Questions

This is a little tree which is close to our house. It sits at the side of the farmers field which backs onto our garden. It’s close by as a couple of my garden football shots have nearly hit it….. In the years that we have lived here it has never grown. It just seems to lean over a little further each year. I know how it feels…..

So many questions today. So many school work queries.

Dad what are your thoughts on Gladstone‘s and Disraeli‘s political reforming achievements. They didn’t go far enough and do you think their colonial record negated what good they did do?”

“Dad what do you know about DNA structure and it’s impact on identical and fraternal twins?”

“Dad how would you write the mass of the earth in standard notation?”

“Dad in Animal Farm what does the character Moses represent and his relationship to Soviet history?”

Dad have you ever studied John Agard’s poem FLAGS. Is it about the dangers of patriotism?”

Dad I can’t get my head round French Verb Conjugation. Can you explain it to me?

As any self respecting parent would do I looked suitably vacant and thought wishfully back to the questions about which was my favourite Tellytubby. I was good at those questions.

5

This was the arrival of the next storm wave. It’s a bit lively.

So as we wait for the weather to pass then it’s time for another new game. A game of 5. Your given a subject and have 5 seconds to come up with an answer. I don’t know is not allowed. 5 seconds is not a lot of time. The time pressure leads to some interesting answers.

Ok Dad, you are to be stranded on a remote island. What 5 foods would you want to have with you?”

Ice Cream, Crisps, Chocolate, Pizza and erm Jam….

Ok Dad your putting together a wild party which 5 famous people would you invite?”

Keith Moon, Jim Morrison, Ozzy, Lemmy and, and erm Skipper from Madagascar Penguins.

Ok Dad your having a zoom call with famous people who are going to spend an hour remote learning you. Who are the 5 teachers?”

Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, Leonardo da Vinci, erm Tom Hanks and Judi Dench.

5 foods you would love to eat starting with the letter T?”

Turnip (hate them), Tomato Soup, Toast, erm Tin something and Toad….

5 favourite King and Queens?”

Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Henry V, erm BB King and King Julian (Madagascar Penguins)

Dad name 5 types of sandwiches?”

Easy Cheese, Jam, Sausage… oh erm bread and erm tea. Here’s a question is a slice of bread sandwiched between two other slices of bread a bread sandwich or just 3 slices of bread. I certainly won’t be trying a tea sandwich…..

In 5 seconds Name 5 really big things?”

Mount Everest, Trumps ego, my bottom, 15 inch pizza and a camel..

In 5 seconds name 5 US Presidents?”

Obama, Kennedy, Clinton, Hoover and erm Whitmore… Yes I know he’s from Independence Day but I panicked….

And the storm has passed, so it’s time to go outside and summon up our inner Peppa Pig. Time to jump in some muddy puddles.

Rain…

Rain, rain, rain.

Chucking it down.

Raining cats and dogs.

Hammering it down.

Siling down.

Bucketing down.

Teeming.

Nice weather for ducks.

I think we are moving from weather for ducks to weather for fish. It’s a good job we are on top of a little hill. Any lower down and we might be considering a life raft.

“Dad what are you doing?”

Listening to the rain.

Why?”

Because it’s almost hypnotic. It’s kinda nice.

The only reason I would listen to the rain is to workout when it’s stopped…. Dad Ive got a little question….”

He does have a point with listening to the rain. That last line is his favourite saying. He is always asking questions. Dozens and dozens every hour. When he says a little question he really means one question followed quickly by a bombardment of another 30 questions. Random questions to me but completely linked to his way of thinking. Often it seems like the same question but in fact each question is subtly different. Questions followed by a chance to demonstrate his Dads rather sketchy knowledge in these areas. Then a chance for son to instruct his Dad. This happens always in the garden, every day. If it’s raining then on go the coats.

Today it was three hours of football and fantasy world related questions. Looking at player stats, team records, form, tactics and formations. Intertwined with questions about characters, storylines, plot arcs and new worlds. Yesterday it was 4 hours of questions about politics and history.

Over time the daily fact and knowledge bombardment can tire my mind. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. Two parents allowed some time to share the questioning. A time to rest the mind. But it is what it is. Constantly walking about and hot drinks keep me going. But here’s the key thing to remember. It’s an absolute privilege to be granted this time with our son. To be welcomed into his world. A beautiful world which is more pure than ours. It’s what life is all about. So yes it can sometimes feel like it’s wearing me down BUT I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Questions

First question. How did this beautiful rose get here. It’s mysteriously appeared this year. A most welcome new guest.

It’s been a day of questions

  • French verbs – no help here sadly
  • Correct cooking time for Puff Pastry – you might as well ask Trump about humility
  • Name Four ways waves shape the coastline – I managed three
  • Oven temperature for cooking Puff Pastry – you might as well ask Johnson to name all the kids he has fathered (he won’t go there for some reason!)
  • How to calculate the area of a Trapezoid – I’m not sure looking blankly was the right answer
  • Where was my wallet – unbelievably still on the back seat of the car … probably been there since March
  • Where are the scissors – the correct answer was next to the tomato plants, outside in the garden
  • How much money is left in the bank – not enough….
  • Where are the spare batteries to fit the TV remote control – not worked that one out yet
  • Why did the bread loaf burn in the oven this morning – because I can’t cook
  • Why is my hip hurting after this mornings exercise – I am getting older and I might have also tripped over a plant pot
  • Why did the hoover stop working today – because that’s life…

Rory asked some more great questions in a recent blog. So while I’m on fire answering so many questions, well here goes….

  • How spontaneous are you? Things just seem to happen and I end of having to spontaneously put out the fires.
  • How flirtatious would you say you are? Not very. Probably been less than 10 people I have generally been flirtatious with. Not enough self confidence really. But I am pretty playful
  • How serious are you as a person? About 5% serious, 45% not serious and 50% confused.
  • Do you think the older we become certain emotions are easier to handle – say as an example “grief”. I’ve found things like failure easier to handle as I’ve aged. Grief I don’t think so. So many factors effect grief. It’s a unique journey for everyone. A journey we sadly have to make more often as we go through life. As you get older it sometimes feels like a Seance is a better way of contacting friends and family, rather than Facebook.
  • What is the most adventurous thing you have done to date? I once had a Strawberry Poptart.
  • What’s the craziest or riskiest thing you have ever done and simply got away with it or gotten caught doing it? My partner was swimming in the ocean off Australia once and apparently she had a Great White for company. Sometimes it’s good not to be able to swim. For me it was probably going to a Ronan Keating concert.
  • What do you think the future of dating is now that social distancing has become part of your life? Probably a market for giant complete body hugging condoms now. I guess the secret is to date people many miles away.
  • How different do you really think you are to the next person? Right from an early age I thought I was different. Never really built to fit in with society. The sort of person people often look at and think they are a bit weird. Best way to describe me is probably just a little bit vexing…
  • During this time of global concern how has your thinking changed regarding the planet, conservation and climate change? It’s firmed up my views. We are at real risk of screwing things up completely for future generations. Too many people are voting for self deluded cretins. This world needs real change now. What’s the words I’m looking for – a bottom up revolution.
  • What topical issue considered taboo by society are you deeply passionate about? Too many people still think it’s taboo for wonderful kids and adults, to be different. Unique. That has to stop. These great kids and adult don’t need to change. WE do.
  • What is more important and or is there a difference between friendship and companionship and if so what is the difference? A friend is someone who can spend time with me while putting up with my vexing nature. A companion is someone with the patience of a saint who can completely ignore the vexing stuff.
  • What is your passion with regards writing genres. What is your chosen genre. And what is the genre you might like to write about but lack the confidence to start? I kinda just have to start writing and let whatever pops into my head out. I’ve tried to write in a predetermined style but its never worked. Secretly I would love to write either fantasy or horror.

Took its toll

A brief few moments of calm and mellow light before the dark clouds rolled in and it absolutely chucked it down – AGAIN. A photo sometimes doesn’t tell the entire story. It doesn’t show the person behind the camera. Caked in mud and water dripping off his sodden clothing. The lane in the distance looks inviting through the lens. Really! In practice it was stream. Torrents of mud and water making it a runners nightmare. But for these brief moments it did look pretty.

The other thing the photo doesn’t tell you about the lane is the surface condition. It’s a dirt track. Trying to navigate the exposed bedrock, ankle breaking potholes and badly eroded surfaces. I first ran down this path in 2010. The new nursery was close by so I could occasionally squeeze in a quick run before it was time to pick up our Son. Then it was a beautiful lane to run down. The surface was in a wonderful condition. Flat and ever so forgiving. Clearly the decade took its toll.

Sadly it was not the only thing that the decade took its toll on. As my MP3 player had run out of juice, pondering on this helped take my mind of the battering my knees and ankles were taking.

  • The Dreamer has seen his soul darkened,
  • The thick mop of black hair now more resembles a badly worn corridor carpet,
  • The body once fluid is a little more wooden,
  • The knees once strong are a little squeaky and in need of oiling,
  • The reliable feet now most definitely over pronating,
  • My pert bum is definitely more rounded. To the extent that it has developed its own gravitational pull.

But that’s life. I can still smile. I’ve still got my best feature – my long eyelashes. I’m probably stronger and fitter than I was back in 2010. I was drinking far too much in 2010 and now I’m completely tea total. My excellent sartorial taste is still with me – bright pink leggings today. I’m certainly more resilient these days.

So yes the decade has definitely taken its toll on me but that’s not to say that actually I might be a better person for it. Which neatly brings me to saying thank you to Di for tagging me for the Ten Years (2010-2020) challenge.

Play Along Guidelines

Please share a link to the creator of the tag-jesusluvsall.wordpress.com

Share some highlights for you over the past decade and if you want, a few low points

 Tag whoever you wish to.

Ask them some questions

Use any picture appropriate for such a tag.

Going with the last guideline first, I’m also going with Rory’s choice as it works on so many levels!

So here goes then….

Is there any year in the past decade that stands out as the best?

2010. Son was a bundle of joy and energy. This was probably the last year my partner was truly healthy. Best winter in ages. Plenty of snow which hung around for two months. It was properly cold. Didn’t feel like Yorkshire. It was a dry cold. More Alpine. It was snowman central in our garden. The first snowman lasted 10 weeks.

Has your taste in music changed in the past ten years or do you think music in general has changed?

Went into the decade a metal head who liked classical music. Left the decade as a metal head who liked classical music and who plays a little bit of Leonard Cohen.

Are you heavier or lighter than you were ten years ago?

I have much improved muscle mass density with some incremental drift on the biometrics …. in other words heavier….

How many cars have you owned in the past decade?

Two plus my partners car for 2 months until it was sold. I think she would have been smiling down at me as I tried to drive her automatic which was the size of a glove compartment.

Highlights of the decade

  • Son
  • Switzerland
  • Partner

Low points

  • Death
  • Constantly trying to push up hill on support for Son
  • Rupturing Bicep

Names on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has been very damp and exceptionally grey. No colour at all. So it called for some colour from a couple of weeks ago. Today this is as colourful as it gets. I can’t think of a name for this at the moment.

As I’ve got older I’ve become more used to dealing with the inevitable life curveballs. But not completely. The dreaded demon curveball still gets through.

Dad if I had been a girl what would you and mum have called me.

I couldn’t remember and that’s a great start to 24th December. My defence is that we found out very early on in the pregnancy that it was boy names only. But I still should remember that. Those fun brainstorming seasons for two unprepared newbie parents in waiting. But nothing. It felt like I had let down our son and lost another important link with my partner. It hurt. It hurt like mad. Yes you can hurt at this time of year. Sadly so many do. Sending everyone of you a hug.

To try and clear my head I went outside to do my odd outside thing. Push a wheelbarrow around the garden a few times. It’s hard work but that’s the point. In the middle of the garden was a stray Santa’s Hat – presumably courtesy of Captain Chaos. So as the effort started to do its job I donned the slightly soggy hat. Wheelbarrowing in the rain. Like to see Gene Kelly’s face if that was the song he was given all those years ago to dance to. Wheelbarrowing in the rain did its job. Mind reset. I have one job and that is to make our son happy. Make him happy this Christmas. Need to get back to my A Game.

“Son when was the last time you had whip cream direct from the canister into the mouth”

Never Dad.

“Well you are now”

So that’s what we did. Soon this was escalated to shaving foam covering my entire face. It kinda suited me. Still no George Clooney but a vast improvement. A look all the more better for the sound of laughter filling the house.

Dad do you fancy a first to hit the crossbar challenge.

Followed a few minutes later with

Dad you do know it’s first to kick the ball onto the goal crossbar not first to repeatedly kick the ball into next doors garden challenge

As I spent a quite a bit of time retrieving the football from next doors garden I got to spend a bit of time noticing how a garden should look like. Very neat and tidy with immaculate lawns. Well almost immaculate. A couple of ugly holes courtesy of an escaping Captain Chaos. That’s compared to our garden which is more akin to a ploughed farmers field courtesy of moles, son and CAPTAIN CHAOS. Maybe 2020 is the year of the NEAT GARDEN. More likely it’s the year of the NEED A NEW GARDEN. So as the ball sailed over the hedge again son shouted.

Dad what would you call me now if I was a girl.

This time the curve ball missed.

Laa Laa Po Dora the Explorer Elsa Tinkerbell”

Really Dad. All those names.

“No son Dads fibbing.

Good I was getting worried. It’s a joke then

“Yes

Maybe you could call me either Daphne Blake or Velma Dinkley

“Jinkies that’s a good idea”

So a day that threatened to be scuppered on a girls name ended with laughs about a girls name. Like many folks I operate on such fine margins. With so little separating happiness and sadness. I really hope this Christmas you find happiness.

How does the mind work

I can memorise phone numbers, the stars in constellations, virtually every of the Mr Men books yet every year I can never remember what the tree which overhangs our garden is. Every year I have to look it up……

Dad why do I find some long words easy to remember yet some small words I have to keep relearning every time I see them

It is one of the great frustrations of dyslexia. When you read some words, maybe all words it’s always like your reading them for the first time. Doesn’t matter how many times you see that word it’s always like you have never seen it before. Constantly having to decode and relearn. Speaking with the health professionals there can be hundreds of potential neurological, physical, visual, environmental reasons for this. Often it will be a spiders web of causes. Some get answers, many don’t. With our son we have only just started to scratch the surface. Maybe the best we can hope for is by trial and error we come across stuff which help but we will never fully understand why.

I can sort of understand what our son is going through from my own experiences. I was a reading late starter. I eventually found a way that worked for me. But there are words that I still constantly struggle with. They stop me in my reading track for a few seconds. Thoroughly is one that I have to almost relearn every time I read it. I struggle with spelling. Autocorrect is such a godsend. Then you get words like There, Their, They’re. Every time I use it I have to relearn the rules on which variant to use. It’s as if my brain just blanks the rules as soon as I’ve used it once. It’s not that I don’t understand the rules, I just can’t see them, just see static. Never will understand why.

It’s like trying to fully understand grief. The brain processes it in different ways. Some memories are painful. Some items I can’t touch or look at anymore. Yet other items bring happiness and are almost like a comfort blanket. I drive past the first house we lived in as a couple and I often stop. It brings good memories and smiles. Yet I can’t look at my mums last house. It’s filled with good memories but …. When I go to the Dentist I should drive past the house yet I take a much longer route to avoid the street. I can go by the hospice where my partner died yet I become a shaking wreck if I walk past one of the wards where she was initially assessed.

Some days the brain relishes working on its own. No complications, no alternate views. Isolation is a boon especially when the world seems so alien to me these days. No awkward social moments. Peace and tranquility. Yet other days the brain can’t cope with the isolation. It’s a cold dark prison. The world is living outside yet I feel so adrift here in these four walls. No love for the prisoner, just got to do my time. It’s the same house and same brain yet different outcomes.

How does the mind work – it’s beyond me.

Question Fun – Adventuring

The Wonderful Rory (A Guy Called Bloke) came up with a question challenge about Adventuring. As my adventure days are on hold answering Rory’s question will be as close as I get to adventure for a while. So here goes.

What are five [in your eyes only] top quality Adventure films?
Touching the Void, North Face – German film and it’s grim, Eiger Sanction, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked…….

What would be your ideal Adventure [not holiday – Adventure]

Climb Everest

If you were planning your Adventure of a Lifetime which is the best season for you to go?
Cold and Snow – called Summer in Yorkshire

What kind of activities do you enjoy doing and what would you never do?

Definitely Climbing never Caving

If you could live anywhere in the world for a year out of the answers below, where would you choose?

In a Castle

Under the Sea

In a Forest

In a Dungeon

On an Alien Planet

On the side of an Active Volcano

In a Castle haunted with nice ghosts. If I could get an Ironman suit then it would be an Alien Planet.

What are three great adventure quotes?

“Climbing up a mountain beats staying at home peeing on your rhubarb” – Bizarrely I came up with that one while climbing in Lake District.

“I look at climbing not so much as standing on the top as seeing the other side. There are always other horizons in front of you, other horizons to go beyond and that’s what I like about climbing.” – Chris Bonington

“Because it’s there” – George Mallory

America is named after?

Was it named after the America’s Cup? Or after Captain America.

Who reached North America first out of the following people’s?
Spanish, British, Vikings, Portuguese

I thought Donald Trump said it was him.

What was Christopher Columbus’s aim of  his second voyage to the New world?
Clearly it was to find somewhere unpopulated to discover and claim. Because you can’t discover and claim a land if somebody is already living there.

What happened to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan?

I think it was knocked down to build a big wall. Apparently that part of the world needs one.

What was the most exciting Adventure you have ever been on?

Trying to pick up a Christmas Food order from M&S on Christmas Eve

Where in the world have you had the most fun exploring as an adult?

Lake District Fells

When in Rome, one does as the Roman’s do, however When on a Sandy Beach,  one does ……….. ?
Pick up the discarded plastic bottles.

Whilst out and about exploring on an adventure, what is the most scariest thing that has happened to you?

My climbing partner started playing U2 on his Walkman while we were halfway up a rock face.

Of the following choices which would you prefer to explore?
A sunken city 

A lost city 

A forgotten city

An uninhabited island

An uninhabited island

Would you rather swim with sharks or dolphins?

Can’t swim so sharks (get the agony over with quicker)

What’s the worst piece of travel advice you have ever received?

You look like you know what your doing. You can navigate.

What’s the best piece of travel advice you have ever received?

Don’t get lost

What is on the top of your bucket list?

My bucket list is probably binned now. My efforts will go to letting son achieve his.

Best musical track you can think of for each of the following: explortation, adventuring or travelling?

Iffy Pop – Lust for life

How many countries [or States/Counties] have you visited – please list.

France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa, Congo

Three items you simply could not travel without?

Camera, Sunglasses, A Whip