That’s what it is

Hindsight and regret is so easy to fall back into. We all do it. Especially when you suffer bereavement. I do it. I could fill a War and Peace size book with all the missed opportunities.

  • The deterioration came so quickly that we never had that last proper conversation. The last goodbye. I guess the last chat was about sorting out her laptop for when she came out after the tests.
  • We never got to New Zealand.
  • We didn’t have that family Santa trip to Lapland.
  • We never got to Chile.
  • We never got round to trying for a second child.
  • The trip to Tibet and Nepal eluded us.
  • I never did get round to putting those shelves up which she really wanted.
  • Looking at the Northern Lights together remained unfulfilled.
  • I never got round to getting the clip of our sons first steps off the broken camera and on to the video so my partner could see them.

Plenty of time to do these. So no rush. WRONG.

But as that line goes. That’s what it is. Until someone invents time travel I just can’t change the past. Maybe occasionally in dreams but when you wake up it’s back to the reality. But this misses the big issue. Yes stuff got missed. I occasionally unintentionally messed up (maybe more than occasionally). We didn’t complete our bucket list. BUT just wait a picking moment. Look at the stuff we did.

  • Switzerland lots of times.
  • That first romantic trip to the Lakes.
  • The two mad cats and a savage Hamster.
  • The three trips to Disneyland Paris.
  • Buying our first house.
  • Those trips to France.
  • All those walks on the North Yorkshire Moors.
  • That trip to the Newcastle match when you almost got run over by the Juventus Team Bus and the Police Horse ate my Mars Bar.
  • That winter we got snowed in with 18 inches of snow. Days of snow fun.
  • The trips to the Peak District.
  • That stay in one of Britain’s most haunted buildings.
  • Skinny Dipping in the freezing sea at Anglesey.
  • That week in the Scottish Highlands and that cottage next to the grave yard.
  • That walk up Snowdon.
  • That mad evening at a Blues Brothers New Years Eve Dance.
  • The trip to the French Grand Prix
  • That week in the Gypsy Cottage In Northumberland.
  • The concerts. Even Ronan Keating – twice.
  • Getting to see some of the Olympics events.
  • Producing our beautiful son. The single most perfect we both ever did.

Too many great memories to mention here. That’s the stuff I should be focusing on. The memories which should be on permanent replay. You know what – we had a hell of a ride. That’s what it is. Thank you.

Crazy dreams

Dreams and memories are a vital part of life. After my partner died memories became my essential comfort blanket – something which kept me going. Three years later they are just as important to my soul. The occasional forgotten photograph find rekindle long forgotten life snapshots.

Dreams come in three forms for me. Those dreams of a future life, memories and those dreams which come during those all too brief periods of sleep. My future life dreams died when my partner left us. All I see is darkness. My job is to give our son the best possible childhood. After that nothing. It’s something I’ve heard from others in a similar position to me – I live through my son.

After the world changed my night dreams became a weird bizarre place. Reality completely warped. But increasingly the dreams became memory driven. Accurate replays of precious moments. This brought great solace with a few tearful mornings. But recently things have changed. Suddenly the night dreams are actual memory based but morphed in some important and strange way.

A lovely visit family trip to Edinburgh Zoo to see the Pandas. But in the dream the family trip becomes a trip round Jurassic Park world. All the actual incidents but with a dinosaur flavour.

A trip to the Royal Ascot Racing Festival held for one year at York. The Queen riding past us. 2005. Yet in the dreams it’s not Horse Racing. Sometimes it’s Dragster Racing. Sometimes it’s donkey racing. YES I get these strange morphed dreams repeatedly.

A family trip to the beach. It’s cold so it’s double jumpers. Ice cream and hot doughnuts. Yet on the first sandcastle we strike oil. Oil gushes out of the beach.

A romantic meal. Days filled of love and smiles. Yet the fine food is replaced with bugs and slugs and grubs.

A hand in hand walk round York’s Roman Walls. But instead of lovely views of York and it’s stunning Minster we see Paris on side and Nepal on the other side.

A New Years Eve Blues Brothers Themed Night replaced with a WWE wrestling night.

I could go on. So many odd dreams. I’m not a clever man so I’m not going to venture into Descartes territory. I suspect the reasons may not be that fundamental. But the bottom line is that I want my precious original sleep dreams back. Often they are all that remain of a better place. I like a bit of craziness but not here please.

Imagination

It doesn’t have to be big to have a bucket full of atmosphere.

This is Skelton Tower on the North Yorkshire Moors.

It’s almost 200 years old and is a former hunting lodge.

If you time your arrival at the Tower correctly then you can enjoy the passing Steam Train coming down the North Yorkshire Moors railway. Unfortunately this walking muppet has never managed that. Still you still get views of the haunting Newtondale.

The Tower is also a fantastic dreams portal. As long as no other walkers are in sight our son can spend hours here. Lost in another world. Talking animals and mythical creatures. Playing about with time and the laws of science. I must admit I often dream of rebuilding the tower and living here 200 years ago.

It’s really good to dream and stretch your imagination. I wonder how many inventions and leaps in understanding have come from doing this. That’s why it’s so frustrating that as soon as kids get past the age of 11 dreaming is often frowned upon. At school the kids have a predetermined and restrictive curriculum to get through (set by the Government – god help us). Hardly anytime is scheduled for creative thinking. Even in subjects like art the approach seems to be learn about this artist then reproduce one of the artists most famous pieces. More marks for getting close to it. Only occasionally are kids allowed to free draw. When our son tries to reproduce something then it’s a disaster. He just can’t do it. But allow him to draw from his imagination and suddenly he’s away.

Kids are not encouraged to explore logic and push the boundaries of thought. In science son has been told on a number of occasions to just accept the facts. Once he asked why science was seemingly so sure of its laws when we can only see less than 1% of the universe. He got the above response.

In maths the class had some questions to work out. Son found a quick way to get to the answer. It worked for every question but was told he was doing it wrong as it wasn’t the approach set out in the textbook.

In our area we are so lucky in terms of history. On our doorstep we can touch the Neolithic. The Stone Age. The Bronze Age. Roman History. Viking History. Medieval Times. The industrial Revolution. Victorian Times. World Wars. So much history to live and breathe. Yet do the schools make use of this. Not really. In his 5 years at Primary School he went to two historical sites. Currently at his present school he has spent one hour at a local archeological dig. What a waste. Won’t the kids learn more about history if they can actually live it. Apparently not – the only source of learning is from predetermined textbooks.

Imagination is the key to so much. It should be one of the key facets of modern education. When I was a kid the brilliant Carl Sagan ignited my passion for astronomy and thinking. I will leave you with his take on imagination.

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. CARL SAGAN

Commitment

This photo is from a couple of days ago. It was reasonable weather.

Over the last couple of days the weather here has been a little more damp. The Photograph below from The Guardian sums up today’s dampness. Welcome to Yorkshire – the worlds best cyclist competing at the UCI World Championships and enjoying the welcoming Yorkie weather. As my Dad would have said that will put hair on their chests. Bet the poor riders didn’t expect to be riding through lakes. Amazingly the race was completed. Thats commitment for you.

Parenting is about commitment. Even I realised that before our son was born. The bizarre assumption we made was that at some stage the kid(s) would fly the nest and we would go back to something like our old life’s. Maybe after school, after college, after university, maybe a bit later. But at some stage it was happening. At some stage parenting becomes more part time and the stuff we had to park can be resurrected. In my case socialising with friends, climbing, playing sport, career, astronomy….

“WE” would get our life’s back – yes I never envisaged one tragedy…..

But maybe the full time parenting commitment may last longer. I remember our sons lead health professional telling us

It is possible that your son will be largely independent at some stage. However on the current evidence this might be the least likely outcome. You need to prepare yourselves that he may find it very difficult to live independently at any stage.”

As a family we are so fortunate. Son is making great progress in many areas. So many families don’t get this level of progress. But there are clear areas where progress is not being made. We have to be realistic that progress may never be made. Support may be needed life long. That’s a sobering thought and raises so many knock on considerations.

Those parts of my life I assumed would restart at some stage may in fact not happen. I don’t like admitting it but this thought makes me sad. But that’s life. I now realise bad things happen and you have to deal with them. You never know son might one day take up something like climbing. I suspect not in the case of climbing. He is a natural risk assessor. He might make sufficient progress to become fully independent. We just have to see what happens.

I know I’m not the only one who is in this position. I was reading a similar thing from a blogger I really respect just the other day. Parenting sometimes doesn’t work out the way you have imagined. Parts of your world are lost. Dreams become unattainable. Although parenting is the best gig in the world it is so hard to explain to others how part of you can still feels so sad.

I now know that this is parenting. Its about sacrifices. It’s about commitment.

Kinda Day

Sometimes a damp walk in the forest is just perfect, just fits your mood. It’s been a kinda tired day, kinda sad grieving day, kinda lonely day, kinda frustrating day. Nothing is specifically wrong yet nothing is specifically right. Following on from yesterday’s post it would read 30th May – National Feels like one of those Days. Not sure which way it will go. Towards the light or towards the dark. We all get these days. Maybe we should rename it already- International We all get these days which kinda sucks Day.

But we move on. Make the best of things.

Breathe in nature. Touch the damp foliage. Talk about dreams and fantasy worlds. Make our way back home. Football in the garden. Hot Chocolate and Coffee. Popcorn. An Avengers Movie (maybe two). Eventually you make it through the day unscathed. Hopefully dream filled sleep will usher in another day. A better day. A happier day. Shall we call it the International We are all going to have a good Day. We all deserve that.

Nightmares

3.30am (Yesterday)

Dad I’ve had a nightmare. The Great Heathen Army came looking for me. They keep swarming over the hills towards us”

That time during the night is not the optimum time for my brain to discuss Norse Armies. Especially ghost ones. But parents find ways, especially when they are beyond tired. You just want the best for your kids. It’s tough when you see them distressed.

What weapons did they have.

Blood covered swords, hammers and axes

Ok now imagine them with some silly weapons. Something like sticks of rhubarb.

Bananas”

Perfect. What are they wearing

Viking clothes”

No make them wear something silly, sillier the better. The least scary thing you can think of.

Summer dresses”

Perfect. Did you see the Viking Leader.

Yes he was massive. A fearsome warlord.”

Would he be so fearsome if I was the warlord.

Your not massive or fearsome”

That’s the point.

Dad you will need a name. Your version of Erik the Red, Snake in the Eye, Forkbeard or Ivar the Boneless”

Ten minutes later much laughter. Some of the names are unprintable. But

  • Erik has lost the remote control
  • Halfdan Apple Crumble Slayer
  • Bagpuss the soft furry one with fleas
  • Ubba the demon cook
  • Sigurd my pants are buried in the garden
  • Sven Fork Lightening Farter
  • Ivor Big Arse

Tonight a bit of silliness quelled the storm (or to be more precise the Ghost Viking Army). Son found sleep again. But it’s tough. Tough on kids stressed out. Tough on the patents. My batteries seem pretty flat. But that’s what you get when you sign up to be a parent.

Sleep won’t come for me but at least I can have some bizarre daydreams about me being a Viking warlord, running over the Yorkshire hills in my finest summer dress armed with a stick of rhubarb and a banana. Now that is the stuff of nightmares.

Aare Gorge

 

It’s Sunday so it must be time to visit Switzerland memories again. Still no free chocolate from the Swiss Tourist Board – I’m not stopping until I get something from them….It’s never going to happen…..

The Aare Gorge is close to the beautiful town of Meiringen.

For about a mile the River Aare cuts through a limestone rock mass.

At times the gorge is about 100ft wide but narrows to just a couple of feet.

Looking up at the sheer rock faces which loom over 150ft above. The almost orchestral sound of crashing water. It does feel like another world. Certainly a place for dreams and losing yourself.

Being Switzerland at the end of the walk you can enjoy a hot chocolate….

We had a breathtaking family adventure. Its only a mile but you come out feeling absolutely exhausted. It’s one of those places you need to try and visit once in your life. The place gets into your soul. My beautiful partner needing two hot chocolates before we headed towards the train. I remember a young son just falling in love with the place. Dreams of Viking Gods, Trolls and ancient times. These photos don’t go anywhere near capturing its magic.

Super Hero

It was another work day. Son stayed in the car mostly. Middle of nowhere so it was just us two. I could park the car right next to where I was working. So he was watching movies or dreaming or telling me what I was doing wrong. His day sounds so much better than my work one.

On the way back home.

Dad I’ve been thinking about a new Super Hero character. I think we need one who has Aspergers.”

So what is his or her special abilities.

I think it’s a her. You don’t often hear about girls with Aspergers in the movies tends to just be boys or men”

All Super Heroes have faults. Maybe not Captain America. But I think ours will be a bit of a loner. Might come across either shy or awkward in crowds. Avoiding close contact and certainly avoiding things like hugs. Will often believe what people tell her when people are joking. Always very anxious. The public might think our Super Hero is a bad person as she is seen as being different.”

Anyway her special abilities are:

  • Super senses – hearing, feeling, seeing
  • Super computer of a brain
  • Super memory
  • Super strength honesty
  • High pain threshold
  • Seeing things that other people can’t see
  • Solving number patterns
  • Super good at interrogation
  • Can sense who is good and who is bad
  • Interacting and communicating with animals
  • In tune with the natural world so can harness its awesomeness
  • Fuelled on Pizzas

Speaking of Pizza, how about an early pizza tea”

Who am I to argue with Superpowers. It’s Pizza time.

Whitby

I must admit even routine trips out seem like big adventures these days. Occasionally it’s good to return to the outside world. Makes me feel kinda grown up.

We had an afternoon trip to Whitby for a medical appointment. It was cold, wet, windy and misty. But as ever stunningly beautiful. It’s one of those places that when the sun shines it is just the most picturesque place. But in a wild storm it is truly a perfect place for Dracula to land and wreck havoc.

Son always calls Whitby Abbey, Dracula’s Castle.

If the weather had been kinder we would have ventured onto the beach and search beneath the cliffs. It’s a fantastic place to find fossils. It’s just wonderful to see him searching. Methodically digging and searching through stones. Then suddenly a bit of arm flapping and he is deep into a dream world of dinosaurs.

Once we leave Jurassic times a walk round the small port and Son is lost again in dream world. This time dreams drift 250 years ago to Captain James Cook. Whitby was his home port and his famous ship The Endeavour was built here.

At the medical appointment the consultant handed our son a sheet of paper which had his future appointment dates listed. Instantly son announced

I won’t sign anything before the terms are checked out by my lawyer”

Kids learn so quickly these days.

Skipping but not as you know it

It does sleep sometimes….

It was raining so I had to bring my 50 minute training routine inside. Every few minutes our son comes to check on me. I think he is just checking that I still have a pulse.

He stood looking really puzzled at me.

“Dad what on Earth are you doing”

Rather breathlessly I told him I was skipping.

“What like the boxers do!”

That’s right son, it’s a great exercise.

Haven’t you forgotten something Dad?”

Like what?

“The skipping rope!”

Technically yes. The problem is that I can’t skip. I have tried for years and my record is about 6 seconds before I garrotted myself. So I have decided to just imagine that I have a rope. Suddenly skipping is so easy and I can get most of the benefits of the exercise without looking like a complete pillock…

No just a partial pillock”

That is very fair.

But Dad it’s like me and falconry. I’m not yet allowed to be a falconer and hold birds of prey. But I imagine that I do. It’s good practice.”

And with that I was allowed to go back to my version of skipping. We all need to release our imagination every so often. It can help us in so many ways. Even allows an uncoordinated pillock like me to skip….