Tuesday 31 March 2020

Staying Home

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my previous post. More than ever I appreciate the connection with everyone in this wonderful blogging community. Long may it continue.
With work and the usual school day on hold for the time being, life has taken a very different turn. I have been trying to keep to some sort of a routine, although this isn't always adhered to when I don't have any time constraints. It's a very strange feeling.

Most mornings we've completed around two hours of school work. This includes spelling practice, reading, writing and maths, followed by some topic work. It's surprising how much can be covered in a short space of time and it leaves our afternoons free to play in the garden and to go for a walk.

Now that the weather has improved, the garden is looking so much better. The grass has had it's first proper cut of the year and the soil has been dug over. Unfortunately, there's only so much work I can do until I can get to a garden centre, but Lily and I have managed to sow some sweet peas, spinach, tomatoes and sunflowers. There is still carrot and beetroot to go in, but this really should wait until I can get hold of some more netting to keep any cats off. I've also weeded and swept the driveway, no longer having the excuse of not having enough time. Until this last week I never knew how much I would come to value this outdoor space and, although it's lacking in colour at the moment, I'm just so grateful that Lily is able to play out, enjoy her swing and even ride her bike along the driveway.

The supermarket now appears to have most things in stock and on my last visit I was able to get everything we needed, even flour! The staff there are doing an amazing job and manage to keep smiling, even while working in very difficult circumstances, so I'm very grateful for  them. It's been a great comfort to me being able to bake once again and even more comfort in being able to eat the results. I've made Weetabix cake and some bread so far. 😁 There's a new cake recipe I want to have a try at baking this week but I need some oranges which I don't have in at the moment, so it will just have to wait until my next shop. I'm taking care to be more organised with my shopping lists and I know to add an extra carton of milk to the list in future, so that I can avoid having to go any more often than is absolutely necessary.

Most afternoons we've enjoyed a walk along the riverbank and not surprisingly it's a little busier than usual down there. Still, there is plenty of space for people to pass each other at a safe distance, although, with Lily often waving a stick around, we're usually given a wide berth anyway.
Stay well.
J. X

Thursday 26 March 2020

Before Staying Home

I wasn't sure how I should open this post. Nothing that I can say seems appropriate at the moment but I hope you are well and are finding a way through these troubling times. Life has changed for all of us, for some in the worst possible way, and so to those still working and providing vital services I cannot find the words to explain just how much it is appreciated. Thank you.

As expected, school closed last Friday for the foreseeable future, so for the moment we are learning at home. School had already prepared for this outcome, so we have learning packs and online resources at our disposal and for now, at least, I have a willing pupil. How long this will last, however, I'm not so sure. Zumba classes in the living room have become a thing and, no, they have nothing to do with me - Lily likes to freestyle! Fortunately, she appears unconcerned by recent events and I hope that continues to be so. Her only disappointment right now is not being able to go swimming.

On my last visit to the supermarket I was reassured to see most of the shelves had returned to having almost normal stock levels. The panic buying of the previous two weeks seems to have calmed down now, although I still haven't been able to buy flour, not even from the farm shop. I'm missing being able to bake (not a real problem, I know) and although I have a small amount remaining in the kitchen cupboard, I am going to keep it for a real baking emergency. Thank goodness Lily loves flapjack.

Before the official lockdown, we went for a walk up Steel Fell. I had been wanting to walk it since climbing the nearby Helm Crag earlier in the year but the weather hadn't co-operated. Again, I wasn't sure, even on the morning we set off. There had been conflicting social distancing advice and I would never put myself or anyone else at unnecessary risk, but with the possibility of a week at work ahead of me and the knowledge that Steel Fell is one of the quietest fells in the Lakes, we set off. And what a glorious day for it. Fresh air and the most beautiful blue sky. We could see for miles and, if it was even possible, under our present circumstances I appreciated it all the more.

Life is undoubtedly different for us all right now but in amongst the uncertainty I have been heartened by acts of kindness and people reaching out to one another. The words social distancing are in daily use but I don't know about you, thanks to the wonder of technology I have been in touch with friends more than ever and I hope it continues to be this way once we are over the worst.

Conversations will not be cancelled.
Relationships will not be cancelled.
Love will not be cancelled.
Songs will not be cancelled.
Reading will not be cancelled.
Self-care will not be cancelled.
Hope will not be cancelled.
May we lean into the good stuff that remains.
– Jamie Tworkowski

Stay well.
J. X

Tuesday 17 March 2020


This morning I was woken early to the sound of Mog trying to use my bedroom door frame as a scratching post. A perfectly (well, maybe not quite) ordinary start to my day. So ordinary that for the briefest of moments I could almost forget that our days have recently become anything but. I was about to throw a slipper in her general direction - don't worry, my aim is rubbish at the best of times but especially at 5.30 a.m. - when I decided, instead, to get up and make coffee. On the surface we are going through the motions - work and school continue, for now at least, but there is a definite feeling of unease and uncertainty as we go about our days, not knowing what the next will bring. Aside from the school day itself, all other activities have been cancelled until further notice.

I have been quiet here for a few weeks. Not because of anything serious, or anything to do with the current situation, I just needed some time out to recharge. Little did I realise how much would change in that time. It's hard not to worry and the weekly food shop is proving challenging to say the least, but we are taking the advised precautions and trying to remain positive and hopeful.

With that in mind, at the weekend we enjoyed a much needed dose of fresh air with a walk along the shores of Ullswater. There's nothing quite like a relaxing stroll surrounded by Lakeland fells to gladden my heart and banish any worries to the back of my mind,  for a while at least.

The Ullswater Way is a 20 mile circular route around Ullswater but we completed just a short section of this, between Aira Force and Glenridding. Although, for the most part, the morning was overcast, the weather remained fine with even occasional glimpses of  blue sky. The day was chilly, with snow still visible on the higher fells and many of the surrounding fields were still holding water from the heavy rainfall we've been experiencing the last few weeks.

The path begins slightly away from the shore and crosses many water courses making their way down from the fells towards the lake, providing so very many opportunities for games of poohsticks. So many that I lost count. 😊 The route then follows the shore around Glencoyne Bay, past Wordsworth Point, a beautiful stretch of woodland believed to be the inspiration for Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' poem, before reaching the village of Glenridding. Here we stopped for a chocolate break before retracing our steps, relishing every breath of fresh air, while stopping to admire the stunning views and daffodils along the way.

On returning to the start of the walk, we finished our picnic lunch, watched as some crumbs scattered on top of a low stone wall enticed the birds, and enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate while the daffodils did their 'fluttering and dancing in the breeze'.
Stay well.
J. X