Friday 31 July 2020

Day 135

Day 135...

Well today has been a tad on the warm side, I think we hit 34 degrees Celsius this afternoon with clear blue skies and sunshine all day.

This morning was taken up with completing the end of year accounts for pre-school. I thought as today is our official last day for the financial year I would get as much done as I possibly could. The great thing was that I balanced both cash and the bank account pretty much straight away which made it relatively straight forward.

Later this afternoon I was able to find some time to prep all my accounting books for the new financial year as well as chat via email with a new parent. The great thing has been that over the last week or so we have had quite a few enquiries for children to start with us this September which has been lovely to see. Ordinarily by now we would be full to almost capacity but the knock-on effect of COVID has seen a much reduced interest in childcare as I think parents simply haven't thought about childcare going forward plus there is still some uncertainty about what childcare and education will look like by the time we get to September.

We managed our usual lunchtime walk completing one of our favourite walks in around 40 minutes. It was a beautifully clear day and it was great to be out in the sunshine.

The majority of the afternoon was spent painting the bench that I had sanded down over the last few days. I was able to give all the wooden slats a coating of stain but it will definitely need at least one more coat and I still have all the metalwork to paint as well.

Last night we were told that certain areas in the North West of England were having stricter lockdown measures imposed because of an uptick in cases. Today our government announced that further easing of the lockdown that was due to happen tomorrow will not now take place, again because of an uptick in cases. The good thing is that masks will now have to be worn in more indoor spaces like museums and cinemas and in a weeks time it will become 'enforceable in law'.

So the question I still have, and have had from early on, is why is it okay to open pubs and restaurants but I can't spend time with family or close friends? Surely mixing with a small group of people I know is much more preferable to sitting in a pub with goodness knows who else while masks are not being worn...Oh I spending time with friends and family in the comfort of my own home/garden means I'm not spending money! And while I appreciate we need to be supporting our economy there are lots of other ways we can be doing that than sitting in busy indoor spaces without any protection.

So however you choose to spend your time, do so wisely and safely, wash your hands and wear a mask.

Thursday 30 July 2020

Day 134

Day 134...

Well my first job of the day was to head off to the bank to do the job I'd tried to do yesterday. Wouldn't mind but it wasn't even banking for me, it was for pre-school! Although I really enjoyed the 10 minute queue out on the street - not!

On my way home I decided to stop by my dad's as I've not seen him for a few weeks. He's getting on fine and is back visiting the pub most days, although he said it is really quiet when he does go. He's also been able to get to the barbers but like us is not rushing to get back to the gym. For my dad and his friends that all go at the same time it's just not going to be the same as they now have to book their time and only stay for an hour. Previously they would have all turned up around the same time and hung about for as long as they felt like it. So the new rules I think just feel too restrictive for them...and never mind they will need to book in via an app which as my dad doesn't really use a mobile phone would be problematic for him.

By the time I got home it was time for Simon to break for lunch and so we had a lovely walk out in the glorious weather. Once home it was time for coffee followed by setting up ready for podcast recording.

It was lovely, as always, to spend an hour and a half chatting away with Michelle as we recorded this weeks Disney Dream Girls show as well as a special Patreon edition.

It was then time for another coffee sat out in the sun soaking up some more vitamin D before I headed inside to make a low carb banana bread. It uses ground almonds instead of flour and a sweetener instead of sugar. I've reduced the amount of sweetener used and added some more looks pretty decent, so let's hope it tastes good too!
Banana bread fresh out the oven 
So as we progress through the lockdown (or whatever it is we are in at the moment) and we see small rises across various locations within the UK and across Europe it is really hard to know what to make of it all. How concerned should we be? Are we taking enough precautions? Are we re-opening too much too soon? We all want to get back to living life but it feels like we are on a knifes edge between living life and exposing ourselves to an illness that we have no idea how it may affect us.

None of us know if we were to contract COVID just how badly we could be affected, or how we could be exposing those vulnerable people around us to a nasty, potentially deadly, virus. And yet all around I seem to see people getting back to life without seemingly a care in the world. Social media images of people out socialising without physical distancing and very evidently with people not from their household. Maybe I'm being overtly cautious but as far as I knew we were still supposed to be observing distancing with people not in our household or bubble and that while we are being encouraged to get back out and spend it should be done in a responsible manner with face masks, sanitiser and keeping away from each other.

I am quite happy at the moment to go about my life with as minimum contact with the outside world as possible. Queuing to get into shops is not my idea of fun, if I need to go out for something then I will do but I think going out for simply 'something to do' will still be a way off for me. And the quandary for me is that I want my life back to normal, I want to be out shopping, I want to enjoy meals out, I want to hang out with good friends and I want to be going to Disney but I also want to be healthy and those around me to be safe and healthy too. I hate this situation and I am so over it but there is nothing I can do and we can only hope that the powers that be have a plan of some sort to get us through this.

Take care out there, stay safe, keep your distance and wear a mask.

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Day 133

Day 133...

I decided this morning to get some personal admin tasks completed...exciting things like taxing my car and renewing the car insurance! 

Having decided that it is financially better for us to keep both cars for the time being I thought it best to make sure mine was taxed and insured. The insurance proved a little tricky as I was trying to update it online and first their servers were down and then when I did get through their virtual assistant to 'chat' with a customer service person apparently they were all 'offline'...hmm...that'll be another job to try again tomorrow.

A few other bits of paperwork got sorted before I took on the ever so exciting challenge of the ironing pile!

We did manage our usual couple of miles walk around lunchtime and for the first time today we spotted some deer in one of the fields. This was on a route we walk pretty regular and since we started these walks at the beginning of lockdown we have never seen deer before. It never even entered my mind that there could be deer living in the countryside around us. We saw three at the opposite edge of the field we were walking through and we watched them for a few minutes before they wandered off into the hedgerow, unfortunately they were quite a distance from us so we couldn't really get any decent photographs.

This afternoon I decided to nip out to run a couple of errands. One was to drop a poster for my pre-school at a local supermarket who have very kindly said they'll display it on their community board and then the other was to go to the bank. So off I went armed with mask and hand sanitiser. 

I have not done much actual shopping in person so this was the first time that I've really ventured out and about. So with my mask on I first ventured into the supermarket and was happy to see that all the shoppers I saw were wearing masks and even some of the staff were, the girls on the customer services desk in particular.

I then made my way into the town centre and noticed that most people when out and about were not wearing a mask...I kept mine on as I knew I would need it for going into the bank. I know that if you start moving your mask about or taking it off and putting it back on again that you risk contaminating your hands and face and really once on it should stay on unless you are throwing it away or putting on a fresh one. It was great to see that everyone using public transport had their masks on although one of the bus drivers was adopting the 'just below the nose' position - really?!

I came across a sign that said 'One Way Footpath'...although it had no arrows to indicate which way was the one way so I can only assume that because I could read the sign then that was the 'one way'...but looking at the various people walking about it seemed to be a bit of a free for all. And then I got to the bank...the closed bank - doh! Now I don't use a bank very often as I tend to do everything online so it never occurred to me that opening hours might be affected by the current situation, especially as we have moved on somewhat to when we were first put into lockdown. I will confess to letting out a little expletive at my discovery...oh well that'll be a job for tomorrow then. I have now checked the opening hours and will make sure I get there in time tomorrow.

Once home it was time to get my 'scruffs' on and head outside to finish sanding down the bench that I had started yesterday. It probably took me a good couple of hours but it is all now done and ready for painting which I should hopefully be able to get done over the next couple of days.

While Simon and Molly went 'down the gym' I jumped in the shower as I was covered in dust and figured the amount of squatting I'd done to get into the right position for sanding was my workout for the day. I then made a coffee and spent a little time on my jigsaw, which is getting there slowly.

And that was my 133 since 'lockdown' for me began and while we are now working our way out of lockdown I think I will carry on counting the days as 'normal' still feels a long way off. Talks of second spikes across Europe and the US still struggling to get a hold of the virus, I fear we will be living with this for a lot longer than any of us dared to think.

Stay safe whatever you are doing and remember to wear a mask...please.

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Day 132

Day 132...

And the day started with our meat delivery...yep we use a butchers in Scotland and about every 6 weeks or so have a delivery of top quality meat.

It arrives in refrigerated packaging and then we have the job of splitting it in to manageable portions that can then go in the freezer. When the parcel arrived this morning I had to get it over the doorstep by rolling it and then relied on Molly being able to pick it up and get it into the kitchen...just a tad on the heavy size!

All wrapped to keep chilled

And we're in...

So we had angus beef burgers, steak mince, bacon, chicken, sausages and sirloin steaks...I think it's fair to say we are definitely a carnivore family.

It must have took me and Molly about an hour to split it all into portion sizes to then go into the freezer. We have been really pleased with the meat from this butchers (Rendalls) and having a large order delivered every month or so saves me having to worry about getting it on my weekly shop and the quality is great, plus I get to support a UK smaller business.

We took our usual walk out at lunch time and although it was very windy it was sunny and relatively warm and we managed another couple of miles.

The first part of my afternoon was actually taken up with pre-school work as I'd remembered I needed to send my team their wage slips as it was pay day. I then also had a few emails to respond to and took another phone call from a parent looking for childcare starting this September.

My next job was to tackle the bench we'd brought home yesterday as all the ironwork and wooden slats needed sanding down before we can re-paint it and breathe some new life into it. So after a quick lesson on using a mouse sander from Simon I set to and although I didn't get it all done today I am probably about two thirds of the way there. When I looked at the clock and saw it was 7pm I thought I'd better stop for the day!

And that was today...short and sweet and productive.

Take care out there, stay safe and wear a mask.

Monday 27 July 2020

Day 131

Day 131...

It was the usual start to a Monday morning, off to collect our weekly grocery shopping and happy to see Marky Mark back manning the lockers.

It was then home, unpack, wipe everything down, wash the fruit and veggies, get rid of the packaging and put everything away...followed by a large coffee.

I was then able to finish off painting the garden furniture that I had started yesterday. Everything could be turned upside down and the places I couldn't get to yesterday could be painted. Thankfully the furniture was in the garage as the weather today was not great which meant it could get painted and dry while it rained off and on.

After a bit of tidying around and Simon getting all the beeps and boops working for his R2D2 we took a short walk out to get some mail for work in the post before heading down to our 'other house'. Okay...this is the house that belonged to Simon's mum who died at the end of last year but I can't keep referring to it as her house as, to be frank, it is not her's anymore it is hence our 'other house'. I don't mean this to sound callous but let's just say there was not a lot of love lost between me and his mum!

Anyways we are in the process of clearing the house and tidying the garden. The weather being a bit unpredictable today had stopped us tackling the garden but we decided to bring home a garden bench as it is something that we can make use of. So after a bit of manoeuvring we were able to fit it in the back of our car to bring home and store in the garage so that it can dry out and then hopefully this week I will be able to sand it down and repaint the wood and ironwork.

When we got home we decided to move our patio furniture out of the garage and back to the patio where it belongs and it looks so much better for a lick of paint but as we put it in place the heavens opened and although we were only outside for a couple of minutes we got drenched through.

My afternoon was rounded out with a little jigsaw time which got interrupted with a pre-school phone call! But can't complain as it was a parent looking for a place for their child, so I was happy to chat and sort them out.

So today there has been two main news stories. Firstly, people returning from Spain now face a 14 day quarantine which is really unfortunate, but it was mentioned when we opened up travel to other countries that this could happen at any time for any country depending on case numbers. It can't be great for anyone out there and now thinking about their return we can only hope that the government will be better at giving notice and explanation on these things in the future. My heart goes out to one of Molly's friends who was due to travel to Spain tomorrow to see her boyfriend who she has not seen for 7 months and now can't go...that is just so sad and heartbreaking for them.

The second news story is all about how we, as a country, need to tackle our obesity crisis. It is now being recognised that being overweight or obese is not good for those that are unfortunate to contract COVID-19 so our government has decided it's time to do something about it. Which is principal...but I fear that the message needed will not be the one that is delivered.

Today they announced a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm, which is good but is a mere drop in the ocean. It was great to see cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra being interviewed today and getting the chance to explain that the problem is the ultra processed food that we are being sold and putting into our bodies. Over the last 30 years or so we have moved away from cooking our meals of meat and two veg, from scratch, to buying pre-made, easy, cheap and nutritionally deficient food.

Just over six years ago I used to be guilty of buying all the various foods that went from freezer to oven without any thought and a simple read of the instructions. I would try to stick to low calorie and low fat options because I thought that was the right thing to do...I always said I was never a cook because all I ever did was re-heat things. But all the while I did that I was never happy with my weight and anything I ever did would see a few pounds disappear only to go straight back on plus a couple more when I went back to 'eating normally' or simply 'had a little treat'. See my page 'Eating Well, Staying Healthy' for my journey from your traditional low fat diet to a low carb/keto diet.

I now know that eating low fat was never going to work I was eating empty calories that never made me feel full and meant I would be snacking and grazing and always feeling hungry. Switching to a low carb high fat/keto diet now means I am a weight and shape that I am happy with, that has stayed pretty constant for the last six years and I never feel the need to snack. I now cook from scratch every day, I enjoy the food that I eat and do not miss all the bland, beige, boring carbs that we ditched. 

When you realise that the starchy, bland carbs that we all eat are just that...bland...and are simply fillers on our plate that ultimately leave us feeling hungry not long after we have eaten, it is very easy to give them up. We all know cakes, puddings, chocolate bars and sweets are bad for us but when you realise it's the sugars and the carbs in lots of other foods that are the main culprits you suddenly realise just what you have been putting in your body. 

For most people the idea of giving up these bland carbs...the bread, the pasta, the potatoes, the something they couldn't possibly give up but honestly giving them up is not an issue when I can eat meat, cheese, cream, butter, green veggies, berries, eggs, dark (very dark) chocolate and I even have a glass of red wine most evenings. See my post called 'But I Couldn't Give Up...' for more information.

So yes we as a nation need to tackle the obesity that we have, but simply banning junk food adverts till after 9pm will not do the trick. We need to change the information. We need to re-educate. We need to get back to eating real food and cooking again. We need to understand there is no magic wand, no fancy exercise regime, that calories are not all equal, that eating less and moving more does not work. We need to put the right fuel inside our bodies (just like we would do with a car)...put in the wrong stuff and the performance will be rubbish but get the right fuel and the results can be astounding.

Please go and read my previous posts as mentioned above to find out more about eating a healthy, satisfying diet. On my 'Eating Well, Staying Healthy' page there are lots of links to websites, books and interesting people to follow on social media.

So please take care out there, think about your diet (and please ask if you'd like help), look after yourselves and wear a mask.

Sunday 26 July 2020

Day 130

Day 130...

A slow start to what turned out to be a rather busy and productive day.

While I completed our online grocery shopping ready to be collected tomorrow Simon headed out into the garden to finish the job we had started yesterday.

With a little help of borrowing some tools off one of our neighbours Simon was able to make short work of breaking down all the branches that we had removed from the massive and overgrown hydrangea bush yesterday. My job was to then chop them smaller so that we could dispose of them in our garden recycling bin while Simon attacked the stump that was left.

Well after a couple of coffee breaks and a lot of sweat and hard work Simon managed to get the stump out of the ground; which I don't think either of us thought would actually be possible. We now have a large stump and a pile of 'logs' still to get rid of...hopefully they can all be broken down further and put in our garden recycling bin once it has been emptied!

I also took on the challenge of breathing some new life into our patio furniture. The furniture still functions really well but was starting to show signs of wear and tear from being left out all year round in all weathers. So I set to with some sandpaper to rub back all the metal work and clear off all the rust and corrosion. Then after a wipe down it was time to apply some black metal paint and after one coat they are looking pretty decent. I've now left them overnight and will see if a second coat is needed tomorrow.

At 6pm we jumped online for the Disney Dream Girls weekly quiz via Zoom...and between me and Molly we actually did pretty well and equaled the top score of the week (not quite sure how that happened!). It was then lovely to have a bit of a catch-up and chat with Michelle afterwards.

And that was our day, very much a 'get stuff done day' today and making the best of a fairly decent weather day.

Whatever you are up to, take care, stay safe and wear a mask!!

Saturday 25 July 2020

Day 129

Day 129...

And welcome to the weekend...and a nice slow start to the day.

Ordinarily we would have been taking Molly to her guitar lesson but we received a text last night to say that her teacher knows someone who had just tested positive for COVID, and although he had not been in close contact, he felt it only wise to not teach in person today. So that meant no need to rush around and get out the house for a set time and Molly could still have her lesson but from the comfort of home via a video tutorial.

We decided that as the weather wasn't looking too bad we would head out into the garden to continue with a bit of garden tidying. But just as we stepped out the door the rain started...but we carried on as we weren't going to let a few spots stop us, however the downpour that then ensued did put a stop to proceedings and we quickly had to dash inside.

Thankfully after about 10 minutes the rain cleared and we ventured outside once again and this time we were able to hack away at a very large and overgrown hydrangea plant. It has been in the garden for years and has gotten too big, too woody and in desperate need of some TLC. But when we started to chop into it we realised just what a bad state it was in and decided to get as much of the plant out as we could. In about an hour and a half we had reduced it to just a stump. We still need to finish off chopping it all up so that we can get rid of it through our garden recycling bin and to figure out a way to either get the stump out or to kill it off!

But we had to stop there for the day as we had an appointment at a local car dealership to see whether it is financially viable to swap from being a two car family down to just a one car household. We are in a tricky situation as last year we upgraded both our cars and at the time our circumstances meant that having two cars was a necessity. But now 12 months later not only has our personal circumstances changed but the knock-on effect of COVID means that our travelling needs have dropped significantly. 

Simon already worked from home before the lockdown kicked in (has done for about 7 years) and would normally have driven to their office once every few weeks or so, but as their office is about 3 and a half hours away that's a fair few miles to travel. But since lockdown this hasn't happened and actually his team have found that work has carried on just fine, if not even more productive now that all of them are working from their respective homes. Everyone is working in the exact same circumstances and their output and communication have improved all round! So with the prospect of Simon travelling even less, me working only a couple of miles away and my working week reducing even further it just seems the obvious course of action to reduce down to one car.

I hate going to car dealerships. It is always such a performance, in fact Simon calls it a pantomime, the back and forth negotiating that takes place and the time it takes to do it. An hour and a half we were there today to be told that we have negative equity with our finance agreements and if we did want to buy a new car we would need to find £130 extra per month over what we ideally want to pay. Suffice to say we walked away saying 'we would think about it'. Long story short the dealership we have dealt with over the past few years are no longer there and the business has been transferred to another dealer down the road and their approach is different. I'm not convinced they are giving us the best deal so I am now doing my own online digging to see if I can find an alternative and better solution. 

As Simon said this afternoon, sitting in a car dealership going through some long winded process feels so old fashioned nowadays and really needs to be moved along with the times. We need a much easier, fairer and quicker way of going through this process...I'm sure there's a gap in the market that someone could be filling!

Once home it was time for coffee...much needed coffee. And then the plan was to venture back out into the garden to finish this morning's work of chopping up what was left of the hydrangea plant we had destroyed. But this was not to be as the rain returned, and rather heavy it was too so instead the afternoon was spent with a little jigsaw time for me and for Simon it was figuring out why the Arduino that had worked perfectly last night generating sound effects for his R2D2 build had suddenly stopped working.

Well after much tinkering Simon has an idea of what has gone wrong and new parts have been ordered, which by the power of Amazon prime will be with us tomorrow. I made some more progress with the jigsaw and I now have the help of a magnifying glass so that I can pick out the detail on the box artwork!

We have not ventured out much during the lockdown at all and we have no desire to rush back to doing anything in particular. So being out today was the first time we had been out anywhere specific and whilst all the staff at the car dealership did not wear masks they did all keep their distance. There were perspex shield at their desks and hand sanitiser on entering the building. They had anti-bacterial spray to use on any cars that were being looked at or taken out for a test drive. And the great thing was to see that all the members of the public that were in there all had masks on (us included), although we did spot one lady with the covering under her nose!!

Stories seem to vary from area to area, or shop to shop, as to the public's adherence to wearing a mask. And while it is not the most glamorous of fashion accessories (although mine are all Disney themed) it is not hard to do and if it means we can all get back to something vaguely like normal then it is a small price to pay. People need to stop being selfish, think of the bigger picture and wear a damn mask!

Take care out there, stay safe, look after yourself and everyone else by wearing a mask,

Friday 24 July 2020

Day 128

Day 128...

It was a steady start to the day with a bit of tidying around before taking a few things into pre-school so that my kitchen is less cluttered with stuff that I don't need for the next few weeks.

I took the time today to add an extra page to this blog all about my tattoos. I often get asked about what I have, why I chose them and where I've had them done. Over the last few years I have written a handful of blog posts and decided to have one page that made reference to all of's the link to the page called, quite simply, Tattoos.

As lunchtime came around Simon and I took one of our now usual walks out; another couple of miles to add to our fact since our lockdown began we have walked 170 miles! Although we have not walked as much these last few weeks with me being back in work and the weekends having gotten a little busier as we focus on trying to get some jobs done.

After lunch I inadvertently ended up doing some pre-school work...I really hadn't intended to but as we have had interest from new parents I felt it only right that I respond to them as quickly as possible as I think it's the polite thing to do and I am a big believer in good customer service!  Which is probably why I am such a big Disney fan because they do seem to 'get it right' the majority of the time, and their attention to detail and customer experience is second to none.

I then felt very justified to sit outside on the patio with a coffee, some chocolate and a book! Today I received my Chocolate Tasting Club subscription which is part of Hotel Chocolat and this month rather than getting my usual chocolate selection box they instead sent a mixture of high cocoa products. 
Looking forward to enjoying this lot!
The knock-on effect of the coronavirus situation has affected their ability to produce chocolate at the same speed at which they used to and so this has brought forward their review of how the chocolate tasting club is going to operate. I have had a subscription for a fair few years now and currently have a box of high cocoa content chocolates once every 12 weeks so it will be interesting to see what's available when their new service launches in August. I have of course signed up for it today...especially as they were offering a £5 voucher for doing so.

So while I soaked up some vitamin D I was able to finish reading The P:E Diet by Ted Naiman; I'd started this a while ago but had never finished the last couple of chapters all about exercise but happy to report all has now been read.

I was just about to enjoy another cup of coffee when Molly came outside to join me and as we were chatting Molly noticed that some ants had appeared...flying ants! Well within minutes we seemed to be inundated with them, we found at least six locations in the garden that seemed to be swarming in them. So on with the kettle and the tried and trusted way of dealing with the unwanted guests...boiling them alive!! 

I decided at that point that the better option was to be indoor and to get a little more progress made with my jigsaw...and progress is being made...slowly...and I am coming to the conclusion that I may need a magnifying glass to compare the picture on the box to the jigsaw itself!!

So today was the day that masks became compulsory in shops in England, sensibly Scotland have had this in place since they re-opened shops and I personally think that's what England should have done too. There is an argument that making masks compulsory now is a little late but I think you have to think of it as a proactive approach going forward in that it could help prevent or at least reduce a second spike as we move into the Autumn period.

I have happily worn a mask whenever I have ventured out into shops and it is something that would make me feel more confident to shop again if everyone followed the rules. But there are always going to be those that don't, or won't, and personally I think that is rather selfish of them. Yes I know there maybe those that are exempt for medical reasons, but for those that aren't just wear a mask. If nurses and doctors can wear them for 12 hours non-stop then 30 minutes walking round a supermarket is not that much to ask and besides I'd rather wear a mask than have a ventilation tube stuck down my throat!

So I think we all just need to man up, put on our big girl panties and wear a f**king mask - it is really that straight forward. If you want to get back to doing anything vaguely like normal then get a mask. I have ordered myself some official Disney ones and one of my Disney friends, Angie, very kindly made me the masks that I currently wear. I have also bought packets of the disposable ones so that we are never caught without a clean one to use. They are not that expensive and a few pennies spent could help save yours or someone else's life. I just wish the big fashion brands, outlets and celebrities would get out there and embrace this more and get selling their own masks. If the dairy that delivers to me can produce and sell their own masks (and very cute they are too) then surely to goodness this is an opportunity for 'insert name of fashion label' to be making a killing! Perhaps they are...perhaps I just haven't looked hard enough but really this seems like an opportunity not to be missed. Just think of all the coordination between outfit and mask that could be happening!

Well I think it's only right that I sign off for today...stay safe out there, take care and wear a mask...please!

Thursday 23 July 2020

Day 127

Day 127...

The day started with a couple of work emails followed by a little online Disney research ready for recording the Disney Dream Girls podcast later this morning.

My research was to find out about anything interesting 'on this day in Disney history' and I came across two ladies who both died on the same day, but in different years, but who had both been the voice of Minnie Mouse!

It was lovely to jump online with my co-host Michelle and spend about an hour and a half chatting all things Disney. We actually recorded our usual weekly show which is released on Sunday as well as a show for our Patreon subscribers.

Although we didn't have time to go out for a walk today Simon and I did find the time after my recording session to sit and enjoy a coffee in the sunshine for a few minutes, although I could have done without the couple of wasps who seemed to think I was a good target for their attention.

The afternoon was then spent dealing with a few work emails as well as sorting some home admin tasks along with ordering myself some official Disney face masks...although they won't be with me until September! But as it becomes compulsory to wear face masks in shops as from tomorrow I am happy to have a few more to choose from in the future.

Although the policy for wearing masks comes into being tomorrow our government only released the official guidance as to where masks must be worn late this afternoon. Nothing like being prepared! I have no problem wearing a mask and are happy that clearer guidance is being brought in, if wearing a mask means we can beat this thing then I am all up for doing my part. Although reading the guidance this evening I do wonder why wearing a mask isn't compulsory inside a cinema or theater or museum as these places can be just as busy if not busier than a supermarket and people are likely to spend longer in them as well! Oh well who knows what the thinking is behind it, all I know is that if I feel like wearing a mask is a good idea I will be wearing one and sod what anyone else thinks!

The latter part of the afternoon was taken up with completing a little more of my jigsaw and heading off down the 'gym'. It just started to rain as Simon and Molly headed out so it was a good job they only had as far as the garage to go! We have now cancelled our membership to the gym that we attend as we really don't feel comfortable returning when they re-open in a couple of days time plus we have managed just fine working out at home. We were lucky enough to be able to buy a couple of pieces of equipment along with a punching bag for Molly for her kickboxing and have been able to do everything we would normally have done at the gym. But with the added bonus of not having to drive there and back, not having to drive around looking for a parking spot and not struggling to find equipment free to use, our home gym is working out just fine. And we are saving ourselves money by not paying out for monthly subscriptions too.

Take care out there, whatever you are doing, and remember to wear a mask,

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Day 126

Day 126...

Well today I was determined to not spend too much of the day doing pre-school work...but...

All the tablets that we use needed software updates and their storage cleaning up and as these hadn't been used since March there was quite a lot of updates to go through! I then had a mixture of phone calls from new parents looking for places for their children as well as emails from current parents requesting changes to their children's sessions. 

Before I knew it lunchtime had come around and it was time for Simon and I to have our daily walk. Timing was perfect as I had information to post out for the new parent enquiries so we took a slightly different route to ensure we walked past the post box. We managed 1.8 miles in about 38 minutes and despite a few spots of rain when we started out it stayed dry and surprisingly warm.

I also spent sometime organising another shop with an online butchers. We have found a very reasonably priced one based in Scotland and have been very impressed with the quality and they now have a much quicker delivery turnaround. So coming next week will be burgers, sausage, mince, steak, bacon and chicken - anyone would think we are a bit of a carnivore family!

Then I made some golden sesame keto bread just because I can and because it is so yummy...I also came across a recipe for low carb peanut butter cookies which I thought Simon might like as he is a big peanut butter fan.

Having cleaned the outside of both our cars at the weekend I decided that the inside really ought to be brought up to par so spent an hour or so armed with glass cleaner, cleaning wipes and a hoover. Both cars now look too good to drive, although as we are thinking about going down to a one car family it won't hurt to have them looking their best.

By the time I had finished it was time to take Molly over to her outdoor karate lesson which was a bit shorter than normal so I parked up, did a little reading and some internet searching until she was finished. When we returned home I could smell baking...Simon had found the cookie recipe and made peanut butter cookies, and very nice they are too even though peanut butter is not my thing usually.

But before eating cookes we had dinner of steak and eggs - yum! The advantage of following a low carb/keto diet means we don't have to bother with the bland, beige carbs of potato or pasta or rice but can just enjoy the best parts of a meal!

I seemed to have avoided the news for the last few days, I am aware of what is going on but I think part of me is trying to avoid it on purpose because it can be just too depressing and frustrating. Listening to what is happening in the US with the rising number of cases and deaths and never mind their idiot of a president really makes me feel for all my American friends. The lack of leadership and his apparent lack of compassion is just astounding, and don't get me started on his approach to law and order or his take on postal voting for the election. I just hope he is not voted in again and has the good grace to stand down but I fear that there could be strange times ahead. And don't get me started on our lot...signing trade agreements that put the future of our amazing NHS in jeopardy, brexit plans that no-one really understands and the handling of the virus that just leaves more questions than answers.

Right...moan over...where's my glass of red wine?

Take care, stay safe, look after yourself and wear a mask.

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Day 125

Day 125...

Well today has been a quiet sort of day and although I am technically now on holiday for the summer there are still a few odds and ends to tidy up to round out this academic year.

So a chunk of the day was spent updating accounts and paperwork following a couple of changes that happened at the end of last week as well as getting ready for the end of the month as that also marks the end of our financial year.

One of my staff discovered that another pre-school local to us is having to close after operating for almost 50 years and unfortunately this is becoming quite a common occurrence in our industry. Lots of settings, like ourselves, are registered charities and have been part of their local communities for decades but the last few years have been tough enough with the lack of government funding for our sector but then along comes this virus and for some it has been the last straw. My pre-school has been around since the 1960's and was somewhere I attended as 3 or 4 year old, it survived a premises move 17 years ago not long after my son attended and just as Molly started, and then this past year we were faced with moving once again...we had only been in our new building for just shy of five weeks before we were forced to close because of the virus. 

But the pre-school that is closing has equipment that they no longer need and are putting up for sale. So, some of my team will be popping along on Friday to see if there is anything that we can make use of and won't cost us too much, but at the same time will help them to wind up their business. These are very sad times for our industry and in particular these small community based pre-schools that offer parents a much needed cheaper alternative childcare to the big day nurseries.

We had a walk out at lunch time today which was the first time in quite a few days as last week had been so busy that we'd really not had much opportunity but we got out there today and managed two miles in 42 minutes.

I made some more progress on my jigsaw later this afternoon...
slow progress but getting there
and then this evening it was 'gym' time before finally stopping for the day.

I am now starting to draft a list of jobs to do over the next few weeks to make best use of the time that I have off. Simon is still working but has two weeks holiday in a couple of weeks time and while we will not get the holiday that we would have perhaps liked this year at least we will have time off together and be able to get out and about a little.

Stay safe out there, wear a mask and take care.

Monday 20 July 2020

Day 124

Day 124...

So today started as a usual Monday morning with me and Molly heading off to our local supermarket to pick up our collect order. On the way home I had the very glamorous job of popping by pre-school to 'put the bin out' as well as dropping by our local chemist.

Once home it was unpack the shopping, wipe it all down, throw away as much packaging as possible and wash the fruit and veggies. Then it was time for a much needed coffee before deciding on a plan for the remainder of the day.

As the weather was pretty good we decided to carry on with a bit more gardening by getting rid of the water feature that I had managed to put my foot through yesterday. I have one sore leg with a couple of nice scratches and am waiting for the inevitable bruising to come out. Once we had moved all the stones out the way it was a case of emptying the water so that we could pull out the plastic liner which came away surprisingly easy, as well as pulling as much of the electric cable out as we could.

Once we had the liner out we then had to break it down so that we could get rid of it, this resulted in Molly taking a sledgehammer to it and pieces of dirt and plastic flying everywhere. A combination of sledgehammer and Japanese saw by Simon soon made short work of it and we had it in pieces and in the bin.

This left us with a hole to fill which we managed by smashing a couple of unwanted plant pots (again the sledgehammer was in use!) and then emptying some other pots of their soil and inadvertently discovering one infested with ants. There were ants, eggs and flying ants everywhere...although not for long after a couple of kettles of boiling water and a good covering of ant powder. Once the ants were dealt with we laid some membrane and popped the stones from the water feature on top, we now just need to find a suitable garden feature to live in this spot.

The rest of the afternoon saw me and Molly get the jet washer out again but this time it was to tackle both our of which we re-discovered is actually white in colour!!! Whilst we washed cars Simon was sanding wood as we have some reclaimed pieces that he is going to make into a storage unit for some of our cosplay items...well it's actually going to be a facade to go around our plastic storage box so that it looks more in keeping with our decor.

It was then time to get Molly to her kickboxing lesson which this week is still being held outdoors as her club is not yet allowed to hold lessons indoors until the end of the month.

Another busy and productive day that is now in need of me putting my feet up and enjoying a glass of red wine.

Stay safe out there, take care and wear a mask.

Sunday 19 July 2020

Day 123

Day 123...

A slow start to the day and first job was to update my online grocery shop as tomorrow is collect day. There was a slight halt in proceedings when the majority of the house lost it's wi-fi connection which resulted in much re-setting of sockets and routers...I decided the best thing I could do to help proceedings was to drink my coffee!

Once the wi-fi was fixed and online shopping completed we headed down to the house that had belonged to Simon's mum as we cleared out more stuff. Today we were able to fill a bin with stuff whilst also clearing cupboards of sheets, towels, curtains and blankets and boy was there a lot of stuff. 

This then resulted in a trip to our local re-cycling centre which involved about a 20 minute wait to get in. They are now operating on a system where you are only allowed to turn up on certain days in relation to your car number plate - odd number registrations can go on odd number days and even numbers on even number days. Plus the number of cars allowed to unload at any one time has reduced and the staff on site are no longer allowed to help but we were able to dispose of everything we needed to.

Once home it was time for a coffee before our next job which was jet washing our patio and garden path...a very wet and mucky job but one which was overdue so we decided to take advantage of the good weather and set to.

We did have a little break for what is now our regular Sunday afternoon Disney quiz hosted by the podcast I co-host, the Disney Dream Girls, and as always was a lovely way to spend 50 minutes.

Then it was back to a bit more jet washing to see if we could make any more improvements, which we did, but I think it may still need a few more attempts to get it to where we want it. But as it was getting late we decided it was time to pack away for the day and as I stepped to pick up some of the attachments for the jet washer I stood on some stones which I forgot covered a now defunct water feature...unfortunately said water feature was not in a good state of repair and I ended up putting my foot straight through the plastic top and into a 'pond' of cold stagnant water - yuck! Thankfully I didn't cause myself too much harm, just a few scratches!

After that it was time for a shower as I was covered in dirt, needed something to eat and a glass of much deserved red wine.

Take care out there, beware of hidden water features...stay safe and wear a mask.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Day 122

Day 122...

First day of my summer break and it's the weekend!

First order of the day, once up dressed, fed and filled with coffee, was to get Molly to her guitar lesson. This is the second week of her being back to guitar lessons in person. Her music school have staggered lesson times, only allowing pupils inside the building without parents, hand sanitiser when entering the building, all physically distanced and masks can be worn if preferred.

While Molly rocked out (she's learning electric guitar so this is an accurate description) we decided to go for a walk. Now it's not the most glamorous of walks as the music school is located on a business park but we had a wander and managed a couple of miles in 42 minutes. Ordinarily when Molly has her lesson we will drive over to a coffee shop and partake of a coffee inside but at the moment they are only offering drive thru', which is great but having got out the habit of going for a coffee it really didn't cross our minds to go. Instead we had a walk, chatted and when we got back to the car we had a coffee waiting for us as I had made a coffee before we left home in my Zojirushi - an amazing drink container that keeps drinks hot all day!! I use this at work and it's brilliant! So not only did we get some exercise we also saved ourselves a few pennies as well.

Where we walked it is mainly offices, a couple of pubs and restaurants and lots of car showrooms. It was interesting to see the differences between the different car showrooms. The first one we saw both the staff and customers wearing face masks (although one of the customers had the mask under his nose!!). The next seemed to have no precautions in place, no masks for staff and no customers wearing them. The last one we walked by we could see that no-one was wearing masks but there were perspex screens at the sales desk between salesperson and customers which was at least something. I really don't know why masks haven't been made a compulsory thing yet as this would mean we could all get back to normal much more quickly.

There was an interesting article we saw today from the US where a couple of hairdressers had tested positive for COVID but had been working asymptomatically and they have estimated that they had been in contact with 139 people while infected but because they and their customers had all worn masks no-one else was infected. So masks do work...surely a little inconvenience would be worth it to knock this thing on its head?!

Well the rest of my afternoon was very exciting...not...the downside of not keeping on top of my ironing pile meant two hours spent getting through everything - whoop! I then felt very justified spending about an hour messing about with my latest jigsaw.

Simon has spent the afternoon backing up photos from his phone, playing around with sound effects for his R2D2 build and rescuing his 3D printer. The printer had failed a couple of times this past week and he thought he had repaired it but each time it failed again so one last attempt after ordering a new part last night which turned up today and hey presto he has a working printer once again.

I think we are now ready to put our feet up, so armed with a glass of red wine and some good quality high cocoa chocolate I think it's time to catch up with RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 5.

Take care out there and please wear a mask for your sake and everyone else's.

Friday 17 July 2020

Day 121

Day 121...

Today was the last day of the working week and the last day of the academic year for my pre-school.

Well the day started early with a message from one of my staff to let me know that a member of her household had been sent home from work with a cough and had been advised to get a COVID test and self isolate until the results were known. So unfortunately my staff member had to remain at home and follow the guidance to isolate until she knows what the results are.

This meant we were one man down for the last day but thankfully this wasn't really a problem as we were having a very relaxed last day anyway. It was all about having fun with the children one last time before we sent the majority off to 'big school'. I managed to get a little admin work done first thing but then the rest of the day was spent with the children. My team had bought me some lovely flowers and my favourite 90% dark chocolate...not needed but very appreciated.

We have had a very strange year at pre-school and could not have imagined this time last year what we would have gone through a year later. Last October, and completely out of the blue, we were asked to vacate our old building and it really hit us hard. We were very well established in our old building, we had been there for about 17 years and had put an awful lot of time, effort and money into making it a fabulous space. We had new carpet, a recently laid artificial grass area, a pirate ship, playhouse, sensory garden and so much more and we had to give it all up; it was awful for all of us involved.

Thankfully the local Scouting & Guide association came to the rescue and offered us the use of their building. So the time between early December and late February was spent organising the move, applying for planning permission, re-registering with Ofsted (our governing body), selling lots of resources we could not take with us and modifying the equipment that we could take with us. And then a little over four weeks after having moved in we found ourselves having to close our doors for what we thought would be a few weeks due to this 'virus thing' and which turned into almost 13! Being based in a community building we could not have even opened our doors should we have wanted, or needed to, because community buildings were banned from being used under the lockdown regulations.

And then with great trepidation and a lot of 'risk assessing' we were able to re-open our doors again on the 15th June even though we were limited to how many children we could welcome back. But the great thing this week was that we were able to see the majority of those children moving onto 'big school' by hosting mini events where we invited small numbers to attend at set times, outdoors and keeping to all social distancing requirements...but it was very difficult not to give them all one last hug as we would have done normally. Hopefully our next school year will be a little more like 'normal'!!

Once home it was shower and change before grabbing a coffee and then hooking up with my good friend Michelle to record our Disney Dream Girls podcast, which was, as ever, a fun and lovely way to end the week.

So for me school is out for summer so it seemed fitting to enjoy a glass of red wine in a glass I received as a gift from one of the children leaving us this year...
And as we embark on our summer break our government have announced further relaxations of the lockdown over the coming weeks but still scientists are disagreeing with the approach and suggesting that this could all be happening too soon, too quickly. I just hope that the general public are perhaps more cautious than the powers that be or otherwise we will be keeping an eye out for a rise in cases in the next few weeks. Can't help think that a slow and steady approach would buy us a little more time to get numbers down even lower and that may mean we are in a better position should the autumn/winter second wave hit as predicted.

I for one will be adopting the slow and steady approach, so whatever you decide to do just take care, stay safe and wear a mask.

Thursday 16 July 2020

Day 120

Day 120...

And my first official working in actual work day of the week...although I have already been inside the building every day so far this week!

Today was the penultimate day of our academic year and I arrived to find a few gifts left on my desk from children who are leaving us for 'big school'. It always surprises me how generous our parents can be and we genuinely do not expect anything but whatever we do receive is accepted with great thanks and appreciation. And not only do the children know me well but so do the parents as I came home today with a gorgeous Mickey Mouse mug!!

Work was focused around getting some odds and ends tied up before the end of the year, some more preparation work for September as following an email from my county council I have more critical dates to factor in for next year and then just the usual day-to-day administration tasks.

Once home it was shower and get changed before updating a few more work records and then setting about some of my own personal admin! The gym that we are members of have announced they are opening in just over a weeks time and have provided all the information that we need to know for their re-opening. But at the moment we don't really feel comfortable heading back into a sweaty, crowded gym plus we will now have to book an hours slot, via their app, plus we will have to arrive in our workout gear so no changing facilities, a one way system to follow and no spotting when doing free weights. Just doesn't feel a fun way to attend. Normally it would be me, Simon and Molly all going together and we wondered whether we would all be able to get a slot booked together at the same time, which if we couldn't would be pretty useless as far as we are concerned. So after some thought...okay not that much thought...we have decided to cancel our membership and will sort a new membership out as and when we are ready to get back to a gym and at that point we will decide whether this gym is still right for us or not. At the moment the set up we have in our garage is working for us just fine...easy to get issues parking...never crowded and it's free!!

My next job was to look at the finance we have for our two cars...we have been saying for a while now that we really don't need a car each and going through the lockdown has just confirmed this even more. Simon already worked from home before lockdown kicked in but as the rest of his team have had to adopt working from home they have all commented on how successful it's been. Ordinarily Simon would travel 180 miles to his 'office' every few weeks to 'check-in' but this now looks less likely to be happening and in the future if he does need to do this we will coordinate it with my working from home days. I, too, have found working from home enables me to get so much more work done in the same number of hours that I would spend physically in work.

It's a positive to take out of these past few months that circumstances that we have been forced to adopt have, for some of us, become changes that will stay with us and that we feel have enhanced our lives. I know that the simple of act of going for a walk or taking the time to stop and mess about with a jigsaw puzzle can be vital parts of an otherwise busy life that all too often goes hurtling by at break neck speed and can be taken up with 'stuff' that in the grand scheme of things is actually not that critical!

And actually I did manage to squeeze in some time on my latest jigsaw this evening!

Take care out there, stay safe and wear a mask,

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Day 119

Day 119...

So another work day that was split between working from home and actually going into work.

The morning was spent in work catching up with my Deputy Manager as we completed some more planning for the upcoming new school year starting in September. We have planned all our usual activities for the year ahead including all our fundraisers and concerts and parties although at this moment in time we don't know which, if any of these, will actually happen...circumstances depending.

We only have a couple of more days to go before we finish for the Summer break and these last few weeks that we have been open have been a peculiar few weeks. To return to work after 12 weeks away was strange in itself but then to return with restrictions as to how we could operate and knowing that the virus was still out there made it even more peculiar. The staff that have returned have been great, they have taken everything in their stride, adapted to new routines and done it all with a smile. As their manager, and their friend, I am extremely thankful for their fortitude throughout these last few weeks so I wanted to show my appreciation with some treats...hoping they like the macarons and tipples!!

The afternoon was spent working from home which mainly involved 'attending' a virtual meeting hosted by our local county council for 'leaders and managers' in the early years sector. I had no problem having this meeting online and while it is always nice to see people in person for me it meant I could join in from the comfort of home, I had decent coffee on tap, there was no driving to a remote location with lukewarm coffee, no rush hour traffic and I was home in the blink of an eye! It was quite funny hearing people logging on and struggling with the system and not knowing how to mute their audio or video. The meeting itself was very straight forward and unfortunately didn't tell me anything I didn't already know...I don't always give myself enough credit for keeping on top of current information or being able to find out information for myself. So at least I wasn't stuck in room somewhere having to endure an hour and 15 minutes of a presentation that felt like a waste of time, at least today I could listen in and then get on with other things!!

Molly had her second kickboxing lesson back in class tonight although it was held outside as they have to wait until the end of the month before they can go back to holding lessons inside, but with restrictions of course.

And before I knew it that was the day over and done of those days where I seemed to have just moved from one thing to another and not really stopped at any point. Must be time for a glass of red wine and to put my feet up!

Take care out there, stay safe and wear a mask!

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Day 118

Day 118...

So my first official work day of the week and the majority of it was working from home. A few emails to send and reply to as well as finishing off my review of all our policies and procedures.

We took a walk out at lunchtime for the first time in a few days; we managed just under 2 miles in about 40 minutes. Simon had inadvertently pulled his back last night...the classic bending over and then twisting...thankfully he woke up this morning and it didn't seem too bad and so a walk today was welcomed as a way to loosen it up and get some flexibility back into it.

After a little more work I made my way into pre-school to be part of our second gathering of the week to say goodbye to our school leavers. Chance to see children we have not seen for almost four months and mark the end of their time at pre-school with a little gift and some sweets. 

Once home and showered and changed I had a few more emails to send and respond to before taking a few minutes out to make some more progress on my current jigsaw. And while I did that Simon and Molly went 'down the gym', and despite hurting his back Simon was able to do a good chunk of what he would normally have done.

Today our government have announced that face masks will be compulsory in shops from 24th July. Now I don't have a problem with this as I have worn a mask whenever I have had to pop into a shop but I can understand that this action feels a little bit late being implemented and also a little contradictory when there are still indoor places where masks are not needed.

But I think if we can all do just a little bit that can help curtail this virus and enable us to get back to doing more 'normal' things then wearing a mask is a minor inconvenience.

And while life starts to evolve into the 'new normal' it can still feel strange and for me very overwhelming; the thought that pre-virus life could be a long way off, that being able to do the things I want and go where I want may be years away from happening is, to be frank, depressing. I have days when the motivation is hard to find, when I feel angry at the situation and sad that life seems to have run into a big red stop sign. But all I can do is put on my big girl pants and face the world and try my best to get through it, to find moments to enjoy and learn to recognise that life is not all about 'things' and 'places' but those that you hold dear and the time you share.

So stay safe, take care and just wear a mask!

Monday 13 July 2020

Day 117

Day 117...

Welcome to another Monday and as is the now normal routine it was up and out to collect our weekly grocery shop, and yet again we had Marky Mark on hand to bring us our shopping without even having to ask or wait.

It was then home to unpack the shopping, wipe it all down, wash all the fruit and veggies, get rid of any packaging and put it all away.

Our next job was to head down to Simon's late mum's house armed with a sledgehammer and hacksaws to see if we could remove the concrete post that had stopped us yesterday. Well the combined strengths of Simon and Molly resulted in one concrete post removed by sawing through the steel supports and the concrete base being broken down by Molly and a sledgehammer! We were then able to pull out a couple more unwanted plants before laying some more weed control membrane. Whilst there is still more work to be done to get it completed we must be about two thirds complete.

And then on the way home we did something that we haven't actually done since the beginning of lockdown...we visited a petrol station and put petrol in the car!!! Although we have been using the car during lockdown it has been so minimal and it's only been these last few weeks that the mileage has crept up.

Once home we had a quick turnaround before playing taxi service for Molly; it was one of her friends birthdays and they were having a socially distanced get together to mark the occasion.

While Molly hung out with her friends I made a short visit into pre-school to see some of our school leavers for one last time. We have invited small groups to visit at set times over the next few days so that we can get chance to say goodbye. Each group is meeting outside and keeping to all social distancing requirements and we are able to give them a few gifts to mark the end of their time with us at pre-school.

I was able to get home, have a shower and get changed before jumping back in the car to go and fetch Molly from her friends, to then get home so she could change ready for her kickboxing lesson which today was the first time in person since lockdown began. She has been surviving with lessons via Zoom but now her teacher has managed to convert a small outdoor area into a suitable space for hosting lessons...thankfully despite lots of grey clouds it did not rain!

Another busy day and one where we commented that today was probably the most driving we have done since lockdown kicked in and actually we haven't missed it. It has been quite nice these last few months not to be dashing all over the place. There were times today where I felt like I'd spent more time in my car than actually 'doing something'. Perhaps this is something we should take forward with us to stop dashing about, to take the time to enjoy life and those you have chosen to spend it with and using a car less surely has to be a good thing!

Take care out there, stay safe and wear a mask.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Day 116

Day 116...

We had a fairly steady start to the day but were aware that others in the house were up and about before us which was unusual. We then found out why...Molly had discovered a wasp in her bed!!

First job of the day was to update my grocery online order as it is collect day tomorrow and then I had a few other online tasks to complete and orders to place. 

Then we decided to take advantage of the good weather and get some more gardening completed...but this wasn't our garden this was at Simon's mum's house. As his mum passed away at the end of last year we have been waiting for the right time to be able to get the house cleared and sorted through. Unfortunately one of the side effects of the Coronavirus has been a delay in getting paperwork sorted as well as being able to organise things like donating clothes and making trips to the local recycling centre.

So today's task was to dig out all the overgrown plants along with anything that looked untidy or we simply didn't like the look of and then lay weed control membrane so that we can keep on top of maintaining it going forward. We want to be able to lay some gravel or slate so that the garden looks smart and clean and is as low maintenance as we can make it.

Over the years about a third of the garden had been used for growing fruit like gooseberries and raspberries and as a result there was a low level fence constructed out of green wire, attached to three concrete posts of which each had a wooden fence post attached. We decided to get rid of the green wired fence which had been installed for plants to grow up which we (okay I say we but I actually mean Simon) managed quite easily; just a matter of cutting wire that was wrapped around the posts to loosen and then pull out of the ground. 

But this left the concrete posts with attached wooden fence posts still in the garden so Simon decided to see if he could get them out. Well the first one came out surprisingly well with a little brute force from Simon, after a few pulls back and forth we had one post dislodged from the ground and discovered that it had been set in bricks and concrete. We were both very impressed that Simon had been able to get this out with such relative ease! So Simon then set about getting post number two dislodged... unfortunately this one did not go quite so easily. In fact the concrete of the post began to disintegrate revealing the steel rods inside it but this meant that we simply couldn't get the post moved enough to dislodge it from the ground. Despite Simon's best efforts we had to call it a day and come home with a view to trying again tomorrow armed with a sledge hammer!

Although after about 4 hours hard work the garden is about three quarters done and looks so much better and much more neat and tidy. Hopefully we will be able to get the concrete post out tomorrow and lay the last piece of membrane to finish that section off.

We got home with about 15 minutes to spare before I jumped online to partake in the Disney Dream Girls now weekly Disney quiz. We had a great time as usual and for once the questions that I set weren't too difficult!

I was then just about to start cooking dinner and as I was tidying a few things up I noticed what I thought was a wasp flying around Molly's room. So as I am not great around wasps I called Simon to see if he could 'get it'. As it was it turned out to be just a fly which we managed to coax out of the window. But as Molly had had a wasp in her room that morning, and had found a few dead ones the day before, and we had had a wasps nest treated just outside her window about 10 days ago we decided to investigate the loft area above her room in case we had wasps making their way into the house. 

Well I say 'we' but I actually mean up into the loft he went and initially couldn't see any signs of any wasps but then he noticed a couple of dead ones on the floor so we decided to use some wasp spray just in case there were any alive ones moving about. Simon then commented that he heard a buzzing sound near him but couldn't see anything so after spraying he quickly came down out of the loft and shut it up figuring the spray would be able to work it's magic. About two minutes later I heard Simon exclaim something along the lines of 'Oh boy that hurt I think I've been stung'...well the actual words spoken may have been a little stronger than that! But sure enough after quickly taking off his t-shirt there was a nice raised red lump appearing on the back of his neck; we can only assume that the buzzing he had heard in the loft was a wasp that was probably a bit on the drowsy side and had gotten inside his t-shirt and had then decided to sting him. Thankfully we could react quickly with some nice cold cloths to take the sting away and get the swelling down, but bless it must have took about 20 minutes before Simon could remove the cold cloths; I was constantly replacing one cloth with another to keep it as cold as possible to get the pain and swelling sorted.

And then just to add to the injuries from today...Simon managed to hit himself on the foot when trying to dislodge the concrete posts earlier and then this evening he cut his thumb open while cleaning glass out of some picture frames that we had found at his mum's house. I think he deserves to stop and put his feet up this evening if only to stop himself from getting hurt anymore.

A very productive day all round if a little accident prone!

Stay safe out there, wear a mask and keep your distance.

Saturday 11 July 2020

Day 115

Day 115...

Well here we are at the weekend and a steady start to the day fueled by coffee and a good breakfast as we planned what we wanted to do.

So we decided that between our house and Simon's late mum's house we needed to get on top of some gardening and that would involve a trip out to DIY store...which would mean our first proper outing since lockdown began.

Over these last few months we have managed perfectly well with online shopping and click and collect grocery shopping. We have had the odd venture out to the post office or local 'corner shop' but have not really felt the need, or the inclination, to venture much further. But today we decided that in order to get a few outside jobs done we needed to shop in person.

Now I know lots of people have been out and about and have been using shops on a regular basis but for us this was a pretty big step to take so we set off armed with masks and hand gel. The first store we visited was very well organised with a clearly marked queuing system outside and a very friendly store colleague on the door who was letting in small groups at a time and explained what to expect and where to go.

Once inside it was relatively quiet and we had no problem wandering around to get what we wanted and when it came to paying at the tills it was all very straight forward and well organised. But as this first store didn't have everything we wanted we decided to try another well known store a couple of miles away. This second store was much bigger but again had a clearly marked queue system for getting in although we did have to wait around for quite a while before being let in and the staff on duty weren't quite as friendly or informative as the first store. But yet again we got the items we needed and headed out via the tills and again this was very well organised with a member of staff directing you to which till was free; to be honest this was so much better than the usual way of randomly picking a till and hoping you've picked the quickest one!
All masked up and ready to shop
So we survived our first proper shopping trip; we commented that the queuing felt like being at a theme park except the ride was really rubbish!! And I felt very aware that I was 'on a mission' to go in, get what we wanted and get out again...the idea of 'browsing' felt wrong and that we shouldn't be doing that! But we did it and I think now the thought of going out, should we need, to won't be such a strange thing to do.

Interestingly we saw very few people with masks on and with rumours that our government maybe more strongly in favour of masks in shops I think, and hope, it will only be a matter of time before it will be the new normal to wear a mask when out and about. It is something that we will be doing for the foreseeable and I think my challenge will be to have enough masks to match whatever outfit I am wearing.

Once home I was able to jump online with my friend Michelle and record this weeks episode of our Disney Dream Girls podcast before spending a couple of hours in the garden. We had a number of new plants to plant, a tree to chop back and a new patio cleaning solution to try.

It was then time to make another low carb dinner, this time it was chicken korma with keto naan bread. I would never have entertained the idea of making my own naan bread in years gone by (or I should say in the pre-low carb years) but now I am quite happy to spend a little time and make my own naan bread from scratch...and it's very yummy if I do say so myself.

So today we have conquered shopping in real life and it was was a slower experience to 'normal' and so 'nipping to the shops' is no longer a quick option. But it has also shown us that shopping online and using 'click and collect' options is working really well for us, we have been able to get everything that we want, when we want and for a price that we are happy to pay. We have got out of the habit of shopping; primarily of making multiple grocery shopping trips over the course of the week. We have survived from one week to the next without the need to 'pop to the shops', we have probably spent the same amount of money, we have saved money on petrol and we have saved time spent shopping and instead spent that time with each other. 

It felt good to be out, to be doing something 'normal' and to survive the experience but this does not mean I will be rushing out to the pub or cafe or more shops it just means that I can when I am good and ready for it...and with my mask and hand gel in tow at all times.

Whatever you do, wherever you do it just take care and stay safe.