Here comes the sun…

Saturday 27 May 2023

Can anyone believe our British luck? Bank Holiday weekend and half term and the sun is out!

I know, but ‘Shush’, we don’t want to jinx it because after some endlessly long and wet times in Winter and Spring, it is a most welcome sight. And, I read, it is also good for us!

Oh ‘easy skin-care brigade‘, it goes without saying that we all slap on the factor 50 but, with that protection in place, let’s look at the upside of some solar basking!

In his podcast ‘Just one thing‘ , Michael Mosley looks at why we should get some sun and concludes that,

.”..the truth is, our bodies need it – especially in the northern hemisphere…”

Sitting outside and soaking up the rays is claimed to have a wealth of benefits for both our physical and mental health. It boosts our vitamin D, important for bone health and also for fighting range of diseases, including dementia, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. Sunlight can also contribute to lowering blood pressure. And it feels great? Well, indeed, there is some scientific evidence that it does lift our mood, one study finding that levels of serotonin in our blood are higher on bright days than on those that are cloudy or overcast.

I can add a fourth… it is super relaxing! In a blissfully quiet home, with all my offspring either off in Uni-land or out at work, I happily sway in the sun, on my zero gravity lounger for most of the afternoon. And the garden is swathed in warm rays for longer than usual. Yes, about a month ago I was more than a little shaken when one of my neighbours went a touch psycho with his hedge cutters and lopped a good 2 metres off our adjoining wall of greenery. Today, however, whilst it still looks absolutely atrocious, I am reaping the benefits of wall to wall sunshine. And, my oh my, it is marvellous.

Now I know there will be some amongst you claiming that you ‘hate just sitting around doing nothing‘ and need to be ‘kept busy’. Well to you, I politely throw down the gauntlet of living my life for a month, in its full entirety of lone- motherly madness. I’m pretty confident that after 4 weeks you’d not only be putting aside your qualms about an afternoon of lounging but actually begging just to be allowed to sit down and enjoy some peace and quiet! And if not, well go out for a walk, resit the urge to ruin everyone’s tranquility with your lawn mowers and leave us layabouts be!

So I am off to enjoy a little but more of life in my lounger. Let’s just hope the fine weather lasts…

A day trip to Derbyshire…

Saturday 13 May 2023

After last weekend’s flit to Edinburgh, I was holding out for my first Saturday lie-in in May. It turns out not to be the case…

There are a number of reasons for the early start, and I can’t blame the offspring for any of them! The most significant is that I have to see a man about … an oboe. Yes, my beloved instrument, rather like its owner, is showing the ravages of time and has been booked in for a pretty pricey overhaul.

I only trust one man with such a job, for my favourite possession, and the only way for him to collect the poor old thing, this side of Summer, is for me to meet him at his gig in the Buxton Opera House. At the same time, due to train strikes, my lovely mum is struggling to visit her sister, who is based by chance in a nearby Derbyshire village and so we hatch the plot to head for the High Peak together. Let’s call it a mini mother-daughter road trip.

The third addendum to the weekend frolics is that my washing machine packs in. Yup, you load it up, press start, it grunts, groans, soaks your clothes and then grinds to a stuttering halt. So, with weary resignation, I push the alarm back a further thirty minutes, allowing time to weigh down the car with two loads of soiled, sodden laundry that can be chucked into mum’s Zanussi and pegged on the line before we hit the M60!

To be fair, it all runs like clockwork. Mum and I are both appalling navigators so place our trust in the satnav and enjoy the country roads it takes us to. Whilst Mum laughs that it is the only time, on many trips to this part of the world, that she has ever driven through the hamlet of ‘Sparrowpit‘ , by eleven we are in my Aunt’s flat enjoying well earned cuppa, safe in the knowledge that, as we chat, the warm spring sunshine will be drying my week’s worth of washing. The three of us have a fantastic catch-up, share many jokes (there is even singing) and all relish a fish and chip lunch.

By late-afternoon, we are in Buxton and treating ourselves to cold drinks (and donuts) in an elegant park, basking, for once, in some glorious weather. The rendez-vous with my oboe repairer goes smoothly. He is really nice and even offers me comps for the evening’s opera. But after a very early start, a 10:30pm finish doesn’t sound great,(plus I know that Small boy is counting on a lift to a party at 7pm) so we politely decline.

Instead, after a jolly drive home and a successful dispatch of my socialite son, it is a night of wine and Eurovision for me – ‘Cha cha cha … !’

As for the washing machine… well an even nicer man sorts me out a terrific deal on a whizzy new washer. So life is looking up and who knows, next weekend, I might even get a lie-in…

I’m not a single parent, I’m a double parent…

Thursday 4 May 2023

It is a Thursday evening. After a long day at work, I reach home around 7pm to find ex-hub in my lounge. He is stopping off for a whistle-stop visit to my youngest child, at the end of some 3-week coast to coast walk his employer decided he deserved. He is enthusing about his trek and I hear phrases like ‘sense of achievement’ and the ‘challenge‘ of just ‘having to get up and get on with it every day‘. I just stare at him with glazed eyes of bewilderment.

Because, quite frankly he could be talking Russian right now. His ‘demanding’ three weeks of trotting across the land, in the Spring sunshine are so far removed from the 21 days I have battled through that … I simply have no words. And, right there in that very moment, it hits me like a thunderbolt. The reason I am so (so very) tired is because I do all the parenting. I’ve always labelled myself as a single parent but I have been wrong. I am less a single and more a double parent!

Well, I say that out loud and could be forgiven for viewing myself as a pretty impressive member of the family circle. Cue, blogger Elizabeth Denham, author of ‘The Double Parent

If we were to do twice the work asked of us by our boss, we would be applauded, promoted and given raises … As a double parent, I am proud (that I) do double the work.”

I think she has a point! It certainly cheers me up. I even manage to nod and smile politely as ex-Hub moves on to wax lyrical about a glorious section of his walk through the Lake District. Because, my head, I am replaying the parenting achievements I have ticked off in the past fortnight. Full time job intensified by the looming exam season, shopping, cooking, cleaning for Small Boy and I, sorting student finance for next year, occasionally helping with Maths A Level homework, advising on work clothes for Small Boy’s new job and giving him a first day lift, jointly researching and pencilling in uni open days, helping my Eldest with some car problems and … hey I even rose to the challenge (from Prom dress Daughter) of minimising some undergraduate Economics function of inflation and unemployment rate, over the phone and at about 9pm after a progress evening event at work!

Woohoo parents. You should all do this. Because I am now feeling like ‘super mum’ and I am pretty confident that even more impressive parental feats will have been accomplished by most of you all over the last 10 days or so.

I zone back into the lounge. Ex Hub is now half-way through regaling us with talk of his next voyage … I pick up something about an ‘Italian villa with friends‘.

Oh forget those lightweight plans, say I. Let me update you with the weekend schedule for the double parent in the room?

I am setting my Saturday alarm for 05:45 to drive up and down to Edinburgh in a day to deliver Prom dress daughter’s new passport. Oh yes, my lovely girl, booked and paid for her holiday before ordering her new passport! She flies to Ibiza next Wednesday and the new ID arrives tomorrow (Friday). To complete the catastrophe of calamity, it does not arrive in the Scottish capital alas but…at my house! She did offer to come and collect it but she also has work shifts and a final Statistics exam on the Tuesday so … let’s just say I am a very nice mum!

Why in a day? I hear you ask? Well because on the Sunday I have to take my own incredibly lovely mum for a hospital scan. When I tell her about Prom dress daughter she just laughs and brings up some tale of my dad, back in the day, having to travel to London to get me a Polish Visa whilst I holidayed in Spain! In her eyes this is clearly karma!

But my weary eyes are beginning to droop now, so as this double parent heads off to plan a few lessons, I say three cheers for all the fabulous parents out there. We don’t need seek out challenge and a ‘sense of accomplishment’ by walking a hundred miles through the English hills, we do amazing work three hundred and sixty five days of the year by … putting ourselves out to put our children first …

I was looking for a job…

Saturday 22 April 2022

” … and then (they) found a job

Heavens knows I’m Miserable now: The Smiths

As we move into the second half of April, two of my offspring find themselves on the payroll…

In the Scottish capital, Prom-dress daughter secures a job in a trendy cocktail bar and closer to home, in the pretty village up the road from our house, Small Boy is taken on at a local coffee shop. They are both very excited, well for my daughter, struggling to stretch a student loan to cover living costs, there is also a lot of relief.

Is it wrong, however, that I feel a little concerned?

Of course, I understand the attraction of some extra funds for a teenager and I also accept that I have never experienced the financial challenges and worries that today’s University students face. Nonetheless, I also know that one route to real financial choice and security comes from a decent set of qualifications and my question is this; can you have both? Can you get the best grades if your time is divided between work and study?

I’m not the only one to wonder. Oxbridge continue to actively discourage term-time work. But, in a landscape of spiralling costs, many students find that they simply have no choice because loans frequently fail to even cover the basic rent. Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, highlights the additional pressures on students from less affluent backgrounds,

“For many, wages from part-time work are the only way they can make ends meet …. It’s tough and it’s often the students’ academic work that loses out.”

Others point out that it is not only studying time, but also social time that is squeezed by the addition of a job into the student schedule, which can lead to isolation and stress. One student, in the Guardian Article, ‘How much part-time work should I take on while studying?‘ reported “getting really run-down and ill” and being “always envious of friends who could just concentrate on their studies”

Well ‘heaven’s knows I’m miserable now‘, that all sounds rather grim, so what of the benefits? Clearly there’s the cash, but does part-time job have any other advantages?

Reassuringly UCAS, in the article ‘Balancing work and study’ point our several plus points,

As long as it doesn’t take up too much study time, finding a part-time job is a great way to gain more money, less debt, and new skills for your CV

The cite a range of generic employability skills such as: communication, team work and time management. And, dependant on the nature or the role, point out that students can also learn various technical skills and that ‘above all, employers will want you to display the same skills in fresh thinking and systematic working that make you a success academically‘ . This positive view of part-time employment is echoed by several other Universities too, as well as, less surprisingly, most employment agencies.

The key seems to be the balance and two pieces of sage advice ring in my ears as I read through the various pieces of guidance in this area. The first is the recommendation from most course providers that part-time work, during term time, is kept to a maximum of 15 – 20 hours per week. The second is not to lose sight of why you are studying in the first place and to be prepared to lose the shifts if your grades or health start to suffer.

“Remember that you’re paying to be at uni and get a degree, so don’t waste that by running yourself into the ground”

Sound and sensible words indeed. I’ll keep it in mind as we enter the new world of the teenage workers …

Osma in Prestwich…

Thursday 13 April 2023

In the late 80’s, a university boyfriend who’d travelled to visit me, in my home town of Prestwich, insisted on a pilgrimage to the house of Mark E Smith, sadly now late but ever irascible frontman of the Fall. Two weeks ago, another uni friend calls to say that we must ‘do lunch‘ at a great Prestwich restaurant that is featuring on The Great British Menu. Yes, all Prestwich, my childhood stomping ground, … who knew?

Is there no end to the eclectic mix of fame and fortune in this small Mancunian suburb? (Prestwich also boasts, to name but a few: Victoria Wood, Elkie Brookes, Arlene Phillips, novellist Howard Jacobson and Godley and Creme!) Well, clearly not; indeed I could be forgiven for feeling quite the serial underachiever as a local of these parts! But enough of my life reflections, what of the latest star on the Prestwich podium?

Requests from old uni pals aside, we have already been once, but when I frantically text my fellow diner with the exciting news that chef Danielle Heron is indeed now on the TV, we decide that we have to go again. So let me tell you our latest trip to Osma…

What can I say but… an outstanding evening!

Our waiter is a delight. Knowledgeable, attentive and fun. He also gets full marks for navigating the hilarious confusion my friend causes when mistaking the wine prices for the alcohol percentage. (Oh yes, it will be a while before I let this one drop!) And then comes the food. We share five small plates and each is sensational, I mean I write my fanciful adjectives now, but at the time after one dish I just have to tell our spirited server,

That was bloomin’ fantastic!”

Influenced by the chef’s time in Oslo, the plates have a definite ‘Scandi-feel’; fresh and light but utterly full of flavour. In short, each serving appears crafted to make your taste buds sing. It also looks beautiful. What’s not to love?

The atmosphere is also friendly and relaxed. It is one of those evenings when 7pm becomes 10pm before you’ve even noticed. We are having such an amazing time, that we also share a desert and dawdle over coffee.

So would I recommend? I definitely would. In fact, I cannot wait until my other uni friend visits is the Summer to try out the ‘Lunch Menu’. Whilst the evening is all about , “small sharing plates … accompanied by wines and cocktail” the midday menu promises

open Scandinavian sandwiches and hearty salads – using seasonal ingredients from local British farms and producers – alongside fresh juices and great coffee.

Sounds delicious!

So for this evening a fond farewell to Osma, a definite reason to feel even prouder than ever to come from Prestwich, but be assured, I shall be back … it might even become a compulsion with me …

Easter by the sea …

Saturday 8 April 2023

Easter Saturday dawns and we hop into the car for our first family holiday since Gran Canaria in 2019. Llyn Peninsula here we come…

It may only be for a long weekend and it may be to a part of the world we are all very familiar with, as my family has had a caravan in this lovely corner of North Wales for close to 5 decades. Nonetheless, there is just no beating a family trip.

With my offspring now marching confidently into adulthood, this getaway is much about nostalgia and and the delight of rediscovering old routines. We breakfast, on the road, at our favourite faithful diner. Upon arrival we dig out the flipflops and sliders and head straight for the beach; beautiful Blackrock Sands and 2 miles of sandy coast.

The weather is glorious and there is much laughter and fun. Moreover, strolling along the beach and paddling in the sea with ice-creams feels a millions miles away from the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester we left only hours earlier.

We don’t escape the Mancunians entirely however as, to revive our legs after the walk, Small boy and I find ourselves watching a Manchester City (City, I know and to make matters worse they are spectacular) match at the rowdy caravan club with several bottles of much needed Peroni. Meanwhile, the girls have re-united with some old ‘caravan friends‘ and are catching up with drinks in a quieter part of the complex.

A trip to the fish and chip shop sorts out tea and after a little more beer and a hilarious rummage through the old caravan board games, it is time to turn in… and full of sea air and a little bit of alcohol we sleep like logs.

Next day, with our caravan friends we set out on a walk over the beach and across the hilltops to Porthmadog, the nearest town for lunch. It is a fabulously sunny day once more and the scenery is stunning. It is also quite a trek and legs are weary and faces wear the blush of exercise, as well as the first spring sun, as we toil back, feeling pretty proud of ourselves.

We round off our Easter weekender with a drive to Llandudno, which is actually a new destination for us all, before heading home on the M56 once more.

What a terrific few days away. I realise I’ve missed family holidays. There really is nothing quite like them for building bonds and memories. I’ll have to accept that, for my young adults, 3 days away with their mum is probably the limit now so …. here’s to the next mini-vacation…

Cambridge

Wednesday 29 March 2023

At 7am this morning, I wave Small boy off on a two-day course at Cambridge University. He is actually staying overnight in the college I went to, (back in the ancient history of the 1980s) so permission to feel a little bit emotional …

Or is it more that I feel quite a lot of envy. University memories – gosh such happy times! It was part of a time in my life when every year just seemed to get better and better. The work was tough; intense, challenging and delivered at pace that was not for the fainthearted. In tandem though, the living, the lovely friends, the support and the vibrancy was also incredible. Would I love to go back and do it all again? In a breath! But the years have rolled on, and it it no longer my time to dream of higher education, freedom and the first thrill of true independence. No, now it is the turn of my youngest child.

Take pictures!” I call out, as he hops into the car that is taking him ‘down south‘.

And he does; photos of colleges, chapels and a video of his room, which really makes me smile because I know he is sending the pictures, not because he is in awe of the ancient splendour (my son is an irreverent left-wing rebel ) but rather that he knows it will make me happy. And right there, in that very moment, any envy disappears and I just feel emotional again, Though this time, not with nostalgia for my undergraduate past nor for the re-tread of family footsteps, but because it simply warms my heart to be reminded just how kind my lovely boy is.

He also send a triumphant 12:30 am text announcing that his team have ‘won‘ the quiz that the organisers have put on as an evening social event.

By contrast, my evening is some rushed and uninspiring food after a full and frantic day topped off by a parental consultation event that stretches the working hours to 8pm.

By the end of the next working day, he is home and I can see the change. Is my son, as I once was, now picturing himself amidst the dreaming spires, following in the footsteps of Newton and Turing ? In all honesty, I don’t think he is. The trip has, nonetheless, fired up his enthusiasm for Higher Education. His passion for Chemistry lives on, (“but definitely not Chemical Engineering mum!”) and his previous lethargy has been replaced by a decently researched list of the best establishments for his courses of choice. He is planning Open Days and trips to City Universities across the land.

He does also find time to tell me that everyone thought that my old College was the best one by far …

Small moments to savour on the parenthood journey …

Sunday 19 March 2023

Mother’s day 2023, my card tells me that I ‘deserve to have the best day!‘ … and I do!

Why so great? Well for one, my eldest child pops home for the weekend. But for two, she takes me out for lunch! Yes, let me say that one again, very slowly; she takes me out. She books the table. She invites the guests. She organises the transport. She evens pays. I don’t have to do anything! Great restaurant, great company; it’s a treat I shall cherish.

Could this be, I ponder, the moment when I pass on the baton of ‘chief organiser and sorter-outer’ to the next generation? Probably not, but for today at least it is amazing, because I can tell you this. The child-rearing journey is one relentless marathon. But, those of you with of small infants, do not despair! Just when you think you cannot take anymore and have hit your parental wall, take heart. Around every corner, come small life-saving moments to savour. After two decades of muddling through motherhood, here are mine

My first game changer is cow’s milk, which arrives at the age of 12 months. It is ‘farewell’ to battling with breastfeeding and a grateful ‘goodbye’ to prepping the cursed formula bottles each evening; sterilising, scooping, measuring and mixing through eyes so weary they are propped open with matchsticks. The calendar shows that 1 year and passed and overnight, you are simply allowed to open the fridge and pour some milk into a beaker. Goodness gracious, it feels like a wondrous miracle!

Next for me; the end of nappies. I’m not going to lie, the potty training months are a tense time, but oh so worth it! As your toddler finally masters the art of using the loo, it is off to the tip for that dreadful device know as the ‘changing bag’! Once again, you step out with a swing in your step, no longer weighed down with nappies and wipes and bags and changes of clothes and ….oh, it is glorious. How did you not appreciate this simple pleasure before? And, from my viewpoint, even better is to come.

Probably one of my favourite moments of all. You feed and drag your child up to the magical mark of 135 cm and the car seat can go! It’s utterly liberating. One day, your life is a drudge of lifting and securing offspring’s arms and legs into complex arrays of straps and fasteners. The next you are just breezily shouting ‘time to go kids!‘, opening the car door and watching them climb in and sort themselves out. On the first few occasions, you’ll just stand there open mouthed with your car keys thinking, ‘Is that it, can I just set off?’ And ‘Hallelujah’ yes you can! A magnificent moment indeed.

High school also occurs around this time, bringing with it a surge in offspring independence. This one is a little double edged, but I shall start with the positives. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the humble bus pass. Your children now get themselves to school. It is beyond fantastic. I’m a working mum and as I waved my youngest child off on the 472 in his new school blazer, my working life was about to transform. No longer tied to breakfast club opening times and after school club hours, I could just set off when it suited me. No longer shouting at kids to ‘get through the bathroom’, ‘get dressed’ and ‘get in the car‘, I could drive calmly to and from school thinking about the day ahead. I was consistently on time for the management meeting for the first time in 7 years, no longer stressed out about late pick-up fees, if I was caught in traffic at the end of the day. I thanked my lucky stars, felt incredulous at how much easier life seemed to be once more and marvelled at how many more hours there were in each day.

As a cautionary note however, I did warn that the teenage years also bring their disadvantages in terms of your blossoming freedoms, and here they are. As your children advance through school and sixth-form, their social lives also take off, so, unless you have the pockets to keep your local Uber company in business, do be prepared for your duties as late night taxi service! I am currently in the midst of this one. Small boy and his considerable circle of friends are a very sociable lot and most weeks bring an enviable offering of outings, parties and general merrymaking for them. For me, alas, it means too many evening when the cherished glass of red has to be replaced by a consolation cup of tea. I suppose eventually they’ll all learn to drive and get cars!

Looking back, I cannot actually believe I made it to this stage, particularly as I did most of it on my own. Well, to be fair that’s not quite true, for 7 years I did have my ‘pretty nice guy’ to keep me sane! He may never have helped out much with the kids but he did remind me that parenting was not my only role in life. You’ll find, young mothers in particular, that people stop asking ‘how are you?’ and replace it with ‘how are the kids?’. It’s okay to a point but you can start to feel a bit invisible so I am very thankful that I did have an adult companion for many great adventures and crazy capers, during the toughest of the child-raising years! It definitely stopped me going under.

So, add a few dates nights into your survival notes too! But I’m now dreaming of the day when all my trio can drive me around for a change so I’ll end my post there. I’m off to sign Small boy up for his provisional licence….

Could it be love?

Saturday 11 March 2023

There’s been a new man in my life for a few months now and I think I might be falling…

Oh Erik Ten Hag! The artful Dutchman, who has brought pride, respectability and a whole lot of happiness back into the lives of beleaguered Manchester United fan, may well have stolen my heart!

Did he have me at United’s return to winning ways? Let’s just look: currently third in the Premier League, winners of the EFLcup (a first trophy in 6 years), into the last 16 of the Europa League after knocking out the mighty Barcelona. Well it is undeniably a great start! Like many other fans, after years in isolation, I am able to venture back onto Twitter, risk an occasional bit of work-based footie banter and dare to tune into Match of the Day. (Not this week of course – #standbygary in our house, but that’s a story for another day.)

But my feelings have moved beyond mere gratitude for this glimpse of glory. The man is strong and principled; dare I say the managerial equivalent of a ‘super dad’. He is undeniably tough but he improves players and motivates them by communicating trust in their abilities. And I like that.

The standout example- the glorious resurgence of Marcus Rashford. After woeful form in the previous season, late Summer 2022 saw rumours of a move from Old Trafford. Ten Hag however, said ‘no question’ of a player of this quality being sold. And, if we believe the MEN, went on to enthuse,

“…he knows I love him, he knows I want him to be here so I will tell him that again!”

Whatever the truth, Rashford stayed and the results have been phenomenal, even wowing the Spanish press,

“ His numbers are frightening and the feeling he left at the Camp Nou is that of a striker capable of changing a game on his own. He shook the entire Barcelona defense and was pivotal to both United goals.”

But it was Ten Hag’s reaction to our “7-0 spanking at Anfield” (Gary Lineker), when I was finally slain. Against tidal wave of social media clamour for change, he kept the same team and the same captain for the next match. When explaining this decision in a post-match interview, Ten Hag explained

“... we played 23 games in a row with one loss and in the 24th game we had a huge defeat, but you can’t ignore the 22 games before, when this team played massive good…

Oh be still my beating heart… the man understands performance statistics! A rare, rare quality in the sporting world which, despite an embarrassment of data riches, still favour a knee jerk reaction to the immediate in any ‘analysis’ and commentary. So, successful, decent, intelligent and numerate … Erik simply could be my ideal man!

Above all however, it is joyful once more for Small boy and I to watch United matches. Football has become ‘our thing’ as we ‘trust in Erik’ and the team to put in a performance. If we spectate together on the TV, we have rituals, lucky hats and favoured chants. If Small boy is watching with friends, we message at goals. For one cup match and birthday present, when prices fell below three figures, I bought my son a ticket to a match with his friends. A nervous moment, fellow parents, watching your child head out unaccompanied into the Old Trafford cauldron but an an exciting rite of passage nonetheless.

Small boy also unwrapped Ten Hag’s biography for this birthday and that sits ever-proudly on our mantlepiece, with Erik gazing wisely into the lounge.

So, for all of this, Erik Ten Hag, you currently eclipse all other sporting heroes in my head and heart. Will it last forever? I think it just might…

Those little pink lines …

Saturday 25 February 2022

As it turns out, being ‘gruff and throaty’ was not, in fact, a credible nod to my ‘rock n’ roll’ lifestyle. Towards the end of the week, I test positive for covid-19…

Urghh! My throat and chest are pretty grim for most of the week and a raspy Joe Cocker teaching voice eventually packs up completely around noon on Friday, which is why someone hands me a (long forgotten) box of tests. I endure the cursed tonsil ticklers and a bit of nostril prodding and, within a minute, am staring at two distinctive pink lines. Bugger …

Sore larynx aside, I feel do okay which is a relief, I mean not sparkling but not too bad. I also know that isolation is no longer a legal requirement. Nonetheless, I have done the test and decide I’d feel pretty rubbish to be out and about in public knowing that I posed an infection threat. So I decide to cancel all weekend plans and … just lie low.

To my surprise, I really enjoy a rare day of idling and nothingness. No running, no shopping, no cleaning the bathroom, no tram rides into town. No, no no. I don’t even bother to get dressed! I do a bit of cooking but for most of the day I set absolutely no goals. Small boy brings me cups of tea, a cushion for my feet and the remote control and I re-watch Derry Girls, catch-up with Jane Eyre, and, well there’s no less cliched way to say it, sit still and let my crowded head get back into gear.

Apparently, there is also scientific proof, in a plethora of studies, that ‘doing nothing‘ is good for us. In many reports, such as Eating well’s, ‘The Legit Mental Health Benefits of Doing Nothing, According to Science‘ the definition of ‘doing nothing‘ is far more exacting than mine. There is no, smartphone, computer or TV Screen, even book reading it out! And what most studies find is that people tend to enjoy time to just sit and allow their thoughts to wander much more than they initially thought. This and other research also hints to additional gains such as, less stress, increased energy, enhanced creativity and improved abilities to resolve problems.

I think that my foggy brain is not fully in these lofty realms today. But, what I find I do enjoy, on my lazy Saturday, is just the time and space to reset and recharge. It is a day for being kind to myself and allowing a few hours to rest, relax and … breathe. And that feels luxurious.

So, I look forward to my voice returning and certainly wouldn’t wish corona virus on anyone, but I would recommend a day, or even a half hour, of putting your feet up, forgetting the to-do list and just allowing yourself to do nothing at all for a while…

You can’t do nothing all the time – it’d get pretty boring, pretty quickly. But carving out small windows where you can just sit down … and let yourself be is good for you, good for your brain … No more feeling guilty for a weekend spent doing nothing – it’s vital.