Midday

That’s more like a Yorkshire midday. Very dark and brooding.

The sky may be bleak but it’s actually quite inspiring. Makes the landscape feel full of character and emotion. In a funny sort of way I prefer looking at this type of sky to a blue cloudless one.

Did I just say that!!

I came inside freezing cold, jet blasted and very very damp.

I guess the point I’m making is that in an ideal world I would have a view filled with snow capped mountains. It’s a climbers thing with me. I feel at home with the peaks. If I can’t have that view then maybe a view of the Sea. That is down to someone being brought up in a Yorkshire Fishing Town.

That is just not happening where we live. A small hill top 40 miles from the sea. The view we have is open farmland and countryside. Lovely yes but not on the surface that inspiring for me. But it does have something special. The sky. As we are on a hill top with no surrounding peaks or high buildings or trees …. we have a big sky. So I look to that for my inspiration. Hence my liking for a dark, brooding sky. The kind of sky that really deserves the old Hammer Horror movie treatment. Doesn’t have to be horror. A sky perfect for Jayne Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

I remember my mum would listen to sad records to cheer herself up. My partner would watch sad movies to lift the spirits. Which is kind of understandable when you have to live with me. I guess a brooding sky does something similar with me. It sparks my imagination. Helps me dream.

So that’s another item on the list of things to be thankful for. For me it’s so easy to fall into the trap of just seeing the bad things in my life. Depression brings all the bad thoughts to the front of my nogging. They end up dominating my thinking. Doing all they can to bring me down. But the reality is so different. I am so fortunate. So many wonderful things are a part of my life. Yes I’ve known sadness and loss but that’s the human condition. We will all venture down that road in our life’s. So that’s not unique to me. Life deserves to be lived. And yes that can mean smiling at a brooding midday sky.

So let’s dream under that sky. Shall I be Heathcliff or Dracula. Let’s not kid myself, with my looks it better be the Bram Stoker character then.

Easy

Not quite snow drifts yet. Maybe not this time.

I keep thinking back to a childhood memory. The family house had no central heating and just two fires. A fake burning log pile electric fire in the back room and an old cold fire in the living room. I can remember having to help dig a path through the piled up snow to the outside coal bunker. That woke you up in the morning. It also focused the mind. No coal. No fire. No heat in the house as the electric fire used up the coins set aside for the electric meter far too fast.

Looking back I am so in awe of my parents. How on earth did they cope with 5 kids without the help of things we so take for granted now. They didn’t even have a fridge for so many years. They either grew they own food or bought it from the local small estate shops. No supermarkets to fall back on. Both had to work as well. Work hard. No overseas holidays to recharge for them. A holiday for them was catching the train to local seaside tourist towns. Whitby and Scarborough. No overnight stats as well. Jump on the train. Potter about for a couple of hours then grab fish and chips for the train journey back home. That’s one of my other vivid childhood memories. The family jumping back onto the train with our fish supper wrapped up in newspapers. As the train set off we started passing round the bottle of tomato ketchup. Proper ketchup, the stuff you had to shake vigorously before unscrewing the bottle top and copiously spreading a think layer of the red stuff over the chips. Unfortunately someone had forgotten to screw the bottle top back on. My dad started to vigorously shake the ketchup bottle just as the Ticket Collector appeared. The top flew off and dad sprayed the carriage – very very red. I still can’t work out who was more angry. Dad or the Collector. It was definitely a frosty trip home.

Seems like a different world now. As hard as I think my parenting life is these days, it pales compared to those times a few decades back. I so need to remember that the next time I start to complain about how hard my life is. Nothing compared to what my parents had to survive.

It’s a relatively easy life now.

L

Options

Something rather bizarre happened today here in Yorkshire. It was sunny with lots of blue sky. Most unusual.

Just after the dinosaurs had become extinct I was as at school. A time before home computers. A time when a domestic microwave was about as expensive as a Fusion Reactor. I was leaving secondary school just as MTV was starting. Definitely a different era. So you would expect a few limitations in the schooling system. Like the options available to kids in our sink school. A poor school in a poor working class area.

I remember the school option meeting. No parents. Just the snotty kid, the careers advisor and the headteacher. It basically went like this for me.

********

What options do you want to take?

I would like to take Latin, French and I would like to learn to program using something like Pascal.

Why?

Because I want to go to university.

Kids round here don’t go to university. You get jobs in the Chemical Works, the Steel Plant. The really smart ones might get a job as a clerk in a bank in the high street.

I don’t really fancy that.

We don’t offer those subjects anyway. Your option choices are woodwork, metal work or home economics. That’s cooking to you son…

*********

That conversation always stuck with me. Clearly stuck with a the others in my year. I was the only one to make university. I managed to scramble through a system setup for the benefits of the local economy and not for the pupils. Fast forward all those thousands of years. We find ourselves in 2021. Surely a more enlightened time. When microwaves are really cheap but bizarrely a 24 pack of toilet rolls is harder to get hold of than a Fusion Reactor.

We are looking at Hawklads option choices. He has to take Mathematics, Sciences and English. But has to choose four more subjects. It’s strongly recommended that French is selected. Which is odd as school are super keen for him to ditch that subject. One option really does suit him – History. As his last teacher told him before she left – ‘you know the subject better than I do’. And he loves history. Then it’s going to be Geography. He is ok with that subject but it’s never really fully connected with him. Two options left….

Here is where the problems start. PE might have been an option but it’s an essential requirement that you represent the school or a club in a sport. So that’s out. Information Technology would have been an option but the last two years of force feeding coding has broken his will in that one. The other handful of options just do not suit him at all. No interest in them. The teaching methods don’t suit him. No connection with the teacher. Or it’s an area he really struggles with.

It really does feel like the schooling system is still not truly aimed at the pupils. Take what you are offered rather than let’s see what really works for the individual. The schools take is rather than look for alternatives let’s just let him not select 4 options. He could maybe only do 3 or 4 exams as that would potentially help him pass something. OK.

So what is he going to do. Well he’s going to randomly pick two more options for now. Go through the hoops in case he sticks with mainstream schooling. But we are going to look at proper alternatives. What subjects can we find which are outside of the school remit which really interest him. That’s how education should be. That’s how it should have always been.

L

Well spent

It’s been wet. Very wet. Many places round here could do with a dry spell. Just look at the flood warning list.

But here’s the thing with a lockdown. Normally I would be moving about . Witnessing the rising waters. Driving through the floods. Going shopping and working in the rain. The raincoats getting a real hammering.

But that’s not the case now. House and garden bound. When it rains I just go inside. The only need for a raincoat is if it starts to rain when I’m doing exercise in the garden. It’s the same for Hawklad. I was in the process of buying him a new coat just before the family lockdowns started. He had almost grown out of his coat back in March. I dread to think how small it is now. But currently no need to worry about that.

Might as well wait until he needs one. He’s still shooting up. I bought him a new school jacket at the end of February. To replace the slightly battered and rapidly getting too small, old one. It arrived the week we started our lockdown. It remains in its plastic cover. UNUSED. I suspect that almost a year later and it will now be getting a little snug on him. With no imminent prospect of needing it, we can officially say that

It was £60 well spent…

Start with a change

It’s still a little cold here. Definitely a cold start to 2021.

We have a family tradition. For the last 7 years I’ve taken Hawklad on New Years Day to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Set off at 8am. Get there for when it opens. Spend a few hours wandering round the animals. Then grab a burger and leave before the real crowds arrive.

It’s a lovely tradition that Hawklad loves.

But life happens. Only essential journeys are recommended. Avoid out of area travel.

AND

Hawklad just isn’t in the right frame of mind to go. He is seemingly a million miles from venturing into public places.

So no Wildlife Park visit this New Years Day. So we improvised. A homemade burger and a Pepsi, just like he would have had. A hot donut replaced with a warmed up cake. Then we sat and watched a David Attenborough wildlife TV series.

Not quite the tradition but a decent replacement given what was available to us. 2021 feels like a year for making the best of it.

Disappear

Those snow blizzards are intensifying here. Not sure I will be able to keep digging us out. Tough winters here in Yorkshire. Need to but some ski boots……

I realised something this morning. Apart from Hawklad I’ve not actually seen another human since last Wednesday. Ok I’ve seen people in videos and movies but not actual seen anyone. Not even someone in the distance. No one. No dog walkers. No neighbours. No one walking on the street. No postman. No delivery people. That must be a record for me.

It just shows how easy it is to disappear these days.

It’s going to feel really odd when I finally bump into someone. Maybe even talk to them. Wow that’s a thought. What will I say? Probably need to practice a bit just in case. Practice holding eye contact. Better practice with the sheep first. Maybe work on a different conversation opener though

Hi. You are cheeky. Do you fancy a biscuit….”

Plague Island

So that’s the shopping done for the week. We are now officially closed for Christmas. Time to get behind our fence and shut the world out for 7 days. Or longer if we are plunged into a Tier 4 lockdown (more of the country will go that way on Boxing Day apparently).

So it’s Christmas Eve on Plague Island. It’s not entirely sure if its a virus related Plague or a Plague of self absorbed, imbecilic, on the take, cretins apparently running this country.

We have enough food and drink to last us weeks. We have enough options to cobble together a couple of special holiday meals for two. Certainly not Plan A or B food options, but the C menu will be just fine. Actually with my Thanos like cooking skills at the click of the fingers any food taste can be suddenly turned to dust. So it really doesn’t matter in the end.

A few days of being an island cut adrift from the world has started to take its toll. Hardly any fresh fruit or veg in the store. The stuff which is still there is getting snapped up instantly. No chocolate ice cream. I will say that again. No chocolate ice cream. Oh the humanity….

But in the scheme of things. We are so fortunate. Too many are not so lucky.

So we are lucky to be on the right side of our fence. Hawklad is definitely not on Santa’s naughty list. Me – I’m not so sure. Yes the weather is horrible but actually if you close your eyes, the sun will still shine.

Yes it’s alright in this side of the fence, living on Plague Island.

Puddings

Where are our biscuits……

So today my country finds itself cut adrift. Many countries have closed their ports, tunnels and airports to us. That’s what happens when you mix an even more pesky variant of Covid with clueless, self deluded, only interested in themselves numpties who couldn’t manage a snowball fight.

Dolly and her biscuit munching woolly friends would do a better job than that prat called Boris and his cronies.

So yep we are cut adrift as a nation. All I can think about is why it took so long for this to happen. Countries like France should have done this years ago. We are not exactly going to be missed. Must be time for Yorkshire to join Scotland in declaring independence and ditching this madness. Let’s celebrate that thought with a large portion of Yorkshire Puddings. I’d rather talk about those puddings than the other puddings who are in charge,

Here’s hoping

I sneaked out for an early dog walk. That way Hawklad doesn’t go into Quarantine meltdown. For me and the dog. One thing about our son is that he is so predictable in a morning. After 3am that’s it he is asleep and doesn’t wake up until just before 8am. One of the advantages of the school at home project. This has been pushed from 7am. Much more natural for him, much less forced.

It does allow for a dog walk but sadly no run. Captain Chaos goes into bark mode when I try to sneak out without him. And it’s just a big fat NO to trying to run with Captain Chaos. He’s a dog that doesn’t believe in going in the same direction as the person with him.

But a dog walk is something. It’s a little win. We take any wins these days.

You might not be able to tell but it’s absolutely chucking it down with a howling Gale. But at least some of the mist has been temporarily blown away. Very squelchy under foot.

While someone had a little constitutional in the field I decided to play with the panoramic mode on my phone…..

This field is our sledging slope. Only ever seen us two use it really. Will it get used this year or next? Doesn’t feel like snow. But here hoping. That would be another little win.