My week .. the one with Mothers day.

I am late in writing this post up so it is an update on the past fortnight, rather than one week. To be honest each week seems pretty similar these days and there’s not a great deal to write about. I didn’t write last weekend as I felt a bit rough, I’ve never really been affected by hormones but as I’m getting older I do have a few days each month of bad headaches, irritability and just that bleugh feeling.

I also just couldn’t express my words for what was happening last week. As many commentators noted in a week which started with International Women’s day and ended with Mothers day, the kidnap and murder of a young woman in London allegedly by a police officer and the aggressive policing of a vigil in a park, many of us were questioning again how women are treated in a society. It was all so depressingly familiar, for this generation Sarah Everard will be what Suzy Lamplugh was to mine, women quietly getting on with their lives and killed randomly. Suzy Lamplugh’s family and friends started a charity in her name and I do remember all female undergraduates at my uni being given a rape alarm by the charity for our safety and knowing how to carry keys in a hand to be used as a weapon if attacked. This ‘normal’ 30 years ago is still the ‘normal’ now although the rape alarm has been replaced by technology in mobile phones. Its a situation which makes me sad and then so angry, everybody should be able to walk down a street at any time of the day without fear.

We started the Covid home testing this week for my son and I, my daughter has 3 tests at school and will then bring her kit home too. Its just a little too surreal to even comprehend, twice weekly tests being reported to a government website, you simply couldn’t imagine that this is where would be this time last year. I’ve lost count of the tests I have done now, they have become part of my routine and its a relief they’re only twice a week now as for a period I was doing them everyday at work. They don’t get any more comfortable or easy, sticking a swab down your throat and up your nose is never pleasant, but key to keeping everyone safe.

Life has been so quiet, that its back to writing about running. I have a new pair of trainers! They are very bright but as I explained to Mr S, no one ever really looks at my feet and at half the price of a more neutral colour of exactly the same model, I would be crazy to pay silly money for a different colour. I do own more trainers than proper shoes now. At the beginning of the fortnight, I passed the 200 mile marker of my Lands End to John O’Groats challenge and the postcard was of Blaise Castle in Bristol. It actually brought back some wonderful memories, its somewhere we often take the children when visiting family as its got one of the best children’s play park. I also attended a friend’s wedding reception at the castle. It coincided with the Bristol Air Balloon Fiesta and it was so beautiful to be in the castle gardens and watch the balloons fly past, just one of those magical moments in life. It is surprisingly fun to track yourself on the route of this challenge and remind yourself of places you’ve been and memories you have. So far I’ve been reminded of family holidays in Cornwall, a weekend away with friends in Devon and thinking of other friends as I pass the towns where they now live.

I have been watching a new series on television, Bloodlands. It is your typical gritty police drama and as it was written by Jed Mercutio of In The Line of Duty fame, I had high hopes. It was a bit of a slow starter but by the end of episode 2, I was hooked by the twist and I’m still indignant by the end, so unexpected and sick. Line of Duty starts this weekend and I can’t wait to get gripped by it all again.

Last Sunday was Mothers day and we had a lovely, simple day. My flowers were delivered to me on my day off, so had blossomed beautifully for Sunday. I had lovely cards, although it always me makes me smile that my son signs every card with his first name and surname initial. He has a very popular name and despite always having been in a class with less than 14 children, there is always at least another with the same name. It was a very quiet day, the normal Sunday routine with a walk in the morning to a local landmark and chilling in the afternoon. I got exactly what I wanted, special time with my family.

As I started at the beginning, there is a lot of monotony in life so that’s all for the time beginning, I am busy working on another post about the past year. Its strange trying to piece the bits together, life is different to what it was last year and for us has changed permanently in ways I wouldn’t have predicted. I look forward to writing it up.

My week … the one with World Book Day

Another lockdown week and another week closer to nearly a year under restrictions. I think this coming anniversary is leading to a lot of reflection on how life was just before lockdown, the time when we could still do the little things. There is anticipation and anxiety about the coming months as we all look forward but worry that our hopes could be dashed again. Positively, Mr S had his Covid vaccine this week. We didn’t realise until recently he was classed as vulnerable because he has epilepsy. Its the kind of thing we’re pretty relaxed about as he takes his meds daily and hasn’t had a seizure in the last 20 years. However when we had that knowledge it did make us a little more aware, so his vaccination was a big relief. With the schools going back next week, we have been receiving the home tests for the children, it is going to be a strange experience testing and reporting the results. Certain parts of daily life have a surreal twist at present.

This week has been the last full week of home schooling, Little Miss is back in on Thursday as her secondary school introduces a phased return because of the testing. I have done my last day of supervising home school and am looking forward to her returning to school, she needs the social connections and real life experiences which can’t be replicated at home. I agreed with the closing of schools in January for all but key worker and vulnerable children but am pleased she is now going back to school. Our son has attended his special needs school throughout the lockdown, which was the correct decision for him, it is much smaller and felt safe. The rate here in January was off the scale and now as our daughter returns, the school’s large catchment area is all white on the map meaning the virus is suppressed. I did have to order some new school shoes this weekend, in fairness they needed replacing at Christmas (long story, I hadn’t bought her new shoes in September) but I had a little feeling that there might be a delayed start. Fingers crossed the shoes come by Thursday or she’ll be wearing a pair of my black flats. On the theme of education, I received my post graduate qualification certificate for my recent Uni course and the right to have a further acronym in my professional signature. The course was held regionally and it feels odd to have a qualification from a University that I have never visited. In a different year, I might have been able to pop in when visiting family in the same city. I’m not sure what I would have done, a drink in a student bar, bought new stationery in the student shop, browsed the library, I think I would have felt pretty old!

Its been World Book day this week, which is always one of my favourite days of the school year, I love seeing everyone dressed up and the special themed activities and events. I did think I had dodged the dressing up this year but two days before, we got the message from our son’s school to say that it was fancy dress as a character in your favourite book. Little Man’s favourite book is one on the history of World War 2, so he dressed up as soldier in camo gear. Fortunately, he has loads of camo clothes so this was pretty easy and he has a WW2 helmet too. One of the advantages of starting a new school this year is that it was also the same costume as 2020 ! Last year, we were sent home a class photo of the children in their fancy dress, little did we know that it would become our son’s leaving photo as one of the final occasions when the class were all together. As part of World Book day, I joined in my school’s paint a potato competition. Sadly I didn’t win a prize despite my anonymous entry but it was nice to do something a bit lighter and fun for work. I also had a go at a children’s book quiz on the BBC website and got full marks, I was dead chuffed! On the topic of reading, I am really enjoying my new book She’s Come Undone, it was recommended on a podcast and has me hooked.

My running has continued a pace this week, I’ve passed the 200 mile mark on the Lands End to John O’Groat’s virtual challenge. As a little treat for the evening long runs, I have a shower bomb from Wideye on my return. They are amazing, I discovered them via an online friend on Instagram and they smell and feel delightful. Best of all, whilst they are only a small company, one of their two stores is fairly local to me, so when shops reopen I’m looking forward to having a little mosey around the shop and to try a few more products.

This week there have been a few signs that spring is coming, I’ve noticed the crocuses and daffodils on the grass banks and some blossom dripping from tree branches. However the best sign was when I took Little Miss to the farm on Saturday and we got to meet the new lambs, born on Monday. They are so sweet and absolutely captivating.

Looking to next week, it’ll be strange to have both children back at school by the end of the week. Having finished my Uni course at Christmas and home schooling since then, I haven’t had ‘me’ time on my day off for a while. I have no plans this week for my day off, sometimes its just nice to see a day flow spontaneously.

My week … the one with the home made pasties

Its quite difficult to write an interesting and original weekly round up, as in lockdown, life is pretty much the same every week, work, home, run, read. I’m watching little tv as it all seems a bit dull and we’re quickly working our way through the Marvellous Mrs Maisel, season 3 now, which never disappoints. I’ve become far too interested in the weather, the time the sun rises and sets (in fairness its to help plan runs in the light as I can do more varied routes and I’m now walking to work in the light too) the tides and this week I learnt about the last winter new moon, who knew that it was a thing? I really need to get out more , if only we could…

The road map out of lockdown was announced this week, it seems pretty sensible and measured and gave us all some hope for the summer. It seems we will be able to go on our UK holiday in May and I am so pleased that parkrun now has a return date too, hey its still 14 weeks away but there is a date and some promise of brighter times ahead. Mr S also got his vaccination letter this week as he has an underlying medical condition and he’s booked in for next week. I’m so impressed by the vaccination roll out, as of today over 20 million jabs have been given, an amazing testament to our nhs and volunteers.

With not much on tv, I have been reading in the evenings and this week its been Motherwell by Deborah Orr. Its slightly uncomfortable reading as I recognise a few stories in it having been played out in my childhood too. But it is also giving me more of an understanding of the social, cultural and economic environment my mum grew up in, as she grew up in a similar Scottish town to Motherwell.

One of the things we have been doing in lockdown is cooking, its gone from cakes and bakes to meals and on request today, Little Man and I made home made pasties for tea. Little Man’s primary class did a project with a local café and created their own pasties, he’s remembered it well over the years and wanted to repeat his filling of chicken, bacon and cheese. We made the pasties from scratch, including home made pastry, hey its lockdown we have the time! His pasty did look delicious (I’m veggie so didn’t try it) and he loved it, so one happy boy at teatime tonight with his hand made pasty.

So its another lockdown week to follow, the last full week of home schooling for Little Miss, although her school has a staggered start the following week and she won’t be returning on March 8th. Here’s to a happy and relaxed week.

My week … the chilly one

It has been so cold this week, that I seem to have spent the week wrapped in a blanket throw at work (thanks to Covid ventilation rules and open windows) or under my cosy blanket on my sofa at home. We’ve had the icy weather and the wind chill factor but only a few little flakes of snow, see the flower photo above. The iced plants photo was taken this morning on our way to the farm, it was a spectacular sight.

Lockdown 3 continues with little more than work and home. We have a new game, a locally themed version of Cluedo which has been fun to play. I don’t know how but its the first time I have ever played Cluedo, I’m up on the rules now and have developed my own strategies. I definitely play to win.

Lockdown has brought some really random experiences. On Monday’s Scout Zoom meeting, Little Man did armpit cooking. It was as gross as it sounds and I didn’t try any of the chocolate fudge they made as I had seen how it had been prepared! Tonight, Little Man and I watched the final of the Masked Singer, such a random, bonkers programme but entertaining and harmless fun on a lockdown Saturday night. I correctly guessed one singer but am still very taken by Morten Harket aka Viking from a few weeks ago. I’ve seen A-ha in concert three times and although we’ve all aged a little, he could still be my bedroom wall pin up, 30 years later!

I did feel quite mature and adult this week as I needed to do some tax research. I’ve got part of Mr S’ tax allowance transferred to me now as he is no longer working and I needed to calculate all my allowances to check the figures of my new tax code. The HMRC resources were helpful and I think its the first time I’ve ever understood tax in all my working life. I’m not sure I would have investigated this fully if we weren’t in Lockdown, but it was genuinely refreshing to do something different and useful.

We have continued to watch the Marvellous Mrs Maisel, which is my favourite tv of Lockdown 3, it gets better with every episode (we’re now on Series 2, episode 6) However, this week I have also spent lots of time reading the Midnight Library by Matt Haig, a perfect story for this time. The story is simple, albeit with a bit of quantum physics to fully explain the plot, in which a woman takes an overdose and on the edge of life and death gets to live many versions of her life by making different decisions at key points in her life. Its very clever and life affirming and had me in tears at the end. By chance, as I finished the book, my playlist was playing Elbow’s One Day Like This, beautiful synchronicity. This is a hard period but perhaps one day we will look back at how it helped to reframe our lives.

Its half term next week, again a very strange week with none of our normal activities. Holidays and weekends feel like a game of lockdown bingo at present, board games, walks, baking, special dinners, family film, Nintendo Switch etc… Tick them all off to get house!

Have a happy half term.

My week … the one with humour

Its a been a really difficult month and there is still the sadness permeating our community following the Covid outbreak which saw us go from the virus suppressed to the second highest category in 6 weeks. It feels wrong to suggest that this has been a humorous week, but due to my reading and tv watching, there has been some carefully placed wit and humour hidden among the melancholy which is lockdown 3. I’m also lucky enough to share a socially distanced office with a great friend and colleague and among all the worry and angst of recent weeks, we had a real laugh out moment, where we were both nearly crying with laughter. When life has been so rough, you do actually cherish those unscripted funny times. Its the little moments which make life at present.

I’ve read …

A few months ago, I picked up Adam Hill’s Best Foot Forward on my beloved Kindle 99p deal of the day. I swiped it by accident after finishing my last book and having read the first page I was hooked. Its witty, thoughtful and full of brilliant stories and a testament to hard work. Its one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read recently.

I’ve watched …

We’re now on series 2 of the Marvellous Mrs Maizel and its only improving with each episode. The mix of family life and its dynamics, a woman’s role and the most stunning costumes is a winner. As if it couldn’t be any better, the action is now also in Paris and I get to see the beauty of 1950s Paris and lots of French dialogue to listen. It is my ideal of blissful tv.

I’ve admired the sky…

Lockdown 3 is work and one daily exercise a day, there’s not much variety in life and you do look for the little things. In the photo are 3 scenes from my daily exercise this week, a clear night sky full of stars, a rainbow peaking through the drab day and a beautiful dawn. Of the three images the night sky was the one which filled me with such awe, I hadn’t really noticed the sky on my run, concentrating on the pavement and not falling over in the dark (I’m clumsy) but when I returned home and was stood in my garden just looking, it was overwhelming just making you feel so small in the universe. I had also listened to Tim Peake’s Desert Island Discs and his words on space seemed to resonate with the beauty of the night sky.

And finally

Its one more week until half term. We’re decorating our daughter’s bedroom so we’ve been choosing paints and thinking of new ways to update the room for a teenage girl. This means Mr S will be busy decorating and I need to think of some ways to keep us amused at home. After nearly a year in lockdown, it’ll be a challenge to come up with new ideas.

My week … the one with a vaccination and a merit.

This week I have been bursting with happiness as events unfurled and after all the anxiety and worries of the past year, its an amazing feeling.

I had two brilliant things happen to me on Wednesday afternoon within minutes of each other. Firstly I had my first Covid vaccination and then I received the email informing me that I had passed my Uni course with merit. Walking home from work on Wednesday, I was sobbing big fat, happy tears.

I recognise how lucky I am to have had a Covid vaccination due to my profession. I work with vulnerable young people and initially staff were not on the list for priority vaccinations, simply because our provision is so specialist its a bit of an anomaly which didn’t really fit into any category. Unfortunately, we have had a couple of difficult weeks at work and Public Health England who became involved in our case, authorised our gp to vaccinate all staff as a priority. I have nothing but praise and thanks to Public Health England and our gp surgery whom have all been so supportive and helpful in our current situation. I have never been anxious about my personal health, if I were to contract Covid, I am fit and healthy and it would have simply been inconvenient with the 10 day isolation for all the family. However, I was very aware that some of the young people I work with are medically very vulnerable and the consequences could be far more serious. Since last March, I have been so careful, I couldn’t be the one who brought the infection into work and put the health of vulnerable others at risk. After being so aware of every risk, the vaccination brought such a feeling of relief. We were fortunate that the gp brought a team to vaccinate the staff onsite which made it quick and convenient for all. I was helping at the vaccination clinic and it was one of the most positive and uplifting experiences I’ve done in such a long time. Everyone was just so grateful to be having the vaccination and it gave me the warmest, fuzziest feeling of happiness. I had the Astra Zeneca vaccination, I had a few minor side effects, a bit of trippy night’s sleep resulting in hot sweats and shivers but quickly felt fine again. The elation at having the vaccination hasn’t diminished, I am just so incredibly thankful to the amazing scientists and medical professions who developed the vaccination in such a short period and are administering it to us all.

After finishing the clinic, I quickly checked my email as I was expecting my Uni results and was shocked but delighted to see that my mark meant that I had not simply passed my course but with merit. Its been a big part of my life over the past 15 months (it was extended by 3 months due to the pandemic) and there were many times when I had feelings of self doubt and questioned my ability to complete the Masters level work (let alone with all the additional challenges of a pandemic) Its one of my proudest professional achievements and I now have a new qualification in my professional signature!

With the vaccination and results, Wednesday 27th January was one of the best days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My week … the one with a lot of steps

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

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

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

Vaccines

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

Lockdown Learner of the week

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

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

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

And finally

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

My week … the one with Lockdown 3.0

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

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

Here are my sparkles of the week.

I ran lots.

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

I finished a book

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

I completed my University course.

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

I got creative

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

And finally

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

My week … the one with the tier 2 Christmas

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

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

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

Christmas Patterns

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

Socially Distanced Christmas Carols.

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

Surprise Presents

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

A Christmas Eve 10K

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

Home Cooking

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

The lights

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

Festive tv

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

And finally

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

Take care and happy new year.