Whilst we still can’t do much more than dream about resuming our international travel adventures at the moment, we have been talking lots about where we’d like to go once we can start again. We’ve discussed weekends away, city breaks, longer holidays and birthday treats, not least because G will be turning 18 at the end of this year. Some destinations have been something of a surprise (Hungary and Russia in the middle of the winter to name a couple), whilst others have been on one family member or another’s wish list for a long time.
There has also been a definite fatigue within the 7Q2D kitchen over the last few months and so, taking inspiration from all of our conversations about travel, I decided to pick a handful of countries and their cuisines to influence our menu choices. It started with a return to a recipe I’d adapted whilst we were watching the Great British Bake-Off last year and both children fancied trying the Japanese steamed buns that were prepared. I made them in the Autumn using duck as a filling and had surprisingly great success. However, I hadn’t turned my hand to them and so decided one weekend to give them another whirl, with plenty of time to fit in a family walk whilst the dough was rising.
In the spirit of travel-inspired foods and, quite frankly, building on that success, this past week has been all about Italy – another of G’s picks as well as Mike’s hopes for a Roman weekend. So far we’ve enjoyed Gnocchi (though I must admit it wasn’t home-made), risotto, pizza, arancini di riso, and pasta on different nights and with plenty of enthusiasm from even my pickiest diner.
I’m not quite sure where next week’s travels will take us, but it’s been fun and an entertaining alternative so far to the same old dishes that I seem to cook week after week.
It’s been a manic couple of weeks as year-end audits loom far faster than I’d like along with the end of term 5 for both G and M, with oodles of revision needing to be done in all of our immediate futures. Add in an unexpectedly large number of hospital appointments for M as well as dental, hair and opticians appointments for G, M and me, no wonder I barely have time to breathe, or so it feels.
However, tonight I’m hoping to take a couple of hours to join the virtual party for this year’s FreeFrom Food Awards. If nothing else, I’ll certainly be following their social media accounts to hear the winners and hopefully find some new products for G and M to try. There’s always some goodies to uncover, so if you’re got some time this evening or even in the next few days, it’s definitely worth having a look at the winners’ list on the #FFFA21 website.
You may be wondering what has me thinking about these incredibly whimsical creatures, especially when the last 60 weeks have been all about the global pandemic and not a great deal else. The answer is really quite simple and that’s my happy discovery this week of The Book Fairies. For someone who loves books as much as G and I do, what could possibly be more magical?
Last year, the Duchess of Cambridge and National Portrait Gallery launched a UK-wide photo project called Hold Still, which asked individuals and communities from across the country to take a photo portrait based on one of three themes reflecting life in lockdown. Thousands of photos were submitted and somehow whittled down to just 100 encapturing the nation’s experiences of COVID-19 in a number of different ways. These photos were presented in a digital exhibition as well as being displayed across the UK during the autumn and last week a book was also published.
Now you may be wondering how fairies come into the picture, but as my reading revealed, a number of book fairies as well as some of the 100 photographers included in the photobook were given a copy to leave in their local area in a place that had given that community hope over the last year. Book Fairies are a group of book-loving individuals from around the world, who want to share the joy of books with others by leaving books in public places to be found and enjoyed by just about anyone. Notes can be hidden inside and stickers popped on the cover to indicate that the book has been left by a fairy, and the idea is to simply share a book you’ve enjoyed with others.
I can’t imagine anything more magical than coming across a hidden treasure like this and think I may well encourage G and even M to think about finding some books that they’d be happy to share by becoming book fairies. How very wonderful to be able to bring joy and light to a world that has experienced great darkness over the last fifteen months and many individuals who will continue to do so.
Over the last couple of weeks, G and M have gone back to having face-to-face Stagecoach and Dyslexia Centre classes, are swimming twice a week and have even had some in-person medical appointments. Whilst we’re still a long way from being back to our pre-2020 lives – and lets face it, who knows when or if we will be – it has been fantastic to escape the constant need to be online.
It really does feel as if we’re moving in the right direction and hopefully that continues. However, as we creep ever closer to a more normal day-to-day, our family and friends in Canada as well as thousands of others around the world are struggling with increasing COVID numbers and stricter restrictions. It’s difficult to predict when things will once again improve for them too, but all we can hope is that it’s not too far away.
The last 2 weeks have been busy both for us and for the rest of the UK. G and M have been enjoying their Easter holidays from school, not least as both have been active participants in this year’s Over The Wall Camp in the Cloud sessions once again. Every day has been a combination of crafts, challenges and nightly cabin chats and it’s been lovely to see them engaged in something other than their electronic devices night and day! I’ve been honing my face-painting skills and have discovered a new outlet for my creativity, though M has been more reluctant to let me practice now that his camp has come to an end.
We’ve been impressed once again with the #CitC offerings this year, not least as the daily activities have all been different to those they completed last summer. G in particular has connected with friends she made both through the 2020 virtual camp and from attending camp in person before and is enjoying the opportunity to chat and laugh in a safe space with some lovely individuals. I’m also really pleased to see that they will continue with the opportunity for monthly cabin chats with their teams for the next 3 months and know that both children are looking forward to that as well.
The slow easing in lockdown measures hasn’t affected us too much so far, though we did take advantage of the opportunity to see my Mum on Easter Sunday. Undoubtedly, the highlight of M’s week has been the news that our local pool has reopened and he absolutely loved his first swimming session back on Tuesday evening, something he has very much missed over the last few months. We’re not ones to rush out to our local for a swift half or a meal outside in the UK weather, and we will continue to take our own small steps in widening our world once again.
Whether you are celebrating Easter, starting the school holidays with your children or simply enjoying a long weekend off work, no matter what you’re doing or who you’re spending your time with, I hope you enjoy a peaceful and blessed Easter.
This weekend sees another small step forward in our household as we continue to find our new normal of living with coronavirus: Mike has been invited to have his first COVID-19 vaccination. We can only assume that our local GP practice is ahead of the national rollout as he definitely hasn’t hit 50 (yet!), but as soon as the text pinged on to his phone, he clicked the link and booked his appointment.
I’ve also been on the hunt for more information about when G might be able to have her first vaccination and was delighted to find out that as she is a registered Young Carer, she falls into priority group 6 and will be able to have hers as soon as there’s a Pfizer delivery in our local area. I’ve confirmed that her name is on the waiting list with our GP and we’ve now got everything crossed that a batch arrives sooner rather than later.
That just leaves young master M without his and after a conversation with his gastro consultant at our local hospital and have found out that it will be a bit of a wait until he’s eligible for his jab. There’s a bit of a question mark about whether he will hit the criteria once he’s 16, but given that’s still a year away and we know that a lot can happen in 12 months, it’s a case of waiting and seeing what that time brings.
All in all, a small step, but definitely a good one!
I’m definitely one for stretching out celebrations as long as possible, hence the Christmas lights are still up inside and outside of the house as well as the Valentine’s cards and my birthday cards from last week, and with M’s 15th birthday fast looming this is definitely a busy time of year for celebrating, but I’m thrilled to be able to add another celebration into the mix this week – and that’s that I’m finally having my first COVID vaccine tomorrow.
I’ve been incredibly lucky in that our local GP practice has kept their website and social media accounts updated with their plans for the vaccination rollout and so I’ve known for a couple of weeks that they had chosen to leapfrog Group 5 as those individuals could book appointments online at one of the mass vaccination centres and instead were going to focus on working their way through the 3,000+ of us in Group 6. I was rather hoping for an extra-special birthday present and whilst I didn’t receive the vaccine itself, I did get a text inviting me to book my appointment for this week.
After 50 weeks of spending very little time with anyone outside of our immediate household and not venturing much further that the 8 miles or so to my office on the odd occasion, it is extremely encouraging and exciting to finally be going forward with a positive step towards being able to widen up my circle. Of course, we will continue to follow the guidance given about wearing masks and social distancing, but it does feel we’re going in the right direction at long last. G and M return to school next week which naturally comes with its own concerns, but I’ve been clear that I expect them to continue with the precautions we put in place back in September and both have also said they will masks as needed whilst there.
I don’t know how my body will react to the vaccine, especially knowing that my T1D is likely to bring some additional tricks to the party given just about anything can impact it and not always in the ways you’d expect it to. Keep an eye on my Facebook and Twitter feeds over the next few days as I will be attempting to give regular updates following my jab, assuming that there’s much of anything to say other than that it’s done!
This week I’ve managed to book a couple of those annual leave days off work and am celebrating a milestone anniversary from the comfort of my sofa, rather than at my desk. It doesn’t seem possible that today marks 35 years of living with what I previously described as my one constant companion in life, my Type 1 diabetes.
The last 35 years have unquestionably had their ups and downs as far my T1D is concerned. Amongst the ups was my move to using diabetes technology just before I marked 30 years with T1D, when I first tried out the Freestyle Libre and these days I can still be found with this small device attached to my arm. When I started with it, I made the financial decision to have 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, but soon realised that I appreciated the ease of it more than expected and quickly determined that it was worth the investment of wearing it permanently. Five years on and I’ve finally had my sensors approved by the NHS and am able to get them through my monthly prescriptions, alongside my blood glucose testing strips, needles and insulin.
As for the downs, well, I’ve talked before about the loss of sight in my left eye following botched treatment for diabetic retinopathy many moons ago as well as the fear I faced when told that I urgently needed treatment in my right eye too in more recent times. Following a second opinion at that time I managed to avoid the treatment, but five years and many phone appointments with my consultant later, it was agreed that I needed some pre-emptive laser surgery to hopefully head off any further complications at the pass and so had it just before Christmas. It wasn’t the ideal time given the risks of heading into hospital during a pandemic, but the precautions taken were excellent and all went well. It did leave me with very blurred vision and sore eyes over the Christmas and New Year period, but I think I rocked the “sunglasses in December” look in style.
I don’t know what the next 1, 5 or even 35 years will bring in relation to my T1D, but I know it will no doubt continue the roller-coaster ride that I’ve been surfing since I was 9. The one thing I do know is that today there will be cake and bubbles and presents and a special dinner to celebrate – although that might be more to do with the fact that I’m also celebrating my birthday today and not just my diaversary!