Oh here we go again: covid, what covid? Say the politicians who want a drink

Politicians: are they stupid or are their heads just so far bedded im the sand to care?

First it was Boris, and now his posssee are breaking the very rules they’ve been setting, giving daily (some would call it) scare-mongering briefings and filling up column space in national newspapers.

Earlier today I read that Boris’ minions had a right old knees up in a pub. A pub that wasn’t supposed to not serve alcohol after 6pm (FYI it was after said hour).

From left to right, Labour’s Alan Davies and Conservativea Paul Davis, Darren Miller and Nick Ramsey. Courtesy of BBC

What will they receive? A slap on the risk no doubt, perhaps a guffaw from Boris but no fine, no arrest, no nothing of consequence, quite unlike the rest of us who face a whopping grwat fine for simply going for a walk in a ‘beauty spot’ or sitting on a bench having a coffee because it’s seen as picnicking.

Now, I’m not one for conspiracy theories but is there something we don’t know? Just recently the PM posted on Facebook book about staying home and saving lives.

Not so long ago Boris posted something similar. It’s now not there. Hmm….

The ‘perpetrators ‘ amounted to four members of Parliament, Labour’s Alan Davirs and Conservatives Paul Davies, Darren Miller and Nick Ramsey.

So who and what are supposed to believe? And is it really us general public really the ones doing the spreading?

BBC Wales has been told Labour Member of the Senedd Alun Davies (who’s Twiter account has been disabled) and two others were involved.

A spokesman for the group told the BBC That he had been ‘suspended from the privileges of Senedd Labour Group membership while an investigation takes place into this alleged incident,’ a spokesman for the group told the BBC.

He and two Tories deny breaking rules.

My family are self isolating, I am any going out for essentials and yes, its lonely, boring, scary; schools are closing and businesses are in turmoil.

Boris, sort yourself out. Imply your guidelines on yourself and your staff and stop this ridiculous and deliberate floatation of the law, or guidelines should you wish to call it.

We are looking to you for advice but how can we trust you? Its a farcical of example to say (as I recently posted) ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

Covid is costing more and more lives as this conditions. I’m writing this from hospital where beds are being emptying almost hourly. Its devastating. Alarms are going off constantly, staff are literally running to patients.

This is a PANDEMIC Mr Prime minister, not a joke. And as numbers rise daily you have to ask yourself ‘are you doing enough?’

Step it up and take your responsibility as serious as we (with some selfish people putting police and hospitals under unprecedented pressure’ at risk.

Do yourself and us a favour and stop playing games.

And thank God that my 95 year old grandmother is finally getting a vaccine. I’ve only seen her on Skype since Christmas 2019 and although we talk regularly I miss her terribly.

I pray that we all get is soon 🙏 (not covid is that is, just the importance of sticking to the rules!


Trust me I’m the PM

Image from Ebay

It’s a tactic often seen in parenting or the classroom: do as I say, not what I do.

Yep, as kids we were expected to follow the rules imposed – but not always demonstrated – by adults.

And oh look, here we are again. This time though it’s a bit more serious than ‘don’t chew with your mouth open’ or ‘only cross the street if it’s the green man’. It’s Boris Johnson allegedly flouting Covid-19 safety guidelines enforced by himself and his parliament.

According to press reports, the Prime Minister broke the ‘spirit of the rules’ by going for a bike ride at the Olympic Park in London – seven miles away from his home – on Sunday afternoon.

We’ve been told to stay home and, specifically, not to drive to beauty spots for exercise. It’s not known whether Boris was driven there or not – although he had his security detail with him – as Downing Street has refused to comment. In typical politician hedge speak all that’s being said (according to an Evening Standard source) is that he was ‘in line with Covid rules’.

Boris Bikes: this ain’t the time for a ride Mr Johnson

But it will be sure raise some eyebrows, especially coming just after two women were issued fines (since retracted, but still) by police for driving five miles to go for a walk at a reservoir.

In response to that incident, by the way, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told broadcasters he ‘would absolutely back’ the officers imposing fines and emphasised that the rules are not ‘boundaries to be pushed’.

Now, I’m not saying I want to do the same thing. There’s no ‘woe is me why can’t I go on a cycle in the park?’ I do get why the rules are there. No, they’re not law but they’re for the safety of everyone.

To me it just seems hypocritical and, to be honest, down right stupid of Boris. Surely he at least glanced over the toughest lockdown rules yet before imposing them on the rest of us?

Seriously, Mr PM, get it together. Because now more than ever he should be setting an example to the rest of us.

Just saying.

Laying down the (not quite) law: Boris addressing the public on Covid restrictions

Feed the world, not Covid

As one of my favourite festive songs asks: ‘do they know its Christmas time?’ And yes I think we all do. But there’s one who doesn’t: Coronavirus.

That became even more clear when Boris Johnson announced the Christmas cease fire was no longer happening due to a surge in cases. We were told to stay home, not mix and police were given more powers of arrest.

But some people didn’t listen.

The NHS struggled to cope, the virus gained force. And now, as we see out 2020 with a weekly death toll of 581 – the highest since April  – we face the next challenge: what will tonight bring?

Will people follow guidelines and opt for a New Year’s Eve at home watching the telly? Or are we on an uphill trajectory to utter crisis?

There’s an easy solution guys.

Please, as you recall the lyrics from Bob Geldof’s Live Aid hit about feeding the world and celebrating the festivities of the season, keep Covid in mind and don’t help feed that.

Because that world is outside our windows. And this year it really is one of dread and fear.

Let’s kiss goodbye to 2020 not with parties and a booze up but with gratitude and hope for a safer, happier 2021 for one and all.

If you need any ideas for a stay-at-home shindig check out Good Housekeeping’s top tips. I’ll be doing an online yoga session, enjoying a salmon and prawn dinner, drinking my alcohol-free (more than 6 weeks sober now…) fizz and chilling out with movies, the cat and some board game fun.

Get the popcorn and films at the ready – Bruno’s ready to party like it’s 2020!

Fun but profound: declining a gift of limitless proportion

If you could have one dream gift what would it be?

A new car? £1000000? An island in the carribean? Maybe it would be marrying the love of your life with no spending limit for the ceremony. Or how about first class flights to anywhere in the world for the rest of your life for free?

The big bucks: image from amazon.co.uk

That was a question presented to me during a recent Zoom discussion. The lady running it private messaged us all a potential not-your-average gift based on what she thought each of us would be extatic to receive.

We each then shared it with the group (the conceptual gift that is) and mine was the £1000000. Then we had to consider and discuss what the downsides of each would be. Trust me, it was a hard one!

But with many things in life, to every high has it’s lows.

I met my fiance in rehab, for example. Had I not had the issues that took me there I never would have met him. But the shame of the reason I was there in the first place caused me to isolate from many friends and family members.

Then there’s Covid. Just look at the amazing work people are doing to help others.. For me, personally, it has been the offers of help with shopping or picking up meds from virtual strangers, and the man who helped me when I collapsed in the street. Plus I’m now talking to my grandma every week. We never used to do that. So in that way isolation has ironically made us closer.

But back to the gift of a life time idea. I realised it would potentially drive me away from the people I love not on the same financial level as me. I would squander money on useless things. I would probably become more selfish and no longer feel any desire to work, thus eliminating the joys of success and the new friendships I would make with my colleagues. I mean, I’m not working now and I really miss that. Would I ever truly feel content?

And of course there’s the elephant in the room of my own personal problems. Would my eating disorder worsen to the point of hospitalisation? Would I kill myself through drink? Recently I was in hospital and all I could hear one night was a man screaming over and over again. He was dying. From alcohol. His skin was yellow and bruised. They were basically keeping him alive on painkillers. The next day the bed was empty.

Jen went on to read a passage from the bible that highlighted the very same concept.

I can’t become a believer overnight. But with the help of others I can apply some of the principles of the bible to everyday life. And it becomes more manageable and less overwhelming.

And as for my £1000000, I guess it’s true what they say, money can’t buy you happiness.

The dangers of online symptom checkers…

Image from Health Snap

So last week someone I live with was in hospital with a nasty stomach bug. Fortunately he seems to have made a full recovery and is back home. But obviously when I started to develop minor symptoms I panicked. I went onto WebMD and put in my symptoms to the site’s checker service and quite frankly it was frightening.

Apparently there’s a whole host of things I could have – and that’s without even saying about the housemate’s recent hospitalisation with the bug.

I would urge everyone to be cautious when using these sites. The last thing you need when you’re not feeling on top form is to be told a bit of bloating needs urgent care… Pretty much everything says go to a&e, even though it might just be a bit of a stomach upset.

And apparently I’m not the only person who feels this way. As posted in the Henry Ford Blog:

For example: You wake up in the middle of the night with a pain in the lower left side of your stomach. You get up and walk around, but it doesn’t go away. So you search the internet for “left-side stomach pain.” You find out it could be constipation, or diverticulitis, or kidney stones, or a bladder infection, or gas — or cancer. Your mind goes right to the cancer. Oh no, what if it’s pancreatic cancer? And then you can’t sleep, so you keep surfing.”

Unfortunately my Dr’s surgery has quite an unsympathetic receptionist and told me I have to wait until tomorrow (now today) to speak to a doctor on the ‘gp advice line’. Well that service only lasts for one hour and I have tried. But after being on hold for at least 40 minutes it shut off so I’ll just have to try again tomorrow and hope for more success.I’m not too concerned; I think like many others at this time I’m just being uber-precautious.

Just everyone, be careful about what you read online. Right now we all need to stay safe from coronavirus and the last thing we need is more stress. Cos let’s face it – hospital is awful at the best of times, but when being there puts you at risk of a worse disease, well, what’s the best option. Do you go for treatment? Or do you stay home and hope to battle through it?

Your guess is as good as mine on this one.

Making creativity my thing…

Can I do it? I hope so.. image from Miss Benison

For my 19th birthday I had a fancy dress party. I was coming to the end of a ski season in Les Deux Alpes with Skiworld and costume stores aren’t exactly top priority in ski results…. So as you may guess resources were limited.

Just for fun I set the theme as ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up, when I was young’ – open ended enough to use some imagination and with tin foil and linen being our go to ‘ingredients’ being half way up a mountain, it was an opportunity to get creative.

We had an astronaut, a cat… plausible or not it did not matter. It was just the fun of seeing what our creative juices could come up with. So being a massive Disney fan, and not a tiara in sight to allow me to go as a princess, I used green food dye on a pillow slip and went as Tinkerbell.

Yup, thanks to some green food dye and a pillow slip that’s me as Tinkerbell… Sort of…

But without clothing limitations, if I really thought about it, yes being a disney angel fairy or princess would have been pretty bloody brilliant…. I can remember myself as a young animal-loving me desperate to be a vet.

Unfortunately I saw a James Herriot documentary in which his hand, well, penetrated a cow’s backside to put it politely. And then there was the secondary school tutor who told me to drop Latin and the sciences because I wasn’t smart enough…. So that put an end to my veterinary dreams.

From then on I didn’t know what I wanted to do or be. I went to Loughborough University and studied English, focusing on language and linguistic modules, as well as one in creative writing. I graduated, after having become in the university magazine and I figured actually I might want to be a journalist. So then came my City University, London, masters degree in the field and a job at a national newspaper.

That was fun for a while. But I’ll be honest I found it really draining dealing with the hugely long hours and harassment by the editor of the desk I worked on. It wasn’t rare for me to be working from 8am til 3am. And almost without fail I would be greeted by abuse from the desk editor. You’re only ever as good as your last story in the worked of journalism and according to her I simply didn’t cut it.

So I quit.

Since then I’ve thought a lot about whether my true calling might be in fictional writing, As my Grandma has told my mum (and yes, I know I’m blowing smoke up my ass a little here) ‘that girl has a way with words’.

So I’m dedicating some of my time in lockdown into writing a novel.

It’s gonna be based on a true story I covered as a newspaper hack in Liverpool where I spent some time on the Liverpool Echo during my training. I hope of creating a Jack Reacher type thing, though I could never place myself alongside Lee Child, the bestselling and simple fantastic author.

Jack Reacher, by Lee Child: My inspiration to become a novelist

It’s exciting and scary at the same time and will probably never leave my laptop. But it’s a fun project and I love research, which my idea will require a lot of.

So long story short, and it will be short! I’m gonna give this novel writing thing a whirl and see where I get. Wish me luck! And do get in touch if you’re doing something similar – it’s always good to have someone to knock around ideas with.

It’s OK to not be ok

Image courtesy of You Matter

I’m a terrible fraud at time, replying to the question ‘are you ok?’ or how are you doing?’ with a false smile and an’ im fine thanks how are you?’

But the truth is I’m not always OK, especially when lockdown is quite literally getting me down.

There’s so much out there – my phone is jam packed with apps to keep myself busy and having recently got back into reading novels (and not just my usual go to of beachy type reads) so I would love to find an online book group.

Just a few of the apps I’ve downloaded

I’ve taken up new hobbies, mindful colouring, writing a short story that will probably only ever be seen by my own eyes and joining in with zoom meditation or yoga sessions.

My Sunday night ritual – meditation through Zoom

Then there’s my course in the science of happiness which is not only teaching me things but by putting it into practice it helps boost my mood.

My next project is to knit a family of penguins (don’t hold your breath!) and today I read a Prima article by Gaby Roslin in which she’s written about the different housebound exercise sites she recommends. So I’m excited to try them.

Gaby Roslin in Prima magazine

Keeping to a schedule has been helping keep me sane as well. I keep a daily gratitude diary (on the thrive app which you can also learn about CBT and do practice exercises).

Organising my life: keeping a schedule and recording what I’ve done

Of course it’s also so important to stay in contact with people. I’ve had some lovely messages from people I’ve lost touch with and I make sure I ring my grandma regularly. Just having a conversation with someone is mood boosting for both parties, even if we have precious little to report! But I love hearing her voice and stories from the past, as well as visitors she’s had coming round to have chats from the front garden gate. My parents have put some garden chairs out so she can sit and chat away with them. It’s a small gesture but if it helps then do it!

In the past I’ve often swept over Facebook notifications but now I’m responding to people, wishing them a happy birthday, or offering one of my hand crafted postcards. Isn’t it wonderful to receive some good old fashioned snail mail?! So do feel free to give me your address if you fancy a bit of pen pall contact.

As ever this has turned into a bit of a ramble, so forgive me. But if you get a chance do check out the latest Prima mag. It’s not one I’d normally buy but it’s full of crafty inspiration.

So if its the only promise you make to yourself is to speak truthfully when someone asks if you’re ok, then that’s a great achievement. It really does help, at the same time as sparking up a conversation.

Let’s make a habit of staying in touch and talking about how our day’s been. Hopefully when lockdown finally comes to an end it’ll be the start of a better way of life.

Exercise, no matter how basic, boosts endorphins, laughter is the best medicine, and we can all find ways to occupy ourselves and be able to tell people ‘here’s what I’ve done today’. Or if you’re feeling down, tell someone. Facebook is so successful because it allows communication.

And right now, that’s what we need.

I’d love to hear from people about how their day has been. I promise to respond to all comments and hopefully make some new friends along the way.

Oh and by the way, Gaby, who is also creating a new structure to her day, recommends the FitBit workout, Alice Liveing’s work out and The Body Coach abs sessions as part of her morning routine. No need to push yourself too far. In my opinion little and often is the greatest goal to have.

And who knows, you may find yourself fitter than before!

Rewiring my thinking

Image from garmaonhealth

Being productive means constantly doing chores or other things you don’t necessarily want to do, right? It’s getting frustrated when a queue isn’t moving quickly enough for me to complete a task ‘on time’.

Not always. Or at least that’s what I’m trying to teach myself…

As previously mentioned I’m learning about the science behind happiness, it’s importance, and how to put it into practice.

So today I cut myself some slack and fitted in some things that gave me some pleasure. I went for a walk somewhere I’d never been before and discovered a rare spot of open green land that’s not locked shut, by the football stadium. I noticed and appreciated the patches of daisies and some beautiful blossom trees. I felt moved and grateful when I saw rainbow paintings posted in people’s windows. I also showed myself some self love by having a long hot shower then straightening my hair.

But while I’m trying to have a more positive attitude to things, I still need to practice.

My ‘homework’ for the wellbeing course I’m doing was to try and use my top 4 qualities, as scored on a Yale University credited scoring system.

One of them was kindness and on reflection I could have been kinder to a guy in the queue for our local pharmacy. He charged past me as I approached, to beat me in the line but joined the wrong end. I realised before he did and got to the correct end first. My first thought was ‘ha ha, beat you’, but on reflection a kinder me would have offered to let him go in front.

So to that anonymous guy, who won’t be reading this, I’m sorry. Right now, more than ever, I need to stop obsessing about to do lists and moaning about things and instead appreciate what I do have.

We’re all in this together.

My latest project: learning how to be happy…

What really is happiness and how can we practice it?

Most of us know how to look after our bodies – good food, exercise etc. Some of us are confident at looking after our finances (note – I’m not so good at this one..)

But how many of us actually know how to look after our minds and mental well-being?

Now more than ever it’s so important to look after mental health. We’re all in the same boat with the coronavirus pandemic. We’re separated from friends and family, unable to visit any of the places that once gave us pleasure. Not to mention the fear spreading almost as fast as the virus.

Ultimately we are left with our thoughts and trying to find ways to pass the time. And it’s given me time to pause – something I’m not good at, hence my endless to-do lists that only end up making me feel frustrated with myself when I don’t get everything completed – and think about what actually makes me happy.

The truth is I don’t actually know. Yes, I’m trying to stay upbeat and positive and fill my time with more than just sitting watching the TV. But what if that’s just a front to keep myself from sinking into misery and dwelling on my loneliness?

So, as mentioned in a previous post, I have embarked on a free online course on the Science of Well-being that aims to answer the question of what really is happiness? And how can we put it into practice?

Taught in online lectures and reading materials by Yale professor Laurie Santos, it’s a way I can feel like I’m doing something productive, without time pressure – you can take as long as you like to complete it – while also hopefully learning more about myself and putting it into practice.

Yale professor Laurie Santos, creator of The Science of Well-being

I’ve only just started but it’s really quite interesting and with a recommended 1 hour a week, it’s much more manageable than the goals I would ordinarily set out (often failing) to achieve.

I highly recommend it and you can access it here. Keep smiling everyone – there’s light at the end of this tunnel…

Lifting my spirits by being a kid again

If you’re anything like me you probably spent an awful lot of time in childhood longing to be older…. Until you reach that milestone birthday that makes you officially an adult and you miss the younger years.

I’ve often wished I could click my fingers and return to the days of lesser responsibility, when ‘sweet shop day’ was the highlight of the week; by ending it off by watching Friends on a Friday night – the ultimate treat. And when everything could be made better again with a hug from my mum or dad and a bowl of homemade soup.

In this unprecedented time, where going out for a walk is getting scarier by the day, I’ve been finding different ways to keep myself busy. First there was papering with face masks and foots masks (I didn’t even know that was a thing!) and a hair mask.

Then, before lockdown reaching the terrifying level it’s at now, I stockpiled on kid’s board games. They’re fun – helping lift my spirits – and some actually do keep the brain active, like memory games and, believe it or not, Monopoly.

As you can probably tell from these photos of how we’ve been keeping ourselves entertained, I’m in no hurry to grow up!

I’ve also got some more adult things to keep my mind at work, like a mindfulness colouring book and sudoko. And there are so many un-read books in here, plus stacks of semi-read magazines. Next I’m thinking about downloading Zoom. Apparently people have been flocking to the app to upload fitness, yoga, meditation videos – to name a few. Traditionally designed for business conferencing, people are coming together to interact and stay active when we can’t meet together face to face.

Plus it’s a welcome break from housework – until now the only way I had come up with doing something active for at least 30 minutes a day. (You’d be surprised how many calories can be burned just by hoovering the house. I’d love to hear from anyone who has been using the App and any recommendations?

Finally, I have my cat Bruno to play with, because it’s still so important to get outside in the fresh air and I’m lucky enough to have a small back yard.

Have a good day everyone. Keep smiling, keep strong and most of all keep safe xx