Spark an Interest

York Minster is one of Europe’s finest Cathedrals.

The central tower is 235ft (72m) tall. It’s Northern Europe’s biggest Gothic Cathedral.

The first religious building was built on this site in 637AD. Work started on the current Gothic structure in 1230 and was completed in 1472. The Minster has 128 stained glass windows which apparently have 2000000 individual glass pieces. It’s a busy place of worship with over 1600 services each year.

Thankfully York has not succumbed to the plague of high rise buildings. So The Minster still dominates the city view from all directions. I remember having a chat with an American work colleague who on visiting the city for the first time told me

“That’s a lovely church but it would have been better if they had built it on a hill”

Unfortunately the nearest hill is about 15 miles away. Strangely our little bungalow is on that very hill. We struggle to fill our little church so I’m pretty sure a Cathedral would be bit of over kill.

It’s absolutely stunning inside but we never make it that far. Son loves to walk round it and think. Then he looks to the skies for a glimpse of the nesting Peregrine Falcons. Finally we always end at a statue of a Roman Emperor. In 306AD Constantious died in York. The soldiers in York immediately proclaimed Constantine the Emperor. So for a brief moment in time York was the centre of the Roman Empire. Son loves to drink up this history.

Surely when you have such history on your doorstep why not use. York has the largest Train Museum in the World showcasing engineering and invention at its finest. What better way to spark an interest. To learn. To grow. But apparently this is not the case. It would seem writing out spelling mistakes 3 times is the way to go. Regardless of the subject – Science, History, Maths, Design Technology, Drama – let’s just get the spelling right. I bet that will spark an interest!!!!

Little things

A beautiful little thing from warmer months.

Unfortunately many little things are not so enjoyable.

Little things are sent to test us. The one day when it had to be a full day at the work base would also have to be the day the office heating failed. The heating failure had to be on the coldest day of the year so far. In the morning the thermometer was resolutely stuck at -2C. In the afternoon the thermometer reached the heady heights of 1C. Sat huddled over the computer with a coat stretched like a tent over me and the screen. Inside the makeshift tent hoping that the hot tea and the heat from the CPU would fend of frost bite. Lovely

Little things are sent to test us. Maybe it’s the frostbite but as soon as I got into the car a warning light came on. Car Key Battery Low – Change Battery. Not a problem as we have a vast collection of various types of batteries at home. Guess what. Having ransacked the house I found 11 different types of battery but unbelievably not one which would fit the key. So let’s hope the key has enough juice left to allow me to get to the shop in the morning.

Little things are sent to test us. Like WordPress being most vexing. For the last 6 months the WP Ipad app has been hopeless. Well not sure what has happened but it is now firing on at least 3 cylinders. Best it’s been for a while. Not saying much but at least it’s partly working. Unfortunately we come to the Yang. Now my WP email updates are a disaster. They arrive as normal but it’s impossible to do anything with them. That leaves trying to read and comment using the app – that is the cylinder which is misfiring. How can it be so difficult to leave a comment or just like something. Just so frustrating.

Little things are sent to try us. Spelling Tests for a Dyslexic. If son doesn’t sit the test then he will be given zero marks and this will rule out any chance of him moving up sets this year. But if he does sit the test he will be given no help and no marking adjustments – setup to fail. As son has decided to try the test he has been practising the words. After much frustration (from both child and parent) Son announced.

This is not happening. I’ve got a photograph in my head of all the words and will just see what happens on Thursday. I can find better things to spend my time on. I can name every English Monarch since 827. Their main achievements, notable events, claim to the throne and how they died. I know it been no use at this school but it’s fascinating. So I’m going to do the same with the French Monarchy. Much better use of my time.

And off he went on his quest. If a child has a passion then that passion should be given every opportunity to flourish. Our bureaucratic education system has forgotten this. Thankfully kids and many parents have not. That’s why there is always hope. Hope in little things.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be a Swiss Sunday. It’s my little tribute to that beautiful country.

I had a completely different set of photos lined up. Proper high alpine ones. But this week I’ve had one image in my head. It’s featured in a few late night dreams. No mountain landscape here. Just one house balcony. The house is in Spiez. It’s on a lovely little street behind the towns Schloss (castle). At least once on every trip we would have to walk past the house. On the house balcony there are a couple of human size fantasy models. Son loves them.

Drag yourself away from fantasy Middle Earth and you quickly get views like these.

Then it’s a view across the Lake.

Spiez is such a beautiful town. Sandwiched between the mountains and Lake Thun.

Mind wrestling

Yorkshire weather. Good running weather. Why would I want to run in dry warm windless conditions. Well that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I’m like Count Dracula. I would turn to dust in direct sunlight. I wonder what I would do if someone offered me the chance though.

I’m mind wrestling with something at the moment. My partner was an epic traveller. She visited so many countries. It was her extravagance. From her late teens she would save up during the year for one great adventure. Family and her adventures was what she lived for. The adventures only stopped when we became a family. Her dream was that when our son became older we could have adventures together. The two places she always talked about was New Zealand (would have been her first time) and Chile. She always said that we would all love Chile.

Then life happened.

I really want to complete those journeys for her. Our Autism World may preclude that. Circumstances may preclude it. But we will see. I most admit a part of me doesn’t want to do those trips. It’s just not right that it would only be the two of us.

Sorry I digress. Back to my mind wrestling. So many adventures and so many photographs. All sat neatly and well organised in carefully stored albums. Here is the dilemma. Part of me wants to do a retrospective photo journal. Tell her travel story. Her trip to the Soviet Union (gives you an idea of the timeframe) maybe would be a great starting point. YET another part of me recoils at the idea. What if she hates that idea. What if I’m breaking some unwritten bond of trust. It’s like having two competing voices on either shoulder each shouting differing viewpoints on life.

She’s not here anymore. What’s the problem!

YOU KNOW SHE WOULD SAY NO. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT THIS!

But this feeling is something I’ve grown used to over these three years. On virtually every major decision I have these doubts. ‘What do I want to do’ balanced against ‘what would she do’. I try to see the world through my eyes and at the same time through her eyes. Problem is that we were two completely different characters. We each had our own unique take on the world. We would frequently disagree on the right answer. Often we would compromise. I’m still trying to compromise now. Yet I can’t replicate her thought process. I never could and I never will. I’m probably getting her point of view completely wrong. But I still do it.

Maybe other people do this. Maybe it’s just me sinking further into cabin fever.

So am I going to publish this travel journal? I don’t know. WE still haven’t decided.

Creaky World Tour 5

It’s been a while since we arrived in Strasbourg on our Creaky World Tour.

Let’s see how far around the world I can get only powered by my battered old stationary exercise bike, dog walking and local runs. As my fitness tracker has died I will be using a suitable alternative for the distance calculations – Pokemon Go. So might even catch a few Pokemon on the way.

Since the 16th September my battered body has recorded the following distances.

Exercise Bike – 528km

Walking – 125km

Running – 205km

That’s a grand total of 858km.

The first stop off point is to Kitzbuhel. That’s 490km. That’s Kitzbuhel in Austria. It’s on my bucket list. Just once I would love to go to the famous Downhill Ski Race here. The Hahnenkamm. It’s just about the most demanding course on the world circuit. Every year I sit in front on the TV with my mug of coffee and watch the brave skiers fly down this scary rollercoaster at speeds of up to 142km/h (88mph). We also play a game. Who is the first person to spot Arnold Schwarzenegger in the crowd. Thanks to the Red Bull and Zimbio websites for the photos.

So we have a bit more distance left in the tank and with a fair wind we can just about reach beautiful Vienna. That’s a trip of 370km.

Vienna is the capital of Austria and has been ranked the city with the highest quality of life in the world. Its been top for the last ten years (Mercer Quality of Living Survey). It was just about my partners favourite city. She would often reminisce about going to the wonderful Vienna State Opera House (Staatsoper). Thank you to Austria.info and Mozart.co.at for the photos.

Perfect timing

Perfect timing. The walking woolly jumper had been resolutely looking the other way. After a minute of waiting I gave up and took the shot. Just in time for the sheep to turn it’s head and briefly pose for the photo.

Perfect timing. After 4 hours of excruciatingly boring work I needed a run. But some days the mojo is just not there. After a couple of minutes I was on the verge of abandoning. Just outside the village a car was at the side of the road. The car had conked out going through a deep flood. After a few minutes with a push start we managed to get it going again. A quite reasonable run followed and I only remembered that I was going to give up when I was sat back down at the works laptop.

Perfect timing. I made homemade ice cream tonight. For some reason my vanilla recipe came out luminous yellow. The ice cream was served midway through the Monsters Inc movie. Unfortunately we were still sampling it when we got to the scene with the yellow snow cones and the Yeti. The immortal Yeti line rather killed off the taste sensation

“Oh would you look at that. We’re out of snowcones! Let me just go outside and make some more

Homemade Yellow ice cream is now banned.

Perfect timing. I was going to do a post about school. You can guess what it would have been like. Probably done a few of those over the last year or so. But as I started writing it a song came on the radio. Not sure who the band was but the songs basic theme was

Those with depression sit in silence. Feeling they are the only ones. Those who have suffered need to shout. So others know they are not alone. So they know it’s ok to shout to.

So here goes with a change of plan. Imagine I’m shouting to some Nordic Operatic Metal music.

I am a single parent. I’ve experienced a few too many deaths over the last few years. I’ve gone through phases where I’ve become too isolated. My personal confidence is shot. The upshot of this is that I have been to some really dark places in my mind. Scary frightening places. Yes I suffer from DEPRESSION. So if your reading this and you are suffering then please remember that your not alone. If you can then it’s good to talk. Talking or writing really helps. There is absolutely no shame in admitting your struggling. I struggle. Millions struggle. Let’s shout together. We can do this.

Sometimes

“Sometimes only one person is missing and the whole world seems depopulated” – Alphonse de Lamartine

Maybe it’s your partner. Maybe it’s your child. Maybe it’s a parent. Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s a pet.

It does seem that way some days. Maybe it’s on a walk. MAYBE ITS STANDING BY A LONELY POND. Maybe it’s listening to a particular song. Maybe it’s during a movie. Maybe it’s when your in bed. Maybe it’s when your at the school gates surrounded by couples. Maybe it’s when your shopping. Maybe it’s just when you return to a home with no lights on.

But with bereavement it will happen. One gone make the world seems empty. So what do you do about it? Sadly no one right answer to that. Every person is different. Every grief journey is different. With me those lonely times still hit and still hurt. I try many things.

Sometimes I just let it hit me. Confused and helpless.

Sometimes I try to distract myself. Just hope I eventually forget that feeling.

Sometimes I just let it hit me but it’s kinda reassuring. Not ever loving would be so dreadful. Grief is another word for love.

Sometimes writing helps.

Sometimes reading blogs helps.

Sometimes I need to find solitude. Sometimes I need to be in a crowd.

Sometimes it’s reading an old favourite book.

Sometimes it’s looking at old photos.

Sometimes it’s playing a game.

Sometimes I go for a run.

Often it’s trying just that bit harder to be that better parent. Trying to make life just that bit more fun.

Then you get sometimes when the best thing is to carry on but just to do it louder. Much LOUDER. So this morning I am ironing but let’s just crank up that Iron Maiden cd just a little louder.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of beautiful Switzerland.

Our family Aspergers holidays often heavily featured reassuring repetition. Sunday mornings would see a trip across Lake Thun to Interlaken. A walk round the beautiful town. Maybe even a game of crazy golf. Switzerland loves its crazy golf. Then the first hot chocolate of the trip while sat outside watching the Paragliders fly off the local mountain top.. Finally a trip to a wonderful Swiss gift shop. Clocks, Calendars and Schleich toy animals.

Only once did we vary the Sunday routine with a trip to Lenk. A stunning village set in a wide valley with picture postcard views of The Alps. Walking heaven and beautiful waterfalls.

How did we negotiate the change in routine. The promise of the finest ice cream on the planet with the added clause that on Monday he could buy three Schleich Toys.

Was it too soon to start him on wine….

Lenk is such a peaceful place to visit especially on a Sunday morning. Your not shopping, your not watching paragliding, your probably not playing crazy golf. Your chilling out, going for a walk, skiing in the winter, going to church, or sitting having drinks and tasty ice cream. What else do you need on Sunday.

The shame

Is it time for Mad One to go to a hairdresser. I’m only jealous I would love to have that problem these days. It’s not so much Lush Amazonian Rain Forest it’s much more Barren Arctic Tundra.

Dad when was the last time you had to Combe your hair.

I do still Combe. Sometimes. Why?

I was watching a video of famous people who have had a Hair Transplant and I thought of you.

Are you saying I am Famous.

No Dad your certainly not famous. Must have been something else about that video which made me think of you.

I took the car back to the garage as it needed to be checked again. The poor technician took one look at my car and said ‘I better get a pair of gloves’. On his return he added ‘that’s the muddiest car I have seen in a long time’. I suppose that’s a badge of honour but I was filled with a certain amount of embarrassment. He’s right. You can’t actually tell what colour the car is these days. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. I needed to go to the Bank but didn’t want to pay the extortionate parking fees. So I had a clever idea. I will put the bike in the back of the car so I can ride in. So the night before the 2 flat tyres were fixed. Unfortunately today has been wet. Very wet. The Yorkshire roads are muddy. Very muddy. So after my 15 minutes cycle ride I arrived in the city centre looking like the Swamp Monster. The looks I got. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. I walked into the crowded Bank. Well when I say walked in that’s not strictly true. I did try to walk into the Bank but had failed to see the closed glass door. The looks from the hordes in the bank as they turned to see my face planted in the door. Suspect it was not a great look. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. Now finally inside the bank I was stood in the long queue. I had to watch someone from the bank go to the infamous front door and clean the glass. Clearly the muddy impression of my face on the bank’s door was not good for business. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. In the busy supermarket I tried to take a sharp corner at pace. Too much understeer and I crashed into a neatly stacked pile of soup tins. Complete devastation. Tins everywhere. Oh the shame. As I helped the not so impressed shop assistant pick up the tins he pointedly said ‘it took me ages to stack those’. Oh the shame. Eventually I moved away from the crash scene but I kept seeing random tins of soup scattered around the shop. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. I had a couple of work reports to post. Going to be tight it’s a 5 minute walk to the post box and the last collection is in 3 minutes. So I jumped into the car and belted there. Letters posted just in time as the Postman arrived. Unfortunately I also posted my car keys. I had to sheepishly ask the postie if he could search the box for them. ‘That’s the first time I’ve had to do that. The crew back in the Sorting Office won’t believe me when I tell them this‘. Oh the shame.

The shame day continued. As I returned to the house I had a few minutes before the school bus was due. Let’s garden and prune in the pouring rain. Much good work completed. Then son arrived back. Shall we go in before he gets soaked. Hang on. Where are the house keys. After 10 minutes finger tip searching of the soil I remembered. I put them on top of the car tyre so I wouldn’t lose them while gardening. That look from our son. Oh the shame.

These days I’m with Spongebob and Patrick. Any day you manage to get your pants on the right way round is a good day. Everything else has gone wrong today but my pants are facing the right way ….. so it must be a good day. Oh the shame of getting back to front pants. That was yesterday.

Thirty Minutes

About a month a go I visited the Moorlands Nature Reserve. It’s a small but ever so beautiful piece of nature on the edge of the city. After years of driving past it and thinking ‘must go there’ – I finally found the time. Really pleased I made myself stop the car and go for it.

Well another work visit to the City. Work completed sooner than expected. So a spare 30 minutes before I head for the school run. No better use of that time than another walk round the Reserve.

The colours have so changed in just one month.

Countless studies have shown the positive impact nature can have on a persons wellbeing and stress levels. I’m no statistician but I confirm that even just 30 minutes is just so uplifting.

I just love the beautiful carvings which are dotted around the reserve. The old 14th century acorn quote is brilliant. We can make a difference. Seemingly small and modest things can grow into something impressive given time and patience.

I really need to make a date to come and look at that quote every single month. Yes seemingly small changes in my lifestyle can have a significant impact. The garden can be made into our own little nature reserve. I can make a difference. Son can achieve his dreams. I can do this. He can do this. We can do this.