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 29 – Ides of April

Tracy was at work on the ward again today, and I had a non-working day at home with the children. After a decadent breakfast of pastries and doughnuts we spent most of the day in the garden. Although we hardly worked.


Lucy and I assembled a planter outside the front door. We found all the bits, took it out the front and built it with cable ties. It was a bit old and the quality of the cable ties was rubbish, three of the eight broke. So Lucy had a break while I found some more. We had two cable ties for each of the wicker panels, and assembled it into a square. There was a black fabric liner, which we stabilised with some spare house bricks in the bottom corners.

The planter is quite large. We had three trips with the wheel barrow to fill it. The first time we shoveled some of the lumps of clay from a raised bed that had too much in it. That should give a relatively waterproof layer at the bottom to help retain moisture. The second time we got some of the topsoil I’d dumped in the raised beds the other day and added that in as a layer. We then topped it off with compost from the last bag and watered it a lot.

We were expecting there to be two planters, and we had a look around the hut, the shelves outside the back door, the coal shed and around the patio. But we didn’t manage to find it.

While we were doing all that Alexander was cutting the grass again on a shorter setting than the other day. He also whittled and sanded a bit of ash that he cut a couple of days ago. He’s planning to make a wooden light sabre handle with it.

‘Epoxy’ Bread

I watched a TED talk the other day about making bread and experimenting with different flours. One of the things was about bringing together two different mixtures to make a stronger better tasting bread in the same way that epoxy glue mixes two compounds.

Alexander has been experimenting with bread too. He’s got a sourdough starter that we’ve not quite managed to make work. So today we mixed some spelt and self-raising flour with water and set it aside to start the process. We also took a bit off the sourdough starter and fed it with spelt flour and water.

Tomorrow we’ll add some more spelt flour to the starter to make a soft dough that we can leave to ferment for a couple of hours. Once it doubles in size we’ll mix it up with the rest of the dough into a proper bread mix and knead it. With a bit more proving it should give us an interesting bread.

Day 22 – 8th April 2020

Today is Wednesday, my usual non-working day. So I’m not working and Tracy is. We had a fairly relaxed morning. Lucy found the camera tripod I used to take pictures of the moon last night and we played with attaching it to the banister upstairs and took some selfies.

One of the better selfies.


After we’d done that we spent a brief period in the back garden doing some more hoeing and prepping the raised beds to receive the seedlings we’ve planted. So far one bed (of five) is completely ready to have things planted in it. Another has been turned over but needs the lumps of turf shaken out and thrown into the compost heap. We could probably do with digging over the compost heap and sticking some of it in the raised beds too.

Making Bread

After a very brief stint in the garden we went back indoors to make sure Alexander was making his bread.

He needed some help recovering the sourdough. It had sat out for too long and it collapsed. It smelt pretty alcoholic, and it was runnier than it ought to have been. We ran out of plain flour, so it got a wee bit of the spelt I picked up yesterday, and also some self-raising flour. We also added a tiny bit of the starter to it. Alexander mixed it all up and split it into three batches.

One batch became pitta bread.

The other two batches became rolls, we were aiming for paninis for lunch tomorrow, and a loaf.

Lego Houses

During the afternoon Lucy decided to build a Lego house. She spent quite a time combing through the boxes of Lego and finding all the pieces she needed.

There are two levels. The lower level has a garage and some garden. The upper levels have a bedroom, complete with a very fancy bed with a hinged cover so that the Lego person can go inside. There’s also a closet with spare clothes and a robot from a TV show. Although one of the best bits is the built in zip wire for going out.

Hot Chocolate contest

After dinner (teriyaki chicken, noodles and stir fry vegetables) the children had a hot chocolate competition. They each made two cups worth of hot chocolate, one for them and the other split between two espresso cups for me and Tracy to taste.

Alexander made the Flanders Hot Chocolate from the Simpsons which was in the Binging with Babish book he got for Christmas. It was a very rich recipe and it produced a very dark chocolate.

Lucy made the cardamom hot chocolate from Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story book. Hers was a bit lighter and definitely had fewer calories.


After two hot chocolates, even small ones, I needed to go for a walk. So I took Lucy round the green four times and we chatted about building Lego Houses and I reminded her about the modular rooms on the house she got for her 6th birthday. After that Alexander and I went on a longer walk to make up the balance of my 10,000 steps. We also talked about the sort of houses we’d have if money wasn’t an object.

Day 19 – 5th April 2020

I had a lie-in this morning, I didn’t get out of bed until after half past eight. Tracy had gone to work, Lucy was playing quietly downstairs and Alex was on his explorer scout Minecraft server. It was a relaxed morning, I read and drank coffee between ensuring Alex and Lucy had breakfast, emptying the dishwasher, putting clothes away and getting dressed.

After lunch Tracy came home. Alex spent the afternoon in the kitchen making sourdough and bao buns. Tracy did some errands, and Lucy spent some time with me in the garden, and some with Tracy.

In the Garden

When Tracy came back after her half day on the ward I went outside with Lucy and we did some garden things. Initially I tried to flatten the area outside the hut while Lucy bounced in the trampoline. While I hit the lumpier bits of ground with a pickaxe Lucy realised that her friend was just over the fence. So the pair of them started shouting to each other and fetching things. Their game also involved throwing things into the air to see if the other one could see it.

It certainly made sure Lucy got some exercise, and it gave me some space to swing the pick axe. It took quite a while to dig up the larger roots and make the area less lumpy. Then I started to cover it in black fabric to hold back the weeds. Lucy tired of her game and came to help. So we had a look at the sunflower seeds we’d planted last weekend and watered the pots. With luck there will be some shoots next week.

Lucy then went off with Tracy to help her deliver flowers to a colleague. I got back to more digging. I decided to make a border round the edge of the area and line it with old bricks. So I dug a channel along the edge of an ancient concrete path for the bricks. At some point this might become a step/retaining wall for whatever we end up doing properly in this space.

Tidying up

Lucy has a great habit of slowly spreading out over the house. Lately she’s brought a couple of bags of toys and books in from the garage. These have all started to take up most of the dining space in our open plan living room. So while I was finishing off moving paving stones Tracy started a tidy up of the back of the room.

There were some complaints, but Lucy and I joined in while Alexander got his Bao Buns made. It looked a lot better when we were done.


As mentioned above, Alexander spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen. He took the sourdough starter and made some bao bun mixture. He also started some bread, although he hasn’t baked it yet. The bao buns were really delicious, but he ended up having to do them in the oven because we don’t have an effective steamer. This made them take a little longer too. He made a lovely pork concoction to go inside them.

After dinner I managed to sneak off and have a bath. It felt very relaxing, and I feel much cleaner.