Saturday, 28 March 2020

Day 10

Day 10 and welcome to the weekend!

Yay it's Saturday so what shall we do today?...Oh I don't know shall we just have a day at home and chill? Sorry a little bit of sarcasm to start off my post today.

But yes that's just what me and my family and everyone else will be doing today...staying home and chilling.

Our day had a little rude awakening with the doorbell and a parcel delivery before 8am on a Saturday. Thankfully our postman did as he was supposed to and rang the bell, put the parcel in front of the door and left. Is it just me or is everyone else getting a little paranoid about things coming into the home from outside...when you don't know where something has been, how its been handled or who has handled it and never mind cleaning door handles, doorbells and being weary of refuse bins. I wonder if after all of this we are all going to turn into germaphobes?? So I will confess that the parcel did get wiped down with anti-bacterial wipes before it was opened!

The parcel was actually a bit of a treat I'd sorted for my kids; I know they're not kids but young adults now but hey I'm their mum and I can treat them if I want to. This was a little care package from Hotel Chocolat with some Easter themed treats and I'd also arranged for another package to go to my dad which he'd actually received yesterday.

So once the day was up and going Simon decided to spend a little time sanding the main body of the R2D2 that he is building which then meant it needed washing down afterwards which is easiest to do in our shower and that led to today's phrase of the day 'I'm just going to bathe my droid'!

We then had the joy of clearing out a blocked drain - whoop! Just a big dose of normality that somethings will still need sorting no matter what else is going off in the world.

This afternoon we had our daily walk out only today it was much colder and greyer than the rest of the week so much so my woolly hat was back on and we left armed with an umbrella. Thankfully it didn't rain but we managed 2.5 miles in just under 55 minutes and that included a stop by my dads house. Luckily my dad lives about a mile away so we were able to walk to his house and then be able to chat to him through his living room window. It was just nice to be able to see him and know that he's doing okay.

On our walk back we decided that rather than walk the main road route that we had taken to get to my dads we would walk back the 'scenic' route over the fields. We had met a few people on our walk to my dads but everyone had kept their distance, everyone smiled and acknowledged each other and we had only needed to cross to the other side of the road once when the pathway got too narrow for us to pass safely. In fact I had commented that not only was the main road so quiet that we could cross without any wait but also how other people out and about were acknowledging one another something that wouldn't generally happen as much in more 'normal' times.

So Simon said 'if we go over the field we will see less people'...okay that didn't really work out. Just as we started to head towards the first public pathway we met a gentleman walking his dog, now I don't want to sound mean but I think the term walk is a bit over energetic this very old looking dog was doing more of a waddle! So we gave space and passed each other before seeing a family cross over the road in front of us and head down the same pathway we were heading...so we stopped and gave them a little head start before following along. When we emerged into the field we found that there was another family ahead of us as well with two small children; we then began a very leisurely walk to make sure the gap between all of us was more than sufficient. As we emerged from the field and were about to head along the second footpath we noticed that the family with young children were exactly where we wanted to go and moving at a slow pace (as you would expect with young children) so we decided to follow an alternate pathway which took us back to the main road we had been trying to avoid! It's great to see people out and about getting exercise and fresh air but it does feel like a game of dodgeball at times!!

We decided a few walks back that we would start using the 'Strava' app to record where we walked and how long it took us, we have recorded 5 walks so far, walked a total of 10 miles and had 4 hours of activity - that's not too shabby.

Saturday has been a day of chilling and taking things at a steady pace; I have done a bit more on my current jigsaw, Molly has watched the complete series of High School Musical The Musical The Series and Simon has watched the follow up movie to Pacific Rim and we are now going to have an evening of RuPauls Drag Race and perhaps Frozen 2!

But in amongst all this 'chilling' we still can't escape from what's going on around us, the news and social media is still there and I find myself caught in the middle of wanting to know what's happening and at the same time not wanting to hear about it over and over. I saw a photo of my aunty this evening who works for the NHS in the North East all gowned up in the full protective gear and marvelled at her smiling face and simultaneously felt proud and worried. I then saw a quote a friend had posted on Facebook which resonated 'You're not stuck at home, you're safe at home'...by staying home we make the lives of all those working so hard within the NHS and elsewhere a darn sight easier it's not hard, it's really quite simple and it's our way of helping out in a horrid situation.

I am out of my usual red wine so tonight I have opened a bottle of champagne...or more likely a bubbly wine...so I will raise a glass to all of us that are doing our bit even if that is just staying at home.

xx


Friday, 27 March 2020

Day 9

Hello Day 9 and the last day of a working week!

Friday for me always signifies the end of the working week and time to get ready for a weekend off; of plans for going places, doing things or simply relaxing. So whilst this is all very different at the moment I think it's important to try and stick to that mindset and make the distinction between work days and days off.

In our house we have three of us that have been 'working from home'. Now Simon does this anyway as he has been very lucky to work from home for a number of years now, much preferable to the working away from home that we had to contend with for about 15 years or the long commutes 'down South'. Ethan is all set up now and seems to be getting on and managing his workload pretty well. I still have the admin side of pre-school work to keep me occupied and so that has helped to give an amount of focus to the day; my challenge has been to find moments to step away every now and then as I know I can easily get sucked into too much laptop time and the rabbit hole of social media!!

My morning consisted with the very important task of paying my team of girls at pre-school followed by some emails as I try and plan ahead for the coming weeks as I need to ensure that we can follow our governments guidelines for retaining staff and paying them while they are unable to work.

I then did some online food shopping...exciting stuff I know...actually ordering meat from an online butchers as an alternative to using my local supermarket. I can't get delivery until early May but thought you know what let's give this a go and who knows it may be a new way forward once all this current malarkey is sorted. Perhaps this may be one good thing to come out of all this, we may appreciate the smaller and independent businesses more and choose to go on supporting them after all of this.

Both Molly's karate and guitar lessons have now swapped to online and video versions and I think it's important for people to carry on supporting these types of small businesses wherever they can to try to ensure that businesses like this still have a future in a few months time.

It was another beautiful day again today, if a little chillier compared to the last couple of days, but we were able to get out for our usual walk over the fields next to where we live. A few other individuals were out and about but all at a good distance and on the way back we stopped in at the farm across from us to buy a dozen eggs.

I had great fun this afternoon doing a bit of Facebook Live for the Disney Dream Girls talking about some of my Disney collection and life in general. It was a very nice half hour of light relief and made me smile.

It is a weird situation that we all find ourselves in, we know that we are doing the right thing by staying home and not going out but at the same time that fights against everything we are used to do doing. We are only a few days into this and we need to find ways to cope with what whatever comes our way from the practicalities of shopping to simply getting through the days. Every part of me just wants to keep everyone safe and not have to venture out into the world but I know that over the next few days I will have to step out and that's going to be strange in itself; queuing to get into shops, keeping my distance from others, actually seeing other people, worrying that I 'might pick something up'...it is all rather unnerving and makes me wonder how we are all going to cope getting through this and how it will affect us all when we get to the other side!

Night all, see you tomorrow,
xx

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Day 8

Day 8 and another bright and sunny day, if a little frosty first thing this morning.

Today has been a very quiet sort of day and has pretty much followed what is turning out to be our usual routine.

The morning was spent working; fielding emails and chasing emails as we now have to start thinking about the way forward with pre-school. How are we paying staff? What income will we have coming in over the next few weeks and months? What can we do to protect the pre-school and ensure it can re-open successfully after all this is over?

I have a great team of eight of us and we were all chatting this morning via WhatsApp; it is this team and the pre-school that I want to look out for at the moment, to ensure that we can return as strong as ever once all this is over.

I think I have the tendency to err on the side of caution and am just presuming that whatever it is that we are going through at the moment is going to go on for a fair few months if not longer. I'm not letting myself think too far ahead as I don't want to start making plans or dreaming about something for it to only get squashed.

We had tickets to go see a band called Boniface, tickets for The Gilded Merkin (burlesque show) and tickets to see Nick Offerman but all these have been cancelled or postponed. We should be going to a life drawing event called Dr Sketchy's in April and another burlesque show in May and I was supposed to be having some more Disney ink in April and all of these are either cancelled or moved. We won't even mention getting to the hairdresser...I might actually find out what my natural colour is!! We even have a hotel booked for July and I'm really not holding out much hope. I know people who have had to cancel weddings or not been able to attend funerals and I know friends who have plans over the coming months that may never come to pass. But I also know that in the grand scheme of things these are just 'stuff' and that we have to think of the bigger picture here; it's the ultimate short term pain long term gain.

Yesterday I was feeling quite anxious but today I have felt a lot calmer; I have had moments where my brain decides to go off on some random and usually bleak path but I have managed to either reign it back in or distract myself.

After our usual lunchtime walk I decided to tackle the ironing pile...I know this was very brave of me but there really was no excuse not to get it sorted - LOL! I got to see my good friend and fellow Disney Dream Girl Michelle this afternoon by the way of Facebook Live and tomorrow I think I shall do my own bit of 'going live'! I even got a little progress made with my current jigsaw.

So that's day 8, another day of staying home and getting used to a new way of living,

xx

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Day 7

Here we are on day 7 and we have another bright, beautiful, blue sky and sunny day...the world is smiling while the human race doesn't quite know what to do with itself.

Mental health gets talked about a lot at the moment along with speculation of what it will be like when we get to the other side of 'all of this'. We can only take one day at a time, tackle the challenges that each day brings and recognise that we are all different, that we will all handle this in different ways and that is okay...there is no instruction manual and we are all making this up as we go along. It's okay to be busy, it's okay to be lazy, it's okay to set yourself new challenges, it's okay to binge watch that TV show you've never gotten around to watching, it's okay to stay in your PJ's, it's okay to dress up smart, it's okay to let the kids watch more TV than normal, it's okay to talk openly to each other...whatever you do each day it's okay!

A good part of today was spent doing some more pre-school work and fielding some emails and phone calls. But I have found my brain wandering a bit today and wrestling with the enormity of what we are all going through. I am normally logged into Facebook most of the day and will dip into Twitter and probably get a news website up at some point or other but I can feel myself actively drawing away from these today. Today I just feel overwhelmed by it all and am trying to keep the noise out of my head but it's pretty hard to do.

Molly said to me earlier that she didn't know what to do today and she just wanted to be productive; it must be hard for her seeing me, her dad and brother all 'doing stuff' while she is having to occupy herself. But it's early days and I hope that as time goes by and we all start to adjust that we find ways to combat this, perhaps we will take an online course or try a new craft or read a book - the things that we ordinarily 'don't have time' to do! Let's look at the positives that could be gained out of an awful situation.

We had our usual walk out at lunchtime and yet again discovered a new path...although we did cut through a field that I'm not wholly convinced is a public footpath but as the signage is so bad we kind of made it up as we went along. We saw quite a few people out and about but everyone kept their distance, thankfully.

I am hoping that we have enough supplies to keep us going until my next shop that I have booked as a collection from my local supermarket. The collection is from lockers so should mean that I can avoid contact with others but I'm going to try and get future shops to be delivered although getting delivery slots is proving rather tricky; looking online today (25th March) the next available date was 14th April! But I really want to try and avoid physically going into a store. If I have to go out shopping I think I will try and use the smaller shops in the hope that they may not be so busy. I've heard mixed reports today with some supermarkets being really good and controlling how many people in a store at any one point and keeping everyone 2 metres apart and then other horror stories that are the complete opposite! I fear shopping bills maybe more expensive as I will not be able to go to multiple shops as I usually do to get the best deals plus the smaller shops are usually more expensive. I may also have to resort to ordering the essentials of high quality dark chocolate and red wine online!! Now that could get expensive! #realifeproblems

I know I jest but this could be highly problematic for those on low wages, self employed or whose job has just stopped and the future is so unsure. Not only are we all faced with the practicalities of getting food on the table but we are also faced with the financial impact of delayed wages or no wages or who knows what! I know the UK government are putting systems in place and I know that eventually it sounds like they may have something in the works for self employed people but all these systems need setting up and that is going to take a fair few weeks to sort and people still have to survive in the meantime.

On a more positive note while listening to Spotify today I decided to go old skool and listen to Prince...OMG I am loving listening to him everything from totally uplifting to down right sexy to heartbreaking. We have been long time Prince fans and after seeing him live back in 1988 we have seen him too many times to recall, we even took both kids to see him back in 2007 on what would turn out to be his last UK tour. In fact we saw him twice on this tour and the first time we had tickets for an after-show concert in a small club which was just astounding. So many happy memories.
Collection of tickets from all the various Prince concerts we have been to!
Souvenir from our last concer - 3121 tour
See you tomorrow
xx




Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Day 6

Here we are on Day 6...

Today is really a work day for three of us; Simon already works from home so it's almost business as usual for him, Ethan has his second full day working from home and seems to be getting on ok and I decided to get up straight on some administration tasks for pre-school.

Highlight of this morning was being able to login to Disney+ for the first time in the UK.
Mickey cartoons at breakfast!
Although I've not had much chance to indulge yet Molly and me did have some fun assigning avatars to our profiles and then browsed the vast library of movies and shows. Although Simon is a bit disappointed that The Mandalorian has only a couple of episodes available and not the full series as yet. Molly is equally disappointed that High School Musical - the series has only the first episode available, although she has enjoyed watching The Suite Life of Zack & Cody!

The weather here has been absolutely beautiful and Simon and I took a walk out at lunch time to enjoy the fresh air and the sunshine. I did comment that as the human race goes into lockdown nature seems to be revelling in the freedom it's being granted from all of us!

This afternoon I completed some more work but made sure to step outside for my coffee break to enjoy the sunshine, top-up my vitamin D levels and to just take 5 minutes.


 Although I do need to share this photo...on a beautiful, sunny, spring day this is the view I have of my shed...
Yes...this is where my Christmas decorations are stored
After my work was finished for the day I took advantage of the good natural daylight to start a new jigsaw; this was a Christmas present from Molly's boyfriend Dan...

As much as I could manage before the light faded today
I shared these photos on Instagram and Dan responded pretty much straight away which just made me well up inside and feel all the more for these two. They have a long distance relationship anyway, living 195 miles apart, which they are managing wonderfully and then this comes along and spoils all their plans. As a mum every ounce of me just wants to put my arms around them and make everything alright but I can't and that is a rubbish feeling.

These are strange times that we are living, that none of us could ever have anticipated and how we get through will make us stronger for it. We have to believe that by going through this we will come together better as a society and hopefully be better people for it. I just hope that those that still flaunt the lockdown soon realise just how important it is to just do as you are told for once in your life. Yes it's pretty bleak at the moment but the quicker we all act as one the quicker we will get through it and more importantly actions now may help avoid too many unnecessary deaths and support our health system that we should all be so proud of at the best of times not just now. Some of us maybe in the position to volunteer and offer their time or resources and some of us can still help by staying home and not adding to the problem. Whether you stay home, volunteer or are a key worker we are all part of the bigger picture of beating this thing as quickly as possible.

xx

Monday, 23 March 2020

Day 5

Here we are on just Day 5...

Simon and I are extremely fortunate to only work a four day week in thanks to very understanding employers and today would be our usual day not working. We would normally take the chance to perhaps go out for the day, or perhaps a bit of retail therapy or simply just go out for a nice coffee somewhere. Now obviously none of this has happened today because we have been doing as we have been told and staying at home!

But we very much wanted to make sure that we still had a day off work (although I will confess to the odd checking of work emails!!). Ordinarily on a Monday my eldest would be dashing out the door at 7.30am to catch a bus into work and perhaps Molly might be working a shift at some point but today none of that was happening. Molly's shop has closed its doors and Ethan is now working from home, so the plus side to this meant no rushing to get up at silly o'clock and that the day could all start a little more sedated than usual.

Simon has spent a chunk of the day completing some more work on his R2D2; more filling and sanding. He also managed to give the walls in our garage a lick of paint as this is now our home gym. Although we are members of a local gym Simon decided about 10 days ago to buy some equipment ahead of what we all knew was to going to be happening so that kit  plus my kettle bells and bands, along with some old dumbells and Molly's pull-up bar and we have a pretty nifty set-up. Today Simon has even managed to sort out some old speakers hooked up to an old ipod so we can have music while we workout!

I have spent some time researching the local footpaths and bridleways near us and have been extremely disappointed in the lack of information out there. My parish council website had no information what so ever. My local borough council actually had a list of all the different walks with links to information for each one; the only problem being that each link was to a 'pdf' of a paper leaflet. This meant poor reproduction of the information, quite grainy and a much over detailed map that was produced way too small. But what made me laugh the most was reading the directions for one of the walks which advised the walker to go past the village hall, hospice and the petrol station...mmm...slight problem we haven't had a petrol station in our village for at least 15 years if not longer. I think our daily walks will be made up as we go along!

We decided to venture out on a walk and this time Simon used the Strava app on his phone to record where we walked and how far. We followed the same route as yesterday and recorded a 3.9 mile walk in just over an hour and a half; up and over fields some more muddy than others...think I'll be feeling it in my glutes tomorrow. I was then able to compare our route with what I could find online and managed to recognise a little of where we went and think we probably crossed over two designated walks...to be fair the markings on the gates and stiles left a lot to be desired.

Molly usually attends karate on a Monday evening and tonight was no different except she has been doing it from the comfort of our living room. Her teacher is putting all classes online so the pupils can keep up with their classes which will hopefully mean that people keep supporting the group financially so when this is all over they can re-open and carry on. Only slight issue was that I became involved when my shoulders were required for leg stretches...my goodness Molly has boney ankles!!

Molly's guitar lessons are also going online from this week and she may even get extra bits of video as well to supplement her usual weekly lesson. I am so admiring the fortitude of these small businesses to keep on going and I will support them as much as I can.

I think as the days, weeks and probably months go by it is going to be extremely important that we all find ways to get through this all. Daft things like doing my hair and make-up on a morning, dressing smart every now and then, finding time for Simon and I just to have our own space I think are going to all help keep some normality and pride about how our lives continue.

This is all very new and we don't know how long this will go on for and what life will be like when we get to the other side. I have already warned Simon that if we are still living like this by the time we get to the end of Summer then the Christmas decorations will be out very, very early this year!!

See you tomorrow xx

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Day 4

Here we are Day 4 and it's Mothers Day here in the UK.

A lazy Sunday morning was how the day started, yummy keto breakfast, a good cup of coffee and some lovely and thoughtful gifts from my two children. I even got a message from Molly's boyfriend which I will confess brought me to tears. He is such a lovely guy and my heart goes out to him and Molly; he lives at the other end of the country so they can't be together at the moment and that just sucks big time.

Apparently the card was bought a few weeks ago...just seems rather appropriate at the moment! And look my favourite chocolates and a Disney jigsaw to keep me occupied.


We then had an impromptu chat over the garden fence with our neighbours (more than 2 metres apart!). I then tackled a few normal household tasks while Simon took his R2D2 outside to do some sanding, resulting in the two quotes of the day 'that was a good sanding session' and 'don't mind the wet droid in the bathroom' to which Molly responded 'only in this house would you hear something like that'!

We have set up a gym in our garage and Molly was on the hunt this morning to see if we still had a skipping rope...after searching through boxes we came up empty handed. So the benefit of having a prop maker in the house meant she was directed towards some blue cord rope and some white tubing to make handles but just as she was about to complete the job a neighbour gave her one that he'd got and never used! Have to confess there then followed a wipe down with anti-bacterial wipes and a hand wash!! Molly also received the official word from her employer (a well known national shoe shop!) that they were closing there doors as from the end of business today - phew, much relief all round!

It has been a beautiful, sunny, clear skies day here today and so Simon and I took a stroll out into the countryside next to where we live. We are so fortunate that we can do this, and at this time we are truly appreciative of where we live. We have all seen on the news and social media large numbers of people out and about at parks, historic houses and beach fronts clearly not observing social distancing and it truly boggles my mind. The message is clear...stay at home as much as possible and if you do go out keep 2 metres apart from anyone else...do this and you might just save someone's life!

Simon and I ended up having a much longer walk than we expected and I'm ashamed to say discovered pathways that I have never walked before in all the time that we have lived here.


We saw some beautiful countryside, and we could see for miles and we even encountered some Alpacas!



We did see a few others out and about for walks with their families and dogs but I did remark on something. You know how when you're out and about in a bustling city centre and it seems to be only you that looks where you're going and then moves out of peoples way? Well let's compare that to social distancing shall we...and remember Simon and I were walking the public footpaths and bridleways of England which run through open fields...so why was it that only Simon and I found ourselves putting distance between us and others! I had a runner go past us at one point when we were back on the main road and I swear blind had I took a step to my left I would have tripped him up!

I have been inspired today by the number of posts on social media shouting out that we all need to stay at home as much as possible, to keep our distance and expressing disbelief at all those out there that think social distancing means going to a public park and mingling with every Tom, Dick or Harry! They are proper Dick's!!

So let's all pull together, recognise that we need to do this for the good of all and for once lets do as we are told. Stay at home, practice social distancing...I do not want anyone within 2 metres of me please...I am not being rude I am simply thinking of my health, your health, the tens of people we will both meet and perhaps the elderly person one of those people comes into contact with. Be brave, be a hero and conduct yourself with some common sense and common decency...please!

See you tomorrow xx

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Day 3

So Day 3 marks the first weekend of this social distancing situation and it all feels a bit weird.

Usually on a Saturday we take Molly to her guitar lesson and then go for a coffee just the two of us. Thankfully her music school have had the sense to cancel all lessons and instead they are going to put classes online. This did mean there was no rush to get out of bed this morning so we did manage a bit of a lie-in!

So after a very lazy start to the day I decided to place an online grocery shop...the earliest date I could get was the 6th April...really! If we all did as we normally did then there wouldn't be all the panic and ridiculous low levels of buying random things.

Our dilemma today was taking Molly to work this afternoon; she works in a shoe shop in one of our local shopping centres and had just a 4 hour shift to complete. I really don't understand why a shoe shop should remain open...it really doesn't come under the banner of 'essential services'. Keep open the food shops, the chemists and maybe the banks but everything else just needs to stop now. Even Molly agrees and has said she's been waiting for the notice from head office that stores will close. I appreciate that these companies are worried from a business stand point but they have online shopping to help keep them going, plus government pledges of support and surely it's better to take the hit now and get this thing beat as quickly as we can; that won't happen if everyone is still under the illusion it's ok to go shopping!

All we hear all day long is news report after news report comparing the UK to Italy and how we are headed for the same sort of pattern of cases. Let's learn from that...please! Lock us down as much as possible and we might stand a chance otherwise this can only end one way and it scares me.

We did decide to brave a local supermarket this afternoon and managed to get a few things; had to make compromises on some things and there were other items we just couldn't get and yes toilet paper was one of those along with frozen vegetables - like I said random stuff!

The rest of the afternoon was spent at home. I was catching up on some pre-school work that I hadn't been able to complete yesterday and Simon took the time to do some work on the R2-D2 and mouse droid he is currently making...for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about both Simon and I are big Star Wars fans and as a result Simon has become rather good at making movie style props! So this afternoon he was sanding and filling in gaps with car body filler on the two models he is currently making, both of which he has 3D printed!
Works in progress
The only thing then left to do was to fetch Molly from work. Must admit I am relieved that she is now home and just keeping my fingers crossed that the company she works for has the common sense and decency to close their shops. I think retailers have a big part to play here because if they stay open they give licence to the public to carry on as normal but if they close the message will (hopefully) get through.

I understand the need for life to carry on as normally as possible and the concerns around the mental impact of social distancing but we need to realise that this is bigger than all that. We need to stop and think about this, and think about the damage that we could be doing by not stopping. You may get this awful virus and not even know you've had it but you could pass it on to a child who might pass it onto a parent who then might pass it on to the elderly relative who already struggles with a medical condition as it is and they might not be able to fight this virus and they might not make it...all because you didn't stay at home.

It's scary...I get it...I'm scared, and anxious, and worried and concerned about people I love and care about but if we all pull together and do as we are told then maybe we stand a chance of giving our amazing NHS the time to deal with it and save as many people as we can.

I am now going to escape reality for a short time and settle down in front of the TV, with a glass of red wine, some high quality dark chocolate and my family...must be time for RuPaul's Drag Race; my favourite!

See you tomorrow
xx

Friday, 20 March 2020

Day 2

OK Day 2...

Pretty normal start to the day, up at our usual time to see the eldest off out to work at 7.30am. After breakfast I jumped onto the laptop as I was aware from social media that more information had been published around which children would be entitled to some form of childcare.

This meant most of the morning spent emailing with staff and parents to ascertain just how many of our parents at pre-school this applied to and whether we could help or not. By late morning it became very apparent that the care needed could not be met by my pre-school. We are only a very small team and most of my staff have either themselves or people within their household that need protecting and this meant we could no longer offer a service to our parents. All of our parents have been extremely understanding and appreciate the predicament we find ourselves in. It would seem sensible to me that schools come together and find a way to support parents even if that means opening their doors to younger aged children. In our particular circumstances the children that need the care would be at school anyway in September so surely this would be just letting them start a bit earlier; it would help parents as well by only having one drop-off and collection to contend with. But hey, what do I know, I'm not the powers that be...only time will tell exactly what their plans are.

By late morning the eldest was home with a PC from work so that he can now safely work from home. My daughter works for a retail shop (a non-essential shoe shop) and is being told that her shift is still happening tomorrow...really? She's just been telling me that in the first 2 hours of being open today they have had 90 people through the doors, which while lower than normal is still to me bewildering. We have been told to social distance, to only go out for the essentials...you should have shoes already...what are you buying and why? It's not like any of us are going on holiday and need new sandals or taking up a new sport and need trainers...so what are you buying for?! It's beyond me it really is.

If we are social distancing then we are all doing it...not just those of us who feel like it...this is serious stuff folks...this is not the time to be out at pubs and restaurants and playgrounds and non-essential shops! Let's learn from other countries who have struggled to cope and act now not in a few days when it's more convenient!!

Lunchtime came around and Simon and I took a walk in the fresh air, a chance to get out the four walls and a chance for us to have chance to be just us. It was chilly and very windy but felt good.

The afternoon was a mixture of more back and forth with emails and catching up on other work bits and bobs before catching up with my fellow Disney Dream Girl Michelle as we recorded our weekly Disney themed podcast. We had debated as to whether to record or not in the present circumstances but our wonderful listeners all agreed that we should carry on and try and spread a bit of Disney love.

It was great to catch up with Michelle and just have an hour or so where 'you know what' wasn't the centre of the conversation. It saddens me to think of the Disney parks around the world being empty, they are places of such joy, laughter, fun and friends that it just doesn't seem right that their doors are closed. We can only hope that when we get top side of this horrible virus that we all treat these places that we love with the care and reverence they deserve and appreciate all that they bring to our lives.

As the day has moved on, and with announcements from government that pubs, clubs. restaurants, cinemas and gyms are to close and reading more and more online about what a horrid, nasty virus this is I am wondering when the government will realise that we all just need to stop, batten down the hatches and ride this thing out. I have a daughter who is due to work tomorrow in a shoe shop...for goodness sake that is not essential. I don't want her to go...she feels obliged to go. It is not great money and she doesn't get that many hours work each week and while I understand that she wants to 'earn her keep' I'd rather she be fit and healthy than pick something up unnecessarily.

I am torn on so many things at the moment but all I want to do is make sure those around me are safe and healthy. If we keep ourselves safe and everyone else takes this situation seriously and does the same maybe we can stop this from being worse than it needs to be.

Take care, stay home and I'll see you tomorrow x

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Day 1

We are in strange and unprecedented times as the world tries to understand the impact of the Coronavirus, COVID-19...and for some life will never be the same again.

Once through all of this it will be one of those moments in time that I think will stay with us and change us for a long time to come.

So here I am typing this on Day 1 of being at home from work. I took the decision yesterday to close the pre-school I manage; I was fed up waiting for our government to tell us what to do and it was not doing any of my staff, the children or parents any good.

Our attendance had dropped dramatically as parents took heed of government advice to self isolate if they, their child or another family member developed a dry cough or a high temperature. Parents didn't know what to do for the best and a lot decided to err on the side of caution. We were struggling to get some basic hygiene products...yes toilet paper was one of them...as the whole world has gone crazy and decided panic buying is the best strategy. I have staff who have their own health concerns (me included) or elderly relatives that rely on them. Then when I heard that both Wales and Scotland were closing their schools I thought enough is enough...I'm done! I cried. I could cry now thinking about it. Pre-school means the world to me and my staff and to close for who knows how long is a very peculiar situation to be in.

All the parents were extremely supportive and understanding we even got bought chocolates and wine - so thoughtful!!

So that brings me to today and my first day at home for who knows how long. I get the distinct impression from what information I can understand and digest that we are in this for the long haul; this will be months not just weeks, I fear!

But my day started as normal, up early and breakfast sorted so that my eldest could get on his way to work by 7.30am. We are hoping that by the end of tomorrow he will be able to work from home. And then the rest of my day has revolved around work as there is still stuff that I can be doing to ensure that the boring administration and financial side of things are kept on top of. I am also thinking about how we can keep in touch with parents and support them whilst they have their children at home with them. I am happy to do all this as it will keep me busy and I can manage my days as a mix of work and home stuff.

I am fortunate that Simon has worked from home for the past 7 years so he is not affected work-wise but I am also aware that me being at home makes his day 'feel' different and we have already spoke about making sure we still have weekends and holiday time; to have that need for some normality however twisted that may need to be.

I keep finding myself on good old social media and getting dragged down the rabbit hole of various group pages all to do with the early years sector and insurance and funding and closing or not closing and to be frank it's really annoying me now. Lots of people trying to second guess and then moan and not really offer any answers. I wasted too much time on that this morning I will be 'unfollowing' and just relying on the information received from the official sources I think from now on.

Other events of the day...we had a new coffee machine arrive after ours broke yesterday...obviously a must-have to see us through this crisis! Along with a new wifi plug so that we can get wifi in our garage where we have set-up our new home gym equipment. Simon and I have decided to get out in the fresh air every day (come rain or shine) and took a walk into the countryside near us. We are very fortunate to live on the edge of a village with open fields just a few minutes away; we only saw two other people whilst we were out and kept our distance.

Unfortunately the rest of my afternoon was spent dealing with more early years stuff as I tried to establish whether any of my parents fall into the category of 'key workers' and what that means for my pre-school and the logistics and financial implications of re-opening for a few or not. Relying on guidance issued by government and local authorities is not the easiest as the language used seems determined to confuse the average reader.

And all the while I keep thinking that the country really needs to step up its game and just accept that we need to lock down. Close all but the essentials. Batten down the hatches and kick this virus up the butt!

These are weird and scary times. The thought of not being able to go out for a coffee, or visit friends, or do a bit of retail therapy, or go to one of our favourite burlesque shows is a really peculiar feeling; almost a sense of loss. But we have no choice we just have to get on with it, set ourselves some routines, find new things to do, a new hobby you've always wanted to try, catch up on missed TV shows, read an actual book and connect with those closest to you.

Day 1 over and out.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

It's been a year...

This time last year I had my first routine mammogram. We are very fortunate here in the UK to have a breast screening program that kicks in for us women after we've turned 50 years old; a mammogram once every 5 years until we are 70.

So when I have received my letter just the other day with my appointment for my next mammogram in just a few weeks it brought back all of the emotions from the last year. I knew I would be getting a letter; in fact it had been praying on my mind; I didn't know when I'd get the letter or when the appointment would fall but I knew that the thought had been niggling at the back of my brain.

Last year, on Valentine's day to be precise, I went for my first ever mammogram appointment very much with the attitude of 'it's just routine, a minor inconvenience' and almost with a preconceived idea that everything would be absolutely fine. After all my boobs felt okay; I'd not had any cause for worry, no unusual lumps or bumps, no pains or discolouration. In fact I quite liked my boobs; decent size and shape and despite being 51 years old and having breast fed two children they weren't looking too bad and were holding up pretty well.

By sheer coincidence one of my work colleagues also had her first mammogram the day after I had mine. When she asked me a couple of weeks later if I'd had a letter, as she'd had hers saying that everything was fine and to come back in 5 years, I had the first thought that something might be amiss as I'd not had anything. Surely my letter should have arrived by now?...after all I'd had my mammogram first...my brain tried to tell me that I was being paranoid and to stop worrying; it was probably just one of those things.

But then the letter arrived on the Friday asking me to go to the Breast Unit at my local hospital for a second mammogram the following Tuesday morning...but even the letter said 'hey, don't worry, this happens sometimes'. Again the pragmatic side of my brain tried to convince me that this was just a glitch and that a few minutes for a second mammogram would show that everything was fine!

Well suffice to say that second mammogram was not just a few minutes, by the time I left the hospital that Tuesday lunchtime I'd had a mammogram, an ultra sound and a biopsy for some white things that had shown up. A week later I was back at the breast unit being told I had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS); thankfully the earliest stage of breast cancer and a form that is classified as non-invasive but that still needs to be treated.

With DCIS the cells in the milk ducts have become abnormal and have changed to cancer cells but have not spread anywhere. The concern is that these cells could spread at some point in the future and they could spread slowly or quickly; a series of unknown events. So with my diagnosis I was offered a choice - either be treated or undergo a further test to see if I would be suitable for a study where women have no treatment and are just observed for the next 5 years to see if the cancer develops further or not.

I took the option of treatment, I simply didn't want to run the risk of this turning into something bigger that would mean more invasive treatment than what I was already being offered. So only a few weeks later I was back in hospital to have a lumpectomy followed, a few weeks later, by a course of 3 weeks of radiotherapy. See my previous post for more details of my diagnosis and treatment - Last Day

So that brings us to now and me feeling the need to write this post. The last 12 months since receiving my diagnosis has been a bit of a whirlwind, not only because of this but other life and work events that have all added up to it being a bit of a full on year. Suffice to say I perhaps haven't coped as well as I thought I had and the letter arriving in my post box has kind of rekindled a lot of feelings that either I had quashed or simply not had the chance, or time, to fully engage with.

I think it's been easy for me to dismiss the cancer as a blip, after all it was caught early and was non-invasive...it was almost easier to dismiss it as 'not a proper cancer'...and as a consequence I perhaps haven't allowed myself the good grace of acknowledging just what I have gone through and the knock-on effects.

I am very much a 'get-on with it' kind of person...I try not to let things that I have no control over 'get to me'; to only deal with things as and when they need me to deal with them - there's no point worrying about something that may or may not happen until it actually does happen. You can waste an awful lot of energy worrying over 'if's, but's and maybe's' and I'd rather target my energy into things I can actually do something about.

But this cancer malarkey is a 'big deal', bigger than I think I have admitted, and it has bothered me and affected me, perhaps even more than I realised. My left boob is not the same as it once was; now don't get me wrong having a little bit cut out is preferable to having my boob removed completely but it still feels different and that has had an impact on me, and perhaps more than I thought it ever would or have truly acknowledged.

From a visual standpoint everything looks great, I was fortunate that the incision and removal was towards the lower/under part of my boob and so the scar is not overtly visible. It has not stopped me wearing all my usual clothes and although I can tell that my left boob is smaller than my right no-one else would know. But it still doesn't feel like it once did.

I struggle with the fact that a year on I am still 'aware' of my left boob. The area around the incision is still numb in parts and I still get niggles and pains. I am aware of the weight in my boob when I move that I don't get in my other side. I am aware that it can feel sore or tender when getting squished. I feel surprisingly self-conscious about it. I am aware of when I've done more than I should have physically and I've been cautious about exercising and returning to the gym.

And I think it is all of this that has surprised me; the affects that are staying with me almost a year after my operation. And because it feels like it's still with me a year after it all happened means that it is always there somewhere in my brain and that annoys me. So getting my next mammogram appointment gives me a sense of foreboding; of going into the unknown once again. Will it be clear? What if they find it again? What if something else shows up? Then what?

I really don't want this post to sound all 'woe is me'. I'm simply trying to take stock of the situation and put my big girl pants on and admit that is has affected me, more than I could have expected, more than I realised and it will continue to affect me but that's okay, that's to be expected and it's okay to admit all of that.

I will deal with whatever comes my way, knowing that I have people I can rely on and talk to and that will help me find my way through. I will refocus my energies into making sure I live my best life and grab whatever opportunities come my way. Getting cancer, any kind of cancer, sucks big time and it's good to admit that, it's good to have a cry, to shout, to moan, to throw a tantrum in fact it's good to do whatever you need to do to get through it. It's my body that this is affecting and I will deal with it however I want to deal with it and I will take back the power and try to not let it control me and let me fight to be me.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Bye Bye 2019...Hello 2020

Well it's that time again when it's customary to look back at one year as we start a new one.

And to be honest 2019 has been a bit of a roller coaster of a year with some very low points peppered with a few highs.

The year started off fairly standard returning to work after two weeks off over the festive period only to be struck down by a stomach virus after just 2 days of work. This resulted in 4 of my staff team all being out of action with the same virus which meant I had to close the pre-school I manage for 3 days; a first in my 18 years of pre-school work!

Moving into February and one of my best highlights of the year. I was lucky enough to get VIP tickets to see my most favourite of bands 'White Lies'; this meant not only did I get to see them in concert but also got chance to watch them do their soundcheck, meet them and get my photo taken with them as well as come away with some great merchandise. This was a fantastic night and one that will stay with me for a long time...to say I was a little bit excited would be an understatement!
Enjoying the soundcheck
Meeting the band - eek!


Front row!!!
This was the start to a couple of weeks of fun times; celebrating a friends 50th, attending our regular burlesque evening at La Deda Cabaret, getting my pencils out at a local life drawing class called Dr Sketchy's and even a weekend away during an unseasonably warm weekend at the end of February.

In amongst all of that I had an appointment for a routine mammogram...just one of those regular things that us women of a certain age get asked to attend. Two weeks after the scan I received a letter from the hospital asking me to visit because they just wanted to 'double check' my scan...nothing to worry about...just one of those things! Suffice to say there was something to be worried about and a diagnosis of breast cancer saw the next 4 months being a blur of hospital appointments. Here's a link to a blog post that marked my last day of treatment and goes into more detail about my diagnosis and treatment; Last Day

During these four months life carried on as normal as possible; Ethan was finishing his final year at university and Molly had the last few months of sixth form ending with her A-Level exams, we had more 50th birthday celebrations, I took part in a charity fashion show, there was Avengers End Game to see, Molly turned 18 and another burlesque evening!

Then in May I was able to get a little more ink...and Molly got her first! See my earlier post; And Some More Disney Ink
Molly getting inked by the lovely Saint Heywood at Acadia Tattoo
And the completed ink...just had to be The Lion King
And for me a pink ribbon...
During this time we had also made the decision to book a holiday to Disneyland Paris...it had been 4 years since our last trip to Paris as a family and 6 years since our last visit to Walt Disney World. We were desperate to get a little Disney into our lives and with all that the year had brought so far we were determined to get out there and live life to the fullest! See the post - 69 Days and Counting

June saw Simon and I celebrate 30 years of marriage....
A 'now & then' photo!
...Molly and Ethan both sat their final exams and finished their respective times in education and my treatment came to an end.

In July we had the chance to support an event called Real Food Rocks held in the Lake District; it was chance for people to discuss and learn more about our approach to food in relation to our health. How if we wish to retain our health or reverse conditions like type 2 diabetes then we need to look at the foods we eat and readjust. Read my post from July all about the event - Real Food Rocks

The end of July saw Ethan achieving a first in his Computer Science degree and we had a great day at his graduation. He then secured himself a programmer job working for a computer games company which is something he has always wanted to do.
August saw Molly receive her A-Level results doing fantastic with an A*, A and B, she is now busy working part-time while establishing her own photography business Shutter Studios

This year was becoming a year of changes; both 'kids' leaving education and moving out into the big wide world, us getting used to the fact that the 'kids' are no longer 'kids' and then my body going through changes as a result of my treatment.

So our trip to Disneyland Paris in August seemed to time itself perfectly. We all had a fantastic time...and I really must find the time to look back at the holiday and get a few posts written and photos shared.

We ended August with a trip to London to see another of my all time favourite bands, She Wants Revenge, who played the O2 academy in Islington. We had seen them only once before, many years ago at a small venue in Sheffield and were thrilled to get the chance to see them again.


As we moved into September I had a hospital check-up which went well and now means I have an annual mammogram for the next 5 years just to make sure!

But within a few days of receiving that good news Simon's mum was diagnosed with heart failure and atrial fibrillation. This then plunged us into 4 months of doctors appointments, phone calls at all times of day, hospital visits (so many that we joked the car could drive itself there), organising home care and panic alarms, calling out paramedics, house sitting waiting for medical equipment to be delivered, liaising with social care, hospital staff, doctors, nurses...it was a never ending deluge of 'stuff' we had to deal with. Now what I should make clear at this point is that Simon is an only child and therefore the responsibility for his elderly mum all fell at his feet and he accepted that responsibility with good grace, care and diligence despite everything. Simon had also been the sole carer for his parents over the last decade or more, doing all he could for his dad when diagnosed with dementia until he passed away 3 years ago. He supported his mum through his dad's illness and then subsequently with every day life after his dad passed away. But this has never been an easy situation to handle, and one that has lasted for most of Simon's life. It is only through events over the last few years and months that we have begun to realise the emotional abuse that Simon, and as a consequence me, have been subjected to by his mum. This is not the forum to go into details but suffice to say the actions and behaviour of one person have had an unbelievable impact on our lives and well being. Sadly this meant that when she passed away just before Christmas it was met with a great sense of relief rather than sadness and mourning, along with the realisation that we are now free to move forward with our lives.

Oh and while all this was happening I got told that the pre-school I manage was being evicted from its current premises (we had been there for 17 years) and that we had just over 3 months to find somewhere new! This was a complete shock to us all and absolutely heartbreaking. But plans are in place and things are now moving forward; there will be lots of changes ahead but the good news is that we hope to be in our new premises by the end of February.

But despite these past few months we have pulled together, made each other stronger and somehow found the time, energy and strength to carry on and get on with life as best we could. So while we had to sacrifice going to the gym or getting Molly to her karate classes, or had to re-schedule day-to-day stuff we still enjoyed some precious moments.

We had some great nights out with friends and family, we introduced Molly to The Rocky Horror Show in the theatre, we enjoyed a night out to see Tim Minchin live, we had more burlesque nights and more life drawing afternoons!

We also were able to get out with our fellow Star Wars cosplay friends and troop at a number of events. We attended Feel the Force in Peterborough, a special comic-con set up for families with additional needs and for the third year running we attended the Nottingham Hospitals Charity Children's Christmas parties. And with the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker film we were asked to take part in one of a number of troops held at our local Odeon cinema which saw us raising money for two charities; MIND (mental health) and PASIC (cancer support for children & young people).
Feel the Force - with Joker Squad
Nottingham Hospitals Children's Christmas Party - with East Midlands Garrison

Odeon Cinema, Derby - troop with East Midlands Garrison for the release of The Rise of Skywalker
The last weekend in November saw the house get taken over with Christmas decorations...both inside and out! I just love this time of the year and love the tradition of decorating the whole house!
Part of my back garden - love these blow mould decorations

My main tree...and it's all Disney of course!
Black & Silver tree
And tree number 3 lives in my kitchen!
For my birthday weekend we headed down to London to see White Lies in concert (again) at Brixton Academy. This was a special concert forming part of a small tour to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album. They played the album in full plus a selection of other songs; it was a fantastic concert, with an amazing atmosphere...we made new friends, had beer thrown over us and Simon got kissed by a random man! Such a great night!

Singing my heart out!!
Made this frame to remember both White Lies concerts 
And just before Christmas we had an evening at the cinema to see the latest Star Wars installment...the evening started at 6pm with a showing of The Force Awakens followed by The Last Jedi followed at one minute past midnight by a showing of the latest movie The Rise of Skywalker. Back home and in bed for about 2.45am to be up at 6.30am for work!!

We have then rounded the year out with a very relaxed Christmas and New Year, we have re-connected with relatives, spent time with friends and family and simply enjoyed the time we have had together as a family.

We are now looking forward to what the year ahead shall bring. We are making plans for that big Disney holiday we have been longing for and making sure that every moment counts.

Wishing you all the very best for 2020 whatever that may bring you. Keep smiling and keep those you love close and cherish every moment you have xx