine and had a picnic in the back garden. Afterwards we went for an afternoon walk, and when we got home we looked for pictures for the bingo cards we’re making for Lucy’s birthday party.

Stories

The first thing on this morning’s school timetable for Lucy was writing. Her class teacher sent us a writing activity to do this week, which was to think about a picture prompt, with an accompanying paragraph. There were two tasks, one to draw the scene, and the second to write a detailed description of it.The setting was some odd circles of creepers in a wood. The person saw a deer walk through and disappear.

Lucy decided that she would find a unicorn through the portal and looked for a picture to copy. She found a YouTube video of how to draw a unicorn and sat down to draw. However she wasn’t happy with her attempts and thought the unicorns looked too chubby. Her frustration at not being able to draw what she had in her head made her quite upset.

The compromise we eventually came to was that she could build the scene with her Lego. Alexander broke off from his biology homework to help, for which I rewarded him with a CBG. We all had some of they fabulous gingerbread that Tracy made yesterday for a midmorning snack.

Once the scene was built Lucy wrote some description, but wasn’t up for continuous writing for 20 minutes. She really just wanted to tell me about it. So I decided that it would be okay if I typed what she told me to, provided that she wrote it out later to practice her handwriting.

Once I’ve checked that it is to her satisfaction I’ll post her story to her teacher. It’s definitely a real brain twister…

EDIT: The Mysterious Forest, by Lucy Kemp

Sunshine

We managed to spend a couple of hours outside in the sunshine. The first part was in the back garden. While I was sorting out some of the birthday party preparation Lucy had taken a bag into the kitchen. She quizzed me about what I wanted for lunch and then disappeared.

Just as I finished printing out the bingo cards Lucy reappeared to drag me into the garden. We went out and she shook out a blanket on the grass, and emptied her bag. We had a plate each, and she’d packed me a chopping board, sharp knife, ham, a block of cheese and a punnet of cherry tomatoes, as well as a loaf. This was so that I could make myself a sandwich.

We had a very pleasant lunch outside, talking about what we could do for Lucy’s party. When it was done we packed up and went back in to get Alexander to come for a walk with us. We had to wait for him to get out of the shower, because he’d forgotten that I’d told him we were going for a walk.

We took a different route than usual and went round Spynes Mere. It was busier than I’d expected, we met several groups of people out for walks. Bearing in mind it was Wednesday late lunchtime, there were more people than we’d usually see on a Saturday afternoon when we’d walked it last year.

The sun made it look idyllic, and it certainly was warm enough to be okay in a t-shirt. We played eye spy for the walk to the lake, and then the alphabet game on the way round it and for some of the return trip. All in we walked 1.7 miles in about an hour.

Scouts

I joined in the local scouts weekly zoom this week. It was my first meeting as Scout Leader and Woodhouse Troop’s first meeting too. We did it jointly with Battlebridge Troop, who have only just adopted that name because until tonight they were our only scout troop.Woodhouse Troop is named after one of the early leaders in Merstham. Miss Woodhouse helped scouting during and after WW1. Her father was the local rector at St Katharine’s non Merstham, and her brother was killed in Mesopotamia in 1916. He’s commemorated both in the church and the scout hut.We had 14 scouts on zoom, 5 of whom were new members of Woodhouse Troop. I was formally invested as the Scout Leader and then I invested one of the Woodhouse scouts. He was so keen to start that he joined in a few weeks early. It was also the first time that I’ve invested anyone using an alternative promise, our first scout is Muslim, so we used that version.The zoom session was pretty chaotic. We played pictionary, with a random word generator. Each scout took it in turn to draw, and their patrol had to guess. It sort of worked, but my connection was rather iffy and I had to join back in a few times.

Day 35 – Working and Walking

Being Tuesday I spent most of the day working while Tracy was off. Apart from me everyone else slept in until after eight o’clock. I was a bit slow to rise too, but was first up and made coffee and wrote in my work notebook about yesterday.

Work

Work was slightly fragmented, but more broken up with meetings than anything else. I did manage to spend some time thinking about our roadmap to the end of the current emergency and being ready for whatever comes next.

Scouts

In my lunch break I managed to email the parents of the ten new scouts that will be joining Woodhouse Troop of 5th Reigate Scouts. We were originally supposed to be starting on Thursday, which is St George’s Day. However we’re not allowed to meet face to face.

Our other scout troop has been using zoom to meet weekly for the last few weeks. So I had a couple of chats with Graham, the other scout leader, and we’re going to run some joint zoom sessions, starting tomorrow evening.

I’ve got an outline plan for face to face sessions. So if the lockdown lifts we can meet up face to face and do some traditional scout things, like having a campfire. I’m also thinking about planning a weekend so that if there’s an opportunity we can camp too.

Lego Wedding

Lego Friends bride preparing to walk down the aisle and get married (Photo: James Kemp)

I’m not entirely convinced that Lucy did much school work today. Her project seems to have been all about looking after people, she helped Tracy with some food bank collection.

View down the aisle at the Lego Friends wedding built by Lucy (photo: James Kemp)

As well as that Lucy built a fab wedding scene for her Lego people, including making a dress for one of her Lego mini-dolls with scraps of fabric. She also spent some time negotiating with Alexander to borrow some specific lego minifigures to play the parts at the wedding. These weren’t randomly assigned people, they were all carefully chosen!

As you can see from the pictures there’s an aisle, a celebrant and a congregation. There are some fab details in there!

Food

Tracy made a fantastic gingerbread with lemon icing on it. I tried some of the plain gingerbread for my dessert after dinner.

We also had a fab dinner of Chicken kebabs with feta, Greek salad, piri piri rice, and couscous. There were also some wholemeal pitta breads.

Walking

We followed a usual pattern this evening. We all walked round the green in front of the house three times. Then Lucy went indoors to tidy away some of her Lego before starting her wind down for bed.

While we were out our neighbour spotted us and came to ask if we knew what the rules were about garden fires. Like us he’s got a huge pile of garden waste than won’t compost. We decided that if it’s done late enough that people won’t be sitting out in the garden and will likely have the house windows closed then it ought to be okay.

After our chat Alexander and I went for a longer walk round Merstham to get our ten thousand steps in. We managed 6km.

Day 32 – Stocking Up Saturday

We were all off today. We didn’t do a whole lot, some shopping, sorting out school for next week, and watching movies. Breakfast for me was the spelt loaf with cheese.

Stocking Up

We took a visit to Caterham for 11 today. Tracy had booked us a slot to visit Pedrick’s which is in the High Street. Pedrick’s is a new old-fashioned food shop. You label all your boxes with what you want in them and then the staff fill them. So we got some pasta, some wholemeal bread flour, plain flour, yeast, and some eco-friendly handwash and fabric conditioner. We also got some pick’n’mix and some fresh vegetables from local suppliers.

While Tracy waited for the Pedrick’s order to be filled I took a walk along to Waitrose with Lucy. We didn’t have a big shopping list, just some head and shoulders shampoo, and skimmed milk. While we were waiting in the queue outside I spotted some rosemary in the plants section, so I added that into the trolley. We also bought a Lego Friends magazine for Lucy, a couple of reduced smarties chocolate bunnies, and some chocolate mini-egg nest cakes.

Sorting School

No hats involved in sort out out what we’re doing about school for next week. Monday is the start of the summer term. So we had a chat with the kids about how we would go back to school work. We’re all going to sit at the dinner table during school time unless we’re doing practical stuff that’s best done elsewhere.

Alexander will keep on getting his work from the Go4schools app. He’s got RE and Computing to do for Monday, plus whatever English and Maths gets set on the day. One good thing is that he no longer has to do subjects that he’s not doing the GCSE for. So from Monday he only had English, Maths, Triple Science, Computing, Art and RE. We’ve also asked him to help Lucy with some of the science experiments that she’d like to do (for example making some home made vegetable dyes).

We also decided that since we’re not teachers, and we have our own jobs to do, that we aren’t going to try and work to a timetable or curriculum. The main concern is that Lucy continues to learn new things, reads, and is happy. So we’ve packaged up several things that the teachers have sent us into work for a day. We’ve also found all the educational books, and lined them up on the table. I’ve installed Scratch and a painting app on Lucy’s laptop.

Cloak

Tracy made Lucy a cloak for her dressing up this afternoon. I thought it looked awesome.

Dinner

Alexander made us Chicken Paprikash from the Binging with Babish book, and we also watched Civil War while we ate.