A Little Catch Up On Life Lately | May 2020

 

Another month in lockdown.......

Here are some thoughts and ramblings from the month gone by. I cannot believe it is June tomorrow! 

 
 

Shopping Local 

We have continued to shop local where we can and this is something we hope to continue. We receive regular deliveries from the Grainger Market and our meat is usually from Wilde Farm in Ponteland or Famison near Ripon.

I have also subscribed to receive a fortnightly delivery of free range eggs from Northumbrian Eggs and we already had a milkman before this and will continue to support our local farms this way.  I do still have to visit a supermarket once a week for other stuff, but it feels good shopping local and I really think it works out cheaper too. 

Has Lockdown Ended?

I know lockdown restrictions have been eased but there has been a huge change in life these past few weeks. Throughout lockdown, I have felt really confident going to Home Bargains for store cupboard essentials and snacks for the kids. They have had people on the door limiting the numbers and social distancing was really good.

I visited last week and it was just a free for all with no social distancing or limiting of numbers. It felt a little scary and was such a change. I know from others that other shops are the same now too. When you do venture out for essentials or a little walk now, it does have a feeling that lockdown never even happened in the air. 


Fun at Home 

We have enjoyed lots of fun at home this month. The kids asked for a Star Wars themed day on May 4th which was brill, Steve was working on VE Day but I still had a nice time with the kids. We enjoyed afternoon tea in our garden and watched the celebrations on TV. 

We loved our little spa day at home this month and would highly recommend - just buy sheet face masks, pop some spa music on YouTube, set up a nail bar and put together a fruit platter. It was all very chill. 

In terms of baking, we have had some cracking meals. We finally got around to making our own parmos which were lush! We also baked Pretzels (and have been craving them ever since) and have had fun making our own pizzas (kids with a kit from the Keel Row and us from Box.Pizza). 

Garden Planning 

We have needed a new back garden fence for the past couple of years. We patched it up last year but planned to replace the whole thing this year. Trying to get someone to give you a quote at the moment is so difficult. Gardeners are SO busy right now. Our first quote was an eye watering £1250 which was way above our budget. We are not the sort of people who have a spare £1k lying around in our bank account. 

We waited for a second quote from somebody else and his quote was much better at £500. Almost 1/3 of the cost of the first guy! Needless to say, we snapped his hand off. We are booked in on 1 July which seems like forever away but at least the date is in the diary now. It just goes to show, it really pays to shop around. 

I am so impatient and wish it could just be done now so we can enjoy our back garden again. We have saved a fair bit of £ in petrol these past three months and Heidi's big school residential trip has been refunded which covers the cost of a new fence. 

Losing Trust with the Government 

I am no Tory but have happily followed their rules for the past few months. We were after all, following the science. However recently, I like many others have completely lost any trust or faith in our leaders. I think like a lot of people, we are just making our own rules up now and following our own instincts about what to do. 

My main gripe is, they have continuously said we should follow the science. They told us lockdown restrictions would only happen when we reached Level 3 of their plan. Yet here we are, still on Level 4 and lockdown restrictions are being lifted. 

We have continuously been told that the R rate must stay below 1 in order for things to remain under control. The R rate is now well above 1 in some areas yet nothing is being said/done about this. 

Our top independent Scientists have stated that schools should not open yet and that 15th June would be a much safer date. Why are the Government not following their advice for the sake of a few weeks?

Lots of questions have been asked about the science behind allowing under 7s back first when they are the group least likely to be able to socially distance. Independent studies have shown there is no science behind this decision and education leaders and unions have rightly been opposing this move. 

Then we have the whole Dominic Cummings saga. He kept the truth from the public and broke lockdown rules with a drive to Barnard Castle to supposedly check his eyesight. Many of us have broken lockdown rules in some fashion but we are not the ones who actually write the rules and are supposed to lead by example. I also do not think many of us would have traveled across the country when we were showing symptoms of coronavirus and were told to self-isolate. 

It is not the fact that Dominic Cummings broke the rules that has angered me so much. It is the fact that he says he was living under exceptional circumstances so it was ok. I am sorry, but worrying that you may become too ill to look after your child is something that EVERY parent worries about. It is not exceptional at all. In fact, it is normal. The point at which it becomes exceptional is the point where you are both too ill to get out of bed and care for your child and it becomes unsafe (and even then, some parents soldier on). Most parents plan for this point - to me and many others, if this happened, a friend or relative would come to you and look after your child for a few days while you recovered. 

The whole Government response has been ridiculous. He has refused to say sorry. If he said sorry, I would be able to move on. The Governement tweeting ridiculous propaganda about Nandos opening and defending him, Boris Johnson refusing to let his advisors comment on the subject, Boris Johnson cutting off the press when they ask challenging questions......it is all just a farce! I want a leader who is strong, confident and can handle scrutiny. I do not want a leader who is running scared and bumbles his way through life. 

The last press conference I watched, I watched with an open mouth. Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance seemed so uncomfortable about easing lockdown. Then we had Boris telling us to all have a BBQ and then having to be interrupted and told that this was actually a bad idea. All live on National TV. Honestly it is no wonder we are a laughing stock. 

Because of all of this, I am honestly not bothered now if people break the official lockdown rules now though and I am not going to complain about them. I feel like the feeling in England is, we can just do whatever the hell we want now. Personally, I am still being sensible but I definitely won't be rolling my eyes at neighbours having a few friends over for a BBQ in their garden like I would have a few weeks ago. 
 

May Half Term 

We were due to be in the Netherlands over May Half Term and Steve had the week booked off work. He still stayed off work and we just had a quiet week at home instead. It was lovely to have a break from school work (and much needed) and we were blessed with lovely weather too. 

I said to Steve, I reckon this is probably the quietest May Half Term we have ever had. We visited our local nature reserve, I met my mam for a walk at Blyth Beach and we walked around a local lake in the evening. Other than that, we have just stayed at home, the kids have played X Box / Roblox,  we have enjoyed a BBQ on the beach at sunset, Steve and Harry took our shed apart ready for our new fence and that's about it. 
 

Blog Work 

May has been a positive month for my blog. I signed a contract for some work to take place in July & August which is my first (and only) piece of paid work in around 10 weeks. My page views have pretty much returned back to normal though and I even broke my record for the most page views I have ever had in one day this week. 

At the start of lockdown, I had zero motivation to write any posts. In April, I only published 6 posts. I very much got my mojo back in May though and have published 19 posts this month. This has converted well to page views and my Social Media following is starting to grow again (I just passed 30k followers on FB - yeah!) which is all positive. 

Despite not having any paid work lined up for June (again), I do feel confident that it will return and I will start earning again later this summer. Fingers crossed anyway! 

I am one of the lucky ones, as I have been fully self-employed for over 5 years and I do not earn anything close to £50k, I have been entitled to a small amount of Government help via the Self Employment Support Scheme which I am grateful for. It is nowhere close to replacing my actual loss of earnings but it has allowed us to put food on the table whilst working on keeping my business afloat at the same time. Many of my self employed friends have not been entitled to any help at all and my heart goes out to them. I really wish the system could have been fairer. 

Moving onto the subject of gifts...... 

I am not a blogger that really accepts much in the way of gifted items or freebies anyway and during lockdown, I have turned down more than ever. I have no beef with bloggers or Instagrammers who do accept gifts - they certainly do have their value and place and in the past, have worked really well for me and the brands involved too. They are a good way for brands who do not have much in the way of budget to spread the message. 

Personally though, this past year, I have been feeling ickier and ickier about the whole thing and lockdown has really heightened this for me. First of all, I do not need more stuff. We are very much living in a consumerist society and I am trying hard to stop adding to this. I was offered £1000+ worth of camping gear recently but the fact of the matter is, we do not need another tent/sleeping bags etc.... if I accepted it, I would feel like I was just being greedy. 

Secondly, my blog has been my business and main source of income for the past 5 years. I would usually charge brands to feature on my social media and it is just not good business sense for me to charge one brand £250 for an Instagram photo yet offer the same value to another brand for the cost of a free slice of cake. 


Finally, I am hyper-aware at this time that many readers and followers are facing a very uncertain future. They may have less job security, be earning a lot less as they have seen a cut in hours / been furloughed or like me, work for themselves and have seen a massive reduction in income. I do not want to come across as someone who is showing off loads of freebies as followers are sitting at home not being able to afford a single treat. I feel like it is a little insensitive at this time. 

So.....going forward I was thinking if I was offered a freebie, I might ask the brands if they would like to turn it into a giveaway instead? That would mean that I am still helping a (usually small) brand by spreading awareness and hopefully providing someone who deserves & needs it with a little treat. Let me know your thoughts on this one. It won't work for every brand but might be a solution for some going forward. 
 

Podcasts 

I am still listening to podcasts and LOVING it. My favourites at the moment are Criminology (discussing true crime cases), At Home with the Willams (lockdown chat from Ayda and Robbie), Telling Everything with Katherine Ryan (hilarious if a little risque), Jay Rayner's and Krishnan Guru-Murthy's which is thought-provoking. 

Money Saving 

With a distinct lack of income these past few months, I have really gotten into money saving. I have signed up to Top Cash Back and already earned £50+ (sign up here for free using my referral link and you will be rewarded with a free fiver). 

I have also been saving £ with Plum and I am up to £150 at the moment. You can set the app to automatically round and spending up to the nearest £1 and save it for you. Very clever! You can read more about plum and sign up using my referral link here. 

Meeting Friends Again 

I met a real life friend face to face this week and it was just wonderful! Nothing beats face to face contact. This week, my best friends who I usually meet for coffee each week are bringing their picnic blankets and their own coffee and sitting in my front garden for an hour. OMG I am so excited about this! 

Sad News 

We had some really sad news yesterday. Sadly one of our friends passed away. She is our age and leaves her young son who is the same age as Jack and husband behind. Her husband is one of Steve's oldest friends and it is a tough situation all round. It really sucks that he cannot pop over and give him a hug or support him during the funeral. Life really is precious. Please do not send messages of sympathy after you have read this, it would make me feel guilty as it is not my grief. But please do take care everyone xx  

 


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3 comments

  1. I feel similar about the government and the product placement. 19 posts is massive!! I even think 6 is a decent amount. I tend to do 4 a month at the moment and that feels forced. I just struggle to find the time now between my job and the homeschooling - and my general despondency lol!

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  2. So sorry to hear about your friend, such sad news and made harder no doubt by the current situation :-( On a different note, glad you've got your blogging mojo back! I have too after several weeks of feeling distinctly 'meh' and feeling overwhelmed by everything, I think I've started to settle into this new way of life now, and I have to say, it's not all bad!

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  3. Love love your blog and posts xx

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