My week … the one in which we questioned our values.

Normally this is a great week as the school in which I work has a two week half term and I have a week in which to meet friends for lunch, potter about and simply relax. However, this year it was a week simply without work for me, or formal work as the teacher became home teacher again and we resumed home learning. I do like the little projects the children are doing but I yearn to be out and about. I’m going stir crazy at home and that’s with a daily walk with the children and time playing in the garden too.

I needed a focus this week and inspired by Gretchen Ruben’s book I read last week, I looked at developing new habits and foci. I have been out first thing everyday alternating with a run or walk. On the days Mr S works this has meant I’m out at 5.15am, but I have felt so more energised and positive. I’ve also done meditation daily for the last week. Of course the challenge now is to continue this next week when I’m back at school.

This has been a difficult week on the international stage and the racism witnessed in America has reverberated around the world. This is 2020 and the images are horrific, I do hope to do a post on this topic but I do not believe that racism is exclusively an American problem it is a world wide issue which we all need to address. There have been too many cases in my lifetime which should have changed our perspectives. Stephen Lawrence was a teenager similar in age to me and his murder really hit hard and we felt that it was for our generation to change society. Stephen would have been 46 this year and we are still fighting racism, its heart-breaking.

With the news coverage of Covid 19 and the waves of protest against racism, its a tough week. I came across this poem and it feels just right for this week.

It feels a little wrong to write about the sparkles of this week, after the preceding paragraph but for my own wellbeing, I need to recognise the highlights of week 11 of lockdown.

I read ..

I am part way through a book at present, but I did read a short story from Jojo Moyes catching up with Lou Clark, the main character and hero of Me Before You, After You and Still Me. I know she’s a fictional character but Lou feels like an old friend and I loved the catch up and got the feels from the happy ending. It was just what was needed this week.

Read on www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2020/june/lou-clark-in-lockdown-jojo-moyes-exclusive-new-story/

I listened

I’m a big fan of Desert Island Discs, but this week’s episode was a bit different asking members of the public to nominate a song which has significance in lockdown. It was so emotional and I was a sobbing mess. Again, it was just what was needed this week, a reminder of the good in our world and our communities.

www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000jpfd

I recorded

One of Little Miss’ homework tasks this week was to learn the signs to Shotgun and to send a video through to her teacher. In my work, I use the sign language Makaton and was delighted with this homework. She worked so hard on the task, without my help and I was so proud of her when I videoed her, she was a natural. I think she would make a brilliant teacher when she’s older.

Next week…

I’m back to work on Monday and back to our new normal. Its unlikely that the children will be back to school this year as they’re not in the year groups invited in, so it’ll be another 6 weeks of home learning and then the summer holidays. 2020 is the strangest year.

June 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

My week … the one when we didn’t go on holiday :(

This week was a toughie, no school or work and gorgeous weather. It sounds perfect but this week we should have been in our family’s happy place, Butlins for the week and with such brilliant weather we would have made the most of all the outdoor activities which the children love. I was planning a spa morning too.

Instead we’ve been at home and with the ambiguous guidelines, we’ve avoided the beach as so many day trippers have come down for a beach day and its too busy. I was in town on Monday and it was obvious that visitors don’t feel that social distancing and safety measures put in place apply to them on their day out. Our R rating here is high, 0.9 and its even higher at 1.2 in other neighbouring seaside towns too. I did have another Covid 19 test this week for work, we are having them regularly as we have to contain the virus on our site. It was another negative, I was really surprised how empty the testing site was, its huge and I was the only person being tested.

Whilst we haven’t been on the beach, we’ve had lots of walks in the countryside and on the coastal path which is more rugged and quiet. There have been lots of tree climbing and games of hide and seek to keep us amused. Mr S and his gardening partner, Little Miss have spent the week painting our fences, the garden looks so much better.

Here are a few of the things, I have manged to do this week.

I read

I’m a huge Grethen Rubin fan and her podcast is a must listen each week. I bought Better than Before in January but quite simply wasn’t in the correct frame of mind to read and develop the ideas. I’m ready now and its been an ideal read, I have pages of notes and have already acted on lots of advice. There’s nothing quite like a lockdown to refocus your plans, aspirations and values.

I made ..

With Little Miss and Mr S busy painting, me and Little Man have been play mates. We made lots of rainbows this week, his favourite was the Lego rainbow, I liked finding flowers and plants (and weeds) of all the colours too.

It was Little Man and I baking in the kitchen this week and for one lunch we made cheese and olive scones. They were delicious. An added bonus this week is that we’ve been able to sit outside for meals. We’ve also had a couple of barbecues, if we can’t go on holiday then holiday will just have to come to us!

I splashed ..

Again it wasn’t quite the amazing pool at Butlins complete with slides and wave machine but we got the pool out this week and there was a lot of fun had by everyone. Mr S added a pure comedy moment when he grabbed a t-shirt to go with his red trunks, it was yellow and he was a dead ringer for a lifeguard, it only added to the experience!

I wore

New trainers! I have an injury that needs to be seen properly but having looked at my well worn trainers I decided that new shoes may help contain the injury as well as heavy strapping. The new trainers have arrived and I managed to run 5k today, my Achilles is a little sore now but I also managed a 3 mile walk this afternoon so I’m definitely taking that as a win. I had planned a little parkrun tourism this weekend, doing the Bognor parkrun and again it just made me a little sad that we’ve not been able to have these things to look forward to.

I watched

We started series 3 of the A word this week on catch up and have watched the first three episodes. I like the series, I work with children with autism and I think the show is a fair representation of the condition. It also has a real human element, its not simply about autism but about a family.

And finally

So May is nearly finished and we are near to 10 weeks in lockdown. The children return to home schooling on Monday but I have another week’s holiday (we lose a week in the summer holidays) Normally this is a great week with the children at school, lots of catching up with friends, lunches out, getting ready for summer and getting organised for birthdays and celebrations. Its going to be a little different this year, I suppose I’ll really appreciate my extra week in 2021!

My week

Sadly another week when I suffered a really bad migraine and vomiting. To be honest it’s unsurprising since I am working onsite where we are in the midst of a Covid 19 outbreak. Its so busy and I come home drained and exhausted. However even with a couple of days out sick I still managed to have a few sparkles to celebrate this week.

I read …

I finished two books this week and both were excellent. I read Half a World Away first which is about a birth brother and sister being reunited. As an adopter I was hoping that it wouldn’t be too fairytale’ish’ and fortunately it wasn’t with a real understanding of childhood trauma and the effect on adult life. It was an emotional read and another great book by Mike Gayle.

The second read Daisy and the Six is my book of lockdown and the year so far. It was one of my infamous Kindle 99p deals, although I’ve bought and sent a copy to my mum today as it is a book to be shared. It’s about a rock band in the 70s and is brilliant. It has an unusual style, you simple get comments from the characters as the story progresses, each piece a line or two up to a paragraph in length. But the book draws you in, you’re in the 70s and the characters are real. It’s so good that I feel a little bereft now it’s finished.

I watched …

Having slept for 36 hours I woke alert in the night and found the BBC documentary Hospital being repeated. It is filmed in a Covid 19 hospital and was so moving, informative and filled you with love and respect for all involved. Our nhs is simple amazing.

I learnt …

One of the home schooling projects this week was a bionic hand to illustrate how our skeleton works. Although it was Little Miss’ homework Little Man joined in too and they made a hand each. It was a good project to all sit around the kitchen table and do together and I hope we all learnt a little more about how our bodies work. I love a little project like this. As you can see Little Miss was pleased with her idea to paint the nails!

I appreciated

I came across this quote online and it resonated with me, it’s the simple things which make life special. This week the meadows are bursting with wild flowers and it’s indescribably beautiful to see my children running though them, as the quote says ‘ the ordinary comes alive’

Mr S and I are really reflecting on life in this period, there are changes a happening and we have time to pause and really think about what’s important to our family. Life will change but I feel good about the plans we are making as our little team.

My week

There is monotony in life in lockdown, each day has its routine, home school in the morning, a walk in the afternoon or if its a work day, a long day in my office and a walk in the evening trying to get to my daily step target of 10k. This week seemed really monotonous and I think we’re all confused what we can and can’t do, the public are losing patience with the government ambiguity on decisions. We had a slight change to routines this week as Mr S is now working at home, as my work poses a risk as it is a setting with confirmed Covid 19 cases.

I wore ..

Given the Covid 19 cases, I am now in PPE at work, a mask and gloves when I leave my office and am in communal areas. In truth, I walk into my office and leave at the end of the working day, with only one comfort break. We are in lockdown and you need to keep as safe as possible. The masks look awful and make you feel quite nauseous but they are medical quality to keep us safe. We have all the cleaning materials to keep everywhere clean and the new start and end to each day is anti baccing our office. It is a horrible situation but we have young people to keep safe and we can’t leave them alone. Our staff are doing amazing things in the most challenging circumstances.

I decorated …

Well I finally decorated some stones which is on the essential list of things to do in lockdown, along with the infamous banana bread! It was a nice activity and kept us occupied on Sunday morning in the garden as the sun shined. Its the simple things which bring joy.

I got a phone call ..

Okay getting a phone call is hardly an unusual part of the week, but this was so unexpected and exciting that it merits a mention. For the past year, we have been trying to get our son a place at our local special needs school. All professionals agreed it was the best fit but there was no place available. This has led to mediation, tribunal, letters to MPs, councillors and finally after months of no school place for Sep 2020, a place was offered at our second choice.

Whilst we were delighted to get a place, we realised that given the distance from our home, we would have to move from our idyllic seaside town to make life work for all of our family, so were having to anticipate big life changes for us all. We had begun to get our heads around all of this and were starting to make tentative plans when out of the blue on Tuesday afternoon, I got a phone call offering a place at our number 1 choice. To say I was shell shocked would be an understatement and I couldn’t quite believe it until I had the confirmation email. This has meant we can relax and simply focus on settling him in the new school rather than having to make those big life changing plans. The relief is indescribable and I’m still having to reread the email to believe its true!

Next week is the last before half term and then a pause on home schooling for a week, yippee! I’m trying to plan lots of lockdown treats as we were due to be at our happy place of Butlins at half term and whilst it wont be the same, I want them to feel some holiday vibes.

Have a happy week.

My week

It was a strange old week in lockdown as I was poorly with a really bad migraine for a few days. You think that in lockdown you’ll only be ill with Covid 19, but the reality is different. I had to use the e-consult service with my GP for my anti sickness medication and it worked really well and efficiently. For simple medical requests, I hope this system continues. I felt I lost a few days this week and with still being in lockdown there’s less variety in life. However, I did manage to do a few things …

I walked and appreciated our natural world.

We live on the border of a huge country park and farms and are able to walk for miles in a beautiful, tranquil setting. Access to the area for vehicles has been closed so you can only enter on foot at present, meaning its quiet and you can feel comfortable walking around, you rarely have to social distance from others. The area has always been a special place for us, but at the moment it seems to be full of little wonders. This week the lambs and calves have been so animated and are skipping and jumping around the fields, they are so amusing to watch and a wonderful distraction. The beautiful sunshine has added to our walks too. When all this is over, I’ll miss our afternoon walks together. We normally do this on a Sunday but its been so much better daily.

I decorated our house

Whilst Little Miss is a pretty good student online, I need to be more creative with our son’s work and interpreted the history project on VE day as making a display for our front window. He did enjoy it and really concentrated on his pictures of the spitfires and Winston Churchill.

I shopped ..

This was a real novelty as its Mr S who does the food shopping in our house. However, with us both working long hours, shorter supermarket opening hours, one person to shop and rural living, food shopping has become increasingly difficult so we were grateful to get an online shopping spot for today. Its Tesco, and has a 80 item limit but it was kind of liberating, as we focused on what we really needed not just clicking away. We got everything we needed and the simpler approach is a good one to follow in the future.

I saw

This was one for our son this week because as we walked one afternoon, we saw 5 military helicopters fly past in formation. The new navy aircraft carrier is on exercise in the Solent and they were involved in the training. Little Man was so happy to see them, its always the simple things which bring the sparkles of life.

Have a happy week .

VE Day 75

Our home, I like the juxtaposition of our 2020 heroes celebrated in the top window with those from 1945 too.

Today, May 8th was a bank holiday to celebrate the end of war in Europe, 75 years ago. As we are in lockdown it was a very different day to what we had expected. Our little town had a lovely day planned with a craft market, a big street party in the centre of town and moments to remember the fallen. Instead, we had quiet celebrations at home. Its been such a warm and sunny day today and it was sad to think of what could have been so special, especially given the age of our veterans from World War 2.

I was initially hesitant in decorating our house. Brexit has meant that our Union Jack seems to have been highjacked by a politics I don’t agree with. However I carefully thought about what today meant to me and its a personal link to the story behind the old photos album I found at my parents’ house which had belonged to my Gramps. I wrote about the album here and some of the stories I discovered https://seasidesparkles.net/2018/04/16/a-world-war-2-photo-album/ I wanted to fly the flag to honour and remember the pilots of Squadron 609, pilots of all nationalities, united by a desire to defeat Nazism.

The window became part of my son’s home learning this week, we chose some of the old photos to first look at and discuss and then printed them for our display. He then drew the spitfires and brought some of his fighter planes down from his bedroom. Hidden in the flower box is one of the ceramic poppies from the Tower of London’s 2014 installation. The large Union Jack has been hidden away since the Olympics, its actually a scarf with a tiger print. I’m not sure why I ever chose it but its been a great flag on a few occasions now, whilst the bunting is part of my country chic accessories! With lockdown, I had to make do and adapt the resources I had at home, a little bit of the spirit of the 1940s in 2020.

Whilst we didn’t have the planned community events, we all found little ways to make today special respecting social distancing. There was a community singalong, I have no idea who set up the sound system but with the natural design of the bay, 1940s music could be heard across the town, We’ll meet again was surprisingly moving. Our neighbour dropped round cupcakes decorated with mini flags to all the local houses so we could celebrate ‘together.’

For me, today has not been a day of celebration but one to remember and respect the values and sacrifice of our grandparents and their generation who fought to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.

Gramps x

My week (s) …

The return to work after the holidays means life has been busy again. Its the juggle of longer work days onsite, home schooling and adhering to the government guidelines of lockdown. Life is pretty full on and thus my need to do a catch up of the past two weeks and not just one. So here are some highlights of this fortnight …

I have read

A few weeks ago I said how magazines seemed outdated in these times, with their articles on fashion, travel etc.. all those things we can’t be doing. However I have started reading The Big Issue as it is now available in shops and it is a great read in these times, with ideas of things we can do. Thanks to the magazine, I did an online tour of the Tate’s Andy Warhol exhibition and have a few book recommendations too.

I only finished one book this fortnight, although am halfway through another, and that book was Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. I loved Normal People by the same author and was a little disappointed by this novel. As in a few books recently, I just didn’t sympathise with characters.

I have watched

I’m not a big tv fan and don’t normally binge watch a box set but this week I have been obsessed by Normal People and have managed to watch the full 12 episodes (they are only 30 minutes each.) It is so good and refreshing on so many aspects, normal sex (the scene on consent is one I would love to show every teenager) real mental health issues, the anxiety about belonging, the effect of domestic violence etc.. Its a series which will stay with me for a very long time for its brilliance, the main actors are so perfectly cast and are Marianne and Connell.

I have done some ‘culture’

As I wrote above I followed a Big Issue recommendation and found the Andy Warhol presentation by the exhibition’s curator on You Tube. It was fascinating and I learnt lots about the artist and his work. I’m keen to do a few more gallery tours now, I missed the Mary Quant exhibition so this is next on my list.

On my favourite podcast With Me Now, the presenters started a conversation about post boxes. It was one of those conversations that spiked my interest and on our walk on Thursday we started to look at the different ciphers on the letter boxes. I then found a visual about the insignias and on each walk since, we’ve been looking for different post boxes. Its a great idea and has added something to our daily walks. With this week’s wet weather we’ve been on the streets rather than through the fields which could be a bit muddy.

I have made

Again, more lovely home made meals this fortnight, on my non work days we have the time to spend preparing food and we do it as a family. I’m sure when everything gets back to normal this will wane as we return to busy lives, but for now its a lovely time.

On Thursday, we made millionaires shortbread from a friend’s recipe. The idea was to make the biscuit and then Zoom her for virtual tea and cake. It worked really well and it was lovely to see our friend. I’ve never made millionaires shortbread before and it was gorgeous, the caramel was easy to make and so sweet and gooey, a new favourite. Its such a good way to stay in contact too.

I have listened

On Thursday, we were out again at 8pm to clap for the nhs and all our key workers. The town band are playing a song every Thursday at 8.05pm from their own back gardens to unite everyone, we’ve had Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Bring me Sunshine and this week, Amazing Grace. It was spine tingling. Thursday at 8pm is my favourite time of the week, we’re all outside on our paths and the sense of community is strong.

I’m writing this on Sunday night, getting ready for the week ahead, with more school projects and VE day on Friday. This was going to be a big event in our town but sadly its all cancelled. As Little Man is very interested in his history we may do some extra things and I do fancy decorating the house. Any excuse for a decoration or two!

May 2020

So a new month and another month full of cancelled plans. This was going to be a great month for Little Man, his school residential, cub camp and our annual trip to Butlins. Sadly none are going to happen now. We had decided that even if lockdown was relaxed that we wouldn’t go on holiday. We want to relax and have fun on holiday, be in communal areas to swim, watch shows, play and eat out, and we quickly realised that even if Butlins opened our holiday couldn’t be like normal. Fortunately, Butlins cancelled all bookings last week and we have had all our money refunded easily. At present we haven’t rearranged as we don’t know where we’ll be in the months to come. We are doubtful if our summer holiday will happen and have been honest and upfront with the children about this possibility. They seem to be okay but we have a beautiful sandy beach at the bottom of our road so a summer at home will be full of beach days, if the rules allow it. The only trip away I want to do at present is simply to see our parents.

As we start this month, we still don’t know how long we’ll be in lockdown, its been 40 days so far and Boris has spoken today about maintaining the lockdown, I’m fine with this. We’re so lucky to be in the position we are and it feels safe. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when we are free to do more, I feel like we’re in a safe, protective bubble at present and opening up will give more risk. Again, we don’t know if the children will be at school this month, I doubt it and think realistically it won’t be until September that we are back to school. This will mean Little Man’s transition to secondary school and leaving primary will be very different to his sister’s last year, the lockdown seems to be affecting him more with some of the coming of age events cancelled. He’s taking it calmly and is focusing on the positives, his attitude certainly helps us all. I think I’m more upset on the things he’s missing out on.

As we don’t have anything to look forward to this month its another month of simply being in the present, enjoying the simple things and writing lists of things to look forward to in the future. This list won’t be full of exotic holidays or expensive shopping trips, but seeing parents, going for a coffee with friends, playing football in the park or enjoying the latest film in the cinema. The pandemic has given us a new perspective on how we want our lives to be lived. I think this will be the most positive and life affirming result of the pandemic along with an even deeper love for our Nhs and our communities.

Happy May.

My week

I’m trying to do the calculations of where we are in Lockdown, it started on March 23rd and as I write this on April 18th, that’s 26 days of lockdown completed. I find that for my wellbeing, I need routine and structure to my day and we have been doing things to keep us busy at home.

Read

I love the time to be able to lose myself in a good book and lockdown has been the perfect opportunity to indulge in reading. I’m lucky that I have a Kindle Paperwhite so am able to download the books I want to read digitally, as at present as all orders are taking some time to be delivered and libraries are closed.

This week I read Mixtape by Jane Sanderson. I chose the book simply on its title, I was a big fan of mixtapes as a teenager and it reminded me of a wonderful friend who used to make me such tapes. The tracks featured in this book were pure class. There were parts I really liked, the mix tape and exchange of music and the back stories of the characters, the bit I couldn’t be convinced of was the ‘magic’ relationship and how the main characters left their partners and families for each other. I never saw the passion in their early life, when the relationship was short but intense.

I have also finished One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. Its a Young Adult book which my daughter and I have been reading together. The plot is one student dies in a detention by sipping water from a contaminated glass but which of the other people in the room is the murderer? It was a great read and I couldn’t predict the ending.

Made

Following the hot cross buns on Friday, I also made a Simnel Cake for Easter from Nigella Lawson’s book, Feast. This is one of the best cakes we (it was Little Miss and I) have made, it was amazing, a perfect mix of dried fruits and spice and the marzipan middle. The decoration was fiddly but well worth the effort. Unlike hot cross buns for which I’ll be back to our local baker next year, I think this cake needs to be made every year, it is a fantastic recipe.

There is a lot of time at home during lockdown and I’ve been trying to do some creative tasks during the day. Little Man and I have made some really simple stop animation videos with his Lego figures, for which he has provided the words. He did make me laugh with his enthusiastic commentary. We have also made a family newspaper which we have sent in the post to surprise the grandparents. The children got to write (well Little Man dictated his articles) about some of their favourite things they have been doing in Lockdown and I added the photos. It was surprisingly sweet and I think we might try to do this again.

Wore

When I was little we always had a new outfit for Easter. As Easter coincides with my Father in Law’s birthday and therefore a family celebration, I try to keep this tradition up for the children. However due to Lockdown we weren’t able to go shopping for their clothes this year. I had been a bit organised earlier in the spring and had bought this skirt for my Easter outfit. I wore the skirt on Easter Sunday as I wanted to make an effort and feel a little more sparkly.

Watched

I thought I would have watched more television during lockdown but I haven’t. There’s not a huge choice of original drama and I have never been the type of person who can sit down for hours and watch tv. I’m much more a reader or I listen to music or podcasts. I’ve always been like this and I’m not sure why I thought lockdown would change my character!

Last Saturday evening, we watched Yesterday, it was a nice film with great music but it was not quite in the class of Bohemiman Rhapsody or Rocketman.

I also watched Quiz, which I loved about Major Ingram and an alleged plot to cheat Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It was fascinating on so many levels, the workings of ITV, the quiz underground community and did leave you to wonder if he was innocent? It was a great mini series and Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant was perfect casting.