Blessed

A couple of days ago we had a sad face type of day. Old photographs bringing back memories. Sad memories. But it doesn’t have to be like that all the time. Especially when the photograph entails Switzerland.

Today I feel able to correct this….

Switzerland is such a special place. My beloved partner loved it. So did her parents. From childhood she would spend such happy holidays in the Bernese Oberland. The stunning higher part of the Bern canton. Staying in Spiez a beautiful small town on the banks of Lake Thun. Awesome views to the Alps. The summit of the Eiger is visible in the distance and always the last peak to be illuminated by the setting sun. Early mornings would bring on equally stunning landscapes. My partner would sit and just soak up this view. Today this image reminds me of how special Switzerland is and how blessed I was to spend time with my partner. So blessed. Bring on SMILING FACE. 😊

Not PC – Sorry

Son was a bit upset today. One of his classes had a surprise test. He didn’t get any reading help, had to try and type the answers using his left hand and didn’t get any extra time. So understandably he didn’t get anywhere near finishing. Angry face. 😡

To try and lift his spirits I thought we would play a little game. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to go with the first thing that pops into your head.

Can we think of which animals famous people look like. Sorry this is not very PC but it was the first thing which crawled into my empty brain. It did immediately catch our son’s imagination. A few minutes later we were both snorting with laughter.

Some of the images we conjured up I won’t share. But a few we probably can get away with.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May we both agreed on this one.

US Vice President Mike Pence while looking at a video of President Trump our son said that the chap stood next to him who said nothing looked like an African Vulture.

I on the other hand could only see one of those petting zoo Lamas. The ones who stand next to someone quietly and just look blankly into the distance.

US President Donald Trump we argued over this one. Son went for

For some reason I just couldn’t get the image of Sid trying to milk the Male Musk Ox in Ice Age. So I’m going for that Ox as my Mr Trump.

In the spirit of balance it’s only fair that we bring the animal likeness thing a little closer to home.

Me after much debate we have agreed that the Sea Cow is my best fit.

I think it’s now officially time for happy face. 😎

Sad Face

Working from home does have so many advantages. Fundamentally it gives me the scope to flex work around our son. The days of my career coming first have long since gone. Trust me the career first option is the wrong choice.

But home working is not without issue. The biggest one I find is the isolation. I just don’t meet people face to face anymore. This week I have had only one face to face conversation with someone not in our little family group. That’s why blogging is such a blessing for me.

Isolation. It’s bizarre that like our son I often dream of shutting out this strange world on our own deserted island. Yet isolation in ones own house doesn’t tick the same boxes. It frequently draws you into prolonged periods of sadness. Without our son in the house, it seems so empty, so many echoes of the past.

Today my thoughts kept drifting back to holidays with my partner. One image on repeat loop. An image which is on my screensaver. Sorry it’s Switzerland again. I always seem to be blogging about that beautiful country. It was just so special to my partner. The view is looking across the edge of Lake Thun to Spiez Castle (Schloss) with beneath it the hotel we stayed at adjacent to the water. Many days this photograph brings so many happy memories. However today I just keep thinking that I won’t be able to share this view again with my partner. Sad face 😔.

Put the cat in charge

I was blog chatting (or whatever it is called these days) with a friend today and somehow politics came up. When I say politics I mean really silly politics. Our politics is grim. Very grim. One of the only fun elements is when one of our smallest parties enters the elections. The Monster Raving Looney Party. It’s almost as if Monty Python had entered politics. It was started in the 1960s by the musician called Screaming Lord Sutch.

This was the Party who had a real cat called Catmando as its joint leader for 3 years.

Some of its brilliant policy ideas have included:

  • Make the tax system more complicated so that it is harder for companies to find loopholes
  • Make it illegal to walk under ladders
  • To prevent global warming all buildings will have air conditioning units on the outside
  • All politicians should paint themselves permanently from head to toe in the colour of their party
  • All socks to be sold in packs of 3 in case you lose one
  • Introduce a 99p coin
  • To save money they would only operate our nuclear missiles at weekends
  • Build a really big wall (or hang on that’s not one of the Looney Parties policies).

The scary thing is that actually some of the ‘crazy’ policies they came up with have over years actually become rather sensible and have been adopted by the government. We have pet passports now and who was the first party to propose them. They jokingly proposed 24 hour licensing for places selling alcohol (had been very restrictive hours) and a few years later it became law. Back in the 1960s they campaigned to have the voting age reduced to 18 (now the law and how was this ever considered a mad idea).

Sadly they never quite get into government. Maybe because the looney vote is split. At the last election you had the Looney Party, plus you had a chap called Lord Buckethead, some guy dressed as a fish finger and some chap dressed as Elmo.

Some would argue that recent governments have been infiltrated by loonies.

What am I wittering on about. I don’t really know. I think the point is that when the world seems really bleak and sad. When you want to just stand outside, look at the heavens and scream. To hear your own tears raining down on this increasingly alien land. Just sometimes the only thing that keeps you going is a bit of silliness. It brought me back from the edge. Our dip into politics today certainly made our son laugh. It made him forget about his worries for a few minutes.

If the Looney Party has indeed a track record of starting sensible policies off then maybe they should come up with a policy of banishing sadness and anxiety. Maybe in a few years it becomes reality. I could vote for that.

Where do I want to go?

We had the most wonderful conversation the other day.. It was all about picking the 5 places you most want to visit. The chat went on for 3 hours. I managed to select my top 5 destinations but our son was still processing the options. At 4am the following morning I was woken by our son to inform me that he had narrowed his choice down to 20. So here are my 5 (in no particular order).

Everest Base Camp – if I didn’t have parenting responsibilities would try to go all the way to the top. I just want to see it and touch it.

Patagonia – my partner travelled by herself there. She always wanted to go back on a family expedition.

Lofoten Islands (Norway) – Years ago a picture of this dreamscape appeared on a screensaver and I just fell in love with the place. Plus I so want to see the Northern Lights.

Innsbruck – From childhood I remember looking at awe at the spectacular Ski Jumping. Always loved the sport and still dream of going to see one of the competitions in the legendary Four Hills Tournament (which starts today). It would be beautiful Innsbruck if I had to choose one of the four Hills.

New Zealand – My partner always dreamed of us going to New Zealand as a family. She would joke that when she went to see some of the fine cultural sites I could take our son to see some boring cricket. New Zealand was her dream her paradise. We should complete that journey for her.

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Jelly Bean Challenge

How many different types of venomous snake live in Australia.

My guess: 25 (much snorting from son)

Son: 100

Answer: about 100

I can confirm that the Jelly Bean Roulette delivered today. Oh boy did it deliver. Booger flavour. This one brought tears to my eyes.

Today’s challenge question x2:

  1. What is the most powerful bird of prey in the world?
  2. What is the Wild Wolf population in the USA?

Top Cat Trumps

Our son has always loved Top Trumps. It’s the same ritual every time. Before we play he loves to line the cards up in order for each of the categories. Clearly the girl cat is not a fan of straight card lines. Apart from the cat the other thing which frustrates our son with the game is that he has to rely on me to read out the text on each card.

We continue to try and work together on our son’s dyslexia. Some progress is being made. Although he still struggles in general he now can just about spell the player names from his favourite football team. He can spell my teams player names as well. ‘Loser’ covers that one.

But for all the progress he still can’t read the books he is so desperate to enjoy. This is made worse when he hears other kids talking about the stuff they have read. So I have bought him a reading pen. Basically it’s a pen shaped scanner with a headphone. It reads out scanned text. He has used them sporadically at school and they do give him a sense of independence.

We have opted for the C-Pen Exam Reader. Will report back on its performance. However today a very happy boy enjoyed reading a comic by himself. Plus the scanner works on Top Trump Cards. The signs are good.

Jelly Bean Challenge: How many ScoobyDoo movies and episodes have been made?

Different sites have different numbers but going to use these as our marking scheme

Shows (not including cross overs and stuff not including Scoobie) – 406

Films – 39

Specials – 11

Total about 456

My guess was 350. Son’s guess was 399. So again I visited the Jelly Bean Lounge. This time no bullet in the chamber – lucky to select normal apple flavour. However due to earlier attempted cheating I was forced to select a second bean. This time I can confirm blood flavour is revolting.

The next challenge was set by a random question setter we have found on the internet. The question is how many types of poisonous snakes live in Australia. Apparently the answer “too many” is not specific enough.

Shaggy

I received a card from a university friend who is currently climbing in the Alps. Switzerland is one of places that just stays with you. Gets into your soul. Makes you realise what a beautiful piece of rock we are so fortunate to live on. Shame it feels like such a leap of faith to return there without my partner.

Mad couple of days (& nights) and I’ve finally just about caught up with work (sort of). So its time to completely focus on Christmas and our son. First stage was to undertake the family ritual of me humiliating myself on the Xbox. Even with the use of his weaker hand he still wipes the floor with his Dad. During a particularly one sided football match he asked some more questions about my time at University. I would like to say I was the perfect student. Would be a lie and he wouldn’t believe it. Yes too many hangovers, too much time spent playing sports and sadly not enough dedication to studying. At the time I thought that was really cool.

During an equally one sided Star Wars Jedi Fight the subject moved onto the future. Clearly our son dreams of going to College. But he is so worried about how Aspergers and Dyslexia could limit his opportunities. It doesn’t help that he’s been put in the bottom set – seems a long way to climb. It also doesn’t help that some of the kids name call him. But that happens to far too many kids. We talked through some of the brilliant people that have succeeded in life. We talked about the stories of hope fellow bloggers had shared with me. The mountains that were successfully climbed. We discussed some of the new things we could try. How IT can increasingly help level the playing field. I told him that if a pillock like me could get to University then someone as gifted as he was could certainly do it.

Now we entered the world of ScoobyDoo. Unfortunately my Shaggy Character is no match for this adventure. My points frustratingly remains at 0 as our son’s points moves past 100. Eventually Shaggy gets lost and finally stuck in the maze. At which point our son points out:

“Dad when you where at University you were like a Really Drunk Shaggy”.

That’s not so cool…..

Bridges

Sunday seems such a long time ago. I just love the quayside area of Newcastle. Yes it’s built up. Some of the architecture is 18th century housing modern wine bars, restaurants, fast food joints and pubs. But it just seems to work and dovetail together.

But the highlight for me are the bridges over the River Tyne. All so different and just stunning.

Too often people look towards the famous Tyne Bridge and forget to look in the other direction.

Son was really brave and made it into the football stadium. He enjoyed the full Mr Men display from his dad. He even got animated with the pompous and bumbling referee (without prompting). For anyone who follows English Football – Mike Dean is infamous. Yes it ended up with my team losing again but that misses the point. It was one of those days where our son ventured into a world which is not his and rather enjoyed it.

Today

DEEP BREATHS – MOVE ON

Grief is a double edged sword. Yesterday felt like repeated thrusts to the heart. Focusing on what has been lost. That ‘why did it happen to me’ feeling. Everything reminded me of the loss. That video. Sad songs. Radio advertising – anything from where to go for your romantic Christmas meal to the perfect present for your loved one. Her favourite painting. Her favourite cat. That empty bed.

The walk, the wet walk did help a bit. It did help me get focused and ready for our son.

Today I’ve experienced the other side of the grief sword. The positive side. Now the focus is on how privileged I am. Even someone like me was able to experience 16 golden years. Romance. So many happy memories. A beautiful, perfect son. Grief is really everlasting love. That is something which can’t be lost.

Different takes on the world.

Came across a photograph taken probably 5 years ago. Oh how the world seemed so different then. Every Sunday in Switzerland we had the same ritual. We would take the first boat across Lake Thun to Interlaken. We would immediately head for this hotel and drink hot chocolate outside – regardless of the weather.

I also vividly recall sitting here when one morning my son’s different take on the world (to myself) became clear. I noticed sports cars driving past. I remember saying something like

“that’s a Ferrari and that’s a Porsche and wow that’s a Maserati.” Don’t get many of those in Yorkshire.

I remember turning to my partner who said without raising a glance “that’s nice” as she continued to scan the food menu.

Looking at our son he was excitedly flapping his hands. Not at the cars but at a bird flying above us.

“It’s a vulture.” Don’t get any of those in Yorkshire.

Now that my son has educated me. I realise which view is more stunning. Which view should be treasured. Now I would say “Wow that’s a stunning big bird, son what is it and I wish those noisy dirty cars would sod off”.