My week – the one in which we reached 100 days in lockdown.

So this week we reached 100 days in lockdown, something that seems so surreal. I feel this week that we are beginning to look forward. The schools information was published this week and although school will be different, it looks like everyone is going back full time, which was confirmed by letters from both the children’s schools. Yesterday saw the reopening of hairdressers, pubs, cafes, cinemas, hotels etc.. although all now have very different hygiene routines with the focus on social distancing. When I went for my run at 6.30am yesterday, the local barbers, was not only open but full with customers and had a queue outside, strange times.

I have sorted

This week I have been arranging plans for the new schools. I have sorted old uniforms for donation to the PTA, ordered new uniform and started to organise the leaving gifts. This is hard, Little Man has had the same 1:1 TA for 7 years, how can you even begin to thank someone for taking care and teaching your son so much, she seems like family. On the last day pre lockdown, we both were blinking back tears as we realised this might be the last ever handover. Fortunately, we are going in to a pre-arranged socially distanced good bye with his key staff next week and I am practising holding back the tears.

I have treated myself

I have bought little for myself in the lockdown, but I kept on seeing the same sundress on my Instagram feed from Joanie Clothing and loved it, its so different to my normal ‘uniform’ I did the 24 hour wait to see if I really wanted it, but when I realised I was obsessively thinking about the dress, I treated myself as an early birthday present. The dress had arrived and it is gorgeous, the print is fantastic. I’ve tried it on and twirled around but am keeping it for its debut at a picnic this week.

I have watched ..

We have discovered the Agatha Raisin comedy crime drama in the past fortnight on Sky. It is the perfect 9pm viewing, with lots of famous cameos, its a bit like Death in Paradise but in the Cotswolds. I need light and easy viewing at present.

Next week is an exciting week, we have plans, yes entries in my diary. Little Man is visiting his new school and saying goodbye to his old staff, I’m having my hair done (it so needs it), meeting friends for an al fresco BYO meet up and seeing my parents for a socially distanced picnic. I am excited but there is a sense of feeling a little over whelmed too. Its going from 0 to 100 again and I have enjoyed the more relaxing pace of life.

July 2020

July is my favourite month of the year, its a month of birthdays, including mine, the end of the school year, a local music festival, carnival and just all things nice. This year it will look different, there is no carnival or music festival and we will be celebrating the other events in 2020 style.

However for the first time since lockdown we have a few things planned to look forward to. This week we are meeting my parents half way from our homes for a socially distanced picnic (please weather fairies be kind) and I am also meeting friends with BYO drinks for a meet up on the quay. I also have a colour and hair cut booked with my neighbour. Its not just me who has plans, Little Man has two diary entries, a visit after school hours to his new school for September and then his class are going to meet up following social distancing rules for a final good bye on the school field. I will definitely be celebrating the end of the school year even more enthusiastically this year. Home schooling has had its highs and lows but it’ll be remembered generally as a positive experience, although hopefully never to be repeated.

July, lets shine this month.

#20 for 2020 : An update

Last week on her podcast, Gretchen Ruben was discussing reviewing #20for2020. When we all wrote our lists we had no idea what was to follow in the year and some may no longer be possible. I am going to do my 6 month check below and see where I’m up to and what I still would like to try and achieve this year.

  1. Read for pleasure, 15 minutes a day. With the exception of a couple of days when I was ill in bed with a migraine and not able to read, I have completed this task everyday (Go me!) Lockdown has given me more time to read.
  2. Resize my wedding and engagement rings. Done.
  3. Complete my University course.  It is no longer possible to have graduated by the end of this year as I can’t do my action research as planned because of lockdown. However our course has been extended and my assignments are now due in early January. Whilst I won’t have my results by December 31st I still aim to have completed everything so I can enjoy Christmas with no worries.
  4.  Run a 10k race. I had a 10k race booked which was sadly cancelled because of Covid 19. Whilst there may not be an organised 10k race, I plan to do a virtual race and time it.
  5. Run a parkrun PB. parkrun is currently suspended :(. I was 3 seconds short of my PB on a wet, muddy and windy run in January, so given my PB was on a dry, warm day I think I could do this if parkrun restarts this year.
  6. Have a no spend month. I managed this in January and then with lockdown it seems most months this year have been little or no spend months. Its certainly made me consider our consumer society.
  7. Enjoy live music. I feel so sad that this won’t happen this year. Nothing beats live music.  
  8.  Plan a special 10 year famiversary.  This will still be celebrated but I’m not sure what our celebrations will look like or what we will be able to do later this summer.
  9. Have a rainbow of nail colours. Another activity I was doing so well on and then lockdown stopped it. At present there is no reopening date for nail salons. Here’s hoping I have pretty nails again.
  10. Visit the fashion museum. This was closed until the spring and never got to reopen as the lockdown was put in place. Its still on my list to try and do this year.
  11. Wear colourful running kit and smile. I did buy a lovely pair of peach coloured trainers but no new running kit yet, I’m in my old favourites until I can shop again. I’m determined to have festive running leggings this Christmas.
  12. Special bakes for Valentines, Easter, Halloween and Christmas. Well lockdown has been perfect for this task, ticks all round so far.  
  13. Review every film watched.  I can’t believe that I haven’t been to the cinema this year, I miss our local Indie cinema and really hope it can survive. On My week posts I have written about all films I’ve seen on television this year.
  14. Get the correct school place for Little Man. Yes, yes, yes, we’re so happy after the challenge of getting a special school place that we finally got a place in our first choice. It means we won’t have to move and will make life easier for us all.  
  15. Complete a photo a week challenge.  I started this but do have some catching up to do!  
  16. Finish the 50 parkruns milestone.  This is no longer possible, but I’ll get there as soon as I can when parkrun reopens.  
  17. Take Little Man to London. This isn’t going to happen this year with Covid 19 but another to add to next year’s list.
  18. Plan each season’s style. I’ve gone through all my clothes and felt very carefully about what I need and how I want to look. I feel my style is developing.  
  19. Take a flower arranging class. Again, this is unlikely to be possible ‘live’ but I’m looking into online courses.  
  20. No sweets or chocolate. So far, so good!

Despite Covid 19, I still think that I can adapt many of these activities and enjoy them in a different way. I look forward to the end of year round up and smashing some of these tasks.

My week (or two) The ones where I didn’t go shopping IRL

A belated post for the past fortnight, I feel that I’ve been busy but when I pause to try and explain why and what I was doing, I’m not sure what made it busy? Its been another fortnight of work, home school and family life. More is beginning to slowly open up and it was wonderful to have a Chinese takeaway for the first time in lockdown. The school work is lessening, so there is more time for little adventures during the week, my favourite open space reopened this fortnight, so we went there for a walk, play and to chill.

I’ve watched …

The Salisbury Poisonings.

This was a three episode series about the poisoning of a Russian and his daughter in the town of Salisbury. Its original broadcast was delayed from the start of lockdown and I could see why as it explained the impact of the poison and how it could spread quickly and kill, not too dissimilar from Covid 19. However it was a really interesting drama with strong characters and great acting.

Big Brother 2000

It is the 20th anniversary of Big Brother and Channel 4 have been showing highlights of the past series. I loved Big Brother in the early series and watching the original 2000 highlights brought back many happy memories of the summer of 2000. The final was the night before my friend’s wedding and we stayed in, watching Craig win and getting all excited about the wedding and life.

I’ve listened

On my Spotify, sometimes listening to one song can take you on a journey of rediscovery and this week I have been enjoying Del Amitri and Crowded House, good music for these times.

I read

I finished The Hate U Give and as a fiction book it has made me really think and be disappointed in our society. How can we still be accepting prejudice and racism? I also read Broken Places, Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor. The author had a serious back injury due to an operation in her late teens which stopped her potential sporting career and led to her losing interest in her science studies. however from this adversity, she developed a passion for writing which led to her exploring her culture and becoming a celebrated sci fi writer. There is no bitterness in the tale and its an inspiring read. I also have started Zadie Smith’s Swing Time. There is a theme to my reading at present, I am trying to read novels written by black writers. I’m not sure how I can personally address the Black lives Matter movement but when in doubt, books are always a good place to start.

I made

The weather took a bit of a turn on some days and it was winter warmers for tea. I made a beautiful told in the hole, adding fresh fennel from the garden to enhance it. I love being able to pop out to our vegetale beds and pick some lettuce for salads, strawberries for pudding etc.. Our autumn harvest is looking very promising.

I visited

To quote my group of the fortnight, Crowded House, it feels like we’ve had four seasons in one day recently. We’ve had a mini heatwave (and ridiculous numbers of day trippers who seem to think that social distancing doesn’t count at the seaside) cold, rainy days and everything in between. I have been making the most of our local environment, we’ve had trips to the beach, the forest and a lake. I’ve been wild swimming and realised how much I’ve missed swimming, the feeling of being immersed in water.

I helped

Little Miss will have been off school for 6 months by the time she returns in September and this has been the perfect opportunity for her to try new looks. She has been dying her hair and this fortnight we went deep purple, my poor bathroom took a lot of the colour. It was a little dark and gothic, the bright pink has been my favourite so far.

Have a happy week.

My week … the one in which I tracked down a Nintendo Switch!

It’s a rather flippant title for this week’s post in what has been another difficult week. We’ve all had to examine our values and our need to empathise with others’ experiences to fully understand #blacklivesmatter. Sadly this has reignited the far right movement and suddenly after the unity of the lockdown parts of our society seem very fragmented.

However, this post is supposed to be about our little family’s week and here are some of our highlights…

I’ve read …

I’m slowly reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, the slowness of my reading is because it is disturbing and uncomfortable reading, it doesn’t feel like fiction in the current climate, with a black teen killed by the police. I’m reading it for a variety of reasons, I want to broaden my daughter’s library to include more black authors and I wanted to check this book out so I could address the content. Its also been on my to read list for a while and if not now, when?

I’ve listened …

After reading Gretchen Ruben’s book Better than Before, I started a daily meditation and have now found a podcast, the Daily Meditation Podcast to support the meditation. I never thought I would last longer than a few days, but I’ve now done 15 days and am enjoying the daily quiet time. I like that as the podcast is released daily it is able to address the issues in our current lives.

I’ve refreshed and refreshed web pages …

I never thought I would be the sort of person to be chasing after the latest craze but for the past month I have been in my quest to find a Nintendo Switch. The children have been amazingly resilient in lockdown and really good, despite so many nice things being cancelled, holidays, cub camps, school residentials, birthday days out so we decided to treat them to something special for their birthdays and replace their old Wii with a new Nintendo Switch. What we hadn’t thought about was the impact of a global lockdown and increased demand so what we thought would be a simple purchase turned into hourly refreshing of web pages, signing up to email alerts etc.. This week, I managed to respond immediately to an email alert and buy a Switch which arrived this week just in time for a lockdown birthday. It was worth all the effort to see the delight on the children’s faces.

I had a takeaway coffee …

This morning, I had to pop to the Post Office and stopped off at my favourite indie café for a takeaway cappuccino. It was my first in 12 weeks and was divine, I bought little man a drink too and we sat on the beach wall to drink, with the sun on our faces, blissful. I’m a regular at the café and it was lovely to catch up with the owner and support one of my favourite local businesses. My friend and I go there every Wednesday for lunch and I can’t wait to resume that little ritual.

When we were in town there were signs for the first time of our little town and its businesses awakening after the lockdown, lots of shops are reopening next week and I’m looking forward to more normality, although I’m becoming more desperate to see my parents and have my hair cut, there’s a strange priority list from the government.

The last normal …

We have now been in lockdown for 78 days and we are very slowly beginning to be allowed to meet others outside from our household, in the open air with social distancing. Shops will start to reopen from next Monday and primary schools are opening for limited year groups. There’s no news on pubs, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theatres and the one I’m desperate for hairdressers. We have no idea when we will be able to visit people in their houses and stay a night away from our homes. When things reopen all is going to look very different. This has got me thinking about the last normal, when we didn’t realise what was coming. I look back on a couple of weekends with fondness now, at the time, they were just normal.

At the beginning of February, Little Miss was in her school’s production. It was a new time of the school year to do the show, but had been designed not to distract Year 11s from exams. The timing meant that of all the school productions due to be done this academic year, it was one of the few which happened. This was the last time I saw my parents who came down to watch the show on Thursday evening, before they flew to Thailand for a 3 week holiday. It seems so strange now that despite news about a virus that they still travelled and then returned home with no health checks. On the Friday, I went to do some collaborative work with a sister school with my colleague, meeting up with our peers, it was a really useful day and promises made for further visits and joint work, which are all are currently on hold. On the Saturday, my father in law came to stay for the weekend so he too could see Little Miss in the show, my sister and brother in law also decided to do this on an impromptu visit. My over riding memory is of us all in the fish and chip café in between performances, a big, loud table full of family, pots of tea and steaming plates of chips, it really is the simple moments which are the most precious. After the final performance, Little Miss and I stayed for a drink and dance in the theatre bar. The bar was packed, noisy and hot, reminiscent of Saturday nights out in my 20s and just brilliant. It felt a grown up moment with my daughter, chatting, high on excitement as we walked home on possibly that latest she had ever been out. This weekend filled with family has got me through those low moments in lockdown and the promise that we will get back to normal.

The final normal weekend was March 7th and 8th, it was a weekend when we knew something might be changing, but at the time it was all about hand washing. I did my parkrun, it was the penultimate parkrun and talk was about the possibility of postponing upcoming marathons, we hoped parkrun would be safe with perhaps a few alterations. After parkrun, I picked up Little Miss from her drama session at the local youth club and we headed to ‘big town’ for some shopping and lunch. Its these things I miss so much now, popping into a coffee shop for lunch. I remember treating Little Miss to a ruby pink hot chocolate which made her happy. I don’t always spoil the children, but I’m so pleased I did it on this day, no point waiting for treats which can’t happen now, carpe diem! We had to buy a birthday present for my nephew, we got summer swim shorts and matching flip flops for his upcoming holiday to Florida, I never imagined it would not happen and the virus would cause Disney Land to close. Fortunately as I was in the summer section I picked up a few shorts and t-shirts for my son as they had his size, these were very useful purchases and has taught me to pick up the things I will need when I see them, you never know what will happen to change your plans. Lockdown has given us the sunniest, hottest and driest spring on record and these clothes have been worn lots.

On the Sunday, we were still limited in our walks because of the storms and we walked through the botanical gardens of a neighbouring town, finishing up with a pub lunch. Whilst this sounds idyllic it was cold, windy and showery on the walk and the pub was packed as people tried to avoid the rain. I do remember having hand sanitizer in my bag and making everyone use it before the food, given the packed pub I’m not sure if the virus had been in the air that we could have avoided it given the lack or knowledge of social distancing. I’m not sure what we did after we came home, but I presume it was watching the football on Sky, ironing the school and work shirts and getting ready for the coming week. The ordinary which has now become the extraordinary.

Our normal will return, but for my wellbeing, I am working on this being a long term project. If it happens quickly, I will be delighted and relieved. I’m looking forward to the normal things on a weekend, a parkrun, a trip to the coffee shop, popping into shops, listening to the football results at 4.45pm on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday pub lunches and having school and work shirts to iron again. I will be so grateful for normal.

My week … the one in which we questioned our values.

Normally this is a great week as the school in which I work has a two week half term and I have a week in which to meet friends for lunch, potter about and simply relax. However, this year it was a week simply without work for me, or formal work as the teacher became home teacher again and we resumed home learning. I do like the little projects the children are doing but I yearn to be out and about. I’m going stir crazy at home and that’s with a daily walk with the children and time playing in the garden too.

I needed a focus this week and inspired by Gretchen Ruben’s book I read last week, I looked at developing new habits and foci. I have been out first thing everyday alternating with a run or walk. On the days Mr S works this has meant I’m out at 5.15am, but I have felt so more energised and positive. I’ve also done meditation daily for the last week. Of course the challenge now is to continue this next week when I’m back at school.

This has been a difficult week on the international stage and the racism witnessed in America has reverberated around the world. This is 2020 and the images are horrific, I do hope to do a post on this topic but I do not believe that racism is exclusively an American problem it is a world wide issue which we all need to address. There have been too many cases in my lifetime which should have changed our perspectives. Stephen Lawrence was a teenager similar in age to me and his murder really hit hard and we felt that it was for our generation to change society. Stephen would have been 46 this year and we are still fighting racism, its heart-breaking.

With the news coverage of Covid 19 and the waves of protest against racism, its a tough week. I came across this poem and it feels just right for this week.

It feels a little wrong to write about the sparkles of this week, after the preceding paragraph but for my own wellbeing, I need to recognise the highlights of week 11 of lockdown.

I read ..

I am part way through a book at present, but I did read a short story from Jojo Moyes catching up with Lou Clark, the main character and hero of Me Before You, After You and Still Me. I know she’s a fictional character but Lou feels like an old friend and I loved the catch up and got the feels from the happy ending. It was just what was needed this week.

Read on www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2020/june/lou-clark-in-lockdown-jojo-moyes-exclusive-new-story/

I listened

I’m a big fan of Desert Island Discs, but this week’s episode was a bit different asking members of the public to nominate a song which has significance in lockdown. It was so emotional and I was a sobbing mess. Again, it was just what was needed this week, a reminder of the good in our world and our communities.

www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000jpfd

I recorded

One of Little Miss’ homework tasks this week was to learn the signs to Shotgun and to send a video through to her teacher. In my work, I use the sign language Makaton and was delighted with this homework. She worked so hard on the task, without my help and I was so proud of her when I videoed her, she was a natural. I think she would make a brilliant teacher when she’s older.

Next week…

I’m back to work on Monday and back to our new normal. Its unlikely that the children will be back to school this year as they’re not in the year groups invited in, so it’ll be another 6 weeks of home learning and then the summer holidays. 2020 is the strangest year.

June 2020

My Spiffy calendar is gorgeous and inspiring. This month’s quote is perfect.

It’s hard to imagine what June will look like as we edge out of lockdown. It does feel that there is a lack of clarity in the government guidelines and I do look with envy to other countries with their clear transition plans.

The children will not be in school this month (as it stands as I write, but never say never as things are happening quite randomly) Neither children are in the year groups selected to return which is a relief. I’ve read the guidelines for schools and it’s so sad and sparse, I want my children to return to the school they know and be able to play and work together.

So June will be another month of home learning. It’s normally school trip month, sports day etc.. again all lovely things which won’t happen. I can’t even do educational trips as part of my home learning, although I may explore virtual trips. June would have seen our last primary sports day, it’s always a highlight of summer and a tradition I’ll really miss. Fortunately last year’s was amazing and as our final it’s a perfect memory.

The one thing we won’t be cancelling this month is our first lockdown birthday. We have a rainbow 🌈 theme, the symbol of lockdown. I’m organised and have all the things we need for a special home birthday celebration. Sadly, we have had to postpone our family birthday trip to Paultons Park which is our annual treat. I hope we can get there soon as we love the theme park.

All I want to do this month is see my parents and have my hair cut. But these are two unanswered questions for the government to decide when I will be able to do these simple acts. My problem is my parents don’t live locally and we could only meet in a garden ( we can’t go inside to use a toilet) and must return home the same night. These conditions make a visit impossible. I really couldn’t care less about non essential shopping or horse racing and other professional sports, I just want to hug my parents this month.

My week … the one when we didn’t go on holiday :(

This week was a toughie, no school or work and gorgeous weather. It sounds perfect but this week we should have been in our family’s happy place, Butlins for the week and with such brilliant weather we would have made the most of all the outdoor activities which the children love. I was planning a spa morning too.

Instead we’ve been at home and with the ambiguous guidelines, we’ve avoided the beach as so many day trippers have come down for a beach day and its too busy. I was in town on Monday and it was obvious that visitors don’t feel that social distancing and safety measures put in place apply to them on their day out. Our R rating here is high, 0.9 and its even higher at 1.2 in other neighbouring seaside towns too. I did have another Covid 19 test this week for work, we are having them regularly as we have to contain the virus on our site. It was another negative, I was really surprised how empty the testing site was, its huge and I was the only person being tested.

Whilst we haven’t been on the beach, we’ve had lots of walks in the countryside and on the coastal path which is more rugged and quiet. There have been lots of tree climbing and games of hide and seek to keep us amused. Mr S and his gardening partner, Little Miss have spent the week painting our fences, the garden looks so much better.

Here are a few of the things, I have manged to do this week.

I read

I’m a huge Grethen Rubin fan and her podcast is a must listen each week. I bought Better than Before in January but quite simply wasn’t in the correct frame of mind to read and develop the ideas. I’m ready now and its been an ideal read, I have pages of notes and have already acted on lots of advice. There’s nothing quite like a lockdown to refocus your plans, aspirations and values.

I made ..

With Little Miss and Mr S busy painting, me and Little Man have been play mates. We made lots of rainbows this week, his favourite was the Lego rainbow, I liked finding flowers and plants (and weeds) of all the colours too.

It was Little Man and I baking in the kitchen this week and for one lunch we made cheese and olive scones. They were delicious. An added bonus this week is that we’ve been able to sit outside for meals. We’ve also had a couple of barbecues, if we can’t go on holiday then holiday will just have to come to us!

I splashed ..

Again it wasn’t quite the amazing pool at Butlins complete with slides and wave machine but we got the pool out this week and there was a lot of fun had by everyone. Mr S added a pure comedy moment when he grabbed a t-shirt to go with his red trunks, it was yellow and he was a dead ringer for a lifeguard, it only added to the experience!

I wore

New trainers! I have an injury that needs to be seen properly but having looked at my well worn trainers I decided that new shoes may help contain the injury as well as heavy strapping. The new trainers have arrived and I managed to run 5k today, my Achilles is a little sore now but I also managed a 3 mile walk this afternoon so I’m definitely taking that as a win. I had planned a little parkrun tourism this weekend, doing the Bognor parkrun and again it just made me a little sad that we’ve not been able to have these things to look forward to.

I watched

We started series 3 of the A word this week on catch up and have watched the first three episodes. I like the series, I work with children with autism and I think the show is a fair representation of the condition. It also has a real human element, its not simply about autism but about a family.

And finally

So May is nearly finished and we are near to 10 weeks in lockdown. The children return to home schooling on Monday but I have another week’s holiday (we lose a week in the summer holidays) Normally this is a great week with the children at school, lots of catching up with friends, lunches out, getting ready for summer and getting organised for birthdays and celebrations. Its going to be a little different this year, I suppose I’ll really appreciate my extra week in 2021!

My week

Sadly another week when I suffered a really bad migraine and vomiting. To be honest it’s unsurprising since I am working onsite where we are in the midst of a Covid 19 outbreak. Its so busy and I come home drained and exhausted. However even with a couple of days out sick I still managed to have a few sparkles to celebrate this week.

I read …

I finished two books this week and both were excellent. I read Half a World Away first which is about a birth brother and sister being reunited. As an adopter I was hoping that it wouldn’t be too fairytale’ish’ and fortunately it wasn’t with a real understanding of childhood trauma and the effect on adult life. It was an emotional read and another great book by Mike Gayle.

The second read Daisy and the Six is my book of lockdown and the year so far. It was one of my infamous Kindle 99p deals, although I’ve bought and sent a copy to my mum today as it is a book to be shared. It’s about a rock band in the 70s and is brilliant. It has an unusual style, you simple get comments from the characters as the story progresses, each piece a line or two up to a paragraph in length. But the book draws you in, you’re in the 70s and the characters are real. It’s so good that I feel a little bereft now it’s finished.

I watched …

Having slept for 36 hours I woke alert in the night and found the BBC documentary Hospital being repeated. It is filmed in a Covid 19 hospital and was so moving, informative and filled you with love and respect for all involved. Our nhs is simple amazing.

I learnt …

One of the home schooling projects this week was a bionic hand to illustrate how our skeleton works. Although it was Little Miss’ homework Little Man joined in too and they made a hand each. It was a good project to all sit around the kitchen table and do together and I hope we all learnt a little more about how our bodies work. I love a little project like this. As you can see Little Miss was pleased with her idea to paint the nails!

I appreciated

I came across this quote online and it resonated with me, it’s the simple things which make life special. This week the meadows are bursting with wild flowers and it’s indescribably beautiful to see my children running though them, as the quote says ‘ the ordinary comes alive’

Mr S and I are really reflecting on life in this period, there are changes a happening and we have time to pause and really think about what’s important to our family. Life will change but I feel good about the plans we are making as our little team.