weeknotes 100 Words

Weeknotes 031: Bye-bye! Open the gate!

Look at us being all instagram-friendly with our repurposed eggshells and the seeds from a moldy tomato. Eggshells

We got lucky with the Bank Holiday weather and it stayed dry for us to clomp about Whitley Wildings’ rail-side garden. Piglet hunted for snails, hid stones and dug in mud. She enjoyed it so much, she skipped her nap.

We had tables booked at Scream for Pizza. The Chef, having looked at the weather, had cancelled them a few days prior. We switched to takeaway and when I went to pick up and saw the tables being battered with freezing rain I felt the warm glow of the right choice made. Piglet was haunted by her decision not to nap and fell asleep with pizza half in her mouth.

Stomachs remained filled with delight as The Chef cracked on with Rosa’s Thai Cafe and made a stunning salmon red curry. I took over the cooking for the rest of the week, so that prevented us dying at least.

Piglet missed nursery with the classic toddler loose stools brought on from eating too much soil. She did not enjoy returning this week.

Today involved walking over to the quayside and bagging a table at By the River for the food market. It was socially distanced table service, so some the regular bouncing atmosphere was replaced with something a bit more chilled. But let’s face it, we’ve a 1 year old: chilled table service through an app is an upgrade for us.

We stuck our heads in the shops on the way back and picked up Piglet her first pillow. She got very excited for it being in the cot and is currently dramatically flounced across it.

I’ve had niggling hand exzema from all the disinfecting and bubble-bathing Piglet. the Chef dug out some hydrocortisone and put it on my bedside table a few weeks back and I’ve been clear since. There’s a moral there if I bother to look for it.

To get back in to the swing of reading something other than comics—and because we read a lot of Where’s my cow?”—I reread Thud! this week. It’s a good book to read as a dad. It prompted The Chef to binge through all the Vimes books. It also didn’t stick and I spent the rest of the week reading Sandman comics.

We ordered 20 picture frames and we’re stalling on choosing the 20 best photos of Piglet to go in them. I’ve whittled the original 200 photos don to 60-ish. Let’s see how many notes it is before we’ve ordered the final set…

I’m enjoying having moved the blog to Blot, but what’s the deal? I’m able to accidentally bag domain stubs all the time. You can read these on ink.blot.im, paul.blot.im or woohooctopus.blot.im. I’m going to stop switching before I unfairly catch em all.

Those elections were a load of s■■■, weren’t they?

9 May 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 030: I’m a sausage!

We started the week disagreeing with grandparents about how much to upset Piglet when teaching to share and finished it with them running up and down Northumberlandia together.

I traded away a daddy-daughter day while The Chef worked to repair the damaged nursery ceiling from our roof leak. It felt unkind. I’d imagined it would be a two-hour job and was debating which secondary bit of DIY would fill my Saturday. But after an hour and only 3 square feet scraped, I sunk into the familiar frustrated despondency that follows my overly-optimistic DIY estimates. Leaving it half-done would only exacerbate my annoyance, so I traded the second day away too. Watching the videos of everyone gamboling on the hills was the lift I needed.

The upshot of being stuck in a steamy room with sore shoulders was that I could binge on podcasts. I don’t tend to listen the same channel consecutively and it’s led to some serendipitous clashes:

  • Katy Brand talking about Joseph Campbell’s influence on Disney followed by Mike Jones of Pixar saying they need to ditch this structure because it’s too predictable.
  • Sam Lee preserving folk songs just before Alisdair Beckett-King did the same for folk stories.
  • Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley discussing the patriarch-matriarch-craftsman-clown in Red Dwarf before Gabby Hutchinson Crouch does the same for Pratchett’s witches.

The thing I got from it (beyond comedy script advice) is that most folklore is a bit silly and not as dramatic as the Big Folk tales and that Old Wow by Sam Lee is just lovely.

Piglet bagged her first dentist trip. We did the parent thing of being angsty about it. She loved it and got a sticker for being brave. Then spent the rest of the week counting my teeth at every opportunity. She’s coupled that with grabbing cloths and holding them in front of her face and giggling, got a mask” to make us smile during the day.

Nights on the other hand have been aggravating. She’s reached an age where bedtime is a fight. Three nights in a row one of us would still be by the cot at 9 pm listening to renditions of ABC. The Chef, as usual, has researched and found a trick for us to try. We’ve our fingers crossed for it.

Working from home
A year working from home

And to round off, this week is the one year anniversary of deciding to not make sourdough. It’s reminded me the swifts are due in a week or so.

2 May 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 029: Time Wasting Scenarios

To prepare for going out out, I went for the fastest run I’ve been on in the last 5 months. It was my slowest of the last 5 months too, but I’m taking the positives.

The main positive being that we went out! To a restaurant. Without Piglet. It was, just, yeah…

It feels good to know that we can leave her with grandparents for babysitting and enjoy a grown up evening. It was the last restaurant we went to before lockdown one too. Barbecued meat in the brisk open air. Delicious.

We’d been nearby earlier to visit Byker Farm and let Piglet scream delightedly at bemused animals and shout choo-choo” at passing metros. I could get used to lockdown relaxing; the return of routine feels exhilarating.

At the other end of the week, I successfully cooked aubergines on the twentieth attempt. The Chef let me in on the secret—use loads of oil.

While there was a cow at the farm, Piglet’s used to hundreds on her walks around the Moor now and a single cow doesn’t elicit a supersonic, Cows!” It’s not that she’s already jaded, but a girl has expectations.

We’ve to watch her on the walks. If she gets a few unsupervised seconds, she’ll fill her pockets with stones. It’s endearingly weird.

One evening, having de-stoned her pockets, she was playing with her crossbow” and I explained the real word was hanger” . What a naff word that is. As pleased as I was by bittersweet, hanger squats there, a desultory description. A teen on work-experience. A hanger.

Nursery is doing the business. Piglet’s got a cold. We’ve been teaching her to share and take turns. She’s still not great with toys, but she’s happily given her germs to me and The Chef. Probably while we co-slept.

Which is a extra kicker because, pre-illness and with the risk of cursing it forever, she looked to have largely cracked sleep. A bad night now is having to go down once to resettle her. I’m nervously hopeful of a return to service.

I signed up a one-week free trial of Marvel Unlimited to save having to spend £30 to get up to date on the Immortal Hulk series. It’s led to me reading a lot of comics this week. Any must reads for the next 3 days before it expires?

When I started writing about what I was bingeing it was to force myself to listen to new music. I figured I’d be too embarrassed to constantly be writing about the Best of Indie 2004. 6 music has been my friend in this and I’ve just discovered Duncan Geere converts their now playing list into a Spotify playlist every week. Score. Highlight of the week is Fana Hues.

25 April 2021 weeknotes
woohooctopus 21 April 2021

Weeknotes 028: What do giraffes say in your house?

My legs are sore and hair damp. The Chef was at work this weekend and I spent the day switching between keeping Piglet alive, grouting the bathroom and cooking. My reward was a hot shower while she settled the tiny tyrant.

I’d farmed Piglet out to her grandparents yesterday to free me to crack on with odd jobs; tiling, painting, mowing. Today was completing the loose ends. A textbook middle-aged Dad weekend.

Tiled bath
The panel is back on the bath only 9 months after it first came off.

Getting a few jobs done has been a tonic for general angst. I feel I’m falling behind on work again (I should maybe have done some catch up this weekend) and it’s nagging at me.

I’ve instigated a morning walk round the block without my phone, which is helping start the day right. And this week I had some virtual meetings with folks I’ve not spoken to for a while and it was good to catch up on the attenuated gossip of locked-down lives.

While the weather is playing ball, we’re a free range family in the evening. It started on Tuesday with a trip to Elgy green and Piglet living her best life. And ended up with me meeting the girls in the park after nursery, eating al fresco between sessions on the swings or roundabout.

I got to the park first one time and was sent a picture of them heading over. The lack of knee bend gives toddlers the most bombastic walking style. Even a static photo is dynamic.

In further outdoor life, we were treated to the simple pleasure of a hedgehog in the garden. Is there anything to refill your spirit with childish wonder than a hedgehog rustling round the leaves? (We were only in the garden at night to hang laundry. That should freak the neighbours out.)

We had to hang in the dark because I’d been at class that night and Piglet was truculent with her bedtime. It all started so sweetly with her happily chatting in Chinese to the class on Zoom. Bilingual show-off. I barely manage one.

Reading a tweet from a different family with young kids that, because they didn’t know what noise a giraffe made, it says beep-boop. We had the same panic when teaching Piglet and our giraffes have a high-pitched giggle. (For similar reasons, hips say, BIRD!”) Surely no-one knows what they sound like and has had to improv. What do giraffes say in your house?

Instead of a music binge this week, a lovely mobile game instead. Florence is a narrative game from a few years back that I’d missed. The ending is kind of sad, but the limited gameplay is perfect for the stroytelling. It reminded me a bit of Old Man’s Journey.

18 April 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 027: Where does all the time go?

It should only be another month until I can touch the floor. Toes.jpg

A week bookended by home cooking. We started on Bank Holiday stuffing Lǎolao’s wild garlic dumplings into our faces and finished with Piglet’s first foray into the kitchen.

Through the week, I had a pleasingly empty work calendar. Did I fill it with useful projects and a feeling of fulfillment? I did not. Instead I got bored processing data and frustrated by server outages. Yay?

I did get out on my bike to try a bakery slightly further from home. Too much tasty bread for too little exercise.

While I was cycling, Piglet was round Lǎolao’s being scared by leaves. She’s not great with unexpected animus. When the wind stirred the pile she was playing with, she fled to the consolation of hugs indoors. Leaves studiously avoided from then.

Slightly braver was her performance on returning to nursery. While we got the anticipated tears on first drop-off in 4 months, a slice of toast was enough to placate her. The Chef had a half-day to pick her up early. The intention was for a peaceful pram nap while walking home, which instead involved following a racing toddler around fields.

Friday was less tearful and she stayed for the full day. Charmed everyone with her stream of consciousness and requests for stories. We’ll see how long it lasts.

With the reintroduction of strangers, we planned for nothing exciting this weekend. Saturday; two park trips. Picnic and swings in the morning. Looking for newts in the afternoon, but the nature reserve trashed. Lockdown has baked the teenagers and drunks and they took it out on the ponds. Aggravating. We taught Piglet her first lesson of civic pride and she helped steer a long stick to fish out empties.

(Speaking of newts, this video took me back 20 years to developmental biology lectures.)

Steak.jpg Saturday night

April snow was flurrying on Sunday and we made no plans to leave the house. Grandma is feeling the hurt of losing a day to nursery and bullied Grandad into helping repair the bath so she could play with Piglet. Repairs took him all of 5 minutes so he didn’t miss out on too much playtime. When they’d cleared out, Piglet was free to make the aforementioned chocolate cornflake cakes for us.

Rather than a full album, just a track this week. Little Frogs is a lovely ditty with a heart-warming video. (via Lucy Bellwood).

This might be the last post here on woohooctopus. I’m moving to paul.blot.im. I can publish straight from Dropbox, so who knows, I might get more punctual. I might even do styling.

11 April 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 026: Eggs come from chickens

Let’s not bury the lede this week. Piglet had her first sleep out. F■■■ yes!

She spent the night at Lǎolao and Lǎoyé’s and we were filled with the spirit of teenage rebellion. Takeaway arrived during what would be bath-time. We watched a movie with the sound up. We went to bed late without fear of interruption. We left knives, glasses and TV remote lying about when we went to bed. We stomped on the stairs. We unplugged the monitor. You know, the usual old-person teenage stuff.

Earlier in the week I knocked off work early to light our first BBQ of the year. With the guideline relaxations, we could have my parents round. Piglet did her best to kill Grandad with non-stop running. Like the spring day around us, we could see the first shoots of post-pandemic life. My folks repaid in kind with a Sunday Roast for Easter Day.

We snuck out to South Shields beach on Good Friday. It was warmer than when we last met our friends there. They’d brought mini eggs with them. Piglet, on hearing the word chocolate, switched from playing to sidling. She nudged The Chef, coyly curious, to remind us she was still there with a hopeful half-smile.

About par for her new cheekiness. I came downstairs on my lie-in day to find her sat at the table eating blood orange, drinking tea and pointing out the Blue tits over there”. She’s not two yet.

The sleep streak is over. Teething again. One night while singing 宝宝贝 (Bǎo bǎobèi to the tune of Brahm’s Lullaby) she bolted up to say kitty cat” and then started singing 猫猫喵 (Māomāo miāo / kitty cat meow) to the same tune. Which is pretty impressive ad libbing from someone I thought was already asleep.

The morning after that refusal to sleep, Twirlywoos went on while I topped up on coffee. The Twirlywoos were being their usual exasperating selves and taking things too far till the ship, having had enough of their s■■■, blew its horn and stopped the nonsense. I love that ship. It me.

That said, when I do grump at her she’ll start crying and saying everything, everything.” I don’t think it means what she thinks. At one point she got so stressed she backed away and said 爸爸上班班 (Bàba shàngbān bān / Daddy, go to work) until I left the room.

Better rested we’ll read The Lion and the Bird together. There’s a bittersweet bit which set me off trying to think of other oxymoronic compounds like bittersweet. It’s common in beginner’s Chinese, but I struggled in English before I cheated. There are only three good words on that list, so I’ll stick with my initial conclusion that it’s not common in English. And I’m left wondering why.

I missed two days of stretches and I have a bad back. There was no disclaimer that I’d have to do this every day for the rest of my life. Unless the disclaimer is that I’m old.

After a few weeks of disco-adjacent binge listening, a new Nick Cave album will always monopolise. I like the new sound that he and Warren have found for themselves. This morning is amazing and so are you.

5 April 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 025: Hello tuppence

  • The Chef got her second vaccine. Fortunately the same week as she had some use-em-or-lose-em holidays to fill with naps.
  • I had a shorter week too and we spent Monday playing on the beach. First coast trip of the year with all the March classics; Fish and chips, ice cream, cool dude” glasses, five layers, giving the Stella drinkers a wide berth, sandcastles, splodging.
  • Everyone in the immediate family is vaccinated (bar me). We’re on for a less worrisome return to nursery after Easter. Even when she licks another child, she shouldn’t kill her grandparents.
  • Piglet is ready for it. She’s started treating her toys as friends, saying hello”, I love you” and asking to hold their hands.
  • That’s the sweet side of her development. Less sugary is the birth of the tantrum. Puce-faced, tears streaming and riots of, No no no no no no” at the suggestion that she put clothes on before she goes out.
  • In between those poles, she’s a victim to rhythm. If a song comes on that she digs during a meal it’s a straight, Bib off. Dancing”
  • I gave up working from the kitchen cabinet and switched the office and library round. Now we’ve a big enough office to avoid neck strain and a small enough library to call a reading nook. We’ve no chair or shelves, so it looks like a haunted bookshop with a beanbag nestled amidst the piles of literature of dubious quality.
  • Celebrated the switch by taking Friday off too. We went for a very, very cold walk around the Rising Sun. Despite the polar temperatures, we figured ice cream was still in order. There was no ice cream. Then a horse nibbled Piglet. It was time to come home and have pizza instead.
  • I’ve noticed Piglet’s bilingualism has led to more persistent patience than a typical toddler. If she feels she’s not getting attention, she’ll switch language and try again.
  • We went to A Different Park today. It was almost like going on holiday. They even had a trampoline built into the ground. And I got my ice cream.
28 March 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 024: How do you want to do tonight?

I guess everyone in my RSS had a quiet Sunday at the same point last week. Weeknotes.jpg

  • We started the week going round the houses dropping off homemade Mother’s day cards to the grandmothers before eating till regret. We texted later to explain what Piglet had drawn.

  • Grandma got so excited to hear of Lǎolao’s finger injury that she mandolined the tip of her finger off in homage.

  • After a year in the attic, I figured it would look better with a monitor riser and the laptop shovelled underneath. This kicked off a couple of hours worth of office tarting. The decade-and-a-bit old printer and speakers headed to the recycling. Then I got it into my head that it’d be a better use of space if I was against a different wall and I spent the week working from an Ikea kitchen cabinet to try it out. I’m moderately confident I don’t have ADHD.

  • The third time someone mentioned they were trying to touch their toes, I cracked and started too. I’ve made alright progress for 1 week and I’ll make a GIF when I touchdown. You’ll all get to see my pyjama bottoms. There’s something to look forward to in a few weeks.

  • We’re the kind of people who have a butter.

  • Piglet has stopped crawling up the stairs and started walking up like a normal human: one step at a time, holding nothing and muttering strong” under her breath. Just like Dad. Which is terrifying given my past.

  • She dropped her first C-bomb this week. But then she started wearing her potty as a hat and slept through for 5 nights, so she’s forgiven. She also spent a day saying thank you to everyone and everything for anything.

  • When I go into the nursery in the mornings, I get a brain dump as a greeting. I’ve been told Giants are really, really big” and asked Breakfast? Would you like… toast? How about banana?”

  • Unless she’s supervised with an apple, she’ll eat the lot. Core. Seeds. The lot. It’s kind of impressive.

  • We might be raising her as the fun police. On the roundabout when another kid waved to their grandparent, she told her, Two hands. Hold on tight.” It was not well-received. Later, when an older kid hopped on the infant swings before her, she calmly walked round, crossed her arms and gave her best fuck-off-now stare. Yes, the swearing is in the look. Worked too. She’s always smug on the swings, but that one was extra.

  • My usual weeknotes process is to remember a load of stuff after publishing and add that to ideas list. On Monday I’ll think of something new. Tuesday to Friday get ignored (as they should). But this Tuesday was our 3 year moving in-niversary. Tradition dictates KFC.

  • Is there anything more comforting than when your kid nestles right in when you’re reading stories together?

  • Hearing Grant Howitt wax lyrical about Parisian Dream, this week’s new” album is Laura Veirs’ 2005 Year of Meteors

22 March 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 023: Whispered stories

Blood_orange_cake.jpg

  • I’m prepared to admit dry lent is over.
  • While prepping Sunday dinner last week, we were interrupted by a phonecall to tell us Lǎolao was dying. Turns out she’d cut her fingertip and Lǎoyé was being a flounce.
  • Post-dinner was spent discussing moving Piglet to her Big Girl Room, which was a conversation I don’t think I was ready for.
  • Piglet has a routine towards the end of the bath where she’ll say goodbye to the water, look up grinning and whisper stories.” She’s upped her game by whispering the actual stories to herself in the wee hours. It peaked during a week of teething when The chef, having thought that she’d escaped the nursery, was stranded on the landing listening to Cock-a-doodle-do! Sun come up” and the dread understanding that she’d have to turn back.
  • Still pleased in the uptick of the quality in Piglet’s stories since we bought a tranche. Four lines of Julia Donaldson is enough to know you’re in the hands of a master. And I’m blaming sleep deprivation for how rheumy-eyed I was the first time I read The Little Gardener.
  • We remembered that iPlayer doesn’t always have to be In the Night Garden and we’re now 30 episodes into Twirlywoos.
  • I’ve already wished lockdown a happy birthday, so I’ll not repeat it hear.
  • Finished The Maker of Swans, hunted out the author Paraic O’Donnell and ended up here. Heartbreaking but beautiful.
  • On Wednesday I procrastinated on procrastinating and did a job for someone in the same day. It made all the difference. There remains a hovering angst trying to find purchase, but it’s held off with action.
  • Following on with my album of the week recommendations I’ve gone full 6Music and binged Flock by Jane Weaver.
14 March 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 022: Ransom

  • Folks, wild garlic season has started.

Ransom.jpg

  • In case the neighbours were wondering what kind of children they live beside, we’ve painted the front gate bright yellow.

  • While I dribbled paint on the drive, The Chef attacked our neglected garden. With Piglet settled into a daily 2-hour lunch nap, there’s going to be a lot of this over the spring.

  • Had a bit of wobbly work productivity, which as I’ve co-slept every night while the girls stave off (non-Covid) colds is OK. I mean, it’s always OK. But especially when feeling like a Walking Dead extra.

  • The extra mucus in Piglet proved immiscible with her pear juice. One round of carpet cleaner and one of mopping later and she’s still asking for more.

  • Google Photos’ creepy but useful face-match feature misidentifies Piglet as me or The Chef reasonably frequently. I guess that means she looks like both of us?

  • Having Piglet around means meeting lots of local doggos. As introverts who like to stroke strange dogs, this is an unforeseen benefit of parenthood.

  • We’ve gone mad with delight at the prospect of lockdown ending. We’re booked in for an outdoor meal for two at Cook House in April. We’re meeting up with friends at Träkol in June. We’re whittling down campsites for July. AirBnB is booked for the boys away day in August. People are going to get hugged. Maybe even licked. Weeknotes might have #content!

  • This week’s new on repeat album has been Magic Mirror by Pearl Charles, courtesy of Lauren Laverne loving it when I do the drop off. Piglet grooves away in her car seat to Only for tonight.

  • Finished the Foundation Trilogy and the idea of the intergalactic future of humanity being 1950s America—but in Space!—hasn’t aged well.

7 March 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 021: Naughty Monkey Bum Bum

  • Yesterday evening’s wine tastes all the sweeter for being in the middle of dry lent.

  • I’d been good before then, sticking to the Nanny State. It’s odd to think it’s a beer I could drink with breakfast without breaking any social mores.

  • As noted by everyone everywhere, spring has sprung. Two weekends worth of gardening and bike rides have me feeling positively frisky. Which is handy as, after re-reading yearnotes, I realise how close I got to burnout last year. The Christmas holiday couldn’t have been better timed.

  • Counter-intuitively, I’ve staved off the return of burnout by increasing work. Now that I’ve 2 months of stable productivity, it’s time to reintroduce more life into the work-life balance. I’m aiming to couple the nice weather with some bike rides to different cafes.

  • Having inherited a collection of so-so kids books, when I suddenly discovered that Jon Klassen wrote a full hat trilogy I suddenly bought the lot.

  • One of the better books was a gift from the work lunch table. An A-Z of maths. Because we’re all dweebs. We repaid them for the gift by sending a video of Piglet reading aloud the Matrix and Null Set pages. Her welcome to dweeb club” badge is on order.

  • Courtesy of that book, she’s a decent grasp of numbers and we’re moving on to the alphabet. Starting with English. Once she’s masters the 26, we’ll move on to the few thousand characters needed to read a Chinese newspaper.

  • She’s started investigating lying too. If she wants to be picked out of the cot after bedtime she’ll claim she’s filled her nappy. And when she’s bored of food, she’ll fake yawn and say, tired.” I’ve been waiting for this development stage and glad she’s artlessly demonstrating her grey matter.

  • This video essay is on needle-drops in films is one hour long. And I watched the whole thing. Both the content of the argument and the constant snippets of great movies kept me hooked.

  • We cooked this beans and chard recipe shared in Nat Buckley’s yearnotes and it was delicious. Straight into the cook again pile.

  • I joined an Oh God What Now zoom and it was abundantly clear that no-one’s heart was in it. We’re already for lockdown and zooms to be over.

  • Like everyone other dad in the UK, I enjoyed listening to the new Mogwai album. While I’m happy that they’ve got their first number one album, I can’t help but feel a competition which is won with other people’s cash is biased towards the middle-aged. Pop and football used to be for the young.

  • A roofer visited and, for a very reasonable amount of cash in hand, left us with hoping the next storm stays outside the house.

1 March 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 020: Plenty of coffee

It took me just 3 days to break the sledge going down a hill. I need to cut back on the Covid snacking.

Shoes.jpg

Having broken the sledge I took my first bath in 7 months. Does this mean I’ve repaired it? No.

The bath was awesome.

I forgot to mention Piglet’s first haircut last week! She’d been taking style tips from the guinea pig, with a fringe so long as to obscure all sight. Lǎoyé was called upon and she’s now pixie cutted.

It’s not the only thing he’s been called upon to do. The Chef showed him a picture from Etsy and after a studious appraisal he set off to the shed. Piglet owns a convertible table/stand to reach the sink to wash her hands after using it for colouring in.

Stand.jpg Grandad skills.

He and Lǎolao celebrated by getting vaccinated. That’s half the family done. Once my parents are jabbed, we’ll feel much more comfortable sending Piglet to nursery.

She’ll definitely have at least one buddy when she returns. The Chef met up with a friend and Piglet spent a disgustingly cute afternoon in the park holding her tiny buddy’s hand.

On vaccines, The Chef was offered another one because she’s high-risk”. Turns out the GP hadn’t updated the gestational part of her gestational diabetes. From Alice Bartlett’s weeknotes, she wasn’t the only one.

On sleep, she’s spent the last week-and-a-bit giving The Chef an easy time—sleeping through, settling easily—and refusing to sleep for me. Had she not fixed it I was preparing to go on strike. But she’s been good this weekend.

Because time is fictional in a lockdown, Pancake day snuck up on us. Fortunately we had the stuff in to bodge through¹. The Chef explained to me afterwards that we’ve given up alcohol for lent, which was a shock.

I guess I’m going to have to replace alcohol relaxation with calm city builder games. As well as Townscaper I’ve been playing Islanders and Dorfromantik. This might be my jam in 2021

Google reminded me that today is our one year anniversary of the last time we went to a nice restaurant. I’m looking forward to going back when being indoors with strangers isn’t akin to lying in a plague pit.

I’ve changed the coffee delivery day to Thursday. We no longer run out at the weekend. This is a good life change.


1: A fun word to watch French people attempt

21 February 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 019: 新年快乐

This week was Lunar New Year with proper snow and I had a 4 day week to enjoy it all. Magic.

Lǎolao went to town making dumplings for Piglet.

dumplings.jpg

We weren’t treated to anything as aesthetically fancy, but by God, did we eat well. I only realised as we were tucking into diǎnxīn, that we’d not eaten any since before lockdown 1. I’ve missed it.

As well as the food, the other advantage of Lǎolao and Lǎoyé’s is that their garden has a decent slope. We picked up a sledge on Amazon and had our own private slope. Piglet enjoyed it almost as much as the adults.

We took turns building snowmen in each garden. The culprit for the wildly variable quality was the type of snow. Honest.

Snowmen.jpg

With the sledding, snowmen and frequent flurries, Piglet has been filled with wonder of snow. She’s been circling the snowmen and singing round and round” to herself as she does it.

Heading round the supermarket with The Chef she alternated shouting out the contents of the shelves and demanding to know What’s this?” Were it not for Covid, there’d have been an army of pensioners crowding her.

Back at home she’s been picking up the bluetooth speaker and asking, Dance?” And in the more avant garde end of her vocabulary, not only do goats say, WoOoOo” but plants say, slurp” and lights say bing.”

15 February 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 018: So many types of spoons.

I’m writing these after another double nana nap weekend. Not gonna lie, feeling pretty chill right now. The closest we’ve gotten to doing stuff was playing some Ticket to Ride on Saturday evening. Living the lockdown high-life.

That said, we are shovelling prosecco and cheesecake into our face after The Chef cooked up an awesome Kitchen God Festival feast. Definitely helping with the chill.

Despite Grandad’s sterling efforts, the roof is still leaking. We’ve reached the stage where we’ve needed to get a man in. He was due this weekend, but something about gale force winds and horizontal snow meant he took a pass.

Just one of the adult jobs this week. Our car has a safety recall on it and is off to the mechanics on Tuesday. And we cancelled our heat pump installation. That was bittersweet. I lost my smugness for getting to the front of the queue by following the council RSS, but they would only install the pump in the garden and not over the garage. And we weren’t to be misled by free.

Clarting on with three bits of admin in the same week, would normally be a chew. But I think spending at least 5 hours a day on video-calls has inured me to admin.

Getting to cuddle a rainbow in a den helps. It was everything I’d hoped parenting would be. Piglet must have enjoyed it too. because she’s relented from her recent poor form and slept through in 3 of the last 4 nights.

She’s spent the week doing a corking Don Logan impression and added some colourful mispronunciations to layer on the effect. Want climb”, one car” and blue frog” do not sound nice. She’s also taken to expressing displeasure by asking why and then declaring, naughty Daddy.” All in all, she’s an extremely cute tiny tyrant.

On the topic despots, it’s only been 2 weeks since the tangerine gibbon was evicted. It’s felt refreshingly longer. That Amanda Gorman speech is still, just.

7 February 2021 weeknotes

Weeknotes 017: There she is

Secret Santa got Irish coffee for The Chef and it’s been hanging around the kitchen since. Generally it’s too early for alcohol before midday. And afterwards, late for caffeine. I guess what I’m trying to say is, 9 am Baileys for the win.

The warming jacket of booze is sufficient that I’m writing these in the garden on a cold, but sunny, January day while everyone else naps.

Garden.jpg (Yes that is a dusting of snow on the ground)

Yesterday, Grandad came round to fix the roof. Having cut through the floorboards, found the source and put everything back by 11 am, he popped home to get extra stuff. Shortly after lunch he nipped out of the velux, lashed a tow row over the chimney and started amiably sliding down the roof with flashing tape and tar. He at least consented to using my climbing harness, rather than tying the rope around his foot. We’ve to wait to for the next downpour to see if he was successful, but it was impressive either way.

The only help I could offer was to cheer-lead. So I repaired the garage slat instead. A short saga this time. Let’s look at the bath again.

The Chef has had this week off. Excuse enough for Monday night takeaway. Social media’s fault for letting us know about the discount.

Piglet watched us shovel fried cheese balls into our face with disgust. She carried that feeling into the bath. When her face turned purple—a sure sign of impending mess—we whisked her out and plopped her on her potty. She had no choice but to use it as intended. She was not happy about the experience. Still counts though.

Coupled with her big girl bed at Lǎolao and Lǎoyé’s, and her correct use of the progressive verb tense she’s really got a grip on the whole they grow up fast” thing. The Chef even got to have a smug mum moment in the park as the other parents cooed over her precociousness. Right before she made a little boy cry in a reverse Georgie Porgie situation.

She continues to over-enjoy her squirty bath toys.

The distraction of Piglet and the Chef being around on Monday meant I had a definite dip in productivity at work. Pleasingly, the whole to-do list thing I’m sticking with restricted it to one day. It can’t last.

I’ve been sneaking Turing Tumble into the evenings. The promo video has lots of children playing with it and one massive nerd. And I’m no longer a child.

Eventually got round to listening to the case of the missing hit. It’s good, whilst being a textbook example of well-produced podcast voice. This investigation” in to the great bucatini shortage is the analogue in print. Fun, but/and McSweeney’s escaped to the wild.

The last bit of tape from the Christmas decorations came down today.

There she is!”

31 January 2021 weeknotes