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?

Panshanger parkrun for IWD, llamas or alpacas, and not quite Disneyland Paris…

Last weekend we had planned to head to Disneyland Paris, for the Star Wars and Frozen extras that are going on. Due to a few different things, we didn’t end up going, which was a shame but meant I could go to parkrun- silver linings and all that! As they were celebrating IWD I wore my purple Disney top to fit with the colour scheme.

I parked up and headed for a little warm up run, to see the llama (or alpaca- I’m never sure). My hands were so cold they went bright pink! I managed to time it quite well, getting back to the start with a few minutes to spare. They had a few milestones including (an arbitrary) 200th run.

I loved running around there, as I’d not been for ages (recently I’ve been going to Jersey Farm with Dad more often) and it is such a pretty park. When I edited my run on Strava I added IWD as I could not be bothered to type out the words, and it turned the route purple.

I’d bought some almond croissants to make us feel better about not going to France, and added a few chocolate buttons before heating them up, because chocolate almond croissants are king.

My tea club arrived (including cream egg tea and simnel cake tea) which also cheered me up. Then we headed out to visit a couple of National Trust places, Wicken Fen and then Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.

It was lovely to get outside in the fresh air.

Silver birch trees are my favourite.

On Sunday I ran 9 miles (realising that the next half marathon is only 3 weeks away- and I realise now that it probably won’t go ahead, but I enjoy the running anyway)- it was chilly but really felt like spring was around the corner. We’d been to Lidl and got these delicious marzipan dark chocolate eggs (well, they are shaped like half an egg)- soooo good.

On Tuesday I had to pick up an order in town, so decided I would change into my running kit at work and then run around town. This was all good and I had a 5 mile run, but then as soon as I stopped running I got really cold. I picked up a chai latte as Caffe Nero was still open, and then collected my order (a yoga mat) and then had to walk back with the awkward box under my arm- not so easy!

I also loved the reminder on the Action for Happiness app- I feel I need this now more than ever.

On Wednesday I walked up to Starbucks at lunch, and due to the C virus they were not letting you use your own cups, so I had to have my drink in a paper cup and then pour it into my cup myself (I wanted it to stay warm for the afternoon). Seems a bit of a waste but equally I can see why everyone is so worried about it.

I went to yoga for the first time in ages, and took my mat with me.

We practised a handstand against the wall, and even though (as I get so nervous) my hands were so sweaty, with a little bit of help from the teacher I managed to get both legs up and even held it for a few moments before coming down. Later we also did headstands, and I can get one leg up, so the teacher steadied my hips and I managed to put up my other leg. I felt like I would overbalance, but I think it is psychological and I find it hard to work out where my limbs are when I am upside down. I know so much of this is down to my belief in myself, as I know I am strong enough, I just have to have confidence. I’m getting there!

On Thursday I had a busy day and we were heading into London after work to see a podcast recording (Reasons to be Cheerful), so I got up early to have a run before work instead. As it was just getting light it wasn’t as bad as last time I tried (where there were no streetlights).  3 miles done and I felt pretty good- I think I was running before my muscles started aching from yoga!

At work I feel like I am out of touch from the world (no constant new updates) and when I got home I think Andy didn’t really want to go into London due to all of the news of the virus spreading, but in the end we didn’t think the trains would be that busy (they weren’t) and we only needed the overground so it wasn’t too bad. The actual podcast was really good (I think they said it would be out next week)- all about nature and farming and carbon, and Robin Ince (from Infinite Monkey Cage) was their comedy guest and I think we all needed that. I was shattered when we got home though.

How has the virus started to affect you? At the moment at work we have to wash our hands a lot (and so do the kids- eg as soon as they come in, before they go home as well as the other usual times), but Andy is now working at home and not having any face to face meetings. Have you seen any podcast recordings? 

A sunny run, baking and making pizza

I LOVE the Pret chocolate almond butter cookies, and usually if I go into a Pret (thankfully we don’t have one in town) I will end up getting one. I love baking, so thought I should have a go at making them myself. After a bit of googling, I found this recipe and gave it a go last weekend.

They turned out very well, although they didn’t spread much in the oven so I think next time I would flatten them out a bit more first.

On Sunday I headed out for a run- it was lovely running weather, but still so much flooding about. I was feeling really tired, so I cut it short at 6 miles. I was tempted to stay out for longer, but I decided it was better to quit while I was ahead.

Once home I did a bit of baking (brownies for work) and listened to this podcast, which I thought could be relevant with the C19 spreading, only I was sort of making a joke, and now it seems that everyone is panic buying gigantic bags of dried rice.

We popped over to see Andy’s parents, and then I made pizza’s using the Cook Eat Run recipe. The tomato sauce is really good, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. (I had pineapple on mine, and then the rest we had the same with tomatoes, artichokes, pesto and vegan cheese).

Also how cute is the basil pot?

I’ve also been loving Red Velvet tea- we made a pot last weekend and it was a particularly pink brew!

We’ve also seen a few films lately- Bombshell (which seems to be replicated at the moment with the bullying allegations in the government) and Dark Waters which was just horrifying. We’ve also watched a couple more Netflix documentaries- one about the founder of Bikram yoga and all the complaints against him, and then one called American Factory about a Chinese glass company setting up in an old car factory in the USA (lots of stuff about poor working conditions etc). So, nothing cheerful!

On Monday my Action for Happiness app had this lovely prompt, which was perfect for my run- beautiful clouds, sky, trees, flowers…

I was feeling good, but after going to bed feeling fine, I woke up in the night feeling awful. I had bad stomach pains, kept feeling nauseous and dizzy, and was dripping with sweat so much that I had to wipe up the bathroom floor. I didn’t go into work the next day, but after being awake most of the night and then sleeping in the morning, I felt a bit better in the afternoon. I went out to stretch my legs and get some fresh air, and that helped too. No idea what it was that caused it…

Feeling better in the evening/ icy windscreen/ not many steps on a sick day/ a good podcast

On Wednesday I was back at work and went out on a walk at lunch, listening to the Science Vs Podcast- it was very interesting and I think we just should not panic about it at the moment.

I had a late meeting so no yoga (again).

On Thursday I got totally soaked on my run- it rained all day and some of my usual routes were very waterlogged. As it was World Book Day I took it seriously and had a hot water bottle in bed while I read a book.

What fast food can’t you resist?