Sunday 31 May 2020

Day 74

Day 74...

Well after days of battling the new style blogger I have managed to start today's blog with out any problems - get me!

Another very relaxed and slow start to the day was followed by me and Molly heading off to our supermarket of choice to collect our grocery order. Yet again we arrived and saw the same store colleague we see each week and before we had even got out of the car Marky Mark had brought our shopping to us. Quick load up of the car and then home to do the standard unpack, wipe down, wash veggies and fruit and get rid of as much packaging as we possibly could.

Simon's hayfever was playing up quite a lot today so we took a short time out to stay inside in the cool to let his sneezing settle down and watch the last episode of Star Wars:The Clone Wars which was amazing. This has been such a fabulous series and these last few episodes have been fantastic to watch and have linked in with the live action movies so well, filling in some missing gaps along the way. For an animated series it has captured the essence of Star Wars completely and had us both on the edge of our seats and it even brought a tear to my eyes! The creative power of Dave Filoni is astounding, he has so much respect for, and knowledge of, the Star Wars franchise and has done a great job in creating something that feels so right and sits so perfectly within the story line. He should be given the creative reins of this franchise because everything he has created so far has been brilliant...Oh and I've met him and he was a thoroughly nice chap who took the time to chat with a crazy lady who had mouse ears on her Mandalorian cosplay. (I may have mentioned this once or twice before, check out Wow What a Weekend and My Disney Sleeve)

We then took a walk out over the fields walking just over 3 miles in a little over an hour. Another beautiful day and we encountered very few people, and everyone we did kept to the appropriate social distance and was polite and friendly.

Once we were back home we enjoyed a coffee (with Kahlua) sat on the patio before I joined my fellow Disney Dream Girl, Michelle and some of our listeners for a Disney quiz via Zoom. I had the pleasure of setting some of the questions and I think I may have made them a little hard...never realised choosing questions for a quiz could be so tricky! Although me and Molly had great fun setting them and then later tonight we carried on playing our own 'guess the song from the lyrics' game with me as quiz master trying to pick the most obscure songs going!

It has been lovely today to have things to do that have distracted from the news. To see photos of hundreds of people gathering on beaches and at parks and beauty spots is, to me, quite horrifying. There appears to be little regard for social distancing and goodness knows what the impact of that may be in a couple of weeks time. Our country is supposed to be easing things as from tomorrow but from the photos it would appear that it's already started! But when we have scientists struggling to agree on the best strategy and a lot arguing for a much slower and gradual approach we can only wait and see and hope that we somehow avoid a second spike...but I'm not convinced.

Enjoy the sunshine but take care, stay safe.

Saturday 30 May 2020

Day 73

Day 73...

Well yet again I battled with blogger for about 5 minutes trying to get my little cartoon image to appear on the page where I wanted it. Think I may have figured it out though as when adding the picture it seems to add a hyperlink at the same time...removed the hyperlink and all seems fine...get me with figuring out this technology thing!

I must give a shout out to Simon for designing all the graphics that I use on this site, from the header to various icon images that have been designed to tie into whatever the theme of the post.

After a slow start to the day we kind of pottered about the house. Simon had more work to do on his droid projects and a massive 24 hour 3D print just finished this morning. I was sorting out some paperwork that had arrived yesterday and then updating my grocery shop for collection tomorrow.

It was one of Molly's best friends birthdays today so we popped out to drop off presents and a card; we spent a little while chatting out on the street while maintaining social distancing at all times. And while it was lovely to chat with people we haven't seen in ages we all expressed our concern at the way the UK is handling this pandemic and we were all convinced that lockdown seems to be easing rather quick and there is going to be a 'second wave'.

It all feels very doom and gloom at the moment. The government announcement today was all about getting professional sports up and running again but behind closed doors. Now I am not a big sports fan so this meant nothing to me but as Molly quite rightly pointed out they are happy to let players, managers and support staff all mingle in close proximity to each other but us, the general public, can only meet up to 6 other people...outside...keeping 2 metres apart...not sharing any utensils and if you have to use someone else's bathroom facilities then you literally 'enter at your own risk'.

I have a daughter who has not seen her boyfriend in about 12 weeks now, and I know she is not alone, so announcing footballers can see and touch each other really is a kick in the teeth. Her fella's phone has started playing up today and I can see how stressed she is because that's their only mode of communicating, they 'text' all the time and 'face time' every day. He lives 200 miles away so they can't even meet up to be distanced from each other - this sucks big time.

It has been another glorious day today and that will have encouraged people to go off to the parks and the beaches and social distancing will not have been obeyed and where will that leave us all? Do we end up with a second wave hitting us in a couple of weeks and be forced back into lock down? Will people follow a second lockdown if that does happen? Would it still not be better to knuckle down now, keep the lockdown going for a little while longer to get topside of this thing? Give chance for the R rate to drop lower before we start opening up again?

Maybe my brain is too simplistic - stick it out a little longer, get the R rate lower and then ease out of it. Perhaps I am not aware of some vital piece of information that makes coming out of lockdown okay. Maybe the government need to be open and honest and transparent about what is happening and perhaps admit that one of their own messed up big time, that he should be fired and then we can all focus on what's important...saving lives...rather than trying to distract everyone from a story they want to go away and won't. We have as many people dying today as when we went into lockdown on 23rd March - so what's changed? What is different now that says a lockdown is not needed as much?

I maybe being a little flippant with all of this but the messages coming out of the government are not clear and concise they are a bit grey and woolly and widely open to interpretation and abuse. Fingers crossed I am wrong in all of this but I fear I am not.

Please take care, stay safe

Friday 29 May 2020

Day 72

Day 72...

Well would you believe it yesterday I started the day battling with blogger to get my little icon image where I wanted it on the page and couldn't do what I wanted. So this morning I decided placing my image to the left would be the new look but no blogger wouldn't let me do that...but it would let me place the image to the right where I wanted it yesterday - ARGH!!

Today has been yet another heavy work day; I have refined our new 'epidemic and pandemic' policy; I have cross referenced the policy and risk assessment to make sure I've not missed anything; I have wrote a 'parental agreement' as well as an addendum to staffs contracts as well as dealing with emails and ordering some more essential supplies for when we do re-open.

We took our usual walk out at lunchtime and enjoyed yet another lovely warm and sunny day. Then later on this afternoon I spent an hour or so chatting and recording with my lovely friend and fellow Disney Dream Girl, Michelle. We spoke about the cancelling of various Disney trips that Michelle has had to very sadly make as well as the proposed opening of Walt Disney World and asking when we thought we would be likely to return. I had hoped to be there sometime this year but this will not now be happening, I can't see us returning until the world is back to something like the old normal. There are lots of restrictions being put in place at the minute, experiences being cancelled, systems being changed and lots more and I'm just not convinced that it will be the same sort of experience. Especially not for us Brits who have an awful long way to travel that can be rather expensive!

I must admit to feeling quite despondent today and a little overwhelmed. I feel like I am in a no win situation with work as whether or not I personally think we should be opening I still have to make a decision that will affect my staff and the families that we support. The message from the government is schools should be reopening so parents will be expecting us to do just that, but what if it's not the right time? What if by opening we have an outbreak? Do I want to risk my staff, and their families, getting ill? Do I want to risk the children and the families that come to our pre-school getting ill? Do I want to bring the virus home and infect my family? Obviously the answer is no but we have a government saying 'hey let's get everywhere open' while the scientists are quietly saying 'well...err...maybe not...we might be causing more problems...there might be another spike' - so with all that I am left to make a decision that could affect 10's if not 100's of people. I don't get paid a vast amount of money, our pre-school is  a small charity organisation and so it feels really unfair the amount of pressure we are getting put under and I hate that feeling.

We had just started to get our lives back this year after years of scrapping by, years of looking after sick and elderly relatives, experiencing the death of parents and then having gone through breast cancer last year this was supposed to be the year we got to do the things we'd been putting off. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, and I know other people have had to cancel weddings and parties and more, it's just so annoying that we have all been stopped in our tracks. And more annoying that our government seems to be making such a hash of things when other countries have seemingly got things sorted. The little faith I had in the powers that be is feeling severely stretched at the moment and I don't really trust them to do anything that is in the interests of the population. And if that's the case I am really struggling to see how and when we are going to come out of all this and that is really not a pleasant thought.

Take care out there,

Thursday 28 May 2020

Day 71

Day 71..

And today I battled with a new format blogger! Trying to place my little cartoon image of me at a keyboard to the usual right hand corner would not play so I've had to try a different approach - argh!

Well most of my day has been spent working. I've been writing a new 'pandemic' policy to set out what we as a pre-school must do when faced with a pandemic which means cross referencing this to our risk assessment. I managed to complete it today but think I will look at it again tomorrow with a fresh pair of eyes, and a clearer brain, to make sure that I have everything covered. 

I was also very kind as a boss and sent all my staff links to lots of government documents that they need to read before we re-open...said with very heavy they loved getting that email!

I had a break at lunchtime as we took our usual couple of miles walk out over the fields in glorious sunshine. Although sadly we were able to see a fire at a school only a few miles away...a local primary school was completely burnt out although thankfully there were no children in today and all the staff on site were unhurt.

Absolutely devastating to see.

The day was finished off with a little workout down our home gym! 

So today the government have apparently said that their five steps for easing the lockdown have been met and that we will begin to see things opening up. This means that schools will be on schedule to start opening to more children from June 1st. Although there are quite a few schools, and councils, saying this won't happen straight away and that quite a few will not be open to as many children as first thought as most schools do not simply have the space to keep children two metres apart.

Car showrooms will be open from Monday which meant that both Simon and I received phone calls today from the dealership where we got our cars from...just checking in with us to make sure they had the right contact details...and to let us know they will be open from Monday...are they looking for business by any chance?!

Oh and we can now meet up to 6 people from outside our household provided it is in a public space or someone's garden and that we keep to social distancing. So whilst it is great that there is this small piece of relaxing the lockdown it is still some way off from what most people want; that ability to hug people we haven't seen in a long time and to relax and be in each others 'space'. And all the while the cynic in me thinks this has all come about to distract us, and appease us, from the debacle created by one of their own getting caught blatantly flouting the rules that we, the public, were doing our damndest to stick to.

I, for one, will approach this relaxing of the lockdown as cautiously as I possibly can!

Take care,

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Day 70

Day 70...

OK so 10 weeks of lockdown now!

I have been in a very fortunate position during lockdown to be able to work from home, to have Simon and Ethan work from home as well. We have relied heavily on online shopping and avoided going anywhere we didn't need to be going.

We live extremely close to the countryside so getting out for exercise has never been a problem and we have enjoyed getting out most days. We have in fact lived a very closeted life, keeping safe and trying to make the best of the situation.

It has made me realise that I am quite happy being a 'home bird' and while I have missed seeing friends and going places I have been able to keep in touch and feel connected. But it also means that the thought of coming out of lockdown is, for me, a daunting one. We still have hundreds of people dying every day and we have the highest death rate per capita than anywhere else but it's suddenly alright to start and venture out...

After 10 weeks of being told 'stay home', don't go anywhere you don't have to and weeks prior to that hearing all the horror stories coming from countries like Italy and wondering why we weren't reacting over here, it is difficult to comprehend the logic at times. I know there are differing opinions as to the best way to react to this pandemic but I can only deal with the information that is being fed to us via mainstream media which all the time has been downright scary. So being told we can start doing things again while 'staying alert' (again what does that mean?!), but keeping to social distancing and remembering to wash our hands often and not touch our faces and that perhaps wearing a face mask might be a good idea...Oh but we can't go visit relatives and give them a all a little concerning! Do I feel comfortable getting back into the outside world? I don't think I do!

So as far as I understand it next week I can go visit a car showroom and test drive a car but I can't go see my dad in his own home and give him a hug...feels like the priorities are all out of whack. The cynic in me says this is all about money and not about protecting peoples lives...but what do I know?!

Well today has been mostly work, and very important work as it was pay day! There were more emails to read and I've begun to write some policies as well as look at the number of children I can take into my pre-school and when. The guidance for early years recommends keeping to small groups of no more than 8 children but if you can't do that then 16 is fine - what?! It would appear that more of my local primary schools are being cautious and at the very least delaying their opening to more children. Guidance from our council to primary schools is to ensure that social distancing is maintained at all times for those children being invited to return which is mainly the 5 & 6 year olds, which means that a lot of schools will not have the physical space to accommodate the children. Goodness knows what schools are going to do as other year groups are supposed to return! Oh and there has been no specific local guidance for those of us who look after 2, 3 and 4 year olds!

We had our usual couple of miles walk out at lunchtime in glorious weather before returning to more work and then helping Molly with her resignation letter for work. I really can't see the point in her doing something she is so unhappy with, she is the right age to be just 'going for stuff' and trying things now while she has no financial commitments to hold her back. So please find Shutter Studios on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and give her a like and a follow.

Take care out there,

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Day 69

Day 69...

Back to work today as I'd got lots to wade through in order to get to a point where we can be confident that we can re-open pre-school safely and in accordance with all the government guidelines.

So lots more reading and dissecting of guidelines and recommendations; feeding all that back into our risk assessment and my own notes. More emailing with parents to confirm exactly what their requirements are and sorting that into spreadsheets so that I can start to figure out exactly what we can offer everyone. Then chatting with my deputy manager over email exchanging information and ideas as we get ready to meet up sometime soon to thrash it all out.

I still have new policies and agreements to write as well as ensuring all staff are informed and know what the expectations of us all are; so lots more to carry on with tomorrow!

I received a letter from my local hospital today with a new date for my mammogram that was cancelled back in April, at the beginning of this lockdown. I now have an appointment next week and rather than it being at the breast unit of the hospital I was treated at it will now be at one of their satellite locations. It comes with guidance on when to arrive and what to expect because of covid; I am only to be there 5 minutes before the allotted time and to only attend on my own. Apparently I will have to wait 2 weeks for the results which I'd hoped by having it done at hospital wouldn't have been the case, but I guess with it being in another location that's the reason why. Just brings back all the memories from last year...having the first mammogram and presuming everything was fine and then discovering it wasn't, followed by the re-testing and biopsy and waiting for results.

Lunchtime saw us complete another couple of miles in around 43 minutes in absolutely glorious weather yet again and today we saw almost nobody on our travels. After more work this afternoon I managed to step away from the keyboard late this afternoon to steal about 20 minutes outside for a bit of chill time.

Molly has been approached by her employer about going to back to work...she works in non-essential retail and she really doesn't want to go back yet nor can she see the justification in re-opening at the moment. If we are honest this isn't the job she wants to be doing and was just a way of earning a little money; and at a contract of just 4 hours a week I really don't think it is worth her getting stressed over. She is desperate to pursue a career in photography or media but is struggling to find anything out there...I think she needs refocus and push her energy and time into her own venture, Shutter Studios. She is young and talented and should be using this time to do what she wants to do and to 'give it a go'; life should be lived for the moment and for trying and aiming high, you never want to be left saying 'I wonder what would have happened if....' or 'I wish I'd done...' Grab the moment and just go for it, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

And there you have another day in lockdown...I think we're still in lockdown...well whatever it is I'm going to stay put as much as possible as I don't trust anyone in power at the moment. It would appear it's one rule for us and a completely different rule for them. I just hope that the majority of us are being sensible and abiding by the social distancing and staying home as much as possible as I would hate to see a spike in a few weeks time. Unfortunately only time will tell...

Take care, stay safe

Monday 25 May 2020

Day 68

Day 68...

A steady start to the day as we had our weekly grocery order to pick up between 10am and 11am. It has been a beautiful, sunny and warm day today and we did notice driving around this morning two things; the number of cars parked close to where we live, which we assume is due to people walking around our area and then the number of people we saw out walking in general. I have driven around our area at this sort of time on a sunny bank holiday before and never seen that many folk out and about!

Anyways, once we had our shopping it was the usual back home, unpack, wipe everything down, get rid of as much packaging as possible before packing it all away and then having a well deserved coffee.

Simon has spent more time today figuring out the electronics for his mouse droid. He has the sound working and is now figuring out the movement aspect, so while he has movement he needs to get the power right to move the weight of the droid, so lots of experimenting and researching!

Our walk out today was one of our longer ones and took us on a completely new route, discovering paths never walked before and I must admit screwed up my sense of direction or rather proved my lack of sense of direction. We ended up walking 5.5 miles in 1 hour 55 minutes in glorious sunshine and although we saw a few people we didn't see too many and everyone was lovely and smiley and polite.

This afternoon I have spent a little time reading more of Dr Ted Naiman's The P:E Diet and understanding a little more about his approach to achieving a healthy weight and staying there. I am pretty happy with the way my body is, although I have no idea how much I weigh as I no longer check, but I am always on the look out for more information to see if we can optimise what we are currently doing. His approach is all about keeping energy low and protein high, we already keep our carbs extremely low but think we can probably get a better ratio of proteins to fats.

Then later on I joined in with a little Disney quiz via Zoom organised by my fellow Disney Dream Girl Michelle and, with a little assistance from Molly, we did pretty well! I was just happy we managed to get the technology working!

Back to work tomorrow,

Sunday 24 May 2020

Day 67

Day 67...

Today has been another slow day, with a few more household chores completed while Simon made more progress with the electronics for the mouse droid he is building.

Although the day started very overcast, grey and a little windy by mid-afternoon it had brightened up and we struck out on a walk. There were quite a few people out and about today, marked by the number of cars parked close to the bridlepath near to our house. Everybody we encountered was very polite, all spoke and all obeyed the social distancing rules. There was even music as we came across a small group sat in one of the fields, playing Abba's Dancing Queen!

We took a slightly different route today, making a mash-up of a couple of other walks that we have taken before and managed just over 3 miles in an hour and eleven minutes. Since we started doing these walks and using the Strava app to record them (from 23rd March) we have walked 108 miles in just over 38 hours! And we have said repeatedly said that we are going to try and keep these walks going post lockdown.

I also started another jigsaw as it's been a while...another Disney one of course! This is a Thomas Kinkade piece of art representing Snow White...

I must remember to get another jigsaw bought so that I have something lined up for when this one is complete.

Not much to report today, a relatively quiet day with the only noise being the ridiculousness of our government who seem to think that the rules laid down for our lockdown, and dutifully carried out by the population, are not for those in power. When an aide can get away with blatantly breaking the rules and then a prime minster who does nothing about it leaves the population feeling betrayed and taken for a ride. The rules were clear - stay at home - not drive 250 miles with a small child and a sick wife while sick yourself. Everyone else affected by this illness has done as they were told, made sacrifices, missed funerals, not been able to celebrate birthdays, missed holidays and so much more but apparently if you work for the government you can do whatever the hell you like!

So if the government can't follow their own rules then why should we have confidence in anything that they say. Apparently it's safe for schools to re-open to more children from 1st I have confidence in that? Teachers have done an amazing job looking after the children of keyworkers; small numbers of children in their own little 'bubbles' no-one knows what is going to happen when more children are introduced. Apparently the thinking is that children may possibly not be that good at spreading the where's the evidence for that? Or is that the case because children have not been in school, mixing together and spreading it around? I don't know I'm not a scientist and the scientists don't seem to really know either.

So perhaps we should just all do what we have been doing and stay home, stay safe and keep away from any government aides!


Saturday 23 May 2020

Day 66

Day 66...

Today has been a very quiet, moochy, sort of day. Catching up with household chores, a bit of online grocery shopping, helping Molly choose some new shelves for her room, making coffee and just generally hanging out at home.

We haven't managed to get outside today to put up our new lights as the weather has been a mix of sunshine and showers and still very windy, we didn't manage a walk either. It was such a battle out in the wind yesterday that to be frank I really couldn't be bothered with it again today. Simon and I use the chance to go out for a walk to have just a short amount of time that is just ours, away from the house and an opportunity to chat and connect; with the wind as it has been chatting has proved to be a tad difficult!

Simon has spent most of the day getting to grips with the electronics part of his mouse droid build. He has been connecting Arduinos to a sound card and then once he had sound working he was able to connect it to a couple of speakers; it's been playing the Star Wars theme as well as the appropriate droid bleeps and boops! It's been wires, micro-chips and soldering all afternoon...all a bit beyond me so I just kept the coffee coming!

And that's about it for today. It has been a frustrating day at times. An anxious day at times. I feel that I have been unable to 'make things right' for some who are struggling at the moment. I feel that I am always trying to make things right for everyone else and perhaps still ignoring how I feel or doing what I want to do. This is me. I tend to want to make sure everyone is 'alright', that they are happy and when they aren't, for whatever reason, I want to be able to make it 'alright' but I can't...I don't have a magic wand but I do have time and I try to have patience and I try to be supportive to get whatever needs to be sorted done. I should embrace this as my superpower, my want to help, my desire to make everything right but when I can't do that, when I can't instantaneously flick a switch I feel like I have failed.

I love those around me and it hurts when they are troubled and I can't do anything about it. And with everything that is going on at the moment it feels like every little hiccup is a million times worse than it would have been normally. We will get through it all together, just some days feel way harder or stranger than they need.

Take care,

Friday 22 May 2020

Day 65

Day 65...

Well another day of mostly work...what is the world coming to!

So yet more emails to respond to as parents start to reply to my email from yesterday. Parents are mixed about wanting their child to return to pre-school; some need them to because of work but others simply because they feel it's right for their children. And likewise we have parents who are happy for their child to remain at home and wait until September. I think with the lack of clarity and scientific solidarity coming from government it makes this a very tricky decision for parents especially when our neighbouring countries of Scotland and Northern Ireland have committed to no more school for this academic year.

All my staff have now been able to contribute to the risk assessment which interestingly everyone responded with almost the same questions or suggestions and all of which just meant a few minor tweaks to clarify a few points. I now have a 10 page risk assessment which means I will have new policies to write, existing policies to amend, new parental agreements to write and numerous posters to download. Think I may be busy the next few weeks!

So now we are in a waiting game to see how things progress over the next couple of weeks. Local councils are now saying that starting back on the 1st June is too soon and I have seen reports from differing science bodies that contradict each other! At the moment my pre-school is looking tentatively towards the 15th June but it will not be preschool as we know it. We will have much reduced numbers and the impact on which resources we can use is quite severe; it will definitely not be 'normal'.

It will be interesting to see as we move forward what the impact is going to be on the next academic year starting in September; how many children will be registered with us? Will parents want to be sending their very youngest to pre-school when there is no legal requirement to do so? Will we, as a sector, have new guidelines introduced meaning that the way we operate will have changed for good? Lots of unanswered questions at the moment that will more than likely have a big impact on the sector and I would imagine there will be a lot of closures for small community pre-schools and even some of the bigger nurseries if income is affected drastically. But only time will tell.

We had a walk out at lunchtime and I think our energy was expended on fighting the wind. Yesterday we had sunshine and high temperatures and today whilst the sun has remained but with more cloud and a little drop in temperature we have had a really quite ferocious wind. Our walk takes us along a constant climb initially and the higher up we got the windier it seemed and it was proper howling around us. In fact for a good portion of our walk it was difficult to talk. We still managed just over 2 miles but it did take a little longer today, around 48 minutes so I can only put that down to battling against the wind!

I have tried to move away from the laptop this afternoon, but my conscientiousness keeps letting me down as I have found myself randomly checking emails and sorting out some book-keeping bits for work - doh! I have tried though to distract myself with coffee, daft games on my phone and a bit of reading.

We have had a new set of outside lights arrive today as the set we had moved from one end of the garden to our patio area are not working. They were solar powered ones and we have tried changing batteries and leaving them off to recharge but nothing has worked and looking at the solar panel we came to the conclusion that there is a little damage to one corner that may have caused them to stop working. So jumped online a couple of days ago, ordered a new set but this time a plug-in set and despite the due delivery date being the middle of next week they arrived today! So providing the wind dies down I think it will be a job for me and Molly tomorrow to decide how we are going to hang them and where - watch this space!

Until tomorrow, take care

Thursday 21 May 2020

Day 64

Day 64...

So today has been another heavy workload day. There has been more reading of government documents, responding to local council emails, tracking down useful documents, emailing staff, emailing committee, emailing our parents and finally completing our risk assessment...a long, very involved risk assessment!

We did manage our usual walk out at lunchtime completing a couple of miles in about 40 minutes. We took the reverse route of our walk from yesterday which did mean we had to tackle a rather steep hill upwards which we always forget about until it's there in front of us!

But it has been another gorgeous, sunny day and I did make a point of taking a coffee outside this afternoon to chill away from the keyboard and take just a few moments to unwind. I even managed a little workout later on and actually joined Molly and Simon down 'the gym' for a change.

But otherwise that's been and gym!

And after a couple of glasses of red wine I think I will leave it there!

See you tomorrow,

Take care,

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Day 63

Day 63...

Well today has been another day filled with work. Keeping on top of emails as well as working my way through more government documents as well as starting on a risk assessment!

There is still that sense that I could be doing an awful lot of work for something that may never come to fruition. Just today the government have admitted that their 'track & trace' app will not be ready in surely it makes sense not to open up the country, let alone education, until the app and the whole program is up and running effectively - who knows?

So in between working I have enjoyed coffee out in the sunshine, popped over to the local farm to stock up on eggs and had our usual lunchtime walk completing another couple of miles.

And that really is it for today, nothing much to report. We have had a lovely warm and sunny day today and according to news reports that meant a large number of people heading for the beach...which under the current guidelines everyone is allowed to do. However looking at the photos posted online it seems highly likely that the 2 metre social distancing guidelines were not followed, and looking at the number of people out and about it wouldn't have been possible anyway! I just hope this doesn't mean we will get a spike in cases in a couple of weeks time!

Like I have said, repeatedly, surely a slow and steady approach is better...keep home for a few more weeks, let the government get the 'track & trace' system up and working properly before we start galavanting about. But hey, that's just my common sense, logical approach kicking in!

Take care, stay home

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Day 62

Day 62...

Well today has definitely been a work day! Most of my day was spent constructing emails to my staff and committee to try and give them an idea of what we are up against as we figure out if and when we could potentially re-open pre-school.

After the emails were sent I then spent most of the day reading the replies and responding to questions! We have so much to think about and I knew that by passing on the information that I have gleaned it would generate more questions than answers.

Opening pre-school, in whatever form it takes, will not be like it used to be. We are having to consider not only the physicality of re-opening; the cleaning routines, the equipment we can (and cannot) use and the layout of the room but also who do we open it for? How many children can we fit safely in our room? Which children need a place? Which children can we actually offer a place to? How many staff will we need? Which staff are able to work? And then add into all of that the recommendations from the government and we have a minefield to navigate!

There has been lots of talk today in the media, and on social media, that the country needs to have a competent and strong 'track and trace' system in place before schools open up, along with surveys suggesting that 80% of parents will not be sending their children back until September. It will be interesting to see how this unfurls over the next couple of weeks and whether all the work and stress that it is causing me now will actually be needed.

Our walk out at lunchtime was a nice relief and chance to get away from the keyboard and we managed another couple of miles in about 40 minutes. And then this afternoon I made a point of stopping, having a coffee, a couple of pieces of very dark chocolate (85% my favourite!) and sat outside enjoying the warmth and a bit of sun while playing some daft games on my phone just as a way to disengage and refocus.

When Simon and Molly went down 'the gym' I decided to do my body weight exercises and took the chance to watch some Prince concert footage from 1985 that has just recently been released onto YouTube. I have vague memories of watching this on TV, probably around the time it was filmed; I remember sat in the kitchen at my parents house watching it on a small portable telly! I have great memories of seeing Prince live for the first time in 1988 on his Lovesexy fact we saw him twice in about two weeks if my memory serves me right and they were just the first of many, many times that we were fortunate enough to see him. An absolutely amazing and talented performer who always put on a fantastic show; we have so many, very happy, memories of seeing him live and I was gutted when he died but the music lives on and it's great to see his estate releasing footage like this.

Oh and Molly got flowers and chocolates today from her fella...ah how sweet is that, just makes your heart melt.

Take care,

Monday 18 May 2020

Day 61

Day 61...

Well we had our, now usual, Monday morning of fetching the online grocery shopping and yet again we were met by store colleague Mark (affectionately we call him Marky Mark) who had all our shopping ready and waiting to load into the car.

Back home to unload the car, wipe everything down, get rid of as much packaging as possible before putting it all away; and in record time today!

Although I am not contracted to work Mondays I have throughout the day been checking and dealing with emails and also reading the number of government documents that have been produced in regard to schools re-opening early in June. And I will admit that at various points throughout the afternoon I have been heard to say, with a heavy dose of sarcasm, 'really!'. Reading statements like;

'Children who have had limited opportunities for exercise should be encouraged to exert themselves physically, making use of supervised non-touch running games within their group'
So very young children are to run around getting sweaty and breathing heavily on each other, but not touch anything or anyone and not play with anyone that belongs to another 'group' of children. All children will need to be split into small groups with a designated staff member and that grouping of children and staff cannot change and cannot mix. I can see this being a tad difficult to explain to children that they can't play with their friends because they are not in the same group.

'For younger children, the resources made available for child-initiated learning shoud be carefully considered. For example, malleable resources, such as play dough, should not be shared and consideration should be given to their safe use, depending on circumstances'
We are also being asked not to have soft furnishings, soft toys, avoid water play and sand play and toys with intricate that's a pretty hefty chunk of our activities just pushed to one side!

'Resources for activities such as painting, sticking, cutting, small world play, indoor and outdoor construction activities should be washed before and after use and where possible, children should be discouraged from sharing these.'
We all know children struggle to share toys at the best of times but it is something as skilled practitioners that we do try to teach our very young children but now we have to tell them NOT to share, which goes against everything they are normally taught. But young children will still grab toys and try and get the toy they want off the child that has it...that's just children!

'Children should be taught to wash their hands frequently, but particularly after using wheeled bikes, trikes and other large, movable toys. Children should be encouraged where possible not to touch their faces or to put objects in their mouths. Sharing stories, singing and playing outdoor games will help all children to socialise and resettle into familiar everyday classroom routines.'
So children should not touch their face or put things in their mouths...we are talking about very young children who do this sort of thing (and worse) all of the time! We have to deal with snotty noses, drooling, picking of noses, coughing without using their hands (or elbows) and more gross unhygienic instances every day and I can't see that changing overnight. I had to raise a smile at the suggestion of singing; now this is something that we love to do but as droplets of the virus can spread much further with singing and shouting perhaps we shouldn't be advocating this?

Perhaps we should let the children in, sit them down 2 metres apart and find very quiet and non-tactile activities for them to do...mmm can't see that happening!

Oh and while all that is happening I need to make sure that my staff keep 2 metres apart from each other and they will not be allowed to spend time together in a confined space! ARGH!!!

And breathe...

The rest of the day has seen Simon very busy constructing some more of his mouse droid; lots of sanding, measuring, taping, gluing and screwing bits into place! We managed a new walk this afternoon walking about 3 miles in an hour, discovering new footpaths that we weren't aware of. And it was lovely to see not quite so many people out and about today but everyone we came into contact with was very considerate and very polite and we even had a lovely conversation with another couple as we tried to help them decide which path to take!

Hope everyone is taking care, stay safe.

Sunday 17 May 2020

Day 60

Day 60...

Well today has been a very quiet day, and to be honest I've not really felt like doing much.

I completed my online grocery shopping ready to collect tomorrow morning, I've kept on top of household chores and spent time chilling outside with a coffee and doing a bit of reading.

Simon has taken some time to get on with his next piece of commissioned art this time completing retro game manuals for a contact in the US.

We took a walk out early afternoon and just did a couple of miles in about 40 minutes. I was surprised again at the number of people out and about near to us. Yet again there were about 8 cars parked on the main road which we would never normally see and these were people driving into our village to then walk some of the local footpaths. Thankfully almost everyone today was considerate and helped ensure that social distancing was met and most spoke and smiled.

This should have been a really busy weekend. Last night we should have been out at La De Da Cabaret, a burlesque show, and tonight we should have been seeing Boniface in concert but these were not to be. I am sure we will get chance to do both of these in the future but it is difficult to see when that will happen just yet.

I am trying not to get sucked into the news and social media around this virus but it can be hard some days. It can also be hard trying to decipher all the information out there and who to believe; there seems to be a plethora of opinion, differing papers, tweets, articles and just 'noise' so that it becomes a minefield for a lay person to know where to turn.

I am increasingly frustrated at the way in which the teaching profession is being portrayed as cowardly in the media just because they are questioning whether returning to school for our very youngest of children at the beginning of June is the right thing to do. Private schools have openly said they will not return till September...I wonder where most of the politician's children go to school and all those high rolling executives that have their 'say' in political decision making?

This is the information that we have been given around, and I quote, 'What the Science tells us' -
  • severity of disease in children – there is high scientific confidence that children of all ages have less severe symptoms than adults if they contract coronavirus
  • the age of children – there is moderately high scientific confidence that younger children are less likely to become unwell if infected with coronavirus
So note there is no scientific evidence just 'confidence' - what does that mean? And nowhere in the information provided by the government to schools and early years providers does it mention the teachers health and well being or how infectious the children could be or how this may infect all the staff that work within educational establishments.

Teachers love their job, they put their heart and soul into it as well as hours and hours outside the working day to get the job done. Teachers have been doing as best they can during this lockdown, keeping in touch with their students and parents as best they can in extraordinary and never seen before circumstances. But they should not be expected to put their own lives on the line for their job. Early years workers in particular do not get the recognition they deserve, nor do they get the pay that they deserve with most working at the national living wage or just above.

Teachers want to teach, but they want to do it when it is safe for everyone, when what they can teach will be beneficial to all. In a world where we are being fed horrible statistic after horrible statistic what are teachers, childcare workers and parents supposed to think?

Take care out there,

Saturday 16 May 2020

Day 59

Day 59...

And we had another lockdown birthday today, and this time it was Simon's.

So we have had a very relaxed day that started with presents and cards; I had done another piece of artwork in lieu of a card and made Simon a low carb birthday cake - a peanut butter & jelly cake. The sponge was made with peanut butter and sandwiched with homemade raspberry chia jam and fresh cream!
My birthday artwork - The Mandalorian & The Child (Baby Yoda)

Low carb peanut butter & jelly cake
Simon also managed to sell a helmet today so we were able to send that out in the post as well before having our afternoon walk. We took one of our longer routes today, just over 4 miles which we completed in about 1 hour 30 minutes and were surprised by the amount of people who were out and about. I guess as it's the weekend people must be looking for something to do and so going for a walk in the countryside must fit that bill. Most people were considerate and smiled or spoke but yet again we had a couple of instances where we moved over to one side of the path and walked single file and others just carried on and made no effort to show any consideration whatsoever - so annoying!

Even the cows in this field were socially distancing from each other
And while having a lovely day there is still this virus hanging over us and in particular the return of schools early next month. Listening to the government today I have never heard anything so patronising and quite frankly ridiculous. Of course teachers want children back at school, of course teachers want to see their children again and get those children back into school life BUT it MUST be safe for everyone - children, parents and all staff. 

Very young children cannot socially distance; they are naturally tactile beings who like to 'get into everything', to get mucky, to have a cuddle and who have little, if any, regard for hygiene so how the powers that be think that these very young children can adhere to the guidelines and experience school in a proper manner is beyond me. Going to school under these circumstances will not be like going to school normally and that maybe as traumatising for some as being at home. Teachers will not be teaching they will need to reintegrate these children and help them cope with a new way of schooling, one where they cannot sit with their best friend or even be in the same room as their friends, they may even end up with a different teacher. There are so many factors to take into account and I fear that those making these decisions have no real idea of what teaching young children is actually all about.

Just today it was announced that 2 schools in my local education authority have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 resulting in both schools having to close and staff and children having to self isolate. These schools were only open for key worker's children which will be a much smaller number than when schools open for the recommended year groups, and one of these schools is about 4 miles away from me. Prove to staff and parents that it is safe to open and we will do, but at the moment there seems to be a lack of scientific evidence that will put our minds at ease.

Take care out there,

Friday 15 May 2020

Day 58

Day 58...

The morning started with a special delivery. Through doing the Disney Dream Girls podcast and being part of the Disney community I have made lots of new friends, most of whom I have never even met. One of these Disney loving friends, Angie, has been making (amongst lots of other creative endeavours) face masks...Disney ones of course and this morning mine arrived and they are fab! I figure if I have to wear a mask in future I'm going to try and make it as fun an experience as I can and bring a little Disney magic to it.

The twist in this tale is that the masks should have arrived yesterday...and in fact they did but not at my house. Late yesterday morning I took a call on pre-school's phone from a lady asking to speak to me and explaining she had a parcel for me. I was a tad confused because I'd not ordered anything for pre-school and she then went on to apologise for opening the parcel and said it was some masks. At that point I knew what the parcel was but couldn't figure out how this lady was phoning me on pre-school's phone number. The courier had my email and landline number but not my mobile number and definitely not pre-school's number. So we arranged for her to drop the parcel around this morning which she dutifully did and I thanked her by giving her some Hotel Chocolate mini slabs that I happened to have in. So I asked her...'how did you find me?'...turns out she googled me! Well that's a first!

Today was then split between a little work; mainly reading more government documents and to be honest I had to stop reading because my eyes were crossing! Next I made a couple of cakes; one is for a special occasion tomorrow (more details later) and the second was a low carb banana bread which is lovely. Then this afternoon I did some more podcast recording with the lovely Michelle for our Disney Dream Girls show and today we chatted with Seth Kubersky who works for The Unofficial Guides and was chatting to us about the re-opening of Universal Studios CityWalk area yesterday.
More podcast recording
Simon has been busy this week making helmets and has now cast three using the new mold and one from the existing mold. After cleaning them up he took over the kitchen to wash them!

And the finished four...
Oh and in amongst all that we still managed to get out for a couple of miles walk at lunchtime! Another surprisingly busy day, and tomorrow we have another lockdown birthday to celebrate!


Thursday 14 May 2020

Day 57

Day 57...

Well a good chunk of the day was taken up with work as more parents responded to my email asking whether they wanted their children to return to pre-school at the beginning of June. Today the responses were quite mixed with most of them being hesitant to let their children return.

There have been quite a few letters shared over social media today from headteachers basically saying how uncomfortable they are with re-opening their schools. How they cannot possibly keep young children socially distanced, and how children are known to spread infections like wild fire at the best of times so in this circumstance it stands to reason that they will spread it way farther than normal.

In between emails and government updates I managed to get a few household chores completed and we managed our usual lunchtime walk out. The weather was much nice today and the views much clearer than they have been the last few days.

This afternoon I spent an hour or so recording a podcast episode for the Disney Dream Girls; Michelle and I spoke with former Disney imagineer Terri Hardin who was fascinating to talk to. She spoke about working on David Lynch's film Dune, on Ghostbusters, chatting with Michael Jackson while filming the Captain EO film for the Disney parks, working on a Christmas special with Dolly Parton as well as creating the fabulous La Taniere du Dragon attraction at Disneyland Paris.
A little podcast recording
And this evening we had some unexpected visitors...

...not sure where they've come from and later on they came back and visited us again!

And that was today...feels like a bit of a whirlwind day for some reason, but I suppose busy days are good days at the moment!


Wednesday 13 May 2020

Day 56

Day 56...

Well straight from the off today has been all work related. Again sifting through government documents to try and make head or tail of what we could or should do and when that may happen depending on how things pan out over the next few weeks!

I have canvassed our parents to see who would like their child to return to pre-school in June and, to be honest, I have been surprised at how many would like their child to attend. I'm not sure if I was a parent of a school aged child, and could continue to look after my child at home, whether I would want them to return just yet.

Now don't get me wrong we have a very small number of parents who are key-workers and obviously need the care that we could provide for them, and equally the response from the majority of our parents has been that whilst they would love for their child to return they understand the complexities involved and are willing to be flexible. Attendance patterns are likely to have to change, along with start and finish times as well as the number of children we will be able to look after at any one time. So lots of planning ahead which may or may not come to fruition. If the easing of lockdown restrictions results in a spike in cases I can see there being a push back on schools re-opening. We also have teaching unions objecting to the current proposals arguing that there is insufficient time for schools to get prepared as well as concerns over safety for all the teaching staff. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the course of the next few days and weeks.

Simon and I took our usual walk out at lunchtime, this time going over the fields and taking a particularly hilly route! It was grey and windy and we only saw a handful of people out and about. Mid-afternoon Molly and I jumped in the car and took my dad a piece of Molly's birthday cake. We passed the cake through his living room window and spent a little while chatting with him at an appropriate social distance. It was the first time that Molly has seen her grandad since our lockdown began.

So there we are another day done in lockdown or whatever it is that we are calling it it just me or is this whole easing of lockdown just a tad unclear? The previous message of 'Stay Home' was meant exactly what it said but with this new version of 'Stay Alert' what am I actually staying alert for? What should I be on the look out for? Do I need special glasses? OK so I know I am being a little facetious but I'm sure you get my point. I have this unnerving feeling that we are coming out of this lockdown too soon and too quickly, when the likes of Germany are reporting an increase in cases just after they've started easing out of lockdown says to me (and obviously I am no scientific expert, just someone with, I hope, an amount of common sense) that we should stop what we are doing, reinstate the 'Stay Home' message and just hold out a little longer!

Unfortunately, only time will tell and I hope that I am proved wrong.

Take care, and stay home!

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Day 55

Day 55...

And we have our first lockdown birthday today - Molly!!!

So as is tradition we had breakfast followed by the opening of presents and I have to say I think Molly did rather well this year...I blame online shopping.

And I can now reveal the little bit of artwork I was creating over the weekend, rather than buy a birthday card I decided to have a go at drawing some of Molly's favourite Disney characters and I don't think I did too bad!
And talking of creative endeavours look how Molly's cake turned out...
...layers of cappuccino cake and lemon & poppy seed cake sandwiched with vanilla buttercream and decorated with handmade chocolate swirls! All Molly's handy work!

It was lovely to see a couple of Molly's friends take the time, and make the effort to drop by with some gifts. Both friends visited independently of each other and both kept to the social distancing rules but it was nice to experience a little bit of normality in this crazy world.

My day had rather a heavy work focus as following our governments announcement on Sunday, and then updates yesterday, revealed that not only is the proposed return to school aimed at Reception, year 1 and year 6 children but also early years providers...just like my pre-school. So I read through numerous government documents this morning to try and glean some understanding of what is expected of our pre-school. I then composed emails to staff, my committee and our parents to let them in on what the proposals are and to try to gauge what the parent demand for places would be.

All the information that I have read is, to be honest, pretty vague, full of lots of ifs, maybes, potential and possible statements. This is all predicated on the easing of lockdown measures going well, so that schools should be able to 'welcome more students' from 'potentially, at the earliest, the 1st June'. So I am now having to figure a way forward and plan for possibly the earliest...on the 1st June while still adhering to social distancing (with under 5's!) and good hygiene. I will admit to my mind being a bit full of stuff and possible scenarios, but I am glad last week I took the time to put some of this down on paper so that I can now start to unpick and hopefully formulate a plan of some sort. I must admit I have been surprised by the number of parents wanting their children to return as I am not sure what I would be doing if I was in their position. We will be returning for possibly 6 or 7 weeks before the summer break...assuming that still happens...I guess at this point all bets are off as they say!

And we had our usual lunchtime walk, another 2 miles in the cold and wind, where has the good weather gone? Oh and chance for me to have a rant at cyclists who insist on cycling on the footpath when there is a clearly marked cycle path on the road which ends up with me and Simon having to walk on the road - argh! Oh and pedestrians who have to walk two abreast rather than single file even though Simon and I always walk single file and move as far away as possible from any other walkers!! Rant over!

Oh and to end the day we had cake...and it was good!