After spending over a week down south, I returned home for a few days and then travelled up north to Manchester.
The main purpose of the trip was to catch up with a group of friends that I have known for nearly 25 years. It has been two years since I last saw them – they were the last social event I had before the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, so I was looking forward to it.
I was staying with my mum for the weekend and we had a bunch of things planned around it. I was feeling quite smug when I left the house initially due to being somewhat organised for once, only to discover when I arrived that I had forgotten a whole bunch of stuff including socks, make-up and a phone charger. Who forgets to pack socks???
Socks quickly acquired, we went for a meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant on the Friday night. We’ve been going there for decades – I remember having my 18th birthday celebration there, I turned 40 last year and I couldn’t count how many meals our family has had there in between. I was delighted to see that one of the staff members, George, who greeted us during our earliest visits, was still there. There is one particular dish – a sharing platter for two – that both mum and I are obsessed with, so instead of ordering a starter and selection of mains we decided to treat ourselves and had one each without mains. It was fabulous – I couldn’t help but laugh with sheer excitement as they were brought out – but I was so full by the end I thought someone would have to roll me to the car afterwards.
Yesterday was a little strange. Not that it was bad in any way, but it took me a while to settle in.
I’m currently dog-sitting at my friend’s house. It isn’t the first time I have done this, so I was already familiar with the area and the dog’s routine and we immediately got back into it. Admittedly, I was feeling a bit tired as her barking had woken me up at 1am when the neighbours returned home, and then again at 2am when she vomited on the floor. (While I miss having the cats, I don’t miss waking up to the sound of retching in the early hours of the morning). We walked, had breakfast, I did some work while she snoozed, we walked again etc. It was a fairly relaxed and peaceful day with glorious weather…
I suddenly realised yesterday evening just how quiet it was.
Yesterday was my nine year blogging anniversary. I received a notification at 6.30am as I was sitting in a very cold train station.
The reason why I was travelling yesterday is because of a friend who I met through the blog 2015. In fact, she was one of the first blog friends who became a social media client. Since then we’ve been to events, a writers retreat and on holiday to Dubrovnik together, and yesterday I travelled down to her house to look after her dog while she and her family are on holiday.
I started February with the best of intentions. I had just completed a No Spend Challenge over January and was feeling a massive sense of achievement, so set myself a whole series of goals over February. One of them was to blog at least twice a week… and now it’s March and to say I failed spectacularly would be an understatement.
However, despite the storms and constant rain, February was fast-paced and pretty exciting at times with lots of both short and long-term unexpected opportunities.
Ever heard the analogy about waiting for a bus for ages and then three all arrive at once?
New Year’s Eve was both a good and sad day. The Bloke and I had a buffet of party food and watched The Proposal, only to see the announcement a few hours later that Betty White had passed away. I was genuinely gutted about it – I think the reason why we watched the film was because I had seen Ryan Reynold’s tweet a few days before and we realised we hadn’t watched the film in ages, and it was a genuine shock when we checked our social media afterwards. Such a sad loss and an incredible woman.
It’s that point between Christmas and New Year where many of us feel like we are in Chrimbo Limbo. Christmas is over but it’s not quite time to take down the decorations yet (although I do know a few people who have), and there are still a few days until the new year. I’ve seen quite a few social media memes about not knowing what time of day it is or what is happening, and I can relate.
For the first time in almost a year I took a period of annual leave that was more than just a few days. After working so hard for such a long time and experiencing high levels of stress over the last few months I found it disorienting and difficult to relax at first – even when I was in my jammies and watching Christmas films I felt a little agitated, like I should be doing something and it took a few days to be able to get into the it’s ok to have a rest mindset. I think I needed to decompress. It has made me think about the importance of regularly taking some time for myself next year – the mental state that I was in before Christmas wasn’t an entirely healthy one and despite the fact that I enjoy my job, I need to start setting some very clear boundaries when it comes to workload and client demands and expectations.
I’ve already spoken about this in previous posts, but lockdown started slightly earlier for me than most. The Bloke and I regularly reviewed theatre shows for the press nights at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, and we were in the bar area eagerly waiting to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and talking to our friend who works there. Suddenly the theatre manager appeared, called everyone together and announced that the show had been cancelled in response to the government announcement that had been made that day, and that was it. I remember seeing the worried and emotional expressions on the faces of the staff and public and felt awful for them. Continue reading →
At the start of 2021 I decided that rather than setting my usual series of goals and resolutions I would focus on just one day at a time. After nine months of predominantly staying indoors it seemed a silly notion to look at anything beyond that, particularly in the fact that while a new year had begun, the current situation hadn’t changed.
It was a wise decision – January 2021 seemed like it had decided to throw everything it could in our direction.
The Bloke tested positive for Covid a few weeks ago. He works in a good school and while there are restriction measures in place and the number of students within the building are lower (although higher than you may think), his role as an IT Tech has meant that it was almost inevitable as he has contact with more staff and students than most. Continue reading →
I’ve always found something quite liberating about the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve. Despite the fact that it is just one minute, the transition between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day brings a sense of excitement and the notion that anything is possible.
A year ago The Bloke and I rang in the new year with the fireworks display from the London Eye on the TV, singing Auld Lang Syne with the cat and making promises that 2020 would be our year. I had plans. I had spent weeks carefully making lists of all of the things that we were going to do: the places we would go, the things we would see, the experiences that we would have. Continue reading →
With less than a week to go until Christmas, The Bloke and I have taken to adulting to get everything prepared in advance. I was determined (especially after a such a crazy year), Christmas would be a period in which we could actually relax, do something positive for others and then take some time for ourselves without worrying about last-minute things, and we’ve managed most of it (although the found myself on a mad dash to the postbox yesterday to send off a whole bunch of Christmas cards.
The last quarter of the year is always the busiest. Between October and December there are five birthdays within our family including mine and The Bloke’s and we had our third wedding anniversary at the end of October. Normally we would take a trip somewhere to celebrate at least one of these (last year we went to London for the weekend with my sister and her boyfriend to see the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi and the year before we fed giraffes at West Midlands Safari Park and went to the Harry Potter Studios Tour) but most of the last few months have been spent trying to stay safe and well at home. Instead I have created almost mini staycations and celebrations indoors, finding interesting things to watch and trying to support local businesses by ordering from them rather than going through the giants that now monopolise the online shopping world (except Lego of course, because The Bloke loves it).Continue reading →