My week .. the one with simple pleasures

As I started to prepare this entry, I questioned whether I had anything to write about this week, as its seemed quiet and relaxed. However on reflection, there have been sparkles, unexpected simple pleasures which have lightened the days.

One thing which has given me great pleasure this week are my peonies which have gone from bud to blooming flowers over the week. I love peonies, they are so beautiful and there is a magic in the transformation from a tight bud to a large petaled flower. I have them in the kitchen window by our table so I get to admire them at mealtimes and they are the first thing I see as I walk in to the house.

On Sunday afternoon, we were at a loose end and decided to head over to a beauty spot. Its a lovely walk, a canopy of green from the tall trees and natural water features on the ground. It is a perfect example of forest bathing and you do leave feeling more peaceful, grounded and relaxed.

In what has become quite a rare occurrence, I did take my Thursday off this week and it was lovely to have a free (ish) day. I had my nails done, I love a natter and nails session and the pastel green is mint (see what I did there!) After the appointment, I took the time out to enjoy a tea at the courtyard café in town and just sit with my book and feel the sun on my face. I then took a call from a friend and had a spontaneous meet up, I love it when you can just go with the flow… I had arranged to be present for the unveiling of the town’s jubilee mural, so she came too and we enjoyed what was a really sweet event promoting arts for young people. My school had been involved in the project and I am so proud of our dolphin.

Today, was another early start for a cricket match, my son was captain for the game and gracious in defeat. The respect and sportsmanship of my son’s team was in stark contrast to the opposition, I would prefer they lost with grace than won with unsporting behaviour. We took a picnic and headed over to the local town, which has a lot of beautiful spots. We happened across a craft fayre in the church grounds so the children had fun on the tombola whilst I perused the craft stalls. I treated myself (its birthday month) to a new ring which will complement some other pearl jewellery I own. We also stopped by a rather wonderful patisserie for a tasty delight. Away cricket Saturdays have become a real treat day and it was sad that this was our last for the season as we’re home for the remaining games. Next season the games for the next age group are played on Monday evening, so there will be no further days out for a few years, its been an unexpected highlight of this summer, making each away game an ‘event.’

Next week is a little busier, I’m swapping my day off for 2 afternoons, so I can attend my son’s sports day and parents evening (so appreciate the school’s organisational skills here) and then leave early on Friday so we can pick up the children from school and make a quick getaway for our weekend away. We’re off to Longleat which is one of our family favourites.

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.

My week … the one with Easter holiday week 2

And so this a week and a bit of Easter. My last entry took us up to Maundy Thursday, before the big 90th celebrations which I have written about in a separate post. In the run up to the birthday I was cautious on what we did to ensure that no one caught Covid to scupper our plans, so the first week of the holiday was lots of walks and outdoor activities, whilst after the celebrations we enjoyed bigger, busier activities.

I did have some pretty blue nails done for the celebration with a little flower to match my navy dress patterned with small spring flowers, I do like a coordinated look.

On Good Friday, we enjoyed a really, hot, sunny day and ,wow, town was busy with visitors coming for a seaside trip. The children went down twice to get fresh hot cross buns from the bakers and both batches sold out before they arrived. It was a bit of a shock not to have my favourite Easter treat, next year I’ll go down at opening time. As Easter weekend was going to be busy, we decided to do the Easter egg hunt on Friday afternoon, I had all the Catholic guilt at doing the hunt at 3pm, for so many years I’ve been in church for the most holiest and solemn of services at that time. However, it was fun and nice to have the afternoon in the garden and just relax as little family of four before a busy weekend.

I have written of our 90th birthday weekend but it was so special to have such a lovely weekend. There is nothing more satisfying than all the hard work and planning coming together to create a memorable and happy family time. We had some fantastic photographs taken by my talented brother in law and I have already printed and framed my favourite, it makes me smile every time I see it.

Following the celebrations, it was about the big, fun activities for the children, we did Splashdown which is the indoor pool with lots of fancy slides, the cinema, meeting up with friends, ringos on the dry ski slope etc.. It was a lot of driving and on occasion waiting around, so I did a fair bit of reading. I loved Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Daisy Jones and the 6, her previous book was a brilliant read and this didn’t disappoint either, it was exactly the type of book I needed, a fun and engaging read, perfect for the holidays. I also watched episode 2 of the final series of Derry girls, I thought episode 1 would be hard to beat, but episode 2 surpassed it with sass. Its definitely the best thing on tv by far.

The week ended with Saturday parkrun and then on Sunday, old friends of Mr S were in town on a break so we met up in the morning before going off to the classic car show in town for my son in the afternoon. It was a good way to end the week and I felt ready to go back to school after what had seemed a long and enjoyable break.

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.