In a stew

A lovely, inspiring sky.

Time to be inspired in the kitchen.

It was Sunday so it was time for Stew. A vegetarian, gluten free concoction. Add Moroccan Seasoning and it should be good to go in two hours.

Yes it looked like Moroccan Stew. But that Sunday it was anything but that….

Some muppet was inspired to pick up with wrong spice bottle. For one night only I had Cinnamon Stew. Heston Blumenthal eat your heart out…

It was a shocker. I was inspired to bin the main course and feast on crisps. Cheese and Onion crisps. It’s never ending Michelin eating here.

Big sky

I’ve talked about it before but two things really sold our house to us. We were thinking about starting a family. We wanted somewhere quiet with a bit of a garden. We looked at a few places and then we visited this little bungalow in a small village on a hill. The bungalow was a bit small and run down but then we looked out at the overgrown back garden. That view and that sky. There was nothing to block out the view of the clouds. It was a BIG SKY. That was it were were hooked.

It’s definitely still a BIG SKY.

It still kind of takes my breath away. I’ve always been a town and city person. Grow accustomed to buildings and trees blocking out large parts of the sky. At night the artificial lighting just drowning out what sky that is still there. That just doesn’t happen here.

A BIG SKY definitely deserves big dreams. I do need to start working on those. Sometimes it’s too easy to fall back on memories. It certainly is for me. Not today. I’m going to get wrapped up, brew a mug of something steaming and go outside. To look, to breathe and to dream. All thanks to a big sky.

Blue

Way to go Yorkshire. Blue skies. Blue is such a good colour. Lifts the spirits. Let’s hope for more blue.

Not much chance of tthat yesterday. It was another pretty grizzly day. Much of the day stuck inside. Somedays I can cope with that. Then other days not so good. Yesterday was one of the not so good days. Definitely feeling cooped up. The small bungalow seeming just that little bit smaller. The prospect of many more months like this. Sone Aspergers related anxieties are not going to be leaving our house any time soon. Definitely needed to breathe.

So late at night I took some rubbish to the wheelie bin at the side of the road. A few seconds later I found myself stood in the middle of the road. We have no street lights so it was pitch black. Hardly any lights from the other houses as well. For the first time that day I felt like I was breathing.

Do you know how you can tell the main difference between city and village life. Try to stand in a city street at night – it’s not going to end well really quickly. Last night I checked my watch. I had stood alone on the road for just under 10 minutes. Absolutely nothing.

Yes it’s good to breathe.

Epic Sky

I do like an epic sky.

Don’t often get straight edged clouds here.

Dad shame we don’t have another straight edged cloud heading towards it. Would be so cool watching them clash together. Could be two great armies crashing into each other. The stuff of Thor.

I was thinking Will Smith looking up at the space ship in Independence Day.

Dad do you honestly think the aliens would come all those billions of light years and head straight for Yorkshire.”

Well they would if they needed rain, wind, Yorkshire Puddings or Rhubarb.

Yorkshire is the last place a super intelligent race would turn up at.”

Oh I don’t know the current Dr Who is from Yorkshire. There’s been a Yorkshire Star Trek Captain of the Enterprise…

“If they have satellite tv then we might be in business with incoming aliens then.”

Would be funny if they arrived and they said take me to your leader. We would have to show them Boris. What on Earth would they think.

Clearly no intelligent life forms here”

Actually Boris won’t visit a poor place like Yorkshire so the aliens might play it safe and arrive here.

I bet when they arrive in Yorkshire it will be raining”

They better not come on a Sunday as it will be shut.

I hope they have raincoats with them if they do come Dad.”

We could offer them umbrellas as welcoming gifts. Can you imagine the letdown of arriving on a new planet and it’s Yorkshire. Cold, windy and very wet. Met by a grumpy chap with a flat cap telling them to shift the heap of metal off the cricket pitch.

I guess that’s why you don’t see many rusty space ships. They avoid the badlands of Yorkshire.”

Magical sky

Looking at a big sky opens up so many possibilities. It can fill your heart with wonder. It can fuel dreams and adventures. Bring back forgotten memories. It can also calm the internal raging storm.

It can also stop you taking a large sledgehammer to the telephone…

I received a letter from the bank informing me that my local branch was closing. I apparently had two options. Start using a branch which is 15 miles further away or set up an online banking option. I opted for the latter as the setup process was fully online and could be completed in just a few moments.

Did have a third option…. switch to another bank.

So I started the process from the comfort of my sofa. Rather than being complete in just a few moments the process was clearly going to be more akin to spending a few hours in the company of the Spanish Inquisition. Three hours later the trial was still ongoing. New passwords, passcodes, PIN numbers, memorable words and identifying questions seemingly required for each screen. The process was clearly not complicated enough so suddenly the iPhone was required to join in with the tablet. Verification codes started flying between the two. I’ve got a degree in computing and the process was still pigging beyond me.

Then at last the final screen. Confirm your new online banking arrangements….. then the sting in the tail.

You will need to go into your branch in person to sign a form before the process can be completed. You can now however view your account balance online.

Very kind of them to allow me to view my bank balance (or lack of it) online. Who needs the other stuff like transfer money, make payments, control direct debits. That’s all minor stuff when it comes to online banking.

Then followed a most enjoyable one hour spent in a call queue listening to a recorded message telling me that I was a valued customer but unfortunately the bank was experiencing high call volumes. Finally a person. Unfortunately a person in a different country who didn’t understand the fine twangs of the Yorkshire accent and also clearly had no idea what it was to live in a country dealing with lockdowns.

So I eventually found myself outside. Trying to calm the internal rage and work out how to pay a visit to the new bank branch. But then the sky caught my attention. Thoughts quickly moved to happier things. Yes the sky is magical.

All gone

Where have all the leaves gone! I tell you where, in our front lawn.

The last few stormy days have rapidly accelerated the autumnal transition. Soon the colour will feel like it’s been sucked out of the landscape. Just dark greens and greys. The hope is that blue skies will frequently lift the mood. A close friend likes to remind me that as grey as the sky may appear, a blue sky is still close by, just behind those clouds. Yes there is always hope.

That’s so like bereavement and loss. When it first strikes it will seem so claustrophobic. You feel imprisoned in a world of pain and sadness. No way out. No hope. No dreams. No way new happy memories can form. Everything has gone. That’s it.

Every grief journey is different, unique. But so many travelling those roads will eventually in their own time find a way out of the darkness. Clouds will start to part and blue skies will slowly appear again. Hope and dreams will start to form again. You can start to build again. Start to live again.

Irony

It was another one of those Yorkshire days. Cold, wet, windy, brooding.

That weather combined with a pandemic, homeschooling and our enforced lockdown is a heady mix. A mix which gets me pondering life. Probably too much pondering some days.

I was sat looking out through the window at that dark sky. Sat alone while Hawklad did his school work in the bedroom. I was suddenly taken back to before 2016. The old small conservatory had finally fallen to bits. We had found the money for a replacement one. I think we planned for years of sitting in there, spending time together. But here’s the thing. We never really did. Life always got in the way. We always seemed to be too busy. If only we had found a way of slowing life down. Creating time at home. Seemingly having too much time on our hands. No excuses to not sit together in that new conservatory. At the time it kind of never really mattered. We had so many years ahead of us to do that.

Well that plan didn’t go well.

Here’s the irony that 2020 presents. Suddenly time has slowed down. Often a feeling of too much time on our hands. A lockdown enforcing time together. No outside distractions this time. A perfect time to sit with my partner and look at that dark sky. Thinking how lucky we are to have that time together. The irony is not lost on me.

Insignificant

It’s a big sky. Its easy to feel very small and insignificant stood under it.

There are so many times when parenting is the best gig on the planet. Then there are other times…

I was trying to convince our son that he had washed his hands enough. He had been at the soap and water for nearly five minutes. Everything I said didn’t seem to have any impact. Finally he decided that was enough. He asked if the towel was clean and had it been washed that day. I assured him that was the case. He left the bathroom and I looked at his hands. His very red and sore skin. That’s what happens when you wash as often as he does. We are using skin friendly soap. I water it down further. But his hands are still red. I encourage him to use his skin care lotion. But his hands are still sore.

These are the times I feel inadequate as a parent. Missing the support of another person. Someone to share the load. Definitely running out of things to try. Actually ran out of things to try. His health professionals try to help but they see this intrinsically linked to the pandemic. Get the pandemic under control and we can start to bring his hand washing under control – hopefully. But that doesn’t make me feel any better as a parent. Feels like I had one job and I dropped the ball on it.

So I’m stood under that big sky. Feeling insignificant. Time to breathe. Reset and go again. Yes significant but definitely not beaten yet.

Clouds

To us a sky filled with dragons.

To us the second cloud photo has a ancient mythical warrior sky surfing. That’s what we think anyway. Even can see his shoes.

Clouding dreaming is such a great game. Well it is until someone starts to cheat.

Hawklad can you see the Transformer surfboarding.

Oh yeh. You can see his feet as well. Actual it’s more like a warrior from say Ninjago or Power Rangers.”

That’s right. Maybe even a mythical warrior.

Not really Dad. More like the Silver Surfer.”

Ok very Silver Surfer like with just a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.

Whatever Dad. Oh look there’s a cloud that looks like a giant Pineapple with a little bit of ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where?

Oh Dad. There’s a cloud that looks exactly like a Football Stadium with a little bit of added ancient mythical warrior added.”

Where are you looking?

Dad look at that fantastic cloud. It looks like a giant Christmas Tree with an ancient mythical warrior sat on top.”

Where are you looking son?

That’s the best one yet. That cloud looks like a massive castle with a moat surrounding it with a load of ancient mythical warrior manning the battlements.”

Your winding me up now aren’t you Hawklad?

Never. Would I ever do that to you Dad …..”

Yes you would.

Angry clouds

It’s just been days of angry weather.

When I see this type of stormy clouds I remember back to my childhood. As you got older you started to realise that in our seaside town the weather would always seem to come from over the hills and follow the river to the sea. For us that would mean the weather would first appear to the north west. That was in the direction of one of our neighbours gardens. So the following weather expression was frequently heard from my parents.

It’s luking black ower Mr Homans Potting Shed, aye get thy washing in.

When means you have just a few minutes more footy before your summoned in as the heavens have opened. If the weather ever came from over Eddie Cook’s Pigeon Loft then it was time to get the paddling pool out.

Strangely parenting forecasting from the 70s was far more accurate that the current UK Meteorological Service best guesses. Currently the weather scientists are telling us that we have light cloud and less than a 10% chance of light rain. Well tell that to the paving stones which are currently being jet washed in the nonstop monsoon.

So let’s ditch the UK’s dodgy weather science and go old school. So here are a few other old weather laws that were passed down to me.

  • Red sky at night fisherman’s delight, red sky in the morning fisherman’s warning,
  • Mackerel Clouds in the sky then the weather is going to change,
  • The Sun or Moon saying hello means that rain is on the way (saying hello means having a halo around it),
  • The greener the Rhubard leaves the worse the weather will be,
  • Wet seaweed means rain is coming (I never bought into this one as surely that just means the tide has been in recently),
  • Rain at lunch will be gone by tea (basically saying the UK weather is changeable),
  • When rain is coming the spiders will disappear,
  • Rainbows before lunch tells us that rain will be here all day,
  • Cows sit down when rain is due (must admit this is clearly true as I was watching an episode of Ben & Holly where the wise old elf foolishly took shelter under a cow when it started to rain),
  • When smoke rises the weather will be good. When it fails to rise them bad weather is due,
  • Expect a bad winter if the hedgerows produce loads of berries,
  • If you want a dry day best to have dew on the grass in the morning.

One last weather law. I had a friend whose dad was a complete nutter. So funny. I remember him telling me once about his rabbit. He explained that his rabbit would only eat carrots when it was raining. I asked what it had to eat when it was sunny and he told me with a smile – I don’t know, will tell you when we get the sun, patience lad I’ve only had the rabbit 3 years.

So that’s me out of weather law. Can anyone add to my knowledge?

Looking at this photo I think I can confidently predict no need for sun protection….