Is it really 7 years since we were last in Switzerland. SEVEN YEARS. That’s a crazy and seriously sobering thought.
Is our much smaller family any closer to returning? Well we have various plans to get there but ultimately it all depends on how Hawklad is doing and feeling. It’s just about keeping the light burning brightly and being patient.
Patience is the word.
Before I started visiting this wonderful country, I desperately wanted to see two massive Swiss Treasures. The mighty mountains, The Eiger and The Matterhorn. The Eiger was an immediate success. On my first trip, I could see the mountain as the train carried us away from the airport and towards Spiez. Then the next day, a trip in Spring snow to Grindelwald, the clouds parted to reveal its awesomeness. Every holiday seemed to bring more and more epic Eiger encounters.
Then we come to The Matterhorn, the PESKY mountain. The clouds never seemed to part, the mountain never made an appearance. For years it was like that. Summer, Autumn, Spring, Late Winter, always the same result. Arrive at Zermatt and the thickest of clouds had rolled in. But with patience, eventually the clouds did part. That first time as I pushed baby Hawklad in his pushchair, trying to stop him bawling out Zermatt high street. It was seriously cloudy, one last not so hopeful look and unbelievably the clouds parted for a few brief seconds. It was so worth the wait. I so wish I could find that photo I managed to take in those brief moments . But the spell was broken and from then on, no more mountain in hiding.
So yes, let’s hope for a return to this magical land. Just got to be PATIENT.
“What is the point of this. Will I ever need most of the stuff I’m having to learn…..”
Not much at all…..
Parrot fashion, trying to cram in formula after formula, memorising orders, big words, diagrams, tables, definitions.
Today it was all about learning how to calculate half-life’s. Memorising the charge, mass, ionisation, equations for alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Trying to force in the ways to calculate SIN, COSINES and TANGENT, apparently learning the abbreviation SOHCAHTOA helps with that 🤦♂️😱. Then it was trying to memorise chemical formula for the production of photosynthesis, respiration and I don’t know what. Finally it was trying to have a photographic recognition of the teacher annotations for various random love poems. If I see any more references to enjambment or anaphora then I’m going to scream and I’m not the one trying to learn this rubbish.
What is the point.
So when Hawklad asked, ‘Did you learn anything from school that you could use’, what could I say.
Could I honestly say lots to set me up for life then. NO. Why are we doing this to our children. Is it for them or is it for others.
I remember one glorious Chemistry A Level lesson when we spent a lovely sunny afternoon outside while the science blocked was made safe after a gas fume leak. For some reason the Fume Cupboard had failed as we undertook some mind numbingly boring experiment, so we got the rest of the day off. Bart Simpson would be so proud if some one had pulled that prank off.
So did I learn anything from school, YES.
I learnt how to disable a FUME CUPBOARD. Now that proved really useful, I just wish Hawklad could find something similar.
It’s Sunday and it’s the perfect time to think dreamily of a place that means so much to our little family, Beautiful Switzerland.
I don’t know why but my mind went back to my first ever visit to this alpine heaven. We had just arrived at Geneva Airport on a deep blue sky day. I couldn’t get over seeing The Alps for the first time. Definitely even better than I had ever imagined. As we made our way through Passport Control, the Security Officer checking our ID was very formal with perfect English. He asked if this was the first time we had visited Switzerland. When I said it was my first time, the Officer looked at me and said.
Support from school seemingly dwindling away. A school report that had more gaps and missing information than a Donald Trump Tax Return. But at least I had booked video slots with each teacher on the Year 11 Online Parent Evening. A chance to get feedback, to give an update on how Hawklad is doing, to plan the next few months. Teachers spending time with every parent… well all apart from one parent.
Ok….. 20 minutes from the start of the first online teacher meeting and then an automated email from the booking system…
Our meetings had all been cancelled by School……
The reason from the Head of Year
They (some of his teachers) are concerned that; because they have not seen him in school for a number of years they do not have a great deal of feedback for you.
For a start the teachers have made no effort to contact him in two years, it’s been us trying to chase them. Hawklad has been diligently completing every piece of work that appears on the online school system, sending his work in, completing every single piece of homework that appears on the system, completing the tests and papers. He’s been doing that for two years. I’m sorry but the teachers should have more than enough feedback on that. The only conclusion is that most of his work has not even been looked at by school. The blanks on his report, the lack of any teacher marking on his work provide further evidence of that. Plus surely a teacher would want to know how one of their students is doing if they are not able to see that pupil in person. What’s going well, what’s not going do well. Find out if there is anything they can help him with.
So where does that leave Hawklad apart from having a school that doesn’t care. A school more than happy to pick up his state funding and then reallocate it to other budgets. A request for external support to be funded from his education funds was turned down just two months ago. The Head deemed that it wasn’t a priority for his limited budget..
So the Award winning School is down to one job now, arrange Hawklad’s exams, exam location and invigilators. That’s a nightmare to organise as a parent in this country. Even with that job school had to be forced into doing that, they clearly were considering not enrolling him for the exams. I’m trying to find out if they have even bothered talking to the Exam Board about Hawklad’s unique circumstances.
His education and exam preparation will be without school support. If school do try to help then it will be a bonus but we are not holding our breath. I will try to find ways to get him a place at a college which does not rely on these upcoming exams. If I can then I will give Hawklad the option of not sitting the exams. He really could do without the additional anxiety that this process is already starting to heap up on him. He is also at such a massive disadvantage in these exams compared to his classmates, almost like he is being set up to fail by school. Set up to fail not because of his abilities or hard work, but because he doesn’t fit the education system.
We are just 5 months from the final exams. Hawklad wants college as the next step forward in September. Maybe college in person, maybe home based. It’s all about helping him get there. Whether that’s via these pesky exams or through a Plan B, we shall see.
Just deleted the first attempt at writing this post. A nice, positive, happy post about School – NOT. For some reason I found myself writing far too many words with like #@#!ing or #!¥€ed or #@it. Words probably that would upset even the most relaxed Profanity Filter.
Must think relaxational music and meditational poses.
OK. Talk school another day when I’m just a little less like a seriously grumpy Honey Badger, let’s just say it was almost my Hulk Smash moment as a result of the School Parent Evening.
Time to talk Pets….
I have been conducting extensive scientific experimentation into the eating preferences of a mad dog. Everyday for 2 weeks I have put three types of food on his plate
Mince or Chicken (used to hide his hay fever medicine)
Cheese (used to hide his yucky dog medicine).
The results are clear. Every single time he scoffs the cheese and indirectly, medicine first. Then it’s demolish the mince or chicken. Finally and reluctantly he picks at the dog food. Clearly Captain Chaos has become a cheese monster, maybe he’s been watching too much Wallace and Gromit.
AND watching Wallace & Gromit is way more uplifting and constructively educational than Hawklad’s Useless School could ever be.
Have you ever nearly been arrested at Airport Security.
It almost happened twice to me, twice in 7 days.
Heading towards a family trip to wonderful Switzerland, we found ourselves going through airport security at Leeds Bradford Airport. I was taking a young Hawklad through the dreaded body scanner when Hawklad set the scanner off. Apparently he had an alien object in his shoe sole. Several large armed guards quickly surrounded us….
His muppet Dad had completely forgotten that his new shoes had a hidden special feature. A small Transformer like toy in a compartment located underneath the sole.
That took some explaining before we made it onto the flight……
Unbelievably as we boarded the plane, the Pilot let Hawklad look round the cockpit prior to takeoff. Not sure that was supposed to happen these days. Still Hawklad loved that and yes the pilot was asked about every button.
A spectacular week in The Alps and then trouble at the airport again. This time at Zurich.
Going through passport security, and we faced the question – ‘have you anything to declare’. Hawklad helpfully answered that one.
A couple of days earlier we had visited Zermatt on a seriously hot day. This parent had treated Hawklad to an ice lolly and for himself, an ice cold SHANDY. Hawklad was puzzled by my drink. What’s that. I explained it was mucky beer and lemonade. Dad can I try it. Mum was off somewhere and out of sight. Why not, a small sip.
So to the question, ANYTHING TO DECLARE, Hawklad decided to come clean.
YES, MY DAD GAVE ME A MUCKY BEER…
Thankfully this time I wasn’t surrounded my armed guards.
You know what, I really miss those holidays. I wish I was in Switzerland right now. I’m dreaming.
76 MONTHS. This PUP was born in the week Hawklad’s mum passed away. Isn’t that a sobering thought. Why does 76 months sound so much longer than 6 and a bit years.
Stuff has changed in those 76 months, yet other stuff is still the same. Still walking these same muddy tracks. Still trying to figure out the parenting gig. Still trying to juggle things while still trying to pay the bills. Still spending far too much time having conversations with myself. Still not get enough sleep. Still fighting the school system. Still getting post addressed to Hawklad’s mum. Still getting those feelings of guilt. Still getting those pangs of anger. Still feeling like life is on hold.
But yes, some stuff changed. 74 months ago a Mad Pup walked in and that is just about the best decision I made in those 76 months.
We met some fantastic people on our trips to Switzerland, these stars added so much warmth to our times in this great land. The Hotel Owner from our favourite holiday base was one of these characters. A man of boundless energy and enthusiasm, someone who had packed so much into his long life. So many stories. An encounter with Audrey Hepburn. A skiing extra in a James Bond movie. A meal with a famous tennis star, bizarrely me and Hawklad literally bumped into and got a smile from a French Open winner on a street in Gstaad.
The time some American Business Men arrived at his hotel for a skiing holiday in the middle of a boiling hot summer….. Helping out on the making of a Bollywood movie. Meeting Roger Moore. I could go on and on. I’m sure we only scratched the surface of his life in the chats we would have as he watched over perfect hotel breakfasts.
The time he overheard Hawklad talk about one day going to a circus and he immediately got on the phone to one of his friends who was a circus owner. Within minutes we had tickets to a circus which was passing through the region during our week holiday.
Or the time we were in Switzerland during early June and the weather was glorious. So glorious and seemingly settled that we had suitcases filled with summer clothing only. As we sat having breakfast in shorts, he came over with a concerned look. ‘Have you any warm clothes, it’s going to snow today’. When we said no, he hurried off and brought back some fleeces, gloves and wooly hats. And guess what, within a couple of hours, the snow arrived.
Yes this is a special country with special people. I can’t wait to get back there.
Those of a certain age like me think ‘Tiger Feet’ when MUD is mentioned.
Apparently our area is still under a DROUGHT order and we are banned from using hosepipes. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
How is it possible to lose stuff in a small bungalow. Only so many places to look and still things go missing. Maybe one day I might stumble across a goldmine of lost treasures. This time I was looking for some of mum’s cds. Now that would be a musical goldmine. Sinatra, Martin, Cash, Crosby, Davis Jnr. Where had I stored them in this small bungalow back in 2016. Absolutely no sign of them but I did come across my partners cd’s, quietly collecting dust in one hardly visited corner of this little old building. More music untouched since 2016.
Back 6 years ago those cd’s were far too painful to touch. Today I thumbed through them, without pain.
With TIME things can change.
Going through these cd’s one thought kept crossing my mind. Wow she had some appalling tastes in music, well at least to an old headbanger like me. Yes there where one or two gems but wow, so much nameless dance club music. I had forgotten just how little our musical likes ever coincided.
With zero chance of most of these cds ever getting played, a decision was made to relocate them to the attic until I can get them to the charity shop.
CDs should be played and not just sit there collecting dust.
‘And not just sit there collecting dust’, thinking about it, you can apply those words to people as well. I should remember that.
A time just before parenthood and I was sat in Departure Lounge at Zurich Airport, waiting for a plane back to England. Opposite was a young couple clearly waiting for the same plane. As we chatted they excitedly described their first venture into this wonderful land called Switzerland. I remember them saying that they had found a wonderland. They told a story about being caught out in heavy rain while walking and a local farmer brought them into his house for a warm drink. When the rain didn’t pass he drove them to the nearest train station.
Here’s the irony. Probably during the very same rainstorm, we were walking through beautiful Gstaad and guess what, yes the heavens truly opened. Proper RAIN. We tried to take shelter in the nearest doorway. Quickly the door opened and we were beckoned inside. In Swiss German we were told to ‘come inside before we got soaked’. We were treated to Italian coffee and cake as the storm passed over. Our hosts being truly kind and nice. I remember joking that if this had been England, the door would have been quickly bolted shut with us still outside. The smiling response said it all..
“Probably, but this is Switzerland and it’s just different here…”
It so is…..
And to be fair to Gstaad, every other time we have been there the weather has been perfect. Plus they do a mighty fine watermelon….