My fortnight .. the one when Covid struck.

So, after more than 2 years of the pandemic, we were finally struck down with Covid. It started with Mr S, then our son and finally me. Our daughter so far has swerved it and we are all clear now. I feel a bit of a fraud as my symptoms were so mild that I would never have known I had Covid if I hadn’t done a test. The Covid episode has been prevalent over the last 10 days, with Mr S going down with it first and ending today with us all negative. I do believe that I reacted so meekly because of my vaccinations and booster and am incredibly grateful to the scientists and medical professionals who developed these.

I am incredibly grateful that we were all so well and that our isolation was as pleasant as it could have been, we have a nice house and garden and were able to potter around and play. We had food deliveries and our neighbours and friends all offering to drop in anything we needed. This is privilege I will never take for granted.

The most frustrating aspect of Covid was our cancelled plans. Last weekend we were due to go away to Longleat for a weekend which had been booked nearly a year ago. The weather was perfect and it would have been lovely, but it wasn’t to be. However, we have been able to transfer the tickets and hotel to the October half term holiday so the break will happen just at a different time. Our son also won a very special award at his presentation assembly, Sportsman of the Year but as we were still testing positive we were unable to attend. My parents came to the rescue coming down to watch the assembly and then taking our son with them for the weekend so my dad could take him to see the car racing he had been really looking forward to. I did have a week’s leave last week so all my plans were cancelled which is frustrating as I need to rearrange everything into a tightly packed schedule. Just to add the mayhem of Covid, my husband dislocated his shoulder on Wednesday, so this meant trips to two different hospitals. Now he is unable to drive for a few weeks just as the summer holidays are starting, this calls for organisation skills of the highest order.

Unsurprisingly given our confinement to home, I have watched a lot of tv. I watched the series of The Summer I Turned Pretty and Everything I know about Love. Both are brilliant, perfect summer dramas. I also have been busy reading and One True Loves, was superb with the ending I was rooting for. I have also been busy with Wordle, Quordle and Heardle to keep me occupied, proving that I reckon I’ll do fine when I retire as I can always find things to do.

Today was freedom day (aka negative test day), and I celebrated with not simply a parkrun, but my 50th parkrun and earnt my red t-shirt. It was sooo hot as we are in the midst of a heatwave, but it was worth every bead of sweat to finally get my 50. Its taken 3 years due to the pandemic, so I’m hoping to get to my 100 slightly quicker.

The highlight of my diary next week is a trip to London with my son, a promise made just before lockdown which we are finally getting to do. Having had Covid I’m more relaxed about the trip, cases may be high but I think we have a little immunity now. Fingers crossed its a trip we do get to do in July!

My week … the one with the MOT panic!

Well I am so grateful for a quiet weekend as this week has been mad. My highlights today (apart from parkrun) were a walk along the quay and riverside of a local town and an ice cream and then buying a bunch of peonies at the market, some of life’s simple pleasures. At around this time of year I get the perfect storm of family celebrations, end of term treats at school and clubs and the humdrum of everyday life. It can be a little overwhelming and this week I did something I have never done in my 27 years of owning a car, I forgot my MOT. Fortunately I realised this on its due date, but phoning around I discovered there was no chance of getting a MOT for around 10 days in our town, so had to reorganise my week so I could go to the ‘big’ town after work and get it done at Halfords. It was a nervy drive over as I wasn’t sure where I stood on my insurance but I got over safely and I was very impressed by Halfords, I was in and out within the hour with a pass and no recommendations. Fortunately, I don’t use my car much during my working week and walk to work so not having a car made no real difference to my day.

Last Sunday was Fathers day and another family celebration, so we went to see the new Jurassic Park film. I have to admit the franchise is not really my style and I wasn’t a huge fan of the film, but those who chose it enjoyed it and I had a comfy seat for a few hours. We came home to cakes and bakes needed for the week ahead so it was busy Sunday night.

Unusually for me, I found myself out on both Monday and Tuesday evenings. Monday was for a drink on a seafront bar, the bar was on the seafront and the view was soothing and beautiful. On Tuesday, my daughter and I went to see a production at the local theatre funded through a Platinum Jubilee grant called Swim. Sea swimming has become a huge thing in our community and there are big numbers of mainly women who pop into the sea everyday of the year (not me, I run by and wave) The production was brilliant, so empowering and joyful. The production started in the theatre with a presentation of what wild swimming meant to the swimmers and there were some lovely and very thoughtful comments. Then the audience went outside where around 50 women did some choreography on the beach and in the sea, accompanied by the best summer songs, bright and gorgeous costumes and props and a huge crowd clapping and singing, it was so uplifting.

Wednesday evening was my emergency MOT so I found myself walking in the sunshine whilst I waited, listening to the latest edition of the running podcast, With Me Now, featuring a profile of my home parkrun. It was a brilliant episode and totally caught the spirit of our parkrun. I did parkrun this morning (before a quick dash to an opticians appointment) and achieved a rare groundhog day where you do exactly the same time on the same course in consecutive weeks. I never run to a watch so had not planned to do this but am chuffed to have done so!

On Thursday, I popped over to my new school to hand in some documentation and sign some forms. I am so excited about my new job and can’t wait to start, its definitely the right time for a new start professionally. At the school, there are a number of people I have worked with before, SEN is a small world, so it will be nice to see friendly faces come September. I have a new notepad and already have ideas …

I’ve not watched much tv this week, but I have been reading just before bed. The book A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning-Wroe may not appear to have the most appealing plotline, Aberfan tragedy, an embalmer as the protagonist but it is a lovely read and one I am finding every spare moment to read.

My week … the one with a resignation

Again its an entry for a little longer than a week but lots has been happening. Hopefully normal service will return soonish, although for our family the next 6 weeks is full of all the celebrations and special occasions.

Firstly my big news is that after nearly 18 years at my school, I have resigned, having secured a new job for September. I’ll be working again with my work bestie / job share partner of the past 12 years and I am so excited for my new role. Its a big change, but the right one at the right time. On the work front, I’ve been working really hard on some transitions for our older students and I felt humbled to receive some lovely thank you cards and gifts this week after successful placements were secured.

We had a really busy weekend last week. On Saturday, we had an away cricket game a long distance away, a 6am start on a Saturday for us all was a little tough! However it was a lovely, friendly club and the weather perfect so all was good. On the way back we stopped halfway for lunch, unbeknown to us it was the town’s folk festival and there was a fantastic atmosphere with huge crowds of people. It really felt quite joyful, a reminder of life pre pandemic. On Sunday it was another early start so my daughter and I could go shopping in Southampton, it has the best shops for a style conscious teenager. We had a very successful trip, a delicious lunch al fresco, lots of fun trying on clothes and a lovely potter along the nice make up and perfume counters in John Lewis. I also was able to buy gifts for lots of events coming up so am feeling pretty organised.

The weekdays passed without any particular notable events. I am listening to the audio book, This Is Not a Pity Memoir and thoroughly recommend it. We also finished the series The Staircase again based on a true story. There were parts I really enjoyed but felt only indifference to the protagonist. A much better watch was the new series All I know about Love, based on the book by Dolly Alderton which I really rated.

Today, I was due to go to be cricket mum again, but the match was cancelled last night as the opposition couldn’t raise a team. I was delighted that this freed me up to go to my local parkrun which was being visited and profiled by the podcast I listen to weekly. Having listened to everyone of the 206 episodes it was great to say hello to the presenter and I’m looking forward to hearing his thoughts on our parkrun next week. I also met a VI guide who is doing a ten parkrun challenge, he was so interesting and was interviewed by the local radio for broadcast next Tuesday so I’ll try and catch it on our local radio station. You meet the loveliest people at parkrun. This afternoon, I’ve been down town with the children, its rowing regatta so another busy event which creates a lovely buzz in the town.

One of the more random experiences of the week was getting papped, as a large group of people have been gathering outside our house for a few nights. It was quite intimidating on the first night and we went out to ask why there was a crowd outside our house with long lenses. It turns out that there wasrare bird in our garden and that was the object of their visit.

Tomorrow we’re off to see the new Jurassic park film as requested by the children. After a week of heatwaves and sunshine, the weather forecast is poor so it seems a good idea. Its also Father’s day so a nice way to do something together.

My week .. the one with a jubilee half term break

This was such a well needed holiday for us all after a few tough weeks. You could feel the stress just dissolve as we drove off and the sound of laughter filled the car. We were fortunate that the journey wasn’t too far, around a 2.5 hour drive so we arrived at lunchtime and went to one of the village’s local pubs for lunch before checking in, such a nice and relaxed way to start the week.

Our caravan was amazing, we think we had been upgraded as since we booked the company have rebranded the caravan categories and I think we sneaked into the higher band. It was a real luxury caravan and the perfect base. One of my simple pleasures on a caravan holiday is sitting on the decking with a book and drink in the sunshine and I managed this daily on holiday. The caravan was in Pagham, West Sussex, a charming, quintessential English village, with Bognor and Chichester both close by. We visited Bognor to go to the cinema to see Top Gun, Maverick and Chichester to wander around the town and have lunch. I love an early morning run on holiday and loved exploring the village and neighbouring nature reserve. I think running is one of the best ways to get to know you local environment.

The campsite had lots of activities to enjoy, we all went swimming at least once a day, the children normally twice. I still am really appreciating being able to swim in a pool after the lockdowns, when I swim, I always feel its something I should do more of. There were pools both inside and out and with the good weather we were able to enjoy both. The children also enjoyed the Go Karts and playgrounds where we were able to give them a little more freedom. They also continue to enjoy their £1 treat money for the minimart. During the week, the boys did target shooting and the girls went to an art session where we painted some gnomes, they were great sessions. We went to bingo on a couple of occasions too, classic holiday fun.

We were all keen to see the new Top Gun movie so we booked tickets and went to the cinema in Bognor and it did not disappoint, it was spectacular. I’m so pleased we got to see it in a cinema first as the big screen experience really made it, the amazing air scenes, the sound and the general buzz of the audience in the cinema. The cinema continues to be a magical place.

Whilst we had been to Bognor previously as we have stayed at Butlins, we had never been to Chichester and what a lovely little city it is. We started the day with a trip to the local trampoline centre which the children loved. We did a two hour session and for the first hour they shared it with only two other children, they all got individual help from the staff and lots of go’s on all the different features. After the session, we headed into the town centre, Chichester which was beautiful. It had some gorgeous decorations for the jubilee, the photo above does not do justice to the display in the florists as it was stunning. I also enjoyed walking around the town, from the beautiful gardens of the cathedral to the side streets and spotting the street art. We stopped for lunch in Chichester at Bill’s and it was one of the best lunches out I’ve had, buzzing atmosphere, stylish and funky decor and an outstanding menu. I had what was essentially a Greek salad, but it was so fresh with a few twists on the traditional recipe and was one of the most delicious salads I’ve had. My daughter felt similar about her salad, grilled halloumi, hummus, flatbreads etc.. whilst my son couldn’t believe he was allowed bacon, pancakes and maple syrup for lunch!

This was such a lovely, relaxing holiday full of simple pleasures just what was needed for all the family. We have another week booked at the same site in August as part of our two week holiday and look forward to returning for more happy, family times.

The Platinum Jubilee

This weekend has seen a four day weekend to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee, a reign of 70 years. Its difficult to sum up how I feel about the monarchy, I’m neither a monarchist or republican but somewhere in between. I have respect for our Queen but not so much for the soap opera of the monarchy.

I have seen the Queen once in the early 80s, when I was on a girl guide camp at Windsor castle and we all went to the same church service on the Sunday. We saw a lot of the Royal family at the service, and I think we were all in awe of a young princess Diana. We all curtsied to the Queen and the Queen Mother came to talk to us after church and had her photograph taken with us, she was so lovely and spent lots of time chatting to us.

As we were away for the week, I hadn’t planned to decorate the house. I do have some vintage, floral union jack bunting which I use regularly, so this was in the window and I did change my light box to a jubilee message. On our return from holiday we did find some bunting had been added to our little triangle / cul de sac by our neighbours which did look festive and fun.

Our town loves a big event and held a large street party on Friday which featured prominently in the national press. There were union jacks everywhere in town and the local floral society had organised their members to provide the shops on the main street with themed jubilee floral displays, which were magnificent. There was a huge crown at the station and the theatre had a life size golden coach displayed on its exterior wall.

As we were away we didn’t participate in any of our town’s events ourselves and with the event at the holiday site being on Saturday afternoon, we missed that too. However, I did enjoy our jubilee party at school with the students and parents on the last day of term and then I surprised myself by really enjoying the televised events. The concert on Saturday evening had some amazing moments, the Queen and Paddington sketch was priceless, Diversity’s dance through the decades was brilliant and I’m sure I’m not the only 40 something mum who squealed when Jason Donovan appeared as Joseph! On Sunday, I watched the crazily, beautifully bonkers Jubilee pageant. The themed double deckers were brilliant and the national treasures on them were perfect. There was so much to keep you amused.

I think that whilst this weekend was a celebration of the Queen, it was sadly probably one of the nation’s last opportunities to thank the Queen for all her service, at 96 she looks frail and elderly. She was unable to attend all the planned events due to her health and the final balcony scene of her with Charles, William and their families appeared to symbolise the royal transition. However, it was a joyful weekend with so much fun and British charm.

May 2022, busy and tough …

Whilst I occasionally combine two weeks in one go, it’s really unusual for me not to have posted a blog post in over a month. But this month has been exceptional and I’m not really sure how and why. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions with tales not to be recorded in the blog both professionally and in family life. I’m not sure exhausted is the right emotion, I feel genuinely shattered, its been a very, very tough time.

The weekends in May have been my highlights and we’ve tried to keep things simple and local. It’s cricket season so I’ve been cheering on my son on Saturday mornings, this has affected my parkruns I only managed one this month. However, I love the atmosphere and social aspect of cricket and as its such a short season, I’ll be back at parkrun soon. I also took my daughter to the farm for her last visit, it was financed through her old school and has had to stop at present. The weekend afternoons have been lazy in the garden, with friends or neighbours popping around and this has been food for the soul. These weekends are what has gotten me through the days.

As the month has ended, we have been away for a few days and this has helped to process the past month and reflect. There’s lots to look forward to in the coming months, birthdays, anniversaries and summer days living at the seaside.

A happy 90th birthday to my lovely father in law.

This weekend we have had family down to our seaside town to celebrate my father in law’s 90th birthday. Its been a really special weekend, the sun has shone, the birthday lunch was superb and the relaxed conversation and laughter in our garden with drinks and birthday cake just finished the celebrations perfectly.

We have been busy prepping up for this weekend, Mr S organising a venue for lunch and the accommodation, there’s been many whats app messages between me and my sister in law finalising the cake, decorations and sparkles and then a final itinerary to please everyone from 12 – 90! However it has been worth every minute of our time to put together such special occasion. My father in law is one of those lovely, old fashioned gentlemen who would never wish to put anyone out to plan his birthday, I have no doubt that for him the highlight was simply seeing his family all together for the first time in many years. The Covid threat really hung over us this week and despite it being the first week of the holidays, I organised lots of outdoor activities, insisted on mask wearing in the shops and other measures to keep us all Covid free, it would have been devastating to have to cancel. I have promised all the big, indoor activities this coming week for the children to compensate for their willingness to sacrifice them in the first week to keep the party plans.

I am so lucky to have the loveliest, kindest father in law. Sadly I never knew my mother in law, as she died many years before I met Mr S in 1998 so Mr S senior is both my parents in law. The relationship between him and his son is very close and strong and they speak daily. Thankfully Mr S senior has always been very welcoming of me into his family. He has always been there for us both, on the most difficult days and on the most joyful too. He was also wonderful on our adoption journey, he attended all the sessions and interviews he was asked to and has truly seen our children as his grandchildren from Day 1, he is the kindest, most generous grandad and I am so pleased that our children will have happy memories of grandad.

It was a pleasure to be able to do something so special this weekend for such a wonderful man. I would love to have a very special centenary celebration in 2032, but for today, I am thankful we celebrated his 90th together and look forward to many more happy times with this lovely man.

My week … the one with craft projects

So its not a weekly catch up this time, but ten days, as it offered a little more variety and interest to the weekly version which was very work focused. We are now on the Easter holiday and after a term of Covid, storms and Ofsted, this holiday feels very much needed. On Monday morning, my daughter had a two hour session at the farm so I made use of this time to catch up on the really urgent work tasks so I can focus on the 90th birthday plans this week.

The craft projects of this title are some Easter decorations and table decorations for my father in law’s 90th party. The table decorations are something I’ve done for a few big birthdays, my Dad’s 70th, my husband’s 50th where I colour copy old family photos, cut and laminate and stick them, double sided on a straw which are then grouped on the table in glass vases. I’ve done nearly 40 photos for Sunday and there’s some lovely images included. Its a great conversation starter to smile and talk about happy times with those present and those no longer with us. Our other project is decorating a MDF egg and rabbit for our Easter celebrations, we have done the base coat today and plan to paint dainty little flowers on them tomorrow, I’m doing this with my daughter whilst my son painted a sun catcher of a little chick. I have put up most of our Easter decorations this week but would like to add a few more fresh flowers to finish it nicely.

As its the holidays, I have been busy reading, one is an absolutely outstanding read and another in which the writer came across as arrogant, selfish and so self obsessed. The 5 star read, is Lisa Faulkner’s book Meant to Be about her infertility and adoption journey. I really was in tears as I read it, as so much of her journey reflected my own experiences and I found it a very honest and therapeutic read. I’ve never found a book which really expressed the whole experience and this was written so beautifully it actually helped me feel at peace. In contrast, Louis Theroux’s Lockdown Diary was so full of self pity that I felt quite contemptuous of him by the end. As someone who worked onsite everyday of the lockdown and faced Covid on many times in this period, I found I couldn’t really relate to his experience, so many people in all walks of life had such a challenging times that his just simply didn’t compare which seemed to simply be summed up as Joe Wicks, computer games, alcohol and family arguments.

I had a nice mum and son day on Sunday, we needed to go and get a smart outfit for Grandad’s 90th birthday party and he is so much easier and laid back than his sister on the fashion stakes. We were done in the first shop with smart navy trousers and a blue polo top, so we also picked up a few other things for him too, its rare to get him in a clothes shop so I made sure we had some summer essentials. We then went to the picturesque and lively quay area for a walk, to admire all the very expensive boats at the marina and some lunch. It was a really nice, chilled time together.

I had been really proud of my son on Saturday when he and Mr S decided to walk their first parkrun. They had come to watch us girls, but one of the organisers persuaded them to have a go too, cue me frantically registering them when I had finished so they could get a time recorded. We then went on a long family walk and I had done 20k+ steps before lunch!

One of the highlights of my week was the return of the comedy, Derry Girls. Sadly, its the last series, hey they can’t be school girls forever, but it was pure class and is one of those rare comedies I want to watch again now just to catch every last laugh. The 90s theme track suits the mood brilliantly.

I am on party countdown, aka please , please no-one catch Covid this week and I’m doing all the last minute prep I really enjoy. Easter weekend will look a little different, it feels wrong but I think the Easter egg hunt will need to be on Good Friday so we can focus on the birthday celebrations on Saturday and Sunday and both children think its too long to wait until Monday for their traditional chocolate fest.

Enjoy Easter.

My weeks …. the ones with lots of running and flowers.

This is one of my fortnightly catch ups instead of my preferred weekly posts. Last week I wanted to wait to the half marathon on Sunday to write up my race, but feeling tired I chose to wait until Monday night. We then got the Ofsted call on Monday at work and my whole week was changed.

So much has happened in the past two weeks, I don’t really know where to start. My professional life was particularly busy on both weeks, there’s a lot going on at present and its an important period of my career, change is ahead… The Ofsted inspection was a bit of a surprise (we were working on it being a bit later due to pandemic delays) and it also coincided with a Covid outbreak at work. Our town is now in the black rating for Covid, the worst on the chart. This made for a very different style of inspection as my first one leading the education department. However it was a positive experience and I was so proud of my team and students. I have been given 4 bunches of flowers in the past few days, one from my children for mothers day which is today and the others for my work on the inspection. Its lovely to be appreciated.

It has also been a busy running period. I love my parkruns but until last weekend the closest was 20 miles away, however one has now opened in our town, less than a mile from home which is much more convenient and eco friendly, no more car journeys. For the first week, we all went to help the set up and the girls ran whilst the boys cheered us on. I hadn’t been expecting to run this Saturday but a Covid cancellation of our planned activity (not us) meant I could run. Its a stunning but brutal course, 4 hills and possibly the hilliest parkrun in the country. I’m loving it, its hard but as it is only 5k manageable. Next week, I’m visiting my parents and planning on doing their local parkrun, its flat and fast, quite a contrast. In addition to the parkruns, I also managed to tick off one of the items on my 22for2022 list, run a half marathon last Sunday. It was extremely well organised and the first half was delightful, flat, a mix of the prom and country park in spring bloom, but the second half was definitely much harder with a few steep hills. I was so pleased to have completed it, especially as its only five months following my foot operation. My next running challenge is to complete 50 parkruns and then I’ll need to think of a new goal. I do like a little running challenge.

Family time has been quite limited in the past fortnight, I worked late this week due to Ofsted and my son has been away on scout camp this weekend. However last Saturday we all made pizzas from scratch. We have a different theme each Saturday as our special meal of the week. The pizzas were fun to make and delicious and simply quality family time. This week with my son away we did Chinese as he’s not keen in it and we love it.

Unusually, we’re not together next weekend either as we’re off to our parents separately, the boys are off to Grandad’s to see a special car show and do some jobs for him and the girls are off to my parents for shopping and a catch up. Then we’ll be back together for lots of family time, especially during the Easter holiday.

This week I’m looking forward to a quiet, non eventful week, i need one!