• different world plant
    Life,  Non fiction writing,  Parenting

    A different world and our changed lives



    I’m sat here again watching Netflix, Designated Survivor.  Kiefer Sutherland makes a very good President.  I remember him in Flatliners, a very different role.  I’m glad that despite the terrible time right now I can escape into the world of Netflix.

    Life right now is a world away from a year ago. Many people seem to have continued life as normal, following restrictions but still happy to attend gyms and restaurants.  My husband was asked to shield in March, so from then on we stayed at home, until shielding was paused in August.  I’m lucky that we all get on, but now in October I fear going any-where.  The children are happy being back at school, but I’m scared in the supermarket and seeing friends.

    A different world

    The world is very different to the world back in February / March when I last freely walked about.  A week ago, I had to go to the post office and despite wearing my mask I got told off because it is a maximum of two people in at a time. It hadn’t occurred to me that there would be such a restriction.  My anxiety rose when I noticed that a customer near me was not wearing her mask properly.

    There seems to be a divide between those that were shielded and remained at home and those that went about their daily lives.  It’s been hard for all, but right now I’m worried and desperate for my husband to be shielded again.  He’s happy at work but the figures are rising.  Can we really trust track and trace? And was the government really advised to lockdown for three weeks?  And yes I’m aware our economy and jobs are a huge factor with locking down. How bad is this situation going to get before there is a safe vaccine being distributed?

    This year has not been the one anyone expected.  It has been hard and stressful, I’ve struggled with my writing and reading, and Netflix seems to have taken over my evenings.  It has brought more time with my children and husband, but we shut ourselves away for months.  At the end of July, we found out that my dad is terminally ill.  A young man and healthy and now in October he’s weak and frail.  Point is none of us know how long we have left.  My poor dad is scared and not ready, he’s had all his future plans swept away from him and COVID-19 has made this all so much worse.

    The children

    Both the children enjoyed being at home for months, but where my son worked hard my daughter did very little.  They are happy being back at school, happy seeing their friends and both working hard. The school has a one-way system with arrows and class bubbles.  However, surely with siblings the bubbles are mixing.  I really hope that for the sake of the children that the risk is low, but I read of so many worried teachers, especially those that were shielding, the fear is real.

    My achievements this year

    I have continued writing and have been productive, (please note that anything purchased through my blog will earn me commission which will help to pay for my blogs).

    I am a contributing author to the following:

    MJ Mallon’s – This is Lockdown.

    Living during the Coronavirus Pandemic – my reflective piece set next year on COVID 19, helping to raise money for NHS Charities Together.

    Dimensions of Paranormal volume one – Anthology for Writers Unite

    Dimensions of Paranormal volume two

    I’m still writing my western story for the Writers Unite Western anthology.    I’ve felt rejection this year but its nice to be part of the books that I have been included in.  I’ve got no further with my time travel novel.  My confidence in it has taken a dive but I do need to finish my first draft properly, and then it needs a full rewrite.

    I have developed the monthly stories on my blog but haven’t kept up with publishing at marianwood.com.  Two blogs and my newsletter are too much to keep up with at the moment.


    From previous posts you will know that my children are not easy.  My seven-year-old is now happy to walk on tables and is a master with the hot glue.  She loves creating and today climbed and found some red nail varnish. The consequence was a heart drawn on her bed sheet, red finger-nails, varnish on my bedroom rug and a care bear.  I’m proud of her being so creative but it comes with a stressful price.

    My son is content staring at a screen.  Nothing broken but it’s not healthy either and the arguments on reading carry on.

    Now we are living a day at a time, things could look very different a week from now.  I can’t imagine a world with my dad not in it, but I think I’m soon going to find out.

    So, how is life with you? Have you been writing? And how has COVID 19 affected you?

  • Family,  Parenting,  Shopping ideas - Amazon

    Back to school, life in a pandemic

    Back to school

    The events of the last year have been testing for all of us.  Enforced lockdowns, restrictions and now the children are back to school on Thursday 3rd September.  I have enjoyed home schooling but now is the time for proper out of the house, school. My daughter is excited, she would go right this minute if I could take her now. My nine-year-old is not as happy.  When lockdown happened, he had only been at his new school a month so hadn’t had time to build new friendships. Since March he has spoken with a friend from his old school on a regular basis.  He will miss chatting with her on Thursday.

    School preparations

    I’ve ordered most of their uniform online. With supermarket delivery it was easily added to the order. Argos with Sainsburys TU offers delivery to home within days.  School shoes ordered online from the Clark’s Outlet.  At the moment I’m still avoiding shops as much as I can.

    (Please note anything purchased through my blog offers me a small amount of commission at no extra charge to you which help to pay for my blogs.)

    Bento box

    My seven-year-old is now going into year three, key stage two, which means the UK government no longer provide her dinner.  Unlike my son she is a super snacker.  She will happily help herself to salad and fruit from the fridge.  The Bento box cube  and  Bento lunch (UK, below)  offer different compartments for food, so sandwiches go in one place and the fruit and veg – cucumber, tomato, pepper in another.   She has a healthy appetite which is better than my sons two chocolate spread sandwiches and a yogurt daily.  We have added snacks and fruit to his lunch but he rarely eats it.  However, as he sees his sister’s lunchbox maybe he will follow her healthier attitude.

    lunch box


    I’m nervous about them returning but will also be relieved for some quiet time.  They need school, the routine and the learning.   My daughter has said she loves science.  She loves to experiment and make a mess for mummy! She can make a mess for her teacher instead.

    All the hype in the media about schools and the R number.  The very valid concerns from teachers.  The arguments for and against children wearing masks.  These all add to my anxieties as a parent.  Especially one who has been shielding a vulnerable husband since March.

    I can’t keep the children off school that would be cruel and my daughter is very excited about going back. We have no option, but try not to project, to work a day at a time.  Try and trust that if an outbreak does happen then the scientists and government will do something.  My faith is wearing thin but we can’t do much else.


    The school have adopted a one-way system, with white lines along the corridors. The year groups are being kept in their own bubbles and the teachers are not allowed closer then two metres to the children. I’m sure if a child is upset, they would have no choice but comfort them.  I’m not sure what the rules are on this and I know my children could be the first to try and hug their teachers on Thursday.  They are going to both be pleased to see them. I’m not sure how teachers will handle this as I’m sure many would normally enjoy and even appreciate the hug.

    There will be staggered start and finish times, and the classes are entering and exiting through different doors in efforts to keep parents and children apart and distanced.

    ‘New normal’

    So, what is the ‘New normal’?  I don’t like this phrase and find it scary.   This August we haven’t been far as I’ve been too fearful to go out.  The virus is still out there and people don’t always know they are carriers.  We have been for a few walks, but our usual trips to the city shops, fish and chips and the library haven’t happened.  I think we last did this in the February holidays. A time before the threat of Corona virus in the UK.

    I hope that as the children get back to school it doesn’t affect the R rate too much.  The predictions say it will.   I don’t want to worry about it every time I step outside my front door.  The mask wearing though is a constant reminder that life is no longer the same.


    For now, it’s a day at a time. Return to school Thursday and we are ready, just the lunchboxes to make Wednesday night.  I’m still working from home which I’m very grateful for.  I’m happy talking on the telephone, things are still different for now.

    I’m currently working on a western short story for a Writers Unite wild west Anthology, (5000 words max).  I have completed the first draft, I now need to go back and redraft it.  I’m aware that I need to do more showing then telling.  Writing the western has helped to keep my mind of other life events, such as COVID -19 and back to school.

    So how are you?  Are your children/ grandchildren / or teaching.. back to school this week? Are they already back? What are your thoughts?

    Take care all!


    For more see, School holidays and plans during a pandemic

    A plan and a model for murder – for Writers Unite photo prompt

    Tea, sympathy and a need to fix things – for Blog Battle – Tea

  • plans
    Family,  Life,  Parenting

    School holidays and plans during a pandemic

    Annual leave

    After all being home since March together, I’m now on annual leave and the children are on school holidays.  Normally I would be taking the children out, I would have plans to see things and see friends.  Despite my shielded husband returning to work on Monday I’m still scared to go out.  I’m dreading next week, if he does catch COVID – 19, then what happens?  Telling the children that daddy is on a ventilator is not something I ever want to do.

    I’m sat here, waiting on the phone to Morrison’s.  Tesco have put up their delivery prices in August so I’m hoping that Morrison’s can add us to their priority list.  Yes, Morrison’s is walking distance but I’m scared to go in, especially as the children will be with me.   For me, right now, the days of running into the supermarket are a memory.

    To top everything happening right now, my dad is not well.  I haven’t told the children but I keep crying.  He’s still young, I have patients in their nineties and hundreds.  Again I mustn’t project as these are early days.

    I hated my school years, but 2020 is now the worst year of my life.  Yes, I’ve enjoyed home-schooling but I’m feeling so stressed!


    So, two weeks are stretching out ahead of me.  We could go to the woods, or to empty fields. Wandering around the town is not something I’m prepared to do. We could do some art, or read and write together – maybe a little too idyllic.   How to do you get two game obsessed children of their gadgets?  If I tell my nine-year-old, that he’s to come off it, he says, “okay”, but then continues playing.

    I need safe outdoor play.  My holiday is going to be harder than other years, I accept that, but most things involve crowds and people.

    Safe at home

    The difference between staying safely at home, in our small cocoon, to going back out into the world and seeing people is dramatic.  The figures are now increasing again and parts of the UK are already locked down.   The GP has now changed one of my husband’s medications to weekly, so more stress needing to go to the pharmacy more often.  Till now they have been delivering it to us, this service has now stopped.  Thousands have been relying on their government food box, or Boris box, this has now stopped.   Despite shielding being paused, the virus is still out there and it’s still killing people.

    The children are happily in their own little worlds, oblivious to our fears.   My nine-year-old will ask to wear his face cover. My seven-year-old, I’ve contemplated buying her some on eBay.  The conundrum with the facemasks are do you buy just a cloth face covering? Or do you buy one with a filter insert?  Do I buy one for £5.00? or do I spend £25.00? I’m not medically trained, the theories that it does not affect children as much as adults, I’m not sure what to believe.  As much as I can, I will continue to protect them.

    The featured image was drawn after a lesson with my seven year old daughter on how the earth orbits the sun.  A happy home schooling memory.

    August plans

    Writing commitments for this month include,

    1. The next part of my Ruby and Freda story.
    2. Write the Story for Writers Unite
    3. Blogbattle writing prompt.
    4. To write a 5000 word story on the Wild West, for the new Writers Unite Anthology.
    5. To continue with my time tunnel novel

    (Please note anything purchased through my blog earns me a small amount of commission which helps pay for my blogs, thankyou).

    I also need to entertain the children and support them with their reading and comprehension.  My nine year old is skimming text and not taking in what is happening.  His excuse of “I don’t like reading” is frustrating.  If he doesn’t understand what is going on, then he’s not going to enjoy it. I’ve been reading him the ‘Wizards of Once’  and testing his understanding as I read.  He is rarely answering correctly.  How do you improve a child’s reading and listening skills?  I’m hoping that as we read together, he will improve.

    I need to take things a day at a time and stop worrying. I must see more of my dad, (and family) who I’ve hardly seen since March due to shielding, plus keep up with my writing and work on my garden.  The weeds have well and truly taken over, but I’ve had no gardening motivation these last few months.   Life as always is busy.

    Last month I was included in MJ Mallon’s – Life in Lockdown, featuring writers thoughts on this current situation.


    As we head into August, our world is going to change.  One will be getting  up at 6.30am to drive daddy to work.  Another will be knowing more about my father’s prognosis and talking to the children about him.  We all need normality now and the children need school in September.  Watching Boris Johnson talking yesterday, I have doubts in my mind about whether school will happen.  Yes, I should stop watching the news but day by day the COVID – 19 situation changes.

    My head keeps turning to Netflix and Amazon prime.  These last few months I have binge watched Dark, The Stranger, Safe and Catastrophe. Offspring and Absentia that both feature Matthew Le Nevez,and now Schitts Creek.  Yes, a bit of an escape from life but they don’t help me write.

    As I keep writing, we need to continue a day at a time.  This is a difficult mindset, especially when bad news is involved, but we need to all try and do it, we also should rest and relax more.  To look after ourselves, our mental health and our families.  I really hope that next year is easier and better, right now there is so much going on.  I’m glad that I haven’t got the temptation of a crystal ball to know the future.

    So, how are you getting on right now? have you been shielded? and how do you plan to keep your children / grandchildren busy during the holidays?

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