Battered Rose

This rose bush was here when we first moved in. So it’s at least 18 years old. Given the state of it even then, I suspect it’s been here much, much longer. The changes it has seen over those years. Some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. It’s in a really annoying place. Right next to the front door. Constant pruning required to stop your arms and legs getting lacerated just trying to get into your own home. I dread to think how many times it’s been smashed and broken by washing machine and furniture deliveries. It’s regularly attacked by the local wildlife and pets. So yes it’s had a challenging life.

Yes it’s a tad battered. The roses are never perfect these days. Always a little worn at the edges. The foliage is getting a little thin in places. But it’s still here. Just like we are. I can’t speak for you but in my case I am so like this bush. A bit old. The body has taken one too many hits. Definitely battered and a little frayed round the edges. You could even argue that I’m starting to take root. But currently I am still here. Still trying to live. I will give thanks for that.

Windy with a hint of muppets.

Please remind me not to try and take a closeup photo during a wind storm. It’s not easy. It’s been a typical Yorkshire May Day. Two jumpers (sweaters), woolly hat and retrieving garden furniture from the farmers field.

A fantastic blogger did a wonderful tribute to me by doing a post on her site, in my writing style. It’s funny reading about yourself in someone else’s words, finding out what I had done. Thank you Chelsea, you do me so much better than I do.

Chelsea’s post is so apt and spookily close to the mark. Outside eating with a hint of muppetry was definitely yesterday’s theme. We had decided to mark the start of the week off with a barbecue. Unfortunately the old bbq crumbled over the Yorkshire winter. My first attempt at building a replacement one didn’t go to well and rather scarily was built next to the oil tank. So when yesterday came…

Dad why don’t we just move the George Foreman grill outside like we said we would.”

No let’s have fun and build a fire on the lawn. A proper barbecue.

Not sure that’s a great idea. It’s a bit grey and very, very windy…”

Yes it was blowing a storm but surely man can overcome the elements. So yes we built a rather fine temporary fire structure at a much safer distance from the oil tank. I was quite impressed. It was loaded with what we had in terms of coal and wood.

How are you going to light it.”

Matches…. This is where the plan encountered its first problem. Yes we did find three matchboxes. A remnant from fireworks night. Unfortunately the boxes where full of used matches. Don’t you just hate that. I managed to salvage one complete unused match and one snapped one. So here goes. Problem two – the wind. Instantly both matches were been blown out. Problem three – living in a house with oil heating and an electric oven. We don’t need to light a fire so the house is bereft of spark generating options.

Ok Bear Grylls what are you going to do now. Time for the George Foreman yet.”

Spiriting up my inner Bear I located my camping flint and tried to create fire. Thirty minutes later – nothing.

Dad I will fetch the George Foreman. I’m starving.”

Too late, it started to rain. So eventually it was an indoor George Foreman feast. Today’s heartwarming life lesson

Once a Muppet, always a Muppet.

Life and a bag of sweets

A beautiful cloud but wow does that hedge need trimming….

You take a photo of a cloud and it ends up giving you another job to add to the list. Everything is connected. Yin and yang. My parents always talked about good stuff and bad stuff being linked. If something good happens to you, immediately prepare for the kick up the backside. Or if something bad has happened, remember to look out for the rainbow.

About a year after my partner died, I was asked to speak to someone who was in a similar position. Spouse had died and was now a single parent. I remember he asked me to think of one positive from the whole bereavement gig. According to my parents something good must have come after the bad. I could think of four positives

  • You get to spend more quality time with your kid(s). Your not sharing responsibility anymore,
  • It can make you into such a better parent,
  • It shows how much you loved your partner (so easily forgotten),
  • We got a pet dog…

So yes good and bad stuff must be linked. So why do I keep forgetting that…

Yesterday I got the munchies. A real bad case of the munchies. I needed something full of sugar and bad for me to eat. Nothing in the kitchen cupboards, so off I went into the garage on my desperate quest. Then a RESULT. I found an opened bag of my favourite sweets. I should have immediately remembered that where there is a good thing then bad is lurking close by. As I walked out of the garage I just couldn’t wait to tuck into the sugar filled heaven. So I started to open the sweet pack on the move. The bag ripped asunder. Bad stuff lurking. The little bits of sugar filled heaven suddenly became Exocet guided missiles. Only one target. The cat litter tray. Yep every single sweet hit it’s target. Only one word can describe that feeling. Bugger…..

I most admit the sweets are proving quite an effective absorbing material for the big boy cat. But once again good and bad are linked. Happiness is intrinsically linked with life farting in my general direction. So that beautiful cloud has gone and left a hedge that needs cutting. Life……

Rose

First garden rose of the year. Ok strictly speaking it’s the neighbours rose. It’s sneaked through a hole in the fence which I should have fixed by now. But I will take this.

Dad what are you doing?”

I was trying to build a DIY fire pit. The last one had disintegrated in the lovely Yorkshire winter weather. Trying to harness my inner Bear Grylls, I was in the zone.

Are the sides supposed to be so uneven. Is it a square, a circle, triangle or pentagon?”

Ok it had some symmetrical issues….. it started off as a square.

Oh, well it isn’t a square now. And the height is all over the place. It’s like looking at The Alps.”

Yes that was an unexpected design feature.

It’s not the most sheltered spot. Not sure lighting a fire will be easy there.”

Didn’t think about that….

Don’t you think it’s a little close to the oil tank.”

Oops I forgot about that great big green tank with OIL and FLAMMABLE written in big letters down its side.

Dad I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t we forget about the fire pit. When we need a BBQ then why don’t we just run an electric extension cable outside. Then we can just rig the George Foreman Grill to work outside. Job done and you don’t need to spend days trying to light the fire….”

That sounds like a better plan.

Evolution

It’s a hard life being a much loved dog toy. Life is a real chew.

Somedays even a Grumpy Cat has to hide. I so felt like doing that today….

Dad v Trampoline…. that’s absolutely no contest.

A desperate attempt was needed to get son bouncing on one of his favourite things again – a pigeon and chicks decided to build a nest right next to it. To heavy to drag I attempted to dismantle the metal object of torture. After one hour of trying to prise apart the first two metal poles, Son helpfully pointed out

You are not making much progress. Actually NO PROGRESS. Come on Dad, you are at the head of an evolutionary chain stretching back millions of years. Think of all the biological progress which has led to you. Surely a pigeon and a chunk of metal isn’t going to beat you.”

NO IT IS NOT. The pride of my species, THE DADS will triumph.

A truly brilliant plan was hatched. My Archimedes moment. After much searching in the garage I returned with 8 wheels taken off an odd bed (waiting to be scrapped). I had attached the wheels to blocks of wood. With all my strength I managed to lift each corner of the trampoline and force the wheel blocks underneath. Suddenly I have a trampoline with wheels and with the appliance of a little pulling force …. IT WILL FINALLY MOVE.

That was the plan. A brilliant plan. Unfortunately in practice the plan had one or two minor issues. The weight of the trampoline just embedded the wheels into the ground. When I say embedded, the wheels disappeared completely into the ground and must have been buried inches below the surface.

After Son had stopped laughing he left me with this gem of wisdom.

That’s my Dad he is a muppet. The man evolution forget about”

Get my head round

The sun is shining. It’s still cold but we will settle for this.

So it’s almost official. School has emailed parents to say that looking at the latest government guidance – which apparently isn’t much – only some Primary pupils and those sitting final exams next year will get any direct teaching over the next few months. The earliest Son will be back in school is going to be September. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

Looking at the government’s plan for the economy – doesn’t take long as it’s basically wrote on the back of the PMs hand – probably means the company I work for won’t be operating anytime before September. That’s being extremely optimistic and requires an awful lot of good fortune. Being realistic there is a high probability it will not survive. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

It’s also time to get my head round the likelihood that I won’t be seeing my brother and sisters much in 2020. If things improve then maybe visits at Christmas might be a possibility. Realistically meet ups are not happening anytime this side of September. Already one Government official has said Summer family holidays and meet ups are cancelled, as these are unsafe – but apparently getting on a packed bus and going to work is completely safe.

AND WE HAVE TO GET OUR HEADS ROUND TWO EVEN MORE PRESSING MATTERS.

  • How are we going to celebrate my partners birthday in just over a weeks time. We had been planning on doing a camp fire party. Unfortunately the fire pit didn’t survive the Yorkshire winter. Yesterday I tried to pick it up to clean and the metal just crumbled, leaving me holding just two wooden handles. At least they can be used as fire wood. The other idea was to have my partners favourite meal – Chinese. Unfortunately the local takeaways are still closed and the local supermarket is completely sold out of Chinese food – apart from crispy seaweed. Which brought the response “well the gerbils will eat well then….”. I did offer to cook Chinese from scratch, but that brought the response “I’d rather suck on a gooseberry….”. So we are in plan F territory.
  • Dad I am so missing not going on my trampoline.” A couple of months back our garden pigeons decided to nest right next to the big bouncy thing (thats not my tummy before you say anything….). When I say right next to, I mean within 10 centimetres (not using inches will really upset Boris). Well the pigeons and chicks are showing no sign of moving, so I have two options. One is to dismantle and then rebuild somewhere else. Problem is that it’s in the only flat part of the garden and it’s like trying to assemble a Super Tanker. The instructions helpfully explained that you will need three reasonably fit adults to assemble. They failed to mention at least one of those adults must be an expert in structural engineering and the other two will need to have the strength of The Hulk. The other option is to try and drag the complete trampoline. We tried yesterday and after 30 minutes had shifted it 1 cm (up yours Boris). So we are also on Plan F here as well.

But at least the sun is shining.

Lollies and homeschooling

Somebody waiting to share my ice lolly.

This weekend the weather is going to be mad. For a start it’s dry (which is mad for Yorkshire). But the temperature. Midday today it was 21C (70F). Midday tomorrow is due to be 2C (35F). On the Yorkshire temperature scale that’s going from a string vest to two jumpers.

This week it was a 4 day school session. Definitely into a pattern now. Some subjects working well using an iPad and online resources. Some lessons not working well. But what have we learnt this week from the school at home project.

  • School are looking at how to enforce social distancing when they reopen. They are doing this without any help or information or resources from the so called Government. The only way they have managed to find a practical way is to split the existing classes up. Maximum Class sizes have to a third of what they are now. This basically means that it only works if many kids are homeschooled for at least part of the week.
  • The secret with about teaching is understand the particular needs of the child. With our Son and a subject like a History, it’s not about getting new information into him. Already he has a staggering encyclopaedia stored. It’s finding ways to get that knowledge out of him.
  • It’s basically impossible to free hand draw a circle and a pentagram on a tablet.
  • Even at home we have a stationary leak. Pens, pencils, erasers, rulers …. are going missing. I can understand losing them at school but at home …. really. Where are they?
  • When did long divisions become so complicated.
  • Son is enjoying having a regular school lunch. He says that his work on an afternoon has improved. He’s less tired. At school because of too many kids trying to use overstretched catering facilities, Son often doesn’t eat or drink. It’s certainly not helped by government pressure to cut break and lunch times.
  • Kryptonite won’t count when you are trying to name inert elements.
  • Son, the IPad and I do not agree on how most words are spelt.
  • One of the great feels is Son completing a lesson with 30 minutes to spare. Son can go outside and I can hover.
  • I am becoming a bit of an expert in Russian geography. Begs the question why I was so rubbish at Geography when I was at school.
  • The French I learned (or thought I learned) is fundamentally different to the French Son is learning now.
  • In all the weeks we have done this thing at home, most subjects have not set additional homework. Yet we are told that the kids are keeping up on the curriculum requirements. So what is the point of setting heaps of daily homework when they are at school

And the last thing we have learnt. Ice lollies during subjects like Drama really do ease the pain.

Birds

Every single day we have two pigeons who plonk themselves on the back garden fence. It starts off all very civilised then after a few minutes, it all kicks off. Gets a little bit racy.

I like to think of it as two Pigeons practising for their WWE wrestling trials. Clearly what we are seeing is a spectacular flying elbow seamlessly transitioning into a deadly Coup de Grace finisher. Apparently son is not convinced. He is picking up the courage to explain the birds and the bees to me.

After an all too short wrestling match (or something else) the two move apart and refuse to talk to each other. So like life really……

So last week it was the last Terrible Poetry contest. To much celebrations it looked like I had hung up my poetry pants for good. Well….

This weeks sees Chelsea replace her old contest with The Weekly Hilarity Contest. This week the rules are

  • Write a short story, poem, song, or really long sentence about Birds.
  • Don’t make it too long. We’ve got real life to get back to.
  • The goal is to make me, the judge LAUGH ALOUD. Whoever tickles my funny bone the best will be crowned champion.
  • As a tip, I generally think and live in a G-rated world. I don’t find crude or profane things very humorous.

You have till 10:00 a.m. MDT next Friday (May 8) to let Chelsea have your entry.

**************

So my poetry retirement lasted 6 days. Sorry to disappoint everyone. Unusually this poem is not aimed at Boris Johnson. However as Boris is a massive BIRD brain, I did find a way to get a little abuse hurled at him – points will be awarded to the first person to find it in this hopefully truly appalling poem. See Terrible Poetry still lives………

Blimey what are those birds doing

Oh it’s such seedy x-rated viewing

Really, on our back garden fence as well

Is it not behaviour best saved for a seedy motel

Surely they are spoiling our gorgeous farmland view

Interrupting our peaceful world with something so taboo

Spending every day exchanging birdie pleasantries

Always trying to make so many more feathered babies

Fooling around as if there is no tomorrow

Oh having such fun and never showing any sorrow

One overriding thought about those feathered huggers

Lashings of rummy pumpy, those lucky little buggers

My excuse is that we don’t use a G rating in the UK. So I assume that G means Generally any word is Good to use.

Nettles

You know your garden is badly overgrown when you manage to fill a wheelie wheelie big Wheelie Bin full of weeds in less than 15 minutes. I guess that’s one of the advantages of council refuse collections only happening every two weeks. After only a few minutes weeding you might as well stop for 2 weeks.

I have to say the weeds didn’t go without a fight again. Nothing like trying to pull out angry nettles. They are the Sith Lords of the garden kingdom. Today I was prepared. Thickest gloves I could find, long sleeve top and combat trousers. I still have a lot to learn in the ways of the dark side. One particular large nettle was refusing to come out of the ground. With one final effort the nettle exploded out of the Yorkshire soil. Unfortunately far too much upward force had been applied and the delightful stinging plant whacked me in the face and neck. Shall we just say it’s smarting a tad….

I wasn’t weeding out of choice. The house had become very much off limits. Son had to voice record a presentation for school. He was suitably unimpressed. So to try and not put him off, I went outside to garden. I’m not sure how it finally sounded and I’ve promised him not to listen to it. But the barbed mutterings from inside the house did make me smile.

How am I supposed to perform under theses conditions….

Typical I do a good one and I forget to start recoding the stupid thing….

I bet Johnny Depp would struggle with this script….

And breathe….

Argh, why does this microphone make me sound like a Sith from Star Wars….

Oh for the love of …. I’m sounding like a chipmunk now….

Oh god I’m starting to sound like my Dad….

Sadly he is starting to sound like his Dad. My habit of shouting at pieces of technology has clearly rubbed off on him. I just wish these nettle stings would rub off me now. I definitely have a face perfect for radio tonight.

Safety

Today’s out of focus wildlife action shot is of someone who lives in our roof. Actually taken yesterday when the sun was shining. Our housemate is about the only member of our household who gets out these days.

This is the seventh week of Son’s own version of the lockdown. A few dog walks in the early weeks but then going through the garden gate became increasingly difficult for him. Even in the security of our car, a simple trip out onto the road becomes an anxiety crisis. When he returns he immediately washes his hands for minutes then has to have a shower and bath. These are genuine fears. Fears that effect his life. The excessive need to wash is not new. He has been shown how to clean his hands like a nurse. He has hand washing drills that set time limits. But sometimes it’s best to let these lapse as the excessive cleaning is often more about ridding his soul of anxieties rather than purely removing germs from his skin. Especially when a virus surrounds him which has so many unknowns.

He won’t be alone in these fears and feelings.

A chap in London with a little NHS badge announcing that the lockdown is being eased or lifted is not the end of the matter. It’s not as if it’s a water tap which we can instantly turn on and off. That’s also assuming that the virus remains under control and doesn’t spike again. Under Control is a rather worrying definition these days. It appears to mean keeping daily infections running into thousands and deaths below 300 a day. That’s just hospital based deaths not including the huge numbers occurring in care homes or in the wider community. For many the easing of restrictions is just the start of a long and painful slog. No sudden street parties for them. It’s about trying to repair bridges between the safety of their homes and the wider world. Picking up sufficient confidence to walk past that front gate. To meet people again. That’s going to be so tough with no guarantee of success.

So for the foreseeable future, our little starling will be the only one venturing out.