My week .. the icy edition

Some weeks are just simply ones to get through and this one was one of them. The weather has been poor and it has made my morning commutes long and challenging, white knuckle drives! On Monday, flooding had closed the roundabout which links our town and others to the bigger world, the detour was so long with lots of flooded country lanes to drive down. Tuesday saw a wicked frost which had frozen the previous day’s flooding, and despite leaving at 7.10am, 2 hours forty minutes later, I finally arrived at work at 9.50am, to put into context, my normal commute is around 35 – 40 minutes. When you live in a rural, remote place you learn to live with the additional driving but it felt tough this week. We were given permission at school to leave early on one afternoon so that we did not get caught in the poor weather forecast. The ice has remained all week, although we have tried to keep to our normal routines. I have tried to inject a little warmth and sunshine into my day, and the tulips and lychees purchased on a school trip to Lidl were the perfect rays of sunshine.

On Wednesday, it was youth club and I really didn’t fancy being out for the evening. However, I reluctantly decided to go for a swim whilst my daughter was at the youth club, and it was just what was needed to reinvigorate and energise me whilst also giving me the time and space to think. It was so cold when I got out I did get a hot takeaway drink to keep me warm on the drive home.

On Saturday we didn’t parkrun and instead went to the open day of a local college to look at potential options for my daughter at 16. It is a stunning site, but it is more of an agricultural college and I’m not sure if the courses were the ones for her. She did like seeing the small animals which are kept for the small animal care course, but still seems a little lost on her future plans. In March, we are off to visit another college, which hopefully may offer better options. When we finished at the college, I noticed that after having done a bit of research the night before, we could make it to the nearby cinema to see A Man Called Otto. I loved the book, its definitely in my best books ever list, and was keen to see the film. Now my daughter is not quite 15 yet, although it is only a matter of weeks until she reaches the milestone. However, having read the book I couldn’t see what would be harmful so decided to ‘sneak’ her in. The film was beautiful and I did cry, my daughter says she didn’t cry but she did cuddle up to me at the sad parts. I love the theme of the film, to live life and one that seemed pertinent to my teen as she tries to work out what direction in life to take. The film does not have the depth of the book, its a different medium, but it is a 5 star film and the book a 5 star read.

This week, I’m hoping for milder, drier weather and the chance to start to do more. I’ve not been running in the evenings as its too icy and dangerous and need that structure to enjoy my days.

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My week .. the one with 5 star reads

And so we return to normality, although it was only a 4 day working week thanks to the additional bank holiday. The week started on January 1st and thanks to the quiet night before, we were up bright and early and off to the local Forestry Commission for a bike ride, walk and a picnic. It felt a good way to start the new year, grounded by nature.

After our return it was time to put away the decorations. I quite like this job, bringing Christmas to a close and getting organised for next year. I am very careful in putting everything away neatly, noting what needs to be replaced and ideas for next year. I have a Christmas book, which I write in and not only is it an interesting record of presents, activities and menus, but I always read the page on ideas for next year when I start my planning at October half term. Whilst I love the order and neatness post Christmas, I do miss my twinkling lights, I do have some all year round sets but I think its the outside ones which make it so sparkling.

This week I have been thinking about my 23for23, I haven’t finalised my list yet as I wanted to listen to the podcast introducing the theme which was posted on Wednesday. However, I do know that one will be less mindless online scrolling, I’ve been looking for easy alternatives and the most obvious is to read. I have a Kindle and always have a book on the go. This week, simply because they have been so brilliant, I have finished 3 books, A Heart that Works by Rob Delaney about his young son who died of brain cancer, and the two fiction works, Lessons in Chemistry and Cat Lady. Elizabeth Zott from Lessons in Chemistry is the new hero we didn’t realise we needed.

Work was good this week, a quiet couple of days training and then two really good days with my class, with swimming, shopping and cookery, all favourite activities for staff and students alike. I also went swimming whilst my daughter was at Youth club, I would have preferred running but with my injury I am still going for low impact exercise. We were the tail walkers at parkrun on Saturday and as there were no ill effects, I am hoping I will be able to reintroduce some running in the coming weeks.

Today we completed an orienteering course as practice for my daughter’s DofE award. My husband and daughter strode off very purposefully across the dunes and focused on the map, my son and I got a bit lost and spent a lot of time walking through heathers trying to catch up with them! It was a rare bright and dry hour so again good to be out and breathing in the sea air. Today was also the return of indoor cricket training, so I took my son and stayed to watch. I was impressed by his bowling tonight, some good accuracy and speed. I do like watching cricket in the warm sunshine and even being back at training brings those summer months closer.

Next week is looking quiet, I like these early weeks of the new year, prepping for the coming months and cosying up in the evenings.

My week .. the one with lots of rain and cosy nights in.

I do love the publish date button on the WordPress page, as I can write this a few days (ahem 6 days) late and still have it neatly in date. I normally write the blog on a Sunday evening but with cricket training and a school project, I didn’t manage it and then this week I’ve been busy in the evenings (despite the artic weather) This date adjustment is also useful for my photo project as I’ve discovered I can change the date, to ensure a photo per day. I have used this only once so far, January days aren’t the most enticing for photo taking and some of the interesting things I do at school I cannot take a photo as I do not have access to my mobile phone.

This last week was a hibernating week, there was no youth club and my nail appointment was postponed so every evening was spent cosy inside. I did need to have this week, there was a lot of teenage drama and we all needed time to process what was happening and stay grounded. Ted Lasso was the perfect tonic and it is one of my favourite tv series of the past few years, we are edging closer to the end of season 2 and I am mourning for the evenings to come without the wit and wisdom from Ted. I have also read The Light we Carry by Michelle Obama, again such wise and comforting words which were much needed this week.

We have been busy this weekend, with parkrun volunteering on Saturday morning. It was wet and windy but having had a few more hairier mornings in recent weeks it didn’t feel too bad. The weather then improved and we went to the country park for more orienteering, this could become our new family thing. Whilst it didn’t rain the fields were so water logged it was much more difficult and slippy than normal.

Saturday afternoon is my special time in the kitchen, and this week it was another Jamie recipe, a feta, pepper and spinach filo snake. I’ve never owned a Jamie recipe book before but I am finding some of the recipes a little fiddly, needing quite expensive ingredients and a bit faffy. They are delicious but I do like the BBC Good Food website for a good recipe. My neighbour has lent me the Lorraine Pascale book, so I may try a few of her recipes next.

Sunday was a day of family admin, we are chasing amendments to our son’s EHCP and we had a number of complaints to make. It is hard fighting every single battle as a SEN parent, there seems genuinely no care or professionalism in our county SEND team and it is so frustrating and disheartening. However we will continue to fight for what our son deserves.

January is such a dreary month and I am daydreaming at present of times to follow this year. I think a good plan helps to fill these dreams and make the winter just the little less brutal.

My week .. the twixtmas edition.

I’ve felt a real need to hibernate and simply be a homebody in the past week. 2022 was a tough year and it always seemed I needed to be somewhere or doing something. I’ve taken the last week, to watch television and films, to read, to organise my paperwork (whoop whoop, I’m due £28 from HMRC) and plan the coming months etc.. The weather was also pretty shocking, so creating a warm, cosy nest was much needed. This is not to say I haven’t been outside, I cannot cope with being indoors all day, so there have been daily walks, albeit a walk which invariably ended up at a cafe!

Boxing day was a gorgeous sunny morning, perfect conditions for the traditional swim in town. I didn’t do it, but we all, including Grandad, went down to watch the spectacle. It was a lot of fun in a lovely atmosphere and a much cherished part of the Christmas festivities in our town.

Mr S took Grandad home on Tuesday and stayed overnight as its a long return journey in one day. The children and I went for a walk in the forest and then bunkered down at home with chocolates and Christmas tv specials. The following morning, we had a little potter down town as I wanted to get something to go with my new year glasses for parkrun, I think my aqua blue wig is fabulous and perfect for future fancy dress too. On parkrun day, it was so wet and windy the hair was flying everywhere, when you have always had short hair, you don’t consider long hair problems! Despite the awful conditions, it was a fun morning barcode scanning at parkrun and my daughter and I spent the rest of the day drying out and warming up!

After seeing Matilda at the cinema last week, I was really keen to watch another film on the big screen and my daughter and I went to see the Whitney Houston biopic. We both really liked it, there were a few parts of the story I wasn’t familiar with and I warmed to Whitney much more than I expected. We went to the cinema in the county town so had a little mooch at the sales but didn’t buy anything. I was also keen to explore a vintage / antiques store I had seen advertised, which is on the outskirts of the town. In the photo montage, the warehouse is the photo of the bus, you enter as if getting on the bus, an entrance just as quirky and kitsch as the shop was! Again, we didn’t buy anything, but I will definitely return for inspiration and curiosity.

One of the tv highlights from this week was an adaptation of the book Mayflies, about two friends, one of whom has terminal cancer. It was really well done and I loved the flashbacks to the 80s. It did inspire some of my listening choices this week, I had forgotten what an amazing song Oblivious by Aztec Camera is and I’ve been rediscovering a band which was a favourite of mine when I was in Sixth form.

New Year’s eve is my least favourite night of the year, I have an irrational dislike of the night, so I was cuddled up on the sofa with a book (I wanted to finish no 42 of the year) and then went to bed before midnight. It suited me beautifully, it also meant I was fresh and happy to be out at a local country park for a walk, bike ride and picnic lunch on New Year’s day.

Next week is all about tidying up and preparing for the return to school. It has felt like a long, refreshing school holiday and its now time to get back into routines and look forward to 2023.

My week … the one with Christmas 2022

So this post runs from Monday 19th December, the first day of the holidays to Christmas day. It has seemed a strange run up to Christmas this year, so many plans have been affected by the weather or illness, that there has been quite a subdued feeling. There have also been a lot of postal strikes and many cards and gifts are still undelivered. Given the past two Covid Christmases this was to have been the Christmas with all the bells and whistles, but I don’t feel it has been. I was shopping in ‘big’ town on Wednesday whilst my son was at football camp and again felt the town was quiet and missing that buzz of Christmas week. Likewise on Monday, I went to football training in the county town and many of the shops had shut early due to the poor weather and low customer numbers. After the snow, ice and bitter cold of the past few weeks, temperatures have risen but we have had so much rain over the past week. However I have resolved this as I picked up a new pair of wellies in an early sale bargain, so no doubt we won’t see rain for months now. No one at home believes this but I have had my last pair of wellies since 2000. I only remember this as on the day I bought them I also chose my engagement ring (wise move by Mr S) My new wellies are bright yellow and I love them, well worth the wait! I am also very happy with my Christmas present of red Converse pumps, I love my Converses and they are worn until they fall apart. I feel that over the years I have had a rainbow of Converses, in fact the only colour I have never had is white as I cannot trust myself to keep them clean and sparkling.

This week was full of little jobs, there was no real festive stress as it was all planned and organised and simply being a teacher I had to catch up on things I can’t do in term time, eg mum taxi duties, trips to the dentist and doctor etc.. However we have had lazy afternoons too and we have watched a few Christmas films, we signed up to a free trial of Apple tv simply to watch Spirited which I enjoyed a lot and we also went to the local indie cinema to see Matilda. I don’t know if it was just me, but I felt a little underwhelmed by Matilda, there are some great songs and eye stunning scenery (the last scene’s school fayre) but I felt it lacked something in the story telling. I have also enjoyed cuddling up on the sofa and reading. I have read The Boy at the Back of the Class which I have loved, its my class book for next term and I know I am going to enjoy reading and teaching it. It also took my Good Reads challenge over my target, I have read 41 books and should make it to 42 by the end of the year. As there wasn’t much good Christmas tv this week, we took advantage of our new Apple subscription to start Ted Lasso and it is perfect, warm, comforting tv. The Christmas day tv highlight for me was watching The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, cuddled up with the children and the room only lit by our twinkling lights, it was perfect.

Whilst the boys had an overnight stay in Bristol to collect Grandad for Christmas, we had a lazy girls’ day and followed it up with Christmas eve parkrun, and yes we dressed up, its good to get in the spirit and most people did fancy dress which definitely added to the atmosphere. We’re volunteering on NYE too, so I have picked up a sparkling pair of New Year glasses to wear. Sadly I am still volunteering rather than running as my knee is so sore, I did go to the doctors and got some physio advice so am doing these exercises to help. I am able to walk, so Little Miss and I did the 5k on Saturday as volunteer Park Walkers. We walked around playing Christmas songs on my phone and singing along and then followed this up with hot chocolates in the café, a pretty perfect way to spend Christmas eve morning.

Christmas day itself was a quiet, family occasion. We were up at 6am and all the presents were really well received. I made a delicious lunch, its genuinely a joy to plan my menu and make a very special meal. I also take a real pleasure in setting a very festive table, this year I added a scratch card to each table place and they were a fun activity in the interlude during courses, two cards were winners, although with our combined winnings of £5, there is no chance to jet off to sunnier climes for week 2 of the holidays! After lunch, it was just chilling together with Grandad. Life is about the simple pleasures.

My week … the one with sickness and a lot to do

This is one of those pinch weeks when your days and evenings are busy with a long to do list to be ticked off, both at home and work. And of course, the week when I ended up in bed with a bug, shivering and sleeping for a couple of days, which was not on the plans for this week. Also the snow and ice were not on my plans too!

Despite the illness, I am writing this on Sunday night, feeling pretty satisfied with my week, all my presents are wrapped, cards written and posted, decorations now all sorted, work deadlines so nearly met (my final job is for my students to record a couple of lines to finish off my work) and Christmas dinner enjoyed with my dad. Amazingly this was fitted into 5 days, as I really was incapable of anything on my sick days.

One of the highlights of my week was the school Christmas dinner which we hold in our classrooms, we made such an effort with the decoration, festive extras and all students and staff dressed up in Christmas jumpers. In starting a new school its nice to be able to shape how you do things and I loved the atmosphere we created.

The football world cup has been going on too and last night was the quarter final with England playing France. I was disappointed that England lost, I think it was a real opportunity to win the tournament but alas it was not meant to be. My son loves his football, so this defeat seemed even more crushing, not just my disappointment but his too.

My dad came to visit today but of all days, it wasn’t a great one to travel. The poor weather, heavy snow, freezing ice and fog were not expected and although he came he did leave early to get home safely before the light and temperatures dropped again. As it stands at the moment, I am a bit worried about tomorrow’s commute, but there is nothing more I can do until the morning and make a decision whether to go in at my normal time or a little late when it has warmed up a little.

It is the final week of term next week with what I feel is an early finish on the 16th. I am looking forward to the festive week in the classroom and then to relax and embrace the Christmas season at home.

My week … the one with a big traffic jam and the start of the Christmas countdown

When I moved job I knew that one of the biggest changes was a commute to work. In fairness up to this week it has worked very well, I take and collect my daughter to and from school and on the remainder of my drive, catch up on my podcasts, its pretty relaxing. However, I live in a rural location and with the ferry out there is currently only one way in and out so if there are any problems you are affected. On Tuesday, there sadly was a fatal accident on my route, and the diversion through a forest was so slow due to the very difficult right turn onto a very busy A road. My average commute is around 40 minutes, on Tuesday it was more than 2 hours. As I’ve got older I have become more relaxed about the things you can control and those you can’t, and traffic is not something I have any control of, so after phoning school it was simply about waiting it out. I had my daughter for company, we may have broken into our packed lunches and just chatted and waited.

This was a week of late nights and lots of driving, some weeks just end up like that, My daughter has started a new club and the timings make it futile to try and get home and come back again. Its much easier to go to the venue straight from school and use their café for a quick tea. Whilst she was at the club, I enjoyed a drink and my book and finally got in around 8pm. Saturdays are normally a local day but it was my son’s school Christmas Fayre on Saturday morning so again another journey, a 45 minute drive. I really can’t complain for this one day, as he does the trip daily.

The Christmas fayre was so busy, it needed a little more room to make it more comfortable for everyone. There were some nice gifts for sale and we picked up a log reindeer and felt decorations. I won some kinetic sand, perfect for my class. Whilst I like the town the school is situated in and would normally have a little wander, I wanted to get back to our home town for the Christmas market which is a highlight of the season. It seems everyone is there and it is such a lovely social occasion, again it was incredibly busy despite the icy cold conditions but I do love to potter and chat, listen to the live music and enjoy the street food (Biscoff pancakes, what a treat)

Along with attending the town’s Christmas market, this is always the weekend we put up the Christmas tree and decorations. All was going well until I could not find my box of the main tree decorations. I have since remembered that I wanted to protect them and rather than put them in the garage with all the others, I decided to put them in the attic for ‘safe keeping’. I haven’t had time to retrieve them yet but look forward to finishing our tree soon. It does look a bit bare simply having the main tree decorated with its lights. Tommy the elf has been back this week, I did suggest his retirement but I think the children have twigged that he often leaves little extras and he was asked to return. I am keeping things simple this year, none of the elaborate hiding places and handwritten letters from previous years, just popping up over the house.

Christmas planning and events continue next week, its definitely beginning to feel a lot like Christmas..

My week .. the one with cosy nights in.

This week has been one of those in-between weeks, it’s not quite Christmas yet but it is tantalisingly close to festive celebrations.

The weather this week has been really grey, wet and miserable (but surprisingly warm at 14 degrees) so there has been lots of cosy nights in. It has also seen the start of the football World Cup in Qatar, so football is dominating the tv schedules. I do love my football but have such an uneasy feeling about this world cup, Qatar’s appalling human rights records are overshadowing the tournament and we are missing the buzz and excitement of a summer world cup. I didn’t watch the first England game which they won 6-2 as I was at work, and whilst some of my pupils had chosen to watch it, I took the others out for our normal shopping trip, with the bonus of a quiet supermarket. I did watch the goalless draw against the USA on Friday night which sadly wasn’t the most entertaining of games, and all eyes are now on the England Wales match on Tuesday. As well as the football, I’ve been busy reading every evening. I have really enjoyed The Girls who Disappeared. A thriller is not my normal genre of choice, but it was Kindle daily deal and as the blurb looked interesting, I took a chance. It is an excellent read and once started I couldn’t put it down. I appreciated the ending too which neatly tied up all the loose ends properly.

Despite the weather, there are times when you do need to get outside, so on Saturday morning, my daughter and I were off to volunteer at parkrun. I had a beautiful marshalling spot, sheltered from the wind with a view of the sea and woods, whilst my daughter who was giving out tokens was in a more exposed spot and definitely felt the cold more. After the parkrun, we met the boys and headed to a local village for a bracing walk. There is something mesmerising about watching the waves crash on onto the cliffs and there were caves to explore too. There was an ultra-marathon on the route we were walking, and those runners had my full respect, it was really muddy, and the hills were tough to ascend even with the help of a walking stick. Later in the afternoon, my son and I were back in our home town and saw the runners coming in to finish along the beach.

Fortunately, today has been a lazy Sunday, there were a few household jobs to do, bathrooms, washing the car, a trip to the dump etc… Once the chores had been done, my son and I practiced icing a cake, ready for Christmas and then we all settled to watch the first Christmas film of the year, No Sleep ’til Christmas. Our day finished with a proper roast with all the trimmings a perfect way to finish the day.

My week …the one with Christmas shopping

Initially, we hadn’t planned on Christmas shopping this weekend, having bought our train tickets for next weekend for the Black Friday offers. However, a train strike cancelled these plans and we went a week earlier as we have busy diaries in December and I didn’t wish to drive as an alternative. Fortunately, I don’t think we really missed any of the special offers, as the one thing I needed to purchase had a price match offer in John Lewis and I got it at the best price I have seen. More of the shopping trip later.

This time of year there does appear to be a lot of special events and this week was Children In Need. I didn’t watch the evening programme as I was prepping for a busy weekend but we did some special events in school. I was really pleased with my new Pudsey t-shirt, as a SEN teacher, the sign and braille letters were perfect for my role. We also had our son’s Annual Review on CIN day, so yes I did appear on screen wearing Pudsey ears and t-shirt. We were so proud of his progress and his confidence and happiness at school.

On Saturday morning, I was at parkrun with my daughter who is continuing with her DofE volunteering. I had run a flat route pre parkrun, and there is always a simple pleasure in running during sunrise, how the run starts in the dark and ends in the light, especially as it was a beautifully winter sunny day. I had chosen to run a flat route as my knee injury wouldn’t cope with the hilly parkrun. However, I discovered that it wouldn’t cope with the flat route either and I have to admit that I was on painkillers for a few days after too. There was a special guest at the parkrun, as the founder of parkrun, Paul Sinton Hewitt ran and my daughter was on time keeping duties with his lovely wife, Jo. He was kind enough to have a photo taken with my daughter, a lovely memento for her DofE portfolio.

Our shopping trip started early on Sunday, so no lie ins this weekend as I was up at 6am both mornings. We arrived before the shops opened so had a festive drink in Costa as we waited for them to open for browsing. Our main focus was John Lewis and as is tradition we started in the Christmas decorations department. It was all lovely and sparkling but something nagged at me about the plastic and glitter, I am definitely more focused on decorations made from natural materials and I do wish to use more fresh flowers this year. My daughter’s main present was a bottle of Chanel perfume, she saw and sampled the perfumes last Christmas and has had one on her wish list since. It was special to go to the Chanel counter and choose her perfume, not only did she get to choose her favourite, Chanel Mademoiselle but it was all wrapped up and presented to her in a Chanel bag. It felt like a rite of passage, and I feel she has excellent taste. We also picked up some clothes for her and although we browsed in a lot of shops, we didn’t buy a lot. I prefer using independent shops and local artisan and producers and there are a couple of local markets which I am looking forward to visiting in the next couple of weeks.

My week … the one with a mum and son day

Its lovely to spend a special day with our children individually and I have one planned with both children in the coming weeks (although the train strike may hamper my best laid plans) Today was the turn of my son and we really had a lovely day. Our thing is crazy golf and I had discovered that in a nearby town there was Mr Mulligans an indoor games centre with an 18-hole crazy golf. It was amazing, the first 9 holes were a futuristic neon inspired course and the second a post apocalypse nightmare, it sounds mad but it worked brilliantly. The design and detail were incredible, and the setting in a dark basement, pumping music gave it an edge too. The game ended a draw so the current score is 5.5 v 3.5. As we walked out of the club, we saw the Everton team getting on their coach in the hotel opposite. Sadly I’m not too knowledgeable on who was who, although I would have recognised their manager Frank Lampard but I didn’t see him. My son had actually been to see Everton in a cup match on Tuesday so was not so star truck as he might have been for a different team. The football ground is very small and where the boys were sitting, they were very close to all the players and managers.

After our game, we pottered along the seafront and pier and around the town. The weather was stunning, no coats needed, but actually so warm it brought climate concerns very much to the fore. To coincide with the COP27 conference taking place, there was an environment protest in the town centre and the sign giving today’s temperature of 17 degrees, when the average high should be 10 degrees was telling of the crisis. There was a real buzz around the town, the protest was bright, musical and strangely positive, the Christmas market, lights and ice rink were being finished off and it was just lovely.

I do like having a memorable day at the weekend as it gives the week a focus and something to look forward to. My evenings are very quiet, this week I’ve been reading Regretting You, a YA novel by Colleen Hoover, it’s an okay story but not one I would strongly recommend, however its still a nice, easy read. I have also succumbed to I’m a Celebrity, it’s been very interesting to see the response from camp mates and the audience to the former health secretary, Matt Hancock and his role in the pandemic, there is a lot of anger and resentment, and it will be very interesting if the show is his redemption or a final farewell to his public career. During my hours at the tv, I created a little emoji for my classroom. I never use my photo online, but I need something for some website pages and resources so am pleased to have something which looks like me.

I’m not sure what next week brings, it’s a strangely quiet one in my diary with just my son’s Annual Review pencilled in. Although, excitingly our new bed is finally arriving (it’s a story..) and we should get our new dishwasher as the other is beyond repair. Its the little things which make life rock!