September is one of my favourite months of the year: a crisp chill in the morning air; warm afternoons; golden light in the evenings; the new school term; autumn colours beginning to creep into the landscape; soup and porridge making a return to the menu; and a different kind of energy that fuels a positive mindset and productivity.
September 2020 has been all of those things and more because, well… it wasn’t *just* a new school term was it? It was a new school term after six whole months of home-learning, lockdown, social distancing, self isolating, being furloughed from work, not being allowed out then being encouraged to go out, clapping for the NHS, wearing facemasks, doing PE with Joe, constantly changing rules and no hugging family or friends.
Going back to school was a BIG change. For all of us.
Any yet, at the same time, it wasn’t. The girls have all slotted back into the structure of school runs, lessons and homework amidst all the new regulations and restrictions incredibly well – I’m so proud of them. We were all nervous and excited in the lead up to the first day and now that they’re back I am grateful for the breathing space whilst simultaneously missing them so much I can’t breathe. I still find it fascinating that so many emotions can co-exist all at once (and I work as a therapist!).
I’ve been flat-out with work and really it’s been a month of settling into our current ‘new normal’ (for now anyway, until the next set of rules gets announced). We’ve managed to fit in a couple of little adventures in amongst us all keeping our heads down and working hard, and they’ve made my heart very happy indeed.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout September…
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: I finished ‘The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto’ right at the start of the month. It was an interesting book in that it was narrated by Music, as if s/he were a person. I always feel like I need a day or two to process everything I’ve read after finishing one of Mitch Albom’s books because they give you so much to think about. His words are always so life-affirming, so full of meaningful lessons and wisdom with a little bit of magic thrown in that you end up hoping is real. The endings of his stories are always tied up well too, with all the questions you have throughout the story answered satisfactorily.
“Suddenly it was terribly quiet, as if the earth itself were too stunned to breathe. I know this sound; silence is part of music.
But just because something is silent doesn’t mean you aren’t hearing it”
The Binding: I absolutely fell in love with this book. ‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins is exquisitely written and the beautiful, simple (but somehow still intricately detailed) descriptions made me feel as if I was right there in the story with the characters. I couldn’t put it down – it had me captivated after just a few pages. It’s divided into three parts and it kept me completely enthralled right the way through, I had no idea how it was going to end. It covers classism, homophobia, societal pressure and family dynamics, all wrapped up in a spellbinding narrative with a love story at it’s heart. This is one book I will most definitely be reading over and over again just to soak up the atmosphere and to make sure I capture every single word.
September skies: September has always been my favourite time of year for sunrises and sunsets. I’m not sure if it’s the change of season, the shift in the temperature and weather, or something else entirely but something about this month produces the most gloriously coloured skies almost every morning and evening. I love watching the world wake up and drift off to sleep. These are a few of my favourites:
Uni life: Sophie moved into her Halls at university mid-month, so Neil has been getting updates from her with how she’s getting on and settling into uni life. It’s been lovely hearing about her flatmates, how she’s finding her way around the city and how she’s feeling about her lectures starting.
Baby news: One of my best friends was due to have her first baby at the end of September so it was a surprise when I got a text from her with the news that her daughter had arrived safely two weeks ahead of schedule! Baby Jasmine is absolutely dinky – only 5lb 5oz – and I can’t wait to be able to meet her, hopefully in the not-too-distant future (Covid-permitting of course). We live 175 miles away from each other so the logistics are tricky but somehow we’ll figure out a way to make it happen whilst sticking to all the rules.
School days: One of my favourite parts of the day is when the girls all pile into the car after school finishes, laughing and chattering, and they tell me about what they’ve been up to as we drive home: the run down of lessons; funny anecdotes; who they sat with at lunch; a debrief of how tests went and what new homework they’ve been set…. I hadn’t realised how much I missed it during lockdown. I’ve heard all about what it’s like being back at school, the changes that have been made due to Covid-19, news about friends and what their new teachers are like too. My brain usually feels like it might explode with information by the time we reach home but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A journey to Southampton: Back in the summer we planned a mini road-trip down to Southampton in September – partly to visit Sophie to make sure she’d settled into university ok, and partly to see my other best friend (who lives there) as we hadn’t seen her since September last year! She welcomed a new addition to the family, another baby girl, the day after lockdown started and I felt so sad to have not been able to meet my new niece as a teeny, tiny newborn. I was really looking forward to our little travel adventure and couldn’t wait to get down there.
When the new ‘rule of 6’ was announced by the government I felt devastated – it meant we wouldn’t be able to go and stay with them because we’d be too many people in one house. I knew there had to be a way we could still make it happen though so with a bit of creative thought and logistical planning we managed to snag a funky hotel room for the five of us in the city centre and travelled down there for the last weekend of the month. My friend’s husband went out for the day, Neil dropped the girls and I off at their house whilst he took Sophie to Ikea for more uni supplies and that meant we stuck to the rules and still got to go!
I’m really happy we managed to make it happen and got to see everyone. Baby M is now six months old and an absolute joy (definitely worth the wait); little L (now two and a half years old) is growing up way too fast and is independent, feisty and utterly gorgeous; Mimi was thrilled to be back with the dogs that she adores; I got to catch up with my friend; we all got to spend some quality time with Sophie exploring her new city (though we weren’t allowed in to see her room in her Halls at uni); and it felt good to be back near the water.
School uniform: For the first time in six months the girls donned their school uniforms! It was ever so odd seeing them wearing it after being at home for so long and they said it felt strange too. They seem to have got used to wearing it fairly quickly though (and now I need to get back into the rhythm of washing and ironing everything so it’s all ready for the week ahead by the time Sunday evening rolls around again).
Ups and downs: Life is full of ups and downs and that has been made abundantly clear in this very strange year. To illustrate the point perfectly, I happened to find a £10 note quietly lying on some leaves at the edge of the pavement on my way home from the shops one morning. A little bonus that I decided to use to treat the girls with.
Later on that afternoon I was out running some other errands and got hit by a truck – quite literally. A delivery truck was trying to squeeze down a narrow lane in between some traffic, I happened to be walking near the kerb side of the pavement in an attempt to socially distance myself from someone walking towards me and the truck’s wing mirror hit me from behind. The result was whiplash in my neck, feeling dizzy and sick, a very sore shoulder and an impressive headache. I’m incredibly grateful that it wasn’t worse though – thankfully the truck was only going slowly.
I always try and look for the positive in everything that happens and whilst I don’t love being hit by a truck, it was a good reminder that you never, ever know what’s going to happen next so it’s really important to stop worrying about the little things and to focus on doing the things you love, with the people you love, as often as you can.
Wightwick Manor NT: We haven’t been to a new-to-us National Trust property all year and I really wanted to make the most of the last of the September sunshine before winter sets in, so I booked an afternoon at Wightwick (pronounced ‘whittick’) Manor. It was utterly gorgeous and we even managed to sneak in a final ice-cream of the summer from the tea-room!
We missed the last entry into the house unfortunately so we didn’t get to see inside that, but we wandered around the interesting little art gallery, admired the grounds and fell in love with the beautiful kitchen gardens. There was lots of woodland and an adventure play area to explore too that we didn’t manage to get to either, so all three girls have asked to go back another day. That’s completely unheard of (normally National Trust places get uniformly described as “boring” by my family) so I’m calling it a win!
I can’t believe we’re at the end of September already – this month seems to have really flown by. Now the countdown is on to half term and we’re doing our best to put little things in the diary that we can look forward to (knowing full well that they may all end up getting cancelled).
I hope that you have had a positive September and that you find lots of little things to love throughout October and the shift in the seasons.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely, Anna and #littleloves)