So it’s a strange time all right! Lockdown 2020. Hopefully not something I’ll experience again in my lifetime… although you will see from the photos below that there are some silver linings and perhaps during this time we are all reflecting on what’s important. I ran a workshop last week at work and the last two questions were: what are the things we want to carry forward from working remotely vs. what aspects do we want to leave behind? I am sure we all have some thoughts from this experience.
Before I turn to the nitty gritty of lockdown, I’ll mention the major milestone which occurred after returning from Florida and before lockdown commenced… Morgy’s 6th birthday of course! Here he is with his new electric train set (he had mentioned this was an unfulfilled Christmas request so we made up for Santa’s shortcomings!):
He had his party at Spit and Sawdust, a quirky indoor skate park with all the boys from his class:
They had a blast and the tank cake was a major hit:
That was March 14th and at that point, here in Britain we were still being told just to wash our hands (whilst singing Happy Birthday twice) and to isolate ourselves if we were feeling ill. By the following Wednesday, I was taking my monitor, keyboard, mouse etc from work and by Friday, March 20th, schools were closing. Here’s Morgy on his last day of school:
Aled and I decided it would be better for me to have my desk up in the big front bedroom so the boys could take over the dining room for school work and projects. So we moved our clothes cupboard out of the front room into the middle bedroom and set up this other table.
So I have been working from the front bedroom now for just over two months…
…whilst Aled continues his project from the middle bedroom in between schooling Morgan:
Aled is doing a great job with Morgy. His reading and writing have really come on, in particular his penmanship:
Now Murphy’s Law has been in full force with regards the weather as it’s been wall-to-wall sunshine here in Cardiff since lockdown started. This has been simultaneously wonderful and infuriating after one of the wettest winters in British history. So while I am very grateful it has been sunny, it’s also seems just a teensy-wheensy bit unfair not to be able to go further than our immediate neighbourhood to enjoy the glorious sunshine!
Thankfully, we have been permitted to leave our homes during lockdown. I can’t imagine what life would be like in places like Spain where people weren’t allowed outside for several weeks. In March and April, we were allowed to go outside for 30 minutes of exercise and the laws were changed so that police could actually fine people if they were out for “non-essentials”. This meant we’d go out for a walk once a day as a family in the nearby parks with Morgan on his bike.
Spring was absolutely beautiful this year, and we were treated to a lovely blossom display.
At one point, the cherry blossoms even turned the grass pink!
We celebrated Easter with an egg hunt and a roast dinner:
And then, well, there’s been lots of playing at home and in the garden…
Fear not — we have a great method for dealing with lego chaos. Simply ensure it’s all on the carpet, roll it like a burrito and tip it straght into the box! E voila! Tidy living room.
Battleship has become the game of choice, with Captain Morgan (the second) actually starting to beat us fair and square!
I ordered these tiny bead things that you make patterns with and then iron to stick them together (a favourite from my own childhood):
As well as puzzles…
Other highlights from early lockdown include watching some butterflies hatch and then fly away:
And making patterns with flowers:
Lockdown has been a surreal time, where you’re safe and snug making flower patterns in the day, but then hearing the apocolyptic news in the evening once Morgy is in bed. It’s hard to reconcile the two realities, especially if you are healthy and well-fed at home. The workers in the ICU all over the world are experiencing the nightmare first hand.
Luckily for us, the major challenges have mostly just consisted of getting our groceries safely, as we haven’t been able to get slots to have our groceries delivered. Sainsbury’s also put limits on how many people could be in the store at once, making it difficult to know how long it would take to actually get your groceries. This was stressing me out a little bit as we were also seeing news reports of empty shelves at supermarkets across the country.
So as our supplies were starting to run low in April, I asked my boss if I could pop out after lunch one day and do a shop, thinking I’d avoid the morning rush. When I got to Sainsbury’s, I was shocked to see about about 35 people queueing so I turned right back around and came back at 7:40pm that night.
Unbeknownst to me, Sainsbury’s had changed their store hours and were closing at 8pm so what ensued was a mad “supermarket sweep” type exercise during which I managed to procure about 180 pounds worth of groceries in less than 15 minutes. The Corona was going cheap (!).
Luckily we get our organic fruit and veg delivered every Wednesday and have a small corner shop where we go to pick up milk and cheese as required so I have only been to Sainsbury’s twice. The corner shop only lets two people in the shop at one time. Right next door is the local post office, which I have only visited once because I ran out of stamps (too many overseas birthdays!!) 😉
I don’t know about you but something that keeps my spirits up in lockdown are the hilarious memes that are going around on social media. These are two of my favourites — apologies I don’t know who to credit these to — thank you very much for keeping us laughing:
And this one…
And so lockdown continues… like Groundhog Day really… most weekends we get on our bikes and take a longer bike ride than the daily one around the parks… here’s Morgy in Waterloo Gardens:
Look what beautiful flowers:
Then we head up to Roath Park Lake, where they’ve instituted a one-way system clockwise around the lake to reduce people breathing in each other’s faces. Nine times out of ten we cycle past our good friends and neighbours, Sarah, Ed and the boys who are also out for their daily cycle.
About a month ago, we discovered the “Wild Wood” at the top of the lake. Hilariously I cycled past this forested section of the park for about 3 years when I worked up at Cardiff Gate business park but never bothered venturing in… it’s quite nice actually and you can’t believe you are in the middle of a city when you are walking around it.
It’s become a weekly tradition to throw those sticky plants at each other whilst in the Wild Wood (I have no idea what they are actually called — they stick to clothes like velcro). Here’s Morgy running away from an inevitable counter-attack…
Back at the ranch, there’s lots of Skype, Whatsapp and Zoom calls with friends and relatives all over the world. It’s been lovely to connect with everyone and hear how everyone is coping.
All in all, family and friends are mostly ok but there are some really hard aspects, such as my sister having to leave her kids with my parents while she and Anthony go to work in NYC. The news coming out of New Jersey and New York is frightening and I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. When I think about the scale of this situation and how much are lives have been impacted I get emotional — the good old “Coronacoaster” — so I will move swiftly on to some of our other lockdown adventures.
A few weeks ago we put up the tent which Santa brought us last Christmas. The first test was to see if it would actually fit in our tiny garden…
The answer was “yes just barely”! Morgy and Aled spent the night out there while I was in in the nice big bed upstairs 🙂 But this doesn’t mean I got off easy. Morgy came into see me at 5:45am! We ended up leaving the tent up for a few days just for a change of scenery.
On the early May bank holiday, we had a lockdown lunch in the back lane with our friends and neighbours, Paul, Anurag and Sandra:
It felt like we could get in trouble for this but by week 7 of lockdown, we were dying to speak to friends! It was lovely to see them and once again reminded me how much life has changed in 2020. How much I have taken for granted!
In the second or so week of May (sorry can’t remember, the days and weeks are all blurring together!) lockdown in Wales was relaxed somewhat so that we could exercise outside more than once a day as long as we maintained social distancing. There were rumours that the kids might go back to school in June but that isn’t looking likely. Last week England relaxed its lockdown and 300,000 people turned up at beaches on the South Coast. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are watching the experiment…
And so the schooling at home continues… Morgy and Aled are doing some art lessons…
Of course Morgy chooses his favourite subject matter:
I will end with one of my favourite creations from lockdown. Aled’s creativity really knows no bounds with a loaf of wholemeal bread in the shape of an ammonite!
Next week, he’ll start work back at Hodge Bank, so we’ll be joining those other parents who are both working whilst juggling home-schooling. Pray for us please! And please take care everyone in this crazy time. Huge hugs from sunny Cardiff XOXOX