First time in 20 years

I’ve lived in or around these parts for 20 years now. In that time I must have used one particular road short cut hundreds of times. It keeps you off the dreaded city outer ring road. On the short cut is a little sign for a nature trail. On virtually every pass I would make a mental note to pay the trail a visit one day.

All those years and so many mental notes.

Well the other week on the way to do the weekly shop I did something radical. I stopped. Time to cash in all those mental notes.

And what a little find.

It probably only takes about 10 minutes to walk round the nature reserve.

But it’s so worth it.

You forget that you are on the edge of a city surrounded by farmland and golf courses.

On this wet day I had the reserve to myself.

Teeming with wildlife and wonderful sculptures.

MOORLANDS Nature Reserve, York. And it’s free.

A brief moment in time

Off to see the birds. We set off for the RSPB reserve at 8am in glorious weather. Son was in great spirits happily firing facts in my general direction. I certainly upped my Puffin knowledge which sadly is not difficult.

Unbelievably I found Bempton Cliffs first time. Everything is going to plan. Even remembered not one but two pairs of binoculars. One pair being so old it predates the discovery of glass.

Son had drawn up a detailed itinerary which included a picnic. I wasn’t particularly hopeful on the picnic front. The chef conjured that up at 3am in a state of some disrepair. Not so much Gordon Ramsey more Gordon The Big Tank Engine.

As per the itinerary we visited the first viewing location. Absolutely stunning. Son spotting many different types with the newer binoculars. The view was not so clear with my prehistoric viewing aids. The combination of lens scratches, permanent fogging and the inability to focus took me back to my University Drinking Days – and that was just my knackered old eyes. As for the ancient binoculars – might as well have been trying to look through two Yorkshire Puddings.

Unfortunately at the second viewing point the plan went to pot. Before I could react the really helpful (and clearly very nice) bird expert suddenly approached son and asked him if he wanted to see a juvenile Gannet taking its first sea swim. The sudden and unplanned social interaction completely spooked our son. I could see the terror in his eyes. Bravely he took a very quick look through the bird experts spotting scope to see the swimming bird. A minute later we were quickly exiting the reserve – meltdown in progress. An hour later we arrived back home.

That’s just part of our Aspergers world. You can plan all you like. Risk assess to the finest detail but you can’t plan for everything. It’s nobody’s fault. Not the bird experts, not the parent, certainly not our son’s. These things just happen. All you can do is get back to the safety of the home, pull up the drawbridge and settle in. Try to come up with as many distractions as possible. Red Dwarf and Marvel are great. Football outside is a winner. Important point to Dad – we have a small garden so don’t try to hammer the ball with a bit of bend in to the top corner of our small goal – son will wet himself as I launch the ball into orbit – somehow it landed in the garden TWO houses away.

Three big pluses from the day:

  • RSBP Bempton is absolutely stunning so well worth a visit.
  • The Gordon the Tank Engine made picnic was not to shoddy at all.
  • If you have your picnic on the trampoline with the safety net closed it keeps the bugs off the food.

And above all at the end of the day son is smiling and that is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how you get there – just end up smiling.

Coordination

Beauty in the sky masked evil intentions. Twenty seconds later a successful bombing run covered my car bonnet. Not so beautiful. The one hand giveth; the other hand taketh away.

Basically I have knackered my body up. Medical advice was to rest the right side for a couple of months. No running. If you play football in the garden – don’t use your right foot to kick. That’s a bit of a problem. During my sporting career the left leg has been a bit of a spectator. It is used for standing on and just getting in the way. Nothing else. So since a toddler I have been completely right footed.

So this garden football season was approached with trepidation. The first attempts confirmed the fears. Absolutely useless. Even the frequent cow audience clearly most unimpressed with my attempted kicks.

But a couple of months later and….

With one hand giveth.

The left leg is like a magicians wand. Better than the right foot ever was. Complete ball control, pinpoint passes, power, curling shots into the top corner of our small net. It just shows that with practice what you can achieve.

But with the other hand taketh.

Now the right side is a little less painful I’ve started using it again and just maybe I could be a natural two footed footballer. Guess what. The right foot is now completely useless. Can’t use it. All my hard work has basically switched me from being completely right footed to completely left footed.

Maybe my brain can only cope with one usable leg.

Son struggles to tie shoe laces. He also can’t use a knife and fork at the same time. He just can’t coordinate two limbs simultaneously. It’s a bit like riding a bike. Son can peddle but not at the same time as steering or braking. If he turns a corner he can’t peddle. He did manage to learn to swim but it doesn’t come naturally. It’s either using his legs or using his arms – not both at the same time.

He has been diagnosed with Dyspraxia which often goes hand in hand with Autism. The bottom line is coordination does not come naturally. We have been doing some exercises to work on this. Jumping on a trampoline and catching at the same time has been our single most fun exercise. We have seen some improvements for example he has developed good catching skills. But things like shoe laces are probably going to be life long issues. We realise this. The main reason we do coordination exercises is to help with his Dyslexia, other improvements are bonuses.

Maybe you just have to accept and work with how your body is setup uniquely for you. Make the best of it. We all can’t be brilliantly coordinated like birds. To fly, aim and poo at the same time. That’s beyond me.

Apex monster

Apologies for the photo the camera phone has one or two slight limitations.

More native Yorkshire animals…. As you can see it’s the usual baking sunshine and deep blue skies on a typical British bank holiday. What is interesting about this photo is the way you can see an apex predator bully another unfortunate creature. Those poor Polar Bears. They just don’t stand a chance with a Gull. Rumour has it that the next evil galactic creature Marvel will replace Thanos with will be a Seagull. Maybe the one who we watched chase seals off to eat their food. Or these chaps who happily took the meat off the bears. Or maybe the one in the car park who we watched walk up to a parked car and start violently pecking at it it’s door. Or the one we saw sitting next to the tiger clearly eyeballing him. Or the one who crapped on my car from front to back.

Bird Blocked

Dad can we go to see the Birds at the cliffs”

So it was a trip to the RSPB centre at Bempton. A truly epic landscape with wonderful seabirds. Well that was the plan….

First route attempt interrupted by a work call resulting in a rapid u turn and a quick visit to the unit. An hour later we set off for the birds again. Then a traffic jam. Changed route and then we get stuck behind an accident. One route option left and this time it’s closed for the day due to road works.

Some days you just have to say ‘it’s not happening’. We turned the car round and headed home. So we had a think about bird names to describe our failure. These are mostly our sons efforts.

  • Donnocks
  • Puffbirds
  • Gannets
  • Shag
  • Red footed Bobby
  • Coots
  • Nutcracker
  • Woodcocks
  • Dickcissel
  • Great Tit

Anyway here is a bird from our last visit.

Starsky

This is Starsky. A noisemaker who lives in our roof. When we are in the garden he comes to join us. He happily hops around our feet. Probably something to do with us being the worlds messiest eaters.

Our Son is adept at playing the naming game now. He knows that as soon as something is given a name then it gets protected status. This little and very noisy bird was quickly given a name so that the newly established protection rights prevented eviction from his or hers new rooftop studio flat.

I’m hoping one day to get similar rights…..