I'm starting to hate working from home, the novelty has well and truly worn off. I miss the company of other people, being able to pop over to someone's desk and ask a question or just have a chat. It's not the same when you have to check whether they are available. It will be a long time before we are back in our office at full capacity, even when we are allowed back we will have to adhere to social distancing. Perhaps I'll buy a megaphone, skype chat is not the same. Rant over... back to work, I have 4 video calls to get ready for.
The one thing I have really enjoyed working from home during lockdown is lunchtime. My husband has been furloughed but I am still working. Every day at 12 pm prompt, we meet in the kitchen and together we make lunch. We are fortunate to have a great butchers and deli near us. My husband rides up there on a Monday morning and comes back with ham, cheese, sausage rolls, quiches and anything else that takes his fancy and then through the week we devour it for lunch. When I worked in the office I never took a lunch break, I always ate at my desk and it is so refreshing to take time away from the screen and have a chat, a nice cup of coffee (I have a Nespresso machine) and lunch and just unwind. I will miss this time terribly once we are back at work.
The novelty of working from home has well and truly worn off. My concentration levels have gone way down. I'll start something then my mind wanders off and I forget what I was doing and start something else. We have a morning team call on Zoom which initially was fun, seeing everyone in their various homes, some would be in the garden, kitchen or at one point one of them was still in bed with her partner!! But, personally I have found it difficult. Being an introvert it's hard to join in a conversation, especially when there are a few, how shall I say, more forceful characters on the call. One of them is always eating breakfast on the call, I'm sure she takes great delight in doing so, all eyes are fixed on her as she piles porridge into her mouth, licks the spoon and then flicks her hair. God, give me strength, I just want to reach right into the screen and tip her breakfast all over her head.
I have one more TMA to submit but can't get the motivation up to start it. I know once I have started it I will be able to finish it in a couple of days, I just need a kick up the bum to get going.
Spring has arrived in my back garden. For the first time in over 20 years we have had robins nest in our bird box. Yesterday 4 little chicks hatched. We have put out water and mealworms nearby for them. This is mum getting a mealworm for their elevensies. Feeling very blessed.
I'm adjusting to new working arrangements, I'm lucky to be able to work from home, I have a desk and chair and with all the technology around I can attend group meetings. Skype and Zoom seem to be the best that I have used so far. The only thing I don't like is the solitude. I miss having a quick coffee break with my colleagues and just having a chat without having to request a time slot!! Radio 2 in the background breaks up the silence and I have become a master at Pop Master. My desk faces the kitchen wall as that is the only place where it fits without having to rearrange the house. I do have a Funko Pop of Stephen King to keep me company, he sits by my keyboard and gives me inspiration
I had a Sainsbury's home delivery today. I must have been one of the lucky ones to get a slot. I have to say I was very impressed, they delivered everything I had asked for with minimal substitutions, the only thing missing was light bulbs and body moisturiser. I take my hat off to all delivery drivers working round the clock. I no w have a fully stocked fridge and freezer and shouldn't need to go out for a couple of weeks.
I do miss my family terribly, I haven't seen my sons or my grandchildren for a couple of weeks and it seems like a lifetime. We have had a couple of group callls using Zoom, my youngest grandson is only eight months old and looked very bewildered by all these faces looking at him from a computer screen. It was very amusing. I think a lot of families will be planning big get together's when all this is over. My husband is finding it hard not being busy, he is not one to sit around and do nothing. So far he has cleaned the conservatory roof, the windows and the oven ( a job I really hate), and is now cleaning out the gutters. Not sure what he will do once everything is clean and sparkly.
Before the lockdown we had sold our house and was in the middle of buying our dream property in Littlehampton. Our buyer has now pulled out, so our house is back on the market again. Although at this moment in time we can't have any viewings. Everyone is in the same boat, all house moves have been stopped so all we can do is sit and wait.
I am thankful though that all my family are safe and well and we can still keep in touch, so many people are going through much tougher times and I keep them all in my thoughts.
Stay safe everyone,
I have to say I am quite pleased with how much studying I have done this past week and I have also found the time to do the icebreaker exercise set by my tutor on the forum page. It feels good to be slightly ahead. I enjoyed the chapter on the Kula Cycle and even made a little diagram to make it easier to remember the cycle and the important words. I need to stay ahead of the game as my husband and I have decided after living in our house for 27 years to move to Littlehampton. Our two boys are grown up and have moved out so we can downsize. I love Littlehampton and the surrounding area, the sea front is gorgeous and it has a lovely harbour and it is very close to the South Downs which we both love walking along. An Estate Agent is coming round next weekend to give a valuation. Eek... it's very exciting.
I am lucky to work in an office where dogs are allowed. I don't have a dog myself as my husband doesn't like dogs so having access to dogs at work is a real benefit. Just being able to sit down next a dog and stroking their fur and having a cuddle is heaven. All the dogs are well behaved, they are vetted before they get a pawsport to enable them to come to the office, and love all the attention they get. If I want 10 minutes away from my desk their is always a willing dog owner who will lend me their dog to take for a walk in the garden. Very therapeutic.
Below are a couple of my favourite dogs in the office. Buddy and Lily.
I was in the midst of studying, dressed in joggers and hoodie with my hair tied back when I had a frantic phone call from my son saying that my grandson Hunter had been rushed to hospital with breathing difficulties. I felt my heart stop briefly and blood drained from my head but in that split second I had grabbed my car keys and my bag and was out the door before we had even finished the call. Arriving at the hospital in record speed, and hopefully without a speeding ticket, I rushed to A&E to be with my family. Hunter is only 7 weeks old, he is my third grandchild, and to see his tiny little body on the bed surrounded by machines and with a tube coming out of his nose was heart breaking. He was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and kept on oxygen for two days before being discharged on day three. My son's partner was marvellous and was calm and serene throughout his stay in hospital. I felt totally useless, apart from bringing them food and clean clothes there was not much I could do. As a mum all you want to do is make things better, this time I had to relinquish my mum duties to the nurses and doctors. They did a wonderful job and looked after Hunter and his mum and dad marvellously, I take my hat of to them. Needless to say I didn't get any studying done during this time. I realise that I have to be a bit more flexible with my study timetable and be ahead of myself so that if any other emergencies happen I have a bit of breathing space. I'm now back on track with my study and Hunter is back at home with his family making all the demands of a new baby. I wouldn't wish it any other way.
Right, I am back from my holidays and ready to get going on my second year of study. My books have arrived, I have my tutor details and I have booked all my tutorials. Now all I need to do is get my arse into gear and start studying. It is so easy to procrastinate and find other things to do. I'm glad my husband is around to nag me, without him I would spend all my time reading.
I have looked through all the books and read the assignment booklet and though it looks harder this year the modules look really interesting. There appears to be a mix on self study, searching for information outside of the OU website, some collaborative working and the dreaded exam at the end of the modules. I have glanced at a previous exam paper and that has relieved some of the anxiety. The OU's website is fantastic and full of resources, I could spend all day looking through it but I shouldn't procrastinate. Tonight I will hit the books. Wish me luck
Today is a good day. Free Krispy Kremes given out at work.
Sustainability and recycling have been in the news for many years now and I, like many people, have tried to cut down on plastic waste and look at what I am buying with a different mind-set.
I've never been a person who generates much waste. When my two boys were babies I used terry cloth nappies instead of disposable. I used disposable nappies if we were going on a long car journey. I was lucky that my mum looked after them when they were tiny babies and so it wasn't a problem for her to change a terry nappy. It may have been different if they were in a nursery. Subsequent child minders were ok with changing a terry nappy too. I never used baby wipes, I used cotton wool and a bowl of warm water to clean their little bottoms. When it came to weaning they had exactly what me and my husband had for dinner, it was just put through a blender and blended to a consistency suitable for their age. Luckily neither of them were fussy eaters.
For a family of four we only generated one bag of rubbish per week, sometimes two at Christmas time. I've never wasted food, I always find a use for food that is going out of date. I suppose my biggest waste is plastic bottles of coke and lemonade but even that we don't drink much of anymore. I now have two jugs of tap water in the fridge, as I have to have cold water not lukewarm from the tap, and I either put a splash of cordial or squash in it or a slice of lemon or lime to give it a bit of flavour. I have recently bought a butter dish so that I am not buying plastic tubs of butter, that has saved at least 3 plastic tubs a month going for recycling.
For the bathroom I used to get through at least 3 body washes and numerous body puffs a month. Now I use soap with a flannel or with a body sponge made from recycled milk bottles from the Body Shop. For my face I have been using Liz Earle cleanse and polish for over 20 years. It comes with a reusable muslin cloth that can be washed in the washing machine and when they need replacing I use them as cleaning cloths, so no need for face wipes. For my hair I use Aveda's Shampure shampoo which you can buy in 1litre bottles.
For cleaning I use Method, I don't use wipes at all. I have a number of spontex cloths and also my used Liz Earle cloths that I use. Some are for wiping the dirty surfaces and others are used for drying. My glass shower door always looks sparkling after cleaning with Method and the cloths. I have just started using Ecover washing powder. It is an absolute delight, it smells delicious and cleans divinely. I really don't know why I have only just bought it, it has been around for years.
Finally, I have found the most wonderful butchers. They sell local meat and veg and also have a delicatessen which sells local made wine. I go there every two to three weeks and stock up. They will make up packs of what I want, the size and amount I want so there is no waste.
I am constantly looking at ways to reduce my recycling and to live more sustainably. But unless we all do our bit it could all be in vain.
I passed my first module with the Open University. Well done me. I am so relieved to get over this first hurdle on the path to my first degree. I have so enjoyed my first year of study. Some of it was hard going and there were occasions when I cried because I could not even form the first sentence of a TMA. But somehow you get it done and submitted.
After a lot of thought I have decided to study A105 as my second level 1 module. I was seriously thinking of studying L101 as being the easier of the two modules. But, on reflection, I believe A105 will give me a greater grounding in the Arts and Humanities. One other reason for choosing this module is that I have been tempted to maybe change my degree from English Literature and Creative Writing to the new degree of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics for which A105 is a requirement.
I've spent the summer re-reading the module books at a more leisurely pace and making notes that I think will be helpful for the second module. The set book for A105 is Charles Dickens, Hard Times. It's not my favourite Dickens book, it's quite a slog at the beginning but does get easier. As the start date for A105 gets nearer I am getting more excited. I cannot wait until the courier delivers all the module books and get started with the next year of study. Only 19 more sleeps to go.
It feels very surreal that this time next month I would have submitted my EMA and my first year of studying with the OU will be over. Overall I have enjoyed my study time, although there have been times when I have had to supress the urge to throw my laptop and books across the room. Most of the subjects in AA100 have been engaging and interesting and I have been surprised to find that the history subjects have been my favourite which, considering I am studying towards English Literature, has me a bit worried. Here's hoping I get more than 40% in my EMA.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started in October but the OUs text books and study guides have been super helpful. All the tutorials have been at a pace that has suited me, it can be a bit daunting when other students seem to know more, or have grasped the subject better than me, but my assignment scores have been good so perhaps it is just me feeling insecure.
I am struggling with deciding what module to study next. I am useless at exams so A105 is freaking me out, but it seems it is the most logical choice. I'll just have to prepare, prepare, prepare and then freak out!!
I got an unexpected 82 on my latest TMA. I really struggled with this essay on the Benin Bronzes. Normally I write more than double the word count and then have to cut and reduce it down. This time I barely managed to get to the word count. I have been wracking my brains trying to work out why and have so far failed. I thought I was engaged with the subject, I even travelled to London to see the bronzes at the British Museum. I hate making excuses, but I do wonder if going the menopause is having an effect. Having a hot flush whilst trying to analyse a text is not easy!! But my score suggests that something is sinking in, so I guess I will just plod on.
This weekend I finally reached the grand old age of 50!!! I am now a quinquagenarian. It was an age I was dreading getting to although I don't know why, I didn't have any qualms about reaching 40. Half a century seems like a long time to be alive.
I was born in the year man landed on the moon and I am the same age as Sesame Street. Woodstock festival also happened in 1969. Gap opened it's first shop, Concorde made its maiden voyage. I am in great company, celebrities who are also 50 this year include, Jennifer Anniston, Jennifer Lopez, Cate Blanchett, Christian Slater, Jack Black, Catherine Zeta-Jones and the great Dave Grohl. Most importantly I celebrate my 50th along with the Open University which is also 50 this year. 1969 was a great year.
There are lots of things to do on my bucket list. Number one is to complete my degree with the OU, but others are a bit more random. I would like to learn to tap dance, I want to go paddle boarding, climb the three peaks and get a short story or poem published. I have many other dreams and I am sure over the next 50 years some of them will come true and I will have other dreams to add to my list.
Roll on the next 50.....
For the past few months I have been suffering from what I thought was anxiety. I would wake in the middle of the night and my chest would feel very tight and adrenaline would be coursing through the whole of my body. I would occasionally feel very hot and couldn't cool down even when I threw the covers off. I would wake up in the morning feeling like I had run a marathon. I've never really suffered from poor sleep, quite the opposite in fact. I could fall asleep even before my head hit the pillow and eight hours later I would wake up feeling refreshed. Now I wake up feeling like I have gone 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali. I've put on weight and my skin feels very dry.
It has affected my studying to some degree. Because I work full time I can only really study in the evening and at weekends. Now when I get home from work all I want to do is get in my pyjamas and veg out. The last thing I want to do is study. I can't seem to focus for any length of time. I've made an appointment to see the doctor but I really don't want to take any tablets. I have also been searching the internet to find some natural ways to help with the symptoms. There is so much information out there it's really hard to know where to start. I will start with my diet, limit my caffeine intake and cut out other stimulants and see if that makes any difference. It will be hard to cut down on caffeine, I do love my coffee.
Hopefully the symptoms won't last forever and my body will get used to its new normal soon. in the meantime I will have to adjust how I do my studying, little bite size chunks in the evenings and more studying at the weekends.
Ok, Christmas is over, time to get back to studying. Mother-in-Law deposited back to her base in Brighton, number one son sent on his way leaving me £100 poorer, "just to tide me over" he says, "I'll pay you back", yeah right, I'll add it to the tab! Number two son still has another week of leave but spends most of the day in bed recuperating after nights out and, finally, husband has gone back to work. I now have time to myself. And yet, I find myself tidying up, hoovering, polishing, ironing and watching Netflix. Stop procrastinating Lisa, get you arse into gear!! Coffee first though with my new Nespresso coffee machine and milk frother, can't study without a coffee by my side.
Does anyone study over Christmas? I had all good intentions of doing so but there was always an excuse, another mince pie to eat or a large glass of wine to drink. Visitors coming and going, phone ringing, grandchildren running through the house, how am I meant to study with all that going on. Order has now been restored and now I need to go through my study plan and put together a timetable for the next month. My 50th birthday is half way through January so I will need to factor in my celebrations too. That's one weekend written off, but you are only 50 once. Best get a wriggle on. I'll let you know how the celebrations went.
I seem to have hit a brick wall in my studies. Nothing seems to be sinking in. I really haven't enjoyed any of the chapters apart from, surprisingly, the chapter on Plato. I was really engaged with all of the activities and did some further reading on the subject. I feel quite despondent at the moment. Is it the time of year? It's dark early and I much prefer to study when it is light. I do hope this period of despondency passes soon as I really want to enjoy the course.
My husband and I bought a motorhome about 9 years ago. It was an impulse buy, we just happened to be passing a motorhome show and decided to have a look. We named her Polly as it seemed to suit her. It has been one of the best decisions we have made. We have had so much fun and seen so much of Great Britain over the years. At the moment we are in Bristol on a small site at the end of the Cumberland Basin. We come here at least twice a year as it is only around a 2 1/2 hour drive from home. You can walk out the back gate and emerge out onto the floating harbour and walk into Bristol City Centre which takes about 1/2 hour stroll.
Caravan sites are great for people watching and I like to sit at the table with a coffee and a packet of bourbon biscuits watching as other caravanners and motorhomers come and go. The mornings are especially busy. The morning starts about 6.30am when you here the first doors being opened and the first rush to the shower blocks to bag the best shower and sometimes the only shower! Some people walk around in their pyjamas and dressing gowns and others are fully dressed but they all carry their towel over their arm and wash bags of various sizes. At one site in Northumberland we watched an older gentleman who was wearing a striped dressing gown and leather slippers walk to the shower block with his toothbrush held out in front of him already primed with his toothpaste. He kept stopping every few feet to check that the toothpaste hadn't fallen of his brush.
We stay mainly in club managed sites but on occasions we have 'gone off grid'. In Scotland we stayed overnight in pub car parks, they let you stay for free if you eat in their restaurant. My favourite was The Barn at Beal which overlooks The Holy Island. The first time we went it was a bit of a free for all but the site is now laid out with pitches so that everyone has a view. There is nothing worse than pitching up and sitting enjoying the view and then someone comes along and parks in front of you!!
This year we were lucky enough to be at a site overlooking Skomer Island. We had perfect weather for the boat trip over to the island and spent the day watching the puffins. It was one of those days that cannot be recreated. It was just too perfect
I received my first marked assignment back earlier this week, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with my mark. Considering I left school at 16 with no qualifications I think it's a bloody miracle. The only reason I don't have any qualifications is not because I am, or was stupid, or even struggled at school, in fact I loved many of my lessons especially English, it's because I didn't take any of my exams. Home life at the time was chaotic.
My lack of qualifications has not held me back though, I suppose I was lucky to have started my work life when jobs were easy to get into. I started my first job at 16 working at Gatwick airport and moved on to an office job starting as an admin assistant and worked my way up to being a PA to the Head of Legal. After 17 years I took redundancy and now, at the grand old age of 50, find myself working towards a degree.
I'm very excited about studying, I won't pretend I find it easy, but I know when I get my degree in 6 years time I will have accomplished one of my dreams.
This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday and the centenary of Armistice Day. I have always worn a red poppy as I believe it is our duty to remember the men and women from all countries who gave their lives for the sake of peace.
I will wear it with extra pride this year as my youngest son, who is in the RAF, will be in a Remembrance service. He has been chosen to be part of the drumhead of the parade, standing guard by the Cenotaph near to where he is based. He is very proud to have been chosen and takes his duty very seriously. He has been in the RAF for two years and is so proud to wear his uniform and be part of the armed services. Unfortunately I cannot be there to see him but hopefully it will be televised and I can get to see him.
Last year as part of the Open University Access course we had to anaylse Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum est . and remember vividly the horrific imagery he used to describe a gas attack. We should never forget.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
I attended my first face to face tutorial last night. I was so nervous beforehand but really needn't have been. Six of us attended and to be honest just as nervous as I was. It was interesting to hear what everyone wants to do with their degrees once we've graduated, it was a real mix. There were a few historians, one wanted to study religion and myself who wants to do creative writing. Our tutor put us at ease and we talked through one of the chapters and had a brief discussion on essay writing and how the OU would like us to set them out, we touched on referencing, which is my biggest worry but as our tutor said essay means "to try", which is exactly what I am going to do. I left feeling happier that I have not made a big mistake and that through 'trying' I will develop and become better and, most of all, enjoy what I am doing.
I haven't done as much studying as I would like this past week. I attended a two day course with work on Coaching and Feedback with an overnight stay. It took me well out of my comfort zone. It was a mixture of listening to the facilitators and group work. I was ok about working with one other person but it was the 'Quad' group work that I really didn't like. Being watched by two observers as you have a coaching conversation with someone you have only just met is not nice for someone who is quite shy. In my head I was having the perfect conversation but it came out of my mouth as a jumbled mess of spaghetti. Good luck with untangling that.
Despite this hiccup the rest of the course was very enjoyable. In the evening I manged to connect to the Student Hub Live session on 'Understanding your Assessment Question'. using the hotels WI-FI. I came away with some useful resources on how to decipher the assessment question which, this being my first year of study, is harder than I thought. Getting to grips with the definitions and really understanding what the question is asking you is key. That is the biggest learning I took from it. Take time to read it through several times, read it out loud and write down the definitions of the process words. After the session it was straight down to the bar for a large glass of whiskey to relax and unwind.
Recently my mother-in-law asked me to take her to visit the burial place of her husband. He is buried in a natural burial ground nestled at the base of the South Downs. She is in her eighties and cannot get there easily on her own. It involves a bus journey and a hair-raising game of Frogger to get across the busy country road.
The day was perfect, a beautiful autumn day, bright blue cloudless sky. We sat on the bench by his tree enjoying the sun’s rays warming our faces and bodies. It was so peaceful sitting listening to the sounds of birds, the gentle breeze blowing through the trees and looking up to the windmills on top of the Downs. We sat in silence, each with our own thoughts.
I started thinking about how different it was to where my mum is buried. My mum was cremated and her remains interred in a church graveyard in an area reserved specifically for cremations. A simple plaque marks her resting place, she is in the corner of the graveyard at the bottom of a hill adjacent to where the bins are kept and the area is forgotten. Whenever I visit, I get despondent. Don’t get me wrong it is not an unpleasant place to be it just feels oppressive. She is hemmed into a corner, it’s dark, the tree branches hang down so low and brush against you as you walk over the uneven, cracked path that lead you down the hill past headstones marked with age. It feels gloomy and dark and my body reacts the same way. I hunch up my shoulders and draw my arms around myself as if to shield myself from death. The natural burial ground is more open and light, I can see the sky above, and I can breathe and relax.
Perhaps, I thought, my feelings are a reflection on how they died. Both died from cancer but their deaths could not have been more different. My mum’s, although expected, was full of fear, confusion and a certain degree of chaos. My father-in-law’s was peaceful, calm and dignified. Maybe I am manifesting my experiences of their deaths onto the way I feel about their final resting places. The human mind works in mysterious ways.
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