Day 64 – Reflections on Lock-Down

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Today is my nephew, Marcus’ 14th birthday.  Last year for his birthday, we were all on a family holiday on a canal boat for a week, which was great fun.

Both Marcus and his brother (Ben) don’t call me “Uncle” – as its pronounced “Un-Cool”…because they think I’m “Very Cool”…so they call me “Verycle”…which I sign at the end of birthday cards, etc…

Marcus’ and my older nephew, Ben’s birthday’s always makes me think about the Birth Presents I gave them.

When my sister, Anna, said she was pregnant with Ben, I decided I wanted to give him a Birth Present.  I originally looked into giving him Life Membership to the National Trust, but this was quite a lot of money – today it is £1730.  Then I looked at Life Membership to the National Trust for Scotland, but this was also out of my price range (today it is £1575).  In fact, the only thing I could afford was Life Membership to Hosteling Scotland (formerly known as SYHA) – I remember that was about £100.  But I was unsure whether that would be a good present.  Then I thought about opening up a bank account for him, which I could put money in every month.  But still unsure.  I wanted to get him something that was meaningful, but also of financial value.

So I thought to myself –

If my Uncle asked me today, what could I have given you as a birth present – what would you have wanted?”. 

I thought about this for a while. My answer finally was – I would like to know more about the year that I was born.  I know I was born that year, which is special to me, but obviously I have no memory of it.

So with that answer, I decided to create some memorabilia for Ben’s Birth Present, for the year he was born – 2003.  This was something he could keep and look at to learn more about 2003 and/or sell at some point when he was older and short of money.

So for Ben’s birth present, I bought a lot of newspapers for the whole of 2003 – I mean A LOT (!) – it’s not until the end of the year, that you can look back on what were the significant news items.

Then I spent many days, cutting out articles, adverts, etc…sticking them in a number of scrapbooks.  Including one whole scrapbook just for the week he was born.

Plus included a full newspaper on the day he was born.  The single that was Number One the day he was born – both in CD and Vinyl.  The album that was Number One when he was born.  DVD of Robbie Williams at Knebworth (it was all that talk in 2003).  The book ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ which first came out in 2003 (so a first edition).  Even a model plane from the airline GO that ceased to exist in 2003.  Plus, many other things – that I can’t remember.  I gave it to him on Christmas in what has come to be called his ‘birth box’.

So when my sister, Anna, announced she was pregnant again (with Marcus) I wanted to do something similar.  But not exactly the same – but with the same theme.  I came up with the idea of CDs.  So for 2006 I bought a CD for every single that was Number One for the whole year.  I included the receipts in every CD, so maybe that would give them some more value (bought when they actually came out).  I bought a lovely walnut box from Habitat filled it with the CDs and then some albums that came out in 2006, so it was full.  Plus, the vinyl that was Number One when he was born and the newspaper for the day he was born.

I think I have only seen them once – since giving them the presents.  To my understanding they both still have them.

Last night I read out all of Honey the Dog’s Birthday Messages on Facebook, check out the YouTube video below:


Today I spent the whole day in ‘holiday mode’.  It was a totally stunning day – with the deep blue sky all day.  The last time I remember noting the sky like that was Day 44 (7th May).  After getting up, I put on my shorts and t-shirt, bought the Guardian newspaper and headed to Kate’s Park to read it whilst in the sun.

Once home, I continued to read The Guardian, cover to cover.  Then relaxed.  A little bit of computer time, catching up on my accounts  Then “met” virtually with my friend Theo.

I have been self employed for 13 years and for most of those years, have done all my accounts in January, to complete my tax return/self assessment by the 31st January.  Completely stressed, going through all my receipts in a big box and my dairy from the previous year, trying to make sense of what they were all for (your tax return is done a year in arrears).  It would usually take 10 solid days!  Also worrying if I would have enough money to pay the tax due!

It was back in about 2010 when I went to a workshop on doing your accounts.  Back then I used to do my accounts in a Simplex-D Book, with a pencil, eraser and calculator.  I used to spend at least 3 days trying to get the numbers and sums to balance and be correct.  The workshop taught me to do your accounts in Excel Spreadsheet.  I had never used Excel – so despite the two days I spent learning to use it – I saved many days of stress and time after that!

The other thing I learnt from that workshop was that your accounts was not just for the taxman.  You can use them to see how your business in growing, how much you spend on certain things in the year, etc…

I always vowed to do my accounts more regularly so they were not just for the taxman.  It was finally about two years ago, that I got into the habit of doing my accounts everyday!

The first thing I do in the morning is my accounts.  Also, taking photos of every receipt and putting them into electronic folders.  For many years, I would spend ages trying to figure out the receipt as the ink would have faded!

Last year, it was amazing to see how much my business was growing each month, compared to the previous year.

Since lock-down, I haven’t done my accounts.  Today, was the first time I had done them properly.

Feels like I am slowly returning back to my work routines.  Which feels good – well especially with my accounts! 😉

Then at 4pm, I had a WhatsApp Call with my friend Theo who lives in Nottingham.  But my sound wasn’t so good, so we swapped to Zoom.

Was good to catch up with Theo.  More about his news in Readers Corner!

My sister, Anna, sent me some photos about Marcus’ Birthday.  They live in the New Forest (near Ringwood and Salisbury) (south of England).  I am going to include her description of his Birthday here, as she has something else to share in Readers Corner!

They put up an 8 foot paddling pool, so they could go “swimming” on his Birthday.  Anna always puts loads of effort into making Birthday Cakes for her children.  Over the years, they have different themes.

Marcus’ Birthday Cake this year was chocolate!

Chocolate cake with flakes, white maltesers, milk and dark milk chocolate buttons, mint match makers, curly whirly worms and chocolate finger biscuits on it.  Yummm!

Although, she said about the cake was “quite sickly!”.

My mum (Penny) came round for lunch and Birthday Cake, socially distancing in the garden (they forgot to get a photo).  They then had a take-away meal from the Royal Oak – the closest pub that was doing take away food.  Marcus and Anna had Fish & Chips, Duncan (father / my brother-in-law) had Steak and Ben had a Burger.

She commented that we had a take-away fish and chips on my Birthday (18th March) Day -5 before lockdown.

They then played the online game, which is like online Pictionary.  She said it’s quite a good game that you can play with your own group or with other members of the public.

Sounds like a fun Birthday!

Readers Corner



So Anna, my sister, also shared the photos of her rose bush that got blown down a few days ago in the winds, on Friday.  The photos are of it blown down, working out how to put it up and then back up.  And a rose from it.

She also sent a picture of the sunset from today.

Photos are in a Photo Gallery, so you can click on them to see them in full size.

Thanks for that Anna.  Glad you got the Rose Bush sorted!



After an hour of chatting on WhatsApp and Zoom this afternoon – Theo had to rush away to make dinner for him and his wife Jane.  He sent a photo, which he said I could include in Readers Corner.  In fact he said:

“Sure.  You never have to ask my permission”.

Wow – that looks lovely Theo!  As I am no longer allowed to visit you at your home – I will never get to experience your amazing cooking 🙁

So as I come to the end of today’s blog.  I find that my website is down again for essential maintenance.  I find that frustrating that this has happened twice now.  So am going to contact the company that hosts my website tomorrow.  If nothing else, they could send me an email to let me know it is going to happen.

Carrying on with yesterday’s blog, at this point.  I was reading more of Dominic Cummings blog and also found this photo of his wife’s article in the magazine she writes for, describing having Covid-19.  See below – the photo is in a Photo Gallery, so you can click on it to see it in full size to read it.

Despite everyone not speaking very highly of him, I am enjoying reading his writings and learning more about him, his thoughts, etc..  As I said yesterday, he is an interesting man.

I have had such a lovely relaxing day today.  It really does feel like I am ‘holiday’ with such beautiful weather!

Thanks for reading!

Jim xxx