Time slips by

Time does slip by. Sometimes as fast as those clouds wizzing across the Yorkshire sky.

As a kid one of the things I wanted to be was an Astronomer. I remember the look on the career advisors face when I would mention that. It was definitely a ‘that ain’t happening so stop being silly’ kinda look. Actually the career advisor only ever had a few options to suggest. Work in the local steel works, work in the local chemical plant, work in a factory, work in a shop, join the army or the truly gifted might even pushed towards a job in the local bank branch.

Ok no Astronomy job did turn up. But I did eventually buy myself a small telescope. But the Yorkshire clouds, sleep and then parenting restricted the times it was used.

The telescope is still with me. Battered and a bit out of focus. Now is that describing the scope or its user….. If I’m not using the scope much so there is no point buying a better one. But I did set myself a goal of using it a bit more over the winter months. When the skies get darker for longer. The best time to gaze up.

Time slips by….

That telescope has not been out all winter. I thought about it a few times but there was always an excuse. There was always a tomorrow. Now winter has gone.

Time slips by….

Unpredictable

Today the weather can’t make its mind up. Every few minutes it just keeps changing. So unpredictable. I remember my Dad telling me an expression about unpredictable life. Unfortunately it’s not an expression that translates very well into the modern politically correct world. So here’s one I’ve just made up. The weather today is about as predictable as a ferret which has been let loose in a sweet shop.

Thinking about it – I could do with a sugar rush right now. Better not….

What is pretty predictable is that our little family lockdown is going to extend into 2021. I just can’t see our son making sufficient progress to even consider venturing into busy environments any time soon. We are in this for the long haul. On top of this we is the wider pandemic situation. We are seemingly entering a lengthy period of stricter social distancing rules.

We just have to be realistic. The initial aim has to be just getting son to venture out a few times to remote and quiet outside locations. If we can achieve that over the next 3 months then we are doing well.

So my mindset is now focused around the continuing physical isolation which the rest of this year will bring. But that’s a step forward. Uncertainly and just not knowing is worse for me. At least now I can start to get my head round the situation. Start to draw up plans to get keep our spirits up. Normally the dark months are punctuated with special events and family meet-ups. Not this time. So what do we do?

For son part of the strategy means spending money. Much money…. Going to try and get him the latest Xbox. His current one is well battered now. That will keep him occupied and he enjoys playing his football game. The hope is that I can encourage him to try a few new games rather than just FIFA football. The rest of the approach for him will revolve around just trying to do fun stuff. It’s still his childhood, he still has to enjoy it.

What do I do? I guess I get an old Xbox to play on…. Keep the fitness up. Certainly more reading. Get stuck into improving my spoken German (maybe buy a learning app that can double up as a homeschooling aid). The garden is long overdue a real makeover. Let’s see if I can dust down the 35 year old telescope and get out a bit more on those rare clear winter nights. Going to learn how to play the keyboard

I’ve told the story before of our son asking for a keyboard for Christmas. I did well and got a decent electronic one for next to nothing on a Black Friday sale. Unfortunately when it came to Christmas it transpired that the required keyboard was not supposed to be musical but one for his tablet. So it’s basically sat gathering dust….

Until now.

That’s a start. It’s something to work and build on. I’m no use to our son if I spiral downwards, so it’s time to GET UP and make sure I do more than just existing.

WE can do this.

Closer to the action

It’s been a hot day for Yorkshire. Not as hot as many places, but still hot for us.

Time to do some gardening. For the observant amongst you

  • Yes that conservatory has been taken over by Dinosaurs. I blame them for the mess,
  • Yes that ghostly and out of focus apparition in a red T-shirt is me. That’s the closest your going to get to a photo….. That’s how us with ‘faces made for radio’ like to do things….

An hours weeding. Lots of weeds pulled up and yet seemingly so little progress. But at least I’ve made a start.

Hoping for another clear night. A night of shooting star spotting. The Perseid Meteor Shower is currently ongoing. Last night at 1am we were outside. Sheet lightening frequently flashing across the sky. We always have a little game – who can spot the most… It was close last night.

Hawklad – 50 meteors

Dad – 4

Dad what are you doing?”

I’m lying on the ground, why don’t you join me…

Certainly not AND why?”

I’m thinking that if I’m lying down then I’m comfortable. Don’t have to strain my neck. I get to lie down and scan the sky. I think it’s the best way to see meteors.

*******Not the first time I’ve tried this approach – it worked well but one important safety point. Don’t put your cup of hot drink on the ground next to you. That last time my cup was visited by a slug. That’s not what I want in the dark when I’m taking a swig of warming brew********

“Really Dad. I have a problem with your technique?”

Go on then Hawklad what possible problem can you find with lying on the back while meteor hunting.

Well Dad. I’m standing up. So that takes me at least 5 feet closer to the sky action. Maybe that’s why I’m at 40 meteors and you are at TWO….”

Ok point taken.

Clouds permitting I’m hoping for a huge comeback.

Break

A little bit of a break between the rain clouds. Apparently the sun has been replaced by the moon.

I was looking at the view and getting some much needed fresh air when a thought crossed my mind. A strange thought began to rattle around in my brain. I love astronomy. As a kid I so wanted to be an astronomer. As most kids wanted to be the new Pele or Bobby Moore, I wanted to be just like the TV astronomer, Patrick Moore. Alas that dream never happened. I never got that job as a stargazer. But the love never stopped. I can still here the words of Carl Sagan inspiring me to get my dads old binoculars out and look to the heavens. Over the years the dream changed to just have my own small observatory with a biggish telescope. I did buy a scope eventually, but it was small and second hand. Not much more than a toy one, but it’s better than nothing. It will tide me over until one day……

Anyway back to my strange thought. I had never tried to look at the moon in detail during the day. So I ran inside to find my little telescope. Yes it’s still going mainly thanks to generous amounts of glue and heaps of gaffer tape. Gently I carried it outside to find the sky was completely cloud covered and it was raining. Oh Pants.

Maybe another day. Maybe tomorrow. You never know what this crazy world will throw up. That is so true of school….

There is a subject that whatever Son has tried to do, he can never seem to get any credit. This year he must be about the only pupil in the class without a house point in that subject. It’s slowly ground him down to the point that he hates the subject. Can’t wait to drop it. Putting aside the decision about homeschooling for a few weeks, he was asked by school which two subjects he would be dropping for next year. With the speed of Usain Bolt, this subject was almost instantaneously dropped. Then a very strange thing happened. Within hours an email from school was received. His dreaded subject had awarded him two house points, a really positive comment about his last test and a really high work assessment. Couldn’t make it up could you.

It’s a crazy world. Now I’m going to get back to dreaming about having an infeasibly big telescope in our small garden.