My week … the one with the Covid scares

For the past 18 months, we have all been living under the shadow of Covid. Sometimes, for example in periods of national lockdown it has deeply impacted on our lives, at other times its like the white noise of daily life. This week showed that when least expected it can suddenly have a starring role in daily life again.

Monday morning was a typical morning, until I received information that a colleague whom I had been in close contact with the previous mid week had tested positive. Later in the morning it was shared that there were also Covid cases in my son’s class and for his taxi companion. Although we had done our twice weekly testing on Sunday evening and were clear, we were asked to do a PCR test for our son so I booked one for him and myself. If I was going to drive to the testing centre, it seemed daft not to, given the proximity to a case myself. Fortunately we had the results by 9am the next morning, (a 15 hour turnaround, amazing) and as were both negative carried on our normal day. However, by Wednesday the decision had been made to close our son’s class for a week to minimise the spread. As Mr S has a temporary job at present this did impact on our plans. I had needed to change my day off this week to support my daughter’s Inset day and in trying to work out the best plan, Mr S ended up taking a day off for childcare as I had an important meeting at work, which could not be rearranged. Having worked at home for two weeks due to my operation recovery, I also felt it would be too cheeky to ask for additional support. However, I did have the mum guilt at not being able to have a day at home with my son, especially when on Friday my daughter and I had our prebooked Christmas shopping trip. To make amends, we have treated him to the new James Bond movie on Sky (£16!!!!) and we sat down to watch it together this weekend. He really is not happy with that ending whilst I, for whom the last Bond film I saw was Octopussy in the 80s can’t stop thinking about the film and surprised myself by really liking it, despite all the guns, action sequences etc. Typically I get into James Bond and then there’s that ending!

Our son is in a strange situation, he continues to test negative, so he and Mr S have been out enjoying walks, a hot chocolate at a favourite café etc.. Mr S was telling me that when the class had a TEAMS meeting, they were all taking about what they were doing and it was shopping, meals out, visits to grandparents etc.. I’m not sure how this is helping to minimise the risk of spreading the infection which was the reason behind the class closure, but all the activities are within the guidelines.

In addition to the personal impact of Covid this week, there has been a new variant discovered and following a press conference with the PM tonight, Saturday, some measures are being reintroduced, mandatory testing on arrivals into the UK, more booster jabs and mask wearing on public transport and in shops. We did travel by train yesterday and I did insist that my daughter and I wore masks, on the train and in shops too. The mask wearing was mixed, probably more in the shops than on the train. Its such a strange situation, I am triple jabbed, my daughter has had hers too, we wore masks and washed / sanitised hands frequently so there’s little more that we could have done to keep safe. We need to start living again. I have a spa booked next week and hope that this can go ahead, it feels that you cannot make firm plans at present, there is always a proviso to all activities.

Yesterday was a lovely day with my daughter, the most normal big day out for a while. When I was a child, a day’s Christmas shopping with my mum in London was always such a treat. We would start in the Harrods Christmas shop and finish on Selfridges on Oxford Street. For us now in our location, a day trip to London would be quite a push, so we headed to our closest city, Southampton which is around a 90 minute journey by car and train. We started in John Lewis, in the department they have named this year as their Christmas Emporium, it houses the best Christmas displays I’ve seen in a shop for years. There are so many different themed trees, lights and tableaux, its so beautiful, my daughter was awe struck and we did buy some gorgeous decorations.

A trip to a city is a big deal for me and I was mega organised with my lists. I had done the background research on where all the shops I needed were and had even had a recommendation for a lunch venue where the mocktails and Cuban inspired food were stunning. At first my daughter had been bemused when I asked for all her details, which shops she wanted, present list etc.. but I think I won her over on the day. It was just the best day, 20K steps, Starbucks Christmas drinks, lots of presents purchased, a first trip to Victoria Secrets which is apparently essential for a teen girl, a pretty German Christmas market (although full of tack as traders can’t get here from Europe due to Covid and Brexit) and lots of sparkling, twinkling lights. My daughter loved it and wants it to become our annual tradition. It was perfect timing for an Inset day, so hats off to whoever planned Inset for Black Friday.

We were lucky that we went to Southampton yesterday as the storm which followed has closed the railway line today and it has been so bitterly cold. We had a trip to the farm today as my daughter was volunteering and my son and I went for a very skin tingling, icy cold walk in the neighbouring fields. We ended up warming up after in the cosy farmhouse kitchen with fresh pains au chocolat, so it wasn’t all bad!

In spending one evening on PCR testing, another having my nails done and a third on youth club taxi duties, there was little time for reading and television this week. I did manage to watch the Bake Off final and despite my disappointment at Jurgen leaving at the semi final, my second favourite Guiseppe won. It is such a wholesome, friendly programme that really lights up autumn nights. I feel bereft when it finishes, and even worse when Strictly ends too. Now that its finished and I’m not a I’m A Celebrity viewer, I really need to make a start on Christmas films next week and embrace the season. I normally argue that Christmas doesn’t start til December 1st but as we were Christmas shopping yesterday, we played and sang along to my Christmas playlist in the car and I’m ready to go early this yea, we need those sparkles more than ever.

If all goes to plan, next week should be a busy one, hopefully I’m off to the spa (if my son is back at school ) and then its the town’s Christmas market next Saturday (Covid regs permitting) However given the current situation, I am realistic that it could all change within days.

My week … the one with the Bake Off shock (and I’m still not over it )

Things are slowly getting back to normal and I’m well enough now to walk to school and also to drive. It was a welcome return to taxi duties on Youth club night. I am back to wearing shoes, albeit wide fit trainers. Its also good to have my slippers back on, I’ve missed them over the past month, my little toes did get cold!

I was really proud of our son this week as we had his Annual Review and it was so lovely to hear of all his progress and his kind and funny character. He really is one of the most laid back and witty young people I know, nothing phases him and he is such a tonic to be around. We know this but when you hear it from others, it feels even better.

This week has been so tough professionally, one of the worst weeks of my 25 year career. I hoped that I would feel relief by the end of the week, but I’m so emotionally frazzled, I feel devastated, sad, excited and hopeful, all mixed together. It’s going to take some time to work through this, but no matter how difficult this week was ( and I’m sure there’ll be more difficult conversations next week) I do believe that you’ve got to stay true to your values and beliefs to live an authentic life, both personally and professionally.

In all the very serious adult world of work, I have needed light relief this week. I don’t know if its my state of mind, but even watching Strictly and the Great British Bake Off was emotional this week. Rose and Giovanni’s Couples Choice dance, where they stopped the music so the audience could share Rose’s experience of dancing without hearing the music, was so powerful and touching, I cried. Having seen the reaction on Twitter and Gogglebox, I wasn’t the only one, it was such a beautiful inclusive thing to watch. I’ve just watched Strictly tonight and their dance to Frozen was so funny and superb, Rose and Giovanni are my winners for this year’s series (but I do love AJ and Kai too). On Tuesday, my favourite, Jurgen was eliminated in the semi final of the Bake Off. I actually shouted a nooooooooooo at the tv when the result was announced, he’s been one of the best bakers all series and is one of life’s nice guys. I did watch Last Slice on Friday night and he was even more precious and genuine on the programme. The audience’s reaction to him was wonderful, I don’t think the eventual winner will get a warmer, more enthusiastic welcome. Now its on to the final and I’m team Giuseppe, we need a Jurgen and Giuseppe spin off series, two wonderful, warm and witty bakers. Bake off with its friendliness and niceness is the perfect programme for us all to cherish.

As well as cosy nights in watching tv, I’ve also read a book, Always in December which I thought was going to distract me with its Christmas sparkles. It started with the lovely festive feels but then there was such a sad ending. I didn’t see it coming at all, everything was so neatly lined up for the happy ever after. Honestly this week everything seems to designed to have me in tears, I’m not sure I have any tears left to cry.

As I write this I’m watching a programme on Paul McCartney. It led me to a memory and one that thanks to the internet I’ve been able to relive tonight. When I was a teenager, I loved (still do) The Beatles and when I was 16, saw that Paul McCartney was on a world tour. My dad got us tickets to go and see him in Glasgow, as we have family nearby. It was one of those special nights of your life, I remember just dancing and singing all night long, not quite believing that I was seeing Paul McCartney play live. The set list was great, a bit of a greatest hits list but the big finale which I’ve been able to find on You Tube was Mull of Kintyre, when a Scottish pipe band were brought onto the stage, I still remember the goose bumps. It was amazing to watch the clip, more than 30 years later and be taken back to that night in Glasgow. (Yep, tears again, I’m a wreck this week)

I have no idea what the next week will bring but there are some good entries in my diary, my sister in law is coming over tomorrow and Friday is an Inset day for my daughter so we’re off to Southampton for a Christmas shopping trip. Sometimes you simply need to focus and hold on to those nice things..

My week … the one with more rest and recovery

During this week, I reached the 3 week post operation date, the minimum period for recovery which was advised as being between 3 – 6 weeks. This meant that I am back upstairs in our room again, I returned to work onsite on Friday, albeit that Mr S dropped me off and picked me up and both days this weekend, I’ve gone for longer walks. Today’s was 2.5 miles so I have the confidence to walk to work as from tomorrow, which is around a mile each way. It was so good to walk along the seafront yesterday, it actually seemed a little milder than the days preceding my operation and it’s always lovely to have the winter sun on your face.

I did have a setback last Sunday and Monday when I really felt quite poorly, I’m not sure if it was related to the recovery or just a really bad migraine, but I struggled. On the upside, it strengthened my determination to get better as soon as I could. There’s a lot in my diary for the coming weeks and I’m keen to participate, thus, walking and driving are key things to practice. I’ve not attempted any driving yet as I need to be able to wear a shoe and I’m still in my boot. I did buy some new trainers this week (online, not shopping IRL yet) but I couldn’t wear them, they were too narrow. However its not a brand I normally wear so I’m hoping this was the problem as I naturally have a wide fit. I have another couple of pairs of trainers coming through this week, so fingers crossed for a good fit.

Mr S has a new temporary part time job, which is a very early start so 3 evenings a week he’s in bed by 8.30pm and I have the tv gadget. We have quite different tastes so I like having my choices. This week I finished Show Trial, I liked it and felt drawn in by the characters, the lead character is so awful that you can’t warm to her but as her story comes through, you understand her better. What was interesting in the series was that no one knew what happened in the murder incident, the viewer has the same information as the police, there is no use of flashback and whilst you get the jury result, the doubt remains.

I was also keen to watch the new Sky film, The Colour Room on the early career of Clarice Cliff, the ceramic artist. I am a fan of her work, her use of colour is stunning and fun. Its a really good film and perfect for a cosy Friday night in.

This week, I also finished the book Writers and Lovers. It is a slow burner but I am pleased that I continued as it has a strong ending and from around half way through I couldn’t put it down. In reading reviews of the book, I noticed that Lily King’s previous work, Euphoria has rave reviews so I may add this to my to be read pile. I am now going to start a Christmas reading journey. Last year, I didn’t get the chance to read much fiction or watch Christmassy themed films as I was busy with my Uni deadline and promised myself that year I would make up for it!

Christmas is a big theme at present, I like to get as organised as possible, so I did the final edits and ordered our Christmas cards this week from a design by my daughter. Over the past few years, I have started to do our own cards and its become a highlight of the prep, as the feedback has been so lovely from friends and family. Its a penguin theme this year and I love it, its so cute. The service with the cards was excellent, I ordered on Wednesday and received the cards and a canvas by Saturday morning. My aim now is to do a few cards a night, as I do like to write a personal message in all.

Its a busy week next week, although I no longer need to go to Birmingham for a work event which would have been a few days away. This is a relief although its been covered by other work matters and I’ll be doing some unavoidable overtime. I’m hoping by the end of the week, I’ll be able to do some short, local drives which will help family life and take some pressure off Mr S.

My week … the one with a birthday

Week 3 of my recovery and I think I’m beginning to hibernate. As someone who used to like to be outside, I’m definitely developing a new need to be inside, warm and cosy at present. I’ll take this as I recover, but I think I’ll need to be quite disciplined in the next few weeks. I did go on one trip out this week to the clinic and had another layer of dressing and bandages removed. The photo was taken in between dressing when I was trying to compare swelling and foot sizes. I’m still not in shoes, but using my trusty boot. I have been doing my foot exercises thrice daily, they’re a bit painful but I’m hoping this is a good sign. I have also started to walk up and down stairs (down is definitely trickier) and am planning tonight as the last in my downstairs bedroom before returning to my big, comfy bed.

Given that I am house bound, we did very little on Halloween, I did a fancy platter of some sweet treats (the milky ghost from M&S are yummy) and we watched a film. It was a pretty horrible, wet and windy day so everyone was quite agreeable to the plan. I also had a box of chocolates to share as the day before, my daughter’s boyfriend had brought me some flowers and chocolates as a get well gift. I was so impressed by his kindness and thoughtfulness.

On Monday, I went back to work, well I worked from home. Throughout the pandemic I have been onsite for every single working day, so working from home is a novelty. I was amazed how productive I was, the nature of my role means my phone goes pretty much constantly and we always have visitors to our office, so without distraction, I got a lot done. However then I wanted to try and do even more and take the pressure off my colleague in our office and I ended up working a lot of extra hours during the week. Like many jobs, I’m not sure I even scratched the surface of work needing to be done, it is relentless at present. My colleague and I have both been reading Fewer Things Better by Angela Watson. It is a great book and now the challenge is to apply our new found knowledge to our working lives.

This week also saw Mr S birthday. Now I had been super organised, pre operation, so there was very little to be done on the day apart from making a lightbox message and blowing up a few balloons. I did offer to buy a take away for his birthday tea bit we just had Mr S favourite home cooked meal and enjoyed his birthday cake. Its always a Christmas cake as this is his favourite and fortunately its a good time of year to be able to buy them!

Birthdays and special occasions have now paused after a busy few weeks so its that pre Christmas period. I do love Christmas but need to wait for a few more weeks before I can start to get really excited about it. My daughter and I are Christmas shopping on her Inset day on the 26th so I think this will be our start to the season. I’m still at home working next week, although I’m going to try and work onsite on Friday before returning properly the following week.

My week … the one with half term

Half term, especially October half term is one of the little sparkles of the year. The weather whilst cooler still allows outdoor activities and coupled with Halloween, bonfire night and family birthdays there’s always a nice atmosphere to the week. Its a week full of plans and little surprises. Sadly this year due to my post op recovery, its been a very quiet, home based week, there’s definitely lots of making up to do in the coming months. However, the children have been really good, its been a dull week but they’ve enjoyed bonus screen time, getting Disney + was an inspired idea and some creative tasks.

On Monday, the children did get to leave town. However, this was to get their Covid vaccinations at the local hub. Whilst the rollout for adults has been fantastic, its been slower and more frustrating for the over 12s, as the school vaccinations haven’t quite worked as planned. On the last day of the half term we got a letter from our daughter’s school offering the vaccination at the hub on special sessions dependent on age and surname. The first tranche was for 12 – 13 year olds which fortunately both children fall under. However, our son who is at special school had not received this information (its a bit out of the catchment area of the hub) We took the chance and took him to the correct age and surname session on Monday and they were more than happy to do him, although not clear, the session was for 12 year olds from the local surgeries not schools. On the letter, they had also said they would do siblings so Little Miss was vaccinated then too, rather than needing to wait until Nov 6th. Whilst both has a little bit of an achy arm, neither had any side effects. Its a big relief to have us all vaccinated and feeling more confident, I have booked the train tickets this week, for me and Little Miss to enjoy a day of Christmas shopping. For me, this is quite a big deal, public transport and a visit to a busy city centre, as I make more tentative steps to real life again.

The other trip out of town the children had was a family trip to the foot clinic! I am unable to drive so Mr S needed to take me. We feel that the children are too young to be at home alone for the few hours it would take to drive to big town, attend the appointment and return. Fortunately the clinic is in a shopping centre so when I went to the clinic, Mr S went for a coffee and the children went to some shops to spend their pocket money. They enjoy this independence and for Little Man especially this is a big thing, so the trip was well received. My foot is healing well, it was the first time I had got to see my foot since the operation. The wound is fine and stitched up neatly but I felt quite queasy and faint at the sight of my foot as it is black with bruises from the operation. I now have a smaller bandage so my foot fits in my boot better and am allowed to be on my foot for half an hour before resting and elevating it. This advice has meant that I am now taking a daily walk outside, at the moment its only up to the local post box and back but its good to be in the fresh air. I have another follow up appointment next week.

With the exception of my walks, I am still resting a lot at home, so lots of reading, 3 books this week and watching films. This week’s favourite film was Cruella, the background story to 101 Dalmatians. It was brilliant and I really enjoyed it, the costumes are stunning and a major part of the storyline. The two lead actors Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are superb in the film. Of the books I read, despite its rather grand title, Essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown was an inspirational book with so many takeaways. It was recommended by a friend and certainly makes one consider lifestyle. Its main arguments are that you need to identify what really matters to you and then invest time and energy in these things to enable you to live a life of purpose and meaning. Its not about doing more but less, better.

As its Halloween this weekend, it wouldn’t be half term without pumpkin carving. We made it a little different this year by spray painting two smaller pumpkins and then painting them and then we followed tradition by carving the two larger pumpkins. I enjoyed the pumpkin painting, the results are great and we’ll be doing this again next year. I saw some Day of the Dead painted pumpkins online and this is on my list for next year. I also learnt (after we had carved and scooped ours) to carve and hollow out from the base of a pumpkin, a useful hint for 2022.

Today, Little Miss is out with her boyfriend to the swimming pool with all the fancy slides and then out for pizza as his birthday treat. She’s very excited and its been nice for her to have something to look forward to. Little Man definitely needs a treat in the coming weeks.

I was worried that this week would be a little dull for the children, however we have got through the week okay and its nice to know this was a one off and we can make our normal plans and more for future school holidays.

My week … the one with my operation

So after many years of steroid injections and considering the options, I had my foot operation this week. I will never quite know what caused the problem, it could have been a work related injury or rheumatoid arthritis. However as the steroid injections became less effective, I chose to have the operation as hopefully it will improve the pain and give me more movement in my foot. At present, my big toe is pretty redundant as it cannot move and I have been a walking advert for Converse pumps in the past few years as pumps, trainers and fit flops have been the only footwear I can fit into. I am sure people must think I’m trying to be on trend in my smart work clothes topped off with a pair of pumps when the reality is that I can’t wear anything else. I am so excited to go shoe shopping for actual shoes. I do have my eyes on some patent Doc Martens and maybe a little heel for Christmas sparkle.

This week has again reminded me of what a treasure our nhs is. To be honest I didn’t think I could love or respect it even more prior to this week but again I’ve been blown away by the care and professionalism of its staff. I have an amazing consultant, who is the most efficient person I know, he is always to time and is clear, succinct and understanding. When I explained my worries about needing time off work, he allowed me to organise the operation within my two week holiday to minimise disruption. I had the operation at a cottage hospital rather than one of the big county hospitals and much preferred this as there was a homely feel and such personalised care. The Covid protocols were strong and very much in evidence, I did feel safe. As the operation was under local anaesthetic and the morning surgery planned so effectively, I was admitted at 7.45am and discharged by 11.15, it was all so smooth and relaxed. I have two appointments in the coming weeks to check and redress the wound.

Following the surgery, I had strict instructions for recovery. I had known of these in advance and had prepared a bedroom in our dining room and organised lots, although I didn’t really think I would need it all. However, I may have been a little blasé on how I felt I would recover, I saw the instruction for 48 hour bed rest and reckoned I would be fine to be just sitting on the sofa with my foot elevated. I very quickly realised that bed rest definitely meant bed rest, the pain was strong and I could not put any weight on my foot. When I went to the bathroom which is next to the dining room, I was on sticks, hopping on my good leg and wincing with the pain. I’m also conscious of taking painkillers but again quickly understood they were prescribed for good reason and have been taking them as instructed. Tuesday night was bad for the pain, as the anaesthetic wore off and the medication didn’t quite hit the spot, however it has been much more manageable since. Mr S has been a superstar and allowed me to solely focus on getting better, he has done everything and is ready to help in anyway he can. Unfortunately by Saturday he had caught our son’s cold (not Covid we’ve done lots of tests) so this is a very lazy weekend with lots of screen time.

With the enforced rest, I have watched lots of films and read books and magazines this week. To date, its been 6 films, 1 six part series, Modern Love and 2 1/2 books. There’s been a strong New York theme in the series and films, only strengthening my desire to visit the city. Its number 1 on my bucket list and I may have idly passed my time looking up the cost of a city break. One firm action from watching Brittany Runs A Marathon was to sign up to a local half marathon next March. I have also entered the London marathon ballot, but I’ve done that many times without success. However, a half is real and doable, and I hope will show the success of my operation. As well as Brittany Runs A Marathon, other favourite films have been Another day in the Neighbourhood and The Muppets Haunted Mansion. The series Modern Love is something I listened to originally on the radio, then as a podcast and now am watching as a tv series. Its based on the New York Times column Modern Love and each episode is an individual love story. It is not conventional love stories but essays of relationships between others. The most moving in the current series was of a resident and a door man and was not romantic love but a deep, protective relationship. The actors in the series are all really well known and there’s even a cameo from Ed Sheeran. There is a lovely sequence in the final episode where all the characters feature and brings the series together. I’m looking forward to series 2 next week as my rest continues.

This week I have felt very blessed to have such kind and thoughtful family and friends, I have received flowers, cakes and cards and lots of get well messages. Mr S and the children have been wonderful but as half term approaches I think the coming week may be more challenging (and noisier) as we’re all home together and I cannot take on my normal role. Its only one week and I’m sure that there will be many treats in the coming months to compensate for the different half term.

My week … the one with pre-op nerves.

I have a busy life and the way I maintain my sanity is to compartmentalise my life. So when at work, I fully focus on my job, at home its family life etc.. Generally this works and helps to manage my time, there is a time and place for everything. In the run up to my operation, I have continued this strategy but this week, as I have finished things off at work and delegated jobs in my absence the reality of the operation and recovery period is beginning to feel real. I have tried to distract myself with practical matters, all birthday cards and presents for the next 6 weeks are written, wrapped and posted, house admin is all prepped in advance and all the decorations and nice things for Halloween and Bonfire Night are all ready to go.

We have also transformed our dining room into my room for the next few weeks so there are no stairs to go up and down. I’m really pleased how this has turned out and has definitely inspired us to think of it as a potential guest room. I love that the French doors lead to a hidden courtyard and so even if I can’t go out I can open the doors and feel the air. I have a pile of books and magazines to read and a play list of podcasts in my room, I can’t imagine how its going to feel to have this time to pause.

With the upcoming operation, this week was all about work and there was no sparkles in the working week, apart from starting the book An American Marriage as part of the girls’ daily sofa reading time. This is when my daughter and I sit down together and read as part of her daily homework schedule. This was a book which grabbed me from page 1 and is one I think about when I’m not reading it, the injustice leaves you seething and I’m not sure there’s going to be a happy ending.

I had a lovely surprise in the post this week as my dad sent me a Fortnum and Mason recipe book for afternoon tea as a thank you for my gift of afternoon tea for his 75th birthday. Its a beautiful book with recipes I’m looking forward to trying.

Saturday was the highlight of the week for its simple pleasures. Our son was at scout camp, his first for nearly two years due to Covid, so we had a relaxed day at home following my Covid test as I needed to self isolate. My Covid test was first thing in a town 20 miles away so it was an early start with no time for my Saturday morning run. I arrived in the town early and was able to pop into Waitrose to pick up a few things, all the essentials, my Saturday newspaper, felt pumpkins, NYR moisturiser, the new Christmas Cath Kisdton Roses tin etc. before the isolation began. The test itself was easy and quick and I was home before 10am. Little Miss and I enjoyed a kitchen day, making a delicious butternut squash and sweet potato soup accompanied by home made cheese scones for lunch and mini Victoria sponges for an afternoon treat. We then settled down to watch Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, I loved it but I bet its even better on the stage as a musical. With Strictly finishing our day, it was my kind of day.

I’m now on the final countdown to the operation and hopefully by the next time I write all will have passed smoothly and I will be happily settled in my room recovering.

My week … the one with a boost

This week felt quite different to previous weeks, I was in a different routine to normal and it gave a different vibe to the week. Also for someone who is such a planner, there were a couple of really nice unexpected and unplanned moments to the week.

My week was different as due to work commitments, I had a different day off, Tuesday. This is also food delivery day and I ordered lots of lovely fresh ingredients and made a family chinese feast. It just felt so random to be having such a nice meal on Tuesday night. Even with homework and all the daily chores, a special meal definitely lifted the mood.

This week’s title, a boost can be applied to a few events this week. I had my Covid booster this week as in January PHE designated all at my place of work as social care workers. This time the gp did not come to our place of work and we had to go to our local vaccination hub in the next town. It was a blast, it was busy but there were so many familiar faces and it was a fun and life affirming trip. It was the first time that I had got to witness all the volunteers and work in a vaccination hub and I was again genuinely moved to tears over what an amazing nhs service we have. The process was also so simple and efficient, I booked on Tuesday and had my jab on Wednesday. Fortunately I had no ill effect and was able to attend a real life work conference the next day. This sounds more normal than it really was, the content was excellent but we had to sit at individual work desks and maintain a social distance, I felt like I was a student back in an exam hall.

Another little boost was a PB in parkrun. I wasn’t supposed to be at parkrun today but Little Miss’ farm trip got postponed last night so we decided to travel across the county to a forestry commission site where I could run and then do a family bike ride and picnic. It was a perfect autumn morning and we all left happy and with that good tired feeling from being active and outside. Not only did I get a new shiny PB by 30 seconds, it was a a new parkrun for me, so a new letter for the alphabet challenge and a new number for stopwatch bingo. Its my last parkrun for a while, i have my Covid test at 9am next Saturday and I’m not sure how long my post op recovery will take. I’m pencilling in a December parkrun, but will strictly adhere to medical advice.

This week was my dad’s 75th birthday and whilst I did not see him as he was celebrating in London with mum, I’ve received some lovely photos of the trip, including the champagne afternoon tea I had arranged. I had such a lovely thank you message from my dad and in my reply I mused that life needs to be filled with little delights.

In my reading this week, I finished Clare Chambers Small Pleasures. Initially I really liked it and was drawn into the mystery but I felt the conclusion trivialised a really serious sexual assault and neatly used it to wrap a part of the story. Its ending has bothered me a lot over the last few days, I feel uncomfortable how a sexual crime was accepted. I know its fiction but if we allow this in fiction, will we accept it in real life too?

Our weekend has been a bit topsy turvy as Sunday is normally reserved as family day and Saturday as jobs day. This week its the other way around and Little Miss and I are off to the shops tomorrow. Again with my imminent operation, its my last trip for a while so I am being very organised, Halloween treats, craft activities for half term, cards and presents for upcoming birthdays are all on my shopping list. I am a woman on a mission tomorrow!

My week … the one with the new, quiet washing machine

This week’s title does really some up the highlight of my week. Its been a week overshadowed by the worst migraine and accompanying sickness I’ve suffered in years, it was very grim couple of days and I’m still feeling a little fragile and gentle today.

The new washing machine arrived when I was ill, so Mr S got to have the first few gos. In fairness, he does the laundry, apart from ironing which I genuinely enjoy, so he does deserve the fun! Our washing machine has been slowly dying over the past few months, something went wrong with the drum and the noise on spin cycles was unbelievable, you could not have a conversation in the same room when on spin. We ordered one from John Lewis and also got removal of the old machine and installation of the new. This is when Mr S starts to panic over the correct measurements, whether it will be able to be installed correctly as its an integrated machine etc.. but thankfully John Lewis were amazing and all went very smoothly. My new washing machine has made me so happy this week, freshly laundered clothes and quiet washing, its perfect. In a stroke of genius (I was in bed so had no idea of this) Mr S also washed the walking boots and trainers the night before the old machine went as there was no worry about damage to the machine. I appreciate his smart thinking.

With illness there was very little to report this week, Ive not really watched, read or listened to anything apart from my favourite podcasts. Whilst doing a few jobs today I’ve had the marathon on in the background which is always inspiring, always leaving the eternal question do I enter?

Its been very much a home weekend, the rain yesterday actually seemed of biblical proportions and in such a rare occurrence, we didn’t go out at all, this genuinely never happens. It was a day of board games and planning special surprises. This month I have my parents’ 70th and 75th birthdays ( only a few months after their 50th wedding anniversary, its been a busy year) My dad’s is first so I’ve booked a champagne afternoon tea at the very exclusive London hotel they are going to for a few days. Its always been on my dad’s bucket list to stay at the hotel so I’ve just added a little sparkle. I made photo montage cards for both my mum and dad’s birthday and on Saturday afternoon, my daughter and I were looking through all the old family photos, it tickled my daughter to find a photo of her grandad with his parents at the age she is now. It was lovely looking at the old photos, remembering people no longer with us and just the happy times (oh and the fashions and hair styles) I scanned and sent a photo to my uncle of him, his dad, my Gramps and me which is about 45 years old now. The photo was just beautiful it felt like this warm, embracing hug in a picture. I recognised my grandparents front room immediately and could feel the soft velvet seat we were all sat on, their room never changed and the sight of their wallpaper and the old familiar mirror on the wall triggered such treasured memories.

My little challenge this year to keep wearing my shorts and flip flops has ended, but now the latest challenge is to keep the heating off! Its been so cold, wet and windy this week, the season has definitely changed. I’ve been wrapped up in a blanket in the evenings, making the use of a much appreciated birthday present. This weekend I did put away my summer clothes until next spring, there is a certain melancholy to this, but the song by the Byrds, Turn, turn, turn is just a beautiful reminder that each season will pass.

I couldn’t really write this week’s post without reference to the fuel crisis affecting the country. What started as a few issues with delivering fuel ended up as full blown panic and chaos. I had noticed that there were increasing issues over the past few weeks with HGV drivers so last time when I went to the petrol station (pre panic) I actually filled my car up full in case these problems extended to petrol and Mystic Meg that I am, so it proved. I am extremely lucky that I walk to work daily and only really use my car at weekends for the trips to the farm or parkrun, neither of which are essential. However, living in a rural location, vehicles are key to a lot of people for work and daily life and there have been long queues at the stations. I had to go to a neighbouring town for work this week and our journey home took an extra 40 minutes with drivers queuing for petrol. There is lots of talk of ’saving Christmas’ as there are also issues in many industries post Brexit (who would have predicted that!!) but I hope that the past 18 months has taught us that material goods aren’t what makes life tick, its people and relationships. I am in big thinking mode at present there’s a lot to consider.

My week … the one with country roads.

I love my music and am often found creating a playlist with a theme. This week I’ve been doing a lot of driving and what started as a sing song of Country Roads took me down a songbook of great country tracks. Country is not my normal genre but it’s amazing how many of the songs are so familiar and loved.

I have explored so much of the county this week, our county has no motorways and my journeys took me down many country roads, the countryside is stunning but I do prefer straighter, wider roads!

On Thursday I took my son to school, he normally has school transport, and then went to the local town as I wanted to have my glasses altered at the opticians and pop into some of the shops. It’s one of my favourite places for shopping, it’s small but has an excellent choice of independent shops, the book and kitchen shops are brilliant and has some favourites from the high street too, White Stuff, Fat Face, Seasalt etc .. The shops open later around 10, so it was lovely to sit opposite the church with a coffee in the bright sunshine. It had been so nice to take my son to school, he was so chatty and entertaining, I really miss the primary school run. Once I had finished in the school town, I then went to another nearby town for some more functional buys, new trainers for my son who is just growing at such a rate, M&S tights (the best) and a few other bits and bobs. I’m having to be very organised this year as I’ll be unable to do much whilst I recuperate from my upcoming operation. I have even begun to pick up a few Christmas gifts.

On Saturday I continued my travels around the county, but in a different direction, I went to a hamlet with my daughter for her farm work, then off to a nearby small town to drop her off so she could meet friends and then the county town whilst I waited for her. It’s the first time I’ve been to the county town since before the pandemic and I was shocked at the number of shops closed and boarded up. It really has become a ghost town. It used to be one of my favourite towns to go to, lovely shops and cafes, an independent cinema etc .. now it looks very empty without high street staples such as Next and M&S.

As well as my music this week, I listened to Beautiful World by Sally Rooney. I listen on my commute to work and then with all the extra driving there were lots of opportunities to listen to books and podcasts.

I was really keen to either read or listen to the book as Normal People was one of my favourite reads from recent years. However I was wary as I didn’t enjoy Conversations with Friends so strongly. I really liked Beautiful World, although Normal People still tops my chart. It’s a very ordinary story in that nothing really happens, it’s just about the lives of four young adults with some beautifully written parts. I did feel it was written as a tv or film adaption but this is okay and I look forward to watching such an adaption.

Unusually for me I sat down this week and watched a film of my son’s choice, Forrest Gump. I had forgotten what a lovely film this is and the links to American history are amusing. My son asked me if Forrest had special needs like him, a question which temporarily floored me as we always teach him he’s capable of all he wants to do and we’ll always be there for him but he could recognise Forrest in himself. I positively framed the answer in the kindness and support Forrest is able to give because of the way he sees the world makes his special needs his super power but it was a bit heart breaking.

After last week’s Biscoff cheesecake success, my son was keen to make another this weekend as it was his turn for baking with me. He was very creative and we made a chocolate orange cheesecake, the perfect Saturday night treat ahead of Strictly. Strictly made for wonderful viewing with so many highlights, but for me the moment of the night was when the two male dancers tangoed . I felt so emotional (and joyful) to see a male same sex coupling. Sometimes we don’t recognise how far we’ve come in promoting a more inclusive, representative society. There’s always so much more to do, but I did get the feels in last night’s Strictly.

I’ve done lots of running this week, the weather has been lovely and the photo of the dusk was taken as I ran around a local village whilst my daughter was at Youth club. It’s nice to have a change in scenery. The weather has also been hot and sunny so I continue to wear shorts and flip flops, I’m delighted that I made it to the end of September this year. However, looking at next week’s forecast it may signal the summer clothes being packed away.

It’s been such a busy week that I almost forgot one of the nicest parts of the week meeting up with friends on Tuesday night. I made a slow cooker chilli and the host prepared the rice, fresh guacamole, soured cream and tortilla chips to accompany it. We were in my friends garden and it was such a mild night we only needed a fire much later in the evening. It was just lovely and made me consider that some of the things we are doing due to Covid are so much nicer and more personal than what we used to do before.

Next week is going to be crazy… I’m working overtime to do full time and reckon it’s easily going to be a 50+hours working week due to the number of entries in my diary. There is also a tutor evening (thankfully online, it’s a real time saving idea) for my daughter and the usual clubs. My big excitement is a new washing machine on Friday. Ours has been dying for months and is now so noisy you can’t be in the same room when it’s on the spin cycle. I feel like a proper adult, a new washing machine is my highlight of the coming week!