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.

A path

The farm cows are good at making paths. They are pretty straight as well. Wonder if they fancy making me a path as well….

What type of path do I want. I could set my sights really low. Ask the cows to do a path in another direction across that field. Ideally on the usual dog walking route across the overgrown and perpetually damp grass. Maybe I could set my sights a bit higher. A nice short paved path across our lawn to the Apple tree. But I could go really high and ask the clever cows to chart me a life path for the next few years. It would be nice to have a sense of direction for a change.

A nice thought but actually the signposts are already there. Signposts showing the way forward. Just have to keep reminding myself to open my eyes and look for them.

Over the last few weeks I have been looking at what jobs are available for me. Need a job that fits round Hawklad and his needs. So ideally one which is largely home based with minimal travel requirements. With the current and likely homeschooling requirements I need one which is part time with quite a lot of flexibility. Actually a zero hours based contract makes sense. A job which I can do already as I don’t have the time or probably the energy to retrain. One which pays enough to at least cover the bills.

So I’m not asking for much.

As hard as I’ve looked no suitable job popped onto my laptop screen. Actually nothing even remotely suitable appeared. Then I opened my eyes and the penny dropped. I ditched my professional career as it didn’t fit around my new life. Then I was lucky in that I found one which did. The new job just about ticked all the boxes. That’s my current job. Even one of the owners kids are friends with Hawklad. They went to his school. That makes things so much easier.

YES I have an ideal job already. Ok – It’s not ideal in 2020 as its public event based. Public Events and a Pandemic are not particularly that compatible. So the work has had to be largely mothballed until life starts to return to normal. Probably a new normal. So that’s no work for me until that new normal emerges. Hopefully that will start to happen after we get through the winter. Yes that’s no money for a few months but we can batten down the hatches and get through on savings. The worry is that too many in a similar position but are not that fortunate with savings. We are even more fortunate as the lack of work means I can focus a bit more on the homeschooling needs.

So I’ve seen the signpost to a path. Get through the next few months and then hopefully restart the ideal job. My job. I did that all by myself and didn’t need the cows to show me the way. But I still wouldn’t mind that paved path to the Apple tree though. That grass does get a bit muddy.

Say that again.

It’s double take time. Only a few weeks ago the government was basically forcing schools to cut back on online schooling options. Encouraging the use of fines to force as many pupils back into school classrooms.

But today….

The Government has now used emergency powers to compel schools to provide online education. Pupils forced to be at home should get the same education as those in the classroom.

Well I wait to see what impact that has. Will our school switch back on the system that the government told them to turn off……

Red

A trip out to the village post box feels like a real adventure. The stuff you can find even on a two minute walk. Definitely saviour those moments.

Today provided a longer trip out. This time a trip pharmacy to pick up a prescription. It felt odd driving in the local town. Actually it just felt odd driving. I admit that I needed to work out which of the 3 peddles was the clutch – how bad is that. Clearly cars are more than just point and go. In the town definitely more signs of the impact of the pandemic. Some places have closed down. Controlled entry queues outside the stores. 2m spacing tape on the pavements. Definitely more masks on view. In the pharmacy Perspex screens and staff dressed like they are about to perform surgery on the customers. Missing items on the prescription, some medicines are just not available. Sign of the times.

School emailed all the parents to let them know that the school has had its first confirmed coronavirus case. It’s stays open and carries on. Will be such a worry for everyone there. Sadly it won’t be the last one. It certainly doesn’t do anything to change the narrative for our son. He’s schooling at home. He’s schooling at home for the foreseeable future.

We carry on.

Sitting down

I must have run past this monument well into a three figure number. Lots of times. I wonder when will be the next run here? 2021? 2022? or later.

Without running I’ve switched to more CrossFit and Yoga. I can definitely see a few more muscles but I’m not sure how far I could run now. It’s been many many months since I last put on my running shoes. My joints would definitely need a good oiling before I tried.

Today’s yoga was definitely interesting. 10 minutes of doing what appeared to be a simple task. Standing up from a cross legged position without using my hands. The standing up bit was ok, it was the getting down bit which was the challenge. How hard can it possibly be to go from standing up to sitting on the floor with my hands behind my back. Humpty Dumpty comes to mind. Give me running any day please. I can do that. But I guess over the coming months I will get the chance to improve. Not sure my bottom can cope with the bruises for that length of time.

We had two deliveries and the postman this morning. It’s unsettling for me to see each person arrive at the door fully masked up. Imagine what it does to someone fighting fears about germs and bugs. It really did spook Hawklad. Should really say spooked him even more. My job over the week is to rig up a post box outside to stop letters coming through the front door. Another thing that increasingly bothers Hawklad. As these anxieties continue to grow he becomes more clingy with me. His health professional has told me that his fears are so ingrained that they may not start to ease until this pandemic is under control and the vaccine has been rolled out and proven to be effective.

A clear time frame is starting to emerge on our lockdown. This is going well into 2021, maybe longer. That has huge implications for school, my work and our quality of life. Quality of life in the sense that our world will be the house and garden for the foreseeable future.

Running is not happening so I had better start to learn new skills. Skills like not collapsing in a heap when I try to get onto the floor without using my hands.

Grouse

Most definitely not like this today. The strange yellow thing in the sky has most definitely gone on holiday. Hopefully not a long one.

Currently I am looking out of window into the rainy garden and thinking. I’m guessing this home at school project has many months to run. As a single parent it’s trying to get my head round the logistics of that. At present there is not much work and what work there is can be done at home. Shopping can be done through a combination of home delivery and very quick trips to the small local store. But what happens if I need to make a longer trip out. Hawklad is not comfortable at all being left alone.

The options are limited at the best of times and these are not the best of times.

Normally our options would be one of two sisters (but one-off those is 2 hours drive away, and both don’t drive) and a couple of local parents who have known Hawklad since the age of 5 (they are busy so are not often available). Unfortunately under the new Government Lockdown rules all four options are now banned. Breaking those would leave us open to heavy fines. The Government has even encouraged people to contact the police if neighbours flout the rules. The irony here is not lost, flouting rules if you are a member of the government or the dad of the PM is said to be entirely reasonable. Under the new rules our only option would be for a grandparent to stand in. Unfortunately ours have all left this world. But here’s another irony, those grandparents would fall into high risk groups. Those who should be shielding. Are grandparents seen as expendable….

The other irony is that those who would be an option before they were banned fall into much lower risk groups. They can’t babysit for us but I could go to work with them and sit alongside them in an office – that’s apparently fine. We could even put on green camouflage and go grouse hunting together without any punishment. Maybe that’s the childcare answer, we set up a grouse hunting lodge in the garden. The first ever vegetarian one….

Bit of orange

It’s been a good year for roses here but so not for other flowers. But occasionally the colour shines out. Just as summer is closing we get a couple of late visitors. They are must welcome.

Hawklad is due another home counselling visit this week. Every two weeks is the plan. Part of a long term care strategy to see if they can help him with his anxieties and fears. An attempt to help him feel sufficiently ok to venture back into the wider world. He needs that professional support. Some things are just a bit outside of my parenting skill set.

Even with that help it’s going to be a long process. We need a fair and supportive wind to help the process along.

Like in many parts of the world pandemic numbers are rising. Unlike some parts of the world, the UK is trying to navigate these stormy waters with no effective government. They have a natural talent to make things worse, to add oil onto the fire. So it’s all a tab chaotic and shambolic. The PM sticking to his whack a mole strategy. His words not mine.

I was contacted by Hawklads care team to let me know that they will have to keep assessing if the service will be able to continue in the short term. They are receiving contradictory instructions from the top. It is likely that the home visits will have stop at some point. Probably very shortly. When they do stop then they will look into things like video appointments. Better than nothing I guess but far from ideal. Hawklad really struggles with that type of thing. The worry is that if the visits are forced to stop then they will not probably restart until after winter.

It’s just one of those things. Outside my control. Outside the care providers control. We just have to make the best of it. But it does add to the feeling that a return to school is a very long way off, if at all. It kind of feels like that our castle drawbridge is being raised again. Time to start manning the battlements. That’s a bleak thought. AND that’s why seeing a couple of small orange flowers in the garden is such a big thing for me.

Another week.

So that’s the first week of the next instalment of our school at home project. The first was when the whole school was doing online education. This time most of the school is back but our son is still trying to home school via online education.

So how has it gone?

I think the best word to use is Patchy. Actually two words – Very Patchy.

A few teachers are making sure that Hawklad is keeping up. They try to share as many class notes as possible. Provide structured work and will mark it. Then you get some teachers who send a few summary notes, not much but at least it gives us a feel for what our son should be looking at. Then some teachers are just dumping the whole terms class assignments across (without instructions). So for one subject that was a single 70 page document filled with questions. No idea how much and when the work is submitted. No idea the format. Poor Hawklad is convinced that he needs to complete all the booklet right now. So much stress for him. Then you get some subjects where we get absolutely nothing. And I mean nothing. In terms of pastoral care again it is nothing.

So definitely very patchy. Speaking to school I suspect that will be the case going forward. Fingers crossed that those teachers trying to support Hawklad will continue to do so. It’s good to have a few subjects where Hawklad feels like he is on top of things. Keeping up with his classmates.

At present we are working on getting through to the end of October and have another think about things. It’s a milestone to work to but it is highly likely that it won’t represent the end of the project. Hawklad is just starting on a very long road of help and counselling. Any progress is likely to be hard fought and slow. The School at a Home project will be a long one, well past the next 7 weeks.

Much patience is required and never losing sight that his wellbeing always comes first. Schooling comes behind that.

We are in this together!

Apparently we are in this all together.

In the UK our Test and Trace system is supposed to be World Leading. Sorry time to shake head and mutter. In practice it has collapsed for many. This true story says it all. Schools are struggling to get those showing symptoms tested. In many areas tests are just not available. I know one school where a number of teachers and students are showing symptoms but local tests have not been available for over a week. The only option for those who are sick has been the offer to travel on a road trip to Shropshire for a potential (not guaranteed) test. That’s a round trip of 470 miles. Because test results are not available the school has not been allowed to go into full lockdown measures.

Remember we are all in this together.

Yesterday our loathsome government told us to Stop Carping and celebrate the phenomenal success of the government’s Test and Trace approach.

Ok I will try. I’m a simple person. I’m seeing an approach which has a Test and a Trace system. Most can’t get a Test, there is a massive backlog of test samples (more than 200000), timeframes are missed, sick are having to travel for hours and then queue, results are inaccurate, we don’t have enough kits. Ok. Let’s look at the Trace system. Currently even by the governments own figures the tracing system is contacting way less than 50% of those they urgently need to contact. That’s an awful lot of people who should be shielding who just don’t know. So in our phenomenal Test and Trace system – Testing has failed, Tracing is failing. So ok if we exclude the test and trace elements, then the Test and Trace system might be a phenomenal success.

Remember we are all in this together.

If you to virtually all schools in the country, they have returned without tests. It’s not considered important for those teachers, pupils, support staff and families. Only when someone has symptoms is it then deemed necessary to have a test.

Many of our government went to a very select and expensive private school – Eton. When Eton returned all staff and pupils had covid tests whether they needed them or not. It was deemed essential for them.

We are all in this together.

Madness of King Boris

Here’s a thought for you. A view of another part of Yorkshire. Still green. Still beautiful. Unfortunately still covered by the madness of King Boris. Now imagine. Insert a group of 7 people. Two famines with children. They come from two different households. They have been carefully observing all the rules. They meet for a picnic just beside the lake. Currently they are braking the law and will be fined £10000.

Now change the image. Same location but this time the two loving and careful families are replaced. This time by 30 strangers. Possible drinking. 30 strangers dressed in green. They sit together. Eat and drink together. Ignore all social distancing rules. Each has a shotgun and are called Grouse Shooters. Now this is completely legal. Exempt from any Covid Rules. Even specifically encouraged by our Government.

That’s the madness of King Boris.