Tuesday, 31 March 2020

A Return to Hogwarts

Yesterday was a strange sort of day. I didn't feel well so kept going back to bed to sleep and in between printed out all the choir songs, commented on some blogs, and did a very tiny bit of the very hard jigsaw puzzle. I joined the choir practice but didn't feel up to singing, so just listened.

The good news is that I feel much better today but realise that I am clearly not right so need to take care of myself! There's nothing that must be done so it's going to be a different sort of week. This morning I have a couple of admin bits to sort out, which shouldn't take too long to do. I'll 'travel' to India for lunch, my main meal today, when I'll be having homemade chicken curry, rice, onion bhaji and chana masala - then this afternoon and evening you will find me at Hogwarts as I'm starting a re-read of the Harry Potter books. I'll let Stephen Fry read the first three books to me but I only have those three as audiobooks so will be hunting out my copies of the actual books to finish the series. That's the next couple of weeks taken care of!

Today's list of things to do:
  • physical: nothing planned, I'm still feeling rather fragile!
  • in the fresh air: it's too cold to work in the garden and as I'm self isolating and not supposed to leave the house, I can't go for a walk
  • around the house: a couple of admin tasks
  • social: phone calls to a couple of friends
  • fun: a return to Hogwarts 😁

Monday, 30 March 2020

Lifestyle Goals | Monthly Review for March 2020

Here is my update for March, stating my goals and the bullet-pointed task list that I'll tackle during the month to help achieve the goal. Last month's ratings are shown in black and the start of the current month is shown in yellow.

My goal is to achieve a lifestyle where I can honestly say that I LIVE A FULFILLED LIFE [8.5][8.5]To achieve this I want to focus on the sub-goals shown in bold text. 

These are the sub-goals where I have achieved the maximum rating. Each sub-goal still requires a degree of effort to maintain that rating but I feel I have developed the habits to support this.
  • I am financially secure and am completely debt free [10][10]
  • I take an active role in my local community, and have strong bonds with family and friends [10][10]
  • My home is always clean and tidy [10][10]
  • I have a positive outlook on life and am benefiting by avoiding bouts of depression and keeping my emotional well being at a healthy level [10][10]
  • I eat sensibly and healthily and am benefiting by losing weight and experiencing increased energy levels [10][10] 

I have revised my ratings on the following sub-goal:
  • I live life now, in the moment [7][7.5]  Despite the changes to lifestyle as a result of the coronavirus crisis, I have made some progress to living life in the moment. I've been focusing on doing one thing at a time, rather than my usual multi-tasking and at times it has had a significant impact on my enjoyment of that particular activity.  

The ratings haven't changed for the following sub goals and are the ones that still require improvement. 

  • My garden is always tidy and presentable [8][8]
  • I lead an active life, benefiting from increased fitness and improvements in my general health [8][8] 
  • I strive to remove my attachment to material things [8.5][8.5] 
  • I make best use of my time to lead a full and productive life [8][8] 

My focus word for 2020 is simplify and I am starting by working my way through the house to remove excess, unused, and unwanted items. My SMART tasks (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) are all to do with simplifying life: 

My SMART tasks for March were:
  1. Meal plan and bulk cook, taking account of the transition to the new style eating plan - by March 31st 2020 - ACHIEVED IN PART - the difficulties due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis on availability of food in the supermarkets means that the meal plan is now under constant review
  2. Complete weeks 2 - 5 of Bless' cleaning rotation - PARTLY SUCCESSFUL, other aspects of life have taken priority this month
  3. Reorganise the cupboards in the music room ACHIEVED
  4. Advertise remaining items for sale - ACHIEVED but I have deleted them as a result of the lockdown and will re-advertise when life gets back to normal
  5. Review January and February spending - ACHIEVED

My SMART tasks for April are:
  1. Monitor the food situation at home and meal plan to make best use of supplies - Ongoing
  2. Complete spring cleaning in upstairs rooms - by 30th April 2020 
  3. Complete filing system for important paperwork - by 30th April 2020
  4. Tackle the weeding in the back garden - by 30th April 2020
  5. Review March spending - by 15th April 2020

Me On Monday

I had a quiet weekend at home and was able to relax a little. The key factor in this was managing to book a delivery slot with the local supermarket: the first available slot was April 19th and although the new shopping rules are such that I couldn't order everything I want, I now know that I have the means to restock my food supplies so can stop fretting about it. The April date is rather earlier than I need but the slots are like gold dust so, as it seems likely I will still be self-isolating then, I didn't want to risk waiting for a later one to be available.

I'm planning for it to be a simple week with the emphasis on relaxing and staying calm. Around the home I want to focus most of my efforts on the bathrooms, and in the kitchen the priority is to cook up some curries ... I only have three portions left!

So, on to today and I am ...

... shocked that there are still people who either don't understand the social distancing rules or have chosen to ignore them. I'm regularly seeing reminders on the local support groups to remind parents that the playgrounds are closed and they cannot take or allow their children to congregate there. Also, reminders from the police that the permissable daily exercise is not to be treated as an opportunity to meet up with friends. It really isn't that difficult to understand, is it?

... limiting the amount of screen time, or trying to. Taking part in all the virtual choir events and the quizzes, and all the video chats, family tree research, etc. means that I am spending a lot of time in front of the computer. I live alone so the virtual events and my hobbies play an important part in my daily life and I don't want to limit my involvement with my regular groups and activities. So as a response to this extra screen time, apart from updating the blog and commenting on others, I chose other ways of amusing myself over the weekend that didn't require sitting in front of a screen ... reading, listening to an audiobook, starting a (very hard) jigsaw, playing the piano, and listening to music. I feel better for the break and will try from now on to make the weekends a screen free zone.

... listening to a free audio book (The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson), and the sing-along practice track for one of the songs the choir is learning - Sisi Sote.

... attempting a free OU course on algebra. I'll let you know how I'm getting on later in the week!

Today's list of things to do:
  • physical: complete 15 minutes of knee strengthening exercises with Doctor Jo on YouTube
  • in the fresh air: spend some time in the garden, although the forecast is for rain starting later this morning so I may be out of luck!
  • around the house: clean the bathrooms
  • social: join in with the virtual choir practice
  • fun: carry on with the jigsaw puzzle and also practice the piano 

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...
  • sunny days
  • spring has arrived
  • taking part in all the virtual choir activities and quizzes
  • renewed friendships with people I'd lost contact with many years ago
  • clearing the dining room so I no longer need to eat meals in the living room

I am grateful ...
  • for the NHS and all the other essential workers
  • that all family member and friends remain free from coronavirus 
  • for the generosity and hard work of all the people creating virtual activities for others to enjoy

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Photography, Shopping and Films

The choir quiz was fun to do. I was on my own for this one and scored 33 out of 50 so I'm pleased with my efforts and we'll be doing it again next Friday. I didn't get round to weeding in the garden as the ground is still waterlogged and as it is clay soil, it's heavy enough to work at the best of times. Instead, I swept the patio and tied back one of the roses. 

I did start a jigsaw puzzle which confused me to start with as I couldn't find the corner pieces or any straight edges. There's a clear clue on the front of the box ...

... I have no idea why I chose a puzzle with no straight edges but I'll give it a go!

It seems there will still be plenty of photo challenges and opportunities even while confined to home. An email received quite late last night shared the news that the U3A Photography Group is organising some 'at home' challenges for us. The organiser is setting up a Facebook group so we have a way of sharing our images and the 'Spring' photos can be uploaded by mid March. The April photos won't be so easy for me as the theme is 'yellow' and I don't have a huge selection to choose from but I'll see what I can do. 

I also belong to a Photo Walk group in Bath, although I haven't actually been out with the group for ages. Anyway, they are organising a 'home and garden' scavenger hunt on Sunday - a list of 15 prompts to be taken within the agreed timeslot of one hour and then uploaded to the Facebook page. I don't know what time it starts but will join in if I can.

In addition to these two opportunities, there is also the WPSH to complete and then it won't be too long before the summer hunt starts, assuming Mary-Lou is planning to organise it again this year.

I've managed to sort out a delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables for next week. The supermarket delivery slots are completely full for the next 3 - 4 weeks so this order, although more expensive, will be one less thing to worry about. As well as the fruit and veg box they will also deliver a tray of eggs and some bread so I will have everything I need and hopefully the supermarket deliveries will be available for the order for May.

I've also placed an online order for delivery of compost and some cosmos plants. I wouldn't normally order the compost online but it's the only option at the moment. I doubt that the delivery will actually happen as it's for non-essential items so I'm assuming that the business is currently closed.

Today is mostly about catching up with the laundry (household linens), playing the piano and checking on the friends I didn't speak to this week. Once that's done, I'll settle down to watch a couple of films on Netflix.

Today's list of things to do:
  • physical: Doctor Jo's knee strengthening exercises on YouTube
  • in the fresh air: not exactly in the fresh air but I want to open all the windows and doors and freshen every room
  • around the house: laundry - bedding and towels
  • social: WhatsApp video call(s) with friends
  • fun: playing the piano

Friday, 27 March 2020

Garden duties, puzzles and another quiz

Last night's virtual quiz was great fun and the perfect opportunity to forget about all the problems for a couple of hours. J couldn't make it so it was just L and myself and we did okay: our aim when quizzing is to answer every question and get over 50% correct. The questions were much harder than we were expecting but despite that, we achieved our aim and finished with a score of 32 out of 50. This was supposed to be a one-off event but the organiser said he is prepared to run a quiz every week during the crisis if people are interested ... there were 90,000 on YouTube and about the same on Facebook, so I think he has his answer, and I'll look out for the next one. Hopefully J will be able to join us next time.

I spoke to my sister yesterday and amongst other things, mentioned that I was waiting on the wool to crochet a blanket. Admittedly my previous attempts at crochet have been somewhat lacking to say the least but I do feel that her comment of "there's a global pandemic and you've decided this is the right time to learn to crochet - doesn't the world have enough to worry about?" was a bit harsh! Reading between the lines, I don't think I will get any help from her! 😂😂

Today I want to get out in the garden and start the tidying up. I originally thought it would be possible to order some plants online and have them delivered but I'm assuming that's no longer possible as the suppliers wouldn't be considered essential businesses so should be closed. The best I can do is keep it all as tidy as possible until the situation changes. I will only be able to work in the back garden as it won't be possible to maintain the 2 metre separation from others in the front garden so that'll have to wait.

Another choir virtual event has been organised for tonight ... luckily I like quizzes because that what's been arranged. I'll be on my own this time so let's hope the questions are easier! 

Here's my list of daily things:

  • physical: Doctor Jo's knee strengthening exercises on YouTube
  • in the fresh air: weeding at least one flower bed 
  • around the house: laundry 
  • social: the choir's Friday night social - it's a quiz tonight and this is also today's joyful activity
  • fun: maybe start a jigsaw puzzle, but definitely some puzzle book time 

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Coffee Mornings and Quizzes

I slept through the alarm this morning so almost missed the choir's coffee morning but I made it by the skin of my teeth. It was a much smaller group this morning so it was possible to follow the chat and anyway, was just so good to see some faces. One couple had difficulties sorting out their computer camera so they spend a good part of the session upside down as if suspended from the ceiling! It's still early days but everyone is coping well and all report that they are communicating with friends and family much more than they did before the lockdown. It's that, together with the community spirit, that I hope continues once the crisis is over.

Tonight it's the virtual quiz. The organiser loaded a video yesterday to say that it's just gone completely crazy with interest from all over the world with over 400,000 'going' to tonight. I'll be forming a quiz team online with L and hopefully J as well, but she is busy sorting out something to do with her family so may not be able to make it this time. Our plan is to connect via Zoom (video conferencing app) so we can discuss the questions and follow the Facebook/YouTube quiz on our phones so we can hear the questions. I'll make contact with L about 30 minutes before it's due to start so I can talk her through logging into Zoom and we'll have time for a chat. Right at the start of the quiz there will be an interval so that those in the UK can acknowledge the NHS at 8pm (I think) with cheering and applause. I'm looking forward to this tonight as it'll be good to 'be together' without the focus being on the coronavirus and all the problems associated with that.

I received notification that my order for wool has been dispatched with delivery due in about 6 days, so that's another thing to look forward to. I was concerned that this would be delayed or cancelled due to the closure of non-essential businesses but this doesn't seem to be the case. 

Food supplies aren't an issue for the next four weeks (possibly) but yesterday I place an order for delivery of a meat box on April 3rd. This is from a farm shop and, as so many of these places have suspended deliveries because they are overwhelmed with orders, I decided to get some more for the freezer while I can. I'll just need to stock up with fresh fruit, veg, bread and eggs. It's currently impossible for get a supermarket delivery so if that doesn't improve I may have to ask for help with the shopping. That's quite a way off though so I'm not going to fret about it as the situation is changing every day.

This afternoon I'll carry on with the genealogy. I'm really enjoying the research even though I think it is unlikely that I'll use a lot of it myself. I discovered all about online access to UK newspapers yesterday and actually managed to find an article on someone in my family tree ... I may have been excited about that! The article contains quotes from other family members so allows me to 'hear their voices'.

Joy mentioned a good way of providing some structure to the day by assigning activities to certain headings. I think this idea will really help me so will have a think about it to see what I'd like my headings to be. 

Edited to add today's things ...

Following on from the previous paragraph, I have decided on my headings for the things I'd like to achieve every day:

Here's today's list: 

Thing 1 - physical: dance like there's no one watching ... today's exercise to pop music

Thing 2 - in the fresh air: move the heavy, but thankfully empty, pots around on the patio

Thing 3 - around the house: tidy the kitchen

Thing 4 - social:  virtual coffee morning with fellow choir members

Thing 5 - fun:  virtual quiz with L and hopefully J tonight

Wednesday, 25 March 2020


slightly out of focus new leaves on the crab apple tree

I've just had the boiler serviced and the gas/carbon monoxide alarm checked. I had the option to cancel but decided it wasn't worth the risk as I have no sense of smell and wouldn't be able to detect a gas leak. I stayed in the living room out of the way and the service engineer wiped everything down before he left and then I wiped everything down again, just to be on the safe side. So, I'm all set for another year and don't need to worry.

I've spoken to Julie this morning and managed to shock her that I was up and communicating at that ungodly hour - she texted me so wasn't expecting me to phone back! She is now able to work from home for the majority of her work but Lauren, who lives with her and works for the NHS, has to go in to work every day. She's still working in the eye clinic but will eventually be retrained and reassigned to one of the wards as the hospital copes with the coronovirus patients. Scary times!

My brother posted on Facebook yesterday mentioning that the golf course was closed and to make matters worse his wife was now working from home, so I posted this in response ...

... the females in the family found it amusing even if the males didn't!!

One of the local pubs has organised a virtual quiz for tomorrow night so today I'll be liaising with friends to set up Zoom or Skype so we can take part as a team and discuss the answers. It'll just be a bit of fun rather than their usual prize quiz as teams/individuals will be marking their own answers, but if it's anything like their usual quizzes it'll be a good laugh! 

As for today, I'll carry on looking at genealogy info, learning about the other documentation available other than parish registers (baptisms, marriages, deaths) and wills. I'm still at the reading about it stage rather than researching through the more obscure sort of documents but am listing ideas of where to look next for my own research. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Trying Something Different

It's encouraging to see that there are so many free activities available online. Quite a few are a speedy response to the global crisis and most likely the others have always been there and I just wasn't aware of them, but it's an opportunity to do something different! I've chosen a couple of things to start with ... a free Open University online course, and a series of genealogy talks. Of course I've completed online courses and attended genealogy talks before so the 'something different' aspect is the actual subject matter. 

The OU courses I'm considering are provided by their mathematics department: I've narrowed my choice down to either 'Introduction to algebra' or 'Geometry' and will make my decision this week. I was okay with maths at school but didn't really excel at it. Whether this was down to my preference for the arts subjects, so I didn't really push myself, or whether I peaked at 16 years old which is the last time I had a maths lesson, I will soon find out. I haven't chosen maths for any particular reason but do have a reason for undertaking a free course - I want to see if I have the self discipline to study properly with a view to completing a fee paid course once life gets back to normal.

As for the genealogy talks, I've made a lot of progress with my family tree but I am self taught and this seems to be a good opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the research material available and pick up some tips on how to interpret the information contained in the more obscure documents. Ancestry, the FamilySearch Learning Centre, and YouTube will be my starting points. 

Back to yesterday and I didn't tune in to Joe Wicks' PE sessions yesterday morning. I got rather side tracked and ended up following an exercise video specifically designed for seniors. I've chosen one where I am seated for the exercises until my knee is stronger and alongside that I will also continue with the Dr Jo series of knee exercises I've been doing to work on sorting out my dodgy knee.

I sorted through the garage freezer and started on the meal planning so finishing that off is my first job for today. Once that's done I want to finish moving the decluttered items out of the dining room so I can get back to some resemblance of a cleaning routine. 

As for the virtual choir practice ... it was brilliant!

Monday, 23 March 2020

Me On Monday

The high spot of the weekend was yesterday's online sing-along with some other choir members. This was organised by M via the choir's Facebook group and was a 'request a song' with M playing the piano and singing  -  we could hear her but not each other but even so, it was a fun filled hour.

On to today and I will be ...

... exercising at 9 am. Joe Wicks is organising an online PE lesson for children now that the UK schools have closed, and I am hoping to join in too! It's broadcasting on his YouTube channel every weekday morning for 30 minutes. I have no idea what it will be like but it's worth a try ... it may even be fun!

... writing all the cards for Easter and the April birthdays. I want to get them posted today in case a lockdown is imminent. 

... planning meals for the next few weeks. This means I have to finish listing the contents of the garage freezer before I can decide on actual meals. I'm checking regularly for online delivery slots and I want to be in a position to place my order as soon as one is available - every slot from now up to and including 18th April is unavailable so I need to be ready. Some of the local farm shops are now advertising delivery but are more expensive so will be kept in reserve for now.

... reading 'The Rumour' by Lesley Kara. I'm finding it rather a challenge to concentrate on reading at the moment so am hoping that this one will grab my attention and keep me occupied.

... investigating the selection of free online courses offered by the Open University (mentioned by Barbara in this post). I'd like to try something different maybe science, mathematics or a language, rather than my usual choice of music and/or the arts. 

... singing along at the first online choir practice. We've been warned that there are sure to be some teething problems but I'm looking forward to seeing how it works. I have my copies of tonight's songs printed out ready ... Sisi Sote, Eleanor Rigby, and Somewhere Over The Rainbow/It's A Wonderful World.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...
  • Lauren is back to full health and has returned to work. Her sister arrived safely home from France and her mum safely home from India.
  • The fantastic news that a new baby will be welcomed to the family in August.
  • Friend L has arrived safely home after her holiday in Egypt.
  • Receiving two photos of Baby P (my friend's granddaughter) 
  • A surprise gift of a jar of coffee from a neighbour
  • The opportunity to continue singing regularly with the creation of a virtual environment for our weekly choir practices.

I am grateful for ...
  • the kindness of the garage employee when I wanted to check the tyre pressure. I couldn't get the machine to start and he reset it, then checked my tyre pressures for me.
  • offers of support from family, friends and neighbours if needed. A timely and lovely reminder that I'm not completely alone at this awful time.
  • the generosity of individuals and organisations, amateur and professional, allowing free access to their skills and creativity to provide entertainment and education for everyone.

Saturday, 21 March 2020


I slept on an off for most of yesterday afternoon and I'm feeling much better today. I'm sure the diverticulitis flare up was triggered by stress so I am making a real effort to calm myself and to (try to) stop worrying about things I cannot change. I have to accept that the important people in my life will make their own choices on how to cope with everything this crisis throws at them. We are able to keep in touch and, should it become necessary, we will be able to help each other in an emergency. None of us can do any more than that.

Yesterday's first kindness came from neighbours in the Close. They have initiated a traffic light system and delivered two pieces of coloured card to every house. If everything is okay we have been asked to keep the green card displayed in a front window but if help is needed, for whatever reason, we change and display the red card (with our phone number written on it) instead. Someone is walking along the Close to check the cards every day but for the most part each house can see at least one house on the opposite site of the road - it's only my home and one other at the other end of the Close where someone needs to actively check. It's another example of people going the extra mile but it's certainly given me peace of mind.

The second kindness was from R, my friend's daughter, who send me details of local businesses who are offering home deliveries during this crisis. One of these is a fruit and veg wholesaler so I have ordered a box for two people, their smallest option, which hopefully will be delivered next week. They are also including milk in the package which they agreed to change for extra fruit or veg but if they forget I can always give the milk to someone else. Eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg, together with plenty of water, is key to keeping the diverticulitis flare ups at bay.

The next kindness was from M, the choir director. She has now set up a virtual choir for us so practices start again on Monday. This has been achieved using an app for video conferencing so I need to follow her instructions and get that set up today. I've printed out the songs for the next practice and some time during the week I will print the rest of the repertoire. 

She has also given us the details of one of the other choir she runs so we can join in with that as well if we want to. Thursday morning she is organising a virtual coffee morning so we have the opportunity to chat to each other and on Friday evenings it's prosecco and pyjama night with another opportunity to chat, and on Sunday afternoon it is Facebook Request Time where we can ask for something to be played or sung. There is a new (closed) Facebook group for her three choirs combined to hang out, chat and support each other and again, the offer to contact the choir for active support if anyone needs anything. She really is a star!

The final kindness is that, with the theatres ordered to close a number of production will be made available online. What's On Stage has listed all the shows you can now view online for free. There's all sorts - plays, musicals, Shakespeare, opera - but some of them are only available for a limited time. Also Andre Rieu is releasing some of his full concerts free of charge on his YouTube channel. I watched one last night ... the perfect feel-good viewing for these troubled times! 

Friday, 20 March 2020

Getting Some Rest

The Tesco delivery arrived on time last night but most of it was missing. Whoever picked my order did their best, providing substitutes even where I hadn't selected that option but I had to return everything containing beef. I'll do another check of what I have in stock and take it from there, but I know before I start that there is no need to worry or to send someone shopping on my behalf. I am positive that I have enough for now so it just means I will need to place my next order sooner than anticipated. The biggest omission from the delivery was that there was no potatoes, fresh veg or pasta but I do have rice and think there may be one bag of oven chips in the freezer so, with some creative thinking and possibly some odd meals, I can manage.

I abandoned the plan to shop for a new toilet seat. The instructions are to stay at home except for urgent needs and this isn't urgent. I have three toilets in the house so replacing the seat on one (when it's only the lid part that's broken) can wait. It's a case of reassessing priorities isn't it, and if the broken seat should become a problem I can order online.

Gareth Malone is organising an online choir so I have registered for that and M has emailed to say the online singing for our own choir is nearly ready for roll-out. Despite the greed and selfishness exhibited by so many shoppers it's wonderful that there are many more examples of generosity and kindness in the growth of free online activities for children, community support groups, offers of help, and sharing of resources. I teared up last night when a neighbour who I've never really had much to do with, and who has a large family of his own to care for, put a note through my door saying that he knows I live alone and to call him if I need anything at all and he will do his best to help me.

I'm not yet over the diverticulitis flare up and now need to give in and get some proper rest. I've done what I need to do and have started the period of self-isolating so being free from pain and feeling better in myself is now the priority. A few days draping myself along the sofa, reading or watching daytime TV, is all that's needed ... and keep taking the tablets of course!

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Last Minute Preparation and Checking in With Loved Ones

Yesterday I did a run to the skip to dispose of sacks of garden waste and bags full of unwanted video equipment. I decided this would be a low risk task but the benefits to me during self-isolation would be considerable. I don't pay for the garden waste to be collected so this was my only way of disposing of waste which had the potential to become very smelly, and the video equipment was taking up a corner of the living room and I want the house to stay as tidy as possible while I am confined to barracks! In the end it was even lower risk than I had anticipated. There was only one other car unloading so I parked at the other end and the skip employees called out for me to unload my bags and leave them there for them to deal with, so no close contact at all.

Today I will start to move the unfinished decluttering pile to the spare bedroom or the music room and reclaim the dining room. I am expecting a Tesco delivery at 5 pm and then I can close the door and begin self-isolating for real! Once the delivery is put away I'll spend some time to sanitise all of the door handles, and for the rest of the week will make sure the house is clean and tidy, resuming my normal cleaning routine next week. My car is full of petrol and the tyre pressure and oil etc. has been checked so if there is an emergency and I do have to go out it's all ready. I also sanitised the car door handles and steering wheel, and I suppose I will need to remember to start the car regularly as well. 

I caught up with family and friends last night via text messaging. My sister is in the middle of a house move (!) and will be living in rented accommodation for a few months while her husband renovates the new property. It's nearing completion so they are hoping it still goes ahead, even if it means they have to stay in rented accommodation until the crisis is over. She is keeping well but this is obviously additional stress on top of everything. Her youngest son, nephew M, is also in the process of a house sale and move (!) but I think is farther along in the process. They will be able to move in to their new house straight away which is just as well and they are expecting their first child in August - my sister told me although M said that they were delaying the announcement for a while longer so I think my sister jumped the gun a little. Life goes on doesn't it! Interestingly, both households are moving to my side of town but far enough away to still need to drive. M has offered to sort out any deliveries I may need ... he is confident he can find a hazmat suit from somewhere so will be able to deliver safely!

Julie is on her way home from India, a day early because her scheduled flight was cancelled so it sounds like she may be on one of the last international flights out of India. My friend L is due to travel back from Egypt tomorrow (I think) so am keeping my fingers crossed that she makes it home safely too. It'll be a relief when I hear that they are both home, safe and sound.

I tried to watch the Wind in the Willows musical last night but couldn't get it to work so will try again today. Here's the link to the free streaming if anyone is interested. I don't know if this is for the UK only but may be worth a try. I'll also watch the new series of Repair Shop on iPlayer - thanks to Lady Ella for reminding me about this.

WPSH - an update

The WPSH is supposed to finish at the end of this month but I have decided to give everyone an extra month so the new completion date is now April 30th 2020.

It's a very difficult time for everyone and most people will be staying at home as much as possible so I am adding some more alternatives to try to make it easier. Hopefully all of these can be taken in the safety of your own homes. 

I will do a link up at the end of March as usual but don't worry too much about it. Everyone has more important things on their minds at present so staying safe and preparing to stay at home is obviously the priority.

Alt C - the view from my front door

Alt D - three colours on one item

Alt E - I am reading

Alt F - the sky today

Alt G - free choice

Alt H - free choice

I hope this helps and look forward to seeing your photos. If this isn't enough alternatives, just substitute as many free choices as you need.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

The New Normal!

You'll be pleased to hear that the pity party is over and I'm feeling more upbeat today!

I still think the UK specific instructions are confusing. It was originally suggested that people in my category would be self-isolating for twelve weeks but now the advice is to be stringent about following the social distancing advice, which seems to suggest that you're not expected to stay indoors but just need to avoid situations with other people. I know that walking in open areas is fine for the majority but I am unsure of the specific advice for the over 70s and other vulnerable adults.

Anyway, I put my thinking cap on and, together with suggestions from some of you, have plenty of ideas for this abrupt lifestyle change. All of the clubs and associations I belong to have suspended all activities indefinitely so, with this in mind, I had a bit of a brainstorming session and have come up with the following list of ideas to keep myself occupied. I'll still try to stick to my normal routine, so chores will happen in the mornings, and I'm unlikely to get round to doing everything on the list, but it's good to have it in one place for future reference:

To replace the three key groups that are now suspended:
  • I've found a mahjong app which follows the same rules I've been taught, so I can keep on playing,
  • I have to complete the WPSH and then can set up a few mini photo projects for myself to replace the photography group,
  • M, the director of the choir, emailed to say that she's setting up online singing activities for us. I don't know the exact details yet but that will replace the Monday evening choir sessions.
and to keep myself amused:
  • I bought a selection of puzzle books to dip into as and when,
  • I have some jigsaw puzzles in the cupboard,
  • I can select a new piano piece or two to work on or can play any of my other instruments,
  • Regular calligraphy/zentangle practice,
  • I'm waiting for deliver of the wool to crochet a crocheted blanket,
  • borrow eMagazines from the library, 
  • I have plenty of books in the bookcase and on my Kindle,
  • Watch a YouTube tutorial on using Lightroom (my photo editing software),
  • virtual tours of museums and art galleries,
  • Netflix, 
  • Re-read the Harry Potter books or have a film fest, or both!!
  • download concerts.
I have three bigger projects I can focus on as the decluttering is now on the back burner:
  • the back garden, assuming I can order supplies online,
  • continue research on the family tree,
  • continue sorting and renaming my digital photo files
and I also need to review my 'When I'm Gone' folder. 

If I decide that it's okay to go out for walks, the National Trust has announced that they are allowing free access to all of their parks and gardens so that will provide safe photo opportunities if that's what I want.

In terms of self care, in particular my emotional well being, I can keep in touch with everyone via phone, text, Facebook, Skype, and of course the online blogging community. I've also decided to limit my exposure to the news reports. I will keep myself properly updated watching the Prime Minister's daily bulletin and by following the government website but will avoid the more sensational and often scaremongering newspaper articles. 

It all feels more doable today. We're all in the same boat and we're in it for the long haul and I'll do everything in my power to follow the government advice. As for tonight ... I'm off to the theatre! One of the London theatres has provided a free download of the Wind in the Willows musical, so I'm about to take my seat and lose myself in the adventures of Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Social Distancing

It's the speed at which the situation is escalating that's scary. Our ordinary lives are now on hold as we all do our best to follow the advice on how we are to live for the next few months. In the UK the advice currently takes the form of guidance for voluntary changes to lifestyle rather than enforced changes but the government is stressing the importance of everyone doing what they have been asked to do.

For me this means following the advice given to the over 70s and anyone with certain existing medical conditions. I naively thought I didn't fall within this group but was corrected when I spoke to the  surgery on Monday. So, along with my siblings who also fall in this group, I am following the guidance on social distancing. The need for social distancing applies to the entire population but the over 70s and vulnerable adults have been asked to be especially stringent in following the advice.

With this in mind I informed the parents that the teaching will finish immediately. They were all expecting this so it was easier than I expected, although one child was tearful about it. The choir and U3A groups are also affected by the call to reduce social contact so all will stop for the time being.  Both trips I'd booked for April have already been cancelled and my money refunded so the only things left in the diary are the three local history talks and I'm expecting those to be cancelled as well.

It seems strange to be in a situation where there is absolutely nothing in the diary except medical appointments which, as they are non urgent will most probably be cancelled as well. I know that we are all going through this together and we're all in the same boat but I admit that today affected me more than I thought it would.

I decided to do a final shopping trip, not for food as I have plenty in, but for some treats to help ease the isolation. I went to Sainsbury's where the sight of the empty shelves was shocking and the attitude of some shoppers extremely upsetting. I didn't stay long, just picked up the treats I want for the coming weeks, and came back home. 

I will have to put my thinking cap on to come up with a strategy for coping during the next few months. My immediate worry is sinking into depression - I've always made sure to have something in the diary to look forward to but that's not possible for the foreseeable future so I have to come up with some ideas.

I apologise. I've just read back over what I've written and it's all rather glum. I need to get my act together and I promise that tomorrow's post will be much cheerier. Take care x

Monday, 16 March 2020

Busy doing nothing with a bit of teaching thrown in the mix!

Today's thoughts about photographing daffodils have been vetoed by my body. I had a very bad night and am in the middle of a severe diverticulitis flare up. It's been grumbling along for a few days and I didn't think it would develop into a full blown episode but it has, undoubtedly due to stress over Lauren and the coronavirus situation in general. I've phoned the surgery for a prescription and that should be delivered tomorrow. It's not serious, just painful and rather exhausting.

Today's good news is that Lauren is fine and was allowed back to work today. Whatever it was, it definitely wasn't the coronavirus, and she thinks it may in part be down to anxiety about her family. Thankfully her sister is now home from France so she's feeling happier about that, and her mum will be traveling back from India on Friday. I think we'll all breathe a sigh of relief when she gets home!

I'm still doing the two lessons today. It should be three but one has cancelled again and, to be honest, that suits me fine. I don't know how much longer I will continue in light of the current situation but will speak to the parents today and warn them that I will be stopping at some stage. 

As for choir, I don't feel well enough to go tonight. M has emailed us to say that the weekly sessions will continue for now and I think I will still go, although that decision is fluid and dependent on the government advice. 

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...
  • Seeing photos of Ced I've never seen before, remembering happy times together.
  • Cakes at choir. Again!
  • Rediscovering the floor in the dining room. The decluttering is continuing and I can see that I'm making progress.
  • Kind critiques of my photos by other members of the U3A Photography Group

I am grateful for ...
  • being in a position to enjoy my retirement. I know this is not the case for everyone as a number of my friends have had to continue working past their retirement date.  
  • friends who make me laugh
  • the NHS approving renewal of repeat prescriptions online with delivery to my door via the postal system. It makes it so much easier!

Saturday, 14 March 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Saturday 14th March 2020


Outside my window ... the sun has changed it's mind and the earlier sunshine has faded into a drab dull day.

I am thinking ... about the coronavirus and how it will affect myself, my family and my friends. Two of my friends are currently abroad and not due to travel back for another week. One is in India and one in France but the situation is escalating so rapidly that I'm worried they may have difficulties travelling home as some countries have banned flights in and others, UK included, have cut the number of flights to and from these two countries. Let's hope I am worrying unnecessarily and they get back home with no problems. 

I am thankful ... for the change in the weather. It's getting warmer, the continuous rain has stopped and there is definitely a feeling of Spring in the air.

In the kitchen ... I've just cooked up a batch of butternut squash soup and there is a chicken casserole in the slow cooker.  

I am wearing ... red, black and white.

I am creating ... a list of things I can photograph that immediately say 'Spring'. So far, thanks to help from friends, I have come up with ... daffodils, spring flowers, dandelions, rabbits, chicks, lambs, hares, spring cleaning, maypole, sunshine, Easter things, and elderflowers. 

I am going ... to drive over to Woodborough Garden Centre to photograph their pick-your-own daffodil field. They only opened it to the public today so should still look spectacular ... it does start to look very sparse towards the end of the month so, weather permitting, I'll go on Monday.

I am wondering ... whether to stay away from the mahjong group, the photography group, and the choir until after this crisis is over. All of them are still running, though on the news today there was a suggestion that the UK will ban large gatherings next week. If that is the case the decision will be made for me but if not, I am still undecided. I also need to decide what to do about the teaching although they haven't closed the schools yet so I think this will be okay for now.

I am reading ... internet articles on simplifying life. The topic for this month in the Diversify Your Reading challenge is self-help - I've decided against reading an entire book and have settled for a variety of articles instead.

I am hoping ...  that my hospital appointment doesn't get cancelled. 

I am looking forward to ... warm, sunny days and being able to sit out on the patio.

I am learning ... to play mahjong, and thoroughly enjoying myself in the process.

Around the house ...  I've just about finished the spring cleaning and the house is looking nice and tidy. There's just the rest of the internal doors to wipe down and the inside will be finished with the exception of the dining room. The outside of the windows, guttering etc. still has to be done but I will get a window cleaner to do that for me. The dining room still has too many decluttered items stacked there to be able to use the table. I usually sell via a local site asking for cash on collection but don't really want strangers coming to the house at present, so I need to move everything possible to eBay and be prepared to post things. If that works I will just be left with the doll's house which will be difficult to package safely, so will have to wait for now.

I am pondering ...the changes I need to make to my daily routine now I have added in all of the recent groups I've joined. On some days I now don't have the time to do any chores etc in the morning so I need to work out how to tweak what I've been doing so the housework still gets done regularly. I've already moved updating my blog to late afternoon/evening and will try it for a few weeks to see how it works for me.

One of my favourite things ... the 'pop' when you open a new jar of coffee!

A few plans for the rest of the week ... a quiet weekend (probably watching films on Netflix, photos at Woodborough, teaching and choir on Monday, mahjong and teaching on Tuesday, no plans at all for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

A peek into my day ... a morning in the kitchen cooking, an afternoon catching up with friends via text and Skype, and an evening watching films.

A favourite quote for today ... "Kindness should become the natural way of life, not the exception", Buddha