I would say that I’m not sure why the last week has been a bit of a struggle with money but I can very firmly point to the two parking tickets I managed to earn this month as contributing to the pain. Never mind, lessons learned and all that.
It’s been a quiet couple of days, but I did go to Kingston yesterday to have a payday spend, looking at things for the flat. By far the best decision I made was to walk in to Not My Beautiful House, which is a pop up art gallery set up and run by students at Kingston University. They are focused on selling art by local people and I found a fair few things that caught my eye. In particular there were abstracts created by an ADHD support group, and I couldn’t resist
For £20 I had a new canvas piece for the hall, and I’ll definitely keep an eye on the place from now on.
Other than that it’s been quiet. Both the introverts have tucked themselves away so I may go out to the gym later – or spoil myself with a nice rioja – I haven’t decided yet.
It’s been a good weekend so far – we hit the gym, I remembered my counselling session, and last night’s D&D game was sweet and roleplay orientated and set things up for the next story arc
Today we have the cub staying over while boy s is back at work, and we’re planning to go see The Wessex Pistols and catch up with friends at The Plough later this afternoon. Should be fun, but I do wonder how the cub will react to it all. We shall see.
In the meantime, we have sunshine, birdsong, and washing drying on the balcony. Not a bad start.
It’s all a bit annoying. After two years of doing everything to state safe and keep loved ones safe I’ve had a positive covid result this weekend, as has Lady M. The stinking cold I’ve been pushing back against the last week or two has either been a slow builder or has just dovetailed with the infection, as earlier tests were negative.
My hope is that this will pass quickly and the repeated application of lemon and honey and being sensible will take me through a mild bout of inconvenience. While I’m annoyed that it’s caught up with me, I’m counting my lucky stars that the current variants seem to be milder than what I might otherwise have caught so I don’t at all feel that my earlier abiding by guidelines has been any kind of waste of time.
So, a bit subdued and wiped out, but plodding through as I usually do.
Back before the days of plague we had a plan. Lady M and I were due to celebrate ten years of marriage and thought it would be amazing to get everyone we could back at the same venue for a knees up. Well, so much for that idea.
Instead we took a deep breath a day booked in for lunch, just the two of us, at The Hand And Flowers in Marlow. It, famously, is a pub with two Michelin stars. We make no secret about loving good food, and we’d been promising ourselves a fine dining experience but until now hadn’t taken the plunge.
A great joy of where we are in our careers is that we’ve variously built and rebuilt out of debt and career swerves over the years. We’ve been unemployed together, variously in and out of work and supporting each other, and I like to think that it’s helped us keep reasonably grounded about money as a result.
So we took a deep breath and then reminded ourselves it was a special occasion and we could afford it. And it was lovely. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the food and drink, the place is warm and comfortable, and the layout just irregular enough to feel cosy. And the food and drink was superb – we were very well fed and looked after.
A good way to celebrate an anniversary – and now we’ll have to plan for another excuse to return.
We had planned to go up to London yesterday and wander round some old haunts but a tube strike paralysed public transport. We took that as our cue to leave well alone for now.
We instead went to Kingston for a bit just to get out of the house. With so many people working from home it meant that the roads were clearer and the shopping centre less busy than usual by early afternoon, and this suited us just fine. Coffee and people watching was the first order of the day.
And then to the shops where I finally gave in and bought some new work clothes to refresh the fading black jeans that have been my workhorse items for years. Some plain tshirts to go with them and my spree was done. Well, aside from buying some books for Lady M as part of our anniversary, but the clothes are the focus. That’s mostly because I have a pretty basic set of clothes that I wear day to day so any big expenditure makes my eyes water.
The odd thing is that clothing is a pretty essential purchase if I want to be part of general society and, oh I don’t know, work for example. This shouldn’t be a big thing, but my anxiety about spending that money has caught me off guard. I shouldn’t be anxious – I’m lucky enough to be employed and have a budget that can easily accommodate it. It’s fair to point out that I’ve easily blown similar amounts in a month on Funko Pops or geeky items, or on gifts for my loved ones. And yet clothing seems to be what has made me twitch.
How very odd. Perhaps it’s a throwback to when I was getting divorced and had to rebuild while also struggling with money. Maybe it’s that clothing items like pairs of jeans are expensive so there’s not a lot of items for what seems to be a lot of money. Either way I’m currently telling myself to get a grip as this wasn’t a frivolous purchase, and it’s not even as if I went for expensive branded goods – M&S own brand is an old standby for me.
I shall look forward to wearing them when Lady M and I go out for a celebratory lunch tomorrow.
We had a bit of a storm blow through on Friday – Storm Eunice to be precise – and while everyone battened down the hatches, I was on duty at one of my libraries to coordinate with staff to keep as many places open as possible. We’re fortunate that my area is a relatively built up and urban environment rather than being at the top of any hills, but even so I was wary for a couple of places that were either vulnerable due to their surroundings or their approaches.
In the end, despite needing a window boarding up at one location where local youths had caused some damage, we managed to keep everywhere open except for one – and that was due to a precaution with an older member of staff rather than any direct risk.
Still, looking out of my library window and seeing blocks of polystyrene the size of an adult bouncing down the road where they’d been blown off a building site nearby was quite impressive – as were the fallen small branches – and so I wasn’t totally surprised to find that the main road past us was closed by police for a good chunk of the afternoon.
Saturday was merely windy but I battled through it to help do some computer diagnostics on boy s’ PC with the aid of an old friend – we couldn’t fix the immediate problem, but we’ve narrowed down the hardware issue and a plan is now in place to Frankenstein a solution so that he can get back to streaming and being creative in his downtime.
And then yesterday we gathered back round to boy s for Sunday Roast and watched as random bits of branch bounced off the grass outside – all very restful. Anyway, to round up, all are well and nobody hurt, and no appreciable damage to anywhere or anything connected to us. Compared to other areas of the country we’ve done very well
Various plans went out the window for today because I had a minor mishap last night and blew out a tire. Fortunately I wasn’t going very fast and I was able to limp the car back home without too much clanking or the smell of scorched rubber being too pervasive.
I didn’t realise how badly damaged tire was until this morning when we were reporting it to the fleet management company (as a company car). In the clear sumlight I could see how tattered the tire was and could only be thankful my luck had held.
So… that happened. Our other discovery was that the tires for hybrid vehicles aren’t regularly carried as temporary spares by roadside assist vehicles. Fortunately the local Kwik-Fix did so the RAC guy was able to pop over, grab a replacement and bring it back to fit so we didn’t have to traipse back and forth to fix it all. With so much going on today it was like a little beacon of sanity, and much appreciated.
Everything was a bit of a complicated rush first thing this morning, with missed calls from nurses, bus routes diverted, and a cub unearthed from his bed just for starters. What it settled into, however, was a day of mentoring a new colleague and looking to future plans for the possible relocation of one of my libraries.
For the most part, today consisted of talking through experiences as a new group manager, and assembling a crib list of useful people to get to know. We also discussed the existential question of what, exactly, our jobs are. This is always a surprisingly useful thing to do for affirming common concerns and goals, as well as acknowledge the wife range of pastoral elements involved in our roles.
And then I had to dive home quickly to be back in time for the cub to get to the flat. I fed and watered him until Lady M was home, and then went and retrieved boy s so I could end the day with everyone settled in their own homes.
A simpler day is planned for tomorrow. We’ll see how that pans out.
We’re looking after the cub this evening while boy s is visiting Lady B back in Portsmouth for their tabletop D&D group. Well, I say looking after, but he fell asleep on me about quarter to six in the evening after I’d fed and watered him. At first a nestle against my arm, it soon turned into an arm shoved through the front pocket of my hoodie and a nestle under my arm and lights completely out.
He has what can best be described as a “burning the candle at both ends” approach to being awake, which largely comes from a fear of missing out on anything interesting going on around him. Today was the day that his body said enough, and so I had a small sleeping person curled up on me. It was very sweet.
Lady M and I eventually manhandled him into bed in the spare room and he slept for a good five hours before briefly surfacing just as I was switching lights off to go to bed. I brought his phone in, plugged it in to charge it, and he was asleep again as soon as his head hit the pillow.
So it’s been a quiet evening, and I’ve largely been working on my short stories to polish up the collection. Silver linings, and all that.
As someone recently noted on social media, I live a strange life, and I embrace that and aim to keep it that way so it doesn’t lapse into being boring and dull. I am proud to include a diverse and vibrant bunch of people in my life and celebrate their individual journeys as well as our commonalities.
This Christmas has allowed us to reconnect and bond with friends, partners, family, and those who might wander between. I caught back up with my brothers, and the Charleesi, with friends who have built their own forge, my parents, my partners, and a variety of children attached to various of the above.
So the plan today has been to sit quietly with Lady M, give our presents to each other, watch TV, play games, and not stray too far from the sofa.
It’s not the family gathering we had planned, but it’s a good substitute and rest ahead of the excitement and busy weeks ahead.