My week … the one with the Covid scares

For the past 18 months, we have all been living under the shadow of Covid. Sometimes, for example in periods of national lockdown it has deeply impacted on our lives, at other times its like the white noise of daily life. This week showed that when least expected it can suddenly have a starring role in daily life again.

Monday morning was a typical morning, until I received information that a colleague whom I had been in close contact with the previous mid week had tested positive. Later in the morning it was shared that there were also Covid cases in my son’s class and for his taxi companion. Although we had done our twice weekly testing on Sunday evening and were clear, we were asked to do a PCR test for our son so I booked one for him and myself. If I was going to drive to the testing centre, it seemed daft not to, given the proximity to a case myself. Fortunately we had the results by 9am the next morning, (a 15 hour turnaround, amazing) and as were both negative carried on our normal day. However, by Wednesday the decision had been made to close our son’s class for a week to minimise the spread. As Mr S has a temporary job at present this did impact on our plans. I had needed to change my day off this week to support my daughter’s Inset day and in trying to work out the best plan, Mr S ended up taking a day off for childcare as I had an important meeting at work, which could not be rearranged. Having worked at home for two weeks due to my operation recovery, I also felt it would be too cheeky to ask for additional support. However, I did have the mum guilt at not being able to have a day at home with my son, especially when on Friday my daughter and I had our prebooked Christmas shopping trip. To make amends, we have treated him to the new James Bond movie on Sky (£16!!!!) and we sat down to watch it together this weekend. He really is not happy with that ending whilst I, for whom the last Bond film I saw was Octopussy in the 80s can’t stop thinking about the film and surprised myself by really liking it, despite all the guns, action sequences etc. Typically I get into James Bond and then there’s that ending!

Our son is in a strange situation, he continues to test negative, so he and Mr S have been out enjoying walks, a hot chocolate at a favourite café etc.. Mr S was telling me that when the class had a TEAMS meeting, they were all taking about what they were doing and it was shopping, meals out, visits to grandparents etc.. I’m not sure how this is helping to minimise the risk of spreading the infection which was the reason behind the class closure, but all the activities are within the guidelines.

In addition to the personal impact of Covid this week, there has been a new variant discovered and following a press conference with the PM tonight, Saturday, some measures are being reintroduced, mandatory testing on arrivals into the UK, more booster jabs and mask wearing on public transport and in shops. We did travel by train yesterday and I did insist that my daughter and I wore masks, on the train and in shops too. The mask wearing was mixed, probably more in the shops than on the train. Its such a strange situation, I am triple jabbed, my daughter has had hers too, we wore masks and washed / sanitised hands frequently so there’s little more that we could have done to keep safe. We need to start living again. I have a spa booked next week and hope that this can go ahead, it feels that you cannot make firm plans at present, there is always a proviso to all activities.

Yesterday was a lovely day with my daughter, the most normal big day out for a while. When I was a child, a day’s Christmas shopping with my mum in London was always such a treat. We would start in the Harrods Christmas shop and finish on Selfridges on Oxford Street. For us now in our location, a day trip to London would be quite a push, so we headed to our closest city, Southampton which is around a 90 minute journey by car and train. We started in John Lewis, in the department they have named this year as their Christmas Emporium, it houses the best Christmas displays I’ve seen in a shop for years. There are so many different themed trees, lights and tableaux, its so beautiful, my daughter was awe struck and we did buy some gorgeous decorations.

A trip to a city is a big deal for me and I was mega organised with my lists. I had done the background research on where all the shops I needed were and had even had a recommendation for a lunch venue where the mocktails and Cuban inspired food were stunning. At first my daughter had been bemused when I asked for all her details, which shops she wanted, present list etc.. but I think I won her over on the day. It was just the best day, 20K steps, Starbucks Christmas drinks, lots of presents purchased, a first trip to Victoria Secrets which is apparently essential for a teen girl, a pretty German Christmas market (although full of tack as traders can’t get here from Europe due to Covid and Brexit) and lots of sparkling, twinkling lights. My daughter loved it and wants it to become our annual tradition. It was perfect timing for an Inset day, so hats off to whoever planned Inset for Black Friday.

We were lucky that we went to Southampton yesterday as the storm which followed has closed the railway line today and it has been so bitterly cold. We had a trip to the farm today as my daughter was volunteering and my son and I went for a very skin tingling, icy cold walk in the neighbouring fields. We ended up warming up after in the cosy farmhouse kitchen with fresh pains au chocolat, so it wasn’t all bad!

In spending one evening on PCR testing, another having my nails done and a third on youth club taxi duties, there was little time for reading and television this week. I did manage to watch the Bake Off final and despite my disappointment at Jurgen leaving at the semi final, my second favourite Guiseppe won. It is such a wholesome, friendly programme that really lights up autumn nights. I feel bereft when it finishes, and even worse when Strictly ends too. Now that its finished and I’m not a I’m A Celebrity viewer, I really need to make a start on Christmas films next week and embrace the season. I normally argue that Christmas doesn’t start til December 1st but as we were Christmas shopping yesterday, we played and sang along to my Christmas playlist in the car and I’m ready to go early this yea, we need those sparkles more than ever.

If all goes to plan, next week should be a busy one, hopefully I’m off to the spa (if my son is back at school ) and then its the town’s Christmas market next Saturday (Covid regs permitting) However given the current situation, I am realistic that it could all change within days.


My week … the one with the Bake Off shock (and I’m still not over it )

Things are slowly getting back to normal and I’m well enough now to walk to school and also to drive. It was a welcome return to taxi duties on Youth club night. I am back to wearing shoes, albeit wide fit trainers. Its also good to have my slippers back on, I’ve missed them over the past month, my little toes did get cold!

I was really proud of our son this week as we had his Annual Review and it was so lovely to hear of all his progress and his kind and funny character. He really is one of the most laid back and witty young people I know, nothing phases him and he is such a tonic to be around. We know this but when you hear it from others, it feels even better.

This week has been so tough professionally, one of the worst weeks of my 25 year career. I hoped that I would feel relief by the end of the week, but I’m so emotionally frazzled, I feel devastated, sad, excited and hopeful, all mixed together. It’s going to take some time to work through this, but no matter how difficult this week was ( and I’m sure there’ll be more difficult conversations next week) I do believe that you’ve got to stay true to your values and beliefs to live an authentic life, both personally and professionally.

In all the very serious adult world of work, I have needed light relief this week. I don’t know if its my state of mind, but even watching Strictly and the Great British Bake Off was emotional this week. Rose and Giovanni’s Couples Choice dance, where they stopped the music so the audience could share Rose’s experience of dancing without hearing the music, was so powerful and touching, I cried. Having seen the reaction on Twitter and Gogglebox, I wasn’t the only one, it was such a beautiful inclusive thing to watch. I’ve just watched Strictly tonight and their dance to Frozen was so funny and superb, Rose and Giovanni are my winners for this year’s series (but I do love AJ and Kai too). On Tuesday, my favourite, Jurgen was eliminated in the semi final of the Bake Off. I actually shouted a nooooooooooo at the tv when the result was announced, he’s been one of the best bakers all series and is one of life’s nice guys. I did watch Last Slice on Friday night and he was even more precious and genuine on the programme. The audience’s reaction to him was wonderful, I don’t think the eventual winner will get a warmer, more enthusiastic welcome. Now its on to the final and I’m team Giuseppe, we need a Jurgen and Giuseppe spin off series, two wonderful, warm and witty bakers. Bake off with its friendliness and niceness is the perfect programme for us all to cherish.

As well as cosy nights in watching tv, I’ve also read a book, Always in December which I thought was going to distract me with its Christmas sparkles. It started with the lovely festive feels but then there was such a sad ending. I didn’t see it coming at all, everything was so neatly lined up for the happy ever after. Honestly this week everything seems to designed to have me in tears, I’m not sure I have any tears left to cry.

As I write this I’m watching a programme on Paul McCartney. It led me to a memory and one that thanks to the internet I’ve been able to relive tonight. When I was a teenager, I loved (still do) The Beatles and when I was 16, saw that Paul McCartney was on a world tour. My dad got us tickets to go and see him in Glasgow, as we have family nearby. It was one of those special nights of your life, I remember just dancing and singing all night long, not quite believing that I was seeing Paul McCartney play live. The set list was great, a bit of a greatest hits list but the big finale which I’ve been able to find on You Tube was Mull of Kintyre, when a Scottish pipe band were brought onto the stage, I still remember the goose bumps. It was amazing to watch the clip, more than 30 years later and be taken back to that night in Glasgow. (Yep, tears again, I’m a wreck this week)

I have no idea what the next week will bring but there are some good entries in my diary, my sister in law is coming over tomorrow and Friday is an Inset day for my daughter so we’re off to Southampton for a Christmas shopping trip. Sometimes you simply need to focus and hold on to those nice things..

My week … the one with more rest and recovery

During this week, I reached the 3 week post operation date, the minimum period for recovery which was advised as being between 3 – 6 weeks. This meant that I am back upstairs in our room again, I returned to work onsite on Friday, albeit that Mr S dropped me off and picked me up and both days this weekend, I’ve gone for longer walks. Today’s was 2.5 miles so I have the confidence to walk to work as from tomorrow, which is around a mile each way. It was so good to walk along the seafront yesterday, it actually seemed a little milder than the days preceding my operation and it’s always lovely to have the winter sun on your face.

I did have a setback last Sunday and Monday when I really felt quite poorly, I’m not sure if it was related to the recovery or just a really bad migraine, but I struggled. On the upside, it strengthened my determination to get better as soon as I could. There’s a lot in my diary for the coming weeks and I’m keen to participate, thus, walking and driving are key things to practice. I’ve not attempted any driving yet as I need to be able to wear a shoe and I’m still in my boot. I did buy some new trainers this week (online, not shopping IRL yet) but I couldn’t wear them, they were too narrow. However its not a brand I normally wear so I’m hoping this was the problem as I naturally have a wide fit. I have another couple of pairs of trainers coming through this week, so fingers crossed for a good fit.

Mr S has a new temporary part time job, which is a very early start so 3 evenings a week he’s in bed by 8.30pm and I have the tv gadget. We have quite different tastes so I like having my choices. This week I finished Show Trial, I liked it and felt drawn in by the characters, the lead character is so awful that you can’t warm to her but as her story comes through, you understand her better. What was interesting in the series was that no one knew what happened in the murder incident, the viewer has the same information as the police, there is no use of flashback and whilst you get the jury result, the doubt remains.

I was also keen to watch the new Sky film, The Colour Room on the early career of Clarice Cliff, the ceramic artist. I am a fan of her work, her use of colour is stunning and fun. Its a really good film and perfect for a cosy Friday night in.

This week, I also finished the book Writers and Lovers. It is a slow burner but I am pleased that I continued as it has a strong ending and from around half way through I couldn’t put it down. In reading reviews of the book, I noticed that Lily King’s previous work, Euphoria has rave reviews so I may add this to my to be read pile. I am now going to start a Christmas reading journey. Last year, I didn’t get the chance to read much fiction or watch Christmassy themed films as I was busy with my Uni deadline and promised myself that year I would make up for it!

Christmas is a big theme at present, I like to get as organised as possible, so I did the final edits and ordered our Christmas cards this week from a design by my daughter. Over the past few years, I have started to do our own cards and its become a highlight of the prep, as the feedback has been so lovely from friends and family. Its a penguin theme this year and I love it, its so cute. The service with the cards was excellent, I ordered on Wednesday and received the cards and a canvas by Saturday morning. My aim now is to do a few cards a night, as I do like to write a personal message in all.

Its a busy week next week, although I no longer need to go to Birmingham for a work event which would have been a few days away. This is a relief although its been covered by other work matters and I’ll be doing some unavoidable overtime. I’m hoping by the end of the week, I’ll be able to do some short, local drives which will help family life and take some pressure off Mr S.

My week … the one with a birthday

Week 3 of my recovery and I think I’m beginning to hibernate. As someone who used to like to be outside, I’m definitely developing a new need to be inside, warm and cosy at present. I’ll take this as I recover, but I think I’ll need to be quite disciplined in the next few weeks. I did go on one trip out this week to the clinic and had another layer of dressing and bandages removed. The photo was taken in between dressing when I was trying to compare swelling and foot sizes. I’m still not in shoes, but using my trusty boot. I have been doing my foot exercises thrice daily, they’re a bit painful but I’m hoping this is a good sign. I have also started to walk up and down stairs (down is definitely trickier) and am planning tonight as the last in my downstairs bedroom before returning to my big, comfy bed.

Given that I am house bound, we did very little on Halloween, I did a fancy platter of some sweet treats (the milky ghost from M&S are yummy) and we watched a film. It was a pretty horrible, wet and windy day so everyone was quite agreeable to the plan. I also had a box of chocolates to share as the day before, my daughter’s boyfriend had brought me some flowers and chocolates as a get well gift. I was so impressed by his kindness and thoughtfulness.

On Monday, I went back to work, well I worked from home. Throughout the pandemic I have been onsite for every single working day, so working from home is a novelty. I was amazed how productive I was, the nature of my role means my phone goes pretty much constantly and we always have visitors to our office, so without distraction, I got a lot done. However then I wanted to try and do even more and take the pressure off my colleague in our office and I ended up working a lot of extra hours during the week. Like many jobs, I’m not sure I even scratched the surface of work needing to be done, it is relentless at present. My colleague and I have both been reading Fewer Things Better by Angela Watson. It is a great book and now the challenge is to apply our new found knowledge to our working lives.

This week also saw Mr S birthday. Now I had been super organised, pre operation, so there was very little to be done on the day apart from making a lightbox message and blowing up a few balloons. I did offer to buy a take away for his birthday tea bit we just had Mr S favourite home cooked meal and enjoyed his birthday cake. Its always a Christmas cake as this is his favourite and fortunately its a good time of year to be able to buy them!

Birthdays and special occasions have now paused after a busy few weeks so its that pre Christmas period. I do love Christmas but need to wait for a few more weeks before I can start to get really excited about it. My daughter and I are Christmas shopping on her Inset day on the 26th so I think this will be our start to the season. I’m still at home working next week, although I’m going to try and work onsite on Friday before returning properly the following week.

Little moments

Today, when the house was quiet after waving the children off to school and I had some time to sit down with a mug of tea, I flicked through the text chat my daughter and I had shared this morning. It gave me all the feels, it had been one of those light, easy and smooth mornings, everyone happy and packed off to school on time. I appreciate those mornings as its not always like that and the pressure to get everyone out by 7.40am can be stressful, noisy and messy with a taxi arriving and a bus to catch.

The wearing of a coat for school has been one of those arguments that has gone on for the years my daughter has been at secondary school. My daughter likes to think that a blazer with a short sleeve blouse is an all weather look! So I was pleasantly surprised when she agreed to wear it without argument this morning and even more so when I got a text as a thank you. I love the way the conversation developed, her creation of the word wintinal, my mum inspired photo shop and her reaction.

With my current post op recovery, I’ve felt a pretty rubbish mum in the past few weeks. Half term was pretty dull with none of our normal visits and treats. I can’t go upstairs, so no tucking the children in their beds, I’m pretty much house bound, I can’t drive, so my daughter’s boyfriend’s family had to make a 30 mile detour so she could accompany them on his birthday treat last weekend, I really miss not being able to take my son to the skate park or for a hot chocolate at the local cafe. I know I’m no fun at present, so the text chat was a little reminder that a little silliness helps us all.