Little Loves: April 2020

April has quite possibly been one of the strangest, loveliest and most frustrating (in equal measures) months that I’ve ever experienced.

We’ve spent the full month in lockdown – in fact, I think we’re coming up to six whole weeks since it started at the end of March and life looks very different now from how it used to be.  There’s a definite divide in time between ‘before lockdown’ and ‘after lockdown’ and I think that’s likely to remain even once we’re through this.

This is the first week we’ve felt a bit more settled in our ‘new’ normal.  The husband is furloughed on 80% pay and at home for the foreseeable future.  Work hasn’t actually changed very much for me – I’m still seeing therapy clients and supervisees online, just with the addition of helping the girls with their (home)school work as well.

April should have been an exciting month for us as a family as we had some travel planned over the Easter holidays.  We were supposed to be spending a long weekend in southern Spain (a competition win for a 2-night stay at a gorgeous villa) at the start of the month, followed by our annual visit to Bude in Cornwall for a week of beachside living and unlimited ice creams.  Lockdown has ended up putting a stop to them both.

I’ve felt so sad that we weren’t able to go on those adventures even though I know it’s for the best.  We can’t reschedule either trip yet – not until we know more about what’s going on with the rules around travel restriction (in the UK and internationally ) and when it might be deemed safe enough for the bans to be lifted.  So we, like many other people, are in a bit of limbo now, waiting on refunds for our cancelled flights and hoping that there will be space available next year for us to re-book.

Instead we spent the Easter holidays in lockdown, mostly just playing in the garden, reading in the sunshine and going for the occasional walk or bike ride.  It was lovely.  The girls took the two weeks off of schoolwork which I think was very much needed.  We’re now back homeschooling again after the holidays ended and I think we’ve begun to find our rhythm a bit more with it now.

A bike ride along the cycle path near where we live

These are unusual times indeed and staying positive throughout it all has so far been very important for me.  I’ve had days where I’ve felt down, or trapped, or fed up – I think we all have – but overall I’ve mainly been enjoying the extra time with my family and the slower pace of life.  I realise how lucky we are to be healthy & safe and that we’re not working on the frontline.  It’s not something I take for granted at all, I’m grateful every single day for everyone out there risking their lives under immense pressure.

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Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout April…


The Girl Of Ink And Stars:  It feels like forever ago that I read ‘The Girl Of Ink And Stars’ by Kiran Millwod Hargrave.  After starting it in March I ended up finishing it on the first day of this month.  It was a different kind of read for me – I lost interest in the middle of it and had to make myself persevere.  I did end up enjoying it by the end though, especially the insights into where some of our stories and myths come from.

The Next Person You Meet In Heaven:  I absolutely LOVE Mitch Albom’s books.  ‘The Next Person You Meet In Heaven’ is the sequel to ‘The Five People You Meet In Heaven’, which I’ve read multiple times and is one of my favourites of his.  I found this copy completely by chance in our favourite bookshop just before lockdown and bought it immediately.  I’m so happy I did!  I read it in one sitting on a Saturday evening at the start of the month. I never do that any more – I genuinely can’t remember the last time I read a book all in one go.

‘The Next Person You Meet In Heaven’ is such a wonderful, comforting, peaceful and soulful book.  Despite the title it’s not religious at all.  There is wisdom inherent within every page and it’s now full of underlinings with multiple corners turned down so I can refer back to specific quotes.  His words make me see things in a new and different way and that, to me, is always the sign of a good book.  I highly recommend it (and all of his other books too).  I think it would make a beautiful movie too.

‘The Girl Of Ink And Stars’ and ‘The Next Person You Meet In Heaven’ are two of the books I’ve enjoyed this month

The Infernal Devices:  After reading The Mortal Instruments (Shadowhunters) series by Cassandra Clare over the last couple of months, Ella insisted that next I had to read the prequel trilogy – ‘The Infernal Devices’ – which are her favourites.  So far I’ve worked my way through the first two: ‘Clockwork Angel’ and ‘Clockwork Prince‘.  These ones are set in Victorian London in the late 1800s.  I don’t tend to be a fan of historical fiction at all so it’s not the era of book I would usually read, but because they’re intertwined with a world I was already familiar with – demons and vampires and werewolves – I found that I was able to immerse myself in them quite easily.  They’re a welcome escape from our current reality and I’m enjoying the characters and the storylines.



Joe Wicks:   Part of our daily lockdown routine is for Mimi, Neil and I to do ‘PE with Joe’ every morning at 9am, following along with his workouts on YouTube. They’re hard work but I’m thoroughly enjoying them and I can definitely see an improvement in some aspects of my fitness.  I can’t* run (*I hate running with a passion) but now I can actually do the jogging and jumping sections of the workout without getting out of breath or needing to dash off for a wee.  My stamina is definitely getting better and I’m enjoying that it’s something we do together.

Joe seems like a really lovely, down to earth guy and makes working out really fun – the exercises are different every day which keeps it fresh, he switches things up with spin-the-wheel and heads or tails workouts, we love seeing what he’s going to be dressed up as for ‘fancy dress Friday’ and the trivia quiz questions he throws out keep us distracted from how sweaty we are and how much our muscles are aching.  I really hope it’s something we carry on with once lockdown is over.

The arrival of spring:  The glorious weather we’ve had throughout April brought with it the very welcome arrival of Spring.  Blossom has been blooming; forget-me-nots are covering the undergrowth like a carpet; hedgerows and trees are filling out with greenery; dandelions and daisies are popping up in the fields; and butterflies & bumblebees are flitting and buzzing around in the warm air.  The blue skies and beautiful sunshine has made lockdown so much easier to cope with.  I feel like I’ve been watching the world gradually wake up over the last month – I’m always in absolute awe of nature and how everything is so intricately balanced.  It’s magical.

Always twirling 🙂

Couldn’t resist a selfie in amongst the blossom

I think apple blossom is my absolute favourite – it’s so pretty!


Music:  When I’m on my own in the house, I like silence.  I’m far more productive when it’s quiet whereas each of my girls likes to have some kind of music or podcast as background noise whilst they do their schoolwork.  With everyone home 24/7, it’s just not realistic (or, indeed, actually possible!)  to give everyone what they want and so we’ve all had to adapt and make compromises in various ways.  This mostly involves me giving up on any hope of actual silence ever again (!) and the girls take it in turns to listen to their choice of material.

As a result, the house has been filled with so much more music than usual.  There are different Spotify playlists on throughout the day, all varying in genre depending on who’s turn it is to choose.  Tastes range from Taylor Swift (Ella) to Now United (Mimi – see video below) to Olly Murs (Lola) to Metallica/80’s pop/Ibiza tunes/rock (Neil) plus anything and everything in between. Truthfully I’m quite enjoying it.  I definitely still prefer silence when I’m working but the music makes the house feel happier and I’m glad the girls are gradually expanding their choices and being introduced to new artists!



Easter cookies:  We’ve not been able to do very much baking together during lockdown as I haven’t been able to get hold of any self raising flour for over a month.  As a result I’ve been searching through my recipe folders for baking treats that don’t need flour and came across one for Easter Hot Cross Cookies.  They turned out really well!  Ella also made some chocolate cornflake nests all by herself, all of which were devoured within a few days.

Easter hot cross cookies

Kindness Rocks:   Over the years we’ve been lucky enough to find several Kindness Rocks in various places – Lanhydrock National Trust in Cornwall, Shugborough National Trust near where we live, even at the beach on Cape Cod where we visited last year!

Lola has built up quite a little collection (for some reason it’s usually her that spots them) and decided that she wanted to leave them along the trail that has become our favourite spot for our permitted daily walk during lockdown.  We all spent a happy morning creating some new ones too so that we have plenty to distribute over the next few weeks.

We used paints on some of them and Poska pens on others. The Poska pens worked better so I think we’ll stick with them next time!

Our first little collection of kindness rocks we created. I’m sure we’ll make more as lockdown continues!

Ella leaving one of our kindness rocks in a special spot along the trail we walk down

Rainbows:  Rainbows have become the global symbol of hope, resilience and gratitude for our keyworkers during the coronavirus pandemic.  We’ve gradually been making rainbows in various places around our home.  So far we’ve used giant pavement chalks in the back garden and special chalk markers/glass pens to create displays for our windows.  I’m pretty sure we’ll think of even more ways to make rainbows as the weeks go by!

Our #letsallbewell rainbow on our patio in our back garden

Lola wanted to carry on chalking so she started colouring in the shed!

It took her ages to finish this but she kept on going until she was done and was ever so proud of herself afterwards. I think it looks ace!

Decorating our windows with rainbows

We’re gradually working on adding artwork to every window in the house. I love how creative the girls are with things like this – I like to give them as much freedom as possible so they can let their imaginations run wild.



We have been incredibly lucky with the weather during lockdown – four straight weeks of gorgeous sunshine, clear blue skies and soul-warming temperatures.  It’s been utterly wonderful.  And whilst these last few days of April have been a bit more akin to the standard April showers, I’m so grateful to have had the ‘early summer’ that we did – the girls have been playing in the garden a lot and mostly wearing shorts, Tshirts and dresses.  Even I ditched my jumpers when it reached 20º!

We’ve been spending lots of time in the garden during the warm weather and it’s been wonderful.



Meeting the neighbours:  Even though we moved into our new home back in December, we still hadn’t got round to introducing ourselves to our neighbours by the time lockdown started.  I felt awful about it, especially as a few had popped Christmas cards through our door welcoming us to the street.

When the husband’s pub closed due to Government guidelines following the virus outbreak, there was a lot of fresh food going to waste.  He froze whatever he could and then divided the rest up between himself and his staff.  He ended up bringing home a huge box of 180 eggs and, knowing there was no way we would get through all of them before the ‘best before date’, we put them on our driveway with a sign encouraging people to help themselves.  Eggs were really hard to buy from supermarkets at that point so I think it helped make a real difference to people.  We even got left a couple of thank you notes and some fairy cakes in return!

A local community WhatsApp group for our little cul-de-sac and the surrounding streets has been set up and it’s been really lovely finding out everyone’s names and the ages of their children.  I’m hoping that once this is all over we can meet them all properly and maybe the girls can make some new friends too as it seems like there are quite a few kids their age in our area.

Plus at 8pm every Thursday night we’ve been stepping onto our driveway as a family and clapping alongside our neighbours to show our appreciation and support for the frontline NHS staff and all the keyworkers who are currently keeping society going.  Seeing everyone else out clapping in our street and exchanging smiles with them has become a weekly ritual now and it feels like we’ve joined a really friendly little community.

This box was completely full of eggs when I first put it out with a ‘help yourselves’ sign. I’m so glad that people were able to make use of them.

One of the sweet little notes and some fairy cakes that someone left for us to say thank you for the eggs.

Easter Egg hunt:  Every year since the girls were small I’ve set up an Easter egg hunt at home and they absolutely love doing it.  Last year our annual week in Bude got unexpectedly extended by a few days when Tim and Maria, the owners of The Beach Haven (the accommodation we always use), invited us to stay for a little longer over the Easter weekend itself.  We gratefully took them up on their offer and we were lucky enough to have some really beautiful weather too.  The girls still talk about how special those extra days were so we definitely made some good memories.

However, it meant that the Easter Bunny didn’t come and there was no Easter egg hunt as he didn’t realise we’d be staying down there a little longer.  (The Easter Bunny also forgot to come when we got home as well because of the rush of getting ready to go back to school.  Oops.).

This year the Easter Bunny remembered!  The girls had their first Easter egg hunt in our new house and they LOVED it!  They chased up and down the stairs, worked together as a team to find the next clue and they even took it in turns to read the clues out.  My favourite part of all was hearing them shout “This is so much fun!”.  They didn’t get a big Easter egg (the supermarkets had sold out due to people stockpiling) so instead I the Easter Bunny got them lots of little bits and pieces and they were so grateful for them.  It was honestly just so heart-warming.  I thought they might have been too old for it this year, but it turns out they’re actually the perfect age.

The girls loved their Easter egg hunt this year

Lola’s operation:  After being booked, cancelled and rearranged twice at the last minute, it was third time lucky for Lola’s operation to remove the tumour on her arm.  Originally it was supposed to be done under a general anaesthetic at Stoke Hospital, but a shortage of anaesthetists and lots of Covid-19 cases meant that all non-urgent surgeries were cancelled.  We ended up being given the choice of having the operation under a local anaesthetic at our smaller, local hospital or waiting until the coronavirus situation is all over (which, realistically, probably would have meant waiting until next year).

It was a tough decision to make.  Of course we wanted the tumour to be removed sooner rather than later as it was still growing – waiting would have meant a longer operation, an extended healing time and a larger scar.  And yet the thought of deliberately going into a hospital during a global pandemic felt… irresponsible?  I worried about us using resources and staff that other people might have needed more and of course I was concerned about Lola and I contracting the virus.  Mostly though I was anxious about her being awake for the operation – I had no idea how she would react.  She’s a big feeler and I didn’t know whether I’d be able to keep her distracted for the length of time the surgeon would be working on her arm.

We ended up deciding to go for it as the pros of having it done outweighed the cons and I’m really glad we did.  She was so incredibly brave and she coped far better than I would have done if I was me having it done instead of her!  She had numbing cream first and then injections of local anaesthetic into her arm.  I took plenty of distractions: books to read; soduku puzzles to do; and her favourite TV show to watch on the tablet.  She was nervous bless her, and had a bit of a wobble as she had the injections but otherwise was absolutely fine.  I’d been very open and honest with her about the whole procedure so she knew what was going on and I think that helped.  Her surgeon was incredibly kind and gentle with her too.  He told us we had to treat her like a princess for the first few days post-surgery, which of course she was thrilled about!

The tumour is now gone (it was bigger than I thought it would be!) and we’re awaiting the biopsy results to confirm that it was benign (non-cancerous).  She’s all stitched up and whilst she’s been frustrated at not being allowed to play or ride her bike for ten days, she ended up only needing a few days of pain relief medication.  I’m so relieved that it’s over and done with, and that it all went so smoothly for her.

The little note Lola left on my bed two days before her operation: “PS: I am really nervous for Monday”

Prepped and ready (with her favourite TV show on the tablet as a distraction)

During the operation. Her surgeon was wonderful.

She squeezed my hand a lot throughout the operation. I hope it helped her feel better.

All done! Stitched up, dressing on and ready to go home

Chapter four of 2020 has drawn to a close and, like most people, I’m wondering what next month is going to look like.

Ordinarily I’d be looking forward to celebrating my and Mimi’s birthdays in May, and to us all going on a family adventure for half term.  It’s going to be very different this year for sure – our trip to Scotland has been cancelled and we’re going to have to figure out an alternative way of making Mimi’s birthday special.  I know we’ll do our best to make the most of things though and having a ‘lockdown birthday’ will certainly be something for her to remember.

I hope that you’re all well, and I hope that you’re able to find little things that you love in the midst of all of this too.

Stay safe x

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  • Reply May 1, 2020


    What a lovely round up of Little Loves! I absolutely love the chalk design in your garden! Given me an idea to do something on our driveway! So good Lola’s operation went well. So brave! Its bad enough when an adult has to stay awake but for a child that’s really very brave! Your Easter cookies look very yummy! Hope you have a wonderful May, hope you can make the most of your birthdays whilst in lockdown xx

    • Reply May 10, 2020

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thank you Anna-Marie. The chalk on our patio was so much fun to do and I’m sad that the rain has washed it all away now – we might have to re-do it!

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