My week … the one with country roads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My week … the one with the Biscoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My week … the one with lots of autumn sunshine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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