Is winning best

At last sun. Just a couple of hours but even that feels like a win. Certainly lifts the soul.

Dad are you trying. That’s 9 – nil to me”

Mini Air Hockey is a tricky sport. Requiring a unique combination of hand eye coordination, reflexes, ability to bend your back for more than 10 seconds and unchecked brutality.

“Just look at my fingers. That’s missing skin. Yep I’m trying. Your just too quick for me.”

Son worries that I let him win. That’s such a difficult area for parents. Do we play hard or do we let our children win. I remember reading a story about a former giant international rugby player. He was playing touch rugby in his garden with his kids. As a feel for how seriously he was taking this game ask his garden shed. Apparently in an attempt to win the ball off his young son he crashed into the wooden structure. The poor shed was basically demolished. The Dads take on that. They have to learn to compete. When I play I always play to win. Kids need to learn this.

But on the other side I was watching a video of the great Mohammed Ali. He was boxing with a small child. Ali was repeatedly knocked down and finally the kid scored a dramatic K.O. The kid walked away with the biggest smile and feeling like a champion.

For what it’s worth I was in the Ali camp. I wanted to see my kid smile and feel like a winner. Yes the occasional defeat was important to learn about life and that failure will happen. As you get older failure comes regularly so why not grant a few years of success to the young. Son has been through so much in his short life. Seen so much sadness. He’s earned the right to feel good sometimes. But what do I know – I’m still trying to learn this parenting gig.

But time moves on. With a cruel flick of life’s switch, happily letting your young ones win becomes increasingly hard. Suddenly you can’t buy a win. The cold reality sets in. Your kid is better at stuff now than you. Maybe he should go easy on his Dad. He is quicker, thinks faster, has better reactions and has higher skill levels. What happened to Dad being a computer game legend. Now Dad is a Noob. Oh the shame.

Yes there are complications. A kid with Aspergers and Dyspraxia will struggle in some areas. It’s so important I factor those things in. Confidence levels are so brittle. It sends daggers through a parents heart to hear you kid say things like ‘I’m just stupid’, I’m useless’, ‘I’m so rubbish‘, ‘ hate being different’. So yes allowances are still made. He loves Jenga but struggles with his fine motor skills. He hasn’t noticed yet that I play just using my left hand. Connect 4 is another favourite but he struggles to see diagonal patterns. Yes I will tend to ignore the obvious connections.

So what’s your take on winning or losing?

Am I getting this so wrong?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of my approach. Dads are strange sensitive souls. We still need to feel like kings sometimes. Yes to show off a bit. Those area are becoming increasingly difficult to find these days. That’s why bench pressing weights and the ability to stomach increasingly disgusting tasting jelly beans are so important. That’s all I’ve got left. Long may I rule over those two talents.

Baking

It’s weaponised baking time. In my defence this beast was created without dairy, eggs and gluten. It’s also created without the slightest modicum of baking talent.

If you quickly skip over the earthquake damage it actually looks like a carrot cake. Scarily it is almost edible.

Today was a bit of a struggle for me. Just an hours sleep last night. Woken by a vivid dream about being late to pick son up from school. Every route I tried was blocked. Nobody to phone someone for help but I had no one. Complete feeling of hopelessness. That was it unable to sleep again. So tired and still with that nagging cold. A day when you just want to slump. Still feeling uneasy after that dream. That realisation that I am now running without a safety net. No backup. It’s down to me to navigate the next few years. It’s such a sobering thought. Yet it’s not just me feeling this way. Too many are basically flying solo with no co-pilot to take over if things go wrong. Whether that’s parenting, or caring, or putting food on the table or just surviving.

So like everyone else in this position you just have to force yourself on. So wearily and reluctantly breakfast was made. While Son wakes up and eats I get some house jobs done. Then it’s exercise until he is ready to roll. At least by this stage I’ve got out of first gear. So it’s time to try and fill the house with happiness. Once Son kicks into gear then I have to synch with his world. A world which spins much quicker than mine. So off we go

Talks

Football

Board games

Talks

Lunch

Baking

Nerf Guns

Talks

Football

Trying not to fall asleep during Pokémon

Board games

Talks

Dinner

Talks

Movie

Bed

Blog

Collapse

Unable to sleep

Blog and here I am at 2.55am

Yes today was a struggle but the only thing that matters is that Son laughed and smiled a lot. He’s happy so I’m happy. Flying solo worked today. In fact even the baking worked today. So a good day. Yes a tired day but a good one. Job done…. So we dust ourselves down, hopefully sleep at some stage and we go again tomorrow.

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.

Sliding

So far Storm Dennis has been ok with us. So many have had it far worse than ourselves. Last time I looked there was over 560 flood warnings. Many houses are already underwater. So so sad and it’s happening more frequently.

Sometimes having a messy, pet wrecked garden helps. It’s makes it less obvious when a storm strikes. So as I surveyed the increased mess zone something caught my eye. Unbelievably during yesterday’s weather hammering two daffodils had decided to flower.

The photo is slightly out of focus as they are being blown all over the place in the gales. But it’s such a lift to see them. Let’s hope they survive Dennis.

This week is a school break. Son is adamant that he does not want to leave the house and our garden all week. Can’t blame him at all. He is so uncertain in the big bad world at present. The bridges he builds between his and the other world are looking particularly rickety and creaky. They are so fragile that he doesn’t fancy crossing them that often this week. Actually feels a bit like a game of Fortnite. An ever approaching storm cloud encircling out little world. If you play Fortnite I’m the wally who always gets killed within the first five seconds. My job is to make you look good.

My job is also to make sure our little world is as safe and as fun filled as is humanly possible. As hard as it may seem to some people in the media – kids with autism still like to have fun, do things they like and be happy. One of the reasons why the world feels like a scary game of Fortnite to so many good souls is that too many narrow minded reptiles in the media create the storm that others have to survive in.

Anyway let’s move on to have fun.

Today the grass is an absolute squelch fest. Your shoes immediately sink into inches of mud and water. So maybe it’s the perfect conditions for mud sliding. Let’s see if it’s possible to slide from our back door to the farmers fence. That’s about 15 paces and just slightly downhill. It’s a battle between man and boy. Between my huge backside and Son’s snow sledge. The loser has to take their chances with 5 potentially bad tasting jelly beans. Surely this time I have found a use for my donut fuelled butt.

So we operate in a small world for the next 8 days. I may struggle for new photos for the blog but let’s see what we can find. May need to delve into my dusty photo albums. Don’t worry no muddy butt photos are planned.

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.

When words fail

Tomorrow the next storm arrives with the threat of 36 hours of torrential rain with damaging winds. But on the bright side at least the ground is dry and not already saturated!!!!!!! Yes it just too wet.

The British are famed for talking about the weather. It’s always too cold, too hot, too wet, too windy, too foggy, too icy, too stormy…. Well at least you won’t find me always talking about the weather.

SORRY. But I’m British. I don’t have any problems talking about the weather.

School has now broken up for a week. It’s been a rough couple of months with incessant home work and exams. A week at home will do our Son the world of good. We have put the keys away and let’s see if we can do 10 days without using the car. Definitely good for the environment and a test of how well I am adjusting to this self contained lifestyle. It’s ironic that my partner really desired that isolated lifestyle yet I’m the one who is finally living it. She would love the peace and quiet reflection. That was founded in her religious beliefs. She came from a very strong Quaker family. Sadly I’ve been to far too many Quaker funerals over the last few years.

It’s strange I find it very difficult to talk or write about religion. I guess that partly comes from my Dad. He would drill into me the following words

Whatever you do there are three things you never talk about if you want to avoid an argument. Politics, Football and Religion….

Well before you ask – for me that is

Left of Centre (Labour), Newcastle United and Church of England.

On the first two we have a bit of a pattern. Labour has only won 3 out of the last 11 elections and Newcastle haven’t won a trophy since 1969. Picked the wrong side…..

So I can happily talk politics and footy but religion still makes me clam up. Sometimes rather embarrassingly. Several years ago I was invited by a fellow Newcastle Season Ticket holder to go to his daughters christening. It was happening a couple of hours before a match at a Roman Catholic Church. Perfect timing. It was a lovely service but then the congregation was asked to take Holy Communion. When I was asked I declined. I came out in a cold sweat and struggled to say I’m not catholic. In the end I blurted out ‘I’m the other side’. Understandable this produced a strange look. Poor chap probably thought I was a devil worshiper….

Even that brief last paragraph has unnerved me. So I tend to keep my religion and my views on it strictly to myself. Which is bizarre given my propensity to waffle – especially about the weather.

American Pie

Feels like a brief moment of calm before the next storm blasts in. Looks like two days of storm force winds and solid heavy rain. The ground is already completely saturated so I have got no idea where the water is going to go this time. I fear many homes are getting flooded out.

It was another sleepless night so I ended up watching a Ski Jumping Competition on the telly. I’m always fascinated by the music which blasts out at these events. It’s definitely based on quantity rather than quality. But occasionally they play a classic. Recently a popular classic has been American Pie. I do like the song but I’m not sure it’s really that suitable for Ski Jumping. Imagine being the poor Ski Jumper stood at the top of the huge hill trying to psych himself up before he leaps into the unknown and he hears the following lines blast out

Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

That would certainly make me think twice about flying 140m with nothing more than a small helmet. Unsettling. A bit like this afternoon when I went for a run. It was a decent run until the MP3 player on its random programme picked out Madness – It Must Be Love. That was one of my partners favourite songs. It was one of our favourite songs. Almost instantly the tears started rolling down my face. My energy levels just evaporated. Suddenly I felt old, out of place and definitely out of step with life. I would definitely have stopped if I hadn’t time constraints. Needed to get back in time to do the school run. So I sadly trundled on.

It’s amazing the effect that something so inconsequential as a silly little song can have on you. But often the little things get woven into life and memories. They then become part of you. When someone dies these little things stay with you. Reminders of a chapter in your life that has now closed. Yes you can still reread the words but sadly you cannot ever add to to it again. You have to move on. Open new chapters in your book. That’s the challenge people trekking along on their grief journey must face. If and when to start on a new chapter. On my run today it felt like I was a million miles from that new section of my book. But that was today. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Terrible Poetry

It’s Thursday so it’s time for Chelsea Owens Terrible Poetry contest. This week the instructions are

Love is (still) in the air, for our 58th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest! -For nothing says “terrible” quite like the pain and embarrassment of our very first crushes.

That’s right! I’d like every one of you to remember your First Love. What did he or she look like, smell like, eat his/her boogers like? MOST IMPORTANTLY: if you were to write that person a poem, in exactly the advanced writing abilities you had at the time, what would that poem look like?

Specifically:

  1. The Topic is an awkward first poem to your awkward first crush.
  2. I don’t know how prosaic you were then, but I’ll assume the Length will be on the shorter side. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if, like me, all of your poems took on the form Rose are red, Violets are blue…
  3. Rhyming? Maybe, maybe not. How poetic were you?
  4. Naturally, without trying, make it terrible. I want the younger version of you to read over your composition, sigh in romantic ecstasy, and imagine the love of your life rewarding your efforts with that elusive First Kiss.
  5. I’ll give Past You the benefit of the doubt and assume you’ll keep the Rating at PG or cleaner.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (February 14!) to submit a poem to Chelsea.

*****************

There’s a girl in my class so shy and so cute

She’s so clever as she can work out a cube root

She the star of athletics team and her name is Anita

Runs for the county as she is as fast as a Cheetah

One day at lunch she came over to talk

I fumbled my words and started to squawk

One hot summers day I found my voice and asked her out in the end

We became good pals but never lovers as she already had a lovely girlfriend

*****************

Unbelievably no reference to Boris or politics. Hopefully it’s terrible but it is based on real life. Anita was a good friend and lovely human being. Life wasn’t very kind to her. Sadly we lost touch years ago. Last time I heard she was living in a kibbutz in Israel. Hope your smiling Anita.

White elephant

The zero hours contract yielded 5 hours work today. Another 50000000 hours and I might just keep the bank manager from sending me snotty letters. Just enough time left for a quick run. The light was stunning. It’s the quiet before the next storm hits.

“Is it true that we are getting another storm.”

“Yes Son it’s due to hit at the weekend. But this time maybe just a little less wind but much more rain.”

Great. I bet they have given it a really silly name.”

“Storm Dennis.”

“Your joking aren’t you.”

No Son it’s officially called Dennis.”

Probably named after Dennis The Menice. Would have been better if they had called it Storm Menice.”

Given we seem to be getting them every 6 days now maybe they should call it ANOTHER STORM.”

Son gave the car radio a quizzical look when the news reporter mentioned that Boris Johnson is still committed to building a bridge between Scotland and Ireland.

How much is that going to cost”

“I think it was a minimum £20 billion but given our track record of overspends that probably means about £80 billion”

Dad what a stupid idea. How many operations, or school books or trees could that pay for. How many months will it be closed for high winds.”

It’s a staggering idea. A 45km bridge over a seriously mad and volatile sea area. Supported by a series of giant towers having to be spaced at least a kilometre apart to accommodate the busy shipping routes. It would also have to cross the location of the country’s largest military dump. In 1945 over a million tons of munitions and submarines were dumped in a 300m deep sea trench.

“Its ok Son it’s unlikely to be built. When he was Mayor of London Boris committed to another big bridge idea. He was going to build a pedestrian bridge over the Thames. It ended up as a shambles and nothing happened. So if he can’t build a bridge between London and London he’s going to struggle to build one from Scotland to Ireland”.

Talking about building Dad. When are you going to get round to putting my shelf back up in my bedroom.”

The project is currently in the planning stages.”

If you mean by planning that it’s been propped against the wardrobe them then planning stage has lasted almost two years.”

I will try to do it tomorrow.”

Yeh right. Two massive white elephants. The Irish Sea Bridge and my Lego Shelf.”