Spark an Interest

York Minster is one of Europe’s finest Cathedrals.

The central tower is 235ft (72m) tall. It’s Northern Europe’s biggest Gothic Cathedral.

The first religious building was built on this site in 637AD. Work started on the current Gothic structure in 1230 and was completed in 1472. The Minster has 128 stained glass windows which apparently have 2000000 individual glass pieces. It’s a busy place of worship with over 1600 services each year.

Thankfully York has not succumbed to the plague of high rise buildings. So The Minster still dominates the city view from all directions. I remember having a chat with an American work colleague who on visiting the city for the first time told me

“That’s a lovely church but it would have been better if they had built it on a hill”

Unfortunately the nearest hill is about 15 miles away. Strangely our little bungalow is on that very hill. We struggle to fill our little church so I’m pretty sure a Cathedral would be bit of over kill.

It’s absolutely stunning inside but we never make it that far. Son loves to walk round it and think. Then he looks to the skies for a glimpse of the nesting Peregrine Falcons. Finally we always end at a statue of a Roman Emperor. In 306AD Constantious died in York. The soldiers in York immediately proclaimed Constantine the Emperor. So for a brief moment in time York was the centre of the Roman Empire. Son loves to drink up this history.

Surely when you have such history on your doorstep why not use. York has the largest Train Museum in the World showcasing engineering and invention at its finest. What better way to spark an interest. To learn. To grow. But apparently this is not the case. It would seem writing out spelling mistakes 3 times is the way to go. Regardless of the subject – Science, History, Maths, Design Technology, Drama – let’s just get the spelling right. I bet that will spark an interest!!!!

First letter

Friday has been distinctly chilly especially when you go running in shorts and T-shirt. Some muppet decided to wash his running kit 5 minutes before the run. Not good planning. So yes chilly. Now take the first letter away from chilly and that was the other feature of today’s run. Distinctly hilly. As many of the rivers have flooded the only paths which are passable are those which are on the high ground. So before I got stuck into today’s work I needed to defrost and sooth the aching muscles. I was that cold that when I got into the piping hot bath – it went cold within a couple of minutes. Sitting in a cold bath when your cold is not good. Not good at all.

Been asked about the subliminal message in this weeks Terrible Poetry content. See what the first letter of each line spells….

Mind wrestling

Yorkshire weather. Good running weather. Why would I want to run in dry warm windless conditions. Well that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I’m like Count Dracula. I would turn to dust in direct sunlight. I wonder what I would do if someone offered me the chance though.

I’m mind wrestling with something at the moment. My partner was an epic traveller. She visited so many countries. It was her extravagance. From her late teens she would save up during the year for one great adventure. Family and her adventures was what she lived for. The adventures only stopped when we became a family. Her dream was that when our son became older we could have adventures together. The two places she always talked about was New Zealand (would have been her first time) and Chile. She always said that we would all love Chile.

Then life happened.

I really want to complete those journeys for her. Our Autism World may preclude that. Circumstances may preclude it. But we will see. I most admit a part of me doesn’t want to do those trips. It’s just not right that it would only be the two of us.

Sorry I digress. Back to my mind wrestling. So many adventures and so many photographs. All sat neatly and well organised in carefully stored albums. Here is the dilemma. Part of me wants to do a retrospective photo journal. Tell her travel story. Her trip to the Soviet Union (gives you an idea of the timeframe) maybe would be a great starting point. YET another part of me recoils at the idea. What if she hates that idea. What if I’m breaking some unwritten bond of trust. It’s like having two competing voices on either shoulder each shouting differing viewpoints on life.

She’s not here anymore. What’s the problem!

YOU KNOW SHE WOULD SAY NO. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT THIS!

But this feeling is something I’ve grown used to over these three years. On virtually every major decision I have these doubts. ‘What do I want to do’ balanced against ‘what would she do’. I try to see the world through my eyes and at the same time through her eyes. Problem is that we were two completely different characters. We each had our own unique take on the world. We would frequently disagree on the right answer. Often we would compromise. I’m still trying to compromise now. Yet I can’t replicate her thought process. I never could and I never will. I’m probably getting her point of view completely wrong. But I still do it.

Maybe other people do this. Maybe it’s just me sinking further into cabin fever.

So am I going to publish this travel journal? I don’t know. WE still haven’t decided.

The Poorly Car Run

There is a run I do all too frequently. It’s a lovely run. It’s particularly lovely as it’s flat. But it’s a few miles away from my usual haunts. The run starts and ends at the garage. You see it’s a run which happens when my car is poorly. Today it was the tyres. So off the car went to the garage. So off I went on my Poorly Car Run. Nothing was than sitting in a garage waiting area reading about cars I can’t afford.

The run closely follows one of our larger and most beautiful rivers. The Ouse. As it’s a river that regularly floods you can see the river depth marker. Today it is quite high but thankfully below flooding levels. It did flood a few weeks ago and in the woods you can see the remnants of those high waters.

If I wasn’t about to be hammered financially by the Garage this run would be a truly stunning experience.

The run crosses the flood plains. Today it’s dry but when it floods here can be under 3ft of water. Cold Dark Yorkshire water.

It’s sad that it takes a Poorly Car to bring me here.

So the car has been returned. Monopoly money has been handed over to the Garage. It was a shorts run so my legs got well and truly muddy. Can’t imagine what a dry run feels like. So it was back to work but this muppet had forgotten a change of clothing. Work, autumn, shorts and dirty legs is not a great combo. Luckily it was a solo office stint today.

Few hours later it’s back to the latest school soap story. Another subject test sat without any reading help, no reading pen and no additional time. Even the questions are worded in such a way to make it harder for kids with Aspergers. Set up to fail. Set up to justify the schools assessment of low attainment. I really need another run to release the anger. Anger at the School. Anger at the Council. Anger at me. Anger at the Government. Above all anger at those who will flock in their millions to vote for this Government. A Government for the few.

Maybe tomorrow I will return to the Poorly Car Run. But hopefully it will be the ‘Nothing to do with the car, here out of choice to heal my soul Run’.

Waterfall

Although England does do an awful lot of water it’s not blessed with that many truly epic waterfalls. But we do have the occasional spectacular one.

High Force in Teasdale.

The Falls are about an hours drive from us. We haven’t been since our world changed. We had planned to go there as part of our school holiday road trip. But as I was packing up the picnic

Dad I’m not sure I’m ready to go there yet.

I can so understand. It had suddenly dawned on our son the importance of the memory associated with High Force. It was 2016. The three of us spent a lovely hour walking around the waterfall then we ended up in the local pub for lunch. Son had sausages and chips. We had soup and fresh bread. Finished off with some highly calorific sweet. It was the last time we went out for a meal as a family.

This had completely slipped my mind. Not the forensic mind of number one son.

“It’s a long drive son.”

It’s a very long drive, probably bad for the environment.

“Its raining and very grey. Probably going to be cold.”

It’s very wet Dad.

“What do you fancy doing then.”

How about having the picnic in front of the television while watching the new Scooby Doo movie.

“That sounds a cracking plan Son.”

So we enjoyed sandwiches, crisps, fruit and cakes watching Return to Zombie Island. Yes a change of plan. But the right change of plan. We will visit High Force one day. But not this wet Friday.

Terrible Poetry

It’s time for Terrible Poetry in the wonderful hands of Chelsea Owens. This week the parameters are….

Howdy, partners! Welcome to this here terrible poetry contest. We at the ranch have been rounding up bad poetry fer 48 weeks now.

Ready to rodeo? You’ll wanna read a run-down here. Then, saddle up and get yer lasso ready fer fun!

Here some ‘spifics for this round:

  1. The Topic‘s The Old West. Or, do The New West. Heck, do Midwest if that’s how you ride. Think of a song to sing on a campfire-smoke night, a shout to yell at those darn coyotes, or a rhyme to a cowboy from his sweetheart back home.
  2. Length is up to you, but many a cowpoke will doze off mid-ride if the trail gets too long.
  3. Rhymin’s up to you, partner.
  4. Most importan’ly, Make ‘er terrible. I don’t wanna see yer sorry hide back here till it is.
  5. Many a rough-rider can have a rough tongue, but sometimes lady folk read this blog. Keep yer comments to a civilized PG-13.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (October 25) to submit a poem.

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Out in the dust field prairies of Dewsbury and Pontefract

The Yorkie badlands with rhubarb laden scrub tracks

Where scary predators stalk lonely unsuspecting riders

Those ferrets are deadly once in your trouser insiders

Old Cowboys on the trail for one last ride

Trying to avoid those wannabe Bonnie and Clyde’s

Clinging to a dying way of life like a stubborn Rooster Cogburn

Taking those pills for the constant bake bean farts and heartburn

Singing stories of the wonders of this cowboy lifestyles

While fighting the urge to scratch those lingering piles

Carrying the sweetheart photo of the long lost cowgirl

Forgetting she left you for an Accountant who could afford a pearl

All the ranches and rodeos have long since closed

Now 24 hour Big Macs are juxtaposed

Getting back in the saddle you do it for glory and the life which is true

But really the only excitement left is a solitary campfire game of Buckaroo

Out in the dust field prairies of Dewsbury and Pontefract

The Yorkie badlands with rhubarb laden scrub tracks

Where scary predators stalk lonely unsuspecting riders

Those ferrets are deadly once in your trouser insiders

Old Cowboys on the trail for one last ride

Trying to avoid those wannabe Bonnie and Clyde’s

Clinging to a dying way of life like a stubborn Rooster Cogburn

Taking those pills for the constant bake bean farts and heartburn

Singing stories of the wonders of this cowboy lifestyles

While fighting the urge to scratch those lingering piles

Carrying the sweetheart photo of the long lost cowgirl

Forgetting she left you for an Accountant who could afford a pearl

All the ranches and rodeos have long since closed

Now 24 hour Big Macs are juxtaposed

Getting back in the saddle you do it for glory and the life which is true

But really the only excitement left is a campfire game of Buckaroo

Night time visitor

For over a year we have had a nighttime visitor. Brief glimpses. Garden dug up. A few signs. Then last night FINALLY you revealed yourself in all your glory.

Kind enough to stay long enough for the mobile phone to adjust to the darkness.

Even a stroll close up to see what the strange humans were doing. The Government is trying to cull your kind. But you are most welcome here.

Yorkshire Chilli

After years of trying to grow just one chilli in the subtropical climate which is Yorkshire we get to this. In about 10 years this is as good as it gets. Two huge Guinness Book of Record Largest Chilli winners. But after all the years of failure I will take these mini wins.

The one thing you learn with bereavement is that every persons grief journey is different. Regardless of what the textbooks tell you ITS UP TO YOU to find your own route through the minefields you find yourself stuck in the middle of. Some can do it within months. Others it takes longer, sometimes much longer.

I was listening to a bereaved man on the radio. He had starting dating again within a couple of months of the funeral. He was remarried within 6 months. In his words he had ‘grieved for about 6 weeks then it was time to start again”. When asked if he still grieved he said ‘No I have moved on’. That was his way through and out of the minefields.

One of the saddest and most beautiful things I have ever heard was an elderly chap who had lost his wife. Every wedding anniversary he took his wife’s ashes out to the same restaurant. He would sit and have his meal alone with the ashes. Nobody knows what he would say but he frequently cried. He’s been doing that for over 20 years. Maybe that’s someone who has chosen not to leave the minefield.

I’ve been in the grief minefield for 3 years now. But that’s only part of the story. No real time to grieve as I had to step up to being a single parent. I needed (still need) to give our son the best possible childhood he could possibly have under these circumstances. In my brain parenting became more important than grieving. My way out of the minefield frequently became muddled and lost . What happened was often parenting driven rather than grief oriented. For example.

Three years of virtually no social contact happened not because of grief rather because of having a young kid with Aspergers.

In those three years my not so great social skills have become extremely limited.

Last week I had a lunchtime coffee with four of the mums from our sons school. I’ve done that a couple of times over the last 3 years. It’s only for 30 minutes or so. In my case it’s now Peppermint Tea rather than Coffee. It’s about my only non-son social life these days, certainly since the world changed. Talk about wooden. I end up just listening. Luckily the mums are really nice and I think they understand. It’s a start. A little dip of the toe back into the big bad world. It’s a mini win. At least I’m not still in the middle of the minefield.

So like the chilli in Yorkshire. I will take the little wins. I think it shows that I probably want to make my way out of the minefield eventually but I have to admit – I’m not entirely certain about that….

Life lessons

Important life lesson number 1 – If you ever rip your running shorts on a fence don’t try to repair them.

A few weeks ago I managed to rip asunder my running shorts when I jumped a fence. As money is a little tight I decided to repair them and I have to say I think I did a rather fine job. Several runs later they were as good as new. Until today….A couple of miles into my run this morning I experienced the dreaded unusually cold under carriage feel. Yes the shorts had completely ripped again. In effect I was running in a short miniskirt.

As I pondered my options and with perfect timing a couple of female joggers appeared in the distance. Panic. Only tactic was to try and keep the distance until I could branch off onto another path. Unfortunately the two joggers were quicker than me. The gap kept closing. All I could think about was the sight the two poor runners would be exposed to. One last option. Stop and pretend to tie my shoe laces.

Important life lesson number 2 – if your in a hole don’t dig it any deeper

Have you ever tried to tie shoe laces while keeping your buttocks as close to the ground as possible. Just a couple of seconds after I was passed by the the joggers my balance gave out and I ended up sitting backwards in a muddy puddle. So now I had to get back to the house with ruptured shorts and an embarrassing muddy patch. Then a moment of genius take off my red running jacket and tie it round the waste. Much more protection unfortunately for one area although the thin Red T-shirt left on is not really designed for Yorkshire conditions. Distinctly chilly.

Thankfully the next few paths were wonderfully deserted. Within a couple of miles of the house I opted for a prudent shortcut across the farmland. As I passed the first gate I noticed a new sign but assumed it was the usual keep your dog on a lead. As I jogged through the cow field. I noticed one particularly well built cow clearly eyeballing me. Then it dawned on me what the sign said.

Important life lesson number 3 – always look we’re your going in a cow field

Do not enter Bull in field. Hang on a minute I’m yards from a bull and I’m wearing a red T-shirt and have a red jacket around my waste. I told myself that bulls are colour blind. So I did the only rational thing and engaged numpty panic mode. Quickly I ripped off the jacket and T-shirt. Quickly hiding them behind my back. The ultimate bull protection – go topless. Then I set off walking backwards as I kept my eye on the big fella. Bad idea as I tripped over a tuft of grass and now landed in a cow pile. Bare back and Cow Stuff is not a great feel.

So yes I made it home in one piece. Clearly wearing significantly less clothing than I set off in. My buttocks and back having enjoyed a free detox and toning application. AND desperately trying not to think of how much counselling those two unfortunate joggers will end up needing.

Important life lesson number 4 – just stay in the house it’s a lot safer.

2000 years

If you keep your head down and have blinkered vision it is staggering what you might just miss.

How many thousands of pairs of eyes have just not registered this little sign at the edge of the path. 2000 years.

The thousands of times I have been in the front room desk draw. Looking for postal stamps, envelopes, address books, paper clips. I never registered the little blue notebook. Well after all this time it registered. What is this. It’s a piece of family history. Not from 2000 years ago. In fact it’s probably only 4 and 5 years old.

It’s a notebook which my partner wrote things in. Important stuff.

  • Christmas Food shopping list,
  • Thank you lists,
  • Present ideas,
  • Christmas Card lists,
  • Christmas Lunch cooking timings.

Initially I panicked. She might catch me looking. Yes for a brief moment I did actually think that. Then I became concerned that this unplanned find would bring on a grief storm. But no. It was an entirely different feeling. Being a typical sad numpty I was fascinated to find out what my present list might have been. Some great rock cd ideas. A U2 cd – clearly the joke present. Pointless but fun little toy gadgets. A little cricket dice game called HOWZAT (I would have had hours of fun with that). A book on bushcraft – was she going to kick me out into the garden. A grumpy old man T-shirt (why would she get me that…). Another Trivia Pursuits game so she could embarrass me again – why can’t I just win the game by answering only sport questions. A Toolkit – yes I never did get round to putting those shelves up (sorry dear).

It’s strange how things change. Since the world changed I don’t really get presents now and the interest has gone. Just want son to have the fun so any presents must be his. But you know what – just maybe I might by myself a couple of items from the notebooks list. Hell will freeze over before I get a U2 cd. So just maybe on Christmas Evening I will be sat in my Grumpy Old man T-shirt playing my silly little cricket dice game. This all came about from opening my eyes. Must try it more often.