This week

This week we are are still in lockdown but we are doing things to try and enliven the experience. Here are some of the things we’ve done this week.

I’ve read

I tried to read a magazine this week, I just needed something light. However the articles just didn’t sit right in the current situation, travel, days out, clothes shopping, all things we can’t do at present. Unless it’s a specialist magazine, I don’t think I’ll be buying one for a while.

The book I read, ‘Love, Loss and what I wore’ was recommended by Gretchen Rubin’s podcast as it’s this month’s book club choice. I loved the book, an unusual concept, an autobiography through outfits. It was surprising how much of the author’s life came through some simple descriptions. It’s inspired me to write about some of the memories I have of favourite outfits.

We made …

Little Miss took an idea we had together and made a blue ombré nhs display for her bedroom window. I think it looks great under her rainbow hearts and shows our support for our amazing nhs.

We cooked …

Meals have become a highlight of our days and the children are taking it in turns to help me make our main meal. They have helped to make a shepherds pie, rice pudding, curry etc.. all from scratch to show them how we use fresh ingredients and herbs and spices to make a proper meal.

I listened …

The radio is an important resource in these times. It does bring people together and I’ve really appreciated it in these past few weeks. I listen to all types of radio stations, local, national, music and spoken word. It’s helped balance what is happening in the world and stops a preoccupation with scrolling through social media. Radio whether national or local is a community hub and as much as I like podcasts, live radio is a comfort and necessity.

This week..

This week saw our new normal, with the children off school and Mr S and I working different hours to be able to care for them. We are both key workers and have to attend work onsite, although at present we are compressing our hours into longer days, I’m working 4 days in 3 days and Mr S, 2.5 days in 2 days. There seems to be quite high expectations of what we are to do with the children on our ‘school days. ’ I prefer a more relaxed approach, starting the day with a long nature walk, returning home for the core tasks and then more practical, fun activities in the afternoon.

I read ..

I’m preferring to read in the evenings rather than watch television, it’s a perfect distraction. I’ve read two books this week, Call me by your name by Andre Aciman and Never Greener by Ruth Jones. I was a little disappointed that the hype about Call me did not live up to the reality for me. I simply didn’t root for the main characters, they weren’t particularly nice and I didn’t find their romance authentic. However the characters and relationships were so much better in Never Greener. I love Ruth Jones’ tv work and her story was of the relationship dilemmas that people may face, do you go back to a former love, unrequited love etc.. was one the reader could relate to. The ending was perfect and you felt that every character got the right result.

I watched

I finally got to see Rocketman this week and loved it. I love a musical and could see this on the stage. Some of theatrical styles, eg through a door to a new scene, music to cross over scenes etc.. were in the film and I appreciated this, it felt original. The costumes were amazing and it was a film which I liked on so many different levels.

I made

It’s not so much about me making recipes this week but foods the children have enjoyed making with me. On Tuesday we made fresh pancakes on our return from our walk and on Thursday Little Miss made a delicious ginger cake with citrus icing. I’m keen to encourage a wider range of recipes and today, Little Miss and I made a chestnut and mushroom flan from scratch for tea, delicious! In this lockdown, it’s been nice to have more time to prep meals and enjoy around the table.

We have also made rainbows for our windows this week, this is part of a national project to add a little sunshine to our local neighbourhood.

I heard …

On Thursday evening, we went into the garden at 8pm to clap and cheer our nhs. The sound was incredible, I never expected it to be so noisy and emotional. It’s interesting to see the ways in which communities are still trying to be together and show appreciation.

So now it’s week 2 of lockdown. We’ve done our first week and I know what to expect and have made some minor changes to the routine. Let’s see what week 2 brings ….

Coronavirus Diary

I thought it might be interesting in years to come to have written a daily diary of this period. (Hey, I might to get to share it with my grandchildren for their history projects) I’m only planning a sentence or two a day.

Saturday 21st March

After the most intense and challenging week at work, the weekend is our chance to relax before our new normal starts on Monday. Sadly there was no parkrun today, I went out on a run at 7am, carefully ‘social distancing’ myself. The only people I saw from afar were the elderly walking down or back from the supermarket. Later on, I popped very quickly into town, the shops had lines on the floor where you were to wait to be served and limits on numbers in shops. It was eerie and I was back home quickly after getting the goods I needed.

Sunday 22nd March

I know that in our family we all need time outside to help us feel us. We live so close to the countryside that it’s a few minutes from our front door to miles and miles of fields and coastline. We started our day with a long walk. Again we were trying to socially distance ourselves from anyone else. This worked well and when we saw others it was a wave and shout of good morning from a good distance. However I was taken by the reaction of an elderly lady we saw as we entered a new field. She sprinted away from us, at least 25 metres. We could sense her anxiety, her face was covered by a scarf and she looked frightened, rather than follow the path she was on we took the opposite direction to help her. It showed how anxious and frightened some people are of the Coronavirus, I hope she had someone at home to reassure her. The streets seemed very quiet today and after the walk we stayed at home. I am enjoying the time to do some of the little jobs I’ve been meaning to do for ages and it’s nice to take time on preparing fresh meals from scratch. As it’s Mother’s Day, we FaceTimed my mum who was enjoying time in the garden. So far so good until she added that she and dad were thinking about garden projects and were planning a trip to the garden centre tomorrow, words were said and a compromise that they should order their gardening goods online!

Sunday morning walk, no one in sight.
Nerf gun fun in the garden

Monday 23rd March
Our first day of our ‘new normal’ although if news reports are correct, another ‘new normal’ will begin tomorrow with a national lockdown. Although we’re both keyworkers, Mr S and I have arranged our working weeks so that one of us is always at home for the children.  Today was my day at work and his at home.  I have compressed my working hours into longer days so I was up early and in work by 6.50am today.  The working day went quickly, it was reading, analysing and implementing new government advice and simply managing staffing.  We were in a fortunate position today, whilst we had Covid 19 absences, we had plenty of staff on shift and (whispering) we were able to do lots more than we do on a regular day! We are acutely aware that it is not going to be like this everyday and a lot of time was spent drafting staffing plans and scenarios for more difficult days.
At home, the first day of home schooling went remarkably smoothly.  I was a little worried when I had had 4 texts from Mr S by 9.30am but all work was done in the morning and the afternoon was spent playing indoors and outside in the garden.   I have been prepping my work for tomorrow with the children and done a quick bit of research on the play ‘Our day out’ to help with an assignment. 
The ‘hub’ of our planning, there’s a laptop hidden under the papers too. And yes we are wiping clean everything.
Tuesday 24th March Today was our first day in ‘lockdown.’ However as we have been following government advice since the weekend it didn’t seem too different. Mr S was at work today and I was at home with the children. Given the nature of my work, I was checking in virtually during the day so I’m up to date when I go in tomorrow. We started the day with our one allowed exercise session and walked into the fields behind our house, through the woods and up to the coastal path. It was a stunning morning and the walk did so much for our physical and mental health. We came home and made fresh pancakes, it’s important to add those little sparkles to our days in isolation. We then did some school work and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the garden. The afternoon went quickly with some more school work, in fairness it’s a good mix of a few quiet focused academic tasks and lots of creative things to do too. We had a family game and then the children played in the garden whilst I did washing, got tea ready etc.. Today didn’t feel too bad, we were regularly what’s apping my parents and a few friends so we got the social interaction. However I’m very conscious that this is early days and there will be very many days like this to come, one walk and the day at home. Im all for taking the wins and today was one of the good days.

Wednesday 25th March

Work day today and another long day as I’m compressing my four days work into three. I’ve noticed how much more desk based I am this week as I can no longer visit classes. Our students and staff are allocated groups and bases to minimise the threat of infection and staff cannot visit unless they are in the team. I miss our students and our daily interaction, although we’re ringing up and hearing lots of good stories.

This evening I went for a walk alone. It’s strange for people only to have one opportunity a day to exercise. Normally, Little Miss would have joined me but had gone out with Mr S and her brother this morning. I also realised that I won’t be able to do my normal runs as I need to use that exercise time for family outings.

Thursday 26th March

My day off and normally my day to potter, run, and meet up with friends for coffee or lunch. I miss these simple pleasures. Today we had a very hilly walk but the signs of springs were everywhere to distract from the inclines and the views were amazing. We saw a few people on the walk but everyone seemed to be adhering to the guidelines. There was some more school work to be done, mainly some maths online for both the children. Once this had been done it was time to bake a ginger cake and play in the garden. Watching the children in the garden, I was able to message some family and friends to check in and make sure everyone is okay. Following a ‘chat’ with a neighbour I left an emergency pack on her doorstep, books!

Shortly at 8pm Little Miss and I are going into the garden to clap our NHS. We can see our cottage hospital from our garden so will be cheering so they hear us!

Friday 27th March

Well I totally underestimated the support for the applause for the nhs at 8pm last night. I was happy to go out out and wondered how many others would be doing it too. All our neighbours were out or hanging out their windows, there were cheers, clapping, whooping and pots and pans. The sound was amazing and it was the most incredibly moving and emotional moment. It gave us the sense of community and belonging in this period of isolation.

Today it was a work day for me, it’s been a week where I’ve done things I never knew of before this week. Today I was issuing key worker letters for our staff to show to the police for travel. Two of our staff got stopped on their way to work so it was needed. My week has been full of new tasks, it’s been a tough, long week and a very different time.

Saturday 28th March

Parkrun day 🙁 There are so many things you begin to miss (excluding family, hugging etc..) and parkrun is definitely one for me, as well as going to my favourite cafe, pottering around town, popping out when you fancy . I didn’t run today as I have only one opportunity for exercise and I took Little Man for a long walk up to the nature reserve. I did get an ‘again’ but I’m only exercising where we can walk to from our house. We did go a different way and saw some great sculptures which brightened the journey. Today as we were both at home Mr S and I decided to have some 1:1 with a child. It’s quite difficult only having your sibling to play with and quality adult company seemed to help today.

Mr S and Little Miss spent a lot of today gardening and it feels like spring is arriving, we can choose the veggies in our patch and think about our pots.

Mr S was far braver than I and gave Little Man a much needed haircut. Our neighbour is a hairdresser and the clippers were left and returned to the garden gates, a no man’a land in these strange times!

Sunday 29th March

The clocks went forward today but it didn’t seem like our normal welcome to BST apart from being in the garden there’s little immediate benefit to the longer days. Our day started with our new normal, a long morning walk. The rest of today was some household tasks and more time in the kitchen. I helped Little Man bake some cakes and then Little Miss and I made a chestnut and mushroom flan from scratch for tea. An unexpected bonus of this lockdown is more of a focus and time on preparing meals.

Monday 30th March

The start of week 2 and I’m feeling more familiar with our new routines. It was a work day today and the first in the past 10 days which wasn’t solely focused on Coronavirus, staffing and plans. These still feature heavily but I did a little of my role today. I was able to do my exercise alone today as Mr S and the children had been for a walk during the day. It was my first evening trail run of the year, a little cold and windy and I have a dull ache in my Achilles but it felt brilliant!

Tuesday 31st March

I’m definitely in the rhythm of life now. A simple routine today, school work in the morning, a long walk in the afternoon and teaching Little Miss how to make shepherd’s pie for tea.

We did get to think about life outside Lockdown today when we finally got a place for Little Man at a special school for September. It was emotional writing to his teacher and Headteacher to pass on the news. Nobody is quite sure if the children will go back this academic year and it seems he may already have had his last day at primary school. 😢

Wednesday 1st April

There was a general agreement that today was not a day for April fools. In fairness Little Man did get me as I was trying to leave for work as he was urging me to look in the garden because something had happened. When I looked he was so happy to shout out April fools and I was genuinely caught out.

These last few days has been really grim with the death figures increasing to around 500 deaths a day due to the Coronavirus in the UK. It’s even worse in other countries. You read heartbreaking stories about the dead and fear for your own family and friends. For my own mental health I’m trying to minimise my time on social media and news websites, only checking in briefly.

As it’s the first of the month, we turned the page on the calendar and saw all the lovely things we had planned for April. I felt sad and took it down, the only calendar we have up now is on my bureau which is simply for reference. I live by my diary yet haven’t opened it for days now, there’s nothing to note down, life is so strange.

Thursday 2nd April

Another day of home schooling and a long local walk. I downloaded a new app today so we can now take a photo of a plant and use the app to identify it. This added a little something to the walk and got us interested in the nature we could see. The children were definitely keen to find different flowers to identify.

It was clap for keyworkers tonight and this is quickly becoming a highlight of our week. All the neighbours were out and the sound louder and more eclectic than last week, there were lots of musical instruments and various kitchen utensils being used to make a noise.

Friday 3rd April

This was another ordinary lockdown day but one which should have been special. It was the last day of term so it should have been the Easter bonnet parade and egg hunts at the primary school. Instead it was a home schooling day although we did non uniform!

It didn’t feel like the end of term at work, no buzz of exciting plans just the prospect of lockdown. Whilst I am officially off for the next two weeks, I know if staffing becomes difficult it’s likely I’ll be called in.

Normally I have a list of ideas of our school holiday, days out, visits to family and a plan drafted out, for this holiday I have none of this. It’ll be a time for different plans, I’m thinking home made hot cross buns, Easter crafts, simple pleasures.

Saturday 4th April

With two weeks holiday I was keen to do some sorting and organising today and in the absence of days out to plan my kitchen became the focus. It was therapeutic cleaning and de cluttering my cupboards. I lit my favourite candle and played some great music, in lockdown you’ve got to appreciate the little things. We split up for our exercise today with the boys out this morning when Little Miss had her Zoom class and the girls went out after tea. I was lucky to meet a friend by chance on our walk (she does live v close by) and it was great to catch up, complying with the 2m rule.

Sunday 5th April

One of the advantages of this diary is that I can still identify the day and date, lockdown has a strange effect on time. Much of the same today, a long walk in the spring sunshine, Mr and Little Miss S gardening, Little Man playing indoors and I finished the kitchen, not only is it sparkling but I’ve decluttered lots and rearranged some cupboards.

This evening the Queen spoke to the nation. It was a careful and appropriate speech which touched many.

We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.” – The Queen.

This week… I tried to understand Covid 19

Spring flowers to lighten the mood

I try to do a post each week on the simple pleasures I have enjoyed entitled ‘This week..’  Life is very different at present and over the past two weeks, I have been focusing on looking after my family and trying to make sense of all that is happening in the world.  In a crisis, I am practical and calm.

I work on the SMT of a special school which will remain open and I’ve been contributing to our planning at work.  At times the amount of information we have been processing has been intense but we end this week with a strong plan for the coming weeks.  I have also been able to organise Mr S and my part time working hours so that we will be working our contracted number of hours and looking after our children ourselves, despite both being on the key worker list.  I’m quite excited at being teacher mum, I have schedules ready, little projects etc.. I genuinely love being a teacher and teaching my own children is going to be fun! (If I say this enough times, I’m convincing myself,  I won’t need to resort to my behaviour management skills)  Mr S is job sharing with me, I hope he’s as good as my last job share partner. Ten years later we still work together but its leading our department now not just one class!

I want to focus on just a few little things I’ve done to show that even in times of crisis, there are little rays of sunshine.  So this week ….

I have run …

On Saturday, I went to our local parkrun.  There was a quiet resignation that this was our last meeting for a time but there was such a lovely feeling of community and strength.  When the parkrun was introduced, there was a cheer, which seemed to be a thank you to everybody and at the end, quiet acknowledgements that we would see each again when it was possible.  I also managed to run my last miles of the 100 miles of winter challenge this week.  That was a tough challenge, we have had such bad weather and storms and my running was severely limited in February.  However with frequent runs in the past fortnight, I ran my miles with 5 days to spare, yippee!

I have watched …

The daily government briefings at 5pm have become part of our routine.  It does add a war time feel to proceedings.  I was still at work on Wednesday waiting for the school closure announcement and my colleague and I were huddled around the screen, watching and trying to work out what it meant for us.  There is definitely a sense of community in these uncertain times.

I have supported …

The Coronavirus crisis has the potential to destroy our local community and this week, I made a conscious effort to further support local businesses ( I can always manage another coffee!)  I always go to a local cafe for lunch with my friend on Wednesday, they are an amazing independent business but can now only offer takeaways.  We had our takeaway soup and bread on Wednesday and I returned the next day to buy a takeaway coffee simply to show my support.  I will do this as much as I can.  I love this cafe, it can’t shut, its such a little hub for us all. I also continued with my nail appointment, there were stringent hygiene measures in place but if we don’t support our local businesses our town will become a ghost town.  Our local businesses have also come up with some great initiatives to support the vulnerable people in our community, shops working together, cafes making meals on wheels, whilst we are collecting for the food bank at work and I have spoken to all our neighbours to ensure that everyone has the support they need.  This is our time to be show our community spirit.

Next week is the start of our new normal.  Realistically I don’t think the children will return to school until September.  After a fortnight of speculation and planning, it will be good to start our new routines and learn to embrace the new normal.  It is a time of change and challenge, I trust that as a community, local, national and global we will emerge stronger, wiser and kinder.

This week…

Sometimes weeks are just a little quiet and ordinary. This was one of those weeks, nothing special to report just the humdrum of family life. It was World Book day this week, Little Man went as a soldier and took in his favourite non fiction book on World War 2 but it was strange with not having to find Little Miss a costume too. The difference between primary and secondary seem marked at times and it makes me a little sad.

I read

With a quiet week I spent lots of time reading. The weather was so awful on my day off it would have been rude not to cuddle up under my duvet for a cheeky read. I read two brilliant books and found it difficult to put them both down.

Running Up that Hill by Vassos Alexander is a book on ultra running. I’m never going to run an ultra marathon but I do trail run and there are great interviews with ultra athletes, of whom a fair few are women too! I enjoyed the race reports too and found myself willing on the participants. 5⭐️

The Girl you Used to Know was such a surprisingly good read. I had no idea of the book , to be perfectly honest it was a Kindle deal of the day and I liked the cover! As soon as I started to read it, I realised that whilst not explicit the main female character was autistic. I teach young people on the autistic spectrum and it was so good to see a positive storyline. It was a 5 star read until the final few chapters, a clumsy, contrived ending which wasn’t really needed. 4.5⭐️

I watched …

I started to watch the new Dawn French series, The Trouble with Maggie Cole. It is set in a small seaside town and it did make me smile with some of the comments. For example one of the characters asked if everyone knew everyone in the town with the reply being if you don’t know someone then someone else will. It’s definitely true! It’s cosy television for a weekday night, an amusing script, familiar actors and beautiful scenery.

I wore …

I love my new bag and this colour is becoming my go to colour. It’s the perfect accessory , big enough for essentials and small enough to be able to carry easily and casually.

I won …

Just one final category this week as I found out that I had won a prize in a school raffle, some very posh and delicious tubs of local artisan ice cream. It was very well received by us all!

Welcome March

I’m not quite sure what to expect this month. It’s one of those rare months when there’s no school holidays so it’s a month of routines. At school there is an eco theme this month, our town is participating in a tree planting project and a tree is being planted for every child in the town. There are eco days in both schools to celebrate this project and the children and members of the community are working together on the planting.

It’s March so it’s World Book day. There are special book events planned at the primary school and I think I’ve got the costume sorted for Little Man. I’m taking it’s not a thing at secondary unless Little Miss has forgotten to pass on the message (Can you believe that she twice forgot to pass on the message that I had won the ice cream prize, large tubs of amazing local, artisan ice cream in the school raffle) I have collected my prize now and we are so enjoying the ice cream”!

There are no big events this month but I would like to spend lots of our free time outside. After the incessant storms and rain in February we need to get some sunshine on our faces. I need to run 30 miles by the 22nd to achieve my 100mile winter challenge. The storms seriously affected my mileage in February.

Our other big theme this month is the continuing battle for a special school place. The local authority have to put in their evidence to Tribunal during the month and then we need to add ours too. This is such a stressful time.

It’s unusual to have such a quiet month but months rarely stay quiet and I’m sure the dairy will be filled up quickly. However at present it’s a month which we will flow as needs be.

This week I have …

It’s a quick catch up this week. I had a nagging headache at the weekend and couldn’t be near a computer screen. I was able to make a few notes so I wouldn’t have one week merge into another.

I read …

My theme for this year is Vision. The word of the year is another Gretchen Ruben idea, more of her work later. I read this book to try develop the theme but its something which probably would have best been as an article. The concept is great but the book is a little prescriptive and talks about the need for a facilitator etc.. A little bit too complicated and intense a project for me at present.

I made …

Pancakes! I enjoy Shrove Tuesday and with work and home, I make lots of pancakes. When the children were little and before they started school, we would have pancakes for breakfast. I imagine it was a leisurely and relaxed activity, however it is one of those things you start and has now developed into a family tradition, pancakes for breakfast. It’s a mad and busy start to the school day but the children get dressed quickly with the promise of pancakes and it’s fun. Mr S leaves early so missed his breakfast pancake but was our chef for more pancakes in the evening.

I played …

February was a month of storms, Ciara, Dennis and Jorge and with them falling at the weekends, we have needed indoor activities to keep us busy. Our local sports centre does a great offer on Sundays, racket sports for £1 per person and we have been playing together as a family, a combination of single and double matches. The children are at a great age when we can play together in competitive games and badminton is becoming a family favourite.

I listened

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy Gretchen. Rubin’s Happier podcasts and this week was a special treat as for the 5th anniversary of the podcast the original was broadcast alongside this week’s episode.

As I said it’s just a quick catch up this post. It was a fairly quiet and homely week. Let’s hope the weather brightens and the upcoming weeks bring more outdoor adventures.