My weeks … busy times

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Sparkles household and I’m very aware that the promises I made myself about life post lockdown seem to be fading. Life is very full again, with things I feel I should be doing rather than perhaps really want to. It’s a difficult balancing act and one I feel I’ve not met in the past fortnight. Things will calm in the coming weeks as the school holidays start but I think Ive got some reflecting to do before September.

In my last post, I was writing it just before the Euro final, so didn’t write about the result. I was sad that England lost the final on a penalty shootout and it was quite hard having to tell our son in the morning that England had lost. He had stayed up til extra time and then despite his strong will to continue watching it, he conceded and went to bed. When I look back on special times, I think me and him sitting together on the carpet watching the match together will become one of those memories. I was simply disappointed and sad with the result but ultimately incredibly proud of the amazing group of young men whom were representing our country. I found it so difficult to read of the racist abuse paid to some of the England players in the following days and this only worsened in preparing an assembly feature for work where I saw some of the graffiti for my research. I have faith in our young people to be the change but feel we need to recognise that racism is a significant issue in our country.

We have enjoyed a heatwave after some dodgy summer weather in these past few weeks. One of my favourite things is to sit in the cool of the evening in the garden with a good book and Matt Haig’s Comfort Book has been a prefect choice. I have watched very little television in recent weeks, although a documentary on the London Olympics was a notable exception. The summer of 2012 was amazing, highlights included watching the torch come through our town, decorating the house and enjoying lots of sport with a renewed belief of what being British looked like in contemporary times. There was a pride, unity and joy in our country, which sadly I don’t feel now. However, I will be cheering on all our athletes in the next fortnight and no doubt finding a new interest in a new sport or two.

With the good weather and growing Covid cases, we have been doing lots of outdoor activities. Last weekend, we took a picnic and did a long walk along the costal path. Fortunately, with appropriate clothing and accessories and a a sea breeze we coped with the heat. We’ve also tried football golf, although as I have a dodgy foot I was the scorer. At the site you can also do traditional putting or frisbee golf, so perhaps a few new options to try. Both children have been to the local water park in the past fortnight, Little Man with Scouts on a wet and cold evening, Little Miss with school on the dream conditions of a hot and sunny day. Both loved it and are desperate to return during the holiday. I was very proud of our daughter’s trip, she was in the top 3 house points for her year group and the trip was a reward. Initially she was hesitant to go as none of her friends were but with careful persuasion and a lot of What’s App messages on the day she went and enjoyed every minute. At this time of year, she often becomes a little wobbly so there’s lots of TLC and reassurance needed at present.

Today was my day as parkrun returned after its Covid suspension. I ran the last parkrun on March 14th 2020 and whilst we recognised it was likely to be our last for a while, I never expected to wait 16 months for the next. I was so excited today to go and Little Miss decided to join me. At first, she was tired so was just going to sit in the car as it was a bit drizzly. Then we met some neighbours so she jumped out and walked over to the start, from where she was planning to watch. I think the enthusiasm of the runners and cheers and clapping in the introduction persuaded her to run the first lap. I never put any pressure to do the full 5k and after the first lap she chose to continue and finally take off the hoodie which signified she was getting serious! After lots of lovely chats with fellow runners we completed it with PBs for us both and she was first finisher in her age group. Her mood was lifted and she was so pleased with her result, the parkrun magic strikes again. Personally i was a bit emotional at being able to parkrun again. I welled up as I passed the start line and realised it was finally happening. I was pretty patient with all the lockdowns (although the hairdressers was hard) but this was the one I needed. Typically I can’t do next week as we have a family day out at a theme park, but from then on, its no longer Saturday but parkrun day.

Whilst Little Man is not a park runner (yet) he’s had a lot of cricket in the past few weeks, finishing off the season last night with a match, which is him in his element. It was a pretty perfect setting, sitting on the club terrace in warm sunshine with a drink. Life is always about the simple moments.

Next week sees the first joint week of holidays for the children. Mr S is chief holiday planner so activities are all booked and days planned. I’m still at work for a few more days but look forward to hearing of their adventures before joining them on a much needed holiday.

My week … the one with a hotel stay

This week I had a few days holiday, we have slightly different term times, so I have a July break, return to work and then the end of our school year is at the start of August. In previous years this has led to lots of juggling childcare and work days, but with Mr S at home now, its much more relaxed and easier. This year its him whom is organising all the treats and days out. The children finish a week apart from each other and return with a similar gap so our holidays seem to stretch out over 8 weeks this year.

Its been a week of organising and little jobs. On Monday, Mr S and I followed a hike he wanted to try, it was perfect walking conditions and it was nice to be out and be with each other for a few hours with no distractions. I also caught up with a friend over an al fresco lunch later in the week, the food and company were perfect. On Tuesday, I popped over to big town to do a bit of essential shopping. I also ordered the school uniforms online this week, M&S have their 20% offer and I got the sizes I needed, later in the summer it always seems my children’s sizes are out of stock and uniform buying becomes more stressful than it needs to be. I like to be planned and organised, it helps me to enjoy my time with others.

On Thursday, Mr S and I did some serious ‘adulting’ by attending a Mencap seminar on wills and trust funds. Our son has special needs and whilst he has amazed us all with his progress we don’t know what his future holds and need to start making plans for when we die. I know this may sound totally morbid and depressing and we intend to be around for a very long time but its strangely positive. There is a lot of work to do but we now know how to start the process.

I’ve continued to watch the Euros this week and its been semi finals. I was such a nervous wreck in the England game, perched on the edge of the sofa, peering through my fingers when it got a little too stressful. I am now writing this to distract myself from tonight’s final between Italy and England. There will be more to follow …

As I’ve had time off, its always a treat to read, I finished So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter and have made a good start on The Comfort Book by Matt Haig. There’s not many books I buy in hardback upon publication, but his non fiction work is so insightful that I was keen to read it.

The highlight of our week was a trip to Longleat. We picked up the children from school on Friday and drove to Trowbridge where we had booked a night in the Premier Inn. It was a great pit stop, we were next to a plaza of restaurants , a cinema, a lovely park and a M&S food hall (perfect to buy our picnic for Sat). Our Italian dinner was taken al fresco (it was a gorgeous sunny evening and I’m more comfortable outside than in at present) and then we walked around the park and chilled before an early night. Longleat was great, its a family favourite and there is always something new to discover. On this visit, it was the new crocodile and koala enclosures which captivated us. Longleat is mainly outdoor so there were little changes to our normal trips, a few attractions were closed but there was still so much to do and see. You really noticed all the extra sanitary measures and I did feel comfortable at the park.

Next week is a busy one for the children with lots of end of year treats. However, as Covid cases rise again, I am not sure that both will make it to the end of term without being told to isolate if bubbles burst. Fingers crossed as with the school years they’ve had they deserve a special ending. Have a happy week.

My week … the one reminiscing on 1996

This week has been about the football, and hopefully next week I’ll be able to write up an event never seen in my lifetime! Its a week when I’ve been enjoying the current England team, whom are the role models we all need and thinking back to Euro 1996, 25 years ago. For me, the summer was the bridge between full time studies, I had finished my PGCE and the world of work, as I was just about to start my first teaching job in Cardiff.

This week I finished my RED month, I am pleased to have done it, but not sure if its something I would like to do regularly. Normally I run 4 times a week, 2 long runs and 2 shorter runs, totalling around 20 miles a week. This works for me and I like my routine. In doing a RED month, I missed my long runs, they give me more time to get into the tempo of the run and give me time to think, daily 5kms just didn’t give me this opportunity to reflect. My new running challenge is to run a half marathon this year, the only problem is finding a race locally which fits into an autumn of family celebrations and before I have a foot operation due mid October. If I can’t find a race I will simply measure 13 miles on my running app to have the satisfaction of doing one.

This week I read two books, the first Careless by Kirsty Capes is one which I think will haunt me for a long time. The theme of a young person in care is perhaps a little too close to my professional and personal life at present and some of the dialogue and situations are far less fiction than one could imagine. This story had a happy ending, I don’t believe all similar real life stories do, which genuinely makes me sad and angry. The second book I am reading is So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I always enjoy her books and whilst I’m about 3/4 through the book, her wit, perception of modern life and women’s roles is excellent.

My highlight this week has been watching the football, aside from the England games there have been some great Euro 2020 games. On Tuesday, it was England vs Germany. This is a game I dislike for the way it is presented in the press with jingoism and historical references. Germany are a bit of a nemesis because of recent history when we tend to lose against them in key games on penalties, but I have no time for the game to be referenced against the world wars. Apart from their ability to beat us on penalties, I like the German team for their skill and spirit in which they play. I was nervous watching the German game, its one of those when you don’t relax, knowing it can change at any moment, until the final whistle. The 2-0 score looks good but I was a bundle of nerves throughout. Fortunately, the quarter final against the Ukraine was so much more relaxed after a goal in the first few minutes and with a class and skill that the 4 – 0 final score makes it sound closer than it actually was. Our next game is Wednesday against Denmark, everyone’s second favourite team after the near death experience of one of their players on the pitch in their first game of Euro 2020. A game which put life into all perspective and thankfully one with a happy ending.

The BBC are doing a series of radio documentaries on the summer of 1996 and on my long run, I listened to the one on Euro 96. That was a fantastic summer with many happy memories. I remember being out on the Saturday night of the England Spain game and the song 3 Lions was played in every bar and several times at the nightclub we went to. Happy days and its so strange to think that those hot, sweaty bars and filled dance floors are not allowed in 2021.

One final little mention this week is to the birds which have been providing a daily show for us. Mr S picked up a peanut butter bird feed at the garden centre and the birds have gone crazy for it. We have lines of birds sitting on our fence waiting to feed from it, we had 3 jars and all are now empty. We all spent so long just looking at the birds and enjoying the spectacle.

We are now into July, for me I have an extra few days off work, perfect for enjoying the football and we have two weekends away booked for this month. This may also be the month when Covid restrictions end, which will be a strange and curious time. Infections are high but the vaccinations are working well and people are less ill with the virus, however I’m not sure how I feel about the ending of restrictions, only time will tell.

Have a happy week and lets hope we’re singing 3 Lions next Sunday.

My week … the one with the hot and sunny holiday

This week was special, the perfect mix of a holiday, superb weather and everyone in excellent humour. It was a week of more firsts following the easing of restrictions and despite my initial apprehension I was able to relax and feel comfortable whilst eating out in a restaurant, watching Peter Rabbit 2 at the cinema and being in busier places. The week made me realise how careful I have been over the past year, I did what I felt comfortable with and on reflection it was very limited, however it kept us safe and now is the time to gently return to life.

There are still restrictions on daily life, but I felt on holiday that the restrictions improved the holiday, no more queues for activities with everything being booked in advance, nice numbers of people in venues, good hygiene measures etc.. Mr S had been brilliant in organising all the children’s activities in advance, so we had lots of swimming both indoor and out (the outdoor pool was so lovely and warm) climbing, pottery, Segways, football, target shooting etc.. to enjoy during the week. One of the children’s highlights was the hour we allowed them to go to the play areas on their own and ‘hang out’ with new friends, we also gave them £1 for sweets so they could go to the shop en route. Its always the little things which become the big things.

Our holiday was one of the best we have had, this did surprise me as it felt quite a casual holiday, its not our big holiday of the year but one carried over from last year. The weather was amazing and after the cold and rain of the spring, it felt so good to be wearing shorts and tshirts everyday and simply being able to be outside in the sunshine and heat all day. Sunhats and sun cream were a must wear. I suppose that after all the months of not being able to do some of the simplest activities, for example swimming, these little things were a joy. I’ve not swam in a pool for over a year and to be able plunge into pool and swim was lovely.

We stayed near Hastings and I was really taken by the town, parts of the old town reminded me of the Lanes in Brighton and I enjoyed pottering around. We found a wonderful family run Italian restaurant for dinner one night and it was just so good to read and choose from a menu. When on holiday, I do enjoy exploring my local area on runs and the prom was the perfect route to either Hastings or Bexhill.

With the children being older and more independent, I did get to read a few books. I listened to the audiobook Snowflake by Louise, and read All on the Board by TFL, which showed some of the quotes and comments written on the information boards at Tube stations in London, a great mirror on contemporary events. I also read the very emotional (and unputdownable) account of a doctor on the frontline in the Covid pandemic, Duty of Care by Dr Dominic Pimenta.

It was great to be back at the cinema and Peter Rabbit 2 was pretty good, I felt it was better than the original. I have read a fascinating biography of Beatrix Potter and parts of her story are interwoven into the contemporary film plot which I liked.

Its now back to school on Monday, Little Man has a great week, they are unable to do a residential this year but are having some days out at local activity centres instead, so more climbing, kayaking etc.. for him this week (and the weather forecast remains good) Its back to normal for Little Miss and I but at least we have some lovely memories from our holiday to sustain us until our next little adventure.

My week … the one with a holiday, part 1.

This week is a quick entry. We’re on holiday (yep the blog title may have given it away) and I try to limit my use of digital devices so that I can distance myself from home life ( life admin, work etc..) and just focus on my little family. I’m writing on my phone as I still need this, particularly in Covid times when everything is on an app. I also have a rare 30 minutes on my own so am not using my phone in front of the children or Mr S, sometimes it’s really important to be present and holidays are an ideal opportunity.

We came on holiday on Friday so there were some highlights to my week pre holiday and then we’ve had some great times already. It’s simply a list this week

1. Catching up with friends. I was on holiday for the full week so took the opportunity to meet up in real life with friends and it just felt wonderful. I’ve missed the catch ups in cafes, although interestingly we all preferred to be outside for our drinks this week. Perhaps there are parts of our Covid life which have changed our routines and culture and also which question if we’re really ready for the no restrictions date of June 21st.

2. A Promising Young Woman. I’ve been meaning to see this film for a few months now and a wet Monday holiday afternoon was the perfect timing. It’s one of those films which haunt you once you’ve seen it, it’s a very clever film. (I also love that it’s director and writer Emerald Fennell, the great Patsy from Call the Midwife, won an Oscar)

3. Planning a holiday. I am in my element planning holidays, from activities, suitcases and menus to the holiday haircuts and all the beauty prep. This week I’ve had lots of lists and love ticking them off.

4. The boy who was raised as a dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Perhaps not the most light holiday reading but an engrossing and enlightening book on childhood trauma. This came highly recommended by a colleague and I second her recommendation.

5. Things we’ve done this week on holiday that we haven’t done since pre Covid

– Gone to a indoor venue for drinks and entertainment. It felt strange to be ordering drinks via an app and not to be allowed to dance but to just be listening to live music was brilliant. Likewise the simplicity of having a drink on a bar terrace with Mr S was lovely.

– Family swimming. Again it’s all booked in advance, and you need to come ready in your swimming costume but it’s swimming together, having fun and it felt so good. There was also a tinge of regret for the missed holidays last year, as the children seem to have literally outgrown the games we used to play with them. They’re no longer the little children of olden holidays but nearly teenagers loving the new independence that a holiday brings.

– a parkrun route. I think there’s an official title for a parkrun not done on a Saturday morning on a course, freedom run? But thanks to great signage I ran the Hastings course this morning in the most beautiful weather. It won’t be long until parkrun is back and Saturdays will have that extra sparkle.

– Pottery painting and a natter. Little Miss and I had such a fantastic morning painting our pumpkin together. There was lots of discussion about colours and ideas and then when we were working on it, the conversation just flowed. We talk all the time and bedtime is a bit of a debrief of the day, but this conversation just felt different, more grown up. I know that every Halloween when we get our pumpkin out, I’ll remember the feeling of that morning.

The holiday chat will continue next week as we’re here until Friday. The weather so far has been stunning, I’m in shorts and tshirt for the first time this year and despite my apprehension, it’s becoming a very special holiday.

My week … the one with a first date.

Firstly a plot spoiler the first date is not mine, but more on the post title later. Its been another funny old week, the weather is awful and we would really appreciate a little spring sunshine and warmth. All my lovely summer dresses are yet to be worn this year and I’ve spent most of this week cold and in the evenings cuddling up under a blanket (we’re resisting putting the heating back on) But its been a nice week family wise , a day out with Mr S, albeit for his second vaccination, a good parents evening and a nice day out today with my daughter. I’ve also been able to create some hygge in the house, my candle subscription arrived this week, this month its a beautiful coconut and lime fragrance and I bought some fresh flowers at the market stall this afternoon to add more colour and scent to the kitchen. One of the pictures above shows a rare beautiful morning as I walked to school, its a delight to walk along the beach on a sunny morning.

The beginning of the week was a bit dull and as work is quite demanding, it was very much work, family, run and/or more work and bed. My escape has been the Archers and I listen to the day’s episode before I sleep, its a strong storyline at present and I look forward to these 15 minutes daily.

On my day off, Thursday, Mr S had organised to have his second Covid vaccination. There was a problem with his original 2nd dose date so he rearranged it to the regional hub on a day when I could accompany him too in case of any immediate side effects. This meant a trip to big town, we had planned to get the vaccination, potter around the town and enjoy lunch together. The weather did change our plans, it was horrendous and when we did a recce to check entrances for the vaccination clinic, they just invited him in to have his jab a few hours early. This meant it was hours ’til lunchtime and not the weather for pottering, so we went for a coffee in the beautiful (windswept) gardens and then headed home, via PC World to look at new laptops as our home computer needs replacing. Not quite the date day we had hoped for but it was nice to spend time with each other and we did have a nice homemade lunch.

We also had our daughter’s virtual parents evening on Thursday. I love this concept and hope it stays post Covid. The online system was flawless, we saw all the teachers from the comfort of home, no stress on whose turn it is next, nor a parent overstaying their time. We thought the teachers’ reflections were honest and true, all said how bright, friendly and chatty our daughter is but that she can be distracted when its time for written work. So, focus is a little something to work on for next year. There was a lot of talk on GCSE options, our little girl is growing up very qucikly.

This brings me very nicely to the title of the post. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing a lot about a boy in chats with my daughter, and he has now become her boyfriend. So far she’s only talking to me about him at home and I’m trying my best to strike the balance of being interested and relaxed, the ‘cool’ mum. She asked if they could meet up in a neighbouring town this weekend and as we’ve plans for the next few weekends, I agreed to this. Her school has a large catchment area as it serves a mainly rural location, so the town 20 miles away is actually near enough equal distance for them both to meet up. I drove her over, but I had very strict instructions, that whilst I was allowed to walk with her to the train station where they were meeting I wasn’t allowed to come over and talk! He was there waiting for her and I waved her off to enjoy her date. The town is based on a high street, so despite having a list of things to do and genuinely not stalking them, it was inevitable I would see them at some point. When I did, they were sitting on a wall, laughing, chatting and drinking a milkshake, all very innocent and sweet. When I met her a few hours later, she was more relaxed and did introduce me to her boyfriend and we talked together. I was able to check train times for him so I think my daughter was relieved that this was useful and not embarrassing!

Whilst my daughter was on her date, I had few hours in the town. I needed to pop to a couple of shops but I’m not a big shopping fan and had planned to walk along the quay and go to the local museum. Its been so long since I went to a museum, I just wanted to look at a few paintings and interesting things. As well as the permanent exhibits there was a new exhibition on animation, so Morph was there, happy childhood memories! For me the highlight was a painting of four women at the seaside at our local beach. There was just something about the picture, that resonated. It reminded me of some friends whom are sea swimmers. Quite often as I finish my run on weekend mornings, I stop for a chat with them as they are get ready to go in for their swim. They have this quiet excitement and thrill of going into the sea (even when its freezing cold). I felt this painting reflected this feeling too, its a different era but despite the years we’re all pretty similar.

Next week is a bonus week’s holiday for me, though I have some work to do so I can relax and enjoy the second week when we are away on a caravan holiday in West Sussex. I also have plans to meet with friends, have my hair done and simply potter. Its a week I always look forward to, although I’m trying to relax my expectations, in previous years I’ve tried to do too much, sometimes its okay to have an empty diary.

Have a happy week.

My week … the cold, wet and windy one.

I feel a bit of a fraud writing about a lousy weather week when the sun is finally streaming through the window. However, it was a vile weather week and its difficult not to feel a bit fed up when the only activities we can do at present are outside and so weather dependent. I had a night out on Saturday planned and then postponed because of the rain and heavy winds, fingers crossed for our rearranged date next week. With Mr S decorating our kitchen this weekend, I had planned activities outdoors for the children and I over the weekend. Whilst Sunday was great, Saturday was so depressing and by the time we got home we were all so wet and miserable 😦 To add to frustration with the weather, our fence was destroyed by the storms on Monday night, so another job to add to the to do list.

However this post is about the sparkles of the week and there were a few highlights.

Firstly, was the finale of Line of Duty. Some reviews criticised the ending, expecting a big stand off, but I felt the ending was true to the story. The bad cop, H. was not some big evil mastermind, but just a member of the team, always in the background, lazy, seemingly a bit incompetent, uninterested in work etc.. The motive was financial not power driven and it made arguments for corruption in public office today, rather touché given current scandals in government.

I also finished Three Women this week and what a book. There are three stories in the story and each shows the impact of early life experiences on later life. I finished the book just wanting to hug the women. For me the most disturbing part is that these stories are true. I was able to look up the teacher at the centre of one of the stories online and shivered to think he is still teaching in his community. Its a harrowing book, but so worth a read.

Although Saturday was a wash out, the children and I went to our local monkey sanctuary on Sunday and had a fabulous day out. The animals were so engaging and animated and we spent a lot of time just looking and reacting to them. There are also some great play areas so we were kept busy for the whole day. Strangely we needed to wear masks throughout the park as monkeys can contract Covid too. It was so good to have a nearly normal day out.

I am so pleased with my newly decorated kitchen, I have always loved my kitchen it is my favourite room in my house. Our cupboards are a beautiful pale sage green colour and previously we had apricot coloured walls, however this weekend, we changed to a lilac paint and it looks amazing. I’m hoping to purchase a few new accessories to complement the changed colour scheme.

And finally, I’m hoping this week will be sunnier to give us a chance to do a few more things. Its our last week until further restrictions are relaxed and the future is beginning to look a little more ‘normal’ It is strange to feel that we are slowly coming out of this pandemic. I’m genuinely not sure how I’m feeling but looking forward to lots with a little apprehension.

My week … the one with a return to the 90s and a Covid scare

As I write this its Bank Holiday Sunday and the countdown to the Line of Duty finale is on. I’m writing this as a distraction, all week I’ve been following #lineofdutyfinale tweets full of memes and theories and I can’t wait until 9pm to find out the conclusion of the police series. As well as the anticipation of the finale, its been a nice day. We had an impromptu barbecue at lunchtime as it was sunny and we had the time. It was lovely to all be in the garden and having a lazy, relaxed lunch. We then went on a walk and found that the new woodland trail had opened (its been taped off for a few weeks) so lots of fun was had by all.

This week was a little strange, unusually I didn’t have a day off as I had lots to fit in both work and personally, so I had shorter working days but was in for all five. This did throw me a bit and the type of work I was doing was different too. I also had steroid injection so this makes me feel a bit wobbly and then to add to all the confusion we had a call that Little Miss’ Covid bubble had burst at school and that she needed to self isolate for 10 days from Thursday. Practically, with Mr S at home this was fine but there was the emotional fallout of being housebound for the time and then that I had to postpone Little Man’s outdoors playdate. Whilst this would have been within the rules, morally I thought it wrong. They were friends from his old school and if our daughter and as a consequence our son unknowingly had Covid and passed it onto a different group of people I would have felt dreadful. I was extremely relieved (but not overly surprised) that the PCR test on Friday came from as negative and plans were all back on again. I had looked at the data on Thursday and the rate is so low now in our county, that the positive case did seem an anomaly.

On Saturday, I supervised Little Man and his friends on the much anticipated (cancelled and rearranged) play date. My son’s post lockdown wish was to invite these two friends round to our house and to play Lego with them. Whilst we can’t do this yet, he was happy with a trip to the park to play as an alternative. It was an easy play date to supervise, I looked after the drinks, snacks, jumpers, scooters, helmets etc.. and got to read lots of Three Women. What a book, I cannot believe it is a non fiction title (I wish it wasn’t) I will write a full review when I have finished but I think it is going to be one of those unforgettable books which you share with all your friends so you can talk about it.

Three Women wasn’t my only read this week as I borrowed from school an easy read Shakespeare version of the Tempest, my daughter’s latest set text. I needed a quick read as I didn’t have had the headspace to read it properly. I did A level English Lit but the Tempest wasn’t either on this course or my English GCSE. I have to admit I prefer the tragedies rather than the more lighter plays, but at least I can help my daughter with her work now.

On our shopping trip last week, I bought a pair of combat trousers in a camo print. They are so comfy and a great alternative to jeans which I find a bit heavy in the nicer weather. I did feel a bit like a member of a 90s girl band wearing them and a black vest, however given my age this was layered under a t-shirt. My daughter really liked the look and I got a rare nod of fashion approval!

This week I’m hoping for a quieter, less frantic week, I like my routine and order. Have a good week.

My week the on when I went to the shops and salon

Although restrictions lifted on April 12th, with being away and then getting ready for the new term, we didn’t do many of the new allowed activities. However this week with our routines back in place, it was time to reintroduce the ‘normal’ back into our daily lives. For me this has meant a trip to the nail bar, a hair appointment and a return to my ‘natural!’ colour and a potter around shops. All are still done under the Covid restrictions, so lots of mask wearing, hand washing and space, but it did feel good to be doing something fun and frivolous in life. For the children, Little Man returned to Real Life Scouts (as opposed to Zoom), swimming and football training and Little Miss got to go shopping with a friend.

The week started with a great night of tv viewing, I don’t watch much tv but Call the Midwife and then Line of Duty is quality Sunday night viewing. I love the late night messaging between friends discussing the plot of Line of Duty, although the twists and turns make it difficult to sleep! I even listened to a Line of Duty podcast on my walk to work on Monday trying to get hints of what is to come.

With the exception of Sunday night, I’ve been reading a lot this week. I was up to the early hours of Tuesday morning finishing off Mhairi McFarlane’s If I Never Met You. I had put my Kindle down around 11pm but after tossing and turning I simply couldn’t sleep knowing the book was just sat there next to me waiting to be finished. It was a perfect chick lit read, with some decent characters whom you really rooted for. I’ve also nearly finished Catlin Moran’s How to be a Woman. I’m a huge fan and the essays are a mix of humour, heartbreak and the ordinariness of our lives in a charming way.

On Saturday, I took Little Miss to the ‘big’ town to meet a friend and do some shopping. Both children asked for the most simple things when lockdown ended, Little Miss was to go shopping with friends and Little Man to have two friends around to play (still waiting to be allowed to do this one, as they want to be inside for Lego) When I took Little Miss over to big town, I stayed to potter around the shops. I got to spend time browsing in a bookshop and finally spent my Christmas book tokens. There is just something lovely about being in a bookshop, its the smell, the displays, the anticipation of a new story. I got a couple of books which have been on my to read list and am looking forward to starting them soon. It was a strange experience shopping, apart from Primark, it was surprisingly quiet in the shops, although lots of people were milling outside, whether just walking or having a drink or meal. When you are wearing mask, have to maintain a social distance and can’t try on items, it does take away some of the fun of shopping. Stock was limited and it did make me think that online shopping for the big stores is easier and more efficient. However on Thursday I did a little bit of shopping in our home town, which was such a nicer experience and I will always try to buy locally first.

As the weather has improved this week, I’ve been wearing more spring like clothes and love my new blue and white linen maxi skirt. White is a brave colour for me to wear, I’m mucky, but with a blue top its becoming my favourite go to outfit.

Finally this week, I received the first of a 3 month subscription to Iggy Candles, fulfilling my #21for 2021 to burn more candles. The candle has the most beautiful smell, peony and blush suede and if every candle is as good as this one, I will definitely be extending the subscription. Its a simple sensory pleasure to watch a candle burn.

There are no big plans next week, just a week back to the new normal. Have a good week.

My week … the one with a holiday.

This feels a bit like a school writing project, what I did on my holiday but its so lovely to be able to write a post about a holiday. The government Covid restrictions eased on Monday which meant that we were allowed to stay away from home in England if in self catering accommodation and in our household bubble. At present no hotels or bed and breakfasts are allowed to open. Mr S had been able to book a property for 4 nights as soon as the road map was published, which we could use as a base to visit our parents and to give us a few days to simply do something a bit different than the stay at home message we’ve had for most of the past year.

We stayed in a small hamlet near Wells in Somerset. Our accommodation was beautiful, it was on an old farm building, the milking parlour, which had been renovated to such a high standard. It was the best self catering accommodation I have stayed in, full of everything you might need and more and in immaculate condition. The wood burner feature in the lounge was stunning, but with such good weather we never needed to use it. The ceilings were so high and the beams gave a very cosy feeling. The property also had an adjoining games room, where we enjoyed table tennis and table football in the evenings. The children loved the large trampoline in what wasn’t really a garden but a meadow and they had lots of room to roam and run safely. In addition to the meadow, we had a patio where we managed our first barbecue of the year, toasting marshmallows over a barbecue is always going to be a fun thing to do.

When we arrived we went straight to Wells as we had a food collection organised. We had the time to walk around Wells and it was such a beautiful city. We stopped at a café in the square and it all felt very relaxed and open with the tables laid out across the plaza. The square was full of people meeting up and there was such a lovely atmosphere and buzz on the first day of shops and outdoor cafes, restaurants and pubs reopening. There are some unexpected effects of the government guidelines and this shift to outdoor living is nice (but yes, you need the good weather) I am still to work out the correct clothing for this new outdoor life, in the good weather we’ve had you want to be wearing spring colours and styles but also need the warmth of winter layers.

One of my favourite activities of our holiday was hiring bikes in Cheddar and cycling the old railway line, the Strawberry Line. I was impressed by the children as some parts were on road (through the picture perfect village of Axbridge) and they coped really well and safely. We did around 12 miles in total and it was a beautiful way to explore the countryside and enjoy a gorgeous, blue sky day before returning home with freshly locally grown strawberries.

We met up with my parents at Cheddar reservoir and walked its perimeter, I am discovering with outdoor meet ups that by walking and talking, everyone feels a little warmer than simply sitting with a flask of tea. We walked the reservoir and then did stop for a little cake and cup of tea. By walking people get individual time with each other and its nice to share conversations after that you didn’t hear at the time. Unfortunately, by the time our visit ended I was feeling really, really rough, I knew I had a migraine coming on and despite the painkillers I couldn’t shake it off and then ended up in bed for the next 24 hours, with excruciating pain and vomiting, not the best day of my holiday. On the day I stayed in the cottage, Mr S and the children continued with their booked trip to Wild, a wildlife park near Bristol and enjoyed seeing all the animals. I do like giraffes so my daughter did send me a photo of one so I didn’t miss out.

Fortunately, by the final day, I was feeling a lot better and after packing up we drove through to my Father in law’s garden for a picnic lunch and a quick trip to the park for the children. He has shielded for the best part of the year and lives alone so it was so good to see him looking so well and relaxed. He has had his double vaccination now and is beginning to venture out a little more with friends. Our visit was the day before his birthday and it did feel that we were able to celebrate this year. It was a different celebration to our previous big family get togethers but at least he had family with him this year, as last year’s birthday had been hard for us all.

Its surprising how refreshed you can feel with just a few days away from home, doing something different. it was the first time the children have stayed in a rural self catering accommodation, they’re used to resorts and holiday parks, but seemed to enjoy the ability to just run around and play. Our next holiday is back to a resort with pools and activities but I think this break was just right for the restrictions we are under.