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.

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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.