Friday 31 December 2021

A sentence a day in December

I hardly dare wonder what December has in store for us this year, fingers crossed that this year our Christmas will go ahead as planned but last year taught us that you should never assume.  Let's see shall we?

Day 1 Had Max here for the day he is very 'into' Paw Patrol and PJ Masks and luckily his cousin Leo has given me a lot of his toys that he doesn't play with any more - Max is one happy little boy! 

Day 2 Zumba!  Paul went into London to meet up with some old work colleagues but said that it felt very different there since all the covid restrictions were put in place, a few of his old 'haunts' have closed now.

Day 3 Lunch out with our friends at a pub close to where Jon lives, we didn't realise but he and Sophie were there too with their friends but in a different part of the pub, he noticed us just as they were leaving!

Day 4 Put up our decorations, Jon and Max came to visit in the afternoon, then we baby sat Daisy while Rachel took Leo and Rosie to Leo's drama class show

Day 5 Rachel and family came for Sunday lunch, kids are full of pre-Christmas excitement

Day 6 A productive day - overseas mail sent, postage stamps bought and ticked a few more presents of the 'to buy' list - all from local shops (I am trying really hard to shop local this year and avoid Amazon at all costs!)

Day 7 Had Rosie here for the day, she kindly posted the few cards that I have written into the post box for me - which made the people sitting outside the little cafe opposite the post box smile as she insisted on doing them one at a time!

Day 8 Max came for the day, we went into town to buy him some winter boots and instead of us taking him home, his mum came and collected him in the afternoon which meant I got an unexpected cuddle with Olive.

Day 9 A bit of a 'self care' day today, Zumba in the morning and a hair cut and colour in the afternoon

Day 10 Went to my favourite Thai restaurant, The Giggling Squid, for lunch with two ex-work colleagues - delicious!

Day 11 Busy day prepping food for Paul's birthday meal tomorrow then an evening out to celebrate the 30th birthday of a friend's daughter - I was a bit hesitant about going but decided to go a little late and leave early to try and minimise any risk.  They had asked everyone to take tests before they went so hopefully they did, we tried to keep our distance from people as best we could!

Day 12 Paul's birthday - 64!  Had an absolutely lovely day with all the family here, it felt like the Christmas we were denied last year

Day 13 Made some sausage rolls to freeze - why is that something I only think to do at Christmas? Went into town to collect a delivery from a local store, Coco had her pre-Christmas groom

Day 14 Rosie was here for the day, she was in an artistic frame of mind today and we have got through many sheets of drawing paper

Day 15 Max's turn to be here today - our last childminding day for him of the year as he has big plans to see Santa next Wednesday

Day 16 Last Zumba of the year - was good fun and nice to dress up with a bit of Christmas colour and sparkle to get in a party mood

Day 17 Tackled some Christmas wrapping - every year I say I will do a little at a time and every year I don't!

Day 18 Wrapping is done!  What a sense of achievement - babysat Leo and Rosie in the evening while Rachel and James went out for a meal.

Day 19 Rachel and Jon both got to have their booster vaccinations!  Looked after Daisy while Rachel and family went to visit Santa in his grotto.

Day 20 I've been saying for ages that Paul's hearing is deteriorating and today he had a hearing test.  Started constructing a gingerbread house for the children to decorate tomorrow.

Day 21 Leo and Rosie were here today in happy pre-Christmas spirits - we decorated a gingerbread house, played Christmas bingo, and watched Shrek, it's so lovely to see how excited they are

Day 22 My sister and brother in law came over this morning - none of us are great Christmas fruit cake lovers but my mum always used to make a cherry and almond ring cake at Christmastime so I decided to make that as a substitute to have with our coffee.

Day 23 Popped over to Jon's to deliver our Christmas gifts - Max's excitement level is growing by the minute.

Day 24 Collected turkey in the morning, started a jigsaw in the afternoon and went to Rachel's for Christmas Eve supper

Day 25 Christmas Day at Rachel's - what a lovely day we had!  It more than made up for the disappointment of last year.

Day 26 Boxing Day - ended up being a walk in the woods with Jon and family (after negative tests) rather than a family get together in their house as Rachel and Rosie tested positive for Covid in the morning

Day 27 What a difference a day makes - Paul tested positive this morning, but I am still negative, he'll be sleeping in the spare room tonight!

Day 28 James and Leo tested positive today, it's not looking good for me is it?  Still negative at the moment.

Day 29 Went into town to have a quick look in the shops to see if I could find any bargains - came home with a new sweater :-)  Still negative!

Day 30 Realised that we do not have enough lateral flow tests for me to test for another 6 days and also for Paul to test from his day 6 onwards - managed to track down a pharmacy that had some, seems there is a bit of a shortage locally! Still negative.

Day 31 Still negative!  Jon and Max came over to help take Coco out for a walk in the afternoon - I think it may have been a little bit of an excuse to give Mummy and Olive a bit of peace and quiet!

So, not only another month over, but another year!  It's been quite an eventful one and we could dwell on the bad bits but I'll concentrate on the happy times.  Birthday celebrations, a holiday, Jon's house move, the arrival of baby Olive and family get togethers.  We have much to look back and be thankful for!  But oh, wouldn't it be lovely if 2022 was a little bit more 'normal' than 2021 was?

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So not only the end of another month but another year! 
Wishing everyone health and happiness in 2022 - Happy New Year!  

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Wednesday 29 December 2021

The unwanted Christmas gift

 You know what's coming don't you?  

But before we get to that, let's concentrate on the lovely Christmas Day that we had with Rachel and her family!  It more than made up for last year and we had such a lovely fun time with them.  

The plan was for us all to go round to Jon's the following day, negative tests permitting.  I anxiously watched ours first thing in the morning, then happily let them know we were negative.  However ... Rachel and Rosie had tested positive so that immediately changed our plans as they had to go into isolation.  After a bit of discussion about whether or not it was safe for us still to go, we decided that we would still go over to see Jon and his family, not to go indoors at all but go for a walk through their local woods instead.

Which turned out to be a very sensible decision as guess what?  The following day Paul tested positive! So did James and Leo!  Government rules say that we had to test daily for 10 days as we had been in contact with Rachel, and that is the only way we found out as he had no symptoms whatsoever.  

So he is now in isolation, and I am still testing daily but let's be honest, it must surely only be a matter of time if five out of the six of us are now positive!  Fortunately, it seems to be affecting them mildly.  The children are bright as buttons and full of energy, the adults just seem to have mild cold symptoms.  Coco is very confused as to why it is only me doing the walking duties and she'll be even more confused if we have to start relying on friends and neighbours to step in when/if I succumb!

I'm not sure what is making me more anxious at the moment, taking my daily lateral flow or thinking about getting on the scales to see how much damage all my extra chocolate intake has done!

Saturday 18 December 2021

A year of reading

 There is nothing like a good book!  Something to take your mind off the news, a place to escape.  I belong to the online book club organised by Leslie - you can also find it on Facebook under the name Come Read With Me.  I am so pleased that I discovered it as it has encouraged me to read books which I would never have picked out for myself.  Do you find that you find a 'type' of book you enjoy and then keep going back for more of the same?  Well I have to say that my reading list has become much more varied than usual and I'd like to share with you a little buffet of ten books that I read and enjoyed this year, just in case you fancy dipping your toe into finding something new.

  • Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well by Mary Kay Andrews  Such a lovely story!  You go through all the emotions with this one.  The Eudora we meet in the first chapter is quite different to the one that we see in the last.  Who would think that an elderly lady, and several others, would have her life transformed by the quirky young girl who moves in next door.  If you fancy something a bit different, please give this one a go!
  • The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate.   This is set in Louisiana in 1875 and 1987 and based on the 'Lost Friends' advertisements in newspapers from freed slaves searching for their loved ones.  This book opened my eyes to a period of history I knew little about.
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.   Now you have to use your imagination in this one!  Nora is deeply unhappy and finds herself in the Midnight Library at midnight on the last day of her life.  Here she has the chance to pick out books based on things that have happened in her past and magically try out other lives she could have lived.  We all have times in our past where you wonder 'what if I'd made a different decision?' and Nora gets the chance to explore this.
  • The Four Winds by Kirstin Hannah. This is set in Texas in 1934.  The story of Elsa Martinelli and her journey to try and support her family after a natural disaster ruins life on the family farm.  She leaves in search of a better life in California but finds herself amongst thousands of others.  Her strength in surviving all that life throws at her is inspiring.
  • The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth.  The story of twins, Fern and Rose.  Fern likes routine, she doesn't like change, she avoids crowds and Rose has always taken care of her.  But Rose discovers that she is unable to have a baby, so Fern can only think of one way she can repay Rose for all that she has done for her in the past.  However, is Rose the thoughtful sister we have been led to believe?  At what point does caring for someone become controlling?
  • The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict.  The true story of a black woman who has to pass as white in order to become J P Morgan's personal librarian and help him curate his collection of rare books and paintings for the Pierpoint Morgan Library.  I really enjoyed this book.
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney To be honest, at first I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this one.  But I am so pleased I kept reading because I did get a bit of a surprise at the end!  It seemed a bit far fetched to believe someone would believe that they have mysteriously won a weekend away in a remote location but that part is necessary for the rest of the story.  I knew nothing about the condition of 'face blindness' but it is totally relevant to the storyline.
  • You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry. The story of Poppy and Adam and their tradition of going on holiday together once a year despite taking a dislike to each other when they first meet 12 years ago.  Over the years their relationship changes, and then 2 years ago it all went horribly wrong.  Can one last holiday mend everything?
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriaty  Imagine falling off an exercise bike at the gym, waking up in hospital and finding that you have forgotten the last ten years of your life.  Not only that, but the person who you appear to have become is nothing like the person you were 10 years ago.  Could remembering how she used to be give her the impetus to change how she has become?
  • The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews.  This was our last book club read.  It was short and sweet and I can imagine it being turned into a short Christmas film.  Lots of feel good vibes and even if it was a little predictable, it was a feel good read and perfect for pre-Christmas reading.
So that's my list!  Not all were book club reads, some were recommendations I picked up along the way.  I've tried to share a varied subject matter and trying to choose ten has made me realise just how many books I read this year!  

Friday 17 December 2021

Putting on our glad rags

 It isn't often that we get to get to properly dress up so I thought I'd mark the occasion with a rare photo of the two of us from last weekend.

Our friend's daughter and son in law were both celebrating their 30th birthdays which fall within two days of one another.  They were hosting a 007 themed party and whilst it was lovely to be invited I was really hesitant about going.  So we dusted off our posh clothes, I unearthed the gold strappy high heeled sandals I haven't worn for a couple of years and we popped in just for an hour or so.  Everyone had done a test before going and we stayed on the edges of the festivities, leaving the 30 year old crowd to do their partying together on the dance floor.  We tried to stay within our 'comfort zone' and left earlier than we would normally have done.  No more parties for us for a while!

The only other time I've got dressed up was for Zumba this week

It was the last class of the year so we all wore red and a bit of sequin sparkle.  There were only about 20 of us in the hall, so we were well spaced out with all windows and doors open.  I chose my spot as near to an open door as possible, in fact when we did a 'grapevine to the right' I was practically in the car park!  Again, I have tried to find a balance between joining in, keeping a bit of normality going, but staying as safe as possible.

Today I am wrapping presents - every year I say I will do a few at a time so it isn't a mammoth chore at the last minute, but I seem to be able to find many a distraction after doing a couple.  Like writing a blog post about not very much at all ...

Monday 13 December 2021

Me on Monday

 Monday finds me a little tired but glowing with happy memories of a lovely day yesterday.

It was Paul's birthday - 64 (do the words in that Beatles song feel appropriate?!) and we celebrated by having all the family here for the day.  It felt like the Christmas we didn't get to have last year and we made the most of every minute of it.

 Six adults, four children and two dogs, and nearly all of us looking in the right direction (Daisy didn't seem to understand what was going on!)

It was so lovely to have them all together and wonderful to see the cousins having fun together.  Max finds Leo hilarious, and Leo enjoys acting up to his audience - there were lots of giggles.  Moments like that make us realise how much we lost last year and I won't mention the controversy about the stories that are making headline news over here at the moment.  

We actually have a 'quiet' week planned this week.  All social events that we planned this year have now taken place; after last year's experience we decided to celebrate early just in case restrictions came in and I'm so pleased that we got to do everything, and see everyone, that we wanted to.  

Today I plan to pop into town to pick up something that I had ordered in from one of the shops and take a wreath to lay on my parent's grave - how can it possibly now be 24 years since my mum died?  When I look at that photo above I can definitely see how I am resembling her more and more as the years go by.  She absolutely loved having her family around her and I can see that contentment in my expression yesterday too.  

After that it must surely be time to make a batch of sausage rolls for the freezer, take Coco to the groomers for her pre-Christmas spa day and hair cut, and possibly sit down with a cup of coffee and a bit of leftover birthday cake while I finish writing the cards that I need to hand deliver to friends who live nearby.  Sounds like a good plan eh?

Have a good week!   

Monday 6 December 2021

Leading questions

Hello! Just wondering if you had plans for this afternoon?

It's the kind of text from your son or daughter that can go one of two ways.  

  • Do you want to come and do something with me?
  • Can you babysit?

So there we were on Saturday thinking that we would decorate the tree in the morning and then maybe pop into town for the Christmas Fayre in the afternoon.  It was a pretty miserable drizzly day so the walk into town was becoming less appealing by the hour.  

When the text from Jon came through I had my suspicions but was pleasantly surprised when he went onto say that Sophie was taking Olive to her sister's baby shower and he was wondering if he could bring Max over to us and spend the afternoon here until he had to go and pick her up.

The text from Rachel said 'evening' instead of 'afternoon' and was for the other option.  Leo has started a drama class and they had a little show going on in the early evening so could we look after Rosie and Daisy while they were gone.  They'd only be an hour ... 

Hmm ... at the last minute, Rosie decided she wanted to go as well and we ended up just looking after Daisy - for three hours!  The show was a success, there was a small party for the children afterwards and time slipped away.  Luckily Daisy curled up on my lap (much to Coco's disgust) and slept most of the time they were gone.

Daisy making herself comfortable

Coco was definitely not impressed.

So a 'not doing much' Saturday ended up being a busy time after all.  It was so lovely to see the children all getting excited for Christmas.  Last year things were being cancelled left, right and centre so it is so good that they are getting to do some of the fun things in the lead up to the big day.  

We did manage to get the tree done in time

So today after school Leo and Rosie are going on the special Santa Express train from Audley End to meet Father Christmas in his Winter Wonderland and then to go with Holly the Christmas Fairy to visit the enchanted forest where they will write their letters to Santa and post them in the North Pole Post Office.  Guess where Daisy is going?  Sorry Coco!

Wednesday 1 December 2021

A sentence a day in November

 November started with colder temperatures, and busy new routines for certain members of the family!

Day 1 Rachel started her new job and had to meet up with her new boss so we had Rosie here for a few hours, we were tired due to Coco getting us up three times in the night to go out into the garden #worsethanhavingababyinthehouse

Day 2 Had Rosie here for the day today, took her to the supermarket to get some shopping to take to Jon's tomorrow - she thought it was fun sitting in the trolley and we realised that because of Covid, it was something she had never done before, Rachel always goes shopping on her own!

Day 3 Had Max here for the day, Coco went to the groomers and came home looking sparkling clean - how long will that last?

Day 4 Finally got to have my hairdressing appointment - 3rd time lucky!  1st one I had booked I had to cancel as I had horrendous stomach pains, 2nd one had to be cancelled as we had to look after Max while his baby sister was being born, I hardly dared hope that this one would actually happen!

Day 5 Went to Cambridge in the morning but came home after a couple of hours as I felt quite unwell with chills and muscle aches, did Covid test when I got home which was negative.  It was Guy Fawkes night and we were worried about Coco being upset with the fireworks but we played Classic FM radio's special Pet Classics and it really did seem to work!

Day 6 Didn't sleep much last night but felt a bit better today - did another Covid test just in case - booked our Covid boosters.

Day 7 Rachel and family (including Daisy) came for lunch, Coco was very surprised but played nicely with her guest!

Day 8 Looked after Daisy while Rachel took Rosie to have her flu vaccination - for her age group it is a spray into the nostril, over and done with in one minute!

Day 9 Had Rosie here for the day, had a busy day.

Day 10 Our day for having Max, his baby sister was asleep when I went to pick him up AND when I took him home - no chance of a cuddle!

Day 11 My car went in for a service, Zumba class where we observed the silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th months.

Day 12 We had a Covid boosters 😀 Went to friends for drinks in the evening.

Day 13 Both of us have sore arms but no other side effects so far

Day 14 Popped over to see Jon and managed to sneak in an hour long cuddle with Olive

Day 15 Took Rosie into town and bought her some very trendy black patent boots

Day 16 Went to our favourite garden centre with Rosie, they have such a lovely Christmas department, bought some winter pansies and a couple of new Christmas decorations 

Day 17 Rachel had to go into London for work and the childminder is still isolating due to Covid so had Rosie here again today

Day 18 My Zumba teacher has Covid so no class today, Rachel is working in London again today so guess what ... I was looking after Rosie!

Day 19 Went to Chelmsford and actually managed to buy a few Christmas presents!

Day 20 Meal out at a local Italian restaurant with a group of friends that we used to always get together with pre Christmas - one of the couples we haven't seen for two years due to past years social restrictions!

Day 21 Rosie's birthday!  Was so lovely to have all the family together, our first time as a group of ten.

Day 22 Needed to find a new craft project so have started crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves (an essential for dog walking!)

Day 23 Had Rosie here for the day and kept very busy playing with her dolls

Day 24 Wednesday is our day for having Max - he has discovered Paw Patrol and loves to play with the figures while watching them on the tv    

Day 25 Zumba was back - felt good to do some exercise - went out for a meal in the evening with some ex-work friends.

Day 26 We had planned to go out shopping today but Paul woke up with a cold and wasn't feeling 100% and the weather turned cold and wet so I went into town on my own, managed to get a few Christmas presents from our local shops and then came home to bake some individual sticky toffee puddings to freeze for Paul's birthday meal in a couple of weeks time. 

Day 27

Day 28 Went out for a meal with three other couples - the husbands all play badminton together and we used to get together a couple of times a year, but it had been two years since our last meal out with them

Day 29 Went out for Sunday lunch with my Zumba class, there was live music in the afternoon and we literally spent almost two hours on the dance floor, it really was a lot of fun

Day 30 Went out for lunch with two other couples to a local Turkish restaurant - I may need to jump back on the Slimming World train soon!

Day 31 Had Rosie here for the day, it is such fun watching her imaginary play with her dolls

And that's it for another month. goodness knows what the next one will bring as we ended the month with the discovery of a new covid variant which is a bit of an unknown quantity so stricter restrictions are here and we are just hoping that another lockdown isn't on the cards.

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