It was my birthday today.

We have spent the past 3 weekends celebrating birthdays with our neighbours, two from our side and one from theirs. During the week we agree a time for meeting up in our back gardens for a glass of Champagne. Usually a Saturday, 5 or 6 O’clock. We pop the cork, and chat over the fence but keep a safe distance. It’s somehow a wonderful new ritual, but awful how fast this has become a reality.

This morning I woke up to my birthday breakfast and opened a few cards and presents with my wife and the kids. The night had been foggy but it was already clearing and the sun was coming out. We ate Karelian pies, pancakes and watermelon. I had some coffee. My main present was a robot vacuum cleaner. I spent some time getting it to connect to my phone and our WiFi network.

It began to get so warm and sunny (15 degrees by noon) that we ate lunch outside. I had taken all the garden furniture out of storage the previous weekend in anticipation of spring weather.

I decided to pop out to post some letters that needed going out, and went to our local newsagent to pay for my New York Times delivery. There were a few people around, and in the shop the owner was wearing a mask, and people queued at 2m intervals along the aisle. I paid, asked the owner how he was, and headed back home.

The afternoon was spent mowing the lawn, edging the garden pathway and borders, picking weeds from the patio. The weather was wonderful, and I was careful to apply sunblock on my neck. I spent some time working together with my son, which I always enjoy and I am always proud of how he gets into the task at hand.

Champagne was popped at 5 O’Clock sharp. We had a lovely time. We tried not to discuss Coronavirus too much. The late afternoon sun stayed with us into early evening as we talked and drank.

If I stop to take it all in, it’s all totally terrifying.

But if I focus on the quality of my day spent at home, with my family and neighbours, then I can truly say that I had a marvellous day.