In a stew

A lovely, inspiring sky.

Time to be inspired in the kitchen.

It was Sunday so it was time for Stew. A vegetarian, gluten free concoction. Add Moroccan Seasoning and it should be good to go in two hours.

Yes it looked like Moroccan Stew. But that Sunday it was anything but that….

Some muppet was inspired to pick up with wrong spice bottle. For one night only I had Cinnamon Stew. Heston Blumenthal eat your heart out…

It was a shocker. I was inspired to bin the main course and feast on crisps. Cheese and Onion crisps. It’s never ending Michelin eating here.

Big sky

I’ve talked about it before but two things really sold our house to us. We were thinking about starting a family. We wanted somewhere quiet with a bit of a garden. We looked at a few places and then we visited this little bungalow in a small village on a hill. The bungalow was a bit small and run down but then we looked out at the overgrown back garden. That view and that sky. There was nothing to block out the view of the clouds. It was a BIG SKY. That was it were were hooked.

It’s definitely still a BIG SKY.

It still kind of takes my breath away. I’ve always been a town and city person. Grow accustomed to buildings and trees blocking out large parts of the sky. At night the artificial lighting just drowning out what sky that is still there. That just doesn’t happen here.

A BIG SKY definitely deserves big dreams. I do need to start working on those. Sometimes it’s too easy to fall back on memories. It certainly is for me. Not today. I’m going to get wrapped up, brew a mug of something steaming and go outside. To look, to breathe and to dream. All thanks to a big sky.

Magical sky

Looking at a big sky opens up so many possibilities. It can fill your heart with wonder. It can fuel dreams and adventures. Bring back forgotten memories. It can also calm the internal raging storm.

It can also stop you taking a large sledgehammer to the telephone…

I received a letter from the bank informing me that my local branch was closing. I apparently had two options. Start using a branch which is 15 miles further away or set up an online banking option. I opted for the latter as the setup process was fully online and could be completed in just a few moments.

Did have a third option…. switch to another bank.

So I started the process from the comfort of my sofa. Rather than being complete in just a few moments the process was clearly going to be more akin to spending a few hours in the company of the Spanish Inquisition. Three hours later the trial was still ongoing. New passwords, passcodes, PIN numbers, memorable words and identifying questions seemingly required for each screen. The process was clearly not complicated enough so suddenly the iPhone was required to join in with the tablet. Verification codes started flying between the two. I’ve got a degree in computing and the process was still pigging beyond me.

Then at last the final screen. Confirm your new online banking arrangements….. then the sting in the tail.

You will need to go into your branch in person to sign a form before the process can be completed. You can now however view your account balance online.

Very kind of them to allow me to view my bank balance (or lack of it) online. Who needs the other stuff like transfer money, make payments, control direct debits. That’s all minor stuff when it comes to online banking.

Then followed a most enjoyable one hour spent in a call queue listening to a recorded message telling me that I was a valued customer but unfortunately the bank was experiencing high call volumes. Finally a person. Unfortunately a person in a different country who didn’t understand the fine twangs of the Yorkshire accent and also clearly had no idea what it was to live in a country dealing with lockdowns.

So I eventually found myself outside. Trying to calm the internal rage and work out how to pay a visit to the new bank branch. But then the sky caught my attention. Thoughts quickly moved to happier things. Yes the sky is magical.

Clouds

To us a sky filled with dragons.

To us the second cloud photo has a ancient mythical warrior sky surfing. That’s what we think anyway. Even can see his shoes.

Clouding dreaming is such a great game. Well it is until someone starts to cheat.

Hawklad can you see the Transformer surfboarding.

Oh yeh. You can see his feet as well. Actual it’s more like a warrior from say Ninjago or Power Rangers.”

That’s right. Maybe even a mythical warrior.

Not really Dad. More like the Silver Surfer.”

Ok very Silver Surfer like with just a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.

Whatever Dad. Oh look there’s a cloud that looks like a giant Pineapple with a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where?

Oh Dad. There’s a cloud that looks exactly like a Football Stadium with a little bit of added ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where are you looking?

Dad look at that fantastic cloud. It looks like a giant Christmas Tree with an ancient mythical warrior sat on top.”

Where are you looking son?

That’s the best one yet. That cloud looks like a massive castle with a moat surrounding it with a load of ancient mythical warrior manning the battlements.”

Your winding me up now aren’t you Hawklad?

Never. Would I ever do that to you Dad …..”

Yes you would.

Big Sky

Twenty years ago we came to look at our current home for the first time and we both immediately fell in love with it. Yes it was a bit small being a two bedroom bungalow. It needed a lot of work doing to it. Apart from a really small village store it was a long way from any other facilities. The garden was badly overgrown. It would have been so easy to drive onto the next house we were looking at. But then we saw the view from the back garden. That was it. We were sold. I remember saying – that’s a big sky.

It’s still a big sky.

Little did we know how important such an isolated garden would prove when we became parents. Apart from the occasional walker and farmer you don’t see any sign of human life. These days when a human is spotted son will scamper into the house until the all clear is given. I’m not sure he would ever surface if he lived in a busy city.

Today was a work from home day. In fact this is going to be a work from home week. So it’s one of those weeks which could go two ways. Bask in the splendid isolation or feel the intense loneliness. Well after a few hours today it was heading towards the latter. When that happens the house starts to feel very cold and very claustrophobic. So a few minutes later I had donned about 15 layers and was sat outside with the laptop. Sat under the big sky. Today it was particularly quiet. No walkers, no farmers, no farm animals. Just the occasional bird. Yes still lonely but now realising how extremely privileged I am to be sat under this big sky.

Then something struck me. Before the world changed we would always be sitting in the garden. Sat with a glass of wine relaxing talking about becoming parents. Then when son arrived we would sit and watch him play with his toy dinosaurs on the grass. The garden would become Jurassic World. Then after a few hours the big bad daddy ranger would have to locate all the dinosaurs. It’s amazing how camouflaged a raptor can be in a Yorkshire garden. Then the bad stuff happened. Yes I would go outside to play in the garden with our son. I would train and do exercises in the garden. But I didn’t /sit in the garden anymore. This was probably the first time I had sat in the garden since my partner had left us. I guess it just didn’t seem right. It was always our garden not my garden. Almost as if it had become fenced off. Today without thinking just maybe that fence has come down. If it’s sunny again tomorrow I will probably work outside again.

Time to work under the big sky again.

Best thing

Some days life needs lots of words and some days it just needs a few.

I was going to reflect on how difficult the school bus journey can be for so many kids. I will leave that for another day. I picked our son up from school the other day and he came up with this gem.

“Dad that’s some sky. It’s a sky show. That’s why life is the best thing”.