person looking at the mountain view

There Will be a Light at the End of the Tunnel

Here we go again… Boris has announced that England will enter a second national lockdown this November, which is expected to last a month. Many of us are referring to it as ‘Lockdown 2’. There’s something about this time round that doesn’t have me feeling as much emotion as last time.

I was one of those who experienced a birthday in lockdown and missed a long awaited trip to New York (I will return one day). But what you need to remember is that, although it may feel like ‘forever’, it isn’t. There are better times ahead at the end of all this. Coronavirus will not magically disappear but we can adapt to different ways on how we respond to changes, restrictions, and just as anything that the future holds, keep a forward-thinking mindset. 

What are you supposed to think now?

It’s normal to feel frustrated during these challenging times. Let’s face it, it’s like deja vu and almost feels like we are going backwards. There’s so much negativity in the news and different media outlets. You just want to hear something uplifting for once, right? I have decided to think about the things that make me happy, even if people can’t take that approach, it’s okay. 

I feel like my thoughts over the spring and summer took a toll and enough is enough, you know? I now realise how much time you can waste worrying. The truth is, you can’t always change things and you will experience unfortunate events.

My heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones and friends, no matter how old or young. They are lives which have been taken. There are too many conditions and illnesses in the world as it is, why does there need to a place for something else? 

I think the whole COVID era has given me an insight to how people handle situations in different ways. We are all in this together and some people still need to realise that, and the much bigger picture.

Sadly, there are also people who are alone. I can’t bear to think about how all of this feels for them. I like to think I smile more at strangers in the street because you just never know if it’ll help how they are feeling. No one ever knows what someone is going through unless you really know. 

Looking forward and thinking about Christmas

I am still excited for Christmas even if it “won’t be the same.” Whether it’s for the fact that’s it’s a break, or it’s just me and the festive spirit. Either way, I honestly think it’s one of the nicest times of the year.

I was brought up to know how important it is to have family together at Christmas. Although I won’t be around all of my family members at the table, I am very lucky to have the one that I do need. I have Danny, who has been by my side many years now and we will be celebrating our 8th Christmas together this year. 

This COVID period has taught me a lot and has helped me gain a greater perspective of what means the most to me. I know how much I long for a family of my own and for the last few years, we have visioned that dream. So, this Christmas I will be thankful for everyone I have around me day-to-day, maybe not in person but who I know are truly there with or without COVID. I will not let the virus take the magic of Christmas away and I will continue to think about all the great festive seasons I’ve had with the most special people in my life. 

Now it’s down to you

From reading this post, I hope you manage to see things in a better light. There’s a ray of sunshine out there if you look a little further. Stay connected to those who you are close to. Even a small conversation matters, try not to lose touch. It’s so important to keep those relationships flowing.

COVID-19 virus

What to Expect When Having a COVID-19 Test

This is my experience of attending a walk-in centre by appointment. Near you, there might also be a drive-in centre, or the option to book a test online when/if they become available again.

Booking a COVID-19 Test

I was lucky when it came to booking a test. There were not any home tests available but over 100 slots had opened up at the University of Salford. I visited GOV.UK and followed the steps to proceed with booking an appointment.

If you are thinking of booking a COVID-19 test, expect to enter the date that the first symptom started to happen along with some personal details (name, date of birth, postcode etc.) The website will then bring up the closest testing centres. If you don’t have a car or live with someone who has a car, you are advised to walk or cycle to your appointment to reduce the risk of infecting others (if you have the virus) rather than taking public transport. 

When you arrive at your selected testing centre, a member of security or staff will ask you for your pass or email/text with confirmation of your appointment. You are likely to have received a QR code which they will scan and allow you into the building. This was the case for me as the test was taking place indoors. You must sanitise your hands upon entry then someone will direct you to a cubicle. 

Having the Coronavirus Test

A member of staff shown me where to go and I was provided with an information leaflet and testing pack. There was also further instructions on how to take the test with step by step illustrations on the wall in front of me. Staff members were around for further assistance if needed.

To start the test, you must blow your nose and dispose of the tissue in the bin. If you too attend a testing centre where you carry the test out yourself, you’ll find a swab in the pack on a table. You are asked to put the swab at the back of your throat for 10-15 seconds then using the same side, repeat up one of your nostrils approximately 2.5 centimetres. The only downside for me was that, my eyes were ridiculously watery on this day due to feeling unwell so, my eyes began to stream and I couldn’t stop sneezing because the swab tickled my nose! I think the staff looked at me as if to say “Well, that’s a different one!” haha. 

Once you have done the above, you place the swab into a container, snapping the other half off so it fits. Then, seal the bag you are given with the test inside. A member of staff will guide you to the next area where you sanitise your hands again, your QR code will be scanned for a second time, place your bag into a tray and you are all done. I was advised that my result would arrive through a text and email within 48 hours.

Getting Your Result

Less than 24 hours later, I received my result in a text then shortly afterwards by email. The sender will appear as NHS by text and NHS COVID-19 Notification on email. Thankfully, the result was negative. It felt good not only to discover I didn’t have the virus but to have received answers so soon. 

If you want, you can enter your code on the NHS Test and Trace app under the ‘Enter test result’ tab which will again notify you of your result. Further advice was given about isolation, if it’s necessary, and how to keep others safe.

I know it’s quite frustrating for people in some areas of the UK at the minute trying to get hold of a test or an appointment for one. But remember, your health comes first. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, book a test if you can. The first day I checked, there were no appointments available but the next day, luckily there was.

More information on testing and coronavirus can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test 

rainbow drawing outside with chalk

Hold on in There… A Life After Lockdown Awaits

Another week in the UK lockdown has passed but is slowly phasing out with less restrictions e.g. unlimited time to exercise and going for a walk with someone outside of your household bearing social distancing is in place. I recently held a poll on Facebook and Twitter, asking my friends and followers what they are looking forward to the most post-lockdown. The answers to choose from were:

A. Hug from a family member
B. Seeing friends
C. Leisure services resuming
D. All shops reopening

On Facebook, 83% said ‘hug from a family member’ with 59% holding the same answer on Twitter. It’s nice to see the majority of respondents have the same outlook as me. I’m so excited for the moment to hug my mum, dad, and brothers. There have a number of occasions where I’ve seen my mum from a distance and just want to run and hug her. To the honest, I miss all 4 of the above, of course I do! However, the freedom of being close to family is the hardest part throughout all of this. Also, most of my friends live a bit of distance from me too.

Can you imagine what life is going to like after lockdown?

For some, life might not seem so different now or after lockdown. However, for the more active and outdoorsy people there are, the life is come is something to look forward to. Though, at the same time, it’s still quite a scary thought. Many of us want to see our friends, celebrate, get back to the gym etc. but it’s important that we continue to take precautions. I’m sure we can all continue to implement these changes into our daily routines.

What’s the biggest impact lockdown has on travel for me?

At the moment, I’m adamant that I will not travel via public transport. I haven’t been on the bus since mid-March, which is my usual method of transport to and from work along with walking for 40% – 50% of it. Other than really miserable days with rain and wind, nothing bothers me about walking. In fact, anyone that knows me, sees the explorer in me. I’ve found it really difficult to spend a full day in the house without going somewhere. It’s in my nature, I have to go outside! So, planning trips to work when that time comes will mean putting some extra aside in the morning.

Optimising cleanliness and hygiene

As much as I’m fed up of all of this, which I’m sure many of you are too, I’m still taking it very seriously. For example, I haven’t entered anybody else’s house other than my own. Keeping things clean is no change and I’ve always that down to a tee – another thing that’s in my nature! The same goes for handing washing – a dispenser in the kitchen, downstairs toilet and each of the bathrooms upstairs. Pre-lockdown, I kept hand sanitiser in my bag the odd time but all the time now and also in the hallway of the house. I find myself being much wearier of what I’m touching e.g. shopping baskets, trolleys, items in a store that many people will have touched before me etc.

What exciting events in my life have been cancelled due to COVID-19?

Let’s start with the best one, New York. Many of you might think “Ah right, yeah, big holiday that.” Well yes, but that’s not why we’re so gutted. New York is the place I’ve always dreamt of returning to and I never knew who that would be with until Danny. When we became homeowners in 2019, we didn’t go away because we were putting everything into this year’s big trip. It’s okay though because I know we will get there, maybe next summer, we’ll see.

What else? Another big one – Kraków to see Alicia Keys. It’s funny actually… a group of us booked to go there for the fact that Alicia Keys was in Manchester when we would’ve been in New York. And now, neither of the two are happening! I haven’t been to Poland before and I love to visit new cities so I’m sure it would’ve been really fun. As for Alicia keys, I can’t even tell you… I was only wondering at the beginning of the year if she’ll tour again and how she hadn’t brought any new music out for a while then… her song played on the radio and she announced a world tour. Out of all the singers I’ve seen live, other than the Spice Girls, Alicia Keys has always been on the top of my ‘got to see’ list from an early age. One day eh!

Better days are coming…

We have come this far, what’s a little while longer? Frustrating I know, when all we want to do is resume to some kind of normality. And that we will, we just need to be a little more patient I suppose. The more people listen to the rules, the quicker that time might be. There’s bound to be low days. If you are feeling down, reach out to the people who you know will do their best to cheer you up over a little chat or video call.

Family and friends, see you all soon (I hope), I can’t wait for a hug!

birthday cake with candles lit

Making the Most out of a Birthday in Lockdown

Have you got a birthday coming up and you’re thinking, oh great, a birthday in lockdown? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of things you can do to enjoy your special day. It might not be quite what you had planned e.g. cocktails with the girls, dancing the night away, or whatever it might be. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t enjoy it.

You can still enjoy lots of food

I’m an early bird and of course Danny is very much aware of that because he hears me pottering around the house most mornings. So, to be prepared, he set his alarm for 6am (yep, I don’t do lie-ins, not even on my birthday haha). Danny walked into the room holding a cake with candles lit singing happy birthday to me. You know the emoji with the little face that looks like its about to start blubbering with tears, that was me.

You might not be going out for food to your favourite restaurant but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some good food. Luckily, the sun was out for the afternoon so I was able to have a mini BBQ in the back garden with Danny. As you can probably imagine, wherever food is involved, is a pretty good sign that you’re going to enjoy yourself. Burgers and chicken lover over here, so I was in my element.

Being the Little Miss Piggy that I am, I received quite a few boxes of chocolates AND some sweets so, you bet I’ve been eating them all. So much so that I might resemble a pig after all of this, but it’s all about enjoying yourself right?

There might be some surprises along the way…

I had a lovely surprise when one of my best friends turned up (keeping 2 metres apart of course) to drop my card off along with some unexpected gifts. She also brought a card from another one of my lovely friends. Talking of surprises, I also received a bouquet of tulips, box of chocolates and teddy from Danny, along with a card from my best friend and her baby boy. You know those things that pop up with confetti when you open them and they turn into a little gift cube? Well, I had one of those but unfortunately I opened it too quick and obviously didn’t now what it was prior to it being delivered so I didn’t get a video. Part of the message read “auntie Tasha… can’t wait to see you” so you can understand how that melted my heart.

Receiving birthday messages

I still received a generous amount of cards and birthday messages over social media, text, WhatsApp etc. As I’ve already said, my two best friends made a special effort, where one of them even made me a card. My brothers came to see me from their cars as I stood at the front door which made me smile too. Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love a good card. I received a cute personalised one from my nephew too. I’m so thankful for all of my family and friends who thought of me. Each of them made it a birthday I’ll always remember even though they wasn’t there in person to see me.

There was so much thought put into my birthday this year with so much to smile about throughout the whole day. One thing that was missing was a hug from my mum and dad but at least I was able to be healthy and safe in my home and still enjoy the day. This birthday made me realise how to make the most out of any situation. Whatever it might be, there’s always a positive outlook on the horizon if you look close enough.

So, it’s your birthday next? How are you planning to spend your birthday in lockdown?

I am grateful heart on wooden background

There’s Always Something to Be Thankful For

It’s crazy to think that our generation can say they were here when the Coronavirus lockdown was happening. We don’t know exactly how long it’s going to continue for but we do know how to do our part in keeping ourselves and others safe. Feeling positive during the Coronavirus pandemic can be difficult so, I’m sharing some of the things I’m thankful for and you might be too.

More time to spend with your significant other

Not everyone is lucky to live with their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner during the pandemic so I understand how lucky I am. Some might say they’re ‘stuck in the house’ with each other 24/7. But the way I look at it, you’ve got company all day and they are there to put a smile on your face.

Danny still checks in on me when we’re doing our own thing.  When I think about how we spend most of our times at work, we’re lucky to still be working in our house and seeing each other during work time. Our routines haven’t completely gone out of the window; we eat breakfast, lunch and tea together; have our film nights; and be there for one another if either of us are feeling a bit low.

Having health and happiness

As miserable as the COVID-19 climate is, continuing to do the things that makes you happy feels good. Okay, so, I can’t go out shopping in the home section all of the time or go on days out but there are several other positives. A number I’ve mentioned above plus, more time for cleaning and organising; a hug from Danny any time of the day. Don’t feel guilty for having these moments. You’re allowed to smile and do the things that help to maintain a positive mindset.

Although I was unwell for a couple of weeks, it could’ve been much worse. That’s the thing I keep telling myself about all of this. There are people losing their lives all around the world; families facing such heartbreak; and parents who can’t see their children or as much as they would like to. It’s important to keep a healthy mental and physical balance. Can we exclude the amount of Easter eggs I’m going to eat though? I think I’ve earned the chance to indulge after giving chocolate, cake and biscuits up for Lent.

More time to spend in the sun

We might not be allowed to go into the outdoors as far and as much as we would like to but there’s still ways to enjoy the sunshine. If you have a house, choose from your front or back garden; if not, try a walk around your local area. Some people underestimate the power of going outside and getting a breath of fresh air. I think it was taken for granted when we weren’t limited to where we could go before coronavirus hit us.

If you’re lucky to get your hands on some gardening bits, have fun and get things off your to-do list. Danny is planting new flowers in the back garden as I’m making my way through de-weeding the front. I cut my hands the other day (silly of me for wearing no gloves) but it feels good to get involved with the hands-on stuff!

Making the most of technology

If you didn’t hear on my Twitter @tashalifestyle, my mum has come a long way in her world of getting to grips with technology. She can now send photos on WhatsApp and calls a video call ‘Face WhatsApp. Bless her heart.

It’s so nice to keep in touch with friends and family over the phone, messaging, via apps. My mum started to cry at the end of a call last week because she just wanted to give me a hug. I cannot wait to squeeze her, the same goes for my dad and brothers whether they like it or not (mwuahahaha).

It’s also nice to FaceTime with people you don’t usually, like our nephew over the weekend, so cute! Unfortunately, I can’t keep in touch with my niece so she’s another little soul who’s face I can’t wait to see.


So, these are just a few things to think about. As bad as things might seem right now, it will get better. Each day is another day closer to hitting some kind of normality. Take the time to realise what’s important and you’ll see all of the things you’re thankful for. Remember you’re not in ‘prison’, you’re staying safe.

close up of pink petal flowers

Things to Do During the Coronavirus Lockdown

As surreal as the lockdown in the UK might feel right now, there are plenty of things you can do to stay occupied. Unfortunately, for the most social groups of people this is probably quite difficult. Also, it can pose challenges for those who are out of/can’t work. I’m lucky enough to be working from home so I still have some kind of routine. It does feel strange not having to travel to and from the office and I miss seeing my colleagues face-to-face.

For the past 10 days I’ve had Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms so I’ve stayed indoors (self-isolating). The only places I’ve been includes the bins at the front of the house and going into the back garden. Those who are on the COVID-19 high risk list have been urged to stay at home (shielding), whilst others are staying 2 metres apart (social distancing) and under restrictions to only go outside for:

  • Shopping for necessities
  • Exercise
  • Medical reasons
  • Traveling to and from work if ‘absolutely necessary’

Take advantage of the time you have to relax

If you’re anything like me and you struggle to just relax and chill, now is the time to understand why you should do it more often. ‘Me time’ is really important. I’ve talked about ways you can relax before. Pamper yourself or take the time do something you usually put aside because you don’t always have the time e.g. reading a new book, starting a blog etc.

Clean up and tidy up

I always find something to rearrange whether it’s clothes in the wardrobe, the cupboard under the sink, the medicine cabinet, you name it, there’s always something. Why did I have 6 boxes of plasters in the medicine cabinet, who knows? I love to organise and keep the house clean and tidy so this an everyday hobby for me.

Binge watch TV series or films

Okay, I’ll admit, I do this anyway. But there’s no harm is watching more right? Make the most of those Netflix subscriptions. I’m making the most of some girly series at the moment, including a bundle of Gilmore Girls episodes (my 3rd time watching the whole series from start to finish). And as Disney+ is out in the UK, you might as well sign up and be ready for all of your Disney favourites. I’m so looking forward to reliving my childhood!

Do some gardening

If you have the tools available, why not take the opportunity to venture into garden. It’s never really been on my to-do list before. However, since we moved into the new house last year, the back garden has been an area I like to spend my time in, when the weather is nice enough. I’ve had fun tidying the garden, cleaning the patio, and painting the fence.

Keep in touch with family and friends

The most important one on the list. Check in on your family and friends. And don’t forget about your neighbours, especially those who are vulnerable. There are many options such as: a call, text, social media, instant messaging like WhatsApp, video calls e.g. FaceTime etc. Some groups of people are also using quiz/gaming apps to keep them in high spirits.

As miserable as everything seems at the moment, do something that you can look back on and know it was time well spent. Think about the positives and have a forward-thinking perspective to keep you motivated.