30 June 2020

This month I have been mostly...

I have still been working from home a lot of the time, but I have had a few days in the school getting netbooks ready for pupils. Then I had some days doing union duties, going on the risk assessment walkarounds at primary schools. And I've had a lot of online meetings and been answering emails and texts at all hours of the day and at weekends. The change from having my own little routine at home to having no routine at all has been pretty exhausting! I am now back in my workplace more or less full time, and there's a lot of electrical testing there to catch up on so I'll be busy!

I took a couple of Monday holidays, one of which I spent the whole of in a deckchair in the garden! One of my risk assessment trips took me outside my own town for the first time since lockdown started, in fact for the first time since the 22nd February when I went to Sainsbury's! And I was able to stop and have my packed lunch somewhere nice on the way back.

I've been trying to do some different walks that I can drive to within 5 miles of home. OK, so the 5 mile rule is not a hard and fast one (it's really just don't go so far you need to use a toilet!) but it's been interesting to try walking some places close to home that I hadn't been before. I'd been to Formonthills before, but there are a lot of walks and I'd only done one before, so I was able to do a completely different circuit. I also went to Coul Den and Reservoir, where I hadn't been before, and where there was the best fairy garden I've ever seen!

I was already trying to have more diversity in what I read, by participating in the Reading Women challenge, and this month I have realised that I need to do so even more and to learn even more about racism. Since finishing Kindred by Octavia Butler, I've been reading How to Argue with a Racist by Adam Rutherford, Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, and rereading Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

I did my first food shop that was not just for essentials. I went to M&S and got wine, chocolate, pretzels, posh jaffa cakes, and much more!

One of my old favourites, First Wave, has been getting repeated on the Horror Channel, so I've been watching that. The picture quality is terrible (and to tell the truth so is some of the acting and many of the storylines), so maybe I'd have been just as well getting out my old videotapes!

Listening to: 
The London cast recording of Amélie the Musical was my first ever digital music purchase (I still kind of feel that need to own a CD, even though I don't even have a CD player in my car, only in my house, and I never use that one!). It is magical and really transported me back to watching the stage show in Glasgow.

I made a Cath Kidston bag with fabric pieces that came pre-cut with a book. It's one of those projects that was left for a rainy day - and while lockdown has been sunny, it's been the perfect time to get on with those sort of projects!

I've been getting on well with my 100 day embroidery project, although I found it harder on those days I was out on union duties and returned exhausted! I try to work a day ahead, and also to draw the next motif straight afterwards, so I'm not left wondering what to embroider next.

I've started a collection of vintage melamine chopping boards from Etsy! My plan is they'll be used as Instagram photo backgrounds when photographing small items. But I suppose I actually have a space in my kitchen I could display them if I put some nails up!

If you're feeling a bit stressed out, here are my top recommendations for things to relax to, all of which I've been watching and listening to this month:

The Joy of Painting by Bob Ross - the most relaxing voice and a wonderful attitude to art where there are no mistakes, just happy little clouds, trees that always need to be given little friends beside them, and rustic barns in the middle of nowhere. And every so often he "beats the devil out of" his brush to dry it off, and has a little chuckle to himself as he does so, and I have a little chuckle to myself too!

Melissa Harrison's podcast The Stubborn Light of Things has been just what I've needed recently. Again, a wonderfully relaxing voice, that reduces to a gentle whisper when she's trying not to disturb nearby owls! Each episode takes you on a walk near her home, and there is a guest each week who also talks about nature, bits from her newspaper column, and snippets from the diary of 18th century naturalist Gilbert White. If you can't get out for a walk in nature yourself, this is the next best thing!

Finally, there are the Youtube videos of Rambalac who takes you on walks in Japan. There is no dialogue or background music, just the ambient sounds of wherever in Japan the walk may be, and it proceeds at normal walking pace, looking around at the things you'd naturally look at yourself, so you really feel like you are there. The walks can be in any weather, and I particularly enjoyed seeing one on a rainy day in Kyoto when I was warm and dry indoors!

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