Saturday, 4 April 2020

Staying Home: Day 19

A lazy weekend day. I woke up at 5, went to sleep again at 7.30 and didn't get up until 10.30. H and I did a very short yoga video together (Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube). She is spending too much time sitting and getting back and neck ache, so we did yoga for neck and shoulders. It was the first yoga I have done since December, and a short, easy session felt good. The plan is to do a 20 minute lower back video tomorrow.

This week's veg box had wild garlic in it. It smells very garlicky and I wasn't sure what to do with it, so decided to follow the instructions on the bag to make pesto (which I have also never made before). I smushed the wild garlic with hazelnuts, olive oil and some nutritional yeast - it should have been parmesan, but neither H nor I normally eat dairy and we didn't have any non-dairy cheese, so I substituted the yeast flakes. I added olive oil until the texture felt about right, and H and I then ate some of the pesto with pasta for lunch; it was very garlicky but good. There is still plenty left for two more portions, and I only used about half the wild garlic.

Today's Disney movie was Wall-E which just confused all three of us. We never really got to grips with the plot or lack of dialogue. H has finished her Genoa painting, which is now up on the living room wall. I'll ask her permission to put a photo of it on here tomorrow. M and I went for our walk after the movie and H went for a run; TG was being a bit lazy again and didn't exercise. She has a couple of school tasks to finish, then two free weeks as the school will not be setting any work over the Easter break. When school starts again, the plan is for her year group to drop the subjects they won't be doing for GCSE (national exams taken at age 16), and just concentrate on English, maths, science and their chosen GCSE  subjects, which for TG will be geography and French, and probably catering, photography and extra science. One of the science teachers phoned soon after they shut down to say that the extra science option was oversubscribed and to warn us that as TG had put it 3rd on her list it was quite likely she would not get a place on the course. However, we were told we would get a follow up call if that was the case to confirm what reserve choice she wanted, and that no news would be good news. We haven't heard anything since, so it seems she may have squeaked into the course. Apparently the school will be sending out letters soon to confirm (or not?) which subjects they will be taking.

This evening after dinner (prawn tikka masala made by H) we had a family group chat with our eldest daughter, who has now been furloughed on full pay for the next month or so. She seems quite positive and has spent the last three days painting her garden fence. She has new garden furniture arriving tomorrow and has cleaned up the bbq, intending to make the most of what is forecast to be lovely spring weather over the next week or so. After that I started watching a video of the play One Man, Two Guv'nors, which has been made available on You Tube by the National Theatre for the weekend. It is very funny but also very long, so as I started a bit late I only watched Act I tonight and will watch Act II tomorrow.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Staying Home: Day 18

At the moment - and I realise this may well change as time goes on - I am finding quite a few positives in this quieter, stay-at-home life. I am normally terrible with routine, but since getting the balance of my day all wrong on Monday I have slipped into a daily pattern that is actually working well for me. I am getting up, showered and dressed soon after 8, getting started on my work at about 8.30 and working until lunch time or early afternoon, depending on how much I have to do. M & I go for a walk mid-afternoon, then come home and have tea and cake. Late afternoon is Disney movie time, and then we eat dinner about 7pm. The girls also mostly study in the mornings and exercise in the afternoons, and M either works or does jobs around the house or garden if he doesn't have any work to do. Before the shutdown my week was all over the place, with two full days at work out of the house, fitting freelance work in randomly during the rest of the week (sometimes including the weekend), and often spending far too much of the morning doing nothing much before I get into gear then chasing my tail later.  I really hope I am learning the lesson that routine is a good thing for me.

Other positives? Spending time with my family and enjoying their company, instead of all of us whizzing around to different places at different times. More intentional menu planning, with more variety, and mostly all eating the same thing; also sharing the cooking in a more organised way. Not having to rush, and never being late for anything - something of a novelty for me!

H ordered a couple of canvases so she could do some more painting, and has started work on a picture of Genoa, the Italian city where she spent the 2018/19 academic year. I didn't do anything much on my weather scarf today as I got distracted playing Scrabble Go on my phone. I might have been procrastinating because I don't like sewing ends in. My creative effort for the day was to make a lemon cake. Eggs have become hard to find and we are down to just one egg, so I used a vegan recipe. The recipe was for an iced cake, but I decided to turn it into a lemon drizzle on the assumption that any lemon cake could be drizzled. I assumed wrong. It didn't work properly with the texture of the cake, which ended up cakey on the bottom and soggy on the top. At least it still tasted good.

As I didn't knit today, I'm including photos of my last woolly creation - a crocheted blanket using Attic 24's dahlia kit.  I love how bright and happy and cosy it is.

Disney movie of the day: Dumbo (the recent one, new to all of us)
Dinner: salmon, roasted baby potatoes, leeks and peas, cooked by Teen Girl

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Staying Home: Day 17

Saying yesterday that I have been sleeping well tempted fate; I woke up at 2.30am and didn't get back to sleep for two hours, so started the day tired. I spent the morning on archive work, while H went to Tesco. She walked down (about a twenty minute walk), did the shopping and picked up prescriptions from the pharmacy, then called M to collect her in the car. As she is well ahead with her work decided to have a day off from studying. She got her marks back for the online presentation she did last week - first class, so she was very happy. Teen Girl had a slow start to the day but eventually got started on her school work mid-morning.  

After H got back I helped her unpack the shopping and we gave everything a wipe down with antibacterial wipes - whether this is effective or not I don't know, but it can't do any harm. She had bought some peanut butter with dark chocolate, so I had that with a banana in a sandwich for lunch before going back to work and finishing off the latest freelance job.

We went for our usual mid-afternoon walk while H did some strength work in the garden with her kettlebell; Teen Girl was feeling lazy today and didn't get round to exercising. We have now got into the habit of all having afternoon tea, with tea made in a proper pot and some sort of treat - today hot cross buns and chocolate digestives. The girls and I watched our Disney movie - a live version of Lady and the Tramp, made for Disney Plus - then H cooked homemade gnocchi for dinner while I read and worked on my scarf. After dinner I had a phone conversation with a friend, then watched TV with M for a bit.

So far most of our days are settling into a comfortable routine. We are very lucky that the two girls are very close and happy spending lots of time together, and we genuinely all get on well. Also so far nobody is complaining that they are bored. Teen Girl's Easter break starts on Monday for two weeks, so I wonder if she will find it harder once she doesn't have the routine of daily school work. I think I have been the only person who has had a grumpy day this week. I'm sure there will be ups and downs before all this is over, but so far, mostly so good.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Staying Home: Day 16

After several disturbed and unsettled nights as the reality of what coronavirus was going to mean hit, I have settled into a good sleeping pattern, getting around eight hours and waking at about 7am. This morning I woke up, played scrabble on my phone for a while and read a bit of the Benjamin Britten biography I have just started on my Kindle (not sure whether I will persist with it as so far it is quite heavy going). I got up just before 8.30, showered and dressed and looked at the BBC News website. The news as ever is depressing, but there were some lovely, cheering spring pictures "painted" on an iPad released by the artist David Hockney. As he released the pictures publicly, I presume it is OK to put a credited copy of one here. My mother came from the same part of Bradford as David Hockney and knew him as a child - at one time she was his Sunday school teacher. He is now 83 so this was a very long time ago!

"Do Remember They Can't Cancel Spring"
(C) David Hockney

I started work on the latest batch of questions just before 9, took a breakfast break an hour later, and finished around 12.30. No archives work today. Teen Girl started clearing out her room yesterday and carried on with that this morning. She found various things we hadn't realised were in there, including her elder sisters' favourite childhood soft toys. After that she did some school work while H worked on revisions to an essay and M did some housework. H made cauliflower cheese for herself and her sister for lunch, I ate up some left over fish curry, and M (who doesn't like either cheese or curry) had beans on toast.

H and I did some more menu planning and sorted out a shopping list as she wants to go to Tesco tomorrow, hoping it will be quieter on a Thursday than a Friday. I use a shopping app called Bring, which I can add things to via Alexa. I was baffled by something called "gummihandschuhe" which had appeared on the list. After a bit of googling I discovered this is German for rubber gloves. We had indeed tried to add rubber gloves to the list for washing up - how Alexa managed to translate it into German is a mystery. I love that the German for gloves is "hand-shoes"!

In the afternoon we watched Disney Move number ten, which was Incredibles 2 - we agreed that we think it is better than the original. While watching I made it to the end of February on my weather scarf; two months down, ten to go. After that we all went for walks, in two pairs. M and I walked round the streets, while the two girls went to nearby Bluebell Woods (no bluebells yet, of course) and managed not to get lost.  After our walks I did another half an hour's work, and Teen Girl finished off her final piece of schoolwork for the day. My turn to cook dinner, which was Spanish-style potatoes roasted with tomato puree and paprika, baked mackerel fillets with lemon and lime dressing, and spring greens. After dinner I played the piano for about 30 minutes before my energy ran out. Now I'm going to read for a while before going to bed.

The wonders of the internet never cease. Teen Girl has just shown me a video of a farting seal.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Staying Home: Day 15

I'm feeling much more cheerful tonight than I was yesterday. I still spent much of the day working, but felt as though I was being more productive and it didn't drag on the way it did yesterday. Our washing machine is now repaired - the drain pipe had become detached (probably due to me pulling it too hard - oops!) and was an easy fix. It was good to have a chat and a catch up with our lovely repair man, who we have known for years, while still observing strict social distancing.

Teen Girl did an exercise video this morning, then a dance class this afternoon. I presume she did some schoolwork, but forgot to ask. She is very self-motivated and often likes to work when her sister does, so we tend to just leave her to get on with it unless she asks for help with something. H had a feedback session with a tutor this afternoon, then went for a run and when she got back did things in the garden with an exercise band and the newly acquired kettle bell. M and I stuck to our walk - we did 20 minutes together, then I came home and left M to carry on a bit longer on his own. Lots of signs of spring now, like the weeping willow in the photo which has turned green since I last noticed it.

We ordered a hammock for the garden at Teen Girl's request. It arrived today and she managed to assemble it herself, though needed a bit of help from H to attach the hammock to the frame. This afternoon M and I watched a long You Tube review of the Nissan Leaf. Before the lockdown we had been discussing the possibility of trading in our car in the summer and going electric, so we are doing a bit of homework. From what we have seen it looks as though it will be a good option for us. The range should comfortably cover what we normally do in a day, then we can plug it in overnight to charge.

H cooked chilli and home made roti bread for dinner, which we ate while watching today's Disney move, The Incredibles.


Staying Home: Day 14

Yesterday evening I spiralled down into a tired, frustrated grump, so didn't get round to writing this blog. Why? I started work at 8.40 and finished at 6.30, admittedly with a three hour break in the middle, but it made it me feel that my whole day had being dominated by work. There are so many things I would like to do while I'm at home, and it seems I just don't have either the time or energy left for them.  I am ring fencing the daily Disney movie and making myself go out for a short walk, but by the evening I don't have the energy to do anything except slump on the sofa and watch TV for a while before going to bed. I'm not sure what the solution is - maybe not to work in split shifts? Yesterday I did archive work in the morning, then freelance work in the late afternoon, and I think that is why it felt such a long work day.

The positive bits of yesterday ... the Disney movie was Tangled, which I had actually never watched before. Teen Girl had it on DVD, but found it too scary (she was a very, very timid small girl!) and I think only watched it once or twice, either when I wasn't around or wasn't paying attention. After watching Tangled M and I went for a 20 minute walk, then came home and had afternoon tea with a proper tea pot and Victoria sponge cake I had made for his birthday. Teen Girl managed to score some self raising flour at Tesco Express yesterday - flour seems to be the current shortage item locally - so we will be able to bake more cakes when this one is gone. Dinner was Keralan fish curry for myself and H, made with some whiting from the fish box, while Teen Girl and M had breaded fish and oven chips.

I took this photo on our walk yesterday of the queuing system at Tesco Express (our local convenience store, which is a branch of one of the major UK supermarkets), carefully laid out on the path with tape and bags of salt to make sure everyone keeps the regulation socially distant 2 metres apart. It looks kind of odd when there is no queue! According to Teen Girl, they are only allowing four people in at a time.

Another problem yesterday was that the washing machine broke. Firstly clothes came out sopping wet, then I tried to check the drain and water came out of the bottom. After mopping that up, we tried a test run and more water leaked out. This all happened while I was trying to watch Tangled, so my relaxing time out became stressful. (I have only just now twigged that this was also a factor in my poor mood. Duh!) Fortunately our lovely washing machine repair man, who has been fixing them for us for well over twenty years, is able to come out today and will hopefully come up with a socially distant fix. Otherwise ... eek! 

So, onwards and upwards. Today will be better! 

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Staying Home: Day 13

The clocks went forward last night, which made no difference to us whatsoever. It will be nice though to have the extra hour of daylight in the evening. Today is M's birthday, so once the girls surfaced he opened his cards and presents. These included two sets of theatre tickets - the tickets for early May will almost certainly have to be exchanged, but we are hoping for better luck with the others, which are for July.

This morning I tackled various financial jobs. The little car is now insured and has breakdown cover, even though it is stuck in the garage waiting to be fixed. I checked bank and card statements, updated the spreadsheet we use to keep track of spending,  and finished updating our new annual budget  - we run our personal financial year from April, to tie in with the tax year. We are very fortunate that coronavirus and the lockdown aren't likely to have any significant effect on our income.

H was happy because after much effort she had managed to order a 10 kilogram kettlebell which arrived today. She misses working out at the gym, but reasonably priced home weights have become almost unobtainable. Both girls have been relaxing with adult colouring books, and H decided today to do some painting. She is a good artist, but hadn't painted since she finished GCSE Art six years ago. After a bit of digging around we managed to find a decent number of acrylic paints which hadn't dried up, two watercolour paint boxes which were both short on white, and an unused set of oils. She finished a small picture of the Disneyland castle in acrylics, and has ordered a canvas so she can tackle something larger. She also finished an essay on Italian crime fiction she has been working on. Teen Girl has acquired a new Sims 4 expansion pack, so spent quite a bit of time on that. Disney movie of the day was Big Hero Six, another one new to all of us.

This evening to celebrate M's birthday we had a virtual dinner with our former neighbours. Obviously we couldn't actually share the food, only the company, but it was lovely to catch up. We intended to use Zoom, but for some reason the microphone on my laptop wasn't working with it, so ended up using FaceTime on an iPad. To give the meal an international flavour, which is always a feature of our real life dinners, I cooked Catalonian braised hake with Spanish potatoes and broccoli (there is fish somewhere under that sauce!), followed by a Swedish style berry crumble.