As I rubbed my son's back at 3am on Thursday morning whilst he bent over the toilet bowl and I clutched a sick bowl in my lap, I realised of all the things I'd hoped to share with my children this half term, the Norovirus was not top of the list.
It put something of a dampener on other plans such as bowling, swimming or even just wandering about without being hit by waves of nausea. Still, on the bright side, we were at least able to do some indoor gardening. Or, more accurately, some indoor garden measuring.
We had gone to visit my parents in Lincolnshire and on arrival my mother had an idea. She was growing an amaryllis (or technically an Hippeastrum) bulb on a sunny windowsill and swore it was putting on "a couple of inches a day". I took this with a pinch of salt. My mother is not averse to a dramatic statement. To be fair this is usually limited to a succinct and decided commentary on world news or local dramas ("It's never going to last", "she did it", or "I don't trust that man - just look at his face") but I didn't see why she would draw the line at bulbs.
But the children attached a white sticker to the cane in line with the tip of the bulb on Tuesday, and by the time we shuffled out of the house on Thursday, paler and thinner than we arrived, it really had grown. Rather a lot.
This experiment would work equally well outside as things are growing apace in the garden. You could simply push in a cane next to an emerging bulb and ask the children to draw a line where it has reached with a permanent marker or an acrylic paint pen, then check back on progress each week.
And to be fair, I should have known better than to doubt my mother. Invariably it didn't last, she did do it and he usually turned out to be completely untrustworthy.