Sunday, 31 January 2021

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • learning that I don't have diabetes at present and have time to resolve the problem through diet and exercise 
  • celebrating the birth of a friend's grandson
  • chats with friends and family
  • receiving a bag full of books from my sister
  • receiving the latest photos of Baby P. She's just had her first birthday and she is gorgeous!
  • finding lots of new-to-me meat free recipes which I'll enjoy trying out even if I don't get round to doing an entire month of them
  • loving the latest selection of songs we're working on at choir
  • regaining that lovely feeling of contentment
  • random acts of kindness to and from family and friends
  • actually losing some weight!
  • hearing (video call) Misses C and H playing a couple of tunes they'd taught themselves to play on the keyboard 

I am grateful ...
  • that so much information is available at the press of a button
  • that my car started first time (I keep forgetting to let the engine run!)
  • to all the workers who have directly impacted on my life during lockdown - GP, surgery staff, postal workers, couriers, police, gardener, deliver drivers, online suppliers, garage staff, legal departments + all the others I have missed out

Lifestyle Changes
  • Exercise (30 mins minimum every day): achieved 30 minutes every day
  • Weight: 2 lbs loss 😁😁

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Saturday

The medical things went smoothly yesterday. I was in and out in under five minutes for the blood test so was back home in the warm in no time at all. The Diabetes Prevention initial assessment lasted forty five minutes and was a general chat about my current lifestyle with a final questionnaire to assess how I felt about the changes I will need to make to my lifestyle. I didn't actually learn much about the course itself, only that it's online and it is a group session with one leader working with a minimum of eight participants and a maximum of twenty five participants. My first session is on Monday when I'll know the size group I'm in - I'm hoping it's one of the smaller ones.

I gave up on the Harry Potter quiz last night. There were lots of technical problems and I waited for about forty five minutes but then decided to cut my losses. I paid for a ticket but it was only £2.99 so I'm not worried about the money and won't ask for a refund. I'm just a bit disappointed as I was so looking forward to it. It should be available on her site to view during the week but that obviously depends on whether she managed to sort of the problems.

I received an email from the company I used to work for asking if I would like to resume teaching, this time providing online lessons. The changes they plan to make to keep things going during the pandemic are tempting and will probably provide a much better income as you're not restricted to pupils in your local area, but I declined the offer. I'm enjoying my retirement, but was nice to be asked.

I need to do a bit of work on the family tree at some time today. I have a session booked tomorrow with one of the professional researchers at RootsTech UK, which I'm hoping will give me some tips on tracing one specific ancestor through my DNA contacts. I need to sort out all the information relating to that person and then keep my fingers crossed that the session will help point me in the right direction.

Apart from that I'll just see what I fancy doing. I started watching The Midnight Sky on Netflix during the week, but only got about half way as I kept falling asleep, so I can watch the rest of that ... I definitely enjoyed the part I've seen. I'll do my daily Italian as well. I've found another Italian language podcast to listen to - '5 minute Italian' - which I'm finding useful but so far none of the potential conversation buddies has worked out. I'll keep trying though.

My exercise session for today will be the Bee Gee's Night Fever line dancing session:


I'm still trying to remember all the moves, but it makes me laugh so all is good! I'll make up the rest of my time with walking, probably indoors as the forecast isn't good.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Friday

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time looking for vegetarian recipes, including the recipes/chefs/sites that a couple of you suggested ... many thanks for the ideas. I also found an abundance of 4 week meal plans, a couple of which I'm using as my starting point. I will have to tweak them to remove dairy and avocado, and to include some of the 3-2-1 recipes but the basics are there to save on brain ache!

I watched another online talk in the afternoon. It was about Big Ben and was a virtual tour of the Elizabeth Tower with stopping points to see the inside of the dial and finally to see the huge bell. There was loads of history and interesting facts thrown in and I've added the tour to my ever growing list of things to see and do once we've knocked coronavirus into touch.

Today I have to have another blood test to check for Lyme disease. This is a 'be on the safe side' test: I had a tick bite back in July and removed it with no sign of any of the warning symptoms but now, seven months later, have developed the tell tale bullseye mark around where the bite was. My doctor is sure that the result will be negative for the disease as infected ticks are relatively rare in this area but it is unusual to get the warning sign after such a long delay. If it does turn out to be positive the treatment will be a course of antibiotics.

This afternoon I am expecting a phone call from the Diabetes Prevention Programme for an initial assessment prior to the course starting on Monday. I don't know how long it will take so haven't given any thought to keeping myself entertained beyond catching up with some reading. I have some draft documents to finish reading through for my friend and then I'll carry on with my current read.

This evening it's the Harry Potter quiz, obviously the highlight of the day!

Today's exercise is to join in with another new online exercise class, this one includes a variety of seated and standing exercises and is described as beginners level, so it should be fine.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Thursday

I'll start by apologising for not responding to your comments yesterday. I did read them all but yesterday turned out to be much busier than planned and I ran out of time. Sorry.

The morning's cooking session resulted in four fishy freezer meals and enough chicken for three meals, tray bake last night and the rest of the chicken to be used today and tomorrow. The Italian cooking session turned out to be disappointing from my point of view. My primary reason for watching is to learn the language but that's not the focus of the sessions - the presenter briefly mentions the Italian word if she remembers, more as an afterthought so I doubt I will bother to watch any future sessions.

My sister messaged to ask if I wanted any more books so I phoned to say yes and have a quick chat. Ninety minutes later I got off the phone - she can talk for England! - and was debating what to do next when the door bell rang and it was her husband delivering the books. I couldn't ask for better service! Now I've moved some of my local history books to the bookcase I don't have as much room for novels so will need to find space for them in the music room once their quarantine period is over.

Today I want to print out some recipes. I'd like at some stage to try a few weeks (a month?) of vegetarian eating so I will need to work out a meal plan for that. It won't happen until I've eaten up the home cooked meat/fish meals currently in the freezer so I have plenty of time to work it all out. I'd also like to retry some of the veggies I think I don't like and there are some that, as far as I can remember, I have never tried. I know my tastes have changed over the years so I'll be interested to see what I think of my 'don't likes' now. If any of you have favourite tried and tested vegetarian recipes, I'd love some suggestions please ... just no avocado (makes my tongue swell and my throat close up) and not too heavy on the garlic.

I've successfully completed the first 3 days of the 100 days exercise challenge. Today will be a seated session for seniors.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Wednesday

I fancy cooking up some more meals today. I moved things between freezers yesterday and found some fish and some chicken that could really do with using up so that's this morning taken care of. I don't know what I'll end up making until I've had a look to see what else I have in the cupboards.

This afternoon it's the next Cooking with Italian session. It's shellfish recipes today which I doubt I will ever make myself, but I'm tuning in for the Italian language tips so hopefully there will be more of that this time.

Today's exercise will probably have to be indoors again as the forecast is for rain. I've chosen line dancing (for about 20 minutes) and will make up the time with an arm toning session using weights.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Tuesday

I delayed writing this post until after I'd spoken to my doctor and I'm glad I did because I feel much more positive now. The blood test results show that I am currently in the grey area between being okay and actually having diabetes. Although this is often referred to as prediabetes, he think that terminology suggests an inevitable progression to diabetes and that's not the case. He assured me that there is every chance I can change the results through diet and exercise. Even if it does progress to diabetes it will be an age related thing and may not even require any medication.

We discussed my options and he's asked me to complete the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which I've already booked myself on from the information in the original letter. I've received confirmation that I have a place on a course which starts next week. It's a nine month course, run fortnightly initially but changing to monthly after the first two months, ending with a one-to-one meeting. This is usually an in person course but because of Covid will take place online, which suits me better to be honest. This course starts with dietary information so I won't make any major changes just yet.

Looking online, the latest advice from the NHS and Diabetes UK seems to be that no foodstuff is banned, but obviously it's important to make good choices so I've been looking through my meal plan, changing things round and making tweaks where necessary. I want to make some changes anyway to include more vegetarian meals and to look at whether I am making the best choices for weight loss. I think I have found a veggie supplier who delivers locally and where I can choose exactly what I want rather than buying the weekly selection. I'll sort out an order later today, just to see what the quality is like. I also had a very kind offer from Joy to either share a veggie box or add to her shopping order if there was anything I needed.

As well as the food side of things I also need to establish a decent exercise routine so to help me with that I am joining the other Joy in a 100 days exercise challenge - only specific exercise activity counts, so I can't count any housework as exercise! My aim is to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes every day. Yesterday I did a 15 minute walk indoors and most of a 1 hour online strengthening class for seniors. Today I've already done a 15 minutes walk indoors and will do 15 minutes on the exercise bike later on.

So, it's up to me now and I can't see any reason why I can't turn this around. I have to book a blood test in July so see how things are progressing so I'm hoping that the next six months will show a significant change in the right direction.

Monday, 25 January 2021

Me on Monday

Me on Monday is researching and reviewing all things health, food and exercise related ...

... researching the current advice on food from a health point of view and deciding what changes I need to make. As well as dealing with the potential diabetes issue I also need to ensure that any changes I implement do not aggravate the diverticulitis nor result in more frequent migraines or increase the severity of the ones I do get. 

... reviewing my existing meal plan and making changes as necessary. From a diabetes point of view there are some small changes that I must do but on the whole, my food choices follow the advice on the NHS and Diabetes UK sites which is a relief because I am already restricted on what I can eat because of allergies. However, from a weight loss point of view I do need to make changes. Portion sizes have crept up again so I need to start weighing things properly again.

... recording my day, starting a detailed food and health diary again. This will not only help me but will also provide information to show the doctor and/or the diabetes nurse at the surgery.

... creating, and hopefully sticking to, an exercise plan. Actually calling it a 'plan' is a bit OTT but I have given myself a stern talking to and will be resuming an approach that was successful for a while in the past. I'm aiming for 30 minutes per day minimum (but it doesn't have to be completed in one session) and for each day I have listed suggested activities, so today I have the choice of an online strengthening class (40mins), walking (15 mins), exercise bike (15 mins), or steps (15 mins) ... it doesn't matter which I choose but I have to do 30 minutes minimum over the course of the day. If I have some stickers left from my teaching days I may even make myself a star chart 😂

... looking after my emotional health, adding a selection of activities to the diary. I'm finding this lockdown harder than the first one so having a few things to look forward to can only help. This week there's choir tonight, a cooking demo on Wednesday, a talk on Big Ben on Thursday, and a Harry Potter quiz on Friday. 

... feeling positive that these changes will be successful and that the desired outcomes are waiting in the near future for me to grab!

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • taking part in an online escape game
  • finding some more online activities to try out
  • conversations with friends and family
  • a snail mail letter from an old school friend announcing the arrival of her latest grandchild
  • a week free from migraines!
  • that my pushy neighbour seems to have taken the hint and is leaving me alone (I hope I'm not tempting fate by mentioning this!)
  • sorting out my will
  • enjoying a couple of sunny days
  • booking a freebie slot with a professional genealogist at RootsTech 2021, thankfully online this year
  • finding a couple of new-to-me resources to support my attempts to learn Italian, and 
  • linking up with a native Italian speaker to practice my conversation skills and also support her attempts to learn English

I am grateful ...
  • that any potential problems with diabetes has been detected early, and
  • for easy access to the internet allowing me to research the best ways to improve my health and hopefully reverse the latest diagnosis
  • for the offers of support from friends  (especially Joy) and my close family
  • for a warm and cosy home

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise: {avoids eye contact, watches the tumbleweed instead}
  • Weight: weigh day will be Saturdays. I have my starting weight which isn't as bad as I was expecting. It's still horrendous and there is a long way to go, but it could be worse ... trying to find a positive here! 

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Saturday

Yesterday's post brought both good and not so good news. The good news was a long letter from an old school friend announcing the birth of her new grandson; I think he's her ninth grandchild but he's the only child of her youngest daughter who suffered numerous miscarriages and was close to accepting that she'd never have children, so his safe arrival is brilliant news. 

The not so good news was a letter from my doctor asking me to book a telephone consultation to discuss the results of my recent blood tests. I phoned for an appointment but there are none available so I have to try again next week! Enclosed with the letter there was a leaflet about the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme so I am assuming that is what the consultation is about. I regularly test as being borderline but treatment has never been suggested so I am assuming this is either their new recommended approach or my results are causing more concern that previously. The Prevention Programme offers free attendance at one of their online Healthier You courses so I have requested a slot and am waiting for confirmation of the date and time. 

I know the suggested self help will be lose weight and exercise so I may as well make a start. My third piece of post will help with this - I'd treated myself to a new cook book, Doctor's Kitchen 3-2-1 by Dr Rupy Aujla, after seeing several of his recipes on YouTube and want to include some of his recipes in my meal plan. The 3-2-1 refers to the recipes themselves - each serving contains 3 portions of veg/fruit, each recipe is enough for 2 servings, and each recipe is cooked in 1 pan. Before I knew about this health issue I was thinking that, if I could work out how to keep a supply of fresh veg without going in to any of the shops in town, I'd move to having a veggie recipe from this book every day for lunch. Lots of the recipes are spicy which appeals to me and, if I only wanted a single portion I think the majority of ingredient quantities can be halved easily or I can eat leftovers the next day. 

Now it's become so much more important, managing the shopping side of things, together with exercise and weight loss has to be my next project/focus. I will probably need another supermarket delivery to restock some time in February so the first thing is to take another look at my meal plan and make any necessary changes. I will look at buying vegetables either from the farm shop in Winsley or Atworth as I think both allow you to make your own selection rather than buying a pre-chosen box of veg. I will phone both places later today to check but if not, I will have to rethink. As for exercise, I need to get a regular routine going but do need to speak to my doctor before I do anything too strenuous as my left knee is now permanently swollen and painful. As for weight loss, I'll follow the Slimming World principles but calorie count alongside that as I've had the most success in the past with calorie counting. First weigh in is tomorrow morning ... just as well my new bathroom scales are here!

Friday, 22 January 2021

Friday

Well I had a go at the tai chi yesterday but had to give up - it was impossible to follow what the instructor was doing as the screen kept freezing. I tried logging out and logging back in but it didn't make any difference so there's still a question mark over tai chi as a potential new form of exercise. I'll try again next week.

The rest of the day was taken up with phone calls. As well as the ones I'd arranged I also heard from several other friends with plans for various online meetups and I now have plenty in the diary to look forward to.  I know I sound like an ungrateful brat, but I do hope today is much quieter!

I signed up for a language learning site in the hope that I can link up with someone who is fluent in Italian and is learning English. The aim is to have a weekly Zoom meeting so we can both reinforce what we've learned so far and have to opportunity to practice speaking with someone who can correct pronunciation and provide guidance. I contacted a couple of people so am waiting on their responses.

There's nothing I have to do today so I can please myself. So, some reading definitely and also some work on the family tree, and possibly choose some new music to start working on. 

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Thursday

Yesterday turned out to be a very interesting day filled with pleasant activities, some planned, some unplanned. I'll start with the cooking demonstration. 

This was a free online Zoom session organised by Care Visions Healthy Ageing. The demo was advertised as cooking with Italian where the demonstrator would introduce the Italian words and phrases for the ingredients used in the recipes, which was my main reason for signing up for it. As it turned out, although she was very chatty, there was very little emphasis on the Italian language side of things so that was a little disappointing. To start with I wasn't impressed as the camera set up meant that you could only see her but none of the actual preparation of ingredients or the cooking was visible but it seems that one of her cameras wasn't working properly and when that was resolved, about 15 minutes before the end, it was much better and the preparation and cooking area could be seen. The recipes were emailed when I signed up for the session but her approach was very much along the lines of the recipe being a guideline and to substitute and add/omit ingredients to suit your own tastes. She mentioned weights occasionally but her own approach was cooking by eye (the way my Mum taught me) and I liked her style. I will try her next session next week and from that, decide whether I want to continue with the live sessions - the benefit of the live session is that you have the opportunity to ask questions. It looks like it is recorded and the videos are then made available on their YouTube channel. 

Their YouTube channel has some interesting videos of their weekly sessions - quiz, singing, book club, dance, tai chi + many others. So far I have signed up for another cooking with Italian one and will attempt tai chi tomorrow morning!

I got myself mixed up with the starting time of the cookery demo and originally thought I'd watch that that and then watch the US Presidential Inauguration but they both started at the same time so I missed the first hour of the  programme. I switched over just in time to watch Lady Gaga sing the National Anthem and so saw them take their oaths and heard Biden's speech and watched until the end of the UK coverage.

The morning post brought a letter from the Office of National Statistics advising that my address was one of the half a million selected for inclusion in a study. I'm so excited about this because I never get chosen for this sort of thing, so this is a first. Anyway, I've followed their instructions and registered on their website so now have to wait for them to contact me. The study will be carried out via a phone call rather than the face-to-face meeting that would usually happen and for my troubles a £10 gift voucher was included in the envelope, which was a lovely surprise.

I had a phone call from friend E in the evening arranging for our usual group to link up and solve an online escape room mystery. We solved it with about two , remaining on the clock and it was good fun, although we've all agreed that we need to be better organised as a group for the next one. This was a spur of the moment thing organised by E because she was bored (!) but we've agreed that we'll schedule the next one - I should get an email about it later this week. It's obviously not as good as a real life in person escape room but it was a good alternative and it's something else to look forward to.

On to today ... we're promised a sunny day so, if that's correct, I want to get out for some fresh air, but before that can happen I have booked myself on to one of the Tai Chi sessions. It starts at 9:30am and as I type this, I'm not sure that I have the energy to do it ... in good hobbit style, the thought of a second breakfast is more appealing! Joking aside, I'm not sure how safe I will be as my knee is more painful than it has been for months so weight bearing is dodgy and my balance is compromised. I need to see the doctor about it but want to wait until I have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

I have video calls arranged with friend J (this afternoon) and L (this evening), and I also want to catch up with my sister if she has the time - her focus is on unpacking and settling in their new home, so it depends on what she has planned. In between all that I think I'll carry on with the family tree research ... that should keep me out of mischief!

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Wednesday

I don't really have much to say for myself today so this will be a very short post. I'm looking forward to another quiet day, spent indoors as the weather is dire. I think it'll be a pottering, doing whatever grabs my attention sort of morning and this afternoon I'm 'going' to a Zoom Italian cookery demo which, as well as the cooking will also focus on useful Italian words and phrases to do with foods. I'll also watch the US Presidential Inauguration though I may miss the start if the cooking demo runs over.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Tuesday

Yesterday was almost entirely taken up with sorting out my will. In the end, it wasn't quite as straightforward as I thought it would be but the solicitor provided clear and easy to understand advice on the revised tax implications/probate and helped me future proof my wishes as much as is possible. The Zoom meeting lasted for almost three hours instead of the one hour I was expecting but I'm pleased with how the consultation went and am confident that the document will reflect my wishes. I'll receive it for signature within 28 days, so that'll be one less thing to worry about.

I had already set up a power of attorney but it isn't easy to cover all the bases and I discussed this briefly with him as it's a service they also offer. I know it's something I can do for myself online using the government website to keep the costs down but I think it'll be worth paying for it to be done properly as the instructions in the document have the potential to impact on my quality of life in the future. Just this brief chat made me realise that mine needs updating to clarify some of my wishes so he's sending me the details of their charges and I can decide what I want to do.

I now have brain ache and have decided that I've done enough grown up stuff to last the week so I'm reverting to my child brain, i.e. my normal brain, and am looking forward to a leisurely week of pottering and fun things. Today's fun things include flute or clarinet, reading, sudoku online, and some more family tree research.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Me on Monday

Me on Monday is ... 

... feeling relaxed after a quiet weekend. I didn't do much, just a couple of odd jobs around the house, chats with friends, and some reading but mostly sleeping! 

... ready and waiting for today's Zoom meeting with a solicitor to update my will. I put everything I need in a pile yesterday so I don't have a last minute panic - it did cross my mind that it was a bit like the old days of getting my bags ready for the next day at school! 

... enjoying some of the latest offerings on TV. I watched the new series of Dancing on Ice, Would I Lie To You, and The Great Pottery Throw Down over the weekend but I need to watch The Landscape Artist of the Year on catch up before the second episode on Wednesday.

... wondering whether I need to replace my printer. Yesterday I printed out all the music for tonight's choir session and that was all fine, but when I printed out the draft of my will there were huge chunks of the text missing. I don't think it's to do with cleaning the heads as the missing text is the start of most of the paragraphs; it's completely missing, not fuzzy or smudged, and where it has printed the text is crisp and easy to read. I've checked the document and I haven't accidently marked some of the text as hidden so I will need to do some investigating later on.

... aiming for a fairly quiet week. I have other projects on my 2021 to-do list but don't feel the need to rush to get them done. Before the end of the month I want to take a look at the meal planning for February but I have plenty of time before I need to place my next food order.

... excited to have a few things in the diary now I've signed up for some free online courses. The first is on Wednesday and is a combination of cooking and learning the Italian language, where you watch a couple of recipes being cooked and at the same time learn Italian phrases to do with food and ordering in a cafe or restaurant. It wasn't clear on the level of Italian required so am hoping it is suitable for beginners! The recipes for this first session are Mediterranean Lentil Salad and Mediterranean Chicken Kebabs with Garlic Yoghurt Sauce.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • a long chat with T and S, my friendly neighbours
  • a delivery of parcels from Argos, to replace the broken bathroom scales and a non-stick frying pan that had forgotten how to be non-stick
  • a walk to the marina to take some photos for my monthly photo challenge
  • completing the admin reorganisation and the first big task to be ticked off the 2021 to-do list
  • enjoying the new series of The Great Pottery Throw Down, and Would I Lie To You, and ...
  • looking forward to the new series of Dancing on Ice which starts this evening
  • phone calls and Zoom meets with friends
  • even more bulbs peeping through the soil 😁

I am grateful ...
  • that my blood pressure and blood tests have been done, only eight weeks later than originally due. 
  • for the support of family and friends
  • for a well maintained car (all thanks to T and D) so I can avoid using public transport

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise: {coughs} I'm trying! I've attempted some form of exercise most days but it's a struggle
  • Practicing self-compassion: achieved

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Changing Things Round

Yesterday turned out of be a lovely day. I only did my usual daily activities but I changed the order I did them in and it made all the difference. I like to have a structure to my day. It suits me and has played a big part in helping me cope with the isolation of lockdown but instead of being a loose framework to enhance the rhythm of the day, lately I've been aware that this seems to have evolved into a rigid timetable which isn't what I want at all. So yesterday I decided to ring the changes and see how I felt about it. I was pleased with how I responded to the changes, feeling more relaxed and generally enjoying each chosen activity ... being more 'in the moment' definitely has its plusses!

I usually start the day with knee strengthening followed by whatever exercise I decide on for the day, followed by breakfast but yesterday I started with breakfast ... soft boiled egg with toast soldiers and an apple to finish. I'm trying to focus and enjoy each activity I choose to do, so breakfast was a much more relaxed affair than it has been lately and I even made the time to lay the table, something I haven't bothered with for ages. 

It was cold but dry, so I opened up the windows and French doors to give the house a good airing while I prepared the vegetables for my main meal and cleared the table. As I closed each window I wiped the windowsill to save having to do it next week. Doing it this way didn't seem to take any time at all but it always feels like a big job when it's on the to-do list for some reason! I'd normally do my Italian and piano practices next but instead took advantage of the lack of rain and went for a walk around the marina. I took a load of phone photos for my monthly challenge and one for the WPSH so won't include them here. This is the only one that wasn't for one of the challenges so, although it's not a particularly good photo, I do like the light and will attempt some better ones with my DSLR.


I should have wrapped up warmer but despite feeling chilled I did enjoy the walk. I was out for about 40 minutes so in the end I exercised for longer than I would have done at home. I was expecting it to be busy as it's the first dry day for a while but it was surprisingly quiet ... I only saw three other people, all walking on their own and all too far away to be of concern about maintaining social distancing.

I had a mug of steaming hot coffee to warm me through when I got home and enjoyed that while I checked my emails, and then tackled the last bit of filing and shredding, started a load of washing, and cooked my main meal ... roast chicken, roast potatoes and carrots, with sprouts, runner beans and the last bit of cauliflower. I didn't think the veg was going to last until Sunday hence a roast dinner on a Friday. While that was cooking I did my knee exercises, Italian practice, and booked myself on some more freebie online activities ... more about those another day.

By the time I'd eaten and cleared away it was still only mid afternoon so I made camp in the living room and whiled away the rest of the day reading and playing online puzzle games. I didn't tackle the piano practice until the evening which was a bit of a mistake on my part ... it didn't go too well so it's something I need to do earlier in the day while I still have one or two brain cells capable of functioning properly and before my hands get too painful.

I watched some TV - A Question of Sport and Would I Lie To You - then a soak in the bath, a bit more reading, an an early-ish night. Sleep is proving to be rather elusive again and I'm often still wide awake into the early hours but I am sticking to my bedtime routine. I'm thinking of it in terms of 'going to bed' rather than 'going to sleep' and count the lying in bed part as a form of relaxation.

Today I want to tackle various odd jobs around the house and, if the promised rain holds off, take some photos in the garden. There'll be a flying visit from R and a Zoom meeting with friends to look forward to and I also have the pleasant task of choosing my next book to read. 

Friday, 15 January 2021

Friday

The medical tests were over and done with really quickly yesterday. I was a little anxious about people maintaining the correct distancing in the waiting room but there was no need to worry at all as the public area has has a complete overhaul. As well as the screens on the reception desk, the fitted seating in the waiting room, which previously could seat about 60 people, has been removed and there were 15 chairs spread out in the room. The entrance door is locked and you now have to use an intercom to gain access, appointment only, and if you arrive too early there are seats outside to wait ... very strict! When you're allowed in, they take your temperature, log your attendance for track and trace, and provide sanitiser to use before you can go into the waiting room. They provide masks for anyone who arrives without one. I only had to wait for a few minutes before being called to the treatment room, so it all felt a lot safer than I was expecting. 

From the time I left home to the time I arrived back it poured down so there was no chance of a walk. I haven't been too lucky with the weather this week. I took the long route home just to give the car a run out so I had the change of scene I wanted. It cheered me up anyway. The rain stopped not long after I got home!

I made a start on the paperwork once I'd had a coffee and sorted through the last lot. I still have to do the shredding and filing, and make up a parcel of the documents and items I want to return to his family, but I'm almost at the finishing line. 

The talk on poisons in Victorian medicines was just under an hour long and gave an amusing overview of the ingredients used back in the day when health and safety legislation was non existent - so cocaine, heroin, opium, you name it and it was in some form of medication easily available to anyone who wanted it! 

On to today and my diary is empty. I have no firm plans for what I'll do with myself once I've filed the last bits of paperwork and finished off the shredding, which will take about 30 minutes max. I have the rest of the day to fill so Italian practice and exercise, then maybe some reading, piano playing, watch a film, phone calls with friends ... a pottering sort of day!

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Thursday

I have to brave the outside world this morning. I have an appointment for blood tests and blood pressure check, so can't avoid going to the surgery.  I've been lucky enough to have had telephone/online consultations with my GP since the first lockdown so at least once these test results are back, and assuming they are okay, this should be the only time I have to visit the surgery for another year. 

I don't need any food so will resist the temptation to visit any shops while I'm in town but, weather permitting, will take the opportunity to walk around the town park for a change of scene ... and maybe take some photos if it's reasonably quiet.

This afternoon I plan to finish sorting through the paperwork. I want to get it out of the way today; I've looked through everything so nothing will come as a shock. It was the documents with photo ID which threw me yesterday as I'd completely forgotten they were there.

The rest of my time will be filled with my nose in a book - still The Binding as I got a little sidetracked yesterday and listened to the audiobook of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I found it for free on BBC Sounds, only available for another four days so I took the opportunity to listen to it while I had the time. There are plenty of other audiobooks on this site, all free, so will go back to have a good look at some stage.

This evening I have a ticket to an online talk on the poisons that were found in Victorian medicines. It's another freebie!

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

A Day Off!

I'm giving myself a day off from the paperwork reorganisation. I've nearly finished but looking through what remains of my late partner's documents was rather more emotionally draining than I was expecting and I want a break before I carry on. 

I'm keen to carry on with my book, The Binding by Bridget Collins. I'm loving it and it's the first page turner I've read for ages, so that'll be my day ... read, eat, drink coffee, repeat!

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Tuesday

Yesterday was mostly taken up with working out how I was going to get my will updated. The two local firms I originally contacted must all be working from home and although one firm issued an automated acknowledgement of my enquiry, I haven't heard anything else at all after waiting a week. Considering the circumstances I want to get this finished sooner rather than later so spent the morning phoning around and have arranged a Zoom meeting with a solicitor in Bradford on Avon for next Monday to get the process started. 

That was about all I did yesterday. It was too wet to think about walking to the marina so I spent the rest of the day sleeping or reading. I regretted it last night as I wasn't tired enough for sleep ... today is going to be an exercise in staying awake!

This morning is set aside to carry on with the paperwork. I'm now down to two smallish piles; one that's my paperwork and one belonging to my late partner. I'll tackle his documents today - probably most of it can be shredded and any important items can be returned to his brother. 

I'll be chatting with J later this afternoon, which I'm looking forward to, and this evening I may join in with a choir practice. I missed yesterday's in the end but have the option of joining the Bath session tonight - they are learning the same songs but as I write this, I'm not sure what I'll do. I may just forget it for this week and wait until next Monday.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Me on Monday

Me on Monday is ...

... feeling relaxed after a quiet weekend. I made some batches of soup for the freezer and carried on with the shredding but most of my time was spent reading. 

... feeling more at ease about the pushy neighbour issue after speaking to T and S, my friendly neighbours. It seems they have been on the receiving end of her behaviour themselves so understood how I felt and assured me that it will eventually stop. S reminded me that he's only a phone call away if I need help at any time.

... taking great pleasure in the return of my reading mojo. I've read four books so far this year and have just started my fifth, The Binding by Bridget Collins. This is my choice for this month's Diversify Your Reading Challenge. The January genre is Literary Fiction and a Google search for books in that genre included three of the books I have in my bookcase so I will try to read all three this month. They are The Binding, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

... taking some photos for my monthly photo challenge  over at the marina. If it's relatively people free I'll walk along the towpath as well, which can count as my daily exercise.

... continuing to organise the paperwork. Today I want to focus on updating my 'When I've Gone' folder and chase up the solicitors for their charges to update my will. I've divided the remaining tasks into workable chunks so, as long as I do an hour or so a day, will complete everything by the end of the week.

... looking forward to a leisurely afternoon reading, playing the piano, and some family tree research, followed by choir practice this evening.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • a supermarket delivery meaning the cupboards and freezer are full and I don't need to fret about food for the next few weeks.
  • arranging an appointment for my annual blood tests, only 8 weeks later than when they were due. Assuming the results are favourable all my repeat prescriptions will be renewed.
  • a long phone call with J
  • managing some short walks out in the fresh air
  • getting to grips with all the paperwork in the house. I haven't finished organising it yet but feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders already.
  • enjoying a text conversation with my nephew on his birthday.
  • the news that Lauren, who was notified by the Track & Trace team that she had to self isolate, has remained virus free and has returned to work.
  • lots of bulbs peeping through the soil bringing their promise of a colourful spring.

I am grateful ...
  • for central heating!
  • to the workmen who resolved whatever the problem was that lead to the power cuts.
  • efficient admin processes and helpful staff at my GP surgery
  • Dr Campbell's videos on YouTube, providing easy to understand and non-political information and updates on the pandemic.

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise: umm ... sort of achieved, though very half-heartedly and not enjoyed at all this week!
  • Practicing self-compassion: achieved

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Saturday

Yesterday did not go well! In addition to the planned lack of internet there were also several unexpected power cuts, so I didn't get much done. I finished sorting the paperwork but with no electricity couldn't start the shredding which I may be secretly pleased about because I really wasn't in the mood for that! My supermarket delivery turned up early (only two sensible substitutions, so that was good) but having the front door open to carry all the bags inside let what little warm air there was escape from the house. Once I'd put all the shopping away I was chilled through, the house was cold and no power meant no heating, so I found an extra blanket to snuggle under and settled down for some serious reading time!

I did have the gumption to switch the light on to know when the power returned so I was able to have hot drinks. It's the sort of situation when I would normally have filled a thermos flask but I broke my only one last year and haven't replaced it yet. Serves me right, but guess what I will be ordering today!

Everything is back to normal today so I'll be on kitchen duties this morning, cooking up some batches of soups. I'll keep some in the fridge for lunches and the rest will be frozen in portions to use as and when. 

After listening to the news last night I am changing my plans for today's walk. I was thinking about driving over to Westbury to walk along the top of the White Horse, about 3½ miles away to kill two birds with one stone by also giving the car a run out, but there was a report about two women who were stopped by the police and fined for driving five miles to get to where they planned to walk. It seems that in this lockdown all exercise must be taken close to home. Luckily there are plenty of good walking opportunities around the village so I will head in the opposite direction to the more popular walks and see if I can find a way of accessing the fields beyond the racing stables.

I may do some of the shredding today but there's no rush to finish it, so it's more likely that I'll keep myself amused with Italian practice, piano, and reading. I don't know how the stay at home rules impact on going out to take some photos as part of my walk so will need to investigate before I take my camera out. Would that count as a leisure activity? It's clear on the government website that outdoor time is for the purpose of exercise only.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Friday

Yesterday was taken up with paperwork, reading and quite a few naps. It was foggy first thing so I chose to wait for it to clear before braving a short walk but it actually stayed around all day. I did some knee exercises and steps at home instead.

I'm carrying on with the paperwork today. My original intention was simply to deal with the backlog of filing and update my will, etc., but I've ended up doing a complete clear out. I've been keeping too much stuff for much longer than needed so I am being completely ruthless and the majority of it is going. So far I have reduced four shelves worth of packed folders to four box files, which only take up half a shelf. I haven't finished the sorting yet but I think there is room in the four box files for whatever else I decide to keep. This has created a paper mountain that, annoyingly, now needs to be shredded - my least favourite job of all times and I can't even borrow my great nieces to do it for me!

I'm expecting a supermarket delivery some time between 11am and 3pm. I booked this back in December, when slots were available, with the intention of picking a later date nearer the time but with the lockdown announcement I've decided to take delivery sooner rather than later. Once it's here I will have plenty of food to keep me going and won't need to fret about that side of things for a while. Assuming everything is delivered I'll be cooking up a few batches of soup, and some portions of chicken curry for the freezer over the weekend. 

I'm hoping to take part in an online quiz tonight but it will depend on whether the broadband is up and working properly - I've been notified of a planned downtime due to essential maintenance and will be without Internet from 9am to 7pm, so it all depends on whether they finish on time .... fingers crossed.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Thursday

Yesterday turned out to be a very productive day in the end. I went out for a walk first thing but it was colder than I expected so I didn't stay out for long. It did revive my spirits though, so after a breakfast of bacon sandwiches, I faced up to tackling one of the bigger jobs on my to-do list.

This was all to do with admin. I have drafted an update to my will and contacted a couple of local solicitors to see how much they will charge to complete that. I've also almost finished the initial draft of my living will and power of attorney thingy; I now need to chat through with my nephew and his wife and once I'm sure that they are happy with it, I will be able to send it off and get it registered. I made a start on sorting through the rest of my paperwork, which I've got behind with again(!), and will continue with it today. I'm going to have to get used to checking it every month as it's surprising how quickly the information in my 'When I've Gone' folder gets out of date.

I checked the website for the auction house I want to use as getting that stuff out of the house will make a huge difference - it's all currently in the music room and I want the space again. Unfortunately the place is closed for isolation as over half of their staff were off with coronavirus but are due to reopen this week, not that I'll be in any rush to get over there after learning that. I don't know how the lockdown will affect them but, if they are still permitted to operate, I am hoping to either arrange for them to collect from me or for me to arrange for the items to be delivered to them.    

As for today, I'll do some of the Italian coursework and then carry on sorting the paperwork. I'm also hoping to speak to my sister at some stage. Apart from that I will have my nose in a book to forget about the real world for a while. My latest choice is Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Wednesday

The lurgy, whatever it is, is still hanging about but I'm feeling much better than I did. I think some fresh air will do me good so would like to get out for a walk first thing, assuming there's not too many people about. If too many people have the same idea I'll stay in my garden instead.

I don't know how I feel about the lockdown. I am relieved that the schools will be closed as that affects my great nieces and nephews, although my nephew's wife is a teacher so will still have to work in her school with the vulnerable children and the children of key workers. One other niece is a key worker but all the rest of my family will be working from home. They are all sensible and we are as safe as anyone else but it all feels a bit desperate at the moment. Lack of confidence that the government truly knows what it's doing doesn't help!

I have a feeling that this lockdown will be the reading lockdown. I've read three books since the start of the year and will be choosing my fourth book today. It's the perfect time of year for snuggling up on the sofa with a comfort blanket and a mug of coffee and forgetting the cold outside.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Tuesday 4 - Just Wondering

These questions are repeated from December 2019 and are the final set of questions posted by Toni Taddeo, the originator of Tuesday 4. Annie, the new organiser, has re-posted them in remembrance of Toni.

1.   When was the last time you tried something new? I regulary try out new recipes, most recently was last month when I tried a new-to-me recipe for Lamb Rogan Josh. 

2.   Who in your family do you compare yourself to? I don't actively compare myself to anyone but, being one of non-identical twins, have grown up with the continual comparison to my twin sister by others outside of our immediate family. Within the family we were always encouraged to be ourselves, not one of a pair, so I've grown up having my own friendship group and interests that are the complete opposite of my sister's choices - I'm the musical one in a family of sport lovers. I've never fully understood why so many people throughout our lives have assumed that we share the same likes and dislikes just because we're twins, and I do sometimes get frustrated at their disbelief when they discover that's not the case. 

3.   What lesson in life did you learn the hard way? To be confident in my own choices and to recognise that other people don't necessarily have my best interests at heart in their 'advice'!

4.   What can you do today that you weren't able to do before? I can now speak some basic Italian. I started learning in August 2020 and have practiced for at least 15 minutes every day using a combination of the Duolingo app, an online conversation group, and a combination of text books and YouTube lessons. 

Many thanks to Annie for organising the Tuesday 4  questions every week.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Me on Monday

Me on Monday is ...

... feeling under the weather. I think it's the start of a cold or possibly an allergic reaction but it's taking its time deciding what it is and I'm getting fed up with it. It's been hanging around all weekend, just bad enough to feel unwell and lethargic and I'm tired out with the constant sneezing. You may have guessed that I'm feeling sorry for myself!

... relaxing as much as I can. I haven't slept much since Friday but there's nothing requiring my immediate attention so I will have as quiet a day as I can.

... currently reading Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves. This is the final one in her Shetland series and, as with all her other books, I'm enjoying it.

... slightly concerned that the neighbour issue isn't over. Yesterday there was a note through my door, this time asking if I wanted any shopping - this is a new thing that has never been offered before. My initial reaction was of anger but when I calmed down I thought that she probably sees it is a way of being helpful and it may be her way of testing the waters to see if I am still upset with her. I haven't replied yet but I will decline the offer as I have everything I need, and more, until my supermarket delivery next week, and I already have my family and friends for this sort of support if needed. She has ignored the fact that I have asked her to leave me alone so I'm not too happy with having yet more unwelcome attention to deal with. I don't like confrontation in any form and just want to be left alone.

... looking forward to choir practice tonight. We start learning a new selection of songs to take us up to Easter. This week we're looking at Penny Lane, Time of My Life, and The Way You Look Tonight - I do know all of them but not as the two-part arrangements we will be singing. Or rather, the others will be singing - I will be listening in between sneezes! It's just as well we are muted on Zoom!

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • a lovely Christmas Day 
  • making some decisions which I know will improve my life
  • plenty of good TV programmes and films to watch
  • the promised snowfall didn't happen in this area
  • chatting with friends and family
  • having a good supply of books, puzzles, CDs and films to keep me entertained
  • that a good friend has recovered from coronavirus and has left hospital (in Spain where he lives) to recuperate at home
  • the news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK
  • deciding on my One Little Word for 2021
  • updating my diary with the dates for the monthly photo a day link up, and a monthly meet (via Zoom) with friends 

I am grateful ...
  • for central heating and a safe home
  • that the government has responded to the increased infection rate - still too slow in their response but better now than waiting even longer
  • for all the free entertainment available online 

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise: a definite fail ... I'm blaming Christmas again!
  • Practicing self-compassion: achieved on most days, though not written down

Saturday, 2 January 2021

One Little Word

I've been reviewing my One Little Word (OLW) for 2020 and giving some thought to my word for 2021. 

My word for 2020 was 'simplify' ... well, that certainly happened though mostly from things out of my control. The coronavirus restrictions, and all the fears and anxiety it brought with it, certainly stripped life back to essentials - less than the essentials really with the lack of real contact with people - so I didn't achieve all that I wanted to with a focus on simplifying life. I did continue with the decluttering so know what still has to leave the house but now is not the time to finish that. I may revisit 'simplify' at some time in the future.

For 2021 I want to change direction. I think the coronavirus restrictions will be in place in one form or another for most of this year so I want a word that genuinely means something to me and which can be my focus, regardless of what restrictions are in place at any given time. I've eventually settled on 

enough
as much as, or more than, is wanted
as much as, or more than, is necessary
in a quantity or degree that answers a purpose

I have no intention of being too prescriptive or depriving myself in any way but do feel that I can improve several areas of life by determining what I define for myself as 'enough'. One example, and the thing I plan to focus on during January, is food, revisiting earlier decisions/habits on the amount to keep in the house, the amount to eat and still lose weight, and whether I have enough variety in my diet. Just deciding on where, when and how to shop will hopefully eliminate certain anxieties now that I'm relying on deliveries rather than in-store shopping. 

Another example is to do with the decluttering which up to now has been about getting rid of the obvious excess or unwanted items, mostly belonging to my late partner, but I have never considered what I have chosen to keep in terms of whether I am keeping enough or too much. I know from the decluttering I have already completed that removing unwanted items from the house lifts a weight from my shoulders and frees my mind for the more fun things in life I want to do so I can see that there are real benefits to be gained from revisiting this.

I can't hope to address every aspect of life until we are free from restrictions and are able to resume our normal lives but I can make a good start.  Even without the coronavirus I know that life is not static and changes will happen or be desired, so nothing will be written in stone. The long term aim is to achieve a balanced life.

Friday, 1 January 2021

WPSH - First Link Up

It's time for the first link up to see how everyone's getting on. It's not too late to take part if you are interested. The details about the hunt and the list of prompts can be found here.


I've taken a few this month ...

No 6 | horizontal - horizontal lines on a Christmas card



No 8 | a sign of the times - clean face masks hanging by the front door, ready to use



No 9 | weather conditions - frost on the leaves



No 19 | something yellow - a keyring, Hogwarts of course!



No 20 | marking time - my diary, empty pages as I have nothing planned yet. This could equally work for No 8 - a sign of the times!



My first set of photos are here

I've actually managed to sort out a proper linky for this post ... hope it works. Please link to your actual WPSH post, not just to your blog. The next link up will be at the end of January.

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