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…..

Gone Fishing

Red sky at night fishermen’s delight, doesn’t always work. The next morning it’s absolutely chucking down. Maybe it’s good weather to catch fish.

My Dad loved fishing. My brother loves fishing. They would take me to see them fish from the sea walls and in the local lake. I found it fascinating but it just wasn’t for me. I get the relaxation bit. I will happily sit on a sea wall or by water and just chill out. But you can keep the fishing bit. I only went actual fishing once. My brother took me to the local fishing lake for an afternoon. He caught loads, me – not a thing. Brother put that down to my casting action. To me catching something would have been a huge surprise. Whisper it quietly. I never put a fishing hook on my line.

I’ve subsequently been close to fishing a couple of times. I once played a fishing game on the computer. Wow that was a thriller….. The other was at a Fun Fare where I played that ‘hook a duck’ game. I was hoping to win a Cuddly Snoppy Toy and ended up with a real goldfish in a bag. Thank god that’s been banned. That fish was taken straight home and put in our indoor fish tank. My Dad loved tropical fish. But my little fish just kept growing. Soon he was too big for the tank so one summer he was moved out into the garden pond. That’s the pond which was under the protection of our big and mad family dog. And still he grew. Eventually he was even getting too big for his outside home. Finally he was resettled in a massive fish pond in the local park. That was a military operation requiring a huge bucket of water and sneaking over the locked gates. Tom Cruise has nowt on me…

As it’s possible for some types of fish to reach three figure ages, I like to think that my one ever fish catch is still going strong. Lord knows how big he is now. I do always keep an eye out for him in the Jurassic World movies.

Baking Disaster

After a recent run of relative baking success, normal service has returned. A mad idea to produce a bread bun. Here we would call it a Stottie Cake. But no ordinary Stottie. This one has to tick a few boxes.

  • Vegan so dairy and egg free,
  • Gluten Free,
  • Baking Agent Free,
  • Microwaved.

Well that was the plan. The end result 5 minutes later was interesting.

Well it kinda tasted of bread. But it’s texture was anything other than bread like. Imaging cutting into rubber. Only one thing for it. When I chucked it against the wall, it bounced back and I caught it. I had baked a bouncy ball. Most useful for a summer picnic.

The Great Bloggers Bake-off is fast approaching on the 18th-19th July. Why don’t you join in the fun. Whether you can bake or not. Let’s have fun.

Remember to send in your creations (you can start early) to Mel (CrushedCaramel). Maybe your entry is not baking just something for a picnic like a sandwich, drink or salad….

crushedcaramel@gmail.com

Let’s see if we can literally blow Mel’s and our wonderful judge Jeanne’s (A Jeanne in the kitchen) socks off with our creations and monstrosities.

Whitby

It feels like it’s been an eternity since we last took in some seaside air. I think it’s just under two years. TWO YEARS…. That must be my longest ever inland run. Especially not great when you are a seaside child, born on the North Yorkshire coast. One day with patience.

This is Whitby. Here’s a few random facts about this beautiful little town.

  • Captain James Cook lived here and his famous ship the Endeavour was built here.
  • Whitby has some of the best Fish and Chips on the planet.
  • The black semi-precious stone Whitby Jet.
  • Bram Stoker developed the idea of his Dracula book here. The opening chapters are set here. Also the idea of Dracula taking on the form of a huge black dog is based on local legends.

When I was a kid we would come here on a day trip by train. While my parents went about doing parenting things, I would be sent up the 199 steps to The Abbey which is in the background of the second photo. My job was to hunt for Dracula’s grave. I never did find it but maybe next time.

I’m not sure that time wasting parenting excuse would have any chance of success with our son. More chance of him convincing me to go. These days we come to Whitby for the chips, the ice cream, the beautiful beach and a bit of dinosaur fossil hunting. This part of the country has been named Jurassic Coast for the number of discoveries it yields. This is one of ours.

So let’s hope it’s not long before the fossil hunting is back underway.

Drama

You take your eye off the veg patch for a few days and an Amazonian Forest starts to form. Clearly rain rather than warm sunshine is the secret to greenery. Now where did I plant the spring onions?

An email from school made me smile. I notified school of the hospital issue and told them that Son would be out of action for a while. I would speak to school on Monday with an update. Then on Friday night the email at 11.30pm. Son had apparently failed to satisfactory submit work for one subject on Friday. Son immediately guessed which was the only subject that would do this. Why is it always DRAMA. Why is Drama always a drama. Following a rather snotty midnight parent email the teacher quickly apologised on Saturday. On the plus side there are only 2 more weeks to the summer holidays. After that Son has elected to drop the subject (assuming he goes back). So only two more hours of Drama left. How much drama can be squeezed into those 120 minutes…..

Pond

A brief moment of colour before the next band of rain arrives. And yes it’s still two jumper (sweater) weather.

As a child my Dad created a reasonably large pond in the garden. He filled it with little goldfish. It was a haven for wildlife. A protected haven. It had its very own guard dog. Our large family dog called Mick. Mick was lovely but he had issues. He took his guarding the ‘family and the garden’ role very seriously. He bit a postman. He then bit a policeman. It’s amazing how quickly some people learn to understand the meaning of a garden gate sign. Do not enter – Dog who will bite strangers beyond this gate……So he was not a chap to be messed with. And the garden pond fell under his care. Fish, small creatures and small birds were most welcome. He would even let the small birds drink from his water bowl. Unfortunately the same privileges were not granted to larger creatures and large birds. So strangely they quickly learnt that Darwin might have a point and they had better quickly adapt. Adapt meaning give that particular garden a wide berth. A policy which was also observed by the postal and police services.

That garden pond is a long time ago. Since then I have never had a pond. That is until last week. Bad weather interrupted a garden tidy up session. So the wheelbarrow contained a few pulled up weeds. However the rain has transformed the scene. The weeds are doing rather well in the slightly damp conditions. I’m calling that a pond. Just lacking some goldfish and a guard dog called Mick.

Bleak

It’s another bleak old day. Definitely a two jumper day. July 4th was the day when many places like pubs reopened in the England. Well in some parts, rather briefly. A local attraction here opened at 10am and closed a couple of hours later due to the bad weather and high winds. Definitely a two jumper (sweater) day.

Definitely a day for no house work. Disney Plus movies, warm drinks and giving son the attention he needs.

This photograph reminded me of old times. Pre parenting days. When I went through tough periods. When I went through challenging times. Times when I seemed to stumble and constantly lose my way. I would need to reset my inner self. Take a breather. Back then I would book a climbing or walking trip. A weekend in the wilderness. The bleaker the better. That’s what I needed to do my personal reset. Yes I would be tired on my late Sunday drive back but normally I was in a much better mind set. Ready to rumble again.

Fast forward to 2020. Those climbing and walking trips are no more. Single parenting means no timeouts. No weekend long resets. Just keep going. Any internal resets have to be done on the hoof. So with some uplifting words from a friend swirling around my mind, I find myself outside. Sat on the garden fence with a hot drink. Taking a few minutes to breathe. Imagining walking through the bleak landscapes and starting a reset. Yes definitely time to go again.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual visit to beautiful Switzerland.

This week let’s find the usual alpine landscapes mixed with a few animal ones as well. All from wonderful Switzerland.

As a toddler son loved animals. He still does… One day he would love to have a falconry or zoo. I so hope he does.

Every visit to Switzerland gave him an opportunity to get close to animals.

AND as we always arrived on a Saturday a trip to his favourite shop in the world on the Sunday. A shop in Interlaken with a huge range of Schleich toy animals.

He would get to buy 4 new ones. He was always careful to pick toys which he couldn’t get hold off in tour Yorkshire shops. Then the new members of the team would then get a 7 day guided tour of Switzerland.

A guided tour which would take in at least one zoo.

Happy days and definitely hungry work….

Open your eyes

Looking through a few flower photos and guess what I found. Another appearance from our friendly garden visitor. This unexpected find brought a much needed smile.

The unexpected hospital visit was tough. It was physically and mentally tough for our son. Hospitals are not pleasant places at the best of times but during a pandemic. Just awful.

It was a routine procedure but it made me face some demons. Waiting for news in the building where my mother died and where I found out my partner would be dead within days. Too many traumatic memories flooded back. Sat by myself in a waiting room. Yes it’s ok to cry.

Those memories and the clear unpredictability of the future made me realise what is so important to me. The things I need to cherish and make the most of. No more trying to email when talking to our son. It’s such a bad habit, you miss out on so much and son can see the lack of focus. Quality time MEANS quality time. It took something so unpleasant to clear my mind and refocus my priorities. Your never to old to open your eyes.

Gift

A brief break in the clouds allowed the sun to appear. Then came the gift. A beautiful gift that only lasts a few moments. In the great scheme of things just a flicker. Then it’s gone. Just like life. So we might as well live like a rainbow then. Let’s burn brightly and bring happiness into this world.