My week … the one with the autumn chill.

After the late sunshine of last week, it was a shock to go from flip flops to winter boots overnight. I’ve been so cold this week and have layered up. My runs this week have all been in poor weather, I was so cold and wet after Thursday’s run and at the weekend, it was too early to feel the sun’s warmth and instead I got the chills from the wind. Whilst I will run throughout the autumn and winter I am definitely best suited to summer running. Having got a little excited by the prospect of my Saturdays getting back to normal, the inevitable delay to the return of parkrun was announced this week following Boris’s speech and an increase in cases of Coronavirus. The second wave appears to be developing with the consequence of new restrictions, the rule of 6 and pubs, restaurants etc.. all closing at 10pm. I am somewhat dubious about these guidelines, again Scotland under Nicola Sturgeon is so more explicit and clearer on what can and can’t be done and I just feel a bit underwhelmed about England’s response. We have been warned these restrictions are likely to last for 6 months and this has triggered the media to publish articles panicking about Christmas, personally it will be different and quieter but we can still make the magic.

Apart from much analysis of Boris’ speech and exasperation at its content, here is what I’ve been doing this week ….

I helped with interior designing

Well that sounds a bit posh, the reality was I selected a few stickers for the playroom wall and got the children to choose their favourite, fortunately there was an unanimous winner!

In the early weeks of this year, there were some bad storms (it felt like the storms were the worst thing that could happen this year, how wrong were we?) and the children’s playroom roof developed a leak. As it was outside we were able to have roofers come to repair it in the early days of lockdown but the water had damaged the ceiling and it needed repainting. Rather than simply doing the ceiling, we decided on a full refresh of the playroom, or games room as it is now to be known. During this week, Mr S has been painting the walls a new lovely shade of blue. Whilst my sticker has arrived, we have to wait 3 weeks before putting it up on the newly painted walls, but we were able to create a feature wall of photos. The playroom was originally Mr S’s office when we had the extension built, 10 years ago and had been decorated accordingly, with a beautiful pale grey carpet, totally impractical in what is now a childrens’ room, so a more durable, navy carpet arrives this week. I’ve seen a few more accessories to complement the room which I hope to add in the next few weeks or as Christmas presents.

I tried to create some Zen…

It has been one of the most challenging starts to the school year, there is too much out of our control and we are simply trying our best to support everyone. After a particularly bad Monday, I tried to think of practical ways in which I could help my colleague. When I had no inspiring ideas, I did the next best thing, I bought a green plant to bring a bit of Zen to our office and bought some Tisserrand ready to roll oil blends for us to use. Its always the little things which help.

I watched…

My two autumn tv favourites are Bake Off and Strictly and I was so happy for Bake Off to return on Tuesday night, even when it was delayed by Boris’ latest address to the nation, really WFH was the speech’s purpose? The opening of Bake Off was a skitch with Matt Lucas the new presenter as Boris and so perfect! I really appreciate that Bake Off is back on and has been able to be made in the pandemic, it was a great episode and I’m so looking forward to the rest of the series.

I saw…

My cruise ships are back in numbers again, on Friday afternoon there were 6 in the bay but as I was on a school trip I couldn’t get my phone out to take a photo. The photo above was taken from the sailing club on Sunday morning when there were five ships in the bay. The ships look beautiful in the evenings with twinkly lights reflecting off the sea. I’ll miss them when the ships sail off.

I’ve a few diary entries next week, hair, nails and a virtual parents evening, it seems like life is nearly normal. I have finally got a hospital appointment for a cortisone injection too. I’m 6 months over due and in pain so am so relieved that the clinic is able to offer the injection again. Apparently there is a risk to your immune system so I do have to sign forms to say that I understand the risk. Scary but the pain relief will really help.

Have a happy week.

My week … the one with hot, sunny days.

This week was one of those bonus weeks, an extra week of summer in September. The weather was stunning and those simple pleasures of eating lunch in the garden, wearing flip flops and driving with the window down just felt fun. It was an ordinary week, which this year feels a relief. We settled into new routines and simply relaxed at home over the weekend.

I ran lots …

It was pretty perfect running weather this week and I’m continuing with my four runs a week, this week no run was less than 5 miles and I reached my distance PB for over a decade at 7 miles (happy dance!) I did have to run to the post box and back to get this momentous figure, I couldn’t leave my watch on 6.9 miles. Now I have two weekdays off and the children leave for school early, its given me more time for running, and I’m able to explore old favourite routes from many years ago.

I learnt lots …

Little Miss and I have created a homework routine for her during the week, and its worked well so far. Much of her homework is a knowledge organiser with lots of learning for knowledge quizzes in lessons. I am hesitant about the use of such organisers as I’m not convinced by rote learning. However, as a result of the homework, I am quiz master at the end of each session and am learning as much as she is (apart from French which I ace!) There is easily one hour of homework each night and then 20 minutes reading which we do together. This is quite different to what she has been used to but I’m really impressed with her attitude and she genuinely seems to be happy in her new school. Little Man is also loving his new school and its such a relief for us as parents to see our children thriving in school.

I’ve begun to think about Christmas …

I am organised and a real planner and generally I start thinking seriously about Christmas in September. However, this year with all the uncertainty, I’ve been a little more proactive and started to shop. I passed by a favourite shop this week and popped in to browse and pick up a few things. I am genuinely unsure of how life is going to be in the next few months and like to feel a little in control. It seems I’m not the only one preparing for Christmas this early, as a friend sent a message about the children’s presents and after an exchange of messages has ordered them. Its going got be a different Christmas and I am sad that many of our favourite festive events are being cancelled. However, its an opportunity to think creatively and do things differently. You never know perhaps we’ll find something we want to do in a ‘normal’ year too.

I visited one of my favourite places

This is a little sad as we visited one of my favourite local beauty spots for possibly the last time in a while. We have always been frequent visitors and its a place we love to share with others who visit us. It was privately owned by an old lady, who has very sadly died. It was allowed to open at the weekend but is now closed until her will and estate are sorted. There is so much charm at the site, it is beautifully old fashioned and I only hope that the new owners will respect the values and simplicity of the estate. It was busy on Sunday and as I walked around I remembered so many different trips, the fairy trails, Halloween walks, trips with family and friends and even many, many years ago when I used to bring my class there on our minibus trip. I really hope we’re able to return soon, it is a very special place.

I cooked some seasonal recipes …

Well I say seasonal and when I was adding the veggies to my online shopping basket, the casserole ingredients seemed a sensible choice for a dinner. However I ended up getting my slow cooker out for the first time this autumn on a hot and sunny day. I did cook up some couscous too and pretended it was a tagine, which seemed more appropriate. Despite this it was delicious and has inspired me for more slow cooker dishes. I love when you come in and smell dinner nearly cooked. I also made a delicious crumble using the blackberries we picked at the weekend, I added nuts to the topping and we all loved it.

I’ve enjoyed my little extra week of summer but I’m realistic that its probably time for autumn now. Have a good week.

My week … the one in which Little Miss went back to school

This was the week that I had thought of so much in lockdown, the week when our two children would both be back at school and life would begin to feel a little more normal. The reality is that Covid cases have increased dramatically in the past few weeks and already we’re faced with more restrictions, the new rule of 6 and a worry of what is to come. One local primary school was closed this week and I think its inevitable that my children will be at home for two weeks at some point in this term. However, it did seem the most normal week for a very long time, I went to a big supermarket for the first time in 6 months (ironically not for food) hosted a family visit, had my nails done and pottered along on a very busy week. So here in more detail is my week..

I saw my daughter start a new secondary school.

Lockdown brought a lot of clarity to our lives, and one of the most noticeable was how much happier our daughter was at home than she had been in the previous months at school. We had been so careful in choosing a secondary school, and on paper, a small secondary in our local town seemed ideal. However, as we sat down and reflected, we realised how many niggles we had and even when we had addressed concerns with the school, the promised actions were not fulfilled. After a lot of soul searching, we spoke to our daughter about how she would feel about moving school, the relief was instant and her excitement again showed how bad things had become. Fortunately, it is a school where she already had friends from primary school and local clubs so she didn’t feel totally alone. It was easy to move schools and even though it was all done in Lockdown we were really impressed by the new school’s welcome and transition planning. Although school didn’t start until Tuesday, Mr S and her spent Monday morning at the school, having a tour , meeting key members of staff and were given all the details to help her arrive and be confident on day 1. This week, we have seen a different young girl again, the sound of her giggling on her phone to a friend was beautiful and when we’ve gone on our evening walks, she’s happily talked all about school, her new friends, teachers and what they’ve been doing in class. These after tea walk and talks started by accident when she was at her lowest and we’ve simply got in the routine of doing them that its become something we both enjoy. I am very aware it’s week 1 and there will be challenges but I am simply so relieved that its the weekend and we have a happy, chatty daughter who has loved her week back at school.

I received the response from my complaint to the Government Ombudsman

Still on the school theme, I received a draft of the conclusion from the Government Ombudsman regarding our complaints about the council’s handling of our son’s special education case. It took 18 very difficult and challenging months to find our son a place at a special school, its a system which is so stressful and nearly broke me (and this is my profession ,I know my stuff and knew they were doing it wrong) I had highlighted around 4 key complaints and the Ombudsman upheld each complaint and ruled that the Council’s SEN department was at fault on each one. Whilst, I didn’t want to take the case to the Ombudsman, I felt I was left with no choice. I only hope that by raising the case, the council will support other young people more effectively. Thanks to the complaint, I now have a pseudonym as the case must be published, I am Mrs X, just a little detail which has amused me more than it should have!

I got used to a new routine

With the children back at school and me only working 3 days, its time for a new routine. I hadn’t really thought how I wanted to spend my time, it all seemed a little unreal after having no time to myself in Lockdown. This week I focused on my running, upping my mileage and with no time constraints doing some routes I haven’t done for a while. This was a real bonus of the week and my highest weekly mileage and longest runs in years.

I tried a new style

With all my running and a new improved healthy diet, I have lost a lot of weight in lockdown. Indeed, so much that very few of my clothes fit me now, a problem I have never had before. I have had to make a few online purchases and decided to go out of my comfort zone with a denim dress from Phase Eight, pictured above. I was convinced it wouldn’t fit me and was amazed when it arrived that it did and that I liked how it looked. I wore it at the weekend when we had family visit and felt confident and stylish. Its a long time since I’ve felt like this about clothes, so perhaps this could be one of my new little projects.

I entertained family

On Saturday, my sister in law and her husband popped over to see us en-route to a break in their new Camper van. We had serious van envy, it was gorgeous and so well equipped and organised. We had a lovely time together and the hot, sunny weather meant we had an al fresco lunch in the garden and then just chilled there for the whole afternoon. They have recently moved and had a big tidy up and sort out, this meant that as their children have grown up and now left home, the children got all sorts of goodies, a Scaletrix set, clothes, stationery and a referee’s whistle which is going to get lost very soon! Since their visit, we have been busy having Scaletrix races, I love that its a Mini model car version, rather than sports cars, a Mini is definitely more me!

I picked blackberries

Picking blackberries is something that has become a bit of a tradition without us realising it. We always try to plan a lazy first weekend after the children go back to school, as they are normally tired. Over the past years, this has included us picking blackberries and baking and its something that the children look forward to, often commenting on the ripeness of the fruit on our walks in preceding weeks. We did it today and have a great harvest for the coming weeks. I’m sure there will be some blackberry themed bakes this week.

And finally

Well, we’ve done it, both of my children are happily back to school and its time for us all to adjust to our new normal. Amazingly, I have nothing in my diary for this week and hope to keep it a quiet and relaxed week. Its been a mentally draining fortnight, worrying about the children starting their new schools and all the logistics to the new routines.

Have a happy week.

My week .. the one Little Man started secondary school

This is part one of two week’s of back to school entries. Despite attending state schools in the same local authority there is nearly a week’s difference in the start of the school year and the end of the school year for my children. I know I would prefer to go back now (hey its been 6 months) and have a longer summer holiday in 2021. I’m back at work too and the first week of term is another of those full on weeks, so much to do. We’ve not had the opportunity to really get into a routine yet but hopefully that will follow in the coming weeks and I won’t feel so overwhelmed.

So on this bank holiday week, these are my sparkles.

I walked a lot ..

So after never having achieved 30k steps on my Fitbit, I managed it twice on the bank holiday weekend as we enjoyed two family walks and picnics. We had hoped for sunny, hot days on the beach but with slightly cooler weather the walks helped us all get out and distract us from our anxieties about the week ahead. Monday was a tough ascent rewarded with the most fantastic views (especially of the cruise ships) the little graph shows the hill, it was steep and challenging but in its own way quite fun!

I survived Little Man’s first day ..

I was at work on my son’s first day at school so Mr S as our new stay at home parent took him. He has started a special secondary school so its no longer a few minutes from home and my work, but a 23 mile journey, this scares me a little but I’m trying to be brave. I don’t think he’s ever been as far from me! He was excited to be going to school and was up early all dressed in his new uniform, hair styled and ready for his day. We took the first day photos and it was the first time that I don’t have a photo of the two children on the first day back. I will take a photo of my little duo next Tuesday, but Little Man will be a veteran by then and I’m sure the uniform won’t be so pristine! Mr S was able to reassure me just after 9am, that he had gone in happily and I was clock watching all afternoon to the time, he was collecting him from school. Little Man had a brilliant first day and had the broadest grin when he came out of school, he had played cricket and made new friends. The feeling of relief was indescribable, I felt very tearful. The next day was Thursday and whilst Mr S took him again I did the pick up so I could get my bearings on the journey and how the pick up worked. It was really reassuring to go to the school and see him coming out of school and to meet his teacher. On the journey home, Little Man was keen to tell me all about his day until he fell asleep mid sentence! On Friday, Little Man took the taxi for the first time, again lots of nerves but he was back on time and had managed to navigate how to get from the taxi to class. He’s been incredible this week and we are so proud of him. He’s had a brilliant week and really enjoyed his new school. All the stress and fighting for the correct school place was the right thing to do and although it nearly broke me I am so pleased we did it.

I read a fascinating book ..

I’m reading one of my 99p Kindle Deals, The Checklist Manifesto. Its such an interesting read on how checklists can ensure that tasks are done correctly. There are so many fascinating case studies, from medical to aviation, architecture and Van Halen. The Van Halen story is great, as in their gig check list they hid a request for brown M&Ms to be removed from a jar of M&Ms in their changing room. This was not rock star silliness but they would not play if there were brown M&Ms in the changing room. The presence of brown M&Ms meant the checklist had not been followed correctly. The checklist was so important because of the complex stage show they had created and they needed very specific safety measures to be followed in full detail. The brown M&Ms were a simple, quick way to ensure the safety of their crew and audience. The book is full of stories like this and I’ll be writing a few checklist at work following this read.

I listened ..

Its the first week back at work and I do love a little seasonal song. This week I have changed my alarm from a traditional tone to Earth, Wind and Fire’s September. I love this song, it would definitely make my desert Island Discs and I like the silliness of waking up to such a tune this month!

I watched ..

Today, I have been at a skate jam. I had no idea what this was but little Man was keen to attend after seeing the posters in the skate park. The premise was that the participants had one minute to perform their best tricks. Little Man initially signed up but then whilst watching the older boys got a little worried and chose to watch the tricks rather than participate. However, he still enjoyed it and we ended up being there for 4 hours, thankfully I had a packed lunch and my Kindle. The tricks were amazing, somersaults on scooters, spinning scooters etc.. It was an emotional event as it had been organised by a local charity which supports the mental health of young people following the tragic death of a local boy. However despite the sadness it was an uplifting and inspiring event for the town’s young people.

And finally

So its week two of back to school next week and another new school. Its certainly an eventful month for us all. I am so looking forward to settling into a routine and our new normal.

My week .. the one with the harvest

So, we have had our final week all together as Little Man and I prepare to return to school next week, whilst Little Miss has an extra few days at home to enjoy. We have had 23 weeks together at home and this week was similar to the others, long walks, home baking, the skate park, Nintendo Switch, family games etc.. However , you can always find something special in the ordinary and here are our highlights from Week 23 of lockdown!

I have read (and listened) ..

Desert Islands Discs is not being broadcast at present but on my Sounds app, they are highlighting previous episodes. This week’s guest was the poet, Wendy Cope, someone I’ve always admired for her work. I still have my original well thumbed copies of Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis and Serious Concerns from my uni days, inscribed with my maiden name and in the beautiful Faber and Faber print. After listening to the episode, I ordered Family Values and have loved reading it. There is something hauntingly simple and honest about her work and her poems do stay with you. In Desert Island Discs her childhood was discussed and the sadness of it is reflected in some very personal pieces, Daily Help was a beautiful read. I also loved Christmas Ornaments, as I am that person who likes to pick up a new decoration on our summer holiday so our Christmas tree reflects happy times and memories. Sadly with this year’s cancelled holidays there are no new decorations yet, although I will definitely be buying a rainbow inspired decoration for 2020.

I have played ..

On Monday, Little Miss and Mr S went to visit Granddad again. They had planned to do some more gardening work for him but the weather was pretty poor so they simply enjoyed some time with him. This left little Man and I with a day together to plan. I asked him what did he want to do together and his wish was to teach me how to play Minecraft, something totally out of my comfort zone. However, I gave it a go and learnt a few moves and strategies. Little Man was a patient teacher, even when I knocked down part of his house in my enthusiasm but I think he prefers playing with his sister.

This week we have also had a few games of Monopoly on the wet afternoons, its a really good game for all of us to enjoy together. Lockdown has presented us with the time to do these long games on wet afternoons without feeling the need to be doing something more productive. Lockdown has taught us its okay to be in the moment.

I have made ..

Its been harvest time Chez Sparkles, as my gardening squad have been harvesting and tidying their garden patch, our neighbours and Grandad have also been harvesting so we’ve had a glut of home grown produce (and freshly lain eggs) Little Man and I baked a ginger and plum upside down cake, it was delicious, the flavours went very well together. Little Miss made stewed plums, which have become a favourite with a dollop of Greek yoghurt. I made a fresh tomato sauce for a pasta dish and have been recommended a beetroot pasta sauce by a neighbour. I love experimenting in the kitchen and we all know that home grown produce tastes so much better than any shop bought produce!

And finally

There is one more thing I would like to do before the holidays end. In previous school years, the children and I would always go down to the ice cream parlour after the first school day of school as our little treat. This year, both are taking school transport and will be home later so this won’t be possible :(. However my plan is to do this on the last day of the holidays instead. There is a new ice cream treat in town this year, ice cream waffle cones, who could resist?

Have a happy week.

The lockdown rucksack

Last week I was listening to the ‘Fortunately’ podcast and they talked about the lockdown rucksack which has become such a feature of my life since March. I thought it was just me, so I was relieved and amused to hear the reference and discussion. I love bags and have a bag for every occasion and more, so to have used just the one bag in lockdown has been a surprise. I wish I could say that its made me want to buy fewer bags but no, I still love bags and am looking forward to more variety.

A few years ago, I did a post about what’s in my bag https://seasidesparkles.net/2018/04/14/whats-in-my-bag/ and thought I would update it with my lockdown bag. The NYR bag is still there with all my essentials, tissues, wet wipes, rescue remedy etc.. but I don’t take a diary with me now, there’s very little to note down 😦 I’ve always carried a hand sanitiser, the NYR is my favourite but I’m currently using the Dr Bronner’s Lavender spray, which is a strong second. I can’t believe I actually have a list of best hand sanitisers, such a 2020 trend! The big addition is the little bag with masks for us all. Although, I have a purse in my bag that’s more habit than necessity, I’m barely in any shops and we have a weekly food delivery. The picture only shows one water bottle, generally its two so we can all have a drink on a long walk. The small blue blanket is to sit on, keep me warm etc.. and to stop the water bottles clinking together. Surprisingly I use all of these items on a daily basis, our lockdown lives have been characterised by long walks and this bag and my walking sandals have definitely been my lockdown essentials.

As schools return next week, our routine will change again and I think it will be time to retire the lockdown rucksack as a daily accessory, returning it to family trips out. I’m looking forward to wearing a different bag, something smaller, colourful and fun!

My week .. the one with our 10th famiversary.

So what is a famiversary? Its our little family’s word for the day on which the children came to live with us, a day special to only us. The birth family don’t know the exact date of when the children left care to be welcomed into our family, so I feel its our exclusive day to celebrate. It also isn’t the day of the legal adoption which was a very uneventful day in our lives six months later, as the hearing is done in a closed court case. We did have a court appearance where we met the Judge who presided over the case and met up with our social workers and this was our celebration day, a month later. Our day in August is just for us and as it normally lands on holidays we always have a special little treat. As it was 10 years this year, I had started to make some plans at the beginning of the year, options included afternoon tea at the Ritz or a trip to Harry Potter world but sadly these have all been put on hold temporarily. Perhaps 11 is the new 10 for celebrating!

This week it did feel like we all had all seasons in a week, we went from a wet, stormy day to a hot day on the beach bathed in sunshine. Here are some of the things we did this week.

We celebrated our famiversary ..

On the day of our 10th famiversary, we went to the beach. It was the place we took the children on their first weekend with us (I remember a cold, damp day) but this year with bright sunshine it was the best place to go. Our bay is normally calm and gentle, but on this visit, the waves were incredible and they were definitely the highest we’ve ever played in, the children loved it! After a morning at the beach, we then chilled for the remainder of the day before enjoying a takeaway of everyone’s choice, an Indian for tea. A simple day, perhaps not quite what we had imagined, but it was spent together as our little family and that is all that matters.

We helped to celebrate a big birthday ..

My lovely cousin celebrated a big birthday on the same day as our famiversary. She is a special person in our family and has always been so kind and caring to us all so we were keen to join her in her celebration at the weekend. It was a very well organised with guests coming at different times of the day and Covid secure. We joined her for morning coffee and cake at the local airfield, which was a great spot and kept the children interested as the adults chatted. We took a picnic on the day too and then went to a local beauty spot along a river to eat and play, making it a lovely, relaxed day.

We played games ..

Wednesday was a very wet and miserable day and we had a little mini games tournament. Little Man bankrupted me and Little Miss and thrashed Mr S. in Monopoly, he was so chuffed! We also played my favourite Qwirkl, but again I was beaten by one of my children, they’re good at strategy! I am competitve when we play so for them, success is all the sweeter.

We spent a lot of time the skate park.

Little Man has become obsessed with his scooter and tricks this holiday and we have spent a lot of time at the local skate park, this week we even did two trips in one day! He’s seen the poster for a ‘jam’ next week, organised by a local charity and is practising very hard. He’s now at the age, when we’re not willing to leave him at the skate park alone, but he wants others to think he’s independent. Our compromise is that I sit on the grass opposite the ramps and read or walk around the park where I can keep eyes on him at all times. Its a compromise which is working well so far.

We bought school shoes.

I dread buying school shoes any year but this year the thought of a busy town centre, queues, wearing masks was just too much, however I came up with a plan. Little Man’s new school is in a small town which has a small Clark’s shoe shop. I decided to use the trip to time the journey from home to school so booked an appointment in advance on the website for 9am. The plan worked perfectly and we were the only customers in at 9am and were out with the purchased shoes before 9.15am. The organisation in the shop was seamless and its a plan I’ll definitely use again.

And finally

For Little Man, next week is the final week of the school holidays, as he goes back a week before our daughter (same local authority) and the same week as me. We are all ready and even though its a new school, he seems genuinely excited by the return to school. There will be a few final treats next week, it seems that it is simply not just the end of the summer holidays but also the end of a strange period of our lives as we’ve been home together since March 20th. Its been hard at times, but I think I’ll remember this period with fondness for the time we got to be together.

My week … the one with a heatwave

This week has an outdoorsy theme, with superb weather, its been a good week to explore. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten outside so much as this year, if we’re not out with a picnic, we’re in the garden for lunch or dinner. Whilst its been a heatwave, we’ve avoided the beach as it is so busy here at present, even busier than a ‘normal’ high season. However I do get up early and run along the beach to get my ‘vitamin sea’ and a little peace. Here are some of our adventures from our week.

I learnt how to survive in the wild.

On Monday, Little Miss and Mr S went to see Grandad so Little Man and I had a day out together. It was another activity in the local council’s summer scheme (which I still know little about) and this time was about surviving in the wild. With the weather forecast, I was worried about surviving in the heat, but whilst it was warm, the clouds made it bearable and it was perfect conditions for the day, spent at a lovely outdoor centre. By the time we got home, the clouds had broken and we enjoyed an incredibly hot spell in the paddling pool too. During the day we learnt how to make a fire, some local history, orienteering and map reading and building dens. We were in very small bubbles to help make the day Covid safe and Little Man made a new friend, both were well into the day and it was good to see him so happy and involved. We were able to get into another activity day on Thursday and Little Man’s new friend was there too.

I walked and ran a lot of miles.

On Wednesday with the whole family back together we took the bikes out. Its only the children who have bikes so we took them to the local forestry and we walked, as they cycled ahead, looped us etc.. We ended up with a 6 mile round route which we had found online, it was a lovely route and perfect for the morning’s ride. Fortunately a lot of the ride was under the shade of the trees so we managed to keep cool’ish’ in the heat and it kept us all quiet and resting in the afternoon.

I’ve also upped my running mileage this week, with an extra run and extra miles. I signed up for a 500 miles in a year challenge and had thought that it was now unachievable due to losing a few months in lockdown when we were only allowed out once a day to exercise and I did this with the children in the form of walks. However when I started to calculate my miles for the year, I realised that with a few extra weekly miles to what I’m doing at present (4 runs) I could achieve the 500 and am now focused on this. I have a Fitbit and this week I did my highest weekly number of steps.

I heard a lot of thunder

On Thursday, Little Man did another summer course, Mr S took him to it, whilst Little Miss and I tagged along to visit the local town. The town has a beautiful river and park, so we planned a walk and a little potter. I was also keen to see where the parkrun course was so I can run it one day. Thursdays was one of those days where a big storm seemed to be brewing and our walk was one of those really eerie journeys, the heat was stifling, but the sky was pretty dark and we kept hearing deep rumbling thunder without the heavy rain. It was so strange that there wasn’t an end to the weather with a big storm, just the stuttering’s of a start.

I had my eyebrows shaped.

Of all things, eye brow shaping was one of the last services to be allowed to reopen in beauty salons and with the announcement on Friday that they could be done again, I was quickly on the phone for an appointment on day 1. I tried plucking and waxing during lockdown but nothing beats an expert doing it. Its one of those little things which just make me feel neat and tidy.

I laughed at Fortunately

I do love a good podcast and with doing lots of miles this week, I’ve been listening to lots. Fortunately was on top form this week and a description of a lockdown rucksack had me giggling. When the podcast finished it went straight to the latest I hadn’t listened to, which started with a description of a trip to Ikea. I was listening to it in quiet disbelief, it was only part way through that I realised that I was listening to a 2 year old episode and just showed how much our lives have changed in the past 6 months.

And finally

We are living in this strange limbo of lockdown, more and more is opening and life feels it is getting back to normal and then suddenly people returning from some European countries are put in quarantine for two weeks. Our decision to cancel our holiday is a relief and we are probably having our most healthy and fittest summer holiday ever. However, I do miss those lazy days on a sun lounger with a cocktail and a good book.

My week .. The one in which we didn’t go on holiday (again)

This week we should have been going on our family summer holiday. However, we made the decision to cancel the holiday a few weeks ago, when it became clear that the facilities which we had specifically booked the holiday for were not going to be available. Fortunately we got a full refund so are not out of pocket from our decision. We are so lucky to live where we do, we can enjoy the beach from home and it seems we’re so on trend having a staycation! I’m comfortable with our decision, I want to relax and rest on holiday and from what I’ve seen in the media, our holiday would look very different with us needing to be very organised to plan activities, meals out etc.. I don’t need that stress on holiday and am simply looking forward to a great holiday (or two) next year. Our cancelled holiday means we’ve needed to keep ourselves busy at home so here’s some of the things we’ve been doing.

I read ..

I do lots of park visits and as the children are now at a good age to play on their own, its a perfect reading time. I am really enjoying Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. Its very cleverly written how each character’s story blends into a new one and the book is very addictive.

I ran ..

On Tuesday, I ran early as we had a family cycle trip planned and I got to see the most amazing sky at dawn. It was one of those runs in which you lose yourself in the beauty of our little planet and feel it is a privilege to be able to run. Later on we went on a cycle ride, well the children did but as Mr S and I don’t have bikes and were unable to hire any we traipsed behind them as they cycled through the forest. We went early so it was quiet and the whole morning gave me a strong sense of well being.

I helped out at the farm ..

We received a flyer in the post to advertise a Summer scheme being run by the council with a ‘passport’ number for our son. We didn’t quite understand how the scheme worked as details were sketchy but I looked at the website and found a few interesting activities to do. This week we went as a family for a morning at a therapy farm. What a joy, it was an amazing morning, just for the four of us supported by two workers. We all worked on the farm, feeding the animals, cleaning out their areas and grooming them where appropriate, (giant) pigs, goats, donkeys, sheep, cats, guinea pigs etc. Nature has such a healing power on us all and we felt really connected and happy after our morning.

I watched ..

I think we’ve given up on television at present, there is little on which we want to watch. For the past few weeks we’ve been using our 9-10pm slot, our joint tv time, to watch box sets. After last week’s excellent The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair we watched Chernobyl, following its critical acclaim. Yes it was a dark drama, but one which was interesting, terrifying and captivating.

And finally ..

Its more of the same next week, walks, picnics, bike rides and perhaps an early morning trip to the beach. For the first time ever, August simply seems a countdown to September and a little normality in going back to school.

My week …the birthday edition

I am a little late in this write up but still decided to do two separate entries as we’ve been busy (or busy for lockdown life!) in this period. It was a strange week, a week of missed traditions, carnival and a music festival, and in a gorgeous sunny week there were a few ‘if only’ thoughts. However its no good to dwell on what ‘could have been’ but to embrace our life as it is and here are a few highlights of the week..

I played crazy golf ..

I had a serious chat with Little Man on Friday night. When something is bothering him, he’ll come and ask you to have a ‘serious chat.’ So we sat down and I listened to my sad little man who said he wanted to have some fun. I asked him what would be fun for him and he listed the indoor water park, indoor play areas, indoor skate park etc.. all which remain closed. I tried to help him understand that there are things that we don’t have control of present and we’ve tried to create our own fun on the beach, or in the park etc.. and that mummy and daddy have been writing a list of special things to do as soon as we are able. This did seem to help but I decided he needed a surprise. We often walk into town on Saturday morning so he came with me expecting the normal routine, but we walked past the shops and went to the new pirate crazy golf. We had such a happy time and best of all for him, he beat me by one stroke. The new course is brilliant, so detailed and aesthetically pleasing whilst being fun too. It was just what was needed on our Saturday morning.

I read ..

In two days this week, I read Lemn Sissay’s autobiography My name is Why. Its my favourite book of the year. I discovered Lemn Sissay through an episode of Desert Island Discs, which is well worth a listen as he has the most beautiful, rhythmic voice. I knew briefly about his life in care and his current work but nothing had prepared me for the power of this book. My daughter is 12 the same age as Lemn was when he left the family he had lived with since birth and was put into children’s homes. I don’t know if it was the age but this really affected me, I cannot imagine our life without my daughter and we always tell her that she will always have a home with us, even when she’s old and wrinkled! As an adopted child, she needs to hear these messages of security, permanence and love. I also work with vulnerable children, many of whom are in care and there was resonance in his experiences here too. This is a book to be kept and to dip back into over the years.

I watched ..

I watched a remarkable drama about Anthony Walker, the young black teenager killed in a racist attack in Liverpool in 2005. It was written by Jimmy McGovern and rather than be the story of Anthony’s death and his killers, it was a story of the life he never lived. This medium made it even more heart breaking and only emphasised the need for the Black Lives Matter movement. His death happened 12 years after the horrific murder of Stephen Lawrence, a murder which we hoped would have a significant effect on our society but one in which today, racism and prejudice still remain. We have to take action.

Mr S and I have also watched the box set of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. I loved this book when I read it and wasn’t surprised that it had been turned into a series, with its twists and turns and one of the biggest surprises at the end of any book I’ve read, its ideal for tv.

I celebrated ..

It was my birthday this week and I turned 47, as beautifully illustrated on my birthday balloons! I have no issue with my age, I hope I’ve lived life well and don’t feel I need to make myself younger. However, I do have an issue with the number 47, is it just me or do some numbers sound nicer than others, crazy I know but 47 sounds harsh, 48 sounds cuddly and warm. it could be lockdown is getting to me! I had a lovely, simple birthday with my family, a walk around our local RSPB site, a picnic and a homemade birthday cake courtesy of Little Miss. Its also been my wedding anniversary this week, 17 years. We have a lot of special occasions in a short time in our family, a busy time.

I did some flower arranging ..

I was lucky to be gifted some beautiful flowers for my birthday. For the first few days I kept them in the bouquet they came in but then got a little creative. I found out what each flower was and then separated then into colours and style. I had wanted to do a flower arranging class this year, whilst this is another Covid casualty, I can do a few little things myself.

I met with friends..

Sometimes its just the little things which bring joy and this week, I met friends one evening in a neighbouring town for drinks. Of course, things look different now but to be able to sit outside on a warm evening and just chat was perfect. We were at the quay which is such a pretty area and I returned the next afternoon with my daughter for a walk along the river in the sunshine.

I made ..

I made a lovely roast at the weekend with all the vegetables (bar the potatoes) grown in our garden by my gardening squad of my husband and daughter. They have worked so hard on their vegetable patch during lockdown transforming a bare area into something lush and green. Its definably a highlight of lockdown.

And finally

The holidays are strange this year, with far fewer activities open for the children. My aim is to try and find a few different activities for them to enjoy over the coming weeks, although I think we’re all focused and looking forward to September and a little normality with a return to school. Its the first time ever, that August hasn’t been our highlight of the year, its normally our month off school, this year its our 5th full month at home, the novelty is waning!