14 Days Self Isolating At An End

2.30 pm this afternoon saw an end to the children’s school imposed self isolation. But what has befallen us? At present, an indefinite government imposed state of national lockdown.

The moment passed by silently, but then there were screams and shouts from upstairs! The entire crew came thundering down like a heard of elephants! And this is what it was all about!

Dinnertime was a fairly messy affair as after their Penne Puttanesca I left them with the remainders of the chocolate ganache and Greek yoghurt. When I returned to the kitchen, the mess was unbelievable! Though they seemed to have finished their dessert, they just seemed to be wearing half of it.

About to venture upstairs as that is where they are playing before a kiss and hug goodnight! Their screams can still be heard quite loudly! Wish me luck…

Summer Smiles and Bubbles

This morning I decided to edit together a new family video. Firstly I thought of smiles and then I remembered bubbles! We have a fair pictorial archive throughout our history where bubbles play a part. We even had a bubble machine at one point (thank you Sindy), that is until Caleb broke it! This video is short for me, only 3 minutes, so why not give it a go! You are only moments away from a smile… I promise!

Another Day Of Lockdown

For us, today was day 13 of lockdown. But as you know, since that fated day almost 2 weeks ago now, when the children were all asked to leave school due to their coughs and snotty noses, the world as we know it has changed. There is no normality to return to on Wednesday morning as there is no school, no nanny Sindy, no workplace for John to go, nothing really left functioning outside of supermarkets and pharmacies! I really do hope that the home testing kit for identifying the antibody is available soon. At least then we can either know that we have had it and we are safe to anyone that we might come in contact with or this virus is just another cold that the children have brought home. This cold shows all of the signs, dry cough, congested lungs, etc, but John and Amritsar have had no symptoms at all. If we do get one of these self testing kits, I will of course update you on the results.

This staying at home indefinitely is a real ‘biggy’ to get your head around isn’t it? At least after Wednesday I hope that we can empty our terrace of the accumulated rubbish of two weeks. I realise now that we do generate an awful lot! I am really sorry that there is little wit in today’s post! Nothing to report on otherwise really, just another day of lockdown!

Some Lost Pictures Of Baby Thor

Each time my iPhone has been upgraded, pictures have been lost from the iCloud, it just happens sadly! Well, I looked into a few Whatsapp conversations a few days ago and to my surprise, there were several images from the birth of Thor in Thailand that I thought I would never see again! I think that we all need to remember to backup and / or print our happiest memories as the iCloud is sadly no guarantee of keeping them safe! And NO pink is definitely not my colour!

Dadda Gets Jammin’

Pineapple Jam is simply the best and a really easy one to make. As ever, be sure to sterilise your jam jars, ladle and jam funnel in your dishwasher first and take care when handling.

Two relatively small pineapples yielded 700g of flesh and to guarantee a good set, I used 200g apple pulp and 100ml lemon juice. So, here we go!

700g Pineapple flesh (canned is fine)

200g Apple pulp

100ml Lemon Juice

900g Sugar

If you were to use canned pineapple, be sure to only use the flesh (not juice).

Firstly I peeled the pineapple and removed the fibrous core. Chop into 2cm pieces and check the weight. Place in a heavy bottomed pan with the lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash your cooked fruit with a potato masher. Add your precooked apple pulp and the sugar. Bring to a rolling boil and cook a further 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to avoid the pulp burning on the base of your pan.

I did notice quite a lot of evaporation on this jam. The 1.9kg of ingredients yielded 4 x 312ml jars. Don’t forget to sterilise your filled jars for around 20 minutes and allow to cool. Your jam will achieve a perfect set overnight. A delight on buttery croissants the following morning! Go on, give it a go and ‘Transcend Your Day’!

The ‘Happy Pineapple’ courtesy of Mother Nature : )

Okay, Okay, Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

Lockdown aside, tonight I have decided to conclude the day with an entry regarding ‘Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner’. With a decent cut of beef (fillet) costing almost the same as XL shrimp or lobster, don’t despair, just combine the two protein groups into a surf and turf dinner! The option of dining in a restaurant anytime soon has been denied. So with the extra cash, why not elevate a Friday night dinner at home instead?

A small tip regarding triple cooked chips is to cut your (large) potatoes into rectangular spuds before you chip them for frying. That way you get perfect shaped chips or fries. And you can always reserve the potato excess for another meal.

I Just Give Up At This Point!

Today’s picture says it all really! And there is a full laundry basket also in Daddy and Dadda’s wardrobe to boot. Day 10 of family lockdown has had its moments already and it is not even 10am! The girls birthday seems aeons ago at this point, just the memory encapsulated in a pile of new toys sat on top of the game’s cupboard! Our compendium seems to have seen better days, doesn’t it?

Like everything else in this house, it’ll get broken sooner or later! Mind you, the cupboard survived 2 x world wars, but Sadly has perished somewhat, since adorning our living room. We have seen the recent destruction and loss of a Georgian chest of draws and a French ‘Empire’ walnut armoire in recent months! Don’t ask!

Amritsar has just had a major breakdown and is presently screaming that she hates Tara – now Aaliyah. Now Tara again!

The boys are tinkering on Caleb’s new iPad (Amazon Fire 7) as Thor is not allowed his yet again today due to his repeated misconduct!

Happy Days and here’s to hoping you guys are all safe and happy. Don’t worry, I’ll cheer up – you just have to, don’t you?

Today’s Guest Contributer

We are lucky enough to live in the countryside. And in normal times, we love the great outdoors. Today’s post is accredited to a Laura Pearson, an advocate of learning skills outside of the classroom. Take it away Laura…

These days, it’s not rare to encounter learning problems in kids. While some attribute this to technology addiction, in many kids, it can be a mere case of incompatibility in the mode of instruction. The fact is that children learn differently, and though the classroom setting is, by and large, the norm, it’s also a fact that not all students will thrive in it. Some may even struggle. 

With that said, it’s important for parents and educators alike to broaden their horizons and explore other avenues of learning, especially for kids who struggle or who just want to expand their education. The natural world itself has plenty to offer in this regard, and it’s definitely a wonderful idea to take advantage of this. Best of all, most of its gifts are free to learn from and enjoy. Here are a few things you should bear in mind when it comes to outdoor education.

Nature Is the Best Classroom

Of late, experts have forecasted that the future of education will include learning beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. Again, there’s just no dearth of learning opportunities that can be found outdoors. In fact, nature helps children become more engaged and interested, as well as physically fit. Moreover, it relieves stress and restores attention.

Of course, there’s the question of what students are learningoutside of the classroom. As it turns out, there’s a lot! For one thing, kids can learn problem-solving skills, teamwork, and confidence through outdoor adventures. For another, academic benefits can be had, too, as there’s a wide range of activities that improve communication skills, literacy, and numeracy. Conservation is best learned outside, as well. 

It’s a good idea, therefore, to bring the classroom to nature (and vice versa) with some very inspired ideas. As a bonus, it costs little to nothing to take advantage of nature’s gifts, so you can be sure that it won’t put a dent on your budget.

Learning Should Be Fun

Now, what makes outdoor education a superior way to learn is the fact that it’s generally fun. As such, it’s important not to lose sight of this tenet in order to make it a worthwhile pursuit for your child. A great way to do this is through outdoor play.

More than just a fun past-time, outdoor play is actually crucial in the cognitive development of children. Scientists explain that outdoor play essentially helps build a better brain. Furthermore, it also does wonders for developing fine motor skills, coordination, and muscles. The holistic benefits are more than compelling, and there’s really no better reason to get your kids outside.

There are, in fact, several activities that let kids have fun outdoors while also learning in the process. Scavenger hunts and obstacle courses are always great hits. Better yet, exploration activities like hiking and biking (to name a few) are fantastic, as well, as these promote discovery and help them get to know the natural world in their own terms. As a tip, keep costs low by investing in season passes to national parks and other conservation areas, as opposed to buying tickets piecemeal for the entire family with every outing.

There’s Always Room for Tech

Lastly, just because you’re getting your child to embrace the great outdoors more, doesn’t mean that there’s no more room for tech. On the contrary, tech, when used mindfully and sparsely, can still support outdoor learning in many ways, which is why it’s still important to find ways to integrate technology into outdoor education.

For this reason, it definitely helps to have a reliable laptop for schoolwork. Such a device comes in handy during research or when your child has a creative writing project in the works, for instance. Of course, this can be quite an investment. It’s good practice to research different manufacturers, such as Lenovo, to see which one fits your needs. And to help you save money on such a substantial purchase, you can look for a Lenovo couponor promo codes.

The learning opportunities outdoors are right there; you just need to lead your kids toward them. It’s priceless education that you can get for next to nothing. What could be better than that?

Photo via Pexels

Happy Birthday Happy Days

We made it through the day without too many dramas from Thor. The girls had a good birthday, though Tara had a temperature this afternoon and was a bit grumpy as she missed her friends from school, especially their besties, Georgina and Harriet who moved away from the village several weeks ago. Self isolation really sucks when you’re 7 years old. But, we had a good day. Now all watching television before bed, completely full with Dadda’s homemade triple layered chocolate ganache cake with homemade black cherry jam! Yummy and plenty left for tomorrow.

What a Difference One Week Makes

This afternoon will mark exactly one week since my family and I were forced into self isolation. Since then, the theatres, bars, cafes, clubs and restaurants have closed and yesterday all shops (excluding pharmacies and supermarkets) and all remaining public places have joined them! Everybody is to self isolate for a minimum of three weeks more. I suddenly don’t feel quite so alone.

Who knows what is just around the corner! And who would have guessed the present global predicament and the extreme social and economic measures that seem to have been taken!

Tomorrow is Amritsar and Tara’s 7th birthday. Sadly the party had to be cancelled. We had booked the party at a local falconry where the children would have been able to have these stunning birds of prey launch from their outstretched arms, but alas this experience will have to wait for safer times. Though children playing with birds of prey doesn’t actually sound that safe, does it? Hmmmh.

Yes, what a difference one week makes!

Food Glorious Food, But For How along

These last days have seen a myriad of dishes in our household, culminating in tonight’s Crispy skinned salmon, crushed peas, turned boiled potatoes and lobster bisque.

I haven’t turned a potato since catering college and the bisque was made today with frozen lobster and red shrimp shells and our last tube of tomato purée.

So many things are not available at the supermarket due to panic buying. This might just be the final ‘foodie’ blog from me for a while!

But then again, beans on toast are also off the menu due to baked beans and bread being in short supply, even cheese has joined that list of hard to find goods.

We have 2 more slots from tesco.com booked, but after that, who knows where the next meal will come.

The freezer will hopefully help out for a while but my menu options might start to get a bit erratic.

All Settled Now

A rundown of the last 24 hours would be a little torturous, but I will try to convey a few of the key moments! You might remember that Thor has had his moments as of late, but last night after the stresses of getting ready for bed, Thor refused to go up! Nothing we did was enough to ignite his rocket. He just sat on the stairs and screamed and screamed. Then he screamed some more…

Finally he ascended but wouldn’t settle. Daddy went up and all was finally well. This morning was an early enough start. They all came down for a 5.15am start to the day. And yes, as tired as I feel right now, it has been quite full on. Daddy has found the time to give the grass it’s first trim of the season. His pride and joy now looking grand with its carefully manicured stripes.

The children played in the garden for two hours and are presently being entertained by Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone! Settled at last.

Only 4 of the children sat for lunch. It was a charcuterie of cheese and cold meats. Thor was sent to bed yet again for another bout of extremely robust behaviour. To be honest, this cold is really taking it out of me. I prey it’s the real thing (covid 19) as I don’t think I could cope with another 14 days of complete isolation with Thor in close proximity! Just another 9 days left, but what then? I spoke to a friend yesterday and they seemed to think that school is now off pretty much until September! Is that really the case? Will daddy be able to go back to work? What will be the government’s directives be tomorrow, next week, let alone next month? Too many questions are lacking in clear, absolute answers, aren’t they?

A roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner tonight, with the obligatory roast potatoes, glazed carrots etc! I had best get back out there to tend to things. Just noticed, only Tara watching the TV at present, Thor seems to be on the rampage yet again!

Damn this cough, it is relentless!

Amritsar’s Very First Story

Yesterday we had a little homeschooling in the morning and to my surprise, I felt compelled to photograph Amritsar’s work. Tara has a little way to go with expressing her thoughts in words and imagery, but Ritzy was asked by Daddy to write a story and this is what she wrote! Remember that she is still only 6 years old. I don’t remember doing joined up writing before Senior school! Oh! Kevin is her ‘Build a Bear’ (Thank you Auntie Sara). He was named Harry or Henry or something or other! Anyhow, I couldn’t remember, so I nicknamed him Kevin. The name stuck!

No Lunch for ‘The Boys’

Daddy tried to assert lesson time this morning whilst I produced a Puttanesca for our dinner tonight. Mind you, we are down to the very last packet of spaghetti. Thank you to all you people panic buying pasta! It’s so selfish. As you know we have Tesco deliveries. And on the order arriving this afternoon, over 50% of the order has been cancelled due to them being out of stock. Okay, I’m going off focus here!

Thor has been screamy beyond belief today. Though he has been so well behaved as of late. So loving too, but his trying to bide for Daddy’s attention today just lead to shouting and screaming. Of course ‘bad cop’ Dadda had to be the one to march him up to his bedroom.

We sat in the kitchen for lunch and then Caleb decided to do his bit for ‘The Screamy Corporation’ as he let it all out as he was unhappy with his choice of sandwich filling. In the end I just asked him to join his brother Thor! We are enjoying a time of relative peace and quiet at present. Amritsar is drawing after having finished her puzzle for children above the age of 8. She just pointed that out to me – show off!

Tara and Aaliyah have been very pally of late, often disappearing to go on covert missions, sniggering together and generally being as thick as thieves. Well, they are quietly watching a Netflix movie at the moment that looks a little too old for them.

Daddy is busy with his working from home, so I am enjoying this moment of downtime before I retrieve the troublesome two. Let’s hope they are going to try to behave a little better. Happy days hey!

Happy Spring Equinox for Tomorrow

At 03.49am tonight we have the beginning of astronomical Spring! So, happy spring equinox everyone. I took today’s picture a moment ago on the terrace. As you can see it is a cool, wet beginning of the season here in ‘The Shires’. Did I mention that it is the earliest start of the season in 124 years. To be honest, that aside, I am very much looking forward to 3 months down the line when we are through this difficult and unprecedented time. It is hard to ignore things and just get on with living when the media is 100% focused on reporting this epidemic. As ever, thank you for reading!

Caleb Get’s His New iPad

What a very happy chap. All set up and rearing to go! We also factory reset Thor’s tablet this afternoon as it has been a bit glitchy as of late!

The second day of lockdown today and all is well with our not so famous five. Mind you, the noise from their collective iPads is slowly drilling into my head.

I guess that home schooling will have to start tomorrow. On a slightly more worrying front, my cough has become a lot dryer and Thor still has a temperature. Mind you, if this is the real thing, we will hopefully be through the worst of it soon.

On a related matter – Caleb has just dropped his iPad on the hard tiled floor in the hallway.