The New Normal

Is anybody else getting sick of the phrase ‘The New Normal,’ or is it just me?

Unfortunately, it’s the perfect term to describe how we’re living at the moment. It doesn’t necessarily provide lots of inspiration for the journal-esque blogging content that I usually create, unless you’re interested in the rather sad-looking cheese sandwich I often make myself for lunch?
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Hints and Tips to Stay Productive When Working From Home

14 Hints and Tips to Stay Productive When Working From Home 1

I’ve been working from home pretty much every day since 2015. While at first glance it may seem like the perfect situation (and in many ways it is), but there are lots of potential pitfalls and distractions when you’re solely accountable for your own workload. Over the years I have had to remain self-motivated and develop a routine in order to be able to stay productive and keep doing it successfully.

Here are some hints and tips that I have found useful when working from home.

Set up a dedicated working area. Whether it is a small desk a the back of a room or a shed at the bottom of the garden, create an area that is solely used for work-based activities.

Have a shower and get dressed. Getting up and ready as you would do for a working day elsewhere will help to change the mindset between work and home. It’s also useful should a last-minute video chat should happen – it’s unlikely that clients or colleagues will be impressed by your pyjamas and bed hair and being ready will avoid having to quickly jump in the shower or getting changed when you’re in the middle of something.

Plan your tasks in advance. When I start the day knowing what it is that I need to be working on, I find it much easier to plan and prioritise my tasks for the day, and for this I use a Bullet Journal. I use simple trackers for daily repeated tasks that are drawn out in a simple grid form, and I fill out individual tasks in a monthly calendar layout, colouring in the boxes as I go. This saves an enormous amount of time and I find the colouring rather therapeutic. Continue reading

Seven Weeks in Lockdown

It’s been just nearly seven weeks since lockdown began, and I’m getting used to a slightly different way of living. Granted, compared to many people my daily life hasn’t changed that much – I’ve worked from home for the last 4 1/2 years and so I’m used to my own company and being self-motivated enough to stay productive – but I have to regularly remind myself that I can’t just hop out to the local shops for things I need, visit a friend or organise a date night somewhere fun in the city.

However, if these are the only things I have to worry about then I count The Bloke and I incredibly fortunate. Our families and friends are healthy, our jobs are consistent, we have food in the cupboards and the bills are paid, and we have taken to expressing daily gratitude for this to each other in conversations should one of us feel a little low. Continue reading

Gratitude in Challenging Times


Three weeks ago I went to Manchester. I took my mum out for an early Mother’s Day lunch, booked a hotel room to myself, shopped, walked around in the glorious sunshine, admired the local street-art and caught up with some of my oldest girlie friends, where I got so squiffy that my hangover took several days to subside.

And then, the apocalypse seemingly happened.

It is always easy to sympathise, but equally as easy to be nonchalant when awful things are happening in a different part of the world. Despite the rapidly growing numbers of people affected and the increasing panic as Coronavirus cases arrived in the UK, it didn’t really hit home until the last ten days when the process of shutting everything down in Birmingham began. Continue reading

A Belated Merry Christmas

For me, Christmas dinner represents everything about the festive season perfectly. Several weeks of planning, shopping for the ingredients, a few hours of prep followed by the whole cooking with different temperatures and timing debacle… and it’s all done and finished in seemingly the blink of an eye, leaving behind an epic amount of washing up and a personal vow never to eat that much in one sitting again.

Christmas was awesome, but was over far too quickly.

Despite the minor panic in the last few days leading up to it, I somehow managed to end the day before Christmas Eve with a full fridge, wrapped presents and some clean laundry. The Bloke and I stayed at home for the third year in a row, and we decided that we would have a much more relaxed approach to the holiday, spending most of the time on the couch with the cat (who had a rather fetching new hat that he was obviously delighted with) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and popping in to feed Paddy (my friend’s bunny that hates me). Continue reading

Very Busy, But Apparently Doing Very Little…

A few years ago The Bloke and I were spending our first Christmas together at home as a married couple. I was beyond excited – normally we celebrated our own Christmas together a few days early, then would travel up north to be with our individual families (mine live in Bolton and his are in Sheffield) and on Boxing Day he would drive across the Pennines and meet me, where we would then drive back down to Birmingham. I spent weeks planning and organising everything – putting up the tree, writing and sending cards and presents, sorting out the food and TV schedule – and by the middle of December everything was pretty much finished, aside from the fresh produce I needed for Christmas dinner. Continue reading

Old Posts and Lots of Waffle

For those of you who suddenly get the urge to try and tidy up your blog I would quickly advise you to put down the laptop and place it as far away from yourself as you possibly can, especially if you haven’t got very much time.

This week I have been adopting a slightly different strategy in my working methods. After a long period of time of doing the bare minimum of anything connected with my blog, I have finally kicked myself into gear in preparation for exciting things in the New Year than I have been planning for what seems like forever. Consequently, I have been on it – making sure that I start as early as I can first thing in a morning and pushing myself to keep going until I have done above and beyond what was on the basic list and tracker for the day. Continue reading

A Birthday Weekend in London: Part 1

It’s my birthday soon and my sister, her boyfriend and The Bloke took me to London for the weekend to celebrate. 

The focus of the trip was initially the Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery – 150 artefacts from the tomb of Egypt’s most famous King are on display there until May as part of the final World Tour – which could potentially be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them. We ended up planning a long weekend around it, arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday, with the plan to find other interesting things to do while we were there. 

We were booked into a Premier Inn Hub hotel near Westminster Abbey, which is something that we haven’t tried before. We’ve always been fans of Premier Inn hotels, but after an unpleasant stay in the Tower Hill branch earlier in the year (mouldy bathroom, no TV signal etc) and the ever-increasing prices that are now becoming out of our budget we opted for the much cheaper option of the Hub.  Continue reading

Edward, Samuel and a Possum Named Leadbeater

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. Image from Wikipedia

During the summer in 2011 I decided that I would try and trace my family history. With almost no information on my mother’s side (mainly due to the fact that my grandfather discovered at a young age that the couple who had brought him up weren’t his biological parents) it seemed a daunting task, but after obtaining his birth certificate I managed to trace his birth mother with http://www.ancestry.com and from there was able to build an entire family tree and even speak to living relatives in the same area that my mother still resides in. It was a fascinating journey – especially when I contacted my great-grandmother’s family with information about my grandfather who they knew nothing about, but accepted immediately once they had seen the striking physical resemblance in photographs that I sent. Continue reading

A Few Days in Bolton

Bolton Albert Halls

I’ve been up north over the last few days with the family as mum had an operation – nothing major thank goodness, but she needed someone to stay post-recovery in case of an emergency and to walk the dog. Thankfully, everything has gone well and while she is going to have to take it easy and be monitored over the next few weeks, her immediate post-op results were good and she didn’t experience the problems that we expected as she has a history of bad reactions to anaesthetic.

While I was there I had the opportunity to see my niece – who I labelled The Squidge when she was born due to her immense squidginess. The Squidge is no longer a squidge – at almost three years old she has turned into a beautiful little girl with bright blonde hair and piercing blue eyes who already knows her own mind, loves Pepper Pig and was happily showing us her dance steps that she has learned at the class that she goes to and the sign language that she has been taught at nursery. I remember being amazed when The Squidge could sit upright and feed herself, and now that she is a walking, talking little human who can count and who says please and thank you and puts her hand over her mouth when she coughs it was all I could do not to proclaim her a genius and suggest a membership to Mensa. Continue reading