My week … the one with a heatwave

This week has an outdoorsy theme, with superb weather, its been a good week to explore. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten outside so much as this year, if we’re not out with a picnic, we’re in the garden for lunch or dinner. Whilst its been a heatwave, we’ve avoided the beach as it is so busy here at present, even busier than a ‘normal’ high season. However I do get up early and run along the beach to get my ‘vitamin sea’ and a little peace. Here are some of our adventures from our week.

I learnt how to survive in the wild.

On Monday, Little Miss and Mr S went to see Grandad so Little Man and I had a day out together. It was another activity in the local council’s summer scheme (which I still know little about) and this time was about surviving in the wild. With the weather forecast, I was worried about surviving in the heat, but whilst it was warm, the clouds made it bearable and it was perfect conditions for the day, spent at a lovely outdoor centre. By the time we got home, the clouds had broken and we enjoyed an incredibly hot spell in the paddling pool too. During the day we learnt how to make a fire, some local history, orienteering and map reading and building dens. We were in very small bubbles to help make the day Covid safe and Little Man made a new friend, both were well into the day and it was good to see him so happy and involved. We were able to get into another activity day on Thursday and Little Man’s new friend was there too.

I walked and ran a lot of miles.

On Wednesday with the whole family back together we took the bikes out. Its only the children who have bikes so we took them to the local forestry and we walked, as they cycled ahead, looped us etc.. We ended up with a 6 mile round route which we had found online, it was a lovely route and perfect for the morning’s ride. Fortunately a lot of the ride was under the shade of the trees so we managed to keep cool’ish’ in the heat and it kept us all quiet and resting in the afternoon.

I’ve also upped my running mileage this week, with an extra run and extra miles. I signed up for a 500 miles in a year challenge and had thought that it was now unachievable due to losing a few months in lockdown when we were only allowed out once a day to exercise and I did this with the children in the form of walks. However when I started to calculate my miles for the year, I realised that with a few extra weekly miles to what I’m doing at present (4 runs) I could achieve the 500 and am now focused on this. I have a Fitbit and this week I did my highest weekly number of steps.

I heard a lot of thunder

On Thursday, Little Man did another summer course, Mr S took him to it, whilst Little Miss and I tagged along to visit the local town. The town has a beautiful river and park, so we planned a walk and a little potter. I was also keen to see where the parkrun course was so I can run it one day. Thursdays was one of those days where a big storm seemed to be brewing and our walk was one of those really eerie journeys, the heat was stifling, but the sky was pretty dark and we kept hearing deep rumbling thunder without the heavy rain. It was so strange that there wasn’t an end to the weather with a big storm, just the stuttering’s of a start.

I had my eyebrows shaped.

Of all things, eye brow shaping was one of the last services to be allowed to reopen in beauty salons and with the announcement on Friday that they could be done again, I was quickly on the phone for an appointment on day 1. I tried plucking and waxing during lockdown but nothing beats an expert doing it. Its one of those little things which just make me feel neat and tidy.

I laughed at Fortunately

I do love a good podcast and with doing lots of miles this week, I’ve been listening to lots. Fortunately was on top form this week and a description of a lockdown rucksack had me giggling. When the podcast finished it went straight to the latest I hadn’t listened to, which started with a description of a trip to Ikea. I was listening to it in quiet disbelief, it was only part way through that I realised that I was listening to a 2 year old episode and just showed how much our lives have changed in the past 6 months.

And finally

We are living in this strange limbo of lockdown, more and more is opening and life feels it is getting back to normal and then suddenly people returning from some European countries are put in quarantine for two weeks. Our decision to cancel our holiday is a relief and we are probably having our most healthy and fittest summer holiday ever. However, I do miss those lazy days on a sun lounger with a cocktail and a good book.

My week .. The one in which we didn’t go on holiday (again)

This week we should have been going on our family summer holiday. However, we made the decision to cancel the holiday a few weeks ago, when it became clear that the facilities which we had specifically booked the holiday for were not going to be available. Fortunately we got a full refund so are not out of pocket from our decision. We are so lucky to live where we do, we can enjoy the beach from home and it seems we’re so on trend having a staycation! I’m comfortable with our decision, I want to relax and rest on holiday and from what I’ve seen in the media, our holiday would look very different with us needing to be very organised to plan activities, meals out etc.. I don’t need that stress on holiday and am simply looking forward to a great holiday (or two) next year. Our cancelled holiday means we’ve needed to keep ourselves busy at home so here’s some of the things we’ve been doing.

I read ..

I do lots of park visits and as the children are now at a good age to play on their own, its a perfect reading time. I am really enjoying Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. Its very cleverly written how each character’s story blends into a new one and the book is very addictive.

I ran ..

On Tuesday, I ran early as we had a family cycle trip planned and I got to see the most amazing sky at dawn. It was one of those runs in which you lose yourself in the beauty of our little planet and feel it is a privilege to be able to run. Later on we went on a cycle ride, well the children did but as Mr S and I don’t have bikes and were unable to hire any we traipsed behind them as they cycled through the forest. We went early so it was quiet and the whole morning gave me a strong sense of well being.

I helped out at the farm ..

We received a flyer in the post to advertise a Summer scheme being run by the council with a ‘passport’ number for our son. We didn’t quite understand how the scheme worked as details were sketchy but I looked at the website and found a few interesting activities to do. This week we went as a family for a morning at a therapy farm. What a joy, it was an amazing morning, just for the four of us supported by two workers. We all worked on the farm, feeding the animals, cleaning out their areas and grooming them where appropriate, (giant) pigs, goats, donkeys, sheep, cats, guinea pigs etc. Nature has such a healing power on us all and we felt really connected and happy after our morning.

I watched ..

I think we’ve given up on television at present, there is little on which we want to watch. For the past few weeks we’ve been using our 9-10pm slot, our joint tv time, to watch box sets. After last week’s excellent The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair we watched Chernobyl, following its critical acclaim. Yes it was a dark drama, but one which was interesting, terrifying and captivating.

And finally ..

Its more of the same next week, walks, picnics, bike rides and perhaps an early morning trip to the beach. For the first time ever, August simply seems a countdown to September and a little normality in going back to school.

My week …the birthday edition

I am a little late in this write up but still decided to do two separate entries as we’ve been busy (or busy for lockdown life!) in this period. It was a strange week, a week of missed traditions, carnival and a music festival, and in a gorgeous sunny week there were a few ‘if only’ thoughts. However its no good to dwell on what ‘could have been’ but to embrace our life as it is and here are a few highlights of the week..

I played crazy golf ..

I had a serious chat with Little Man on Friday night. When something is bothering him, he’ll come and ask you to have a ‘serious chat.’ So we sat down and I listened to my sad little man who said he wanted to have some fun. I asked him what would be fun for him and he listed the indoor water park, indoor play areas, indoor skate park etc.. all which remain closed. I tried to help him understand that there are things that we don’t have control of present and we’ve tried to create our own fun on the beach, or in the park etc.. and that mummy and daddy have been writing a list of special things to do as soon as we are able. This did seem to help but I decided he needed a surprise. We often walk into town on Saturday morning so he came with me expecting the normal routine, but we walked past the shops and went to the new pirate crazy golf. We had such a happy time and best of all for him, he beat me by one stroke. The new course is brilliant, so detailed and aesthetically pleasing whilst being fun too. It was just what was needed on our Saturday morning.

I read ..

In two days this week, I read Lemn Sissay’s autobiography My name is Why. Its my favourite book of the year. I discovered Lemn Sissay through an episode of Desert Island Discs, which is well worth a listen as he has the most beautiful, rhythmic voice. I knew briefly about his life in care and his current work but nothing had prepared me for the power of this book. My daughter is 12 the same age as Lemn was when he left the family he had lived with since birth and was put into children’s homes. I don’t know if it was the age but this really affected me, I cannot imagine our life without my daughter and we always tell her that she will always have a home with us, even when she’s old and wrinkled! As an adopted child, she needs to hear these messages of security, permanence and love. I also work with vulnerable children, many of whom are in care and there was resonance in his experiences here too. This is a book to be kept and to dip back into over the years.

I watched ..

I watched a remarkable drama about Anthony Walker, the young black teenager killed in a racist attack in Liverpool in 2005. It was written by Jimmy McGovern and rather than be the story of Anthony’s death and his killers, it was a story of the life he never lived. This medium made it even more heart breaking and only emphasised the need for the Black Lives Matter movement. His death happened 12 years after the horrific murder of Stephen Lawrence, a murder which we hoped would have a significant effect on our society but one in which today, racism and prejudice still remain. We have to take action.

Mr S and I have also watched the box set of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. I loved this book when I read it and wasn’t surprised that it had been turned into a series, with its twists and turns and one of the biggest surprises at the end of any book I’ve read, its ideal for tv.

I celebrated ..

It was my birthday this week and I turned 47, as beautifully illustrated on my birthday balloons! I have no issue with my age, I hope I’ve lived life well and don’t feel I need to make myself younger. However, I do have an issue with the number 47, is it just me or do some numbers sound nicer than others, crazy I know but 47 sounds harsh, 48 sounds cuddly and warm. it could be lockdown is getting to me! I had a lovely, simple birthday with my family, a walk around our local RSPB site, a picnic and a homemade birthday cake courtesy of Little Miss. Its also been my wedding anniversary this week, 17 years. We have a lot of special occasions in a short time in our family, a busy time.

I did some flower arranging ..

I was lucky to be gifted some beautiful flowers for my birthday. For the first few days I kept them in the bouquet they came in but then got a little creative. I found out what each flower was and then separated then into colours and style. I had wanted to do a flower arranging class this year, whilst this is another Covid casualty, I can do a few little things myself.

I met with friends..

Sometimes its just the little things which bring joy and this week, I met friends one evening in a neighbouring town for drinks. Of course, things look different now but to be able to sit outside on a warm evening and just chat was perfect. We were at the quay which is such a pretty area and I returned the next afternoon with my daughter for a walk along the river in the sunshine.

I made ..

I made a lovely roast at the weekend with all the vegetables (bar the potatoes) grown in our garden by my gardening squad of my husband and daughter. They have worked so hard on their vegetable patch during lockdown transforming a bare area into something lush and green. Its definably a highlight of lockdown.

And finally

The holidays are strange this year, with far fewer activities open for the children. My aim is to try and find a few different activities for them to enjoy over the coming weeks, although I think we’re all focused and looking forward to September and a little normality with a return to school. Its the first time ever, that August hasn’t been our highlight of the year, its normally our month off school, this year its our 5th full month at home, the novelty is waning!

August 2020

August 2020 is unlike any August in my lifetime. Those lovely things we like to do in our school holidays are either closed or with such high restrictions that we’ve chosen to wait until we can do them safely again. All the special events in our seaside town have been cancelled, so no carnival, fetes etc.. and with our cancelled holiday, August seems an empty month. As a consequence we seem to be counting down the days until we return back to school after 6 months. We’re all hoping that September will bring the normality we crave.

However I will not be daunted by a set of unexpected conditions, it’s holiday month and we will be on the beach, cycling in the forest and even finding time to do the dreaded school shoe shop (I’ve already prebooked our slot!) I had planned to do something very special for our 10 year famiversary this month but sadly this was postponed. However we celebrate it, it will be a special day and there will be cake!

My week .. the one in which I had my nails done.

It was a strange first week of the summer holidays. As we haven’t been to school since March 20th, there wasn’t that big difference to our day, just the relief of no home schooling. It’s a different holiday, as we’re not doing many of our favourite holiday activities due to Covid restrictions. Whilst some activities can be done many of the places have chosen not to open at present. For example our local cinema isn’t open as there are no big releases to show. It will be a holiday of simple pleasures. However we’ve kept busy and active in week 1 of the lockdown summer holidays.

I read ..

I love my Kindle deals and this week’s book, Forest Therapy is another fine example. It was a book I was just going to read by season so started with the summer rather than at the beginning. However it’s really interesting and easy to read and I’ve been motivated to finish it all this week. Much of it is what we already now but it’s written in a friendly inspiring manner and definitely encourages an outdoor life for our wellbeing.

I played ..

This week we played on the beach in some gorgeous weather. We tend to go on the beach early and stay ‘til lunchtime. There’s an unusual atmosphere on the beach this year. Normally the children make new friends and all play together, but this summer everyone is carefully social distancing and it’s little pods on the beach. I miss the more care free days but recognise how respectful and responsible everyone is being to our safety.

I cruise ship watched ..

I don’t know what the term is for a ship spotter but it’s my new little lockdown obsession. There are loads of cruise ships on the south coast at present and they often sail up and down. I’ve discovered a website which maps where the ships are and it’s been a great reference site.

I had my nails done ..

I’ve missed pretty nails, it’s a frivolous spend but one that makes me happy. I was delighted to return to the local nail bar this week. Again there are new restrictions but it’s our new normal and I loved being there, catching up on all the local news and getting pretty nails.

I had a girlie morning

On the day I had my nails done, the boys went to their favourite museum (it’s a military one and is huge so no problems with social distancing) In the morning, Little Miss and I walked for miles along the coast path to a local beauty spot and had a great time just talking and relaxing together. After, whist I had my nails done she met a friend in town and things felt a little normal again ( well after my words of caution, mask, sanitiser, stay 1m apart etc..)

I finished the big sort out ..

During lockdown I blitzed every cupboard and had bags of donations for the charity shops. However shops were unable to accept donations and it’s taken until this week to drop them off at the shops (by appointment). I do feel the house is much lighter and organised now.

I wore ..

This week face masks became compulsory in shops and takeaways. I’m not often in either of these places but have worn my mask diligently when I went to the nail bar and the Post Office. I found that the vast majority of people were obeying the rules and it was all very calm and ordered.

And finally

I need to write a few more ideas of what we can do this summer. Fortunately the weather has been good this week but if it turns our choices may become more limited with the indoor restrictions. Time to create a few craft projects!

Birthday cakes

This is my random post about birthdays as I’m not able to post on the actual dates to protect our identity.

We’ve had two lockdown birthdays this year, although one was more restricted than the other. With lockdown there was really only one theme, rainbows and my daughter was happy to embrace this for her birthday. I had brightly coloured bunting in the garden and a rainbow 🌈 happy birthday balloon garland decorating the birthday table in the kitchen. On the photo of the cake, I’ve needed to blank out her name and age which were bright fondant letters and numbers and really complemented the other decoration. I did consider baking 6 layers of rainbow cake but felt that was a lot of cake and icing. Instead I chose orange, yellow and green sponges as these looked the most natural food colourings. I was able to match citrus fruits to the sponges so we had orange, lemon and lime layers and a citrus soft cheese icing as the filling. It was delicious and one of my favourite birthday bakes.

Our second cake had a camouflage style as my son loves everything military. For the decorations I was able to get military themed balloons in shades of green and brown. I wanted to incorporate the camo theme in the sponge and made a marble cake, with one chocolate sponge mix and a lime mix. I didn’t colour the lime sponge but used lime zest to add a little colour. I was pleasantly surprised with the result. I do want the cake to have a great taste, it’s not simply about the aesthetics but the flavour too.

It did feel sad this year not being able to do our birthday treats, no big days out at the local theme park or safari park, or even local treats with friends. However, the days were special in their unique 2020 style, neighbours popped over, we FaceTimed family and just enjoyed being together and playing with the new presents, the Nintendo Switch was a big hit. To end the day, the birthday child got to have a Takeaway tea with Chinese and Pizzas as their choices.

The birthdays were different but memorable and I hope each child got to feel very special and loved on their special day in 2020.

My week … the one where we graduated from home school

This is always such an exciting week, the end of the school year and the anticipation of six weeks full of relaxed, lazy days. We always write a summer holiday bucket list, but it doesn’t seem right this year, those activities which are normally so easy to plan, are more of a logistical challenge and we still seem to be living day to day. We have a few ideas and are determined to have the best summer we can under the circumstances it just seems a little sad that it’s not our normal summer holiday.

I finished as a homeschool teacher..

This final week was a little of an anti climax. I home school two days a week, Mr S three days. On Tuesday we had rearranged our meet up with my parents, so we didn’t do any school work and there was no work left for Thursday. Little Man had an afternoon at school on Thursday, so there was some structure to our day. I was really impressed that the primary school made such an effort to get the classes together on the field in a socially distanced manner to meet up and play before the end of the year. After the emotion of last week’s goodbye this was simply a fun afternoon for Little Man, a treasure hunt and ice lollies, a perfect ending to his primary school years.

I read ..

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. This is a book when you just root for the main character, hurting and damaged, you watch her unravel and simply want to scoop her up and build her up.

I listened ..

After finishing Queenie, I started another Kindle deal of the day Broken Greek. It’s an autobiography through music, the tracks are described so poetically that I felt that I needed to listen to them as I read. I did a quick Spotify search and found the playlist curated by the author himself. It’s an eclectic mix, but a great accompaniment to the book.

I walked ..

With less school work, it was longer walks to more places around the area this week. As my children get up ridiculously early, this meant that one day we were out on a hike by 8am. We walked across the top of the hills on the other side of the bay. It’s the opposite view to the one we have from our home and it’s great to look on the town from above and afar and find all the local landmarks. It is also offers a stunning panorama of the coast.

We also enjoyed a beautiful woodland and river work at a country park halfway between our home and that of my parents. It was our first time together since February and it was so good to meet up for a socially distanced walk, picnic and chill in the park. I’ve missed seeing my parents. On our 100 mile round trip, Little Miss negotiated with her brother to sit in the front and was my mobile DJ with her playlist on Spotify.

And finally..

We’re trying really hard to be positive and not too sad about the amazing things we’re all missing this summer, no carnival, no fireworks, no music festival, no holiday ☹️ Last summer was so good. We need to remember we’re all fit and healthy and our loved ones haven’t been affected by Covid 19. Next year we are going to have the best summer ever and I’m already writing our list to do. This summer will simply be a season of simple pleasures.

My week … the one in which I had my hair done.

So after 118 days, I finally got to have my hair done this week as hairdressers reopened. We also were busy with school good byes and transitions and managed a few forest trips and picnics. I’ve no idea why forests became a theme, it was random rather than planned. Sadly, a couple of meet ups were postponed because of dismal weather but they’re rearranged and we hope they will happen in nicer weather.

I’ve made ..

On Wednesday morning, Little Man and I very carefully (and hygienically) baked apricot and ginger cookies for a socially distanced good bye with his key staff at school. We individually wrapped the cookies so they could be eaten safely and were enjoyed by all. It was a lovely occasion. Little Man has had the same TA for 7 years and I love the school so much that I worried it was going to be a tearful meet up. However we all held it together and the tears only came at home when I read the good bye cards. Its a strange situation as our son was back yeared by our request in Reception and is in Year 5 rather than Year 6, his correct year. However, he is going to a special secondary school and needs to be in his correct year of Year 7 in September, hence his transition at the end of Year 5. His class were amazing and unbeknown to us, the teacher had organised virtually for them all to write special messages, pictures etc.. to our son which were presented in his leaving book. We had always worried that our son might be teased, bullied or excluded because of his learning needs, however this amazing group of children have been wonderful to him, he has proper friendships and has been very much one of the class. He’ll say goodbye to his class mates next Thursday, but we have agreed its best to play his good bye down and just let him have fun with his friends. We live in a small town so he’ll still be seeing his friends around and will still be able to hang out with them. (When we can do simple things like that again)

I’ve also made a few picnics this week, home schooling has very much slowed down, especially at secondary. As we have decorators doing work on the exterior of our house its been good to get out as we haven’t been able to use the garden. We’ve had long walks in the forest and picnics under the shade of trees.

I read …

I’m not able to settle to a book at present, there is a lot buzzing around in my mind so I’ve been reading a magazine instead, Breathe. I loved an article in it by Judith Hurrell, New Lease of Life about recycling, reusing, repurposing items. It reminded me how much I love to see friends’ younger children in favourite items my children used to wear. I only donate good quality clothes and am happy to receive too. When the children were little our neighbour gave us two beautiful wooden trikes her grandsons had outgrown and were designed to be played on in the house. The children adored these trikes and played on them so much, that I was so sad when they too outgrew them. I spoke to my neighbour and asked if she would be happy if I in turn donated them to two friends with younger children, she was delighted that they would continue to bring joy to others. I know that these trikes have been used by many different children and loved by them all, how nice it is to share the love of play.

I listened …

On my Saturday morning run (come back soon, parkrun) I listen to Sounds of the 80s from the previous night. This week’s programme celebrated the 35th anniversary of Live Aid and it really brought back the memories. I never saw Live Aid and only heard snippets of it on the day as I was on a school trip to Jersey. I do remember being on a beach and someone playing a radio and hearing Rocking All Over the World start off the day. To this day, I’ve never watched the concert, although I know some of the iconic images of the day as I had the Live Aid calendar on my bedroom wall for all of 1986. I have seen some clips and Queen will always be the performance of the day. I was interested to learn that they were one of the few groups who really took it seriously, planned and rehearsed thoroughly and therefore were able to give that performance. A lesson for us all.

I wore

Well apart from needing to wear items from every season’s wardrobe at times this week, I have been also wearing my new face mask. I have one and have worn it as needed, but it is black and looks quite sombre so as I think we’ll be needing to wear them more, I bought a pink flowery version (with filter.) I feel much more me in it.

And finally

Next week is the final week of home schooling (celebration dance, whoop, whoop) I have been pretty organised so far in returning school resources, delivering thank you cards and gifts, donating old uniforms, buying new uniforms etc.. so hopefully apart from the dreaded school shoe shop we can forget about school and simply enjoy the summer holidays. We have one cancelled meet up reorganised for next week, please be kind weather fairies and Little Man has an afternoon in school. This has been an emotional time, so I’m looking forward to the end of the school year and the time to relax (and not having to check TEAMS or Dojo)

My week – the one in which we reached 100 days in lockdown.

So this week we reached 100 days in lockdown, something that seems so surreal. I feel this week that we are beginning to look forward. The schools information was published this week and although school will be different, it looks like everyone is going back full time, which was confirmed by letters from both the children’s schools. Yesterday saw the reopening of hairdressers, pubs, cafes, cinemas, hotels etc.. although all now have very different hygiene routines with the focus on social distancing. When I went for my run at 6.30am yesterday, the local barbers, was not only open but full with customers and had a queue outside, strange times.

I have sorted

This week I have been arranging plans for the new schools. I have sorted old uniforms for donation to the PTA, ordered new uniform and started to organise the leaving gifts. This is hard, Little Man has had the same 1:1 TA for 7 years, how can you even begin to thank someone for taking care and teaching your son so much, she seems like family. On the last day pre lockdown, we both were blinking back tears as we realised this might be the last ever handover. Fortunately, we are going in to a pre-arranged socially distanced good bye with his key staff next week and I am practising holding back the tears.

I have treated myself

I have bought little for myself in the lockdown, but I kept on seeing the same sundress on my Instagram feed from Joanie Clothing and loved it, its so different to my normal ‘uniform’ I did the 24 hour wait to see if I really wanted it, but when I realised I was obsessively thinking about the dress, I treated myself as an early birthday present. The dress had arrived and it is gorgeous, the print is fantastic. I’ve tried it on and twirled around but am keeping it for its debut at a picnic this week.

I have watched ..

We have discovered the Agatha Raisin comedy crime drama in the past fortnight on Sky. It is the perfect 9pm viewing, with lots of famous cameos, its a bit like Death in Paradise but in the Cotswolds. I need light and easy viewing at present.

Next week is an exciting week, we have plans, yes entries in my diary. Little Man is visiting his new school and saying goodbye to his old staff, I’m having my hair done (it so needs it), meeting friends for an al fresco BYO meet up and seeing my parents for a socially distanced picnic. I am excited but there is a sense of feeling a little over whelmed too. Its going from 0 to 100 again and I have enjoyed the more relaxing pace of life.

July 2020

July is my favourite month of the year, its a month of birthdays, including mine, the end of the school year, a local music festival, carnival and just all things nice. This year it will look different, there is no carnival or music festival and we will be celebrating the other events in 2020 style.

However for the first time since lockdown we have a few things planned to look forward to. This week we are meeting my parents half way from our homes for a socially distanced picnic (please weather fairies be kind) and I am also meeting friends with BYO drinks for a meet up on the quay. I also have a colour and hair cut booked with my neighbour. Its not just me who has plans, Little Man has two diary entries, a visit after school hours to his new school for September and then his class are going to meet up following social distancing rules for a final good bye on the school field. I will definitely be celebrating the end of the school year even more enthusiastically this year. Home schooling has had its highs and lows but it’ll be remembered generally as a positive experience, although hopefully never to be repeated.

July, lets shine this month.