My week

Sadly another week when I suffered a really bad migraine and vomiting. To be honest it’s unsurprising since I am working onsite where we are in the midst of a Covid 19 outbreak. Its so busy and I come home drained and exhausted. However even with a couple of days out sick I still managed to have a few sparkles to celebrate this week.

I read …

I finished two books this week and both were excellent. I read Half a World Away first which is about a birth brother and sister being reunited. As an adopter I was hoping that it wouldn’t be too fairytale’ish’ and fortunately it wasn’t with a real understanding of childhood trauma and the effect on adult life. It was an emotional read and another great book by Mike Gayle.

The second read Daisy and the Six is my book of lockdown and the year so far. It was one of my infamous Kindle 99p deals, although I’ve bought and sent a copy to my mum today as it is a book to be shared. It’s about a rock band in the 70s and is brilliant. It has an unusual style, you simple get comments from the characters as the story progresses, each piece a line or two up to a paragraph in length. But the book draws you in, you’re in the 70s and the characters are real. It’s so good that I feel a little bereft now it’s finished.

I watched …

Having slept for 36 hours I woke alert in the night and found the BBC documentary Hospital being repeated. It is filmed in a Covid 19 hospital and was so moving, informative and filled you with love and respect for all involved. Our nhs is simple amazing.

I learnt …

One of the home schooling projects this week was a bionic hand to illustrate how our skeleton works. Although it was Little Miss’ homework Little Man joined in too and they made a hand each. It was a good project to all sit around the kitchen table and do together and I hope we all learnt a little more about how our bodies work. I love a little project like this. As you can see Little Miss was pleased with her idea to paint the nails!

I appreciated

I came across this quote online and it resonated with me, it’s the simple things which make life special. This week the meadows are bursting with wild flowers and it’s indescribably beautiful to see my children running though them, as the quote says ‘ the ordinary comes alive’

Mr S and I are really reflecting on life in this period, there are changes a happening and we have time to pause and really think about what’s important to our family. Life will change but I feel good about the plans we are making as our little team.

My week

It was a strange old week in lockdown as I was poorly with a really bad migraine for a few days. You think that in lockdown you’ll only be ill with Covid 19, but the reality is different. I had to use the e-consult service with my GP for my anti sickness medication and it worked really well and efficiently. For simple medical requests, I hope this system continues. I felt I lost a few days this week and with still being in lockdown there’s less variety in life. However, I did manage to do a few things …

I walked and appreciated our natural world.

We live on the border of a huge country park and farms and are able to walk for miles in a beautiful, tranquil setting. Access to the area for vehicles has been closed so you can only enter on foot at present, meaning its quiet and you can feel comfortable walking around, you rarely have to social distance from others. The area has always been a special place for us, but at the moment it seems to be full of little wonders. This week the lambs and calves have been so animated and are skipping and jumping around the fields, they are so amusing to watch and a wonderful distraction. The beautiful sunshine has added to our walks too. When all this is over, I’ll miss our afternoon walks together. We normally do this on a Sunday but its been so much better daily.

I decorated our house

Whilst Little Miss is a pretty good student online, I need to be more creative with our son’s work and interpreted the history project on VE day as making a display for our front window. He did enjoy it and really concentrated on his pictures of the spitfires and Winston Churchill.

I shopped ..

This was a real novelty as its Mr S who does the food shopping in our house. However, with us both working long hours, shorter supermarket opening hours, one person to shop and rural living, food shopping has become increasingly difficult so we were grateful to get an online shopping spot for today. Its Tesco, and has a 80 item limit but it was kind of liberating, as we focused on what we really needed not just clicking away. We got everything we needed and the simpler approach is a good one to follow in the future.

I saw

This was one for our son this week because as we walked one afternoon, we saw 5 military helicopters fly past in formation. The new navy aircraft carrier is on exercise in the Solent and they were involved in the training. Little Man was so happy to see them, its always the simple things which bring the sparkles of life.

Have a happy week .

My week (s) …

The return to work after the holidays means life has been busy again. Its the juggle of longer work days onsite, home schooling and adhering to the government guidelines of lockdown. Life is pretty full on and thus my need to do a catch up of the past two weeks and not just one. So here are some highlights of this fortnight …

I have read

A few weeks ago I said how magazines seemed outdated in these times, with their articles on fashion, travel etc.. all those things we can’t be doing. However I have started reading The Big Issue as it is now available in shops and it is a great read in these times, with ideas of things we can do. Thanks to the magazine, I did an online tour of the Tate’s Andy Warhol exhibition and have a few book recommendations too.

I only finished one book this fortnight, although am halfway through another, and that book was Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. I loved Normal People by the same author and was a little disappointed by this novel. As in a few books recently, I just didn’t sympathise with characters.

I have watched

I’m not a big tv fan and don’t normally binge watch a box set but this week I have been obsessed by Normal People and have managed to watch the full 12 episodes (they are only 30 minutes each.) It is so good and refreshing on so many aspects, normal sex (the scene on consent is one I would love to show every teenager) real mental health issues, the anxiety about belonging, the effect of domestic violence etc.. Its a series which will stay with me for a very long time for its brilliance, the main actors are so perfectly cast and are Marianne and Connell.

I have done some ‘culture’

As I wrote above I followed a Big Issue recommendation and found the Andy Warhol presentation by the exhibition’s curator on You Tube. It was fascinating and I learnt lots about the artist and his work. I’m keen to do a few more gallery tours now, I missed the Mary Quant exhibition so this is next on my list.

On my favourite podcast With Me Now, the presenters started a conversation about post boxes. It was one of those conversations that spiked my interest and on our walk on Thursday we started to look at the different ciphers on the letter boxes. I then found a visual about the insignias and on each walk since, we’ve been looking for different post boxes. Its a great idea and has added something to our daily walks. With this week’s wet weather we’ve been on the streets rather than through the fields which could be a bit muddy.

I have made

Again, more lovely home made meals this fortnight, on my non work days we have the time to spend preparing food and we do it as a family. I’m sure when everything gets back to normal this will wane as we return to busy lives, but for now its a lovely time.

On Thursday, we made millionaires shortbread from a friend’s recipe. The idea was to make the biscuit and then Zoom her for virtual tea and cake. It worked really well and it was lovely to see our friend. I’ve never made millionaires shortbread before and it was gorgeous, the caramel was easy to make and so sweet and gooey, a new favourite. Its such a good way to stay in contact too.

I have listened

On Thursday, we were out again at 8pm to clap for the nhs and all our key workers. The town band are playing a song every Thursday at 8.05pm from their own back gardens to unite everyone, we’ve had Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Bring me Sunshine and this week, Amazing Grace. It was spine tingling. Thursday at 8pm is my favourite time of the week, we’re all outside on our paths and the sense of community is strong.

I’m writing this on Sunday night, getting ready for the week ahead, with more school projects and VE day on Friday. This was going to be a big event in our town but sadly its all cancelled. As Little Man is very interested in his history we may do some extra things and I do fancy decorating the house. Any excuse for a decoration or two!

My week

I’m trying to do the calculations of where we are in Lockdown, it started on March 23rd and as I write this on April 18th, that’s 26 days of lockdown completed. I find that for my wellbeing, I need routine and structure to my day and we have been doing things to keep us busy at home.

Read

I love the time to be able to lose myself in a good book and lockdown has been the perfect opportunity to indulge in reading. I’m lucky that I have a Kindle Paperwhite so am able to download the books I want to read digitally, as at present as all orders are taking some time to be delivered and libraries are closed.

This week I read Mixtape by Jane Sanderson. I chose the book simply on its title, I was a big fan of mixtapes as a teenager and it reminded me of a wonderful friend who used to make me such tapes. The tracks featured in this book were pure class. There were parts I really liked, the mix tape and exchange of music and the back stories of the characters, the bit I couldn’t be convinced of was the ‘magic’ relationship and how the main characters left their partners and families for each other. I never saw the passion in their early life, when the relationship was short but intense.

I have also finished One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. Its a Young Adult book which my daughter and I have been reading together. The plot is one student dies in a detention by sipping water from a contaminated glass but which of the other people in the room is the murderer? It was a great read and I couldn’t predict the ending.

Made

Following the hot cross buns on Friday, I also made a Simnel Cake for Easter from Nigella Lawson’s book, Feast. This is one of the best cakes we (it was Little Miss and I) have made, it was amazing, a perfect mix of dried fruits and spice and the marzipan middle. The decoration was fiddly but well worth the effort. Unlike hot cross buns for which I’ll be back to our local baker next year, I think this cake needs to be made every year, it is a fantastic recipe.

There is a lot of time at home during lockdown and I’ve been trying to do some creative tasks during the day. Little Man and I have made some really simple stop animation videos with his Lego figures, for which he has provided the words. He did make me laugh with his enthusiastic commentary. We have also made a family newspaper which we have sent in the post to surprise the grandparents. The children got to write (well Little Man dictated his articles) about some of their favourite things they have been doing in Lockdown and I added the photos. It was surprisingly sweet and I think we might try to do this again.

Wore

When I was little we always had a new outfit for Easter. As Easter coincides with my Father in Law’s birthday and therefore a family celebration, I try to keep this tradition up for the children. However due to Lockdown we weren’t able to go shopping for their clothes this year. I had been a bit organised earlier in the spring and had bought this skirt for my Easter outfit. I wore the skirt on Easter Sunday as I wanted to make an effort and feel a little more sparkly.

Watched

I thought I would have watched more television during lockdown but I haven’t. There’s not a huge choice of original drama and I have never been the type of person who can sit down for hours and watch tv. I’m much more a reader or I listen to music or podcasts. I’ve always been like this and I’m not sure why I thought lockdown would change my character!

Last Saturday evening, we watched Yesterday, it was a nice film with great music but it was not quite in the class of Bohemiman Rhapsody or Rocketman.

I also watched Quiz, which I loved about Major Ingram and an alleged plot to cheat Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It was fascinating on so many levels, the workings of ITV, the quiz underground community and did leave you to wonder if he was innocent? It was a great mini series and Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant was perfect casting.

My week…

Sometimes weeks are just a little quiet and ordinary. This was one of those weeks, nothing special to report just the humdrum of family life. It was World Book day this week, Little Man went as a soldier and took in his favourite non fiction book on World War 2 but it was strange with not having to find Little Miss a costume too. The difference between primary and secondary seem marked at times and it makes me a little sad.

I read

With a quiet week I spent lots of time reading. The weather was so awful on my day off it would have been rude not to cuddle up under my duvet for a cheeky read. I read two brilliant books and found it difficult to put them both down.

Running Up that Hill by Vassos Alexander is a book on ultra running. I’m never going to run an ultra marathon but I do trail run and there are great interviews with ultra athletes, of whom a fair few are women too! I enjoyed the race reports too and found myself willing on the participants. 5⭐️

The Girl you Used to Know was such a surprisingly good read. I had no idea of the book , to be perfectly honest it was a Kindle deal of the day and I liked the cover! As soon as I started to read it, I realised that whilst not explicit the main female character was autistic. I teach young people on the autistic spectrum and it was so good to see a positive storyline. It was a 5 star read until the final few chapters, a clumsy, contrived ending which wasn’t really needed. 4.5⭐️

I watched …

I started to watch the new Dawn French series, The Trouble with Maggie Cole. It is set in a small seaside town and it did make me smile with some of the comments. For example one of the characters asked if everyone knew everyone in the town with the reply being if you don’t know someone then someone else will. It’s definitely true! It’s cosy television for a weekday night, an amusing script, familiar actors and beautiful scenery.

I wore …

I love my new bag and this colour is becoming my go to colour. It’s the perfect accessory , big enough for essentials and small enough to be able to carry easily and casually.

I won …

Just one final category this week as I found out that I had won a prize in a school raffle, some very posh and delicious tubs of local artisan ice cream. It was very well received by us all!

This week I have …

It’s a quick catch up this week. I had a nagging headache at the weekend and couldn’t be near a computer screen. I was able to make a few notes so I wouldn’t have one week merge into another.

I read …

My theme for this year is Vision. The word of the year is another Gretchen Ruben idea, more of her work later. I read this book to try develop the theme but its something which probably would have best been as an article. The concept is great but the book is a little prescriptive and talks about the need for a facilitator etc.. A little bit too complicated and intense a project for me at present.

I made …

Pancakes! I enjoy Shrove Tuesday and with work and home, I make lots of pancakes. When the children were little and before they started school, we would have pancakes for breakfast. I imagine it was a leisurely and relaxed activity, however it is one of those things you start and has now developed into a family tradition, pancakes for breakfast. It’s a mad and busy start to the school day but the children get dressed quickly with the promise of pancakes and it’s fun. Mr S leaves early so missed his breakfast pancake but was our chef for more pancakes in the evening.

I played …

February was a month of storms, Ciara, Dennis and Jorge and with them falling at the weekends, we have needed indoor activities to keep us busy. Our local sports centre does a great offer on Sundays, racket sports for £1 per person and we have been playing together as a family, a combination of single and double matches. The children are at a great age when we can play together in competitive games and badminton is becoming a family favourite.

I listened

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy Gretchen. Rubin’s Happier podcasts and this week was a special treat as for the 5th anniversary of the podcast the original was broadcast alongside this week’s episode.

As I said it’s just a quick catch up this post. It was a fairly quiet and homely week. Let’s hope the weather brightens and the upcoming weeks bring more outdoor adventures.

This week I …

So this week I got wet and windswept! Not the best weather for a half term break but we adjusted our plans and ended up doing some great things we might not have necessarily done in fair weather.

We were joined this week by a lovely old friend who came to stay for a few days. She is the most special person and just exudes positivity and calm. I love having her around, it feels like she’s our family’s Mary Poppins, supporting us all. She definitely helped add a sparkle to our week.

Here are some of our highlights of the week …

I read …

Sophie Kinsella’s book Surprise Me was perfect holiday reading. I’ve enjoyed her work for many years with strong female leads resolving everyday challenges. I really liked how the lead female developed over the story and it was an empowering ending.

I listened …

I’m a huge Desert Island Discs fan and this was one of the best episodes I’ve listened to. Ian Wright’s story is different to what you expect, a personal history of loss, domestic violence, an inspirational teacher, overcoming the odds etc… It’s sad (tissues needed) but inspiring and uplifting.

I also watched the final episode of Cold Feet and they finished on a high with a brilliant song The Female of the Species by Space. In the late 90s I loved this song so much I bought the CD and played it on repeat. For those original Cold Feet fans (I was one) in the 90s, it was the first theme tune and the neat use of the song to end the series was pure class.

https://open.spotify.com/track/5beiMMlsINDI5fxRdF0D42?si=rvTnesypT2CHbtlL93DshQ

I made …

Last weekend I created a Valentines dessert for a special meal. I was trying for macarons but they ended up more like almond meringues with a white chocolate cream filling, delicious.

With a visitor I’ve also made a special effort with meals, some warming soups, a casserole and a risotto. I enjoy cooking for others and it’s a pleasure to sit around the table, to talk and laugh over good food.

As well as my efforts this week, Little Miss made some gorgeous peanut butter and chocolate brownies. When we were at a National Trust site on Wednesday we were given the recipe flyer and she was keen to give them a go, with a wet and windy afternoon it was the perfect opportunity to bake.

I played …

Thanks to a gift from our visitor we have discovered Qwirkle this week. It’s a great game of strategy with colours and shapes and strangely addictive. Again a great indoor activity for a wet half term.

I explored …

In a wet and windy week (mmm I think I’ve mentioned that a few times now) we needed to look for more indoor activities. The children have been to an indoor Wipeout inflatable session and a wet inflatable activity at the local pool. We also visited some local museums. In one we followed a lava lamp trail as the lava lamp was invented in a local town and we discovered how they work and got to chill in a lava lamp sensory area. I’m so tempted to buy one, it’s relaxing just looking at the way the wax (or globule as I learnt the technical term) moves in the lamp.

The children also visited a pottery and painted their own animal models, this was a surprisingly good activity for them both and they really focused and concentrated carefully on their task.

And finally …

It’s back to school for Little Miss and I on Monday whilst the boys have an extra day. I think a trip to the cinema is planned as we didn’t manage to get there this week. Little Man wants to see Sonic the Hedgehog and I’m happy to pass that to Mr S. It’s pancake day next week and a little eco challenge for Weds when I have to send in a packed lunch with no plastic wrapping.

Have a happy week.