If you are looking for a top tip on how to look after your mental health at the moment, then I wanted to remind you of a small thing that we use in our house which helps with sleeping. Basically it’s the 9 o’clock rule.
When my mum was ill it was all-consuming, especially when M and I would visit her in hospital. We would come home and talk about things, debriefing all possibilities and strategies, sometimes right up to bedtime and often after we got in bed. This meant that I had trouble sleeping and the cumulative effect of this was that eventually, I crashed my car on the way to work as I was SOO tired.
So we started to invoke the 9’oclock rule. This meant that after a day of stressful events of ANY kind; house move, mum with cancer, being made redundant and I guess now CoronaVirus, then we can talk about it as much as we like, but all talk of it must STOP at 9pm. This really allowed my fizzing brain to calm down and focused on more “normal” things. It meant the last things I thought about didn’t necessarily give me nightmares (I’m very prone) and this strategy genuinely helped me sleep more.
What to blog about at the moment? There is nothing really happening in the world sooooo..
Yep, as I write this (Sunday 15th March 2020) we are right in the middle of a CoronaVirus, COVID-19 pandemic. That sounds like the plot to a film, but nope, this is REAL life!
I really didn’t think I was too bothered, but there was a point last week that I realised that I really really was. I work for a national charity and my work regularly takes me 250 miles away to Cornwall. Until recently, I have been mostly flying down using Flybe, but with Flybe’s collapse about 2 weeks ago, I had to re-book my travel via train.
But… amid growing concerns about travel and the lightening-fast changes in information and infection rates, I took the decision NOT to travel to Cornwall on, what have probably always been, germ-infested trains. Thankfully I am as healthy as I usually am, but both M and I have parents over 70 and members of my close family all have underlying health issues. Frankly, it’s a worry.
I won’t repeat any information that is fully available from Public Health, the NHS and similar, but this whole experience is like nothing else I have ever experienced.
The current buzz phrase is self-isolation but I work from home and so self-isolation would be no different for me! However, I am already feeling territorial about our office in case M has to stay home!
One thing that has baffled me is the people panic buying WAY too much shopping, in particular toilet roll. I saw someone this morning coming out of Bargain Booze with 3 x 4 packs of toilet roll and a huge bottle of vodka. What on earth is she expecting/planning???
But amongst it all, M and I have a 1st world problem of our own. Last year, we booked a holiday to Crete for April this year, but we were gutted when our travel agent Thomas Cook went into administration and everything was cancelled. Thankfully though we got our money back and managed to book the exact same holiday which a different agent. As of today there are no restrictions on travel to Greece, but things are changing so fast, it’s impossible to predict as Spain, France and Italy are already in partial or full lockdown.
Also, next Sunday is Mother’s Day and whilst my mum is no longer with us, M does have his mum and in fact, we were meant to be hosting a little family get-together. But after some careful thought, we have decided to cancel. M’s parents have recently been unwell and are in their 80s and we didn’t want to put them at risk. M works for the NHS and I work for a charity and there is I could expose very vulnerable people to something that wouldn’t affect me but really affect them.
We aren’t completely self-isolating, but we are limiting contact wherever possible. So this week, no extended travel for me, which means not really going anywhere, to be honest.
What a time though. What a worrying time. All we can really do is help each other through this and for the love of God, STOP buying ALL the loo roll and pasta!
I decided this year that I was going to try and do one cool thing a month throughout 2020. It’s mid-February and I have already done 2 things! Let me walk you through it. Firstly, my definition of “cool” could mean anything. Anything unusual or different that I either haven’t tried before, or something I wanted to try again, but in an usual way OR for a specific reason.
In January I decided to go Swimming. This is cool for me as it’s something I have always loved doing it, but only ever seem to do it when I am holiday. I am also not a natural exerciser and with my weight creeping up, I thought I would perhaps go for a swim and see how it felt.
I actually live within a 3-minute drive of a municipal swimming people, so I really didn’t have far to go at all. I went along and the staff on reception gave me a good welcome and were happy to show me around. I have to be honest and say that the facilities for changing were dreadful. The pool has a gym attached to it and that has just had a brilliant re-furb and looks amazing, but the facilities for pool users are dire. For the women, it’s just a tiled room with pegs on the walls. There is one long communal shower and NO cubicles for changing or toilets within the changing room. Right outside the changing rooms is a corridor with lockers and benches for various parents to wait. So I had to walk past all these people to a very public locker, which I had to pay for! I wasn’t impressed, but hopeful that the pool was better.
As I walked into the pool, I realised it was a windowless and therefore not dark, but certainly not light room. I walked down the length of the pool , past a swimming lesson full of small children, to hear “Auntie Gill!!!!”.
I looked around and spotted our youngest neice and brother-in-law in the pool! She seemed double chuffed to see me and I spent the next 10 minutes happily hearing about her day and how much she thought I looked like my sister, her mum. Delightful.
After that, I just did a bit of swimming and it occurred to me for the hundredth time that even though I can swim, my technique is rubbish. We will come back to that another time.
But one extra bonus cool thing that happened, was that I used my Apple Watch to measure my swimming exercise. It’s waterproof provided me with some brill swimming data!
Overall though, I did have a fab swim and was really pleased with myself for giving it a go. Go me!
In February, I decided to do something I have NEVER tried before. I follow an actress/singer/author on social media called Carrie Hope Fletcher and she recently went “floating”. This a sensory deprivation experience, where you float in some warm water in a pod. It sounds odd but intriguing right?!
A quick google told me that my closest Floating experience was at Zero Gravity Float Spa in Altrincham here:
It was £65 for 2 people for a 1 hour float. This gave us a 90 minute appointment, free towels, ear plugs, private shower and use of a styling room, with hairdryers, free products and straighteners if required.
Again, the welcome we got was great. To be dead clear (I know you are wondering), M and I were in seperate pods. They recommend this as it’s easier to relax and the pods arent QUITE big enough for two people.
The good thing about this experience is that you are in complete control at all times. Your options are:
Swimming Costume OR naked
Light on OR off
Pod lid open OR closed.
Music on OR off
I went in naked (why not eh) and started off with lights off. I chose to have the music off, but this means that they play 5 minutes of music at the beginning as an intro and reintroduce the music, 5 minutes at the end.
I have to say that I didn’t find the whole thing super relaxing. I just couldn’t seem to surrender myself to the experience. The Epsom salts do mean that you entirely float and the staff give you a polystyrene halo to support your head a little. I used it, but I honestly don’t think it was necessary.
I go to sleep every night listening to podcasts and this sends me to sleep within 10 minutes without fail. So I think for my float experience, I definitely should have kept the music on. I also think that a whole hour was too long for my first go as I had had enough after about 40 minutes and I got out at 50 minutes. But M had a great experience and seemed to be able to relax much better than I did – which is odd as it’s usually the other way around!
A few days later as I write this post there have definitely been some after effects that we hadn’t anticipated from our float experience.
Firstly, when we went to bed the night of the float, we were both shattered and slept like babies. This also last a couple of days afterwards too.
Secondly, our muscles ached and we aren’t sure if this was float induced? We definitely floated, but the person at Zero Gravity did say that certain positions can strain your muscles.
Thirdly… M wore his swimming shorts and when we got home, he left them over the bath to dry. When we checked on them later that night, we found rock sold, stiff as a board shorts – salt x swimming shorts apparently wasn’t a good mix!
So would I do it again, hmm maybe. I think I wasn’t relaxed enough to start off with, to being told to instantly relax was too hard for me, a bit like forced fun. But I reckon if I was on holiday and there was a floatation pod, I would give it another go.
I write this as I have just finished my 1st day back at work for 2020 and it’s started to make me think what this year holds for me? In fact, what does this decade hold for me?
In 2010 I was 35, living in Haydock with my partner, employed by a voluntary sector organisation and I was the adopted mum of a German Shepherd x breed called Peggy. I started 2020 aged 45, living in Newton-le-Willows, now married, employed by a voluntary sector organisation and I am the adopted mum of a Romanian dog called Daisy.
So some things have moved on, but the important things have stayed the same. In some ways 2010 – 2020 was wonderful, I got married to the love of my life, I turned 40, moved into a house with a garden (dream come true). I went to America twice and had some of the most amazing holidays. My sister also got married, and had one of our two amazing nieces as well as having an amazing job as WELL as teaching aerobics at night! She is superwoman make no mistake about that!
Some things have been rubbish too, in a very short period of time, I lost my last remaining Grandparent Jessie, one of my oldest friends, Peggy dog and of course in 2015, I lost my mum. Too sad to write too much about, but I am hoping that this next decade brings more happy than it does sad.
In 2020 I do have the tiniest of things planned, including a holiday to Crete in April, but beyond that, the year is a blank canvas. I think that this might be the first time in a good few years where we don’t have a big birthday or anniversary to celebrate! There are a few things we want to be done in the house, so that might mean a few projects, but otherwise, I am open to offers 2020!
It’s always hard plunging back into normal life after an extended break, especially at Christmas, but it’s also cool to think about all the things that could happen this year… I am particularly looking forward to:
The pink buds appearing on the tree in our front garden, the colour is beautiful.
Well hello, 2020! The start of a new decade and a world of possibilities – or just the transition from Tuesday to Wednesday – whichever you like.
I have been fairly quiet both on this blog and on social media for the Christmas period, withdrawing completely for a wee while and then just posting sporadically, whilst not actually sharing that much at all compared to normal. I have felt quite tired with one thing and another, I did a lot of travelling in December and then, of course, there is the mess that is/was Brexit.
After the general election on the 12th December, it winded me. I realised that unwittingly I had curated my friends and social media pals to only include people with the same sort of world views as my own and therefore I was sort of convinced that the Tories would be ousted. When they were voted in, I was gobsmacked. I felt out of touch, disappointed and sad quite honestly.
So when I finished work on the 20th December, I sort of shut up shop. Came off socials and withdrew. I should apologise to anyone that I perhaps should have caught up with on my time off, I, unfortunately, didn’t have the energy.
But what I DID end up doing was a sort of ping pong between dog walks 👣 garden centres ☕ eateries 🍳and family 👪 .
I posted on Boxing Day that I was hoping to get out loads, but this just didn’t happen. We went somewhere almost every day but stayed fairly local. Daisy dog’s Cushings Disease means she doesn’t have much energy, so when we tried to take her on a small adventure to Pennington Flash, she walked for a reluctant hour, but it zonked her out for the rest of the day!
We did have a few significant events happen though, firstly, our Fridge Freezer packed up after 15 years of loyal service. We bought it after we moved in together and quickly realised that my ancient under counter fridge (that came with my then house) could no longer keep 2 x people’s food cold! We have a new one coming today actually, but buyer beware, Currys are charging us £35 to have the door open the opposite way to normal, despite it only needing the screws moving to the opposite side! Cheeky buggers.
In other news, I ordered myself a new car, which is coming in a few weeks (dead excited). I also sold my old car, which means for the 1st time in years, I am without my own transportation! I never really wanted to be 18, so that I could drink, I always wanted to be 17 so that I could drive as I knew it would give me freedom… so I can’t wait to have my own wheels again…..
But overall, this Christmas break has been quiet and wonderful. I haven’t seen many people, but M, Daisy and I have had some quality time together. Played games, gone on walks, marvelled at everyone’s Christmas lights, watched some fab Telly, eaten some lovely food and rested so wonderfully every day. It’s been GLORIOUS.
I am starting work again for 2020 on Monday and part of me is looking forward to it and part of me is constantly wishing for a lottery win and a Caribbean cruise!
Welcome 2020, let’s make sure we have fun together 👯
One of my few goals in life was to have a garden before I was 40 and I achieve it with just about 3 days to go. I have loved playing with and in the garden, changing it around to suit my mood and one of the things I have loved it seeing it filled with wildlife.
It’s not a big garden, but it does have an enormous willow tree which covers the bottom half of it. We have recently cut it back, so at last, we have more light.
One thing we loved is when birds visit us, but one thing we have also struggled with is squirrels! Every time we put out bird food, the pesky squirrels steal it. Why not get one of those squirrel proof feeders I hear you ask, well we did and the squirrels just figured out how to get into them. One even chewed a bigger hole in the plastic so he could get his gob in it!
We have tried a few things to get rid of the squirrels, and today sees us trying I am hoping will work. I found an article on the RSPB which recommended a few things, one of which was Chilli powder on bird feed, which does not bother the birds, but the squirrels don’t like.
So I will let you know how we get on…. Hopefully, a video to follow!
Hello all you lovely people! Thought I would write a quick post to wish you all a very Happy Christmas!
Ok ok, I know it’s Boxing Day, but I am still definitely in the Christmas mood. Yesterday was a lovely day as I spend the morning at home, walking the dog and opening presents with M, in the afternoon we had lunch out at a local hotel and then yesterday evening we went over to Grappenhall to see M’s family.
Christmas isn’t always easy and I am sure tensions happen in every family, not just mine, but as it happens, yesterday was lovely.
I was mega impressed with the Christmas meal at the Holiday Inn in Haydock, nothing was rushed, the food was lovely and the staff were just fantastic! Loved it all.
I was lucky enough to get lots of lovely things from my loved ones for Christmas as I got an Apple Watch, a few lovely candles and LOTS of cool beauty bits an bobs – I am a very lucky girl!
Today is Boxing Day in the UK, which is another bank holiday and for us means M has been for a run this morning with his running group, we are chilling for a bit this afternoon and then going out to M’s parents later for tea and then quickly back home so M can watch the match.
The Christmas period is usually the only time M and I have a full 2 weeks off work. I finished on the 20th December and I am not going back until the 6th December. Utter bliss!
I am hoping to make use of our National Trust Memberships whilst we are off and even though Daisy Dog is still only has the energy of a hung-over slug, we are going to do our best to get her to some new places!
Happy Boxing Day Everyone, lots of love from my house to yours
She is a very very quiet dog, almost silent in that she hardly ever barks and doesn’t cry at all. She’s not entirely silent though as in her sleep she snores like an overweight grandad and then perhaps 5-6 times in the whole of 2019, she has done a tiny little bark when she hears us moving around upstairs in a morning and she is downstairs waiting for us.
She has been fairly easy to train as she is VERY food orientated. We took her to a Kennel Club Class at a local Dog Training place called The Dogs Country Club and it was BRILLIANT. We learned Sit, Stay, Recall, Door Control and basic lead walking. The course was 8 weeks and we loved it. Daisy got little food rewards every time she did anything right and she was SUCH a good student because of this!
House training initially went really well and she was probably completely house trained within a month of us getting her, with her being 80% trained within about 2 weeks. This did leave us to believe that she had perhaps lived with someone back in Romania and hadn’t always (if ever) been a street dog.
However, the house training thing has hit a bump in the road as at the end of August we noticed that Daisy was drinking more than normal. We took her to the vets and what followed was a horrible waiting game that included some VERY expensive test and horrendous waits, to find out that Daisy has Cushings disease. Thankfully it isn’t fatal, and can be treated with medication.
But this does mean that Daisy’s excessive thirst means that she can’t hold in all the pee 😒 The vet told us this was to be expected and even now, a few months later, the medication balance isn’t quite right and she is still having accidents. We have decided to manage the symptoms for now and as she always seemed to pee in the same place, we bought a few washable pee pads and she she uses them if she can’t hold it. Not ideal, but manageable…
We have also taken Daisy away on 2 x holidays this year, with varying levels of success as it turns out Daisy isn’t a natural adventurer. Our 1st trip was to the Lake District and after an active day on Day 1, Daisy was too tired on the Day 2 to really do anything and in addition, she wasn’t keen on the hotel and peed on the carpet – more than once…. oops 😳
Our second trip was a week in Anglesey at our beloved and regular holiday haunt near Llangefni. Daisy had just had her tests to diagnose her Cushings and had to wear a medical vest to shield her stitches. Daisy again was really uncomfortable in new surroundings and only started to settle mid-week. She peed everytime we left her and there was really nothing we could do about it. But this trip was slightly more successful as we took Daisy on some lovely little walks (we learned from the 1st trip to pace ourselves) and visited some beautiful beaches. We took her crate and her comfy cushion with us and that helped loads.
Daisy isn’t an energetic dog and in fact will happily sleep for about 18 hours every day. She does love a walk, but not for more than an hour and in the warm weather, even less than that. She favours a couple of shorter walks rather than one long one and thankfully, she is great off lead as she doesn’t really run anywhere and comes back when she is called. She has always walked quite close to us and her favourite thing is to sniff every single inch of ground, foliage and wall.
From very early on we have used a dog walker during the day when if we are out at work and he takes her on group walks with 5-6 other dogs. This really helped her socialisation and has meant that she is fine with other dogs. Every now and again if a dog is too pushy with her on the park, she will grumbly growl at them, but that’s about it.
Daisy is such a sweetheart and the waggiest dog I have ever met. She wags her tail every time she sees either M or I, every time there is food or anything wonderful going on. She also, quite randomly, loves my singing. A few months ago I was upstairs getting ready for something and singing away to myself (as you do) and M said that when Daisy heard me, she started wagging. She does it now, if I am singing to myself, she wags and comes over for a cuddle. Cutest, thing ever!
Daisy was 7 when we got her and hopefully she will be with us for a few more years yet. I love having her around, I love walking her and I love being her friend. She is a very quiet and shy dog when you first meet her, she won’t jump up or shower you with kisses, but when she gets to know you, she will love you forever…..
I will be forever grateful to Cheshire Dogs home for helping us adopt her and for Daisy for choosing us for her retirement.