Midday

Still summer is glorious. Had been hoping to get outside, have a chat and be creative with a pencil, but the weather is just not playing ball. This is midday…..

The school at home project has allowed this Dad to see some practical evidence of the progress and issues which son has with his learning process. The level of insight that is just not provided to parents from schools. Maybe in class sizes approaching 30 this type of insight is just not collected.

After these 3 months I have a better grasp on the dyslexia position. The feedback from school has been limited to

  • He has reading problems,
  • He is doing quite well in spelling tests.

That’s it…. Nothing else in just under two years.

So what insight has the last 3 months provided.

  • His reading has developed. I would estimate that he can read unaided about 50% of words. If he takes his time he can try to sound some of the missing words out, eventually arriving at a word he’s heard of before. The other words at school he’s been guessing or just ignoring. At home he’s happy to ask for help with words. Even allowing me to read out particularly difficult sections,
  • His dyslexia is more pronounced when he’s doing handwriting.
  • He finds it easier to type out answers. It’s a long process as his typing is not quick. He also struggles to see when the predictive text function selects the wrong word.
  • With certain word patterns it doesn’t matter how many times he sees the word, it’s like he is seeing the word for the first time.
  • When he gets tired the dyslexia flares up with greater force. Regular breaks really help. The optimum time appears to be 20 minute work blocks with short breaks.
  • Number dyslexia is still a problem. 6’s and 9’s are easily switched, especially when a decimal point is introduced into the number.

I’m not a trained teacher but I have a valuable quality which many teachers don’t get in UK schools. Quality time. Time to focus on one pupil. That is something which is not permitted under the current government led approach. An approach based on schools operating like automated production lines. That must be another vote for homeschooling…..

Excuse

This was the last few hours of the heatwave before the stormy weather arrived.

There’s a new expression taking hold in England. The matter is now closed. Unfortunately it carries no weight unless you are a member of the Government. It works like this. It comes to light that a member of the government or a sponsor has been caught doing bad stuff. Recently that’s things like criminal negligence, collusion with a foreign power, breaking the law, ignoring lockdown rules, profiteering from the pandemic or brexit, harassment, breaking procurement regulations, waiving or ignoring planning rules for personal gain and misconduct. The type of stuff that if me and you did this then we would be thrown to the wolves.

But that doesn’t apply to members of the elite.

But here’s where the phrase comes into use. So a member of the government is caught with his or her trousers down. After days of denying anything happened they issue a brief statement saying nothing bad happened and anyway it was someone else’s fault. This is then followed by the PM saying The Matter is Now Closed and I have full confidence in the rogue bandit. Now since the PM likes to see himself as a part time Emperor, well that’s it. No need for further investigation or questions. The PM has done that kinda stuff while sipping on another expensive champagne. He is court, jury and judge. You can trust the emperor as he had an exclusive private education and he had been bred to lead us. This approach is proving such jolly good fun that it’s really taking hold. The mainstream media buy it, prosecuting authorities are increasing deferring to it, as are an increasing number of the public.

So when I was a kid and I got hauled off to the head teachers office for snapping a pencil or swearing in cricket – if only I had access to the the matter is now closed defence.

If only my ‘a big boy did it and ran away‘ excuse had proved so effective……

A trip many moons ago

I stumbled across a few old photos. From a time before parenting. Even before my first ever digital camera… A time when my body was still young and I could run up mountains. A time when the wind would still blow my thick long black hair across my face.

A trip to the West Side of Northern England. To the Lake District and to one of Englands most famous mountains. The Old Man of Coniston. It’s not a huge mountain standing at just over 2600ft. But it’s steeped in history. It’s positioned next to the beautiful Coniston Water. The walk to the top takes you through old copper mine workings. Alongside a couple of stunning little tarns. Then finally onto a summit with sweeping views.

Hopefully one day I will return to the summit. A summit climb with considerably less hair. Which will take much longer this time and feature many sandwich stops..

Just better

Yes an excuse to sneak in a Switzerland photo when it’s not Sunday. A country which just does things better than here in England. When the Swiss organise a bird lineup it is always going to beat ours.

I was racking my brain to think of stuff my country can do better than Switzerland. It’s not an extensive list so far,

  • Queues,
  • Road pot holes,
  • Darts,
  • Football hooligans,
  • Classic Rock,
  • Rust,
  • Stuff being late,
  • Crap customer care,
  • Cheaper basic drugs like cold remedies,
  • The NHS, a big plus……
  • Charlatans like Boris Johnson,
  • Litter,
  • Royal Family (depends if your a republican or not)
  • Nigel Farage,
  • Katie Hopkins,
  • Fox hunting,
  • Badger culls,
  • Over fishing,
  • Child poverty,
  • Mental Health Crisis,
  • Care Home Crisis,
  • A shocking pandemic death total,
  • A Government proud of killing so many people,
  • Becoming insular and xenophobic,
  • Key service cuts,
  • Large school class sizes,
  • Navies,
  • Seaweed,
  • Inability to speak a second language,
  • Shouting and swearing,
  • Cricket,
  • Morris Dancing,
  • Fish and chips,
  • Potato Crisps,
  • Rhubard,
  • And raspberries.

Will stop now as the longer this list gets the more depressed I get at the thought of living in England. Yes we have some things we can be rightly proud of but the list of not so good stuff is rapidly expanding. Bring on my weekly Swiss Sunday…..

Sign of the times.

Looking across the farmers fields makes life look so simple. So straightforward. Sadly that’s not the case…..

It was like the toughest questioning from an old school Doctor.

  • Is anyone in the household self isolating?
  • Is anyone in the household classed as high medical risk?
  • Have you or anyone in your house had Co-vid 19?
  • Is anyone in the house currently diagnosed with Co-vid 19?
  • Has anyone in the house got a high temperature?
  • A loss of smell or taste?
  • A sore throat?
  • A persistent cough?
  • Flu like symptoms?
  • Hay Fever like symptoms?
  • Is anyone in the household awaiting the results of a Co-vid test?
  • I know it’s a shambles but has anyone in the household been contacted by the national track and trace system?
  • Has anyone in the household travelled outside of the country over the last 14 days?
  • Has anyone in the household had contact with someone who has travelled outside of the country over the last 14 days?
  • Does anyone in the household visit high risk virus areas such as hospitals, care homes or meat processing plants?

Once I had provided a satisfactory answer to the bombardment of medical questions, the next question was

So what appears to be wrong with the boiler? Are you sure that the oil tank is not empty!

Sign of the times really….

Fragmented

Good to see the local motorway is busy…. It’s still too busy for our son. I got special dispensation to step 10 yards out of the front gate to take this photo. Life on the edge.

It really does feel a bit like that at present. On one hand we have what apparently counts as our Government rapidly relaxing restrictions and on the other hand kids like our son….

His social and health phobias are in a pandemic fuelled maelstrom. Every few minutes he feels the need to wash his hands. To repeatedly rinse his mouth out. The fear of germs and hidden dangers becoming a real nightmare for him. He struggles to touch items like taps and handles. Even putting potentially unclean shoes on is a challenge these days. Deliveries have to go into garage quarantine for at least 4 days. Clothes need changing every few hours. And then another spanner in the works. The old house boiler completely failed. So a service call out is required. It’s now way beyond a temporary Dad patch up. That means an additional new threat to sons safe area. A house visitor! After much discussion we agreed a plan. The service engineer would come into the house only via the back door. The engineer must wear a mask at all times. I will keep 2m away from the engineer at all times. When the work is finished we will effectively lock down half of the house. We won’t venture into the areas the engineer visited for three days. Not ideal but it’s a plan. Son’s stress levels will rise but hopefully not too far. The damage to his safe area minimised.

Yet individuals like our son are expected to just re-enter the world by July 4th. The date our part time PM is declaring as the day he defeated the virus. The date he can heroically restart England. It’s perfectly fine to open overcrowded public schools in September. A few more hand sanitisers in the corridors and relaxing the rules further to allow for even larger class sizes to cope with increased teacher sickness is now the best way to deal with a pathogen. We are told ‘everything is now fine’ by the very leaders who have been proven to be wrong on virtually every single major decision they have made over the last 6 months. The very leaders who now widely seen as charlatans and pathological liars. People see this. Our son sees this. This just adds fuel to his anxieties. It’s making a bad situation even worse.

So when England reopens on the 4th July a small bungalow in Yorkshire will not. It stays on lockdown until son is able to face the world again. Who knows how long that will take. Much patience is required. We won’t be the only family facing this prospect. Again my country further fragments. I’m not entirely sure it’s ever really going to come back together again.

Swiss Sunday

Now that’s a view from a train station. It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to stunning Switzerland.

Some wonderful news. Switzerland is now open again to most of the world. Hopefully soon the good people from the US will be able to get there as well.

We have not been back to this Alpine Heaven since the summer of 2015. It seems like an absolute lifetime. So much has happened.

Yes we have so many obstacles to overcome but one day WE will return.

Switzerland is just part of us now. Feels more like Home than England. That feeling gets stronger each day.

We still have my partners ashes to spread here. The view across Lake Thun with the snow covered mountains in the background is one of the places she wants to become a part of. Her Home. Our Home.

So yes these virtual trips feel like a return to what should be our home. One day just maybe that will happen.

Good to see someone maintains a balanced diet when he visits his future home…..

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….