My week .. the one in which I had my nails done.

It was a strange first week of the summer holidays. As we haven’t been to school since March 20th, there wasn’t that big difference to our day, just the relief of no home schooling. It’s a different holiday, as we’re not doing many of our favourite holiday activities due to Covid restrictions. Whilst some activities can be done many of the places have chosen not to open at present. For example our local cinema isn’t open as there are no big releases to show. It will be a holiday of simple pleasures. However we’ve kept busy and active in week 1 of the lockdown summer holidays.

I read ..

I love my Kindle deals and this week’s book, Forest Therapy is another fine example. It was a book I was just going to read by season so started with the summer rather than at the beginning. However it’s really interesting and easy to read and I’ve been motivated to finish it all this week. Much of it is what we already now but it’s written in a friendly inspiring manner and definitely encourages an outdoor life for our wellbeing.

I played ..

This week we played on the beach in some gorgeous weather. We tend to go on the beach early and stay ‘til lunchtime. There’s an unusual atmosphere on the beach this year. Normally the children make new friends and all play together, but this summer everyone is carefully social distancing and it’s little pods on the beach. I miss the more care free days but recognise how respectful and responsible everyone is being to our safety.

I cruise ship watched ..

I don’t know what the term is for a ship spotter but it’s my new little lockdown obsession. There are loads of cruise ships on the south coast at present and they often sail up and down. I’ve discovered a website which maps where the ships are and it’s been a great reference site.

I had my nails done ..

I’ve missed pretty nails, it’s a frivolous spend but one that makes me happy. I was delighted to return to the local nail bar this week. Again there are new restrictions but it’s our new normal and I loved being there, catching up on all the local news and getting pretty nails.

I had a girlie morning

On the day I had my nails done, the boys went to their favourite museum (it’s a military one and is huge so no problems with social distancing) In the morning, Little Miss and I walked for miles along the coast path to a local beauty spot and had a great time just talking and relaxing together. After, whist I had my nails done she met a friend in town and things felt a little normal again ( well after my words of caution, mask, sanitiser, stay 1m apart etc..)

I finished the big sort out ..

During lockdown I blitzed every cupboard and had bags of donations for the charity shops. However shops were unable to accept donations and it’s taken until this week to drop them off at the shops (by appointment). I do feel the house is much lighter and organised now.

I wore ..

This week face masks became compulsory in shops and takeaways. I’m not often in either of these places but have worn my mask diligently when I went to the nail bar and the Post Office. I found that the vast majority of people were obeying the rules and it was all very calm and ordered.

And finally

I need to write a few more ideas of what we can do this summer. Fortunately the weather has been good this week but if it turns our choices may become more limited with the indoor restrictions. Time to create a few craft projects!

Birthday cakes

This is my random post about birthdays as I’m not able to post on the actual dates to protect our identity.

We’ve had two lockdown birthdays this year, although one was more restricted than the other. With lockdown there was really only one theme, rainbows and my daughter was happy to embrace this for her birthday. I had brightly coloured bunting in the garden and a rainbow 🌈 happy birthday balloon garland decorating the birthday table in the kitchen. On the photo of the cake, I’ve needed to blank out her name and age which were bright fondant letters and numbers and really complemented the other decoration. I did consider baking 6 layers of rainbow cake but felt that was a lot of cake and icing. Instead I chose orange, yellow and green sponges as these looked the most natural food colourings. I was able to match citrus fruits to the sponges so we had orange, lemon and lime layers and a citrus soft cheese icing as the filling. It was delicious and one of my favourite birthday bakes.

Our second cake had a camouflage style as my son loves everything military. For the decorations I was able to get military themed balloons in shades of green and brown. I wanted to incorporate the camo theme in the sponge and made a marble cake, with one chocolate sponge mix and a lime mix. I didn’t colour the lime sponge but used lime zest to add a little colour. I was pleasantly surprised with the result. I do want the cake to have a great taste, it’s not simply about the aesthetics but the flavour too.

It did feel sad this year not being able to do our birthday treats, no big days out at the local theme park or safari park, or even local treats with friends. However, the days were special in their unique 2020 style, neighbours popped over, we FaceTimed family and just enjoyed being together and playing with the new presents, the Nintendo Switch was a big hit. To end the day, the birthday child got to have a Takeaway tea with Chinese and Pizzas as their choices.

The birthdays were different but memorable and I hope each child got to feel very special and loved on their special day in 2020.

My week … the one where we graduated from home school

This is always such an exciting week, the end of the school year and the anticipation of six weeks full of relaxed, lazy days. We always write a summer holiday bucket list, but it doesn’t seem right this year, those activities which are normally so easy to plan, are more of a logistical challenge and we still seem to be living day to day. We have a few ideas and are determined to have the best summer we can under the circumstances it just seems a little sad that it’s not our normal summer holiday.

I finished as a homeschool teacher..

This final week was a little of an anti climax. I home school two days a week, Mr S three days. On Tuesday we had rearranged our meet up with my parents, so we didn’t do any school work and there was no work left for Thursday. Little Man had an afternoon at school on Thursday, so there was some structure to our day. I was really impressed that the primary school made such an effort to get the classes together on the field in a socially distanced manner to meet up and play before the end of the year. After the emotion of last week’s goodbye this was simply a fun afternoon for Little Man, a treasure hunt and ice lollies, a perfect ending to his primary school years.

I read ..

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. This is a book when you just root for the main character, hurting and damaged, you watch her unravel and simply want to scoop her up and build her up.

I listened ..

After finishing Queenie, I started another Kindle deal of the day Broken Greek. It’s an autobiography through music, the tracks are described so poetically that I felt that I needed to listen to them as I read. I did a quick Spotify search and found the playlist curated by the author himself. It’s an eclectic mix, but a great accompaniment to the book.

I walked ..

With less school work, it was longer walks to more places around the area this week. As my children get up ridiculously early, this meant that one day we were out on a hike by 8am. We walked across the top of the hills on the other side of the bay. It’s the opposite view to the one we have from our home and it’s great to look on the town from above and afar and find all the local landmarks. It is also offers a stunning panorama of the coast.

We also enjoyed a beautiful woodland and river work at a country park halfway between our home and that of my parents. It was our first time together since February and it was so good to meet up for a socially distanced walk, picnic and chill in the park. I’ve missed seeing my parents. On our 100 mile round trip, Little Miss negotiated with her brother to sit in the front and was my mobile DJ with her playlist on Spotify.

And finally..

We’re trying really hard to be positive and not too sad about the amazing things we’re all missing this summer, no carnival, no fireworks, no music festival, no holiday ☹️ Last summer was so good. We need to remember we’re all fit and healthy and our loved ones haven’t been affected by Covid 19. Next year we are going to have the best summer ever and I’m already writing our list to do. This summer will simply be a season of simple pleasures.

My week … the one in which I had my hair done.

So after 118 days, I finally got to have my hair done this week as hairdressers reopened. We also were busy with school good byes and transitions and managed a few forest trips and picnics. I’ve no idea why forests became a theme, it was random rather than planned. Sadly, a couple of meet ups were postponed because of dismal weather but they’re rearranged and we hope they will happen in nicer weather.

I’ve made ..

On Wednesday morning, Little Man and I very carefully (and hygienically) baked apricot and ginger cookies for a socially distanced good bye with his key staff at school. We individually wrapped the cookies so they could be eaten safely and were enjoyed by all. It was a lovely occasion. Little Man has had the same TA for 7 years and I love the school so much that I worried it was going to be a tearful meet up. However we all held it together and the tears only came at home when I read the good bye cards. Its a strange situation as our son was back yeared by our request in Reception and is in Year 5 rather than Year 6, his correct year. However, he is going to a special secondary school and needs to be in his correct year of Year 7 in September, hence his transition at the end of Year 5. His class were amazing and unbeknown to us, the teacher had organised virtually for them all to write special messages, pictures etc.. to our son which were presented in his leaving book. We had always worried that our son might be teased, bullied or excluded because of his learning needs, however this amazing group of children have been wonderful to him, he has proper friendships and has been very much one of the class. He’ll say goodbye to his class mates next Thursday, but we have agreed its best to play his good bye down and just let him have fun with his friends. We live in a small town so he’ll still be seeing his friends around and will still be able to hang out with them. (When we can do simple things like that again)

I’ve also made a few picnics this week, home schooling has very much slowed down, especially at secondary. As we have decorators doing work on the exterior of our house its been good to get out as we haven’t been able to use the garden. We’ve had long walks in the forest and picnics under the shade of trees.

I read …

I’m not able to settle to a book at present, there is a lot buzzing around in my mind so I’ve been reading a magazine instead, Breathe. I loved an article in it by Judith Hurrell, New Lease of Life about recycling, reusing, repurposing items. It reminded me how much I love to see friends’ younger children in favourite items my children used to wear. I only donate good quality clothes and am happy to receive too. When the children were little our neighbour gave us two beautiful wooden trikes her grandsons had outgrown and were designed to be played on in the house. The children adored these trikes and played on them so much, that I was so sad when they too outgrew them. I spoke to my neighbour and asked if she would be happy if I in turn donated them to two friends with younger children, she was delighted that they would continue to bring joy to others. I know that these trikes have been used by many different children and loved by them all, how nice it is to share the love of play.

I listened …

On my Saturday morning run (come back soon, parkrun) I listen to Sounds of the 80s from the previous night. This week’s programme celebrated the 35th anniversary of Live Aid and it really brought back the memories. I never saw Live Aid and only heard snippets of it on the day as I was on a school trip to Jersey. I do remember being on a beach and someone playing a radio and hearing Rocking All Over the World start off the day. To this day, I’ve never watched the concert, although I know some of the iconic images of the day as I had the Live Aid calendar on my bedroom wall for all of 1986. I have seen some clips and Queen will always be the performance of the day. I was interested to learn that they were one of the few groups who really took it seriously, planned and rehearsed thoroughly and therefore were able to give that performance. A lesson for us all.

I wore

Well apart from needing to wear items from every season’s wardrobe at times this week, I have been also wearing my new face mask. I have one and have worn it as needed, but it is black and looks quite sombre so as I think we’ll be needing to wear them more, I bought a pink flowery version (with filter.) I feel much more me in it.

And finally

Next week is the final week of home schooling (celebration dance, whoop, whoop) I have been pretty organised so far in returning school resources, delivering thank you cards and gifts, donating old uniforms, buying new uniforms etc.. so hopefully apart from the dreaded school shoe shop we can forget about school and simply enjoy the summer holidays. We have one cancelled meet up reorganised for next week, please be kind weather fairies and Little Man has an afternoon in school. This has been an emotional time, so I’m looking forward to the end of the school year and the time to relax (and not having to check TEAMS or Dojo)

My week – the one in which we reached 100 days in lockdown.

So this week we reached 100 days in lockdown, something that seems so surreal. I feel this week that we are beginning to look forward. The schools information was published this week and although school will be different, it looks like everyone is going back full time, which was confirmed by letters from both the children’s schools. Yesterday saw the reopening of hairdressers, pubs, cafes, cinemas, hotels etc.. although all now have very different hygiene routines with the focus on social distancing. When I went for my run at 6.30am yesterday, the local barbers, was not only open but full with customers and had a queue outside, strange times.

I have sorted

This week I have been arranging plans for the new schools. I have sorted old uniforms for donation to the PTA, ordered new uniform and started to organise the leaving gifts. This is hard, Little Man has had the same 1:1 TA for 7 years, how can you even begin to thank someone for taking care and teaching your son so much, she seems like family. On the last day pre lockdown, we both were blinking back tears as we realised this might be the last ever handover. Fortunately, we are going in to a pre-arranged socially distanced good bye with his key staff next week and I am practising holding back the tears.

I have treated myself

I have bought little for myself in the lockdown, but I kept on seeing the same sundress on my Instagram feed from Joanie Clothing and loved it, its so different to my normal ‘uniform’ I did the 24 hour wait to see if I really wanted it, but when I realised I was obsessively thinking about the dress, I treated myself as an early birthday present. The dress had arrived and it is gorgeous, the print is fantastic. I’ve tried it on and twirled around but am keeping it for its debut at a picnic this week.

I have watched ..

We have discovered the Agatha Raisin comedy crime drama in the past fortnight on Sky. It is the perfect 9pm viewing, with lots of famous cameos, its a bit like Death in Paradise but in the Cotswolds. I need light and easy viewing at present.

Next week is an exciting week, we have plans, yes entries in my diary. Little Man is visiting his new school and saying goodbye to his old staff, I’m having my hair done (it so needs it), meeting friends for an al fresco BYO meet up and seeing my parents for a socially distanced picnic. I am excited but there is a sense of feeling a little over whelmed too. Its going from 0 to 100 again and I have enjoyed the more relaxing pace of life.

July 2020

July is my favourite month of the year, its a month of birthdays, including mine, the end of the school year, a local music festival, carnival and just all things nice. This year it will look different, there is no carnival or music festival and we will be celebrating the other events in 2020 style.

However for the first time since lockdown we have a few things planned to look forward to. This week we are meeting my parents half way from our homes for a socially distanced picnic (please weather fairies be kind) and I am also meeting friends with BYO drinks for a meet up on the quay. I also have a colour and hair cut booked with my neighbour. Its not just me who has plans, Little Man has two diary entries, a visit after school hours to his new school for September and then his class are going to meet up following social distancing rules for a final good bye on the school field. I will definitely be celebrating the end of the school year even more enthusiastically this year. Home schooling has had its highs and lows but it’ll be remembered generally as a positive experience, although hopefully never to be repeated.

July, lets shine this month.

#20 for 2020 : An update

Last week on her podcast, Gretchen Ruben was discussing reviewing #20for2020. When we all wrote our lists we had no idea what was to follow in the year and some may no longer be possible. I am going to do my 6 month check below and see where I’m up to and what I still would like to try and achieve this year.

  1. Read for pleasure, 15 minutes a day. With the exception of a couple of days when I was ill in bed with a migraine and not able to read, I have completed this task everyday (Go me!) Lockdown has given me more time to read.
  2. Resize my wedding and engagement rings. Done.
  3. Complete my University course.  It is no longer possible to have graduated by the end of this year as I can’t do my action research as planned because of lockdown. However our course has been extended and my assignments are now due in early January. Whilst I won’t have my results by December 31st I still aim to have completed everything so I can enjoy Christmas with no worries.
  4.  Run a 10k race. I had a 10k race booked which was sadly cancelled because of Covid 19. Whilst there may not be an organised 10k race, I plan to do a virtual race and time it.
  5. Run a parkrun PB. parkrun is currently suspended :(. I was 3 seconds short of my PB on a wet, muddy and windy run in January, so given my PB was on a dry, warm day I think I could do this if parkrun restarts this year.
  6. Have a no spend month. I managed this in January and then with lockdown it seems most months this year have been little or no spend months. Its certainly made me consider our consumer society.
  7. Enjoy live music. I feel so sad that this won’t happen this year. Nothing beats live music.  
  8.  Plan a special 10 year famiversary.  This will still be celebrated but I’m not sure what our celebrations will look like or what we will be able to do later this summer.
  9. Have a rainbow of nail colours. Another activity I was doing so well on and then lockdown stopped it. At present there is no reopening date for nail salons. Here’s hoping I have pretty nails again.
  10. Visit the fashion museum. This was closed until the spring and never got to reopen as the lockdown was put in place. Its still on my list to try and do this year.
  11. Wear colourful running kit and smile. I did buy a lovely pair of peach coloured trainers but no new running kit yet, I’m in my old favourites until I can shop again. I’m determined to have festive running leggings this Christmas.
  12. Special bakes for Valentines, Easter, Halloween and Christmas. Well lockdown has been perfect for this task, ticks all round so far.  
  13. Review every film watched.  I can’t believe that I haven’t been to the cinema this year, I miss our local Indie cinema and really hope it can survive. On My week posts I have written about all films I’ve seen on television this year.
  14. Get the correct school place for Little Man. Yes, yes, yes, we’re so happy after the challenge of getting a special school place that we finally got a place in our first choice. It means we won’t have to move and will make life easier for us all.  
  15. Complete a photo a week challenge.  I started this but do have some catching up to do!  
  16. Finish the 50 parkruns milestone.  This is no longer possible, but I’ll get there as soon as I can when parkrun reopens.  
  17. Take Little Man to London. This isn’t going to happen this year with Covid 19 but another to add to next year’s list.
  18. Plan each season’s style. I’ve gone through all my clothes and felt very carefully about what I need and how I want to look. I feel my style is developing.  
  19. Take a flower arranging class. Again, this is unlikely to be possible ‘live’ but I’m looking into online courses.  
  20. No sweets or chocolate. So far, so good!

Despite Covid 19, I still think that I can adapt many of these activities and enjoy them in a different way. I look forward to the end of year round up and smashing some of these tasks.

My week (or two) The ones where I didn’t go shopping IRL

A belated post for the past fortnight, I feel that I’ve been busy but when I pause to try and explain why and what I was doing, I’m not sure what made it busy? Its been another fortnight of work, home school and family life. More is beginning to slowly open up and it was wonderful to have a Chinese takeaway for the first time in lockdown. The school work is lessening, so there is more time for little adventures during the week, my favourite open space reopened this fortnight, so we went there for a walk, play and to chill.

I’ve watched …

The Salisbury Poisonings.

This was a three episode series about the poisoning of a Russian and his daughter in the town of Salisbury. Its original broadcast was delayed from the start of lockdown and I could see why as it explained the impact of the poison and how it could spread quickly and kill, not too dissimilar from Covid 19. However it was a really interesting drama with strong characters and great acting.

Big Brother 2000

It is the 20th anniversary of Big Brother and Channel 4 have been showing highlights of the past series. I loved Big Brother in the early series and watching the original 2000 highlights brought back many happy memories of the summer of 2000. The final was the night before my friend’s wedding and we stayed in, watching Craig win and getting all excited about the wedding and life.

I’ve listened

On my Spotify, sometimes listening to one song can take you on a journey of rediscovery and this week I have been enjoying Del Amitri and Crowded House, good music for these times.

I read

I finished The Hate U Give and as a fiction book it has made me really think and be disappointed in our society. How can we still be accepting prejudice and racism? I also read Broken Places, Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor. The author had a serious back injury due to an operation in her late teens which stopped her potential sporting career and led to her losing interest in her science studies. however from this adversity, she developed a passion for writing which led to her exploring her culture and becoming a celebrated sci fi writer. There is no bitterness in the tale and its an inspiring read. I also have started Zadie Smith’s Swing Time. There is a theme to my reading at present, I am trying to read novels written by black writers. I’m not sure how I can personally address the Black lives Matter movement but when in doubt, books are always a good place to start.

I made

The weather took a bit of a turn on some days and it was winter warmers for tea. I made a beautiful told in the hole, adding fresh fennel from the garden to enhance it. I love being able to pop out to our vegetale beds and pick some lettuce for salads, strawberries for pudding etc.. Our autumn harvest is looking very promising.

I visited

To quote my group of the fortnight, Crowded House, it feels like we’ve had four seasons in one day recently. We’ve had a mini heatwave (and ridiculous numbers of day trippers who seem to think that social distancing doesn’t count at the seaside) cold, rainy days and everything in between. I have been making the most of our local environment, we’ve had trips to the beach, the forest and a lake. I’ve been wild swimming and realised how much I’ve missed swimming, the feeling of being immersed in water.

I helped

Little Miss will have been off school for 6 months by the time she returns in September and this has been the perfect opportunity for her to try new looks. She has been dying her hair and this fortnight we went deep purple, my poor bathroom took a lot of the colour. It was a little dark and gothic, the bright pink has been my favourite so far.

Have a happy week.

The last normal …

We have now been in lockdown for 78 days and we are very slowly beginning to be allowed to meet others outside from our household, in the open air with social distancing. Shops will start to reopen from next Monday and primary schools are opening for limited year groups. There’s no news on pubs, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theatres and the one I’m desperate for hairdressers. We have no idea when we will be able to visit people in their houses and stay a night away from our homes. When things reopen all is going to look very different. This has got me thinking about the last normal, when we didn’t realise what was coming. I look back on a couple of weekends with fondness now, at the time, they were just normal.

At the beginning of February, Little Miss was in her school’s production. It was a new time of the school year to do the show, but had been designed not to distract Year 11s from exams. The timing meant that of all the school productions due to be done this academic year, it was one of the few which happened. This was the last time I saw my parents who came down to watch the show on Thursday evening, before they flew to Thailand for a 3 week holiday. It seems so strange now that despite news about a virus that they still travelled and then returned home with no health checks. On the Friday, I went to do some collaborative work with a sister school with my colleague, meeting up with our peers, it was a really useful day and promises made for further visits and joint work, which are all are currently on hold. On the Saturday, my father in law came to stay for the weekend so he too could see Little Miss in the show, my sister and brother in law also decided to do this on an impromptu visit. My over riding memory is of us all in the fish and chip café in between performances, a big, loud table full of family, pots of tea and steaming plates of chips, it really is the simple moments which are the most precious. After the final performance, Little Miss and I stayed for a drink and dance in the theatre bar. The bar was packed, noisy and hot, reminiscent of Saturday nights out in my 20s and just brilliant. It felt a grown up moment with my daughter, chatting, high on excitement as we walked home on possibly that latest she had ever been out. This weekend filled with family has got me through those low moments in lockdown and the promise that we will get back to normal.

The final normal weekend was March 7th and 8th, it was a weekend when we knew something might be changing, but at the time it was all about hand washing. I did my parkrun, it was the penultimate parkrun and talk was about the possibility of postponing upcoming marathons, we hoped parkrun would be safe with perhaps a few alterations. After parkrun, I picked up Little Miss from her drama session at the local youth club and we headed to ‘big town’ for some shopping and lunch. Its these things I miss so much now, popping into a coffee shop for lunch. I remember treating Little Miss to a ruby pink hot chocolate which made her happy. I don’t always spoil the children, but I’m so pleased I did it on this day, no point waiting for treats which can’t happen now, carpe diem! We had to buy a birthday present for my nephew, we got summer swim shorts and matching flip flops for his upcoming holiday to Florida, I never imagined it would not happen and the virus would cause Disney Land to close. Fortunately as I was in the summer section I picked up a few shorts and t-shirts for my son as they had his size, these were very useful purchases and has taught me to pick up the things I will need when I see them, you never know what will happen to change your plans. Lockdown has given us the sunniest, hottest and driest spring on record and these clothes have been worn lots.

On the Sunday, we were still limited in our walks because of the storms and we walked through the botanical gardens of a neighbouring town, finishing up with a pub lunch. Whilst this sounds idyllic it was cold, windy and showery on the walk and the pub was packed as people tried to avoid the rain. I do remember having hand sanitizer in my bag and making everyone use it before the food, given the packed pub I’m not sure if the virus had been in the air that we could have avoided it given the lack or knowledge of social distancing. I’m not sure what we did after we came home, but I presume it was watching the football on Sky, ironing the school and work shirts and getting ready for the coming week. The ordinary which has now become the extraordinary.

Our normal will return, but for my wellbeing, I am working on this being a long term project. If it happens quickly, I will be delighted and relieved. I’m looking forward to the normal things on a weekend, a parkrun, a trip to the coffee shop, popping into shops, listening to the football results at 4.45pm on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday pub lunches and having school and work shirts to iron again. I will be so grateful for normal.

June 2020

My Spiffy calendar is gorgeous and inspiring. This month’s quote is perfect.

It’s hard to imagine what June will look like as we edge out of lockdown. It does feel that there is a lack of clarity in the government guidelines and I do look with envy to other countries with their clear transition plans.

The children will not be in school this month (as it stands as I write, but never say never as things are happening quite randomly) Neither children are in the year groups selected to return which is a relief. I’ve read the guidelines for schools and it’s so sad and sparse, I want my children to return to the school they know and be able to play and work together.

So June will be another month of home learning. It’s normally school trip month, sports day etc.. again all lovely things which won’t happen. I can’t even do educational trips as part of my home learning, although I may explore virtual trips. June would have seen our last primary sports day, it’s always a highlight of summer and a tradition I’ll really miss. Fortunately last year’s was amazing and as our final it’s a perfect memory.

The one thing we won’t be cancelling this month is our first lockdown birthday. We have a rainbow 🌈 theme, the symbol of lockdown. I’m organised and have all the things we need for a special home birthday celebration. Sadly, we have had to postpone our family birthday trip to Paultons Park which is our annual treat. I hope we can get there soon as we love the theme park.

All I want to do this month is see my parents and have my hair cut. But these are two unanswered questions for the government to decide when I will be able to do these simple acts. My problem is my parents don’t live locally and we could only meet in a garden ( we can’t go inside to use a toilet) and must return home the same night. These conditions make a visit impossible. I really couldn’t care less about non essential shopping or horse racing and other professional sports, I just want to hug my parents this month.