Spring

Spring must have arrived as the Rowan Tree has sprung into life.

My partner loved these plants. She thought every garden should have at least one in a prime location. We had a beautiful one next to the front door. Poignantly it died the winter just before our partner left us. It’s taken a few years to grow a replacement but now she would be pleased again.

These days the replacement is in a large pot in the back garden. Now that’s my running is restricted to endless circuits of our little garden the tree forms a helpful obstacle to run round. On my last epic run I rather sadly counted how many times I passed the little tree. 213 times….. Yes I can count that far.

So according to the Rowan Tree and the daffodils it is Spring. Can someone tell the weather. It’s freezing. Even the bird bath is frozen every morning. This means the path is icy. That explains my latest fashion statement. My son looked at me with one of those Paddington Bear stares, shock his head and sighed.

Dad in most cases the human species has been evolving for millions of years. Clearly there are one or two exceptions to that.”

I had just finished my early morning workout and has decided to feed the birds. On my way to the bird table I slipped on the icy pavement. When I say slipped I mean a full ‘arse over tit’ moment. Most of the bird seed, bread crumbs, surplus rice and water landed on my very large head. It was a fetching look especially when it was merged with a white T-shirt and pink compression leggings.

Don’t you bloody love Spring.

While on the subject of Spring let’s seamlessly transition into our weekly fix of terrible poetry in the form of Chelsea Owens weekly challenge. This week Chelsea has set the following task

  1. The Topic is Springtime -or Autumntime if you’re South. You can haiku, limerick, free verse, acrostic, tanka, cinquain, sonnet
  2. Length is wholly dependent on the type of poem you write. If you go with an epic ballad, please cut things off before page 54.
  3. Rhyming also depends on your creation.
  4. The goal is to make it terrible. Mother Earth must rise from her seasonal slumber to smack you with an olive branch of peace.
  5. Keep the Rating at PG or cleaner.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (April 3) to submit a poem to Chelsea.

It’s Springtime in Yorkshire

The Sun is still on vacation

Still waiting for it to be a scorcher

Oh the pigging frustration

The path is covered in ice

And I’ve just landed on my bum

Now I’m wearing last nights rice

And I feel a right dumb dumb

The washing on the line is frozen rock solid

The gale force wind screams over the barren field

The weeds and broken branches makes it look so squalid

The poor garden birds hide in the bushes seeking any decent shield

So Springtime is here which means dust down the garden chair

Now I’m off inside to find my extra thick thermal underwear

Foreseeable

Looking back from the edge of the micro world. Our little village increasingly isolated. Sadly we can’t take this walk now. Son started to freak out about having to touch so many farm gates – just in case. So we are restricted to hands stay firmly in our pockets walks for the foreseeable future. How long is foreseeable these strange days….

After yesterday’s accident mayhem we approached April 1st with some trepidation. What enhanced carnage would April Fools Day bring. As life is clearly so foreseeable the answer was rather surprisingly – NOTHING. No accidents. No backfiring pranks. Zip all went wrong. My family tradition was that April Fools Day ends at midday. No accidents by lunch to distract from today’s aim.

We decided to make today a fun day. No talk of the bad stuff happening in the world. No depressing talk. No news. A day of respite amongst the mayhem. I keep saying this but if it’s bloody tough for grizzly old farts like me, what the hell is it it like for our kids. The adults are not that good at living like this, kids most certainly are not designed to live like this. So that’s why today was going to be a rebalancing day. That was the plan but not everything is foreseeable…

Today’s first lesson was Religious Studies. Given the current stress and anxieties kids are facing why don’t we pick a fun or light topic. Well the teacher picked a belter.

Look at four different countries and see what their approach is to DEATH. What are the funerals like….

Well that’s a real laugh a minute project. What next, how about History looking at the Black Death, Geography looking at the spread of pandemics, Science taking a closer look at the Ebola mortality rates.

So we have postponed the fun day for the foreseeable future. As that is clearly not very long we shall be having it tomorrow. Once we rearranged the fun day and put April Fools Day to bed for another year we could get back to normality for the rest of the day – household madness.

Have you ever pressed the start button on the washing machine and as soon as it starts spinning you notice something going round which does not look like an item of clothing. As the machine slowly turned and a rouge object kept appearing, my mind whirled – what is it. Then the penny dropped. It’s my mobile. Oh bugger. An hour later it emerged looking sparkly clean but a little soggy. In a further moment of madness I decided to put it in the pocket of one of the washed jeans and tumble dry it. Maybe that will dry it out. Please children – don’t try this at home. Only really tired parents are allowed to do such stupid things. Unbelievably the super clean phone came out dry. And it still works although I may wait a day or so before I try to charge it up.

So in our foreseeable world tomorrow is fun day and today has been ‘wow my ancient iPhone is sparkly clean day’. Who needs April Fools Day for the foreseeable future.

More accidental Daffodils

The Daffodils are still going strong. That sounds like an excuse for some more photos.

Purely by accident we have a few different types.

A lot of things happen by accident.

Today we tried to find the little pots of paint so that we can decorate some hard boiled easter eggs. Last year we had great fun although I was a little offended when I presented my wonderful recreation of a Darth Vader egg.

Dad is that Peppa Pig”

Still worse was to follow when I accidentally forgot to boil the eggs before we painted them. A few days later it took me three egg messes before I realised my mistake. Oops.

Stacked cup racks are such a great space saver. I bought a really cheap set a few weeks back. It was the day after Valentines Day and the shop was selling off the unused gift items. One item caught my eye. A four cup stack reduced from £10 to £2. The only potential issue. Each cup had one huge letter emblazoned on them. The four cups stacked together spelt

L

O

V

E

That sort of talk is not going to fly in our kitchen. But a bargain is a bargain. Thankfully the same cups arranged differently can also spell VOLE. Unfortunately four cups stacked together is a four times bigger disaster waiting to happen in our house. This morning while cleaning I accidentally sent them all flying towards our stone floor at terminal velocity. I did manage to catch one. So we now have a cup stack of one which spells.

Oops, Oops, Oops…

That cup accident was quickly followed by son knocking over a full glass of chocolate milk onto the beige sofa. It’s a interesting pattern as it’s just next to the tomato ketchup stain from last year (that was mine).

Dad let’s sit down before we have any more accidents.”

Great advice which I followed. Unfortunately I sat down on my reading glasses – what possessed me to leave them on the chair. So in the absence of Hermione Granger and her glasses repair spell, I will just have to tape them up until the Opticians reopen again in a few months.

Fast forward to this afternoon. Unbelievably I found the paint pots and small brushes. So we were eggcellently placed next week for Easter egg production. However a few hours later I had no idea where I had put the paints. The house was ransacked then suddenly that sinking feeling. Oops. Surely I didn’t accidentally put the paint straight into the bin. Normally not a disaster however today was bin collection day and they have just been. Oops.

Stay safe everyone, especially if you come any where near me.

The Wall

Some people like to build walls. Some people have walls thrust upon them. Some walls are known by millions. This is the world famous Hadrians Wall dating back to Roman times.

It was the creative spark for the Wall in Game of Thrones. Other walls are much less famous. Sometimes the walls are virtual. This is our wall.

Ok it’s more of a fence but it does have a few stone sections. It’s not famous. Actually only son and I think of it as a wall. But to us its an important one. It’s very like Hadrians Wall and the one in Game of Thrones. To us it marks the boundary between our world and the dangers that lay beyond.

We would frequently come this way on dog walks and then stop here. That was far enough for our son. The only exception would be if it snowed. The field beyond then became our very own snow slope. A rare excursion through the Wall. But this was the boundary wall. He felt safe this side. This side of the gate was his world. The other side lay the unpredictable, noisy and scary outside world. His Wall

Now 2020 has brought its very own version of the barbarian hordes. We have been instructed to self distance and stay at home. One daily walk is permitted so the dog is brought to this gate. But no further. To go any further just seems wrong to me. To do so seems like it’s flouting the regulations. Entering into a strange, alien world with an unseen threat. My Wall.

So for very different reasons, yes this is our WALL.

Swan

It was good to see the swan observing social distancing at the local lake today. If only some of the humans could get their head round the concept. Our village thankfully has. Apart from the postman, the occasional food delivery driver and a handful of dog walkers – that’s it. All the cars are parked up and are not being used. Virtually no through traffic. We don’t have a shop, cafe or pub. The village hall and church are temporarily closed. Basically it’s like a ghost town. It seems to oscillate between beautifully peaceful and slightly unnerving.

It’s the new normal.

Work is definitely shutdown until at least mid June now. No sign of schools reopening anytime before September. The countrywide lockdown isn’t being relaxed any time soon. No long runs. Apart from the very occasional trip to a shop for essentials, that’s it for physical social interaction. Maybe for months. It’s not happened yet but I can see this ramping up a grief attack soon. Especially as my partners birthday is looming. But it is what it is. Another thing for my constantly racing two cell brain to deal with.

We were watching Toy Story 2 last night when a thought popped into my head. Apart from the obvious one – oh man I look increasingly like Mr Potato Head. Wouldn’t it be great if toys did come alive. How much fun would that be. Suddenly a whole new self contained social circle. And yes we have a Buzz Lightyear so maybe he could teach us to fly.

I feel bad now Dad. Not played with a number of my toys in years. They have been shelved. Woody was mortified when he was shelved. Maybe we should dedicate the online Drama lesson to playing with old toys.”

He’s been so turned off from the subject that playing with old toys would certainly have more learning value.

Dad Ive been thinking about Toy Stories meaning. Basically it’s that you need to keep old toys come what may. Yes always play with them, even when your old. But never, ever give them away – even to a needy cause. It’s a bit of a grim message really.”

And with that he was off to find his old In The Night Garden Toys. But unusually for him, he did not fully think this through. His Dad fell in love with that old BBC kids show. His Dad can still answer any question thrown at him about Igglegpigle, Makka Pakka and the gang. And rather than looking for the shelved toys in the old toy baskets he just needs to look at his Dads bedroom table. No shelved toy sadness here. The In The Night Garden gang are very happy each night. Much loved by someone who really should know better.

Photo from the BBC.

Toy Story

Lovely midday weather here in Yorkshire.

It’s funny how you can overthink even the simplest of tasks. We try to make Saturday evening the official movie night of the week. A regular thing for son to look forward to. Popcorn, cola and a great movie. We save up new movies for the full Saturday experience. If we don’t have a new movie then the next best thing is a blockbuster. For days I had been working on a list of potential movies for this Saturday. Scores of candidates slowly whittled down to three favourites.

The Martian

Terminator – Dark Fate

Rocketman

So Saturday night arrived. I proudly gave son the list of three movies.

Ok Dad, let’s watch Toy Story.”

And with that it was Woody and co. A top top movie. Perfect escapism for today’s anxious world. But how much energy did I waste on picking an unused movie list. But I guess the point is that it successfully distracted me for a few days. While watching the movie I played my usual game of trying to pick which character I was most like. Toy Story was easy, clearly I am Rex. Although this morning I am a bit more Mr Potato Head.

We often forget how stressful the current situation is for kids. Confined to base, seeing parents stressed, unremittingly bad news on social media, kept apart from friends. In our sons case the confined to base and kept apart from friends is not really an issue. But his Aspergers requires routine and controllability. These have gone out of the window over the last few weeks. Adjusting to different daily routines. Food on the set weekly schedule (which has been in place for years) becoming unavailable. A completely unpredictable world. The fear of illness and worse ramped up by a spreading pandemic. He’s so young, had to deal with so much already and he’s facing this.

He asked what my best guess was for when things might begin to settle down a bit. Sadly I couldn’t say anytime soon. When he asked about schools opening and I couldn’t see anything happening and sticking before September.

“Dad is that September 2020 or September 2021”

I wouldn’t like to bet my shirt on that. We just don’t know who long the current restrictions will be in place for. When they do come off, how long before they need to be reintroduced. But we just have to deal with that. I’ve got to focus on the one overriding aim. Give son the best childhood possible. So we make the best of the new normal. Strengthen the new routines. AND above all try to have as much fun as possible. So Toy Story is perfect. It’s fun. Thank you Woody and co.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to beautiful Switzerland. Yesterday I was thinking about window views. The sort of view you would happily sit by your bedroom window, gaze out at the beauty and just smile. Sometimes the real window view is that good. The above photo is from the hotel room we stayed at on our last visit.

Well for this weeks virtual holiday let’s play fantasy window view. I’m going to pick a different dream window view for each day.

Sunday. Let’s start the week off with a view across beautiful Lake Thun.

Monday. Let’s have a window filled with an alpine meadow.

Tuesday. Let’s have the sound of water filling the room as well. A window filled with an alpine river.

Wednesday. Let’s enjoy one of the worlds greatest mountains. The Eiger

Thursday. Let’s have a window looking across a beautiful Swiss valley.

Friday. Let’s move the window to beautiful Lake Riffelsee and it’s always present reflection of The Matterhorn.

Saturday. Let’s finish the week with a view of a stunning waterfall.

See you next week my friends. Stay safe.

Hotel Window

Another cold start. I’m calling it an official three jumper day.

One of those cold starts that as hard as you work out, or regardless of how many warm layers you put on – your still cold.

The first week of schools version of homeschooling has now finished. Some subjects did embrace the opportunity. These offered the child a chance to be creative and to see where their learning interest would take them. Sadly that was not much of the week. Most of the lessons reflected the normal parrot learning teaching approach. What is the point of getting someone with dyslexia to translate page after page of French (without any context or help). What is the point of setting an online spelling test where the spoken words are so rare that I had to look every one up in a dictionary to see if they actually existed.

But he survived. The parent got through it as well. So that’s something.

Whether it was my lack of sleep, the unremittingly grim news or a week of homeschooling but last night I couldn’t get a thought out of my mind. Maybe, just maybe this is our world now. No more holidays. No more new lands. No more Switzerland. Certainly the financial shock of the next few months will take me a number of years to repair the bank balance. Generally travel may become more difficult over the next few years. Aspergers and the fear of social interactions is certainly not going away any time soon. So maybe that’s it with travel.

That’s sad but actually there is more to life than travel. So much to see and visit close by if it comes to that. Anyway we have not had a holiday since 2015 so we are used to it anyway. Doing virtual tours is a fun, safe, environmentally friendly and is so much cheaper. Then a thought crossed my mind. It was inspired by Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) while we watched Fawlty Towers. Basil was getting seriously cheesed off with a guest who was disappointed with the view from the bedroom window.

“Well may I ask what you expected to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically

Actually could we scale the virtual tours up a notch. Why don’t I pick a window with a chair next to it. Then why don’t I stick a poster or large photo over the window glass. Suddenly my view of say the trampoline could be transformed into whatever I fancy. I’ve seen other people do this in the past. So tomorrow I am going poster hunting. Got a couple of belting posters of The Alps to find.. But in the meantime I’m hoping my bedroom window will look something like this.

Art

If I’m going to suffer this, then you can as well DAD.”

We had arrived at one of those lessons – ART.

Son really struggles with drawing. His fine motor skills are just not conducive to it. Unfortunately his Dad is also rather deficient in this area as well. I am to Art as Donald Trump is to Veganism. I remember one art teacher quietly whispering in my ear when she took one look at my attempt at a landscape scene.

Can I suggest that goes in the bin. I wouldn’t take it home as your parents might be of a nervous disposition.

But son is right. If he suffers then I need to suffer as well.

One hour later we compared masterpieces. His attempt was not too bad. Son cast his critical eye over my work.

Erm Dad what exactly is it?”

That’s a tree”

Are you sure. I would never have guessed that.”

Look son it’s obvious. These are branches.”

“Are you sure it’s not upside down. What on earth is that?”

That is a bird and that is a nest”

Oh a bird. I thought it was a car. Look Dad I am bad at art but I have an excuse. I have Dyspraxia. What on earth is your excuse to be so awful at this. Clearly you talents lie elsewhere. “

The search continues…….

Bed protest

Another cold start. Press ups on the grass are definitely cold on the hands.

Now set into the daily school at home routine. That’s a better way to describe it. It’s not true homeschoolingits schools version of remote learning.

  • 6:30am – start daily exercise (weights, or army fitness, or exercise bike or running round the little garden)
  • 7:30am – try to get as many home cleaning tasks done
  • 8:00am – Son gets up and has breakfast
  • 8:30am – log onto school system and check school messages
  • 8:40am – register for first lesson and complete tasks
  • 9:55am – load completed tasks
  • 10:15am – register for second lesson and complete tasks
  • 11:25am – load completed tasks
  • 11:35am – register for third lesson and complete tasks
  • 12:45pm – load completed tasks
  • 12:50pm – take dog for one walk of the day
  • 1:00pm – outside for talk with son
  • 1:40pm – serve lunch
  • 1:55pm – register for final lesson and complete tasks
  • 3:10pm – load completed tasks and log off
  • 3.20pm – start to breathe and play football

Dad I’m thinking about going Lennon and Yoko tomorrow. Might stay in bed and do the complete school day from there.”

“What are you protesting about then?”

I’m working on that. Maybe the excessive use of red pen at school. Maybe the shortages of baked beans.”

Maybe I can ask one of the important people making daily contact with me. I’ve never had so many Chief Executives and Business Leaders speaking to me. It’s a daily stream of emails wishing me well and informing me of their evolving plans. Our most senior doctors and scientist are giving me helpful advice. Even the PM and the Government are sending me text messages.

It’s suddenly great to be valued and important. I wonder how long this will last. Will it last as long as Son’s bed protest.