Autumn

Autumn is upon us. Everywhere you look the signs are clear.

The hedgerows are brimming with fruit. Intricate cobwebs everywhere.

Most of the swallows have now departed starting their six week trek to Africa.

Yellows, browns and reds are starting to dominate the foliage. Trees letting go as sad leaves fall to the ground. Soon the fruit in the hedgerows will be gone.

It was the time of year my partner loved the best. She loved the colours and the reflective atmosphere. A time she could walk quietly and just think. Now I walk the same paths. Today I was struck by one thought. My partner would have been looking at these same autumnal sights. Countless generations will have been looking at these sights. As much as you think the world has stopped because of your personal tragedy it never does. Life continues. The never ending cycle of life. The empty branches show the fleeting nature of life. Leaves fall but they will be reborn again. So should you – in your own time. When the time is right – it’s time to live again. It’s time to find a new way of blooming.

For me I’m still in the existing stage. I don’t tend to have personal dreams anymore. For years we had shared dreams. When my partner left us those dreams died. Now my dreams are my sons dreams. I exist because of my son. I live life through my son.

At some stage I will transition into the next stage. When I start to live for me. When I start to dream again. It’s strange how Autumn which is a time of life coming to the end of its cycle has sparked these thoughts. But maybe a better way to look at Autumn is that it’s a time of letting go before you start again. Rebirth. Yes that works better for me. It’s a time just before you live again.

So poor

I came from a northern working class background. A council house with an outside toilet and a dark coal bunker. Luckily the house had a big garden so Dad could grow loads of vegetables and fruit. It wasn’t until 1980 when the Council renovated the house and we got the luxury of central heating and an inside loo. We had to move out into a caravan for a few months so the house could be gutted and the roof replaced. It was bizarre looking at you house without a roof on. I will always remember sitting in the caravan playing with some lego when the little TV brought news of Lennon being shot.

The phrase my parents would always use was scrimp and scrape. They did an amazing job and Dad was always happy to talk about the hard lifestyle. Is it bad but these days that memory always reminds me of Monty Python doing the sketch about the Four Yorkshireman competing for who had the toughest childhood. We were so poor we lived in a box. Or in my case We were so poor we didn’t have a roof.


https://youtu.be/IeXMKygwSco

All those years later and I’m carrying on the tradition of scrimp and scraping. The return to school has brought significant additional costs to an already tight financial position. But as a good buddy said today – we make do. It does mean that you take some calculated risks. Son has an old raincoat which still just about fits him. It’s really well battered. It needs changing but I was hoping to put that off for a few months more.

Well today the calculated risk backfired. He went to pull on the old coat and the sleeve ripped apart at the seems.

Dad it’s not just Bruce Banner who can do that.

So he’s gone off today without a coat and yes it’s pouring down. Absolutely chucking it down. I feel really awful about it. Poor kid is going to be like a drowned rat. Anyway I’ve gone out and bought him a new one. Well at least he can now carry on the tradition. When he’s older he can do his own Monty Python sketch.

We were so poor I had a raincoat with only one sleeve. We couldn’t afford two sleeves.

A brief moment in time

Off to see the birds. We set off for the RSPB reserve at 8am in glorious weather. Son was in great spirits happily firing facts in my general direction. I certainly upped my Puffin knowledge which sadly is not difficult.

Unbelievably I found Bempton Cliffs first time. Everything is going to plan. Even remembered not one but two pairs of binoculars. One pair being so old it predates the discovery of glass.

Son had drawn up a detailed itinerary which included a picnic. I wasn’t particularly hopeful on the picnic front. The chef conjured that up at 3am in a state of some disrepair. Not so much Gordon Ramsey more Gordon The Big Tank Engine.

As per the itinerary we visited the first viewing location. Absolutely stunning. Son spotting many different types with the newer binoculars. The view was not so clear with my prehistoric viewing aids. The combination of lens scratches, permanent fogging and the inability to focus took me back to my University Drinking Days – and that was just my knackered old eyes. As for the ancient binoculars – might as well have been trying to look through two Yorkshire Puddings.

Unfortunately at the second viewing point the plan went to pot. Before I could react the really helpful (and clearly very nice) bird expert suddenly approached son and asked him if he wanted to see a juvenile Gannet taking its first sea swim. The sudden and unplanned social interaction completely spooked our son. I could see the terror in his eyes. Bravely he took a very quick look through the bird experts spotting scope to see the swimming bird. A minute later we were quickly exiting the reserve – meltdown in progress. An hour later we arrived back home.

That’s just part of our Aspergers world. You can plan all you like. Risk assess to the finest detail but you can’t plan for everything. It’s nobody’s fault. Not the bird experts, not the parent, certainly not our son’s. These things just happen. All you can do is get back to the safety of the home, pull up the drawbridge and settle in. Try to come up with as many distractions as possible. Red Dwarf and Marvel are great. Football outside is a winner. Important point to Dad – we have a small garden so don’t try to hammer the ball with a bit of bend in to the top corner of our small goal – son will wet himself as I launch the ball into orbit – somehow it landed in the garden TWO houses away.

Three big pluses from the day:

  • RSBP Bempton is absolutely stunning so well worth a visit.
  • The Gordon the Tank Engine made picnic was not to shoddy at all.
  • If you have your picnic on the trampoline with the safety net closed it keeps the bugs off the food.

And above all at the end of the day son is smiling and that is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how you get there – just end up smiling.

Burns

It’s hot. That’s Yorkshire hot. Which probably means mild in other parts of the world. My Dad would have called it mafting. It’s that mafting that even the Yorkshire Farm Machinery can’t cope. The photo shows the smouldering wreck of an unfortunate tractor with a badly burnt field. That’s a first on the dog walk.

Our Son does suffer from stress and overpowering fears. When he took one look at the burnt carnage he immediately panicked that our house would soon be engulfed in flames. It’s understandable as the field is less than a mile from us. I tried to calm his fears with words but with no luck. So actions are required. A mad Dad sat down in the blackened field. Look son my bum is getting a little warm but my shorts are not ablaze. Although it did demonstrate a point I should have thought the plan through a bit. Light grey shorts are maybe not that fetching when they have two buttock shaped black marks on the rear.

Although our son’s wild fire fear has been dampened down a little. Sometimes silliness works better than rational argument. It is still there and will be until normal Yorkshire weather returns.

When you have a child who suffers from these inhibiting fears it is vital that you try and keep on top of them. Working in partnership with school and health services is vital. At his last school they were usually on the ball. The teacher would catch me at the end of day or send a quick email to let me know if something had happened. If it was particularly significant school would phone immediately.

Unfortunately at his new school this has completely stopped. I fully understand that it’s a much bigger school and he has different teachers for each subject. But surely they still have a duty of care. I know speaking with the health professionals they say unfortunately most schools in they area are the same now. The close partnership working which was in place a few years ago has dried up. Again and again it comes back to the same reason. Government. As one Doctor said

Under the last Labour Government it was about the patient. Now the patient is a secondary consideration to income generation, competition and profit. Money is now king.

So increasingly it’s just left to parents, families and friends. The days of government for the greater good are over. Its all about self help and what the individual can afford. Must deliver tax cuts. It’s back to Victorian ethics. Days when democracy could be overridden by the powerful and the rich. A time when it was ok to send poor kids up chimneys. When hatred and discrimination was the norm.

Maybe it’s just me and I’m in the minority. Just my irrational fear. But increasingly my country is becoming alien to me. I hate what is becoming. Too many kids do not get the support they badly need. As a generation we have really messed up our priorities. Our leaders happily play fiddles while Rome burns. Or maybe we should now change that to our leaders go to comedy clubs while the Amazon burns.

Hot

It’s hot. Yes I’ve said it now. Yes Yorkshire is hot. When I say hot I mean hot for Yorkshire which probably means it’s probably two jumper weather in Arizona.

A grand day for a trip to the zoo.

Clearly the zoo animals had the right idea. Stay in the shade and watch the silly humans walk round in the blazing sun.

Dad can I have a slush.

What a grand idea. Unfortunately the kiosk informed us that they had just switched the slush machine on and if we came back in a couple of hours they should be available. It was a similar story with the ice cream machine. So we purchased from the limited available snack range. Sat in the hot sun with two cider lollies and a bag of just fried hot donuts.

Dad it’s a good job your a professional athlete or you would be getting a Dads Belly.

Clearly a kid with Aspergers don’t have a sense of humour. Come on Hollywood get your facts right.

Dad it’s getting too busy.

And with that we left. But the zoo gave us one last memory. As we were walking out of the main door a delivery driver had arrived and asked a parking supervisor where he was supposed to drop off. He was told “Through those gates. Just unbolt the lock and drive into the compound. Just make sure you lock the gate immediately”. The delivery driver in a slightly alarmed voice asked “Are you sure”.

Visions of Jurassic Park and a driver about to come face to face with a suitably pissed off carnivore came to mind. Clearly the driver had similar thoughts as he made sure he round his van window up before he ventured any further.

Me Me Me

Blue skies have been a rarity over the last couple of weeks. Strangely this photo is a few weeks old. Can’t remember the last time I had to water the tomato plants. If anything it’s more about trying to stop them drowning in the rain water. The mad dog is currently sat looking out through the back door. Yet when I open it for him he just continues to sit and seems to shrug – if you think I’m going out in that you have another thing coming. Other areas of the county have seen bridges swept away and a Dam almost breached. Wasn’t it only a few weeks ago I was talking about Yorkshire and temperatures in the 90s. Strange old summer.

We have largely been cut off from the outside world this holiday. The occasional and extremely brief trip to the shop but son has stayed in the car. Trip to a castle but at a time (and with the poor weather) that it would be largely empty. We are thinking about a trip to another castle, a zoo and hill walk – but these will be scheduled at the quietest times possible. This is how our son likes it.

But it does have a downside. Next month son will return to school. Small site with over 800 kids and adults. Its just not a natural environment for someone with Aspergers. It doesn’t help that within a few days of school opening it’s the anniversary of his mums death. It not easy for anyone but no kid should have to go through that.

Soon we will need to start the process of getting him as ready as possible for that dreaded return. We will have a few visits to the school. A word with the caretaker will allow a walk round the empty corridors. But that just won’t prepare him for so much noise, so many faces. So we are going to have to visit a few busy places. A couple of trips to a Supermarket. Maybe a visit to a popular museum – York’s Train Museum. It’s a balancing act trying to acclimatise yet not trying to unnecessarily spook him.

The other part to this is ME. It’s about trying to get ME used to people again. It really doesn’t come naturally to ME. Just look at that it’s all ME ME ME with me. I blame it on the rain.

Current mood – Dampish….

Summer Rain

It’s SUMMERTIME. It’s YORKSHIRE. It’s still RAINING.

As a kid I remember being told if it was settled and fine on the 31st July then the rest of summer would be great. However if it was wet on that day then summer would stay poor. It’s funny how often we have great weather in July then we hit the 31st and the weather breaks. So basically here in Yorkshire at this time of year – once the weather breaks it stays broken. But it’s great conditions for ducks.

See it’s true the Brits are always taking about the weather…..

Today was supposed to be another attempt to visit a new place. A local castle. Unfortunately lots of rain stopped play. So we will try again tomorrow.

Dad if we go now then we will have the castle to ourselves. But it’s a ruin. So no cover. Going to get so wet. On balance I will take a risk on crowds. This is way beyond wet.

Yet one hour later.

Dad can we go out and play footie.

It’s pouring down.

When the aliens come to invade earth they ain’t going to say – it’s raining we will give it an hour.

So in the pouring rain we played football then it was aquatic trampolining. Drenched. That wet that you can feel your feet shrivelling up. That wet that the football becomes like a bar of soap and weighs as much as a set of dumbbells. That wet that the ducks bugger off inside.

Tomorrow the colds will start but today it’s fun.

Switzerland National Day

I try to avoid multiple posts in one day. But sometimes…..

I was going to do this on my very own Swiss Sunday but a good buddy changed my mind.

Not only is it Yorkshire Day. But it also happens to be Switzerland’s National Day. Today in that great country it’s a national holiday. Church bells ring out at 8pm. Beacon fires are lit. Flags and bunting are everywhere. Wonderful communal celebrations. Fireworks are set off. Much great food and drink are consumed.

So to my favourite country on this planet – Happy Switzerland Day from Yorkshire. xxx

International Yorkshire Day

It’s Yorkshire Day. Yes it’s raining but that’s fitting. To celebrate let’s time travel back 5 years. To a time when our country was still prepared to embrace internationalism. Still promoting itself as multicultural and part of Europe. When the prospect of a narrow minded bigoted government seemed a distant fictional nightmare. A time when it was still socially ok to look forward and outwards.

A time when Yorkshire became part of France for a few glorious days.

When the Tour de France came to Yorkshire.

Over 2.5 million people lined the counties streets and lanes to watch one of the worlds great sporting events.

One stage went through my mums village.

I sat with our son on the road curb and watched the racers scream through. Didn’t think we would ever get that close to the Tour. Some of the riders came within a foot of us…

Happy Days. Better Days

And still it rains

The heatwave is here in Europe but it’s refusing to cross the North Sea. While Bern is getting 34C, Madrid gets 35C and blazing sunshine good old Yorkshire gets drizzle and 12C. So still it’s proper weather.

And so as the weather sticks to my post from earlier today, the system also continues to follow that posts script.

Another day and another system letter. A service we did have access to but which has dried up recently. Today brings the confirmation. Government cut backs so the service provider has to prioritise and our son is currently seen as a low priority. So it’s another service we have to reapply for and go through a new assessment process. It’s just not fair on kids like our son.