When

When life changes…..

Out for the daily mad dog walk and we bumped into a couple who have lived in the village for decades. Even more decades than I have. I have been in their house. They know me, they did know me. But that was in a past life. The door has been closed on that life for nearly 6 years now. A pandemic hasn’t helped, but I don’t think I’ve met them since the world changed for our little family.

The wife recognised us, the husband didn’t.

Do you live in the village, have you just moved here….

More and more questions before the penny finally dropped and he was mortified. It’s not his fault at all. With the usual British stiff up a lip, I never mentioned a funeral that he attended. I don’t look like George Clooney anymore, well unless George looks seriously old, gnarly and has a beard like a cheap sandpaper strip. Plus Hawklad is not 3 ft tall anymore, now he is twice that size. Why would he recognise me.

Life moves on…….

Misty Start

A misty start to the day.

We all have had one of THOSE days.

The kitchen floor was freshly washed and since Hawklad fancied a cake, it was baking time. But disaster I dropped a full box of eggs onto the newly cleaned floor. Smashing 11 of the 12 eggs. Better go to the farm shop. But where are my car keys. Finally the penny dropped (along with the eggs…..). I had managed to wash my only set of car keys, in a trouser pocket. I could see the offending trousers going round and round on the intensive stain setting. So I had to wait 170 minutes before I could drive the car to pick up some eggs from the local farm shop. Still I would have bright shiny keys. Might as well bake a cake with one egg. Definitely need a calming drink…..

The kitchen smells of lavender, mainly because I spilled a full bag of loose lavender tea all over the once clean floor. The cat smells of lavender as he rolled in the lavender tea. The dog smells of lavender as he ate the lavender tea as I chased the lavender smelling cat. The furniture all smells of lavender because of the cat.

Then an elderly neighbour came round in a state, her kitchen door was jammed shut. A few minutes later the door was forced open and I headed back to finally bake the cake, but now the cake mix was missing.

Five hours later, the cake mix is still missing in action. I just hope that I didn’t foolishly take the tin with me to the neighbours. Maybe her cats have fed well. Haven’t picked up the courage to go round to ask. ‘I’m sorry did I leave a tin of cake mix on your kitchen floor.”

School was dreadful today but at least I was distracted.

The house and pets still reek of lavender and I’ve decided that’s not a pleasant smell anymore.

One of those days.

Exams

I hated exams. Really hated them. I hated the time pressures. I hated the enforced silence. I hated having to sit still for three hours. I hated the weeks of revision (maybe days, ok maybe hours….) and I really hated realising that I had revised the wrong subjects. That unsettling feeling, gazing round at all the pens scribbling away frantically while my pen was being twiddled in my fingers as I waited for the brain to find just one relevant point to write down.

But I really hated the stress and anxiety which goes with exams. I would make myself ill with worry. I felt terrible. That can’t be healthy or good for a teenager.

Already Hawklad is starting to get significant worries from the impending mock exams. Really bad worries. He’s worried about struggling with understanding the time constraints. He’s worried about his handwriting. He’s worried about the alternative (trying to work with a scribe that he just doesn’t know). He’s worried about not being able to get the stuff in his brain out onto the paper. He’s worried about the pressure causing his dyslexia to return and nit being able to read the questions. He’s worried about having to sit still (he naturally paces around). He’s worried about sitting next to strangers. He’s worried about exam questions that remind him of his anxieties that have beset him. He’s worried about the silence and how that could spark anxiety meltdowns. I could go on but let’s just say the exams are getting to him.

How can all this pressure be anything other than harmful for someone who is battling serious anxiety and phobia issues…..

His main exams are in June next year, although he has to take a couple this year. So what do we do. I’m going to speak to his psychologist for advice but decisions have to be made. I’m not going to let exam worries get to him like they got to me.

Early morning

Early morning in North Yorkshire. Yes that is a rickety treehouse. Every time we walk along this lane, it’s tough fighting the urge to climb that tree. That treehouse would have been had some view this morning.

Some view for as long as the creaky old treehouse floor survives the inevitable catastrophic failure which would be the result of my enormous posterior’s ginormous gravitational attraction to the earths core.

Still for a few glorious nano seconds, it would have been an uplifting experience, until my butt started a far less glorious downward feeling.

That feels like parenting sometimes…..

Most days…….

But as many times as the parental behind hits the ground. Experiences the pain, then the frustration and finally the bewilderment. We get up .again and again. Bruised yes but ready for the next parenting moment.

Why.

Because it’s so worth it.

Change

Bempton, North Yorkshire

Now that is a view.

Friday was the first real test of our new approach to the School at Home project.

This year it’s truly about the needs and wishes of Hawklad. That’s what drives us, not just tying to regimentally stick to a school timetable. If work is sent for Hawklad then it will be completed but to our timescales. If the school was more dedicated to providing regular work, at regular times and that work was consistently marked, then we might be more inclined to stick to the school times. But after 20 months school just hasn’t worked that way. It’s been very hit and miss. That’s how it’s going to be for as long as Hawklad is unable to learn in a classroom. So here goes…..

A Friday morning appointment 30 miles from home. Previously as soon the appointment was over we would belt back home to try a d catch up with any lesson work issued. Too often the rushed return was wasted as no work waiting.

Not this time….

No rushing back for school. Rather a relaxing detour to the coast. A bit of bird spotting. A walk. Fresh sea air. We returned back home a few hours later, then the weekend could start. Hawklad can catch up with any school work missed during this week’s quiet moments.

Yes that definitely works better.

Swiss Sunday

I love Switzerland. So many holidays, so many memories. It’s such a special place. I would move there in a heartbeat. Hopefully these Sunday homages give just a feel for why I feel that way. But it’s not just me. Hawklad feels the same way. It’s a country where he feels comfortable and safe. He finds it exciting and full of wonder. Yes Switzerland is special.

Go with the flow

A walk in the deep, dark wood. No encounter with The Gruffalo on this walk, maybe next time.

Another Yorkshire Gem, Dalby Forest on the edge of the Moors.

A short school at home week. Just 2 days. Should be eight lessons, one lesson dropped for Covid testing. Three lessons, no idea whether they happened or not. One lesson with a few brief notes provided. One quite detailed lesson and one exam to be sat at home.

Sometimes you have to go with the flow. Schools are struggling. Teachers off. Support staff off. Pupils off. Old, unventilated classrooms. Covid in school. Additional pandemic workload. These are challenging times. I will politely chase up homeschooling issues but with understanding.

So when the lessons don’t happen, we go with the flow. Lost schooling time creates more time for the school of life. That school is fun. It has few boundaries. Definitely no exams. Only expectation, having fun. A trip to the Deep Dark Wood is definitely fun……

Moors

The North Yorkshire Moors late on a cold January evening. This is truly an amazing planet with so much staggering beauty to be experienced and enjoyed. It’s really there, we just need to remember to lift our gaze upwards.

Back in 2016 that was an alien concept. Gazing upwards. Why when all I could see was never ending emptiness with no sign of light. Robbed of dreams and a way forward. Refusing to move from a door which had abruptly slammed shut and as long as I waited, would never open again. I felt like screaming but what was the point, who would hear, I’m not even sure I would have heard or even cared.

But now in 2022, as I watch the setting sun cast a golden light over the moors, my gaze is lifted once more.

Yes life might still be tough somedays but it’s good to dream again. Different dreams, bigger dreams. It feels wonderful to want to experience the world and what it has offer again.

It’s safe to go back.

I have to admit that I am not in the slightest bit upset about Hawklad avoiding a return to the classroom this week. He is not ready. As new covid cases average 200,000 a day. That’s a number that doesn’t include the large number of people getting reinfected, it’s also at a time when many with symptoms can’t get tested. The worry is schools have been closed for 2 weeks, what happens when the variant hits the classroom. Without schools, today in England 157 children were hospitalised with Covid.

Apparently schools are safe and the Government has done everything to protect the children and those who work in them. Reluctantly they have reintroduced masks. Pupils will be tested twice a week if schools can get hold of the test kits. And with a big fanfare it’s been announced that 7000 ventilation units will be finally purchased for schools.

UK classrooms are frequently cramped and poorly designed. We also have some of the largest class sizes across Europe.

One problem with that announcement is that there are over 32000 schools in the UK. Let’s say each school has 10 classrooms, Hawklad’s school has well over 50. So which of those 300000 plus classrooms will get the 7000 ventilation units. That’s a lot of cramped, over crowded classrooms left with inadequate air quality levels. Good indoor ventilation is seen as a key defence against an airborne virus. As one headteacher pointed out, the Government could have put in a ventilation unit into EVERY classroom for half the cost of the new Royal Yacht, which the Government is buying. The Yacht is seen as an essential purchase. Our children clearly aren’t……

Adventures

Now you that is spectacular. The cliffs at Bempton. Another Yorkshire Gem.

This world has so much to offer.

We travelled here yesterday. A visit to one of the countries best bird viewing sites. That good that the Northern Hemispheres only Albatross chooses here for a summer vacation. No albatross yesterday but we did see many sea birds and a rare chance to see a Short Eared Owl hunt over the fields. That’s some bird.

Hawklad is pushing the boundaries but under his terms. Avoiding crowds, avoiding people. The fact that he can’t face an over crowded classroom doesn’t mean that he can’t venture out. So what next…..

He has set himself some realistic goals for this year. Twelve ‘avoiding people’ targets. I’m signed up to them, so let’s see how many we can tick off during 2022 for him.

1. Visit the New Forest

2. Visit Sherwood Forest

3. Switzerland

4. Climb Yorkshire’s two highest mountains (they are small ones….)

5. Visit the Lake District and walk up one of England’s bigger mountains

6. Visit a new wildlife park

7. Go to see an Osprey hunt

8. Go for a torchlight walk on the Moors and get to see the stars with zero light pollution

9. Go to Scotland to see a Golden Eagle fly

10. Visit Stonehenge

11. Visit a new castle

12. Go for his longest ever walk

We also have a new golden rule. When we venture out, if a car park is ever half full or busier – then no questions asked, we don’t park. We continue on, find somewhere less busy or we head home.

Hopefully 2022 will show that you can avoid people and still have adventures.