My week … the one with the winter sunshine.

Its been the first full week of term and we’re all getting back into the routines and rhythm of daily life. January always seems such a long month so we’ve been trying to plan something different at the weekends to give us something to look forward to.

My week has been very work focussed and my day off was spent doing a long run as part of my half marathon training and then simply pottering around at home doing some life admin. It is good to have a day like this, its been a long time since my last and my diary looks quite busy in the coming weeks too. I ran as early as I could when the children left for school, it was a rare daylight run as I generally run very early in the morning or at night so in winter these are dark runs. I took advantage of the light to do the lanes, it was a clear bright blue sky and the sunshine was melting the frosted fields, it was an absolutely stunning run. As it was my longest run for nearly 9 months, I did warm down and stretch after and it worked, there were no pain or niggles.

It was decided that this weekend, we would spend some special time with a child each, I had our son, Mr S our daughter. Its nice to have this 1:1 attention and the children had the choice on what they wanted to do. Although Little Miss had a session at the farm, she then went shopping with Mr S. Little Man chose to visit one of his favourite museums, The Aviation museum. It is just a giant playground for him, its all outdoors and is a field of planes where you can climb into the cockpits of all the planes on display and be a pilot. It is also right next to the airport so you can view close up, the planes coming in and going out. Its so close you can wave to the pilots! After a morning here, we went to the neighbouring town for lunch and a little wander around the shops, although not too many shops as my son isn’t too keen! The final thing my son asked for was to visit the Smyths toy superstore on the way home which we did although he did feel he was a bit grown up for a lot of things now. It was a lovely SaM day, this is our special name for our son and mum day, perfectly finished off with a curry and all the trimmings for dinner with us all back together around the kitchen table.

Its another ordinary week next week, I need to pop over to ‘big’ town on my day off for an appointment so it’ll be nice to potter around too and see if the Spring stock is in shops yet. I do worry if it’ll be quite eerie now the big M&S has closed and there’ll sadly be no food treats to take home which has always been a thing if we were in town. We also need to plan our weekend surprise next weekend, I’m wondering if we can combine a trip out and some parkrun tourism, we’ll see what the week holds.

My week … the one with an inspiring watch

And just like that, Christmas was over and the new year began. The week did feel a little disorientating with an extra bank holiday on Monday. We hadn’t planned anything for Monday, just getting ready for the week and maybe a little walk. However, at lunchtime we got a call from the local vaccination clinic inviting the children in early for their second vaccinations and offering a spot in the afternoon. We took this invitation and headed over to the big town, it was so smooth and easy although the children were disappointed by the lack of lollipops. The clinic is next to the football stadium, so we took a walk around and popped into the shop. My son got a new calendar and I got a superb bobble hat with a rainbow pompom, I love it!

Tuesday saw the return ish to school, my son and I returned on Tuesday but due to the LFT testing, my daughter not until Friday. She has missed a surprising number of school days due to this staggered return to school over the past year and there haven’t been any lessons or work set in this period. I took her over the farm where she helps out on Thursday to give the day more focus and structure, this also freed up Saturday. As we had nothing planned, I decided to do a little parkrun tourism and visit a new parkrun in the county. The weather was wicked, rain, wind and so cold yet it turned into one of those life affirming and positive mornings. Everyone was so friendly and chatty. I saw my first ever 500 t-shirt and as an added bonus someone was completing their 500th parkrun too, that’s such commitment I also got to say the catchphrase from the With Me Now podcast, so despite the weather it was a great morning run.

I was sad to hear that when I was listening to Marathon Talk that the next episode, 600 will also be their last. Despite never having run a marathon, I’ve listened to the podcast for years and its a great pod on all things running. One of the original presenters Tom was back on guest presenting a few weeks ago and the interview this week was with one of their old regulars too. With those two featuring, its been a nice and nostalgic ending to one of the original podcasts. I’ll be sad to listen to the final podcast, I hope Tony comes back too!

A couple of weeks ago on Marathon Talk, the film the Rescue was highly recommended and I noticed it was on Disney+. Mr S and I sat down to watch it last night and were totally transfixed, it was an incredible watch on the discovery and rescue of the Thai boys stuck in a cave. It was documentary film, with real images of the time. I had a little cry at the end, its so emotional and I have such a deep respect for the deep sea cave divers whose hobby saved 13 lives.

One of my #22for22 is to write a few positive lines daily and I bought the rainbow book to do this. So far I’ve recorded 3 things daily and its telling me what I probably have always known, its the little things in life which make life sparkle, a clear and star filled sky, a good run, playing a game with my son.

Christmas Decorations 2021

Each year, I do a quick post on our decorations. This year, our decorations are pretty similar to previous years, with my rainbow window being the only new design.

The main tree remains in its spot at the foot of the stairs which leads into our large open plan living room. There is a side window here and that is a polar explorers window with felt animals, white stars and a large snow globe which lights up. On the mantle piece is my favourite tableau, the gingerbread village for which I bought a few additional wooden houses this year. It is lit up with copper lights which adds to the cosy ambiance. Around the foot of the fire place, I have my reindeer and Christmas tree forest. This is one area I would like to develop next year as a few of the decorations are looking a little faded and dated. This year, I did a very simple but surprisingly striking large window display with some large, ornate paper stars, a pre lit Christmas tree also sits in the middle window.

This year I debuted the rainbow tree I got in the Christmas Paperchase sale last year. I love it and have simply adorned it with baubles of the same colour and added a few rainbow decorations too. There is a brightly multi coloured bell star in the window too and the rainbow disco balls are from Tiger. These are amazing and will stay up all year, I love a kitchen disco and now have the disco balls ready.

I love my new angel which sits on our Christmas tree, I’ve been looking for one for ages and never quite found ‘the one.’ I was with my mum when I discovered it and she got one too, our angels now sit on both of our Christmas trees which I think is rather lovely. My daughter and I picked up the globe on our Christmas shopping trip, as a little reminder that we are all in this pandemic together and to encourage dreams of travel. I bought the glass rainbow tree from a local craft fair in late summer. I feel that you can never have enough rainbows, they are such a symbol of hope, something we have all needed at Christmas 2021.

I have had lots of candles burning this Christmas and the candlelight gives a warmth and delicious aroma to a room. I have also added lots of fresh flowers and like my wreath on our gate. Each Christmas, my neighbour and daughter have an afternoon where they make centrepieces for the neighbours and this year’s edition is really fun, the oranges and reds being complemented by real mini veg! The real tree on my door step is a welcome purchase and one which I hope to cultivate for an even bigger doorstep tree in 2022. Outside I have my white lights on the stone wall which complement our neighbours’ houses too, it looks very classy in our little triangle of homes. The projector of snow flakes is also nice on the side of the house.

This afternoon, I completed my Christmas book chapter for 2021 (oh yes this really is a thing, I have 3 books now of past Christmas planning going back many years) It is really helpful to note down thoughts and plans for the next year including decorating ideas to help me feel inspired in the autumn. I also add photos, recipes, family Christmas card etc.. Its also interesting to see the new themes developing over the years, I think rainbows may be a bit 20/21 but I love this theme and intend to use it again for its pure joy and energy. I do think that decorations should reflect your personality and not simply follow a trend.

A few personal highlights of 2021

2021 was a difficult year but there were highlights and you always need to shower life with sparkles. Here are some of my favourite personal and family moments of the year.

January

If one were to ‘gram’ my life in January it would have looked amazing. However, it was also one of the toughest months of my life interspersed with some brilliant events. I passed my Uni professional qualification with merit after 18 months of really hard study. We also paid off our mortgage in January, every single penny was earnt by my husband and I, no financial gifts or inheritance, just our earnings and simply paying a bit extra if we had some additional money. It is a wonderful feeling to own our house. I also got my first Covid vaccination in January, as after such a bad outbreak at my place of work, PHE helped us to get all staff vaccinated quickly. It was such an inspiring, happy vaccination clinic which took place onsite, I cried happy, relieved tears!

February, March

Lockdown, Vaccination 2 in March.

April

The restrictions on staying away from home were eased in the second week of the Easter holiday meaning we could stay away from home in self catering accommodation in England only. Mr S managed to find a beautiful refurbished milking parlour in the countryside near Cheddar which we could use as a base to visit our parents ( a walk with my parents, and a garden meet up with my Father in Law) It was such a simple holiday, in addition to seeing our parents we visited Cheddar and Wells, enjoyed a family bike ride along the Strawberry Line and lit the first barbecue of the year, but it was also one of the nicest holidays.

May

Mr S got his first Covid vaccination.

Half term meant another holiday, this was a postponed holiday from 2020 and in May half term, we had a caravan on a site near Hastings. There were many restrictions still in place but we got to swim for the first time in 15 months, sit in a pub, watch a show (but no dancing or singing) go to the cinema (Peter Rabbit 2) eat in a restaurant, etc… It all felt so new and exciting. Best of all it all happened in a heatwave.

June

Euros 2020, the tournament where England were brilliant and my football mad son and I loved every single minute.

My son and I also continued our crazy golf challenge which has become ‘our thing’ The year ends with the score as 3 – 1 to him, but I am improving and look forward to more challenges next year.

July

By July, things were opening up more to allow us a night out in a hotel! Things were still slightly different, we dined al fresco in a local restaurant and for breakfast there was no buffet but table service, but it was great (although I may have sprayed the room with an anti bacterial spray when we arrived) We also enjoyed the day out at Longleat, one of our family’s happy places, alongside Paultons Park, which we also visited this month.

This month also saw my parents golden wedding anniversary but such were restrictions that they were unable to make any plans for celebrating the event. We dedicated a plaque on Clevedon pier to the occasion, as its a place with happy memories.

parkrun finally returned at the end of this month and this made me exceptionally happy, normal service on a Saturday morning has finally resumed. I was at the last parkrun in March 2020 and never imagined it would take another 16 months till the restart.

August

Another postponed holiday from 2020, firstly a week in Norfolk and then a further 4 days in Kent. Norfolk was brilliant and probably my happiest day of the year was spent just the four of us on a long, warm (flat) cycle ride followed by an outdoor swim. We all loved Norfolk, the site was gorgeous and we liked exploring some of the local towns, the children especially loved the noise and buzz of Great Yarmouth.

The children and I spent a few days this month with my parents. We did a brilliant treasure hunt around Clevedon and it was just a day with all the feels. When you can’t do so much inside, its surprising how more creative you become with your ideas. Mr S didn’t come with us as he was supervising the building of a new fence, it transformed the look of our garden and made us ridiculously happy, who knew you could get so excited over a fence?

September

A return to school with no bubbles or masks (this in fact turned to be temporary as masks were back after half term)

October

After years of steroid injections and carefully considering an operation, I had my foot operation this month. The nhs were beyond stunning and all has gone really well that I’m so pleased I had it done.

My parents also celebrated their 70th and 75th birthdays respectively. My dad’s treat from us was a champagne afternoon tea in Browns in London and for my mum a lovely spa day with me. We’re keen to go back very soon, the spa was amazing

November

My daughter and I used the Inset day she had for a Christmas shopping trip in Southampton and just had the best girlie day shopping and enjoying lunch out and mocktails. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

December

Christmas has been subdued this year as Covid infections grew again and we feared new restrictions. However, we did get to spend time at our parents’ homes over the festive period which was so important to us. Again it was simple, playing games, walks and delicious food but it was all we wanted.

2021 was about keeping ourselves and others safe, I really hope that 2022 is the year in which life opens up more and looks more normal. There are parts of the year which have been surreal, I crave the ordinary.

The year that was .. 2021

This year has been a very strange one, personally I have had some real highlights, but there has been a peculiar feeling to this year, anxiety, anger, sorrow. This was supposed to be the year when the pandemic became a memory, however Covid remains the top news story and as I write this, there is a phenomenal drive on getting everyone boosted following their 2 vaccinations this year and we await news of potential new restrictions. It was relief to be able to visit my parents last week, but this was not done until we had all had negative LFTs and we only did events outside to protect and save us from a Christmas in isolation. Life is the same but different and I think we will all take a time to recover from the past 18 months, life has lost its spontaneity and plans are now only tentatively made.

The year started badly as my work had a big outbreak of Covid. We were at work onsite everyday and I was one of those trained to do the testing (in full PPE) I witnessed the double lines and needing to break it to staff that they needed to do a PCR as their LFT was positive was horrible. Our students were also separated from family and their level of disability meant that some were unable to understand what was happening, why they couldn’t see parents, do their favourite things or that they were ill and needed to stay in their homes, this was heart breaking. Sadly some of our most vulnerable and staff and students contracted Covid and the worry was immense, it was in my thoughts 24 hours, 7 days a week. I was emotionally fragile by the end of the outbreak with a level of cleanliness which probably bordered on obsessive. I also feel that the effects of this period will haunt me for a long time, there was never any time to pause and recover, the next outbreak was only ever a few months away. If I feel like this I cannot imagine how our doctors and nurses are, they are the true heroes of this year, I have never been prouder of our NHS and did have a little cry each time I was given my vaccination. I have remained very cautious throughout the year, even as the restrictions lessened, I continued to wear a mask in shops and on the one occasion I went on a train. I have avoided indoor events and pubs and restaurants if they didn’t have outdoor seating areas. Socialising with friends has changed, we now tend to get a takeaway coffee and walk and talk or share a meal in a friend’s garden around an open fire. Life has changed during the pandemic, priorities are different and values strengthened, perhaps there is no normal to return to and now is the time to develop our own path forward.

Away from Covid, there were many news stories which made me so angry, how the issues which we campaigned against as teenagers are still in the news in 2021, and worse still how we seem to have regressed in addressing and countering racism and misogyny. Society seems more splintered and divided this year, the consequences of Brexit continue and this year saw shortages and a petrol crisis, at times this was a really grim year. Best not to get me started on the government..

All the major events were affected by Covid and we had many of the big sporting events postponed from 2020 this year, the Olympics and Euros. Both gave special memories, England reaching the final of the Euros remains their best performance in my lifetime. However, it was the way in which the team behaved, and the values they shared that lasts, a team which promotes an inclusive and fair society is one to cherish. The Olympics were fun and new sports were discovered, although an Olympics without crowds was a spooky experience to view, lets hope for a raucous and loud Olympics In Paris.

Initially I though 2021 was going to be a transition year ‘back to normal’ it wasn’t as Covid continued to affect daily life, from lockdowns, significant international travel restrictions to a return to even more restrictions by the end of the year . My hope is that 2022 will be the transition period and life will be filled with more sparkles in the coming year.

My #21for 2021, how did I do?

In January, I created my #21for2021, inspired by Gretchen Rubin, whose podcast I listen to weekly. https://seasidesparkles.net/2021/01/30/21for21

In January I felt that my theme should be about fun after the difficult 2020 we had all lived through. However, I never imagined the impact the pandemic would have on our lives for a second year and many of the activities were just not possible. Below is my review, and time to tot up how many I achieved.

  1. Graduate from my Uni course. Achieved, I passed with merit and now have a few more letters after my name. Sadly with the pandemic, there was no graduation ceremony, just the certificate in the post!
  2. Have a doorstep plant. Achieved. As I write this my doorstep Christmas tree is twinkling and looking pretty. Over the year, I have had a rose and lavender plant also on the doorstep. I love this idea and want to continue more next year.
  3. Wear stylish jewellery. Partially achieved. I have bought some lovely, new pieces this year, but I prefer to wear dangly earrings which get very easily caught up in masks (so 2021) thus I haven’t worn as mush as I would have liked to. I do try and wear a necklace or simple studs but would love to do more next year too.
  4. Organise my boxes of decorations. Achieved. There was a lot of lockdown time at home and I got organised!
  5. Spark joy with my clothes. Not achieved. I’m not really sure why this didn’t happen, I think there was too much happening elsewhere in life and with shops closed for months and then the prospect of shopping with no fitting rooms etc.. the joy disappeared. I’m definitely adding this to #22for22 with perhaps a focus on preloved, vintage clothes.
  6. Listen to an audiobook. Achieved. This year, I started to walk to work everyday (its only taken 15 years for me to start this) and had lots of time for listening to books and podcasts. BBC Sounds is brilliant for new books and I’ve enjoyed lots of audio books this year. A real bonus for me.
  7. Take the children to KFC. Achieved. We’ve been once! It was in the summer holidays on a trip to my parents. The lime and watermelon cooler was great, as a vegetarian I can’t comment on the food!
  8. Run the virtual challenge of Lands End to John O’Groats, 874 miles. Nearly achieved. Oh I was so close and on target until my operation. I have contacted the organisers and the challenge has been extended to cover the 8 weeks I couldn’t run post foot operation. So with 9 weeks still to go I am happy with my 770 miles done and to complete the final 100 miles in 9 weeks is easily doable barring injury.
  9. Do something creative everyday. Umm.. I don’t know how to record this, everyday was a bit of a high order, but I have been creative this year.
  10. Burn more candles. Achieved. I treated myself to a candle subscription and since then have enjoyed the simple pleasure of burning a seasonal candle, from the light florals of spring to the warm, gingerbread aromas of Christmas. I have tried to use small, indie companies too and discovered some lovely makers.
  11. Display more seasonal decorations. Achieved, although it was difficult to display more as I’m pretty good at decorating for most special events. I prefer to think it was higher quality decorations rather than quantity.
  12. Grow something. Achieved. An avocado plant from seed and my indoor succulents are thriving! Another to continue next year,
  13. Find the perfect summer straw bag. Achieved and I love my bag I wish I could use it all year.
  14. Watch a Christmas film or two. Achieved, its only December 22nd but I think its now standing at 6 Christmas films so far and more ringed in the Radio Times for the coming days.
  15. Visit beautiful gardens. Sadly not achieved. We were under Covid restrictions ’til June and then were trying to make up for lost time on other events. However, I did walk a lot through wild flower fields and forests, another to make up in 2022
  16. Do a flower arranging course. Not achieved. The class I had been hoping to take did not run this year due to Covid,
  17. Get my red parkrun t-shirt. Not achieved. Covid again, parkrun did not restart until the end of July and with alternating between parkrun and my daughter’s farm sessions and an 8 week operation recovery period it wasn’t possible to do the number required. However its on the list for 2022 and I’m hoping to achieve this in the spring.
  18. Finally visit the Fashion museum. Not achieved and its been on my list for at least 3 years ..
  19. See a show / live music. Not achieved. This didn’t sit well with Covid, however I have tickets for a concert (originally for 2020) and show rearranged to see next year.
  20. Get lost in art. Achieved. On the first weekend of shops and museums reopening, my daughter went shopping with friends and I as taxi driver went to the art gallery and just sat and appreciated the different perspectives.
  21. Try something new. I’m going to write achieved as there were lots of new things we tried this year, LFT tests, Covid vaccinations etc.. Whilst it wasn’t the big things I had imagined trying, I will be forever grateful to our scientists for developing the medicines and resources to help us all through the pandemic.

I am happy with 12 goals achieved and three partially as Covid had such an impact on my plans and many were not possible. I still enjoy this challenge and look forward to another year of new ideas to complete, time to start thinking …

Precious Moments

Its the week before Christmas and I thought I would add a quick post about the little things happening in life, as often its the little things which become the big memories. I love the anticipation of Christmas but this year the feeling is definitely filled with Covid related anxiety. I didn’t get to see my parents last Christmas, so our pre Christmas trip to spend 3 days with them this year was a huge thing to me. I have been desperately following the news, trying to make predications on what rules would come into place and if our trip would be allowed. I’m really grateful it was planned pre Christmas as I think its inevitable that there will be restrictions very soon. However, Monday morning arrived and with 3 negative tests (Mr S was working) our trip was on 🙂

Normally we try to plan and book special events in advance but with the uncertainty we decided to keep our visit simple and home based. It was about being together, playing games, enjoying good food and Christmas lights, you can never have enough of the twinkling lights! On Monday, we arrived in time for lunch and then all snuggled to watch a Christmas film together. Later we drove over to Clevedon so we could see the parks and town lit up for Christmas. The lights are simple but delightful, I got excited by disco balls hanging from the trees and sparkles everywhere, whilst the snowflakes on the floor just make you feel you’re walking through a wonderland. We stopped for a takeaway hot drink in the old town and stumbled along the most fantastically kitsch coffee bar. The Wham poster in the above montage was full size, like the big posters you used to hang on your walls from Athena or record shops. Whilst we couldn’t get onto the pier as it was closed the large wreath on the gates perfectly framed the pier as you looked down. We returned home to an amazing veggie chilli my dad (the chef in the house) had prepared earlier, perfect warming food after a fresh walk.

On Tuesday, we went for a family walk to Weston Super Mare where I found the Keep Going wall art on the walk. I do like these bold phrases decorating large spaces. We then returned home for an afternoon of games. What is more Christmassy than everyone around a table, playing Monopoly with the Christmas chocs open and Jamie Callum’s Christmas album playing? Its these memories which are so simple but so special.

After the chocolates and to get my appetite back for the special dinner, I went for a run and got to see the amazing house decorations round by my parents. Christmas lights are definitely a thing where they live! By a very lucky coincidence, I came across a house that we had seen on the local news the night before. It is stunning, the house has been decorated as a toy shop and the attention to detail is superb. There is a dedication plaque in the garden to say the lights have been done in memory of the house owner’s mum who loved Christmas and who had died last year, it was a beautifully written and uplifting dedication. The owners are also raising money for the local hospice and in reading the article below the reason is very moving.

https://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/christmas-lights-spencer-drive-worle-john-burge-8563032

As I was running, I didn’t have any money on me but as it was close to my parents, my dad and I walked the children there after dinner so they could see it too and I could add a little something to the donation box. With all the other lights on the walk and the dark and crisp evening, it just gave us all the Christmas feels.

Our Christmas meal was lovely, my parents had gone for a Mexican feast as we’re all having a traditional meal on Saturday and it was delicious. My mum also made her homemade crackers, this is a bit of a family joke after the year (probably 35 years ago now) in which we all got tooth brushes in the crackers and weren’t overly impressed! The gifts were much more appreciated this year and my son is made up with his whoppee cushion, he thinks it is hilarious.

This morning was just a late, lazy breakfast type of morning, playing along with Pop Master on the radio and getting things together before we headed home just after lunch. I did pop to the local supermarket very early (7ish) after a request from Mr S to get the one thing missing from our Christmas shop which had been delivered the day before. Of all the random items, it was dishwasher salt that had been out of stock. Our Christmas delivery was very nice timing as I managed to miss the putting away of the Christmas shop where you try to hide the nice bits and fit all the fresh stuff in the fridge. I left with an empty fridge and tonight its full of our Christmas food.

I am so grateful that I got to see my parents this Christmas, it was what I was hoping for but had been quite worried in the preceding days that it would be cancelled. It wasn’t about grand events, it was simply about spending time as a family, those little moments around the table, the funny stories, shared memories of Christmases past, remembering those no longer with us as part of those happy memories and being together. Family is love and belonging.

My week … the one with the Christmas Windows

The final week of term turned out to be a week of conflicting emotions, excitement and anticipation and then despair and shock. On this blog, I focus on the positive times as my children’s stories are not for me to share, but the last few days have been the toughest and most heart wrenching as a parent. Its not over yet and I think this Christmas could be quite a fragile period, but we’re all here together and this is our safe place.

The start of the week was great, I had such a lovely night with friends managing to dine al fresco in December. It was remarkably mild, and with a fire and curry we kept warm whilst chatting and relaxing, a perfect evening. I also had another check up with my consultant, he was really pleased with my foot and I just need to keep doing a few strengthening exercises before hopefully being signed off in four months. The smile image above is some wall art near the clinic and it seemed apt to come across it as I was leaving.

Last week I did my Christmas lights run, and this week it was the Christmas shop windows run. I feel two of the charity shops are having a little creative competition, as both have beautiful tree mannequins. I do love the Christmas windows and the effort made to make town a little more sparkly. The pier has new lights this year and it looks so beautiful with the colours reflecting off the sea. I hope they stay, twinkling lights make us all feel so much better and with the new Covid variant of Omicron threatening another lockdown, we all need the little sparkles in life.

One of my 21for21 was to have a plant on my doorstep, during the year its been a rose and then lavender. I have a Christmas tree now and its made me very happy. I feel I may have become more of a plant person this year, my indoor succulents are thriving and I’m planning to have a few more next year too. I’m looking forward to creating my 22for22.

It was the final week of term and special school events. We had an al fresco breakfast for staff on the last morning and any day which starts with Panettone can only be good. The last day saw the premiere of our Christmas videos which were very amusing and well worth the effort and technical stress in the preceding days.

Today, I did what can only be described as a new extreme sport, present wrapping! Family and friends gifts are all wrapped and delivered but I needed to do the children’s. Normally I take one of my days off and get everything organised and done in a lovely, leisurely manner, but this year with shopping trips, the spa visit and training, I haven’t had such a day. To help find me the time, Mr S took the children out and I had less than two hours to do it all. I was organised and had all the accessories, but it was intense and far more exhausting than this morning’s run, lots of up and down ladders to collect and re-hide the presents, tidy away all evidence etc.. However its all done and I can relax again until Christmas eve when Mr S traditionally takes the children out on a few errands for me and I do the stockings and gift bags ready for the night. Its our 12th Christmas as a family and we have a slick operation!

Its nearly Christmas now and fingers crossed for negative LFT tests tomorrow, we’re off to my parents for a few days. Given the national picture, it will be very much home based, we have a few ideas of outdoor things to do, but we will be avoiding busy indoor places. After all the high hopes for Christmas 2021, it seems that a new lockdown is inevitable. My father in law has postponed his post Christmas visit and we’re ready to cocoon ourselves at home. As long as all our family and friends are safe and healthy, nothing else really matters.

My week … the one with ‘And Just Like That’

Its been a lovely festive week, not for any big special events but for the way Christmas starts to seep into everyday life. I had a beautiful run on Wednesday evening, where the lights and decorations around a local village were stunning. The park where I did my parkrun this morning also has a festive village and Santa grotto and is full of decorations with that lovely atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. As I saw little children skip up to the entrance in their best Christmas outfits, I did feel that pang of sadness that my two are now too big for such a Santa experience. But, the Christmas magic continues no matter what your age, it just looks different. My son’s class had their Christmas virtual coffee morning this week and it was very sweet. They had all written letters of what they would like for Christmas and read these out to the parents. My son’s was as expected (thankfully) although he asked for two chocolate oranges as dad always eats one!

Following on from my very serious, study filled Christmas of 2020, I have embraced Christmas this year and have watched my fourth Christmas film of the season, Last Christmas. I liked it and was genuinely surprised by the twist. I also bought a book of Christmas poems by Wendy Cope. I have all her anthologies as they are the perfect books to dip into. Although short, Christmas poems is a fantastic book, there’s so much feeling and emotion in simple verses. The poem, Little Donkey made me tearful and today when I was in a neighbouring town and heard the town band playing by the Christmas tree, I too had to pause and listen.

This week I was really looking forward to ‘And Just Like That’ the successor to Sex and the City. I was in my 20s when SATC was first broadcast and it ended just after I married. I loved it and it was one of my favourite tv series. I was thinking about that time this week, I was newly married, living in a big city, working as a French teacher, I would never have imagined that when it restarted 17 years later, I would be mum to teenagers, working in special needs education and living in a very small, seaside town, more than 100 miles from our parents. Life can change in surprising ways.

And Just Like That was very watchable and it was good to catch up with the characters. However, I need time to make my judgement there were some funny bits, some sad ( Oh Big … ) but some quite stilted exchanges too and I wasn’t too sure about the characterisation of some of the main characters. The men ( v happy to Steve and Harry back) seemed far more content and comfortable with life than the female leads. However, I’ll be back on Thursday night for the next episode.

Next week, I have my 8 week post op appointment so hopefully all will be well and I can be signed off. I’m so pleased its also the last week of term next week, I’m tired and work is quite demanding so I need the break and to be away from the drama . Its not the children or my team that provide the stress, its the things I don’t have control over, like Christmas lights and a Christmas dinner! However there are lots of lovely treats planned and its definitely going to look like Christmas next week.

A Christmas Run

Last night when my daughter was at youth club I took the opportunity to run around this very festive village. I’m only adding one photo here but I have a reel of beautiful images, the sky was so dark, speckled with stars and the decorations are amazing.

It is a small village so for a 5k run you have to do a few repetitions of the main road and take every little side road to make the miles. The lights were everywhere, pubs, hotels, shops, homes and at every turn you found more. I was wrapped up but after the storm earlier in the week it was a mild evening and perfect winter running conditions. To fully embrace the mood, I also had a Christmas playlist. Sometimes runs are hard but other times when you can add a little sparkle, they raise the spirit and warm the soul.