Thursday 30 July 2020

Traditions resume

It was so very lovely to be able to carry on our annual tradition of a day at our most local beach, Frinton on Sea.  I had wondered if we would get there this year, bearing in mind that rules and regulations are changing at the drop of a hat!  But on Wednesday, we packed a picnic, loaded up the car with an excited dog and headed for the coast.  There were no traffic hold ups, and we were there in just over an hour.

We made our way to the 'dog friendly' area of the beach (only one half of the resort allows dogs on the beach between May and September) and Coco was happy to feel the sand between her paws.

As you can see, the sun was shining and although there was a breeze from the sea, we are experienced British beach visitors and were well prepared for all weather eventualities!  Happy to report that the sweater I had packed was not needed after all.

It was so lovely to be there, it wasn't crowded, but there were still plenty of people enjoying the beach - some even swimming in the sea - I only braved it as far as my ankles but have to admit that after the initial chilly feeling, it did feel very refreshing!  The tide came in around lunchtime so we went back up the hill to the green that overlooks the sea and ate our picnic in the sun - and without sand getting in our 'sand'wiches.

We came home mid afternoon, showered, changed and then met some friends to go for a meal to the local pub.  Feeling brave but a little anxious we waited outside to be shown to our table but it was very reassuring to see that the amount of tables has reduced, with good seating, sanitiser for customer use, paper menus that can be put in the recycling after you've finished with them, and you can order and pay via an app on your phone.  It was remarkably relaxing and I'm pleased that we went.

Our local swimming pool has reopened so Paul investigated that today.  You have to pre-book a 50 minute time slot, they have made all the lanes double the normal width and you have to say which one you will use, slow, medium or fast.  You are asked to arrive with your swimming costumes beneath your clothes so you can undress speedily and spend as little time as possible in the changing room.  He said it was great!  There were only 5 other people in the pool at the same time as him and he ended up swimming more lengths than he used to manage.  It makes you wonder though how long gyms can survive with such small reduced volumes of customers if that was indicative of how many people are using the facilities.

So that is our venture into 'normality' so far.  It hasn't made me less cautious, but it was reassuring the see that businesses are taking all the rules seriously.  Have you tried anything 'new' this week?

Sunday 26 July 2020

And now he is one

What a difference 12 months can make.

In 2019, 25th July was the hottest day of the year in the UK.  The hottest part of the country was Cambridgeshire.  So of course that was the day that our daughter in law went into labour and walked through the doors of the Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge.  She walked out a few days later with our youngest grandchild. {He did give us all a few days of worry by having to be in Intensive Care for 2 days but we'll forgive him for that}

And little Max has gone from this 

To this

It wasn't such a hot and humid day this year - all birthday celebrations had to be hastily rearranged from socially distanced picnics in the park to a few family members at a time indoors!  But it was lovely to see him for a couple of hours on his big day, he was very excited to have so many new toys to play with and his mummy made the most delicious birthday cake.

Which meant that his first ever taste of chocolate was certainly one to remember!  Especially as his very special sparkler birthday candle set off the smoke detector so our rendition of 'Happy Birthday to you' was accompanied by the shrill notes of an alarm going off!

His was the first family member's birthday since lockdown in March and it was such a relief that we were all able to see him on his first birthday. 

It was our most social day so far on Saturday as after all that excitement in the morning, we also had friends over for drinks in the evening - things seem to be moving in the right direction!  Weather permitting, we are planning to go to the beach on Wednesday with Coco - we can't let Covid-19 stop our annual trip to Frinton!  Then in the evening we have a table booked at our local pub for a meal out with friends.  OUT!  We are going OUT!  I am still feeling a little dubious about it but have spoken to people who have been there and it seems they are taking all the precautions seriously, it's a large pub with a huge outdoor area so fingers crossed it may be warm enough to sit outside.  Of course with the British weather, you can never take things like that for granted but the forecast isn't too bad ... at the moment.  Needless to say I will be going with a nice warm cardigan in case it is too chilly, plus a bottle of my own hand sanitiser! 

Sunday 19 July 2020

Is it just me ...

... that has forgotten things while confined to home?

Things like 

The registration number of my car.  

For the first couple of months of lockdown all car parking was free in town.  Partly because no one was allowed out for non essential journeys and I guess the parking enforcement team were furloughed.  But on 29th June, the car parks started charging again.  So on my first foray into town after that date, I parked my car, went over to the pay machine to do my 'check in, check out', saw the display which said 'enter your registration number' - and my mind went blank!  What was it?  EY something or was that my last car?  EU something?  No that is Paul's car.  In the end I had to walk back to where I'd parked and take a photo of my reg plate so I didn't forget it again!  I felt every one of my 63 years 😉

The PIN number for my credit card. 

I'd been doing my food shopping for 'click and collect' online for so long, and any other purchases had been within the limit for doing contactless payment just holding the card over the machine, that when I went and did a proper food shop in an actual shop spending more than £45 I had to stop and think for a long time.  What were those four little numbers?  

How much to tip my hairdresser.  That's still to be resolved and I have until Thursday to remember.  I may have to do a poll between my friends who have already had an appointment to find out what they did!  Some salons are asking for a contribution to help cover the extra costs they have incurred due to having to adhere to all the new distancing rules and PPE for staff.

Going back to cars, during lockdown we had changed from Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time.  The clock in my car does not automatically update and I had to resort to getting the manual out to remind myself how to get into the right settings.

We met up with some friends who we met at ante-natal classes with our eldest children (34 years ago!) on Saturday.  They have moved to a tiny village in Suffolk and it is ages since we saw them so not only was it lovely to catch up with them but it was a beautiful scenic route in the countryside too.  Tiny gradual steps towards getting back into the swing of going out and about again - going at our own pace and only doing what feels comfortable for us.

Talking of comfort - this Friday sees us having to wear face coverings in all shops - I wonder how that will go?  I have tried to get into the habit of doing this already because I honestly don't think the virus is suddenly going to be more prolific in shops at the end of the week, surely the risk is the same today as it is on Friday?  So if anyone has any tips on how to stop your glasses misting up, I'd love to hear from them because that seems to be the main issue to me at the moment!

Monday 13 July 2020

'Normal' makes a gradual return

Someone is taking advantage of being allowed back in Nanny and Grandad's house.  It feels like Leo has been round here everyday since restrictions lifted a little - actually, apart from Thursday, he HAS been here at some point every day!  He's so happy and it is an absolute delight to know that in his mind, things aren't so bad any more.  Back at school two mornings a week, playgrounds reopened and allowed back here while his Mum goes back to work part time - he's very happy with that new 'normal'.

So life has been a little more tiring this week, but in a nice way.  It makes us realise how much Rosie has grown up - 3 months is a long time in toddler development!  We've also finally started looking after Max one day a week - his mum only went back to work after maternity leave at the beginning of March and we never actually got round to looking after him back then!  So this is new for him and new for us.  I think he and Coco will be good friends as he is at the 'throw my dinner off the plate' stage of baby led weaning and she has already realised that beneath the high chair is prime position for extra food!

We had such a lazy Sunday that I have to confess to an hour long nap after lunch - I was so tired.  We had friends over for drinks on Saturday evening and they didn't go home until close to midnight and I don't think I'm used to late nights any more!  We had a lovely long dog walk after breakfast, taking a different route to our usual ones

It was so quiet until we turned a corner and suddenly there was a tree which was obviously home to dozens of starlings - I have honestly never heard so much bird song at the same time.  To start with it was such a novelty to hear and then I started to remember that Alfred Hitchcock film 'The Birds' and decided it was time to move on and continue our walk!  

It looks like the weather is going to improve again this week, so hopefully I'll be able to get out and about and tick off a few more of the prompts on the Summertime Scavenger Hunt.  I have a few ideas in mind - watch this space ...

May I leave you with a question?  This is Coco's current favourite spot for spending the day -

 View of her while climbing up the stairs

View of her while trying to negotiate coming down the stairs

Is she a) on lookout duty protecting the family from a prime vantage point or b) trying to injure us by tripping us up and sending us headfirst down the stairs?

Monday 6 July 2020


Well this Saturday marked the beginning of a new phase of 'lockdown', the biggest relaxation of the rules yet.  Pubs and restaurants allowed to reopen, hairdressers finally allowed to sharpen their scissors to tidy up the nation and people allowed inside your house and not just in the garden.  

We embraced one of these, can you guess which one?

Thanks to a daughter who used to be a qualified hairdresser, we'd had a hair cut last weekend so we weren't one of those waiting patiently outside the hairdressers and barbers waiting to be called in for their well overdue appointment.  Neither were we the ones first though the doors of the local pub or restaurant - in fact our local pub isn't reopening until tonight, I wonder if they wanted to avoid the chaos of the first night of freedom?

We were the ones who opened their doors to their grandchildren and welcomed them inside their home!  Leo couldn't believe it when we told him he could come in through the front door instead of having to nip down the side path and stay in the garden.  Honestly, you know the expression 'bouncing off the walls'?  Well that was him, on the sofa, on the armchairs, upstairs in the bedrooms, he had to check that everything was as he remembered it.  It was so sweet hearing his 'I remember this' and 'oh, this is still here'.  Little does he know that when he finishes nursery at lunchtime, grandad will be there to pick him up and bring him back here for lunch!

Sunday was really blustery and it was nice to just be home, cooking a roast lamb lunch, reading the Sunday papers ...

Honestly, you can't leave a newspaper laying around for five minutes without Coco thinking it's a new blanket for her to lay on!

I finally got round to starting a new project at the end of last week.  One which has been on the 'to do' list for quite a while.  Our dining room furniture is about 18 years old and the chair seats are looking a little worse for wear.  The fabric is quite faded and marked and I've been thinking for a while that I could recover them myself.  But then I've got cold feet and thought it could be quite a disaster if it all goes horribly wrong.  I've looked at videos on youtube and I've googled 'reupholstering dining room chairs' for weeks and last week I took a deep breath and decided to order some fabric and a staple gun.  I found a website which sells Multiyork fabric - I guess it is either discontinued lines or end of rolls but either way it is lovely quality fabric for half the price of anywhere else I found. 

So I took a deep breath, asked Paul to help unscrew the current seats from the chair frame and cautiously started to remove the old fabric.  It was a bit nerve wracking, especially when it came to pleating the fabric round the corners but all in all, I'm quite pleased with the end result!

One down and three to go ...

Wednesday 1 July 2020

A sentence a day in June

Flaming June, that's what they call it - and we start the month with a gradual relaxation of lockdown rules and end it in anticipation of a few more things opening up. OK, let's get going.

Day 1 Did some painting - because if we are going to be allowed to have friends in our gardens now (at a safe distance) I don't want anyone judging me on the neglected state of the garden shed!

Day 2 Due to a scooter related incident on their daily walk Rachel needed help getting the children home (one toddler on a trike, one injured who apparently 'couldn't walk' and a scooter that needed carrying back) so I met up with them at the same time that the ice cream van pulled up - a 'knobbly bobbly' lolly cleared up all the tears and restored the ability to walk home.

Day 3 Popped over to see Jon and family - first time we have been there since February - Paul and I took Max out for a walk to give his mum and dad their first childfree time since lockdown - what a lovely hour we had wandering around the town and local park.

Day 4 Had a Zoom meeting with some friends, the only way we could all raise a glass to celebrate Sheila's birthday.

Day 5 Did a Pilates routine on Zoom this morning it was nice to try something different; I also decided enough is enough with the overeating - time to get those Slimming World booklets out again and get back on the straight and narrow (literally!)

Day 6 The weather has changed and I even put the heating back on for an hour this evening #goodoldbritishsummer

Day 7 Leo begged to come over on his own this morning, the weather wasn't good but he was happy to just sit in a chair in the garden eating cake, drinking apple juice and playing on my iPad 

Day 8 The Slimming World books have been dusted off, the food diary has been printed out and I am determined to get back on track with healthier eating 

Day 9 Popped over to Saffron Walden to see our son and went with him and baby Max to their local market which has finally been able to take place again

Yes this is a picture of our son buying Pastel de Natas from the bakery stall and I promise you that I declined one even though they are my favourites and they are delicious and they were freshly baked and looked amazing.  

Day 10 Who turned the thermostat down?  What a grey and miserable day

Day 11 Zumba!  Plus I went into town and actually set foot in a supermarket for the first time in three months - it was so nice to actually pick the food off the shelves for myself rather than order it online and pick it up from the Click and Collect point.

Day 12 I did a Pilates class on Zoom, which makes me realise that I'm not as flexible as I should be!

Day 13 We had friends round for drinks in the garden and it was lovely!  Sun was shining, the wine was chilled and it was so good to actually see them face to face rather than on a zoom call.

Day 14 Leo came round for an hour and a half this morning - he so loves being back in our garden, especially if he can come on his own without his little sister!

Day 15 Invited some friends over for afternoon tea in the garden - it feels like our social life is now totally dependent on the weather - if it isn't nice enough to be outside we can't see anyone!

Day 16 Went over to Saffron Walden to borrow Max for a couple of hours - actually went inside a shop which wasn't a food shop - our first non food shopping was 3 books. #shouldhaveflowntoPortugaltoday 

Day 17 Jon came over to our house to work in the garden while we took Max round to Rachel's for a visit, it's been three months since the little cousins were all together.

Day 18 Almost forgot to do my Zumba class as I'd forgotten which day of the week it was 🤣

Day 19 Gardening day, Paul repainted the pergola, the solar lights look pretty in the evening (my photo doesn't do them justice!)

Day 20 Tried a new cake recipe - raspberry and almond, it was a winner!

Day 21 Father's Day, and as a special treat we had a takeaway Thai tapas meal from The Giggling Squid

Day 22 Went into town on a whim and saw there was no queue at all to get into Waitrose so did some impromptu food shopping - I much prefer choosing my own food myself rather than click and collect.

Day 23 Have a horrendously bloodshot eye - went to pharmacist who said he couldn't give me anything and I need to see an optician.  Will not scare you by sharing a photo!  Met up with an old friend and her daughter and children in Saffron Walden, picked up Max on the way as she hadn't ever met him.

Day 24 Jon and Max popped over so we got the cousins together again for a bit of duck feeding at the lake #bestfedducksintown

Day 25 Reassuring visit to opticians confirmed my poor old eye is 'just' a burst blood vessel and nothing more sinister - phew - went round to friends in the evening for drinks and a paella in their garden - so lovely to socialise in person again!

Day 26 Visited a friend I used to work with and another ex-workmate joined us too, it's been a very sociable week

Day 27 Rachel came over and cut my hair - we kept as socially distant as possible, both wearing masks and in the fresh air, not your normal hair salon experience but well worth it!

Day 28 A lazy Sunday, started to watch series one of Cardinal on BT Player

Day 29 Went into town to do a supermarket shop, bought some flowers too, which makes me realise how long it is since we had fresh flowers in the house and how much I like seeing them.

Day 30 Went into town in the morning to see if the EE shop was open as the battery on my phone is becoming dreadful and I think I need to update it; didn't come home with a new phone though as the one that I decided on wasn't in stock - typical!

So - that was June, starting with a gradual return to normal and ending in a very similar position.  It was the month where we should have spent a week in Portugal with R and her family which is a bit sad but everyone is in the same boat and to be honest I'm not sure I'm ready to brave an airport or plane just yet, things need to settle quite a bit more for me to feel comfortable about leaving the country!  More to the point, not ending up in lockdown in a different country if they have a sudden spike in new cases!

Anyway, let's flip through the days and see what happened 1 Second Everyday

I'm always earlier than everyone else posting their month so once it is the official date (first Tuesday of new month?) I'll add the linky here.