A week of self isolation

I am someone who needs to be outside and needs to be busy. I am happy pottering around at home, but the idea of a pyjama day is really my worst nightmare ( I mean, not as bad as big spiders, but you know what I mean). I am happy to watch a film in the afternoon if I have been out and about in the morning. I don’t run every day- usually 4 times a week- but I do have a walk or some sort of activity each day, and my 10,000+ per day step streak has been going a few years now. So when I got that notification of having to stay home, it really did feel very tough.  I had so many messages from friends and family checking how I was going to cope, and even my dad asked me if I was going to head out at midnight when the isolation ended. So I have a reputation for a reason.

Anyway, it was OK. It felt like a shame because it was my holidays (from work) and on the one hand I was trying to enjoy them, but on the other hand wishing the first week away so that I could actually get outside properly. The fact that our area went into Tier 4 as soon as it was invented (this was predicted of course that they can add on more tiers, just like with the GCSE’s now being numbers, they can add 10 in a year or so, like they did with the old A, A*, A** etc.), so plans to meet up outside on walks with my parents and with a friend were not allowed anyway, but if I wasn’t isolating I would still be allowed out to exercise each day.

A gingerbread man cake for my brother, our cake is the reindeer, the robin for my parents and the tree for Andy’s parents.

I know we are so lucky to have a garden, and so I started each day with a run in the garden. Garmin/ Strava are not fans of tracking runs so close to the house, so it would take me a long time to get to 4 miles (I had signed up to run 100km before Christmas, and that was what I needed to hit my target).  At least with a few podcasts the time went fairly quickly. I soon wore a path in the grass though, and by the final couple of days I had to stick to the patio and running down the side of the house because the grass was so boggy (we had a lot of rain).

Then I got on with work, exciting things like cleaning, and then Christmas prep such as wrapping gifts, decorating cakes and baking. I would sit down for a bit at lunch but generally try to keep on pottering about because I wanted to sleep well, and I don’t sleep well if I’ve been sat around all day.

My trail shoes were so muddy, and on the final couple of days I ran in my gardening shoes (old running shoes) because I could not even get my trail shoes on. Cleaning them is on my list!

Spiced nuts, Christmas Disney top, tiffin, spiced nuts and watching In Bruges.

Delicious veggie chilli had for dinner one evening.

My tea advent calendar was a nice focus each day too. One day I had a fair bit of work, and the tea was called Jack Frost (I think spearmint and coconut), so I watched Frozen while I got on with the work. Elsa’s palace felt very fitting!

Usually Strava looked like a scribble in my garden, but one day it decided that I had run in a straight line away from home. I promise I didn’t. It even had ben running over a lake. Impressive powers. One day we got a Pret deliveroo for lunch, because I love their Christmas sandwich (something like nutty roast or stuffing with roasted pumpkin, cranberry sauce and other goodies).

On payday I had treated myself to the Brooks Christmas trainers- I nearly got them last year but didn’t, and then this year on payday decided to treat myself. Well, of course they arrived once I was isolating and the garden was way too muddy for them. At least I can wear them next year!

Of course I had some films to keep me going too.

For most of the week the weather was fairly rubbish, but in Christmas Eve we were treated to beautiful blue skies and frosty winter weather.

I made sure one of my jobs that day was to top up the bird food in the garden as that’s not a fun job in the rain.

Not a bad step count either!

I made some “mini” stollen (they were not that mini), had breakfast watching Mary Berry’s Christmas show, and also got ready for a zoom quiz later on (had some stollen during the quiz).

On Christmas Day of course I had to wear my Christmas leggings.

It was another frosty morning with our pond being completely iced over and such a pretty sky. After showers and breakfast we swapped presents and listened to some Christmas podcasts, and then got on with lunch prep.

Home Alone jumper on of course- this was my first ever Christmas jumper from about 7 years ago I think! The collection has grown since then.

We had always planned for it to be just the two of us on Christmas, so we had the right amount of food which was one good thing. We’d got an order from Cook a while back, and then topped it up with a few other bits. We had their lovely vegan squash and nut stacks, with some cranberry stuffing, roast potatoes, veg and cranberry sauce (Andy also had a few pigs in blankets). I’m not usually a fan of roast potatoes but they were very tasty, and I don’t think I’d ever had stuffing before. I think I’d always associated it with meat because it is meant to get stuffed in the meat (?) so just never tried it. We even had veggie gravy which again I don’t think I’d ever had because I don’t trust that it would not actually have meat in it (if I was having it somewhere else). Then I did feel a bit sad because the weather was so nice and usually a walk after Christmas dinner is just such a good part of the day. In the end Andy went out for a walk and I walked around the garden listening to a podcast. I just knew I’d feel better after walking instead of sitting around, and it was good to get some fresh air.

Weirdly our rose is still flowering, and it did look so pretty against the blue sky. We were both still full from dinner hours later, so I think we had a few nibbles of crackers and then had a Christmas pudding with a bit of ice cream. We did a video call with my parents, and watched some Christmas  TV. All very chilled out and enjoyable.

I ordered this jumper from Etsy pretty much as soon as I got home because it just seemed perfect.

And then, my self isolation was over! Hooray! I shall save the freedom for another post!

What did you have for Christmas dinner? Did you have to change plans?

Have you had to self isolate yet? How do you think you would cope? At least I know I can manage it, but of course it could easily happen again, so I am not sure how I’d cope a second time around.

The Christmas movies (and TV) that complete a festive season

Every year there are a few classic film and TV shows that we watch at  this time of year, and with all the other stuff going on, some Christmas movie escapism was what was needed, especially at around 4pm on a Sunday when it was dark outside, I’d make a pot of tea and settle down.

First up, the classics, which we tend to watch closer to Christmas Day.

The Snowman. I cannot remember a Christmas where I didn’t watch it, and just the music makes me feel calm. Saved for Christmas Eve.

It’s a Wonderful Life. We first watched this on Christmas Eve when we went to Boston and New York over Christmas- it was snowing in Boston and freezing cold, and after we’d been outside all day we put the TV on and watched it. It’s now a Christmas Eve tradition.

Home Alone. Another classic that is probably reserved for the day before Christmas Eve. Although I still can’t look at the big spider, and the bit where the guys sit in their van and know the timings of all the lights still freaks me out.

Muppet Christmas Carol. A great take on a classic story. Creepy ghosts but catchy songs!

Elf. I mean, is there a happier film than this?

In Bruges. Now, some might argue that this isn’t a Christmas movie, but it takes place in Bruges in December, and it’s all snowy. It’s got a sort of Fargo feel to it- very dark humour. But a nice change to all the super sweet Christmas bit going on.

New films this year!

Last Christmas. Now, when I heard about this last year, I could not quite believe that there had been a film created around just one song. I do quite like the song (and the Jimmy Eat World cover of it), but I mean, how do they make a film of it? It was billed as a romantic comedy (a genre I am not a fan of) but I think the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour hit the nail on the head when they said it was a bit more like a Christmas Carol, and should have been called A Christmas Lesson. It was fine, but I feel like they used the song too early (and also way too literally). Not sure I’d rush to watch it again but it was quite nice seeing London looking all festive, so if I came across it on TV I might re-watch.

Happiest Season. This was quite sweet. A young woman with a plan to propose to her girlfriend while at her family’s annual holiday party discovers her partner hasn’t yet come out to her conservative parents. There were some good characters (I could have happily seen more of Dan Levy’s character) and it was perfectly watchable.

Noelle. This had Elf vibes to me, with the Christmas North Pole village just looking so festive and pretty. I wished that Anna Kendrick sang a bit more in it, but I’d happily watch it again.

Godmothered. New to me (I think it was out last year?), it’s not totally Christmas related  with a fairy godmother-in-training trying to prove that people still need fairy godmothers, but as a lot of it happens in Boston around Christmas time there is enough festive goings on to make it part of the list. I did wonder at times who the target audience was, as there were some jokes that I think would go way over some heads.

The Christmas Chronicles. Andy liked this more than I did. I thought it was quite funny, but again who is the audience? I would think it would be too scary for little children, and it was a bit predictable. Anyway, I might watch it again but there would be many more in front of it on the list.

TV Shows:

Community Christmas Special. Community was a great comedy show, set in a community collage, and their Christmas special has some great songs and is just a feel-good watch without being saccharin.

Gavin and Stacy Christmas Special– the original one, not the one from last year.  It is full of classic lines and captures the essence of a family Christmas.

Home for Christmas: This is a Norwegian show on Netflix, with a second series this year. When we went to Oslo last November we saw loads of adverts for it, and so started watching it when we got home. The first series begins at the start of December with the main character lying to her family and tells them that she has a boyfriend, and that he will accompany her to Christmas dinner. The series follows her in a Christmas countdown as she tries to find a partner, and it’s very festive (she rides a sledge up and down her local high street, there’s some skiing, lots of gløgg- Scandinavians do Christmas properly) and it’s quite sweet.


Lots of podcasts release Christmas specials, but the one that tops them all is the Adam and Joe one. I used to watch their show when I was babysitting, and then when we moved to Hatfield,  listening to their xfm show used to be our Saturday routine (and listening to their podcasts kept me company on my runs back when there were not many podcasts about). Adam Buxton now hosts his own podcast, but each year he’s done a festive special with Joe, and hooray, they are still doing one this year!

Which are your favourite Christmas movies or TV shows?

Attempting some Strava art and a different end to term

The week started off in the same way- opening my tea advent calendar (Butter Brew made an appearance which is a lovely black tea with caramel, as did Eggnog which is a vegan rooibos with nutmeg), doing some crafty bits and wrapping gifts.

I was going to meet Carrie for a run after work on Tuesday but she could not make it, so I parked in town and attempted a snowman that I had seen someone else in the running club post (they had posted a screenshot from Strava so I couldn’t zoom in). I could not quite work out the entire route but I think it looks pretty good. I’d worn my Christmas leggings of course.

There wasn’t any yoga on Wednesday, but after a very busy day I was thankful for a short walk before getting on with work and then some TV. I did ponder having a run, but decided to wait until Thursday.

Thursday started off well (tea in a cute robin cup from one of the children in my class) and I was in a festive jumper (and also I took in my Christmas Minnie Mouse ears as we’d been doing reindeer runs at school each day in place of the normal daily miles). But then at lunch time I had the dreaded alert on my phone.

Because of who the cases were linked to, this meant that we had to send home our entire bubble, and I had to go home as soon as the last child had left. We had already planned a rehearsal for trialling Google Meet with our classes, so I had to do that and then prep a day of online teaching ready for Friday. Not really the end of term we were hoping for. Although the app is wrong as it has changed to 10 days, so the official letter I got tells me that my isolation ends on Christmas Day at midnight (eg I can go out on Boxing Day). I really wished that I’d gone on a run on Wednesday before I’d known, as I cannot leave here (even if I went out at 6am and didn’t see anyone)- I did a trial walk around the garden and made a sort of figure of eight but it isn’t the same and Strava/ Garmin cannot cope with measuring it. I had signed up to run 100km before Christmas and I am not 100% sure I can manage that now- 4 miles really feels like the limit for each day.

Making the most of WFH with crumpets for lunch as I do not trust the communal toaster at work!

Andy had already ordered the festive vegan Crosstown Doughnuts as a celebration for making it to the end of term, so they arrived on Friday- even more needed!  After finishing work I went for a run around the garden- I wanted to run 4 miles but with the tracking being so off, my watch didn’t get to 4 miles until I’d been out for around 70 minutes- it was very dark by then. Listening to WMN for a bit of festivity- and yes I agree with Nicola that Baby It’s Cold Outside has a very inappropriate message!

One of the running club challenges was to take 4 photos on a run, so I could tick that one off still. Not the most exciting photos!

Saturday was International Ugly Christmas Singlet day (from the parkrun adventurers pod)- I had my koala top from last year so of course was going to wear it for my run. Ideally it should be at a parkrun (and I did wear it a year ago at a very muddy Jersey Farm) but this is what is allowed. I wore my Run up 2 Christmas elf socks too, to get into the festive spirit. Andy ended up shutting the blinds because he said watching me made him think of animals pacing a tiny zoo enclosure.

Garmin cannot cope with the run!

At least I had lots of Christmas jobs to get done, such as decorating Christmas cakes and wrapping more presents.

Next up on the Christmas movie list was Elf- it seemed fitting after wearing my elf socks on my run, and preferable to watching the announcement about how we are going back into lockdown for the next few months.

I do feel disappointed by this, as we were not going to meet up inside with anyone over Christmas, as we didn’t think it was sensible (but I do understand that we are lucky that both sets of parents live close by, so we have seen them for walks etc fairly regularly- much easier than if we lived in different parts of the country)- however we were going to meet up on some walks outside as all the evidence shows that outdoors the risk is relatively low, and now we can’t even do that. I feel cross when I think about it for too long because I have been so cautious- online shopping, only going into a café during the more relaxed lockdowns for a takeaway drink, not going to restaurants or pubs, I’ve still not braved the hairdressers (3rd Jan 2020 was when I last went…) and even with all that I have first lost a week of my holiday (I know it’s not technically lost, but I need to be outside for my mental health and not having that for a week makes it feel like I am very stuck and wasting time) and can’t see much for optimism in the near future.  I also really want parkrun back, and with these latest restrictions it feels further away yet again. On the podcast Tom Williams was talking about it, and he said that in the summer they could have legally gone ahead, but linked to public perception etc they didn’t push for it. Which makes sense when football and all sorts was going on then. But if they had started and then had to stop, I wonder if it would be nearer again, whereas because all the events have stopped for so long, the restart is going to take ages. Whinge over.

Gingerbread chai tea- hooray! It’s one of the best!

On Sunday I did a slightly longer run (around 90 mins, although Strava still said 4 miles)- another running club challenge was to run with a buddy and have a post run treat, so I got my little Stitch and had him in my pocket as I ran. One doughnut each was left so that was breakfast and the post run treat sorted. Delicious.

Late afternoon and another Christmas movie was calling, this time The Christmas Chronicles. Which I did quite enjoy, but am not 100% sure who the target audience is (a child in my class who was scared of The Gruffalo was watching it, and I do think it’s scarier than that). Anyway, quite fun. I rounded off the weekend with watching a podcast (it’s a comedy teaching one)- it was live on Friday night but I could not really face it then- if you’d got a ticket you could watch it later, and as Andy had a football podcast at the same time it seemed like a good option.

How are you coping with the new tiers? What would you do if you were stuck inside for 10 days?  To end on a positive note, I have had so many messages from people asking if I need anything, which is just so sweet (although Andy is allowed to leave the house so he can go to the shop if we needed anything). Anyway,  it’s good to remember that people are just so kind.

Getting the decorations up and making a wreath

(This is back on Monday 7th December before all the craziness happened).

After visiting the Christmas tree farm on the Sunday, I didn’t have much energy to actually decorate it, so we did it in bits during the week.  We got our fake tree down and put it in the dining room (we couldn’t decide for a while) so now we have two trees- I am making the most of this once in a lifetime situation!

Andy’s dad made us this amazing wooden tree, so I put our little Disney baubles on it.

On Wednesday it was the final yoga of the term (none in the final week) and I felt Ok, although any of the inversions just felt bad so I missed those. It’s so weird to think that since March the classes have been going online. I am still yet to do a proper headstand (I can get one leg up at a time, but not both)- maybe 2021 will be a year for me to get the hang of that.

On Thursday I met my dad for a run- a little out and back in the rain. It was enjoyable to catch up and as it turned out, our last run together for a while so I am glad we managed it.

I am loving the Proviz jacket although it is very noisy!

Friday treat of a gingerbread biscuit while I tackled some work, more festive tea in my advent calendar and a crime drama on the TV.

Of course, now that it’s December, the festive leggings are out. Another club challenge was to do some reps (I think 200m or more in length, maybe 6 reps?) so I did that on Saturday morning as part of my (not)parkrun. All good.

Since finishing The Crown and whizzing through The Queen’s Gambit we started an Icelandic drama called The Valhalla Murders which has been really good (way better than Young Wallander), and then onto Fargo.

I’d ordered a wreath kit from a lady on Etsy who usually does classes, and there was a fair bit of hassle with the delivery company losing the parcel (not the seller’s fault at all- she was super helpful), but the replacement arrived in time for the weekend, so I spent a good hour and a bit making the wreath. Things like this are so therapeutic and I would definitely do something like this again. The lady had made a video as well as printing out instructions, so I could watch and pause her instructions whenever needed. It of course doesn’t replace a live class, but in this situation that we are in it was perfect. The box was full of moss and fir and pine cones and dried orange slices and wooden stars- it just looked so festive.

I also wrapped the presents for people at work, made decorations for some relatives and got them ready to post, sorted a donation to The Woodland Trust (instead of sending Christmas cards),  topped up the bird food, did the cleaning and finished some work. Phew. A very productive day.

On Sunday I took the run fairly gently as I still felt like I had a bit of a cold left, so 8 miles in the rain felt like plenty. I did some more crafting- I love making these Danish hearts- and also made some cookies.

These are the Pret vegan chocolate almond butter cookie recipe, and then on the top I melted a little dark choc mixed with some peppermint extract, and then sprinkled on some crushed candy canes. I just wish we were allowed to give out home-made food as gifts (I understand why not but it’s a shame all the same).

On Sunday afternoon my Christmas movie was Godmothered (on Disney+)- a bit of an Enchanted and Elf vibe, and as a lot of it is set in Boston over Christmas it let us look back on a few yeas ago when we went to NYC and Boston over Christmas.

What Christmas movies have you been watching?  Do you like crafts? I just got a glue gun and I can see a lot of use for that in the future!

I hope you are doing OK whichever tier you are in and whatever plans you had…

A festive run and tea advent!

So, last week it was the start of December. Usually we can say things like “wow, how is it December already?” but this year it feels like we have been in December-Eve for ages.

On Sunday I watched another festive film, this time Noelle, from Disney+. This was more of a fun Christmas film than Last Christmas (which was a bit more like A Christmas Carol)- loads of lines from Christmas songs, lots of cute decorations and full of festive cheer. I did wish that Anna Kendrick would sing a bit more though.

Advent calendar excitement, Run up 2 Christmas socks and a hot cross bun with some tea after a super busy day at work

As well as advent calendars, December marked the start of our running club challenge (they’ve created 12 days of Christmas, with 12 challenges to be completed, in any order during December), and I am also doing the Run Up 2 Christmas for MIND- I am aiming for 100km before Christmas day.

On Tuesday after work I met Carrie for a run. We had said we would run to see the Christmas lights in WGC (I was even wearing my Christmas top which I realised that after putting on my high viz vest and light over the top, no-one could actually see…), and after doing a little detour around the town to see some of the lights, we thought we would be able to tick off the 10k on the club challenge- we actually ran over 7 miles which we both agreed was something that neither of us would have done if we were running on our own. I was absolutely freezing though- after work I’d had a meeting and to make it socially distanced we had to sit in the hall, with all the  doors open, so it was about 4 degrees. I think only after running around 4 miles did I start to feel warm, and I was so  glad when I got home to find that Andy had put the wood burner on.

On Monday we finished The Crown, so Tuesday was the time to begin The Queen’s Gambit (a week on we have finished it!).

On Thursday I drove to my parents and had a run with Dad- he had planned the route and it ended up being very muddy as we ran across fields and along bridleways. It was good fun, and although it had rained all day, it actually stopped when we started running, and with the moon out was quite a clear evening. I wore my new Pro Viz jacket which I had got in the sales. I mainly got it as a waterproof as despite washing my running jacket with the special wash stuff, it isn’t any good in heavy rain. Weirdly, despite being the same price and pretty much the same design, the cycling jacket is waterproof and the running one isn’t, so I got the cycling jacket. I am so impressed with the reflectivity, as was my dad.

See below for how muddy my shoes were after! Another club challenge ticked off (a (not)parkrun).

On Friday night I slept so badly, and on Saturday decided to do another challenge, 3 hill repeats somewhere in your run. I ended up doing 5 miles, but just never warmed up and my pace was super slow the whole time. After a hot shower and breakfast, I still wasn’t feeling great but just thought  it was because I hadn’t slept well. I managed some cleaning and a walk to get some fresh air, but I had some work to do and ended up sitting in bed attempting to do it, and just went to sleep all afternoon instead. Andy woke me up and I had some dinner, and then went back to bed again.

No run on Sunday morning- instead a morning spent watching TV. By the afternoon I felt a bit better, and Andy had found a local Christmas tree farm, so we went there to choose a tree- it’s a hard decision!

Although by the time we had got it home and put it up, I had no energy to get the decorations down or start putting them up, so we left that for another day.

Are your decorations up? Real tree or fake? We have a fake one which we put up each year, but as we’re not going away as a special treat we got a real one this year.