Sunday, 5 July 2020

A visit to the Lavender fields - My Sunday Photo

I took a trip to the Lavender Fields in the Cotswolds this week.

It cost £4 entry, there were toilets and take away food and drinks available and they're open until July 16th. There's no booking required and dogs are welcomed.

Benches have been set apart to allow people to picnic to comply with social distancing measures. I took Bob's long leash as everyone dashed back to their cars due to the rain.

I was wearing a waterproof coat, trousers and wellington boots.

I was still soaked to the skin, but we had a fab time visiting.

One daily Positive - Week 27

Reply from Social Services, basically saying nothing. Although it's been agreed all medical appointments will take place in daughters care home from now it doesn't resolve the issues of lack of communication. SS agreed that the home should've involved us in the risk assessment for the other resident going out with her father during lockdown and they don't feel an advocate is necessary as we get things sorted anyway (after the event) Daughters care plan had been completed and SS hadn't deemed it necessary to send us a copy, but if we gave them our address they'd pop one in the post. FFS, not contacting us, involving us in decision making etc is what leads us into this mess every bloody 2 years.

I've not done much the last 2 weeks since mum moved in with me, my routine has gone to pot with meal times, sleeping, exercise and eating. My mum is with me to have some outdoor space, a bit of company, meals cooked for and a change of scenery, I don't need to entertain her or be around every minute of the day. So I've started writing lists again of things to do again and planning my week rather than letting it happen. Crochet is still on the list.

180 Sunday Changed and washed the bedding, mowed the lawn and tidied away, cooked a roast dinner and started the process of typing up 1000's of kids name on a website for the Christmas Gift giving in South Africa. Caught up with blog posts/comments, prepared the information I need for my DBS check and paid some bills. Took Bob for a long walk in the afternoon/early evening. Had my weekly GIN video call with a friend.
Home grown peas

181 Monday Registered with the local GP, sorted more paperwork. I had a call with a woman who found me online about moving to Dubai later this year, I'll be putting together a check list of things we talked about, that I'll write up into a blog post also. Bob was really stressed on his walk this evening, I think it was weather related.
The one that's in always wants to be out and the one that is out always wants to be in.

182 Tuesday Been feeling a bit under the weather with head and body aches but realised this is due to being out of my routine with my eating, sleeping and exercise since my mum moved in with me. So I took myself and Bob out the house for the morning walking around the town and the base of the hills. The afternoon and evening was spent paying bills, online food shop, uploading name lists and completing a DBS check to work as a volunteer for the local council. I finally took everything that's been sitting on the stairs to the top floor up and put it all away.
A birthday gift canvas from my niece of the The Things

183 Wednesday Off to Cirencester to visit child 5 at last. Stopped off at the Lavender fields, a slight detour, but well worth it, we got absolutely drenched. Took Bob with me as usual, if I'm not welcome with my dog, then I just go somewhere else. Created a bubble at last with child 5, took him to KFC drive through for his belated 21st birthday meal, cleaned his flat while he walked Bob and took his washing home to return next week.
Unless it's a wedding, we're still not allowed to post photos of child 5 online, he does allow me to take ONE photo he is in for the album.

184 Thursday Food shop day. Posted parcels to The Things, Child 4 and a friend, finally took the old bath panel to the tip, called in at B&M to fulfil my mums shopping list then a click and collect from Sainsbury's. Washed and put away the fridge and freezer stuff, lay down for an hour before doing the rest, cooked dinner, walked Bob and loaded more names on the data base.

185 Friday I started preparing the next lot of birthday and care parcels together. I also altered one curtain by adding curtain header in an attempt to block out the light completely in my bedroom. It was a fail, although the curtain is thicker, it still lets in too much light. Debbie came round with chips and I supplied the wine.

186 Saturday Morning spent loading name lists, then long term friends of mine and Peter's popped round to join me and Bob for a walk, up the hills and around the outskirts of town. We then sat in the garden for a drink and natter. I served dinner from the slow cooker and spent the evening lying down and blogging.
Peter and I have both known Simon longer than we've known each other.

On the blog this week:

What's annoying me this week?
My Sunday Photo - Frog Invasion

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Friday, 3 July 2020

Post Comment Love - 3rd-5th July

Welcome back to #PoCoLo with Stephanie and I. 

It's been 101 days since I last saw my husband. This is probably the longest we've been apart in 20 years since we've been together. It'll be at least September before one of us ventures on a plane. I've got no one to look after the cat and dog and we're both concerned we could get stranded in the opposite country from where we need to be, me for the pets, him for work.

I'm getting really irritated with people needing to book holidays, I know it'll be someone else's fault that the hotel isn't perfect, if they get ill, travel gets suspended and they have to isolate on their return, it's just not going to happen is it?

I see people visiting the beaches, going into town and further afield to shop for something to do. I know people visiting their families without creating a bubble, travelling quite some distance to hug and carry on as normal throughout the lockdown as if the rules and the virus are nothing to do with them, but then if we all do it, hey ho...back to square one. 

Although I visit other areas to see family and friends, it's all outdoors, I take my own chair, food and drink and if I use a toilet (which I've done twice) I wear gloves and wipe everything down before and afterwards. I don't visit the shops there, I don't go to tourist attractions, just open spaces. If things look too busy I just move on.

On the whole though things are OK, it could be worse and I'm grateful for my health and in many ways am enjoying the slow speed of life. How are you coping? Are you being sensible about the lifting of restrictions or have you had enough?

Stephanie and I would love to know what you've been up to this week.
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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

What's annoying me this week

Let's start with a positive first. I've been ok during lockdown, yes I've had my moments where the day has been too long and I've been lonely, in the first few weeks when the most I could do was have a brief chat with my friend on the doorstep who kindly dropped off dog food and another who gave me a table and chairs for outdoors. But in general life has been much better for me in the UK than it would've been in Dubai. I obviously miss Peter, but with the curfews, needing permission to leave the house and the oppressive summer sun and lack of voice over internet calls, lockdown would've been much tougher for me. I've been able to social distance visit family and have friends round to sit in the garden, had the freedom to use the phone and video calls with family and friends around the world. Birthdays have been unique and special. I've completely redecorated the house and gutted the garden creating a lovely clean space both inside and out to enjoy. I also fully appreciate that I am in a privileged position without having to worry about finances, health and home educating.

They annoy me all the time, I often tweet individuals with what I think about their news coverage. I often get replies or a call out on the TV, the 2 who wind me up the most are Piers Morgan and Kay Burley, I just can't turn the TV off quick enough. What's with the media labelling this weekend 'Super Saturday' and using stock images of people partying and NOT social distancing. What's happened to the Government adverts? They're still needed, a lot of people seem to think that the media are running and controlling this virus and if they say we can celebrate, then we can.

Social Services.
We've been battling with our daughters care home and social services for years, as we're not in the country it's as if we don't count. We find things out from concerned staff, such as issues with the other resident going out throughout lockdown with her father. Apparently a risk assessment was carried out. I put in a phone call to Public Health who reported all guidelines are being followed and Social Services basically said 'yeah they should've involved you in the process' and the care home, said 'If you want to see your daughter you can' However for 12 weeks all they sent me were letters to say 'stay away' Social Services also 'forgot' to send us a copy of her care plan, despite them confirming 'yes we have your contact details'.

I'm also annoyed by some family, friends and neighbours who have pretty much carried on as normal, looking after the grandkids, having their adult children round for Sunday lunch every week, popping out daily to the shops for something to do and who know mine and Peter's situation, that we've been 3000 miles apart for over 3 months and we won't be flying until this virus is under control. I can return to Dubai but may not be able to get back and Peter can come here but with the virus on the rise again, he could get stranded here. He needs to be in Dubai for work, I need to be in the UK for the house and the cat and dog.

Shoddy workmanship is also irritating me. The guttering is still leaking, the tiles in the shower room don't match, we have odd coloured sink, bath, panels and loo in the bathroom. The kettle doesn't fit under the tap and the cold water is pathetically slow in the kitchen. I've spent all of lockdown redecorating and tidying the garden. I was more than happy with the work after seeing how the professionals left it, but now it needs something adding to it, it's all white, it's boring and the garden lacks some bling.

I'm missing my personal belongings. I've the contents of a 1 bed flat in a 6 bed house. I've the contents of two suitcases, 1 summer, 1 winter, it's wear, wash, dry and repeat. I'm down to only 4 pairs of socks and the pant situation is dire. I don't want to buy new because a) I have more than enough stuff in Dubai and b) the virus hasn't gone away and there's no need to be wandering around the shops. Our container should've been shipped in May, Peter should've moved to an apartment also. I should be spending my time sorting through our stuff, finding it a home, making a home.

I don't like lockdown being eased. Well actually, lockdown needs to be eased, people need to get back to work and the economy needs to grow. I just don't like the way a lot of people are going about it. You don't need a holiday, or to drive 50+ miles to the beach or wander round the shops for something to do.

As the restrictions on us are lifted, my anxiety is creeping back in. While we were in lockdown, I only had me to worry about, of course I was concerned about my family with work and everyone in front line and key worker jobs and I did my upmost best to protect them, but I had no external pressures on me. I have no plans to visit the beaches, drive more than an hour outside my area, I'm back to using click and collect for the food shops as there is no social distancing going on inside a lot of supermarkets. I'm not far off actually calling people out on social media for saying one thing, whilst I know they're doing another and most of all I'm sick to death of hearing 'It's for my mental health' in relation to going to bars, restaurants, having hair cuts and booking holidays' Mental Health is a serious matter and there is a huge difference between that and just being a bit down and unhappy because you can't do what you want to do and take for granted.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

My Sunday Photo - Frog invasion

I just had to keep walking, my friend tip toad (deliberate pun) around each and every single one, petrified she's stand on one. When they were jumping around they were easier to spot.

One Daily Positive - Week 26 Family, friends and my birthday

Public Health England got back to me about our daughters care home and the fact they've been allowing the other resident to go to her parents house during the virus. They're happy with the procedures in place for preventing the spread of the virus, so I have escalated our concerns about not being informed to Social Services and added this to a long list of safe guarding issues.

I've been spending much more time with family and friends, all outside and all social distancing. Peter and I won't be flying either way until at least September, we're both concerned about another peak and can't afford to get stuck in the wrong country lol. I'm now shopping weekly since mum moved in with me and have been to a couple of stores I wouldn't normally go to for things mum needed, town was quiet, no other customers and I sanitised my hands on the way in and out.

I got an email from my GP in Dubai urging me to register with a GP in the UK for further blood tests, my white blood cell count was still high back in March, basically I have either had a virus since June 2017 when this was first recorded or I have an unknown auto immune disease yet unidentified, which is more likely. My bone marrow biopsy revealed I have Thrombocytosis and  Leukocytosis and my GP wants me referred back to a haematologist and oncologist to rule out Leukaemia and have a fresh pair of eyes to try and identify what is wrong with me. Apart from tiredness and cognitive confusion, which are probably due to my iron levels dropping again, I have no other symptoms, it's all blood test result led. I've been delaying registering with the GP due to the virus.

173 Sunday Other than walking Bob and cooking roast lamb, it was just a lazy day, mostly spent in bed, nothing on the TV to watch, started a new jigsaw and spent the evening on a gin call with my friend Kath in Monmouth, we met the night my father died almost 3 years ago, she's struggling with 3 yo twins and both her and her husband working from home.
The last bit of mums birthday cake.

174 Monday Managed a lie in till 7.30am, up the Malvern Hills in the morning, friend called round for a cup of tea in the garden, she dropped off some cards I'd bought from her sister who is an artist. Julie and I met through our youngest child 5 around 15 years ago. I assembled my new bed in the afternoon. The cat got into a fight with the neighbourhood bully, I had to go and fetch her and go looking for her collar, first time it's come off in the 8 years since she's owned us.

175 Tuesday Walked to the bank to help mum sort her finances out. I mowed the front lawn, re edged it and did some weeding. I added a bumble bee gnome to my Asda at home order, sadly the mug was broken on arrival but they're sending me a new one out. The kids have been numbered for the blog. Child 1 to child 5, their partners/wives are 2a and 4a and grandchild is 2b, future grandchildren will be numbered and either b, c or d depending on how many kids they all have. Our grand child is my little bumble bee and I've started preparing a room for them and the others when they arrive all Bumble Bee related, so it'll suit boy or girl as they grow.

176 Wednesday Food shop and bought my birthday gift from my mum. I had to visit a few extra shops to buy some outdoor seating and cushion pads for mum and visit the chemist. There's a house clearance yard near us, all the items they sell are basically outdoors under cover and I could see the chairs I wanted from the street. Apart from baking some dog biscuits I did nothing for the rest of the day. It was too hot. Had a surprise gluten free cake delivery from Kath and the twins, I spent the day trying to work out who it was from, apparently all I needed to do was read the paperwork enclosed. My covid test for research purposes arrived through the post.

177 Thursday Off to the Forest of Dean to visit a friend, another Cath, we met at Uni in 1997 and have remained friends ever since. I then went onto see child 2, 2a and 2b, I took Bob with me. Home at 6pm, watered the plants, shower and bed. 2a bought me bumble bee related gifts for my birthday and Cath gave me a plastic, metal framed green house I'd been looking for. I got home to a gift from 4a's parents, flowers from 4 and 4a and Julie and her daughter Laura who had to rearrange her wedding for next year, which will fall on my 50th birthday, saving Peter the hassle of organising a party lol. Julie is my neighbour from 1994, I used to baby sit Laura, who then baby sat my kids. Debbie dropped off my gift so I'd have it in the morning when I woke up.

We even managed to get a social distanced photo with Peter joining in from Dubai, I can't publish photos of 2b online, but we do have a private facebook album and group we share pictures of them.

178 Friday Happy Birthday to me. 49 today. Woke up with a migraine, one has been brewing for 3 days, my meds haven't shifted it. It's down to the heat and a poor diet over the last 2 weeks. Otherwise a lazy day, a long dog walk as we missed the last two days due to the heat, a friend dropped a gift round and the neighbour called in for a cup of tea, mum told her it was my birthday and she popped some chocolates round in the evening. Debbie brought round chips to eat in the garden with a bottle of wine, I stuck to soft drinks. Debbie and her husband visited us in Dubai a week before lockdown, she lives 3 doors away and we met in 2002. Peter bought me a luxury weekend spa break for Debbie and I to have something to look forward to, for my birthday. No idea when we'll be using it though.

179 Saturday Took a drive to Witney to visit my friend from St Albans, we walked Bob and sat by our cars for a picnic. Chrissie collected me from the airport, day 2 of UK lockdown and looked after me over night, before dropping me at Watford for me to take 3 trains to get back to Malvern. Chrissie and I met on twitter in 2009, you might remember her as @Mediocre_mum or her blog The Slow Cooker Queen. I got home to a parcel from our friends Jacques and Dirk in Germany who we met in South Africa. Jacques has a facebook page called One More Marble, where he talks openly about life with a terminal illness.

On the blog this week:

Just a weekly linky I co-host with Stephanie @lifeat139a called Post Comment Love #pocolo where you can link up any post, written on any subject in that week.

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Friday, 26 June 2020

Post Comment Love - 26th - 29th June 2020

Happy Birthday to last year before I turn 50, however seeing as this virus has messed up so many plans for people this year, I've decided birthdays in lockdown don't count. We had planned to go on a cruise for my 50th, but we've cancelled plans to do that, instead I will be celebrating my 50th at a friends wedding that they've rescheduled from last week to next year, however they have to find a new venue as the one they were planning on is not reopening their doors.

It's getting easier for me to return to Dubai and for my husband to visit me here, but we're not prepared to risk a 7 hour flight, no matter how much we miss one another.

I've been seeing more of my friends and family who live near by, all garden visits, things are feeling a bit more normal, not the old normal, but a new one, which we all seem to be enjoying and making the most of. Not sure what we'll do when the winter weather comes, I'll have to invest in a gazebo and a patio heater, I've even been looking at purchasing a couple of fishing tents.

I visited our eldest son, his wife and grandchild yesterday, at 10 months old they're not really aware on how much they're missing out on with family. But last week, Thing 3 had to ask who I was when he saw me after my niece told him someone was at the door for him. I've linked up to #pocolo this week with Forgetting Aunty Suzanne.

Stephanie and I would love to know what you've been up to this week.

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Sunday, 21 June 2020

My Sunday Photo - Forgetting Aunty Suzanne

Over the past 3 years I've been spending half the year in the UK in the same town as the 3 year old. He's been to my flat, always asks where Uncle Peter is, points at aeroplanes and asks his mummy if I'm up there. He must think I actually live on a plane.

Thing 3 looked at me the other day when his mum opened the door and said 'who that?'

I was gutted, Thing 2 said 'it's Aunty Suzanne' and his little face slowly broke into a grin.

Since they've been born I'd see them maximum of twice a year for no more than a few weeks at a time, we'd keep in touch the rest of the time via skype, face book and letters from me. They'd draw me pictures, we'd take photos.

I've not seen the Things since I was last in the UK in February, 5 months is a long time in the world of a 3 year old, it's the longest time we've gone without one another. Let's hope it's not that long till the next visit and as for Thing 4, she's only 10 months old, there is plenty of time to start to get to know her properly.

Taking his spoils indoors to show the other Things.

*The Things are affectionately named after Dr Seuss 'The cat in the hat' Initially just Thing 1 and Thing 2 so I didn't use their names online.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

One Daily Positive - Week 25 - Just doing nothing

Most people comment that the stuff I get up to tires them out, just thinking about the decorating, repairs and gardening, but you have to remember I've been on my own since March 24th, with just the cat and dog for company. My life prior to lockdown has been 9 years living as an expat. 4 years in South Africa where I worked with several charities that I still support and then 5 years in Dubai, where apart from 18 months teaching, I've pretty much done nothing other than an awful lot of travel, which has come to a halt for the foreseeable future. 

Prior to living abroad, I worked for the FA in child welfare and taught part time at Worcester Tech training teaching assistants and customer service/retail. I was also studying for a degree that I'm hoping to pick back up this year with the OU and we had 5 children at home. My life now is so very different and with it has come a whole new identity and way of life.

The plan had been for me to go back to Dubai to organise the shipping of our furniture. Peter was supposed to be here now and had planned to do most of the DIY jobs I've learnt to do, such as re plastering walls and grouting and sealing the ensuite shower. I've had to call professionals in for some plumbing, re felting the shed and I've had extra jobs done such as new carpets, windows replaced and a tree cut down.

Peter says I've taken away all the jobs he was planning to do in retirement, but we still need top sort out the bathrooms, kitchen and some repairs or replacement with the shed.

For the first time in ages, I actually feel like I have a purpose and I am making a contribution to our future. I might not be earning a salary, Peter does that, but I'm creating our home ready for when he returns, so we can spend our time with family, friends and hopefully resume our travel plans.

To do list carried over:

Learn to crochet (been carrying this forward since pre lockdown).
Investigate returning to the OU to finish my degree.
Schedule #PoCoLo blog posts.

I've finished my to do list. Just general maintenance on the garden, day to day cleaning, study, reading, paperwork, bills and blogging are just things that roll over every week. My next challenge is working out a time to get back to Dubai and sort the furniture out for shipping, then I'll have plenty to do 6 weeks after that when it arrives in the UK and all needs unpacking.

166 Sunday The plan was to visited child 5 in the Cotswolds. He's agreed to 'Bubble' with me. He wanted his flat cleaned and the odd weekend to come and stay and get his washing done. Lovely to be wanted lol. I was taking Bob and they would walk around Cirencester, find me a take out coffee and I was treating him to a McDonalds in lieu of a meal out for his 21st birthday in April (his request). On the way home I was to drop a care package at child 1's care home. Instead I got to Tewkesbury had a slow puncture, drove home and spent the day sitting in the garden or on the sofa, blogging, watching TV and just chilling out.

167 Monday Got the tyre fixed and drove to Monmouth to collect mum to move in with me for the foreseeable future, due to family set ups Mum and I will only be able to 'bubble' with child 5. Arranged for a friend to let Bob out for a pee and feed him and the cat. I distanced visited a friend and the twins who lives in the same town and dropped some goodies off with the Things. Mum soon unpacked and I got on with my own things.

168 Tuesday I investigated the paint in the shed. I haven't painted the two bedrooms on the top floor yet as we're using them for storage, I'll start painting them over the next few weeks. My mattress was dropped off, bed frame arrives next week.

169 Wednesday Up early and up the Malvern Hills with Bob. It was a really foggy start to the day and we came down the hills into the town and walked back to the car park.

170 Thursday Set off to Cirencester to see child 5. I messaged him to say I was leaving and he phoned to say work had called him in at a different site and he was away till next week. I had Bob ready to go so distanced dropped care package to child 1. We've had correspondence from the care home to say not to visit, yet when I arrived I discovered the other resident being dropped off by her father, this has been going on throughout lockdown. I was really angry to hear this, we should've been informed and allowed our input on our daughters behalf for the alleged risk assessment they carried out. So I put in a call to Public Health England. This was the first time child 1 and Bob had met, he made a bee line for her, she really wasn't interested and I was too far away for her to know I was there, but it was nice to see her. Did a food shop in the afternoon.

171 Friday
Despite the weather being miserable the last few days, it's nice to be in the UK rather than in Dubai where I'd be stuck indoors. Dubai has reopened fully but with social distancing measures in place, temperature checks before entering malls and masks and gloves must be worn at all times, other than when driving or eating/drinking. The temps look lovely but with the humidity it feels 16c hotter. My friend visited in the evening and we sat in the garden with blankets, wine and chips. i also had a zoom call with my friends in South Africa.

172 Saturday
Mums birthday, I've got cake, decorations and gifts (there's an orchid under the shopping bag) cards were posted here and child 4 and 4a sent her flowers yesterday and I bought her a bunch also. My sister and niece are apparently coming over later today to social distance visit in the garden.

On the blog this week:

What is #PostcardsOfKindness and why I'm writing to random strangers

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Friday, 19 June 2020

Post Comment Love 19th - 21st June 2020 Rejoining the new world.

Last week I moved my mum in with me.

Those of you who know me will think I'm absolutely mad and I probably am. She does read my blog so play nice people.

Anyway she lives in South Wales in a first floor flat, there is some outdoor space, but she's found every time she goes out with her chair, book and a coffee too many people come and join her and the lack of social distancing makes her uncomfortable, so she ends up going back inside or taking a short walk around the block.

Mum misses her garden, but even more so now during lockdown as she can't just wander around town or pop in to see my niece and her great grandchildren.

Lockdown restrictions may be being lifted, but it'll be a long time before we have the freedom to travel again, let alone just spend time with family. My husband and I know the reality is it will be September at the earliest before we can see each other again and with lockdown being tighter in South Wales, I've persuaded my mum to come and stay with me for the foreseeable future. If it doesn't work out, we can go back to two separate households and she will be isolating anyway if she returns too soon.

I've been doing her shopping online and sending weekly treats through the post, but if I'm honest, I'd like a bit of company also. People on their own who aren't in the vulnerable category are just judged to be lucky not to have work and kids to juggle, but we do have our own set of issues which are just as important and real to us. I'm looking forward to someone else doing the washing up and making me a cup of tea.

Although clothes shops and none essential businesses are slowly reopening, there's still social distancing to be observed which I've noticed is lacking now in a lot of places, people can just be so impatient. I live in a lovely part of the UK with the Malvern Hills on my doorstep (as in takes 45 minutes from front door to top of hills on foot). Mum can join me for dog walks, I can drive up and she can read/picnic in the car, she can walk to the local bank and corner store and eventually I can take her to the supermarkets and visit some of the family in their gardens. She's not had to experience how much the world has changed and the adaptations she'll have to make to settle back in to the new one.

After all the virus hasn't gone away.

Stephanie and I would love to hear what you've been up to this week.

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Why I'm writing to random strangers - Postcards of Kindness

Last year I'm came across this group Postcards of Kindness. The idea came about to write to people in care homes in the UK to combat loneliness and isolation and remind people there is always someone thinking of them. There are over 2000 care homes on the list and the group has over 40,000 members. T

As an expat of 9 years, I've also felt isolated and lonely on a daily basis.

I had my first penpal aged 10, I wrote to my best friend in York after we moved near South Wales, I've still got every letter she sent me up until our early 20's when family life got in the way and our letter writing fizzled out, we reconnected via facebook a few years ago.

I had a few occasional penpals and wrote regularly to older family members, always sending post cards to family and friends from holidays. I write to people around the world I've met online and have even travelled as far as Canada to meet one of my penpals.

In 2011 I started writing letters about our lives abroad, I also keep a copy of all my replies, to form a record for future generations to enjoy.

For me the writing of letters, strange as it may sound is about communication, it amazes me how many letters, cards I send that people don't even bother letting you know they've arrived. I don't expect everyone to write back, or even get an automatic response, but if I get post, I'll message the person on FB, we chat online for a little bit, I write back a week later with fresh news, they respond and we keep in touch.

Many people don't know what to write back, will say their life is boring and they've nothing to tell me, that's fine, they've messaged me with that and hey, we're now communicating.

The purpose of my letter writing to the care homes especially now during Covid-19 and restrictions on visiting, is to provide contact with the outside world and to let others know we're thinking of them. it also provides a great opportunity to open up discussions, share life stories and in some cases the activity of writing a reply. We also have a daughter in care, she's 25 miles from where I am, she can't read, doesn't verbally communicate, but I still write to her regularly, it gives the staff something to talk about, show her the picture on the card and pin on her wall as a reminder that she does have family that care, even if they can't visit or are abroad for most of the year.

These are 2 responses from homes I write to on a regular basis.

So what do I write?

Dear Residents
I hope everyone is well and keeping themselves busy during these strange times.
This week I've been making the most of the weather, doing some gardening and walking my dog up the Malvern Hills.
I've also got a cat, did you have pets? Do you prefer cats or dogs or have another favourite animal?
Do you have a garden where you live? Is gardening an activity you enjoy? 
Have you ever visited Malvern? Where's your favourite place in the UK and why?
Kind regards

Sometimes I'll write about living abroad and ask if they've visited the countries or lived abroad themselves, I'll ask about their travels, favourite foods, tv shows. I'll share my favourites and ask what theirs are.  

I've also started writing letters to our grandchild who is 9 months old. I have very few written words from my grandmother and realised after my fathers death a few years ago the only stuff he had written down were 'to do' lists that I cherish as they are in his hand writing, my mother signed cards and letters on his behalf. I no longer sign cards on behalf of my husband, I ask him to do it himself and will be encouraging him to make notes in a book we have called 'My Grandparents' for future generations to read.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

My Sunday Photo - Thinking about an allotment

There are allotments within a 10 minute walk of our house. I've no idea how one goes about getting a plot and I'm guessing there is probably a waiting list for one.

I really enjoy gardening and for the first time, ever, I've actually been in one place long enough to grow, nurture and harvest peas and strawberries and I have a pumpkin, beans and a cucumber growing. 

Part of my enjoyment with gardening is the fact it's just outside my back door. I can do what I need to do for as long or as little as I like. We don't need or want a showcase garden. We need to replace the shed and we're thinking of having one with a workshop in the back and a veranda out front with a lean to green house.

There are no rules that state a garden must have a lawn or traditional flower beds, so I'm investigating and planning how to combine an allotment style garden into the space we already have. Typically veg patches are at the bottom of the garden, behind fencing, but I'd like to see how we can combine veg patches, herb garden, some fruit trees and little paths meandering around the existing lawn.

It's taken me most of lockdown to restore the garden from a jungle to a relatively flat lawn, reclaim the paths from the lawn and make repairs to the sheds and the gates.

Seeing as it's going to be a while before I can get back to Dubai and the weather being so nice, now may be a good time to start drawing up some plans and researching foods I can grow for next year, when we're back in the UK full time.

I'd love to know if you've done anything similar.

Darren Coleshill

Saturday, 13 June 2020

One Daily Positive - Week 24 I've finished the house

I'm not a big fan of online shopping, I can do it, but I like to see what I'm buying, see the quality and not rely on staged photos. I haven't had much choice recently. I've been visiting Wilko which is next to Waitrose when I've gone out for a weekly shop and have made the odd trip to the retail park to pound stretcher and pound land when I've needed milk, otherwise it's just the post office, but I only go out once a week, I just plan my trips carefully.

I have purchased a lawn mower, a bed and a car online. I'd already looked at lawn mowers and a car so I knew what I wanted, but the bed with it's memory foam mattress wasn't good quality and it had to go back. I contemplated a trip to IKEA, as they couldn't deliver until mid July, but decided to try Amazon and everything arrives next week. 

To do list carried over:
Learn to crochet (been carrying this forward since pre lockdown).
Family Tree.
Investigate returning to the OU to finish my degree.
Add backing to pom pom rug.
Weed round back of the shed and mow lawns.
Schedule #PoCoLo blog posts.
Post parcels.
Contact mattress company to arrange exchange.
Pay utility bills UK and Dubai.
Write gardening post for May.
Redecorate dining room and paint window sills in conservatory.
Set up plant netting.

159 Sunday Another day of rest just pottering around, walked Bob, gardening, watched tv, letter writing. I also got the roller brush out and repainted the lower walls in the hall as I could see brush strokes in a certain light.
The dog has been eating the beans, so I made each a pot a mini green house.

160 Monday My friend called by around midday to collect the logs from the tree I had cut down and we had tea, chocolate and lunch in the garden. Did the ironing in the evening whilst watching TV.
I kept one of the logs to use as a table.

161 Tuesday Up the Malvern Hills with Bob, then sat in the car park to read and have a drink and snack. Pottered around the rest of the day, some painting prep, sorted through attic stuff, to sell, to keep, to donate. Did some gardening, letter writing, watched TV.

162 Wednesday Up early to Sainsbury's to return the bed, on arrival I was informed returns only at Argos stores, nearest one is Kidderminster, 45 mins away. I did a food shop while I was there and pretty impressed. I'd been avoiding Worcester as I just, wrongly, assumed it would be chaotic. Paid the carpet people and a guy came back to seal the lino in the ensuite. walked Bob to the post office, spent the afternoon/evening on the family tree and Argos collected the bed at 7pm.

163 Thursday Started the morning with a bacon butty, then did nothing but sit on the sofa until lunchtime. I painted half the dining room, it bubbled so I had to sand/peel it all off and over fill it. Parcel dropped at mine for a house 2 streets away, so I walked round to deliver it with Bob. Bed at 8pm to watch iplayer as there was nothing on the TV.
Another skill added to my lockdown CV.

164 Friday Finished painting the dining room. The preparation is key, filling holes, re plastering walls, sanding and cleaning before the actual painting. Walked Bob, did a spot of gardening while the plaster dried. I had 2 double glazed units in the conservatory replaced. My friend and neighbour came round, we've fallen back into the Friday night 'talk random crap and drink wine' like we used to do before we moved abroad.

165 Saturday Spent a couple of hours mowing the lawn and tidying up the edges and borders. Put the dining room back together and painted the windowsills in the conservatory, cleaned and hoovered throughout and washed the kitchen floor. I walked Bob, watched some TV, paid bills, registered with the Doctors and almost finished the pom pom rug. Tesco food shop arrives this afternoon.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - Still going out for a latte, just in the garden or taking one with me on a walk
My Garden in May and plans for June.
Flying during lockdown

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Friday, 12 June 2020

Post comment Love - 12th-14th June

It's been 10 weeks since I arrived back in the UK, from my home in Dubai. I was scheduled to have returned for 3 weeks in May to organise a house move and shipping our furniture back to the UK.

An international relocation is bloody hard at the best of times. In the past we've been hampered by HR and companies that refuse to deal with me as Peter's wife as the contracts are in the company name and they've only been able to talk to Peter or HR about all the stuff I'm usually running around behind the scenes doing such as filing in custom and insurance forms, trying to organise school places online meetings with Heads, contacting agents to rent a property in an unknown country, organise the papers for the cat and dog.

So for this move we decided to go ahead and do it all by ourselves, no time scale, no HR, no visas required, no new bank accounts to open and no medical reports to file, so what could possibly go wrong this time? A pandemic, that's what.

So plans have been rejigged, house move and shopping of furniture put on hold and I'm living in the UK with the cat and dog and Peter has remained working in Dubai. On a positive I've now finished painting and cleaning the house, all repairs made and new carpets laid last week.

We have been able to repatriate as we are both citizens of the UK and residents of the UAE, but up until now, it's one way flights only and a total of 4 weeks in quarantine. If I return to Dubai it's the middle of summer, too hot to sit outside and I don't have anyone to look after the cat and dog in the UK.

If Peter comes here, apart from seeing me, he won't be able to spend time with the family to any degree, so we're waiting a bit longer before either of us gets on a plane. I flew during lockdown, it was unnerving, I'm in no rush to do it anytime soon. I've linked up with my experiences to this weeks #pocolo

Stephanie and I would love to know what you've been up to this week.

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Wednesday, 10 June 2020

My garden in May and plans for June

Some big changes to the front of the garden in May, starting with the removal of the tree and creating a new border out the front.

View from bedroom window, we're not overlooked at the front or the back of the house. 


My friend collected the logs for her wood burner.

The border had disappeared and was half weed, half bulbs.

I've since added a few new plants here, a fuchsia and lupin.

The back garden also saw some tree work, not as successful, but I did read up about how to cut a fir tree back to retain shape and regrowth, time will tell how it's worked out.

The lawn looks so much better now it is edged properly.

Bluebells growing in the garden.

I've been wanting a hydrangea for years, now I'm back in the UK I treated myself to one.

I'm growing peas, basil, mint, tomatoes.

I added some colour to the garden fence.

My friend distance dropped a table and chairs she no longer had use for off.

My garden plans for June.

 Repurposing my recycling I made mini green houses for my beans. I've been unable to get a plastic greenhouse anywhere.

The cat and dog have been digging up smaller plants, so I made this frame for the beans to grow around. I've been unable to dig up the tree stump so this is a good way for me to hide it.

I've prepared a spot to plant my pumpkin out and looking for somewhere for my cucumber plant.

Long term plans are to extend the conservatory with a lean too, to enable us to enjoy sitting outside more when the weather isn't as good. If anyone has done this I'd love to hear how easy it was to do and what costs were involved.

If you'd like to join in with The Garden Year and showcase your garden then you can link up with Stephanie on her blog Life at 139a. I'd love to read more gardening posts to share ideas.