Pointing

One of the advantages of exercising first thing in the morning is once I’ve finished I get a chance to enjoy the view. It always amazes me how damp our ground can get when we have had no rain for days.

Clearly it’s very easy to feel damp. The weather can cause such sudden changes. It like life and the soul.

I was putting together a post for tomorrow. A Swiss Sunday post. Looking through some photos. Then I came across one. Looks like one of those family photos. I’ve cropped this one down severely. The photo is my partner sitting next to our son on a bench.

How had I missed this photo for so many years. It’s from 2015 and our last trip to Switzerland. The last day of the trip. My partner was not very well and on a lot of medication. We didn’t know how ill she was. The doctors didn’t. Exactly one year later she was in a hospice and she was gone a few days later.

Finding this photo shook me in two ways.

Firstly this might be our very last family photo. The last photo of Hawklad with his mum. Don’t think there was another photo with my partner in. I had never thought about that . Never thought about the last photo. Well this is probably it.

Then there is one more thing about this photo. A completely forgotten memory. It’s what my partner is pointing at. I think she knew what was on the horizon. That afternoon we randomly seemed to get onto the subject of where she would like her ashes scattered. She is pointing at one of the places . A rocky outcrop overlooking a beautiful lake. It wasn’t a serious conversation. Our son helpfully suggesting some interesting places to consider. I didn’t take it seriously. We surely had many years to go. Finding this photo has really shaken me. As I say I had forgotten about the photo. I didn’t know she was actually pointing at where she wanted her ashes scattering.

I really don’t know what to say.

One thing is that it’s a beautiful location.

I wasn’t sure about posting this at all. But what did convince me was one thought. You just don’t know what is around the corner. Don’t assume you have time. If you have dreams to live, don’t wait, try to do them now.

Another week.

So that’s the first week of the next instalment of our school at home project. The first was when the whole school was doing online education. This time most of the school is back but our son is still trying to home school via online education.

So how has it gone?

I think the best word to use is Patchy. Actually two words – Very Patchy.

A few teachers are making sure that Hawklad is keeping up. They try to share as many class notes as possible. Provide structured work and will mark it. Then you get some teachers who send a few summary notes, not much but at least it gives us a feel for what our son should be looking at. Then some teachers are just dumping the whole terms class assignments across (without instructions). So for one subject that was a single 70 page document filled with questions. No idea how much and when the work is submitted. No idea the format. Poor Hawklad is convinced that he needs to complete all the booklet right now. So much stress for him. Then you get some subjects where we get absolutely nothing. And I mean nothing. In terms of pastoral care again it is nothing.

So definitely very patchy. Speaking to school I suspect that will be the case going forward. Fingers crossed that those teachers trying to support Hawklad will continue to do so. It’s good to have a few subjects where Hawklad feels like he is on top of things. Keeping up with his classmates.

At present we are working on getting through to the end of October and have another think about things. It’s a milestone to work to but it is highly likely that it won’t represent the end of the project. Hawklad is just starting on a very long road of help and counselling. Any progress is likely to be hard fought and slow. The School at a Home project will be a long one, well past the next 7 weeks.

Much patience is required and never losing sight that his wellbeing always comes first. Schooling comes behind that.

Lost Stories

That’s a leaf that clearly has a story to tell.

We all have so many stories to tell. Wonderful stories. Stories that tell us about life. Characters. Events. Even reveal things about ourselves.

It’s sad when those stories are lost. When the are lost they are lost forever.

I’ve lost so many people in my life. Friends, grandparents , parents, even my partner. All had stories to tell. One of my biggest regrets is that the importance of stories didn’t sink in until far too late. Not until they had left this world. So many stories went with them. All I can do now is just shake my head at the thought of how little I really know about those loved ones. Can I even remember how their voices sounded!

Now I look back and wonder what could have been. If only I had found more time to listen. To ask more questions. To write some words down. Maybe even record them. How treasured would it be to listen to some of those lost voices again, to listen to them tell their stories. Even just to hear those voice again talking about routine stuff. Just before my partner went into the hospital for the final time she left me a voice mail. Seemingly nothing important, can’t even remember what it was about. Why didn’t I save that. Why didn’t I save that last voicemail from my mum asking for some items from the local shop.

These are real regrets. Please don’t make the same mistakes I made. Some mistakes can’t be fixed.

We are in this together!

Apparently we are in this all together.

In the UK our Test and Trace system is supposed to be World Leading. Sorry time to shake head and mutter. In practice it has collapsed for many. This true story says it all. Schools are struggling to get those showing symptoms tested. In many areas tests are just not available. I know one school where a number of teachers and students are showing symptoms but local tests have not been available for over a week. The only option for those who are sick has been the offer to travel on a road trip to Shropshire for a potential (not guaranteed) test. That’s a round trip of 470 miles. Because test results are not available the school has not been allowed to go into full lockdown measures.

Remember we are all in this together.

Yesterday our loathsome government told us to Stop Carping and celebrate the phenomenal success of the government’s Test and Trace approach.

Ok I will try. I’m a simple person. I’m seeing an approach which has a Test and a Trace system. Most can’t get a Test, there is a massive backlog of test samples (more than 200000), timeframes are missed, sick are having to travel for hours and then queue, results are inaccurate, we don’t have enough kits. Ok. Let’s look at the Trace system. Currently even by the governments own figures the tracing system is contacting way less than 50% of those they urgently need to contact. That’s an awful lot of people who should be shielding who just don’t know. So in our phenomenal Test and Trace system – Testing has failed, Tracing is failing. So ok if we exclude the test and trace elements, then the Test and Trace system might be a phenomenal success.

Remember we are all in this together.

If you to virtually all schools in the country, they have returned without tests. It’s not considered important for those teachers, pupils, support staff and families. Only when someone has symptoms is it then deemed necessary to have a test.

Many of our government went to a very select and expensive private school – Eton. When Eton returned all staff and pupils had covid tests whether they needed them or not. It was deemed essential for them.

We are all in this together.

The shape of bread to come

See the sun does shine in Yorkshire – occasionally.

How can baking be so hard. Everything seemed to be going so well and then you end up with very odd shape bread. One day, one day.

Maybe I can blame these baking woes on a lack of sleep. At least it ended up tasting ok. So it’s kind of a result.

I was sat drinking my herbal tea and having my misshapen bread with some hummus. Really, is this what life has become….. sudden urge for proper coffee and a sausage roll. But that is life currently for me. I might wish for something else but circumstances dictate otherwise. Wow that feeling could cover so many things. But at that precise moment my eyes wandered to a book on the table. A book about Ski Jumping. One small dream is remembered.

I have always wanted to go to and see just one Ski Jumping competition. Have never got round to doing that. Circumstances have repeatedly prevented that. Now as a single parent with a son who struggles to get to the front gate of the house, those circumstances seem to be even more insurmountable. Another winter will pass. It’s definitely not happening this season. Maybe not for a number of years.

Yes it’s a little deflating but don’t get me wrong. That dream hasn’t died. It’s still there. Still cherished. The future still offers hope. Just have to deal with the here and now. In all likelihood autumn and winter will see no real change in our circumstances. The next 6 months will be largely restricted to our house and garden. Very few social encounters. Single parenting day in day out. More days of dodgy bread and hummus lunches. But it is what it is. Will just deal with that. But I won’t forget those special dreams. That what keeps me going.

Lost in the snow

I found this old photo just randomly lying in the bottom of a box of all junk. I don’t know why I kept it. I’m thankful now as it reminds me of a long forgotten memory. I can’t remember which mountain it was. Not sure even which country it is in. Anyway it’s from over 20 years ago. I had been solo climbing . Not a difficult climb but it took a few hours of hard work. Definitely needed ropes and was very definitely vertical. Best described as a 200ft cliff. At the top of the climb it immediately opened up onto the summit top. A large and very gentle dome. As I scrambled over the edge I saw a figure stood in the distance. No idea why but I took a photo. He turned and watched me slowly walk towards him. I must have been a sight. Full winter climbing gear, ropes, ice axes. Completely sodden with all the wet snow. Steam rising off me. I had some blood dripping onto the snow from an encounter with a particularly sharp rock. I felt bad about staining the snow.

Next followed one of those conversations that just stay with you.

********

“Hello, it looks like you have had fun”

It was hard work but fun. It’s very, very steep.

“Your bleeding”

It’s ok, looks worse than it is.

“I’m lost, I’m trying to work out which way it is back down”

Where are you trying to get to.

“I want to get back to my car. Is the way down your way?”

No, no, no, no, no. Most definitely not that way.

“Oh I wonder which way it is then.”

At a guess with the position of the sun, the time and the atmospheric conditions. It’s that way behind you.

“Wow you good, how can you tell from that”.

I really can’t but I can clearly see your footprints in the snow. I’m guessing you just need to follow them all the way down.

*********

And a few seconds later he was off retracing his footprints. Now I could go on about the risks of winter hillwalking when your clearly not properly prepared. But actually how often do we all find ourselves in that position. Rapidly out of our depths, lost, confused, unprepared and probably very tired. Not forgetting how close we are to potentially walking off the cliff edge. I certainly feel that way quite often.

Yes I’m glad I kept that photo.

A time to dream

Life becomes really hard when you stop dreaming. When you stop imagining a wonderful holiday, the perfect job, achieving a goal, publishing that book, being with someone, seeing that better life. Whatever the Dream is, they are precious but they are so easily switched off. I’ve been there. It’s a not a good place to be. After I lost my partner, my dreams did switch off. All I saw was a void. Nothing to look forward to. No reason to hope. Nothing was going to change.

I was lucky in that I did have something to drive me on. I still had to be a parent. Actually a double parent now. In effect my life continued because our son needed me. I lived life through somebody else’s eyes. Unfortunately far too many with dreams switched off don’t have such luck. That’s a dark, scary and lonely place to be.

But dreams are always there. It still can be a wonderful life. It’s all about finding a way of switching them back on again. It took me a long time but now they are back. I can see some wonderful dreams again. Now I have to nurture them. Cherish them. Those dream muscles need to be worked out each day. Make them stronger. Make those dreams more real. Fine tune them for me.

Hopefully one day I can harvest them now.

Another sign

Another sign. Another sign that autumn is fast approaching.

Signs are always useful. Like signs from school. Signs telling us what on Earth are we supposed to be doing.

School did say that the individual subject teachers would be hopefully in touch to let Hawklad know what he is supposed to be doing while he is doing the enforced ‘school at home’ project. Teachers are really busy. We are not expecting one to one help or lots of telephone calls. But I was hoping for maybe just one email for each subject just summarising the work requirement for the lesson or the week. Maybe another email to check if he is doing ok.

So far only one teacher has emailed once setting out what is expected of Hawklad for that subject. Luckily one of the new Teaching Assistants is really trying to help as well. She is attempting to contact the teachers and remind them about Hawklad. She has sometimes obtained some more information that she has passed onto us. But she is struggling as well. Plus she has her existing class responsibilities which she can’t just drop.

So in a nutshell we are really none the wiser about what is going on in most of the classes. We don’t even know what topics are being looked at. So the school day consists maybe of one 90 minute block when Hawklad can do a reasonably full lesson. The rest of the day is filled with looking at blank screens and empty school email boxes. All we can do is wait and randomly pick some educational videos to watch. It’s all so very frustrating.

So definite signs of Autumn arriving, signs of meaningful school help would be most welcome.

Madness of King Boris

Here’s a thought for you. A view of another part of Yorkshire. Still green. Still beautiful. Unfortunately still covered by the madness of King Boris. Now imagine. Insert a group of 7 people. Two famines with children. They come from two different households. They have been carefully observing all the rules. They meet for a picnic just beside the lake. Currently they are braking the law and will be fined £10000.

Now change the image. Same location but this time the two loving and careful families are replaced. This time by 30 strangers. Possible drinking. 30 strangers dressed in green. They sit together. Eat and drink together. Ignore all social distancing rules. Each has a shotgun and are called Grouse Shooters. Now this is completely legal. Exempt from any Covid Rules. Even specifically encouraged by our Government.

That’s the madness of King Boris.

Morning has broken

The scene after I had just finished my early morning exercise session. I might be tired but it’s so nice exercising outside, in the sun, and yes when it’s almost warm. Not so much fun in a few months time when it’s freezing, dark and chucking it down with rain.

Well finally school has broken into some action.

  • A confirmed timetable
  • A list of teachers
  • Some class materials starting to appear on the system
  • Some work assigned
  • A method of submitting work kind of established.

Took some negotiating but at least we have a start. Something to work with.

Ok Dad it’s your favourite subject, ART. What do you know about Japanese Art? And don’t mention Manga…”

Errrmmmmmmm. Let me think for a few minutes. Manga!

Useless Dad. Ok apart from Manga what do you know about Japanese Art?

Errrmmmmmmm. Godzilla.

That’s not much help. Apart from Magna and Godzilla, what do you know about Japanese Art?”

Errrmmmmmmm. Mothra and Ghidorah

Still not much help DAD. So apart from Godzilla monsters do you know anything about Japanese Art?”

What about Rodan.

Dad no more Godzilla monsters. Your basically going to be not much help as usual.”

Yes Hawklad, sadly no help at all unless Art becomes a Godzilla Fight Scene.

Useless. Mum would have been a great help. She was great with Art and Culture. I’m stuck with comic boy…”

Yes but your mum would be no use when King Ghidorah attacked. It’s all about priorities. And your mum liked comics. I once bought her the complete TinTin comic compendium.”

Don’t you think mum would have preferred some flowers.”

Probably……

But in my defence the previous Christmas your mum had bought me a ‘Dance Hits of the 80s’ cd. She knew a metal head like me would really appreciate that type of music. So you don’t always get what you want.

Bit like me and wanting a parent who might know just a little bit about Japanese Art…”