My week … the one with the home made pasties

Its quite difficult to write an interesting and original weekly round up, as in lockdown, life is pretty much the same every week, work, home, run, read. I’m watching little tv as it all seems a bit dull and we’re quickly working our way through the Marvellous Mrs Maisel, season 3 now, which never disappoints. I’ve become far too interested in the weather, the time the sun rises and sets (in fairness its to help plan runs in the light as I can do more varied routes and I’m now walking to work in the light too) the tides and this week I learnt about the last winter new moon, who knew that it was a thing? I really need to get out more , if only we could…

The road map out of lockdown was announced this week, it seems pretty sensible and measured and gave us all some hope for the summer. It seems we will be able to go on our UK holiday in May and I am so pleased that parkrun now has a return date too, hey its still 14 weeks away but there is a date and some promise of brighter times ahead. Mr S also got his vaccination letter this week as he has an underlying medical condition and he’s booked in for next week. I’m so impressed by the vaccination roll out, as of today over 20 million jabs have been given, an amazing testament to our nhs and volunteers.

With not much on tv, I have been reading in the evenings and this week its been Motherwell by Deborah Orr. Its slightly uncomfortable reading as I recognise a few stories in it having been played out in my childhood too. But it is also giving me more of an understanding of the social, cultural and economic environment my mum grew up in, as she grew up in a similar Scottish town to Motherwell.

One of the things we have been doing in lockdown is cooking, its gone from cakes and bakes to meals and on request today, Little Man and I made home made pasties for tea. Little Man’s primary class did a project with a local café and created their own pasties, he’s remembered it well over the years and wanted to repeat his filling of chicken, bacon and cheese. We made the pasties from scratch, including home made pastry, hey its lockdown we have the time! His pasty did look delicious (I’m veggie so didn’t try it) and he loved it, so one happy boy at teatime tonight with his hand made pasty.

So its another lockdown week to follow, the last full week of home schooling for Little Miss, although her school has a staggered start the following week and she won’t be returning on March 8th. Here’s to a happy and relaxed week.

My week … the one with pancakes and half term.

Of all the school holidays, February half term is my least favourite. There’s not much to do, the weather can be pants and its too short to fly to sunnier climes. I now look back on 2020’s shocker of a half term with nostalgia, yes it rained heavily all the time and was so cold, but we had the little luxuries, our family friend came and stayed with us for a few days, we sat in cafes, went to the inflatable session at the local swimming pool, visited a local museum etc.. Such things which now seem alien and showed how little we understood what was about to happen to our lives.

I was a bit worried about how this lockdown half term would go, at least home school gives a structure to days. As I drafted this blog, it struck me that this is one which will actually sound quite jolly and busy but there were times when the drudgery of lockdown life appeared starkly and there was plenty of screen time to keep everyone sane.

In a lockdown holiday, there were lots of walks, we tried a little variety but its still a walk and everyone is so fed up of another walk. However, its the one thing we insist on daily, no walk, no screens. The weather had been quite wet and windy on Monday, and we went out when there was a quick break in the clouds for a walk along the beach. As we passed a local takeaway and saw the lovely array of cakes and pastries I stopped, much to the children’s delight, and bought a little impromptu snack for us all. As we stopped to eat our delicious bakes (cherry and almond croissant for me, which was amazing) the sun broke through the clouds and we felt the warmth on our faces as we watched the surfers doing their thing in the waves, life suddenly seemed a little more hopeful and happy. On another day, we walked up to the local country park, where they had a photography exhibition, entitled Unmasked, portraits from the Covid frontline. One of their buildings is an art gallery and they used its large windows to reverse the display so it could only be seen from outside. The project was simple, nhs workers photographed, accompanied by a short text on their thoughts on working on the Covid frontline. Their thoughts were humbling and inspiring. It was also lovely to see a few familiar faces in the photos, developing the sense of community and togetherness. On another day, we went to a different local beach and could really see the effect of the recent bad weather, parts of the beach had eroded and there was lots of driftwood on the beach.

At the beginning of the week, Mr S was decorating our daughter’s bedroom as virtual learning from her bedroom had delayed this project until the holiday. Its all completed now and looks great, we’ve gone from dreary grey to a more joyful palette of colours with a hint of the tropical. Unfortunately the smell of the paint did leave me feeling quite poorly and we had a couple of lazy afternoons as I tried to shake a headache and nausea.

I managed to read quite a bit this week and Haven’t They Grown was a good page turner of a book. The plot was that a former friend of a main character had by chance seen her after 12 years, but her children had not aged. It was a thriller and kept you gripped by its quite chilling conclusion.

Another little thing I enjoyed this week was a live presentation by Marks and Spencer Archive department on their fashion archives. I came across the event on Twitter and signed up for the broadcast. Oh, the designs, patterns and styles were amazing and it was such an interesting mix of social commentary and fashion. I believe it is now available on You Tube and well worth a watch.

Being a lockdown holiday, we have spent lots of time in the kitchen, either playing family games or cooking. Pancake day was the big highlight and it was lovely that it fell in a holiday. We spent lots of time preparing our fillings and toppings and it became a real event, more than just tossing the pancakes. Little Miss has been learning how to make more meals this holiday. We worked through a vegetable lasagne from scratch this week and it was delicious. She then took her new skills of making a cheese sauce to another night’s dinner where she made it independently for a cauliflower cheese.

Its back to school for Little Man and I on Monday, whilst Little Miss continues home schooling with Mr S. They have a lovely routine going and it has definitely added something to their relationship, they describe themselves as the DAD gang (dad and daughter) Despite this, my daughter is desperately hoping she gets to go back to school on March 8th. I’ve been as honest as we can with the information we have, but until Boris unveils the road map on Monday, we cannot be certain of anything and we have tried to warn her, that it might not be the exact return to school date.

I’m hoping that this has been the last holiday in such severe restrictions, the vaccination programme is rolling out so impressively that I am hopeful. Have a happy week.

A bedroom makeover.

I’ve not been recording the work done on our home in much detail over the past year and yet despite lockdown, we’ve been busy. It started just pre lockdown in 2020 when storm damage caused a leak in the children’s playroom and we had to have the flat roof re-laid and then redecorated due to the water damage. We were able to continue with the work we had planned pre lockdown as it was painting the house exterior and the decorators could paint outside within Covid restrictions. Painting the outside had been one of those big jobs on the to do list for a few years and I am delighted with the result. I did spend a lot of time trying to decide colours, I did like the idea of a pretty pastel colour but ended up with cream which looks lovely. Inside, Mr S has been busy decorating since he ‘retired’ in the summer, he has done the playroom, dining room, our bedroom and now our daughter’s bedroom. As she is home schooled at present, we had to wait until half term to do her room.

I wish I had taken a before picture, as it was a tired, dull bedroom. Little Miss was desperate when we last painted her room to have grey walls and then chose black and grey accessories. I like a room to radiate ambiance and warmth and I simply couldn’t get this from the grey room. The paint faded quickly and just made the room look duller. Fortunately, Little Miss was up for something brighter and bolder this time. We have been more adventurous (for us) in the rooms we have painted recently and I think this helped her to embrace more colour. We have been playing with colour testers for the past few weeks, trying, shades of plum, teal, purple but this bright blue was the unanimous choice. It is sea blue from Dulux. We liked that you can get cheap testers on the Dulux website with free p&p. I did wonder if the blue would be too much as this is the largest bedroom, but with her wardrobe, bunk bed and large bay window it is not a problem. Our daughter has the biggest bedroom as its an interesting shape and really limits where you can put furniture, our bedroom is slightly smaller but a really good shape and this arrangement works best for us all.

In addition to the painting, we have had a big decluttering of her room and as she nears 13, it has definitely become a teen room. It is a little scary removing so many toys, books and momentos, but her favourites are still in her room, some things have been put in her memory box and others are being donated to the charity shop. We’ve also updated the accessories, her new duvet covers come from Next and I have a couple of complementary cushions on order. The bunk bed is unusual in that the bottom bunk is a double bed and the top a single. This means she uses bottom layer as more of a day bed/sofa reading, listening to her music etc.. and just uses the top bunk for sleep. The disco ball is a nice touch to her love for dance and the fan displayed in the old fireplace was a hand painted present from my parents. One of her favourite Christmas presents was the peg lights from her aunt, we’ve put these up and she’s chosen some favourite photos to display.

I’m really pleased with the transformation, its a room which is now full of life and character, the perfect reflection of our daughter.

My week … the chilly one

It has been so cold this week, that I seem to have spent the week wrapped in a blanket throw at work (thanks to Covid ventilation rules and open windows) or under my cosy blanket on my sofa at home. We’ve had the icy weather and the wind chill factor but only a few little flakes of snow, see the flower photo above. The iced plants photo was taken this morning on our way to the farm, it was a spectacular sight.

Lockdown 3 continues with little more than work and home. We have a new game, a locally themed version of Cluedo which has been fun to play. I don’t know how but its the first time I have ever played Cluedo, I’m up on the rules now and have developed my own strategies. I definitely play to win.

Lockdown has brought some really random experiences. On Monday’s Scout Zoom meeting, Little Man did armpit cooking. It was as gross as it sounds and I didn’t try any of the chocolate fudge they made as I had seen how it had been prepared! Tonight, Little Man and I watched the final of the Masked Singer, such a random, bonkers programme but entertaining and harmless fun on a lockdown Saturday night. I correctly guessed one singer but am still very taken by Morten Harket aka Viking from a few weeks ago. I’ve seen A-ha in concert three times and although we’ve all aged a little, he could still be my bedroom wall pin up, 30 years later!

I did feel quite mature and adult this week as I needed to do some tax research. I’ve got part of Mr S’ tax allowance transferred to me now as he is no longer working and I needed to calculate all my allowances to check the figures of my new tax code. The HMRC resources were helpful and I think its the first time I’ve ever understood tax in all my working life. I’m not sure I would have investigated this fully if we weren’t in Lockdown, but it was genuinely refreshing to do something different and useful.

We have continued to watch the Marvellous Mrs Maisel, which is my favourite tv of Lockdown 3, it gets better with every episode (we’re now on Series 2, episode 6) However, this week I have also spent lots of time reading the Midnight Library by Matt Haig, a perfect story for this time. The story is simple, albeit with a bit of quantum physics to fully explain the plot, in which a woman takes an overdose and on the edge of life and death gets to live many versions of her life by making different decisions at key points in her life. Its very clever and life affirming and had me in tears at the end. By chance, as I finished the book, my playlist was playing Elbow’s One Day Like This, beautiful synchronicity. This is a hard period but perhaps one day we will look back at how it helped to reframe our lives.

Its half term next week, again a very strange week with none of our normal activities. Holidays and weekends feel like a game of lockdown bingo at present, board games, walks, baking, special dinners, family film, Nintendo Switch etc… Tick them all off to get house!

Have a happy half term.

My week … the one with humour

Its a been a really difficult month and there is still the sadness permeating our community following the Covid outbreak which saw us go from the virus suppressed to the second highest category in 6 weeks. It feels wrong to suggest that this has been a humorous week, but due to my reading and tv watching, there has been some carefully placed wit and humour hidden among the melancholy which is lockdown 3. I’m also lucky enough to share a socially distanced office with a great friend and colleague and among all the worry and angst of recent weeks, we had a real laugh out moment, where we were both nearly crying with laughter. When life has been so rough, you do actually cherish those unscripted funny times. Its the little moments which make life at present.

I’ve read …

A few months ago, I picked up Adam Hill’s Best Foot Forward on my beloved Kindle 99p deal of the day. I swiped it by accident after finishing my last book and having read the first page I was hooked. Its witty, thoughtful and full of brilliant stories and a testament to hard work. Its one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read recently.

I’ve watched …

We’re now on series 2 of the Marvellous Mrs Maizel and its only improving with each episode. The mix of family life and its dynamics, a woman’s role and the most stunning costumes is a winner. As if it couldn’t be any better, the action is now also in Paris and I get to see the beauty of 1950s Paris and lots of French dialogue to listen. It is my ideal of blissful tv.

I’ve admired the sky…

Lockdown 3 is work and one daily exercise a day, there’s not much variety in life and you do look for the little things. In the photo are 3 scenes from my daily exercise this week, a clear night sky full of stars, a rainbow peaking through the drab day and a beautiful dawn. Of the three images the night sky was the one which filled me with such awe, I hadn’t really noticed the sky on my run, concentrating on the pavement and not falling over in the dark (I’m clumsy) but when I returned home and was stood in my garden just looking, it was overwhelming just making you feel so small in the universe. I had also listened to Tim Peake’s Desert Island Discs and his words on space seemed to resonate with the beauty of the night sky.

And finally

Its one more week until half term. We’re decorating our daughter’s bedroom so we’ve been choosing paints and thinking of new ways to update the room for a teenage girl. This means Mr S will be busy decorating and I need to think of some ways to keep us amused at home. After nearly a year in lockdown, it’ll be a challenge to come up with new ideas.

My week … the one with a vaccination and a merit.

This week I have been bursting with happiness as events unfurled and after all the anxiety and worries of the past year, its an amazing feeling.

I had two brilliant things happen to me on Wednesday afternoon within minutes of each other. Firstly I had my first Covid vaccination and then I received the email informing me that I had passed my Uni course with merit. Walking home from work on Wednesday, I was sobbing big fat, happy tears.

I recognise how lucky I am to have had a Covid vaccination due to my profession. I work with vulnerable young people and initially staff were not on the list for priority vaccinations, simply because our provision is so specialist its a bit of an anomaly which didn’t really fit into any category. Unfortunately, we have had a couple of difficult weeks at work and Public Health England who became involved in our case, authorised our gp to vaccinate all staff as a priority. I have nothing but praise and thanks to Public Health England and our gp surgery whom have all been so supportive and helpful in our current situation. I have never been anxious about my personal health, if I were to contract Covid, I am fit and healthy and it would have simply been inconvenient with the 10 day isolation for all the family. However, I was very aware that some of the young people I work with are medically very vulnerable and the consequences could be far more serious. Since last March, I have been so careful, I couldn’t be the one who brought the infection into work and put the health of vulnerable others at risk. After being so aware of every risk, the vaccination brought such a feeling of relief. We were fortunate that the gp brought a team to vaccinate the staff onsite which made it quick and convenient for all. I was helping at the vaccination clinic and it was one of the most positive and uplifting experiences I’ve done in such a long time. Everyone was just so grateful to be having the vaccination and it gave me the warmest, fuzziest feeling of happiness. I had the Astra Zeneca vaccination, I had a few minor side effects, a bit of trippy night’s sleep resulting in hot sweats and shivers but quickly felt fine again. The elation at having the vaccination hasn’t diminished, I am just so incredibly thankful to the amazing scientists and medical professions who developed the vaccination in such a short period and are administering it to us all.

After finishing the clinic, I quickly checked my email as I was expecting my Uni results and was shocked but delighted to see that my mark meant that I had not simply passed my course but with merit. Its been a big part of my life over the past 15 months (it was extended by 3 months due to the pandemic) and there were many times when I had feelings of self doubt and questioned my ability to complete the Masters level work (let alone with all the additional challenges of a pandemic) Its one of my proudest professional achievements and I now have a new qualification in my professional signature!

With the vaccination and results, Wednesday 27th January was one of the best days.

#21for21

I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin, I listen weekly to her podcast and have read a number of her books. Its difficult to categorise her work, it started with the happiness project but its more about wellbeing. For the past few years, I have done #18for18, #19for19, #20for20 and now #21for21. Its choosing 21 things you want to do in 2021. Here’s a link to an episode about #21for21 Gretchen Rubin . This year, my theme was definitely about fun and frivolity, life has been too dark and serious in 2020 and we need to add those sparkles to our lives.

Whilst it is the end of January I did create my list at the beginning of the year, its just taken to now to write it up on the blog. I have the list in my book in which I add notes and plans, I’m that sort of person with lists and the like. So here is my lists with some brief reasons.

  1. Graduate from my Uni course. This is carried over from last year as our course was extended due to Covid. It is a little cheeky as all our work is due on January 6th 2021, but as graduation will take place in this year, I’m adding it as I never got to achieve it in #20for20
  2. Have a doorstep plant. I had doorstep envy at Christmas with some of the trees beautifully lit on doorsteps and as I have a nice doorstep, I’m adding this to my list. I’m not a gardener but am thinking a few seasonal choices, I love daisies and lavender and then I’ll create a special Christmas display.
  3. Wear stylish jewellery. I used to have some lovely pieces but they have slowly been claimed by my daughter, broken with old age etc.. Every year I treat myself at either the steam fair or folk festival to a new piece of jewellery as they always have lovely local makers in their craft tents but with no fairs last year, I didn’t get to buy any new pieces. With this as one of my items, I may need to invest a little more this year! Sadly, I need to buy my jewellery, as despite 23 years together, and numerous hints Mr S has never bought me jewellery (except for my engagement and wedding rings which I chose with him) I do get lovely presents from him so this isn’t a criticism just an observation.
  4. Organise my boxes of decorations. I do like to dress up the house for special occasions and have a lot of decorations that need to be sorted and organised so I know exactly what I have and what I may need to replace.
  5. Spark joy with my clothes. Last year I lost a lot of weight and went down 3 sizes. For years I was grateful if something fitted so didn’t really consider style and at times felt a bit frumpy. This year its about finding my style and having fun with clothes.
  6. Listen to an audiobook. I love to read and am always listening to podcasts on walks and runs but have never married the two and tried an audiobook. So, a simple idea, I’ll either love it or it’ll be back to my Kindle.
  7. Take the children to KFC. Its a bit of a joke in our family that our children aged 11 and 12 have been to MacDonald’s less than 5 times in their lives. To them MacDonald’s is this mythical restaurant they see in adverts! In fairness its a 40+ mile round trip to the local Maccy Ds which isn’t conveniently in a town centre but on the outskirts of the town. However, they are now keen to try a new fast food restaurant, KFC and keep asking to go. Again its a 40+ mile round trip to an anonymous out of town retail park but this year we will do this for them and see which becomes their new favourite.
  8. Run the virtual challenge of Lands End to John O’Groats, 874 miles. This is a running challenge with a difference, to run the British isles from the most southern point to the most northern in one year. I’ve joined an online challenge so am tracking myself on a map. I think its doable but I need to be consistent in my mileage, so fingers crossed for no injuries.
  9. Do something creative everyday. I’ve recently got Lorna Scobie’s 365 days of creativity so am working through some of the challenges and those of my own. Some are simple 15 minute tasks, others are more detailed, but I hope to do something everyday to help me switch off.
  10. Burn more candles. Over these past months, I’ve been using my nice candles and its been lovely, so next year its about burning more candles and not keeping anything simply for best.
  11. Display more seasonal decorations. Over this past year, I’ve enjoyed decorating the house not just for the traditional festivals but for VE day, birthdays. I want to do more of this in 2021.
  12. Grow something. Mr S and my daughter are brilliant gardeners and last year grew many vegetables and fruit for us. Its inspired me and as they look after the garden I’m planning a little indoor herb garden or similar.
  13. Find the perfect summer straw bag. I know totally frivolous but I had an amazing straw bag which I used all the time on the beach, days out etc.. and it finally went beyond repair, I’ve never been able to find the perfect replacement, so that’s my new goal.
  14. Watch a Christmas film or two. A tad seasonal but last year I did not watch a single Christmas themed film in the festive season. Last Christmas has been on my to watch list for two Christmases now, so its time to sit down and watch it in 2021 and lots of other films with Christmas treats.
  15. Visit beautiful gardens. Last year was all about the wild beauty of country parks, I fancy seeing some pretty gardens in 2021 and of course the tea and cakes which tend to complement such visits.
  16. Do a flower arranging course. Another item on my to do list for a couple of years now. Lets hope it can be achieved in 2021.
  17. Get my red parkrun t-shirt. A repeat from last year, I made progress in the first few months of the year and then parkrun was suspended. I think if parkrun is back by the summer, I might be able to achieve this. I’ve already looked up the nearest parkruns to our holiday venues this year, so I don’t miss a week.
  18. Finally visit the Fashion museum. Again an item that’s been on the list before. I even got as far as being outside it (it was closed, which I knew but I wanted to know exactly where it was when I was visiting the town) I hope that museums can reopen soon, other wise small museums like this will be in danger of permanent closure.
  19. See a show / live music. The atmosphere is going to be electric when we get back into theatres and music venues. I’m so excited for this.
  20. Get lost in art. Lockdown has shown all the little things we take for granted and how much we miss them when they are gone. I’m looking forward to my cultural fix when life reopens, a lazy walk around an art gallery and simply looking and getting lost in a picture.
  21. Try something new. I’ve no idea what this could be, but its always good to try something different.

So that’s the list for 2021 and as its now Jan 31st I have started to make progress and tick a couple off. Its always good to start with a few simple ones to complete quickly as the list always seems more doable when its got a few ticks on it. Bring on #21for21.

My week … the one in which we paid off our mortgage.

I did wrestle with this week’s title, as given the current pandemic and the financial effect on people’s lives, it felt like a humble brag. But, Mr S and I have worked hard to pay off our mortgage, not one penny has come from gifts or inheritance and we have earnt every penny we have paid over the past 19 years. Mr S is very financially astute and has ensured that if we ever had a few extra pounds in the joint account it went to the mortgage account, and these little amounts add up over time. Some periods were hard, when the children were young we both worked part time to ensure a parent was always at home, so our income was lower than it is today, but we ensured we had a lifestyle to reflect our means. We have considered moving a couple of times, a 4th bedroom would be useful, but the balance between an increased mortgage and the bedroom meant we have stayed here, we have the room in our house for us to live comfortably. It was a strange feeling paying off the final amount, we used a little of our savings so a few clicks and it was done. It felt like the sort of occasion when we should have gone out to lunch to celebrate but as we’re in lockdown it was lunch at home and just getting on with the day. However, I did feel a sense of pride when Little Man and I came back from our walk this morning and approached the house with the knowledge that its all ours.

It is nice to have a positive in what has been a really difficult week of the pandemic. The number of deaths this week have been the highest of the pandemic and the situation feels really scary. I continue to work and the daily Lateral Flow tests cause anxiety and relief. We wear more PPE now and it all seems so unreal when you pause to think about it all. In years to come we’ll look back on this period with disbelief.

However, I have been distracting myself when at home and here are some of my sparkles.

  1. Steven Attenborough. Little Man has brought home from school this image of his new hero, Steven Attenborough. No matter how many times we tell him its David Attenborough, he insists its Steven and its kind of stuck now. His topic at school is animals and I think they’re watching a lot of Attenborough clips. Its lovely to see his interest in the natural world and at dinner time he has been telling us about different species of animals, the most dangerous, biggest etc..
  2. Video Recordings. Today, Little Man and I went to our local country park ( a few minutes walk from our house) to prepare for his Scout project, a video or animation of a local attraction. I was camera man and he was to introduce different things about the country park on film. After a few repeated attempts we did manage to record clips and take photos ready for him to put together tomorrow. It was a stunning day, cold but beautiful blue skies and it will be a nice little memento of a lockdown Saturday. We walked for around 5 miles which helps another Scouts project as they try to record their mileage for a month.
  3. The Marvellous Mrs Maizel. We’ve just started watching this series and have watched 5 episodes so far this week. I love it, its so beautiful with the fashion, décor and music from the 1950s and this style brings as much to the series as the storyline.
  4. New slippers. Its the little things which make you happy in lockdown and with my sad, worn slippers looking a little pathetic, its lovely to have a new pair. Normally I wouldn’t get that excited about slippers, but hey ho its lockdown.
  5. Fresh flowers. Mr S does the food shopping online and kindly added a bunch of fresh flowers to the order as a surprise. Fresh flowers are one of those things I miss in lockdown and it was lovely to see them blossoming in the kitchen this week.
  6. I Found You by Lisa Jewell. I need to switch off every night before I go to bed so always read my Kindle under the covers. This is a good book and I am intrigued, perfect escapism.
  7. The Presidential Inauguration. It felt like there was a worldwide sigh of relief as Joe Biden became president of the USA this week and much of the rhetoric has been on recovery, unity and hope. I was wowed by two women on Wednesday. Kamala Harris as the first female VP woman, a role model for us all and Amanda Gorman, the American youth poet laureate. Her inauguration poem blew me away and I hope we can all live by her words.

Its difficult at present, when there’s no plans, to look forward to in the coming week. It is simply one day at a time. I was expecting January to be tough but thought life would look more hopeful by the end of the month Whilst the number of vaccinations is high, the lockdown remains essential and I think we’ll still be in lockdown for a while yet.

My week … the one with a lot of steps

The reference in this week’s title isn’t some new year lockdown health craze, its simply been a challenging week and my way to destress is to run and I’ve needed to run lots of miles this week. Within the pandemic, I feel that this has been the toughest week, its January, its been cold and / or wet and the pandemic just seems more real and dangerous. This week the country has recorded the highest numbers of deaths in the pandemic and the situation appears very grim.

Personally, work has dominated my week. Its very busy during the day and with my new role comes new responsibilities and I’ve needed to complete 2 virtual courses in the evenings to enable me to do these tasks in work. I’ve also had to renew my DSL training (child protection) so also attended a TEAMS training course this week. I always find this training quite harrowing, so coupled with my nhs training on administering the rapid flow Covid tests, safer recruitment training and safeguarding its been a week. Not every week will be like this, unfortunately, its simply been a perfect storm of events and circumstances.

Given this week (and there’s more but its not appropriate for me to write about) I did think I would struggle to have any highlights, I’ve not opened a book which is so rare for me and its lockdown so life is very limited. However, I did manage to find a few sparkles from the week.

Vaccines

The biggest highlight this week was that my 89 year old father in law got his first Covid vaccine. He has been so careful and I haven’t seen him in nearly a year, so to know that he’s been vaccinated and it will be safe to see him soon made me quite emotional. My dad who has some underlying health conditions and is nearly 75 gets his first vaccination tomorrow. It is a wonderful feeling that we have the vaccines and our most vulnerable are receiving it.

Lockdown Learner of the week

I am so grateful that Mr S is ‘retired’ as I couldn’t do what I do at work without him being at home for us all. He is home school teacher, although this time, it is slightly more relaxed for him as its live lessons and much more a typical school day. On Friday, Mr S emailed me through the latest letter from school and told me to read it carefully. To my surprise and delight, our daughter was the school’s lockdown learner of the week and today received her prize voucher in the post. It was definitely a proud mum (and dad and grandparents) moment and just the news I needed after a tough week.

My first milestone on the Virtual Lands End to John O’Groats virtual run.

With the daily exercise rule in lockdown I’m not able to follow my usual running pattern and am tending to run on the days when I work as other days are family exercise time. Running is my therapy and I’ve just gone and run this week, no plans of times and routes, just the steady repetition of one foot in front of another. I got my first milestone on the Lands End to John O’Groats run this week by passing the 50 mile mark. Its a virtual postcard but a nice little reminder of the challenge and the places I’ve ‘run’ past en route in Cornwall. Its also the only way to ‘see’ all these places at present.

And finally

Another week with nothing on the calendar except a food delivery. I miss all the little things so much and feel at present, its about getting through each day as positively as we can.

My week … the one with Lockdown 3.0

Well this was definitely an eventful week, promotion at work, Lockdown 3.0, the restart of home learning and the completion of my university course. Its the sort of week in which you can’t actually think about all that is going on, otherwise it would totally overwhelm you. However, I do try to compartmentalise my life to maintain my sanity and humour and this has helped me to get through the week. I do this by breaking down my day into different sessions and devote each time to different part of my life. It has also been essential to get out on my own everyday to walk or run and simply to gather my thoughts.

Lockdown 3.0 did not come as a surprise, the scientists had predicted the second wave and it hit just as they said it would. At work we had taken heed of their warnings in November at the start of Lockdown 2.0 and we have continued with our lockdown plans since then. At home, I was surprised by the announcement that the schools’ closure would last until at least half term. Our son really struggled with the long lockdown and we made the decision together that he would return to school. He is classed as a vulnerable student on two counts and I am also a critical worker. Thankfully he has loved being back at school, he is at special school so his class is smaller than at mainstream. He was tested as part of the fast track school testing system on his first day and was very proud to be the first student at his school to have the test. We have used the same system at my school and it definitely is a game changer for tracking Covid in schools. Our daughter is staying at home to do her home learning, it seems a lot more formal (and demanding) this lockdown with lots of live lessons.

Here are my sparkles of the week.

I ran lots.

In the first lockdown, I stopped running for nearly 2 months obeying the guidance for one daily exercise which was taken as a family. It affected my wellbeing and this time I’m being more organised to ensure that I get my time. I learnt that walking to work is a commute and doesn’t count as exercise, so I am now walking to work, 4 days a week. I can then run in the weekday evenings and on a couple of occasions this week my daughter has joined me. I really feel that this helped me feel more in control of the ever changing situation. I’m also on a Lands End to John O’Groats virtual running challenge for this year so have ticked off my first 28 miles.

I finished a book

The Memory Tree is my last book of 2020 as I read most of it in December and just the last few chapters this week. Its a sad but uplifting story of a young mother with early onset Alzheimer’s, there’s no happy ending but a story which shows the importance of family and kindness and love.

I completed my University course.

In such a busy week, this became something of an anti-climax. I finished the work in the holidays and had just been waiting for the final approval from my tutor to submit it. I was worried that I would need to do more work and had visions of being up all night, but in fact all I needed to do was add a reference which was quickly done (thank goodness for my careful reading notes) The work was submitted on time and now I’m just waiting for the results. My mum asked me what I was going to do next and I honestly believe that this has been my final academic work. I’ll have my degree and two post graduate courses after my name which I think is suffice.

I got creative

I have written my #21for21 and one is to do something creative everyday. I bought the book 365 days of Creativity and have started doing the tasks. My big job this week was to do our family photo book for 2020. I’ve tried not to reflect on the year gone by, but doing the photo book really brought home how different life was in 2020. I am so hoping that this year’s book is full of photos of the children with their grandparents, family holiday adventures and events.

And finally

Our family got good news this weekend, my 89 year old father in law gets his first Covid vaccination on Wednesday. Its the best news I’ve had in ages and a little light to show that we are getting through this pandemic.