Getting a new routine going

I don’t know about you, but I need a routine. I am very much a planner, and I like to know what is going on, and what I am doing, so my normal job suits that because I know what I’ll be teaching each week, and I know when staff meetings are, and I have a routine with when to run after work, when to go to yoga and so on.

With that in mind, I have tried to have some sort of routine when working from home.

I didn’t think I could actually timetable my day as such, but I have come up with things I want to do each day, and can tick them off as I do them. For example each day I want to do a bit of yoga to combat the stiffness from sitting at my laptop. I want to have my run or walk outside, and also get a bit of fresh air by going into the garden. I will do a bit of cleaning each day, and maybe sort out a cupboard or tidy somewhere (even for 5 minutes, so I am moving throughout the day). I’ll listen to some music or a podcast each day because I do not want to spend the entire day thinking about current events/ reading news. I’m quite tempted to re-watch Tidying Up on Netflix, but I haven’t been watching that much TV just yet.

I had some brown bananas, so of course I made some banana bread- I used this recipe which is vegan (so if you don’t have eggs, don’t worry) and is the simplest recipe that I have seen. You can add dried fruit or nuts or chocolate chips…

I’ve been using our cold brew bottle to make some nice iced tea to have with dinner- I think it works best with fruity teas- you just put in a scoop of tea, top with water and leave in the fridge for a few hours. This was blueberry and peach tea which is divine.

Of course, working from home also involves lots of cups of tea- going downstairs and walking around while the kettle is boiling is good to force a bit of movement. I am already wondering how I can make a standing desk because usually I don’t do that much actual computer work, but when working from home it’s pretty much all online.

Our teapot is usually reserved for the weekend, but we’ve been having a pot at around 5pm (and watching Escape to the Chateau DIY for some pure escapism).

I’ve been getting out for a run or walk each day- this week first thing in the morning has been better, as the streets have been much quieter. On Tuesday I looked on Strava and saw that I had run 94 miles in March, so of course I went out to do 6 more to round it up to 100 for the month.

I was meant to be running the Lee Valley half marathon last Sunday, and the event being cancelled was fine, but on the Monday I started looking at the medals (I did the half in 2017, the 10k in 2018 and the half in 2019) and got really tearful because in 2017 I ran it with Dad, and it was his first half since he was in his 20’s (and after he’d had to take a long time out of running due to a knee problem)- he was raising money for MND, and it was so lovely because we ran steadily, chatted the whole way, enjoyed the scenery, and it just felt like an extended parkrun. Just thinking about it overwhelmed me just for a bit, because I love it when we run together, and at the moment that can’t happen (or even see each other). I know that in the grand scheme of things I am very lucky, but at times it’s hard to hold onto that.

I saw a few Strava routes of local runners going on footpaths so I had a bit of an explore and have found a couple- one is a public footpath that goes through a (closed) golf course, so it was good to be out in a green space away from the roads. I think the path continues through the grounds of a hotel but I can’t quite work out where it goes just yet- I’ve got plenty of time to work it out!

One day we had the rest of the panettone as baked French toast- I added some raspberries in there, and left it to soak overnight, baking it once home and showered for a breakfast to keep us going all day!

On Wednesday evening it was time for yoga, but this time via zoom. We’d had a little go last week and it seemed to work well. I lit a candle and put out my fairy lights as usually at our yoga class we have a candle and fairy lights instead of the big harsh lights. It went well, and of course it can’t replace an actual class (my inflexible muscles usually need a bit of help moving into the right places) but it was lovely to move and breathe and focus on something else for a time.

I’ve been out in the garden each day too- it’s good to get a bit of fresh air and make my eyes focus from something that isn’t a screen. I’ve done some jobs (sorting all the flower pots/ weeding/ sweeping/ pruning) but also just spent time listening to a podcast and sitting on the bench or walking around. I’ve just started Girl Taken, which is really interesting, about an ex-soldier who tried to help a migrant family in the Calais Jungle, and then spirals into something else entirely.

Andy mentioned to me the other day that we are probably saving a lot of money at the moment as we’re not going out or shopping or anything. Well, not quite seeing as online shopping is still going! Essentials such as tea and hand cream arrived this week…

Plus a gorgeous note from the B&B team- when you place an order there is always a space to write a comment, and I usually leave them a little message and then the packer usually writes a little handwritten note on your order. One of the reasons why they are such a fab company.

We had a bit of fun via our work whatsapp group too- as we decided we would be Team Disney, I had to share with them the National Wear your Ears Day- we had some creative entries from people who didn’t own ears (including someone holding their cat up behind them so the cat ears looked like Disney ears!). I had my Frozen ones on for the morning and then switched to my glittery pinkish ones (I think they are for Sleeping Beauty? ) for the afternoon. A big bonus for working from home!

This weekend is the start of the Easter holidays, but it is going to feel very similar to last week as I’ll be at home, I just won’t have to log on to do work during the day- even more hours will need occupying! We are going to start our decorating this weekend (finally) so I could carry on with that in the week. I think I will let Disney+ in a bit more and have a bit more escapism, as that will feel more like a holiday too. And hopefully a bit more baking, pending on what we can order with our online shopping!

If you work from home usually, how do you manage it?

Have you been tempted by online shopping? I did think I should write a list of things that I have not bought (eg the Sweaty Betty joggers that were on offer last week).

A weird weekend

On Saturday morning I did a bit of yoga when I first woke up- my neck was really sore (I think after doing some work at a desk where I couldn’t tuck my legs under, so I was sort of sat sideways) and anyway, thought the yoga would help. Then I headed out on a run, and thankfully it was much quieter than the runs in the evening I’d been having last week.  I did a nice 5 mile route and around 8.45. I loved seeing all of the chalk paintings and rainbows everywhere. The community spirit is still alive- each time I saw one it made me think of the cheers from a marshal at parkrun.

There was no parkrun quiz to do this week (turns out it was 8pm on Friday night so I missed it) so after a shower and breakfast I did some pottering, tidying and cleaning.

I cleared out my work lunch bag (top right)- 3 pens, peppermint forehead balm, a bag clip and body spray were amongst the things I didn’t know I needed! Disney Food Blog snack competition has been keeping me entertained- the cinnamon roll is good, but you basically can’t get Dole Whip anywhere else (well unless you go to the Dole pineapple plantation in Hawaii) so why would you vote for anything else???

I would usually have a walk in the afternoon, but having already been out of my front door once, for my run, meant I couldn’t go. I got some fresh air by heading into the garden for a bit (donning my buff for a kit around the home pic for Marathon Talk!).

Then after dinner it was time for some Disney+ time! We are working our way up to the best film (Muppets Most Wanted- honesty if you could turn my sense of humour into a film this would be it), so we watched The Muppets.

This also inspired me to have a go at drawing on a rock- our Disney-themed work team decided to have a rock drawing competition, so I had a go at doing a Kermit. I then decided to put my pens back into colour order, although Andy did say I should not do all the jobs in one go!

Of course Dole Whip was still winning the competition which is good too.

On Sunday morning I headed out for a longer run- I am still searching for the best place to go.  There’s a park fairly near me so I headed there and did lots of laps. It turned out to be pretty good, as although I came across a few dog walkers, it was easy to give them a wide berth as no-one was using the football pitches (apart from one person who had her dogs off a lead, and one of them ran over to me, yapping at me. I stood still and the lady was calling her dog, but the dog would not go away from me. I tried moving slowly and standing still, and the dog kept running back and barking- I did start to wonder how we would keep 2 metres apart if the owner needed to come and pick up her dog- thankfully the dog ran off in the end). I had my sunglasses on because it was so sunny when I started running, although it was absolutely freezing and I really wished I had worn gloves. About 5 minutes after I got home it started snowing! 8 miles run- keeping things ticking over but not going too far.

I did a bit more gardening and made a pizza for dinner (from Cook Eat Run)- each time I make one I am getting better at the dough and this one was really tasty.

After dinner we had a zoom call with Andy’s family- it was so lovely to see everyone and have a bit of a face to face (virtual) chat. It took a bit of time to get the hang of it, but we ended up muting ourselves if we weren’t talking and that seemed to work a bit better.

Aaaand the photos are still upside down if they are not a collage….?

A friend shared an idea (I am sure it’s all over facebook) to have a little jar and each time you can’t do something because of the lockdown, write it down and add it to the jar. Then, when this is all over, take them out and do them. I’ve got one for the two of us, and one for me. Things like going to see my mum and dad on my way home from work, running with dad, meeting friends for afternoon tea, going to the cinema, going to Brighton for the weekend…. it’s quite therapeutic writing them down, and as another friend mentioned, each day is one day closer to the end of all of this.

It felt like less of a weekend than usual, because we just couldn’t do what we normally would, but I am sure next weekend will be even stranger after a week of working from home!

How do you differentiate your weekend from your week when you work at home? How are you staying in contact with friends and family?

Have you seen anything good on TV recently? Or listened to any good podcasts? We finished Tiger King, which was interesting but also just awful in equal measures.

How do we begin to get through this?

I must admit that on Monday night when it was announced that we would be allowed outside for one type of exercise a day, I was relieved that for now I won’t be limited to running laps of my garden. We’ve seen how it’s gone in other countries so I shall enjoy what I can do for now.

Seen on my run, and the tulips by our front door have started blooming.

This week has been so strange. Everyone was in work on Monday as we had no idea how many children would be in, but after that we were put into teams, and my team were in this week (but only around 8 of us).  As we need to minimise contact with other people as much as possible, school is only open a little bit before and after the children, so this week I have been at school for the amount of time that the media think teachers work. And on the plus side, my commute has never been quicker! The weird thing is that we all have to keep 2m apart, and when I got home I found I was backing away from Andy to make sure I was still that far apart, before I realised that no, we were OK to get closer!

Usually I would pretty much decide on which day I would run or walk, but now with the once a day thing we have to be certain so that if I am going on a walk, Andy will wait and go with me (of course we can go alone, but we always have a nice chat on our  walks). The weekend will be strange as usually I’d run in the morning and we’d go for a long walk in the afternoon. Not any more!

I went for a run on Tuesday and then Thursday this week. The Tuesday run was so stressful. Maybe because the proper lockdown was only announced the night before and it hadn’t really sunk in? But most people I passed were not doing any sort of social distancing. I ended up crossing the road so many times, and if I went to one side of the pavement the people coming the other way would not move at all. At one point I was running along next to some kids on bikes, and they were speeding up, slowing down, veering all over the place, and so I ended up running  in the road to  give them a wide enough berth, and then after this going on for a bit, they got to a crossing and stopped- if only they had stopped before I could have just run past them. I felt more stressed when I got home than when I had started.

Beans on toast in front of the TV one day/ gorgeous light on a walk/ pretty blue flowers seen on my run

The Thursday run wasn’t as bad. I went on a different route and found that if I ran on the shaded side of the street I passed less people as most were walking on the sunny side. I think next week I’ll go out in the morning as hopefully it will be quieter (I am working from home next week as a different team will be in school and we are not allowed to mix with other teams to limit spreading anything). I think when I’ve been getting home has been prime “let’s take the kids out before dinner” time, as our walks have been a bit like that too.  There are some quieter roads but they are too far away unless I’m doing a long run I think.

One morning I needed to get petrol and I had seen recommendations to use gloves- I didn’t have any plastic ones so I took some running ones that could go in the wash. Plus my work ID because the police have been pulling people over to check their journeys are essential- honestly I’ve been having nightmares about being pulled over so it has been stressful in that sense.

On more positive news, we got Disney + and so as soon as I was out of the shower after my run, I made a tea (Earl Grey) in my Olaf mug and settled down to watch something. Once Lilo and Stitch came on the screen I knew that would be my choice, and after I realised I was wearing my Shaved Ice t-shirt from Hawaii- fitting the theme nicely.

One evening we watched Breaking 2, which I’d never seen (I’d taped it once, but on HD when we didn’t have the channel so it didn’t work)- that was interesting (Disney+ has National Geographic things too). We also had some total escapism watching a show about people getting married at Disney (at 1am seems to be the running theme)- it’s fairly light-hearted and they did have a very cool projection cake where it looked like Tinkerbell was flying all over it.

Also on Thursday night I had my first intro to Zoom, for a yoga session. Our teacher just wanted to see if it would work, and then we did a guided meditation session which was just so perfect for what I needed. Work has felt stressful because everyone is so anxious about being there, and also worrying about family members, so it has felt really mentally draining.  As our online shopping slots are more infrequent (we usually book on a Monday night for a Tuesday delivery, but now we are having to book weeks  in advance and edit in the middle of the night) we have had a few random dinners, including breakfast for dinner (baked French toast with bananas and nut butter).

The best thing about Thursday was hearing all the claps for the NHS workers- we opened our back door to join in and we could hear so many people whooping and clapping and some people even let off fireworks, which I am not keen on, but it just showed how grateful everyone is. I cannot imagine how tough it must be for anyone working in that area right now- I felt anxious going to work being exposed to a few children who potentially carry it, but going to a hospital where you are treating people with it is just another level. We are so so lucky to have such a wonderful health service and so many people working away to help others.

I wore my Stitch t-shirt to cheer me up on Friday (we decided our team would be Disney themed). Also work place essentials- tea, water, hand sanitiser and hand cream. I was also excited to find a mini bar of chocolate in my bag- let’s celebrate the small things!

A friend shared this via facebook and I have found it very helpful. I am someone who gets very anxious about things anyway (eg if I am out running and see a big dog, I will start to imagine what would happen if the dog bit me, and I fell over and got knocked out, and who would call the ambulance and so on), so at times I have felt very overwhelmed and have had a fair few tears. I know that if I look at things logically, I am very lucky because I don’t live alone, I have a dependable job, my family are close so if I need to help them (eg by leaving shopping on the doorstep) I can, but then I will go down a wormhole of reading stories about young and healthy people being really ill, and of course people with lower immunity (like my mum) and what will happen to them. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, but also I don’t want to be on constant alert so I am trying to limit news. So many podcasts are COVID themed, I’ve been trying to find other less current ones. For something totally different, we have been watching Tiger King on Netflix, and it is totally mental. I didn’t even realise that it was still legal in the USA to have pets like that, and it is so sad to see the big cats being kept in these small cages, but it is still something different to watch .

And for the best gentle TV, I found out that Escape to the Chateau DIY was back last Monday (thankfully on Channel 4 catch up)- I love that show and have a feeling that moving forward it’s going to be perfect for 4.30pm and a cup of tea each day.

How have you been coping with a change of routine?

How are you looking after your mental health in this tough situation?

Adjusting to the new normal

So, since my last post we seem to have caught up to the rest of the world and are actually taking this pandemic seriously.

Last week was a weird one to say the least.

On Saturday after parkrun, I did some gardening and pottering around the house.

I had some messages from friends about my Bath&Body works obsession and how I was right all along- I don’t have too many hand sanitisers but they have to last until the next America trip!

I also got overexcited because Disney announced that Frozen 2 would be on Disney+, but this turned out to be USA- we have to wait a bit longer here. And of course it was very satisfying to see the I gap on my list of parkruns finally filled!

On Sunday I went out on a long run, thinking it might be my last one for a while. My half marathon had been called off (of course) and so I am just going to keep things ticking over as long as this is allowed. 10 enjoyable miles followed by some yoga.

On Monday things moved quickly as my parents thankfully decided to properly self-isolate. My mum has a few health conditions and when she gets a cough she usually has it for several months, so they are going to try to minimise that as much as possible. I had popped to Aldi on my way home to get some frozen fruit, and while I was there I had several panicked messages from Andy (my phone is always on silent) asking me to come home because of the news. It’s safe to say that will be my last visit to a shop for many months to come.

On happier news I got my parkruniversary email! I don’t think I’ll be able to celebrate at an actual parkrun any time soon. I also do not like all the traffic information signs- around here they all say something like “For COVID 19 visit NHS, remember to wash your hands”- being reminded of this while I am driving to work to be exposed to a hotbed of germs is not good for mental health (I took the photo when out on a run).

The situation with my parents meant that my brother came to live with us for a bit (he delivers medical supplies to nursing homes and various places so he’s out and about a lot) while my sister set up their spare room for him on a more permanent basis.

The parkrun email (as expected) came through the day after my anniversary email- it was totally expected but still a bit sad.  To take my mind off things, Andy had recommended this podcast (Reply all- the case of the missing hit)- it was all about a guy trying to track down a song that he remembered, and it was really interesting. A good thing to listen to to take your mind off current events for a bit.

Things at work got busy too- we were madly prepping in case of school closures being announced, and had speedily arranged training for using Google Classroom.  But we didn’t know anything for sure, so we could not really plan ahead for anything (in fact I had my planning time on Wednesday afternoon and spent the time planning and prepping resources for the next week- what a waste of time that turned out to be!). I am not going to get overly political, but the announcement on Wednesday that schools were closing did not seem to be thought through, particularly as we were not actually closing to certain children, but no-one in the government had thought that maybe having the list of critical workers in advance of the announcement might in fact help schools organise this a bit better….

Yoga of course was off- we are going to be having lessons via zoom from next week (we are having a lesson on Thursday of this week to learn how to use it). I did manage a couple of runs- both of around 3-4 miles (one with my brother). On Wednesday night our Ocado shopping was thankfully early- we usually book a slot the night before, but we had to book this slot around 10 days before, and the only one we could get was 11-midnight. My brother starts work at 6am (and in fact 5am on the Tuesday as they had an extra meeting) and our living room door has glass panels and is right by the front door, so we were conscious of disturbing him when it arrived.

On Thursday night things got weirder because for a lot of children in my class, it would be the end of school for we don’t know how long. I saw a little activity with sunflower seeds, where they can take them home and care for them, and we harvested sunflower seeds last summer so I had a load, so I decided we would do that to celebrate our last day.  I wore my Frozen top to remind myself to let go of things I cannot control and found a helpful Venn diagram to remind me of what those things are.

I thought I was doing OK at Friday, but at the end of the day some of the parents came to say a little goodbye, and it just suddenly overwhelmed me and I ended up crying. It’s always sad at the end of the summer term to say goodbye to your class, but you are prepared for it, and so are they. They have grown up enough by then to be ready for their next year, and as a class we would have done things about changes and moving on. This just felt so sudden and also so much unknown. To cope with it I am really imagining being back with them around May half term, but with exams being cancelled it seems like it might go on for even longer.

I didn’t set an alarm on Saturday but I was up early anyway. I went out for a non-parkrun, around the local streets and park, and was home and out of the shower before the parkrun quiz started. I even had time to make a cup of tea and toast a hot cross bun. I think it’s a good idea for them to do something at 9am, because they have asked people not to go to parks at that time but the trouble is (as we have seen with the going to pubs/ panic buying toilet paper) people always think the rules apply to everyone else and not them.  It was quite fun- there was a link with a google doc to fill in your answers.

I knew a few of the questions (eg the first parkrun in Wales) but some of them were just guesses (such as the most common surname). I got 10/15 which I was pretty pleased with, but it’s all for fun, and nice to have a bit of online parkrun community as the real thing wasn’t available.

The rest of the day was spent doing a lot of cleaning (we can’t expect our cleaners to visit at the moment because it’s non-essential work) and a lot of sorting out. My brother moved over to my sisters house, so we could have a tidy up there too (he’d been sleeping on a mattress on the living room floor so we’d had to move some furniture around to get it all to fit). We had a walk later in the day to get some fresh air, and that seemed to be a quieter time to head out.

On Sunday I went on another long run- around 10 miles. It was good to be out and I pretty much avoided people, apart from one family who crossed the road to be in front of me, so I had to cross to the other pavement to avoid them. Eye roll. I made us some pancakes for breakfast and then I had a lot of work to do- I am sure I will get the hang of it, but I’m not very technical and setting work and uploading things to google classroom was taking me a while, and of course trying to think of things that parents can do with their children, taking into account the fact that many of the parents will be trying to work from home too.

When sorting out the freezer, Andy found a box with some slices of cake in it- hooray! It turned out to be very tasty lemon cake. Of course I could not escape the pandemic, but this new word of covidiot did make me chuckle- I am sure we can think of a few. The social distancing grid was helpful, although  it suggested going for a drive. Have we forgotten the climate emergency in all of this? Never just go for a drive!!!

How have you been adjusting to this new way of life? Are you able to work from home?

Irchester Country parkrun- UK alphabet completed!

I wrote this last weekend before everything started shutting down…

Irchester Country parkrun was probably Plan C for the weekend. Originally we were going to Norwich for the weekend as Andy had tickets for the match (Southampton were playing there), so I was going to head to a parkrun near Norwich. I’d had a conversation with my dad, and as he had football tickets too (to Watford) he’d said he would go to Ellenbrook Fields (Jersey Farm is off for the next few weeks to allow the paths to recover) so he could get back in time.

Then the football was called off, so a weekend at home beckoned.  I fancied some tourism but knew Dad needed to be home early, and then realised that he didn’t, because his football was also called off. Quite late on Friday I persuaded him to go with me to Irchester Country parkun, as I have been trying to tick off my alphabet for ages now, and it is just about within touring range. I wrote down the directions and saw about the £1 for parking, but that was about it for prep!

I got to Dad’s at around 7.30, and then he drove us the rest of the way (in his electric car so we are minimising our tourism impact!).

We parked up at around 8.45, paid the £1 for parking and then followed the stream of people down the hill to the start. It seemed like such a lovely park, but no time to look around, because as we got to the start area we realised the new runner briefing was already going on. Thankfully the course was simple (out, 1km loop and then back) so it was fairly quick to understand. There were loads of new runners, and we heard in the main briefing that there was a 5k graduation for Running Buddies (hence all the first timers).

After waiting for a few people heading up to the start area (the same thing happens at Ellenbrook) we were off. Dad was running ahead, and so I just enjoyed being out in the woods. The country park is so pretty- loads of huge trees and so many paths through the woods. The route seemed to go gently uphill for a bit, with smaller steeper sections (but nothing terrible) in the loop. There were loads of marshals and they were all very cheerful and enthusiastic. On the way back, there were people heading out in the other direction and that is always fun as you can cheer each other on.

The final part was gently downhill so made for a strong finish. After scanning we heard someone bang the gong so went to have a look – it even had the parkrun symbol in the middle. We were trying (and failing) to get a selfie with the gong in the background, and someone offered to take our photo. I recognised her, and she turned out to be Liz, a bit of a parkrun uber tourist who I’ve bumped into a few times (including at Heartwood Forest) and follow on Strava. As we were chatting I suddenly recognised Mary as the RD, and she had come over. It was lovely to chat in real life, and had I been more organised I would have looked on the volunteer roster to see, as I knew she had worked to set it up.  I then saw the parkrun sign, and decided that a photo in front of it would commemorate the occasion properly- UK parkrun alphabet complete, now all I need is a Z!  (I need another I for my name badge though!) We drove back home where Mum cooked us pancakes. I had offered to go straight home as I am a bit worried about my mum getting the virus (she ticks a few of the at risk boxes) but she was OK with me coming over, so we made sure to stay a long way apart. (Added later- my parents are now isolating themselves so my brother is living with us as he still has to go to work).

Not sure when the Z will happen, especially with all the parkrun countries being cancelled due to the virus. We were looking at booking the Eurostar for the Easter holidays so I could do Zuiderpark (in The Hague- meant to start at the end of March) but I don’t think that will be happening any time soon.

If you need an I, or are fairly near then I would say head to this parkrun – three laps of a cricket pitch/football fields is still a good parkrun, but I am a sucker for one laps, and getting out into the woods just feels so good for the mind.

Are you chasing any challenges at the moment? 

And what do other people do on a Saturday morning?