My week … looking for colour

If I were to describe April 2023 in one word it would be grey. There has been the odd day of sunshine but it has been unseasonably cool and cloudy and one has had to seek out the colour and warmth.

If you’re searching for warm and humanity this month, the place to find it is in Ted Lasso, each episode of the new series is wonderful. In this week’s episodes the themes of immigration and racism were at the heart of the storyline yet it still felt so uplifting and positive, its a comedy where you can go from one emotion to another in seconds. I listened to an interview with Jason Sudeikis, the lead character and producer, this week and it made me love the series that little bit more, what a brilliant cast and production team. Mr S and I have also been watching the series, Funny Woman, starring Gemma Arterton, its a lovely pastiche of 1960s London but also addresses the changing values of the time, well worth a watch.

This week it was time for my decennial task, renewing my passport. I changed it to my new name when I got married which was also the week of my 30th birthday so its an easy date to remember for the renewal. I chose to take and upload my own digital photograph, the online renewal is a great feature but I did need a few takes until the photo passed the quality test. I think I will feel rather sad when I get my new passport, it will be the new blue cover as a result of Brexit and I presume that the wording will have changed to His Majesty, sometimes its the little things which are reminders of the changing times.

Recently I have been listening to a few fashion podcasts with the focus on sustainable fashion. In February I ordered a skirt from Unfolded, an ethical company which makes clothes to order and it arrived this week. I am very happy with the skirt, the size, colour and pattern are perfect and I can’t wait to do a little twirl in it. I also wore a pair of wedge espadrilles today which I had picked up brand new in a charity shop a few weeks ago, I do like a mooch around a charity shop, a lot of times there is nothing suitable but sometimes there is a little gem which makes the browsing worthwhile.

Although its a bank holiday weekend, we didn’t really have any big plans, the boys had tickets for the football today and I wanted to do parkrun yesterday. However I did want to something special to mark the longer weekend. Usually this might have been a bit of parkrun tourism but as my top two tourist parkruns are in very busy holiday towns, I decided to give this idea a miss and ran and volunteered at our home parkrun. Instead, I chose to visit some gardens which has been on my to do list for years. These gardens came highly recommended but I had never found the time to visit, a Sunday at the end of April did seem like the perfect opportunity to see the colourful blossom and looms. The gardens were magnificent, I feel like I have discovered my little sanctuary and actually feel quite emotional about the visit. There were the formal Italian and Japanese gardens and then the more relaxed, rock and water, woodland and heather gardens, all were special in their own way. My daughter came with me and despite her indifference at the visit, she was enthralled and took some incredible photos, I really can’t wait to go back and revisit in a different season.

As we left the gardens, I stopped to let a car out of a side road and glanced at the post box to my side as the car drove off. To my excitement (and my daughter’s bemusement) the post box featured the really rare Edward 8th insignia, of which there were only 161 made, and the only one that has been missing from my #postboxbingo. #postboxbingo dates from the first lockdown and was a feature on my favourite podcast With Me Now. It helped give our walks a focus and fun in some strange and worrying times and I was so happy to finally complete it three years after the challenge began. I didn’t want to simply look up an address and go the the post box but find it spontaneously, I like that a doing a nice thing led to its discovery.


My week … the Easter edition

After our little break in Portsmouth, this week has been home based with just the one day out. Since I now have a daily commute, I’m keen to not drive so much during the holidays, especially as we live in a very popular tourist area and there is so much more traffic. Our one day out this week was to take our son to a football camp and as it was an hour’s drive from home, my husband, daughter and I went to the nearby forestry commission park where we cycled, had a picnic and pottered around. It was a bit of a murky day, the worst of the week but it was good to be grounded by nature.

As the weather has improved over the week, we have done lots of local walks. It has seemed that spring is here, the blossoms are adding colour to the trees and the fields have been full of calves and lambs. We did our local parkrun on Saturday and it was stunning, we also had the amusement of running through the children’s Easter egg hunt.

I didn’t feel quite myself this week, its been a busy old time and I think I was simply exhausted by the last few months. I have taken great pleasure in simply pottering around at home over the past few days, having my nails done (I’m calling my multi coloured pastel nails the mini eggs look) an excellent eye brow wax by a new beautician at the salon ( I am definitely booking for her again) and numerous visits to coffee shops with friends and the children. I have also been preparing for Easter with my decorations around the house, collecting all the goodies for the Easter egg hunt and planning and making the Easter lunch. I take great pride in being a home maker and I like weeks like this. I’ve also got up to date with some family admin with some fantastic results, resolving several long standing issues and booking our holiday for the summer of 2024, a cruise around the Med! I am very excited by the holiday and it will be lovely to relax as a family after our daughter’s GCSEs that summer.

Next week is week two of the holidays, with more pottering and relaxing at home planned.

My week … the one with Ofsted

As a teacher, Ofsted is a part of our profession. I have worked in schools with all of the gradings and I strongly believe that a one word grading does not reflect the school. Ofsted is something that really hangs over schools, and stops genuine innovation in the Ofsted window as one needs time to implement and measure the impact of new projects. Having had Ofsted as a leader last March, this year I was part of it as a member of the teaching team in my new school. It was two very different experiences, it actually felt much more friendly, positive and collaborative last year, with professional conversations and the sharing of expertise. This inspection felt that it was being ‘done’ to us by the men in suits. It is never a good look to sit in a classroom and tap away at your laptop rather than engaging with our students. We are now waiting for the report but everyone seems positive so I hope that means it will be another four years until the next visit. Ofsted is an unnecessary stress and the system needs to change.

With Ofsted my week took a very work orientated focus and affected my wellbeing, the stress, lack of sleep and proper meals takes a few days to recover from. We have been away this weekend, but I do feel I would have enjoyed it better if I hadn’t been so tired and drained from Ofsted. Ofsted also took away some of the fun Easter activities of the last week, however I am really pleased how my class’s Easter decorations turned out and I have a few for my Easter tree.

On Saturday, my daughter and I decided on a little parkrun tourism as we try to do all the parkruns in our county. We didn’t have much planned, so it gave the day some structure and also we wanted to visit a local museum which I’ve been trying to visit for years. In bad timing, the museum was closed when we arrived because of a leaking roof so despite my best efforts, I’ve still not managed a visit. The parkrun was very simple an out and back course on an old train route. I like these when you get to see the fast runners returning, there were some Ghurka soldiers participating and their speed was breath taking. As it was April Fool’s day too, they warned us not to disturb the rare white hedgehogs on the course and beautifully hidden away were two white hedgehog models. To add to the ambiance, the marshal at the half way point was dressed up as a jester. Whilst we were parkrunning, the boys went to the football and were delighted that their team got a vital three points in the relegation battle.

The children have had a busy start to the holidays, they both had an Inset day on Friday, so Mr S took them to the big pool with slides and rides for the afternoon, both were out for most of Saturday and then on Sunday we went to Portsmouth for a couple of days. Tomorrow, Tuesday has been delegated as a lazy day.

We did have a lovely time in Portsmouth, on Sunday we used our Tesco vouchers to have a day at the Historic Dockyard to see all the old ships and submarines. It is a great day out and there is so much to see and do. We were all particularly taken by the new features at the Mary Rose exhibition, it is so fascinating to learn about the ship and the new interactive elements are brilliant. Our hotel was opposite the attraction and in the evening we walked over to Gun Wharf quay for a delicious Vietnamese meal and a potter around the dockside in warm sunshine (its been a wet and cool week) Today we returned to the shops at Gun Wharf quay a designer outlet village. The children had some Easter money and were very excited to go shopping in the big Nike and Adidas shops. Personally, I was delighted to find my favourite but now discontinued foundation at half price in one of the beauty shops, I also had a very pleasant mooch around L’Occitane and bought a few of my favourite products.

I am very much looking forward to our lazy day tomorrow although I do have a nails and waxing appointment and I also want to get our Easter decorations up. Wednesday is a another busy day so I’m hoping to get some balance into our holiday so we feel refreshed and relaxed but creative and fulfilled.

My week … the one with a night out.

Another week, another blogpost and each word written at present is a positive for me. I am writing this post on Sunday afternoon and I’m definitely feeling the missing hour from the clocks springing forward. Fortunately it is the last week of term next week, and with Friday being an Inset day, it feels shorter too. However, from experience, you always think Inset is going to be a more relaxed and easier day than it actually is. I’m at the nice part of the term now where I am filling my diary with lots of nice little things for the next two holiday weeks, my holidays are such a bonus of my working life.

This week, I had a lovely coincidence at work, where I was supporting some of the members of my class at a dodgeball tournament in which my son and his school were also competing. I got to see him and cheer on both schools, in the crunch match of my school against his, I supported everyone! My son’s team did very well although ironically our school’s only win came against his school. The key game was of course, teachers v students and my school got paired up with my son’s school, so the perfect opportunity to strike everyone. I was very competitive and may have ached a few days after. Most importantly, it was lots of fun and coupled with a couple of other activities I did this week in class, it made me reflect on my poor wellbeing in my old school in comparison to the fun and laughter which I am helping to create now.

On Friday night, I went out for dinner with some old friends, we used to work together, although since we have all left, it is now a genuine friendship rather than a professional connection. This group has helped us all to reflect and slowly recover from our previous toxic work environment, and these days our chats are about our lives and families and full of positivity. As we all come from different directions, we met enroute home from work at 5.30 and eventually left when the pub closed, that’s a very good night out. Sadly there was no lie in on Saturday morning as the taxi service was required! We dropped off our daughter for a date with her boyfriend in the big town and we took our son for a game of crazy golf and lunch out as its too far away to return home. As the children get older, weekend days are busier and we are driving many more miles.

This week, we have finished the Netflix series, Outer Banks, season three, which I found to be better then the previous two, it was more about character development than chases and shootings. I was excited to read that Mrs Maisel is back on in mid April, I don’t watch much television but do enjoy a good series such as Mrs Maisel or Ted Lasso. I also manged to read Carrie Soto is back, another excellent read from Taylor Jenkins Reid. I have seen that Daisy and the Six is a new series on Amazon, however I’m not sure how you could improve the book and think it may be best to keep the characters of my imagination rather than identify them through actors.

Its been a pretty grey and wet week and last Sunday afternoon, I took the time to do some financial admin, checking my pension, looking at accounts etc.. It has given me clarity on my retirement, I hope to retire at 60 and take some adventures with Mr S whilst we are still fit and able. Its still 10 years away but I’m at the age where I needed clarity and purpose. I’m also pretty chuffed at myself this week, for sorting out lots of little admin jobs, cancelling subscriptions, sorting a MOT etc.. I do like the feeling of being organised and efficient.

This week is busy with Easter at work, we’re creating some gorgeous craft items for a fayre and I’m sure there will be lots of chocolate. I also have another Meet the Author online event, this week its Libby Page, I was gifted her book ‘The Lido’ and have followed her since. Its a free event through my library membership and I’m excited to hear about her new book which is set in a vintage shop. I’m hoping for some spring sunshine to set the mood for starting our Easter holiday, which is beginning for us with a few days away in Portsmouth.

My week … the one with a reset

Sometimes life is about taking baby steps, and this week we have taken one day at a time. The teachers’ strike took some off the pressure off our daughter’s schooling, which is the catalyst for so much stress at present and today we have visited a local college as a potential placement for when she finishes Year 11. To see her get excited about a vocational course was a relief and perhaps will help her to focus on getting the grades she needs.

It has been a good week, Mr S’ sister and husband spent the day with us last Sunday and it was nice to relax and chat. As their children are now young adults, its good to get their perspective and experience. Little Man is going to stay with them for a couple of days in the Easter holiday which is a big achievement for him and I think at present, excitement is more prevalent than uncertainty. They are a lovely aunt and uncle and he will be spoilt rotten by them. We had parents evening for our son this week, he is doing so well in his special school and is working on some entry level qualifications, we couldn’t be prouder of him.

This week has seen my slow return to my running. Over the past few months, my knee injury has paused my running and family life has also led me to needing to be at home a lot. This week, I have managed three runs, one early morning and two evening runs, this really feels like progress and a few more weeks like this and I will feel like a runner again. Running is my stress relief and I’ve not been myself without it.

I’ve also been getting back into the routine of my podcasts. I really enjoy Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast and this week took her 5 senses quiz, to discover my neglected sense. It didn’t surprise me that it was touch, I’m not really a touchy feely person but it did make me consider the impact of the pandemic. The initial advice to avoid touching, the bubbles, social distancing etc.. means that it is a sense even more neglected in recent years.

One of my #23for23, is to cook a new recipe weekly and it is one I have completed every week so far. Today, Little Miss joined in making a Leek and Asparagus Savoury Galette. I thought a galette was a savoury pancake but this had a more flan like pastry. The course our daughter is interested in is Catering and Hospitality, so I’ve suggested doing a portfolio of recipes between now and her application so that the college can see her interest and skills. I feel there is something grounding and nurturing about preparing meals and I hope this is another strategy which may support her.

I did something very rare for me this week and stopped reading a book I was not enjoying. I realised I wasn’t reading which is another key activity for me and it was because I felt obliged to finish the book. Needless to say, I’ve read loads of my new book in just a few days, I need light reading at present and will save the heavier books for another time. I was also delighted to see the return of Ted Lasso this week, one episode a week, so it really gives the viewer the chance to savour each one rather than a binge watch. I love it and it is one of my favourite comedy series of recent years. I am going to enjoy each one and not dwell that it is the final series.

Next week I have a night out with friends, a much needed catch up for us all and hopefully more baby steps on the way to a more settled family life.

Life recently ..

This blog has always been my little escape and memory treasure trove. I love reading back on entries and remembering happy times. I have been MIA recently, sometimes life is tough and February 2023 was really tough. I haven’t blogged as I simply couldn’t put the words down to try and describe what we were going through. We’re well into March now and life is slowly improving, there is still lots of work to do to support our little family, adoption raises many difficult questions, not all of which we can answer but we can be here, listening, reasoning and supporting.

Despite the challenges of the last month, there were highlights too which I didn’t want to miss recording, so here a few jottings on some of the little sparkles in February to mid March.

  • A sunny Sunday morning exploring the forgotten village and local beach.
  • Rediscovering the library.
  • Valentines nails, treats and delights.
  • A visit to Grandad’s and a Sunday lunch with the biggest Yorkshires!
  • A girlie night in a hotel.
  • A morning at the trampoline park.
  • A visit to see Mum and Dad.
  • Two trips to A&E, amazing service and care. (its been a month!)
  • The highly enjoyable Rodham audiobook.
  • A VIP upgrade at the bowling.
  • A lovely little mooch around a local craft centre.
  • parkrun volunteering.
  • An improving knee injury leading to a cautious return to running.
  • The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I love Taylor Jenkins Reid books, so unputdownable.
  • A Sunday morning out to a different seaside town and a cheeky second breakfast.
  • The Cat in The Hat fancy dress for World Book day.

Now I’ve caught up, I hope that this has cured the writers block for my blog writing and I can return to my weekly updates. I have lots of ideas for other posts too, its just finding the time to reflect and write.

My week … the really tough one

Its very difficult to write a post this week, all I can say that the trauma of an adopted child impacts in such terrible ways and this has been one of the worst weeks of my life. I don’t feel I can really say more, my only highlight was parkrun where being in a community of friends and visitors helped to balance me for a few hours . Here’s hoping that next week will be one in which we get help and can start to support our child with the professional support needed.

My week .. the icy edition

Some weeks are just simply ones to get through and this one was one of them. The weather has been poor and it has made my morning commutes long and challenging, white knuckle drives! On Monday, flooding had closed the roundabout which links our town and others to the bigger world, the detour was so long with lots of flooded country lanes to drive down. Tuesday saw a wicked frost which had frozen the previous day’s flooding, and despite leaving at 7.10am, 2 hours forty minutes later, I finally arrived at work at 9.50am, to put into context, my normal commute is around 35 – 40 minutes. When you live in a rural, remote place you learn to live with the additional driving but it felt tough this week. We were given permission at school to leave early on one afternoon so that we did not get caught in the poor weather forecast. The ice has remained all week, although we have tried to keep to our normal routines. I have tried to inject a little warmth and sunshine into my day, and the tulips and lychees purchased on a school trip to Lidl were the perfect rays of sunshine.

On Wednesday, it was youth club and I really didn’t fancy being out for the evening. However, I reluctantly decided to go for a swim whilst my daughter was at the youth club, and it was just what was needed to reinvigorate and energise me whilst also giving me the time and space to think. It was so cold when I got out I did get a hot takeaway drink to keep me warm on the drive home.

On Saturday we didn’t parkrun and instead went to the open day of a local college to look at potential options for my daughter at 16. It is a stunning site, but it is more of an agricultural college and I’m not sure if the courses were the ones for her. She did like seeing the small animals which are kept for the small animal care course, but still seems a little lost on her future plans. In March, we are off to visit another college, which hopefully may offer better options. When we finished at the college, I noticed that after having done a bit of research the night before, we could make it to the nearby cinema to see A Man Called Otto. I loved the book, its definitely in my best books ever list, and was keen to see the film. Now my daughter is not quite 15 yet, although it is only a matter of weeks until she reaches the milestone. However, having read the book I couldn’t see what would be harmful so decided to ‘sneak’ her in. The film was beautiful and I did cry, my daughter says she didn’t cry but she did cuddle up to me at the sad parts. I love the theme of the film, to live life and one that seemed pertinent to my teen as she tries to work out what direction in life to take. The film does not have the depth of the book, its a different medium, but it is a 5 star film and the book a 5 star read.

This week, I’m hoping for milder, drier weather and the chance to start to do more. I’ve not been running in the evenings as its too icy and dangerous and need that structure to enjoy my days.

My week .. the twixtmas edition.

I’ve felt a real need to hibernate and simply be a homebody in the past week. 2022 was a tough year and it always seemed I needed to be somewhere or doing something. I’ve taken the last week, to watch television and films, to read, to organise my paperwork (whoop whoop, I’m due £28 from HMRC) and plan the coming months etc.. The weather was also pretty shocking, so creating a warm, cosy nest was much needed. This is not to say I haven’t been outside, I cannot cope with being indoors all day, so there have been daily walks, albeit a walk which invariably ended up at a cafe!

Boxing day was a gorgeous sunny morning, perfect conditions for the traditional swim in town. I didn’t do it, but we all, including Grandad, went down to watch the spectacle. It was a lot of fun in a lovely atmosphere and a much cherished part of the Christmas festivities in our town.

Mr S took Grandad home on Tuesday and stayed overnight as its a long return journey in one day. The children and I went for a walk in the forest and then bunkered down at home with chocolates and Christmas tv specials. The following morning, we had a little potter down town as I wanted to get something to go with my new year glasses for parkrun, I think my aqua blue wig is fabulous and perfect for future fancy dress too. On parkrun day, it was so wet and windy the hair was flying everywhere, when you have always had short hair, you don’t consider long hair problems! Despite the awful conditions, it was a fun morning barcode scanning at parkrun and my daughter and I spent the rest of the day drying out and warming up!

After seeing Matilda at the cinema last week, I was really keen to watch another film on the big screen and my daughter and I went to see the Whitney Houston biopic. We both really liked it, there were a few parts of the story I wasn’t familiar with and I warmed to Whitney much more than I expected. We went to the cinema in the county town so had a little mooch at the sales but didn’t buy anything. I was also keen to explore a vintage / antiques store I had seen advertised, which is on the outskirts of the town. In the photo montage, the warehouse is the photo of the bus, you enter as if getting on the bus, an entrance just as quirky and kitsch as the shop was! Again, we didn’t buy anything, but I will definitely return for inspiration and curiosity.

One of the tv highlights from this week was an adaptation of the book Mayflies, about two friends, one of whom has terminal cancer. It was really well done and I loved the flashbacks to the 80s. It did inspire some of my listening choices this week, I had forgotten what an amazing song Oblivious by Aztec Camera is and I’ve been rediscovering a band which was a favourite of mine when I was in Sixth form.

New Year’s eve is my least favourite night of the year, I have an irrational dislike of the night, so I was cuddled up on the sofa with a book (I wanted to finish no 42 of the year) and then went to bed before midnight. It suited me beautifully, it also meant I was fresh and happy to be out at a local country park for a walk, bike ride and picnic lunch on New Year’s day.

Next week is all about tidying up and preparing for the return to school. It has felt like a long, refreshing school holiday and its now time to get back into routines and look forward to 2023.

2022, the review

I think we all had high hopes for 2022 after 2020 and 2021, but sadly this year turned into an even more chaotic one. The year is ending on a low, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, the nhs on the brink of collapse, the cost of living crisis affecting us all, and a genuine civil unrest after the political turmoil of the year. I’m normally a pretty positive and upbeat person, but this year has definitely challenged me. However I do believe you need to be the change you want to see, so if anything the events of the year has made me proactive in supporting the causes close to my heart, refugees, poverty and wellbeing.

Personally 2022 was a year of change, most notably work. I left my job where I had worked for 18 years and started a full time position in a new school, I haven’t worked full time since 2010, so it’s been an adjustment. However, I love my new job, the first few months were hectic and a little overwhelming at times, but I’m now getting into the rhythm of the role. Just before I left my old school, we did have an Ofsted inspection which I led and I was delighted to have achieved a good rating, my legacy to the school.

I have written a post about my #22for2022, my personal goals, but my highlights included training hard and running a half marathon, as well as getting a parkrun PB too. Unfortunately a bad knee injury has curtailed my running presently but I’m enjoying volunteering at our new local parkrun and being part of the community. I loved my trip to London in the summer with my son, postponed from the COVID years, we did so many sights and had the best day. However the stand out event of the year was at Easter when the whole family, together for the first time since COVID, celebrated my Father in Law’s 90th birthday, there was lots of planning and hard work, but it was worth all the time and effort, and looking back, the whole weekend still gives me the warm, fuzzy feels. We also enjoyed lots of days out, en famille, or special date days with a child, these are special and show that it’s the simple pleasures which make the best memories. Our family did go through some turbulent times too, a teenager looking to develop her self identity but troubled and confused by her adoption, makes for v tough times but I am grateful to friends and agencies for their support.

Looking forward, 2023 is a significant year for me as it sees my 50th birthday in the summer. 2022 was a year of change, so I’m hoping for a year of stability and calm, not personally but in the world too. I am focusing on 2023 being a good year, we all deserve and need it!