Marie Louise McConville: Thanks to Covid-19, shopping is not the fun experience it used to be
Ok, so I've tried it and it's not for me.
This so-called `new normal' can go back to where it came from, and good riddance.
Finally, this week, I got the chance to venture out, and not just to the corner shop or the local walking trail, but actually `out, out'.
The hubby took a day's leave so with childcare sorted, myself and my friend Faye set off for Belfast city centre for the first time since March.
We had a plan and it was simple.
Hit Primark and a few other stores and leave.
I was full of excitement to finally get my Primark fix but that soon left me when we arrived at the Donegall Place branch to find it closed.
And then it started to rain.
We had got there for 8.45am in the hope of beating the crowds.
Turns out, we shouldn't have bothered as it didn't open until 10am.
It was then that we realised that very few stores now open at 9am and have all obviously made their own arrangements regarding opening times and we didn't have a clue.
We thought that at least we could go grab a cup of tea and fuel ourselves up before our Primark sweep.
Turns out, getting a drink is no problem.
You just can't sit in or sit down anywhere because there is not a seat to be found.
So we walked uncomfortably holding our hot drinks and forget the breakfast wrap we bought, there was no chance of walking, drinking and eating - in the rain.
We killed some time and finally went back to Primark where we had to join a queue and wait - in the rain.
Afterwards we went looking for a few things for ourselves only to find you can't try anything on, not shoes, not tops, nothing.
There wasn't even a seat to be had in CastleCourt, to take a quick rest - and don't start me about finding toilets.
We moved on to Cityside and again it was the same.
Queues, queues and more queues and then when we finally got in, no trying on so no fitting room banter.
Eventually we left Belfast and were so hungry we got a McDonalds and ate it in the car because again - you can't sit in.
To be honest, our day in Belfast was a bit of a washout and it wasn't just the weather.
And I appreciate all the hard work being put in my businesses but I am sorry to say that for me, Covid has sucked the fun out of shopping.
Oh, and then when we got home, Faye realised she had lost a bag, the only one which had her own stuff in it and not the kids treats - typical.
Thanks Covid, that's just great.
Oh Michelle, what have you done?
It emerged this week that Our Girl actress Michelle Keegan has banned her husband Mark Wright from doing the housework due to her obsession with cleaning.
TV presenter Mark said he only has limited responsibilities at home as his wife doesn't let him touch the chores as she is "so house proud" and "OCD about how it should look".
Oh Michelle. No. No. No.
Housework should be teamwork and your decision is making it difficult for the rest of us.
Honestly, give him a toilet brush and watch him go - you can thank me later.
So, how is your summer going so far?
It has been just great to be able to venture out and about again and although there are still some restrictions in place, there is plenty of adventure on hand for the families.
And if you are on the look-out for something to do now or in the coming weeks, you will be happy to hear that Streamvale Farm has now reopened.
The popular attraction, which is based in Dundonald in east Belfast, offers children and their parents not just all the fun of the farm but also a great family experience.
In order to keep everyone safe, the farm has implemented some changes including offering several two-hour sessions during the day, which must be booked in advance.
The farm will close in-between sessions to clean and prepare for the next while hand washing and sanitiser stations have been placed around the farm.
The cafe will also be open with a limited menu and outdoor seating.
Those visiting will still be able to enjoy a host of activities including cuddles with rabbits and chicks, animal feeding, tractor and barrel rides, watch bottle feeding, and watch a sheep race, a dog agility show and a sheepdog show.
Visitors are reminded that entry is by ticket only.
Further information is available at www.streamvale.com