When two became one

Our adventures continue and, so far, we have only spent a maximum of three nights in the van at one time. We have enjoyed the peace and freedom that has given us. As you can imagine, it is a small space to live in. We have found it has been perfect for a short but now we are trying 9 nights; 2 will be off grid.

So how are we going to cope with that amount of days. Will we still be talking when we get home or will we be selling the van and saying this isn’t for us 🤨. All very good questions that we will hopefully be able to answer.

When we set off on Friday, I was super impressed on how Chris had made the van look so tidy. The weather wasn’t looking good so we did need to have some extra clothes for this reason. I still packed far too much but plan to change that this year with a book called Project 333. I just haven’t had the mindset to start that one yet. Our fridge was full and the microwave had been converted to a larder. 

We didn’t leave until 10 and as we can’t get into most sites until round 1:30 p.m, we decided to take advantage of Chris’ birthday present; his membership to National Trust. We stopped off at Stourhead, a beautiful house and gardens. The weather wasn’t kind to us; heavy showers with some hailstones thrown into the mix, but we were able to view the house and take a quick walk round the gardens. Stourhead, we will be back and will appreciate the gardens much more.

We then headed for the first of our stopovers, Old Oaks in Glastonbury. We were staying here for 4 nights, the longest we had ever stayed so we had a new addition to the camping experience; a new awning. This was exciting but also very daunting.

We are still very new to the world of campervan life but we are slowly getting into a routine. I’m fairly confident about hooking up the electric and I’m slowly learning about filling up with water. Lots to learn about putting the heating and water on inside of the van but I can get on with making the first cup of tea. This can be done in around 10 minutes. When we put in our order for the awning, we were told it would take 10 minutes to erect. We were doubtful, and it took us longer than that to find where we needed to pump it up. This must have caused some amusement with our neighbours! I did have confidence that Chris knew what he was doing, and after an hour,  our extension was almost complete. I left Chris to make some adjustments whilst I went in search of some food. On my arrival back, the awning now had some chairs in and we were able to enjoy our first meal outside (me with my coat on).

The awning is a very welcome addition for our experience. We will be able to enjoy eating and drinking outside along with making use of the barbecue, have somewhere to store our shoes and umbrellas and have some room for me to do some exercise if I feel the need. I’m sure that it will get easier to put it up. Let’s hope we can take it down now!

Our extension

See you next time to see how our adventure went, my thoughts on the campsites we stayed in and if we actually can survive living off grid!

These are the days of our lives

So we have our camper van and our dreams become reality. We picked it up on a wet November day from the dealers and spent the night there. For two people who never slept under the stars in canvas before, it looked a bit daunting but 4 months later, and despite it being winter, we have had a total of five road trips and spent a lovely lazy Sunday at the New Forest, where we had breakfast lunch and afternoon coffee and cake.

This weekend, celebrating Chris’ birthday before the big one, we have only travelled 19 miles to stay at the wonderful Concierge Camping. We stayed here for New Year after managing to book a cancellation and had a fantastic time. It is a bit different to the other sites we have stayed in, which have all had excellent facilities but have a lot more pitches. This one is a smaller park with 27 spacious pitches plus some gorgeous safari lodges. The washrooms are fantastic with added music being played; today’s music inspired this blog post. I feel like these are the days of our lives now.

I am sat writing this post feeling like I’m in my own little world. This site does make you feel secluded but the camper van experience has actually made me feel that. Yes, you do see a lot more people than at home but our winter experience of van life has made us experience freedom and peace. It has also forced us to go out and do things after a tiring week at work. At the beginning of December, in minus degrees temperatures, we stayed near Winchester, travelled into town by bus and visited Winchester Christmas markets. Normally we would have chosen to stay in our home and only venture out to put the rubbish out. Hello New World!

This weekend, we have taken the bikes. This is a bit frightening for me; I’m not much of a cyclist, more of a plodder and don’t like cycling on roads. First  day and we thought we would find the pub we were having lunch at the following day, go on to find a farm shop and then find a place with Alpacas. Let me tell you, I am very unfit. I could not get up those hills. New resolution starts Monday. Time to get fit. Due to my stopping and moaning, the Alpaca centre had closed but we did get see them. They are so cute and we plan to go alpaca walking soon. I did get back on the bike again on Sunday and we cycled into Bosham. Managed the ride there where we bumped into a lovely couple who told me I could get my bike converted into electric. Watch this space….

Due to my lack of fitness, we walked 15 minutes to a very busy pub for Sunday lunch which was amazing. I have to say most of our weekends so far have featured eating a lot. Chris tends to be in charge of breakfast and that is normally a good old fashioned English breakfast. We actually bought some local eggs in the pub this weekend and they went down very well. We do have full cooking facilities so do try to cook several dinners in the van. This can be a mixture of our precooked home made food plus some convenience foods. This weekend, we tried Paxo meat free burger mix. All I could think about was sage and onion stuffing.  It might look similar but it was delicious served in one of the best soft rolls purchased from the farm shop we stopped at on our bike ride.

Making burgers is a sticky affair, and whilst we have running water in our van, we do take advantage of the camp sites’ washing up rooms. This was ideal too for preparing my burgers. There was constant hot water for my hands. I have to say, whilst we were waiting for the arrival of the van, Chris mentioned that we would use toilets, shower rooms and washing facilities on sites, I was horrified. Why wouldn’t we use our own. Now I understand, and although I make use of our own toilet during the night, I will use the facilities on the campsites. We are spoilt in this particular campsite; lovely hand wash in the toilets, shower gel and shampoo in the showers and washing up liquid in the dishwashing area. One facility I have ignored but after getting oil on one pair of jeans and then mud on another, is the laundry room. Note to self; pack some washing powder.

Other facilities at this site is a bar area, a well stocked shop and also on-site Notso – a restaurant and takeaway selling Japanese street food. Fizz Friday was spent in the bar drinking and chatting to other campers whilst eating grilled chicken yakitori and a wagyu burger. What a brilliant start to the weekend. We finished off the weekend, eating ice-cream and watching the final laps of the new F1 season in the bar.

As we come to the end of our weekend, we can start our working week knowing we will have other weekends to look forward to and we will also try living in in the van for 10 days. Now that will be an interesting experience.

So cute

The Dreamer and the Princess

Once upon a time, a long time ago (well January 2022), the Dreamer took the Princess on a road trip. They set out early for the 3 hour journey along with their protective masks 😷 to protect them from the evil pandemic to look at carriages for going on holidays.

The princess was only going along to make sure the dreamer did not make any rash purchases. She liked her own comforts: en-suite bathrooms, drinking facilities and a comfy bed. Someone making her bed in the morning and cleaning the bathroom floor was much more appealing then literally making your bed from scratch.

The Dreamer had been researching different carriages for a long time (he was very thorough with his wants), and once in the showroom full of sparkly carriages, led the Princess to the one he had chosen. The Princess does get a buzz out of the smell of new carriages so did feel a bubble of excitement as she stepped into this shiny one. Inside, a compact living area greeted her. There was a small dining area, a kitchen with a hob, oven, microwave, fridge and sink. When travelling, you actually would be taking your kitchen sink! At the rear of the carriage, was a seating area. The dreamer opened a door to what he knew would be the dealbreaker; the bathroom, consisting of a toilet, small basin and a shower. 

The Princess can often lack a bit of imagination so the next job was for the Dreamer was to share his visions. He had the Princess building the bed and then after opening the back doors, they both jumped onto the bed. “Imagine the sunsets we would see as we drove around the kingdom” 🌅. Now the Princess had been pulled in to the dream and she left the showroom feeling quite excited.

A few days after the adventure, the Dreamer announced that maybe rather than a moving carriage, a static carriage might be the correct investment. The Princess had stayed in these as a young Princess so was secretly excited about this change. A holiday home to visit. Not wanted to sound too eager, she paused before agreeing it would be a great idea. That idea lasted 10 minutes before the mobile carriage was declared the winner – this was the Dreamer’s dream.

The Princess in this story, despite her need for her own privacy, isn’t a diva. She insisted that the Dreamer work out a budget for this expense. He took on the challenge and hid himself away in his cave. After what seemed a lifetime, he emerged from the black hole with his plan. The Dreamer had various timescales and budgets to suit the dream. The Princess was impressed so it was agreed that they could order the new carriage.

The month was now February and as the promised date for the new carriage was September (it turned out that these carriages were in high demand), the Dreamer and the Princess were able to take to the skies in a flying carriage and enjoy the luxury of having food cooked for them and beds made up. The Dreamer carried on with his intensive research and various gadgets and gizmos would turn up and he would insist they would be needed. The Princess did not have the same buzz yet; she needed to be able to see the carriage before that would happen.

The summer was hot 🥵 and September approached but without any news on the carriage. That was a good thing as there wasn’t any home for the carriage to go into. The other problem was the intended holiday in October – there wasn’t a carriage to go in so new plans had to be made. News did get through to us that particular week that we would be able to collect our shiny carriage the following month.  With four weeks to go, the Princess did not think that the Dreamer could have the carriage’s home ready in time. Despite rain and winds, the Dreamer, who had a better vision then the Princess, worked day and night, and the home was set up. 

So it was, early on a Saturday morning in November, we left home to pick up the new carriage which would be the start of many new adventures.

The Princess learned that like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, that dreams that the Dreamer dared to dream, really do come true.

One Book Behind

You’re on Track

Dear Goodreads

This year I have set myself a challenge of 54 books to read. Shouldn’t be a problem as last year I did manage to read 56 books but  at the beginning of the week and with 17 weeks to go, you keep telling me that I’m one book behind. What should I do? I almost bought Roald Dahl’s, James and the Giant Peach when it was on Kindle’s daily deal; that would have been a nice and quick read.

On Monday, I had finished The Throwaway Children by Diney Costeloe. Published in 2015, and I actually bought it then so I have no idea why it has taken me so long to read. The story is set in 1948 and is about 2 little girls being sent to an orphanage after their mother marries again. Her new husband is violent and does not want them around. I immediately fell in love with plucky Rita, the eldest sister, who cared deeply for her little sister Rosie. Lily, the girls’ grandmother, is another brave character, who tries her very best to take them away from the orphanage. She is told that the girls have been adopted, and hoping that they have been found a home with love, writes them a letter to tell them how she cares for them. Unbeknown to Lily, the girls have been sent to Australia to an orphanage there where they are separated from each other.

I wasn’t sure if I could read the book after the girls were sent to the English orphanage as they were treated so badly. I did though and it was an extremely sad story but one with an ending that was very tearful but also one of hope. This book certainly earned a 5 star review from me.

When I’ve read a harrowing book, I like to look for something which might have a bit of a happier feel. I chose The Last Piece by Imogen Clark. I discovered this author in 2018 and have tried to read all her books. This story is about the Nightingale family, Cecily and Norman and their three daughters plus a 50 year old secret. After my last read, whilst not so disturbing, it was still a thought provoking read. Not the feel good book I was looking for but one I enjoyed. I managed to read it in 4 days so Goodreads, my status now  reads you are on target!

My next read is Dorothy Koomson’s follow up to The Ice Cream Girls, All My Lies Are True. I only started reading last night but am hooked so I think I’m going to stay on track! I don’t think this is going to have the feel good factor either but never mind, it will soon be time to read the Christmas books!

Yours forever reading


P.S. Was it cheating that I read P.S. I Love You again. I did read the follow up and felt that I had to read it!

I’ve got my mind set on you

Lovely memories

Dear Tony

Another birthday without you. I hope that you are happier where you are and you are enjoying having mum and dad to yourself.

Life is a bit strange here. As well as the restrictions that are in place, there is uncertainty about jobs which of course brings emotional and financial worries. Charities are suffering a lot as events that would be held to raise funds have been cancelled. I’ve decided to set myself challenges and give a small amount of money to charities each month.

For the month of August, I did 10 days of alternate 5k running and walking. I started running about 6 months after you left us in 2016. As well as health benefits, exercise is also great for our mental health. I always think of you when I run. I wonder if it would have helped you if you had taken up something like running.

I actually chose to do this challenge after seeing Macmillan advertising it. I didn’t get sponsors though but gave a very small donation to them. I loved the walks and will continue with the 5k route which took me by our family house, over the bridge as mum would say which led to the park we liked to visit as children, then up to the Green Dragon before returning home. Not a scenic walk but one full of memories. This route takes me around an hour. I listen to the Joe Wickes podcast who always had interesting guests talking about what they turned to to help their physical and mental health. A very interesting listen. I finish off listening to radio 2. I ditched my favourite radio 1 shows long ago but interestingly some of the DJs that we would have listened to now appear on radio 2!

In honour of your birthday, September’s charity is Mind. This is another great charity and one that is in great need at the moment. I have chosen to try to improve my running and am aiming to run 30 miles in the month. I am running 1 mile runs for 3 days, having a day of rest and then running a 5k. So far, and I’ve only run 2 of the 5k runs, managed to improve my times. Now Tony, when I say running, I am actually very slow but at least I can run for a bus now.

I can see how tough life was for you with all your mental health problems. Listening to Joe Wickes asking his guests what they do to keep their spirits up made me ponder how I would answer. One of the first things I like to do is bake. I also like getting lost in a book, playing games on computer such as sudoku and solitaire (can be very addictive!) and cross stitching. Being out in the fresh hour to run or walk also helps. For you, getting out of bed to do these pastimes would have been a major hurdle. Hopefully charities like Mind will be able to continue to help people like yourself.

You are always in my thoughts.

Sleep tight.

Your big sister

Tina x

P.S. I still love the picture of us when I visited you at your school. I can’t quite believe I was actually taller than you for a while!

P.P.S. On my mile run today, I actually did a personal best of 11.13 min/mile!

A good 5k time for me!

Red Velvet, Will you please?

My Mum

Dear Mum

Five years have flown by since you left. It took me a while to get used to my weekends again. My Saturday afternoons had been spent with you. After catching up, there would be a film to watch. It might have been To Kill a Mocking Bird or The Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves (Note for Kathryn. We have to watch this film).

One of the things I do like to do now on a Saturday afternoon is bake. You would love eating the cakes I make especially anything with chocolate in. One of the other things I like to do is afternoon teas with Kathryn.

As a family, we have always loved cream teas (just thinking about spreading jam across the scone and topping with a thick layer of clotted cream is making my mouth water – Kathryn, that is the correct way of eating a scone!). Last year, arranging a mum and daughter day out and both not wanting to shop, we went for an afternoon tea and decided to make it a monthly event. We even created an instagram page called onceuponascone. We did manage three teas before Christmas and had a lovely tea in February in Bath. Then lockdown happened. This didn’t put us off afternoon teas. As soon as we were allowed to be together again, we actually made our own. As it was the 5th anniversary of the day you left us, we chose Sunday 28th June to remember you. I had just got a very nice cooker so it was the first time I baked scones in it. They were delicious.

Slowly, we are getting our life back to normal (well a new normal), so we were super excited to start going for teas again. I thought I would share my lovely day out with Kathryn on the 18th August (Richard’s birthday but we didn’t invite him!). Chris had arranged a voucher for tea at Cliveden House in Maidenhead. Chris was also our chauffeur for the day so it did mean we could enjoy a glass of champagne too. Another thing you would have liked Mum!

We arrived early so we could enjoy the grounds and woodlands of Cliveden. It is a National Trust property and the tea included the trip round the grounds. Whilst I was looking forward to the tea, if I lived close to this property, I would have become a member of the National Trust and visited every week. As we experienced some rain, we didn’t get to appreciate it all but what we saw was breathtaking. We loved walking through the rose garden and going down the Yew Tree Steps (apparently 172 steps but we didn’t notice because we were laughing so much as we were in sync with our stepping. We missed Jordan at the point because he would have loved being part of that. Next visit I promise I will let you take part Jordan!) to sit by the Thames. As it was raining, we didn’t attempt the steps upwards.

Anyway, back to the tea. As I said, we are living in strange times and we now need to wear masks in enclosed areas so we had to remember to put them on when entering the hotel. Luckily we can take them off when eating! Chris made sure we had a wonderful view from our table. The champagne was waiting for us so we very quickly removed the masks. Then first course of our tea arrived. As well as sandwiches, we had chilled pea and mint soup (I can imagine you are turning your nose up mum but believe me, it was delicious), gingerbread savoury with cream cheese, cheese and ham croissant and peri-peri beef taco. The best savoury selection I have ever had.

It was then the turn of the scones, one fruit and one plain each. Kathryn did think that we didn’t have enough clotted cream but there was plenty. We had gone a bit posh with our tea (no not PG tips, mum), we had Assam. I think it’s one of my favourites. We barely had any room for the cakes but I do like to try one or maybe two! We had a lovely red velvet sponge cake, a delicious peach melba cake and a rhubarb cake presented to us. We shared the red velvet sponge and peach melba. Don’t worry mum, we took the rest home in a doggy bag, well actually a beautiful box. We also had a complimentary red velvet muffin to take away which I can confirm was very nice.

I know that you would have loved the tea although you wouldn’t have enjoyed going out. If you were still here (I wish you were), we would have definitely shared some of the tea with you.

We are already arranging our next tea which will probably be the weekend of Tony’s birthday. Can you let him know to expect a letter from me at around that time.

Love to Dad.

Love and kisses

Tina x

P.S. Why red velvet and what is red velvet any way, I hear you ask. Red velvet cake is well known in USA from New York’s Waldorf hotel which was built by Cliveden’s former owner, William Waldorf Astor. Red velvet cake is a chocolate cake with a red colour. Traditionally the red colour was due to the cocoa used but most recipes now use a red food colouring paste. I have never tried making this cake but might give it a go now.

Yew Tree Steps

I’m just making plans for Tina

My pink passion planner

Dear Planner

I received you, a beautiful soft pink planner for Christmas, and created my plan for 5 years on the 28th December. I even bought myself a sparkly pink pen to use when I sat down to plan. All looked good until March. Then lockdown happened and life hasn’t been the same again.

I like the idea of planning, I’m reasonably organised but hate lists; they terrify me actually. There is something about putting things down on paper that I don’t like; is it commitment issues or am I frightened to share what I should be doing. Anyway it’s something I want to get better at so I really did have good intentions in January. I had enjoyed setting up my “passion roadmap” for the next 5 years. I actually wrote things I hadn’t shared with anyone; the most surprising one to me was planning to have a cottage by the sea. Although I live close to the sea, and I visit a lot, since a child I have always been excited when travelling to a holiday destination to see the first sight of the ocean. Memories of Bude when I was younger, the sea in Jamaica as Chris and I enjoyed our first evening meal in the outside restaurant (even if I was struggling to keep my eyes open) and last year, the sparkling turquoise sea of Punta Prima. I think the idea of waking up seeing the ocean is a lovely dream for the future.

I would love to tell you Planner, that 8 months after setting out my short term plans, I had completed them but I would be lying. The one I circled in 3 months will always be there forever: declutter! Why can’t I do this job. I need to do this. I’m going to have a good talk to myself about this. The current situation means that some of the other items were not possible: visit my sister in law in Belgium and see more of family and friends.

You will be more impressed with my 1 year plans though I’ve had a change of mind about one: be rid of working from home. Life changed a lot in March and there are a lot of empty offices at the moment. It was something forced on me, something I rebelled about at first but now, I have a work space I like and maybe it’s the way forward for me! 2020 is definitely the year we are allowed to change our minds! Two items that I semi- achieved for the year but still have a long way to go: confidence in riding a bike and driving a car.

When I wrote confidence in riding a bike, I had a bit of a problem. I didn’t have a bike. I soon changed that and on the 5th January, I was the proud owner of an Apollo Elyse hybrid bike. I had a basket put on and enjoy casual rides to the beach and exploring the area. I am so glad a purchased my bike at the beginning of the year as there is now a high demand for bike sales.

Due to the COVID situation, I did find myself driving to Chichester to work in April. It was the best time to get some confidence in driving; the roads were empty. I have repeated it several times now but I still need to work on that one. What I do know is that I can do it!

So Planner, please don’t give up on me. I can say that whilst my plans (and many other people’s plans) haven’t gone as expected for the beginning of 2020, I have created a new roadmap and intend to plan, plan, plan!

Yours hoping


P.S. Declutter has not made it on my roadmap this time. I promise to write to you before the end of the year and let you know how I’m getting on.

The beginning of the year

The Bare Necessities of Life

Typical subscription box

Dear Home Economic teachers

In the 2nd year of the senior school in the 70s, the girls in our school had lessons in cookery and sewing. Boys didn’t do these classes; they did “manly” things like woodwork and metalwork. We did these classes until we were allowed to choose our subjects in year 4 (for all younger than me, that would be your year 10).

My children have found the fact that you, my home economics teachers, thought I was a useless case as far as cooking and sewing quite strange. Dinners for my children were often made from scratch, lunch boxes always had some home baked cakes in and I also cross stitched them an advent calendar which is still in use. So why didn’t I enjoy my lessons at school and did I learn anything?

I have to say that I was looking forward to cookery but Mrs L, I’m afraid you frightened me. Practical things and me don’t seem to get on and your loud shrieking voice did not help whatsoever. I know that we are all different and some people who have teachers speaking in this way helps them but it just gave me butter fingers. It was with great eagerness that I gave up this lesson. When I do bake now, I do find myself remembering something I learned at school: folding the mixture round and cutting through with the metal spoon and also one of my favourites from school, feather icing. I did have teachers later in life though who helped me with my love of cooking: Delia Smith, Mary Berry, Gary Rhodes and Paul Hollywood. I can produce a delicious roast dinner with crunchy but fluffy roast potatoes, lemon drIzzle tray bakes, a quick microwave sponge pudding and when challenged, bake croissants. I hope that I have also taught my children a love of cooking too.

Mrs S, you were my form teacher when I first joined the “big” school and the following year my needlework teacher. You were a very kind teacher and left us to get on with our own devices. I was always good with theory so can still remember the basics of tacking, back stitch and I think I could get by with blanket stitch if the need arose. However, the sewing machine remains a mystery to me and I still can’t cut straight with scissors. I will never be able to make myself a nightie (our first and uncompleted project for me).

So I did take with away some skills, but just like riding a bike or driving a car, these skills are perfected out of the classroom environment. I was able to find what I loved to do and also find that both baking and my cross stitch is my way of relaxing. This weekend it was so satisfying when I piped butter cream onto a whoopie pie, sandwiched it together with another and it looked like the photo of the recipe. It was also satisfying to eat it too!

I’m never going to be a bake-off contestant; perfection is not me! My whoopie pies were not the same size but what does it matter as long as they taste good.

This is the same for my cross stitch although it always looks neat. The most important thing to me in cross stitch is to have the stitches going in the same direction. The back of the cross-stitch isn’t the neatest but who sees the back. I have seen photos of some really neat backs which could actually be the front. I wonder Mrs S, if you would have expected that.

I would like to share the efforts of my weekend with you both. My completed cross stitch kit, a subscription from Cotton and Twine. I treated myself to it in April fully intending to complete it quickly. Four months later, I finally finished it. I don’t tend to frame the completed projects myself but following the instructions carefully, I’m chuffed with the outcome. I even cut it straight.

I can also share the carrot cake whoopie pie photo too; another subscription box from April. I have been too busy to complete.

So whilst I might not have been an ideal student, I am able to cook and sew. For me, the classroom wasn’t the ideal learning place for these skills but I hope that schools do continue to teach these important lessons.

Kind regards


P.S. I’m glad I didn’t have to do woodwork or metal work

Stitching and baking

Simply the Best

Happy times

Dear family

Thank you for making my birthday so special. I thought it wasn’t going to be a normal birthday; there wasn’t going to be everyone gathered in our bedroom singing happy birthday before I opened presents. This was a lockdown birthday although due to a lift in restrictions, Kathryn was going to be able to sit in the family garden! Little did I know that what you had in store for me.

As is normal in the Terry household at the moment, we were awake at 5.30 in the morning. I did have a happy birthday sang to me through WhatsApp from Jordan at 6 o’clock. The message didn’t strike me as unusual . With you working and living in London, I have had a few birthdays with you not being here on the day but normally you are here the weekend before.

As is also normal on birthdays and at Christmas, I was spoilt by you, Chris. I couldn’t believe I actually had a brand new, shiny rose gold iPad. One that was not actually second hand! After a few false starts, you even had my games downloaded (my day does not begin until I have completed my daily fix of solitaire, sudoku and wordstacks).

More birthday messages came through from Kathryn before I cycled to the beach with Chris. It was a beautiful morning to enjoy watching the calm sea and views of the Isle of Wight. I was sad that we all wouldn’t be together but I could remember the past birthdays normally enjoying food and the scenery: cream teas in the New Forest, fish and chips in the rain  on Brighton Pier and wave jumping in Fuerteventura. It was certainly going to be different this year with one member of the family missing and family hugs not possible. 

There was a bit of friction at the beach when Chris was trying to make me decide what we were going to eat. Friction and eating are another norm! I was still feeling a bit annoyed that as my birthday was on a Sunday, I couldn’t have my family all here to help me celebrate. I would have willingly made dinner myself with what we had in the fridge. Anyway, so as to not make the day difficult, I followed Chris into the local shops and chose lamb steaks in one shop then a huge steak and merlot pie in another. Should be more than enough for 3 of us and maybe Aaron.

We cycled home and once in, I sent messages to my sister and to Kathryn to let them know that they could come round. At least restrictions had been lifted so I could have them both in the garden.  Within 2 minutes, there was a ring on the doorbell. I was greeted by a happy birthday chorus from you Kathryn and……..

Well I could not believe it; I was expecting to see Aaron but instead it was a sweaty, gorgeous Jordan and bike. He had cycled  for 4 hours 45 minutes from Wimbledon to say Happy Birthday.

Family back together for the afternoon on a hot summer’s day that was simply the best!

Love from a very spoilt wife and mum x 

P.S. Can we do wave jumping next year?

Next time will be about how all intended yearly goals change very unexpectedly 

Flowers from Jordan

Now get to work, work, work

Progression in weights

Dear Jessica

Hope you and your family are well.

I only discovered you in January 2019 and since then you have been an important part of my life. I was trying to lose a stone in weight (again)  and came across your Walk Off the Weight DVD plan. Six DVDs later and after learning how to get YouTube on to the TV, I am hooked.  You are like having a personal trainer: one day I’m doing Hiit cardio and next day I’m doing a fusion walk.  There are so many different routines to try that I can never be fed up plus you never shout at me. Now I know that some people feel that having someone who forces you to work hard works for them. It’s not for me – I would just go and eat cake!

Cake is one of the reasons I do have to exercise and as we are all going through a difficult time at the moment, I’m baking and eating a lot more. Even more this week as it’s been my birthday!  

Normally my day will start early and I will do some exercise before work. It might just be one of your 15 minute walks but I would always try to do something. I would come home and if I wasn’t running (during the winter months I run after work but actually prefer to run in the morning), then I would pop on another routine and exercise again. Silly me thought life would be easier when we made plans to start working from home. Whilst everyone else was scanning the local Sainsbury’s for toilet rolls, I picked up my order of my heavier weights; after all, I was going to have all that time I wasn’t travelling to work (or so I thought).  I was ready to start on a Jessica Smith plan.

On my first day of working from home, our prime minister  announced strict lockdown measures including only going out for one day of exercise. I was going to have to choose wisely but I could work out to lots of your different workouts. My normal lunchtime walk could be replaced by a 15 minute fast fat blast walk.

Did that happen? Well some days it did but not as often as I would like. Well it turns out you do actually have to work very hard from home. You forget to stop for lunch and your 4pm finish stretches to 5.30.  My monthly email would come from you and was so full of encouragement. You understood, as you were also experiencing these uncertain times too, that it sometimes was too hard to do any exercise. I was finding that the beginning of each week even going outside for a walk was an effort. Most weeks I was able to turn it round by Thursday so I did have 4 days of good exercise. 

12 weeks after our lockdown started, life is slowly starting again to what is being called a ‘new normal’ and I’m able to exercise outdoors as much as I want.  I have managed to complete your core week (persuaded my daughter to take part in that) and am running regularly. This week I set myself a target of reaching 20,000 steps a day by enjoying the fresh air by walking and running. Finally finished my 5k runkeeper plan. Not as fast as it wanted me to be but there is always next time. I also opened your yoga stretch for beginners & beyond DVD to try to encourage me to start enjoying the benefits of yoga. It’s early days but I think it could soon become a regular part of my exercise. 

I’ve also decided that I will exercise Monday to Fridays and use my weekends to ride my bike, take long walks or dance and sing badly in the kitchen whilst making dinner. I’m also going to start your Summer of Strength program on Monday. I’m still taking one day at a time though so hopefully I finish week 1.

Once again, Jessica, thank you for all your wonderful workouts.

Stay safe

Tina x

P.S. Whilst walking back through the store with my weights, one of the wonderful workers came out with a trolley full of toilet rolls so there was a lot of happy shoppers!

Next time I will be sharing my birthday whilst on relaxed lockdown

Pretty leggings make workouts easier!