Change

The local church pepping through the trees. There has been a church here for a 1000 years. It’s kind of a nice thought that this view might not have changed much over the years.

Somethings never change….

Dad have you been buying stuff again.”

I have son. New Christmas Tree lights. Ours are a bit old and they keep blowing. What do you think?

They are very nice. I like that they are all little houses that light up.”

They will look good on our tree. I was thinking about the tree next to the fireplace again.

Dad what’s this that came in the box with the lights?”

That’s a mini solar panel. I wonder why that’s come with the lights.

Maybe Dad it’s because these are OUTDOOR lights. Might explain why the photo on the box has these outside on a bush….”

Opps. Well we have some bushes to put these on.

Dad you are a muppet….”

Yep that never changes.

Time to love Yorkshire

I put my hands up. I might poke a bit of fun at my county of birth. Well actually a lot. Yes the weather can be grim, the people can be a bit odd (me certainly included), we might be a little behind the cutting edge, probably spend too much time focusing on the past BUT….

It is a great place to live and visit. So much history, beautiful brooding landscapes, welcoming, diverse, a wonderful quirkiness and a place that has definitely left its mark on the world. So maybe every so often I should really show and tell the good about Yorkshire.

So here goes. I give you just a fraction of what Yorkshire has to offer.

A bit later

Moody midday.

So we now are in lockdown officially. I should dig out my tinned foil hat. Must admit I’ve not noticed any real difference so far. The dustbin wagon turned up on time. Next doors gardener has been busy. Not much four wheeled traffic on the roads but plenty of cyclists. The mole and badger have continued to dig up the lawn. Hawklad is doing his school at home work. I’m wandering around being a muppet. So same old same old.

Well when I say nothing has changed well that’s not quite true. Shopping wise it’s a different matter. Many of the nonessential shops have closed. And food shopping has returned to being a pain in the buttocks again. As soon as lockdown is mentioned the availability of gluten free foods and Hawklad’s favourite sausages takes a nose dive. I blame it on Boris.

I also blame it on Boris that I’m clearly an old fart…..

Dad what on earth is that?”

It’s vinyl Son. A record. It’s the first Pink Floyd album…

This produced a bemused look on number one son. A bit later….

Say that again. You didn’t have computers when you started school.”

No. Home computing was not yet a thing. In fact calculators had just come out but my school didn’t believe in them. We were expected to do stuff in our heads or use the dreaded slide rulers.

What on earth is a slide ruler?”

Basically an analog mechanical calculation device that looks like a big ruler. It has scales on and you have to slide the middle bit of the ruler out to read the results off the scale.

Another bemused look. A bit later….

“Can I put the hot water bottle in the microwave to warm it a bit Dad.”

Don’t need to ask. In my day I would have had to fill it with boiling hot water from the kettle.

Another one of those looks. And finally this morning….

Dad it’s a shame that you haven’t got some videos or DVDs which you taped of some TV shows you watched as a kid. I bet there is a load that you can’t buy now on Amazon. That would be fun to watch.

Hawklad when I was a kid even video had not been invented. We didn’t get them until the 80s.

So how did you record stuff?”

We couldn’t. If you missed the show on the TV that was it. You had to just hope that it was repeated in a few months time.

And a really really really big one of those looks. Definitely feeling like an old fart…

Questions

This is a little tree which is close to our house. It sits at the side of the farmers field which backs onto our garden. It’s close by as a couple of my garden football shots have nearly hit it….. In the years that we have lived here it has never grown. It just seems to lean over a little further each year. I know how it feels…..

So many questions today. So many school work queries.

Dad what are your thoughts on Gladstone‘s and Disraeli‘s political reforming achievements. They didn’t go far enough and do you think their colonial record negated what good they did do?”

“Dad what do you know about DNA structure and it’s impact on identical and fraternal twins?”

“Dad how would you write the mass of the earth in standard notation?”

“Dad in Animal Farm what does the character Moses represent and his relationship to Soviet history?”

Dad have you ever studied John Agard’s poem FLAGS. Is it about the dangers of patriotism?”

Dad I can’t get my head round French Verb Conjugation. Can you explain it to me?

As any self respecting parent would do I looked suitably vacant and thought wishfully back to the questions about which was my favourite Tellytubby. I was good at those questions.

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.

The boys have lost things

This is the kind of house that just seems to encourage losing things. Lots of things. Which is remarkable when you consider it’s smallish bungalow. Including the garage and the loft, we only have 8 locations for stuff to mysteriously disappear. But it does. All the time.

The house is the home just to boys these days. That includes the pets. So we can definitely say that THE BOYS HAVE LOST THINGS.

Already today we couldn’t find

  • Hawklads FIFA 20 games disk,
  • The new pack of Weetabix,
  • My bank card to pay for something online,
  • My car key,
  • One of my socks – followed instantly by shouting at the dog,
  • A black pen. Can find loads of other colours but not a black pen which Hawklad needs to do a little homework,
  • My new pack of tea,
  • The laptop – how can you lose a laptop….
  • A pair of scissors,
  • My fitness band,
  • The WiFi passkey,
  • The new pack of batteries I bought on Thursday,
  • My mobile,
  • The book I’ve been trying to read for a couple of months now, frustratingly I only have 4 pages to go. It went missing while I was reading in bed. It has been lost for weeks. Ransacked the bedroom today, still no sign. It’s a rubbish crime story but I just want to find out who did it…..

That’s a typical day here. Boys will be boys….

But at least we found time to talk today. We ended up talking about our lockdown and the stuff that we miss. The things we have lost in our own little worlds. For me it was being around people.

Running in the countryside and walking in the mountains.

Going to see my team get beat. Spending time with the friend I meet up with.

We both agreed on missing concerts.

We also both agreed on missing going to Switzerland.

Hawklad talked about not going to zoos and falconries as much. Not being able to have a takeout or pop in for a real ice cream. Not being able to meet up with some of his friends. Missing out on not visiting the seaside.

Not going to wrestling shows.

And not being able to visit historical sites.

There was more but you get the point. Lockdown does have an impact on all our worlds. It means making sacrifices. But we do that all the time. The worry is that too many kids are losing out of key parts of their childhood. It’s about making the best of what we do have. Still trying to make memories. Remembering to keep living.

Creaky World Tour 10

It’s time for another bit of virtual sightseeing. Last year I started my very own world tour. Let’s see how far I can get powered only by

  • My falling to bits exercise bike
  • My falling to bits running shoes

When I started the tour I was restricted to Yorkshire now that has become the garden. So let’s see where we left off last time. At the start of June we had reached Moldova. Now the journey continues. We still had many kilometres unused and we have now added another 1800km. So where have we got to….

Well with quite a few km’s still in the bank we have arrived at Volgograd. Formerly known as Stalingrad. This Russian city was founded in 1589. In certain important days the city can be officially called Hero City Stalingrad. In 1942 the city was the setting for one of the darkest, bloodiest and most horrific battles in the history of warfare. Approximately 2 million soldiers were killed, injured or captured in the 6 month battle. 40000 civilians were killed and the city was destroyed.

The city now has a population of just over a million. So what does it look like now.

******All city photos are from Tripadvisor******

Castles

There’s an old expression here which says

‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’.

It was actually enshrined in common lawn 1628 and basically means ‘a persons home is their refuge’. Over the years it has often been cited by the right wing as justification for the principle ‘I can do whatever I like in my own castle, that includes stuff like smacking kids, shutting down public rights of way, hunting animals, mistreating people and using whatever weapons I like to defend it’.

I’m against all those activities but the law does have its advantages. I can take on the right wing interpretation and use it to say – STUFF YOU BORIS – inside my castle your stupidity, oversized ego and corrupt government can’t touch me – I’m just going to ignore ‘YA GREAT BIG PUDDING’.

In my castle I also can get away with wearing lime green compression socks and pink shirts. It’s my right…. Nowt the law can do about it.

And the other thing about a ‘home is a castle’ is that some castles are bigger than others. Much bigger…. Some are even big enough to be used as Harry Potters school in the movies.

But there is another positive element to the castle home idea. Because of circumstances many people need those castle walls. The feeling of safety which comes from pulling up the drawbridge and being inside your own space. That certainly applies to my Hawklad with his Aspergers.

So here’s to everyone’s very own castles, whatever size and shape they may be.

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….

Not finishing

Every few weeks this rose blooms and every three months we get a large envelope

One thing life doesn’t prepare you for is dealing with the admin side of bereavement. It’s a seemingly never ending slog. Trying to wade through treacle. Form after form. Call after call. Ever decreasing life circles of bank, utility firms and lawyers. Eventually you end up losing the will to live. Which is rather ironic when you think about it. But finally you just about get there. Most of the stuff is sorted. Yes there are a few loose ends but they can either wait or just be left dangling there.

One of those dangling things here is the regular large envelope. An envelope still addressed to my partner.

When she was much younger, my partners parents bought her a life time membership to a national heritage trust. The type of thing which gives you free access to many sites across the country. If you can afford the one-off lump sum they are a great idea. Unfortunately not a great idea if you die young. No argument here as the condition is crystal clear

Rights and benefits shall cease on death and no refund shall be made….

So I really should have phoned up and started the process of cancelling the membership. I can’t transfer it to our Son. But then a thought. Ok Son won’t be able to use it to get into any places for free. But every three months they send out a magazine all about history and nature. Every year they send out a members handbook listing many of the countries best sites and a comprehensive list of what’s on for the year. That’s something. Son will get some some benefit from his mum’s membership. So we are leaving this one dangling. Once the large envelope makes it out of the week long garage quarantine then son will get a free history magazine. Curtesy of his mum and his grandparents. Which is so nice.

Yes not finishing a job is sometimes the best strategy.