diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:16

Week 3 well underway. Doesn’t feel like the first lockdown although that might be because we had all the kids home for months. Outside temperature plummeted last night. Down to 1.69℃  in the greenhouse which is colder than the outside sensor – due almost certainly to the insulation of the Stevenson’s screen. Warm enough in the shed where the temperature varies between 18℃ and 21℃ depending on what I’ve set it to. It’s a good job we replaced the central heating this year.

We have been busy in the house. John’s room is being emptied in readiness for the carpet fitters coming to fit a new carpet on Tuesday. It isn’t a new carpet per se. It’s from Anne’s friend Ange’s front room but it is new to John’s bedroom. I was somewhat sceptical initially but it does look ok in fairness. 

At the same time we have been shifting furniture out of the TV room and installing Hannah’s bed. Dad is coming to stay with us for a few weeks starting Sunday. Better he was with us than cooped up in a care home over Christmas. Having him to stay won’t be without its challenges but we have carers lined up to help him first thing and last thing.

Today is a Friday which can be busy ish workwise. My first meeting is at 10am so I’m sat here just doing stuff before then. The blackbirds are being quite vociferous in the garden. Interesting to reflect on a year in the shed based on how wide open the doors are. Today they are closed but up until a few days ago they would be at least ajar and only closed if it was particularly noisy outside and I needed to make phone calls/video conferences.

Last year the term video conference was in common usage although the genre might have not been mainstream. It was enough of an event for it to have a specific name. Nowadays it would feel strange to call a zoom or teams meeting a video conference. It’s so last year!

Just had a bit of a shock. A female blackbird just flew into the shed sliding door glass. Fortunately just turned around and went back in the same direction as it had come. You can imagine the bird thinking “wtf was that!?”.

Another bit of a shock came in the post at lunchtime – forgot to do my VAT return for September – oops. Looking at it there were transactions going back to July that I hadn’t reconciled. All sorted now. Phew.

A gentle rain falls in the back garden.

John has gone back to Brum on the train.

Work is done for the week. I am now sipping a Tiny Rebel Cali Pale and chatting on social media. It is very dark out and midwinter is fast approaching. I think I will put some Christmas Carols on the music centre/hifi/speakers in the shed. Once in Royal David’s City…

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:15

Bought a wheelchair and an upright chair for dad in the tv room – his temporary bedroom for 6 weeks or so. Today has been a busy mix of sorting out the room, sorting out work emails and sorting out the Anne’s Vans campervan booking and marketing activity. We are signing up with Cool Camping to see how it goes. I like the brand association. Got a lot of work to do now as they are having a big launch on 15th December. Spin to Waitrose. Bought a few treats including a box of Tunnocks Tea Cakes, sourdough crumpets and a 4 pack of Tiny Rebel craft beer. I only went for a pack of smoked salmon and some milk but I knew there would be more to it than that. Now watching  programme on Ronnie Scotts on iPlayer. It’s a top gaff. Very inspirational for our own festival. Check out

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:14

Overslept somewhat, if you can call 07.20 oversleeping. Woke to a dig in the ribs and a reminder that it was my turn to make the tea! Now cooking sausages on the George Foreman. Another busy day ahead.

It looks like a nice day out, as November goes. Not a bad month November usually characterised by the phased ending of Autumn and the approach of full on Winter. The build up to Christmas is well underway with parcels beginning to arrive and getting my brain around the food shop that tends to remain unaltered year on year.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:13

Calling the doctors surgery to temporarily get dad on their books. In 27 mins of holding I’ve gone from caller number 4 to number 2 in queue. These probably are exceptional times. Just have the monotonous music on hold in background plus the repetitive message apologising and telling me these are difficult times. Got through after an hour and 10 minutes. 45 second conversation determined that I needed to pop into the surgery. Spoke to the receptionist through the letter box and now dad is registered!

Next stop is finding the right local support for his trip. Stay tuned.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:12

V busy day workwise and homewise. Niece Lils has been tested covid +ve and is at home along with the rest of her year group. This gives us a problem as dad, who is currently in hospital was going to stay with my sister Ann and family for a few weeks but now can’t so we are switching to having him here which is logistically a little more involved but doable.

In other news John is temporarily home from uni. His housemates have all gone home so was on his own in the house during lockdown so baled out himself. Mental health is a real issue during this pandemic. For someone to be stuck alone in a student garret is not a good recipe. Bojo would approve of our actions.

Other than that it’s been a busy day. Work work work. 2021 budget prep time. Rarely talk about work here but it doesn’t do the reader any harm to hear about it once in a while. 

Dinner was cauliflower curry with banana leaves! Now it’s a quiet night in front of the TV watching University Challenge. Anne is v good at UC. Programme about the night Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire. Interessant.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:11

The Sabbath!! In Abrahamic religions, the Sabbath (/ˈsæbəθ/; Hebrew: שַׁבָּת‎) is a day set aside for rest and worship. According to the Book of Exodus, the Sabbath is a day of rest on the seventh day, commanded by God to be kept as a holy day of rest, as God rested from creation.

Today I will be mostly resting. I have presumably one way or another spent the last 6 days creating and thus a good rest is called for. My 4xgreat grandfather the reverend Daniel Davies was excommunicated from the Baptist Church in Llandysul because he allowed a worker to do some farm work on a Sunday. A few years later he was reinstated. Apaz the worker did it without old Dan knowing. Musta caused a lot of consternation at the time. Not much open on a Sunday in those days either so you can understand why someone might have wanted to get out of the house and do a bit of tidying up on the top field. Or similar.

It is light out but I hear rain on the conservatory roof.

Today I am anticipating making the Christmas pudding. I say anticipating. I’ve never made a  Christmas pudding before. I have the ingredients afaik although every recipe seems to be a different variant. Will be foine.

Having walked to the shed I find that it is really chucking it down. Unusually for me I’m watching the F1 race from Turkey. I was in Istanbul maybe 7 years ago. One day must revisit outside the corporate cocoon that was the HP CIO panel meeting at the Sheraton.

Picked the last few apples from the tree behind the shed. Could have harvested a lot more when we did all the trees but there are so many at the peak it’s quite a bit of work. It’s fined up whilst I’ve been watching the F1 hence the apple picking. Also did a customer proposal whilst the F1 was on. Wot?! On the Sabbath…

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:10

Saturday. Typically miserable British November which I quite like. Slow start actually apart from the fact that I had booked a slot at the tip for 08.15 which meant that I had to get up and showered earlier than would otherwise have made sense on a Saturday. Bought a steak from Fosters en route home. Tonight’s tea.

This morning’s loaf, a multigrain, came out a little flat. Smells ok so I’m sure the flavour will be fine but I think it was too hydrated and a bit of it stuck to the peel as I was “sliding” it into the oven. Ah well. You live but never learn.

Now sat in the shed watching the rugby build up whilst listening to Norah Jones. It’s a nice shed, mine. A shiver of relaxation has just run through my shoulders.  Quite fancy a cuppa but it will wait until I go in for a spot of lunch.  Outside, owl Solomon stands guard. Whilst Solomon watches over us all will be well.

Looking through the french windows the apple trees are mostly denuded of foliage. We are entering the time of the year when last preparations for winter are being made. I like the bunkered down feeling although we have had more than our fair share of it this year. There will come a time when I’ll be glad that Spring is about to arrive but we are not yet at that point. 

The build up to the mid winter feast, ie Christmas, is always a good one. Even this year where the likelihood of the usual calendar of events will not happen we still have some of the build up: present buying (mostly online as usual), food planning etc. No parties or booze ups. No trefbash (Google it) in London, no Christmas Market Party or Morning Star Carol Session. Even Capacity Yorkshire is unlikely to happen. This is a very private pub crawl attended by those who run the internet from their homes in and around Yorkshire.

I suspect it will be a relatively subdued end to a year the like of which none of us has experienced before.

It is quite still out. A very gentle movement of foliage in front of the deck. A pink flower sways a little more. The sunflower shaped bird feed holder on a spike stands motionless, bereft of bird seed. I haven’t been very good at feeding the birds this year. Perhaps too preoccupied with other matters.

A well as the trip to the tip I have another job I plan to attempt this pm. Anne has a small table that she wants some tiles sticking to the top of. Will sit nicely on the deck in front of the shed and be useful to put drinks on in the summer. Her own attempt last year was with some sort of white filler type of stuff that was rated for indoor only and failed over the winter. I purchaysed some bathroom sealant which I’m hoping will do the job. I couldn’t really see anything else that might fit the bill. So the table is in the greenhouse poised and ready to be tiled on the staging. The sealant has been moved from the garage to the greenhouse. All that remains is for me to brush off some accumulated debris and stick the tiles down. Easy huh? 🙂

Times stuck on but ran out of sealant. The other tube I have is translucent rather than white which I will need to finish the grouting. 90% there anyway. I also cut a piece of foam to size for Anne to make a cushion cover for a chair in the main guest bedroom. That, I do believe, is the jobs list done for today. Tomorrow I am making a Christmas pudding for which I went to Waitrose this morning to buy a bottle of Remy Martin VSOP. This is the minimum quality of brandy I am prepared to consume and was on offer down from £37 to £30. Good deal.

Dusk quietly moves in on an unsuspecting Lincoln. Where did that day go? The rugby is still on the telly and the lights are on in the kitchen. More because I left them on after half time than because there is anyone in there. I popped in to chip some spuds and chop a couple of banana shallots. Tonight’s dinner will be a classic steak, chips and peas with mushrooms, caramelised onions and some home made granary sourdough bread and butter. The weather in Twickenham is atrocious.I have cracked open a can of diet coke.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:9

Day nine in the locked down Davies house. Tref and Anne are having breakfast. One of us has opted for bran flakes with granola and the other a bacon sandwich. I’ll leave you to decide who had what 🙂

The weather is not particularly nice this morning although there is an interesting autumnal light in the back garden. The apple tree behind the greenhouse has lost most of its leaves but still has quite a lot of ripening fruit left.

The cathedral bells are telling me it is 9am. I need to get dressed but there isn’t a driver to do this yet. I am sat comfortably in the conservatory and my first video conference is at 10am. I might try and squeeze in a trip to buy some steaks for tomorrow night’s dinner before the meeting but that may prove to be too much of a rush and there is plenty of time later. There is another pot of tea brewing in the kitchen.

3pm and I’ve had enough for the day. Just have a lonap board call at 4 then it’s chill time. I already have the Masters golf on the box, although box is a misnomer in this day and age. To say the golf is on the flat screen panel doesn’t work quite the same way. Maybe it’s an age thing.

One of the downlights in the shed is flickering. This is somewhat annoying. I can pull the fitting down with a view to changing the light or tightening the connection but it doesn’t come all the way out because of the spring loaded latch thingy and I am concerned that if I pull too hard something will break. This will need some consideration.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:8

Eight days in, twenty or so to go. A lot of lockdown left. Wales have already come out of theirs having gone in earlier and for a shorter period. I dunno.

Was awake at 05.15 this morning and eventually got up at 05.45. No point in lying in bed when you have had enough kip. Fitbit has me as having had 5 hrs 46 minutes sleep with a score of only 71 (Fair). I wouldn’t have said this was particularly good but I’m fully awake so hey…

When I get up this early the tea is always delivered at 06.30. I guess I could make myself some toast but am not hungry yet. Body clock I guess. Might make two pots of tea! Couple of cop cars racing by outside, sirens blaring. That’ll get everyone up:) What crime makes them rush to a scene at this time of day. RTA possibly I guess. Now that the wail of the siren has faded into the distance I can hear birds in our front garden. Blackbirds live there and I have seen starlings in the guttering above.

Been a busy day. At 4.30 I’ve downed tools and am pumping out some ABBA. Popped to Fosters for a gammon joint and some breakfast gubbins and also came away with a pork pie for tomorrow’s lunch. Then nipped to Waitrose for a few more bits including some duck a l’orange patė a portion of which was consumed on a slice of my homemade sourdough toast at lunchtime. Not had paté since last Christmas.

Anne has gone out running and I need to gear my brain up to make dinner. We are having pan fried sea bass with spuds and green beans.

Last night I watched a John Wayne movie: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. A classic western which they wouldn’t be able to make today as the “Indians” were very much portrayed as the baddies and the US Cavalry the goodies. History has revealed that it was the other way around 🙂 I’m running out of things to watch. Few TV programmes or films are of interest. I’ve ordered a batch of books but they are notionally birthday and Christmas presents. Most of them aren’t exactly light reading. More background stuff for an interest I have in social history in Carmarthenshire. Based around my family tree research in case you are wondering.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:7

Gentle start to the day. Cooked a sausage and some bacon for breakfast that needed using up. Now sat in the orangery (no orange tree anymore but the name endures for now) with a cup of tea and communications with the outside world. The radio is on in the kitchen and I can hear Anne doing stuff. Sounds of crockery, the tap being turned on momentarily. 

Outside, the traffic noise. Who are these people in their cars during lockdown. Different to the last one. During the last lockdown we rarely ventured into a supermarket. It was mostly click and collect. People feel less constrained this time around.

I need to get up and get dressed but it is comfortable sat here rocking gently.

Good chat with Joe this morning. He is doing some work for Anne’s Vans. Looking at new website design.

Now sat on a 2 hour ITSPA council conference call. On mute. Kind of thinking when might it be appropriate to crack open a beer.

Work is done for the day. Now listening to Miles Davis ‘Round About Midnight whilst swigging a tonic and gin. Feeling in a very philosophical mood. Grasping life with both hands. Today I bought some compost and a padlock for the back garden gate to the allotments. I did some Anne’s Vans stuff (you know that), discussed Beyond The Woods and chatted with the procurement manager of a customer in South Africa whilst he was shopping in his local supermarket, all masked up. Booked and paid for the additional half day of the Land Rover Experience in Melton Mowbray on my birthday in December and dropped by Coops to discuss campervan stuff. Then chatted with dad who is currently still in hospital in Cardiff but has joined the escape committee to plan his getaway. Tunneling is not an option. He has to do it in full view of everyone through the front doors.

A chicken stir fry beckons…

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:6

I’m on a conference call but I don’t have much to say so have the mic on mute and am doing stuff. Watching the great reindeer migration on the telly. It too is on mute although I doubt there is much to hear anyway. The occasional Sami drover’s call maybe plus some dulcet voice over as appropriate. Fine looking beasts ploughing through snowdrifts. Very slow going. It’s one of those long movies you have in the background. This one is two hours long. V relaxing.

It is now past 4 o’clock. Tas been a hectic day. I’m feeling disinclined to do any more work but will see how it goes. Cup of tea on the desk in front of me. Tonight we have chilli con carne for tea. Anne is fixed on watching bakeoff tonight. This is something in which I have zero interest and it has been suggested that I might spend some time in the shed. Only real problem is that I spend all day in the shed and whilst it is a great facility it is sometimes nice to have a change. Can’t even have anyone round at the mo what with the lockdown n’all.

Later watched The Band Wagon with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. Good movie fair play.

Waiting for my book deliveries: “Welsh Woollen Industry”, “Welsh Crafts: Dre-Fach Felindre and the Woollen Industry” and “The flannel makers: A brief history of the Welsh woollen industry” all by Geraint Jenkins. Also “A Glorious Work in the World: Welsh Methodism and the International Evangelical Revival, 1735-1750 (Studies in Welsh History)” by David Jones.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:5

Sat in the front room and note that the birds in the back garden are tweeting very loudly this morning. It was the same last night. Do they know something? The hedge is looking as autumnal as it can. Must take a pic or two en route to the shed.

Busy day ahead. Mondays are always busy. They can be quite tedious and the lockdown combined with a typically autumnal drizzle doesn’t help.

I got up at 6.30 this morning to make the tea. The house is currently empty except for Anne and I. It did feel somewhat as if we were rattling around in it. We are lucky to have the space. It doesn’t feel full even when all the bedrooms are occupied.

A pot of tea has appeared. I didn’t just appear as if by magic but on this occasion I have chosen not to offer any insight into the “magical” process or sleight of hand by which it arrived on the coffee table in front of me.

Spent half an hour on the phone to HMRC trying to sort something out for Beyond The Woods. The first ten minutes as spent navigating through the automated tree including answering a load of questions. When I finally got through the person was very helpful and we sorted it out.

Anne blew the leaves away from the base of the shed today. I don’t deserve her. I don’t want leaves accumulating at the bottom of the wooden shed sides innit. Need plenty of air circulation there.

Walked to Tesco for a few bits for lunch. Have to say it was quite busy and no real discipline about social distancing. Not sure I’ll be rushing back there – it feels a lot more sensible/safer in Waitrose and in the small shops in the bail.

Today there has been an announcement that Pfizer has come up with a Coronavirus vaccine that is 90% effective. First good bit of news on this front.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:4

Day 4 in the locked down Davies household. All is quiet. We have breakfasted and are sat quietly in the kitchen with a coffee, doing our own thing. There is gentle rain outside. The general mood is relaxed.

Today we intend to walk from Skellingthorpe to Doddington Hall and back. There is a path. Two “treats” are dangled: a visit to the farm shop at Doddington Hall and the drive through Daisy Made ice cream back in Skelly. The farm shop is where I discovered the Sauce Shop sriracha sauce – v good fair play. We don’t really need anything but will have a shufty.

In the meantime Classic FM streams its chilled out Sunday offering and the kettle is back on.

Today is Remembrance Sunday. The noise generated by the US Presidential Elections has been deafening but yesterday’s result seems appropriate timing for the din to die down and for the world to quietly reflect on the purpose of this day. Although the current covid19 pandemic is causing chaos across the world it is really quite minor compared with the recent wars that our ancestors had to live through and die in. I was born 16 years after the end of WW2 so its aftermath, which had a long tail, is still quite vivid in the minds of my generation.

Quite appropriately “Hymn to the Fallen” is now streaming.

Just back from the walk. 4.4 miles. I’m not v fit so was knackered by the end but it did me good. Anne and I are planning one every other weekend. I’d like to think we will build up to longer walks, Have now put the hot water on to have a soak in the bath before watching the pool take on Man City. The dinner is more or less ready to stick in the oven.

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:3

Good start to the day with full English including Joe’s homemade hash browns and my homemade sourdough bread. Won’t need lunch.  Might pop down to Fosters for some more gammon as we used the last of the previous joint yesterday. This has been the discovery of lockdown – being able to carve some ham off the joint to make a sandwich or salad. Also much cheaper than buying it already cooked in the shops.

The breakfast means an easy start to the day. The jobslist is however mounting and I may attempt to cross some of the tasks off the list this weekend. Not yet though 🙂

Our first weekend for a while without an offspring at home. We like having the kids back but we really like having the place to ourselves again. It’s taken 28 years! That 28 years is a long window on the life of our family. Amazing really. Amazing that we are still friends and that we enjoy each other’s company.

Didn’t get to Fosters. Instead fixed the ceiling in the porch where a piece of board had been removed to install the video doorbell. Also made a start on the planter I’m building for the front of the shed. Using up the last few cedar boards since I bought too many for a job in the summer. Now waiting for the glue to dry in the tongue and grooves. Good excuse to take a break. No point in getting all the jobs done at once.

Bread and jam for lunch then off out to Pennels Garden Centre. 

In Pennels we bought a chicken for tomorrow’s dinner, some streaky bacon, a reduced white loaf for the stuffing and a jar of Jenny’s Strawberry Jam. I should point out that when I say the loaf was reduced it was the cost that was reduced. The loaf was the same size the baker had intended. Small, 350g fwiw. I weighed it 🙂 Didn’t buy anything you might expect to purchase at a garden centre mind you.

It felt as if half the shop floor was given over to Christmas stuff. Made me realise that Christmas isn’t all that far away. Ordinarily I’d be starting to focus on trefbash which this year was to have been on 10th December. Also it has been cancelled in line with practically everything else. Perhaps we shall have a virtual trefbash.

Breaking news: Biden in, Trump out. Phew!

diary Lockdown 2

Lockdown 2:2

Sat in the library waiting for the oven timer to beep. I have a loaf in there and am optimistic of the result. Breadmaking is a three day process. Day 1 is starter feeding, day 2 dough making and folding followed by overnight proving in the fridge and day 3 is baking. I don’t get up early enough to have the bread ready for breakfast although I guess I could. Trouble is it involves preheating the oven for around 45 mins so that together with 40 mins baking plus cooling means I’d need to get going almost three hours before wanting to eat it.

Today is a Friday. Le weekend. Not sure there is much of a weekend feel to it. I have a conf call at 10am then it’s mostly admin. Will probs knock off early.

In other news, booked my Land Rover off road experience for my birthday – 9th December. Same as Donny Osmond innit. Coops is coming with me.

The US presidential elections have been in full swing. Fortunately Joe Biden looks increasingly like winning with the Donald throwing his toys out of the pram. It is going to be a big good riddance. Most of the world, Russia apart, will breathe a sigh of relief.