My week … the one with a vaccination and a merit.

This week I have been bursting with happiness as events unfurled and after all the anxiety and worries of the past year, its an amazing feeling.

I had two brilliant things happen to me on Wednesday afternoon within minutes of each other. Firstly I had my first Covid vaccination and then I received the email informing me that I had passed my Uni course with merit. Walking home from work on Wednesday, I was sobbing big fat, happy tears.

I recognise how lucky I am to have had a Covid vaccination due to my profession. I work with vulnerable young people and initially staff were not on the list for priority vaccinations, simply because our provision is so specialist its a bit of an anomaly which didn’t really fit into any category. Unfortunately, we have had a couple of difficult weeks at work and Public Health England who became involved in our case, authorised our gp to vaccinate all staff as a priority. I have nothing but praise and thanks to Public Health England and our gp surgery whom have all been so supportive and helpful in our current situation. I have never been anxious about my personal health, if I were to contract Covid, I am fit and healthy and it would have simply been inconvenient with the 10 day isolation for all the family. However, I was very aware that some of the young people I work with are medically very vulnerable and the consequences could be far more serious. Since last March, I have been so careful, I couldn’t be the one who brought the infection into work and put the health of vulnerable others at risk. After being so aware of every risk, the vaccination brought such a feeling of relief. We were fortunate that the gp brought a team to vaccinate the staff onsite which made it quick and convenient for all. I was helping at the vaccination clinic and it was one of the most positive and uplifting experiences I’ve done in such a long time. Everyone was just so grateful to be having the vaccination and it gave me the warmest, fuzziest feeling of happiness. I had the Astra Zeneca vaccination, I had a few minor side effects, a bit of trippy night’s sleep resulting in hot sweats and shivers but quickly felt fine again. The elation at having the vaccination hasn’t diminished, I am just so incredibly thankful to the amazing scientists and medical professions who developed the vaccination in such a short period and are administering it to us all.

After finishing the clinic, I quickly checked my email as I was expecting my Uni results and was shocked but delighted to see that my mark meant that I had not simply passed my course but with merit. Its been a big part of my life over the past 15 months (it was extended by 3 months due to the pandemic) and there were many times when I had feelings of self doubt and questioned my ability to complete the Masters level work (let alone with all the additional challenges of a pandemic) Its one of my proudest professional achievements and I now have a new qualification in my professional signature!

With the vaccination and results, Wednesday 27th January was one of the best days.



I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin, I listen weekly to her podcast and have read a number of her books. Its difficult to categorise her work, it started with the happiness project but its more about wellbeing. For the past few years, I have done #18for18, #19for19, #20for20 and now #21for21. Its choosing 21 things you want to do in 2021. Here’s a link to an episode about #21for21 Gretchen Rubin . This year, my theme was definitely about fun and frivolity, life has been too dark and serious in 2020 and we need to add those sparkles to our lives.

Whilst it is the end of January I did create my list at the beginning of the year, its just taken to now to write it up on the blog. I have the list in my book in which I add notes and plans, I’m that sort of person with lists and the like. So here is my lists with some brief reasons.

  1. Graduate from my Uni course. This is carried over from last year as our course was extended due to Covid. It is a little cheeky as all our work is due on January 6th 2021, but as graduation will take place in this year, I’m adding it as I never got to achieve it in #20for20
  2. Have a doorstep plant. I had doorstep envy at Christmas with some of the trees beautifully lit on doorsteps and as I have a nice doorstep, I’m adding this to my list. I’m not a gardener but am thinking a few seasonal choices, I love daisies and lavender and then I’ll create a special Christmas display.
  3. Wear stylish jewellery. I used to have some lovely pieces but they have slowly been claimed by my daughter, broken with old age etc.. Every year I treat myself at either the steam fair or folk festival to a new piece of jewellery as they always have lovely local makers in their craft tents but with no fairs last year, I didn’t get to buy any new pieces. With this as one of my items, I may need to invest a little more this year! Sadly, I need to buy my jewellery, as despite 23 years together, and numerous hints Mr S has never bought me jewellery (except for my engagement and wedding rings which I chose with him) I do get lovely presents from him so this isn’t a criticism just an observation.
  4. Organise my boxes of decorations. I do like to dress up the house for special occasions and have a lot of decorations that need to be sorted and organised so I know exactly what I have and what I may need to replace.
  5. Spark joy with my clothes. Last year I lost a lot of weight and went down 3 sizes. For years I was grateful if something fitted so didn’t really consider style and at times felt a bit frumpy. This year its about finding my style and having fun with clothes.
  6. Listen to an audiobook. I love to read and am always listening to podcasts on walks and runs but have never married the two and tried an audiobook. So, a simple idea, I’ll either love it or it’ll be back to my Kindle.
  7. Take the children to KFC. Its a bit of a joke in our family that our children aged 11 and 12 have been to MacDonald’s less than 5 times in their lives. To them MacDonald’s is this mythical restaurant they see in adverts! In fairness its a 40+ mile round trip to the local Maccy Ds which isn’t conveniently in a town centre but on the outskirts of the town. However, they are now keen to try a new fast food restaurant, KFC and keep asking to go. Again its a 40+ mile round trip to an anonymous out of town retail park but this year we will do this for them and see which becomes their new favourite.
  8. Run the virtual challenge of Lands End to John O’Groats, 874 miles. This is a running challenge with a difference, to run the British isles from the most southern point to the most northern in one year. I’ve joined an online challenge so am tracking myself on a map. I think its doable but I need to be consistent in my mileage, so fingers crossed for no injuries.
  9. Do something creative everyday. I’ve recently got Lorna Scobie’s 365 days of creativity so am working through some of the challenges and those of my own. Some are simple 15 minute tasks, others are more detailed, but I hope to do something everyday to help me switch off.
  10. Burn more candles. Over these past months, I’ve been using my nice candles and its been lovely, so next year its about burning more candles and not keeping anything simply for best.
  11. Display more seasonal decorations. Over this past year, I’ve enjoyed decorating the house not just for the traditional festivals but for VE day, birthdays. I want to do more of this in 2021.
  12. Grow something. Mr S and my daughter are brilliant gardeners and last year grew many vegetables and fruit for us. Its inspired me and as they look after the garden I’m planning a little indoor herb garden or similar.
  13. Find the perfect summer straw bag. I know totally frivolous but I had an amazing straw bag which I used all the time on the beach, days out etc.. and it finally went beyond repair, I’ve never been able to find the perfect replacement, so that’s my new goal.
  14. Watch a Christmas film or two. A tad seasonal but last year I did not watch a single Christmas themed film in the festive season. Last Christmas has been on my to watch list for two Christmases now, so its time to sit down and watch it in 2021 and lots of other films with Christmas treats.
  15. Visit beautiful gardens. Last year was all about the wild beauty of country parks, I fancy seeing some pretty gardens in 2021 and of course the tea and cakes which tend to complement such visits.
  16. Do a flower arranging course. Another item on my to do list for a couple of years now. Lets hope it can be achieved in 2021.
  17. Get my red parkrun t-shirt. A repeat from last year, I made progress in the first few months of the year and then parkrun was suspended. I think if parkrun is back by the summer, I might be able to achieve this. I’ve already looked up the nearest parkruns to our holiday venues this year, so I don’t miss a week.
  18. Finally visit the Fashion museum. Again an item that’s been on the list before. I even got as far as being outside it (it was closed, which I knew but I wanted to know exactly where it was when I was visiting the town) I hope that museums can reopen soon, other wise small museums like this will be in danger of permanent closure.
  19. See a show / live music. The atmosphere is going to be electric when we get back into theatres and music venues. I’m so excited for this.
  20. Get lost in art. Lockdown has shown all the little things we take for granted and how much we miss them when they are gone. I’m looking forward to my cultural fix when life reopens, a lazy walk around an art gallery and simply looking and getting lost in a picture.
  21. Try something new. I’ve no idea what this could be, but its always good to try something different.

So that’s the list for 2021 and as its now Jan 31st I have started to make progress and tick a couple off. Its always good to start with a few simple ones to complete quickly as the list always seems more doable when its got a few ticks on it. Bring on #21for21.

My week … the one in which we paid off our mortgage.

I did wrestle with this week’s title, as given the current pandemic and the financial effect on people’s lives, it felt like a humble brag. But, Mr S and I have worked hard to pay off our mortgage, not one penny has come from gifts or inheritance and we have earnt every penny we have paid over the past 19 years. Mr S is very financially astute and has ensured that if we ever had a few extra pounds in the joint account it went to the mortgage account, and these little amounts add up over time. Some periods were hard, when the children were young we both worked part time to ensure a parent was always at home, so our income was lower than it is today, but we ensured we had a lifestyle to reflect our means. We have considered moving a couple of times, a 4th bedroom would be useful, but the balance between an increased mortgage and the bedroom meant we have stayed here, we have the room in our house for us to live comfortably. It was a strange feeling paying off the final amount, we used a little of our savings so a few clicks and it was done. It felt like the sort of occasion when we should have gone out to lunch to celebrate but as we’re in lockdown it was lunch at home and just getting on with the day. However, I did feel a sense of pride when Little Man and I came back from our walk this morning and approached the house with the knowledge that its all ours.

It is nice to have a positive in what has been a really difficult week of the pandemic. The number of deaths this week have been the highest of the pandemic and the situation feels really scary. I continue to work and the daily Lateral Flow tests cause anxiety and relief. We wear more PPE now and it all seems so unreal when you pause to think about it all. In years to come we’ll look back on this period with disbelief.

However, I have been distracting myself when at home and here are some of my sparkles.

  1. Steven Attenborough. Little Man has brought home from school this image of his new hero, Steven Attenborough. No matter how many times we tell him its David Attenborough, he insists its Steven and its kind of stuck now. His topic at school is animals and I think they’re watching a lot of Attenborough clips. Its lovely to see his interest in the natural world and at dinner time he has been telling us about different species of animals, the most dangerous, biggest etc..
  2. Video Recordings. Today, Little Man and I went to our local country park ( a few minutes walk from our house) to prepare for his Scout project, a video or animation of a local attraction. I was camera man and he was to introduce different things about the country park on film. After a few repeated attempts we did manage to record clips and take photos ready for him to put together tomorrow. It was a stunning day, cold but beautiful blue skies and it will be a nice little memento of a lockdown Saturday. We walked for around 5 miles which helps another Scouts project as they try to record their mileage for a month.
  3. The Marvellous Mrs Maizel. We’ve just started watching this series and have watched 5 episodes so far this week. I love it, its so beautiful with the fashion, décor and music from the 1950s and this style brings as much to the series as the storyline.
  4. New slippers. Its the little things which make you happy in lockdown and with my sad, worn slippers looking a little pathetic, its lovely to have a new pair. Normally I wouldn’t get that excited about slippers, but hey ho its lockdown.
  5. Fresh flowers. Mr S does the food shopping online and kindly added a bunch of fresh flowers to the order as a surprise. Fresh flowers are one of those things I miss in lockdown and it was lovely to see them blossoming in the kitchen this week.
  6. I Found You by Lisa Jewell. I need to switch off every night before I go to bed so always read my Kindle under the covers. This is a good book and I am intrigued, perfect escapism.
  7. The Presidential Inauguration. It felt like there was a worldwide sigh of relief as Joe Biden became president of the USA this week and much of the rhetoric has been on recovery, unity and hope. I was wowed by two women on Wednesday. Kamala Harris as the first female VP woman, a role model for us all and Amanda Gorman, the American youth poet laureate. Her inauguration poem blew me away and I hope we can all live by her words.

Its difficult at present, when there’s no plans, to look forward to in the coming week. It is simply one day at a time. I was expecting January to be tough but thought life would look more hopeful by the end of the month Whilst the number of vaccinations is high, the lockdown remains essential and I think we’ll still be in lockdown for a while yet.

My week … the one with a lot of steps

The reference in this week’s title isn’t some new year lockdown health craze, its simply been a challenging week and my way to destress is to run and I’ve needed to run lots of miles this week. Within the pandemic, I feel that this has been the toughest week, its January, its been cold and / or wet and the pandemic just seems more real and dangerous. This week the country has recorded the highest numbers of deaths in the pandemic and the situation appears very grim.

Personally, work has dominated my week. Its very busy during the day and with my new role comes new responsibilities and I’ve needed to complete 2 virtual courses in the evenings to enable me to do these tasks in work. I’ve also had to renew my DSL training (child protection) so also attended a TEAMS training course this week. I always find this training quite harrowing, so coupled with my nhs training on administering the rapid flow Covid tests, safer recruitment training and safeguarding its been a week. Not every week will be like this, unfortunately, its simply been a perfect storm of events and circumstances.

Given this week (and there’s more but its not appropriate for me to write about) I did think I would struggle to have any highlights, I’ve not opened a book which is so rare for me and its lockdown so life is very limited. However, I did manage to find a few sparkles from the week.


The biggest highlight this week was that my 89 year old father in law got his first Covid vaccine. He has been so careful and I haven’t seen him in nearly a year, so to know that he’s been vaccinated and it will be safe to see him soon made me quite emotional. My dad who has some underlying health conditions and is nearly 75 gets his first vaccination tomorrow. It is a wonderful feeling that we have the vaccines and our most vulnerable are receiving it.

Lockdown Learner of the week

I am so grateful that Mr S is ‘retired’ as I couldn’t do what I do at work without him being at home for us all. He is home school teacher, although this time, it is slightly more relaxed for him as its live lessons and much more a typical school day. On Friday, Mr S emailed me through the latest letter from school and told me to read it carefully. To my surprise and delight, our daughter was the school’s lockdown learner of the week and today received her prize voucher in the post. It was definitely a proud mum (and dad and grandparents) moment and just the news I needed after a tough week.

My first milestone on the Virtual Lands End to John O’Groats virtual run.

With the daily exercise rule in lockdown I’m not able to follow my usual running pattern and am tending to run on the days when I work as other days are family exercise time. Running is my therapy and I’ve just gone and run this week, no plans of times and routes, just the steady repetition of one foot in front of another. I got my first milestone on the Lands End to John O’Groats run this week by passing the 50 mile mark. Its a virtual postcard but a nice little reminder of the challenge and the places I’ve ‘run’ past en route in Cornwall. Its also the only way to ‘see’ all these places at present.

And finally

Another week with nothing on the calendar except a food delivery. I miss all the little things so much and feel at present, its about getting through each day as positively as we can.

My week … the one with Lockdown 3.0

Well this was definitely an eventful week, promotion at work, Lockdown 3.0, the restart of home learning and the completion of my university course. Its the sort of week in which you can’t actually think about all that is going on, otherwise it would totally overwhelm you. However, I do try to compartmentalise my life to maintain my sanity and humour and this has helped me to get through the week. I do this by breaking down my day into different sessions and devote each time to different part of my life. It has also been essential to get out on my own everyday to walk or run and simply to gather my thoughts.

Lockdown 3.0 did not come as a surprise, the scientists had predicted the second wave and it hit just as they said it would. At work we had taken heed of their warnings in November at the start of Lockdown 2.0 and we have continued with our lockdown plans since then. At home, I was surprised by the announcement that the schools’ closure would last until at least half term. Our son really struggled with the long lockdown and we made the decision together that he would return to school. He is classed as a vulnerable student on two counts and I am also a critical worker. Thankfully he has loved being back at school, he is at special school so his class is smaller than at mainstream. He was tested as part of the fast track school testing system on his first day and was very proud to be the first student at his school to have the test. We have used the same system at my school and it definitely is a game changer for tracking Covid in schools. Our daughter is staying at home to do her home learning, it seems a lot more formal (and demanding) this lockdown with lots of live lessons.

Here are my sparkles of the week.

I ran lots.

In the first lockdown, I stopped running for nearly 2 months obeying the guidance for one daily exercise which was taken as a family. It affected my wellbeing and this time I’m being more organised to ensure that I get my time. I learnt that walking to work is a commute and doesn’t count as exercise, so I am now walking to work, 4 days a week. I can then run in the weekday evenings and on a couple of occasions this week my daughter has joined me. I really feel that this helped me feel more in control of the ever changing situation. I’m also on a Lands End to John O’Groats virtual running challenge for this year so have ticked off my first 28 miles.

I finished a book

The Memory Tree is my last book of 2020 as I read most of it in December and just the last few chapters this week. Its a sad but uplifting story of a young mother with early onset Alzheimer’s, there’s no happy ending but a story which shows the importance of family and kindness and love.

I completed my University course.

In such a busy week, this became something of an anti-climax. I finished the work in the holidays and had just been waiting for the final approval from my tutor to submit it. I was worried that I would need to do more work and had visions of being up all night, but in fact all I needed to do was add a reference which was quickly done (thank goodness for my careful reading notes) The work was submitted on time and now I’m just waiting for the results. My mum asked me what I was going to do next and I honestly believe that this has been my final academic work. I’ll have my degree and two post graduate courses after my name which I think is suffice.

I got creative

I have written my #21for21 and one is to do something creative everyday. I bought the book 365 days of Creativity and have started doing the tasks. My big job this week was to do our family photo book for 2020. I’ve tried not to reflect on the year gone by, but doing the photo book really brought home how different life was in 2020. I am so hoping that this year’s book is full of photos of the children with their grandparents, family holiday adventures and events.

And finally

Our family got good news this weekend, my 89 year old father in law gets his first Covid vaccination on Wednesday. Its the best news I’ve had in ages and a little light to show that we are getting through this pandemic.

My #20for2020

This little activity is inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, Happier which is a must listen every week. Its something I have done over the past few years, 17for17, 18for18, 19for19, where you choose items to be done in the year, they can be fun or serious, work related or home based. This year started as usual and my items were designed for a typical year, however this year was everything but typical and many items simply couldn’t be done under the Covid restrictions. Here’s my review of my list and what I was able to adapt to a Covid year,

  1. Read for pleasure, 15 minutes a day.  I am pleased with this target, I always have a book on the go and think I will finish the year having read around 37 books for pleasure ( the 38th is nearly finished) and countless more for my studies. Achieved
  2. Resize my wedding and engagement rings.  Achieved
  3. Complete my University course.  The Covid pandemic meant that modules and assignments needed to be rearranged and my deadline day is January 6th 2021. However, I think I have completed all the work now and just want to have a final proof read before handing them in and awaiting my result. Nearly there!
  4.  Run a 10k race. I had entered a 10k race with a friend for May, but this was cancelled. However lots of races went virtual and I did the London and Edinburgh 10k races. I submitted proof of my time and distance and got lovely goodie bags with t-shirts and medals. Virtual races were a great idea to come from this difficult year. Achieved
  5. Run a parkrun PB. I missed a PB on a wet and very muddy course by 3 seconds in early 2020 and then parkrun was suspended with no return date yet. I have not timed any of my home 5k runs this year, if the 5k isn’t on my parkrun course it just wouldn’t count for me. To be continued ..
  6. Have a no spend month. I did this intentionally in January and then by accident in March and April with the lockdown and closure of all non essential shops. Achieved.
  7. Enjoy live music. Gutted that due to Covid this was not achieved. Of all the things I missed doing in 2020, live music and theatre top the list (family and friends not included) Covid casualty.
  8.  Plan a special 10 year famiversary.  Another Covid casualty as so many of my possibilities were not possible. We spent the day at our local beach and enjoyed a take away at home. It also showed that all that mattered was being together. Covid casualty.
  9. Have a rainbow of nail colours. Despite Covid, I did manage quite a few colours on my trips to the nail bar, except May – July and November when it was closed. Achieved.
  10. Visit the fashion museum. Not achieved due to Covid. One day I will definitely do this! Covid casualty.
  11. Wear colourful running kit and smile. TBH, this year its been more important just to get out there and run rather than think about kit. Unsurprisingly, given the lockdown, I’ve not been to any running shops to browse ranges. I did get a new pair of capris but had limited choice online, though I did go for khaki as alternative to black! I do have an apricot parkrun t-shirt and a royal blue finishers t-shirt from Edinburgh to add a little colour, although I would like a pretty skort or capris for when parkrun returns in ’21. As for the smiling, I think I still look pretty grumpy when running, even if I’m not feeling it inside. I think I may just have a grumpy face! To be continued…
  12. Special bakes for Valentines, Easter, Halloween and Christmas. Well baking seemed to be a compulsory lockdown activity and we did plenty. I have a long list of bakes we made during the year. Baking was a welcome, comforting activity in this year. Achieved
  13. Review every film watched. So sad to say that I did not go to the cinema in 2020, my last trip was December 31st 2019. I love the cinema and have really missed our trips to the big screen. Covid casualty.
  14. Get the correct school place for Little ManIt was so stressful and went down legal avenues but we were successful and our son is so happy at his new school. One of our biggest achievements as parents. Achieved.
  15. Complete a photo a week challenge.  I took so many photos in 2020, but didn’t follow a set challenge. I don’t think the subjects inspired me. This may need a reboot in 21 as I do love taking photographs. Not achieved.
  16. Finish the 50 parkruns milestone.  Gutted to not have got my red t-shirt but whilst parkrun paused, I did continue to run and am raring to return to parkrun when it is safe again. Covid casualty.
  17. Take Little Man to London. I had started to make proper plans for this trip which was to happen in late spring or early summer but then Covid happened and our little adventure has been postponed. Covid casualty.
  18. Plan each season’s style. Interestingly this was an area which really developed, I had the time to sort out my wardrobe and losing weight made me really streamline my wardrobe and make careful purchases. I also started to follow a few fashion influencers on Instagram, going for styles similar to my lifestyle and watched a few videos on YouTube. Achieved
  19. Take a flower arranging class. Again, another item planned but postponed due to Covid, fingers crossed it can happen in ’21. Covid casualty.
  20. No sweets or chocolate. Amazingly despite spending the year in a pandemic, I managed to keep to this pledge! No I can’t quite believe it either. It showed that sweets and chocolate were more habit than desire. I missed both and will be enjoying them again in ’21 but perhaps a little more mindfully. Achieved.

So despite the pandemic and a few alterations and postponements, I managed to achieve 9 of my 20, a few are nearly there and others were simply not possible under the Covid restrictions. I’m happy with those results. I do enjoy this challenge and in the next few days will be finishing my #21for21, which after this year definitely needs to to be fun and frivolous list!