Thursday July 30th, 2020

Up to a very grey, wet and miserable looking morning. “I” has another 2 days of her course to do so we’re relegated to the kitchen and bedrooms again. After breakfast and puzzles I went out on the bike for my second ride of the week. It was cold and very wet but I got round the slightly extended route about a minute less than Monday so I’m pleased with that. I don’t think any speed racers need fret but I’m pleased that I seem to be making some progress. I wish that 52km top speed lasted longer!

Had a bit of an App fight trying to get the money frmo “E”‘s cancelled London trip from the school payment site. In the end had to do it in two goes with the site administrators having to set up a temporary BACS link for our account. Not all of the money has been refunded yet, we’re still due about another 150. This afternoon had another phone appp fight, this time with “to get her old Minecraft games to transfer from her old phone to her new one. All sorted in the end but it took nearly an hour to get it sorted.

It was still raining when I took the dog for her walk so I got rather wet. Fortunately I’d changed out of the clean clothes I put on after my post-ride shower and wore clothes ready to go into the wash so it didn’t matter that they got all wet.

Played a few random games this afternoon, some cards (James Bond, Go Fish and Gin-Rummy), played a couple of hands of Uno, played some chess, some draughts and, since we’ve looked out all of our old Peruvian display games, we played a few games of noughts and crosses. The Peruvian sets got quite badly damaged during the earthquake of 2007. We were in the middle of bathing the girls (they were about 4 and 1) when we heard a sound like a jet aircraft coming up the hill. The whole world started to shake and after about 30 seconds the power went off. We could hear things falling and breaking all over the house and the quake went on for about another 60 seconds or so. Just after the lights went out “I” said ‘I don’t like earthshakes any more’. Without question, the scariest 90 seconds of our lives. We decided not to replace the damaged games, we thought it was quite a story that the damaged pieces were all broken during ‘The Quake’.

We’re having an experiment for dinner. We’ve been watching ‘Back in Time for Tea’ by the BBC which has a family trace 100 years of working class living over a number of weeks. One of the meals they made was pan haggerty, which is so similar to various ofrms of meals that I remember (and some I still make) that we decided to make a version of it. The idea behind it was to use up cheap meats or leftovers and eke things out to the end of the week. We’re using corned beef and have added cabbage to the laters of potatoes, onions and carrots. We’ll also probably top it with cheese as that seems to be an essential food group in our house! It smells delicious.


Wednesday July 29th, 2020

20 years ago today I dressed in a kilt for about the 5th time in my life, got in a car at was driven from mum and dad’s to St. Mary’s Church to commit to spending my life with the woman I love more than anything. We now share our lives with 2 beautiful daughters, 2 cats, 1 dog and have, in the past, (unfortunately temporarily) welcomed another cat, a rabbit and tropical fish. I wouldn’t change a moment of it. This year has turned out to be one of the most difficult of my life but comes on the back of many more years of pure joy and I couldn’t contemplate going through any of it, good and bad, with anyone else by my side. There’s a Proclaimer’s song, one of our favourites, which has the line ‘it’s just a piece of paper but it says I love you’ and I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more. This has been a strange anniversary, it’s a few years since we were able to do anything special due to one thing and another and I’d really hoped to be able to do something really special this year to celebrate our first 20 years but circumstances worked against us. Hopefully things will improve over the next few months and we can celebrate the last 2 decades a little later in the year.

Quite a nice walk with the dog this afternoon after which 3 of us played games while “I” was on her course and we were exiled to the kitchen. Played a few different games today: Chess; Booby Trap; Skip-Bo and Sort-it-Out.

Booby Trap
Sort it Out

Dinner is all prepped to be reay for about 8:15 after “I” finishes for the day. We’re having chicken breast rolled with cream cheese, pesto and spinach accompanied by italian sauteed potatoes and green veg. I suspect the chicken rolls are going to collapse (rolling them is not my strong point) so this’ll be another meal that tastes a lot better than it looks.

Earlier this afternoon, “S” and “E” made butterfly cakes – another proper throwback.


Tuesday July 28th, 2020

Up and breakfast ready for 7:50 so that “I” was ready in plenty of time for her first session. I went for a bike ride after breakfast had settled. Really windy and cold but dry. I added a section to the route so I’m now up to 7km. Not much, I know, but it’s getting there. The ground in some places was quite slippy it was quite hard work throgh the grassy paths. Out next on Thursday I guess.

“I” had quite a break between her first and second sessions so I talked her into taking the dog for a walk to get out of the house. I don;t think she was very impressed with the idea but she did it, and took some nice pictires while she was out. I think they’re both liking having new phones instead of making do wiuth our hand-me-downs which is what they were expecting.

Used the Card games book to learn some new versions of solitaire this afternoon, and then the three of us played some cards “I” joined us for Uno during her break then “S” and I played a game of chess.


It’s been really cold here today, so much that I ended up wearing a hoodie most of the day.

It’ll be another late night for dinner so no film again – her course doesn;t finish until 8pm. We’re having Moroccan Chicken for dinner. A BBC recipe.

“I” wanted to play a game of chess after dinner then we watched the next episode of Cursed.


Monday July 27th, 2020

Up a little earlier to make sure “I” had plenty of time to get ready for the first day of her NYT on-line course today. It starts at 2 but I know she’s nervous.

Put a load of bread on while I made breakfast. I was planning to go out on my bike but the weath0er is awful. Truly awful. So I stayed in and pottered instead.

The bread was ready before lunchtime so we were able to have it for lunch, with various assortments of butter. cheese (double Gloucester, cheddar, red Leicester and Brie), cucumber or beetroot. Lovely.

After lunch, helped “I” get everything sorted for her course. Her phone is casting to the TV, she knows how to use Zoom, her mail is set up on her tablet. All good. I stayed in while she started her first course in case she had any problems while “S” and “E” took the dog for a walk in the (still) pouring rain.

While they were out I made this week’s pudding. Queen Mary’s Tart from our little Scottish cook book. Looks good and was really simple to make. Hope it also tastes good!

We’re all confined to the kitchen and bedrooms while “I” is on her course so when they got back from walking the dog we sat for the afternoon and played cards. I played Thirteens (a solitaire game) while they were out which I then taught to “E” and then we played James Bond and Racing Demon. We finished off the afternoon with some games of Uno.

Meat Free Monday and I’m making a childhood memory today. When I was at school we didn’t have kitchens in the upper school so had no Home Economics but each class had a 6 week set of lessons in teaching kitchens in the local education offices. This is one of the meals we made then. I’d have been about `13 when I learnt it. Since then I have adapted it a little. It’s basically Cheese & onion hash with added vegetables (carrots, peas, sweetcorn and spinach). Mash the potatoes then mix everything else together in a page casserole and bake until the top browns. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it.


Sunday July 26th, 2020

So, ‘Brexit’ happened on January 31st and if I remember the rhetoric from 4 years ago we would have the same rights as before with no additional red tape and the ability to trade and travel almost as before. The reports of damage to trade and economy, the risk to safety and security, the risk to our standards of: Healthcare, food safety, consumer protection, product safety, environmental protection were dismissed as ‘project fear’. The government have now launched a new website telling us that in order to travel abroad we now: have to read the small print of our travel insurance policy as the EHIC will no longer be valid; organise pet travel arrangements at least 4 months in advance, have a return ticket to show at the border, have a passport with at least 6 months validity, be prepared to be charged for mobile roaming services. This doesn’t seem to be red tape free and easy? There’s plans to build a huge customs area and lorry part near Dover. This doesn’t seem red tape free. There’s a need to have customs checks and declarations on trade between GB and NI. This doesn’t seem to be red tape free. Every sector is shouting about the damage a no deal will do to them but they’re being ignored (we’re tired of experts I guess). The referendum was won (questionably) by a small majority. Any sensible leader would have worked to look at the compromise which would please both sides or, at least, displease each side the least. But no, here we are being told that lives of ordinary people are about to get harder, more expensive and less enjoyable with no tangible benefits explained. Doing all of this in the name of ‘sovereignty’ is ridiculous as we have no written constitution so all we’ve done is hand power to a group of people who have spent a year centralising power and blocking any meaningful democratic discussion and collaboration. I fear for the future of my children due to the direction of travel of this country. I don’t blame brexit voters for their decision in 2016 (although I do think it was short sighted and damaging) but I do blame the apologists who now use the argument that the economic hit is worth it. Who is being hit? This most vulnerable. We’re now at the mercy of the USA and the Chinese and, oddly enough, I fear the USA more than the Chinese. I just wish Tory MPs and party stalwarts would stand up to Cummings and Johnson and, at least, find MPs in their party to replace the whole government edifice so that we have some adults in charge. Surely there must be a cabinet quantity of capable MPs in the party?

We managed to get lardons this week so breakfast was Bacon Brummie cakes with bacon and scrambled eggs. They are really nice.

Puzzles after breakfast then I took the dog for a walk while “E” made the base for this week’s ice-cream (mixed berries) and “S” made some Lancashire Nuts biscuits (which taste like crunch creams).

Later this afternoon it was game time and we started at the front of the Card Games book and played through everything we’ve tried so far: Old Maid; Go Fish; Go Boom; Cheat; Chase the Ace; Sevens; Rolling Stone; Linger Longer; Stealing Bundles; Muggins; Snip, snap, snorum; Chinese Ten; Thirty One; King’s Corners and finally, Spoons. This took a while!


Roast Pork for dinner today.

This evening’s film is Aladdin.


Saturday July 25th, 2020

The year is flying in frighteningly quickly, nearly at the end of July already. This will go down, without question, as the strangest year of my life.

We were both awake really early this morning – so much so that this morning was a two cup of tea day! I had to get up to get some more milk so I let the dog out and gave all the animals their breakfast treats then went back to bed.

We had hash browns, toast, scrambled eggs and sausages for breakfast, after which we did some puzzles. Even managed to complete one of the logic puzzles without making a mistake – a big achievement! It’s a bit rich that I always used one of these puzzles as part of a unit I did on logic and reasoning for TOK yet I’ve always been unable to do them. Anyway, pleased with a good sense of achievement.

The replacement charger for the Laptop came today so the first job was to test that worked. Happy that it did. Cleaned the kitchen after that and then took “C” for her walk. I was on my own so wasn;t able to properly play with the camera on the new phone but I was really pleased with the quality of one that I took. I think with a bit of time and experimentation it might take some really good shots!

When I got back we set up Zoom on “I”s phone, mirrored her phone to the TV and then tested a Zoom call ready for her on Monday. Her NYT course starts at 2:30 on Monday and then at 9 every other day but we don;t want to be rushing around trying to sort the technology out for her on the day. Another advantage of getting the phones upgraded this week is we have more options to make that work.

So, after yesterday’s very late dinner (gone 8:30 by the time if was ready but it was really good) we had to switch Friday’s Middle Earth saga day to today which means we’ll be watching The Two Towers this evening.

After we’d finished everything else we wewre doing this afternoon it was 3pm and game time. We started with the harry Potter Mystery at Hogwart’s Game (Harry Potter Cluedo) which “I” won but was just ahead of the rest of us. We then played Skip-Bo and FInihsed off with cards. We refreshed our memory of King’s Corners and Snip, Snap Snorum then our new game was Egyptian Rat Spal and we finished off with one round of Dominoes and one round of Spoons.

Harry Potter Mystery at Hogwards

I’m now making dinner – Saturday Soup. We’re having Beetroot and Onion soup from the BBC. had to make a slight change as Tesco had sold out of Nigella seeds and we’d run out. I’ve made it with fresh onion and onion powder – hopefully that will give a suitable taste challenge to the beetroot and apple. We’ve had this before, it’s a lovely recipe as long as you don’t spill it!

Stumbled across this film of Barrow Park in 1960.


Friday July 24th, 2020

Went back to sleep after the alarm went off this morning and didn’t wake up again until nearly 8. Very late. After this we were up for breakfast then we did the Richard Osman weekly quiz. Really impressive performance this week, 47/50. Our highset score ever.

After this we got ready to go into town so we can go to the EE shop for contract renewal. Unfortunately, at this point we realised no-one else had backed up phone data so by the time that was all done it was 11.30. EE was open and we were luckily able to get a slot straight away. I hadn’t realised they were working on pre-booked appointment so we were lucky. Anyway, 2 hours in the shop (seriously) and we’re all sorted with new contracts for everyone and new phones. “S” and I have Samsung Galaxy A71s and the girls have Samsung Galaxy S21s.They seem pretty good. Our phone contract has gone up slightly (no surprise there because this is the first time the girls have been on contract phones too) but we also managed to upgrade our broadband and reduce our monthly paymets for that so a win situation in the end. Really impressed by the compliance with the face mask directive.

After we’d finished at EE we went to Tesco for the weekly shop then came home to set up the new phones (3pm by now). The girls took the dog for a walk while “S” and I put the shopping away and started setting up our phones. The SmartSwitch feature is a great advantage from a few years ago.

No games today as we were all busy on our new toys and dinner is going to be a little late so we’ve switched Friday Middle Earth Saga to tomorrow and we’ll watch the second episode of Cursed when we finish dinner

Friday is Pieday and today we’re having Beef & Mushroom pie.


Thursday July 23rd, 2020

Looks like another wet day ahead.

Up for breakfast then had to have a look at the laptop to see what we can organise for Monday for the NYT course. When the dog was a puppy she took a bite at the charge cable (fortunately between the adapter and the computer not the mains wire!). It now looks like it’s got trapped in a door just where the sniup was and it is beyond rescue. Ordered a universal charger from Amazon which should be here tomorrow. Hoe that will do the trick. Also had a look at screen mirroring frm the tablets throgh the Amazon Firestick. We can do it from the Samsung Tabs but not through the iPads. Since “S”s tablet has got thoroughly choked up, we set that back to factory defaults and we’ll keep it clean for next week so “I” has a choice of laptop or tablet displaying through the TV and also her phone. Whichever is best for the activities she’s doing.

That took quite a while and afterwards I did a cryptic crossword and a ‘dateline’ numbver crossword – quite pleased with myself over the cryptic, only had to cheat for 1 answer.

We watched a slightly bizarre quiz show over lunch presented bySusan Calman. I think it’s called The Boss and is quite convoluted but was entertaining. We all like Susan Calman (the face of the Bank of Scotland). We watched her TV show being recorded at the Edinburgh Fringe last year – it was really good. After luinch, I took “C” for her walk. It’t turned into quite a nice day. There’s still a lot of cloud about but it’s lifting and it looks like it might get out nicely this afternoon.

AFter I got back from the dog walk it wass game time and we played Logo to start then back to the card Games book. We refreshed out memory withChase the Ace and Rolling Stone then we played 2 new games – Thirty-One and King’s Corners. Both well worth looking out. We then played Pig using spoons which is certainly providing some entertainment. “E” was laughing so much she had tears rolling down her cheeks!


Now making dinner. Another BBC recipe – Slow Cooked Spanish Chicken.

It’s always a hardship when a recipe needs wine!

Thursday is Musical’s Night and this week is one of all of our favourites – Sunshine on Leith. It’s got some of our favourite actors in it (George MacKay, Jane Horrocks, Peter Mullan, Jason Flemyng), is directed by one of our favourite directors (Dexter Fletcher) and is a jukebox musical cfor one of our favourite bands (The Proclaimers). What’s not to like – I predict quite a sing-a-long tonight!

Dinner was good. We had it with the last of the bread we made the other day. Managed to cook it down so the sauce was really thick and rich.


Wednesday July 22nd, 2020

Up for breakfast to a truly miserable looking day. The forecast suggests it’s going to be raining all day! After breakfast I had a play around to see if we could get “I”s phone to link to the PC so that she will be able to use that as a set up for her NYT on-line course next week. Unfortunately, her phone doesn’t support screen mirroring so it won’t work. It means I have to get the laptop working a set up through the TV for her. Should be fine, I just hoped we could have somethign a little more portable so she can move around the living room as necessary and carry the camera with her. We’ll see what I can get working.

I went for a ride after I’d given up with her phone and got soaked. Strangely, the shower which caught me the other day was much colder that today’s constant rain. I think weather is fascinating. The rain on Monday lasted about 10 minutes, was really heavy and was really cold. The rain today was constant but much lighter. I got much wetter but it was a pleasant temperature. Anyway, still needed a shower when I got home.

Sorted the menu for next week and made up the shopping list so it’s all ready to go on Friday. I like to be well planned ahead so we know what we’re buying. Looked through some of our more obscure recipe books for next week’s snack and sweet treats.

I took the dog for her walk myself today as it’s still raining. Low cloud makes the hills look closer and the whole countryside looks somehow foreboding. I do love the rain in Scotland, it really sets the atmosphere!

Dinner today is going to be a simple asian classic – Stir Fried Beef. Based on this recipe from the BBC but with some adaptations, mainly to do with vegetable and accompaniments.

This evening’s film is the choice of “E” who’s gone back to Marvel after her trip through the Star Trek universe with The Winter Soldier.

This afternoon we played Sequence, “S” and I against “I”and “E” and we won convincingly over the 4 games. After that we played a new card game (Chinese 10) then refreshed another Stealing Bundles).


Dinner was really good!

The bucket of geraniums outside the front of the house is looking good.


Tuesday July 21st, 2020

Up for breakfast at the usual time and put some bread in the breadmaker. This is the first time we’ve used the braedmaker since we left Romania. We’ve planned to do it a few trimes since lockdown began but we’ve only just started to get bread flour back in Tesco. Hopefully it’ll work ok!

After breakfast I got back to tagging and cataloguing the photos on the blog. Unfortunately, the tablet stopped saving about half way through what I did yesterday so I had to go over quite a gfew I’d already done. It took me until lunchtuime to get through them all – all done now, though, so it’s easier for me to search and find pictures if I need to use them again.

Had fresh bread and avocado with cream and cottage cheese. It was delicious. We go through phases with the bread machine of using it lots and lots and then not using it for months. This might be the start of using it regularly again I hope.

Out for a walk with the dog after lunch. Just “S” and I, the girls stayed in doing ‘exercise’ games on the X Box and getting very sweaty. It’s quite overcast today but a really nice temperature. The cows obviuosly think it’s quite warm anyway!

The last of my film choices for Film Club tonight – Hail Ceasar. This is really funny and has nothing to do with evil dictators! When we drew the last lot of films, none of mine came out which is why the last three films of that round of choices have been mine! We’ve refreshed the jar and will be drawing new ones again tomorrow.

After walking the dog we played Blockbuster then a few hands of cards. We tried a new game (Snip, Snap Snorum) then we played a had of Dominoes to checvk we had all of the cards in our Lake District pack and finally a few rounds of PIG using 3 spoons which you have to grab instead of putting your hand to your nose. It certainly added a little to it.


Dinner is another new recipe from the BBC – Honey Mustard Chicken POt with Parsnips.