Clouds

To us a sky filled with dragons.

To us the second cloud photo has a ancient mythical warrior sky surfing. That’s what we think anyway. Even can see his shoes.

Clouding dreaming is such a great game. Well it is until someone starts to cheat.

Hawklad can you see the Transformer surfboarding.

Oh yeh. You can see his feet as well. Actual it’s more like a warrior from say Ninjago or Power Rangers.”

That’s right. Maybe even a mythical warrior.

Not really Dad. More like the Silver Surfer.”

Ok very Silver Surfer like with just a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.

Whatever Dad. Oh look there’s a cloud that looks like a giant Pineapple with a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where?

Oh Dad. There’s a cloud that looks exactly like a Football Stadium with a little bit of added ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where are you looking?

Dad look at that fantastic cloud. It looks like a giant Christmas Tree with an ancient mythical warrior sat on top.”

Where are you looking son?

That’s the best one yet. That cloud looks like a massive castle with a moat surrounding it with a load of ancient mythical warrior manning the battlements.”

Your winding me up now aren’t you Hawklad?

Never. Would I ever do that to you Dad …..”

Yes you would.

A thought

Wonder what these cows are thinking?

Hawklad has always loved listening and making stories up. One particular story line has been a common theme. We call it the Mr Mole Stories. It’s a world we’re talking animals live alongside humans. The story started back when Hawklad was a toddler. He was not the greatest of travellers and when he looked out of a moving train window – it was asking for trouble. It came to a head one particularly train journey. In a full carriage Hawklad decided to be sick. I took the full impact. Amazingly everywhere else was spared. I remember my walk of shame up the length of the crammed carriage to our suitcases. A now very distinctively marked black T-shirt needed changing urgently and wow did it stand out.

We needed a plan B as we soon had a long train journey from Geneva to Bern to navigate.

A plan was hatched. I would distract Hawklad with a story. A random story was told. A taking mole was walking down a street. He would happily talk to the various humans he would bump into. Problem was that Mr Mole had a spectacular sneeze. Tornado Force Sneeze. So when he did sneeze things happened. Clothes would be blown off washing lines. Cakes would fly through the air and hit people in the face. Umbrellas would take to the air. The poor postman even lost his trousers. Hawklad loved it – he nearly wet himself with giggles. For two hours Mr Moles sneezes caused increasing levels of mayhem. The Mr Mole Stories were born.

Since then the stories have moved on from sneezing to a self contained world filled with various weird animal characters. Over time the stories became increasingly Hawklads. He would help frame and tell the tales. Over the last 10 years I dread to think how many stories have been made. Hawklad can remember virtually all of them.

Last night was no different. A wild tale was told. Mr Mole with his friends Mr Cheetah and Olive the Ostrich we’re trying to explain wrestling to the legendary Mr Crocodile. A very special Crocodile. A vegetarian. He is scared of water. Actually scared of most things. A crocodile who finds most things confusing. A crocodile who does not always comply with the general laws of space, time and physics. A couple of actual wrestlers had been enrolled to help. Sasha Banks and The Undertaker.

Then the thought hit. We live in a world of over 7 billion people. With almost incalculable numbers of other living creatures. At that particular time. With such a bizarre story. Almost certainly we were the only 2 living creatures in the planet telling a story about talking mole, a mad crocodile and wrestling. Maybe the only 2 living creatures thinking those thoughts in the entire Universe.

That is such a cool thought. It really is.

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….

Movies

We are running out of sun cream this summer….. So need protecting from the unbroken sun beating down on parched Yorkshire……

Over time you find ways to protect your inner self and your family. Unlike sun protection, these things are needed frequently here. With Son’s Aspergers he can suffer with severe anxiety attacks. To be fair I struggle as well. But over time you find ways to block out the anxieties for a little while. For me the best blocking techniques are running, exercise, music and climbing. With Son it’s dreaming, talking and watching wrestling. One thing that works for BOTH of us is watching movies.

I remember being told by various parents that I should limit screen and TV time. It’s bad for all kids. Apparently it’s ok for the same parents to watch as much TV as they like. Ok. We need to remember that all kids are different. Unique personalities. What works for one child may not be suitable for another. In the case of our Son, movies help brake the downward descent into an awful anxiety whirlpool. So when he needs to, he can watch a movie. If it takes two movies, then it’s back to back cinematic viewings. I guess the ultimate would be to watch the entire Marvel Universe in one sitting…..

The other upside to movies is that it helps with my anxieties as well. It’s good sometimes to forget the current world and just escape. Son tends to be in full control of the movie schedule. His choices will work for me. Often these are cartoons. That suits me just fine as I’m a big kid at heart. Nothing better than 90 minutes of ScoobyDoo or Ice Age. Part of me secretly would love to be deposited in one of those cartoon worlds. They always feel so much safer and more fun than ours.

Well the other night we both needed a bit of cheering up. So we sat in front of the TV and Son scanned the available options. Which Scooby movie would he pick. He might even pick a Marvel epic. This is going to be so cool…. Five minutes later we were watching the Playmobil movie.

Now that was not what I was expecting. Son hasn’t played with a Playmobil toy since he was about 4. Ok I will just grin and bare it. Well I will go to the bottom of our garden. WE both loved it. So much so that when I couldn’t sleep during the night, I watched it again. Ok that’s my rock and roll credentials blown out of the water but so be it. Yes its not going to get any Oscars but it certainly wins on the anxiety blocking scale. Now am I too old to get out the Playmobil figures……

Unbelievably while writing this ….the sun has come out. Where is the sun cream.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of virtual travel. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we visit one of the most stunning places on the planet. Let’s go to Switzerland.

As a child I would visit my towns library. It wasn’t very big. It had masses of a Mills & Boon books. That’s not really going to float a young boys boat. The library didn’t seem to have that many exciting books. But it had one. It was a reference book so I couldn’t take it home. So every Saturday morning I would carefully get this book. Find a comfy seat and read. This was a book about climbing in Switzerland. I would look in awe at the mountain photos and read the daring tales of the brave climbers.

Switzerland seemed like a fantasy world. Too good to be real.

How could a country look this exciting and this beautiful.

I would dream of standing on top of these peaks and gazing out into the distance. My heart racing as I am surrounded by The Alps.

Then fast forward many years and I’m there. I’m stood on some of those very mountains.

Switzerland is real. It’s actually more stunning than I ever imagined.

And next to me is a little boy. A boy starting his love affair with this magical country.

Epic walls

It’s not quite the Wall from Game of Throne’s. It’s hardly Hadrians Wall, the stuff of history. But it’s our barrier. Our symbolic wall. Marking the edge of our current world.

Yes it’s got nettles growing against it. Even on our side. Ok it was too cold for the Game of Thrones Wall to have nettles but Hadrians Wall has some stinging beauties lurking next to it these days as well…And that’s a World Heritage Site.

“Dad our world is pretty small but it does seem to have its fair share of weeds and nettles.”

Well not that many.

Dad it took us three days to find my football when it went into hedge. The language I learnt when you had to retrieve the ball from the bush. Apparently you got stung a quite few times .”

Yes quite a few times. It’s not big or clever to use bad language. But in my defence we back onto farmland. It’s a haven for weeds. Our fence does feel like a not so big wall trying to keep out the marauders.

“That feeling we got when we visited Hadrians Wall last year. I can remember the date. 15th August. When we imagined what it must have been like for those Roman centurions stood on the wall. Hadrian came to Britain and ordered that the Wall was to built in 122AD. It took 6 years to build and stretched from sea to sea. It was 80 miles long.”

Its definitely an epic wall.

“Our farm fence is not 80 miles long. Maybe 20 paces long. It certainly doesn’t keep out the weeds. But at least it keeps the world out. So it does it’s job.”

Yes it really does. It allows a space for an Aspergers mind to flourish. A place to breathe and feel safe. So yes it’s an epic wall. A wall to be so thankful for.

Ticked Off

Meet one of our gardens true characters. This is Rico. Yes named after the truly mad penguin from Madagascar and The Penguins of Madagascar. Rico is a bit of a show off. Our world is better for characters like Rico and wow does it need it at present.

It’s been another day of Monty Python Government here. First we had the Scientific Officer confirm that the vast majority of first and second infections in the UK came from air travellers returning from Italy, France and Spain. We then had a senior Government Minister arguing that no possible reason exists to justify introducing screening at UK airports. Ok…. Yesterday we had the Government talking up the plan to reopen many schools in three weeks as it was safe to do so. Today we have Scotland’s Government arguing that the science is clear that it’s far too early to consider opening schools. And then we get the Foreign Secretary arguing that only partial opening of schools is safe. Ok…

We have a Health Minister who is gloating as we apparently reached his target of carrying out 100000 virus tests per day on the 30th April. We will ignore the fact that most other countries are carrying out more tests. We only reached his target because he included 50000 test packs which had been rather conveniently posted out to people on that very day. That’s like me sending out 50000 letters asking for a date and then counting all of them as actual dates. After the deadline we have slipped well below the 100k testing target again but that apparently doesn’t matter now as the target has now been ticked off. I tell you what – I am with many millions of Britain’s who are getting seriously ticked off with a certain Health Minister.

AND while we are on the subject of seriously ticked off. Why can’t I bake. After all the years of practice and yet it is still clearly beyond me. Today I foolishly decided to try my hand at a French Baguette. A gluten and dairy free one. It went into the oven looking like something which wouldn’t be out of place in Parisian Boulangerie. It came out like something Baron Frankenstein had created and then immediately binned. It was basically the same shape as a cow pat. It was also as easy to cut as reinforced steel. I can’t even give that to Rico and pals. Thankfully one person is this house has talent. After he stopped laughing Son said

You know what I can use that for. I will paint it and I can use it as a model.”

So my baguette was transformed into a remote island with snow covered mountain ranges, fast flowing rivers and deep lakes.

I bet if Gordon Ramsey had created this, it would have been called a ****** masterpiece and deserving of international recognition. That seriously ticks me off.

Big Sky

Today our little world is uniformly cool and grey. Feels almost autumnal. I suspect no Sun today. Rewind the clock a few days and it was a very different story. Looking out over the farmers fence and one thing struck me – that’s a big sky.

Living on top of a hill with no surrounding mountains and no tall buildings, nothing blocks out the sky. It does create the impression of a big sky. On days like the one above, it can be so impressive.

It might be grey but it’s now time for some more big sky thinking.

Dad, I have to start a project for school. For last weeks lesson I had to describe my own version of Middle Earth or Narnia. Well today’s lesson we now need to create a 3D version of this. The teacher says that we can use whatever we have in the house to build it. This might be a daft question but since the lesson started 10 minutes ago …. do we have any plasticine or playdoh in”

No…

Do we have enough newspaper and glue to make a papermache model”

No…

Do we have enough green, brown and blue lego to make a mountain landscape, with rivers, waterfalls and massive valleys.”

We do have lego but it would have to be a real multicoloured, mixed up type of landscape.

If I had realised that I would have to actually build this world then I would have definitely lowered by creative threshold. Maybe a small desert island with one tree and a rock. A really small, boring islands set in a randomly coloured lego world”

We tried to create his complicated world with cushions and rugs.

It’s a bit rubbish but at least we had the stuff. Problem is that we can’t leave our creation on the floor as it’s a pet magnet. We will need the world for lessons in the coming weeks and I don’t fancy building this every time we have this lesson.”

So we are moving to Plan C. After we have hopefully finished his other project which needs handing in, then we will be trying to make his world using flour dough. Could be messy.

Welcome to…..

This was one year ago. A very different world.

Unusually for Yorkshire, it was a dry race. Usually for Yorkshire, it was freezing. I spoke to one rider who had just abandoned the race. She had ridden in races all over Europe but she had never known a viscous cold wind like that one coming off the North Sea. Welcome to Yorkshire.

Today the sun occasionally peeped through the clouds. But that wind was back. Wow it felt cold. Definitely a two jumper day. Earlier today I stopped my morning workout to fetch gloves and a woolly hat. I came out with them and a hot water bottle. Welcome to Yorkshire.

Today we had planned to revisit our ‘bringing the world to us’ projects. Last week with the help of a couple of bags of sand, paddling pool, ice cream and a seaside animal mp3 track – we recreated the beach. Today the sand was coming out again but this time it was forming a desert.

Dad its a bit cold”

I was ok as I still had my two jumpers on. I understand that’s common clothing for the Sahara.

Not really desert weather is it Dad. I guess we could pretend it was nighttime and the temperature had dropped to freezing. We could spread the sand on the ground under the car engine. Run the car for a while then we could lie underneath the engine for warmth. That would be the ultimate nighttime desert survival experience.”

Clearly he has been watching Bear Grylls again. In the end we postponed the desert experience. We will try again in the Summer when hopefully it will be hot. Well hot for here. Welcome to Yorkshire.

Masterpiece

A bit of yellow always warms the heart at this time of year.

I remember my Dad would take great pride in the small but perfectly formed patches of daffodils he would carefully foster around the garden. It’s funny how certain images of my childhood house are so etched on my mind. The outside toilet was a delight in winter. The small cupboard under the stairs that scared the pants out of me. The huge coal bunker at the back. Dads spotless greenhouse. The pantry in the kitchen which was the closest we got to a fridge. And the painting over the fireplace.

It was the only painting we had in the house. Lord knows where it came from. My parents would not have spent any money on art. Money was tight for all the families in our working class northern town. A town overlooked on one side by a giant chemical plant and on the other by a giant steel works. I guess like many things Dad would have acquired it at the pub. He would often return with random items. Once including my first pet, Speedy the Tortoise. So I guess he arrived back one night with a painting. It was clearly a very bad copy. Probably done via one of those paint by numbers sets.

Photo from Wikipedia.

So we had the Laughing Cavalier above our coal fire. Even then I realised it wasn’t the original and that it was probably a pretty rubbish copy. But it was our one piece of art, which made it special. Every night as we sat round the open fire and there was our very own art masterpiece. His eyes always following you around the room. That cheeky smile. I grew really fond of him. Even our budgie liked him. One of his favourite perches was on the frame just above his head. I would often dream about this guys back story. Many a dream was played out about his heroic deeds. In those days it was much harder to puncture your imagination. The internet was the stuff of Star Trek science fiction. The towns small library was great for things like fiction, cricket and car maintenance. It even had a goldfish pond in the kiddies section. Yet art history was sadly absent. So the Cavaliers myth continued all through my childhood.

Time marched on and I flew the home nest. My Dad died and Mum moved. The Cavalier was gone. I never found out what happened to him. I never got round to asking my mum. Another one of those unasked questions. Why do we leave it so long – too long.

I hope the cycle of life continued for my cheeky childhood friend. I really hope Dad took him back to the pub and he was handed over to another family for the price of a pint of John Smiths. And today he is sat above another fireplace. Creating dreams for more and more kids.