In all honesty August hasn’t really felt much different to the previous five months of lockdown. Most places are open now (albeit with some restrictions still in place and lots of forward planning needed) but we still chose to stay quite close to home. It’s felt a lot like we’ve been in limbo, just waiting to go back to school. The husband and I have both been continuing to work full time throughout the holidays and there has been an awful lot of rain so I’ve found it quite challenging to make our time together special. In the end we kept it fairly relaxed and simply tried to tick off one thing each week from our summer holiday bucket list for us to do together.
It’s been an eventful month in some ways too, with A level results, new experiences and two trips to A&E (one for Neil and one for Mimi – both long stories!) sandwiched in between the many days spent at home. It’s been a different summer break for sure but I hope that it’s been memorable for all the right reasons.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout August…
The Anatomy Of Dreams: I finished ‘The Anatomy Of Dreams’ by Chloe Benjamin (which I started last month) though I found it quite hard going. I think it’s because I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable. I had an inkling as to what the twist at the end of the story was going to be and I ended up being right. It almost felt like the author wanted to leave it up to us readers to decide whether the main character has a happy ending or not, and the ambiguity of that left me feeling a bit unsatisfied – I like a definitive ending! Although maybe that’s the whole point – an ending that leaves you feeling slightly uncomfortable is always going to stick in your mind. I did enjoy it overall, it definitely kept me intrigued and I learned a lot about the science behind dreaming. I think her other book – ‘The Immortalists’ – was better though.
The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto: A few days later I started ‘The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto’ by Mitch Albom. I always love Mitch Albom’s stories – they’re full of innate wisdom and a unique perspective on people and life. All of his books seem to start with the death of the main character and that’s what makes them so intriguing because somehow you still get drawn into the narrative of who they are/were. His books always make me think very deeply even though they’re actually quite easy to read.
This one is narrated by Music, as if he/she is a person. When a child is born and they reach out their hands for the first time, they grab a talent for something that stays with them forever. Frankie Presto grabs Music and the book describes how music touches people’s lives in different ways. It hops back and forth in time so it took me a little while to settle into the rhythm of it, but now I can see the pieces of the story gradually being woven together until it all makes sense. I’m about halfway through so far and have no idea how it’s going to end.
Drive-In Movie: One of the items on our summer holiday bucket list was to go and see a drive-in movie. This has actually been on my ultimate bucket list since forever – I’d LOVE to go to a real drive-in in America, though apparently there aren’t very many left now. When I heard that The Great British Drive-In was going to be in our town for the summer I booked us some tickets immediately as I predicted that they’d sell out pretty fast. With the gorgeous Sandon Hall as a backdrop I knew it would be an evening to remember.
We ended up seeing ‘Dolittle’, which none of us had seen before – it was funny and the perfect film for the five of us to watch together. There was a huge range of films to choose from every single day with movies for younger children starting at 10am right the way up to adult (18+) films starting later in the evenings. I wasn’t sure how it would work during the daytime but you could see the screen perfectly despite it still being light. We were SO lucky with the weather too – it stayed dry and we even had a pretty sunset. We took blankets and a picnic but next time ( and there’s definitely going to be a next time!) we’ll be even more prepared with camping chairs, flasks of hot chocolate and more.
We opted for a ‘Golden Circle’ ticket (£40 per car instead of a standard ticket which was £25) and for that you got to park in one of the front four rows of cars so you were guaranteed a fantastic view of the screen. Plus you could order food (there were only very limited choices though so do your research first) and drinks on an app and have it delivered directly to your car so you didn’t have to queue up for ages in the hospitality area. For the five of us it worked out as £8 per person – cheaper than a normal cinema ticket – though if we’d had seven people in our people-carrier car instead it would have been even better value. It was 100% worth it and I’d choose the same option again for sure.
It was a really fun experience and it felt like a special thing to do with the girls. I might even go as far as saying it’s my favourite thing we’ve done during the summer holidays.
Cinema: We braved our first trip to the cinema this month too. We haven’t been at all this year, not even before Covid-19 and lockdown started. A rainy Sunday afternoon was the perfect time to go and we opted to see ‘Trolls: World Tour’. Whoever created it must have been on psychedelic drugs because… WOW! I think I was seeing rainbow glitter for days afterwards. Personally I preferred the first ‘Trolls’ film but we all enjoyed it and it felt good to do something normal. The social distancing side of things was absolutely fine and we felt safe there.
A Level results: I spent most of the morning of 16th August anxiously sat by my phone, waiting to hear from Sophie once she’d collected her A Level results. She’s happy with what she got and we are so proud of her! It’s been a tough year for her for various reasons and her resilience and hard work have paid off. She did, sadly, get caught up in the whole ridiculous ‘downgrading’ debacle so she has appealed and hopefully we’ll find out the decision soon.
She has an unconditional offer for Southampton University anyway and is going to be studying Psychology with Counselling and Mental Health. She moves down there and into her Halls of Residence next month and I think I’m as excited as she is for the next part of her journey. I can’t wait to see her soar.
Art: Mimi has always loved art but she’s got even more into it since lockdown started. Every spare minute is spent sketching, drawing, painting, doodling, copying and crafting. She bought herself some much longed for watercolours with her pocket money and has been playing around with them these last couple of weeks. Her creations are now scattered all over the house. There isn’t any spare space left on her bedroom walls or cupboards and the kitchen table is permanently covered with colourful palettes, artwork drying in the sun and paint splatters. I love her creativity. In fact, I love all the girls’ creativity – they all express it in different ways and it’s just a joy to see them get so much pleasure out of the things they make.
Kindness Rocks: One rainy afternoon (yep, another one) with nowhere to go and nothing else to do, I pulled out our big bag of rocks that we’ve collected from various places, sat down at the kitchen table and started making some kindness rocks. One by one the girls all came to join me and we spent a happy hour or so decorating them with rainbows, sunsets, mandalas and quotes, ready to leave for passers-by to find on walks when we next visit somewhere new.
Baking: Ella loves baking and has been begging to make something by herself for ages so I let her loose in the kitchen on a wet Saturday afternoon and she produced some delicious squidgy chocolate brownies pretty much all on her own with very minimal help from me. Mimi and Lola decided that they each wanted to make something too so Mimi opted for our tried-and-tested cinnamon buns and next week Lola is planning to make Marshmallow Krispie Squares.
The weather this month has been a total mixture: a sweltering heatwave; followed by several days of epic thunderstorms; then endless rain for over a week; and finally the early arrival of Autumn with temperatures only just creeping above ten degrees. Deciding what to wear each day has been a complete guessing game and we’ve all been in everything from shorts and TShirts to jumpers, jeans and boots! I’m very much hoping that September is a bit more settled and that we get some actual sunshine before the clock change in October.
One more thing on our summer holiday bucket list that the girls really wanted to do was dye their hair. I’ve never dyed my hair, never dyed anybody else’s hair and have never even seen anybody else dye their hair so I was more than a little bit nervous about doing it. They all wanted bright colours too – purple for Ella, red for Mimi and pink for Lola. In the end Ella and Lola changed their minds at the last minute so it was only Mimi who wanted to go ahead with it.
It’s a bit uneven and I’d planned to do the ends only as I knew school was looming on the horizon but I think it turned out pretty well overall for a first attempt. Mimi is absolutely thrilled with it and it does look really cool! I don’t think it’s going to wash out in time for when term starts so we’re going to have to figure out a way to hide it but I’m glad we did it – a new adventure for both of us.
Trentham Gardens: We managed to find an elusive dry day to head to Trentham Gardens for the first time in 2020. I booked us an early morning slot and I’m so glad I did because it was super busy in the Shopping Village and with people queuing to get in as were were leaving to head back to the car park.
All of the wildflowers along the edge of the lake were still in bloom and the Italian Gardens were looking beautiful too. It was good to go somewhere different after months of wandering down the same trail near our house and whilst it was a different experience to what we’re used to, it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning.
Friends: One week mid-August I organised for the girls to each meet up separately with a friend. It was the first time they’ve seen anyone outside of our immediate family in almost six months. Mimi spent a couple of hours wandering around the shops with her best friend, Ella went to Starbucks with her boyfriend and I took Lola to the park to play with her best friend (and chat with her Mum) for the afternoon.
It was so lovely to see them doing normal things for kids their age and having a bit of independence. They’ve spent so much time with me at home – I’ve been a bit worried that they might struggle with the transition back to doing more things on their own, like walking to school. However, they seemed to be ok and I’m glad we had a sort of ‘trial run’. I didn’t ask them to socially distance from each other as I knew they would all be in a classroom together not too long afterwards, so we decided that it was ok and I think they were grateful for that.
16 years together: The husband and I passed our 16 years ‘together’ anniversary mid-month. Sadly we couldn’t do anything to celebrate as we have no childcare, so we couldn’t even go out for dinner, but it felt like a milestone achievement given everything that’s going on at the moment! Hopefully we can make up for it another time.
It’s definitely been a different way to spend the summer holidays and if I’m honest, I’ve not enjoyed them in the way I usually do – even though we’ve had some fun days I feel like I’ve worked too much and the girls have spent far too much time on screens and at home. It’s just been circumstances of course and hopefully next year will be better, but I can’t help but feel that it’s been a bit of a let down. Hopefully they have a different perspective on it and have made some positive memories throughout it all.
Now September is almost upon us and no-one knows what it’s going to be like. The girls are excited to go back to school – to see their friends again, to learn, to have a more structured routine, to be away from me and Neil. I’m happy that they’re excited and, like most other parents, I’m also a little bit nervous about it all.
I hope they settle in ok and adapt to all the changes there are going to be – they know it’s going to be very different from what they’re used to. I know I’m going to miss them as soon as I wave them off through the school gates. I’m already looking forward to hearing all about their first days back and listening to their excited chatter in the car as we drive home, talking all over each other and not being able to get a word in edgeways.
It’s a big year for them all. It’s Lola’s final year at primary school so we’ve got to make her high school application within the next couple of months. Mimi is going into her second year at high school now but really only had half of Year 7 there so she’s missed out on a lot of experiences that hopefully she’ll be able to have this year instead. And Ella chooses her GCSE options this year as well.
I hope that you’ve had a wonderful summer and that you find lots of little things to love throughout the coming September and the shift into Autumn.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely, Anna and #littleloves)