Hearing aids and heels…

The hearing aids bit anyway!

I had a bit of a moment the other day where I felt really stupid. And I mean really stupid. Like I was incompetent and worthless stupid. It’s a more frequent occurrence than I would like!

I had to ask my hubby to repeat something several times and even in the end I still didn’t hear it properly. It’s not because I’m stupid, I just didn’t hear him. Don’t assume its hubby making me feel this way, it’s me and my hearing that is doing it. I was on my way out to get some milk and he said something, a joke probably but I just didn’t hear him. I sat in the car and it hit me just how much this is beginning to bother me and also how much I have been hiding it from others.

So what am I on about?

I have been losing my hearing for a few years, and up until now it hasn’t really worried me, it’s one of the reasons I was going to call the blog hearing aids and heels. But just recently it’s begun to have a big impact on my life – both personally and professionally. I’m struggling to hear students in class, made all the more difficult with the fact that they are international students and we were having to wear masks. I avoid talking to colleagues as I know I won’t be able to hear them. I smile and hope I’m looking like I can hear people and smiling at the right moment too!

I do have an appointment for another hearing test in the next couple of weeks as I’m well overdue but with pandemic delays and suchlike any previous ones had been put off. My hearing aid hasn’t worked for almost a year and is well overdue a service, I thought I was getting on alright without it but clearly I’m not.

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When did it all start?

Just over 14 years ago I was having ear issues, constant earache, pain and suchlike. I didn’t worry about it I just thought it an inconvenience at the time as I’d suffered with ear problems when I was young. But after a while and realising that this wasn’t going away, visit number four to the doctors finally discovered I had a perforation of the ear attic. Bearing in mind this had taken two years to discover and things were not looking pretty. I was lucky as the doctor I saw that day knew a bit about ears!

I was booked an appointment to see a specialist in ENT. Went through lots of poking about and x-rays and scans. Then the bombshell hit. You have a tumour. Of course the first thing you think is I’s cancer. Thankfully it wasn’t it was a benign tumour, but it was in a nasty place and there was a secondary infection going on which given the nature of the tumour was making its way to my brain.

Cue the “right, young lady, let’s get you booked in for surgery and quickly, we don’t have much time” moment. To be honest I’m not sure if he explained much about it as I was in a fog but I signed the forms and went ahead anyway. It’s not every day you get told you have something wrong that isn’t normally bad but with the extra problem of an infection going on could kill you.

Well, me being me didn’t tell people it was as bad as it was, why worry others with stuff they can’t control. My parents would have been worrying (as parents do!) and I couldn’t be arsed with people fussing.

Hair shaved and off I go, I had the surgery to remove the tumour, get rid of the nasty infected stuff and rebuild my inner ear. Took a few hours but seemed to go ok. Things were a bit muzzy for a while. Head was itchy where the hair was beginning to grow back but it wasn’t all that bad. I got the piss taken out of me by family members but I’m the black sheep anyway so this was nothing new.

I am on lifetime care regarding my ear. I slowly regained some hearing in my rebuilt ear and things seemed to be all going tickety boo. Until I had one of my quarterly check-ups. And, boom. It was back! The tumour had returned and was obviously happy as it was growing far too well! This was almost 8 years ago. Back into surgery I went again, head shaved, ear sliced and off we go. I now have miniscule plastic tubes and bits where my little bones were. Micro surgery is amazing. 

Anyway, same old operation, seven hours in and redone prosthetics. All is well? Not quite. This time my hearing really is shot. To top it all off the hearing in my other ear has been degenerating quicker than I would like and I’m now at the stage I am now. The surgeon managed to cut a little bit of my facial nerve so my face drooped a bit but thankfully wasn’t noticeable unless I was tired, it’s still a little noticeable even now but only if you look carefully!

I didn’t realise how much having poor hearing would affect me. I didn’t think it would be something that bothered me, but the pandemic and others wearing masks really has made my life hard. Over the years I’ve learnt to lip read, albeit in a basic form, and this has been a lifeline for me even with a hearing aid. But it really is frustrating when you go into a coffee shop and ask for something and can’t hear what the barista is saying as there’s noises of the machines, a mask over their mouth and people chatting. It was getting to a point where I put a note on my phone and showed them what I wanted.

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I’m fed up of not quite getting what people are saying in conversation as they’ve turned their head a little away from me and I can’t see their lips properly. I’m fed up of getting frustrated by asking people to repeat things several times. I am at a point now where I don’t know where to turn or go to make this any better. I know some sign language but not enough to get by. I struggle with lots of noise in the background, or when both kids are trying to talk to me. I can’t manage a group conversation I can’t process it all with what little hearing I do have.

I am grateful for mask wearing given the Covid situation, and I am an avid mask wearer and still will to certain extent even though restrictions have been lifted. However, it hasn’t made mine or any other hard of hearing person’s life easy.

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I was quite surprised when I heard on the news recently that BSL isn’t a legally recognised language like Welsh or Gaelic in the UK.  Given the fact that there are eleven million people in the UK that are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing and only 131,000 actually use BSL I’m surprised they don’t teach it in schools, although I know by the already saturated curriculum that there simply isn’t any time to teach it and teachers simply don’t need any more stress. [source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/understanding-disabilities-and-impairments-user-profiles/saleem-profoundly-deaf-user#]. Apparently it is also the second most common disability in this country. I always thought it was an old person’s disability, but whilst figures do show 40% of the over 50’s are deaf it rises to 70% in those over 70, there are increasing signs of it becoming more prevalent in younger generations.

This got me thinking why this could be happening. Could this be our constant need to be plugged in to something? I know I’m often saying to the kids even with their noise limited headphones that they need to turn to volume down and take a break from wearing them. Of course I get ignored completely and their eyes roll but I think I may have a point. I found this article interesting and it’s not the only one saying similar things https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/53221-Kids-headphones-earbuds-hearing-damage-tinnitus

When we listen to loud music for long periods of time we damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear and the hearing nerve which is called sensorineural hearing loss. Of course hearing loss can be caused by many things, most commonly ear infection but I do think our habits play a big part in how we manage hearing loss in the future. I know I check my kids ears regularly, it’s habit, just like checking for head lice – you never know!

So let’s rally round and encourage our kids not to listen to their music or videos up too high, taking breaks away from it more frequently and hoping they have a sensible bone in their body to actually pay attention to the advice we give them. They’ll thank us for it later!

I’m hoping my hearing test won’t be so bad and that they’ll sort my hearing aid out and I can get back to being ‘normal’, as much as I can be.

Take care, stay safe

Becks xo

What did we do before the internet?

This is a challenging one for those who were born in the noughties and beyond. So come on in and dip into my little trip down memory lane.

I was pondering a question posed by some of my students, they asked me what people did before the internet existed. This is a pretty normal subject for me as an ICT teacher but it got us as a class talking about things before the internet and how we coped without social networking platforms and also how we managed our mental health before the vast minefield of the internet and the pressures of social networking, trying to lead the perfect life depicted by so many Instagram influencers and the like. We discussed this at great length but it made me think it might be an interesting post to write.

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I thought about my childhood and what it was like to grow up in the late seventies/early eighties. I often see memes on Facebook about growing up in the days before the internet and mobile phones. How we popped to the shop to give back our glass pop bottles and got 10p for each one, and when we stayed out all day only coming home for food. Our parents seemed to trust us more then perhaps as they couldn’t check on us, we were out and stayed out in all weathers. We walked to school, very few were driven to school by their parents. If you lived further out from school you caught the bus.

I remember a childhood where I used to go out on my bike, and hop on space hoppers. We made daisy chains in the fields, checked to see of we liked butter with a buttercup, played hopscotch, ran to the shop with our pocket money for a bag of one penny sweets! Rolling down grass embankments, listening to music on the radio and playing records on a record player. I remember my first seven inch vinyl I bought with my pocket money was XTC Senses Working Overtime! All seems so idyllic, I know, I’m sure it wasn’t always perfect.

The only ‘searching’ I can remember was for four leaf clovers!

So, how did we manage to find out information, call people, find our way?

Well, we might have used or done some of these:

Encyclopedias. These were the gift that no one wanted but needed. They were really expensive and I remember school having a complete set of very old ones. Most of the information I’m sure was outdated but these things were our internet of the day. I remember having a couple of Children’s Encyclopedias passed to me from my parents from when they were kids. They were beautiful leather lined crafted books that were heavy but were well used when I was young. I may still have one of them somewhere. Although we have the internet and the kids can access what they need when they are using their laptops we still have a couple of more modern up to date knowledge books as my son is an avid reader and soaks up information like a sponge so he’s busy learning things in bed at night the old fashioned way not on screens.

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Magazines and books. I am a tactile person and love to read, always have. I remember the magazine/journal section in the school library being full to the brim of national geographic and other colourful delights for us to peruse. I like to have my gardening magazines even now and not just for the freebie packet of seeds that might be attached! I have several books on the go too. I’m currently reading the second in the Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and a book called The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas. Both very good I hasten to add. These were both Christmas gifts from dear hubs, he knew how much I liked the first in the Thursday Murder Club but also ‘The Couple at Number 9’ was one that is a Sunday Times top three best seller but also the title is a little personal standing joke to us. I won’t divulge now, maybe another time 😉

Maps (paper ones). I remember learning to drive and satellite navigation didn’t exist! When I was a kid we occasionally went out of day trips on the weekend when Dad had time off and would just head out somewhere. Often not really knowing where we were going. We always had a paper map with us or one of those big map books you used to get as a freebie with roadside rescue plans. More often than not the map would be out of date but it added to the fun of things. We got lost on more occasions than I can remember and we did the alien thing of asking for directions such an outdated thing to do these days! Shock horror!

Record players. I used to love routing through my parent’s vinyl collection, especially dads. I grew up listening to The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Status Quo! There was a bit of Errol Brown/Hot Chocolate mingled in there too. I can also remember listening to Black Beauty on vinyl, it was fantastic. The story and music all rolled into one. Fab. I guess it was an early form of Audiobooks.

Cabled telephone usually found in the hall. We had one cabled telephone in the house and as expected it was in the hall, some posh houses had one in the living room in the warmth. There was one of those old fashioned telephone benches where you could sit down but calls were quite expensive then so we didn’t really spend that much time on a call anyway. I know that there was never any privacy so calling a friend for a cheeky chinwag and find out who fancied who didn’t really happen! If we wanted to call someone in private we went out to the public telephone box after raiding our piggy banks for change and every excuse in the book to the parents otherwise they’d be suspicious 😎

Diary/paper calendar. Anyone remember the days of the Filofax? I had one lasted years. Even used it when I had a phone to do it all for me. I used to like the way you could just pop in new pages and organise things efficiently. They weighed a tonne though. My shoulders always ached from lugging them about. I did think I was the bees knees when I had one. I felt super ‘cool’ 🤣

Remembered things/wrote them on a list. I still do this today, although I need to write things down on a list otherwise I’ll forget things! I’m the type that can forget what I was doing whilst doing it. We didn’t have the internet or Alexa. We had to pay attention and listen to what was being said otherwise we wouldn’t learn anything.

Wrote letters/cards. This is something I tried to instil in my kids as I like to write thank you cards to those who may have gifted me something but despite my best intentions even I have started to wane on this a little. It’s just so easy to send a thank you text or message, but it doesn’t have the charm of a personal letter or card. Perhaps this is a dying tradition that just needs a little push to revive it. Note to self: make an effort! 

Went to the library. Ooh I used to love trips to the library to borrow books. I always came back with an armful. I’m an avid book worm anyway and love the tactile quality of books. The feel and smell of a book is a pleasure to me. I don’t get to read as much as I perhaps would like to, but I still love books. Libraries are vastly different today. They are ‘hubs’ for just about everything, sort your council tax out, collect more recycling bin bags and claim your benefits are amongst some of the things you can do at libraries these days.

Banking – paying with cash and cheques. I can’t remember the last time I paid by cheque and certainly wouldn’t know where to find my chequebooks or paying in books for that matter. But I used to enjoy going to the bank to empty my piggy bank of pocket money and put into my bank account. My parents encouraged good money management quite early on, and I remember having my first cheque book and paying for something with it. I felt so grown up! I used to enjoy the little chats with the cashier when checking the bank balance or paying money in, seeing it through rose tinted specs it was so much more personalised then.

Shopping – catalogues. Remember when there were big paper catalogues for things? Scouting through the pages of a catalogue and ordering something, only to wait weeks for it to arrive. I know we have catalogues these days but it’s all online and even the Argos catalogue is online an instant delivery.

Playing cards/board games. I’m an only child, and can remember the board games I used to cajole my parents into playing with me. I had no other siblings to annoy so pestered my parents instead. Board games are still expensive and can remember playing Monopoly, and my favourite, Cluedo over and over again. All very fun and much more social, although I’m sure my parents didn’t think so at the time.

Going to the travel agents. I asked my students to consider life before the internet and social networking. I asked them to imagine there was no internet, no social networking and consider how their lives would be different. They were horrified! Shock horror, noooo, you can’t take away the internet and social networking. What would we do!?! I did say they could call and text using a phone but that just sent them into a swathe of sheer panic! I wanted them to consider how they might book a holiday or flight as it’s something they do regularly for when they go home (International students from all over the world). They hadn’t a clue. I said that they could visit a travel agents. This was something completely new to them. They didn’t even know what a travel agent was let alone that they still had some shops out there that you could visit and book holidays and flights. It just made me realise what a vastly different world we now live in.

Cutting out coupons. We do still get paper coupons but they are few and far between these days. I have a ration book used by my grandparents and think about what life must have been like. How hard it would have been. I can remember milk tokens when I was a kid, and Mum used to cut out a coupon or two for discounts on the weekly grocery shop. I even had coupons for Freebies from the hospital when I had my kids so it’s still a thing, just mostly digital these days. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the ‘free Tena pants’ coupons that come through the letterbox. I’m not quite at that age or stage in life… yet.

Using cameras with film in. I think I still have my 35mm camera. I haven’t used it for ages, and probably won’t, but it’s a lovely piece of kit. I used to love going to the shop (Lloyds Chemist we used to use) and getting my films sent off to be developed. I can remember the negatives in the packs too. Something great about looking at a negative with the light shining through.

Photo albums. My parents have loads of the old fashioned photo albums, there must be at least thirty on the shelf in their living room. Although we don’t look through them as much as we perhaps used too, it’s still nice to see the old grainy photos from yesteryear. I have a few of my favourites. I was so upset when I thought I’d lost some my Mum had sorted out for me. They are special memories that once lost are lost forever. I can’t remember everything from my past and having an old photo or even an object brings back those moments in my head. Warm and fuzzy feelings most of the time.

Clubs. Aah… I remember the youth clubs of my day. The local village kids club, the church youth club and then the big town youth club where we could go to keep us off the streets. I used to like the clubs when I was younger but as I moved into my teen years I started to like them less, although it did allow me to meet other people who didn’t go to the same school which was nice. Having friendships outside of the school environment is so important I feel. Clubs aren’t seen as being trendy enough these days and funding has dwindled so much very few places have any ‘real’ youth clubs. Many organisations have to rely on Lottery Funding and fundraising events to keep going.

Face to face, in person meetings. Word of mouth, conversations with others.  Something which still happens in business although the Pandemic has had a huge impact on home working and online meetings these days that this is a dying trend. It has been for some time with the introduction of more and more accessible technology but there is something nice about a catch up chat at the ‘water cooler’ in an office, or a meet up at the coffee shop with friends. I’m a person that does like a good chinwag and can talk the hind legs off a donkey but I also like silence on occasion, so being able to mute someone during a group call is nice sometimes – oops did that come out. I do get bored at pointless meetings where it could have been summed up in an email but that’s all down to poor management skills not the meeting itself.

How to manuals/books. Hands up if you’ve never read an instruction manual (dearest hubby you are excused). Always kept and subsequently lost, these were the things that never really helped much anyway! So much easier to watch a video these days on good old YouTube, we are very lucky these days. 

Newspapers. I remember we didn’t have much by the way of newspapers, we kept up with the local news by going to the village shop and buying a local Bicester News, Malvern Gazette or something like that (depending on where were living at the time) and we watched the BBC news in the evening after our dinner on telly. I can remember my early childhood being surrounded by Farmers Weeklies! I think that may have been one of the weekly papers my Dad would read to me when I was a baby, no wonder I’m a tomboy!

Typewriter. I’m old fashioned enough to have one of these. I think it’s what started off my love of writing. Mine wasn’t one of those old metal black ones you see in ‘Murder She Wrote’ but a Maritsa bluey green plastic cased one. It was really expensive at the time and I still have it to this day. My Dad bought it for me as a birthday gift and I’ve loved it and looked after it ever since!

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Yellow pages/phone book. Every house had a Yellow Pages and most often a BT Phone book where you could look up business numbers and private dwelling numbers. Of course more often than not the books would be used to prop up a table or be used as a doorstop. They were super heavy and people used to attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records by ripping up yellow pages books!

Whilst it’s so easy to see our childhood and growing up through rose tinted glasses, it wasn’t always easy. We had blazing hot summers yes, but we also had really cold snowy winters. We didn’t have houses with central heating, I remember an open fire blazing out on a winter’s day that would pretty much heat up the living room and if you were lucky enough to have the bedroom above! Bedtimes were always accompanied with a hot water bottle and several eider downs. We had a Rayburn (like an AGA for those who weren’t sure) in the kitchen with a back boiler that fed the water heater (and radiator type heaters in the house if we were lucky enough to have them). In one cottage ‘Red Cottage’ I remember it being called, we had the fire brigade over so much, they would ask if we were putting the Rayburn on if they saw us in the village shop, our chimney stack went on fire so often. It was a standing joke, wouldn’t be allowed to happen these days, but you just got on with it.

We didn’t have double glazing, we had metal framed single glazed windows that froze both inside and out. Condensation would run down the windows and soak the window sill. I used to mop it up with a towel in the mornings before heading out to help Dad on the farm or school. Insulation wasn’t a ‘thing’ back then. If you ran out of milk and the shop was shut, tough. You had to rely on your neighbours for things like that!

And I’m sure there will be some of you reading this that will be saying I had it easy when I was a kid, but I’m only in my forties. It was harder but in many ways it’s a different kind of hard these days.

If we were bored we didn’t have instant gratification from a screen. We had to find things to do to cure our boredom. My kids are always asking me “what can I do?”, “I’m bored”.  I’m forever saying find something to do. Be bored, it’s good for you. Let your imagination play. They always moan at me as I’m not thinking for them, they are part of the instant gratification generations that have grown up with something there at their fingertips. But they are also more anxious than I ever was, although they are only young and perhaps aren’t exposed as much to the general horrors of the news, Instagram and social media platforms as much as teens are, they still feel the pressures all the same. Getting the balance right is the tricky part and is a big part of being a parent. Knowing when to protect and when to step back. I’m still learning. Not sure I’ll ever get it right, but at least I’m trying.

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The internet and social networking has opened up a whole new world for us. We have access to information at the touch of a screen, we can book a holiday at the drop of a hat. We can order an item online and have it delivered the next day, stuck for something for dinner – Deliveroo are there to rescue you! We have so much freedom with the internet, yet we are somehow prisoners and slaves to it. We have come to rely on it so much, we would struggle live a life without it.

Do you remember using or doing any of the things I might have done? Let me know your childhood memories. What did you do before the internet existed? How did you keep yourself out of mischief?

Take care, stay safe.

Becks Xo  

Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022

“It’s been a funny old day”, I can never think or say this without thinking of old Arkwright in Open All Hours (those of a certain vintage will know what I’m on about!). It’s been a funny old year too! Lots of happenings not happening…

Lockdown no lockdown, mask no mask, stay in go out and every possible mixed message in between! Then there’s the lockdown parties in Whitehall which our Government say didn’t happen but then they did but weren’t parties they were working lunches with wine and cheese. I’d love a working lunch with wine and cheese, although I fear I’d be the size of a house and be jobless after having wine during the day if I did!

If I were to sum up the year of 2021 I’d say it was a slightly skewed, aiming to get back to some form of normality year. It wasn’t all negative there have been some real positives to come out of it. It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives in life and this is especially understandable given the strange happenings of the past eighteen months to two years.

There was some good news Climate challenge wise, COP 26 wasn’t necessarily a complete whitewash. Yes there were parts of it that failed the climate completely and yes some elements didn’t come out as strong as they could have but there are some small achievements that we can be positive about. Small steps, but steps all the same.

My year? It was pretty much the same as many others I should imagine. I managed to work, the kids were educated, and we experienced some strange weather. The latter part of the year meant we could go out more and enjoy some of the things we once took for granted such as a visit to the theatre as a family to see the Panto (absolutely brilliant I hasten to add!) and popping to London for a day trip (super quiet by the way – so not like London at that time of year, or any time, to be honest it was eerily quiet), then Covid decided to mutate a little and numbers were going up but thankfully the number of deaths has remained relatively low considering. Although not necessarily any easier for those who have lost friends or family, loved ones to the awful virus. My heart goes out to you if this is your situation.

Did anything happen to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Yes actually, there were some great moments. We had a fab week away in Wales, where I really felt close to my kids and saw a different side to them. I felt it was the break we all needed. Yeah, ok, they had their moments but they were also bloody amazing and they made me so proud to be their mum.

I was really happy that some of my nearest and dearest friends and family have managed to make real successes of their small businesses during a tough year, so it is my pleasure to encourage you, my fantastic readers to check them out! They are all fabulous people who are making their way through the minefield of business but they are amazing and why not give them our support. So, whether you like and follow them on Facebook or buy one of their products I’m sure they will love you for it.

Here are some of these amazing small businesses – really, you must visit…

First up we have the lovely Little Vines at https://littlevinesholiday.wixsite.com/littlevinesupton. Little Vines is a fantastic holiday let that focusses on the personal touch. Sally is trying to get her husband to buy her a fab KitchenAid Mixer like mine so she can whip up more of her delicious homemade cakes that are always waiting for her guests! If you’re looking for somewhere to spend a nice little break away then check out Little Vines but hurry as they’re booking up fast with a lot of returning vacationers.

Another fabulous small business I’m super proud of is my lovely cousin in-law Yvonne at https://www.facebook.com/fireandfilemetaldesign/ she has the most amazing jewellery in her store. She uses eco silver and has designed and made some really quirky but super wearable jewellery. She doesn’t just make jewellery, she makes wall art/hangings and book marks. I’ve bought a couple of bookmarks from her for the kids school teachers as thank you gifts so if you’re stuck for ideas then go pay her a visit at her Etsy shop and like and follow her for regular updates on Facebook.

One of my school run mum friends has a small business making gemstone bracelets. She does this as a hobby which has been a real booster to her wellbeing. You can find her gorgeous bracelets at https://www.facebook.com/natcmusi. I’m all for supporting the independent business and small local is always good for the community.

Although I’m part of a style club online and have actively promoted RuthEssex.com of which you may find a little treat in a future post by the way, I also have a lovely school friend from way back in the day who is a brilliant personal stylist. She has a small business where she does colour analysis and style advice. She has been in the business for a few years but recently made it a full time occupation as the perfect opportunity arose. Sometimes you just have to take that risk, and occasionally it pays off. If you’re interested in colour and style then Wendy is another person to check out at https://www.styleandcolour.co.uk/.

Last but not least if you want some lovely Cornish made crafts then pay my friend Lynn over at https://www.facebook.com/Kents-Cornish-Crafts-609845416339903/ a visit. She makes some lovely personalised crafts that invoke some very special memories for her customers. Lynn has made teddy bears from some treasured baby clothes which is a lovely keepsake, so if you have anything special in mind have a look and see what she can do for you.

What do I (we) have in store for this New Year?

A lot! We have a huge amount planned to be going on this year, but whether it will all happen remains to be seen but we can just roll with it and see what pans out. I’m still super busy with teaching, and blogging but you know me things will get done regardless. I have the usual stuff going on at home as well as a potential belated honeymoon on the cards too! We’ve been married over ten years but we never managed to get a honeymoon. We’ve been promising to have one all this time and maybe, just maybe we’ll get one this year. A global Pandemic stopped us last year, so we’ll just bump it over to this one.  

Coming up on the blog is an interview post with Ruth Essex @RuthEssex.com which will be coming out at soon so make sure you get in on that one. I just need to finalise a few more bits and pieces to it and it’ll be all good to go. I have lots of helpful blogs planned but again, it all relates to what’s happening with me and my life so if it doesn’t fit it won’t be written about at that particular time. I do wonder how some bloggers manage to post several blogs a week when I can barely manage one a fortnight! My life just isn’t that interesting perhaps?!

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What else?

So, I’ve decided I’m not partaking in any fad month this year. Dry January, Veganuary, or any other. It’s not because I don’t believe in following them I just don’t feel we need a month of doing something to make it right. I know it’s about focus and making the general public aware of the causes but for me it doesn’t sit right. Too many years in marketing and being slightly cynical of these events has had a lot to do with it. I will cut down on the amount of meat I eat, it’s a small thing that makes a big difference. I will drink dry wine instead of sweet dessert wine… no, no, sorry that’s not dry January. I mean I will reduce the amount of alcohol I drink. I’m not a heavy drinker anyway, but I do like a glass occasionally so it’s not a huge game changer but will make me a little healthier. I will make an effort and do more exercise. I have become far too sedentary and it’s not doing me any favours. All of these steps are small but important and I don’t need a designated month to get me doing them. If we make small changes over a longer period of time then we are more likely to stick to them, at least I know that’s what works for me. If you choose to do dry January, Veganuary or any other ‘month’ I applaud you and good luck with them. Either way we’ll all come out slightly healthier in the end.

The weather, well that’s always a good topic to talk about 😆

It’s funny I hear so many parents and carers on the school run saying its cold and they can’t wait for the warmer weather. I actually like the seasons. I know it’s cold, I’m sat at work with thermal undies on and several layers of clothes as I have to have my classroom window open because of Covid requirements for adequate ventilation and I have a hot water bottle on my back and a heater at my feet – chilblains anyone!? But, despite the freezy feel it’s refreshing, just as I like a clear spring day and a balmy summer’s evening I think all weathers have a part to play. I’m not so much a fan of fog and rain though. That just gets to my bones. Brrr. I did buy a thin pair of gloves to wear whilst I was working at my computer but as is the usual with my online purchases these didn’t fit. I must have very long alien fingers or these were designed for a child! My daughter now has a lovely pair of satin gloves! I got asked if she could wear them for school. She would be very glamorous if she did 😎

I am worried about the more extremes of weather we are experiencing and as I’ve mentioned before I am trying to do my little bit to ease the environmental strain on resources and helping Mother Nature along a little. But if, I’m honest, Christmas is always going to be hard on the environment. There’s more paper and plastic to deal with. More of everything that we as a nation have wasted.

I was super good this Christmas just gone and had very little food waste as I shopped wisely and used up leftovers. It was surprisingly easy to do for those that don’t/haven’t manage/d it. I’m good at reducing food waste most of the year, there are loads of really good websites and apps that help, but always struggled at Christmas. I’ve always viewed Christmas as gluttonous and where we overbuy and overeat. But, also rather tellingly we over waste too. I can remember in past years disposing of leftover food in the waste and chucking mince pies out because they were past their sell by date. But now I’m savvier about waste. The sniff test on milk (thank you Morrisons, but I have been doing this for ages!), the use by is the date you need to be watching don’t worry so much about the best before as it’s only a guide. Use a bit of common sense, if it looks off it most likely is, if it smells funky it’s probably not worth trying it.

So there you go, there’s the first instalment of the New Year for you.

Here’s wishing you a belated, but important, Happy New Year and let’s hope it’s a good for us all.

Take care, stay safe

Becks xo