Home schooled breadq

Today was the Day 1 of the countries homeschooling project for many. Son’s school is trying to run a full days lessons online. At the usual start time of the lesson he needs to log into the school system. He records his attendance by a simple text message. Then he follows the instructions the teacher has provided. Any work completed is then loaded onto the school system for the teacher to review.

  • Geography was to research and answer a series of questions on Russia for 90 minutes. He quite enjoyed that,
  • Maths was to use an online teaching system. Complete one module. Unfortunately due to the numbers of kids nationwide trying to use the system – it broke,
  • French was to read a handout then try to write a few paragraphs in the remaining time. Didn’t really work for him.
  • Art was to try and replicate 4 photos in various styles. So he tried a few sketches then photographed them and sent that to the teacher.

It kinda worked. It did provide structure but I’m not sure some of the teaching methods really suit our son. But that’s modern teaching in this country. Let’s see what the next few days turn out like. I’m puzzled how some of the subjects will be run. Online PE and Drama could be interesting. Surely they will squeeze in a few of our favourite spelling tests. Food Technology mentioned cooking at home. Maybe even learning from your mum or dad.

“Say that again. Learn cooking and baking from your dad.”

He gave me a withering look.

Sorry dad I’m going to have to say a bad word. Oh CRAP.”

He knows me far too well. A couple of hours later.

Dad, I thought you had planned to put seeds on top of the bread”

“I thought I had put seeds on but clearly I accidentally put grated cheese on instead. It’s now cheesy bread.”

Its vegan cheese isn’t it.”

“Yes I believe it is as that’s the only grated stuff in the fridge.”

Well it’s grated cardboard topped bread then. I do learn from you. How not to cook…”

Pizza Saturday

A new day. Let’s not allow any crap from yesterday mess up today. The cynical side of me is shouting – today probably has enough new crap to keep me occupied. But today is a new page and let’s see what it brings. Pigging lots of fun I hope.

Late last night (430am) I finally gained some control over my two brain cell super computer. My mind wandered to the stuff which social distancing is stopping which we could run virtually.

A virtual darts league

A virtual computer gaming league ( would be even more fun if it was just for those whose middle name is something like ‘Games Nube’ or ‘Apart from the old Atari tennis game I’m generally Crap’)

Virtual Cooking schools and bake offs (we did a brilliant one last year)

Virtual Gardening Clubs or in my case a Virtual Mass Plant Murderer Club

Virtual Exercise or Yoga Gyms

Virtual Book a major event. Say Wrestlemania, LiveAid, Woodstock, The Great Exhibition

Virtual Coffee Meet-ups

Virtual let’s recreate the cinema experience and watch the same film then review it night out

Virtual Homeschooling school gate meet-ups

Virtual bad hair days

Virtual fashion disasters as we can do whatever we like in our homes. Really go for it

Virtual design with Lego or whatever you have in the house challenges (come up with a theme and see what people and the kids make)

Virtual let’s write a song together gigs

Virtual let’s make pizza lunches.

On the subject of making pizza. Well that’s what we have just done.

Yes it’s not to Pizza Express standards. But we don’t care because we had fun… and yes I know the work surface needs a good clean…… Our pizza session also introduced a new concept to me. Ethical Cooking Balance.

Son looked at my attempt. A pizza which was completely dairy, gluten, meat free. Then back to his. A normal ham, full on dairy pizza.

“Dad I think your pizza looks a bit sad. It needs something. Maybe some proper cheese and ham”

“Well son it won’t be ethical then would it”

Well think about it. I will take some of my existing topping and put that on yours. You then put some of your ethical topping on mine. We have not used any less ethical products and not used any more unethical stuff. The quantities are exactly the same as before. But now my pizza is slightly more ethical and yours is slightly less ethical, but will taste infinitely better. So we still have balance”

I tried but couldn’t really argue with that. So that’s what happened. And yes he was right – it did taste so much better….

Cake test

This was my attempt at baking son’s birthday cake. It’s amazing what heaps of icing can hide. The cake was a bit over baked with a huge volcano like hole at its centre. I plugged the hole with soft sweets and then covered with thick icing. What was left of the sweet packet was scattered on top. I might be onto something here. The soft sweet centre worked brilliantly. As a result the cake was deemed “not too bad at all” which on our sons review scheme equates to just above two Michelin stars. So now that’s got me thinking what other things can I fill the inevitable cake sunken holes with. I’m going for jelly in the next one. I will report back on my test.

On the subject of tests …. ok troops, time to stand by up your beds. Its spelling test time.

School is slipping as we have had only one spelling test this week. So they better make it a doozy.

Imagery

Alliteration

Rhyming

Couplets

Syllables

Stanza

Rhythm

Sonnet

Simile

Metaphor

Hyperbole

Assonance

Personification

Onomatopoeia

Enjambement

Another cracking list of words that will be of great use in son’s future life. My last conversation with school stressed the point

That spelling tests for dyslexic students are not recommended practice. If they have to be used then they should only focus on the most commonly used words.

Good to see the school are sticking to the common words then. I had to look up Enjambement. I was sadly disappointed to find that it wasn’t a Caribbean Cooking term for combining Jackfruit with Jamba Juice. My favourite flying dinosaur (Onomatopoeia) makes a welcome return. Last time I pulled that joke I had a shedload of abuse from my Texan fan club….. For some reason Son can’t say ASSonance without cracking up. Must get to the bottom of that joke.

Energy

Well this friend likes my baking.

These days nothing goes to waste. Always find grateful recipients of any food we can’t finish. But there is a limit.

Today has been a bit unusual. Normally the body is willing but the mind refuses to leave my sleepless bed. Today was the complete reverse. My body felt like it was just a heavy sack of spuds. However the mind was sharp. Those three brain cells of mine were purring. Screamed through the workload which freed up an hour for exercise. Here is where the problems started. The bag of spuds just didn’t want to play. I dragged my body through the session but only just. The school run became a real effort. Trying to keep up with son proved impossible. I just wanted to collapse in a chair.

Now it was time for the three brain cells to follow my bodies lead and shutdown. Basically I had nothing. Unfortunately this coincided with Pancake Tuesday. An utter and unmitigated baking disaster. A simple pancake was beyond me. The sticky mess produced was deemed even too bad for the wildlife. So for the first time in ages food went into the bin. I finally just slumped into a chair. Then it dawned on me. I had not eaten in over 24 hours. I’m on the 16:8 diet. Can only eat in one 8 hour spell. I had simple forgotten about an 8 hour food window. What a prize pillock.

Thankfully heaps of junk food has restored my energy levels. The body is now beginning to function. Unfortunately the three brain cells are now a spent force. So the status quo has been restored. Back to being a brisk walking zombie. But it just goes to show if you start to overthink life it’s so easy to take your eye off the basics. It’s also another important warning. We are down to one parent and hence we are walking a tightrope. That’s why it’s so important that in all my efforts to be a good mum and dad, that I remember to care for myself as well.

Baking

It’s weaponised baking time. In my defence this beast was created without dairy, eggs and gluten. It’s also created without the slightest modicum of baking talent.

If you quickly skip over the earthquake damage it actually looks like a carrot cake. Scarily it is almost edible.

Today was a bit of a struggle for me. Just an hours sleep last night. Woken by a vivid dream about being late to pick son up from school. Every route I tried was blocked. Nobody to phone someone for help but I had no one. Complete feeling of hopelessness. That was it unable to sleep again. So tired and still with that nagging cold. A day when you just want to slump. Still feeling uneasy after that dream. That realisation that I am now running without a safety net. No backup. It’s down to me to navigate the next few years. It’s such a sobering thought. Yet it’s not just me feeling this way. Too many are basically flying solo with no co-pilot to take over if things go wrong. Whether that’s parenting, or caring, or putting food on the table or just surviving.

So like everyone else in this position you just have to force yourself on. So wearily and reluctantly breakfast was made. While Son wakes up and eats I get some house jobs done. Then it’s exercise until he is ready to roll. At least by this stage I’ve got out of first gear. So it’s time to try and fill the house with happiness. Once Son kicks into gear then I have to synch with his world. A world which spins much quicker than mine. So off we go

Talks

Football

Board games

Talks

Lunch

Baking

Nerf Guns

Talks

Football

Trying not to fall asleep during Pokémon

Board games

Talks

Dinner

Talks

Movie

Bed

Blog

Collapse

Unable to sleep

Blog and here I am at 2.55am

Yes today was a struggle but the only thing that matters is that Son laughed and smiled a lot. He’s happy so I’m happy. Flying solo worked today. In fact even the baking worked today. So a good day. Yes a tired day but a good one. Job done…. So we dust ourselves down, hopefully sleep at some stage and we go again tomorrow.

Christmas Diaries 3 – Frankenstein

It’s the last Saturday before Christmas. Son is sat watching the Simpsons Movie while Baron Frankenstein is in kitchen seeing what creature he can create this time. Yes it’s baking time.

My attempt at a Stollen Cake.

As ever the ingredients used may not be quite as required by the recipe. Amounts are a little random. Going more with my Jedi force skills rather than the trusty weighing machine. Unsurprisingly the dough doesn’t quite look or feel like the perfect one pictured in the cook book. Son ventures into the seen of devastation.

Oh Dad that doesn’t look good. Are you planning to use that to fill the holes in the wall.

No Son but like Frankenstein even though the parts are not as desired we might as well see what happens when I bring it to life. Thirty minutes later the creature has been born.

A bit like the Baker it seems a bit crumbly and loose at the edges. So I’ve not been brave enough to see if it can survive life without its tin. I shall report back.

Christmas Diaries 1

It’s been a grey moody day. It never once looked like clearing. At least it didn’t rain for a change.

The zero based hours contract gave me me three hours work today. For the next couple of weeks any work demands will be minimal. Not great for the bank account but it allows me to now focus on our son. So with a couple of days before the school breaks up – Christmas is about to start in earnest. So an early warning. You may get a few Christmas Parent Diary entries coming your way. Hopefully most will focus on the happy side of life. It almost certainly will feature a few cooking disasters. In fact let’s sort the first diary entry out right now.

So after the work dried up it and the grey run was completed it was time for a bit of baking. Time to make a stunning gluten free stollen cake. A few chaotic shopping trips had stocked up the larder with all the ingredients. This time it’s going to be baking heaven. Hang on a minute where’s the marzipan. As I love the stuff I bought 4 slabs worth. But where are they. Absolutely no sign. Don’t you just hate it when that happens. No problem I will just pop to the local store. Don’t stock it but they did have infeasible amounts of glazed cherries. So off to the supermarket. How can a supermarket run out of marzipan. How can the only other store reasonably close by also have none in stock. I gave up so let’s just make a Christmas cake. Three hours later I’m looking at a baking abomination. Crispy on the outside, undercooked on the inside and a ginormous sinkhole at its centre. The birds will eat well tomorrow.

So ends the first Christmas diary entry. But let’s do the diary preface now.

Christmas can be lovely and fun but wow can it hurt. It’s one of those times which naturally draws you to what you have lost. I was reading a blog which talked about this in such a haunting way.

All aboard! The holiday struggle-bus is pulling into the station, and I’ve got a ticket to ride.

That bus hit me yesterday. I was simply wrapping our sons presents up. Instantly I’m taken back a few years. Christmas music on. A couple of glasses of wine. My partner a ninja master at unwinding the cellotape and securing the edges of the wrapping paper. Unbelievably I was an expert at finding the best way to wrap the presents up. The perfect production line. So effective and so loving.

Now I sit on the floor with a tea and whatever is on the radio. To be honest I’m not listening. The presents are still being wrapped well but the cellotape has won the battle royal. It’s wrapped around my fingers, on my clothes, stuck to furniture and yet refusing to go anywhere near the wrapping paper. Love and happiness replaced with frustration and sadness. It’s never going to be like it was. That love is not going to be replaced. Those shared dreams are binned. It’s a truly sickening feeling.

It’s so easy to forget that this can be such a tough time for so many you are bereaved. For so many in pain. For so many without anything. For so many who are lonely. My heart goes out to you. You have a soulmate here.

Yes over the next few weeks this blog might get a bit silly. I really hope it does because it shows that I’m doing my only important job. Trying to make Christmas as fun as possible for our son. But underlying it will be someone still grieving what has been lost. My hope is that some of that Christmas magic which hopefully is enveloping our son will rub off on me. Showing that you can grieve but it’s still possible to have fun. If it works for me I really prey it’s rubs off on you as well.

Road Closed Monday

I love this part of the run. It’s such a lovely view and ITS NOW DOWNHILL for 10 minutes. At my age that’s almost as good as life gets…..

I needed that downhill section. My spirit was flagging. Mainly because of politics again. The once impartial BBC announced proudly over the radio airwaves that Boris Johnson is a family man and he’s backed it up by promising a new 60 youth centres. Unfortunately the BBC failed to mention for some reason that since 2010 the Conservative Government has effectively closed 763 youth centres. Funny that wasn’t mentioned. I must sort out my MP3 player so I don’t need to listen to these falsehoods anymore.

Twenty minutes later I was having a lovely chat with a helpful Road Worker.

“You can’t come down here the road is closed”

But I’m not in a car I’m on foot

The road is still closed”

I can see the Road Closed Sign but I don’t see any signage saying the Path is closed.

“Well it is”

Looks open to me

Well I say it isn’t.”

Does the highways order cover the pathway.

I bloody don’t know. I’m telling you the path is closed. You need to go back.”

You haven’t even put up any advanced closure signs.

Don’t get clever with me. Your going back the same way you came.”

As much as I’m enjoying chatting to you I am getting cold and very bored now. Your closure doesn’t include the path and it certainly doesn’t include the field. So see yah…

** at this stage I jumped over the fence into the farmers field and ran past the purple faced road worker. He seemed to be giving me some friendly hand gestures.**

*************

You get pivotal moments in time. In Middle Earth it would be the Battle of Helms Deep. In Sherlock Holmes it would be the Reichenbach Falls. In Marvel it would be End Game. In our house it’s when a certain Dad tries to bake an Apple Crumble. Years of trying and years of disastrous failure. Now it’s that pivotal moment in time again.

Dad did you make this Apple Crumble ?

Yes

All by yourself. Your not pretending you cooked it but actually it’s my aunties baking.

No all my own doing.

Unbelievably Dad this is actually nice. Never thought I ever would say this but can I have seconds.

So in the scheme of things for an old fart useless muppet life doesn’t get any better than running downhill and baking an edible apple crumble. It really doesn’t.

Sunday lunch

We do the same dog walk everyday with our son. We do it that often that I’ve got names for many of the straw bales. This one is Eric.

Routines and repetition form a key part of our lives these days. Some things have to be done at the right times and in exactly the same way. Anything else yields anxiety and stress. In a couple of days school starts again and all these anxieties are going to magnify again. But at least we can now smile at them thanks to the brilliant TV series Red Dwarf. Every time one of us is anxiety stricken we have to both put on our finest Kryten accent and shout

Grind those worry balls like you’ve never ground them before”

Before the world changed son loved to go to see his Little Nan every Sunday. He would sit with her and watch something like Ivanhoe. I dread to think how many times we have seen that movie. His Nan would read him a Mr Men book. He would also have an expertly cooked Sunday Lunch.

It’s a changed world now. But some things are constant.

We have the Ivanhoe dvd. We have the Mr Men books. Unfortunately I just can’t read the stories as well as they used to be read. My accents all sound the same like some really rubbish rejected extra from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The Sunday Lunch cooking baton has also passed to me. Every Sunday I prepared Yorkshire Puddings, peas, carrots, sweet corn, potatoes, sausages and gravy. The food has to be plated so that each item is separate and don’t mix. I’ve had countless arguments with other parents and school over this. The ‘well just tell him to eat it, he will eat it when he’s hungry‘ line is just not helpful at all. It shows a complete lack of understanding. Maybe I should invite those parents over for one of my special baking disasters. Then they can just eat it that abomination when they are hungry….

The Sunday lunch is not exactly difficult to make but remember my cooking skills are military grade. Over the 3 years I’ve almost become competent in this particular art. HOWEVER Part of the Little Nan Sunday Feast was a sensational pudding usually Apple Crumble. Sadly this is still beyond me. Every so often I try but the results are as my Dad would say – a tad manky.

I have tried bought apple crumble but these have not been to our sons liking. So the search for the holy apple crumble grail continues. Until it’s found Plan B is Rice Pudding. Even I can do one of those – sort of. Don’t tell anyone but son hasn’t worked out that he quite likes tinned rice. Tinned rice is now part of the routine.

Counselling

Somedays get off to a good start, some don’t….

Once the day starts off on a funny note it tends to continue in a similar vein.

I forgot to put our ‘busting at the seems’ bin out for collection. How much more can I squeeze in before it explodes. Next delivery is in 2 weeks.

We had a parcel due. The postman always comes in the afternoon. So it was safe to take the dog for a walk in the morning. Wrong. Postman came early and now we have to go into the city to pick up the parcel.

Son’s football hit the only rosebush in the garden and burst on a thorn.

I started baking some cakes but found out that I had run out of flour. So off to the shop we went and stocked up. Attempt 2 went well for another 20 seconds as I added the flour to the bowl then….

No eggs.

So off we went again to the shop again to buy eggs.

Attempt 3 went well until I remembered that I had run out of vanilla essence. Bugger the shop.

Attempt 4 was vanilla-less. Replaced with several overripe bananas.

Unbelievably it worked out ok. It actually looked ok. The pets were definitely interested. So to protect it I put the cake in the grill part of the oven. Bad idea. For lunch I did some some fish fingers – under the grill. Unfortunately I forgot the cake at the back of the grill. Perfectly cooked fish fingers and extremely well burnt cake.

My digital radio which I’ve had for 18 years died.

My calculator which I’ve had since university died.

A shelf in our son’s bedroom decided to fall off the wall.

The slide door on the psychotic IKEA wardrobe wedged itself shut and is refusing to open. Given its from IKEA it is now refusing to grant access to any of my clothes and is secure as Fort Knox.

So what happened at the start of the day to cause this.

Remember we live in a bungalow. So we are never too far away from the front door. I woke up and went to open the curtains. As I opened the front door blind a rather unfortunate villager was delivering a note about an Easter event. As the blinds opened the poor lady was exposed to the site of me in just a pair of boxer shorts. She is going to need years of counselling.

The day finished on a poignant note. Before the world changed we bought a miniature apple tree. Today it has blossom for the first time. My partner would have been so excited.