We had the announcement at the start of the weekend that our county of Swansea was to go into tighter restrictive measures to control the spiralling covid infection numbers.
As of 6pm tonight, no leaving the county unless good reason to.
So everyone’s gone out and bought all the toilet roll and all the pasta.
Boris Johnson, our Prime minister, addressed the nation too. It felt like a very bad version of the story “The Tiger who came for tea”
Except this tiger bought all the toilet roll, the pasta and rammed me repeatedly with his trolley in the supermarket because I wasn’t moving fast enough in the two metre, socially distanced, queue.
I haven’t gone shopping for food for a few days now because hopefully, by Monday, they’ll all be in their toilet roll palaces eating pasta.
Tangles of arms legs, paws and wiggles.
I thought about drawing this one again but I think it pretty much describes with accuracy the chaos of cuddling two dogs, one of whom is a little chewy monster with sharp teeth…but very lovely.
They get on very well, Bonnie lets Frannie chew her legs and in return, Frannie lets Bonnie chew all her puppy toys.
The cats are coping with the blonde Romanian invader, Renee can now share some chicken in her presence but we have more work to do and that always takes time. I think it took me five or so months to really stop Bonnie chasing poor Arnie. Sausage and chicken is already better than chasing pusses so we are getting there…
Back to school and here come the sniffles, (oh we are smothering with it).
Here comes a tissue eating puppy.
And a list of symptoms to check off just in case it’s Covid symptoms.
Numbers are still rising again and mask wearing is compulsory indoors in school and in public spaces for children over 11 years of age.
In schools, the children can mix in their class as a “bubble” so if in the instance of someone getting infected, only that class affected needs to self isolate at home. It makes for a strange playtime but it’s a compromise to continue education after so long off school.
Some counties are already in special localised lockdowns restricting movements. There is talk of a bleak winter ahead on the news.
Frannie found a sock in the park today and tore off like a cheetah with it, sprinting with a snotty nose at 46 years old after a puppy makes my face go a strange colour…
Oh god I’m so sorry. My glasses fogged up again. Yes I do wear them on top of my mask but somehow I’ve misted up again. I didn’t see you there in front of the bananas, have a nice day…
I am getting the hang of a training lead, I am.
Bonnie is doing a better job than me at teaching our pup to follow on a lead.
Frannie has never been on a lead before and we have spent the week making friends with the lead with lots of chicken too. Now the lead is very exciting because nice things happen when the lead goes on, magic chicken appears and it’s brilliant as Bonnie gets some too.
Other dogs are very exciting too as are cars, as are bees and butterflies.
Everything is exciting and must be barked at.
It’s very noisy here right now.
The cats are upstairs and come out at quiet times but that’s going to take time and if Bonnie can do it, so can Frannie.
And me too.
Everything needs a little chew.
Stair gates, socks and especially nice toes.
Chewy chew chew.
Bonnie’s leg has been tried and found very nice, Bonnie doesn’t think that it’s very nice and tells Frannie in a very growly way to stop.
So back to socks and toes it is.
Frannie’s never been in a house before, she’s never seen a cat before. There’s lots of new things for her to adjust to.
So I have been busy convincing her cooked chicken is far tastier than chasing her sassy friends.
It’s working, there’s going to be chicken stuffed in my pockets for the next few months.
Oh and everyone gets chicken too because then every time Frannie looks at a cat, she’ll think nice thoughts and not chasy thoughts. She now sits the minute a cat enters the room already. What a clever pup.
Apologies for the silence but the storms blew in a five month old street-puppy from Romania. I think she’s a keeper. Very scared right now but she’s joined the right family.
Meet Frannie, our new stowaway. Been with us a few days now and settling in so very well after a bumpy start of snarling and being all street tough.
I think we have a very clever pup here, she’s walked this earth before.
I am Angie Stevens and I love to draw that’s for sure.
There’s around 2439 drawings on Doodlemum now.
Didn’t know the time of day when I started drawing in this blog ten years ago!
Ten years of tea, wine and hugs.
You knew it was coming. A mountain of ten years of love hate with the washing basket and all things that involve cleaning. I am not a domestic goddess, I am a domestic anarchist! Enjoy!
Well without them I wouldn’t have wiggles, hairy sofas and I’d have shop bought eggs. I’m banned from picking the next dog as it will be a great dane or the shaggiest stink hound in history.
I only got to 2012 before I realised there’s an awful lot of drawings. Just goes to show that a drawing a day really does build up over the years!
Here’s to ten years more of animals big, small and fiesty.
I’ve loads, I mean loads of drawings from the last ten years so I’m going to dig a few out this week as Doodlemum is now ten years old.
Ten years of drawing the little stuff, the big stuff and the stuff that I tell no one (except an audience of thousands).
Okay, it got a little bigger than a tired mum of three expected…
I hope you enjoy looking through, I’ve spent two hours looking myself and I think I need tea now.
Not every picture is perfect, not every line hits the page where I want it to either.
Like a big car crash on a white page.
I’m not sure if its the brain involved or my hands or simply everything working in unison.
But words and pictures are intertwined for me and have become more so the more I’ve written my blog.
Which is now ten years old.
Ten years of drawings and words.
Now I feel old.
This beautiful soul came into our lives nearly ten years ago.
A hurricane of life and energy.
Now a gentle breeze and a happy tail.
Life got better once she found her happy home.
Please if you are going to get a dog, go and be a superhero and rescue one that needs a home. You’ll get a lifetime of love and wiggles.
Yes they come with baggage but once unpacked, that little suitcase is there to stay until the day comes when you both let each other go and you put your heart back in it for them to take.
It’s late enough and Renee has started moving her little knitted kitty puffs upstairs for the night.
The kids sleep through the racket and wake to a landing full of knitted balls.
It’s better than Christmas as you never know what you’re going to step out to each morning.
One got taken out in the rain last week through the cat flap and forgotten about but I’m happy to report it has found its way back in late tonight.
One got placed inside a wellington boot.
One found its way inside the dog crate, Bonnie is very fond of them too.
Must knit more, I now have wool in rainbow shades.
Bonnie has been on bed rest all weekend.
I hate sitting still too girl.
I think she’ll be just fine. Age is no fun when you’re a one hundred miles an hour dog.
Bonnie, we need to have words about launching yourself off the patio at dinner time. You’re nearly twelve now and you’re not a puppy any more.
A sausage is not worth the pain.
Let’s hope that sore leg is better in the morning eh?
I guess that’s the artist in me. My washing line dies dramatically with all my clean washing on and I grab my sketchbook and ponder the comparisons of the detritus fest 2020 is turning out to be.
The year that in hindsight you’d have hibernated through.
The year if you’d have placed a bet on not going around the world in eighty one days. because you had to self isolate because there was a flight ban from the United Kingdom (so you had to deflate your balloon).
The year if you were a time traveller, you’d have skipped in favour of seeing something like paint dry on a Van Gogh or a Bob Ross (I’m not picky).
The year if you had the choice, you’d rub out 2020 and wake up in 2021, refreshed and optimistic your diet was going to be jaffa cake free.
Best pick up that washing. and put the kettle on.
Back to school.
Nothing. Nothing prepares you for that wave of emotion watching your child walk into school like this.
Teachers in masks.
Marked out spaces.
Playground cordoned off.
Gruff is beyond happy to be back, don’t get me wrong.
I’ve got mother of the year award as I sent him with a back pack not a disposable carrier for his lunch.
I’d like to wish all teachers the best of luck dealing with what is a very difficult and emotional return.
You’re all stars.
I have just dropped Evie off for her first day back after four months.
We drove past playgrounds taped up, school buses driven by masked faces, empty roads and a cloudy blustery sky.
We both thought it felt like a September day.Cold wind, grey sky, showers on the horizon.
Evie jumped out the car and legged it up the road without a backwards glance.
I sat in the car and bloody howled. I howled all the way home. Big red puffy snotty howls. Nice one Angie.
Good luck to all the little dudes starting school in Wales today.
Us mums will be there to hose you down in the garden when you come home
Evie is the first to return to school tomorrow.
One day a week. All schools are running on reduced capacity until September.
Four months of home school, no friends. It’s been tough for children and it will be another adaptation to face returning to school.
And they’ve ALL grown out of their shoes and wellies.
But, we have hand gel.
Weather dog is at it again.
One sniff of the front door and this diva knows it’s going to rain and she can’t be bothered with a walk.
We went and got soaked.
Should have listened.
Evie and Gruff haven’t been in a shop since March. We decided to try the small bargain shop nearby.
They looked at all the queues and the masked faces as we got out the car.
If someone came near them, they looked at me as if to say, “what should I do?”
“Just keep walking” , I smiled, “you’ll be alright” .
“We’ll wash our hands when we get home, don’t worry”
They’re excited to return to school for one day a week.
The school will be quite different with all the new measures in place.
They just want to see their friends again.
I had some meetings on my computer today.
You know, where you link up and all talk to each other in little boxes.
Miya decided to join in. She liked seeing everyone so much she showed them her nicely healed tail and watched the little people in their boxes. No one was swiped though, (she reserves that watching wildlife on you tube).
It’s the pandemic isn’t it? Summed up in little electronic boxes. All safe until the paws hit that keyboard.
They didn’t see the cat problem coming did they now?
There’s no muting a cat or it’s tail.
Look what we’ve found.
It’s not very big.
Just stick a twig in by that sticky bit of web between the wood.
Mum what did you just say?
Of course I’m busy, I putting the clothes away.
Ask the cat.
The kids will start a day a week at school starting next week.
They are so excited about it.
Freedom to learn is not something they will take for granted like I did.
Not all bullies are big.
Bonnie would not sleep in her crate tonight until the tiny terror vacated her position in the stinky den.
Had no idea she’d slunk in there and claimed her throne until Bonnie started whining.
Miya has had a course of medicine (which she gobbled whole inside a nice piece of chicken).
The nibbled tail is on the mend and is now busy parading around the house and garden with it’s usual sass straight up in the air where it belongs.
Hopefully whoever nibbled her tail has found something else tasty to eat.
Let me tell you something.
After twelve weeks, a bag of chips really does smell as good as you’d think it would.
Solve everything with this one cup in the morning.
Okay. Maybe it takes three these days.
Don’t talk to me, I haven’t woken up yet.
Mam why is the cats tail wonky?
What do you mean wonky?
Well it’s looking weird.
OK it’s weird.
Yes it is weird.
Oh, that’s really not good.
Someone got into a fight and came off the worse…
There were lots of gloves on the floor tonight when we walked. Towering cumulonimbus clouds in the sky, like mashed potato crashing into the hill. I was dodging showers between the sun tonight.
I saw a face mask with a red plastic piece in the middle where the air goes in and out. Thrown on the floor and left with the fast food wrappers that have started appearing again since the drive through re opened. The seagulls were delighted and swept down to grab a brown paper bag with a few chips left in for their dinner.
There were towering weeds and clover covered in bees fighting with the gloves. It’s not all bad, life is thriving on a mini-beast level anyway.
We are still only allowed to travel within a five mile radius and shops are still only food and necessities.
There is talk of a brief return to school before summer but not full time, just a check in.
It’s a strange purgatory.
Gloriously bonkers isn’t it?
Lying on the floor.
But looking up is always the first step to everything.
And there it lay, cold on the ground. Like a recently deceased creature of the night, slain by the rays of the early morning sun. Glistening and motionless.
The feline gently stepped away from its creation. Denying all knowledge of its part in bringing this thing into brief being.
The humans would rise soon and would fail to see it’s beauty, its purpose to simply exist on the floor of their dwelling and would cast it with disgust, into the bin.
The biggest hairball in living history.
I know the retribution will be swift and terrible but I really love drawing in other people’s sketchbooks…
The cat has come in from the rain soaking wet.
I’ve dried her off.
So she’s just come back in soaking wet again.
I’m starting to sense a pattern here…
I’d like her to get off my sketchbook now too…
My guys are real tech fans, they love a gadget, why not, it’s fun.
All the screens in the world however, will never replace a massive, cardboard box.
Endless worlds travelled to.
Infinite possibilities within four walls of brown.
Just the best thing in the world.
Climb in and make your den your own, (with the two cats and the dog as well please). Drag in all the cushions and throws in the house, fill it with cars or fluffy animals.
Eat your lunch in it, try it, food tastes brilliant in a box.
Within the parameters of four walls, embrace boredom and overcome it with imagination and fun.
Seeing my boy staring out of a box gives me a perspective on how this lock-down has played out for my children.
Where’s the cat?
What do you mean you haven’t seen her?
Walks fifty times past the studio window.
Well I’ve called her. She’s not coming, she’s probably on her rounds.
She’ll be back soon.
She is still not speaking to me.
Very exciting day today.
I vacuumed the house.
I terrorised children, I sucked up lego and the cats hate me.
How was your day?
I know a lot of parents have worried about screen use during lock-down.
It’s not been a problem.
I send the heavies in.
Nothing to see here.
Because it is impossible to garden with a cat.
Really impossible. Fusses are required every minute or I get swiped or nibbled.
I feel very bullied.
Not much weeding was done.
In other news I went to the supermarket without crying but I forgot to buy chocolate.
I still wash my hands.
We haven’t seen the sea in over nine weeks.
It has been cooler and overcast today so to avoid the busy times, we went this evening (as we live under five miles from the sea and our current guidelines are to go within five miles for exercise).
I could write about how wonderful it was for us to see such space again and hear the crashing waves but our old dog stole the show by bulldozing us all out of her way and crashing straight into the water.
Something she has never done in all the time we have had her. She hates water. Getting her out was the problem.
Tonight she was a salty, sea, dog fish. Happy to have sandy paws and stink all the way home.
She is now dead to the world, stinking, snoring, dreaming of long grey shores and a gentle wind.
That’s where I think I am.
Or upside down, or inside out.
Like someone picked the world up, gave it a great big shake and some bits fell out and some things broke.
There’s talk of the schools reopening at the end of June here in Wales for a brief catch up before the summer holidays and then, if all things are well, a full return in September.
The roads were busy tonight and I could still make out the birds singing by the reopened Macdonalds drive through. Defiant and indignant.
Are all things well then? I’m still spinning. Hold fast.
There’s more sassy in that tail than I have ever seen in a cat.
This little black cat with the huge meow.
One flick and you’re dismissed for the day.
It’s going to be a while.
No I’ve got to blow it up first.
Well it’s got to fill with water.
It’s going to be a while.
No it’s not ready, bit longer.
Might be a bit cold at first.
IT’S TOO COLD!
This post is not about today.
This is about tomorrow.
Because tomorrow my children are going out on their own for the first time in over nine weeks.
They will meet with friends and do kids stuff.
While remaining two metres apart.
It’s your eyebrow raising, not mine…
But it’s time.
Nice little walk to another shop today to collect toiletries.
I left the car at home and walked in the hot sun, not normally a sun lover but it was lovely. Getting used to queuing up for things now and everyone seems to follow the new distancing without much trouble.
Such a difference to a few months ago. There is calm and talk and laughing at how no one gets it right.
We’re all people, we’re all trying our best.
I was the returning hero with pink bubblegum and smelly, bright coloured soap.
So as of Monday, we will be able in Wales to meet other people outside the house.
Within five miles.
And two metres apart.
We are happy but looking at it from a captive point of view, we are far from free. We can roam a little further.
This is far from over.
So much talk of it not being real, of it being as easy as flu.
The news says in an estimated study only six percent of France is actually immune to covid 19.
All about the “R” rate see?
Parents of children be warned, they are growing.
The lock down and spring combined has created a massive problem, literally.
You might not have noticed yet but you will. Or you may be like me and gawp in disbelief at the extra foot of difference sticking out of the bottom of trouser legs.
Or an emptied cupboard of sweets (you thought were safe) and there’s a smug child sat there looking full and very proud of themselves.
Or the fact they keep bumping their heads on things they used to happily walk under.
Or they just walk up behind you and tap you slowly on the shoulder…
“Hi mum, you look….smaller”.
This is happening right in front of our noses.
Please don’t panic buy shoes, I’ve only got wellies left now…
Houston we have a problem, we’re not go for launch.
We’re in the house, under a lock down.
Have a safe trip to the International Space Station.
Mission control, Swansea, no go.
God speed Bob and Doug, we’ll watch you from the skies tonight.
Got all three to step outside tonight with dog, me and a boomerang.
Up on a hill, long grass, a warm breeze.
And big sky.
Can I have a sketchbook please? Need to draw some monster hands.
From the boy who hasn’t drawn since lock-down.
I’m beyond smiling. But I am being very cool about it and trying not to look. Of course I always have spares because to run out of sketchbooks would not be worth thinking about.
It’s hard not to peek okay?
I have too any words tonight to write. Too many emotions.
The end of May is here.
The trees are full of leaves, the breeze is cold today.
The nights are so light now, that dawn chorus is so early. Can’t be morning yet?
The news is full of outrage and retribution today.
Social media is the same.
It’s draining and pointless. There is no solution, not yet. There is talk of a vaccine and trials and an antibody test to be rolled out soon but nothing concrete.
I just want more of that mint chocolate from the cupboard but I’ve eaten the last square.
There’s a robin singing, I think it’s been singing all night under that new LED streetlamp.
Thoughts when someone comes closer than the required two metres in the supermarket checkout queue.
You’re standing too close to my broccoli!
Get back! (outstretched arm, palm up for dramatic impact).
Please would you mind taking a step back.
Oh hi, I can see you’ve stepped over your two metre line, that’s interesting. Glares.
Please stop moving forward.
Where’s the fire?
Here they come!
Defend at all costs.
(No cats were harmed in the defence of this splendid lounge den and much chocolate was consumed and squash drank).
Fill me with coffee.
Keep it going.
Right to the top.
After a long sunny day, the old paving slabs out the front of the house stay warm throughout the evening, long after the sun has gone down.
It feels wonderful on your feet.
There’s sorcery in coffee and vision in spectacles.
Combine the both and I transform from shadow to human.
Sleep hits me when the birds start singing.
Might sleep in the garden, might sleep in a tree.
Can I have a coffee yet?
I watched a little boy scoot past today with his face mask on. Happy to be going to the park to play with his mum.
Are children going to play face masks in school history lessons and write about what it was like to stay in their houses?
What did you do in lock-down?
The roads are busier now, there seems to be more people going out.
I wish you well, I’m glad you haven’t been affected or infected.
Maybe you will be lucky why should I judge you?
Why should I even bother to draw my curtains to look out at the road so busy with cars.
We all have our reasons, hard not to feel something when you hear the noise of cars back on the road.
The news is split into where you live now. Wales will continue the lock-down for three more weeks, opening garden centres for essential begonias and fast food drive throughs. In England there is talk of primary children returning to school but Westminster is still keeping parliament on reduced numbers. That’s nice.
The infection numbers have risen today.
This is not over.
Myles’ brother left his house for the last time today.
Long steps, hat off, the funeral director bows his head. The hearse leaves the house slowly, slowly down the steep hill to a small ceremony of fifteen at the crematorium. There can be no more.
The escort of twenty Welsh Water vans and the children in their rugby shirts waving from the sunny streets.
Goodbye Hugh, Swansea turned out for you today.
Thank you for always reading my blog.
Heaven has a huge cheeseboard but don’t eat the chives, your Dad picked them.
Rest in peace.
It’s the smart black trousers, tie and jacket. The shined shoes and ironed shirt. The one we all keep in the wardrobe for that occasion. The funeral. We take it out, check the moths have left it alone and iron the shirt again. Then we hang it up ready to wear.
I remember buying a suit when I was twenty seven, days before my mother died. I bought it ready to wear for her funeral, I didn’t want to be thinking about clothes, I didn’t want to be wearing the suit at all, nobody does but it is what you do. It is what everybody does.
Tomorrow the funeral will happen, and then the suit will be taken off and will go to the back of the wardrobe once more.
The walk was quiet tonight. My first steps outside today.
Tomorrow’s rubbish piled up outside each house. Black bags and pink plastic. Tonight’s litter dances around the empty streets in a happy scuttle, the ground is dry making for quick passage. Gloves, masks and cans of energy drinks race each other amongst the growing weeds.
The news is baffling, in England there is news of the lifting of restrictions but you’d need a code cracker to understand the words out of the Prime Ministers mouth. I don’t think anyone is the wiser right now.
Here in Wales, we are still grounded and we are still no go. There is still too much infection. The lock-down remains. We are allowed out twice a day, garden centres can re-open and fast food chains.
The shape of my cat with a squeaking mouse in her mouth can be seen leaping the walls of the back gardens in the evening sun.
That is not coming in the house.
Gruff loves maths, he loves numbers. He hates writing but loves to scrawl, (there’s hope there…)
Anyhow, the moment every great mathematician dreams of.
This particular problem to solve was four days of scribbling on sheets of paper, vast amounts of midget gems eaten and a refusal to give up.
I had no part in his struggle, I was kicked out of my studio.
He got there! What a moment.
We might not be able to let our feet roam right now but our heads can soar in the clouds any time we like.
A book, a day dream, a song, a drawing, a tree that sways, the clouds that build in the sky, the birds that ride the wind, the perfume in the breeze from the blossom.
Float away and never feel the time is wasted because that is when your mind is truly free.
It’s the 75th anniversary of V.E. day today and there is bunting everywhere. The street behind us have all moved into their front gardens and are having a socially distanced street party. The music is thumping away and I hear laughter. There is an eager d.j. on a microphone and children laughing.
The sun has been shining all day, a light breeze and dancing seagulls in the sky.
Our road is a little busier so there is no sitting outside in the spring sunshine here.
I didn’t make bunting, I drew it on the pavement outside with chalk. Coloured arms and a smudgy face.
We don’t really feel like joining in.
Myles’ brother will be cremated next week. It was sudden and quick.
He didn’t get to say goodbye. There wasn’t time. Cancer moves in that way, I know too well of that.
The sun shines on and the news can’t tell me enough how the lock down will be gradually eased and that it’s brilliant.
I see no good news yet, I see 30,000 dead.
I want to stop crying now.
They know when you need them. Even if you have to pay them in sausages.
Cats on stairs.
Cats in pairs.
They go for your toes, they go for your head.
Sneaky little murder mittens swipe-swiping through the banister.
The Welsh do the very best hugs although the debate really should always be, do you hug enough and the answer should always be, never.
The irony being that we all have to do it from 2 meters away.
This birthday is very different this year.
No party*, no shopping trip, no friends and not very many presents and a global pandemic. It’s a bit rubbish.
I promise you that the postman has got a bit lost and I’m sure that the present I ordered will be here very soon…
In the meantime, let me remind you how utterly lovely you are and how unique you are. Please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There are many people on this planet but I got one of the very best the day you were born and I knew it (even though at the time I still didn’t know how to do your nappy, you always gave me the look that it would be alright).
I will always love you for being you.
*I did make a cake and so far the cat hasn’t eaten it.
I was going to write about the afternoon I spent in my greenhouse.
But Bonnie has beaten me with her enormous crater she dug that will fit all of the plants I’ve been growing in one go.
White feathers and white blossom in the air this morning.
It has been an awful week. The very worse.
The air is too heavy.
Well this made me do a double take this morning! I have two cats but I was looking at three.
Who on earth is this and most certainly not respecting social distancing!
This gorgeous slink made an appearance in our house at six o clock this morning. A very well looking, beautiful, pale tabby.
My two had no idea and didn’t care either as it was feeding time so slinky stripey burglar cat made it’s escape back out through the cat flap before the dog woke up…
I’m sure it will be back.
Now it’s hammering down.
Washing is soaking wet, my socks are wet, the cats are coming in wet, the dog stinks of wet.
Another day in? Ah go on then.
Grey skies are back with the rain, the smell outside is earthy and heady. Blossom and fabric conditioner from a neighbouring tumble dryer on the go and petrichor.
News is arguing with itself about the death numbers.
They’re higher in care homes now but they’re old and they weren’t included initially as they didn’t die in a hospital (because they weren’t tested so they didn’t belong in the Corona death party) and now they are because the news realised they were human too.
The rest of us are just folding washing and wondering what is going on.
Now this is Swansea, this is the great, grey, gloom that descends when everywhere else is basking in sunshine.
And a bright green face mask. (Get off Bonnie you don’t know where it’s been).
The rubbish tells its own tale of the pandemic, gloves and masks litter the floor. Why the rush to drop these things? Does it chase you?
I hurry home just in case.