What I did this summer

Thank you if you noticed some absence of dragonfly over the summer months and a total silence on the blog front – to those for whom this is breaking news, I see you.

As the school holiday started, I was feeling burnt out and blogged out. Favourite Man suggested that I give myself a total break (I think he actually said, ‘no one will notice/care if you don’t blog for a while’). I decided to commit my regular weekly ‘blog time’ to actually getting some words drafted for the novel which one day I hope to have wrote.

Who knows where this fiction writing will take me – do not hold your breath for a publication date, but at least I now have some chapters smouldering in the background. This project will probably now take a back seat as the new school term starts – unless I can become one of those amazing people who can find a power hour before the rest of the world wakes up each day: I have at least committed to telling you about my cunning plan, so feel free to legitimately nag/shame me into action if it all goes very quiet again.

My ongoing dragonflyjar plan is to give sporadic updates on my mid-life musings rather than to become robotic about it. To be honest, my menopausal brain fog could be to my advantage here, because I am unlikely to remember if I have blogged or added to my novel, so I will not be beating myself up about missing either deadline.

So, as students start to dust down their books, I will pre-empt them with my own version of that return to school – and now very unwoke – classic, ‘What I did in my holidays’ . I give you some edited highlights, do with them what you will:

  1. Firstly I took a short break in Brighton with FM. It had to be a short break because we were too flipping lazy to get a hotel booked before more organised people stole the best beds and we had no tent. However, we snatched 5 days in a boutique hotel (I think this just means ‘small hotel’) remembering how brilliant it is to lie on a grey and windy British beach and people watch. (The best bit about our hotel room was the balcony which overlooked a bench in the public garden below; this provided me with all sorts of fodder for the novel – I think I may add a working chapter of ‘tiff, spliff and midriff’ . We had a drunken lovers’ tiff, a teenage furtive spliff and two snoozzled mid-life females enjoying a sundowner or four as they admired the body art on each other’s plumptious midriff. ) I miss going abroad, but these 5 days were priceless. I love people watching.
  2. During the same break, I discovered mid-morning, lunchtime and afternoon drinking (all in the same day) when I meet up with oldest friend (remember, the friend I have known since secondary school days, not a pensioner that I have adopted as a friend) and her lovely husband. They whisked us off for a long lunch to celebrate a mountain of things that Lockdown had prevented us from celebrating and I think we can be proud of our bounce back. I love my friends.
  3. I have stupidly been outwitted into training for a marathon which I insist I am not even going to run, even though I have confirmed my attendance at such an event in October. My running partner is committed to running a marathon (Manchester) and, every time we go out, I remind him that I have never trained for a marathon over the summer and that I am much older than him and much older than when I last ran a marathon (and bored you all to death in the process). Last week we made it to 20 miles by virtue of the local cricket club who allowed us to refill our water bottles and to stretch out on their deckchairs for a mini-break. Although we completed the training distance, I then spent the rest of the day inhaling salt and sugar and telling anyone who would listen that I had forgotten how it feels to ‘hit the wall’. I keep whining to my running partner that my menopausal bones are telling me that even if I do complete the training, my hormones will prevent me from taking up my deferred place in the Newport Marathon (damn, now I have told you about this and the novel). Although I do keep telling him this, he is now running so far ahead of me that I am not sure that he can even hear. I think I must still love running because I keep turning up for each training session. I do know that it is lovely to have some real running events booked in again. I love the smell of Volterol.
  4. I have spent some great times with my mother over the break. Her stories are getting better and better and I tell her that she should be knocking her own novel into shape. She argues that she is not intellectual enough to write a book – as she finishes off another Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword puzzle. She tells me that I have permission to weave her stories into my novel if I ever get round to it, as long as I commit to publishing in my maiden name . I love my mum.
  5. As well as taking some regular yoga classes on zoom, I took a pop up yoga class for children in the graveyard of our local church. We called it ‘stretch and relax’ because we christians can get sensitive about the concept of yoga, even though the sort that I teach is ‘no fluff’. Apparently pilates is fine, but as I am not a trained pilates teacher, I just spent a joyous 30 minutes with some very bendy children enjoying some animal poses before they rushed off for some squash and cakes and a few rounds of kumbaya. Love yoga.
  6. I enjoyed an evening amble with my boot camp ladies – we already have a boot camp book club, so we thought we would stretch our capacity for booze and snacks by incorporating a picnic into a chatty 5 miles. Thankfully I was not responsible for providing the picnic, but I was responsible for the route and I was relieved that we completed the loop together with only a few nettle stings and grazes in the process. I sent a photo of the four of us to our boot camp sergeant major, as evidence of this social success. I captioned it, ‘doing what we do best, walking and talking’ – after all, he complains that we do this twice a week in his classes. I love my ladies.
  7. I have discovered the joy of ‘a day out’. This is mostly because my teacher holiday has not aligned well alongside FM’s – ie. he has had no holiday to take, so when we have been able to get a day out, it has felt special. In case you find yourself in a similar position, I can recommend the Caneletto exhibition in Bath (great scones in the tea shop and I am now on a quest to discover if the sky in Venice was always blue in Caneletto’s day), and a day out to a Victorian pier followed by a sundowner on the terrace at Tortworth Court on the return journey The latter was made even more joyous because there was a huge wedding in process and I could shamelessly people and wardrobe watch on the largest scale I have done since Covid reared its head. Love a wedding.
  8. I have managed to catch up with both Favourite Son and Favourite Daughter. It is never long enough but both look great, both look happy, and both have become so witty and wise; both meet ups involved food and drink so what more can a mother ask for? Love my kids.
  9. I have consumed more coffee than I care to mention – I do not drink alone, I have imbibed all this caffeine with some fab family and friends. It has been a joy to have some very long meet ups and to catch up on a lot of news. I am in awe of some of the tribulations my tribe have been wrestling with and how, even in tough times, they produce banter, sunflowers and support. Love, love, love my chums.

As I write this, I realise how little I have done this summer and how excited I feel about this. In lockdown it felt like we were forced to do very little and I found it excruciating; now I realise that I have become really good at doing not a lot. I still have no sourdough skills – and come to think of it, I still have no paddle board, no tent or a mountain bike to my name – but I am feeling fine with the long list of things I am surviving without/have not completed. Let us just hope that this lack of achievement translates well into a new term at school…it could be a novel idea; I think the students may be interested.

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