Where did that week go. Was it really 7 days since I was spouting on about a family holiday to that dream land called Switzerland. For Hawklad’s Granny’s seventh birthday we found ourselves in the alpine mountain top village of Wengen. Over 4000ft up in the stunning Alps. Granny decided that a seventh birthday deserved a race. She would take the leisurely way using the cable cars and trains. Unlike in my case, age brings much wisdom. The rest of the family would race her down by walking the mountain path down into the valley. Who would arrive in Lauterbrunnen first. A wonderful village set in a mountain valley of 72 waterfalls…..
Never going to be a contest. Rickety legs versus the precision perfectness of Swiss Public Transport. But what a walk down into the valley. Impossible to take your eyes off one the worlds most atmospheric mountains, The Eiger.
Happy memories. The family is much smaller now but the memories are still strong. Can’t wait to return to that magical land.
Some days the brain just won’t engage. Some days like that merge into some weeks. Some weeks even merge into some months, then you find the seasons feel the same. I try not to admit it but that’s what happens when your tired. You learn to push through it but your still tired.
It does strange things to you.
Hawklad fancied a cake today. The type of cake doesn’t matter, let’s just say it’s one I haven’t tried to bake before. But what could go wrong. I had a step by step recipe and I had all the ingredients.
So I started. Carefully following the steps. Initially felt like it was high end baking but then nagging doubts set in. This seemed an odd recipe. The ingredients seemed right but the measures seemed very odd. Very random. Then the brain fog parted briefly, but just long enough. It’s not random, the measures are going up in order.
1 measure of lime juice
2 measures of melted butter
3 measures of brown sugar……
Ok but now it’s 6 eggs. How can it be SIX eggs.
Oh pants. I was misreading the recipe. What I thought was measures was in fact the STEP numbers. It wasn’t SIX eggs, it was STEP SIX which if I had read it correctly would have required TWO eggs. Definitely OH PANTS…… Well in for a penny. Might as well stick to the mistake. So yes I used 6 eggs and continued with the sequential measuring system.
The end result. An absolute DISASTER.
A rather sickly tasting bread. Definitely more bread than cake. Sickly might be stage 7. Ended up with 7 measures cinnamon. Well at least the Birds enjoyed it.
Yes tiredness does strange things to the mind. Messing up baking is one thing, I just hope I’m not messing up much more important things.
Yes wet but still great for exploring our little part of the world. Even the mad one can always find things that stop him in his tracks….
School have agreed to book in a formal review meeting for Hawklad. He is supposed to get one every year but a pandemic rather messes up the normal. A lot has changed since the last one. COVID became a word. Hawklad taught himself to read. So let’s see what options school can give Hawklad for the final academic year. We need to see options for what happens if he returns to school in September. If he returns part time in September. If his return is further delayed. If he can’t go back at all. It’s one last push to get more support for him. An NHS Consultant has agreed to attend as well, definitely one last push on School. We are not entirely hopeful…..
The Government made a big promise about funding extra help to pupils to catch up following Covid, sadly it’s more hot air, bluster and fibs. Hundreds of millions can be found for a Royal Yacht but not for the children. There is another source of funding but school decided not to apply as they thought that there was little additional support that could be successfully offered to Hawklad. Rather frustratingly Pupil, Parent and Medical Professionals were not consulted……
NO, not entirely hopeful but let’s see what one last push can achieve.
Almost 11 years to the day we had headed to Switzerland for a weeks holiday. This time it was different, a celebration for her mum’s 70th birthday. Many of her family were also arriving that week as well. As part of that week we all made our way Murren. A stunning ski resort set high up in the Alps. A special place as it is cut off from the motoring world. You can’t drive there. The only way is via spectacular cable cars and connected trains.
Wow does that make a difference to the feel of the village. The quiet.
Like the rest of the week, deep blue skies and glorious weather. A wonderful walk around the quiet streets. Then a perfect meal on a hotel balcony overlooking the snow covered mountains.
Next week let’s complete the special family day out.
A bright, warm autumnal morning back in 2016. I was driving back from The Crematorium with my Partners Ashes secured with the seatbelt to the passenger seat. A never ending torture drive. That might well have been my lowest point. That morning I had seemingly been ok until the Ashes were handed to me. Handed to me in what can only be described as a container that resembled something you would see traditional old sweets sold in. A Sweet Jar. Then the weight, it was surprisingly heavy. It wasn’t until back in the car that the reality hit home. Less than a month ago she sat in that car seat, now it was her ashes. It became such a painful memory that I had to sell that car within weeks.
Now in 2022 she is in two containers. An undertaker divided the ashes into two. One secured, wrapped with the necessary paperwork to go abroad. One in a matching unsecured container. The Sweet Jar now gone, replaced by cylinder containers like you get Malt Whiskey presented in. For 6 years they have sat on a sideboard, waiting. Now unexpectedly we are sorting a small portion out for a family member.
It was a surprisingly easy call to say YES to the family member but I can’t begin to tell you just how much I fretted over the DOING part of the process. Odd as it’s not the first time I’ve dealt with ashes. I scattered my mums ashes over her family grave. A potential emotional meltdown saved by the presence of a cute squirrel simultaneously digging away on the very next grave. Mum would have loved the humour in that. Rather than buckets of tears, SMILES.
This time around this felt a million miles from smiles. I was really uneasy and unnerved. What was the appropriate way to do this. Do I say prayers. Do I explain to the ashes what I’m doing. Do I wear gloves and a mask. What do I use to do this. I felt clueless and lost. Prayers and I talked her through what I was doing. I could almost here her voice telling me off for doing this all wrong. I carefully unscrewed the lid off one of the containers. What can only be described as a ‘ring-pull’ was next. I had a crazy thought, what happens if it goes pop like one of those party poppers, ashes going everywhere. I wasn’t smiling, I was panicking. No pop, no disaster this time.
Then the next issue. This bit might be gross. How do I get some of the ashes out. In the end I opted for an old spoon. A spoon my partner used to stir her tea with. It’s been unused in 6 years. And here’s the thing. I can’t just put it in the sink and wash the spoon now. That can’t be right. So it’s going to sit next to the ashes until called upon again.
I can’t spill a single grain. Not one. I have never been more careful. What on Earth happens if I get this bit wrong. Unbelievably my nerve held and my inner muppet stayed hidden. Well almost hidden….
I searched the house and every draw for a container or small bag to put the ashes in. All I could find was a food freezer bag. Too big and surely inappropriate. I can’t put my partner in a bag with the following instructions emblazoned across the front.
Consume within one month of freezing.
Once defrosted consume within one day.
Just NO. Here was the next best option. Please don’t be too hard on me. The only other clear, small plastic bags I could find were a few unopened mini lego sets that came in the Star Wars Advent Calendar. Yes I carefully opened two, removed the lego and used them. A Stormtrooper and a droid now without bag. So one bag inside of the other, ashes inside. Sealed tight with cello tape. I’m shaking me head at the thought.
Carefully wrapped up, the ashes headed on a journey. Several hundred miles. By POST. Yes I put a stamp on and posted them . Was that wrong. What is the protocol. I did check if it was legal. I had fears that they would be impounded. But in the UK you can post up to 50g of human or animal ashes. Thankfully they arrived safely and within 24 hours.
So after 6 years, the process has started. It might take some time to complete but in a strange way it feels reassuring that a very small start has been made. Next time I will be better prepared. HOPEFULLY……
Maybe a good place to spread some ashes one day. Back a few years I remember standing here. Standing here in the rain. An overcast thinking walk had suddenly turned wet. A sky not dissimilar to this one.
What was I thinking back then.
Why me. Why take Hawklad’s mum and leave me. She would have been the better single parent. Sometimes I still do. After loss, how many other utterly confused souls have had similar thoughts. Many I guess. But in the end, all we can do is walk those paths allocated to us, do the best we can. The rest will sort itself out in the end.
It’s coming up to six years now. Six years since THAT YEAR. 2016. When EVERYTHING changed. I quickly scattered my mums ashes but we still have Hawklad’s mums ashes in the back room. On a mantelpiece overlooking the garden and fields beyond. There is no rush and to be fair, we have gone through a pandemic. We kinda assumed that at some some stage in the future we would get round to scatter them.
Then out of the blue.
One of her family have asked for a little portion of the ashes to spread. It’s odd I assumed it would be tough to say yes. For Hawklad, for me. Yet it wasn’t. Within seconds we both went – THATS FINE.
That’s progress. Life has moved on for both of us. The next question is where that leads.
But back to the ASHES, just maybe the hard part is still to come. The doing bit. We shall find out in a few hours.
Just a short walk out of the village and there is a magical little wood. Especially magical at this time of year.
A carpet of blue.
It’s good to have those moments of dreams. It’s a release from the challenges of the day.
It’s a great place for Hawklad to spend some time. To dream. To forget his worries for a while at least. Currently these are not easy times for him to navigate. Another week and another source of worries in these unsettled times. News of yet another scary named infectious virus. Already sky high anxieties ramping up even higher. Yes he can get out but he is a million miles from truly returning to society. He can’t touch any surface away from the safety of his house. Probably in all reality real progress needs a settled, safer feeling environment. That’s not these times.
So a few dreamy, care free moments in BLUEBELL WOOD makes all the difference.
It’s just turned Sunday here in the UK and my thoughts are shifting to a country 1000 miles from here. A land of mighty mountains, stunning lakes and peaceful valleys. So many family holidays . So many memories. I might be in the UK but I wish I was in Switzerland.
Mostly a day to stay inside and dry but always keeping an eye out for those brief gifts.
In the end, no video conference call this week with school. School staffing unavailability led to a late cancellation. Apparently school will organise another teacher – parent day in a months time.
Ok move on, it’s the weekend.
As a kid I remember one thing really clearly from childhood weekends. Virtually every Saturday morning I would walk to the town’s library. The northern coastal town looked old and tired yet the library was a bit of an oasis. On the outside it looked like any other slate grey concrete block. But on the inside it looked brand new. Clean, bright. It even had a little indoor goldfish pond in the middle of the children’s section. I would select a book and sit beside the pond. For a couple of hours it was an escape from the claustrophobic reality. A working town cut off from the world by the sea on one side and polluting industry on all other sides. Hardly anyone went on holidays. It seemed like most adults would venture as far as the local chemical and steel plants to work, then it was back to the town to live. It did feel so claustrophobic. The only two escapes. The freshness of the beach and books in the library.
Fast forward far too many decades and it was like life repeating itself. Now miles from that old existence and a pandemic hit. Suddenly a picturesque village on a hill became isolated. Month after month of enforced isolation and it felt claustrophobic again. In the modern life there was thankfully a few more escape routes. One of which was again a library. This time quite a bit smaller and an awful lot redder than the old town library.
The converted old telephone box is the village community library. So a bit like when I was a child, excitedly checking out books to read, let’s see what books are in the library today. Sadly no goldfish to share the books with this time, it’s probably going to be with cows in the farmers field.
Spot anything you like ? Pleasingly the books I’ve donated on a few occasions are not there. Hopefully someone in the village is reading them as I write this.
I can’t begin to tell you just how great it felt during the lockdown to be able to walk a few yards to a little red library. To pick a book and have an adventure. Just like that little boy from that northern town, having an adventure in a library.