Goodbye Mr Sun

The last few hours of the day. Last few hours of blue skies. When we wake tomorrow, the rain will have arrived. Then it’s Yorkshire summer weather…. Cool, windy and generally a bit damp. There is a local expression

The kinda weather that puts hairs on ya back.

I would rather have those hairs on the top of my head thank you very much. Like many places we have our fair share of odd local expressions. Books as long as War and Peace have been written about the art of speaking proper Yorkshire. Most of those books are currently waiting translation into other languages, including English. A few examples of the local dialect include

  • Did I eckers like (of course I did not)
  • Wang eh o’er (please could you pass me that)
  • Ow much (that’s rather expensive)
  • Ay could’ve huffed tha we ma stic’o Rhubard (how did that batsman miss that really easy ball)
  • Ya daf hapeth (that was a bit of a mistake that you have just made)
  • Da’s nowt s’queer as folk (people can be a little odd at times)
  • Topped his clogs (unfortunately someone has just died)
  • Now lad it’s jiggered (excuse me sir that item is broken)
  • Tha’s a reyt Bobby Dazzler (you are looking lovely)
  • Yer brews mashin (the tea is in the teapot and will be strong enough in about a days time)
  • Ya betta count yer goolies (I am very sorry that very hard cricket ball has struck you in that painful spot, are they ok)
  • Ya doin ma eddin (You are confusing me)

I have a soft local accent. An accent I guess my Dad would have called ‘posh Yorkshire‘. But it’s still Yorkshire and that’s just fine with me. Ok it does have some downsides. Like no voice recognition software has ever been designed to cope with Yorkshire. I remember having a hire car which when I asked the satellite navigation to ‘take me home’ it would repeatedly switch on the heater. Or the time in a London restaurant when I ordered a mushroom pizza and the rather bemused waiter served me a children’s serving of paella.

That’s why you will never catch me doing a video blog. Especially as I have a face perfect for radio……

Red rose

Whisper it very quietly. A red rose in Yorkshire. The white rose is our counties symbol and our historic rival, Lancashire has a red rose. The two neighbours have had bloody civil wars and conflicts over the crown…. Now thankfully the battles are restricted to the sports field.

Not the only battle being waged here.

Anxiety and adverse reactions to it, are very common for individuals who are on the autistic spectrum. It can take so many forms

  • Social fears and crowds
  • Fear of being alone
  • Noise
  • Thunder
  • Germs and illnesses
  • Eating and food types
  • Animals
  • Heights
  • Darkness
  • Bright lights and colours
  • Types of clothing

Too many to list. Some of these may have sensory origins and appropriate medical help should be sort. Whether that help is available is another matter….

Our son has had to face down and battle a number of these fears. One fear in particular has been ever present. The fear of illness, germs and death. These are genuine, life altering fears and anxieties. Fears which became even more real to him when he lost his mum and both grannies in such a short period of time. We were lucky in that finally his medical notes were passed to a young nurse counsellor. Over the last few years she has done stellar work with him. He trusts her fully – no mean feat. Unfortunately government cutbacks have resulted in far less contact time. Any contact has now temporarily ceased due to the pandemic.

The pandemic has really shaken things up. For our son it has ramped up his fears and anxieties. Now they are off the chart. This manifests itself in so many ways

  • Constant hand and face washing,
  • Frequent hand washing finally taking its toll on the skin,
  • Repeated changes of clothes,
  • Reluctance to leave the house or garden,
  • Refusal to touch many items – telephones, handles, gates, letters, food packaging, surfaces and clothes which have not been washed that very day,
  • Trips to the bathroom every time a bug or fly brushes against him (summer and living next to farm land mean that can be every few minutes),
  • Refusal to venture anywhere near strangers and anyone outside of our household – one of the reasons I can’t arrange for someone to come and repair our boiler,
  • Any food deliveries or parcels having to go into quarantine for at least 4 days before they are let into the house.

So we battle on. Eventually his nurse counsellor will be able to see him but until then it’s self care.

  • We try to maintain a diary. Record and document the anxieties. Try to get a handle on what we are dealing with. Is it improving or getting worse. What improves things and what makes things worse.
  • Trying to balance avoidance with small doses of learning exposure. Yes avoidance works but it doesn’t address the route cause. So carefully controlled small anxiety exposures needs to be factored in. Yesterday that involved both of us putting our hands on the grass for a minute. Then without washing our hands observe if anything bad happens….
  • Trying to slowly control the hand washing. Setting a time limit on the seconds he is allowed to wash his hands for. Currently that’s the time it takes to say a nursery rhyme. Trying to encourage him not to use soap for a number of the hand washes. Get into the habit of properly washing hands when IT IS NECESSARY.
  • Yes he has a range of fears but we can’t deal with them all at the same time. So we only ever deal with one fear at a time.
  • Allow as much access to those things which help him relax. If he wants to go on YouTube, or play an Xbox Game, or watch a movie – then he does….

We all have fears and anxieties. Some disappear, new ones appear and some stay with us for life. With Autism and Aspergers these fears can so easily be ramped up. Yes we hopefully can find ways to eliminate our worries but realistically some fears are with us for life. I guess the secret is trying to provide a range of tools and strategies which we can have at our disposal to help manage those fears when they strike. In that way it still allows us to keep living and enjoying life. That’s the plan with our son.

Horse Racing

Another post and another rose. At least I can grow a few roses. That’s a start isn’t it. A start is usually a good thing…. In this post today means yesterday thanks to WordPress refusing to post last night.

This morning I started looking at employment options. It looks like my job will get mothballed for many months. It’s so dependent on public and sporting events. Realistically these will not properly restart any time soon. So it looks like the sensible decision is to close the company down and then relook to launch again in 2021. Which leaves a decision to be made. As it’s a great fit with my single parent circumstances, do I try to survive on savings until it’s back again? Or do I find something different to either fill in the gap or completely change career path again. So today I today I started looking at available options. I have to say trying to find a job I can make fit round our Son is not easy. I really fell on my feet with this current role. Yes the money is not great but the flexibility is such a bonus. Today’s search just confirmed that. Couldn’t find one option which would work for us. Especially when you factor in the potential commitment to full time homeschooling. But I will keep looking.

Dad not sure a Train Driver is a great idea. Even on tracks you would just end up getting lost.”

True…. what about a Zookeeper

Dad your scared on spiders, snakes, wasps and parrots.”

Ok what about a librarian

Your far too noisy and you can’t even put your own books away.”

Pants that’s true. What about a parking attendant. I would get a free hat.

You are too nice, you would never hand out any tickets.”

What about a chef.

Just NO.”

How about a window cleaner.

Have you seen how dirty our windows are”

So after drawing a complete blank we headed outside to contemplate life, the universe and the state of our windows. There we heard a sound which we haven’t listened to since March. Horse Racing… Our nearest neighbour is a lovely elderly lady. I’ve known her for 18 years now. Over those years she has become increasingly frail and hard of hearing. Each year her TV volume needs to be turned up one extra setting. Definitely now turned to 11 on the 10 scale. Which is great as I can turn my music up just a little louder without fear of upsetting the neighbours. Not sure the quaint old village is quite ready for loud Mongolian Throat metal quite yet… Its certainly not something you hear from my neighbours TV.

She only watches one thing really. Horse Racing. Today Horse Racing restarted without crowds, in the UK and it’s most definitely on next door. That means my neighbour is happy. And that’s a good thing.

Dream

I don’t know why but last night I had a dream about a trip we had a couple of years back to Lindisfarne. A place called Holy Island. You have to drive across a long causeway running out into the North Sea. After a few minutes you arrive at the small island. You can only drive onto the island at low tide. The monastery was founded on the island in 634 by Saint Aiden. It became the base for christian evangelicalism in the north of the country. In 793 it was raided by the vikings and that raid is often seen as the start of the Viking age.

Son absolutely loved this place because of the history. He also liked the thought of walking somewhere his mum had been. We had a lovely holiday here before we became a family of 3.

Don’t know why I dreamt about Lindisfarne. In the dream we were stranded by the tide. Couldn’t get off the island and everywhere was locked up. And the vikings were coming….. Not sure if my car security is Viking raider proof. It will almost certainly invalidate the car insurance.

Bizarre dream.

I keep reading that so many people are having weird dreams at present. I’m certainly on that list. Not going to try and explain it. All I can say is that I do like a good dream but not the endless sleepless hours which seem to follow mine these days. But I am so lucky. A warm bed. Hot drinks on tap. A safe home. Books to read. Old photos to look at. And I am not alone. Tired yes but I can work round that. I’m ok as long I’m not asked about Quantum Theory or French Verb Conjunctions…..

Homework

The hardy old rose bush right next to the front door. Against all the odds, it just keeps on giving.

In a few hours the school at home project restarts again. One more 7 week push before we finally arrive at the summer holidays. What kind of Britain will it be? The old normal, the new normal or something else.

This afternoon was glorious. Hot (for here) and sunny. Unbelievably not a single cloud all day. This is Yorkshire remember.

Yes this is Yorkshire but sadly it’s connected to England. Which means it has to live with the Government’s take on education. So while the sun beat down, we were inside. Trying to get homework completed and revision to stick. It’s bizarre that we force kids to work during holidays and weekends AND yet we have a part time Prime Minister who avoids such weekend and holiday work at all costs…. Yet again one rule for the many and another much nicer rule for the few.

The really frustrating thing is what exactly is the homework achieving. Four hours today and what did our Son learn….

What is the point of this Dad. I’ve not learnt one new fact. Not done anything which is interesting. I’m bored out of my mind. My hand hurts from writing and I dislike these subjects even more.”

Sadly I can’t argue with this. The school system here has been deliberately broken. Not by the teachers but by people in The Government. People who enjoyed the benefits of expensive private education. It’s not about developing individual kids now. It’s all about ticking political boxes for those in power. This government will not change its mind. But change is needed. So it will be local change.

We will continue with the school at home project until the summer. Remember this is not homeschooling….this is just trying to do exactly the same school lessons just not with the kids sat at a desk in the cramped classroom. In the summer our Son will decide what he does next. To go back to school or to go for full homeschooling. It’s his call. If he defers to me then he is leaving school. But what to do with the next 7 weeks. We have just brought in a new house rule.

Son will only be expected to do additional homework if it meets one of 3 conditions

  • He will actually learn something from it,
  • He will find it interesting,
  • It actually is going to contribute to his overall assessment. (Staggeringly much homework does not. Frequently it is not even marked in detail and sometimes not at all.)

We did have a fourth condition but that was dropped

Dad that’s a pointless condition. How many kids will honestly admit to actually wanting to do a piece of homework. Definitely never me….”

So if a piece of homework does not meet one of these conditions then he won’t be asked to complete it. I will write into school and let the teacher know. If the school wants to push it then they can deal with me. In our house – I am the headteacher and remember I don’t currently have a PM…..

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of virtual travel. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we visit one of the most stunning places on the planet. Let’s go to Switzerland.

As a child I would visit my towns library. It wasn’t very big. It had masses of a Mills & Boon books. That’s not really going to float a young boys boat. The library didn’t seem to have that many exciting books. But it had one. It was a reference book so I couldn’t take it home. So every Saturday morning I would carefully get this book. Find a comfy seat and read. This was a book about climbing in Switzerland. I would look in awe at the mountain photos and read the daring tales of the brave climbers.

Switzerland seemed like a fantasy world. Too good to be real.

How could a country look this exciting and this beautiful.

I would dream of standing on top of these peaks and gazing out into the distance. My heart racing as I am surrounded by The Alps.

Then fast forward many years and I’m there. I’m stood on some of those very mountains.

Switzerland is real. It’s actually more stunning than I ever imagined.

And next to me is a little boy. A boy starting his love affair with this magical country.

Herd Immunity

Ok social distancing may have gone out of the window in my country but really. In the farmers field as well. Boris Johnson wants to go for the herd immunity approach. Well here it clearly is in operation.

Spain have deemed it’s not safe to open schools up until September. On Monday Boris Johnson is trying to force some English schools to open. According to him – it’s safe. According to an increasing number of the scientists who advise him – it is not.

Over the last three days Spain has has 3 Covid related deaths. The UK has had over a 1000 covid deaths in the same period. Let’s put that further into perspective. The UK total covid deaths yesterday was more than the combined numbers across most of Europe. Adding together the covid related deaths in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Portugal, Belgium, Ireland and Poland and the number is still much lower than here in the UK. This is a virus which has not yet been contained. Yet our Government tells a different story.

Johnson is not fit to lead. He is not my PM. I will ignore him and we will chart our own course. This is one household where schools are most certainly NOT reopening in June….

Many other people are now completely ignoring this shambolic government. People are making their own rules up.

  • When to go out and when to stay in.
  • If they use a face mask (if ever) and what type of mask to use.
  • How close to stand next to someone.
  • To self isolate or not. What symptoms to look for and what symptoms to ignore.
  • When to go to work and when not to.
  • When to stockpile and when not to.
  • Whether they limit travel or are free to travel as far as they like.
  • To use the incomplete contract tracing system or not.
  • Using public transport or not.
  • To go to a packed beach or not.
  • And yes to send kids back to school or not.

I can’t blame people for doing this. I’m doing it. That’s what people do when you give clowns and charlatans the keys to power. My worry is this

Yes many will be cautious and act responsibly. But how many will be reckless and endanger the wider population. From the photos and videos the answer appears to be – far too many.

Epic walls

It’s not quite the Wall from Game of Throne’s. It’s hardly Hadrians Wall, the stuff of history. But it’s our barrier. Our symbolic wall. Marking the edge of our current world.

Yes it’s got nettles growing against it. Even on our side. Ok it was too cold for the Game of Thrones Wall to have nettles but Hadrians Wall has some stinging beauties lurking next to it these days as well…And that’s a World Heritage Site.

“Dad our world is pretty small but it does seem to have its fair share of weeds and nettles.”

Well not that many.

Dad it took us three days to find my football when it went into hedge. The language I learnt when you had to retrieve the ball from the bush. Apparently you got stung a quite few times .”

Yes quite a few times. It’s not big or clever to use bad language. But in my defence we back onto farmland. It’s a haven for weeds. Our fence does feel like a not so big wall trying to keep out the marauders.

“That feeling we got when we visited Hadrians Wall last year. I can remember the date. 15th August. When we imagined what it must have been like for those Roman centurions stood on the wall. Hadrian came to Britain and ordered that the Wall was to built in 122AD. It took 6 years to build and stretched from sea to sea. It was 80 miles long.”

Its definitely an epic wall.

“Our farm fence is not 80 miles long. Maybe 20 paces long. It certainly doesn’t keep out the weeds. But at least it keeps the world out. So it does it’s job.”

Yes it really does. It allows a space for an Aspergers mind to flourish. A place to breathe and feel safe. So yes it’s an epic wall. A wall to be so thankful for.

Scratches and baking

Can’t really claim this one. I cut the grass for one of my elderly neighbours. Yes it’s a beauty but wow has it left some scratches on my arm over the years.

I guess this bush proves the theory that some successes have to be earned. Or maybe it’s just – don’t wear T-shirt’s and shorts when your gardening near anything with thorns. It’s all about on the edge gardening.

Why don’t we apply this theory to baking. Dangerous baking.

Soon it’s going to be this years Bloggers Bake-off (July 18/19th). Last years was so much fun. So many wonderful creations and some interesting ones. Guess which pile mine fell in to. I played it safe and just went for a chocolate kinda cake. And it almost went horribly wrong.

Well this year let’s up the anti. Let’s wear our horrible baker badge with honour. No more hiding. Let’s be bad and proud. So this year I need your help. Here’s the plan.

I want to try and bake the hardest thing possible. Yes something I can get the ingredients for (or substitute them). But I want an epic challenge. No practices. No safety net. One attempt on the day. Photograph what ever abomination is created. What could possibly go wrong.

So I am looking for suggestions. What nightmare baking creation can I have a go at. Hopefully something which is so beyond my abilities that it threatens the space-time continuum.

So hope you will join in the fun.

Cows

The grass cutters have finally arrived. Always a great watch. Even the cows seem to be practicing a bit of social distancing.

Dad did I hear that right we have a track and trace policy going now.”

Yes, after abandoning it in March (as it was deemed to be pointless by the Government) they have now decided it’s a good idea. They have apparently employed 25000 people to do the tracing. Unfortunately the software still doesn’t work.

We don’t believe that number do we.”

No Son we don’t. It’s just lie after lie now.

Apparently it’s cool to go on the beaches now. Maybe they have decided the virus doesn’t like sand and donkeys.”

Sniggering. Yes that might be the case. Since last weekend many of our beaches have been crammed full with tourists. Basically people started ignoring what the government was wittering on about. If it’s ok for the Governments Top Man then it’s ok for us. They have lost control. Now the so called PM is saying it’s official policy to get the beach towels out as so many were doing it anyway. ”

“The science has stopped being used.”

Yep Son it’s gone out of the window.

So if someone goes onto a beach with the virus. Extremely likely given the numbers still with it. Then those trackers are supposed to find who is now at risk.”

That’s the plan. Basically the conversation will go something like this.

  • So you have tested positive, we need to trace who you came into contact with?
  • I went to the beach, used the toilet, rode on the donkeys, queued for chips and went into a shop to buy ice cream.
  • Who did you come into contact with?
  • Thousands of strangers. Best of luck tracing them….

Well Dad at least the donkeys can be traced.”

Don’t forget the seagulls who pinched the chips.

You know what Dad. Let’s give the beach a miss for 2020.”

Can’t really blame him….