Uphill

It won’t be long until the snowdrops are gone for another year. This year has been a good one for them here. My partner would be so happy. She would be less happy with our Government. All the headlines are proclaiming the new hardline stance on immigration. Basically if you don’t speak English brilliantly then don’t bother trying to work here. Not sure they have thought this one through. Basically anyone from around here speaks Yorkshire so we are buggered.

After a largely sleepless night I could feel the first signs of cabin fever building. It’s been days since I’ve been able to go for a run. So needs must. I told Son that I was going into the garden for 50 minutes. The plan was to just run around the edge of the garden – repeatedly. Round and round. It’s not a big garden so a full circuit only takes a few seconds. But it’s a run. Well it was going ok until the boredom set in. Then the irrational thoughts started. All directed at one thing. The small slope the garden is on. Every few seconds I had to run up this little slope. Yes it’s only about 15 paces of uphill grass – but every few seconds I was going up it. Pathological hatred.

Wasn’t this steep when we moved here surely..

What possessed us to buy a house on a hill..

Why haven’t we levelled the garden..

Why haven’t we put little steps in..

Because we can’t as after a couple of inches of soil you hit hill rock which is basically armour plated and brakes spades.

Fifty minutes later the run ends and the cabin fever has quickly dissipated. My irrational hatred has gone. My partner would say that if we ever won the lottery we would buy a place with parkland. If it was a big lottery win then we would also have a second home in Switzerland. Sadly my partner never got that chance to live out her lottery dream. But she did get the time to enjoy this little house on the hill. The house with the garden and that little slope. It became our source of memories. That’s actually such a cool slope. It was the little sledge sliding run for our Son when he was a toddler. It was the slope where Son played with his dinosaurs. It was where we would sit on a night and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine. So the next time I do the garden run I will remember that.

Mud is good for the complexion

Today was dark and moody but thankfully the storm has gone. Gone but left us with a mini lake for my wayward football shots to target. I can confirm that is is particularly muddy and toe-curlingly cold. It’s amazing how I’ve got the entire farmers field to land in and the ball lands unerringly into the centre of the lake. Twice…..

The sliding contest was unsurprisingly a one sided contest. Son on his sledge managed a respectable mud slide of about 10 paces. My butt powered slide proved somewhat less aerodynamic. Basically it immediately sank in the mud and formed what can best be described as a sink hole. The impact somehow pulling my running leggings towards my knees. Poor kid will be traumatised for years with that sight. I guess the one redeeming feature is that since mud is good for complexion my backside should be just dandy for a few weeks….

So I took the forfeit. The 5 jelly bean roulette. As we have lost the taste chart I can’t be 100% certain on the delights which passed my lips. I definitely recognised rotten egg, booger and soap. One definitely tasted of burnt sausage. The last one was off the scale, too horrid to describe. Son seems to think it might be earthworm flavour. Well that was not his first comment on the potential flavour.

“If it’s as bad as you describe then it’s likely to be your own home made curry flavour.”

Yes that was a bad cooking disaster. As a meal shortcut I used some readymade curry paste. Unfortunately I didn’t read the bit about only using one or table teaspoons depending on taste. I used the whole jar. That was definitely weapons grade cooking. And on the subject of weapons grade food. Stand by your shelters. Lockup the kids and pets. Ensure all windows are closed. I’m about to try and bake a carrot cake. You have been warned.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday. A very wet and windy Sunday here in Yorkshire. So let’s go on a trip to beautiful Switzerland.

This time let’s return to a place we visited so many times. Schloss Spiez. Spiez Castle.

Work on the castle started in 933 by the King of Burgundy. The tower was added in the 12th century. Over the years it has been transformed from castle to a gloriously romantic residence.

In all the times we visited here we never once went inside the castle. Son is not keen on confined spaces. But you can walk around the outside and the gardens for free.

Son loved coming here from the hotel. It was only a 5 minute walk. It was always quiet. He always has had to stand next to his knight pal Adrian Von Bubenberg.

The Castle Church is stunning. So peaceful inside.

If you time the trip well you can sample the local wine from castles vineyards.

The castle offers stunning views across Lake Thun and the surrounding mountains.

The castle dominates the marina area of Spiez.

And on a hot day the gardener puts the water sprinkler on for the kids to play in. One of Sons favourite places ever.

Raining

Is it safe to venture out yet? Certainly not. Absolutely chucking it down with flying branches. At least Storm Dennis is saving me a pruning job on the old apple tree. Strangely the day we took Son to see the above panda was equally wet. At the end of the day we were frozen, huddled over hot chocolates at Edinburgh Castle and thinking what possessed us to come to Scotland in the middle of winter. Oh hang on it was August, the height of summer. I guess that’s the price you pay for living in the UK.

Yes bad weather curtails the outdoor activities but it’s a great excuse to dig out the indoor games. Connect 4, mini Air Hockey, Top Trumps, Guess Who and Jenga. So much simple fun. Going to try Monopoly (when I can find it). The last time we tried it Son struggled with it. He couldn’t get his head round the money element and he didn’t like having to get his community chest cards read out for him. I wish I could find a few of my old games. Haunted House, Mouse Trap and the Bermuda Triangle. Now I’ve started. I loved my old horse racing board game – Totopoly. Then there was that art and painting game which should never have worked but it did – Masterpiece. Our Cluedo was a bit pointless as we had lost many of the cards. Colonel Mustard ended up being a serial killer – he was about the only character card we had left. Kerplunk was fun until you lost the marbles. As many people point out – I have most certainly lost my marbles. Yahtzee was impossible as we didn’t have any rules. Must have another look in the attic tomorrow.

What are your favourite games?

So as Son watches YouTube videos I’m catching up on my blog. Got to thank Jess (Beyond the front cover) for the Sunshine Blogger tag. It’s greatly appreciated. As you’ve taken the time to set some questions let’s answer them.

1 – What is your greatest achievement to date?

Son and not burning the house down while baking.

2 – Name one thing that is guaranteed to annoy you?

Boris Johnson and Newcastle United.

3 – What made you decide to start your blog, and does that reason still stand for why you continue?

It kinda just happened. Not sure what I was thinking about in the months after the world changed. I had started reading blogs I think to try and reconnect with the world. Then one night I randomly set my own one up.

4 – If you could visit one place in the world then where would you go, and why?

Switzerland because it’s so special to my partner. Everest Base Camp.

5 – If you could only read books from one genre then which one would you pick?

1. Fantasy 2. Climbing 3. Horror

6 – What was the last thing that happened to make you smile?

Watching an old ScoobyDoo episode.

7 – If you could live a day as a character from a book then who would that character be, and why?

Sherlock Holmes. Just the coolest character ever. Very complex.

8 – Which season is your favourite?

If we got proper snow then winter. Problem is that all our seasons tend to be similar. Wet and windy. See the Brit is off talking about the weather again.

9 – What is the best piece of advice that you have been given?

When learning to ride a bike – don’t try to go backwards

During cricket coaching – imagine your bat is a stick of Rhubard

10 – Which subject at school was your favourite, and which did you hate?

None hated school. Biology was the least bad one.

11 – If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life then what would you pick?

Cheese and onion crisps.

I speak proper

These little beauties seemingly flower earlier every year. When we first moved here the snowdrops flowered mid February. These guys flowered mid March and the Daffodils arrived during April. I guess my Dad would have said something like ‘blimey I’ve only just planted me Goosegogs‘. Goosegogs is Yorkshire for Gooseberries.

Once a week we have school bagmageddon. Poor bairn (kid) is packed off lugging (carrying) two bursting at the seams bags. I wish someone would invent a Dr Who Tardis like school bag. Small on the outside yet massive on the inside. For bagmageddon he needs to take with him

  • Packed lunch as he rarely gets the chance to eat a school meal,
  • A drink as he rarely get the time to get a drink at school,
  • School iPad,
  • Mobile phone in case he misses the bus,
  • Pencil case for coloured crayons and felt tip pens,
  • Art brush,
  • Calculator,
  • Reading pen just in case he needs to use it,
  • French dictionary,
  • Book for reading – no dispensation for dyslexics so it can’t be a picture book,
  • Pen case including black pens, blue pens, green pens, red pens, HB pencil, ruler, protractor, rubber (eraser), pencil sharpener, highlighter pen and compass,
  • School planner,
  • Drama kit – plain black T-shirt, plain black tracksuit bottoms,
  • School homework books which are required for that day,
  • Bus pass,
  • Outdoor sports kit – football boots, white school sports top, blue school rugby shirt, blue football socks, school shorts or blue leggings, gum shield, shin guards,
  • Indoor sports kit (in case outdoor sports is not happening) so training shoes and white socks.
  • Could be even worse – if he played team sport for the school he might need to carry a hockey stick or cricket bat as well. When I was at school the teachers would call any boy with his own cricket bat – posh (rich) and then they would talk about learning to play cricket with a stick o’ Rhubarb.

That’s on top of the mandatory school uniform. Chuffing Eck (********* hell). It’s a logistical nightmare for the parent but that pales into insignificance compared to the poor kids trying to cope with all this. Yes the kids can pay for a locker but the lockers are not conveniently located so it’s almost impossible for them to get to them and back in the 10 minutes max between lessons. Hence the two expedition rucksacks. No wonder he is jiggered (very tired) when he gets home. Sometimes I expect to get a call to say he is rigweltered (stranded on his back) on the hoose on wheels (bus).

How times change when I went to school it was one small haversack. A haversack carefully painted with your favourite bands. Mine was emblazoned with Whitesnake, Bad Company, Black Sabbath and Saxon. The paint was the heaviest part of the bag. It had to be painted on thick as the poor bag would often be wanged aboot (thrown about). Inside was your butty (sandwich), some chuddies (chewing gum), footy top, shorts and Gola football shoes. Kids would take it in turns to bring in a Casey (football). Nowt (Nothing) else. The teacher handed out pencils for the school day. Then she took them back in when we headed back yam (home). Being the twonk (idiot) I was I frequently had to get Dad to recover my bag from the top of a tree after an all too successful wanging session. The bag also acted as an invaluable cushion to sit on when you got a croggy (getting a lift on the handlebars of a bike).

Basically it’s a different world now. But surely flowers blooming earlier is not great bit of man made progress. Sending kids into school with a mule train of kit is equally not a sign that the school system is progressing well. It’s also not great that we are slowly losing many of our local dialects.

Sithee (goodbye) until tomorrow.

Dad are you cheating

Dad I hope your not cheating”

No son of course not”

Dad I saw you. You went outside with some bread and seed. You tried to get the birds in next doors garden to move into ours. You also went over to the tree on the road and you tried to tempt the birds onto our lawn”

Yes I did. I was desperate as it was the RSPB Garden Bird survey this weekend. You can only count birds that land in your garden. This weekend even our normal visitors were refusing to land. Yes I know no shame. I did go and try to tempt birds from next doors garden. Yes I did go underneath the trees to try and tempt birds into our garden. Those beaks and eyes looking down at me in the same disdainful way Hitchcock’s Birds looked upon their soon to be victims.

Eventually a few reluctant souls landed but none of the birds I had tried to tempt.

Came across a great poem from Tina (Pippi’s Poetry) that fitted perfectly with the bird count theme. Thanks Tina for letting me share it.

I’m trying to bee more English
As I take my afternoon tea
It’s the simple things that make life sweet
They are perfect gifts that make life complete.

I’m dreaming of an English landscape
Where daffodils seem to grow wild
And a yard is called a garden
As it was in the beginning–before the world went wild!

I’m imagining a pretty country home
Where sheep graze in distant fields
And bird counting is an annual event
For life is short, and joy it can steal.

So I’m trying to bee more English
As my mind buzzes with daffodil daydreams
And of a land I’ve never been nor seen
But for the views I’ve glimpsed through my t.v. screen.

Tina S.W.
January 26, 2020

The birds that did kindly consent to being in my garden count are regular visitors. They don’t bother flying off when we come out now. I know them better than most of the humans in the village. So far in 2020 I’ve spoken to one person from the village. Whisper it quietly I speak to these feathered characters everyday.

Tina in her wonderful poem spoke of the English landscape and daffodils. Today that landscape was cold, grey and bleak. But bleak is good some days.

It matched my mood. Walking through the village which once seemed so full of familiar faces and friends. Now it seems cold and full of strangers. A world I don’t fit anymore. Yet a few strides and I’m back in our garden. Amongst friends again. My world has shrunk but it’s still a world of beauty.

A welcoming party waiting for today’s food offerings.

Dad are you cheating again. I’m not falling for that one.”

Yes I was. Every year we watch the famous Kitzbuhel Skiing Downhill race on telly. Every year we play the who can spot The Terminator first game. The race crowd is full of famous people but the crowning glory is always Arnold Schwarzenegger. This time we recorded the race. My cheating plan was while Son was having a bath I would fast forward through the recording to try and spot him first. I was busted before I could find him. On the actual viewing I lost the game – yet again. Arnie always where’s a warm hat here. No wonder I couldn’t spot him on my fast forward cheat.

Just goes to show cheating doesn’t work.

Pink legged German

He survived his challenges today. Staggeringly our French telling the time trick probably picked up a few marks. To be fair to school son was provided with a scribe for the English exam. No scribe for French. Will have to find out why.

I survived today’s challenges. Made it out in one piece from the bizarro world which was work. Then made it round the 12k run. Once again the view helped lift the soul.

Well clearly the bizarro work world had rubbed off on to me. On the run I was listening to my German language course. It seemed to be the right thing to do as son would be currently sitting his French exam. It was basically going in one ear and straight out of the other one. A passing cyclist then flagged me down and asked if I knew where the nearest cafe was. I suspect he wasn’t expecting the following response.

Guten Tag. Es ist diese Straße runter. Über 5 Kilometer

As I noticed the cyclist’s bewildered I just repeated my amateurish German but this time a bit slower and a bit louder. Then it dawned on me. What a wally. All very embarrassing. What was even more embarrassing was that when I finally switched to English I’m not sure the cyclist was any more the wiser. Although we where in Yorkshire he clearly didn’t understand my Yorkshire accent. As we speak the poor man is probably lost somewhere on the moors cursing that useless German in his pink leggings. Still it took my mind off Son’s ongoing French based anxieties.

I will leave the last words to a modern day Philosopher.

Well Dad I survived. The problem with the French Exam was that it’s basically in French. English is hard enough but French. It might as well have been in a foreign language.”

Onomatopoeia

That jolly yellow thing in the sky is still here. Any longer and it might qualify for the Yorkshire Cricket Team. I understand it’s called The Sun. A simple name yet so confusing for kids like our Son. Is it a Sun or is it a Son.

So on to this weeks spelling test. Ok campers your simple words this week are

Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Simile, Metaphor, Slang, Rhetorically, Personification, Emotive, Language, Imagery, Verb, Adjective, Adverb.

See I predicted it was only a matter of time before the poor kids had to try and spell complex dinosaur names. The Onomatopoeia was always my favourite flying dinosaur…..

I think school probably thinks that the spellings are getting too easy so they have now added a twist. Previously the teacher would say the actual word to be spelt and the kids tried to write it down. This week the teacher won’t say the word. Instead she will read out a definition and the kids have to decide which word it describes – then spell it. Easy with Onomatopoeia as it will be the only dinosaur….. if only.

So the kids will have to work out which of the above words fits with what the teacher definitions are and then try to spell it. From definitions like these

This is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes

This is when something is said to be something else

A describing word. Sometimes there are three together to make it more effective

A word describing how something is done

This is the repetition of letter sound at the start of a word

What chance has a dyslexic kid got when he struggles to spell and as a result has never really understood the technicalities of the English Language. But what do I know. A simple parent compared to the might and intellectual magnificence of the current government education regime. As our PM’s Dad publicly stated when he stood in for his Son in an interview.

Spelling “Pinocchio? That requires a degree of literacy, which I think the great British public doesn’t necessarily have.”

Its hard being a PM so he only handpicks a few interviews these days. Better to send his Dad. But the message is clear. The great unwashed didn’t go to Eton and Oxford. They are basically illiterate. They need to be force fed things like spelling.

I am one of the great unwashed. An illiterate who went to a poor sinkhole Comprehensive School and only to the clearly unworthy Warwick University. Maybe we are illiterate for a reason. The dreadful state of our crumbling education system. An education system that lets down so many kids. Which discriminates against those who don’t fit the mould. Money allows you to buy a better education. The money which the PMs Dad easily forked out to send his Son to Eton. But in the real world the majority struggle on. Dealing with an education system which has been systematically screwed by those with a view of the world so like that of PM and his Dad.

I might not be able to spell Pinocchio but at least I know my pterodactyls from my Onomatopoeias.

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

2003

2003. A time before parenting. A happy dreaming couple. A time when digital photography was still seen as the work of the devil by many. When a mobile phone was just that – a mobile phone – nothing else. My football team was still playing in the European Champions League.

31st May 2003. As the local paper described it. A once in a lifetime opportunity. The chance to see a 90% solar eclipse. Two problems

  • The peak eclipse would happen dead on sunrise. Best viewed from the East Coast.
  • This is Yorkshire.

Yorkshire does many things well. Cricket, Rhubard, Beer, Ferrets, Terriers, Chocolate, Moody Moors. We also do lots of cloud and rain. We don’t really do sun – bit of a bugger when your looking forward to a solar eclipse.

With a wing and a prayer we set off for the coast at 3am. Arriving at Scarborough an hour later. People looking out across the sea. Just before sunrise it’s hard to tell if the clouds have formed.

The first signs of morning and we wait with baited breath. Will the Sun appear.

As the sunrise time came still no sign of the sun. Maybe too much sea mist.

Then at 4.36am a thin red strip of sun appears. The crowd let’s out a huge cheer. Some hardy folk jump into the sea for a swim.

Unbelievably the infamous Yorkshire weather was playing ball today. Not a cloud in the sky.

As the Sun continued to rise a beautiful red then orange water path virtually led the way to the eclipse. Someone had brought a ghetto blaster and almost hypnotic music drifted across the morning air. The dreaming couple talked about an adventure to a far off land to see a full eclipse one day. One day.

17 years later. The Yorkshire weather is certainly not playing ball. I came across these photos looking for my birth certificate. They instantly took me back to that time of dreams and a truly magical partial eclipse.

One more little miracle. A photo involving me. A photo I can sign up to. So to those who have asked for a picture. Ok here it is.. Me back in 2003.