Sunday, 29 March 2020


A nice day today, and some much-needed time outside. Jay managed to get to the garden centre before the lock-down began, so we had a load of seeds and plants to get out. All the girls pitched in!

Not long and we'll have peas, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, sweet peas, nasturtiums, sunflowers, pansies and petunias (as well as courgettes and butternut squash - we'll see how they turn out).

"Lydia, count me out four piles of potatoes"

Monday, 23 March 2020


As you might guess, virus-related things have rather overtaken most other stuff the past few weeks. Gradually the messages from work sounded more and more like the university would be closing, and eventually this is what happened. The girls' teachers at school have been sending work home in preparation for a closure there, and gradually more and more activities were getting cancelled. Even Church is off! As a family of six, all our shopping looks like panic buying, so it has proved a little harder than usual there too.

Where are we? Well, everyone in the house is healthy (praise God). All groups and activities are off; it looks like Brownie camp won't go ahead; Esther won't be starting nursery in a few weeks; the girls are at home every day and Jay has the job of looking after them and providing some kind of structure in which they can keep learning (their teachers are helping remotely with this but it is most definitely sill hard work!) I have set up a temporary office so I can work from home: teaching was nearly finished but it now involves a lot of talking to cameras, Skype calls and emails; research is much the same but already the GECCO conference in Cancun (in July) is going to be web-only. We had our first home school+work day today and it went pretty well but it's hard to imagine this being how it is right up to the summer... We won't be visiting grandparents at Easter. Church is off, so we are doing our own worship (joint with various Brownlees via Skype) and joining in with things like prayer meetings with others in Cornton on the webcam too. It's going to be a very hard few weeks, possibly months ahead - yet through it all we have much to be thankful for.

Technology means we are still in touch with everyone (including the girls' friends) and my job can almost completely be done remotely: in some ways it's easier without the interruptions (I'm one of those with their office door always open, which is just inviting visitors really...). We also have a decent garden and a good house to do all this in. All the more so then, God is good!

Church on Sunday. We did some singing to YouTube videos, then while the adults listened to the recorded message our pastor had provided (and prayed via Skype), Naomi took on the role of Sunday School teacher for her sisters. Jay had provided some craft activities and they did an excellent job of these.

My bike on the last day before shutdown. Normally at this time of year the rack is full. 
Our spare bedroom is snug...

...just enough room for the bed and nothing else. (There is - literally - 1mm of clearance to get the last screws in/out, with the bed up on bricks so it's above the skirting boards)

One bed dismantling later and it makes a reasonably good home office.


The timetable for school today. We all went for a pre-school walk, then the girls got stuck in to a good mixture of learning and play.

We're adding to this every day - a list of all the things we are thankful for in the midst of the challenges.
This is down to my lovely wife, who is far more wise than she'll ever admit to.
(and a huge blessing to the rest of us too)

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Lydia's "Not My Snowman" Book

Lydia's class made their own "That's Not My" books. Here is her most impressive effort with her own writing and pictures...

Miriam is a Brownie

It seems hardly any time at all since Naomi started Rainbows, but now both her and Miriam are already in Brownies, and Lydia is on the waiting list for Rainbows! They have been getting a lot out of the crafts and fun activities they do every week, and collecting the (very) varied badges.

Miriam moved up from Rainbows to Brownies a few weeks ago. For a couple of reasons Miriam is actually in a different unit to Naomi, and last night it was her turn to officially join, having learned her promise over the past few weeks...
I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the Brownie Guide Law.
She managed just fine on the night and is now officially "in". Well done Miriam!

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Naomi is Nine

Despite us having a similar event every year, it's still hard to believe that Naomi is 9!

Straight after Christmas was over we had the extensive buildup of excitement, but in the end we had a thoroughly enjoyable - if tiring - day. This year her birthday fell on a Friday, and started with a home lunch on the Thursday (Friday itself not working for that). Then on to an early morning start on the birthday itself, with presents from the family, and an excited day at school.

Over night we then had an ironically-named sleepover, hosting Naomi's two best friends. Last child was asleep about 20 minutes after midnight! Saturday morning, the party continued with a trip to the cinema to see Frozen 2.

All in all a good time was had, but my little girl isn't so little any more...

We'll be running out of fingers for this soon

Lego remains popular...

Olaf Lego built before school!

The sleepover also featured beauty masks, something I do not understand. 

Emergency coffee after the night before. (this was for the adults)


How was your birthday Naomi?

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Christmas Holidays 2019

A final catchup on Christmassy things and all that went on in the holidays.

First up, the Church Nativity, where Lydia had a surprise upgrade from "shepherd" to a more central part...

All packed and ready to go!
 First, a fine walk out in the increasingly dark countryside near Granny's house.

I particularly like how moody this looks.

All set for Christmas night
Most impressed by the thanks-in-anticipation here

Just liking the irony of this one.

...and on to Christmas morning with a 7am present opening

Lydia has remained attached to this pen ever since!

and Esther LOVES here doll's buggy

On to Grandma's house and cousins to play with!

The end of a busy day. Naomi set up a little surprise for Lydia.
We had a few trips to Aden, where there are a load of new outdoor toys. Very nice!

Standard shenanigans setting up a family photo with so many small ones.

My family had a meal out a couple of days after Christmas - Esther got a massive load of ice cream!

Lots of time for fun games

We also made use of the sales to get some new school shoes: on to a good thing at John Lewis, where there is some Lego to keep everyone occupied.
Most trips north we drove along Aberdeen beach past Codona's and the girls have been consistently asking to go there for years. This time we did and they had a brilliant time!

Lydia was excellent at the penny falls 

And some treats as well.

I got this game as a present; essentially a bit like Tetris and right up my street. Hours of fun and there are two board so I hada a few races with the girls, who are impressively good at it.

Naomi set up a birthday party for me, complete with games. Here's pass the parcel.

My birthday!

Grandma's swing is still in good working order.

Another nice moody picture, this time in Grandma's front garden.

Naomi went for a nice long walk with Jay to have a bit of Mummy-Daughter time. There is now a new path between New Deer and Maud that provides a really decent walk.

Holidays nearly over, here we are back home.

Esther in her superhero costume.

Miriam had some spare clay left from making her snowglobes, so she gave me the red present here to put in my office. Here it is!

...and the extensive thankyou letter writing begins.