Abbey

Bylands Abbey which is not far from our home. We are blessed with so much history on our doorstep. There has been an abbey on this site since 1135. Bylands grew to be one of the most important monasteries in the country. It’s church was described as one the finest in Europe during the 12th century. At its peak it was home to 36 monks and 100 lay brothers. It was closed in 1538 as part of Henry VIII’s suppression of the monasteries.

Late afternoon we ventured here. The weather had been grim but was slowly improving. It seemed the perfect time and place for Hawklad to test just how much progress he had made with connecting again with the wider world again. His favourite subject, HISTORY and likely to quiet.

At the start it was a little too quiet for the test. We had the site completely to ourselves. There are places which have a special atmosphere. This is certainly one of them. You could definitely hear the echos of the past.

After a while a few other brave souls arrived. A couple of families. Some rather damp walkers. A well behaved dog. I dread to think the damage Captain Chaos could cause if he was given free reign here. The dissolution of the monasteries would have happened so much quicker if only it had been left to a mad pup.

It’s a pretty big, open site but to Hawklad it shrank rather too quickly. No one got too close, Hawklad made sure of that. He noted that no one had masks on. He wanted to put his on but felt self conscious. Even when I put mine on he still declined. He made sure not to touch any surfaces. The visit changed in nature. From a fun historic walk to anxious glances and nerves. Within a few minutes Hawklad was rapidly heading towards the exit and the safety of the car.

So he made another visit. It’s a step in the right direction. But it also highlighted just how far he still has to venture. Even small numbers of strange faces are enough to throw him. That’s outside and not inside. Inside would be such a test. A test he may face sooner rather than later if he is to return to school in September.

Beards…..

The last couple of years I have had a beard. Not a world class ZZTop beard. Beards like that will never be forgotten. But it’s a beard. My beard. My strategy is more facial hair means less of me on show. Don’t want to step on George Clooney’s shoes 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Today the beard came back to haunt me.

I needed to set up the works bank account app on my home computer. All was going well until I got to the identification check. Take a picture of either my passport or driving licence mugshot. Then record a short video of my weathered face to match the mugshot.

Time and time again the verification failed. Then it dawned on me. My ID photos are all pre beard….

So here’s the moral dilemma. Do I wait 7 days for the postal verification verification code to arrive OR do I shave my beard off. Do I like work that much….

Not a chance.

Monday

In 6 weeks schools reopen with no masks and no social distancing. In classrooms which are cramped with poor ventilation.

Hawklad still can’t venture inside shops. Even just briefly. He avoids close contact with others even outside. He can’t touch objects that others may have touched. He is constantly washing his hands. He has had one after brief school tour. He may get one more in the early part of September just days before he would have to return.

The chances of him returning to school in September seem even more remote. Somebody needs to think about a more permanent homeschooling option pretty quickly.

A joint day

The 1st August is The Swiss National Day. It’s a celebration of the 3 original cantons coming together and unifying. It’s marked with parades, fireworks, street parties and enjoying local food produce. It’s a beautiful and fun celebration.

The 1st August is also Yorkshire Day. A celebration of all things Yorkshire. It started aptly as a protest against ‘people from London trying to change how things work here’. It’s ‘celebrated’ with local festivals where people get together to have a ‘good moan’, drink Yorkshire Tea and suck on raw rhubarb. The more hardy amongst us will let rabid ferrets run up our trouser legs….

Two great places connected by a shared date and so important to our little family.

Happy Switzerland and Yorkshire Day to you.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday morning and my thoughts drift to a relatively small country in Europe. I’m suddenly surrounded by a perfect landscape. I’m wandering in The Alps. Sailing across the lakes. Sat amongst the alpine flowers in rolling wild meadows. Breathing in the crisp mountain air. Listening to the peaceful sound of church and cowbells ringing along the steep valleys.

I’m back again in Switzerland.

Our last actual visit was back in 2015. A lot of life has happened since then. Our family has changed. I have changed. Hawklad is now a teenager. But we still want to travel back here. It means so much to us.

Time to dream. Time to dream about what is still to come. I’m smiling. Are you.

Visit

There’s a small garden which I like to visit every day on the dog walk. It has the most wonderful flowers. Never fails to deliver. Very relaxing.

Some visits are not so relaxing.

This is what happens when the bedroom door is left open. The pets pay a visit.

They sleep, humans not so.

Missing

One of those days for staying inside. Heating on. Welcome again to the Yorkshire summer.

No excuse then to avoid baking. So here’s my honey and sunflower bread. Dairy and gluten free.

I don’t know what happened to the sunflower seeds but it tastes not too bad at all. Will go well with my completely plant based Cream of Tomato soup when I get round to finding where I put the pesky red things. How can things go missing in such a small kitchen.

Talking about going missing. While I was getting stuck into the bread dough I was listening to the local radio station. I caught the back end of a phone in about people living on government benefits. It wasn’t the must sympathetic range of callers. Out of the 5 callers I endured, 4 came up with the same opinion. Single parents are living the life of luxury, they get shed loads of taxpayers money, do no work and spend the benefits all on, wait for it. Designer clothes, cigarettes, booze, nights out, restaurants and holidays.

I did try to phone in to get on air but the lines were closed. Shame as this single parent wanted to point out a few things….

a) I get pennies in handouts from the Government and I work…

b) I have never bought designer clothes in my life,

c) I have never smoked a cigarette in my life,

d) I have been tea total in over 5 years now,

e) I haven’t had a holiday since 2015. In fact since I have been a single parent I have not spent one night apart from my son. Strangely 2015 was also the last time I ventured into a restaurant.

PLUS some people should wind their necks in and stop prying into other peoples life’s. These people phoning in don’t have the faintest idea what it’s like for the vast majority of single parents out there. Just how tough a slog it is to keep paying the bills while trying to be the best possible parent they can be. Just how little support there is and just how isolating a life it can be. But you hardly ever hear that side of the story. Like too many things, it’s gone missing.

Out of touch

I had to go into the work unit for a few hours. Hawklad decided to come with me but to stay in the car outside. We are lucky as the unit is basically in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland. It’s also down a small dead end lane. It’s quiet and I can park the car right next to the front door so Hawklad is never more than a few feet away and can see me. With the door open he can even chat to me. But not on this visit. He wanted to watch some movies on a tablet. So being the dutiful dad I filled up the storage with movies. You can guess the movies. Avengers, Lord of the Rings, Godzilla, Monty Python, Indiana Jones. Perfect for him…..

“Dad can you delete some of these movies so I can download the ones I really want to watch. I want to watch Victoria and Abdul, Robert the Bruce and Henry V. Historic masterpieces.”

Ok… Definitely will delete some of these movies. Just thought you might like watching them.

“I know Dad. You try 😂😂😂. But you are so out of touch with the teenage years now. 😂😂😂😂. And face it dad your idea of great historic movie is Jurassic Park….😂😂😂😂😂”.

HE KNOWS ME TOO WELL.

Sunbathing

Sunbathing weather, Yorkshire style…..

Midday and it was fleece time.

It was definitely a day to dream. Dream of warmer lands, big adventures.

Hawklad clearly realised I was struggling. He said

“Dad treat yourself. What’s something you have always wanted to buy yourself…”

All I could think of was the Death Star Lego set.

“We’ll see how much it is on Amazon. You never know…..”

Well we did check. £750 for Lego. £750 smackers. Wow….

“Well Dad that’s silly money. Tell you what, buy me Ace Venturer on Prime Video and save yourself £745…it’s a bargain.”

I have just been hustled.

Chuck

Definitely a moody day. Moody means ‘it’s about to CHUCK it down again…’

It’s now 6 weeks to the schools return. In 6 weeks the classrooms will be full and the Government has removed all social distancing. So in September no masks, no screens, no class bubbles, no additional sanitary facilities, no additional distancing. Schools are perfectly safe. Currently with some protection there are just under 1000 COVID child hospital admissions with an average of 52 new admissions per day. 64 have tragically died from COVID.

It’s within this backdrop that Hawklad is struggling with a potential return to the classroom. He is already talking about the social pressure to stop using his mask if the rest of his classmates and teachers aren’t. It’s just a mess. Some families are desperate to ‘return to normal’, some families are unsure and some are still trying to shield.

It’s just such a mess.