Bleak

It’s another bleak old day. Definitely a two jumper day. July 4th was the day when many places like pubs reopened in the England. Well in some parts, rather briefly. A local attraction here opened at 10am and closed a couple of hours later due to the bad weather and high winds. Definitely a two jumper (sweater) day.

Definitely a day for no house work. Disney Plus movies, warm drinks and giving son the attention he needs.

This photograph reminded me of old times. Pre parenting days. When I went through tough periods. When I went through challenging times. Times when I seemed to stumble and constantly lose my way. I would need to reset my inner self. Take a breather. Back then I would book a climbing or walking trip. A weekend in the wilderness. The bleaker the better. That’s what I needed to do my personal reset. Yes I would be tired on my late Sunday drive back but normally I was in a much better mind set. Ready to rumble again.

Fast forward to 2020. Those climbing and walking trips are no more. Single parenting means no timeouts. No weekend long resets. Just keep going. Any internal resets have to be done on the hoof. So with some uplifting words from a friend swirling around my mind, I find myself outside. Sat on the garden fence with a hot drink. Taking a few minutes to breathe. Imagining walking through the bleak landscapes and starting a reset. Yes definitely time to go again.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual visit to beautiful Switzerland.

This week let’s find the usual alpine landscapes mixed with a few animal ones as well. All from wonderful Switzerland.

As a toddler son loved animals. He still does… One day he would love to have a falconry or zoo. I so hope he does.

Every visit to Switzerland gave him an opportunity to get close to animals.

AND as we always arrived on a Saturday a trip to his favourite shop in the world on the Sunday. A shop in Interlaken with a huge range of Schleich toy animals.

He would get to buy 4 new ones. He was always careful to pick toys which he couldn’t get hold off in tour Yorkshire shops. Then the new members of the team would then get a 7 day guided tour of Switzerland.

A guided tour which would take in at least one zoo.

Happy days and definitely hungry work….

A trip many moons ago

I stumbled across a few old photos. From a time before parenting. Even before my first ever digital camera… A time when my body was still young and I could run up mountains. A time when the wind would still blow my thick long black hair across my face.

A trip to the West Side of Northern England. To the Lake District and to one of Englands most famous mountains. The Old Man of Coniston. It’s not a huge mountain standing at just over 2600ft. But it’s steeped in history. It’s positioned next to the beautiful Coniston Water. The walk to the top takes you through old copper mine workings. Alongside a couple of stunning little tarns. Then finally onto a summit with sweeping views.

Hopefully one day I will return to the summit. A summit climb with considerably less hair. Which will take much longer this time and feature many sandwich stops..

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a virtual wander to alpine heaven. Switzerland, a country which is that beautiful it looks like a series of stunning oil paintings.

Everywhere you look it’s another photo opportunity.

A climbing paradise. Another perfect landscape.

Even the cities provide endless postcard opportunities.

The most picturesque churches blend perfectly into the glorious Alps.

When the weather changes the real life paintings become magnificently atmospheric.

The colours become stunning.

Even the lake steamers are straight out of a painting, especially when the are surrounded by such a backdrop.

A Swiss lake boat is also a wonderful place to pull faces at your mum while she sits inside drinking her peppermint tea. That would be some portrait.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly trip to beautiful Switzerland.

Sat here in Yorkshire, listening to the rain and wind lash against the house …. I so need my little fix of alpine heaven.

Sunday was always my favourite day in Switzerland. It normally marked our first full day here. The holiday lay before us.

We would have an early hotel breakfast and off we would go to catch the first boat of the day. Heading across Lake Thun for our adventure.

Sunday would be quiet with virtually all the shops closed. A peaceful backdrop. With just the sound of water, cow and church bells breaking the silence.

The stress of life quickly forgotten. Surely this is what life should be really about. This is still a wonderful life.

And then make our way slowly back. One last Sunday task. A quick round of golf. A perfect Sunday.

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.

Swiss Sunday

Way-hay it’s Sunday here, so it must be time to do a bit of much needed virtual travelling. A journey which will take us to beautiful Switzerland.

So while we wander round this stunning land, why don’t we consider some ever so important Swiss Facts….

Switzerland virtually every year has at least two cities in the top 10 list of best cities to live on the planet.

Switzerland makes half of the worlds production of luxury watches.

Switzerland consumes more chocolate per capita than any other country in the world. It also produces more chocolate than anywhere else. They invented milk chocolate.

Switzerland is about 3 times smaller than New York.

In 2007 peace loving Switzerland accidentally invaded Lichtenstein. Thankfully the world didn’t spiral into a global nuclear war following the incident. If it had then the country has enough nuclear shelters to house its entire population.

It has a square national flag. You won’t find many other countries in the world doing that..

They have FOUR official languages. German, French, Italian and Romansh.

It’s also a little known fact that in Switzerland it is illegal for Dads to have an ice lolly.

Swiss Sunday

Is it Sunday already. Where did that week go. But to be honest Swiss Sunday doesn’t come round quick enough for me. A time to remember family holidays to this wonderful country.

A time to remember the mountains.

The spectacular rivers.

The countryside.

The constantly changing colours.

The times you see a building and think how good that view must be.

The lakes and how relaxing travel is here.

Yes Switzerland is staggeringly beautiful. If that wasn’t already enough for one small country let’s not forget another thing it does so well. The chocolate….

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday – I think….

It’s May – I think….

But it definitely feels like it’s time for a trip back down memory lane to a visit to stunning Switzerland.

That building below The Matterhorn has always been a place of my dreams. Since I came across it, I have always thought that would be my dream location for my home. Maybe one day.

May 1st is a public holiday in some parts of Switzerland. On this memory journey we had headed off on the 1st to a Canton which celebrates the holiday. It’s a day for celebrating worker rights. In the town we visited all the shops had closed for the day. We watched a workers march. A very Swiss march. As they walked they picked up any litter and a few started weeding flower beds. After the march the celebrations continued with a super friendly music festival. While watching the music I sampled my first ever roesti (potato cake). What had I been missing all those years.

Sadly no photos of that day as I had run out of film for my camera (remember those days?). I’m sure if I had asked the nearest Swiss person in the crowd that they would have quickly found me a new film – it’s that sort of place.

Fortunately I eventually fed the camera and I still have photos from that holiday. Stunning walks through ancients forests set amongst the might Alps.

Leisurely boat trips across the stunning lakes.

The ever changing colours.

Glimpses of some of the worlds most iconic mountains.

The staggering water colours.

Sights and sounds which are so Swiss.

And of a toddler having the best ever time. Thank you Switzerland.

The need for travel

Last night we were watching the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie. Yes we really do like to stretch our cultural boundaries. A couple of times during the movie I found myself thinking – wish I could visit that location. I’ve been doing that quite often recently. Can’t really blame the pesky virus completely for that. I was having those thoughts before the lockdown. Our Son’s world is naturally contracting. So mine is as well. The last time we spent more than one night away from our home was back in 2015. Sporadic day trips and the daily run partially helped fill my mind with some connection to the wider world.

So after Son had gone to bed I went in search of photos. Photos which would remind me of trips and holidays. Soon I was back in Northumberland with my partner. A week in a gypsy cottage.

Walking alongside Hadrians Wall and in the footsteps of Roman soldiers, almost 2000 years ago. Touching and drinking in ancient history.

Enjoying the open spaces. Hardly meeting another soul. Feeling that cold northern wind and walking on the soft moorland. Feeling no limits and letting the map decide the route.

Places like Northumberland have a unique atmosphere. A bleakness. An almost somber beauty.

And then a reminder of why I am so thankful for life.