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.

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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!

My week … the one with red hearts and a red storm warning.

There is a bit of a colour theme to this week’s entry, red hearts for Valentines day and a red storm warning which meant the children both got an extra day off, starting half term a day early.

It is unusual to have Valentines day in term-time, so I made sure I celebrated the school day for my two with a Valentines day themed packed lunch, heart shaped sandwiches, doodles and notes and some kisses and heart sweets as a special treat. I also treated the classes in my department to a box of hearts and kisses to give the day a little sparkle. I took the approach that Valentines day is for sharing and celebrating all types of love. Little Miss got her first real Valentines card and presents from her boyfriend (belated as he was off with Covid) The teddy is as big as she is and she also got lots of chocolate. They are very sweet together, although I am hyper vigilant! My gift to Mr S was expensive socks, he has been complaining about the holes in his socks which were bought fairly recently so he got a set of new socks, I hope the price reflects the quality. I’m still waiting for my present … TBH, after 23 Valentines day its not really a day we celebrate, we have other significant dates, Halloween (the night we first met) and our wedding anniversary.

It was another week on the Covid roulette, our daughter finished her 7 day testing following cases in her friendship group and our son then had to start his 7 days on the day she finished as there was a case in his class. All clear so far but I do feel its going to catch up with us one day soon. I was out with friends and one has recently had Covid whilst the other had her class all sent home because of the number of cases. Given its prevalence, I find it hard that it is has been suggested that from next week, there will be no self isolation period for Covid.

The Thursday dinner with friends was lovely, we’re still meeting in the garden summer house of a friend and its become our routine to have a meal and lots of treats. I had Thursday off work, so I prepared a veggie lasagne and the host made fresh garlic bread in their garden pizza oven, along with the lightly dressed salad, it was perfect. I love these evenings, although having gone to bed around 12.30, the 5.30 alarm call was a tough one on storm day!

The storm day was a strange one. Everybody seemed really well organised and prepared for the potential disruption and damage but we seemed to have got away quite lightly with it. The wind was incredible at times, with speeds of 90+ mph but amazingly the worse damage at work was a broken roof tile and nothing at home. The high tide was before the strongest winds so the flooding was avoided. I have travelled through the county this weekend and I did see lots of broken trees so there was damage but we were incredibly lucky.

I’ve done a lot of driving this week, nothing in our rural location is near! On Tuesday for work I had a couple of appointments in big town. One of my visits was brilliant and I ended up on the driving range playing golf with some of our students. My job is quite demanding and tough at present, so a half hour of fun was so needed. On Thursday I drove my daughter over to a medical appointment we’ve been waiting for. It was an initial session but it went well and hopefully we will have a follow up in the next month or so. We were early so stopped off at a Costa for a cheeky second breakfast, it helped calm the nerves and relax us both.

This week is finally half term, it was a long time coming. Our daughter is off to stay with her aunt for a couple of days ( and her cousin who is in her early 20s and just the height of coolness and sophistication to her) In her absence, I’ve organised a few treats for my son, with tomorrow being the cinema and bowling. Its a stay at home week as I am exhausted at work and need to be at home and simply catching up on life. We’ve big plans for the next 3 holidays so I’m appreciating the quiet nature of the week.

My week … the one with little pleasures.

An alternative title for this week’s entry would be the one with the Covid roulette! Our daughter’s friends have Covid and there is a sort of inevitability that she’ll come down with it next, we’ve been doing daily tests since Wednesday but she’s still testing negative. Whilst the restrictions seem set to be stopped soon, there does appear to be a lot of Covid in our community at present (my night out got postponed due to Covid this week) and it’ll be interesting to see how things develop in the coming months, is this finally the end?

Its been a quiet week as with the close proximity she’s been to Covid, Little Miss didn’t go to Youth Club on Wednesday and Little Man didn’t go to Scouts on Monday as he had a very late night on Sunday (he loved the football game and whole experience) and coupled with a school trip this week it just seemed too much. I was relieved he didn’t go to Scouts as their night hike took nearly an hour longer in some pretty horrible weather. Little Man is a little under the weather today, its been a long half term and I think he’s tired. However, as has become typical on the first sign of illness, his Covid test is negative too.

This week has been a bit of a home making week. I have updated our bathroom with some new, bright towels in cornflower blue and a new laundry basket, just small changes but ones which have perked up the room. I am also taking real care of my pot plants, its one of my #22for 2022, and one I’m taking pretty seriously, I’ve never bought or used plant food before, let alone researched the best plant care.

My half marathon plan went to schedule this week, with my long run of 10 miles being done on Thursday morning. I was joined by Little Miss on my Tuesday night run and enjoyed a sociable parkrun this morning. I was impressed that I was not achy the day after the long run, and with no ill effects and a feeling that I could have run further I’m feeling hopeful about the half in 5 weeks time. This week is a ‘rest’ week from long runs with my longest run being 6 miles, before a return to two weeks of high mileage.

With being in most evenings this week, I have watched more tv than normal. One evening, Mr S watched the Shane Warne film, and I watched bits too. We were actually at the match in Melbourne where he got his 700th wicket, which is featured and we did get to reminisce about an amazing holiday. I also caught up with the Marian Keyes Imagine documentary. I love Marian Keyes, she is a brilliant writer and her interviews and Twitter feed are so witty and always worth a read or listen. The follow up to Rachel’s Holiday is out next week and I have it on pre order ready to land on my Kindle on its release.

Its the final school week before half term and it feels like such a long half term. Monday is Valentines day so I have a surprise for the children in their lunch boxes and a special treat for our children at school too. Its not a day I generally celebrate but to add a little sparkle to people’s lives in a grey and dreary month seems a worthwhile task.

My weeks … the ones off balance.

These last few weeks were always going to be tough, as my work bestie, confidante, all round top person and job share partner for more than a decade left work on Friday. She’s been such a part of my daily life, we’ve gone through personal and professional highs and lows together and I’m not quite sure how I’ll cope without her come Monday. These last few weeks have been building up to the big goodbye and its been emotional, she’s such an amazing person loved by everybody. We were determined that we would walk out together for the last time on Friday afternoon, we always laughed we would drive out a la Thelma and Louise (obviously without the final act) but instead we walked together sobbing and hugging. The crazy thing is that whilst we won’t see each other daily, she is one of my closest friends and will always be in my life. My leaving gift to her was a print from the movie Thelma and Louise with the words ‘No matter what happens, I’m glad I came with you.’ I ended her leaving speech with this line. With a little creative thinking, we were able to hold a leaving celebration. We chose an outdoors event for Covid safety as we couldn’t risk have our whole team off! One of our local beauty attractions is holding an illuminated trail so we went there after school to do the trail and cake and hot drinks. It was beautiful and such a lovely way to spend time with our team.

Friday was quite simply the crescendo in what has been a crazy fortnight. Both my friend and I have decided to leave the company we work for, the values and ethos are not ones we can share or promote. However as the sole earner in our house, I need to stay in position until I have a new job. I did apply and have an interview for a new position this week but did not get it. It actually came as a relief, as I had misgivings at the interview, something didn’t quite sit right and I have learnt that your gut feeling is probably correct. It was quite a different role to what I am in at present and I think I need to work to my experience and strengths. I am an extremely prepared person and had spent all of last weekend preparing for the interview, pages of notes and research all neatly written and mock questions answered. I also needed to dress for an interview as I had not had one in 17.5 years. A smart outfit was more of a challenge than expected as there were no blazers in stock when I went shopping on Friday! Fortunately the Next next day delivery service came to my rescue and the outfit was sorted. I also needed a pair of court shoes as I didn’t think trainers or Converse pumps would suit the look. I had tried to buy some heels for Christmas but my foot was still swollen from the operation so I was a bit nervous about finding a suitable pair now. The manager in Clarks could not have been more helpful, bringing me so many pairs to try and we did find a pair that fitted. It is so nice to be wearing heels again. My foot has been so bad for around the past 5 years that heels were not an option, so it really is a novelty and one I intend to enjoy lots.

There has been so much going on this fortnight, parents evenings, medical appointments, ill time car break down etc.. that it has felt overwhelming and I know that I’m off kilter. I watched an episode of This Is Us last night and one of the characters talked about being off balance and that is me at present, emotionally I’m a bit all over the place whilst trying to portray the professional and parental front that everything is good. I know I’m wobbling but have simply tried to do the basics, eat healthily, keep up my running and get to bed on time which seems to have kept me on an even keel. Fortunately life has calmed for the moment and its time to look after myself.

This weekend its been lovely to have family times. We went to the local forestry commission, where the girls did the parkrun. It was a slightly different course to the one I did there in October and it was beautiful through the forest and around the lake, a one lapper! It might be my favourite parkrun course I’ve run, although the mild morning and bright sunshine helped too. We then hired bikes and cycled for the rest of the morning before a picnic. Life is all about simple pleasures.

Next week is about fresh starts and looking after myself and my little family. Sometimes you cannot avoid mad, crazy times, but its good when they finish and you can relax a little.