Diary of A Modern Gran | Fairy Doors and More

Istockphoto © Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

I have a terrible confession to make. Every time my daughter Face Times me, I feel a little jealous that she’s cuddling the children. I’m desperate to do the same. I know it’s selfish of me. But there you are. I miss their smell and little kisses so much.

I am baring my soul to you because that is what many of you have done to me over the last few weeks. I am humbled by your emails, telling me about all your pain about not being able to hold your little families.

Yet things are beginning to ease up, aren’t they? So we must take hope from that. This week, my daughter rang to ask if I’d like to join them in the park. Six foot away, naturally, but enough for us to chat. I’m not the only one. One of my granny friends from the allotment, got up at the crack of dawn to drive 60 miles to see her daughter and three grandchildren under 10. “We parked our cars so the boots faced each other,” she told me excitedly. “Then we sat in them and had breakfast together while socially distancing. It was brilliant.”

Another of my granny chums who has been very cautious because of an underlying health condition, is going to meet up with her two grandchildren next week. “We’ll be outside and will definitely stick to the two meter rule,” she says.

Fairy trail

Meanwhile, my daughter has come up with an ingenious idea to keep me involved in the children’s lives. Little Rose and George have been collecting fairy doors. If you haven’t come across these, they are about three inches in height (I’m not a metric girl!) and made of painted wood. You place them around the house or garden if you have one, and then pretend that fairies go in and out. It’s great for make-believe games!

But instead, my daughter has been leaving these small doors at certain points round town on the pavement. It’s a bit like a treasure hunt except that you leave them where you find them – and trust others to do the same.

I came across one by chance yesterday when I was walking the dog over a bridge. It was lovely to think that my grandchildren had put it there.

We’ve also been sending each other presents through the post. I’m one of those people who has been leaving my post for 48 hours during the “corni” virus! But it was worth the wait to open the envelope and find a wonderfully glitzy T-shirt with the words GLAM GRAN on it. I don’t feel particularly glam at the moment with my roots showing through but it made me feel loved!

Similarly, little Rose and George were really excited to open something which I’d ordered through Amazon – twin baby dolls with carriers.

“But she was still pregnant yesterday,” says my husband. His joke refers to the fact that Rose is constantly shoving a doll up her jumper and pretending that she’s “got a baby in my tummy”.

That one is a born little mother! I just hope she’s got her career options lined up as well…

Meanwhile I’d like to share some of the issues which you’ve been raising in your emails. Nearly everyone asked if they could remain anonymous so of course I’m respecting that. But it might help us work out some solutions to our own situations.


I want to know when we are going to be allowed to mix two households. But at the same time, I’m really nervous about being in close contact with my grandchildren, either in case I give them something or they pass the virus on to me.

Ann from Leicestershire


I know just what you mean, Ann. To be honest, we feel the same in our family. So we’ve decided not to decide anything – if that doesn’t sound like a contradiction! I’m not sure that we’ll be running straight over to our grandchildren immediately we’re allowed. When the time is right and my daughter and son-in-law feel comfortable, we will start to mix. But at the moment, we are counting our blessings that we can at least see each other from a distance.


My 5-year-old granddaughter has always been a good sleeper. But since this virus started, she’s been waking up at night and having terrible nightmares. My son and daughter-in-law don’t know what to do about it. Any advice?

Julie from Cardiff


Strangely, one of my friend’s grandsons has had the same problem. It turned out that the night light was disturbing him even though he’d always had it. They took it away and he started to sleep better. It’s easy to put down childhood behavioural issues to the virus instead of other reasons like being uncomfortable in bed or being hungry or thirsty. Having said that, children are definitely picking up vibes about our challenging situation and adult worries. So it might be worth having another chat about the world not being very well but that it will get better one day. Remember too that your GP surgery is still open and that your son and daughter-in-law can have online consultations about these nightmares if they don’t want a physical appointment.


I know it sounds silly when so many awful things are happening. But I’m having a significant birthday soon. My children have been planning a big family celebration for months and now of course it’s cancelled. I was so looking forward to seeing my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One of them has suggested doing a ‘zoom’ meeting but I don’t know if it will be the same

Yvonne, London


It’s not silly at all, Yvonne. When we have significant birthdays, as you so beautifully put it, we want our nearest and dearest to be there. Zoom – for those of you who don’t know about it – is a computer program that allows groups of people to gather together on screen. You can see their faces and hear them talking and also join in. It can work really well. But if you feel it’s not for you, there are other options. One of my granny friends had her 70th last week. Her husband asked friends and family to make a short recording on their phones and send it to him on What’s App, which you can download on your phone or computer or IPad. He was then able to show everyone’s messages to her. It was lovely – and not too overwhelming because she could look at each clip when she had time. Some of her grandchildren wrote her poems which they emailed and put in the post. She also received photographs in the post as well as some lovely phone calls. Perhaps you could pass some of these ideas on to your family. Have a lovely day!

I do hope that some of this helps. Meanwhile, let’s take courage from each other. One of the things that has been helping me, is to talk to other granny friends. Remember what they say. A problem shared is a problem halved! Meanwhile, do feel free to email me with questions at janecorryauthor@gmail.com. See you next week!

Jane’s new book… out May 28

I Made A Mistake book cover

Hope you don’t mind me mentioning this but my new Penguin thriller is coming out this Thursday. It’s called I MADE A MISTAKE and is about Poppy, a mother of teenagers and her live-in mother-in-law Betty who is a young 70 year old. The two of them are like mother and daughter. But each has their love secrets. Betty’s go back to the 1960s. It’s on sale at supermarkets, bookshops and online. Here’s the link.

http://bit.ly/IMadeaMistake OR https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Made-a-Mistake/24376830

I’m also having a Zoom launch tea party on Thursday from 5pm to 6pm and would be delighted if you could join me. Please email Penguin on penguingeneralrsvp@gmail.com and they will send you a zoom link. It would be so nice to “meet” you!  There’s also a chance to win a free copy of my new book!

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.