Gift

A brief break in the clouds allowed the sun to appear. Then came the gift. A beautiful gift that only lasts a few moments. In the great scheme of things just a flicker. Then it’s gone. Just like life. So we might as well live like a rainbow then. Let’s burn brightly and bring happiness into this world.

Angry clouds

It’s just been days of angry weather.

When I see this type of stormy clouds I remember back to my childhood. As you got older you started to realise that in our seaside town the weather would always seem to come from over the hills and follow the river to the sea. For us that would mean the weather would first appear to the north west. That was in the direction of one of our neighbours gardens. So the following weather expression was frequently heard from my parents.

It’s luking black ower Mr Homans Potting Shed, aye get thy washing in.

When means you have just a few minutes more footy before your summoned in as the heavens have opened. If the weather ever came from over Eddie Cook’s Pigeon Loft then it was time to get the paddling pool out.

Strangely parenting forecasting from the 70s was far more accurate that the current UK Meteorological Service best guesses. Currently the weather scientists are telling us that we have light cloud and less than a 10% chance of light rain. Well tell that to the paving stones which are currently being jet washed in the nonstop monsoon.

So let’s ditch the UK’s dodgy weather science and go old school. So here are a few other old weather laws that were passed down to me.

  • Red sky at night fisherman’s delight, red sky in the morning fisherman’s warning,
  • Mackerel Clouds in the sky then the weather is going to change,
  • The Sun or Moon saying hello means that rain is on the way (saying hello means having a halo around it),
  • The greener the Rhubard leaves the worse the weather will be,
  • Wet seaweed means rain is coming (I never bought into this one as surely that just means the tide has been in recently),
  • Rain at lunch will be gone by tea (basically saying the UK weather is changeable),
  • When rain is coming the spiders will disappear,
  • Rainbows before lunch tells us that rain will be here all day,
  • Cows sit down when rain is due (must admit this is clearly true as I was watching an episode of Ben & Holly where the wise old elf foolishly took shelter under a cow when it started to rain),
  • When smoke rises the weather will be good. When it fails to rise them bad weather is due,
  • Expect a bad winter if the hedgerows produce loads of berries,
  • If you want a dry day best to have dew on the grass in the morning.

One last weather law. I had a friend whose dad was a complete nutter. So funny. I remember him telling me once about his rabbit. He explained that his rabbit would only eat carrots when it was raining. I asked what it had to eat when it was sunny and he told me with a smile – I don’t know, will tell you when we get the sun, patience lad I’ve only had the rabbit 3 years.

So that’s me out of weather law. Can anyone add to my knowledge?

Looking at this photo I think I can confidently predict no need for sun protection….

The mountain is still there

Something is brewing above those yonder hills.

I remember many years ago I was climbing with a man with a beard in Scotland. It’s always good to have a beard on a climb. Kinda reassuring. When we headed out from camp the weather was lovely in an early summer way. But slowly the dark clouds rolled in and an hour into the ascent it was getting seriously dark. Over my shoulder a similar multicoloured cloud formation formed. I remember thinking that this can’t be a great weather omen. But the beard decided to push on. Within 20 minutes the heavens opened. Torrential rain, turned to hail, then into heavy snow. Heavy snow in a June – wonderful. At that stage the beard was overthrown as team leader and we turned back. Always better to live to fight another day. The mountain wasn’t going anywhere. Always tomorrow for climbing it.

Well something like 23 years later that mountain is still there. It’s still waiting. The weather was too bad to climb the next day and that was it. We had to get back to the day jobs. Haven’t been back to that mountain since. You see fatherhood and then single parenting ended my climbing career. So many mountains left unclimbed or in this particular case, 50% climbed. But that’s life. Good things and bad things happen which change the course of our journey. Those enforced route changes do sometimes mean sacrifices have to be made. Elements of our very existence which have been core to our wellbeing sometimes have to be left behind. Maybe they can be picked up later, maybe they have gone for good. Losing these key parts of our life’s can be so soul destroying. I guess the secret is to hold onto the memories and embrace the new life

But it doesn’t stop that longing. I do every so often get out my climbing books and look at the photos. Read about the routes. Try to imagine the summit views. I can still dream. Who knows what the future may bring. And in the case of the photograph the immediate future brought Sun and another stunning rainbow.

Rainbows

Who doesn’t love a rainbow. My partner adored them. They remind me of happy memories. But they also show me that life goes on. A rainbow doesn’t last for long. But if you are patient, then another will eventually appear.

Life goes on. After you lose someone special, you do forget this. There is always rebirth. That took me a long time to figure that out. For months death marked the end. That’s the frustration. If it’s the end, why is the world still spinning.

Maybe a better way to look at it for me is that death actually marks a boundary. A demarcation between two life’s. That way life does seem to go on. That’s how the world keeps spinning. That makes more sense to me.

So now I look back and see my partners death slightly differently. Her death marks a boundary. The ending of our life together. As the boundary is crossed, no more joint memories can be created. She has left this world. But here’s the key. She left the world a better place than she found it. She did her bit to enrich the people she encountered. That’s a sign of a life well lived. Surely that’s what we all should be hoping to achieve. When she left. She left her little part of this world, a better place. Filled with many memories. Some memories make you smile. Some bring a tear. But these are all memories to be treasured.

So my partners death did mark a boundary. I crossed that boundary. I brought those memories with me. On the other side of the boundary my life changed. Full time parent, tidying up the outstanding issues from the last life, treasuring the precious memories and starting to live again. Striving to leave this world a little better than I found it. Just like a beautiful rainbow.

Pot of gold

As a kid I remember my parents telling me about the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The catch was that you had to run real fast as the Leprechauns would only wait long enough to down one Guinness. I didn’t fancy my chances today. Looks like the rainbow is at least three farm fields away. That includes the field with the giant, bad tempered bull and a large stream with the missing bridge (didn’t survive the last flood). Maybe next time.

Yes I know the Apple Tree needs a good trim. In my defence the last time I tried the tree fought back. I lost and ended up in the Accident Unit with an eye ball cut. Since then our only set of ladders has fallen apart. Replacement ones have to get in line with the other essential purchases. It’s going to be a long wait. With the pesky virus likely to significantly curtail my zero based hours contract, things are going to get tighter for a few months. A pot of gold in the garden would be nice. Knowing our luck it will end up on top of the Apple Tree and we won’t be able to reach it. Who needs money anyway. No guarantee that it buys you happiness. Look at the poor Leprechauns. An eternity just protecting a pot of gold. As good as a pint of Guinness is – surely there is more to life than that.

It was such a disappointment when I found out the science of rainbows. That’s another childhood belief which turns out to be a fairy tale. A large list of shattered dreams.

  • Rainbow Pot of Gold,
  • Easter Bunny,
  • Father Christmas,
  • Fairy rings,
  • Dragons,
  • Lightning was an angry dragon,
  • Tooth fairy,
  • Magic,
  • Man in the moon.

As I grew older more and more childhood beliefs went bust. The magic and awe in life slowly ebbing away. But to quote the XFILES – I Want to Believe. So I grimly hold onto the few which are still left. Ignoring the clear science because I Want to Believe. So in my eyes the Loch Ness Monster is still a possibility. Maybe a dino living in a deep loch cavern. My head wants to myth bust yet the heart still dreams of a Scottish Dragon.

The loss of magic and awe is a bummer. It’s a bummer for our son as well. I remember that dreaded Santa chat with the floods of tears. My tears as well. I remember the sadness of life unpicking childhood beliefs. I can see the same pain in our son. With his Aspergers traits he latches strongly onto these myths. They bring much needed warmth and magic to this cold, unforgiving alien world. I’ve told him that it’s always his choice what he believes or doesn’t believe in. Christmas now is not seen in terms of the magic of Santa but in the magic of Christmas. Some will say it’s bad parenting not to immediately disprove these fables. My take is life can be unremittingly grim, a little bit of hope, a sprinkle of magic can lift the heart. It’s good to dream. It’s lifts the heart and feeds the imagination. And just maybe brings a pot of gold.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit more Switzerland.

Switzerland certainly does mountains but it also does some mighty fine lakes as well.

For quite a small country Switzerland has over 7000 lakes.

And they are often not small ones. The lakes can be over 1000ft deep.

Most of the larger lakes have regular boat services. Some are still the luxury old steamers.

Lakes and mountains always create such a beautiful atmosphere. Unbelievably calming.

In the above photo you can see a road cut into the cliff face. It’s a stunning yet precarious lake view from there.

One of the other things you immediately notice about Swiss lakes here is how clear water is.

A wooden rocking horse provides one of the finest lake viewports. You know what – he never gave me a go….

Swiss Sunday

It’s time for another little bit of that wonderful country called Switzerland. For us it has so many memory gems. Every photo seems to yield another beautiful memory.

The damp Sunday morning boat trip across a Lake. All the passengers are outside in the drizzle just enjoying rainbows across the water.

The Gorge walk with the milky river.

The walk round a vineyard with views to die for.

The late evening stroll around the Lake and as the sun starts to set the mountains come alive.

The early morning coffee sat watching the sun rise above the Alps.

And we can’t leave out the cows and the hypnotic sound of the bells. Switzerland is one of the most precious gems of them all.

Chasing rainbows

As a kid one of the worst realisations was when I found out that a rainbow does not produce a pot of gold. What no tricky Leprechaun guarding the the pot. Even now I feel a tinge of sadness when a rainbow appears.

This rainbow appeared four years ago on our last holiday. I remember our son trying to get his head around an overseas pot of gold.

  • would it be legal tender in the U.K.
  • Is it the same pot of gold that appears in the U.K. or does every country have its own pot of gold
  • If the rainbow straddles two countries do you get two different types of gold in either end
  • What happens if the pot of gold appears over water – does it float
  • If the gold sinks what happens if a fish swallows a gold coin – does the fish get to keep the gold – does he disappear when the gold goes
  • Are we allowed to bring the pot of gold through customs
  • Is it taxable (that was my thought)

This rainbow photograph was taken on a Sunday. Five days later I had a Swiss beer with my evening meal. Not had alcohol since. I really don’t miss the booze. I do miss the friendship and socialising but not the drink. I’m not sure what my old climbing buddies would make of it. We sat around the camp fire drinking whiskey and eating sausages. Now they would do the same while I sit there drinking herbal tea and eating tofu. Suspect I would be assigned to the solo ascent team.

A few weeks ago an advert came on the radio about a lager which was apparently liquid gold. Son immediately asked how much it cost to buy a glass of gold in a pub. I jokingly pointed out that the excessive cost of drinking gold would be the least of your concerns. As gold inside of you would be really really bad for your health.

“Dad you must know gold is chemically inert so it possess little risk. It should just pass through the system when you go to the toilet.”

I never knew that going to the toilet could be so costly.

Now a thought crosses my mind. What would you do if you found did find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and you discovered that it was a pot of liquid gold lager…

Now that would just sum up my luck….

Two rainbows

I remember listening to a radio programme where a so called autism expert argued that autistic children (no stereotyping there then) struggled to feel emotions for other people or things. As a result they would mostly appear cold and have little empathy.

This morning our son looked up at a rainbow and looked really sad. He just stood and looked and looked. After a couple of minutes a second rainbow began to appear and our son smiled.

“Even a rainbow should not be alone and now he’s got a friend”.

No more words needed.