Open Air

It’s been over a year since I last managed a run. It’s hard to get my head round that fact especially as up to that point I would go trail running at least 3 times a week, every week.

But here’s the thing.

Do I miss the blisters – NO.

Do I miss the aches and pains – NO.

Do I miss having a face that you could fry and egg on – NO

Do I miss running up hill – MOST CERTAINLY NOT.

But I miss the feeling of open air and wow I miss the views.

Daffodil

Look at this. The first daffodil. It’s always such a lift when they appear. The return of a bit of warm colour. Much needed. Can we now officially call it SPRING. For what it’s worth a quick and very unscientific check of the photos is telling me that they have arrived one day earlier than last year.

If only WP was that reliable. Scheduled posts not working. Finding it harder to post comments that actually appear. Random unfollows. Likes not working. Photos refusing to publish. Messed up editing. Yep I think the WP IOS app has beaten me. Need to get myself a better laptop and switch to the web based option. See if it works better with Windows.

But until then we will soldier on. Do what I can. Don’t get too worked up if it refuses to work properly. There a great quote from The Book of Joy. A quote which has Buddhist traditions but was also told to me bizarrely by a cricket coach who was talking about getting out of a bad run of batting form. Basically it says….. Pointless worrying about what you can’t control and why are you worrying about stuff you can control.

Ok let’s try to remember that. Forget WP and my troubles. Think about the things in my life that lift me up and that I love. That will help push the negative thoughts away for some precious moments.

We can do this.

#itsabeautifulplanet

Ok I know I go on about Switzerland. How I think it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. But I need to set the record straight. In my eyes we are so lucky to live in a world with so many wonderful places. Every country, every region will have at least one place. One special place. I’ve been so lucky to actually visit many of those places in Yorkshire, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Congo, South Africa and yes Switzerland.

Yes today Yorkshire is separate from England – must be time for the next King Richard III to take us out of the place which has became the play thing for the Madness of King Boris.

If I can’t physically visit places then I can see the beauty through virtual trips.

Yes we live in a world which can still be beautiful. It can still be a wonderful life. Surely it’s time for us to not to always focus on all the ugliness which fills the news these days. Time to focus on the beauty. Time to delete the #itsanuglyworld and get behind something like #itsabeautifulplanet. Time for us to promote those special places. To give others a glimpse of what is truly out there.

So I will give you my first offering. I give you Northumberland.

Pathway

The gap between the hedge and the Apple tree has basically disappeared. All this enforced time at home and somebody has been neglecting the garden. Unbelievable. But I quite like the results. Often it’s best to let nature takes its own course. So much easier that way as well…..

Every second Wednesday is becoming a right bind. Our bins are emptied every two weeks. This includes the garden waste bin. So when it comes to the day of putting out the bins I get that sinking feeling. Please let the green bin (now a brown bin for some reason) be at least half full. When I open the lid, I want to see plenty of grass cuttings, hedge trimmings and pulled up weeds. I want that feeling of elation that comes from two weeks worth of gardening. So I can close the bin lid and wheel it out onto the road. A job well done.

That’s the theory.

In practice I open the bin lid to find its completely empty. Oh big pants. Now I feel bad. I clearly have been wearing my laziest big pants. The inner shame drives me to fill the bin before the refuse wagon arrives. This being Yorkshire means a mad couple of hours gardening in driving rain and hail. That regular routine was repeated this morning. While I’m fighting the gardening elements I can hear my Mums words echoing around my exceedingly wet head. You just need to do 10 minutes a day of weeding and you get the perfect garden without breaking your back. One day I will follow this sage advice.

So the bin was filled. It was wheeled out onto the road and it felt like that was the gardening done for another two weeks. See I never learn.

An old trip out

This is from a couple of years back. A two hour car drive to the west side of Northern England. The Lake District. A place that sometimes feels just a little bit Alpine.

We stopped off at Castlerigg Stone Circle. One of the countries finest historic sites set amongst the countries highest mountains. It’s was erected in the Neolithic period. Sometime around 3000BC. Yes even before I was born. It’s one of those special places. Yes it’s popular picnic site now but it still has an atmosphere. It just feels different. Many years ago after a days climbing, I spent the night here. Just sat on the ground in the middle of the circle. I’m not sure why. Maybe waiting for a ghost or something. Didn’t see anything but when I walked away after sunrise, I had never felt so calm and relaxed. It’s that type of place. I could so imagine a great fantasy author coming here for inspiration.

What struck me about the second photo is the look on my two faithful companions. New visitors had just arrived at the site. The four legged one, I suspect was eagerly checking them out for food or toys. The young boy was definitely not so eager. Once the site started to fill up a little then it was most definitely time to go. Crowds and Aspergers are not great bedfellows. That’s why the time to visit places is such a delicate scheduling task. The choices tend to be

  • Go when the weather is bad,
  • Go just before they are closing,
  • Arrive super early. Try to get round before the masses start to arrive.

As a result visits tend to be fleeting. They also sometimes require really early starts. In this case we set off at 5am. That’s not ideal but needs must. One definite advantage. Nothing better as you drive away from a site and passing the traffic queues waiting to get in. Does that thought make me a bad person….

Battered Rose

This rose bush was here when we first moved in. So it’s at least 18 years old. Given the state of it even then, I suspect it’s been here much, much longer. The changes it has seen over those years. Some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. It’s in a really annoying place. Right next to the front door. Constant pruning required to stop your arms and legs getting lacerated just trying to get into your own home. I dread to think how many times it’s been smashed and broken by washing machine and furniture deliveries. It’s regularly attacked by the local wildlife and pets. So yes it’s had a challenging life.

Yes it’s a tad battered. The roses are never perfect these days. Always a little worn at the edges. The foliage is getting a little thin in places. But it’s still here. Just like we are. I can’t speak for you but in my case I am so like this bush. A bit old. The body has taken one too many hits. Definitely battered and a little frayed round the edges. You could even argue that I’m starting to take root. But currently I am still here. Still trying to live. I will give thanks for that.

Fashion expert

A mass of red from a plant that my big sister bought for us as a house warming present many years ago. Still so colourful, still so stylish. Unfortunately other things in the house are not ageing so well….

We have a school week holiday coming up. A week to give the kids and teachers a break. Let’s not forget parents, grandparents, guardians, support staff as well. We might be homeschooling but it feels like a break is much needed. A week without schooling to allow kids to be kids….

We call the week before a half term the T minus clock. T minus days before the school breaks up. Can we survive the T minus clock without holiday homework. Well….

It’s T minus 3 days to go and it’s not going well so far. So far Son has Art, English and Science holiday homework. Large projects. So much for kids having a break.

I clearly need a break or at the very least a fashion consultant.

“Dad are you seriously going to wear that“.

I thought it was a fine shorts and Jumper (sweater) combo.

“You hair is sticking up and you haven’t shaved today”

I’m calling it the Indiana Jones look.

Maybe for Indiana Jones 6 when he’s about 110.”

Clearly Dr Jones has aged well then….

The jumper is a bit big for you.”

It was a Christmas present and I never got round to changing it.

And I’m probably taller than you now.”

Something strangely emasculating about when your son has edged passed you, when he is barely 13.

How can I put this politelyErm …. You look like a hobbit from Lord of the Rings”

Any cheap fashion experts out there?

Update: School are clearly joining in the fun. The class have been asked to watch a fantasy movie for the next lesson. And why movie are we watching. The Hobbit. The Shame never ends.

Old moon

A couple of full moon photos from last week. My poor old iPhone tries it’s best.

I remember looking up at the moon. I was lying on my back on the cold patio trying to keep still and give the camera phone a chance of trying to focus. Anyway I was looking up at the moon and thinking it was stunning. I really hoped that my partner could be seeing this as well. Maybe she was? Was she seeing it from a different angle? Was she looking up at it from one of her favourite places. Was she above the clouds?

These days I frequently look at things in a different way. For a long time after my partner died I felt bad about looking at beautiful things. Sunsets, landscapes, the Sea, our Son playing. It just wasn’t right that I could and my partner was missing out. She had been cruelly denied this chance. Her time ran out.

But slowly that feeling of guilt started to ebb.

Now when I look at beautiful things, I try to look that little bit harder. Look for just a few moments longer. Truly embrace the moment. Because now I’m looking for the BOTH of us.

Back to the moon. After a few minutes I was becoming distinctly uncomfortable. My back is not designed these days for lying on a cold, hard surfaces. Then a thought. What was I thinking about. My partner was the sensible one. She would be sat inside. Occasionally shouting “that’s very nice Dear”. She would not be outside freezing her butt off. She would be warm inside with a glass of something, watching one of her favourite movies.

That’s a view she would be happy with.

Motivation

Not sure it’s the slightly unhinged world but here the daffodils are looking extra special this year. Much needed colour. Much needed motivation to keep believing in our world.

“Come on Dad, your doing the PE lesson with me.”

So 20 minutes later we are doing a fitness workout. I do slag the school off quite a bit but sometimes it does do things well. The online PE lessons was really good. It started with a daily workout from YouTube. The Body Coach TV (PE with Joe Wicks). The person doing it was great and made the session so much fun for kids. Son warmed to him straight away. Which is no mean feat.

My second workout of the day was definitely very different from the first. Standard weights and short burn military fitness exercises at 7am. Pretending to be Spider-Man and bouncing like a bunny rabbit at 11am. The latter was way more fun. So maybe, just maybe tomorrow at 7am you might see a grown man pretending to be a rabbit. That’s my excuse if I get wheeled away in a straight jacket.

But you need balance in life. If you get good then often the not so good arrives to bring life back into order. The Food Technology online lesson was grisly. Son attempted the task which was so tough for him given the difficulties he has with handwriting, spelling and drawing. But he tried and that’s all we can ask. A bit later the response came back. One or two good efforts but some are very poor presentations. Well that’s done his confidence a world of good.

So we have balance. Motivated and demotivated. Looking forward to the next lesson and dreading the next lesson. One has 1.5 Million subscribers (plus two more from our house) and the other has a kid desperate to drop the subject.

I’m sure even this guy was motivated to move just a bit during the fitness workout.

I should really tell this guys story as well. Completely ignored him when I waffled on about his gnome buddy. His name is Gene. Can you work out why? Gene is a relative baby. He’s about 7 years old. He was a Christmas present from my brother. He was supposed to be fireplace ornament. Unfortunately my partner hated it. As did our dear departed psychotic girl cat. So he was banished to the garden to save him from the sledgehammer and the apex predator. On his bottom a sign says – Not for external use. Yet after 7 years of grizzly Yorkshire weather he is still shinny and looking like new. So he clearly likes dancing in the Yorkshire rain.

Take care my friends and try to smile.

2003

2003. A time before parenting. A happy dreaming couple. A time when digital photography was still seen as the work of the devil by many. When a mobile phone was just that – a mobile phone – nothing else. My football team was still playing in the European Champions League.

31st May 2003. As the local paper described it. A once in a lifetime opportunity. The chance to see a 90% solar eclipse. Two problems

  • The peak eclipse would happen dead on sunrise. Best viewed from the East Coast.
  • This is Yorkshire.

Yorkshire does many things well. Cricket, Rhubard, Beer, Ferrets, Terriers, Chocolate, Moody Moors. We also do lots of cloud and rain. We don’t really do sun – bit of a bugger when your looking forward to a solar eclipse.

With a wing and a prayer we set off for the coast at 3am. Arriving at Scarborough an hour later. People looking out across the sea. Just before sunrise it’s hard to tell if the clouds have formed.

The first signs of morning and we wait with baited breath. Will the Sun appear.

As the sunrise time came still no sign of the sun. Maybe too much sea mist.

Then at 4.36am a thin red strip of sun appears. The crowd let’s out a huge cheer. Some hardy folk jump into the sea for a swim.

Unbelievably the infamous Yorkshire weather was playing ball today. Not a cloud in the sky.

As the Sun continued to rise a beautiful red then orange water path virtually led the way to the eclipse. Someone had brought a ghetto blaster and almost hypnotic music drifted across the morning air. The dreaming couple talked about an adventure to a far off land to see a full eclipse one day. One day.

17 years later. The Yorkshire weather is certainly not playing ball. I came across these photos looking for my birth certificate. They instantly took me back to that time of dreams and a truly magical partial eclipse.

One more little miracle. A photo involving me. A photo I can sign up to. So to those who have asked for a picture. Ok here it is.. Me back in 2003.