My week the on when I went to the shops and salon

Although restrictions lifted on April 12th, with being away and then getting ready for the new term, we didn’t do many of the new allowed activities. However this week with our routines back in place, it was time to reintroduce the ‘normal’ back into our daily lives. For me this has meant a trip to the nail bar, a hair appointment and a return to my ‘natural!’ colour and a potter around shops. All are still done under the Covid restrictions, so lots of mask wearing, hand washing and space, but it did feel good to be doing something fun and frivolous in life. For the children, Little Man returned to Real Life Scouts (as opposed to Zoom), swimming and football training and Little Miss got to go shopping with a friend.

The week started with a great night of tv viewing, I don’t watch much tv but Call the Midwife and then Line of Duty is quality Sunday night viewing. I love the late night messaging between friends discussing the plot of Line of Duty, although the twists and turns make it difficult to sleep! I even listened to a Line of Duty podcast on my walk to work on Monday trying to get hints of what is to come.

With the exception of Sunday night, I’ve been reading a lot this week. I was up to the early hours of Tuesday morning finishing off Mhairi McFarlane’s If I Never Met You. I had put my Kindle down around 11pm but after tossing and turning I simply couldn’t sleep knowing the book was just sat there next to me waiting to be finished. It was a perfect chick lit read, with some decent characters whom you really rooted for. I’ve also nearly finished Catlin Moran’s How to be a Woman. I’m a huge fan and the essays are a mix of humour, heartbreak and the ordinariness of our lives in a charming way.

On Saturday, I took Little Miss to the ‘big’ town to meet a friend and do some shopping. Both children asked for the most simple things when lockdown ended, Little Miss was to go shopping with friends and Little Man to have two friends around to play (still waiting to be allowed to do this one, as they want to be inside for Lego) When I took Little Miss over to big town, I stayed to potter around the shops. I got to spend time browsing in a bookshop and finally spent my Christmas book tokens. There is just something lovely about being in a bookshop, its the smell, the displays, the anticipation of a new story. I got a couple of books which have been on my to read list and am looking forward to starting them soon. It was a strange experience shopping, apart from Primark, it was surprisingly quiet in the shops, although lots of people were milling outside, whether just walking or having a drink or meal. When you are wearing mask, have to maintain a social distance and can’t try on items, it does take away some of the fun of shopping. Stock was limited and it did make me think that online shopping for the big stores is easier and more efficient. However on Thursday I did a little bit of shopping in our home town, which was such a nicer experience and I will always try to buy locally first.

As the weather has improved this week, I’ve been wearing more spring like clothes and love my new blue and white linen maxi skirt. White is a brave colour for me to wear, I’m mucky, but with a blue top its becoming my favourite go to outfit.

Finally this week, I received the first of a 3 month subscription to Iggy Candles, fulfilling my #21for 2021 to burn more candles. The candle has the most beautiful smell, peony and blush suede and if every candle is as good as this one, I will definitely be extending the subscription. Its a simple sensory pleasure to watch a candle burn.

There are no big plans next week, just a week back to the new normal. Have a good week.


My week … the one with a holiday.

This feels a bit like a school writing project, what I did on my holiday but its so lovely to be able to write a post about a holiday. The government Covid restrictions eased on Monday which meant that we were allowed to stay away from home in England if in self catering accommodation and in our household bubble. At present no hotels or bed and breakfasts are allowed to open. Mr S had been able to book a property for 4 nights as soon as the road map was published, which we could use as a base to visit our parents and to give us a few days to simply do something a bit different than the stay at home message we’ve had for most of the past year.

We stayed in a small hamlet near Wells in Somerset. Our accommodation was beautiful, it was on an old farm building, the milking parlour, which had been renovated to such a high standard. It was the best self catering accommodation I have stayed in, full of everything you might need and more and in immaculate condition. The wood burner feature in the lounge was stunning, but with such good weather we never needed to use it. The ceilings were so high and the beams gave a very cosy feeling. The property also had an adjoining games room, where we enjoyed table tennis and table football in the evenings. The children loved the large trampoline in what wasn’t really a garden but a meadow and they had lots of room to roam and run safely. In addition to the meadow, we had a patio where we managed our first barbecue of the year, toasting marshmallows over a barbecue is always going to be a fun thing to do.

When we arrived we went straight to Wells as we had a food collection organised. We had the time to walk around Wells and it was such a beautiful city. We stopped at a café in the square and it all felt very relaxed and open with the tables laid out across the plaza. The square was full of people meeting up and there was such a lovely atmosphere and buzz on the first day of shops and outdoor cafes, restaurants and pubs reopening. There are some unexpected effects of the government guidelines and this shift to outdoor living is nice (but yes, you need the good weather) I am still to work out the correct clothing for this new outdoor life, in the good weather we’ve had you want to be wearing spring colours and styles but also need the warmth of winter layers.

One of my favourite activities of our holiday was hiring bikes in Cheddar and cycling the old railway line, the Strawberry Line. I was impressed by the children as some parts were on road (through the picture perfect village of Axbridge) and they coped really well and safely. We did around 12 miles in total and it was a beautiful way to explore the countryside and enjoy a gorgeous, blue sky day before returning home with freshly locally grown strawberries.

We met up with my parents at Cheddar reservoir and walked its perimeter, I am discovering with outdoor meet ups that by walking and talking, everyone feels a little warmer than simply sitting with a flask of tea. We walked the reservoir and then did stop for a little cake and cup of tea. By walking people get individual time with each other and its nice to share conversations after that you didn’t hear at the time. Unfortunately, by the time our visit ended I was feeling really, really rough, I knew I had a migraine coming on and despite the painkillers I couldn’t shake it off and then ended up in bed for the next 24 hours, with excruciating pain and vomiting, not the best day of my holiday. On the day I stayed in the cottage, Mr S and the children continued with their booked trip to Wild, a wildlife park near Bristol and enjoyed seeing all the animals. I do like giraffes so my daughter did send me a photo of one so I didn’t miss out.

Fortunately, by the final day, I was feeling a lot better and after packing up we drove through to my Father in law’s garden for a picnic lunch and a quick trip to the park for the children. He has shielded for the best part of the year and lives alone so it was so good to see him looking so well and relaxed. He has had his double vaccination now and is beginning to venture out a little more with friends. Our visit was the day before his birthday and it did feel that we were able to celebrate this year. It was a different celebration to our previous big family get togethers but at least he had family with him this year, as last year’s birthday had been hard for us all.

Its surprising how refreshed you can feel with just a few days away from home, doing something different. it was the first time the children have stayed in a rural self catering accommodation, they’re used to resorts and holiday parks, but seemed to enjoy the ability to just run around and play. Our next holiday is back to a resort with pools and activities but I think this break was just right for the restrictions we are under.

My week … the one with lots of walks

This week has seemed really long and sometimes times a bit tedious, I know I’m not fun mum when my reply to what are we doing today is always we’re going out for a walk. Its simply one of the things that we can do in lockdown and we do try to mix up the routes. Interestingly, the toughest and longest walk was also one of the highlights of the week and thoroughly enjoyed by all of us. We had a rare warm, sunny morning which definitely lifted everyone’s spirits and of course we had a little snack stop so were fuelled by Easter chocolate. We did have a day this week when both children had planned activities, Little Miss went to the farm and Little Man had a football tournament. I took our daughter to the farm and after the farm, we drove to the nearest town for a walk and picnic along the river. Although cold, it was bright and we were dressed up warmly to enjoy being outside, however only 20 miles away the boys had snow and hail. There was strange weather this week, sometimes it was lovely, other days bitterly cold and grey.

I have been feeling a bit bleurgh this week, just a cold which I can’t seem to shift (I’ve done my LFT tests twice as required for work and it isn’t Covid) Its not stopped me doing anything but I have enjoyed a few afternoons on the sofa whilst the children played Nintendo which is so unlike me. I’ve watched a couple of films and my favourite was Military Wives, it was a film I wanted to see on release but it came out just as lockdown 1 started so I never got to see it at the cinema. It was a lovely, feel good film and the perfect tonic. In the evenings, Mr S and I have been watching This Is Us, season 1. It is brilliant, how did I miss this when it was first released in 2016? We could be watching it for a while as we’ve got 5 seasons to watch and at one per evening (and for the last few nights we haven’t watched any as its the Masters golf) that’s a tv commitment! By my calculations, 81 episodes at approx. 5 a week is 4 months viewing sorted.

As well as the films and series, I’ve had a little extra time for reading too. I read Gretchen Rubin’s Outer Order, Indoor Calm. Its not an instruction manual but offers some good observations on clutter and order with some really useful tips. After all this time in lockdown, my house is pretty well organised and clutter free at present. However I did sort some of the children’s clothes out this week to get ready for the spring and summer. They’ve both had a bit of a growth spurt so I need to buy a few extras this summer. I think with last year’s lockdown, I got the most out of the previous summers clothes, which may explain why some of my daughter’s shorts now look indecent! I also read Tracey Thorn’s book on growing up in suburbia in the 70s and 80s, much rings true in the book and its an entertaining read.

Nationally the news this week has been the death of the Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99. I was in my neighbours garden (its the only way we can see people) with the radio on in the kitchen when we heard the national anthem and the news, its funny how those ‘where were you’ moments stay with you. The BBC radio stations went to rolling news and sombre, respectful music and normal programmes were suspended on the national tv channels for news and tribute programmes. For me, his legacy will be the Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme which I participated in as a teenager, it was a fun programme and a positive experience (and on one of our camps, the boy I fancied kissed me!)

Next week sees our first holiday for 603 days (yes I worked it out) After 3 holidays being postponed due to Covid restrictions, we are finally away to a cottage in Somerset. Its our base so we can visit our parents, outside and at a social distance, and just enjoy a few more activities as the next stage of the road map is introduced.

Here’s to a happy week.

Easter 2021: The second lockdown Easter

This was another anniversary we didn’t want, a second Easter in lockdown. Consequently, it was another quiet celebration for the just the four of us.

As we didn’t break up until Maundy Thursday, we were straight into Easter weekend as we started the holidays. Thanks to long lockdown weekends, I had been pretty organised, so the cards had been sent in advance, all the items for the egg hunt added to the weekly food delivery and my Easter Fortnum and Manson’s gift to my parents had been delivered. This was so well received and something to remember for the future.

Good Friday was an unexpected day, thanks to overflowing sewage from our drain, making it not the most pleasant way to start the holiday weekend. However we are on a HomeCare scheme and Dynorod came very quickly to resolve the issue and all was left very clean and sanitary. Little Man and I went for a walk whilst this was all being seen to and went to buy the all important hot cross buns. Priorities sorted! The afternoon was a lazy, family time and of course, board games. We are totally addicted to Monopoly Deal.

Easter Saturday was a typical Saturday with nothing particularly Easter themed. Mr S and Little Miss went to the garden centre to buy some spring flowers and Little Man and I pottered around doing a few jobs. I did write the clues for the treasure hunt and decorated some card Easter eggs on which I wrote the clues. Normally, I illustrate a scavenger hunt sheet but this year changed this to a treasure hunt. I found some great clues on the Internet from http://www.muminthemadhouse and adapted them to our challenge.

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On Sunday, we started with a beautiful walk in the country park, it was a stunning morning with bright blue skies and a perfect way to start the day. On our return, our neighbours popped over to the garden to share Easter greetings and to give some Easter gifts to the children (we have the best neighbours)

I then started to prep up our Easter Sunday lunch. To me this is a big deal and like Christmas, I take time to browse recipes and plan the menu. I’m also realistic that Easter Sunday is about the chocolate, so I made a lighter lunch, a Spring filo pie, filled with spinach, peppers, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and feta, served with new potatoes and spring vegetables. The filo pie from the bbc good food website was stunningly good, and a recipe to repeat, I think it would also be perfect as a main with a salad in the summer. Whilst I cooked, I played my Spring playlist, featuring old family favourites. Tulips from Amsterdam always reminds me of my dad, the spiritual songs reflected my faith and then I included a few past Easter hits, Easy Lover always evokes a hot and sunny Easter with my cousins in 1985. I do love a themed playlist and the memories they bring.

Just before lunch, I turned myself into a 1950s housewife and dressed for lunch, changing from my jeans into a pretty Easter dress. I saw this dress online at Cath Kitson about a year ago and loved the pattern and shape but it was well above my budget. However, just after Christmas I discovered it reduced to a 1/3 of its original price in the sale and I snapped it up. I love the dress it is so beautiful and one I can see me wearing for many Easters to come. I accessorised it with a few special pieces of jewellery, I inherited the bangle and cross from my grandmothers and the ring was passed on to me by my mum, a gift for her 21st birthday from her siblings. For me Easter is a family time and if we couldn’t be together, wearing the jewellery made me closer to them.

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Following lunch, the afternoon was lovely and relaxed, the children worked brilliantly together on the Easter treasure hunt and its definitely an activity to be repeated next year with new clues. We then went to the garden for more Easter fun and then all chilled together with a drink and lots and lots of chocolate. It was a simple but cosy family celebration.

After two quiet Easters, it will be nice to plan a very special celebration next year, as not only will it be Easter, but my lovely father in law’s 90th birthday falls on Easter Sunday too. Now that’s what I call a very special occasion! (and the dress is definitely making an appearance!)

My week … the one with my 2nd vaccination.

It was another busy week in which Easter suddenly seemed to appear. I do prefer a slower build up but we broke up on Maundy Thursday and it was such a busy week at work that Easter thoughts were put to one side. Fortunately, I was pretty much planned and prepped up for Easter at home (thanks to lockdown weekends) so when it came I was ready for our little traditions, I just would have liked a little pause to relax.

I began this week by decorating the house for Easter, I love the spring feel to the house with the pastel decorations bringing extra colour and warmth inside. In the past year, I have made more of our window displays to share with those who pass by. This week, I overheard a little girl, pointing out our window display to her mum and her excitement made my day. The other Easter tradition for this post is the trip to the local bakers on Good Friday for freshly baked hot Cross buns. Little Man and I went to the bakery on Friday morning, the queue was 10 deep but the delicious buns were worth the wait. The queue was chatty and friendly, so actually added to the trip.

The very welcome highlight of the week was the second Covid vaccination I received on Wednesday at work. We were a little worried about the side effects, as a few colleagues had suffered on the first round, but I took some paracetamol an hour before and some before bed and I was absolutely fine. No tripping dreams or hot sweats and shivers this time. I enjoyed helping to make a thank you display for the staff from the local surgery whom came in to our school to do the admin and administer the vaccines. They have been so helpful and supportive and it was nice to be able to recognise their work.

I have been trying to be a little creative this year however I am also really busy at work and don’t quite have the enthusiasm and commitment to try a big project at present. I bought an adult colouring book and have found it quite helpful to switch off by doing it and listening to my music in the evenings. The book is full of quotes either from Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project or happiness inspired quotes.

I recently picked up Marathon Mum on a Kindle deal after reading recommendations. It was a fantastic book, primarily its the story of the author Rachel Brown and how she created a running community from her own difficult life story but is also full of inspiring stories of the women she helped. Its a story which makes you just want to put your trainers on and run. Its also one of these running books which isn’t really about running but living the ‘bigger life’

My final sparkle could be about living the bigger life. I was a huge aha fan as a teen and Hunting High and Low is one of my favourite albums ever. At the start of 2020, I noticed that they were playing the album live in a big concert not too far away from home. I ummed and arghhed about getting a ticket and in the end I didn’t and did feel a pang of regret. However due to Covid, the concert didn’t happen and now it has been rearranged for 2022 which was advertised this week. There was no hesitation in buying a ticket this time, and I was able to get two good seats and am so excited to see aha again. Its lovely to have something to look forward to after the past year.

Its holiday time now and very excitingly, government guidelines relax a little further on April 12th and get to go away, Its brilliant to be planning happy events.