March 2022 Update – European War + Financial Update, COVID Positive, Gangster monk in action & More

Hey all, I hope everyone is doing well. It’s time for an update and what a time it is right now in the world for one… Just when it looked like we were beginning to break free from Covid into a new normal especially here in the UK with all restrictions being removed, we now are all witnessing what most would of thought was a thing of the past, a European war – yes a war from a Russian invasion! Not a special military operation Mr Putin. I will touch on that as part of my financial review update, I will also talk how Covid finally got me followed by talking about how Gangster Monk as mentioned in my last post has been in action delivering on my goal to almost have my cake and eat it when it comes to my journey towards Financial Independence. I will finish on a more personal update with a goal to be held accountable to in front of you all!

Finance Review during a European War 

Financial Update – Mid March 2022

The below figures are taken from the 14th of March.

  • Monthly investment (Aug 21 to Feb 22) – £1500 each month 
  • Savings rate (Aug 21 – Feb 22)– 55% average each month
  • Investment portfolio – £225,836.18
  • Cash is king fund – £1500
  • Crypto Punt – £1002
  • Emergency fund – £144
  • Big expenses / holiday fund – £4160

Total Liquid Funds = £232,642.18 

As you can see from the graph above, my portfolio has taken the biggest hit since the Covid pandemic started in early 2020. This however is of course trivial compared to the horrific ordeal so many people are going through now in this war, and that goes for both sides when it comes to the human tragedy and sufferings that come along with war. I may have lost a lot of money and this might even stop me hitting my £250,000 Project 2235 target by the end of the year but the circumstances make the psychological hit of that easy to take if so.

Some of you may notice that my Big expenses fund has grown and my Cash is king fund has reduced. This is due to me transferring £5000 for use during this calendar year to enable Gangster Monk to live his dream. Unfortunately this was needed as my matched betting profits have now been exhausted so I had to fund my Big expenses fund from my other cash funds as I still need to contribute and invest £1500 for the rest of the year so I can hopefully still achieve my Project 2235 target.

My unexpected outgoings fund has taken a battering and is now fairly low at £144. This was due to a huge bill to fix issues with my car, such a relief though having that fund as it shielded me from that cost. The £5000 cash injection to my Big expenses fund can and will be used for unexpected outgoings until I build this back up over the next few months – I will get an extra payment from my side hustle in a month or so which will put that back above £500 and will get some more top up from a no council tax bill month too. As for the Crypto fund – Well, I’d rather not talk about the crypto fund, that’s a source of occasional thought pain mixed with embarrassment but then I just end up laughing at myself and move on… I will not sell! I just keep telling myself this is like an extreme emerging markets part of my portfolio and to be fair it is a small percentage anyway so it’s no real issue. It doesn’t stop me from feeling stupid though! I tried to ride the wave of FOMO others would have but it came crashing down on me, but I certainly knew the risks!

Russian Invades Ukraine (A European War in 2022)

When Russia was building up its forces along the border with Ukraine and in the Crimea, I really did think that it was all a bluff personally, a show of force and nothing more to achieve whatever his aims were. I was incredibly wrong on that front. I did not expect an invasion to occur and have been mortified to see the last couple of weeks unfold. It really is just plain awful and it seems the scenes and devastation will get far far worse in the weeks to come.

I can’t pretend to know what Putins intentions truly are, how much of what he says is lies versus actually what he really does believe himself too. As some commentators have pointed out, he really seems to have personalised this conflict and is now almost in a corner. Even if he takes the country militarily which will be very difficult, he has no hopes of holding it. I think what terrifies me more is what he will do whilst in this metaphorical corner he is now in and if and how he we will bite, as this cornered angry animal so to speak has nukes for teeth. He will need to keep face and come away with a win and I am just not sure how he will end up doing that at the moment. It certainly does worry me. I can’t believe this has happened in modern times on the European continent. I thought such things were things of the past, this will create a new normal now internationally as a result and I feel like that’s such a tremendous shame – The fact we are in essence going backwards – it’s quite depressing.

I will finish by saying I feel sorry for all of the suffering in this war, and that includes young Russian soldiers who are losing their lives having to fight for this cause. I have seen countless videos of events and I take no pleasure seeing dead Russians being taunted or prisoners of war being humiliated as I have occasionally saw. It all saddens me if I am honest. I can only hope this all ends as quickly as possible – I just can’t see that happening anytime soon with current events.

Covid Positive – It finally got me…

So I finally succumb to getting Covid, it was almost inevitable of course. I did manage to miss it for 2 years and was very lucky to get it after having 3 Covid jabs and to also get the more mild omicron variant instead of the earlier ones. Part of that was no doubt just plain luck of course combined with some preventative efforts. The irony however is that after going away on many weekend trips, nights out, going to Dublin and basically partying a lot in essence when we of course legally could, I ended up catching it at work of all places. My boss had the pleasure of unknowingly being almost certainly the one who gave it me whilst I was on the rota to be in the office one day, he didn’t know he had it of course so no blame is possible but he tested positive when he got home that day I was with him. Our office room pretty much has zero ventilation and I was with him for several hours so it was bound to happen.

The extra downside to getting Covid was the timing as I was going to Liverpool for the weekend. I even joked with my boss after he messaged me saying he was positive that if you ruin my Liverpool weekend that was coming up in a few days that I will kill you! Low and behold, on the Saturday whilst in Liverpool I woke up on the morning feeling incredibly hot, fatigued with a persistent cough. I pretty much stayed in the hotel that day and tested negative but I was confident it probably was Covid. On the Sunday I tested positive as expected and I ended up driving us back home early, it was also unfortunately the day where we had the bad storms with very heavy winds so the drive back was pretty awful and of course was made even worse by feeling so poorly. 

I spent the next couple of days pretty much in bed taking regular top ups of paracetamol and ibuprofen which helped keep me going. I had awful headaches and my cough was incredibly annoying. It was like a flu to me but a flu is bad enough, it was certainly not at the cold level. My immune system it seemed had in effect carpet bombed my body to try and deal with the Covid virus and I certainly felt the full impact of that as a result.

I ended up being positive for a full 12 days although I was much better after around 4 days but the more gutting thing was that I passed it on to my partner and my dad who was in Liverpool with me on the Friday (which was a good night by the way 😂). They have both got through it now though so that’s all that matters. I still don’t feel quite 100% and I have a lingering infrequent cough and also find I need need to clear my throat at times. It also affected my right ear by blocking it for a full 3 days which was one of the worse symptoms for me, apparently the omicron variant can cause that which was news to me. Even though it ruined our Liverpool trip and we lost the next 2 weeks to self imposed quarantine, I am just grateful that we all got though it, many others were not so fortunate.

Gangster Monk in action


As a reminder, in my last post I talked about how my ideal strategy going forward Post 2235 would be to act more like a gangster monk than a monk or gangster, I wanted the best compromise between living life well now even if it would move out financial independence by a few years in the process. It was all about a hedge in effect as to the risks of moving towards it at full speed when that might have resulted in depriving myself a little too much and also the greater risk of it all being for nothing due to unforeseen future circumstances.

Despite this being a future decision, this was in effect the life I had already been living at least for the last couple of years anyway. I was certainly more ascetic monk like in the years previous to that which I now think was a slight mistake but it’s got me to where I am now though, so no regrets. This lifestyle of the past 2 years had been possible due to the presence of past matched betting cash funds but these as mentioned earlier have now run out. I made the decision to create the money that I would have post Project 2235 as a result of investing less now by liquidating some of my Cash is King reserves. I could therefore be a Gangster Monk in advance right now.

For fun, I just wanted to show some real world examples of what this has looked like in the past couple of months when it comes to purchases and activities. 

*So there is a funny end to Air Max 95 story so to speak. I tried them on and they fit nicely and looked great. I went to pay for them and had to queue for around 10 minutes. The man started to bag them up but when I showed him my blue light card, he said that discount was only available online, he checked and they had none in stock online. It seems that I was over powered by the inner monk and could not bring myself to pay full price. I said no thanks and walked away…Part of me is glad but I must admit I really did like them trainers and I can’t find them anywhere online now 😅.

Personal Goal – Fatness be gone! 

So it’s time to get personal! I am not sure if I mentioned on here before but when I was younger I used to be quiet large. I ended up losing all that weight around university time (around a 4 stone loss) and have since pretty much been a stable weight – not thin by any means but not fat either. I have gone up and down by around 5 pounds on average I’d say at different times but otherwise it’s been remarkably stable to be fair.

I have though over the past 6 months started to put more weight on and I am now around a stone heavier than my normal weight. I therefore hereby commit to losing that stone prior to my trip to Amsterdam in May. I will still keep Friday as a cheat day where I get to drink and indulge a little bit as if I get too strict, it will end up back firing on me as I need to have some room for treats too, life’s for living too!

My goal and aim is to lose 2 pounds a week on average over the next 8 weeks. I will be doing this by mainly lowering my main meal portions, cutting out some snacks that have started to sneak in and to do some minimum level of fitness in between (this is more for all the other benefits that come with doing this than for the weight loss alone). I will likely no doubt end up coming back from Amsterdam 1 stone heavier, but that’s an issue for another blog post to worry about 🤣. Wish me luck! 

Thanks for reading my post if you got this far, I appreciate it as always. Would love to hear your thoughts and how you’ve all been getting on. 

TFJ

What Financial Independence really means to me…

I have done a post previously on what financial independence means to me but I wanted to now write it from a slightly different and more interesting angle fitting more of where I am now along the journey. I thought it would a good idea to construct a few different scenarios and paths towards FI. This is also good timing for me as I will be coming towards the end of Project 2235 next year and will likely commit towards one of these such paths. An important reason for this possible change is due to the income from my second side hustle coming to an end after three years (£500 less per month). Also, as a reminder, Project 2235 is essentially a big target of mine to reach a portfolio of £250,000 (Base bare bones FI) at the end of 2022 when I will just about by a whisker still be 35 years old. 

After detailing these different paths, I will then focus on some different attributes and circumstances where financial independence and finances influence in ways that matter to me, specifically when it comes to that all important lifelong happiness. I will then score and rate how my different paths help in achieving these whilst also adding in a few others that might not matter so much to me personally but might to others just to make it more interesting and fun. From these scorings, I should then be able to choose the path with the most points overall. I will weight the attributes in scores according to their importance to me.

Once I have done this, I will then look at reviewing which path I would choose if I were to start again from scratch with different circumstances. I will update the paths timeframe to FI and the scores accordingly.

General Paths to take

Below shows different paths I could take towards FI given my current circumstances. I chose the amusing two opposite ends of the spectrum of being a Monk where almost no money is spent other than bare bones outgoings and that of a gangster where nothing was saved/invested and everything was spent, I then included some more middle ground strategies. I know though that there are many variations of these one could take and I could also look to improve salary, get another job etc to change this even more but these are the base level paths for myself as it stands with my projected portfolio as of next December (End of Project 2235).

Age 35 (Mortgage free, £250,000 PortfolioMain job with a side hustle)


It’s worth clarifying that I am currently more or less in the same position as Gangster monk when it comes to weekly disposable albeit slightly less and have about three quarters of the yearly big expenses fund due to my 2nd side hustle which as previously mentioned is unfortunately coming to an end after 3 years and I will then be £500 a month down on my current income.  This is a big reason for looking at a possible strategy change as I am currently happy with things as they are at my current income and I don’t wish to get another side hustle unless it involves almost zero effort to replace the £500!

What do I actually want out of life? Why Pursue FI?

I could probably write a ten part series on this topic but I certainly won’t be doing that right now :). So… If I was to focus in on just a few key areas of importance to me in the grand living of life that would cross over with financial circumstances then I would highlight the following.

Increased Peace of Mind & Freedom (Remove negatives)

When it comes to finances impacting your life, it is often due to the lack thereof no doubt. As much as there can be different  unique problems with being a multi-millionaire, it’s pretty much the not having of money available that cause many of life’s worries and problems. One of the biggest benefits for me out of working towards Financial Independence has been the bonuses picked up a long the way, some of which are unlocked fairly early on.

Being able to lower or completely eliminate having bad debt and having a financial buffer are two hugely impacting benefits that can be obtained well in advance of even getting a third of the way toward achieving FI. The removing of a lot of the worries and others negative emotions that can exist when having debts hanging over you, and in not having money available for unexpected outgoings is awesome.

The next level of increased peace of mind comes from having such a big financial buffer that this buffer turns into FU Money. This helps in giving you the warm fuzzy feeling of not having to stand an awful job for the fear of not being able to cope financially in the interim, it allows you to speak your mind a little more freely as living month to month is now so far back in your rear view window. It allows you take take more risk, possibly to even start your own business or perhaps to consider a different career. Doing these such things from the position of FU is far easier and options available become far greater. The possessions of a large financial buffer also means there is much less immediate impact from a job loss triggered from redundancy or ill health.

Scoring attributes
Financial Buffer, Low or no debt, Less Job-loss impact, FU Money

Increased Abundance

When it comes to the impact of healthy finances and in particular a good flow of money being available to spend – The increased level of abundance that can be obtained is a huge benefit. Life can already provide much abundance of course and often times much of this can be free and relatively cheap no doubt. It however is also true that there is increased options and choice available when there is more money at hand. This can help add more food and drink to the buffet table of life so to speak. This can be in the form of increased travel and holidays, expensive purchases that can then provide on-going experiential happiness going forward such as buying an iPad, ps5, new guitar etc. There can be more disposable income which can allow you not to sweat over frequently gifting things to people, eating out, going on weekends away etc. This all helps to lubricate life in a positive way.

Scoring attributes
Holidays abroad, Multiple weekends away, Good disposable income (multiple activities), Everything designer Label, Big ad-hoc expensive purchases, Frequent Gifting, Frequent big expensive purchases, Amsterdam every month

Early retirement possibility

Now we get to discuss one of the major elements and goals of Financial Independence for most people involved in the pursuit – the ability of course to retire early. As readers will be aware, there are many different attitudes and goals within the FI scene and some people will simply aim to retire as early as possible whilst others may be pursuing just the ability to retire if so desired. I certainly now fall into the latter camp although originally I was firmly entrenched in the first.

For me, the huge benefit when it comes to early retirement goals is the ability to be in a sense early retirement ready. Work in older age can become completely voluntary and along the journey, there can be a sense of progressing along a scale of working also becoming more voluntary the closer and closer you get to being able to retire early. This feeling and situation certainly makes work stress feel less of an issue in my experience. The other main benefit of course relating to pulling the trigger on early retirement is the increased freedom of time. You can then choose to free up time by stopping working early but still have the option to carry on if you feel the time spent at work is still valuable and enjoyed.

Scoring attributes
Voluntary work in old age, Early retirement, More freedom of time

Risks

When it comes to working towards financial independence. There can sometimes be risks of having the pursuit rise above all else. It can be possible to pursue it from the perspective of fully admitting that you are delaying happiness now and depriving yourself to an extent for future predicted happiness. This can be done by investing every last penny and forgoing things in the here and now. The risks with doing this could be that you will never actually see your idilic version of early retirement or that when you get there, your health may not allow you to enjoy it as fully as you had hoped. There is also of course the opposite risk of not being able to retire early and due to this, you may need to work in a job you dislike for a long time and perhaps even during some period of chronic Ill health where working could make your illness even worse – work becomes pretty much forced.

Scoring attributes
Depriving yourself, Early death/illness risk, Working mandatory during Ill health/old age, Longterm work stress

Strategy Review Scoring (Age 35 – Mortgage free, £250,000 Portfolio – Main job with a side hustle)

Now that I have detailed some of the most important themes and attributes of why financial circumstances and seeking financial independence matter to me, I will now look at reviewing the strategies against these.

Points awarded are out of 5, with 5 being the best and 0 the worst

(N) This equals the weight of the score so if this is two then the points will be doubled


FI strategy at 35 Post Project 2235 – And the winner is…

Gangster Monk

Using the scoring adjusted for weighting based on importance to me, I can see that the middle path of the gangster monk gives me the biggest bang for buck on life happiness. This strategy would result in me taking around 3 years longer to reach FI however when balancing for risks and considering in turn focussing on happiness both in the now and later, it should result in more happiness when spread over the 12 years it would take to actually achieve financial independence. This really does confirm my gut feeling choice which would have been somewhere between FIRE Monk and Gangster Monk. I already have so many of the benefits at this stage of my journey towards FI that delaying my actual fully FI ready date by just over 4 years would not actually matter to me as I know I’d likely be happier along the way. 

What if I was starting from fresh?

As described in the introduction, I thought it would be interesting to see whether my choice of path was influenced more by my current position of being mortgage free and having a large portfolio to begin with and if I would choose the same path if starting again. I have chosen age 30 as this might be a typical age to start after getting to a decent salary and perhaps paying off some debt etc. I could of easily have been in this situation myself if it wasn’t for fortunate circumstances and the discovery of FI. I have adjusted the investments and weekly disposable figures slightly due to having £700 less income due to now having to pay for a mortgage. These however still reflect the broad ratio of my first scenario figures.

Age 30 (Mortgage monthly £700 payment, £0 Portfolio at start)
Main job with a side hustle (same income as now)


Strategy Review Scoring – Age 30 (Starting from fresh)

Points awarded are out of 5, with 5 being the best and 0 the worst

(N) This equals the weight of the score so if this is two then the points will be doubled


FI strategy at 30 (£0 Portfolio with a Mortgage) – And the winner is…

Gangster Monk

This result is very interesting to me as if I were in this position and I was starting from scratch, I would value more of the benefits along the way it would seem than actually being able to retire very early. All of these options barring the Pro Gangster and Pro Monk approach would likely have to involve a bridging period in order to be able to retire decently early. This would mean my eventual post FI income figure may need to rely and come more from my pension income than is with my current actual position. In that option I am planning to use my state and private pensions more as contingency and safety nets in the worse case scenario where my FI Pot was depleted. These would provide more of a basic income. This has always given extra peace of mind and is done for similar reasons when preferring to own my home outright mortgage free.

I do know that this option will also include the fact that during the latter years of this strategy, I may no longer be paying the mortgage and also that there would of course be room for possible job promotions etc but for simplicity and due to this matching with my current circumstances barring the highlighted differences, I have no intentions right now of working for higher management roles or changing my job for higher pay. I like to imagine that in this imagined scenario, I am also doing the same exact job where I am happy in my role and company.

Conclusion


Well… it really does seem as though I am going to be leaning more towards the gangster monk strategy going forward. This will mean that my investments each month will be close to halved and I will be in effect delaying being Early retirement ready by 3 years. I feel though that this is completely worth it due to the benefits in happiness along the journey itself and also to mitigate some of the risks of depriving yourself and of possibly not being able to see this proposed better future life, especially when you have deprived yourself along the way to reach it.

When looking at the strategy if I were to hypothetically start this again without some good fortune that I had along the way, I am further more made to feel very grateful to my current circumstance. I would though in this imagined scenario still strive fully towards financial independence. I would in turn pick up some of the benefits very quickly towards the start of the journey and would still live life well now, I would live for both now and tomorrow. The longer length to achieve FI might indeed mean I would have to create a bridge between my FI Pot and pension money to retire in my early 50s however the fact early retirement would still be an option would still be incredible. I would still be a gangster monk. 😅

As always, Love to hear your thoughts, TFJ.

Summer 2021 Update – Freedom & Self Isolation, Crypto Punt & More

Hey everyone. Hope you are all doing well as we now start to emerge into so called Freedom in the UK or England at least. It’s certainly a good time now for me to give you an update on what I have been up to the last couple of months 😀 from fun away and isolation 😮, to some crypto FOMO…

Let’s start with a good old summary review of my finances.

Finance Review

Financial Update – End of July

The below figures are taken from 25th July.

  • Monthly investment (May 21 to July 21) – £1500 each month 
  • Savings rate (May 21 – July 21)– 55% average each month
  • Investment portfolio – £220,351.52
  • Cash is king fund – £6500
  • Crypto Punt – £2005
  • Emergency fund – £1151.64
  • Big expenses / holiday fund – £1331.16

Total Liquid Funds = £231,334.32

My finances are still moving nicely in the right direction. I have maintained my £1500 monthly investments whilst still spending a good amount of money on living life well, which is the most important balance I focus trying to maintain – living for both now and the future. 

I still feel that now my portfolio is over £225k and is often above £230k. It feels so close to a quarter of a million that I often now tell myself when focusing on gratitude for what I have, that I have a quarter of a million in liquid investments as it’s so close to that now. It feels great psychologically as I don’t think it would feel that much different now at all even if I were to hit it exactly.

For those eagle eyed out there that have noticed a crypto financial figure in these numbers, I will now discuss this with a tail between my legs so to speak 😅…

Crypto Punt

What can I say? I’m now a billionaire! I didn’t think it would ever happen if I am honest but I now have over a billion….magic coins. Yes that’s right, I hope you are envious of this fact. I finally succumb even myself to FOMO and got involved in crypto.

I really don’t like crypto if I am honest, I have talked about it before on this blog. I certainly don’t believe in it long term, I don’t think it’s better than fiat currency as I think there’s so many negatives around it which I won’t go into now. Needless to say, I am not a fan. I have however been following crypto for a long time on and off and I have to be honest, there’s been lots of shadenfreude when it’s been tanking and then slight annoyance when it’s been rising.

A couple months ago I had the chance to invest in DOGE when it was 0.04cents and I was tempted on a few separate occasions to take a punt but decided against it in the end. I did partially regret missing this afterwards but when this was combined with the massive cryptomarket bull where Bitcoin reached $60k, an epic FOMO storm was created within me when the possible next DOGE was put forward, I won’t name it for now… I didn’t want to miss out on another opportunity, I felt the need to scratch the itch I’ve had with cryptocurrency and having read somewhere where it was suggested sin simple terms – would you be more annoyed having not taken a punt with an amount you can afford to lose versus annoyed with missing the chance of a large gain. I thought yeah why not, take a punt with less than 1% of your portfolio that would then still give you a nice risk reward ratio but would not change your life in anyway were you to lose it all. I would then have a small bit of skin in the game as it were and maybe this was the best compromise for me. I wanted to ride the wave of hype and collective FOMO and be able to get off before it came crashing down, easier done than said yeh?

Well fast forward to now, I got in about 3 days before crypto went on a downward spiral to where it is now. Superb timing no doubt on my part. I am now 43% down but I will not sell because of course I would risk missing out on a future rise which is certainly possible and that would be too annoying plus in a strange way it’s been pretty exciting along the way I have to admit. I did the old thing of checking the balance daily, reading Reddit, watching YouTube videos etc to now having graduated to only having some price alerts set on my phone and checking once a week or so manually. Will I lose it all or will it 10x, 100x? Who knows. All I can say is to people who have done similar to this, see you on the ******* Moon! – A cold desolate wasteland that doesn’t support life and that costs a lot of money to get to.

Liverpool weekend trip

Me and my partner really love going to Liverpool and we now almost make it a legal yearly requirement to at least go twice. We like to go once in the spring/summer and once in November/December for the Christmas winter market. I originally had booked Liverpool when Boris announced when Phase 4 freedoms would come into effect so if there hadn’t been a month delay (which I fully support) we would have been there during minimal to no restrictions and at a time what I thought would be with very low COVID numbers like last summer especially now that we have so many vaccinated, I certainly was wrong on that one!

We really had a great time as to be fair since the restrictions loosened on May 17th in England and you could once again go in doors in pubs/museums and restaurants etc, things felt normal enough minus the lack of being able to dance perhaps. We did lots of walking, shopping around, drinking & eating and saw some live music once again which was lovely.

Self Isolation 

We had a great time in Liverpool but it did come at a cost. After being home for 3 days we both got a message from the NHS app saying to isolate as we had come into contact with someone who went onto get COVID on the Sunday whilst away. This could have been from when we were queuing to get into a few pubs on the Saturday night (technically Sunday early hours) or maybe the train journey on the way back but who knows for sure. Up until this time, we had only had to isolate for one day previously when waiting for a test result of another member of the household but this time around we would need to isolate for 6 full days. 

I went back home to my house to reduce the risk in case I had got COVID but she hadn’t as I didn’t want to affect anyone else. I must say this was very strange at first to be truly under house arrest fully on my own, well I did have my cat but he isn’t the most talkative to be fair. I quickly ordered in some food shopping and a friend dropped a few odd bits around and then it was just me on my lonesome. 

This self isolation was to be put to good use though. I finally had absolutely no excuse to declutter my home once again and this time more thoroughly than I had ever done before. I planned to go through every draw, every wardrobe and all cupboards. I wanted to act as though I was moving home and even made up some cardboard moving boxes where I would put valuables of my own that were sentimental, a box for my late moms sentimental items and also boxes of other things that I would not be leaving in their final home so to speak. Everything else was to be put in my garage ready to be taken to the tip! This was the clean out of all clean outs. 

I am thrilled to report that I fully succeeded in this. It was a very mixed experience as I found many things from my childhood, many things belonging to my mother such as diary’s, pictures I had never seen, things she had kept from her youth and valentines cards my dad had sent to her, cards that I had wrote to her when I was very very young. It was half upsetting, half fascinating but was so rewarding. I felt a huge weight had lifted as I had been needing to do it for such a long time but would always find it hard to start. It was very heart warming to see my mother as being a teenager, a young woman in love and someone now my age. I found the whole thing put me in a deep reflective mood that lasted a good few days. I am so so grateful for the self isolation as strange as that sounds as it finally allowed me to get this done.

Otherwise during this isolation, my work carried on as normal as I could of course do this from home. I had to cook more for myself that I’ve been used to in the last year which was interesting too, I felt like a student again- beans on toast 🤣. I also got to play a little bit more of my PlayStation 5 so it can’t be bad can it…and most importantly, neither of us actually had COVID in the end.

Manchester weekend trip

When I booked the Liverpool trip a couple months previously, I also booked a weekend away in Manchester 2 weeks after Liverpool. Thankfully, our isolation ended before this so we could still go. We had only been once before on a day trip and we wanted to give it a proper visit by staying overnight and for a whole weekend. 

I must say, we really enjoyed it far more than we thought we would. The night life was really good and we went to an Irish bar and saw some quality live music, there was loads to do around Piccadilly gardens and with the tram so close to our hotel, Wetherspoons so close and the train station – it was all so effortless. Apart from just drinking and eating, we went to the Manchester museum and the saw that lovely T-Rex fellow in the picture who was called Stan. We also really liked the amount of shops and especially liked the Arndale centre. My only regret is not arranging to meet up with weenie who I have no doubt wasn’t all that far away ☺️. This time around, we did not get any pings to isolate when we got home thankfully.

Freedom and Dancing

So as I write this it’s almost been a week since freedom day in England. This of course has been fear day in equal measure for many people. My own thoughts on this is that I do get the argument of ‘If not now, then when?’ And that it would be worse if we did this going into the winter but I just think personally that we should have still mandated masks in supermarkets, public transport and public buildings and perhaps still limited very large events to reduced capacities. I think this would of been very important psychologically at the least in making people not forget that we are not through this yet and also to help make many people feel safer and to still reduce some risks to people no doubt without much inconvenience felt.

I could not resist however myself going out on the freedom Friday to Birmingham so that we could finally get to have a dance and some normality if just for a few hours. We stopped over night and danced for almost 3 hours straight in a cocktail bar. It was absolutely brilliant but did feel a bit strange and perhaps invoked some nervousness or Feelings of – is it right to do this? We wore masks on the trains and in other pubs until we got to the table but in the dance club, it wasn’t practical to wear masks whilst dancing so we had a few hours where it felt again like 2019. We won’t be doing it again for a while but it was great and thankfully no pings yet and for now our lateral flow tests are negative still!

Work

There really is no change on the work front. The rules haven’t changed for the NHS which I think is the right thing so we still have to have the 2 metre rule and masks whilst in the office. I still go into work on a rota 2 or 3 times max a week which continues to be a great balance.

I am very conscious now though for our hospital that the next couple of months may be very delicate and difficult for our staff. With the numbers rising and expecting to rise higher and higher we will see more patients hit our hospital which we are already seeing now. I can only hope the gamble pays off and we manage to cope until we reach the peak and then it gets better from then. Here’s to hoping for all our sakes!

Well, I hope you have enjoyed reading my update, let me know your thoughts and what you have been up to, Any dancing or is it just me that’s a bit mad?

TFJ