Happy Days – Spiez

Looking out at the rain and the trees bending in the wind. It’s all just a bit too grey. Sometimes you soul needs more. For us that was a holiday in Switzerland. We probably couldn’t afford it but was it worth it – you bet.

We always used the small town of Spiez as our base. A stunning and friendly place sitting by the banks of Lake Thun. A transport fanatics dream. On one side you can take the regular boat service (sometimes an old steamer) to explore the lake from Thun to Interlaken. On the other side a brilliant train station offering precision perfect links to the rest of Switzerland, Germany and Milan.

After a hours of exploring we always ended the day with a walk up through the vineyards to a small hill top with stunning views across the lake to the Alps.

Memories and views like that are worth so much more than money. It’s why my beloved partner indicated that she wanted some of her ashes scattering here. A perfect choice. One day hopefully I will do the same. So our souls can wander here forever…..

The Duvet Years

Thanks to everyone who suggested new ways of fitting a duvet cover. Yesterday’s Hulk Smash and Hulk Rage look is not good. So we had a second go this morning. Unbelievably the cover was fitted with 5 minutes. Happy Days.

The Duvet looked good on our son’s bed. Even Captain Chaos was excited. This excitement seemed to build and build. Suddenly he was desperate to get up close and personal with it. Urgently sniffing at it and wagging his tail. His excitement would not stop. So he was kicked out of the bedroom. But he just sat barking at the door.

What is wrong.

So again he was let back into the room. He immediately jumped onto the bed and started scratching at the Duvet. On a closer inspection – an unusual bump in the duvet. What alien object is that. So the cover was again removed. The alien object turned out to be a very well chewed blue crocodile. Sorry folks I must have missed the part of the instructions which talked about checking for dog toys before putting the cover on….

So order is restored. The cover is back on and Captain Chaos is reunited with his buddy…

Daffodils and that pesky problem.

It might be cold. It might be windy. It might feel nothing like Spring. But at least the daffodils are out in force.

I couldn’t sleep last night. On a hill the wind tends to howl. And wow did it howl. It’s been like that for days. A number of the local tourist sites are closed on safety grounds.

So today my brain has been running a bit in neutral. Processing a barrage of questions.

“Dad why does Gordon Ramsey swear so much?”

“How is May still Prime Minister?”

“Has the Champions League draw taken place?”

“When can we go to see Captain Marvel?”

“Why do Daffodils have such a short flowering season and why is it in a time period which is notorious for poor weather?”

“Why haven’t they made a new series of Gravity Falls?”

“Why do we focus so much attention on the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror. Yet we never talk about the years proceeding the battle. They are just as important.”

“What’s a Gravity wave?”

“How old is Alice Cooper?”

and on and on.

And yet I managed to hold my own. It was that sort of day. Maybe not on top form but ticking off jobs.

  • Cleaned the Gerbil Cage without accidentally releasing the little darlings to cause havoc around the house,
  • Managed to negotiate a cheaper broadband deal,
  • Get the old laptop working again,
  • Completed this weeks work requirements,
  • Change a wiper blade on the car,
  • Repair some knee holes in jeans,
  • Sort out some problems with son’s school iPad,
  • Prepare meals for tonight,
  • Replace a hose in the hoover,
  • Finish the ironing,
  • Clean the bathroom,
  • Get all the outstanding bills pad,
  • Convince the Council to give us a free replacement wheely bin as our old one is held together with 2 rolls of tape.

But then the success came to a grinding halt. Failure in the face of an insurmountable problem. Defeated by a super complex Riemman Hypothesis. My version of Star Treks Kobayashi Maru.

Changing our son’s Duvet Cover.

How difficult can it be. The cover comes off so easy. But when you try to put it back on. Suddenly it’s like trying to play a game of Twister with Ninja Octopus. Gets twisted, Rides up. Goes in the wrong way. Decides to turn inside out. Suddenly the duvet appears to be covered in the worlds stickiest Velcro. It’s just a nightmare. SIXTY PESKY MINUTES later and the only thing I had achieved was to go into full Hulk Rage.

Come on Spring. Please arrive soon. Bring in the warmer weather so I can ditch the duvets and those demonic covers – for a wonderful couple of months. Daffodils remind you that those happy days are coming.

Feel the pain

I often hear fitness experts say that you know when exercise is really working because it starts to hurt. No pain no gain. Well I think I successfully disproved that theory this morning. Pain means PAIN.

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

Somedays it’s good to be brought back down to earth. An Aspergers child with beautiful honesty is a perfectly designed tool for this job.

At school the kids had to tell the class one thing their parent(s) were brilliant at. Apparently talents such as football, rugby, accountancy, building, driving, cooking, singing, languages, science, nursing, making money, horse riding, swimming, judo, gardening, running, pottery and writing we’re all mentioned. But not in one case…

A certain boy said “well it depends on your exact definition of brilliant, in my Dads case I may need to think about this for a while….”

The boy knows me too well.

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

Maybe his hesitation on awarding brilliance was influenced by a little accident this morning. I have a little bit of a sore eye. During my early morning workout I somehow managed to hit myself in the face with a 14lb Kettlebell… So going back to the pain theory – experts would say that my pain was a sign of a most rewarding workout. Really!!!!

Tree

“Dad did you just say a money tree. Can you really get a money tree?”

Son will often take things very literally. I’ve talked about this before. It is something which is fairly common with autism. I must admit I did this as a kid. You often find yourself trying to re-explain phrases that you often through into conversations (I am sure my parents had to do a similar thing).

My explanation of a money tree was rudely interrupted by Captain Chaos.

Dad the pup is running round the garden with a sock. Correction. He is now burying the sock.”

I really can’t wait for the Sock Tree to grow….

Then we started thinking about other really useful trees we wish we could grow in the garden

  • The Money Tree (obviously) or if that’s a problem then we would settle for a Pay Your Bills Tree,
  • The Hugging tree – readily available hugs would be nice,
  • The one our cat can climb without getting stuck Tree,
  • The Anxiety Absorbing Tree,
  • The Children’s Clothes Tree – not having to constantly go to the sewing basket and fix knee and elbow holes would be lovely,
  • The Pancake Tree – would have been really useful today after my rather soggy attempts,
  • The Remote Control Tree – why do remote controls have stealth technology built into them, bloody thing is always going missing,
  • The Brexit Tree – would have to grow within the next few days….,
  • The Prune itself Tree – really essential after my last eye injury,
  • The Mirror of Erised Tree – if Harry Potter can have his deepest desires mirror then surely we can have a tree that does the same thing. Having said that I would prefer a Take you back 6 years to happier times Tree,
  • The Bird Dropping Missile Defence Shield Tree – how good would it be to have a tree that can eliminate bird droppings before they hit the ground,
  • The Chocolate Tree – now we are talking,
  • The Donut Tree – horticultural heaven.

So as I go outside to see if the Sock Tree has started to grow (probably next to the Pants Tree) can you think of any better ones.

Bern

Bern is Switzerland’s de facto capital. It’s the location for the country’s Federal Government – it is really the country’s Federal City. It is built around the River Aare. It is relatively small and extremely beautiful.

Bern’s famous Clock Tower provides an elaborate mechanical show every hour. Medieval figures and bears intricately dance and weave. This Tower provided the inspiration for the young Einstein to start his journey on the way to understanding time, space and light.

We visited Bern so many times. Strangely it never once rained. Coming from Yorkshire that is mind boggling. The city has a wonderful small Zoo and a Bear Park (thankfully now upgraded). With our son’s Aspergers we would precisely follow the same itinerary on each visit.

  • Arrive by Train
  • Zoo
  • Bear Park
  • Sausages and Fries over looking the river
  • Clock Tower
  • Ice cream
  • Back on the Train

One memory sticks and it really sums up Switzerland. On our very first visit we arrived by train and had absolutely no idea how to get to the Zoo. Clearly lost we asked a random person if they had any idea where we would find the Tourist Information. The really friendly Swiss chap asked (in perfect English) was there anywhere in particular we were trying to get to. He went into his bag gave us a pristine timetable and then explained the precise timings. Five minutes later the chap had walked with us to the Bus Stop and waited with us until the Tierpark Bus had arrived. So utterly Swiss….

Sequel

When you need a smile here comes our own member of the Avengers. Captain Chaos.

As we surveyed the second attempt at a fudge cake.

Well Dad the first one was burnt to a crisp. However the sequel has completely collapsed in the middle and smells of curry….”

This brought on a discussion about sequel (sort of) films.

Son thought the Depp Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was warmer and did not feature Charlie breaking rules. In his opinion Mike TV should have won the first movie.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy beating the sequel. Son believing the second was too sad at times.

The second Paddington movie just edging out the first one. Son thought the first one had a better story but the second was funnier.

The first Home Alone winning over its sequel. Son thought Kevin was just too annoying in the second and that the poor criminals were just unnecessarily tortured.

The second Jumanji edging the first one. Son found the second one just a bit more funny.

Any thoughts. Now onto the third fudge cake attempt.

Changes

We had a lovely trip to Doncaster Wildlife Park today. It was a relatively brief visit. He was a bit uncomfortable with the crowds, but as we got there early so we had an hour of relative quiet before the masses started to arrive. The animals all outside – basking in the warm sun…Yes warm sun and Yorkshire.

On the way back home he was getting increasingly agitated at the amount of building work appearing in the countryside. I have to say it is staggering and so frustrating. The amount of derelict and unused land in built up areas and we still decide to encroach on what is left of our unspoilt areas. Can we please leave just a bit of our beautiful planet for future generations.

A few miles later I asked our son what things he would change in the world today. Reading my mind he initially said

The last 4 Star Wars Movies

And

Buying that Alvin and The Chipmunks DVD

And

Giving the pup that really annoying squeaking Toy Crocodile

And

Buying those Lycra Cycle shorts (I added that one, what was I thinking of)

But eventually he answered for himself and the changes he proposed were revealing.

  • Tackling Climate Change
  • Not one more tree felled
  • U.K. NOT leaving Europe
  • Finding a way to end Terrorism
  • Replacing President Trump and Prime Minister May.

I really can’t argue with theses changes.

What would you change?

Train journey

We are on a train heading towards Grindelwald. It is a beautifully warm spring morning. My partner is gazing out of the window smiling. Our son is playing with a couple of toy animals on the table. My coffee tastes stunning. The views are breathtaking.

Then I wake up. It’s been a dream. An almost exact replay of a holiday from 8 years ago. So exact that I have found a photograph from that very train journey.

I fling open the curtains and take in the fine Yorkshire View. FOG. THICK FOG. Not a dream this time…..

Son enters the room and asks what I’m doing. Admiring the view.

He looks out of the window while I go to let the dog out into the garden. On my return our son is laughing.

“It’s a fine view Dad, especially the sight of our pup running about with your pants in his mouth…..”

Give me that train window view back please……

Cragfast

Somedays you wake and the world is full of hope. Yes it’s a challenge but you stride purposely towards the light.

Whether it’s the alignment of the stars, or the moon, or the lack of sleep or the weather or the cards are stacked against you or the demons have woken ….. but for whatever reason somedays the world appears different. You are alone and operating without a safety net. It’s is dark, cold and scary. Often I liken the feeling to a Tolkien like scene. You are stood on the ramparts of Helms Deep. It is cold and the rain pours. You are besieged by an evil army of Orcs. But this time you are stood alone and Gandalf isn’t riding over the hill top to save you that day. You feel like hope has deserted you. A battle you didn’t ask for and one you cannot win this day.

In climbing the dreaded word is cragfast. Basically you are stuck. You can’t go up, down or sideways. Less polite terms also exist for this ……

My mind drifts to The Eiger. Back to 1936. Four young climbers attempt to be the first to scale the infamous North Face.

Andreas Hinterstoisser, Edi Ranier, Willy Angerer and Toni Kurz.

On the ill fated ascent Hinterstoisser opened up the mountain with an astonishing traverse now named after him. Tragically they decided to remove the ropes they had fixed in that section. A huge storm set in so they tried to retreat. They discovered that the Hinterstoisser traverse could only be completed in reverse with the aid of fixed ropes. They were suddenly out of options. A suicidal decent was attempted. Over the next few hours three climbers died. Rescuers got close to the remaining climber Toni Kurz. But they did not have enough rope to reach him so they had to retreat leaving the young climber stranded. They left to the echos of a climber pleading not to be left alone. The next morning a second rescue attempt was launched but they found the young climber close to death. He quietly said “Ich Kann nicht mehr” – I cannot go on. He died feet from rescue.

The German 2008 movie of this tragedy “North Face” is one of the bleakest movies you will ever see. I have stood at the bottom of the North Face. Your mind can’t help thinking of those brave young climbers. Too many climbers have been lost here. It’s a truly cathartic experience.

What is the point of this post. I am not sure. Maybe it’s just about saying that life can be bleak and dark. You will come across times when you become stuck – cragfast. You find times when you are on the ramparts alone. You hope that when that happens people will come to save you. But rescues sometimes fail – even heroes stumble. These are the times you have to stand alone. Those are grim times. Times we must endure. You hope to just make it through the night. The morning may bring new light or a hero. Or you may have to struggle on for another day alone. It’s a sobering thought.