The fridge is certainly full. We had pre-ordered our food for Christmas Day and picked it up today - Christmas Eve.

Santa looking fir his dinner

The last few years we had spent Christmas away at Butlins and last year at Christmas we thought we would do it this year at home. That said, just before Butlin's decided to close for Christmas we did look at some amazing and tempting deals - but we would have needed to go yesterday and missed out on our lovely food we ordered.

When we decided to not go this year, and decided to order food, we thought we would splurge and buy some nice M&S Christmas selection. Though I have to say that when we went out to the local Lidl last night we thought we could have go the entire Christmas Day dinner for less than we paid for the Turkey Crown - doh... But it was a little treat to ourselves after the shocking year of 2020.

Christmas 2020 has to be something to remember and enjoy. A nice Christmas lunch followed by a lovely walk - if not wet and raining. Just incase we all end up in a lockdown.

But, this all means that for today our fridge is just chocker - full to the brim. Full to almost falling out. In fact, after I took the image for this post, we added another 4-5 items. It's like a game of jenga each time we go to the fridge.

Now, I know this is not technically a ASD post. I just wanted to do a quick post and say - jeez that fridge is full.

One thing I can say is, that, we all went out for a lovely hour at the garden centre before our food pickup and little Mr loved the time out - looking at a few of the decorations - though more enjoying the juice and cookie.

Anyhow, my real intension here is to say I hope you all have a lovely Christmas 2020 and a brilliant New Years.

Let us hope that 2021 brings us all a little more fun and joy.

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Ok, so it shows that I've had a bit of a free day from work today, though free is probably the wrong word as busy with the family. I've had some fre thought and came up with a self challenge of writing this post on my mobile phone.

It's not the greatest idea for a post as it is literally about "can I write this post on my phone"!

Now. I'm pretty sure that in the past I've written posts on my previous phones but I'm unsure. I'm unsure if I wrote some, all. Did I create the featured image? There are lots of if and buts rattling around - so I thought dedicating a post about writing a post on the phone while writing the post would be good symmetry.

It also means I can write it as it happens. Real time, well for me, writing.

What's the typing like?

In the past I've written posts on an iPad which is great as keyboard is big, well compared to a phone. See, I suffer with chunky-finger-litus... I don't have small hands ans certainly not small fingers.

I often find that my texts to people contain strange words. Words were my fingers mistype and the phone calculates the word to something strange or out if context.

Do, I do find myself being a little more careful while typing a full post on this tiny keyboard.

Don't get me wrong, I have a Samsung phone with something like a 6.5in screen, so the keyboard is quite big compared to phones in the past. It's still easy to mistype.

However, this issue is proving to be a bit of a bonus because I am taking more time abs actually reading what I am writing.

So, type wise it is a little slower and there are some miss types. Over all though it's not a bad experience.

That said, the real challenge would be typing with little Mr pulling at me.

Next challenge, the featured post

Typing done, well not quite. Next challenge is making the featured post. Now I use a service I paid for to do mine, but it is easy enough to use canva or similar on the phone.

If you were going for a photo then you could just do with the phone camera dynamically, just when you needed it.

However... this is why my challenge failed. Now, if I were using canva I could have created the image, infact I should have, I may even do. I use a service called RelayThat. I use them because I bought a life time deal and it is easy and simple to create featured images all the same.

However, RelayThat says it does not support smart devices when I try to edit an image. Fail!

If I were to rely on it for my post image creation I would fail any challenge. If I only had my phone to write posts then I would fail. Which is disappointing as today's phones are just powerhouses for computing power.

This phone is so much more powerful than any of my computers last century. Just sounds better when say that way. I had many including Intel based systems and this phone would leave them in its smoke.

As it turned out, Canva worked well.

So, the answer is yes

Yes I can create a post on my phone. It is possible to blog on a phone, though designing your page maybe a little beyond capability at the moment. Though I'm sure its not too far off being completely mobile capable.

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I have always found that, when I've completed some fixing type task, a bit of DIY, I always feel just that little bit manly.

Why it's quite strange is that I didn't start my work life working in an office. I started by doing things with my hands...

When I left school

When I left school, so many years ago, I started work in a YTS in the building trade. 

For those that don't know, YTS stood for Youth Training Scheme. Now, I can't say when they stopped doing YTS (or maybe they renamed it). What I can say is, that, I started one at the end of June in 1986 - just a couple of days after my 26th birthday (everyone getting calculators out to work out my age??).

I applied to 2 courses at the time, one in computing and the other in general building (I say general because you learnt all aspects of building from plumbing to brickwork and beyond).

I chose building because some of my friends back then were also doing the same course. I honestly wished I had waited out on the computing - but my history in that is a different story that starts several years after this.

Anyhow, back to the story. I started in a YTS on building and proceeded to spend the next 4-5 years working in a few areas of the building trade. After that, all finished (was lots of hard times back then for companies) I worked in a factory or two. 

My story of very manual work started to end when I started working in a computer shop - but I had spent several years up to that point working in roles using my hands and fixing or doing things.

These days I tend not to - unless it's a bit silly money to get someone to do for me.

Fast forward to today

So today it was down to one of those things. Last week the element went in our oven. Before just thinking of buying another, I decided to both check how to replace it and also phone a few repair shops.

The part on the very large online retailer that begins with an A and end in n come to just £9.99. The repairers wanted 10 times this amount to do a repair... Mouth Open Wide.

So, £9.99 lighter, 20 minutes of work and the oven was working again. Made me feel good to actually do something again. My wife referred to it as making me feel manly - which I liked.

The faulty oven element after I replaced it

So, today I accomplished something....

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To be honest, saying just one thing is not true. I've actually learnt a lot of things in lockdown.

I could continue with the list to be honest, there are many things I have done. There is also a list of things I never managed to do, or learn. A list of things I would like to have accomplished.

That being said, I'm not going to go negative for this shorter post - well, try not to...

As I was saying, one thing I learnt

So, as I was saying. I learnt 1 thing. To be honest, it was quite an obvious one - and to say I learnt it is wrong - it was more of a realisation coming back to hit me again.

As little Mr is now getting older, he turned 8 in October. I'm the one who does his personal care - in regards to changing etc - at home. He still requires support in all aspect. As he is getting older, I need more time here to help support that.

Working from home has made me realise just how much more there will be a need for this. When you work in an office, you don't see or realise so much. Working from home (and the time I was out of work) really gave me the insight into just what needs to be done.

Now, for the moment, at least until after Christmas and the New Years, I will be working from home. In the New Year though, we may or start to get back to the normal - everyday working routine.

When this happens, I am not sure just how much my current employer (I would say new having been there just 3 months, but up until mid last year I had worked for them for 6 years - so not so new) would allow for working from home.

I really need a role where I am working from home every day.

This has me wondering what other people in the same situation do? That's really one of the reasons for this - more personal natter of a post. I'm really looking for ideas one what to do, what everyone else does.

Making sure that the kids needs are catered and care for is first. Doing that is partly about earning money for food, housing and so on. Though with the needs of little Mr (soon to be not so little Mr the way he is growing) ever increasing - the proprieties change.

What I need to do is win the lottery. Next possible, if I don't win the lottery, is to be in a role OR start something up, where I can earn but also be at home.

All suggestions and thoughts, please leave below.

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So, the great thing about it being my blog is, that, if I fancy a moan I can, and today I fancy a moan...

So, I find myself sitting at the dining room table, laptop open and typing away a post to your all.

It often gets to this time of year and we find it very difficult to do things with little Mr. See, her is an outdoors person - so having only indoor activities is not so interesting - even less as he doesn't really play with many toys.

So, when we get bad, crap weather - it becomes more of a stressful day as he is trying to get out. Not so little Miss on the other hand enjoys spending time in her bedroom, chatting with her friends and playing Roblox and Minecraft (must be that pre-teen thing to do these days).

Yesterday was not so bad

Yesterday was not too bad. It was sunny, not so cold and more importantly, it was dry. We went out for a lovely walk, where I took a few lovely images such as the one on my Flickr account below.

Ships Heading To Poole Port

However, today the weather has hit us like a lead pipe - smashing all plans we had for outdoor fun.

However, we will find something to do.

We always get days like this - thing time of year for sure. The time of year where weather is unpredictable. The type of weather that is wet and cold. 

Sometimes we grit and bear it, so the saying goes, and we dress up in wet and warm gear and go out to somewhere like The New Forest and go out for a walk in our wellies.

Other wet days we simply try to keep little Mr occupied by playing games with him - he is more of a spin and jump and tumble and .. other physical activities type of person. He would rather be climbing onto the sofa and jumping onto your back to pull you over - than play a game with toy cars. So, it's certainly physical activities.

But, walking in the sandy, woody and just other outdoors areas that he enjoys the most. So do I. Certainly, time to try and take photos too...

So my moan is..

So, my moan is, go away wet, horrid weather. We don't mind the cold - you can dress up warm for the cold. But getting wet from rain is never nice, especially if it is also 0 degree centigrade or close to that outside.

Go Away Wet And Cold Weather!!!

Ok, moan done. Time to finish this sitting in front of my computer, make a coffee, and choose another activity to do with little Mr - who is sitting nicely for the moment watching some TV - which normally lasts no more than 5 minutes.

Right, speak to you all later - hopefully next time with a more positive message.

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It's that time of the year again - back to school after the summer holiday. For some it's back to school after something like 6 months. Quite some time off.

We we're lucky in that, not so little Miss was in year 6 - so she had 6 weeks back before the holiday. So did little Mr - though he could have gone through the lock down as he requires more assistance and learning because of his EHCP.

New school for not so little Miss

For our daughter though, it's a more nervous and prominent part of her life as she moves up into secondary school. Usually when this happens they have a transition day before the end of the summer term - but because of lockdown and restrictions that did not happen.

To make it even more nerve racking - she decided to try out for a Grammar school, passed the test and got in. In her entire year there were only 4 girls from her school that got in (it's an all girls school).

The other 3 girls were from another class (all friends) which means only not so little Miss from her class got in. So, its a new start and also new people - none of the other girls are in her class.

So, it's a nerve racking time for her. However, this school is one of the highest (in some charts highest) rated school in the area. So, it's education over social - both are important, but you can always make new friends in a new school.

So, that's what's going to be happening. There are others in this same situation and the moms are trying to arrange times to get the kids from a class together to meet before Monday. I think that will be of benefit.

For anyone reading this that is yet to go through the process of finding a secondary school - I recommend visiting as many as possible. At least one that was on the list before looking around got removed from the list of possibles. Don't just pick one as I know many do - get that comparison in.

Expensive for sure

One thing we certainly noticed about this transition is the expense. School uniform, especially when go to secondary level, is expensive. The one issue with the school we all picked is that they are very picky on uniform.

For example, skirts can only be picked from 2. Both these skirts can only be picked up from particular school uniforms shops. No going to the supermarket and picking up a grey skirt no more.

Other uniform, likes sportswear, had to be of a particular school colour and had to have names embroidered on them. Extra expense. Then comes the particular pens, pencils, calculator and so on...

Be prepared - I would recommend saving up a bit in the years coming up to the uniform purchase. - so the few hundreds pound cost is not a big hit.

I'm trying not to make this a rant post on the cost of school uniform - but it is expensive. So, trying to save a little each month for a year or two leading up to it will help our considerable. Just a little tip I wish we had thought about 2 years ago - or even last year.

Little Mr back at his school

For little Mr there is less change. He goes back to his SEN school. That said, there is a change in that he changes class.

For the first few years he was in a class with the same children. Then last year they go split up about 50/50. This year he goes into another class where I don't think there are any of the original kids he started with.... If there is, then there maybe 1.

That said, age-wise, the oldest will be about 12 whereas little Mr is just coming 8 - so few years. In SEN schools though they tend to put in a class with the same needs or similar needs. So, in his class are children that are either non-verbal (like little Mr) or have communication difficulties.

So, there is change in that respect - though in regards to school he will stay in the same one till he is 16/18. No excitement for us looking around secondary schools.

That said, he school is very good and works well with the children - so we have no worries there.

So, new year of school begins...

So, new year of school. New school. Heading towards the end of 2020. Let's just hope that 2021 is a better year.

Just out of curiosity - how many others are going through this new school process also? Why not leave your thoughts and stories below...

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In my time in lockdown, out of work and trying to keep busy; I found myself reconnecting with 2 things I had forgotten and taken for granted.

The first was enjoying time in the garden, running around with the kids - just being silly. Water pistols and high noon, or around 2:15pm to be more precise.

The second was backing.

It soon became apparent we kneaded a mixer

The love of baking

Now, I have never been one of these fancy bakers. I used to love cooking cakes and deserts when younger - but they were more rustic in style (let’s call it). Certainly tasting better than they looked.

Over the years I had forgotten the joy of baking some biscuits or a cake to eat.

During lockdown though, through a combination of lower income and not being able to get to the shops - I discovered again the fun of backing.

It started with some shortbread biscuits, which soon escalated into a Victoria sponge and some flapjacks.

I found looking for more recipes to try. 

More importantly, I found that the kids loved the cakes - even more so than any shop bought one that we usually had on a Sunday afternoon after a good old Sunday roast.

Tired of hand mixing

During all this time thought I was mixing each recipe up by hand. Burning off almost as many calories that I was putting in. 

Some cakes were easy - some were tasking on the shoulder and arms. It soon became apparent we kneaded (pun intended) a cake mixer. 

So, I decided it was time to invest in a mixer - something I had thought of many times previous.

Cake Stand Mixer
Cake Stand Mixer

Now, picking up a mixer during lockdown when everyone else was baking was not easy. It was simple enough to order it online - but took nearly 2 months to arrive. 

However, it now has. It’s sitting on the kitchen worktop with flour, eggs, sugar and other essential with in arms reach. It’s now time to get serious.

In our cupboard we already have plain and self raising flours, yeast, baking powder and plenty of sweet bits. On my next delivery we are hoping to get bread flour and bi-carbonate of soda. It’s time for trying to bake bread. Time for cookies and various other delicious bits.

It’s time to get baking...

Lockdown has given me a new passion and even with soon starting back to work - I will be finding time in my schedule (which is not easy with little Mr and not so little Miss) to cook more home baked cakes and stay away from the shop stuff... and bread too with any luck of course.

Did you re-discover something during lockdown?

What about you. Did you re-discover a passion during lockdown? If so, why not share it below as I would love to hear from you.

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