My week … the one with fireworks

There always seems to be a flurry of special events this week, we have had my mum and Mr S’ birthdays, Halloween and Guy Fawkes. My organisation skills have been pretty mint to ensure all the plans were in order. The birthdays were quiet celebrations. My mum is in Spain so it was a Facetime call and a satisfaction that the early posting of her cards ensured she had some to open on her birthday. My family’s organisational skills don’t match mine, and although I am teased, I like how I work. Mr S’ birthday was a quiet weekday night in with his favourite tea and his traditional birthday cake, Christmas cake. My new workplace is less than a mile from a M&S food hall, so our special treats are all so much more accessible now. I still can’t get over the accessibility I have to shops and services working in a big town. There is a drive thru Starbucks minutes from school and this has blown my mind!

Halloween was a strange non-event this year, the boys were away at football training for most of the evening and the weather was so horrendous, that no one came trick or treating. I didn’t even dress the house properly for Halloween, I simply didn’t have time with our busy half term and trip away. I think sometimes it’s okay to take a pause, although whilst we didn’t celebrate at home, I did do spooky science at work and some of my students did dress up.

As Mr S’ birthday is very close to Bonfire night, we have always tended to use this celebration for Mr S’ treat. We were toying with a number of options and finally went for Friday night at the rugby club in the neighbouring town (our town has no organised event because we have lots of summer displays being a holiday town) The rugby club turned out to be an excellent choice as the weather was perfect and the following night, the weather cancelled a number of the displays we had been considering. Again, we needed to sort the logistics and my daughter and I didn’t go home after school and just met the boys in the pub for a few drinks before the display. Is there any better way to spend an early Friday evening than in a warm and cosy pub, anticipating the weekend ahead? The evening was lovely, a mild but bright night, with delicious food from local businesses (pizzas and pancakes) a little funfair, live entertainment, an Elvis impersonator and of course a stunning display, a wonderful evening.

Despite the late night, we were up early for parkrun on Saturday, but unusually as volunteers and not runners. My knee is playing up so I went to help my daughter who is volunteering as part of her DofE award. It was wild, wet and windy and we were the timekeepers on an exposed spot, but it was strangely life affirming, so friendly and good to be out and refreshed! It also felt totally justified to have a cosy rest of the day at home.

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My week … the half term edition

Half term was fun, busy and the tonic required after a busy autumn term (so far) It was a mix of time at home, trips out and a little stay away.

Without wishing to make this entry sound like a what I did on holiday piece of homework, it does make more sense to detail the week in order! On Monday, we started the week with a trip to the Haynes car museum in Yeovil, for my car crazy son. We had been when he was much younger but this time, he was the perfect age to really appreciate the cars and exhibits. It is a fantastic, interactive museum, a real labour of love, with lots of really friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, keen to share their expertise and the enthusiasm of visitors. My son really was bursting with happiness when one of the volunteers offered for him to sit in his all-time favourite car, the Lamborghini. The museum is halfway between our home and my parents, so my dad came to spend the day with us too which was lovely, as we hadn’t seen each other since the summer. Despite it being half term, my son still had his football training in the county town on our way home from the museum, so I got to see him which was a treat for me as I can’t normally go. It was a quieter session but great to see him on the field and enjoying his football. It was a dream day for him, cars and football his twin passions.

After a busy Monday, I had planned a lazy day at home on Tuesday. My children were keen to make a gingerbread haunted house, and it became pretty much a whole day activity, baking the gingerbread in the morning, ‘gluing’ it together after lunch and finally decorating it in the afternoon. It was a brilliant activity, and the result was impressive. I liked how well the children worked together on it, and although I was in the kitchen it was very much their work and ideas. Tuesday became a bit of a kitchen day, with a delicious homemade red pepper and tomato soup for lunch and a double cheese tart for dinner, all made from scratch. My kitchen is my sanctuary and a day spent in my kitchen is a very well spent day.

Wednesday morning was heavy rain and strong winds, not the best conditions for my son’s football camp. However, after the first hour the conditions rapidly improved and he enjoyed the session run by the local football league team. We all went over to the ‘big’ town, but we escaped to the local shopping centre for a warm drink and to collect a few bits and pieces whilst he trained. The camp was only for the morning and we had a picnic in the park before we returned home to pack for our days away.

I was a bit worried about our trip away. It was postponed from our original date, as we all had Covid in July, and whilst we were able to rearrange the hotel and tickets, the trip had to be taken by the end of October. I was concerned about the weather and had visions of us all trudging around a wet and windy Longleat not having a lot of fun. However, we struck gold with the weather, on the day we visited Longleat, it was warm and bright and all that was needed was a long-sleeved top for the later afternoon. The blue skies in the pictures above illustrate what a beautiful day it was. We are familiar with Longleat so had planned our day accordingly. We started on the boat as it can be busy later and walked straight on to enjoy the little cruise and of course, to feed the sea lions. We then did the maze as this can be busy too, before heading off to the safari park. The park is getting ready for the light festival, and it was a bonus to see the display on the park. This year’s theme is Roald Dahl books and it is STUNNING. Although the purpose of our trip was to visit Longleat, we also enjoyed a little meander around Trowbridge where we were staying, a trip to see the film Black Adam (sadly not my type of film but the children enjoyed it lots) and a very nice meal out. We were also able to go and visit my father-in-law on Saturday before returning home, so a very successful trip.

We returned home late Saturday, just in time for the Strictly Halloween special and then had a lazy Sunday ready for the new half term. It really was a good half term, one where I felt refreshed and relaxed and looking forward to the Christmas countdown.

My week … the one with the end of a half term

So in my first half term in my new school, we have already had two Prime Ministers and are now awaiting our third. With two monarchs and two PMs, my classroom display has been more regularly updated than anticipated. I don’t actually think I can describe the farcical political situation this week, so much happened and Wednesday was genuinely so mental that the PM’s resignation was inevitable on Thursday. However even when we thought it couldn’t get any more diabolical, it appears that Boris may be running for PM again. As a politics graduate, part of me is loving this daily political feed, the intrigue and theatre and then I realise this is our government and our country and then it doesn’t feel so amusing. I dread the coming days and can only hope that we get a PM who can bring stability, security and gravity to the position.

We have needed light relief from the politics, and we have a new favourite streamed series, Welcome to Wrexham, which is on Disney. It is an unlikely true story, the takeover of the national league club by two Hollywood stars but is fascinating. As someone who has always supported teams in the lower leagues, it’s great to see the real life of a club, its players, supporter etc.. I think anyone who watches it, will become a Wrexham fan, it’s a great little series.

We continued our days out with a trip across the ferry and a sunny walk along some of the beautiful beaches which make up the coastal path. It is a great route for house spotting, with some of the most expensive and architecturally interesting properties situated on this beach. We went for the walk after parkrun rather than today as the weather forecast was awful (and proven to be correct with some amazing thunder and lightning today) After yesterday’s impressive number of steps, we have enjoyed a quiet, sorting day at home today. I love when the bad weather allows you to be cosy inside.

I am very much looking forward to this, my half term week and it’s the time when I turn my attention to proper Christmas planning. I use my holidays to plan and organise and always feel so much better for it. For example, this week it was my old school friend’s 50th birthday, the first of our year group and I was so relieved to have bought a lovely present in the summer which I sent off last week with the minimum of fuss. Being organised makes me so feel so much more relaxed and able to enjoy the now.

Our half term week starts tomorrow with a trip to Haynes Motor museum where we are meeting my dad (my mum is currently in Spain to develop her language skills) On Tuesday we have a home day and are baking a Halloween gingerbread house and carving our pumpkins, before a football camp and then our rearranged Longleat trip. I’m hoping this is a good mix of home and special trips to relax and rejuvenate us all.

My week … the one with an enchanting garden

This half term, we have made a real effort to have a family day each weekend and spend time with each other with no distraction. We have done lots of our family favourites in the past few weeks, so this weekend, we decided to explore somewhere new. It was a garden / sculpture park that we’ve read about many times and considered it, but never quite got there. However, we went this weekend and what an unexpected delight, we all loved it. There were lots of different themed areas and the views were stunning. The children loved the tropical plants and the different of textures and colours of the bark. There was also a fun rope bridge to cross the water. I really appreciated the sculptures and water features and simply breathing in the smells of all the different plants. It was an awe-inspiring visit, and we all want to return in a different season to see how it looks with different colours and flowers, it is a very special place.

Our weekend days out have helped to give the week a focus as I still am acclimatising to my new school and working full time for the first time in twelve years. The family day gives something to hook the week on and spend quality time together. All our days out this half term have been to outdoor venues, its been a mild and beautiful autumn and we’re keen to be outside whilst we can.

This week we finished the miniseries, This England about the first few months of the pandemic. Whilst I acknowledge it is a series and subject to dramatization for effect, it was also supported by factual information from the time and made uncomfortable watching on the conduct of ministers and ‘special advisers.’ Given the political chaos at present in the UK, it feels that our political system is an anachronism in modern society. Our current PM was voted in by Tory party members (81,000) rather than the general electorate (47 000 000) and was not even the first choice of the Conservative MPs. The only positive from the current state of affairs is that topical news comedies are very humorous. I am reading the third book in the Rotter Club series by Jonathon Coe, Middle England and there is a strong political theme in this book too, some of the writing is so pertinent to current events, it is quite spooky.

Next week is the final before half term, so I am busy finalising plans for our holiday week with a few treats, some lazy days at home and the Covid rearranged break to Longleat. I like to plan as I feel it makes the most of the break.

My week … the one with autumn colours.

With busy weekdays, the weekends are special. A time to relax, do something nice, be with my family and catch up on little jobs. It’s surprising how rejuvenating a busy weekend can be if its the right things you are doing.

This weekend saw me catch up on some health checks, an eye test and my flu jab. In an impressive feat of organisation, I had both done in the same building and neatly went from one to the other. This was done in a neighbouring town, so my daughter tagged along and after my jobs we had a nice time picking up a few essentials and spending some birthday gift vouchers. There was of course the trip to a coffee shop for seasonal delights. We returned mid afternoon, just in time to watch the football scores and read the paper, with the sunshine streaming through the window. Having had a beautiful early morning run and then finishing with Strictly Come Dancing in the evening, it was a pretty perfect Saturday.

Each weekend, we do try to have one family day with a trip out somewhere. This weekend courtesy of a National Trust offer we enjoyed a complimentary day out at Kingston Lacy, its not our local NT property but we thought we would peruse the house and then take a walk in the grounds. It’s such a large property that the woodland walk which is only part of the estate is 5k. The house was interesting and a decent size which kept the children’s interest and curiosity for the tour. There were some really lovely volunteers who really made the house and it’s history come alive. We then walked around the different gardens, the Japanese garden and the kitchen garden were delightful, before doing the 5k woodland walk prior to our picnic lunch. The colours in the woods were just stunning and with the bright blue skies it was a kaleidoscope of colour. It was one of those days in which nature invigorates, inspires and relaxes you.

My week … the one with a new car

In thinking about my week, it all seemed rather routine and monotonous. However, despite the similarities of the days, I am really enjoying my new job, it’s fun hence the photo above of leaf animals part of our Forest School work. Sometimes routine is comforting and inspiring.

As a result of my new job and work that I knew would be needed on my car this winter, I decided to upgrade it. My old car was a basic little run-around (and much loved!) perfect when my commute to work was 1 mile. However, it is not so good for a 35-minute commute, which in winter will be more challenging along country roads. I also only had a FM car radio and wanted to be able to listen to DAB radio and podcasts on my commute. I really don’t like buying cars, I’ve had a couple of poor experiences in the past, so Mr S offered to do this for me. I simply gave him the make and model and he did the rest, totally stress free for me. He’s brilliant at negotiating a deal and succeeded again. I actually never saw my new car until it had been paid for and delivered and the first time I drove it was on a night out with friends on Friday. This did leave to a rather amusing midnight problem as we tried to work out the child locks. I am delighted with the car it ticked all the boxes at a decent price and mileage. I can’t get over all the mod cons, it’s made driving very exciting!

My running is not really back into its routine yet, but I have still being going out at weekends. Last Sunday it was a beautiful morning and when I ran by the new statue in town, I paused a few minutes to appreciate its beauty. This statue commemorates a local hero, Trevor Chadwick who was a teacher and also lived on site at the school in which I used to work. In 1939, he helped to rescue nearly 700 children from Prague, a story that was hidden for decades and has only recently been shared. As a result the community not only raised the funds for this statue but also the children’s playground it overlooks, was renovated and renamed in his honour. It seems so fitting that he overlooks the children’s playground and out to sea and it is a special place to pause and reflect.

Today, I’ve not run a parkrun, my knee feels a bit sore but my son and I went up to our local parkrun to volunteer. We were there early to set up the course and then later drove into the next town to do a few jobs and treated ourselves to a rather, lovely little lunch. Life may be routine but there is always joy in such moments.

My week .. the one with the Queen’s funeral

The national period of mourning ended on Monday with the Queen’s funeral, which was a bank holiday. Its hard to describe the atmosphere of the past ten days, its been a period of reflection but also when we have lived the ceremonies and traditions previously only read of in history books. It has been incredibly British and one of the most interesting aspects was ‘The Queue’ in which people queued to pay respects to the Queen in the lying in state. At times the queue was more than 5 miles, and it appears there was a sense of community and togetherness among the participants.

On Monday, I did watch some of the key moments of the day ( a royal funeral is a long day … )The military procession was impeccably presented and the crown and orb on the coffin with the family flowers was the moment which moved me the most, along with seeing the Queen’s corgis and pony outside Windsor castle. Everything was beautifully presented and a tribute to the Queen. There are many discussions about the monarchy, but the Queen was special and I feel the country gave her the dignity and respect she deserved.

With the long weekend, we had the opportunity to do something a bit different. The boys went to see Grandad in Bristol and my daughter and I travelled for some parkrun tourism. We then pottered around the town before returning en route to a local vaccination centre so I could have my Covid booster. The children I teach are so very medically vulnerable that I need to do everything I can to protect them. I did feel a little rough on Sunday, post vaccination so a perfect excuse for a lazy day at home.

Despite it only being a 4 day working week, it was busy but I feel like I’m getting in to the swing of my new role and everything is slowly falling into place. I even managed to leave early on Friday afternoon and made it home by 4.30. My life is wrapped up in my new job at present, so each evening is curled up on the sofa, normally with an open laptop watching the Bake Off or a similar cosy programme. Life will get into a new rhythm soon but for now, its about being in the moment.

My week … the one with a holiday, part 2

This week, we have been at Church Farm in Pagham, for the second week of our summer holiday. We came here at May half term so it felt very comfortable and familiar to be returning this summer. Its a site we really like and this week our caravan was stunning, brand new with all the best spec, whilst also feeling very warm and homely.

We continued with the normal holiday activities, lots of swimming, both indoor and out, target shooting, pottery, walks, bingo (!) early morning runs etc.. The weather, bar one day was very good and there were lots of mornings sitting around the outdoor pool dipping in and out, drying out on the sunbed and reading a good book. I had a very high book count this holiday, averaging I think one every couple of days. Of course, there was parkrun tourism on Saturday, with a visit to the Bognor course, an enjoyable lap course through a lovely park. We had also been to Bognor one afternoon to play crazy golf, my son’s and my little challenge. It was a really fun and traditional course and he won, meaning he now leads the grand crazy golf competition, 5 – 3.

After the May holiday and our first visit to Chichester, we had planned a return visit for a girls’ shopping trip. We did this on the Thursday which started as a really wet day, a morning when you are awoken by the mesmerising sound of rain on the caravan roof. The children had been booked in to the local water park in the morning, so as they were in wet suits, the rain didn’t really affect our plans. Fortunately, during the morning it stopped so that by the time we started shopping the sun was out again. We had a lovely little mooch around Chichester but bought very little, only a pair of school shoes (oh the stress) The shops still had a lot of summer stock and we were both looking for more autumnal clothes. We had promised ourselves a special lunch so enjoyed tapas and a girlie chat, life’s simple pleasures.

The holiday was two happy weeks of family time. It has been a strange year and a very stressful and busy end to my job at the start of August, so it was nice to be away and family focused before my new job started. One of the big advantages of my new job is that my holidays now match exactly to those of the children (previously 3 weeks of the 13 were not the same) and I am so excited for the full 6 weeks holiday in 2023, the summer of my 50th!

My week … the one with a holiday, part 1

This is a much anticipated and welcome holiday after a few really tough months. I’m so looking forward to simply pausing the merry go round and enjoying the simple pleasures of a holiday, an early morning run, swimming, reading, playing and resting.

This year we have done a two centre holiday with a week each at caravan parks in Hastings and Pagham. The holiday was preceded by a trip to Paultons Park, as we had a hotel booking postponed originally from 2020, then again from last year and finally we got to use it. As Paultons Park was en route to Hastings it was a good stopover. We had a wonderful, sweltering day at Paultons Park, one of our family’s favourite places, followed by a well planned pub Roast in the evening and a night in the hotel. This did make the journey much easier and quicker the next day and we were settled and in the pool by 2pm. This has been a holiday where we’ve all had the time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures. We planned a few meals out in Hastings, one to celebrate our 12th famiversary and the other to a pizzeria we had previously visited for which my son awarded it the best pizza in the world accolade. Fortunately his opinion hadn’t changed and it was a delicious, authentic Italian menu for us all.

We visited Hastings on a few occasions. We saw Super Pets at the cinema, which was much better than anticipated and pottered along the prom in the evenings. I also got the chance to do the Hastings parkrun, I do like a bit of parkrun tourism and a flat out and back along the prom was a great route. We also went to Bexhill, which was a charming seaside town. We had just got ourselves settled in a lovely little cafe when the first rain we have seen in months fell, it was biblical in its proportion. Yet, after half an hour or so it stopped and we carried along on our visit. In both Hastings and Bexhill we’ve been doing the duck hunt and I think we finished with 15. I love these trails in the summer which add a little interest to walks.

We do like the caravan park in Hastings and there was plenty for the children to do, swimming, kayaking, pottery painting, inflatables etc.. Our son lives for his football and always managed to find a game to join in with. Our daughter managed to find some friends too and a little holiday romance to brighten up her holiday.

So that was week 1 and a bit done and now off to Pagham for our next week of family fun .

My weeks … the ones with an ending

Mr S accident and subsequent shoulder injury have led to a less relaxed summer holiday than expected. I finished work midweek but up ’til then its been a juggle of work, driving and trying to tidy up figuratively and literally, from my current job. I’ve been there for 18 years , so there was a lot of finishing up to be done in the past few weeks. I was determined to leave for good on Wednesday, when I broke up for the holidays, even though my contract ends officially at the end of the month. It was satisfying after a hectic few weeks to hand over my laptop, iPad and keys as I left. It was an amazing place to work and I met some of my closest friends at the school, but its a very different place now and it is the time to move on. As a special treat, I arranged for Krispy Kreme doughnuts to be delivered to all our pupils and my Education team. They were amazing and very well received.

Last week the stress of life did get to me and I was very poorly with some type of stomach migraine. Unfortunately it was also on a very full on day and I had to continue as normal. So it was a drive to drop my son off at his holiday camp, drive on to my new school to collect a laptop, then on to meet my dad who we met half way as my daughter was going to stay with my parents for a few days and back to pick up my son at the end of the camp. I was so poorly, lots of sick stops, that I had to cancel lunch with my dad and daughter and went to a Tesco car park and slept for 90 minutes until I felt well enough to drive. After a good night’s sleep and some tablets, I actually did feel well enough to go into work the next day, albeit a little later than normal.

After meeting up with my dad on Tuesday, I drove to my parents to collect my daughter on Friday. They had a lovely time and had visited the Van Gogh exhibition which we had been booked in for the weekend we were due to visit but had to cancel due to Covid. That couple of hours driving on my own listening to my playlist on a sunny journey was blissful. I had a lovely home made tea and then we headed to Weston Super Mare town centre to have a drink and listen to some of the live music featuring in the weekend’s music festival. We went to a games bar and enjoyed a game of Yahtzee. It was very early start on Saturday morning, sadly no chance of parkrun tourism, to meet up with our boys and get them over to the stadium for the first game of the football season. We dropped them off and then my daughter and I headed off to the local town for a delicious al fresco lunch, avocado smash for me, halloumi and chill jam baguette for Little Miss before walking down to the beach. I was planning a lazy afternoon on the beach but my daughter was keen to walk between the two piers. I wished she had shared this before I chose to wear flip flops! The beach was full and there was such a lovely, happy atmosphere. It was hot, and we stopped for a few drinks and an ice cream. The boys’ team won so happy people all around and then to finish the day, we watched the fireworks from our garden. As it was carnival week, we have enjoyed 3 stunning displays in the past week.

This week was very work focused although I took Monday afternoon off to take Mr S to the hospital for a CT scan. I had asked for a very quiet send off and genuinely meant it, so I was pleased to say goodbye to my department before the start of the final day and just focus on my work. We had a beautiful leavers assembly for our students, there was such love filling the room that I felt very proud and humbled.

As soon as I finished work, it was time to get ready for the holidays. We leave tomorrow with a day at a theme park and night in a hotel before travelling to week one in Hastings. We are all ready now and I’m just looking forward to the rest and special family times. I did manage a parkrun today, but it was so hot on such a challenging course that I felt a bit queasy at the end. After a cool shower, nice lunch and lots to drink I’m ready for an early night and holidays tomorrow!