Day 53 – Clearing the Back of the Garden

After two days of celebrations we needed to get working to burn off the birthday cake!

We had rainbow cake for Lucy’s birthday, and now Tracy has made an awesome harlequin cake! (Photo: James Kemp)
Gloves and tools ready on the bench for the family to get involved in clearing the back before the new shed arrives. (Photo: James Kemp)
The ‘before’ photo. The back of the garden is rather unruly, and we need to put a shed in there on the right. (Photo: James Kemp)
Two and a half hours of effort from us all and it’s looking a lot more under control! (Photo: James Kemp)
The shed base is clearer than it was, bit it still needs some work to liberate it fully. (Photo: James Kemp)
There was a spot of drama up the street, with police, fire and multiple ambulances at an incident in the woods. (Photo: James Kemp)
The evening ‘after’ photo. We’ve collected more things to burn, swept the shed base and stacked a lot of spare bricks. (Photo: James Kemp)
The raised beds aren’t quite ready for planting, although Tracy spent time trying to clear them. (Photo: James Kemp)
A slightly clearer view of the back of the garden, after the lawnmower and hedge trimmers have worked their magic. (Photo: James Kemp)
We could put a shed here. The base after the bricks were moved and the debris swept off it. (Photo: James Kemp)
We found some concrete slabs behind some of the bushes! (Photo: James Kemp)
After lots of hard work a plate of ribs! (Photo: James Kemp)

Day 49 – Evening Gardening

It being Tuesday I spent most of the day at the desk in out bedroom while Tracy did things downstairs with Lucy. Alexander mostly just did his schoolwork without input.

Probably the most interesting thing that happened all day was that when Tracy got up there was a police officer speaking to two young women on the green outside. They wandered off down the side of the street about half eight. The police care stayed there for about another two hours or so. No idea what was going on.


Work was lot of reading about international comparisons on coming out of lockdown and analysing the UK stats to work out how long it might last given the tests announced. It took almost all day, and a handful of meetings and a tidy up of my inbox before my five day weekend kept me busy until six.

Evening Gardening

Today’s exercise was working in the garden after dinner. Alexander came out with me and between us we planted half a dozen plants in the front garden. Alexander dug the holes and I put the plants in.

When we finished that we went round the back garden. Alexander used the loppers and a rather blunt handsaw to make some stakes from a tree we cut down a couple of months ago.

While he did that I moved some bricks and some very clay heavy soil. I also walked a couple of concrete slabs to the very back corner of the garden.

Once I got them up there I put the slabs against the fence to protect it from the composting vegetation. I used some of the lumps of clay to make a level line for the bricks. There was a noticeable slope over the couple of metres from the fence to the front of the area selected.

The old shed door was repurposed as the side wall for the new compost heap. I used the two slabs to determine the width, and the door for the depth. The door rested on a line of bricks just to make it a bit taller and relatively horizontal.

Once I got it all in place the stakes that Alexander made were driven in using a 3lb hammer. They’re all about a foot into the ground. I doubt they’ll last a long time, being green wood. But all I need is a couple of years.

Last step was to put the remaining clay on the floor of the compost heap and flatten it down.

Day 16 – 2nd April 2020

I started work when I got out of bed, and caught up on a lot of emails from my day off yesterday before Lucy appeared. Tracy went off to work at the hospital, so it was just me, Alexander and Lucy in the house for most of the day.

School at Home

Alexander spent his day mostly doing his art homework on the computer. He’s been learning to use gimp and painting a face. He picked a black and white photo of Joe Exotic, of Tiger King fame, and painted half the face in colour, and the other half as a tiger. It’s pretty impressive, although painstakingly slow compared to how long it would have taken with pens or a brush.

Lucy has had a productive day. She read an entire Captain Underpants novel, and then did the Logic and Data workbook for a computing lesson. We spent some time talking about that too. There were two bouts of dancing, including dancing with Ote where she was singing along in the background of an SLT video call I was on.

Between a couple of calls I spent half an hour with Lucy talking about what she thought might happen with the science experiment we started yesterday. We then drained the cups and weighed and measured each of the fruit pastilles. Lucy touched each of them and was delighted by how they’d changed texture and gone slushy. She also managed to write a long paragraph in her book about it afterwards.


Lunch today was bratwurst and bread. Alexander made his into currywurst with copious ketchup and curry powder. I just ate mine.

For dinner I did something I’ve never done before. I spatchcocked a chicken. It was both simpler and harder than I thought. I found some instructions with a quick internet search. That was the easy bit. The harder bit was cutting out the spine with a pair of kitchen scissors. It took a bit more effort than I expected, but once I’d got the first cut in it became a lot more straightforward because I could see where I needed to cut.

Evening Exercise

After dinner Alexander and I went for a walk, this time we decided to go a little further and planned our route to walk down to Wiggie Lane, then come back up the A23 towards home. When we left the house, about half seven, we spotted a police helicopter hovering in the direction we were walking about a mile or so away. As we got to the Merstham rec the helicopter banked and flew off towards Redhill aerodrome.

By the time we got to the bottom of Nutfield Road we saw an ambulance and a police car. As we carried on, there were more police, clearly conducting a search. We carried on through the Watercolour towards the railway. As we got to the Tesco people started appearing for the 8pm big clap. We paused briefly to join in. As we continued we saw some of the police cars moving on. It turned out they’d caught someone who had attempted a mugging in the area.

We did the route we’d planned, and we saw Molly and her family when we went down Frenches Road and said hello from across the road. We covered 4.6 miles in 1 hour 25 minutes. The walk on its own was 9,500 steps. So today is the most exercise I’ve had since I was unwell.