Start again

Another Monday and the start of another school at home week. I make that Week 38. That’s a lot of weeks. Funny thing is that it doesn’t feel like 38 weeks. Somedays it feels like only a couple of months. Other days it seems like years.

In all probability during the early part of 2021 it will be a full year of schooling at home. That wasn’t really in the plan.

It has really all felt a bit hit and miss. Some good bits and some not so good bits. Lots of frustrations. But equally lots of laughs. Some subjects where the teaching is working. Others where after 38 weeks it is still a complete waste of time. But that’s thing. With having to stick to the school curriculum we don’t have much scope to change things. We are dependent on the school making changes. But they have to stick to the national curriculum.

But over those 38 weeks we have settled into a rhythm. Parent and Son. No need to set the alarm as we just naturally wake up at the right time. No real pressure if Hawklad starts a few minutes early or late. No need to think about breaks or food. They kind of just happen. We know which lessons will work and which won’t. If we don’t have an item for a lesson we now know how to wing it. We are not surprised by the lack of feedback. Hawklad doesn’t panic now if a teacher forgets about him. I get on with stuff until I’m needed to help out. The school week just happens now.

True homeschooling did feel daunting now it feels very doable. Tough but something we can cope with. But Week 38 also marks a dangerous time. That’s a lot of weeks of emailing and phoning school. Trying to make improvements to the teaching. Make it more tailored to Hawklad. Am I starting to take my eye off the ball. Not pushing the school as much. Maybe week 38 is time to refocus and start again. Or maybe it’s just going to be another one of those weeks. If I was a betting man I would put my money on the latter. It just feels that way.

Farmer

Been far too grey and misty over the last few days. Too much winter. So let’s have a little bit of summer. Yes Yorkshire does get some of that. Sometimes.

This is one of those great footpaths. A footpath across the crop field that the local farmer dutifully maintains. Not easy to get lost of this one. I always think it would be funny if the farmer built in a maze to this path. He could get hordes of walkers lost here for hours. Could be a nice little money earner for him. Send his sheepdogs in to rescue the walkers for a small fee.

In that photo if you keep going straight. Climb the hill. Keep going straight and in about 10 minutes you will crash into our overgrown garden. You could get seriously lost in there.

I feel a little lost today. I think many of us are. A little tired of Groundhog Day. Bored with 2020. Hours , days, weeks and months seemingly merging into each other. Having to constantly look at the date on my mobile and then check the calendar to work out where I am. Is it a Sunday? Not sure.

But there is always hope.

This time will pass. Directions will be rediscovered again. The farmer will work on his lovely straight path again.

Well that’s sorted then

I was conscious that this Christmas will be different for us, different for Hawklad.

No end of school term activities and parties.

No Carol singing in the city while drinking hot chocolate.

No Santa Train ride. Ok we are doing our own car version.

No Charity Santa coming through the village on a trailer pulled by a tractor.

No festive walks along the beach and finishing off at a little cafe for his festive ice cream.

No visits to friends.

No family meet-ups.

No trips to the Christmas Market.

No trip to the zoo in New Years Day.

No family Christmas meal.

No Boxing Day walk with picnic.

No festive trip to the cinema to see a blockbuster and then whatever festive film they have showing.

No carol singers coming round the houses on Christmas Eve.

Basically it will be just the two of us and pets. Sticking to the house and garden. Maybe only one trip out to do the Santa Car ride. I was feeling bad about that so I brought it up with Hawklad. I explained the differences to him

……. so it’s going to be really different this year. How do you feel about that Hawklad?

“So no family at all?”

None!

“Absolutely no visitors?”

None!

“No festive trips out?”

It doesn’t look like it.

Dad, can we order in extra pizza over Christmas?”

Yes Son.

“Well that will be just fine then…….”

Wilderness

One of my sister lives about 30 minutes drive in that direction. During 2020 it might as well have been 1000 miles. No chance of seeing her.

Where we live always feels like it’s so cut off from the world. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget that a city is not that far a drive away. It’s one of those rare cities that hasn’t allowed any high rise buildings. It hides easily away on the horizon.

That feeling of being cut off is helped by lack of kinks we have with the outside world. If you don’t want to use the car then it’s two small buses a day. Nothing on a Sunday. The village doesn’t have a pub, or cafe, or school, or shop. Not quite tumbleweed levels but definitely quiet and often feeling most definitely cut off. During a pandemic even the occasional rambler has become a real rarity. The only evidence that an outside world still exists is the fairly regular stream of passing cyclists. The challenge of climbing the steep hill to the village is attractive to those on two wheels. A climb I’ve not undertaken since a few weeks before the world changed for me in 2016.

A lots happened in those years. Thoughts of needing a sportier frame have morphed into ‘that ornament gathering dust is taking up too much space in the increasingly cramped garage’.

But things will change eventually. We won’t seem so cut off again. The bike will again become a means of transport. Trips to the city and my sister will recommence. Life will become connected again. Even for those living in the wilderness……

Wean myself off

This was last year. One hour into my trail run. Apart from missing the exercise I hope you can see why I miss running free.

Eventually you have to accept reality.

Hawklad’s anxieties are still rising. More routine tasks are becoming more difficult for him. He can largely control the dynamics within our house and garden. Lots of washing, extensive quarantining of items and being careful what he touches. He is ok within his castle walls. He is not ok with me venturing out.

Beyond those walls and that’s a completely different world. An alien, dangerous world to him. His doctors are clear – this will take a very long time to start to address. It’s not going to start happening until a pandemic is well behind us and as one of our leading scientists pointed out – with a fair wind we may start returning to something like normal life at the end of 2021. That’s assuming the new vaccines work and roll out soon….

So for me the reality is that our personal lockdown will likely stretch through 2021 as well. My mindset has to change. Away from getting through the next few months TO living the much longer new reality.

So back to the photograph. Running has become a bit of a drug for me. Now I have to completely wean myself off that. I’m nearly there as it’s been so long without it. Time to permanently replace it with other things.

Firsts

2020 is definitely a year of firsts. Still a few weeks to go but maybe it’s safe to call the result in some areas….

  • First year in decades without a visit to a hairdresser,
  • First year in decades without a visit to see my football team get beat (a moan is good for the soul),
  • First year without caffeine,
  • First year with Tai Chi,
  • First year in decades without buying a parking ticket,
  • First year in decades without standing on a mountain top,
  • First year in decades without mooching around a record or book store,
  • First year of not meeting up with a member of my family,
  • First year of turning up at a family birthday party and suddenly realising that I bought exactly the same present last year,
  • First year without buying fish and chips,
  • First year without walking on a beach,
  • First time lockdown applied to me,
  • First year without a visit to an historical site,
  • First year without accidentally bumping into someone you didn’t want to in the supermarket. Then spending the next 30 minutes trying to shop and avoid that person. Hiding behind a mask is way more easy,
  • First year without visiting a garden shop to buy a plant and then killing that plant off within weeks,
  • First year of not popping into a sweet shop and asking for a quarter of midget gems,
  • First year of not popping into a climbing store and looking at all the new gear (even though I don’t climb anymore),
  • First year of not making a single journey on public transport,
  • First year of not popping into a bakery for a quick top up on a pasty,
  • First year of not going to the cinema,
  • First year in decades without going for a bike ride,
  • First year without getting half way round a bike ride and thinking – why is Yorkshire so pigging hilly,
  • First year were I haven’t bothered checking the wear on my cars tyres as they bar not being used,
  • First year of not physically meeting up with a friend to do something,
  • First year in decades of not venturing into a DIY store (Yeh!!!😀😀😀),
  • First year without going clothes shopping, buying that item which might be fun and then driving back thinking – what have I just done.

So yes I don’t think we will forget 2020 in while.

Change

I was listening to the radio this morning and the presenter was happily chatting away. He talked about how things had changed for him. This got me thinking about how much it has for me. Changed beyond recognition.

Let’s go back 20 years

  • Just starting a life changing relationship
  • Still playing football and cricket,
  • Regular mountaineering and climbing,
  • Drinking alcohol a bit too much,
  • My social life often centred around the pub,
  • I would get edgy if I wasn’t meeting up regularly with friends,
  • Using alcohol to overcome social anxieties,
  • Work was super busy with so many meetings. So many people to deal with,
  • Spending little time at home (time at home was seen as a bit of a waste)
  • Holidays,
  • Frequent family meetings revolving around mum,
  • Concerts, football matches, the Theatre and the Cinema,
  • Trying to avoid being by myself and if I was I would try to drown out the silence with my MP3 player,
  • Fuelled on caffeine.

Now contrast that with this week….

  • Single parenting,
  • Aspergers,
  • Revisiting wonderful memories,
  • Emailing one or two friends,
  • Blogging,
  • No work,
  • Housebound with one trip beyond the gates to the Vets,
  • Tea total, no caffeine,
  • Lots of silence,
  • No meet-ups,
  • No prospect of holidays, trips out, concerts,
  • Reading,
  • Time spent talking with Hawklad,
  • Only one other physical conversation (briefly with the Vet),
  • Homeschooling,
  • Working out in the garden,
  • Trying to practice mindfulness.

Life definitely has changed. It always does eventually. Some things for the worse. Some things for the better. Some things I would change back. But many things I cherish. On balance I definitely wouldn’t go back.

New world

The sky is always adapting and changing. Constant motion. Never staying the same.

I was thinking about how life moves on. How life sends you down roads that force changes to your world, to your lifestyle, to your way of thinking. But often you still have to go in that direction. It’s seemingly beyond our control. That is so stressful.

The question for me is whether this stress comes from trying to resist the inevitable or it comes from not adjusting to the new world!

I suspect that it’s a bit of both. Initially fighting being pushed down a life path but then eventually coming to the realisation that it is futile to fight this. What’s the line from The Avengers movie. I AM INEVITABLE….

Now I increasingly find myself saying IT IS WHAT IT IS. But then I have a tendency to then do nothing about the new world. Even when my old self clearly does not match the present anymore. That causes stress. It also risks just surviving and not living.

At least I now realise it’s time for a major rethink.

Route tracking

Just about a year ago I had just dropped Hawklad off at school and about an hour later was running along this country lane while listening to rock music. Another 4 miles and I would be back home. Then it would be a cup of full fat caffeine and then get stuck into work until it was time to pick Hawklad back up again. How times have changed.

No trips to school, no work, no trail running, no caffeine and the MP3 player has not been used since March.

Since then the only running has been a couple of attempts at running round the garden. It’s not a big garden. Each lap lasted lasted less than 10 seconds. Who could forget the marvellous route map from one of those epics…

These days running has been replaced with yoga and tai chi. Or as we like to call them.

Falling over and Falling over with added style.

No need to track my route on those activities. Today I accidentally did track my route for yoga and tai chi…..

That’s kind of worrying as I was supposed to be staying on my small yoga mat. Maybe my tracker is not as accurate as I had hoped for. But I suspect a faulty tracker will not be an issue going forward really. Can’t see too many runs happening this side of Easter. But that’s ok. There are much more important things to worry about. And today I quite enjoyed Falling over and Falling over with style. Kind of felt like I was summoning up a bit of my inner Dr Strange. Maybe there is something to this yoga and tai chi thing.

Groundhog Day again…

The weather is a bit stuck here.

This is basically it…..

Feeling stuck is often not a great feeling. Today I feel must definitely stuck. Stuck in Groundhog Day. It feels like that….

  • I tend to wake up at the same time and experience the familiar tiredness,
  • Sling open the curtains to see mist, greyness and everything dripping wet,
  • I get Hawklad up in the same way and set him up as usual for the home at school project,
  • The home at school hours pass in the same way. The same lessons requiring the same input. The usual lessons delivering the usual frustrations,
  • I cook Hawklad the usual food, repeating the same 7 day food cycle every week,
  • Every day looking over the fence and wondering what it would feel like to run free. Then shrugging my shoulders and start moaning about the weather,
  • The feeling of going round in circles during my exercise workouts. I tried to introduce yoga to freshen it up. But it’s often just the same poses performed in a slightly different order,
  • Spending ages trying to get the never ending cycle of washing to be semi dried on the radiators,
  • Opening up the work laptop and finding nothing in the to do list,
  • Listening to the same news. The same world problems. The same self deluded madmen hogging the headlines. The same lies,
  • Going through the same quarantine procedures with post and deliveries,
  • Feeling the same frustration with hobbies. As hard as I try to learn German and the Piano, each day I seem to be back at square one again,
  • Going round in circles trying to get the support Hawklad needs to truly flourish. Failing and then trying to provide that support in my untrained, and rather random way,
  • Realising it’s another day isolated,
  • Venturing out at night to hopefully look at the stars to only find the mist has turned into heavy rain,
  • Trying to keep myself awake during the evening movie then finding sleep escaping me as we move beyond midnight.

Definitely feels like Groundhog Day.

But here’s the hope. Just like in the wonderful Bill Murray movie it is still possible to break the cycle eventually. Just got to keep trying. Forcing myself to experiment with what alternatives are available. Remembering the good dreams. Yes one day 6.00am will bring a truly new start.