My week … the one with so much uni work to do …

Whilst the temptation was not to write a post this week, I am giving myself 15 minutes to simply jot down a few things, it’ll be a bullet point format but at least will provide some details of the week.

  • As you may guess from the title, my Uni deadline is looming, 40 days and counting and I should be fully focused on my project. However I am also having that moment of panic, best illustrated by extreme procrastination at times this week. What else could explain having wrapped all the Christmas presents and having written and addressed the Christmas cards when I in fact should have been reading and writing. No distractions now, the work must be done. I am dreaming of the January 8th when there will be with no more study stress (although in the best possible timing, I may have a promotion at work starting that week too!)
  • My Zoom life. As if Zoom at work wasn’t suffice, its been a work of Zoom meetings at home too. Scouts continues on Zoom and this week’s Taskmaster edition was excellent, so much fun. We then had our son’s Annual Review on Zoom, and as a parent, I embrace this medium for Annual reviews and teacher meetings, it takes so much faff away from the meeting and simply focuses on the content. It was a great meeting and lovely to have Little man appearing in the meeting too and showing the strong relationship he has with his new teacher.
  • The Great British Bake Off. I loved this series and how the team got it produced and aired in the Covid pandemic is amazing. The final was great and showed the simple joys of life, baking with friends. At the end of the programme, there was a dedication to all those getting us through 2020 and it gave me all the feels.
  • I’ve been reading Olive by Emma Gannon as I go to bed, just to simply switch off from academic work. Its a good read on the choices around becoming a parent, real and witty with some great characters.
  • We haven’t put up the Christmas tree. Despite a concerted effort form the Sparkles family to persuade me otherwise, I’ve remained strong on not putting up the Christmas tree early. I can’t bring myself to do it in November, I love my tree and decorations but it needs to be done in December. As compensation, I have planned a special Christmas day next Saturday to allow us to do this with some festive treats.

My time deadline is up now. Back to the studies and hopefully I’ll finish my portfolio tonight by bedtime. Last night I was doing Uni work at 11pm on a Saturday night, how did this happen?

My week … the one with more of lockdown 2.0

One day, I’ll write a different post to My week, but with juggling the looming assessment deadline for my Uni course, work in a pandemic and family life, my blog is on pause except for this weekly update. Its been a pretty miserable day, the heavy rain making a lockdown weekend even more challenging. We had a quick stomp in the woods this morning, I did the dreaded lockdown haircut for Little Man and we had a family game of Monopoly. At least, Strictly is on shortly, even with a few notable absences due to Covid, to finish my day with a sparkle.

Its been a strange week as I had a minor procedure on my foot this week. I had been expecting it to be postponed but it happened, under the most secure Covid precautions I have encountered. With Mr S at home, I was able to rest properly and with a few painkillers spent the day propped up in bed. What a luxury, I listened to my favourite podcasts, snoozed, did more Christmas planning and orders and read, it felt like a mini holiday.

Here are some highlights of the week .

I read …

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens and it was the perfect book for a lazy day in bed. It was one of my infamous Kindle 99p deal of the day books. It felt like a grown up rom com and had a good ending which I appreciated, I don’t do soppy mush. It amused me that the main character disliked New Year’s eve as much as me, I’m glad I’m not alone, even if it is a fictional character.

I listened …

I’m a big fan of a kitchen disco and today is my disco day as I love a Saturday afternoon prepping and cooking a special dinner. This week, I went for funk and soul and played it loud and proud. It really raised my spirits. I have seen that Craig Charles is playing a set next summer at the local music festival and I would love to be in that crowd. In lockdown 2.0, you need to be looking forward and planning for exciting times ahead.

I had a Christmas drink …

As a little treat after my clinic appointment, I popped into Starbucks for a takeaway Christmas drink. Whilst it was delicious, gingerbread hot chocolate, I wish I could say it gave me the festive feels, but with the clinic being in a shopping centre, and all the shops closed, it was an extremely eerie and strange experience. Whilst every year, I complain that Christmas comes too early, I realise that I secretly need the tinny Christmas songs on repeat with the glitzy decorations hanging in the shop windows.

I attended parents evening 2 …

On Tuesday, we had our son’s virtual parents evening. We are so proud of how well he has settled into his new school and his teacher is just lovely. I felt so happy and emotional after the meeting, we heard how well he is doing in his work, friendships are blossoming and his character is shining through.

And finally

For the next 6 weeks, my focus is solely on my uni work, as I have a coursework deadline to meet. However, I am prepared for short term pain for a long term gain!

Have a happy week.

My week … the one with lockdown 2.0

Normally this blog is about family life but this week seems to have been dominated by the national news of a new lockdown and international news with a final result in the fractious American presidential election. Family dinner table conversation has been about these topics and has given us a real chance with particular regards to the U.S. election to discuss some big themes, democracy, equality, representation. It sounds a bit heavy but the conversations have been presented in child friendly ways and I am proud of the values our children are developing.

This is also a week where my work has seeped into home life too. Lockdown 2.0 has meant loads of additional work due to the unique nature of our setting and its been long days, late nights and doing a few hours on my days off too.

Here are a few highlights from this week

I read

I have read Bella Mackie’s Jog On and it is a really interesting and thought provoking read. Given the title, running is a theme through the book, but it looks at anxiety and wellbeing too. Given Lockdown its a pertinent read and a timely reminder to look after ourselves.

I ran with my daughter …

I am genuinely becoming very concerned about the long term effect on children’s wellbeing in lockdown. We have been out every day during both lockdowns for long walks, cycle rides or in sunnier times, swimming in the sea but I am aware that my children don’t get the hard, physical challenges they used to, some close contact sports are banned and there are no after school sport clubs, competitions etc… To try and counter this we’ve tried to be more physically active at home, Mr S has been out in the garden with Little Man this week to play football and I have run some 5Ks with Little Miss. I do like these runs, I get to talk and listen with my girl and she always feels so much better at the end of a run. On one of her runs she said that she was missing parkrun and playing team sports like netball at school, its all a little heart breaking. However, we can’t focus on what we can’t do but enjoy what we are doing now and the runs will continue in lockdown 2.

I paused to remember the war dead …

Again, another very strange experience for Remembrance Sunday. For the last five years, Little Man has always been part of the parade through scouting. He is military mad and Remembrance day is a big thing for him. He was so proud last year when he got to represent his school at the children’s service and plant a cross for a soldier. This morning, I walked him up to the war memorial to observe a socially distanced 2 minute silence at 11am. It was respectfully observed, the location makes it easy for people to spread out and there was no service just a lone bugler to start and finish the silence. On this morning’s early run I did run up to the memorial and just pause, the memorial looks out onto the sea and on a dark, misty morning it felt eerily peaceful.

I followed the American Presidential election …

Whilst it became a bit of a marathon, so many page refreshes, with no result until Saturday evening, I have been following the American election so closely this week. As an aside, James Naughtie back on Radio 4 was great and Twitter was superb, my friends and I were sharing lots of tweets with articles, gifs etc.. It didn’t seem an election just to elect a President, but a culture. Thankfully that culture of respect, democracy and equality seems to have prevailed. I felt so much love and optimism with the result and the future feels so much brighter. I’ve become a total fan girl of Madam VP, Kamala Harris, the role model we need all our children to have.

And finally

If all goes to plan, I am going to stop and rest this week with a minor procedure on my foot. Although its painful, I am secretly looking forward to 24 hours in bed resting my foot. My whole week will hopefully be at a slower speed, as I simply cannot keep up with the pace of this last week.

Have a good week.

Covid Life Lately …

Until July, I was keeping pretty up to date with my Coronavirus diary post on this blog. I think just the ongoing nature of the situation made me lose interest in keeping the post live but as we are now here at the end of October and facing the second wave, I thought I would update what life is like and our new ‘normal’ This will be a purely home angle, no politics although there’s a lot to say …

We are currently in the first tier, ‘medium’ which means that we have the fewest restrictions, we can meet with friends in groups of up to six inside and out, drink in pubs until 10pm and generally get on with day to day life, as long as we have a face mask and sanitiser! Our children are both at school and amazingly have not yet been in self isolation for a 14 day period as there have been no cases in their ‘bubbles’. I am working near enough as normal, at my place of work, as I have done all this year. However, much of my work is online now, especially meetings and I think this will continue indefinitely and is one of the areas where things might not go back to what they were before lockdown.

We are being careful around our parents, we have first met part way between homes at a country park and now have travelled to their houses to see them but not stayed over. This has been difficult over half term, all our normal has changed. It was sad today to be reminded that this day last year, we were ice skating with my parents and cousin. The pictures look so strange now, so many people safely in one place, creating such a lovely atmosphere. Its the social contact I really miss. Whilst I’m still running, I miss parkrun and its community. I miss my Saturday routine, a run, a coffee, a trip to the shops and then back home to watch the sport. Its all different now, at present there is no parkrun and no crowds at professional sports matches. I have been shopping but when I’ve been in the shops there is minimal stock and its easier to buy online. Shopping isn’t fun, its functional.

However, despite the challenges, I do try to embrace the new normal. I have been out with friends to outdoor cafes, this was made so much easier when the children returned to school and there were so many months of our lives to catch up on. This week, I met up with friends with whom I go out every half term on an evening (we’re all teachers and tend to live by the school year) Our last meeting was during the summer holidays, when it was pleasant to be outside on the quay. However this week it was dark and cold and given our jobs, all working with vulnerable children, we weren’t keen to risk being inside for the evening (or 10pm when pubs close) We ended up at a friend’s house as her husband created an amazing outdoor space in lockdown, it is stunning and with a log burner made the perfect environment. It was a fantastic evening, we were warm and cosy and the clear skies and bright stars made quite a backdrop. It was so good that we didn’t realise how late it was until the church bells chimed for midnight, given the times, it seemed unreal to still be out after 10pm! We all made it special, I bought fancy hot drinks, there was freshly baked cake and we were all wrapped up warm, it made life feel a lot more enjoyable. Sometimes its just about the little things and making your normal work in different times.

Another example of this was a virtual 10k I did today. I had entered a 10k for June which was cancelled, so I had written off a race this year and just got on with my running. However, I read about the London 10k becoming a virtual race, £15 for entry with a medal and a technical t shirt and decided to give it a go. I liked the concept, you had a week to complete a 10k route of your choice and to upload evidence and it would tick off one of my 20for20 list. To further embrace the idea, I created a playlist full of London themed songs and set up an app to record my time and distance. It was simple fun.

Despite trying to adapt my likes to 2020 style, there are some things which simply can’t be replicated. I miss live music so much, the theatre and a big blockbuster at the cinema. The arts are so important in my life and I feel bereft at present. I would love to potter around a gallery. I want to be around others, be at big events, get the buzz of being in a crowd. Christmas will be very different this year and it will feel sad not to be participating in those festive favourites. Its only made me even more determined to celebrate every little thing in years to come and embrace the now.

My week … the one with the pumpkin carvings

Its been a funny old week, one in which I have felt a bit disorientated and out of sorts. Its an extra week’s holiday for me, but there’s a lot going on in the background and its not been as restful and relaxing as I would have hoped for. I think its the Covid uncertainty all around us and this week I’ve been trying to fit in extra things just in case there is a further lockdown, I’ve organised and attended appointments and done some present buying (I’ve a few family birthdays and a big birthday for a friend before Christmas.) We Mr S is doing more decorating and this week its our bedroom. This means I’m on a camp bed at present and the upstairs hallway is full of our bedroom furniture, I find it really unsettling and am craving order and neatness!

For someone who isn’t a huge fan of driving, it makes me feel nauseous, I’ve done loads of miles this week, nearly 400. Whilst half of these were in the one day to see my parents ( Each way is 100 miles, 80 miles of windy, rural roads and then v exciting, 20 miles of fast, straight motorway) the other miles were simply completing all my jobs and school pick ups. It was so good to see my parents, its the first time I’ve been to their house since lockdown and Little Miss and I spent a relaxing day with a top lunch cooked by Dad.

One of my numerous appointments was an x-ray at the big hospital and I was disappointed at the Covid precautions. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a clinic at a different venue which was highly secure, the consultant in scrubs, mask, health questionnaire done, temperature taken etc.. This time, I walked through the hospital with a questionable one way system, no health checks, staff with masks only and it just felt wrong. In the past few weeks, Covid cases have risen and both of my children’s schools have had children sent home to self isolate. I am amazed that we got through a half term with no self isolation cases among our household, although I do think its inevitable and we are ready and prepared.

This is a long preamble this week, but here’s some of this week’s highlights …

  1. We decorated our bedroom.

Well, we’re still in the midst of this but it should be finished tomorrow. This was the most contentious redecoration so far on our little project list. We’ve been doing so much decorating because we hadn’t done any ongoing work for the past 18 months, as we weren’t sure whether we would have to move to be nearer our son’s new school. Fortunately because he’s at the closest special school, we don’t need to move and can now tick off those home projects. Coupled with Mr S retirement (I still can’t believe he’s retired at 54) we’ve been making big progress on our list in the last month or so. The big argument on this project was not the wall colour, its called heartwood and is a lovely heather / mauve colour but the bedside table lamps. You would not believe the time spent on this decision, too cheap, too light, too dark, doesn’t complement the wall colour, not in stock. Considering in the last month, we’ve chosen wall colours for 3 rooms, picked a new carpet and sofa with ease, the table lamps were a long and tense negotiation!

2. We carved our pumpkins.

Normally, I would have done the pumpkins a little later than today which is October 25th. However with horrible weather forecast for the whole day and other activities more difficult with upstairs being out of bounds, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to do the pumpkins. Both children have been looking forward to carving pumpkins, its something we do every year and they had been thinking and even sketching designs. I was so impressed how independent they were, Little Miss is creative and at an age where she can do it without help or supervision but Little Man was equally determined to do his on his own. I helped him scoop out some of the seeds but the rest is all his own work. He was determined that his pumpkin was going to be wearing his army helmet and the design was based around this. At her farm session yesterday, Little Miss picked her own pumpkin, its not only big but a beautiful specimen and looks lovely. With the addition of the farm pumpkin, this meant we had a spare pumpkin, so I did one too. On one side I carved Covid, the horror for Halloween and the other side a rainbow, the light in dark times, so 2020!

3. I browsed recipes.

I adore Nigel Slater’s cook books and in looking for a good recipe to use up our pumpkin, I spent far too long browsing his GreenFeast, autumn, winter book. Whilst I did find a recipe I’m going to do in the next few days, roasted pumpkin with a home made accompanying hummus, I spent a long time looking and being inspired to try other dishes. They are all simple but the flavours and combinations are mouth watering. Its one of those cookbooks which is as comforting to read as are the recipes.

4. I watched Strictly

I love Strictly, it gives me all the sparkles and feels and I am so grateful that the production crew have done all they can to bring it back live for the autumn. I watched the intro show last Saturday and then the first week’s dances yesterday. Its too early to try and make a prediction and work out who I’ll be cheering on each week, however for skill and potential, I liked HRVY, Clara and Nicola but Caroline was simply charming and her tears of delight at dancing had me, I think she could be another Susan Calman, who is one of my all time favourites.

And finally

Its half term this week, a half term like no other! Its going to have a bit of a Halloween theme, whilst we’ve done the pumpkins, we still need to decorate the house and I’m planning a big window display. As like the early lockdown days where people put teddy bears in windows to keep little children amused on their walks, there’s a similar activity this half term, to put a pumpkin where they can be seen as part of a pumpkin trial, an alternative to trick and treating. It sounds a great idea and as someone who really dislikes trick and treating its a winner for me! The children have asked for the swinging doughnut on Halloween, adapted from the sticky pudding game from my childhood Scottish Halloweens and also to make cheesy bat biscuits as its what we do. I’m happy to do these and given the forecast it’ll be a half term of indoor games, crisp walks and baking.

Have a happy half term.

My week .. the one Little Man started secondary school

This is part one of two week’s of back to school entries. Despite attending state schools in the same local authority there is nearly a week’s difference in the start of the school year and the end of the school year for my children. I know I would prefer to go back now (hey its been 6 months) and have a longer summer holiday in 2021. I’m back at work too and the first week of term is another of those full on weeks, so much to do. We’ve not had the opportunity to really get into a routine yet but hopefully that will follow in the coming weeks and I won’t feel so overwhelmed.

So on this bank holiday week, these are my sparkles.

I walked a lot ..

So after never having achieved 30k steps on my Fitbit, I managed it twice on the bank holiday weekend as we enjoyed two family walks and picnics. We had hoped for sunny, hot days on the beach but with slightly cooler weather the walks helped us all get out and distract us from our anxieties about the week ahead. Monday was a tough ascent rewarded with the most fantastic views (especially of the cruise ships) the little graph shows the hill, it was steep and challenging but in its own way quite fun!

I survived Little Man’s first day ..

I was at work on my son’s first day at school so Mr S as our new stay at home parent took him. He has started a special secondary school so its no longer a few minutes from home and my work, but a 23 mile journey, this scares me a little but I’m trying to be brave. I don’t think he’s ever been as far from me! He was excited to be going to school and was up early all dressed in his new uniform, hair styled and ready for his day. We took the first day photos and it was the first time that I don’t have a photo of the two children on the first day back. I will take a photo of my little duo next Tuesday, but Little Man will be a veteran by then and I’m sure the uniform won’t be so pristine! Mr S was able to reassure me just after 9am, that he had gone in happily and I was clock watching all afternoon to the time, he was collecting him from school. Little Man had a brilliant first day and had the broadest grin when he came out of school, he had played cricket and made new friends. The feeling of relief was indescribable, I felt very tearful. The next day was Thursday and whilst Mr S took him again I did the pick up so I could get my bearings on the journey and how the pick up worked. It was really reassuring to go to the school and see him coming out of school and to meet his teacher. On the journey home, Little Man was keen to tell me all about his day until he fell asleep mid sentence! On Friday, Little Man took the taxi for the first time, again lots of nerves but he was back on time and had managed to navigate how to get from the taxi to class. He’s been incredible this week and we are so proud of him. He’s had a brilliant week and really enjoyed his new school. All the stress and fighting for the correct school place was the right thing to do and although it nearly broke me I am so pleased we did it.

I read a fascinating book ..

I’m reading one of my 99p Kindle Deals, The Checklist Manifesto. Its such an interesting read on how checklists can ensure that tasks are done correctly. There are so many fascinating case studies, from medical to aviation, architecture and Van Halen. The Van Halen story is great, as in their gig check list they hid a request for brown M&Ms to be removed from a jar of M&Ms in their changing room. This was not rock star silliness but they would not play if there were brown M&Ms in the changing room. The presence of brown M&Ms meant the checklist had not been followed correctly. The checklist was so important because of the complex stage show they had created and they needed very specific safety measures to be followed in full detail. The brown M&Ms were a simple, quick way to ensure the safety of their crew and audience. The book is full of stories like this and I’ll be writing a few checklist at work following this read.

I listened ..

Its the first week back at work and I do love a little seasonal song. This week I have changed my alarm from a traditional tone to Earth, Wind and Fire’s September. I love this song, it would definitely make my desert Island Discs and I like the silliness of waking up to such a tune this month!

I watched ..

Today, I have been at a skate jam. I had no idea what this was but little Man was keen to attend after seeing the posters in the skate park. The premise was that the participants had one minute to perform their best tricks. Little Man initially signed up but then whilst watching the older boys got a little worried and chose to watch the tricks rather than participate. However, he still enjoyed it and we ended up being there for 4 hours, thankfully I had a packed lunch and my Kindle. The tricks were amazing, somersaults on scooters, spinning scooters etc.. It was an emotional event as it had been organised by a local charity which supports the mental health of young people following the tragic death of a local boy. However despite the sadness it was an uplifting and inspiring event for the town’s young people.

And finally

So its week two of back to school next week and another new school. Its certainly an eventful month for us all. I am so looking forward to settling into a routine and our new normal.

The lockdown rucksack

Last week I was listening to the ‘Fortunately’ podcast and they talked about the lockdown rucksack which has become such a feature of my life since March. I thought it was just me, so I was relieved and amused to hear the reference and discussion. I love bags and have a bag for every occasion and more, so to have used just the one bag in lockdown has been a surprise. I wish I could say that its made me want to buy fewer bags but no, I still love bags and am looking forward to more variety.

A few years ago, I did a post about what’s in my bag https://seasidesparkles.net/2018/04/14/whats-in-my-bag/ and thought I would update it with my lockdown bag. The NYR bag is still there with all my essentials, tissues, wet wipes, rescue remedy etc.. but I don’t take a diary with me now, there’s very little to note down 😦 I’ve always carried a hand sanitiser, the NYR is my favourite but I’m currently using the Dr Bronner’s Lavender spray, which is a strong second. I can’t believe I actually have a list of best hand sanitisers, such a 2020 trend! The big addition is the little bag with masks for us all. Although, I have a purse in my bag that’s more habit than necessity, I’m barely in any shops and we have a weekly food delivery. The picture only shows one water bottle, generally its two so we can all have a drink on a long walk. The small blue blanket is to sit on, keep me warm etc.. and to stop the water bottles clinking together. Surprisingly I use all of these items on a daily basis, our lockdown lives have been characterised by long walks and this bag and my walking sandals have definitely been my lockdown essentials.

As schools return next week, our routine will change again and I think it will be time to retire the lockdown rucksack as a daily accessory, returning it to family trips out. I’m looking forward to wearing a different bag, something smaller, colourful and fun!

My week .. The one in which we didn’t go on holiday (again)

This week we should have been going on our family summer holiday. However, we made the decision to cancel the holiday a few weeks ago, when it became clear that the facilities which we had specifically booked the holiday for were not going to be available. Fortunately we got a full refund so are not out of pocket from our decision. We are so lucky to live where we do, we can enjoy the beach from home and it seems we’re so on trend having a staycation! I’m comfortable with our decision, I want to relax and rest on holiday and from what I’ve seen in the media, our holiday would look very different with us needing to be very organised to plan activities, meals out etc.. I don’t need that stress on holiday and am simply looking forward to a great holiday (or two) next year. Our cancelled holiday means we’ve needed to keep ourselves busy at home so here’s some of the things we’ve been doing.

I read ..

I do lots of park visits and as the children are now at a good age to play on their own, its a perfect reading time. I am really enjoying Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. Its very cleverly written how each character’s story blends into a new one and the book is very addictive.

I ran ..

On Tuesday, I ran early as we had a family cycle trip planned and I got to see the most amazing sky at dawn. It was one of those runs in which you lose yourself in the beauty of our little planet and feel it is a privilege to be able to run. Later on we went on a cycle ride, well the children did but as Mr S and I don’t have bikes and were unable to hire any we traipsed behind them as they cycled through the forest. We went early so it was quiet and the whole morning gave me a strong sense of well being.

I helped out at the farm ..

We received a flyer in the post to advertise a Summer scheme being run by the council with a ‘passport’ number for our son. We didn’t quite understand how the scheme worked as details were sketchy but I looked at the website and found a few interesting activities to do. This week we went as a family for a morning at a therapy farm. What a joy, it was an amazing morning, just for the four of us supported by two workers. We all worked on the farm, feeding the animals, cleaning out their areas and grooming them where appropriate, (giant) pigs, goats, donkeys, sheep, cats, guinea pigs etc. Nature has such a healing power on us all and we felt really connected and happy after our morning.

I watched ..

I think we’ve given up on television at present, there is little on which we want to watch. For the past few weeks we’ve been using our 9-10pm slot, our joint tv time, to watch box sets. After last week’s excellent The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair we watched Chernobyl, following its critical acclaim. Yes it was a dark drama, but one which was interesting, terrifying and captivating.

And finally ..

Its more of the same next week, walks, picnics, bike rides and perhaps an early morning trip to the beach. For the first time ever, August simply seems a countdown to September and a little normality in going back to school.

My week …the birthday edition

I am a little late in this write up but still decided to do two separate entries as we’ve been busy (or busy for lockdown life!) in this period. It was a strange week, a week of missed traditions, carnival and a music festival, and in a gorgeous sunny week there were a few ‘if only’ thoughts. However its no good to dwell on what ‘could have been’ but to embrace our life as it is and here are a few highlights of the week..

I played crazy golf ..

I had a serious chat with Little Man on Friday night. When something is bothering him, he’ll come and ask you to have a ‘serious chat.’ So we sat down and I listened to my sad little man who said he wanted to have some fun. I asked him what would be fun for him and he listed the indoor water park, indoor play areas, indoor skate park etc.. all which remain closed. I tried to help him understand that there are things that we don’t have control of present and we’ve tried to create our own fun on the beach, or in the park etc.. and that mummy and daddy have been writing a list of special things to do as soon as we are able. This did seem to help but I decided he needed a surprise. We often walk into town on Saturday morning so he came with me expecting the normal routine, but we walked past the shops and went to the new pirate crazy golf. We had such a happy time and best of all for him, he beat me by one stroke. The new course is brilliant, so detailed and aesthetically pleasing whilst being fun too. It was just what was needed on our Saturday morning.

I read ..

In two days this week, I read Lemn Sissay’s autobiography My name is Why. Its my favourite book of the year. I discovered Lemn Sissay through an episode of Desert Island Discs, which is well worth a listen as he has the most beautiful, rhythmic voice. I knew briefly about his life in care and his current work but nothing had prepared me for the power of this book. My daughter is 12 the same age as Lemn was when he left the family he had lived with since birth and was put into children’s homes. I don’t know if it was the age but this really affected me, I cannot imagine our life without my daughter and we always tell her that she will always have a home with us, even when she’s old and wrinkled! As an adopted child, she needs to hear these messages of security, permanence and love. I also work with vulnerable children, many of whom are in care and there was resonance in his experiences here too. This is a book to be kept and to dip back into over the years.

I watched ..

I watched a remarkable drama about Anthony Walker, the young black teenager killed in a racist attack in Liverpool in 2005. It was written by Jimmy McGovern and rather than be the story of Anthony’s death and his killers, it was a story of the life he never lived. This medium made it even more heart breaking and only emphasised the need for the Black Lives Matter movement. His death happened 12 years after the horrific murder of Stephen Lawrence, a murder which we hoped would have a significant effect on our society but one in which today, racism and prejudice still remain. We have to take action.

Mr S and I have also watched the box set of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. I loved this book when I read it and wasn’t surprised that it had been turned into a series, with its twists and turns and one of the biggest surprises at the end of any book I’ve read, its ideal for tv.

I celebrated ..

It was my birthday this week and I turned 47, as beautifully illustrated on my birthday balloons! I have no issue with my age, I hope I’ve lived life well and don’t feel I need to make myself younger. However, I do have an issue with the number 47, is it just me or do some numbers sound nicer than others, crazy I know but 47 sounds harsh, 48 sounds cuddly and warm. it could be lockdown is getting to me! I had a lovely, simple birthday with my family, a walk around our local RSPB site, a picnic and a homemade birthday cake courtesy of Little Miss. Its also been my wedding anniversary this week, 17 years. We have a lot of special occasions in a short time in our family, a busy time.

I did some flower arranging ..

I was lucky to be gifted some beautiful flowers for my birthday. For the first few days I kept them in the bouquet they came in but then got a little creative. I found out what each flower was and then separated then into colours and style. I had wanted to do a flower arranging class this year, whilst this is another Covid casualty, I can do a few little things myself.

I met with friends..

Sometimes its just the little things which bring joy and this week, I met friends one evening in a neighbouring town for drinks. Of course, things look different now but to be able to sit outside on a warm evening and just chat was perfect. We were at the quay which is such a pretty area and I returned the next afternoon with my daughter for a walk along the river in the sunshine.

I made ..

I made a lovely roast at the weekend with all the vegetables (bar the potatoes) grown in our garden by my gardening squad of my husband and daughter. They have worked so hard on their vegetable patch during lockdown transforming a bare area into something lush and green. Its definably a highlight of lockdown.

And finally

The holidays are strange this year, with far fewer activities open for the children. My aim is to try and find a few different activities for them to enjoy over the coming weeks, although I think we’re all focused and looking forward to September and a little normality with a return to school. Its the first time ever, that August hasn’t been our highlight of the year, its normally our month off school, this year its our 5th full month at home, the novelty is waning!

August 2020

August 2020 is unlike any August in my lifetime. Those lovely things we like to do in our school holidays are either closed or with such high restrictions that we’ve chosen to wait until we can do them safely again. All the special events in our seaside town have been cancelled, so no carnival, fetes etc.. and with our cancelled holiday, August seems an empty month. As a consequence we seem to be counting down the days until we return back to school after 6 months. We’re all hoping that September will bring the normality we crave.

However I will not be daunted by a set of unexpected conditions, it’s holiday month and we will be on the beach, cycling in the forest and even finding time to do the dreaded school shoe shop (I’ve already prebooked our slot!) I had planned to do something very special for our 10 year famiversary this month but sadly this was postponed. However we celebrate it, it will be a special day and there will be cake!