My week … the one with my operation

So after many years of steroid injections and considering the options, I had my foot operation this week. I will never quite know what caused the problem, it could have been a work related injury or rheumatoid arthritis. However as the steroid injections became less effective, I chose to have the operation as hopefully it will improve the pain and give me more movement in my foot. At present, my big toe is pretty redundant as it cannot move and I have been a walking advert for Converse pumps in the past few years as pumps, trainers and fit flops have been the only footwear I can fit into. I am sure people must think I’m trying to be on trend in my smart work clothes topped off with a pair of pumps when the reality is that I can’t wear anything else. I am so excited to go shoe shopping for actual shoes. I do have my eyes on some patent Doc Martens and maybe a little heel for Christmas sparkle.

This week has again reminded me of what a treasure our nhs is. To be honest I didn’t think I could love or respect it even more prior to this week but again I’ve been blown away by the care and professionalism of its staff. I have an amazing consultant, who is the most efficient person I know, he is always to time and is clear, succinct and understanding. When I explained my worries about needing time off work, he allowed me to organise the operation within my two week holiday to minimise disruption. I had the operation at a cottage hospital rather than one of the big county hospitals and much preferred this as there was a homely feel and such personalised care. The Covid protocols were strong and very much in evidence, I did feel safe. As the operation was under local anaesthetic and the morning surgery planned so effectively, I was admitted at 7.45am and discharged by 11.15, it was all so smooth and relaxed. I have two appointments in the coming weeks to check and redress the wound.

Following the surgery, I had strict instructions for recovery. I had known of these in advance and had prepared a bedroom in our dining room and organised lots, although I didn’t really think I would need it all. However, I may have been a little blasé on how I felt I would recover, I saw the instruction for 48 hour bed rest and reckoned I would be fine to be just sitting on the sofa with my foot elevated. I very quickly realised that bed rest definitely meant bed rest, the pain was strong and I could not put any weight on my foot. When I went to the bathroom which is next to the dining room, I was on sticks, hopping on my good leg and wincing with the pain. I’m also conscious of taking painkillers but again quickly understood they were prescribed for good reason and have been taking them as instructed. Tuesday night was bad for the pain, as the anaesthetic wore off and the medication didn’t quite hit the spot, however it has been much more manageable since. Mr S has been a superstar and allowed me to solely focus on getting better, he has done everything and is ready to help in anyway he can. Unfortunately by Saturday he had caught our son’s cold (not Covid we’ve done lots of tests) so this is a very lazy weekend with lots of screen time.

With the enforced rest, I have watched lots of films and read books and magazines this week. To date, its been 6 films, 1 six part series, Modern Love and 2 1/2 books. There’s been a strong New York theme in the series and films, only strengthening my desire to visit the city. Its number 1 on my bucket list and I may have idly passed my time looking up the cost of a city break. One firm action from watching Brittany Runs A Marathon was to sign up to a local half marathon next March. I have also entered the London marathon ballot, but I’ve done that many times without success. However, a half is real and doable, and I hope will show the success of my operation. As well as Brittany Runs A Marathon, other favourite films have been Another day in the Neighbourhood and The Muppets Haunted Mansion. The series Modern Love is something I listened to originally on the radio, then as a podcast and now am watching as a tv series. Its based on the New York Times column Modern Love and each episode is an individual love story. It is not conventional love stories but essays of relationships between others. The most moving in the current series was of a resident and a door man and was not romantic love but a deep, protective relationship. The actors in the series are all really well known and there’s even a cameo from Ed Sheeran. There is a lovely sequence in the final episode where all the characters feature and brings the series together. I’m looking forward to series 2 next week as my rest continues.

This week I have felt very blessed to have such kind and thoughtful family and friends, I have received flowers, cakes and cards and lots of get well messages. Mr S and the children have been wonderful but as half term approaches I think the coming week may be more challenging (and noisier) as we’re all home together and I cannot take on my normal role. Its only one week and I’m sure that there will be many treats in the coming months to compensate for the different half term.

My week … the one with pre-op nerves.

I have a busy life and the way I maintain my sanity is to compartmentalise my life. So when at work, I fully focus on my job, at home its family life etc.. Generally this works and helps to manage my time, there is a time and place for everything. In the run up to my operation, I have continued this strategy but this week, as I have finished things off at work and delegated jobs in my absence the reality of the operation and recovery period is beginning to feel real. I have tried to distract myself with practical matters, all birthday cards and presents for the next 6 weeks are written, wrapped and posted, house admin is all prepped in advance and all the decorations and nice things for Halloween and Bonfire Night are all ready to go.

We have also transformed our dining room into my room for the next few weeks so there are no stairs to go up and down. I’m really pleased how this has turned out and has definitely inspired us to think of it as a potential guest room. I love that the French doors lead to a hidden courtyard and so even if I can’t go out I can open the doors and feel the air. I have a pile of books and magazines to read and a play list of podcasts in my room, I can’t imagine how its going to feel to have this time to pause.

With the upcoming operation, this week was all about work and there was no sparkles in the working week, apart from starting the book An American Marriage as part of the girls’ daily sofa reading time. This is when my daughter and I sit down together and read as part of her daily homework schedule. This was a book which grabbed me from page 1 and is one I think about when I’m not reading it, the injustice leaves you seething and I’m not sure there’s going to be a happy ending.

I had a lovely surprise in the post this week as my dad sent me a Fortnum and Mason recipe book for afternoon tea as a thank you for my gift of afternoon tea for his 75th birthday. Its a beautiful book with recipes I’m looking forward to trying.

Saturday was the highlight of the week for its simple pleasures. Our son was at scout camp, his first for nearly two years due to Covid, so we had a relaxed day at home following my Covid test as I needed to self isolate. My Covid test was first thing in a town 20 miles away so it was an early start with no time for my Saturday morning run. I arrived in the town early and was able to pop into Waitrose to pick up a few things, all the essentials, my Saturday newspaper, felt pumpkins, NYR moisturiser, the new Christmas Cath Kisdton Roses tin etc. before the isolation began. The test itself was easy and quick and I was home before 10am. Little Miss and I enjoyed a kitchen day, making a delicious butternut squash and sweet potato soup accompanied by home made cheese scones for lunch and mini Victoria sponges for an afternoon treat. We then settled down to watch Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, I loved it but I bet its even better on the stage as a musical. With Strictly finishing our day, it was my kind of day.

I’m now on the final countdown to the operation and hopefully by the next time I write all will have passed smoothly and I will be happily settled in my room recovering.

My week … the one with a boost

This week felt quite different to previous weeks, I was in a different routine to normal and it gave a different vibe to the week. Also for someone who is such a planner, there were a couple of really nice unexpected and unplanned moments to the week.

My week was different as due to work commitments, I had a different day off, Tuesday. This is also food delivery day and I ordered lots of lovely fresh ingredients and made a family chinese feast. It just felt so random to be having such a nice meal on Tuesday night. Even with homework and all the daily chores, a special meal definitely lifted the mood.

This week’s title, a boost can be applied to a few events this week. I had my Covid booster this week as in January PHE designated all at my place of work as social care workers. This time the gp did not come to our place of work and we had to go to our local vaccination hub in the next town. It was a blast, it was busy but there were so many familiar faces and it was a fun and life affirming trip. It was the first time that I had got to witness all the volunteers and work in a vaccination hub and I was again genuinely moved to tears over what an amazing nhs service we have. The process was also so simple and efficient, I booked on Tuesday and had my jab on Wednesday. Fortunately I had no ill effect and was able to attend a real life work conference the next day. This sounds more normal than it really was, the content was excellent but we had to sit at individual work desks and maintain a social distance, I felt like I was a student back in an exam hall.

Another little boost was a PB in parkrun. I wasn’t supposed to be at parkrun today but Little Miss’ farm trip got postponed last night so we decided to travel across the county to a forestry commission site where I could run and then do a family bike ride and picnic. It was a perfect autumn morning and we all left happy and with that good tired feeling from being active and outside. Not only did I get a new shiny PB by 30 seconds, it was a a new parkrun for me, so a new letter for the alphabet challenge and a new number for stopwatch bingo. Its my last parkrun for a while, i have my Covid test at 9am next Saturday and I’m not sure how long my post op recovery will take. I’m pencilling in a December parkrun, but will strictly adhere to medical advice.

This week was my dad’s 75th birthday and whilst I did not see him as he was celebrating in London with mum, I’ve received some lovely photos of the trip, including the champagne afternoon tea I had arranged. I had such a lovely thank you message from my dad and in my reply I mused that life needs to be filled with little delights.

In my reading this week, I finished Clare Chambers Small Pleasures. Initially I really liked it and was drawn into the mystery but I felt the conclusion trivialised a really serious sexual assault and neatly used it to wrap a part of the story. Its ending has bothered me a lot over the last few days, I feel uncomfortable how a sexual crime was accepted. I know its fiction but if we allow this in fiction, will we accept it in real life too?

Our weekend has been a bit topsy turvy as Sunday is normally reserved as family day and Saturday as jobs day. This week its the other way around and Little Miss and I are off to the shops tomorrow. Again with my imminent operation, its my last trip for a while so I am being very organised, Halloween treats, craft activities for half term, cards and presents for upcoming birthdays are all on my shopping list. I am a woman on a mission tomorrow!

My week … the one with the new, quiet washing machine

This week’s title does really some up the highlight of my week. Its been a week overshadowed by the worst migraine and accompanying sickness I’ve suffered in years, it was very grim couple of days and I’m still feeling a little fragile and gentle today.

The new washing machine arrived when I was ill, so Mr S got to have the first few gos. In fairness, he does the laundry, apart from ironing which I genuinely enjoy, so he does deserve the fun! Our washing machine has been slowly dying over the past few months, something went wrong with the drum and the noise on spin cycles was unbelievable, you could not have a conversation in the same room when on spin. We ordered one from John Lewis and also got removal of the old machine and installation of the new. This is when Mr S starts to panic over the correct measurements, whether it will be able to be installed correctly as its an integrated machine etc.. but thankfully John Lewis were amazing and all went very smoothly. My new washing machine has made me so happy this week, freshly laundered clothes and quiet washing, its perfect. In a stroke of genius (I was in bed so had no idea of this) Mr S also washed the walking boots and trainers the night before the old machine went as there was no worry about damage to the machine. I appreciate his smart thinking.

With illness there was very little to report this week, Ive not really watched, read or listened to anything apart from my favourite podcasts. Whilst doing a few jobs today I’ve had the marathon on in the background which is always inspiring, always leaving the eternal question do I enter?

Its been very much a home weekend, the rain yesterday actually seemed of biblical proportions and in such a rare occurrence, we didn’t go out at all, this genuinely never happens. It was a day of board games and planning special surprises. This month I have my parents’ 70th and 75th birthdays ( only a few months after their 50th wedding anniversary, its been a busy year) My dad’s is first so I’ve booked a champagne afternoon tea at the very exclusive London hotel they are going to for a few days. Its always been on my dad’s bucket list to stay at the hotel so I’ve just added a little sparkle. I made photo montage cards for both my mum and dad’s birthday and on Saturday afternoon, my daughter and I were looking through all the old family photos, it tickled my daughter to find a photo of her grandad with his parents at the age she is now. It was lovely looking at the old photos, remembering people no longer with us and just the happy times (oh and the fashions and hair styles) I scanned and sent a photo to my uncle of him, his dad, my Gramps and me which is about 45 years old now. The photo was just beautiful it felt like this warm, embracing hug in a picture. I recognised my grandparents front room immediately and could feel the soft velvet seat we were all sat on, their room never changed and the sight of their wallpaper and the old familiar mirror on the wall triggered such treasured memories.

My little challenge this year to keep wearing my shorts and flip flops has ended, but now the latest challenge is to keep the heating off! Its been so cold, wet and windy this week, the season has definitely changed. I’ve been wrapped up in a blanket in the evenings, making the use of a much appreciated birthday present. This weekend I did put away my summer clothes until next spring, there is a certain melancholy to this, but the song by the Byrds, Turn, turn, turn is just a beautiful reminder that each season will pass.

I couldn’t really write this week’s post without reference to the fuel crisis affecting the country. What started as a few issues with delivering fuel ended up as full blown panic and chaos. I had noticed that there were increasing issues over the past few weeks with HGV drivers so last time when I went to the petrol station (pre panic) I actually filled my car up full in case these problems extended to petrol and Mystic Meg that I am, so it proved. I am extremely lucky that I walk to work daily and only really use my car at weekends for the trips to the farm or parkrun, neither of which are essential. However, living in a rural location, vehicles are key to a lot of people for work and daily life and there have been long queues at the stations. I had to go to a neighbouring town for work this week and our journey home took an extra 40 minutes with drivers queuing for petrol. There is lots of talk of ’saving Christmas’ as there are also issues in many industries post Brexit (who would have predicted that!!) but I hope that the past 18 months has taught us that material goods aren’t what makes life tick, its people and relationships. I am in big thinking mode at present there’s a lot to consider.

My week … the one with country roads.

I love my music and am often found creating a playlist with a theme. This week I’ve been doing a lot of driving and what started as a sing song of Country Roads took me down a songbook of great country tracks. Country is not my normal genre but it’s amazing how many of the songs are so familiar and loved.

I have explored so much of the county this week, our county has no motorways and my journeys took me down many country roads, the countryside is stunning but I do prefer straighter, wider roads!

On Thursday I took my son to school, he normally has school transport, and then went to the local town as I wanted to have my glasses altered at the opticians and pop into some of the shops. It’s one of my favourite places for shopping, it’s small but has an excellent choice of independent shops, the book and kitchen shops are brilliant and has some favourites from the high street too, White Stuff, Fat Face, Seasalt etc .. The shops open later around 10, so it was lovely to sit opposite the church with a coffee in the bright sunshine. It had been so nice to take my son to school, he was so chatty and entertaining, I really miss the primary school run. Once I had finished in the school town, I then went to another nearby town for some more functional buys, new trainers for my son who is just growing at such a rate, M&S tights (the best) and a few other bits and bobs. I’m having to be very organised this year as I’ll be unable to do much whilst I recuperate from my upcoming operation. I have even begun to pick up a few Christmas gifts.

On Saturday I continued my travels around the county, but in a different direction, I went to a hamlet with my daughter for her farm work, then off to a nearby small town to drop her off so she could meet friends and then the county town whilst I waited for her. It’s the first time I’ve been to the county town since before the pandemic and I was shocked at the number of shops closed and boarded up. It really has become a ghost town. It used to be one of my favourite towns to go to, lovely shops and cafes, an independent cinema etc .. now it looks very empty without high street staples such as Next and M&S.

As well as my music this week, I listened to Beautiful World by Sally Rooney. I listen on my commute to work and then with all the extra driving there were lots of opportunities to listen to books and podcasts.

I was really keen to either read or listen to the book as Normal People was one of my favourite reads from recent years. However I was wary as I didn’t enjoy Conversations with Friends so strongly. I really liked Beautiful World, although Normal People still tops my chart. It’s a very ordinary story in that nothing really happens, it’s just about the lives of four young adults with some beautifully written parts. I did feel it was written as a tv or film adaption but this is okay and I look forward to watching such an adaption.

Unusually for me I sat down this week and watched a film of my son’s choice, Forrest Gump. I had forgotten what a lovely film this is and the links to American history are amusing. My son asked me if Forrest had special needs like him, a question which temporarily floored me as we always teach him he’s capable of all he wants to do and we’ll always be there for him but he could recognise Forrest in himself. I positively framed the answer in the kindness and support Forrest is able to give because of the way he sees the world makes his special needs his super power but it was a bit heart breaking.

After last week’s Biscoff cheesecake success, my son was keen to make another this weekend as it was his turn for baking with me. He was very creative and we made a chocolate orange cheesecake, the perfect Saturday night treat ahead of Strictly. Strictly made for wonderful viewing with so many highlights, but for me the moment of the night was when the two male dancers tangoed . I felt so emotional (and joyful) to see a male same sex coupling. Sometimes we don’t recognise how far we’ve come in promoting a more inclusive, representative society. There’s always so much more to do, but I did get the feels in last night’s Strictly.

I’ve done lots of running this week, the weather has been lovely and the photo of the dusk was taken as I ran around a local village whilst my daughter was at Youth club. It’s nice to have a change in scenery. The weather has also been hot and sunny so I continue to wear shorts and flip flops, I’m delighted that I made it to the end of September this year. However, looking at next week’s forecast it may signal the summer clothes being packed away.

It’s been such a busy week that I almost forgot one of the nicest parts of the week meeting up with friends on Tuesday night. I made a slow cooker chilli and the host prepared the rice, fresh guacamole, soured cream and tortilla chips to accompany it. We were in my friends garden and it was such a mild night we only needed a fire much later in the evening. It was just lovely and made me consider that some of the things we are doing due to Covid are so much nicer and more personal than what we used to do before.

Next week is going to be crazy… I’m working overtime to do full time and reckon it’s easily going to be a 50+hours working week due to the number of entries in my diary. There is also a tutor evening (thankfully online, it’s a real time saving idea) for my daughter and the usual clubs. My big excitement is a new washing machine on Friday. Ours has been dying for months and is now so noisy you can’t be in the same room when it’s on the spin cycle. I feel like a proper adult, a new washing machine is my highlight of the coming week!

This was an ordinary week with sunshine! Every September I have a little challenge on how long I can stay wearing my shorts and flip flops. The challenge was easily met this week, so can I now make it to the final weekend of the month?

Its been a week of school, work and the full start of clubs. Scouts restarted for Little Man although for Covid safety reasons they are trying to keep the sessions outdoors as much as possible. Little Miss started a youth club too. For someone usually so confident she was nervous. Its in a neighbouring village but is a more age appropriate than the closest one which is for 10 – 14 years. Despite her nerves she really enjoyed it and the first question when she got back in the car was if she could go again next week.

For the first time this term, I had a work-free day on my non working Thursday. On the first week back I did a full day in school and the second, half a day so it was nice to have a proper Thursday off. I went for a lovely run, had my nails done and met a friend for coffee. It felt very relaxing and reminded me that I need that time for me. Weekends are busy and reserved for family time.

I did have a delightful surprise when I got home on Friday. The local supermarket had donated unsold bouquets of flowers to my son’s special school and the children had sorted the wilted and blossoming flowers and then created their own posies to go home. My son was so proud of his choices and I think it is my favourite bunch of flowers ever, there was so much thought and love gone into the task.

As we start back into the homework routines, Little Miss and I are back into our reading routine. She has to do 20 minutes a night so we sit together on the sofa and read our books. I feel that I need to take the time to be a role model so that reading is not just homework but a time to be valued and cherished. I’m just finishing The Frequency of Us by Keith Stuart. Its a love story and thriller and I’m curious to see how it ends, of course I have my theories but I’m interested to see how the author concludes it.

Saturday remains my favourite day of the week and it was parkrun day this week, Little Miss and I tend to alternate between the farm and parkrun on Saturdays. It was my 30th run and finally Mr S and Little Man came along too to see a parkrun. It was a stunning morning, and the girls ran well whilst the boys walked the course. Some parkrun news which I’ve been hearing from a number of sources was confirmed and its made me v excited. After the run we had drinks in the beautiful walled garden in the sunshine, some days are just perfect for their simplicity.

Saturday is also my kitchen afternoon. I had planned a simple pasta dish using our fresh, home grown tomatoes and peppers (we still have lots of supplies) so focused on a fancy dessert, Biscoff cheesecake. Now, before this week Little Man did not like Biscoff (us girls are addicted to it) so I was really surprised to read in his planner that they had been taste testing different toppings for toast and his favourite was Biscoff! I tested this further the next day by doing his packed lunch with one half of a sandwich with chocolate spread and the other half with Biscoff. Biscoff was the winner again. Although a little confused, I now have lots of opportunities to make Biscoff flavoured foods. My daughter and I had a Biscoff ice cream in the summer, it may be up there in the best ever ice cream flavours …

The other Saturday highlight was the return of Strictly, it makes me happy and is the escapism I need every week in the autumn, it feels that the countdown to Christmas is now on. There have been a few interesting dramas this week but I’ve recorded and kept them for the period of recuperation following my operation next month. I have to rest up with no weight on one foot so I’m preparing with books and films ready to watch. I am particularly looking forward to Help with Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, which has received rave reviews.

Its a normal week next week, with the bonus of an evening out. I’m meeting friends for dinner on Tuesday. Its a garden house meet up as we’re all still cautious of Covid (cases have rocketed in our town in the past week) and I’m doing a slow cooker veggie chilli (its a school day so prep time is minimal) and yes its a perfect recipe to use up our home grown tomatoes, peppers and chillis. Here’s to a good week.

My week … the one with lots of autumn sunshine.

Thank goodness for weekends as this blog was looking a little sparse earlier this week. It’s back to school and my weekdays are very much work focused. I’ve not found that proper work/home balance this week and even on my day off, I was in work to do those extra things that could not wait. Then there’s also those new term jobs to do, sew badges onto a scouts uniform, organise my daughter with her new timetable and remember lunches. I did have a fail on the lunches this week as I forgot that my daughter was finally back at school. Fortunately Mr S organises the morning and spotted it and she left with her packed lunch.

The one lovely thing about this week has been the weather, with a mini heatwave. On Tuesday evening I did my normal run and the seafront was full of people relaxing in the sunshine. The queues for chips and ice creams sneaked down the pavements and there were lots of people in the sea, swimming, paddle boarding and sailing. When autumn arrives you use and savour every drop of sunshine.

The sunshine has lasted til this weekend. Its been the folk festival in town, one of my favourite weekends and one which seems to mark the end of summer. Its always a treat to pop into the craft tent and potter around the festival. I’ve spent most of this weekend outdoors, two early morning runs at 6am due to family plans, a morning at the farm being impressed and amused at my daughter’s farming skills, especially the goats! An afternoon at the folk festival and then today, a trip to a country park for cycle rides, walks and a picnic. I’m now comfortably exhausted and relaxed.

One final highlight of this week was the British qualifier Emma Raducanu winning the US Tennis Open, such a treat on Saturday night. Emma is such a role model for our young people and it will be so exciting to see her progress.

My week … the one in which I went back to school

This was the week in which Little Man and I returned to school, this marked 26 years as a teacher for me and the start of Year 8 for him. It felt like a bit of a transition week, from holidays to work, the summer to autumn. We also had mid and late week returns so it was a real mixed week and adding in the boys’ overnight visit to Grandad, its been difficult to work out the day this week.

The boys were away on Monday and Tuesday, so I spent the day working at home on Monday, whilst my daughter met her friends on the beach, however it was a bit chilly and they ended back at home where I made bacon butties. Fortunately, we had had a family beach day on Sunday when the weather had been great, so we did get the rays and surf this week. September is generally a nice weather month so I hope we’ll be back again this summer.

I had a very productive working day on Bank Holiday Monday which meant we could have a lovely girlie day together on Tuesday. I had noticed on the previous Saturday at parkrun that Little Miss needed new trainers so we went to ‘big’ town. The trainers purchase was full of negotiations as our budgets were widely different as were our opinions about brands. In the end she got a pair she liked in the preferred Nike brand and I relaxed the budget by £2 so she could get them. Once the trainers were bought we had such a lovely time just pottering and browsing the shops. I got a new dress for work and she spent her birthday voucher on a lumberjack shirt, hair bandana and lots of other little bits and pieces. She does have a real sense of style. We also treated ourself to a M&S food shop, it was a surprisingly healthy haul, my daughter loves their sushi and I their salads and strawberry topped yoghurt rice cakes. I was so pleased when she commented on what a lovely time we had had together and we have pencilled in a Christmas shopping trip on her Inset day at the end of November.

It feels like I’ve spent a lot of time with Little Miss this week, just the two of us. She surprisingly asked if she could join me for my Thurs run and then also came and ran parkrun with me today (although the new trainers are being kept for best for the first school PE lesson) It’s been a good week for talking.

I’ve tried to spend some time with Little Man this afternoon, as I felt I’d not really seen him much this week with him being away and my return to work. We went to the toy shop as Grandad had given him some extra pocket money but in the end after very long deliberations he decided he wanted some specialist vehicles for his army which are only available online. It was nice to just be out with him, I think we need another SAM (son and mum) trip soon.

Next week sees the first proper routine of school, work and clubs start again, I hope it all goes smoothly and safely. As much as I have loved this summer, I secretly enjoy the routine of the school year it gives the comfort and predictability in what has been such strange times.

My week … the one with a new fence

And so to the final full week of summer holidays for my son and I, although my daughter still has another week and a half until she returns to school. It’s been a busy week with a trip to my parents and then a final family day out. I really feel that we have made the most of our holidays this year but am looking forward to what always seems a new start as the school year begins and autumn envelopes the summer.

The children and I travelled to Somerset this week to spend some time with my parents. Mr S stayed at home to be on hand for any problems with the new fence we were having built. It’s been a long, long time coming, we’ve wanted to change the fence for years but the neighbour has never been accommodating (second home owners!!) However, a storm in the spring meant that the fence was destroyed and needed to be replaced. Fencing is definitely a business to go into, as this was the earliest we could get it done, other companies were offering dates in November! We went for concrete bases and posts, so if another storm hits, it would only be any damaged planks to be replaced rather than the entire fence. It looks amazing, I never thought I could get so excited about a new fence but it has transformed the look of the garden. The company who did it were brilliant, and Mr S who regularly gets stressed with most trades people, remained calm and happy throughout.

At my parents, we did the annual school shoe shop as they live next to a Clark’s outlet shop, which makes it much better value. It was momentous this year as my son now has bigger feet than his older sister, which delighted him and he reckons it’ll only be a few months before he is taller than her now. When we adopted him, Little Man was so fragile and tiny and to see him as such a strong and healthy 12 year old is a blessing. Fortunately for the rest of the time with my parents we did much more fun things than school shoe shopping. My mum had bought a treasure trail for us to do in the nearby seaside town of Clevedon. It was great fun to do on a warm and sunny day and we explored so many lovely parts of the town, we also found a delightful cafe halfway round where we stopped for drinks and cakes. It’s the simple things which can make the happiest memories. We also played crazy golf in Weston Super Mare, at my son’s request as he wanted to continue his winning streak. Unfortunately for him, I played a blinder, including two holes in one and victory was mine. However in our grand crazy golf contest between the two of us (it’s s our thing) he currently leads 3 games to 1.

When we were away, we also achieved one of my 21for21 by taking the children for their first KFC. It’s been a bit of a joke that they’ve never had one (and their visits to McDonalds can be counted on one hand) It’s a combination of living in a rural location where the nearest KFC is a 50 mile round trip and when we do go out for a meal we prefer home cooked food in a pub or indie restaurant. Like many things, sometimes the anticipation is greater than the event, and whilst the children enjoyed it they don’t seemed too fussed to return. Personally I really liked the watermelon and lime cooler drink I had, as a vegetarian my food choices were very limited (non existent)

As well as seeing my parents, I also got to catch up with an old school friend who lives near them. My daughter is quite amused that my friend knew me at the age she is now. I think the concept of mum being a teenager is difficult to imagine. In the best 2021 tradition, it was an outdoor meet up at a park. I’m thankful its been a good summer for all these outdoor activities.

Our final family event was a day at a country park with a Go Ape course. I have to admit on Friday morning, I was lacking enthusiasm, it had been a long week and I just wanted to relax at home. However, the activity was part of a county summer scheme and as we had paid in advance, off we tootled. As is often the case some of the things you’re not so excited about become some of the best days. As it was a county scheme, the children were supervised by play leaders, meaning Mr S and I had time together to walk and talk, have lunch together and simply sit and relax (yes, another beautiful day) We watched the children do the Go Ape course and then left them to do the play trails with their peers and supervised by the play leaders. We all loved the day and it was a perfect way to finish the holidays en famille. We did have bonus family time today as we spent the morning on the beach, a rare treat as apparently its quite uncool to go to the beach with your parents. However, normal service resumes tomorrow when my daughter has arranged to be on the beach with friends.

Whilst Covid and its risks have impacted our plans this summer, we have enjoyed our time. It’s been an outdoors summer and as a consequence it feels a more wholesome summer! I was reflecting today on what I had missed and again like last year it was the summer firework displays, watching them from the seafront with a bag of chips. Let’s hope that next year, all our summer traditions are back and we cherish them all again.

My week … the one in Kent

So week two of our holiday and after such a special time in Norfolk, we moved to Kent for a further four nights. After a week of superb weather, swap over day was wet and windy and the next day, cold before it all improved again to a final two days of warm sunshine. The site had quite a different vibe, it was pretty remote so we stayed onsite for the duration ( bonus points to Mr S for organising a Tesco delivery) On site, there seemed to be a much higher proportion of private caravans with some of our neighbours appearing to be working in the area rather than holidaying.

However there was still lots of fun to be had and we spent our time, swimming, playing tennis, crazy golf, foot golf and enjoying the funfair. The children discovered the Waltzers and there is definitely a charm with an old fashioned funfair. I also got a couple of runs in along the Thames path, my way of discovering the local area. When we asked the children their highlights, our daughter chose tennis and our son crazy golf, both of which they respectively won! I really enjoyed both their choices and they were my highlights too. My son and I are having a mini crazy golf challenge, so the stakes were high but unfortunately I now find myself 3 – 0 down. Little Man now is looking forward to seeing Granfer next week and seeing if he can beat the only person to do so to him, he’s on for the family crown!

As the children are now more independent on holiday it does give me a bit more reading time. I read Mhairi McFarlane’s Last Night, I loved it. Initially I was really irritated by what I presumed the plot line was, a simple love story with the protagonist secretly in love with her best male friend. Without revealing any spoilers it is so not this story and is a much more satisfying read.

As I write this on Saturday night, all my washing is done, ironed and neatly away in cupboards. I am ‘that’ person, I can’t relax until this is done, I need order in my home. I have also been updating my diary, making plans for the autumn and of course writing lists, I love and appreciate a good list. We have a few days at my parents next week and then it feels like the summer is winding down with the return to school and autumn.