My week … the one in which we paid off our mortgage.

I did wrestle with this week’s title, as given the current pandemic and the financial effect on people’s lives, it felt like a humble brag. But, Mr S and I have worked hard to pay off our mortgage, not one penny has come from gifts or inheritance and we have earnt every penny we have paid over the past 19 years. Mr S is very financially astute and has ensured that if we ever had a few extra pounds in the joint account it went to the mortgage account, and these little amounts add up over time. Some periods were hard, when the children were young we both worked part time to ensure a parent was always at home, so our income was lower than it is today, but we ensured we had a lifestyle to reflect our means. We have considered moving a couple of times, a 4th bedroom would be useful, but the balance between an increased mortgage and the bedroom meant we have stayed here, we have the room in our house for us to live comfortably. It was a strange feeling paying off the final amount, we used a little of our savings so a few clicks and it was done. It felt like the sort of occasion when we should have gone out to lunch to celebrate but as we’re in lockdown it was lunch at home and just getting on with the day. However, I did feel a sense of pride when Little Man and I came back from our walk this morning and approached the house with the knowledge that its all ours.

It is nice to have a positive in what has been a really difficult week of the pandemic. The number of deaths this week have been the highest of the pandemic and the situation feels really scary. I continue to work and the daily Lateral Flow tests cause anxiety and relief. We wear more PPE now and it all seems so unreal when you pause to think about it all. In years to come we’ll look back on this period with disbelief.

However, I have been distracting myself when at home and here are some of my sparkles.

  1. Steven Attenborough. Little Man has brought home from school this image of his new hero, Steven Attenborough. No matter how many times we tell him its David Attenborough, he insists its Steven and its kind of stuck now. His topic at school is animals and I think they’re watching a lot of Attenborough clips. Its lovely to see his interest in the natural world and at dinner time he has been telling us about different species of animals, the most dangerous, biggest etc..
  2. Video Recordings. Today, Little Man and I went to our local country park ( a few minutes walk from our house) to prepare for his Scout project, a video or animation of a local attraction. I was camera man and he was to introduce different things about the country park on film. After a few repeated attempts we did manage to record clips and take photos ready for him to put together tomorrow. It was a stunning day, cold but beautiful blue skies and it will be a nice little memento of a lockdown Saturday. We walked for around 5 miles which helps another Scouts project as they try to record their mileage for a month.
  3. The Marvellous Mrs Maizel. We’ve just started watching this series and have watched 5 episodes so far this week. I love it, its so beautiful with the fashion, décor and music from the 1950s and this style brings as much to the series as the storyline.
  4. New slippers. Its the little things which make you happy in lockdown and with my sad, worn slippers looking a little pathetic, its lovely to have a new pair. Normally I wouldn’t get that excited about slippers, but hey ho its lockdown.
  5. Fresh flowers. Mr S does the food shopping online and kindly added a bunch of fresh flowers to the order as a surprise. Fresh flowers are one of those things I miss in lockdown and it was lovely to see them blossoming in the kitchen this week.
  6. I Found You by Lisa Jewell. I need to switch off every night before I go to bed so always read my Kindle under the covers. This is a good book and I am intrigued, perfect escapism.
  7. The Presidential Inauguration. It felt like there was a worldwide sigh of relief as Joe Biden became president of the USA this week and much of the rhetoric has been on recovery, unity and hope. I was wowed by two women on Wednesday. Kamala Harris as the first female VP woman, a role model for us all and Amanda Gorman, the American youth poet laureate. Her inauguration poem blew me away and I hope we can all live by her words.

Its difficult at present, when there’s no plans, to look forward to in the coming week. It is simply one day at a time. I was expecting January to be tough but thought life would look more hopeful by the end of the month Whilst the number of vaccinations is high, the lockdown remains essential and I think we’ll still be in lockdown for a while yet.

My week … the one with a lot of steps

The reference in this week’s title isn’t some new year lockdown health craze, its simply been a challenging week and my way to destress is to run and I’ve needed to run lots of miles this week. Within the pandemic, I feel that this has been the toughest week, its January, its been cold and / or wet and the pandemic just seems more real and dangerous. This week the country has recorded the highest numbers of deaths in the pandemic and the situation appears very grim.

Personally, work has dominated my week. Its very busy during the day and with my new role comes new responsibilities and I’ve needed to complete 2 virtual courses in the evenings to enable me to do these tasks in work. I’ve also had to renew my DSL training (child protection) so also attended a TEAMS training course this week. I always find this training quite harrowing, so coupled with my nhs training on administering the rapid flow Covid tests, safer recruitment training and safeguarding its been a week. Not every week will be like this, unfortunately, its simply been a perfect storm of events and circumstances.

Given this week (and there’s more but its not appropriate for me to write about) I did think I would struggle to have any highlights, I’ve not opened a book which is so rare for me and its lockdown so life is very limited. However, I did manage to find a few sparkles from the week.

Vaccines

The biggest highlight this week was that my 89 year old father in law got his first Covid vaccine. He has been so careful and I haven’t seen him in nearly a year, so to know that he’s been vaccinated and it will be safe to see him soon made me quite emotional. My dad who has some underlying health conditions and is nearly 75 gets his first vaccination tomorrow. It is a wonderful feeling that we have the vaccines and our most vulnerable are receiving it.

Lockdown Learner of the week

I am so grateful that Mr S is ‘retired’ as I couldn’t do what I do at work without him being at home for us all. He is home school teacher, although this time, it is slightly more relaxed for him as its live lessons and much more a typical school day. On Friday, Mr S emailed me through the latest letter from school and told me to read it carefully. To my surprise and delight, our daughter was the school’s lockdown learner of the week and today received her prize voucher in the post. It was definitely a proud mum (and dad and grandparents) moment and just the news I needed after a tough week.

My first milestone on the Virtual Lands End to John O’Groats virtual run.

With the daily exercise rule in lockdown I’m not able to follow my usual running pattern and am tending to run on the days when I work as other days are family exercise time. Running is my therapy and I’ve just gone and run this week, no plans of times and routes, just the steady repetition of one foot in front of another. I got my first milestone on the Lands End to John O’Groats run this week by passing the 50 mile mark. Its a virtual postcard but a nice little reminder of the challenge and the places I’ve ‘run’ past en route in Cornwall. Its also the only way to ‘see’ all these places at present.

And finally

Another week with nothing on the calendar except a food delivery. I miss all the little things so much and feel at present, its about getting through each day as positively as we can.

My week … the one with Lockdown 3.0

Well this was definitely an eventful week, promotion at work, Lockdown 3.0, the restart of home learning and the completion of my university course. Its the sort of week in which you can’t actually think about all that is going on, otherwise it would totally overwhelm you. However, I do try to compartmentalise my life to maintain my sanity and humour and this has helped me to get through the week. I do this by breaking down my day into different sessions and devote each time to different part of my life. It has also been essential to get out on my own everyday to walk or run and simply to gather my thoughts.

Lockdown 3.0 did not come as a surprise, the scientists had predicted the second wave and it hit just as they said it would. At work we had taken heed of their warnings in November at the start of Lockdown 2.0 and we have continued with our lockdown plans since then. At home, I was surprised by the announcement that the schools’ closure would last until at least half term. Our son really struggled with the long lockdown and we made the decision together that he would return to school. He is classed as a vulnerable student on two counts and I am also a critical worker. Thankfully he has loved being back at school, he is at special school so his class is smaller than at mainstream. He was tested as part of the fast track school testing system on his first day and was very proud to be the first student at his school to have the test. We have used the same system at my school and it definitely is a game changer for tracking Covid in schools. Our daughter is staying at home to do her home learning, it seems a lot more formal (and demanding) this lockdown with lots of live lessons.

Here are my sparkles of the week.

I ran lots.

In the first lockdown, I stopped running for nearly 2 months obeying the guidance for one daily exercise which was taken as a family. It affected my wellbeing and this time I’m being more organised to ensure that I get my time. I learnt that walking to work is a commute and doesn’t count as exercise, so I am now walking to work, 4 days a week. I can then run in the weekday evenings and on a couple of occasions this week my daughter has joined me. I really feel that this helped me feel more in control of the ever changing situation. I’m also on a Lands End to John O’Groats virtual running challenge for this year so have ticked off my first 28 miles.

I finished a book

The Memory Tree is my last book of 2020 as I read most of it in December and just the last few chapters this week. Its a sad but uplifting story of a young mother with early onset Alzheimer’s, there’s no happy ending but a story which shows the importance of family and kindness and love.

I completed my University course.

In such a busy week, this became something of an anti-climax. I finished the work in the holidays and had just been waiting for the final approval from my tutor to submit it. I was worried that I would need to do more work and had visions of being up all night, but in fact all I needed to do was add a reference which was quickly done (thank goodness for my careful reading notes) The work was submitted on time and now I’m just waiting for the results. My mum asked me what I was going to do next and I honestly believe that this has been my final academic work. I’ll have my degree and two post graduate courses after my name which I think is suffice.

I got creative

I have written my #21for21 and one is to do something creative everyday. I bought the book 365 days of Creativity and have started doing the tasks. My big job this week was to do our family photo book for 2020. I’ve tried not to reflect on the year gone by, but doing the photo book really brought home how different life was in 2020. I am so hoping that this year’s book is full of photos of the children with their grandparents, family holiday adventures and events.

And finally

Our family got good news this weekend, my 89 year old father in law gets his first Covid vaccination on Wednesday. Its the best news I’ve had in ages and a little light to show that we are getting through this pandemic.

My week … the one with the tier 2 Christmas

Christmas has all blurred this year and I have really missed the anticipation and preparation to the big day, it has all felt so strange. However, its been a Christmas of simple pleasures, long walks ( and a few groans from the children of ‘not another walk!’) family games (we have a family grand games master competition in progress) festive television and some gorgeous home made food.

However, I have become a little fed up with the general misery, portrayed in the media, that Christmas has been ruined for 2020. Mr S and I have both said we’ve had much worse Christmases, the one which we both agreed was our worst was when we booked a beautiful rural cottage in Cornwall. It sounds delightful, but we got snowed in, it was freezing inside and out and we only had limited groceries. It was the only holiday from which we’ve ever come home early, once the thaw began. I remember stopping at the services and buying treats at the M&S shop to make up for the misery! Although it had a happy ending, Christmas 2018 was a very scary time as Grandad who was staying with us was taken very ill and rushed to hospital on Christmas eve, that Christmas put everything into perspective. So, a happy Christmas as our little bubble of 4 doesn’t even come close to being described as a ruined Christmas.

Anyway rant over, here are some of the highlights of Christmas 2020

Christmas Patterns

I embraced Christmas patterns this year, I love my new Christmas skirt and for the first time I bought some Christmas pyjamas for myself. Well, I got the Grinch bottoms as the top was just too much and they look so much better with a plain black t-shirt. I love them and they’re so warm and comfortable. Our Christmas morning photos are great with the 3 of us in our Christmas pjs and Santa hats, although sadly, I still can’t convince Mr S to have pyjamas or a jumper. I also bought a new Christmas cushion made by a small indie business using a Cath Kitson fabric, its very cute and kitsch!

Socially Distanced Christmas Carols.

We had a socially distanced Christmas carol concert with our neighbours and it was so lovely. We all stood in our gardens or on the pavement and sang together by torchlight. We had decorated one tree with lights and stars and it all felt so warm and sparkly. It was simple but beautiful.

Surprise Presents

With all the thought that goes into Christmas, its always nice to see what are the most well received presents, aside from the ‘main’ present. This year it was a pair of goalie gloves and a lava lamp. Little Man asserted that Grandad (again) is the best Christmas present buyer. This makes me smile as Grandad sends us the money early November and we do it all for him. At nearly 90, its the best arrangement for everyone and I’m happy to keep the secret so Grandad gets the kudos.

A Christmas Eve 10K

Christmas eve is my favourite day of the year, I love the buzz of the final preparations, neighbours popping in, the special dessert, new pyjamas etc.. As I knew this year was going to be different, I arranged to run the Virtual Edinburgh 10k to define the day. I started at 6.30am on a beautiful, still and mild morning and listened to a Scottish playlist to complement the run. I have a lot of Scottish family and as I ran I thought about happy times with them, especially my grandparents who have both died. It was a real life affirming run and my fastest 10k of the year, a nice way to mark Christmas eve.

Home Cooking

I love Christmas in the kitchen, my menus are prepared weeks in advance and my kitchen is cosy and filled with the most delicious smells over the season. One of our little traditions is a special dessert on Christmas eve, last year’s Baked Alsaka (or the mountain pudding as Little Man still calls it) was a big hit so I knew it was going to be difficult to top it. I chose a spiced apple cheesecake which was amazing, the ginger base and warm caramel sauce gave the pudding a festive feel. We had a traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas day, Roast Turkey for the children and a home made mushroom and tarragon strudel for Mr S and I whom are vegetarians. I love a rainbow of veggies so there were orange glazed carrots and parsnips, braised red cabbage and apple, creamy brussel sprouts and chestnuts and plain broccoli and boiled carrots for Little Man who likes his food plain and simple. My roasties were definitely the best ever. One of my little pleasures on Christmas day is cooking in the kitchen with my Christmas pinny on listening to the dedications and carols on Classic FM.

The lights

There have been beautiful lights in town this year and as I tend to run in the dark, I get to see their sparkle. Our school decorated our large outdoor tree and it does stand as a beacon of light in the community. This year, my friend commented that the snowballs hanging across the the shopping streets look like the coronavirus. Its an image I can never unsee! As well as the lights, lots of local shops have done spectacular window displays to spread a little festive cheer.

Festive tv

So we could be together and doing family things during the day, I have been working on my uni assignment in the evenings and have watched very little television this festive season. However I did manage to watch the Christmas episodes of All Creatures Great and Small and Call the Midwife which were perfect viewing. I have so much respect and gratitude to the cast and crew of series such as the Bake Off, Strictly and Call the Midwife, whom have been able to produce programmes under the Covid restrictions. They have provided us with the escapism from the pandemic which we have all craved.

And finally

Tonight is New Year’s eve, I’m sure I’ve explained on this blog before that I am not a big fan, so a quiet night in is my ideal arrangement. I’m planning on finishing this and settling down with my book, before an early night, I’m so rock and roll. In fairness, whilst I don’t like tonight and find it all a bit fake and maudlin, I will be over it in the morning and ready for a new year which brings hope and promise (once we’ve got over the next few months)

Take care and happy new year.

My week … the one with the Christmas Jigsaw

Uni work blah, blah, blah … but here are the other things I’ve done this week.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to embrace the festive season as it’s so different. It’s made me cherish all the little things which make up the season, the carol concerts, Christmas tree festival, meeting family, popping into friends’ homes to exchange presents and cards, last minute shopping. I’m trying to make Christmas 2020 as magical as possible and Tommy the elf has really helped by bringing treats and special things to do but sadly it’s simply not the same. With the news of the government changing the original planned 5 days of relaxed restrictions to just one day and even advising against this, there is a sorrow permeating the country. Our plans haven’t need to change as we had already decided to just be the four of us but I’m still missing our parents lots, even when we know we’ve made the safest choice.

But despite the darkness there needs to be sparkles and here’s some highlights from this week.

1. We did a jigsaw! It was the one thing we didn’t do in lockdown and I don’t think I’ve done a jigsaw since I was my children’s ages. I love the modern design and Tommy brought it in the eve of a predicted wet and windy Sunday (spot on forecast) for us to do. It was the perfect activity for the weather as we were warm and cosy indoors, trying to find the pieces, munching on Christmas treats. It was strangely addictive but possibly just a Christmas challenge.

2. Despite the Covid restrictions, I’ve managed to get Christmas nails and a hair cut and colour done. A little bit of colour and sparkle have made me feel more me.

3. Last year I decided I wanted to wear something different for Christmas, something to dress up in for our school events and all those other festive occasions. I have a little gingerbread obsession at Christmas and found a dressmaker on Etsy who was able to make me a skirt with this theme. It sounds expensive but was a very reasonable price and so much nicer than anything I could find in shops. There was no big school events at work this week but I still wore my skirt on the last day, we’ve got to find the joy in the little things.

4. I read the delightful email sent to all staff at my school about a secret santa present and it was mine! I love buying presents and always put in a lot of thought and love. I was especially pleased with this present. It was a charity calendar designed by a local artist for the animal sanctuary and I added an item in my colleague’s name from the sanctuary’s Amazon wish list. My colleague always supports this charity by collecting old towels etc. so I liked the personal link.

5. I watched the Strictly final which was perfect in every way. It was aired following the pretty grim news conference by the PM and was the escapism we all needed. I was delighted with the winner but the real success was being able to air a live show every week within a pandemic. It was different and simpler but has been a highlight of my week.

And finally … well who knows what this week will bring, it’s Christmas 2020 style. Here hoping for love, hope and belonging to bind us together.

My week (or two) … the one with Christmas prep

Another speed writing post, yes the uni project is still hanging over me. , we’re now in December and its Christmas sparkles. Its so strange this year, there are no carols by candlelight, school concerts, Christmas tree festivals, Christmas markets etc.. and its about trying to find 2020 ways to celebrate the season.

Here are some highlights of the past two weeks.

  1. I am organised and ready for Christmas. I have written and sent all my cards, even the ones going abroad and bought all my presents, which are all wrapped and sent as needed. I used the new Royal Mail parcel collection service and it was brilliant. Instead of struggling with my parcels and queuing in the Post Office, I paid a small fee and the parcels were collected from my door step. It was worth every penny. I’m not the only one being efficient this year, I’ve noticed that the Christmas cards are all here earlier and we’ve received our parcels from friends and family.
  2. I’m really pleased with my present choices. I am always careful and take great pride in my presents but this year I feel I have excelled myself! I have used independent sellers where I can. My favourite new Christmas jumper came from Betsy and Bear, where I also bought my daughter’s. Instagram, Etsy and Not on the High Street have been my must goes to for inspiration and the presents are all lovely. One of my favourites to buy has been my work Secret Santa. My colleague is always collecting old blankets for the local animal sanctuary. This year, a local artist has designed a beautiful calendar for the charity, so this is the present she will receive on the day. However, I discovered there is an Amazon wish list for the animal sanctuary so I have also bought a little something from this list in her name.
  3. I will do a post about our decorations but I always make a special window display in our kitchen. This year it has a rainbow theme and its so bright and joyful. As soon as I saw the rainbow lights in the picture above I had my theme, my window is so lovely and so 2020.
  4. I am loving the Chilly Gonzales Christmas album. I read a review in the paper and its been my must listen this year. Its mainly instrumental but so chilled and relaxing.
  5. My daughter and I try to run together a couple of times a week. On Friday night, we were running (avoiding all the teen hang out spots so not to be seen!) and started to hear some Christmas music. Initially I thought it might have been choir practice in a church, but we passed it and it wasn’t originating from there, we continued running and finally found the music, it was Santa on his sleigh as part of the Rotary Sleigh ride. It made my heart skip, it was just so lovely to see the children waving from windows. We then continued on our run with a new idea, to hunt down the best Christmas lights. It was one of those ordinary evenings which unexpectedly became extraordinary.
  6. Its not a Christmassy book, its theme is brushes with death but I’ve enjoyed I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell. In a very busy life, the short stories are a perfect pause. I am hearing rave reviews of Maggie’s new book, Hamnet so I think that’s on my TBR list.

My week … the one with the monotony of Lockdown 2.0

First of all I would like to stress that I recognise what a fortunate position I am in during Lockdown 2.0. My family are all healthy, our finances have not been affected by the pandemic, we live in a nice house and have all the essentials we need. Monotony is a small price to pay for such positives.

But the monotony is there, lockdown is dull, the lack of plans and the sense of disorientation as you try to work out what the coming weeks will look like. Life has become a merry go round of home life, work, runs and study. There is a glimmer of hope as a vaccine seems closer to being approved and the promise of ‘normal’ life is sweet.

However, even in the ground hog day exietence we are living through, there are always things to be recognised.

I watched …

This week, from a friend’s recommendation I watched the Children In Need DIY SOS special on iPlayer. It was the most life affirming and heart warming programme as the team built a surf centre for a charity who teach disabled children how to surf. I was blinking back tears throughout the programme, it was full of just the most amazing and inspiring people, volunteers, parents and children.

I read …

The Girls by Emma Cline. It is a disturbing book, based loosely on the Charles Manson story and I did find some of the scenes with the vulnerable young lead character very uncomfortable. However there was something gripping to the story in which you just had to find out how the horrific crime happened. I now need a much lighter book for my next read.

I ran …

At the beginning of the year as I was returning to running, I set a little challenge to run 500 miles over the year. It started fine, there were a few storms in January and February but generally I was doing 2 or 3 runs a week. And then lockdown came, which in the first instance, meant only one daily exercise allowed a day. This rule meant I ran less than 10 miles combined for April and May as I took my exercise with my family as long walks or cycle rides instead of running. However, this pause sparked a desire to run and when the rules were relaxed I started to run more often and for longer distances, I’m now doing 4 runs a week doing around 20 miles, I even managed a 100 mile month in October and this week, completed the 500 mile challenge. I’m happy where I am, I’ve no desire to run longer, more frequently or harder next year, my current routine keeps me healthy and balanced.

I studied … (and read and highlighted, and read and highlighted, and read and highlighted)

I’m currently doing a professional award for work with Exeter Uni. Its been a strange experience, I loved the first module, meeting up with others for lectures, discussions and support. However module 2 has very much been online and our assessment has been modified to recognise the difficulties of our original task in a pandemic. I am now working on my final assessment which seems to occupy every waking thought. However, I have an end date to work to and I am looking forward to relaxing after the submission date, its going to be manic til then, 48 days and counting.

Next week is more of the same, work and study, c’est la vie, but boy am I looking forward to 2021, a blank diary to fill with my studies completed. A year to celebrate the simple pleasures we have so missed in 2020.

My week … the one with the wet half term break

When I was preparing my photos for this week, I realised that its going to be one of those entries that actually looks far more impressive than the reality of what the week was, a wet and windy half term break, topped off with the news of lockdown 2.

We always go out daily, no matter what the weather (yep we’re those parents) so we did plenty of walks and a bike ride in the forest, although there were lazy afternoons playing Monopoly and computer games too. I had a night out with friends, albeit outside in a garden. It was such a lovely night and I kept warm thanks to a wood burner and many layers. I was thinking that we might just be able to do this winter socialising lark and then by the end of the week, we’re back to lockdown.

However as in every week there were highlights and here they are ..

I ran 100 miles in a month and completed a virtual 10k.

I never had a plan to run 100 miles in October, but about halfway through the month I totted up my miles and realised that it could be possible to run this milestone by the end of October and even with a wet final week, I did it with one day to spare. I’m dead chuffed as it seems such a big number and works out to around a 5k every day. I had a bit of epiphany at the start of the last lockdown and increased my runs and miles to help my wellbeing, there’s nothing like a pandemic to put your health and lifestyle into focus. I genuinely feel so much more relaxed and grounded with my running. This week as part of my running, I completed the virtual London 10k. I had been due to run a local 10k race in June and it was one of my #20for2020. However when it was cancelled I resigned myself that it would be an item to carry forward to #21for21. I then discovered that the London 10k was going virtual, so I signed up and using Map My Run, recorded and submitted my 10k. I love the idea, I created a playlist of songs connected to London as I love a theme and ran around thinking of my favourite parts of London. I have now signed up to the Edinburgh 10k. I was born in London and have connections to Edinburgh through my maternal grandparents, so I’ll run it and think of happy memories of my Scottish family. And of course, there will be another themed playlist.

I decorated the house for Halloween.

Although we did the pumpkins last weekend, I decorated the house midweek. I was a few days late this year as we were finishing off our bedroom makeover and I needed the house tidy and in order before I started on a new project. I did our traditional kitchen window, I love the decorations here, its a more stylish feel and then in a new departure, I decorated the children’s bedroom windows. I did the bedroom windows so they could be more easily seen by children on a pumpkin hunt, this year’s lockdown alternative to trick and treating. I used special pens for glass and was really impressed by the quality of the pictures on the windows. On Halloween itself, we played some games in the afternoon, a scavenger hunt, Halloween bingo, find the wiggly worms and hanging doughnuts. It was a simple but fun afternoon.

I helped with Halloween bakes!

On Friday morning, we made the most of a lazy morning and I made Halloween pancakes for breakfast. In the afternoon, I helped Little Man make Halloween shortbreads, half were flavoured with dried raspberries, the others with fudge. He was brilliant and I had very little to do apart from putting them in and out of the oven. On Wednesday afternoon, after a drizzly cycle ride in the forest, Little Miss came home and made Peanut butter chocolate brownies, the perfect snack served with hot chocolates to warm us all up.

I appreciated an art project …

On one of my morning runs, I was surprised but delighted to see a large fish on the wall of our local theatre. I researched the project a little further as after a few days it disappeared and we started to miss it. It was part of an environmental campaign to highlight the over fishing in the oceans and was brought to shore from the sea and then hung. I really hope that its the start of further art projects at the building, it got us all interested and pleased to see some new art.

I got reading glasses

I collected my reading glasses this week, after an urgent Saturday morning visit as I presumed my Thursday fitting appointment would be cancelled with lockdown. I cannot believe the difference they make and have made me realise how bad my eyes must have been, even the text on my phone looks so different.

I did some sewing …

In the last lockdown, I was disappointed that I didn’t manage to get my sewing machine out, so on a wet and miserable Saturday afternoon, I got it out in preparation of lockdown 2, did a little maintenance and then did a couple of repairs on masks and a jacket. Now, its time to find a sewing project to keep me busy and creative (and a possible distraction from my must finish by Christmas, Uni project)

And finally

So lockdown 2 starts on Thursday, typically the day I was meeting a friend for lunch which has now been postponed. I’m not sure what this lockdown will look like, I’m really hoping the children get to stay at school as they are both happy and taking them away from friends and routines will be tough. As a key worker, I’ll be at work onsite, as I have been every working day throughout the pandemic and this is as it should be.

Have a happy week in these strange times.

My week … the one with the baby goats and baby squash

I’m early writing this post as its a busy weekend and I have to use writing time when I can find it. With all the new tiers and local lockdowns this week, I am expecting half term to be affected in some way and as this was the time we had been planning on seeing our parents, we decided to bring this forward and visit them this weekend. As Little Miss had a farm session booked for today, the boys have gone to visit Mr S’ dad today and tomorrow, Sunday, the girls are heading off to see my parents. We’re not staying overnight and have at least 4 driving hours each, making for long days. Fortunately, I’m on holiday next week so can relax a little.

We are very fortunate to have a 2 week half term, the first week is on my own and then the second week is shared with my children. It was strange when I broke up yesterday, I’m normally very excited about this holiday, but I just felt it was a bit of an anti climax. I always have lots of plans and trips organised for this fortnight and whilst I have adapted these to lockdown it simply doesn’t feel like half term should. Its also the uncertainty of what could happen in the next few weeks , with the possibility of a national circuit breaker lockdown during half term.

This week was a lovely autumn week, crisp, bright days and I spent lots of it outside, creating our new normal. I met a friend for a coffee one morning and we walked along the beach with a takeaway and chatted. It was lovely and I didn’t miss not being inside the café. I’ve been organising an evening meet up with friends for the coming weeks and we’ve admitted that we’re not comfortable being in a pub, so it looks like its a BYO in a friend’s garden whom has an outdoor heater and lots of layers.

So apart from anticipating a second lockdown, here are some of the other things I’ve been doing…

I read …

I read Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy. It is an excellent read but in the nicest possible way, this is a collection of stories which many teachers could have written. Some of my students’ stories have stayed with me and influenced me through my life. Before my career in a special school, I was a teacher in an inner city, multi cultural comprehensive and it made me so much aware of asylum, trauma, racial tensions etc.. They are not negative stories but how communities can work together, it takes a village to raise a child.

I got a new sofa …

Continuing the story I wrote of a few weeks ago, our new sofa arrived for the dining room, bought entirely online with no popping into a shop to see it and try it out. Its a gamble which has paid off and we are delighted with it. I’m really pleased with the room, I love the colour and the new palette. I have one final job now, to try and get a chair reupholstered, however finding the craftsman its proving more difficult than I expected.

I looked after baby goats …

Little Miss has started working at a farm on Saturdays for the next few months. We visited the farm as part of a summer scheme and enquired if she could help with the animals which is a big passion of hers. They agreed, with a parent accompanying her and we have started the sessions. This morning we worked with the chickens, pigs and goats. Since our last visit, the farm has two new baby goats who are adorable, and have only cemented goats as my favourite farm animal. Today, we groomed and fed animals and cleaned out some drinking troughs. It was a beautiful way to spend a Saturday morning, in the absence of parkrun 😦 , a bright, sunshiny morning in stunning countryside.

I got a baby squash … (yep, really I’m talking about a vegetable)

I know its not big news but this is 2020! I was given a beautiful baby squash this week and whilst I will use it as its original intention in a recipe, I am enjoying the beauty of the vegetable. Its not stored in my vegetable cupboard but on display for all to see and to add to the autumn ambiance in my house.

And finally

As I mentioned earlier, its my solo half term week. I’m hoping I’ll get to a number of pre booked appointments, as this is my week to get organised and do all my little jobs. I do have a hospital appointment for an x-ray, so I wonder if this will happen. I will do a little more Christmas planning and get ready for half term and Halloween 2020 style!

Have a happy week.

My week … the one with more decorating.

This week, has been a week of tasks to do, none exciting but all useful, including a car repair, redecorating the dining room and an eye test. It was simply one of those weeks focused on getting the to do list ticked off.

We unexpectedly redecorated our dining room, although dining room is a bit of a misnomer as we don’t eat in here, its the adult room, with sofa, tv, work desk etc.. Having finished the games room we were planning our next project and decided to focus on the dining room. However, we had a large sofa bed we wanted to replace as despite being great quality it did overwhelm the room. We put it on a local Facebook page, for collection only and within a few hours it had been sold and collected, which fast forwarded our plans, including buying a replacement sofa, which in these Covid times, we have done online, finding the right size, colour and shape with a quick delivery. It arrives late next week, so fingers crossed it is as we hope. I can’t believe we’ve bought such a key item without seeing or testing it. The paint colour was quickly chosen thanks to the Dulux app and despite being a bit worried that it was a darker colour than normal, it looks amazing and we are really pleased with it. I will collect some more accessories and a plant or two in the coming weeks, but I’m impressed how much we have managed to do in a week.

Away from the decorating these are some of the things I’ve enjoyed this week.

I’ve embraced autumn.

Whilst I’ve been mourning the end of summer for the past few weeks, I’m now trying to embrace autumn with delicious warming meals, warm cosy clothes and a little seasonal reading. I always return to Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, a day book of comfort and joy for inspiration and her topics this week were perfect for life as it is at present. I’ve had this book for over 20 years now and it is as perfect now as it was then. I also popped into one of my favourite indie bookshops on Thursday when I was in a neighbouring town and picked up Ten Poems for Autumn, its a lovely mix and does make the season a little more pleasurable.

I’ve been on the seafront at dawn for the past 3 days, a mix of walking to work and my runs. The dawns have been quite spectacular, as the sea has been so calm and still, its been mild and the colours have just danced in the sky.

I helped Little Man do a Zoom Scouts meeting

Although Scouts was due to start IRL this week, a delayed risk assessment meant that it was done online in the guise of an escape room. I was impressed by the organisation and enjoyed participating with Little Man.

I’ve lunched al fresco

On Thursday, I met my cousin in a town mid way of our homes. We had planned lunch and we found a café with a sheltered courtyard, ideal for an al fresco lunch. Al fresco eating in the summer is enjoyable and preferable but its another thing we need to adapt to in the autumn and coming winter. I was well layered up and with a nice warming bowl of soup it was lovely to be outside in a pretty location. We were lucky it was a mild day, it’ll be interesting to see how long we can continue this style of eating out as the seasons continue.

I’ve had an eye test

I’m not very good at keeping up with eye tests but I’ve noticed my eyesight deteriorating over the past months, too much time in front of a screen, not being able to read the back of food packets, needing good light to read etc. As expected I need glasses and these have been ordered (as an aside, I can’t believe how expensive they are!) However, unexpectedly, I also have a referral to the eye hospital. I’ve not googled too much of what the optician explained in case it got a bit scary, but its to do with the eye pressure and may help explain the increased number of headaches I’ve been suffering with.

I did more Christmas shopping

It was just the one item this week, but I was so pleased to find the metal Emma Bridgewater Roses tin in Waitrose when I popped in on Thursday. My son’s new school is next to the shop, so its very handy to have a quick browse when I’m there. The tin is so pretty and tbh its all about the tin rather than the chocolates for me although I think my family will disagree!

Hope everyone has a great week.