My week … the cold, wet and windy one.

I feel a bit of a fraud writing about a lousy weather week when the sun is finally streaming through the window. However, it was a vile weather week and its difficult not to feel a bit fed up when the only activities we can do at present are outside and so weather dependent. I had a night out on Saturday planned and then postponed because of the rain and heavy winds, fingers crossed for our rearranged date next week. With Mr S decorating our kitchen this weekend, I had planned activities outdoors for the children and I over the weekend. Whilst Sunday was great, Saturday was so depressing and by the time we got home we were all so wet and miserable ūüė¶ To add to frustration with the weather, our fence was destroyed by the storms on Monday night, so another job to add to the to do list.

However this post is about the sparkles of the week and there were a few highlights.

Firstly, was the finale of Line of Duty. Some reviews criticised the ending, expecting a big stand off, but I felt the ending was true to the story. The bad cop, H. was not some big evil mastermind, but just a member of the team, always in the background, lazy, seemingly a bit incompetent, uninterested in work etc.. The motive was financial not power driven and it made arguments for corruption in public office today, rather touché given current scandals in government.

I also finished Three Women this week and what a book. There are three stories in the story and each shows the impact of early life experiences on later life. I finished the book just wanting to hug the women. For me the most disturbing part is that these stories are true. I was able to look up the teacher at the centre of one of the stories online and shivered to think he is still teaching in his community. Its a harrowing book, but so worth a read.

Although Saturday was a wash out, the children and I went to our local monkey sanctuary on Sunday and had a fabulous day out. The animals were so engaging and animated and we spent a lot of time just looking and reacting to them. There are also some great play areas so we were kept busy for the whole day. Strangely we needed to wear masks throughout the park as monkeys can contract Covid too. It was so good to have a nearly normal day out.

I am so pleased with my newly decorated kitchen, I have always loved my kitchen it is my favourite room in my house. Our cupboards are a beautiful pale sage green colour and previously we had apricot coloured walls, however this weekend, we changed to a lilac paint and it looks amazing. I’m hoping to purchase a few new accessories to complement the changed colour scheme.

And finally, I’m hoping this week will be sunnier to give us a chance to do a few more things. Its our last week until further restrictions are relaxed and the future is beginning to look a little more ‘normal’ It is strange to feel that we are slowly coming out of this pandemic. I’m genuinely not sure how I’m feeling but looking forward to lots with a little apprehension.

My week … the one with a return to the 90s and a Covid scare

As I write this its Bank Holiday Sunday and the countdown to the Line of Duty finale is on. I’m writing this as a distraction, all week I’ve been following #lineofdutyfinale tweets full of memes and theories and I can’t wait until 9pm to find out the conclusion of the police series. As well as the anticipation of the finale, its been a nice day. We had an impromptu barbecue at lunchtime as it was sunny and we had the time. It was lovely to all be in the garden and having a lazy, relaxed lunch. We then went on a walk and found that the new woodland trail had opened (its been taped off for a few weeks) so lots of fun was had by all.

This week was a little strange, unusually I didn’t have a day off as I had lots to fit in both work and personally, so I had shorter working days but was in for all five. This did throw me a bit and the type of work I was doing was different too. I also had steroid injection so this makes me feel a bit wobbly and then to add to all the confusion we had a call that Little Miss’ Covid bubble had burst at school and that she needed to self isolate for 10 days from Thursday. Practically, with Mr S at home this was fine but there was the emotional fallout of being housebound for the time and then that I had to postpone Little Man’s outdoors playdate. Whilst this would have been within the rules, morally I thought it wrong. They were friends from his old school and if our daughter and as a consequence our son unknowingly had Covid and passed it onto a different group of people I would have felt dreadful. I was extremely relieved (but not overly surprised) that the PCR test on Friday came from as negative and plans were all back on again. I had looked at the data on Thursday and the rate is so low now in our county, that the positive case did seem an anomaly.

On Saturday, I supervised Little Man and his friends on the much anticipated (cancelled and rearranged) play date. My son’s post lockdown wish was to invite these two friends round to our house and to play Lego with them. Whilst we can’t do this yet, he was happy with a trip to the park to play as an alternative. It was an easy play date to supervise, I looked after the drinks, snacks, jumpers, scooters, helmets etc.. and got to read lots of Three Women. What a book, I cannot believe it is a non fiction title (I wish it wasn’t) I will write a full review when I have finished but I think it is going to be one of those unforgettable books which you share with all your friends so you can talk about it.

Three Women wasn’t my only read this week as I borrowed from school an easy read Shakespeare version of the Tempest, my daughter’s latest set text. I needed a quick read as I didn’t have had the headspace to read it properly. I did A level English Lit but the Tempest wasn’t either on this course or my English GCSE. I have to admit I prefer the tragedies rather than the more lighter plays, but at least I can help my daughter with her work now.

On our shopping trip last week, I bought a pair of combat trousers in a camo print. They are so comfy and a great alternative to jeans which I find a bit heavy in the nicer weather. I did feel a bit like a member of a 90s girl band wearing them and a black vest, however given my age this was layered under a t-shirt. My daughter really liked the look and I got a rare nod of fashion approval!

This week I’m hoping for a quieter, less frantic week, I like my routine and order. Have a good week.

My week the on when I went to the shops and salon

Although restrictions lifted on April 12th, with being away and then getting ready for the new term, we didn’t do many of the new allowed activities. However this week with our routines back in place, it was time to reintroduce the ‘normal’ back into our daily lives. For me this has meant a trip to the nail bar, a hair appointment and a return to my ‘natural!’ colour and a potter around shops. All are still done under the Covid restrictions, so lots of mask wearing, hand washing and space, but it did feel good to be doing something fun and frivolous in life. For the children, Little Man returned to Real Life Scouts (as opposed to Zoom), swimming and football training and Little Miss got to go shopping with a friend.

The week started with a great night of tv viewing, I don’t watch much tv but Call the Midwife and then Line of Duty is quality Sunday night viewing. I love the late night messaging between friends discussing the plot of Line of Duty, although the twists and turns make it difficult to sleep! I even listened to a Line of Duty podcast on my walk to work on Monday trying to get hints of what is to come.

With the exception of Sunday night, I’ve been reading a lot this week. I was up to the early hours of Tuesday morning finishing off Mhairi McFarlane’s If I Never Met You. I had put my Kindle down around 11pm but after tossing and turning I simply couldn’t sleep knowing the book was just sat there next to me waiting to be finished. It was a perfect chick lit read, with some decent characters whom you really rooted for. I’ve also nearly finished Catlin Moran’s How to be a Woman. I’m a huge fan and the essays are a mix of humour, heartbreak and the ordinariness of our lives in a charming way.

On Saturday, I took Little Miss to the ‘big’ town to meet a friend and do some shopping. Both children asked for the most simple things when lockdown ended, Little Miss was to go shopping with friends and Little Man to have two friends around to play (still waiting to be allowed to do this one, as they want to be inside for Lego) When I took Little Miss over to big town, I stayed to potter around the shops. I got to spend time browsing in a bookshop and finally spent my Christmas book tokens. There is just something lovely about being in a bookshop, its the smell, the displays, the anticipation of a new story. I got a couple of books which have been on my to read list and am looking forward to starting them soon. It was a strange experience shopping, apart from Primark, it was surprisingly quiet in the shops, although lots of people were milling outside, whether just walking or having a drink or meal. When you are wearing mask, have to maintain a social distance and can’t try on items, it does take away some of the fun of shopping. Stock was limited and it did make me think that online shopping for the big stores is easier and more efficient. However on Thursday I did a little bit of shopping in our home town, which was such a nicer experience and I will always try to buy locally first.

As the weather has improved this week, I’ve been wearing more spring like clothes and love my new blue and white linen maxi skirt. White is a brave colour for me to wear, I’m mucky, but with a blue top its becoming my favourite go to outfit.

Finally this week, I received the first of a 3 month subscription to Iggy Candles, fulfilling my #21for 2021 to burn more candles. The candle has the most beautiful smell, peony and blush suede and if every candle is as good as this one, I will definitely be extending the subscription. Its a simple sensory pleasure to watch a candle burn.

There are no big plans next week, just a week back to the new normal. Have a good week.

My week ‚Ķ the one with a holiday.

This feels a bit like a school writing project, what I did on my holiday but its so lovely to be able to write a post about a holiday. The government Covid restrictions eased on Monday which meant that we were allowed to stay away from home in England if in self catering accommodation and in our household bubble. At present no hotels or bed and breakfasts are allowed to open. Mr S had been able to book a property for 4 nights as soon as the road map was published, which we could use as a base to visit our parents and to give us a few days to simply do something a bit different than the stay at home message we’ve had for most of the past year.

We stayed in a small hamlet near Wells in Somerset. Our accommodation was beautiful, it was on an old farm building, the milking parlour, which had been renovated to such a high standard. It was the best self catering accommodation I have stayed in, full of everything you might need and more and in immaculate condition. The wood burner feature in the lounge was stunning, but with such good weather we never needed to use it. The ceilings were so high and the beams gave a very cosy feeling. The property also had an adjoining games room, where we enjoyed table tennis and table football in the evenings. The children loved the large trampoline in what wasn’t really a garden but a meadow and they had lots of room to roam and run safely. In addition to the meadow, we had a patio where we managed our first barbecue of the year, toasting marshmallows over a barbecue is always going to be a fun thing to do.

When we arrived we went straight to Wells as we had a food collection organised. We had the time to walk around Wells and it was such a beautiful city. We stopped at a caf√© in the square and it all felt very relaxed and open with the tables laid out across the plaza. The square was full of people meeting up and there was such a lovely atmosphere and buzz on the first day of shops and outdoor cafes, restaurants and pubs reopening. There are some unexpected effects of the government guidelines and this shift to outdoor living is nice (but yes, you need the good weather) I am still to work out the correct clothing for this new outdoor life, in the good weather we’ve had you want to be wearing spring colours and styles but also need the warmth of winter layers.

One of my favourite activities of our holiday was hiring bikes in Cheddar and cycling the old railway line, the Strawberry Line. I was impressed by the children as some parts were on road (through the picture perfect village of Axbridge) and they coped really well and safely. We did around 12 miles in total and it was a beautiful way to explore the countryside and enjoy a gorgeous, blue sky day before returning home with freshly locally grown strawberries.

We met up with my parents at Cheddar reservoir and walked its perimeter, I am discovering with outdoor meet ups that by walking and talking, everyone feels a little warmer than simply sitting with a flask of tea. We walked the reservoir and then did stop for a little cake and cup of tea. By walking people get individual time with each other and its nice to share conversations after that you didn’t hear at the time. Unfortunately, by the time our visit ended I was feeling really, really rough, I knew I had a migraine coming on and despite the painkillers I couldn’t shake it off and then ended up in bed for the next 24 hours, with excruciating pain and vomiting, not the best day of my holiday. On the day I stayed in the cottage, Mr S and the children continued with their booked trip to Wild, a wildlife park near Bristol and enjoyed seeing all the animals. I do like giraffes so my daughter did send me a photo of one so I didn’t miss out.

Fortunately, by the final day, I was feeling a lot better and after packing up we drove through to my Father in law’s garden for a picnic lunch and a quick trip to the park for the children. He has shielded for the best part of the year and lives alone so it was so good to see him looking so well and relaxed. He has had his double vaccination now and is beginning to venture out a little more with friends. Our visit was the day before his birthday and it did feel that we were able to celebrate this year. It was a different celebration to our previous big family get togethers but at least he had family with him this year, as last year’s birthday had been hard for us all.

Its surprising how refreshed you can feel with just a few days away from home, doing something different. it was the first time the children have stayed in a rural self catering accommodation, they’re used to resorts and holiday parks, but seemed to enjoy the ability to just run around and play. Our next holiday is back to a resort with pools and activities but I think this break was just right for the restrictions we are under.

My week … the one with lots of walks

This week has seemed really long and sometimes times a bit tedious, I know I’m not fun mum when my reply to what are we doing today is always we’re going out for a walk. Its simply one of the things that we can do in lockdown and we do try to mix up the routes. Interestingly, the toughest and longest walk was also one of the highlights of the week and thoroughly enjoyed by all of us. We had a rare warm, sunny morning which definitely lifted everyone’s spirits and of course we had a little snack stop so were fuelled by Easter chocolate. We did have a day this week when both children had planned activities, Little Miss went to the farm and Little Man had a football tournament. I took our daughter to the farm and after the farm, we drove to the nearest town for a walk and picnic along the river. Although cold, it was bright and we were dressed up warmly to enjoy being outside, however only 20 miles away the boys had snow and hail. There was strange weather this week, sometimes it was lovely, other days bitterly cold and grey.

I have been feeling a bit bleurgh this week, just a cold which I can’t seem to shift (I’ve done my LFT tests twice as required for work and it isn’t Covid) Its not stopped me doing anything but I have enjoyed a few afternoons on the sofa whilst the children played Nintendo which is so unlike me. I’ve watched a couple of films and my favourite was Military Wives, it was a film I wanted to see on release but it came out just as lockdown 1 started so I never got to see it at the cinema. It was a lovely, feel good film and the perfect tonic. In the evenings, Mr S and I have been watching This Is Us, season 1. It is brilliant, how did I miss this when it was first released in 2016? We could be watching it for a while as we’ve got 5 seasons to watch and at one per evening (and for the last few nights we haven’t watched any as its the Masters golf) that’s a tv commitment! By my calculations, 81 episodes at approx. 5 a week is 4 months viewing sorted.

As well as the films and series, I’ve had a little extra time for reading too. I read Gretchen Rubin’s Outer Order, Indoor Calm. Its not an instruction manual but offers some good observations on clutter and order with some really useful tips. After all this time in lockdown, my house is pretty well organised and clutter free at present. However I did sort some of the children’s clothes out this week to get ready for the spring and summer. They’ve both had a bit of a growth spurt so I need to buy a few extras this summer. I think with last year’s lockdown, I got the most out of the previous summers clothes, which may explain why some of my daughter’s shorts now look indecent! I also read Tracey Thorn’s book on growing up in suburbia in the 70s and 80s, much rings true in the book and its an entertaining read.

Nationally the news this week has been the death of the Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99. I was in my neighbours garden (its the only way we can see people) with the radio on in the kitchen when we heard the national anthem and the news, its funny how those ‘where were you’ moments stay with you. The BBC radio stations went to rolling news and sombre, respectful music and normal programmes were suspended on the national tv channels for news and tribute programmes. For me, his legacy will be the Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme which I participated in as a teenager, it was a fun programme and a positive experience (and on one of our camps, the boy I fancied kissed me!)

Next week sees our first holiday for 603 days (yes I worked it out) After 3 holidays being postponed due to Covid restrictions, we are finally away to a cottage in Somerset. Its our base so we can visit our parents, outside and at a social distance, and just enjoy a few more activities as the next stage of the road map is introduced.

Here’s to a happy week.

Easter 2021: The second lockdown Easter

This was another anniversary we didn’t want, a second Easter in lockdown. Consequently, it was another quiet celebration for the just the four of us.

As we didn’t break up until Maundy Thursday, we were straight into Easter weekend as we started the holidays. Thanks to long lockdown weekends, I had been pretty organised, so the cards had been sent in advance, all the items for the egg hunt added to the weekly food delivery and my Easter Fortnum and Manson’s gift to my parents had been delivered. This was so well received and something to remember for the future.

Good Friday was an unexpected day, thanks to overflowing sewage from our drain, making it not the most pleasant way to start the holiday weekend. However we are on a HomeCare scheme and Dynorod came very quickly to resolve the issue and all was left very clean and sanitary. Little Man and I went for a walk whilst this was all being seen to and went to buy the all important hot cross buns. Priorities sorted! The afternoon was a lazy, family time and of course, board games. We are totally addicted to Monopoly Deal.

Easter Saturday was a typical Saturday with nothing particularly Easter themed. Mr S and Little Miss went to the garden centre to buy some spring flowers and Little Man and I pottered around doing a few jobs. I did write the clues for the treasure hunt and decorated some card Easter eggs on which I wrote the clues. Normally, I illustrate a scavenger hunt sheet but this year changed this to a treasure hunt. I found some great clues on the Internet from http://www.muminthemadhouse and adapted them to our challenge.

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On Sunday, we started with a beautiful walk in the country park, it was a stunning morning with bright blue skies and a perfect way to start the day. On our return, our neighbours popped over to the garden to share Easter greetings and to give some Easter gifts to the children (we have the best neighbours)

I then started to prep up our Easter Sunday lunch. To me this is a big deal and like Christmas, I take time to browse recipes and plan the menu. I’m also realistic that Easter Sunday is about the chocolate, so I made a lighter lunch, a Spring filo pie, filled with spinach, peppers, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and feta, served with new potatoes and spring vegetables. The filo pie from the bbc good food website was stunningly good, and a recipe to repeat, I think it would also be perfect as a main with a salad in the summer. Whilst I cooked, I played my Spring playlist, featuring old family favourites. Tulips from Amsterdam always reminds me of my dad, the spiritual songs reflected my faith and then I included a few past Easter hits, Easy Lover always evokes a hot and sunny Easter with my cousins in 1985. I do love a themed playlist and the memories they bring.

Just before lunch, I turned myself into a 1950s housewife and dressed for lunch, changing from my jeans into a pretty Easter dress. I saw this dress online at Cath Kitson about a year ago and loved the pattern and shape but it was well above my budget. However, just after Christmas I discovered it reduced to a 1/3 of its original price in the sale and I snapped it up. I love the dress it is so beautiful and one I can see me wearing for many Easters to come. I accessorised it with a few special pieces of jewellery, I inherited the bangle and cross from my grandmothers and the ring was passed on to me by my mum, a gift for her 21st birthday from her siblings. For me Easter is a family time and if we couldn’t be together, wearing the jewellery made me closer to them.

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Following lunch, the afternoon was lovely and relaxed, the children worked brilliantly together on the Easter treasure hunt and its definitely an activity to be repeated next year with new clues. We then went to the garden for more Easter fun and then all chilled together with a drink and lots and lots of chocolate. It was a simple but cosy family celebration.

After two quiet Easters, it will be nice to plan a very special celebration next year, as not only will it be Easter, but my lovely father in law’s 90th birthday falls on Easter Sunday too. Now that’s what I call a very special occasion! (and the dress is definitely making an appearance!)

My week … the one with my 2nd vaccination.

It was another busy week in which Easter suddenly seemed to appear. I do prefer a slower build up but we broke up on Maundy Thursday and it was such a busy week at work that Easter thoughts were put to one side. Fortunately, I was pretty much planned and prepped up for Easter at home (thanks to lockdown weekends) so when it came I was ready for our little traditions, I just would have liked a little pause to relax.

I began this week by decorating the house for Easter, I love the spring feel to the house with the pastel decorations bringing extra colour and warmth inside. In the past year, I have made more of our window displays to share with those who pass by. This week, I overheard a little girl, pointing out our window display to her mum and her excitement made my day. The other Easter tradition for this post is the trip to the local bakers on Good Friday for freshly baked hot Cross buns. Little Man and I went to the bakery on Friday morning, the queue was 10 deep but the delicious buns were worth the wait. The queue was chatty and friendly, so actually added to the trip.

The very welcome highlight of the week was the second Covid vaccination I received on Wednesday at work. We were a little worried about the side effects, as a few colleagues had suffered on the first round, but I took some paracetamol an hour before and some before bed and I was absolutely fine. No tripping dreams or hot sweats and shivers this time. I enjoyed helping to make a thank you display for the staff from the local surgery whom came in to our school to do the admin and administer the vaccines. They have been so helpful and supportive and it was nice to be able to recognise their work.

I have been trying to be a little creative this year however I am also really busy at work and don’t quite have the enthusiasm and commitment to try a big project at present. I bought an adult colouring book and have found it quite helpful to switch off by doing it and listening to my music in the evenings. The book is full of quotes either from Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project or happiness inspired quotes.

I recently picked up Marathon Mum on a Kindle deal after reading recommendations. It was a fantastic book, primarily its the story of the author Rachel Brown and how she created a running community from her own difficult life story but is also full of inspiring stories of the women she helped. Its a story which makes you just want to put your trainers on and run. Its also one of these running books which isn’t really about running but living the ‘bigger life’

My final sparkle could be about living the bigger life. I was a huge aha fan as a teen and Hunting High and Low is one of my favourite albums ever. At the start of 2020, I noticed that they were playing the album live in a big concert not too far away from home. I ummed and arghhed about getting a ticket and in the end I didn’t and did feel a pang of regret. However due to Covid, the concert didn’t happen and now it has been rearranged for 2022 which was advertised this week. There was no hesitation in buying a ticket this time, and I was able to get two good seats and am so excited to see aha again. Its lovely to have something to look forward to after the past year.

Its holiday time now and very excitingly, government guidelines relax a little further on April 12th and get to go away, Its brilliant to be planning happy events.

My week … the one in which we finally changed the oven lightbulb!

Its a tongue in cheek title this week, but this has probably been the dullest week of lockdown 3. We are so close to a loosening of restrictions but still subject to them, its frustrating. I also had to pause on my running after a silly injury last Sunday so had even more time at home. I have already pretty much decluttered and sorted every drawer and cupboard in the house, so the oven lightbulb really was about the only thing left to do, its been broken for so long, that I get excited every time I see it working now. At least I had work to keep me busy!

Planning for Easter

I tried to use my additional free time in getting ready for the coming weeks, planning for Easter and our cottage getaway. I’ve created my Easter menu and also sorted outdoor things to do near where we will be staying in Somerset. I also sent off the Easter cards and sorted a little gift for my parents. I try to be a thoughtful present buyer and after browsing so many sites, including my favourites, of Etsy and Not On The High Street, there was nothing that excited me to give as an Easter gift. I then got inspiration to look at Fortnum and Mason to see if they had any special Easter nibbles and was able to put together an Easter package for my parents, with a special seasonal blend of tea, Easter biscuits and some other treats for their Easter Sunday tea. It was more expensive than I would normally spend but tbh this year I’ve not spent much money and sometimes you just want to do that wow moment for someone. I knew that my mum would be beside herself to receive a parcel filled with goodies in the iconic eau de nil packaging and to be able to provide that little spark of joy and delight was worth every penny.


This week upon my colleague’s recommendation, I have been reading Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. Like a few management books I’ve read, it could easily have been pr√©cised into a paper rather than a book but the concept is really interesting and makes you reflect on communication.

“When you think of a fierce conversation, think passion, integrity, authenticity, collaboration. Think cultural transformation. Think leadership.”

I had to discuss an area of development with a colleague this week and decided to trail some of the suggestions. It was a really useful conversation and I do think it went better thanks to the model created by Scott.

The surreal

I took a slightly different route to work and was surprised and amused to meet a giraffe, not just a life size giraffe but one wearing a bobble hat too! Geoff the giraffe, because of course I’ve named him and created a personality for him, really made me smile and was just the start to the day I needed, if not a little surreal for a Wednesday morning.

And finally

I’m hoping this week will be a little calmer at work and a little more exciting at home. Its a 4 day week (although I work 5 days in 4 so have to still calculate what I’m working) and on Wednesday (fingers crossed on supplies) we have our second dose of the Covid vaccine. We’re planning a surprise for the team from our local medical practice whom are leading the clinic and its such a nice thing to be preparing. Its also Good Friday this week so hot cross bun day, nothing beats freshly baked buns from the local baker on Good Friday morning. There is a little excitement in the road map out of Covid restrictions next week, Monday sees the return of the rule of 6 and then the big countdown to April 12th and more freedom.

Have a safe week.

One year of lockdown

This week sees the anniversary of the lockdown. In all honesty we knew it was coming, new rules had been coming into force in the weeks preceding to minimise social contact and schools had closed to all but key worker and vulnerable children. It was inevitable and was probably a bit of a relief to end all the speculation.

I think I had found the week before more disorientating when it was announced that schools were to close. My colleague and I listened to the schools statement in our office and I remember us both trying to work out what this meant for us all, both our school but also for our children. This was the week when I had my wobble, it was the only time I cried until I got my vaccination in January. I knew this school closure wasn’t for a few weeks and I knew it was likely that my son wouldn’t be returning to his lovely little primary school. His TA and I were both trying so hard not to cry in front of him on the penultimate pick up, six and a half years of daily handovers abruptly ending. That was the day when it all started to feel real, the last day was better, we all put on a brave face so that our children would feel that it was an exciting, new adventure. I was correct that our son didn’t return properly to school although he went back for a wonderful afternoon with all his classmates so they could say goodbye. Little did I know that the March 20th would be our daughter’s last day at her school. Home schooling showed us that some niggles and concerns we had about her well being and academic work were well founded and when offered the choice to transfer to a different secondary she jumped at the chance. She’s so happy at her new school and I do think that without the school closure it would have taken us longer to recognise the place she was in.

Mr S and I had to make some decisions at this time, as key workers we were entitled to school places for the children but neither of us wanted to send our children to school in such a strange and scary time, they needed us to be with them. We both requested and were granted flexible working, meaning that we condensed our working hours into fewer days onsite. I worked 3 days a week and Mr S 2 days a week, on non working days we did home schooling. Interestingly this is one aspect of lockdown which not only benefitted us at the time but led to a permanent change in my working hours. I now work 4 days in 3 but I am currently temporarily working fulltime in 4 days. Whilst it is early starts, it has improved life and I’ve definitely become a morning person now. Lockdown also led to lots of thinking and talking about the future. In August Mr S left his part time job and did what he had always hoped to do, retire at 55. This has made our life so much easier, especially with the further school’s closure in January. With Mr S at home and focusing on our home life, I have been able to accept a promotion at work and it feels like a new chapter of our family life is starting.

This lockdown year has really seen as thrive as a little unit of 4, it was the year when family was everything. I felt secure in my relationship prior to lockdown but it showed that even in the most challenging of times, we are strong and united. I always felt home life was safe and full of love and support and I will always be so grateful for this. We missed our parents in this year. I saw my parents at a country park midway between our homes in August when we met for a picnic and walk and spent a day with them in October. We have booked a cottage for a few nights in April when restrictions lift slightly so we can see them again. I have not seen my father in law this year, although Mr S has seen him in his garden twice. He has been so careful shielding, but again we look forward to seeing him outside in April by when both he and I will have had our second vaccinations. I have found myself being very cautious this year, I was terrified not of my health but passing the virus on at school where we have medically vulnerable children or to family members. It was a difficult conversation to have at Christmas that we wouldn’t be visiting family but in hindsight this was definitely the correct decision. Whilst we had two Covid outbreaks at work this year, the January outbreak was the more serious, with more cases and for the speed in which it spread. There was also a large number of cases in the community, in a matter of weeks our town went from suppressed to the highest category, scary times.

In January, we started the Covid testing at work, and in full PPE I helped with tests. PPE has become something quite normal now, I must wear a mask at all times at work at present, but on testing duty, I have surgical mask, shield, gloves and apron. On my first day as a tester. I had 8 positives, its an awful feeling when you see the result, concern for the staff member and their families and the hope that they will make a full recovery. Its also quite scary coming home and hoping that you don’t pass anything on to your family. I go straight to the downstairs shower room, shower and put all my clothes into a hot wash. This all makes it sound like I work in a medical institution, but the reality is I am Deputy Head in a special school and this all seems normal now.

In thinking about a post about lockdown, I inevitably started writing lists as its my way of organising my life. Below are a few Lockdown lists, its impossible to write a post about the whole year, its too much to take in and process but the lists hep me share key information.

Lockdown List 1: The things I’ll remember about Lockdown.

  1. The emotional clap for carers at 8pm on Thursday evenings and the town band who chose a song to play after from their gardens. All the neighbours were out in the gardens and the sound of the applause echoing around the bay was something quite special.
  2. The lockdown speech, suddenly it was real.
  3. Boris being admitted to Intensive Care. Regardless of politics, he was our PM and seriously ill, it was scarily real now.
  4. The Queen’s broadcast to the nation. The reassurance we didn’t know we needed.
  5. Captain Tom raising £33 million for the nhs. The 100 year old grandad we all fell in love with and mourned when he died from Covid.
  6. Rainbows everywhere. There’s something hopeful about every rainbow.
  7. 5pm government briefings. They became a feature of the day and on some days gave the grimmest statistics.
  8. The comfort of radio and podcasts and the voices which made us feel a little more connected.
  9. The cancellation of everything, there was nothing in diaries except food delivery bookings.
  10. Hot sunny days, from the first day of home schooling we had the most amazing weather in spring and summer, it made lockdown a little easier. January lockdown was really hard with the dark days and cold weather.
  11. Postbox bingo. This came from a running podcast I listen to and provided a focus to some of our daily walks as we tried to find the insignia of different monarchs on post boxes. It was surprisingly addictive and I always look at every post box I pass to this day.
  12. Tidying and sorting every nook and cranny in the house. My house has never been more organised and streamlined.
  13. The walks. Every single day …
  14. Appreciating nature. Our nearest outdoor space is either the beach or the country park and in both we could witness the changing seasons.
  15. The search for a Nintendo switch. To counter the cancelled holidays and lockdown birthdays we decided to buy the latest Ninetendo games console for the children. It became the must have item of early lockdown and was sold out everywhere. I did eventually track one down before the birthdays and I felt like a superhero!
  16. Sadness at the overgrown, locked children’s playground. There is something so melancholy and quiet about an unused children’s playground and it was so sad to see all the playgrounds locked, equipment covered up to stop little ones playing.
  17. Sanitiser and mask, the never leave home without accessories of the year. And the obligatory lockdown rucksack for all the practical items you need to carry. I miss handbags.
  18. The first Covid test. I’m such a dab hand at administering such tests now but my first test in May was a shock at its invasive nature. I have never got used to them.
  19. Family games. We have never played so many games, Monopoly, Cluedo, Quirkle, Uno, Monopoly Deal, Nope. We even had a games championship over the Christmas holidays, convincingly won by Little Man.
  20. Sense of community. I have never felt a part of my community as much as I have done during this year. Our neighbours have been amazing and I hope we have all supported each other. We clapped together, celebrated the little things and finished the year with a beautiful socially distanced carol concert from our gardens.
  21. Baking. There wasn’t much we didn’t bake last year, every little thing was celebrated with cake. I finally found the time to make fresh hot cross buns after threatening to do so for years (we’re sticking to the local bakers this year) A friend sent through a recipe and we made cakes and chatted via Zoom. Baking was everyone’s comfort.
  22. The relief and joy at my first Covid vaccination. Due to the Covid outbreak at work, Public Health England supported all our frontline staff to get vaccinations in January. The organisation all happened pretty quickly and on the day I helped at the clinic, a wonderful, joyful task. On the way home, alone for the first time all day, I found myself crying happy tears.

The changes in my life due to Covid and which are likely to continue.

  1. Flexible working. I work long days but prefer my new hours. The time between 7 – 8.30 when most others arrive is my most productive time of the day.
  2. Cash seems pretty much redundant now, contactless is the norm. I have had the same £20 note in my purse for months.
  3. A weekly food delivery. This was one of those things that I’ve been arguing for forever, but Mr S always liked going to the supermarket. Since the pandemic came he quickly converted and is chief food shopper with a superb booking system.
  4. Zoom meetings. Zoom and Teams are words that meant nothing to me in Feb 2020 and are now used daily. There are some things which will remain post lockdown and virtual meetings are a bonus. As a parent, the virtual parents evening was so much easier and relaxed.
  5. Health. The pressure of work in the pandemic got to me in May and I felt really poorly and decided to take positive action, cue a healthy diet, exercise and daily meditation. It was one of those life switch moments, over weight and unfit people were affected more by Covid so I lost a lot of weight, got the fittest I’ve been and feel so much better in myself.
  6. Accepting its okay to pause. There was always something to do in my life pre lockdown, now I recognise its okay to just be at home and be ourselves.

The things I miss so much in lockdown (not including being with family and friends as that’s a given) In no order of preference.

  1. Fresh flowers in my kitchen
  2. Pottering around town
  3. Cafe culture
  4. The cinema, theatre and live music.
  5. parkrun
  6. The buzz of a crowd
  7. Diving into a swimming pool and being submerged in the water
  8. Planning and looking forward to events
  9. Spontaneity
  10. Fun

Its been the hardest and most emotional year and there is more lockdown to come, but I feel strangely content with life. Its been the worst of times and the best of times.

My week .. the one with Mothers day.

I am late in writing this post up so it is an update on the past fortnight, rather than one week. To be honest each week seems pretty similar these days and there’s not a great deal to write about. I didn’t write last weekend as I felt a bit rough, I’ve never really been affected by hormones but as I’m getting older I do have a few days each month of bad headaches, irritability and just that bleugh feeling.

I also just couldn’t express my words for what was happening last week. As many commentators noted in a week which started with International Women’s day and ended with Mothers day, the kidnap and murder of a young woman in London allegedly by a police officer and the aggressive policing of a vigil in a park, many of us were questioning again how women are treated in a society. It was all so depressingly familiar, for this generation Sarah Everard will be what Suzy Lamplugh was to mine, women quietly getting on with their lives and killed randomly. Suzy Lamplugh’s family and friends started a charity in her name and I do remember all female undergraduates at my uni being given a rape alarm by the charity for our safety and knowing how to carry keys in a hand to be used as a weapon if attacked. This ‘normal’ 30 years ago is still the ‘normal’ now although the rape alarm has been replaced by technology in mobile phones. Its a situation which makes me sad and then so angry, everybody should be able to walk down a street at any time of the day without fear.

We started the Covid home testing this week for my son and I, my daughter has 3 tests at school and will then bring her kit home too. Its just a little too surreal to even comprehend, twice weekly tests being reported to a government website, you simply couldn’t imagine that this is where would be this time last year. I’ve lost count of the tests I have done now, they have become part of my routine and its a relief they’re only twice a week now as for a period I was doing them everyday at work. They don’t get any more comfortable or easy, sticking a swab down your throat and up your nose is never pleasant, but key to keeping everyone safe.

Life has been so quiet, that its back to writing about running. I have a new pair of trainers! They are very bright but as I explained to Mr S, no one ever really looks at my feet and at half the price of a more neutral colour of exactly the same model, I would be crazy to pay silly money for a different colour. I do own more trainers than proper shoes now. At the beginning of the fortnight, I passed the 200 mile marker of my Lands End to John O’Groats challenge and the postcard was of Blaise Castle in Bristol. It actually brought back some wonderful memories, its somewhere we often take the children when visiting family as its got one of the best children’s play park. I also attended a friend’s wedding reception at the castle. It coincided with the Bristol Air Balloon Fiesta and it was so beautiful to be in the castle gardens and watch the balloons fly past, just one of those magical moments in life. It is surprisingly fun to track yourself on the route of this challenge and remind yourself of places you’ve been and memories you have. So far I’ve been reminded of family holidays in Cornwall, a weekend away with friends in Devon and thinking of other friends as I pass the towns where they now live.

I have been watching a new series on television, Bloodlands. It is your typical gritty police drama and as it was written by Jed Mercutio of In The Line of Duty fame, I had high hopes. It was a bit of a slow starter but by the end of episode 2, I was hooked by the twist and I’m still indignant by the end, so unexpected and sick. Line of Duty starts this weekend and I can’t wait to get gripped by it all again.

Last Sunday was Mothers day and we had a lovely, simple day. My flowers were delivered to me on my day off, so had blossomed beautifully for Sunday. I had lovely cards, although it always me makes me smile that my son signs every card with his first name and surname initial. He has a very popular name and despite always having been in a class with less than 14 children, there is always at least another with the same name. It was a very quiet day, the normal Sunday routine with a walk in the morning to a local landmark and chilling in the afternoon. I got exactly what I wanted, special time with my family.

As I started at the beginning, there is a lot of monotony in life so that’s all for the time beginning, I am busy working on another post about the past year. Its strange trying to piece the bits together, life is different to what it was last year and for us has changed permanently in ways I wouldn’t have predicted. I look forward to writing it up.