August felt like almost a full month of weekdays! I was working during the week – not that I work full time but I keep myself pretty busy with one thing or another. Then on four out of the five weekends I was doing my counselling skills course on Zoom. So in addition to what I normally do during the week I had assignments too. Needless to say when I did have one weekend off in the middle of the month it was a welcome break. So what did I do with myself? Well the family were all off too so we decided on a mini-break. Obviously due to the pandemic we couldn’t exactly jet off to Spain – well we could but that would have meant quarantine and … yada yada yah 😐

So… we hired a motorhome and drove up north to the Highlands. Neither hubby nor myself had ever driven a vehicle as big as the motorhome but we soon got used to it. There were a few hairy moments driving on single track roads in the highlands; like when a little yellow sports car came flying round a bend towards me in the middle of the road. To be fair I think the guy got a quite a fright – he may have slowed down a bit after that 😝.

We picked up the ‘van‘ (motorhome) on Thursday afternoon and headed for Dingwall. Why Dingwall? Two reasons really – first there was limited availability at the various campsites we looked at and second (and arguably more importantly) our favourite gin is made there. 😂 It’s as good a reason as any to choose a campsite I reckon 😁. Not that we could actually visit the distillery but we did buy a bottle of the gin in the town for a few pounds less than we pay at home. After figuring out how to reverse park a motorhome and hook up to the electric we got a wee barbecue going. Not a bad start.

Don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with an hour by hour recount of our trip. I’ll just fill you in on a couple of the highlights and maybe even a ‘lowlight’ or two. 😬 There was one little issue I hadn’t thought of when booking the van and that was the height of my hubby and son. Let’s just say that they didn’t fit very well in the beds. There was quite a bit of shuffling people around to try to get everyone the best night’s sleep we could. There may also have been a little bit of grumbling about the lack of sleep too but I couldn’t possibly comment.

On the first full day we drove over to Skye. I have been to Skye twice before and both times it lived up to it’s nickname of ‘The Misty Isle’ so I didn’t see much of it. Thankfully this time although it was quite dull and misty as we were driving it cleared up beautifully and even got hot enough for a dip in the Fairy Pools. The scenery was truly beautiful and I don’t think my photography skills do it justice but hopefully you’ll get some idea from these pictures.

The downside of Skye as any Scot will tell you is the midges. We managed to stave them off for most of the visit with Skin So Soft spray which works wonders as a midge repellent but after our dip in the fairy pools we got well and truly attacked and eaten and had to head back to the van. We had fish and chips for dinner that evening before heading back to the campsite – a mere 2.5 hour drive.

After our second night in Dingwall we headed down to the Cairngorms via Loch Ness. Again we got fantastic weather although we didn’t manage to get a glimpse of Nessie. The main purpose of our journey that day was to visit the Balmoral Estate (the Queen’s Scottish home) and see Prince Albert’s Cairn which looks like a pyramid. I’ve lived in Scotland all my life and only discovered this year that we have a couple of pyramids here. Not quite the size of the Egyptian ones but good to visit all the same.

That evening I had planned to ‘wing it’ and find somewhere to wild camp on the route back to where we had to return the van the next morning. Let’s just say that didn’t go quite as smoothly as I’d hoped! 😝 We eventually found somewhere we could park up and sleep and as it happened it wasn’t far from my brother’s house so we popped in there for a yummy cooked breakfast the next morning before heading home. So all was well in the end. I’d definitely be up for hiring a motorhome again but I think I’d adjust a few things next time to avoid the wingeing! 😂

Hope you enjoyed my pics. Scotland really is beautiful in the sun – it’s just a shame it can’t be guaranteed. 😆

The Lowdown on Lockdown (a little late)

This is one of those posts that’s been sitting in my drafts folder for yonks! I originally planned to give people ideas of things to do when stuck at home but clearly it’s a bit late for that now that most of the world is well on the way back to normality (of sorts) 😂 or the ‘new normal’ as we seem to be calling it. Instead I’m going to tell you some of the stuff I’ve been up to over the last few months to keep myself entertained while we were ‘robbed of our freedom’ due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As much as anything this will be a wee reminder to me sometime in the future when this has (hopefully) all blown over of what it was like.

I’ll start with the most obvious ones. Like everyone else on the planet I’ve entertained myself with movies, TV shows and books. There are far too many to mention here so I’ll just mention a couple that I enjoyed. The movie Knives Out was pretty good, we had a laugh watching Blended and of course I watched Frozen 2 (despite having no children in the house). In TV shows I’ve been watching The Sinner and The Chosen – kind of opposites really. My go to show when I’m ironing is The A Word, although ironing seemed pretty unnecessary for a while. We’re also watching Hanna which is pretty good so far. I’ve read and am still reading loads of books. I never only have one on the go – right now I have 5 that I’m dipping in and out of. One of my favourite books recently has been ‘Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle. I’m getting so much out of her story.

Like lots of families we got some jigsaw puzzles out although it became trickier to get hold of them during lockdown. I actually ended up buying a brand new, full price Moomins (if you’re not familiar with the Moomins you’ll find them on YouTube – I loved watching them as a child) one online 😝! Usually I buy them from the charity shop and do them once before taking them back there. We also discovered online crosswords and quizzes as well as playing regular board games and card games. For a while we got into playing online games with friends and family on Zoom too. I wonder how many people wish they’d bought shares in Zoom a few months back?

The Moomins Jigsaw Puzzle

I’ve gone through phases with exercise over lockdown. We had great weather in the spring so I did lots of long walks in the countryside (partly because it was one of the few reasons we were allowed to be outside of our houses). As a family we did circuits in the back garden 5 mornings a week for 3 weeks before giving that up. I’ve kept up with my exercise classes on Zoom as much as possible and done a few home workouts as well as a few of Joe Wicks PE sessions. I’ve even started running with the Couch to 5K app – I’m partly telling you this to try to make myself keep it up. I’ve always wanted to be able to run but since becoming a mum I was worried that my bladder wouldn’t allow it 😆 (TMI? Sorry!) Anyway I downloaded the app and decided to give it a go. It’s going okay so far (I’m on Week 6 now) and it would be cool if I could get the bug (the running one – not the Coronavirus). On the down side I’ve eaten and drank way too much over the last few months so the exercise has probably only served to prevent a bad situation from getting totally out of hand. Some serious sensible eating needs to start soon!

While everyone was working from home, home started to feel like it wasn’t working for us. There weren’t enough spaces for everyone to work in peace and I was trying to work from bed (sometimes on it and sometimes in it 😝). After a couple of months of that it got too much so we did some rearranging and I’ve painted what was the dining room and built some flat packed furniture to create new multi-use spaces in the house. What used to be the guest bedroom has now become my little office/study and I’m loving having a space set up with everything I need for work or study to hand.

Since I like to keep myself busy and enjoy self-development I took on a couple of online courses; another new one with church and a Counselling Skills Certificate. The church one is finished now and the counselling one finishes today. As a result of doing that I’m now going on to do a counselling diploma starting next month. That clearly wasn’t enough new learning though so I also started learning my native language (Scottish Gaelic) on the Duolingo app. I’m making slow progress with that but it’s fun to learn and I can now recognise and actually understand some of the words that I’ve seen around (house names and such like) since I was a child. I’ve grown a few things too – some flowers that I was given and planted out in pots. I grew an avocado plant from a stone and tried growing carrot tops too for a while. I’ve not always been the best at looking after plants but so far the avocado tree is surviving.

What else changed over lockdown? My daughter and I did quite a few home beauty treatments and she even dyed my hair for me before the hairdressers went back to work. All church services have been on Facebook live or on Zoom. There have been no music gigs in months, no visits to the cinema or places of interest (indoors). No meals/drinks out until very recently. This weird situation where (even now) hugging friends when you see them is no longer something you take for granted. Of course it goes without saying that it is now totally normal to see people wearing face masks every time you’re out and about (making face masks was another project I tried my hand at). I’m sure I’ve missed out loads of things that have happened but at least now I’ll have something to remind me of this weird time. It would be nice if it was all in the past now but I guess there may be more posts to come that have some reference to Covid-19 since it looks like it could be around for a while. I’m just glad that now at least we can see friends and family in person – I think that’s what I missed most during lockdown.

What did you miss most during lockdown? What have you done to keep yourself occupied over the last few months?

Random Thoughts During Social Distancing

Should I reset my alarm?  It’s normally set for 6.15am on weekdays and 8am on the weekends so I can get up and spend some quiet time with God before everyone else starts to move.  Now that everyone is working from home no one is really moving before about 8.30am so I could shift it a bit – or leave it and use the extra time for something else?  Thoughts?

I’ve never been more grateful for the sunshine.  In the midst of everything that’s going on in the world, it just makes me feel better.

Writing in my garden while social distancing

I wonder when my daughter will come home?  We were chatting through her options yesterday.  Her school in California has gone online and her two roommates are leaving to go home on Tuesday so she could come home too.  She’s not keen on the idea of being on her own especially with all the social distancing but she also has FOMO if everything clears up and goes back to normal quicker than expected.  I’d love her to come back but I also want her to be sure she’s doing the right thing for her.  I don’t want to put pressure on her.

I wonder if we’ll be able to go on holiday in July?  It’s hardly important in the current climate but just a thought.

Will I be able to claim any money back for lost business? I’ve worked out that with the bookings I had in the diary I’ll be losing out on something like 26 days if the schools stay shut until the summer break (which seems to be what is expected).  I’m going to try to use the time to do other things that I don’t normally get round to – like my website for example.  If necessary I could get another job though.  The supermarkets are looking for more staff right now.

Will I do more writing or less?  I’m having another wobble about writing at the moment.  I don’t know whether to keep going or quit. 

Should I try to get a telephone appointment with the doctor?  I’m not sick but I’ve been wondering about whether I should try coming off the antidepressants?  They don’t want us to bother the NHS right now unless it’s an emergency though, and it’s not that.  Does anyone know how you get off these things?  Can I do it safely without a doctor’s advice?  I’m on a very low dose.

I have a gift card to use up before June.  Not quite sure if that’s going to be possible?  It’s maybe my own fault for holding on to it so long but I was hoping to buy a couple of new outfits for this summer with it.  It’s for one of the nearby shopping centres.  Maybe I could use it for food shopping or just go to the clothes shops one day and keep my distance from everyone?  I feel bad for the shops and businesses that are losing out because of this virus.  I know we have to be sensible to avoid spreading it but so many people are losing their livelihoods too.  That could have a knock on effect that lasts way longer than COVID-19.

I probably should disinfect the door handles and surfaces again but today is Mother’s Day in the UK so it’s going to wait till tomorrow.  I want to relax today.  I got the sweetest card with the most lovely words in it today from my kids along with some beautiful flowers.  I am blessed.

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading my random ramblings.  Stay safe and don’t forget to wash your hands.  🤗

Yes I Will

I’ve been a bit quiet again – I know. It’s hard to explain. There are just times when I find it hard to ‘talk’. Sometimes it’s even hard to share with my closest friends. I just seem to clam up. It’s weird in a way because there’s nothing I want more than a safe place to spill out what’s on my heart.

I’m okay really – in the midst of all the craziness in the world right now. Everything feels a little surreal. Hubby is working from home for the foreseeable future. My son’s uni is closed and classes are going online. I’m taking business a day at a time and counting on nothing since it seems like schools could shut at any moment. My daughter’s mission trip has been cancelled and I’m just hoping that she’ll be able to get home from California okay when the time comes.

Friends are having their holidays cancelled and it looks like people of my parents age will be asked to stay at home soon. Many of the shelves in the supermarkets are bare, a Foodbank in my area was robbed and some self employed people are worrying about how they will pay their bills. Night shelters are concerned about homeless people who may come into contact with the virus and teachers are wondering how the children who rely on free school meals are going to get fed. Like my hubby says it feels like the plot of a movie.

Yesterday was a little unusual for a Sunday. Although our church was meeting we didn’t get up early enough to go so we listened to a message online about Kingdom in Mental and Emotional Health. I got pretty emotional listening to it actually. I guess a lot of things resonated with me. In the afternoon I went for a long walk in the countryside to make sure I got my steps in for my charity challenge. After dinner (and a little/fair bit of wine) I fell asleep just before the end of the movie we were watching. Then of course, during the night when I should have been sleeping I was awake! 😝

Photo from Pixabay

One of the things I enjoyed most about yesterday was listening to my music while I was out walking. There’s something about being in nature that makes it easier for me to hear God and there’s something about the lyrics of songs that has a way of getting through to me. Sometimes even when I’m having a difficult day singing at the top of my lungs or dancing around my kitchen can be enough to pull me out of the doldrums.

This song is one that has helped me out of a difficult place several times. I recommend turning up the volume to listen to it. 🙂

Yes I Will by Vertical Worship

I count on one thing
The same God that never fails
Will not fail me now
You won’t fail me now
In the waiting
The same God who’s never late
Is working all things out
You’re working all things out

Yes I will, lift You high in the lowest valley
Yes I will, bless Your name
Oh, yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy
All my days, oh yes I will

I count on one thing
The same God that never fails
Will not fail me now
You won’t fail me now
In the waiting
The same God who’s never late
Is working all things out
Is working all things out

Oh, yes I will, lift You high in the lowest valley
Yes I will, bless Your name
Oh, yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy
For all my days, oh yes I will
For all my days, oh yes, I will

And I choose to praise
To glorify, glorify…

Source: LyricFind