Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to beautiful Switzerland. A place we haven’t been able to visit for 5 years now but which still holds a special place in our hearts.

Times are tough. Travel and seeing the world is almost a nonstarter. That actually applied to many even before a pandemic kicked in. It certainly feels that way for our little part of Yorkshire. A little piece of the world that seems to contract just a little bit everyday. But some things still provide hope. Shine a light in the darkness.

To Hawklad and me Switzerland is one of those beacons of hope. A land which is almost too beautiful to seem real. As if you are visiting a land formed in an old art masterpiece. Maybe a perfect fantasy world created in a brilliant mind.

But Switzerland is real. It is that perfect. We endlessly look at old photos of our family trips there. Those memories brighten and expand our world. Sustain us through the dark days. Provide hope.

The thing about having hope is that it keeps you going until the clouds of life start to part. When it does for us there is always Switzerland.

Keep that special place close to your heart.

Family History

I was checking my phone for a photo for the blog and I came across this one. Yes Hawklad has been playing Pokémon Go again. Either that or my last selfie was a bit of a shocker.

I am listening to a cheery Pearl Jam cd and thinking about family history. For a lesson today he is trying to list some of his family tree. It’s easy with my partner as we can go back at least 300 years. Lots of documented history. Long line of Quaker and Liberal Political tradition. An MP. With mine it’s more patchy. Yes we can go back to someone born in 1805 but there are lots of blanks. Someone who refereed a big national football semifinal. Someone who walked on the Jarrow Poverty March. A female relative who went to be an exotic dancer in London at the turn of the last century. Someone who was gassed in World War One and survived. An uncle of mine who was a pilot during the Korean War. My Dad who fell in love with Iceland while serving during World War Two. But that’s about it. So many gaps.

So as Hawklad thinks about being partly English, Welsh, Scottish and German (maybe even more diverse), I have a new project. Time to try and fill in some of these family gaps. I owe that to my son.

It’s so important that we keep our own history alive because it forms a narrative to how we are.

Odd sandwiches

The one thing that you get used to as an Aspergers parent is routine. Lots of routine. That’s tough for parents like me as I am not really a routine person. I’m a bit more impromptu. Bit more going with the flow, see what happens person. Maybe some would call it winging it. Which is most odd. On most of the old Aspergers tests I would score very highly yet on one I was way down. Routine.

On this Hawklad is completely different to me. He needs his routine, his order, his plans. He needs to have that safety net and he needs to follow them. It’s reflected in so many things. If we are driving somewhere then we need to follow the usual route, even if that means a much longer journey. He likes to wear the same types of clothing – if he grows out of them then we need to replace with almost exact copies. He has a TV and movie schedule which he sets way in advance. We will often watch the same movie over and over again. School lessons have to follow the timetable without variation. We need to buy the same types of pens and pencils. He likes to go out in the garden and talk at the same times. He doesn’t like me to do things like change my hairstyle or try new clothes. It’s funny I’ve been wanting to shave my hair off for years but that’s just not allowed.

Break the routine and he is immediately hit with waves of self doubt and fear. Over the years we have tried to work on this. Slowly trying to introduce change. Occasionally trying to introduce unplanned but definitely fun routine changes. But it’s never really worked. Routine is just a key part of who Hawklad is.

Another area of much needed repetition is food. He has the same seven day food menu. The same foods on the same days, year after year. Trying new foods is just not something he does really. Normally ends in failure.

Dad what on Earth is that.”

It’s a sandwich.

Yes I can see the bread but it’s what is between that which is the worry.”

That will be cheese and onion crisps. It’s going to be one of the great gourmet experiences. A crisp butty. A crisp sandwich.

Really. That is just wrong on so many levels.”

It’s fantastic. Go on try it. It’s a family tradition. Your Little Nan would always be treating herself with one. But her crisp butty would be made with Ready Salted crisps.

Just No Dad.”

Ok. But if it’s not a crisp butty then what about a chip butty. A sandwich made from fried chips (fries) with heaps of tomato ketchup. Another true taste sensation.

Erm NO. You can keep that as well.”

Ok Hawklad what about a fish finger sandwich. Fantastic.

Not happening. That’s a tradition which is not passing down the gene line anymore. It ends with you.”

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s must be time for our weekly trip to beautiful Switzerland. A country which we haven’t been able to visit in a few years but which still holds a special place in our hearts.

Someone asked why we love this country so much. Well the first thing is that is has so many links to our Hawklad. His mum’s family have had links to the country for nearly 80 years now. That’s so important to our son.

Another reason is how the Swiss villages just look so perfect in the alpine landscape.

Another reason is the country’s beautiful lakes. They have a magical quality.

Another reason is those walks through the wooded mountain valleys. They are simply breathtaking.

We hardly get much snow these days where we live. The excitement of coming to land where the snow is always there. Even in summer.

The mountains are nothing short of epic.

Finally its not a bad place for an 8 year old to have breakfast.

Lost Stories

That’s a leaf that clearly has a story to tell.

We all have so many stories to tell. Wonderful stories. Stories that tell us about life. Characters. Events. Even reveal things about ourselves.

It’s sad when those stories are lost. When the are lost they are lost forever.

I’ve lost so many people in my life. Friends, grandparents , parents, even my partner. All had stories to tell. One of my biggest regrets is that the importance of stories didn’t sink in until far too late. Not until they had left this world. So many stories went with them. All I can do now is just shake my head at the thought of how little I really know about those loved ones. Can I even remember how their voices sounded!

Now I look back and wonder what could have been. If only I had found more time to listen. To ask more questions. To write some words down. Maybe even record them. How treasured would it be to listen to some of those lost voices again, to listen to them tell their stories. Even just to hear those voice again talking about routine stuff. Just before my partner went into the hospital for the final time she left me a voice mail. Seemingly nothing important, can’t even remember what it was about. Why didn’t I save that. Why didn’t I save that last voicemail from my mum asking for some items from the local shop.

These are real regrets. Please don’t make the same mistakes I made. Some mistakes can’t be fixed.

The third sequel

The third sequel already. The Trilogy done in one day. Eat your heart out Peter Jackson.

So this is the third instalment in the ‘what has changed over the 6 months of pandemic isolation’ saga. This time it’s what has changed for me. I guess this one is called The Return of the Kermit the Frog King. So what has changed then for me.

  • With Hawklads increasingly pronounced Social and Health related anxieties the last six months have seen a ramping up of the parenting pressures. Fewer breaks, more challenges and yes less support. In the UK small amount of support that has survived the Conservative Funding Cutbacks largely stops when kids hit the teenage years.
  • Have become a home educator. A school facilitator. A Classroom Supplies specialist. Much smirking…. After 6 months I’m still winging it.
  • I’m sleeping less. Much less. Just can’t seem to reset the insomnia cycle.
  • Certainly more isolated in terms of actually meeting people outside our little bubble. In 6 months I’ve seen family members twice, one work colleague (and good friend) maybe three times, neighbours a handful of times, the local shop workers maybe a couple of times a month, the dentist once, one visit from the boilerman, a few health workers and doctors. That’s about it. Oh actually forgot one person. The Postman, the only person I see regularly. I count his fairly frequent waves as my most regular physical contact. Luckily I have lovely online friends.
  • With not meeting too many people I’ve started noticing human life more. I notice dog walkers in the fields, cyclists, passing cars, voices from the street, even planes in the sky. A reminder that a bigger world still exists out there.
  • My conversation skills have never come easy to me. I have to work on and practice them. That’s just not happened for months. Even on most phone calls I can feel myself becoming increasingly wooden.
  • My largely unseen dress sense is becoming increasingly avant-garde.
  • I have lost 6lbs but you wouldn’t notice it. Having to resort to consuming far too much Soya (Soy) which isn’t great for my tummy. No I’m not pregnant.
  • I’ve stopped running and walking and road cycling. Must admit it’s not doing my old contact sport injuries any good. Bits are starting to seize up. So I’m trying to find my inner Yoga. Or as I call it Controlled Falling Over.
  • Work has dried up. This was supposed to be a really busy year. Lots of new jobs and major events. In practice that all was cancelled. Remains cancelled. Some plans have been put in place but really I’m not going to get much work until 2021.
  • I’m more able to fill my day without leaving our little household world. No need to visit shops daily, coffee shops, cinema, visit family or friends. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it comes easier to me now.
  • I do tend to overthink things now. Can have days when I do sober too much time internalising stuff. With me that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s such a short stroll to self doubt and negativity.

Yes things have changed for me. They will continue to change as our personal lockdown is not going to end anytime soon. Potentially months more, maybe much longer. With us being an Aspergers Family that was kind of in place before the pandemic. Maybe many of these changes were already happening before the March lockdown. They have just become more pronounced. Maybe these are longer term changes. Maybe it’s much more than a three episode trilogy. Maybe it’s a permanent feature.

Friday memories

This is a photograph that I always keep coming back to. Especially today. It’s a photo that can take me in two different directions. Sadness or Happiness. Currently it’s in the direction of happiness.

A meal and a drink outside while gazing upon one the worlds most epic mountains, The Eiger. Then a walk from Kleine Scheidegg down to Lauterbrunnen. Snow on the tops but wonderfully warm. Walking down listening to our son talk about Dr Who and monsters. A two hour walk was just not long enough for him, he only scratched the surface of his Time Lord memory banks. Listing to my partner laugh at our sons numerous monster jokes.

Yes a beautiful day. All flooding back thanks to a treasured old photograph.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly visit to that most beautiful of countries. A virtual wander to Switzerland. A place we haven’t managed to visit for a few years but which is very much on our hearts.

It’s a land that is dominated by the mountains. The Alps.

In every direction your eyes are drawn to the mighty snow covered peaks. How do you squeeze so many mountains into such a relatively small country.

60% of Switzerland is mountainous. That includes 451 mountains. 24 are over 4000m. That’s a lot of mountains to either climb or just enjoy from the beautiful valleys.

Apart from the monumentally stunning views the thing that strikes you is the quality of the alpine air. It feels so crisp, so fresh and so clean. It’s a staggering feeling. No wonder doctors would often recommend a trip to The Alps to recuperate.

Yes it’s good to reach for the heights some days.

Book

It’s definitely been good weather for fungi.

The first few days in September are often a little tough for me. My mind has a habit of drifting to a hospice in 2016. It’s only natural. Going back to a time of great pain and heartache. The last days of one life – in more ways than one. I remember thinking that it was the end of a book. The author was about to write the words – THE END. It did seem that way. I might be still here but now the words had stopped. It was just nothingness going forward. I would carry on as I had to be mum and dad for our son. But my storytelling had finished.

But life does go on.

Yes I experienced pain and sorrow.

But eventually more smiles.

The story continues.

Looking back now I realise that my partners book did end. But she was still an actor in Sons book going forward. My story did continue. September 2016 only marked the ending of a chapter. A new one started immediately. My story is still being told. New characters and themes are entering the books pages. Let’s see what the next page has to show me.

Seems like a lifetime

I accidentally stumbled across a social media post from a parent from Hawklads school. It contained a photo of a trip to the beach whichsome of the families had made last week. Clearly having great fun. It will do the kids so much good to start living again.

I was so happy for the kids and happy for the parents. They are really nice people. They deserve fun.

But the post brought a touch of sadness. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if Hawklad had been there. To be with kids his age. Enjoying himself. Enjoying being a teenager.

Actually it would have been good for me as well. The last time we went to the beach with other families was 2015. I’ve kind of forgotten what the feeling must be like. You get use to the isolated life style. It becomes all consuming. It becomes who you are. Back in 2015 I remember turning up. Watching Hawklad play with the other kids. The parents had a barbecue. We played games and sand cricket. Built sandcastles. We talked, laughed. We hugged.

But that was then. It’s 2020 now. Different world. It was a different world even before a pandemic. The last time I actually hugged someone was at my partners funeral. That’s virtually 4 years ago. It’s 5 years since we went to a meet-up with other families.

It seems like a lifetime ago.