My week .. the one with cosy nights in.

This week has been one of those in-between weeks, it’s not quite Christmas yet but it is tantalisingly close to festive celebrations.

The weather this week has been really grey, wet and miserable (but surprisingly warm at 14 degrees) so there has been lots of cosy nights in. It has also seen the start of the football World Cup in Qatar, so football is dominating the tv schedules. I do love my football but have such an uneasy feeling about this world cup, Qatar’s appalling human rights records are overshadowing the tournament and we are missing the buzz and excitement of a summer world cup. I didn’t watch the first England game which they won 6-2 as I was at work, and whilst some of my pupils had chosen to watch it, I took the others out for our normal shopping trip, with the bonus of a quiet supermarket. I did watch the goalless draw against the USA on Friday night which sadly wasn’t the most entertaining of games, and all eyes are now on the England Wales match on Tuesday. As well as the football, I’ve been busy reading every evening. I have really enjoyed The Girls who Disappeared. A thriller is not my normal genre of choice, but it was Kindle daily deal and as the blurb looked interesting, I took a chance. It is an excellent read and once started I couldn’t put it down. I appreciated the ending too which neatly tied up all the loose ends properly.

Despite the weather, there are times when you do need to get outside, so on Saturday morning, my daughter and I were off to volunteer at parkrun. I had a beautiful marshalling spot, sheltered from the wind with a view of the sea and woods, whilst my daughter who was giving out tokens was in a more exposed spot and definitely felt the cold more. After the parkrun, we met the boys and headed to a local village for a bracing walk. There is something mesmerising about watching the waves crash on onto the cliffs and there were caves to explore too. There was an ultra-marathon on the route we were walking, and those runners had my full respect, it was really muddy, and the hills were tough to ascend even with the help of a walking stick. Later in the afternoon, my son and I were back in our home town and saw the runners coming in to finish along the beach.

Fortunately, today has been a lazy Sunday, there were a few household jobs to do, bathrooms, washing the car, a trip to the dump etc… Once the chores had been done, my son and I practiced icing a cake, ready for Christmas and then we all settled to watch the first Christmas film of the year, No Sleep ’til Christmas. Our day finished with a proper roast with all the trimmings a perfect way to finish the day.

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My week …the one with Christmas shopping

Initially, we hadn’t planned on Christmas shopping this weekend, having bought our train tickets for next weekend for the Black Friday offers. However, a train strike cancelled these plans and we went a week earlier as we have busy diaries in December and I didn’t wish to drive as an alternative. Fortunately, I don’t think we really missed any of the special offers, as the one thing I needed to purchase had a price match offer in John Lewis and I got it at the best price I have seen. More of the shopping trip later.

This time of year there does appear to be a lot of special events and this week was Children In Need. I didn’t watch the evening programme as I was prepping for a busy weekend but we did some special events in school. I was really pleased with my new Pudsey t-shirt, as a SEN teacher, the sign and braille letters were perfect for my role. We also had our son’s Annual Review on CIN day, so yes I did appear on screen wearing Pudsey ears and t-shirt. We were so proud of his progress and his confidence and happiness at school.

On Saturday morning, I was at parkrun with my daughter who is continuing with her DofE volunteering. I had run a flat route pre parkrun, and there is always a simple pleasure in running during sunrise, how the run starts in the dark and ends in the light, especially as it was a beautifully winter sunny day. I had chosen to run a flat route as my knee injury wouldn’t cope with the hilly parkrun. However, I discovered that it wouldn’t cope with the flat route either and I have to admit that I was on painkillers for a few days after too. There was a special guest at the parkrun, as the founder of parkrun, Paul Sinton Hewitt ran and my daughter was on time keeping duties with his lovely wife, Jo. He was kind enough to have a photo taken with my daughter, a lovely memento for her DofE portfolio.

Our shopping trip started early on Sunday, so no lie ins this weekend as I was up at 6am both mornings. We arrived before the shops opened so had a festive drink in Costa as we waited for them to open for browsing. Our main focus was John Lewis and as is tradition we started in the Christmas decorations department. It was all lovely and sparkling but something nagged at me about the plastic and glitter, I am definitely more focused on decorations made from natural materials and I do wish to use more fresh flowers this year. My daughter’s main present was a bottle of Chanel perfume, she saw and sampled the perfumes last Christmas and has had one on her wish list since. It was special to go to the Chanel counter and choose her perfume, not only did she get to choose her favourite, Chanel Mademoiselle but it was all wrapped up and presented to her in a Chanel bag. It felt like a rite of passage, and I feel she has excellent taste. We also picked up some clothes for her and although we browsed in a lot of shops, we didn’t buy a lot. I prefer using independent shops and local artisan and producers and there are a couple of local markets which I am looking forward to visiting in the next couple of weeks.

My week … the one with a mum and son day

Its lovely to spend a special day with our children individually and I have one planned with both children in the coming weeks (although the train strike may hamper my best laid plans) Today was the turn of my son and we really had a lovely day. Our thing is crazy golf and I had discovered that in a nearby town there was Mr Mulligans an indoor games centre with an 18-hole crazy golf. It was amazing, the first 9 holes were a futuristic neon inspired course and the second a post apocalypse nightmare, it sounds mad but it worked brilliantly. The design and detail were incredible, and the setting in a dark basement, pumping music gave it an edge too. The game ended a draw so the current score is 5.5 v 3.5. As we walked out of the club, we saw the Everton team getting on their coach in the hotel opposite. Sadly I’m not too knowledgeable on who was who, although I would have recognised their manager Frank Lampard but I didn’t see him. My son had actually been to see Everton in a cup match on Tuesday so was not so star truck as he might have been for a different team. The football ground is very small and where the boys were sitting, they were very close to all the players and managers.

After our game, we pottered along the seafront and pier and around the town. The weather was stunning, no coats needed, but actually so warm it brought climate concerns very much to the fore. To coincide with the COP27 conference taking place, there was an environment protest in the town centre and the sign giving today’s temperature of 17 degrees, when the average high should be 10 degrees was telling of the crisis. There was a real buzz around the town, the protest was bright, musical and strangely positive, the Christmas market, lights and ice rink were being finished off and it was just lovely.

I do like having a memorable day at the weekend as it gives the week a focus and something to look forward to. My evenings are very quiet, this week I’ve been reading Regretting You, a YA novel by Colleen Hoover, it’s an okay story but not one I would strongly recommend, however its still a nice, easy read. I have also succumbed to I’m a Celebrity, it’s been very interesting to see the response from camp mates and the audience to the former health secretary, Matt Hancock and his role in the pandemic, there is a lot of anger and resentment, and it will be very interesting if the show is his redemption or a final farewell to his public career. During my hours at the tv, I created a little emoji for my classroom. I never use my photo online, but I need something for some website pages and resources so am pleased to have something which looks like me.

I’m not sure what next week brings, it’s a strangely quiet one in my diary with just my son’s Annual Review pencilled in. Although, excitingly our new bed is finally arriving (it’s a story..) and we should get our new dishwasher as the other is beyond repair. Its the little things which make life rock!

My week … the one with fireworks

There always seems to be a flurry of special events this week, we have had my mum and Mr S’ birthdays, Halloween and Guy Fawkes. My organisation skills have been pretty mint to ensure all the plans were in order. The birthdays were quiet celebrations. My mum is in Spain so it was a Facetime call and a satisfaction that the early posting of her cards ensured she had some to open on her birthday. My family’s organisational skills don’t match mine, and although I am teased, I like how I work. Mr S’ birthday was a quiet weekday night in with his favourite tea and his traditional birthday cake, Christmas cake. My new workplace is less than a mile from a M&S food hall, so our special treats are all so much more accessible now. I still can’t get over the accessibility I have to shops and services working in a big town. There is a drive thru Starbucks minutes from school and this has blown my mind!

Halloween was a strange non-event this year, the boys were away at football training for most of the evening and the weather was so horrendous, that no one came trick or treating. I didn’t even dress the house properly for Halloween, I simply didn’t have time with our busy half term and trip away. I think sometimes it’s okay to take a pause, although whilst we didn’t celebrate at home, I did do spooky science at work and some of my students did dress up.

As Mr S’ birthday is very close to Bonfire night, we have always tended to use this celebration for Mr S’ treat. We were toying with a number of options and finally went for Friday night at the rugby club in the neighbouring town (our town has no organised event because we have lots of summer displays being a holiday town) The rugby club turned out to be an excellent choice as the weather was perfect and the following night, the weather cancelled a number of the displays we had been considering. Again, we needed to sort the logistics and my daughter and I didn’t go home after school and just met the boys in the pub for a few drinks before the display. Is there any better way to spend an early Friday evening than in a warm and cosy pub, anticipating the weekend ahead? The evening was lovely, a mild but bright night, with delicious food from local businesses (pizzas and pancakes) a little funfair, live entertainment, an Elvis impersonator and of course a stunning display, a wonderful evening.

Despite the late night, we were up early for parkrun on Saturday, but unusually as volunteers and not runners. My knee is playing up so I went to help my daughter who is volunteering as part of her DofE award. It was wild, wet and windy and we were the timekeepers on an exposed spot, but it was strangely life affirming, so friendly and good to be out and refreshed! It also felt totally justified to have a cosy rest of the day at home.

My week … the half term edition

Half term was fun, busy and the tonic required after a busy autumn term (so far) It was a mix of time at home, trips out and a little stay away.

Without wishing to make this entry sound like a what I did on holiday piece of homework, it does make more sense to detail the week in order! On Monday, we started the week with a trip to the Haynes car museum in Yeovil, for my car crazy son. We had been when he was much younger but this time, he was the perfect age to really appreciate the cars and exhibits. It is a fantastic, interactive museum, a real labour of love, with lots of really friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, keen to share their expertise and the enthusiasm of visitors. My son really was bursting with happiness when one of the volunteers offered for him to sit in his all-time favourite car, the Lamborghini. The museum is halfway between our home and my parents, so my dad came to spend the day with us too which was lovely, as we hadn’t seen each other since the summer. Despite it being half term, my son still had his football training in the county town on our way home from the museum, so I got to see him which was a treat for me as I can’t normally go. It was a quieter session but great to see him on the field and enjoying his football. It was a dream day for him, cars and football his twin passions.

After a busy Monday, I had planned a lazy day at home on Tuesday. My children were keen to make a gingerbread haunted house, and it became pretty much a whole day activity, baking the gingerbread in the morning, ‘gluing’ it together after lunch and finally decorating it in the afternoon. It was a brilliant activity, and the result was impressive. I liked how well the children worked together on it, and although I was in the kitchen it was very much their work and ideas. Tuesday became a bit of a kitchen day, with a delicious homemade red pepper and tomato soup for lunch and a double cheese tart for dinner, all made from scratch. My kitchen is my sanctuary and a day spent in my kitchen is a very well spent day.

Wednesday morning was heavy rain and strong winds, not the best conditions for my son’s football camp. However, after the first hour the conditions rapidly improved and he enjoyed the session run by the local football league team. We all went over to the ‘big’ town, but we escaped to the local shopping centre for a warm drink and to collect a few bits and pieces whilst he trained. The camp was only for the morning and we had a picnic in the park before we returned home to pack for our days away.

I was a bit worried about our trip away. It was postponed from our original date, as we all had Covid in July, and whilst we were able to rearrange the hotel and tickets, the trip had to be taken by the end of October. I was concerned about the weather and had visions of us all trudging around a wet and windy Longleat not having a lot of fun. However, we struck gold with the weather, on the day we visited Longleat, it was warm and bright and all that was needed was a long-sleeved top for the later afternoon. The blue skies in the pictures above illustrate what a beautiful day it was. We are familiar with Longleat so had planned our day accordingly. We started on the boat as it can be busy later and walked straight on to enjoy the little cruise and of course, to feed the sea lions. We then did the maze as this can be busy too, before heading off to the safari park. The park is getting ready for the light festival, and it was a bonus to see the display on the park. This year’s theme is Roald Dahl books and it is STUNNING. Although the purpose of our trip was to visit Longleat, we also enjoyed a little meander around Trowbridge where we were staying, a trip to see the film Black Adam (sadly not my type of film but the children enjoyed it lots) and a very nice meal out. We were also able to go and visit my father-in-law on Saturday before returning home, so a very successful trip.

We returned home late Saturday, just in time for the Strictly Halloween special and then had a lazy Sunday ready for the new half term. It really was a good half term, one where I felt refreshed and relaxed and looking forward to the Christmas countdown.

My week … the one with the end of a half term

So in my first half term in my new school, we have already had two Prime Ministers and are now awaiting our third. With two monarchs and two PMs, my classroom display has been more regularly updated than anticipated. I don’t actually think I can describe the farcical political situation this week, so much happened and Wednesday was genuinely so mental that the PM’s resignation was inevitable on Thursday. However even when we thought it couldn’t get any more diabolical, it appears that Boris may be running for PM again. As a politics graduate, part of me is loving this daily political feed, the intrigue and theatre and then I realise this is our government and our country and then it doesn’t feel so amusing. I dread the coming days and can only hope that we get a PM who can bring stability, security and gravity to the position.

We have needed light relief from the politics, and we have a new favourite streamed series, Welcome to Wrexham, which is on Disney. It is an unlikely true story, the takeover of the national league club by two Hollywood stars but is fascinating. As someone who has always supported teams in the lower leagues, it’s great to see the real life of a club, its players, supporter etc.. I think anyone who watches it, will become a Wrexham fan, it’s a great little series.

We continued our days out with a trip across the ferry and a sunny walk along some of the beautiful beaches which make up the coastal path. It is a great route for house spotting, with some of the most expensive and architecturally interesting properties situated on this beach. We went for the walk after parkrun rather than today as the weather forecast was awful (and proven to be correct with some amazing thunder and lightning today) After yesterday’s impressive number of steps, we have enjoyed a quiet, sorting day at home today. I love when the bad weather allows you to be cosy inside.

I am very much looking forward to this, my half term week and it’s the time when I turn my attention to proper Christmas planning. I use my holidays to plan and organise and always feel so much better for it. For example, this week it was my old school friend’s 50th birthday, the first of our year group and I was so relieved to have bought a lovely present in the summer which I sent off last week with the minimum of fuss. Being organised makes me so feel so much more relaxed and able to enjoy the now.

Our half term week starts tomorrow with a trip to Haynes Motor museum where we are meeting my dad (my mum is currently in Spain to develop her language skills) On Tuesday we have a home day and are baking a Halloween gingerbread house and carving our pumpkins, before a football camp and then our rearranged Longleat trip. I’m hoping this is a good mix of home and special trips to relax and rejuvenate us all.

My week … the one with an enchanting garden

This half term, we have made a real effort to have a family day each weekend and spend time with each other with no distraction. We have done lots of our family favourites in the past few weeks, so this weekend, we decided to explore somewhere new. It was a garden / sculpture park that we’ve read about many times and considered it, but never quite got there. However, we went this weekend and what an unexpected delight, we all loved it. There were lots of different themed areas and the views were stunning. The children loved the tropical plants and the different of textures and colours of the bark. There was also a fun rope bridge to cross the water. I really appreciated the sculptures and water features and simply breathing in the smells of all the different plants. It was an awe-inspiring visit, and we all want to return in a different season to see how it looks with different colours and flowers, it is a very special place.

Our weekend days out have helped to give the week a focus as I still am acclimatising to my new school and working full time for the first time in twelve years. The family day gives something to hook the week on and spend quality time together. All our days out this half term have been to outdoor venues, its been a mild and beautiful autumn and we’re keen to be outside whilst we can.

This week we finished the miniseries, This England about the first few months of the pandemic. Whilst I acknowledge it is a series and subject to dramatization for effect, it was also supported by factual information from the time and made uncomfortable watching on the conduct of ministers and ‘special advisers.’ Given the political chaos at present in the UK, it feels that our political system is an anachronism in modern society. Our current PM was voted in by Tory party members (81,000) rather than the general electorate (47 000 000) and was not even the first choice of the Conservative MPs. The only positive from the current state of affairs is that topical news comedies are very humorous. I am reading the third book in the Rotter Club series by Jonathon Coe, Middle England and there is a strong political theme in this book too, some of the writing is so pertinent to current events, it is quite spooky.

Next week is the final before half term, so I am busy finalising plans for our holiday week with a few treats, some lazy days at home and the Covid rearranged break to Longleat. I like to plan as I feel it makes the most of the break.

My week … the one with autumn colours.

With busy weekdays, the weekends are special. A time to relax, do something nice, be with my family and catch up on little jobs. It’s surprising how rejuvenating a busy weekend can be if its the right things you are doing.

This weekend saw me catch up on some health checks, an eye test and my flu jab. In an impressive feat of organisation, I had both done in the same building and neatly went from one to the other. This was done in a neighbouring town, so my daughter tagged along and after my jobs we had a nice time picking up a few essentials and spending some birthday gift vouchers. There was of course the trip to a coffee shop for seasonal delights. We returned mid afternoon, just in time to watch the football scores and read the paper, with the sunshine streaming through the window. Having had a beautiful early morning run and then finishing with Strictly Come Dancing in the evening, it was a pretty perfect Saturday.

Each weekend, we do try to have one family day with a trip out somewhere. This weekend courtesy of a National Trust offer we enjoyed a complimentary day out at Kingston Lacy, its not our local NT property but we thought we would peruse the house and then take a walk in the grounds. It’s such a large property that the woodland walk which is only part of the estate is 5k. The house was interesting and a decent size which kept the children’s interest and curiosity for the tour. There were some really lovely volunteers who really made the house and it’s history come alive. We then walked around the different gardens, the Japanese garden and the kitchen garden were delightful, before doing the 5k woodland walk prior to our picnic lunch. The colours in the woods were just stunning and with the bright blue skies it was a kaleidoscope of colour. It was one of those days in which nature invigorates, inspires and relaxes you.

My week … the one with a new car

In thinking about my week, it all seemed rather routine and monotonous. However, despite the similarities of the days, I am really enjoying my new job, it’s fun hence the photo above of leaf animals part of our Forest School work. Sometimes routine is comforting and inspiring.

As a result of my new job and work that I knew would be needed on my car this winter, I decided to upgrade it. My old car was a basic little run-around (and much loved!) perfect when my commute to work was 1 mile. However, it is not so good for a 35-minute commute, which in winter will be more challenging along country roads. I also only had a FM car radio and wanted to be able to listen to DAB radio and podcasts on my commute. I really don’t like buying cars, I’ve had a couple of poor experiences in the past, so Mr S offered to do this for me. I simply gave him the make and model and he did the rest, totally stress free for me. He’s brilliant at negotiating a deal and succeeded again. I actually never saw my new car until it had been paid for and delivered and the first time I drove it was on a night out with friends on Friday. This did leave to a rather amusing midnight problem as we tried to work out the child locks. I am delighted with the car it ticked all the boxes at a decent price and mileage. I can’t get over all the mod cons, it’s made driving very exciting!

My running is not really back into its routine yet, but I have still being going out at weekends. Last Sunday it was a beautiful morning and when I ran by the new statue in town, I paused a few minutes to appreciate its beauty. This statue commemorates a local hero, Trevor Chadwick who was a teacher and also lived on site at the school in which I used to work. In 1939, he helped to rescue nearly 700 children from Prague, a story that was hidden for decades and has only recently been shared. As a result the community not only raised the funds for this statue but also the children’s playground it overlooks, was renovated and renamed in his honour. It seems so fitting that he overlooks the children’s playground and out to sea and it is a special place to pause and reflect.

Today, I’ve not run a parkrun, my knee feels a bit sore but my son and I went up to our local parkrun to volunteer. We were there early to set up the course and then later drove into the next town to do a few jobs and treated ourselves to a rather, lovely little lunch. Life may be routine but there is always joy in such moments.