Keeping creative

Rainsford family, Cambridge UK


Contributions from Sophie aged 9 and her sister Emily aged 7.

My Rainbow Poem

Red as ripe juicy strawberries 

             hanging from a thin, agile stem 

Yellow as forsythia growing upwards,

             reaching for the sky like hands,

                    wanting to grip on to the sun

Green as a sour lime,

             crumpling up your face as you eat it 

Blue as the sparkling sea, 

             reflecting off the sunlight like floating gems

Orange as a fiery vibrant orange acer, 

             lonely in the sunlit garden

Purple as delicate pansies beaming up at you, 

             their large faces glowing in the sun

Pink as roses standing proudly, 

             with their vicious thorns ready to spike you


By Sophie Rainsford

Transcript of Emily's Diary:

Dear Diary, I had a fabulous weekend with my family. Firstly, my sister Sophie and I pushed each other round the garden in an old and rusty wheelbarrow.

We kept on tipping it over and landing on the soft and moist grass which was like a blanket, while my mum and dad lay the concrete and put slabs down. The concrete was thick and lumpy, and Mum and Dad found it very challenging to work with!

In the evening, I face timed my Grandma so we could design my Great Grandma’s cake. I am so excited to make her a four layered birthday cake with a drawing of her old dog called Patch who died a long time ago. I am so disappointed that her party has been cancelled because of the virus, but we are still going to celebrate in some way for her nintieth birthday! I’ll write again soon Emily xxx


Staying In in Manchester

Clare Degenhardt, UK


Today was a day job day, so we were up and out just after 6 am for what has become our routine walk around the meadows. I am so grateful to have this place nearby, and am gradually falling more and more in love with it, and the life it supports. Geese and herons were nesting, a crow flew off with some fluff in its beak, to make a cosy nest lining.  It is a flat landscape of water and land merging, with copses of tall thin silver birches and ash. The blackthorn is blooming abundantly, white froth framing views of the lake, and the silken water is patterned by the ripples of coots and moorhens going about their morning business. And everywhere, birdsong is exuberant - the quiet of lockdown enhances the vibrancy of nature, so I am seeing and hearing it all afresh. 


Had a team Zoom call, and one member could not get her microphone to work, and felt horribly excluded.  She exited the meeting early, upset and frustrated with technology struggles. We are all so in need of familiar contact, and to be left out at the moment is intolerable.


Hello From the Hudson Valley

Sue, Lower Hudson Valley, New York


30 March 2020  Today’s Social Distancing Dichotomy:  Just as dawn was dawning this morning, Jay and I began our hike on the Rockefeller Preserve trails which are about 10 feet wide. For the first twenty minutes we saw no one. Then a young woman appeared, walking towards us, looking down at her mobile. Jay and I moved over to the right outer edge of the trail. When we were about fifty feet from the woman, she looked up, saw us, AND RAN AWAY. We watched her run away until she was about 200 feet from us and then she slowed down to a walk and headed off in another direction.  


About half an hour ago, my husband Michael received a call on his mobile from an elderly man he knows…Norman… who lives near here. Norman had fallen and could not get up. Michael grabbed his mask and gloves, ran to the car and sped over to Norman’s house and helped him up. Then he came home and put all his clothes into the washing machine and took a shower.



John Underwood, Norfolk UK


If you have a garden, and the weather is not bitterly cold - we had snow yesterday-“ now you may work in your gardens”. I would love to see my garden “neat and free from weeds”, which is why Ally and I spent an afternoon working on a smallish bed the other day tackling Ground Elder. We filled a wheelbarrow with the devilish pale roots, which seem to specialise in hiding themselves among the roots of other plants. The killer is that we probably imported the pernicious weed into this garden by transplanting from our last. This little pamphlet, entitled “ The Twelve Months Of The Year” with a picture for each month, is tiny, about 8 cm tall. It is not bound, but in its original paper wraps, and would have been sold by a Chapman, a street seller of newspapers, pamphlets and chapbooks like this one, intended as a reward for children. “ It is very pleasant to see children free from bad habits and naughty ways”.  I’m sure that this is exactly what harassed home schooling parents are thinking at present, as they attempt to wrestle with vowel digraphs and onomatopoeia for the first time for thirty years.


Sublime Noise

Kevin Gardner, Waco, Texas


'It will be generally admitted that Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise ever to penetrate the ear of man.' Or so claims the somewhat pedantic narrator of Forster's HOWARDS END. Though the claim is a bit fatuous, there's more than a little truth in it. And in this plague year, with the clang of mortality bills sounding in our ears, I find the sublime noise of Beethoven's 250th anniversary a welcome relief. If I were to recommend a selection for these still early days of the plague, it would be the opening bars of the 3rd movement of the Fifth Symphony, to which Forster devotes such extended attention in chapter 5 of his novel. Perhaps one day, six or eighteen months from now, we may be able to share in the great Ode to Joy, but those days are a long ways off. Till then, my imagination hears only the ominous goblin footfall that Forster describes. 'It was as if the splendour of life might boil over and waste to steam and froth. In its dissolution one heard the terrible, ominous note, and a goblin, with increased malignity, walked quietly over the universe from end to end. Panic and emptiness! Panic and emptiness! Even the flaming ramparts of the world might fall.' I must remind myself, though, that 'Beethoven chose to make all right in the end.' Once again, some day, will come 'the vast roarings of a superhuman joy',


The Granary

Jeanette, Norfolk


Today I woke after a bad night to the sound of our bins being emptied. This made me think of Key Workers and how important these jobs are at the moment. Also that the recycling bin contained 2 yrs of A level work, revision books, notes, diagrams, mind maps, timetables that my daughter had thrown away in her bedroom clear out the day before. The papers that contained hours and hours of commitment to getting the grades she required to study medicine. Now with the NHS under so much pressure it makes her future seem more of a worry, the pressure, the demands, the journey ahead of her is long and uncertain. 


I ventured out today for the first time for 6 days. The queuing to enter the chemist one at a time standing 2 metres apart looking across the road to the post office with an even longer queue. This was just so unnatural. I heard someone ask behind if the queue was moving quickly so I turned and said it hadn't moved for ten minutes. At that she said she needed to be at work. I asked if she would like to go before me as she needed to be at a care home. I then asked the people (from a safe distance) if she could go to the front. I am normally a shy person but I know how key workers are limited in time for these situations. Hopefully she wasn't late for work and now I'm back in the comfort of my home. Spare a thought for all working now. As a teaching assistant I will be needed in the weeks to come also.


In a Canary Plantation

Amanda White, Canary Islands, Spain


I am a bit disturbed that I'm losing all track of time. Not unusual when I'm beavering away at one of my collages or, as is happening these days, planning out a new project in things I grandly call sketchbooks (which in reality are just blank paper exercise books) but REALLY losing track generally.


For instance yesterday being all day under the impression it was Saturday. It was only when The Archers came on I realised it couldn't possibly be. Disconcerting.  


Hopefully it's not my marbles going missing but just what occurs when nobody is going out to work or school and, horror of horrors, everyone is slouching around in "it'll do for around the house" style clothes and you can't remember the last time you saw a row of houses. At least the overhead helicopter activity comes as a bit of a noisy interlude reminding us there is a world out there and someone presumably is in charge.  


Looking out over the calmest and bluest of seas yesterday (or Saturday morning as I thought) we spied a sailing boat way out from shore and immediately wondered, after first enviously contemplating their freedom, whether they were in fact quarantine flouters making a getaway.   


Looking further west way out on the horizon we witnessed a rare sight - the silhouettes of not one but two of the other islands in our archipelago, underlining the crystal clarity of this spring weather. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky. Oh, the irony!


Cotswold Perspective

Rosemary, Rodborough Common


We live high up on a Cotswold escarpment surrounded by five valleys. Our garden is flourishing with lots of new growth, and we are content. However, now it appears that the current isolation policy is going to be extended, perhaps to the end of June or even longer.  


My mind keeps whirring away trying to work out our logistics. Will I still be able to nip down quickly into the valley and shop for more food? How do I pay the bills? I don’t want to do online banking. If I abandon the use of credit cards and switch to the debit card, hopefully that could be the solution.  


The main question I keep asking myself is why did our politicians, scientists, and experts act with so much complacency and not heed the actions taken by China in Wuhan when it became known what was happening last January. 


Currently the United States have the most Covid-19 cases, followed by Italy, Spain, China, Germany, Iran, France, and then the United Kingdom. Hong Kong are lying at No.54 and Taiwan at No.75. 


I mention Taiwan because I have an American blog friend currently living there who must be extremely thankful that he resides there rather than back home in Ohio. Taiwan had their first virus victim 9 days before Italy, but the Taiwan government had already clamped down as soon as they knew what was happening. They learnt lessons the hard way back in 2003 when they had a SARS epidemic. The latest figures from Taiwan are 298 - 241 of which have been classified as imported, with just two deaths.  

(These statistics will not be accurate as the figures keep changing hour by hour). 


The Chinese culture is different to ours - would the public have responded so compliantly here? That is something that I doubt, judging by the way the general public behaved during the first weekend after the lock-down. Huge numbers of people flocked to Snowdonia, the Yorkshire Dales were over run, and London Parks were crowded. Up on our Common I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw how many cars had turned up and parked in long lines across the open grassy areas - something that is not permitted by the National Trust. The Common is an SSSI, and a Regionally important Geological Site. It is home to the rare Pasque flower and has a large variety of wild orchids amongst which are the Bee Orchid, and the very rare Frog Orchid. To see so many people picnicking, kite flying, and running all over the place was upsetting given the circumstances.


Words from Wood Lane

Susan Neave, Beverley


Almost a week since a kind neighbour distributed sunflower seeds in little ‘teabag’ compost pots. Mine has begun to shoot. Its progress will be measured over the coming months. What stage will we be at when it flowers? Disheartened to read that thousands of plants from garden centres will probably be thrown away, at a time when gardening will help to see many people through difficult times.


Stay at home

Ann, London


On Sunday, a neighbour and I happened to return from our daily walk at the same time, meeting in the entrance hall of the block of flats where we live. She was wearing a face mask and admonished me for not doing so. Her mask was white and handmade from layers of sheeting, secured by elastic straps wrapping round the ears. With the Corona virus droplets being carried in the air, her advice was to wear such a cover at all times when outside the home. As she has just retired from a long career as a doctor in the NHS, I accepted this guidance.

Yesterday morning (Monday) I looked at a couple of mask-making videos on YouTube and chose the simplest. Last night I selected scraps of Liberty Tana from my fabric box for the face cover, cut some strips of an old T-shirt for the ties, opened up my sewing machine and followed the video instructions:


A Week in the life of Edward & Molly (contd)

Carla, South Norfolk


Dear Edward (5) and Molly (3)


School, nursery and all our groups are now closed and cancelled, due to the corona virus so I thought I'd write to you so you know why we are not formally home schooling and so one day you can read what a normal day in the life of us consists of:

Wednesday  25.03.2020


Dear Edward & Molly


Today we started the day with a Treetops style carpet circle time. We sang songs, looked outside the window and made a plan for the day. We sang 'Hello everyone', 'What's the weather', 'Days of the week' and 'Months of the year'.


Edward looked and knew lots of digraphs from the Phase 5 sound mat, superb. 


We discovered that Edward prefers tasks to be called Activities not Challenges which is what school call them. We have now received a blog from school with some activity ideas so will start to do some of them each day.


Today, we decided we were going to try to:


Find 2 things longer than your arm, find 2 things shorter than your arm, measure them and write about them. We managed to do the finding but no measuring or writing.


Do a Tree rubbing. We did this on silver birch trees and apple trees.


Find a leaf to draw. We gathered these for another day.


Bike ride. Yep.


Slide. Yep. Molly can now do the big slide on our climbing frame on her own, hooray. You did not want your photo taken.


Post a letter. Yep.


Before Daddy started work for the day, he let you both spin on his office chair that he brought home, which you both love doing. I made you both snack pots so you could help yourself throughout the day without saying you are hungry every 5 minutes. Straight after breakfast you both started tucking in!!


You played so so lovely together in the tent in the living room, you said you'd made a school and had loads of dolls and teddies in there with you on chairs and I became your teaching assistant.


For lunch, I managed to master sushi with risotto rice given that we didn't have any sushi rice, you both love eating even flat sheets of sushi nori!!


It was another sunny day and we got our hammock and swinging chair out and spent pretty much all day in the garden. We finally managed to sort the shells that you collected from a beach in France. The ones with holes, we are going to string up.


Siri's new large hamster wheel arrived and we are excited to build her a new home soon. We let her have a go in the wheel when she woke up around tea time. She loved it.


We all got a bit grumpy towards the end of the afternoon because you both woke up lots in the night and we were all tired. I hope you both stay in your beds tonight and we can have more fun together tomorrow.


Love from Mummy.x

Thursday 26.03.2020


Dear Edward and Molly


What a day, we've had a day of school role play - all lead by you! Edward taught us his Caterpillars class morning song about singing hello, shaking hands, sitting down and listening. We planned the day and you requested to build a 100% ginormous train track, tidy up time before circle time, lunch time, outdoor play time and a focused activity. As I wondered how I would motivate you with a focused activity I remembered at school they give out dojos, so we made up some of our own criteria - focused, kind, inventor.


Just as I was thinking how am I going to get Edward to do some writing this week, you brought me a piece of paper with a written list of numbers of the books missing from the Beatrix Potter set of books in your room, for us to find. Amazing. We are going to email the list to Miss Wright your school teacher as it is brilliant.


We received a message about Dandelion friends all doing a group call on the computer so we logged in and spoke to Marie, Isla, Ilana and Jess, Josie and Jed and Becks and Reuben. It was fun and Jed taught us about dinosaurs and you showed him yours.


Despite loads of reminders about the 100% ginormous train track, I think the idea of tidying up first put you both off so we went outside, it was really chilly as it had been so frosty but we ate snacks outside and you rode bikes. We set up a dinosaur world and spoke to Sandra riding Tululah on the other side of the hedge. We spelt our names using the shells we sorted yesterday. We watched 2 chaffinches on our garden fence and then they chased each other. The pair of ducks who have visited us every day didn't come today.


For our focused activity we carried on the maths measuring from your class blog that we started to think about yesterday. You wrote an amazing page of the things you measured - floor tiles, fridge, you and your bedroom. You used your hands, feet and a wooden spoon to measure and you found it a lot of fun. While you were writing, a pheasant visited us in the garden and then flew up to the fence and eventually into next door's garden. 


We then measured everything again in centimetres using a tape measure. Just as I was thinking I should be encouraging you to do some joined up writing you decided you would write the rest joined up. I was so proud and excited and it made it much easier to read!  While Edward did all this amazing work, Molly made a cotton reel necklace and then did loads of threading/sewing with shoe laces, you were both very focused for a long long time.


You both then said we needed to end the day with carpet time or a book so we discussed what both your schools do. Edward told us about Caterpillar of the day and decided we should also have that, so you made a tub with all our names in and we called our class of 4 (Daddy included) - Pheasants. You said the Pheasant of the day has to wear a lanyard and sit on a special chair which we will do tomorrow.


We biked to the post box in the sunshine and then up and down the lane and then put your bike seat up again Edward, Molly you asked for yours to go down a bit. Thank you for a lovely day.


Love from Mummy.x

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