My weeks … the ones with happy family times.

Sometimes your planned week can change and offers you the most wonderful opportunity. The first week of this fortnight offered such a lovely surprise. On Saturday, I was planning on running and volunteering on a parkrun, doing a bit of housework, pottering and perhaps starting a little holiday packing. However I got a text on Friday afternoon to ask if my parents and uncle could pop down and spend the afternoon with us. What made this so special is my uncle lives abroad and was only in the UK for a short visit. I hadn’t seen him in more than 15 years and I was so excited to see him. When I was a little girl he lived with our family in London for a time and when we moved to Reading he was a frequent Sunday visitor for a roast dinner and catch up. My uncle was always so kind and fun and I only have lovely memories of him, following our meet up, he remains very much the same Uncle of my childhood.

Saturday was one of those perfect days you cherish and made me smile all week. I did manage my parkrun and got my 25 volunteering award and then ran down to town to collect the fresh ingredients for lunch. I kept it simple with the most delicious olive bread from our local indie bakery, a Greek salad, hummus and dips, local cheese and cold meats and fresh summer fruits. After weeks of rain, the weather was perfect and we ate outside. Not only did we have my parents and uncle, my daughter’s boyfriend also came and neighbours chatted over the wall. Following our relaxed lunch we walked along the beach and then stopped at the artisan ice cream shop, if you’re going to do the seaside you need to do it in style. The day was just so lovely to spend time with my family and catch up, it felt there was no time between our last meeting.

On the same day, our boys were away all day as they had tickets for the final home game of the football season against Man Utd, it was sad they missed the day but perhaps it gave us more opportunity to reminisce and chat. The boys had a brilliant day too and I’ve made a photo book of all the photos my son had taken with his team as they posed for photos and signed autographs as they went in.

Apart from work, my weeks were very much getting ready for our half term holiday to the Isle of Wight. A holiday means a holiday hair colour and cut, fancy nails , holiday playlist etc.. I also am a keen organiser and had many holiday lists so that we were all ready for our car packing deadline of Friday evening. We have a new car since our last holiday with a smaller boot but by replacing our suitcases with fabric holdalls, I think we can actually take more things in a smaller space!

We travelled over to the Isle of Wight on Saturday morning. It’s quite exciting going on the little ferry and then travelled across the island to our caravan park in Shanklin. The caravan is lovely and the campsite beautiful. So far we’ve only been here for just over 24 hours but have enjoyed an outdoor swim, a walk to the beach and had a lunch of fish and chips (and veggie options) on the seafront. We also have reservations for local attractions too during the week, which I’ll report back on next week. The weather is gorgeous and best of all predicted to remain so all week.

These last two weeks have just shown it’s family and community which can make you feel so good, the connection helps you be the best you. Life is always about appreciating and embracing the simple things in life.


My week … the one with sunny walks

I have really enjoyed the consecutive bank holiday weekends and the temporary return to a four day working week. This weekend has definitely felt short in comparison as you try to squeeze everything in, especially as its been a beautiful sunny weekend, a real contrast to the preceding two wet weekends.

Monday was a very wet and miserable day, but it suited our plans I drove our daughter to her boyfriend’s and then took our son to the cinema to see Guardians of the Galaxy 3. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film, it was very watchable, with a great soundtrack and some very pertinent plotlines, animal testing, family etc.. It was also nice to spend some mum and son time together and of course there were cinema snacks too.

The working week was good and productive, so evenings were spent relaxing. We finished the Diplomat on Netflix and are now awaiting the next season to find out what really happened at the end. I’m not a tv person, I enjoy watching a few things but have been very happy reading and finishing my book, ‘Its not me, its you’ by Mhairi McFarlane. Chick lit is wrongly maligned as a genre, but I need light and witty and I love McFarlane’s work. We also watched the latest Ted Lasso and again this series is simply genius. Hannah Waddingham, Rebecca in Ted Lasso has been co presenting Eurovision this week and has been absolute class. I haven’t watched a lot of Eurovision but caught a little of the end of the two semi finals which were more enjoyable than expected.

We tried to pack lots into a sunny weekend, the weather has been so grey and wet this year, that a sunny day demands an outdoor adventure! On Saturday, I did some pre run volunteering and then parkran, before a quick shower and change to do a walk between two local villages, stopping halfway for lunch, fresh pasties at a local bakers. The route took us through a forest carpeted in bluebells, through a farm and fields and meadows, before arriving at the very picturesque village. I was amused by the village’s leftover Coronation decorations, there appears to have been a scarecrow competition and we came across a bedraggled Prince Harry complete with bottle of champagne.

Today we decided to make full use of the £2 bus fare and went over to the neighbouring seaside town again. However today, we got off the bus early and walked along the prom for a few miles into the town centre, it was a beautiful morning and a sunny beach is the perfect Sunday morning vista.

Next week’s plans are preparing for the upcoming holiday with nail and hair appointments , before packing the week after as we leave straightaway when we break up. I like this anticipation and planning, holidays are our special times together.

My week .. the one with a Coronation

May is proving to be a lovely month for bank holidays, two consecutive three day weekends. After our busy Saturday and Sunday last week, Monday was simply a lazy, pottering day at home, I sorted out a few cupboards, put away the winter scarves and hats to be replaced by sun hats and caps and did some fadmin (family admin) a lovely little day.

There was a bit of a family drama this week, but that has now been resolved in sort. I would love a quieter life but with two teenagers in the house, this may have to wait for a few more years. We did have our daughter’s parents evening this week, school is difficult for her, its just not the right environment and she struggles with her behaviour. However, the consultation wasn’t as bad as we were expecting and there is that hope that if she can settle down in Year 11 and focus she may get the grades needed for the college course she is interested in. As a teacher, I have had students who didn’t thrive in school and am confident that my daughter’s character, intelligence and wit will serve her well in adult life. At the parents evening we had lots of resources shared with us to help independent study, one of which was Duolingo. I couldn’t resist and have signed up. At present its French ( I have a honours degree in the language , so perhaps not the most taxing for me) and I may try a new language too.

This week has been all about the preparation for the Coronation. There are Union Jacks hanging from every lamp post in our town and neighbouring villages. The King Charles post box topper is near my daughter’s school and the crown (which is huge, as tall as me) is at our local station. I haven’t put up any bunting, as there are parts of the coronation I feel uncomfortable with, most notably, the cost, upwards of £100 million in a cost of living crisis. I feel there is more indifference to this celebration and a lot of people are considering if this is the beginning of the end of the monarchy. However, as a teacher, we have looked at the history, made crowns, learnt how to sing and sign the national anthem, dressed in red, white and blue, picnicked and thanks to excellent reports on Newsround have considered the monarchy’s role in modern British society. Tellingly one of my students asked why the money for the Coronation could not be spent on the nhs, our young are wise beyond their years.

Our Saturday parkrun had a Coronation theme, so I borrowed some of the crowns we made at school, draped my leopard print Union Jack scarf around me and did my pre run volunteer stint. The weather was awful, very, very wet so all the accessories were taken off so I could concentrate on battling the wind, rain and very muddy conditions on the run. However, post run, I ate one of the best ever fruit cakes I have tasted, with the perfect amount of marzipan and icing printed with the coronation symbol. We also stopped for a second breakfast in the parkrun café so despite being the wettest ever parkrun, it was one of the most memorable too. By the time we got home the Coronation was in full swing so I had it on tv, whilst we showered and warmed up. I was wowed by Penny Mordaunt’s outfit (that dress, the cloak, the head piece) and role in the ceremony, standing perfectly with a heavy sword for hours was mighty impressive. Tbh, it was the fashion which caught my attention rather than the solemnity of the ceremony.

As the children have plans for tomorrow, today, Sunday was our dedicated family day of the weekend. Thanks to the national £2 price cap on bus fares, we took the open top bus across the ferry to our big seaside town, where we had a ‘Spoons’ breakfast and had a lovely meander along the beach, played on the slot machines on the pier, walked through the gardens and returned back home. There was a really nice atmosphere at the seaside, I think everyone was enjoying the sunshine as again the forecast is awful tomorrow.

My week … looking for colour

If I were to describe April 2023 in one word it would be grey. There has been the odd day of sunshine but it has been unseasonably cool and cloudy and one has had to seek out the colour and warmth.

If you’re searching for warm and humanity this month, the place to find it is in Ted Lasso, each episode of the new series is wonderful. In this week’s episodes the themes of immigration and racism were at the heart of the storyline yet it still felt so uplifting and positive, its a comedy where you can go from one emotion to another in seconds. I listened to an interview with Jason Sudeikis, the lead character and producer, this week and it made me love the series that little bit more, what a brilliant cast and production team. Mr S and I have also been watching the series, Funny Woman, starring Gemma Arterton, its a lovely pastiche of 1960s London but also addresses the changing values of the time, well worth a watch.

This week it was time for my decennial task, renewing my passport. I changed it to my new name when I got married which was also the week of my 30th birthday so its an easy date to remember for the renewal. I chose to take and upload my own digital photograph, the online renewal is a great feature but I did need a few takes until the photo passed the quality test. I think I will feel rather sad when I get my new passport, it will be the new blue cover as a result of Brexit and I presume that the wording will have changed to His Majesty, sometimes its the little things which are reminders of the changing times.

Recently I have been listening to a few fashion podcasts with the focus on sustainable fashion. In February I ordered a skirt from Unfolded, an ethical company which makes clothes to order and it arrived this week. I am very happy with the skirt, the size, colour and pattern are perfect and I can’t wait to do a little twirl in it. I also wore a pair of wedge espadrilles today which I had picked up brand new in a charity shop a few weeks ago, I do like a mooch around a charity shop, a lot of times there is nothing suitable but sometimes there is a little gem which makes the browsing worthwhile.

Although its a bank holiday weekend, we didn’t really have any big plans, the boys had tickets for the football today and I wanted to do parkrun yesterday. However I did want to something special to mark the longer weekend. Usually this might have been a bit of parkrun tourism but as my top two tourist parkruns are in very busy holiday towns, I decided to give this idea a miss and ran and volunteered at our home parkrun. Instead, I chose to visit some gardens which has been on my to do list for years. These gardens came highly recommended but I had never found the time to visit, a Sunday at the end of April did seem like the perfect opportunity to see the colourful blossom and looms. The gardens were magnificent, I feel like I have discovered my little sanctuary and actually feel quite emotional about the visit. There were the formal Italian and Japanese gardens and then the more relaxed, rock and water, woodland and heather gardens, all were special in their own way. My daughter came with me and despite her indifference at the visit, she was enthralled and took some incredible photos, I really can’t wait to go back and revisit in a different season.

As we left the gardens, I stopped to let a car out of a side road and glanced at the post box to my side as the car drove off. To my excitement (and my daughter’s bemusement) the post box featured the really rare Edward 8th insignia, of which there were only 161 made, and the only one that has been missing from my #postboxbingo. #postboxbingo dates from the first lockdown and was a feature on my favourite podcast With Me Now. It helped give our walks a focus and fun in some strange and worrying times and I was so happy to finally complete it three years after the challenge began. I didn’t want to simply look up an address and go the the post box but find it spontaneously, I like that a doing a nice thing led to its discovery.