Yes much darkness but if you look hard enough – definitely blue sky can be found.
I’m sat looking at the window overlooking the garden. We are on the edge of a small hill. The last hill before the ground falls away and the ground is largely flat for miles. So I was looking into the distance. Looking at the brooding sky and thinking.
Sometimes I look at life and relationships and realise things don’t work out as well as I had hoped for. Maybe some things won’t pan out as I would have loved them to do. Often it’s just down to circumstances. Out of my control. I am just just forced down a different path. In that moment I was pondering which dreams I could still cling on to and which ones I should really put to one side.
Then my eyes caught sight of a small patch of blue sky. Yes small and definitely well into the distance. But still blue sky. I could so easily have missed that. Too caught up thinking about the past and an imaginary future. Standing by closed doors from the past can be both reassuring and emotional. Gazing at so many memories. Yes future dreams are important as well. They provide so much hope and direction. But they do not represent the here and now. You still have to remember to live.
So the little patch of blue sky worked its magic. Time to do some living. The future and the past will still be there in a few hours time, they can wait.
This photo was taken 4 years ago to the day. A day in October. A day early in my grief journey. A moment in our family history.
Time to turn back the hands of the clock back to before the Second World War. To another moment in our family history.
October 19th, 1936. Chesterfield to Mansfield.
From the 5th to 31st, the Jarrow March took place. 200 men walked 300 miles from the north eastern town of Jarrow to London. Jarrow was like many northern towns in that period. Bleak, stagnant and forgotten. The impact of a world wide depression was hitting this area hard. There was no employment. Unemployment was endemic. In Jarrow the unemployment rate was near 70%. The Government seemingly did not care, blind to the suffering. The Government even blocked loans that would have saved the town’s industries. Rising anger at gross inequality and injustice. The growth of racism and extreme right wing politics.
That was the context as 200 men set off on their crusade. A peaceful and dignified protest, carrying a 12000 signature petition asking for their industry to be reopened. A simple message. We want to work. We want hope.
The marchers were treated as heroes on the route. Galvanised a growing mood in the country. The petition was handed into the government with so much dignity and respect. In the short term the March failed. The Baldwin Conservative Government brushed the march and the petition aside. Clearly in their eyes some people were more equal than others. But in the long run the Jarrow March delivered. It set a new agenda. After the war the new Labour Government set about writing the wrongs. A comprehensive welfare state was introduced. Government with a conscious was established. One that cared for the less fortunate. Sadly a conscious which has started to be unpicked and now unravelled.
We live in a time of rising unemployment. Inequality and injustice are ripe. The growth of extreme politics. Sound familiar. We could learn so much from the Jarrow March. A Crusade marked down in English history. A family history as well. My family was on that march.
Definitely it’s a time of change. The season of change. Yesterday was T-shirt and shorts. Today is wet, windy and chilly. 50F probably means the T-shirt season has gone and it’s time for woolly jumpers. Ice Cream replaced with Hot Chocolate.
It’s that time of year.
Four years ago I would have been sat at home looking at the ‘Sincere Condolences’ cards on the mantelpiece. It was a couple of days after my partners funeral. Life was looking bleak. But as the years pass this time of year has increasingly felt like a time of personal change. The end of a period which marked the passing of my partner and mum. A time of sadness moving to thoughts of preparing for winter and all that entails. Thoughts of loss replaced by thoughts of short days and long nights. This year is complicated with our ongoing lockdown which is likely to stretch through the entire cold months. So yes this period of change feels different . Definite change but what? In previous years the next few months brought challenges but also things to look forward to. Concerts, Football Matches, Firework displays, Halloween parties, family meet-ups and meals, Christmas Markets, crisp winter walks and runs. This year these are all none starters. Could that tip the balance of the change. Only time will tell but the change is not yet set in stone. It can still be a positive period but it will need much work.
It’s strange how my goals can shift. This time last year I was thinking about cranking my runs up. Eyeing up some longer trail runs. Trying to find ways to fit them in during school hours and work. Then building towards a 22 mile Moors run. Something to aim for during the winter months.
Fast forward a year and the thought of trail runs has long gone.
Now just a walk across the farmers field to that tree in the distance seems like a real goal. An aim. Something to dream about. How many times can we get to that tree over the next few months.
Until life resets again then that is something to hold onto. I realise it’s important to be realistic. To take account of the circumstances that are currently in place. Short term goals need to change to take account of this. But I can still dream on a grander scale. Push that horizon further. Hold those dreams close and maybe one day when life shifts, and it will, they become the achievable goals.
Apparently we are enjoying the last few days of summer weather. It’s kinda sunny and kinda warm – if you ignore the cold wind. The forecasters are warning that soon the weather will be most definitely very different. Very cold, wet, grim and grey. As a result the farmers around here are desperately trying to get on with stuff. Even working when it’s dark.
It’s also time to start harvesting our own little garden crop. Today it’s a few apples, onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. Some have done better than others……
Can anyone speak carrot. What’s the carrot for ‘you do know this is Yorkshire and you are about to be given a right weather spanking. You don’t have months of sunny growing weather left, you have no more than 3 days. So get a move on….’
Why is it so simple to grow weeds yet those so called easy grow carrots prove so pesky. It’s as if the carrots pop out of the seeds, feel the Yorkshire soil and go ‘YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING’.
So if the carrots play ball then we are moving into a spell of living off stews, soups and apple crumble. I can happily live with that. I’m always thankful for whatever the garden yields. It does have to contend with the muppet gardener and Captain Chaos.
So yes it’s that time of year. The weather starts to break OR in our case, break even more. It starts to get colder and darker. For many it can be a tough change. Heralding a long period of what feels like ever increasing claustrophobic imprisonment. Me included. That’s where friendships, happy things and dreams are so important. They can help soften the sadness, even lift us into a better place. So for me it’s time to increasingly focus on those things. I can’t do anything about the weather but I can do influence the truly important stuff. Soon the autumn colours will become spectacular. The important stuff can lift the soul. Yes the following months can be bleak BUT they can also yield so much beauty and wonderful moments as well
Now it’s time to give those carrots a good talking to.
It might look like War of the Worlds has come to Yorkshire. But it’s only an illusion. A few hours later the Martians had clearly had enough of the weather and gone back home. Definitely taking the red weed with them.
That’s an important thing to remember for me. Sometimes I get caught up in the moment. Don’t think things through properly. Misread people. See a situation one way. But after a while, when I take the time to revisit again – I clearly misinterpreted things. It’s always good to have those moments of clarity. It helps me chart the right course. Avoid the rocks. Avoid the Martian heat rays…..
This was a year ago. I stopped on one of my long runs to take this photo. It would have been just after 9am and Hawklad would have been in school. After the run was finished I would then drag my muddy body to the supermarket. Definitely seems like an eternity ago. I wonder when I will go running here again. Probably not in 2020.
We all need those things in life to hold on to. A person, a friendship, a love, faith, a hobby, a destination. It will be different for everyone. Maybe it’s one thing. Maybe it’s a range of things. But we do need these in our worlds. For our health and wellbeing. I remember listening to a politician who I really respected. He talked about his love of hill walking. How walking had become such an important part of his life. But he was sad because due to work demands he had been forced to stop something he loved so much. Tragically it didn’t work out for him and his life was cut short. We do need to hold onto these things which lift us up. We all need to find the time. Listen to what our inner selves are telling us and needing from us. Hold onto and treasure those things and people we love.
So running has gone. I’ve found better more enriching things to focus and care for. But I realise that I do need a fitness activity to replace running. Ultimately the exercise bike is monumentally boring. So at present running has been replaced with yoga. Briefly stopping to take a photo has been replaced with failing to get anywhere near holding a handstand. Happy Days. I feel another lego yoga post coming on. You have been warned.
Joking to one side, please remember to find the time for YOU. You need that.
This is a photo from 3 years ago. I stumbled across it while looking for some old climbing ones. Another typical Yorkshire August day – all four seasons in one day. It got me thinking – what’s the same and what’s changed in those 1000 odd days. See that’s what aprofessional accountancy qualification can do for you – I’m good at those complicated adding up calculations.
THINGS WHICH ARE THE SAME
Getting no dyslexia support from school,
Getting no Aspergers support or accommodations from school,
Still a single parent,
Still a metal head at heart,
Hawklad is still a lovely character,
No holidays, no Switzerland,
Pets causing chaos,
My football team is still useless,
Still see myself as European,
Brexit is still a shambles and a monumental exercise of self destruction,
Still 5ft 10 and a half (don’t forget the half – it takes me beyond average height),
Still not climbing,
Still can’t work out the TV remote control,
The garden is still a mess,
Still don’t like U2,
Still haven’t seen Avatar without falling asleep,
Haven’t seen my brother even though we live only 50 miles apart,
The garden gate still needs fixing,
The washing machine is still possessed,
Still having bought myself that ginormous telescope,
The blog is still going,
Still writing about the same stuff,
Still waiting for official recognition of my stellar poetry skills,
Still haven’t won the lottery,
Still losing my car keys.
THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED FOR THE WORSE
As Hawklad has reached the teenage stage many of the health support packages have been removed,
The waiting list to see The Paediatrician is now approaching 2 years,
A pesky pandemic,
Hawklads anxiety levels,
Hawklads isolation from the world and other kids his age,
Due to circumstances had to stop running,
Might be a metal head but the days of skin tight jeans have gone,
Lost a couple of much loved pets,
Don’t really see my sisters anymore,
School’s view of Hawklad – definitely revising his perceived ability levels downwards,
The number of times I have to shout or pull my hair out at school is rising,
I’mphysically meeting less people,
The list of things on the ‘need sorting out when funds are available‘ is growing.
THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED FOR THE BETTER
Hawklad understands himself and his Aspergers much better now,
Hawklad is overcoming his dyslexia,
I understand now that it’s just as ok to Laugh as it is to Cry, YES it’s ok to live,
One step closer to home schooling (hopefully),
My dress sense – I finally chucked out some of my pink climbing shirts.
You might be thinking that looking at the relative number of entries on these lists that the last 1000 odd days have been generally bad. But look at some of those things on the last list. It’s not about quantity it’s about quality. Yep looking at that last list, over the last 1000 odd days we have challenges but some really good stuff has still happened. That’s why there is always hope.
Will not harvest these until October. Try them now and they are the perfect definition of the phrase ‘beyond sour’. Wait till October and they become just ‘sour’. Sour is as good as this tree gets. It’s still a blessing, just a blessing that makes your eyes water…..
If only you could reattach them when the Yorkshire winds knock them off. It’s a hard life being an old Apple Tree on an exposed hill top. Even in summer, it gets a right buffeting.
I remember when we first moved here and thinking how rickety that old tree looked. What would last longer, the tree or the very old wooden conservatory. Well the tree outlived the wooden structure easily. What I didn’t visualise was how much of the cycle of life that tree would see. So much life and death. Hope then devastation and then a restart.
I was trying to think of a better word than restart. Reboot? Rebirth? Renewal? Reset? Even Resilience. Maybe Growth works. Starting again. That’s another one to ponder.
I guess the best option is something to do with the cycle of life. Constantly making our way around that big rollercoaster. Bit like the old Apple tree. Each year gets a buffeting but still produces apples.
It’s so odd, I was going to talk about some stuff but suddenly the words have failed me. I can visualise them just can’t get them into sentences. Maybe it’s lack of sleep, a few tears this morning, worries about Hawklad, maybe it’s frustrations. I’ve noticed that the last few days I have absolutely hammered myself in exercise training. Over trained. Maybe I’m just dealing with stuff. I will stop waffling on. Let’s see if those particular words flow on another day.
It’s potatoes for tea tonight….. Something nice about eating your own vegetables. Anyone for chips or crisps or boiled potatoes.
In the end a few went into a warming vegetable stew. Didn’t predict that.
Before 2016 I (We) spent far too much time living the future. Thoughts about retirement. Marriage in the future. Visiting places like Canada and New Zealand – in the future. Planning for retirement, maybe even an early one. Dreaming of moving to Switzerland, down the line. Another child, one day…… And yes worrying about the future. Too much time thinking about what could go wrong with meetings, plans and life. Given all the time spent worrying it’s telling that the one thing that happened was never thought about.
Then the world caved in. That future had just died.
Suddenly my mind set changed. From spending too much time living in the future, I suddenly was living in the past. Reliving memories. Too many what if, why didn’t I – questions. Refusing to move from a door which had just shut permanently. So much wasted energy.
Now in 2020, hopefully the balance is now better. It’s more about living in the moment. Yesterday has gone, tomorrow does not exist yet and is so unpredictable. The only thing I can influence is the present. Just try to enjoy every single moment. It’s not easy but so worth it.