Another week

It’s one of those days. Wet, windy and damp one minute. Then sunnier, even windier and wetter the next minute. At least the rainwater tubs are filling up. Can’t believe that they were empty. EMPTY – this is Yorkshire….

Another week has come and gone. Another week of schools version of homeschooling. So what did we learn this week.

  • Apparently the school has one of the best online teaching systems in the country. It’s frightening that many schools are struggling to get any systems going. But what do you expect when the government tries to control everything about education. Strangely it never saw the need for online education. Why bother when it’s so much cheaper to cram ever increasing numbers of kids into overcrowded classes.
  • Even with a school iPad and online systems, we have run out of pens, pencils and coloured markers. We only stocked up in February…….
  • The new school trousers (3 pairs) which were bought the week before the lockdown started, now don’t fit. So we managed one use out of those. Money well spent.
  • Clearly using google translate doesn’t necessarily get you the right answer in French lessons.
  • Drama is the most appropriate name for the subject. Here every lesson in Drama ends up as a right DRAMA.
  • Music is largely based around the GarageBand app. Has there ever been a more frustrating learning based app. It looks so easy on YouTube to produce professional sounding music compositions. Not in this house. So far we can just about get a drum to beat. It’s the same sound regardless of if son is trying to do a rock or classical composition. Not quite what the music teacher wants.
  • Clearly the half term weeks holiday should be renamed the half term do school projects and homework week.
  • What’s this new trend of getting parents to join in with PE lessons. This week I got to show my prowess in the hop, skip and jump (Triple Jump). I can now rename that as the hope, skip, fall over and hold my back in agony jump.
  • Some teachers are starting to get our son and others never will. One lesson he is still waiting for a house point. He’s only one of two other kids who has not been awarded one this year by this teacher. Apparently even getting 93% in a test doesn’t constitute being worthy of just one point. Maybe I’m missing something. Another frustration is that every September the teachers all change as kids move up a year. So all the progress of developing a relationship is lost. The ironic thing is one of the few teachers who doesn’t change is the one who doesn’t get him….
  • Food Technology is so much easier when it’s home based. It’s all theory so no need for the parent to stress out about finding food ingredients and suitable containers. Also no need to deal with the inevitable school bag food spillages. It’s 2 months since the last incident and his bag still spells of garlic.
  • When I was a kid magnetic fields seemed so easy to understand. So why now do they seem like some strange Harry Potter magic.
  • Apparently some lessons are best undertaken in short 10 minute spells, punctuated with a few games of Crossy Road.

So yes we can tick off another school at home week. Some parts still don’t work but many elements do work. Here’s the key thing. The current approach is determined by the school. You take all elements of the package. Take the good and the bad. True homeschooling allows you the flexibility to address those elements which are not working. But that’s a debate for another day. Let’s settle for just ticking off this week. Job done now let’s move on.

What are you doing…

What are you doing…..

This morning’s workout was cold, breezy and often damp. It’s odd. If I had been running across the fields, I would quite enjoy those conditions. It makes me feel so alive, help blow the cobwebs away. But when I’m restricted to the garden. When I’m trying to do push-ups and throw a kettlebell about – it’s not fun, not fun at all.

So why do I do it?

The obvious reason is fitness. Another key reason is that I need to stay as fit as I can (for as long as I can) for our Son. When he wants a game of football, I don’t want to be found wanting. He doesn’t have friends in the village to pass that responsibility on to.

But there is another reason for being cold and wet while trying to lift weights above my head. It’s very like my Dad and gardening….

Dad left this world many years ago. In the end it was a blessing as he was clearly in pain. The things he enjoyed doing were now beyond him. One of which was gardening. He would spend hours outside or in his greenhouse. Regardless of the weather he would be gardening. I can see him in the pouring rain, clearly cold and very wet finding some plant related task to complete. He would go out stressed and clearly not happy with life. A few hours later he would return relaxed and smiling. Yes he would often rush to the fire to try and warm up, but he was in a much better place than he had been.

Dad clearly struggled with his life. Pretty sure with depression. He suffered in silence. Talking about the D word was just not the thing to be done in those days. One of the few things that worked for him was gardening. It was his release. The thing that could help release the demons. His medicine. That’s why he went out in all weathers.

Exercise is my release. Whether that’s trail running, hill walking, weight lifting, cycling, CrossFit…. that’s my medicine. Sometimes activities like climbing have to stop, but they get replaced. It’s my daily release. It’s an anchor to help maintain life balance. People like The Rock have talked about this better than I ever will. We are all different. What works for me may not work for you. I guess we all have to find our thing, that activity which becomes the anchor. Maybe that is sport, maybe it’s writing, or music or knitting or cooking or gardening. Whatever it is, we need to find it. We then need to find the time to do it. That’s why tomorrow morning, whatever the weather is like, you will find me outside, running round the garden. Yes it might look odd but it makes perfect sense to me.

Ballet

This photo was taken just a couple of weeks ago. Seems like such a long time ago. Time has slowed down. Sorry I keep saying this BUT…… Is 2020 only 4 months old – seems like an eternity.

Finally watched Toy Story 3 last night. As the credits rolled…

Dad it’s taken 3 movies, 6 hours of viewing and 15 years before we got there. Finally it recognises it’s great to share toys. Its better to let toys go to someone who would love to play with them rather than let them gather dust on shelves and old boxes.”

To be fair to him he does donate toys to his old nursery and charity boxes. But this morning the house is like a bomb site. Toys everywhere. I’m not complaining. It’s good to have a house full of life. It really is. Kids still have a childhood to live. Adults still have a former life of fun to reconnect with.

Like most things in our Son’s life it revolves around plans and order. Being a boy that naturally excludes the important areas of clothes and bedroom draws. He seems to have a photographic memory of all his toys. They seem to come out in a strict annual rota. No toy seems to be missed out. It’s so nice to see.

Having said that. THE PAIN of standing bare foot on a piece of Lego is timeless. That’s my ballet career knackered. At University our sports coach liked to change training up. For two weeks the team did ballet classes with a lovely Spanish dancer. During the last class I split asunder my cycle shorts. The feeling was very airy but it nearly caused a diplomatic incident.

Now back to the bomb site.

Like new

Two daily visitors waiting patiently for breakfast. I must clean the gutters….

After yesterday’s unplanned washing of my mobile, I found myself outside in the cold early morning air. Doing a great workout supplied by a very kind friend and listening to music on my super clean phone. Crystal clear sound. In fact it’s never sounded so good. Maybe I should try my body out in a quick machine wash cycle. If only I could fit the car in our old washing machine.

I was a bad parent last night and I’m not talking about letting son watch Deadpool 2 again. School emailed all the parents to say that they had not been picking up all the students who had been submitting inferior work or worse submitting work late. So to rectify that the only thing they could do would be to send out an email each night at 11.30 to warm parents about any issues which may have occurred with their kids online work for that day. I can imagine many parents sending letters of approval in or even asking for a tougher stance from school. I took a slightly different stance on my short reply.

Please don’t bother.

This morning followed up with a much longer reply basically talking about how tough it is for many kids at present and how about school using the resources they were putting into this sanction into doing something positive – something fun for the kids. Maybe even allowing some social interaction with friends. I’m not hopeful but at least it will get me another black mark in the awkward parent log.

Anyway school might not do fun but that doesn’t mean that we can’t. It’s so important we all find ways of still living. So in between online lessons we have squeezed in some activities. Bouncing on the trampoline, Jenga, air hockey and jelly making. Then after the school day had finished we made some cakes. Played football and attempted to build the largest possible Lego tower. Unfortunately due to the wind, curious pets and my eagerness to build higher before a stable base was formed – it didn’t get much higher than 5ft. It clearly had the same design fault as Trumps Mexican Wall. Oops that’s going to bring on my fan mail from Texas again.

Over Easter we will definitely revisit the Lego tower. It might even stand up long enough to take a photo. The point is that actually fun day is not enough. It really is so tough for kids to enjoy their childhood in 2020. So much anxiety and so little space to dream. So fun day is now fun EVERY day. Maybe just like my mobile phone, we can find ways (maybe unusual) to improve things in life. WE can do this.

The Wall

Some people like to build walls. Some people have walls thrust upon them. Some walls are known by millions. This is the world famous Hadrians Wall dating back to Roman times.

It was the creative spark for the Wall in Game of Thrones. Other walls are much less famous. Sometimes the walls are virtual. This is our wall.

Ok it’s more of a fence but it does have a few stone sections. It’s not famous. Actually only son and I think of it as a wall. But to us its an important one. It’s very like Hadrians Wall and the one in Game of Thrones. To us it marks the boundary between our world and the dangers that lay beyond.

We would frequently come this way on dog walks and then stop here. That was far enough for our son. The only exception would be if it snowed. The field beyond then became our very own snow slope. A rare excursion through the Wall. But this was the boundary wall. He felt safe this side. This side of the gate was his world. The other side lay the unpredictable, noisy and scary outside world. His Wall

Now 2020 has brought its very own version of the barbarian hordes. We have been instructed to self distance and stay at home. One daily walk is permitted so the dog is brought to this gate. But no further. To go any further just seems wrong to me. To do so seems like it’s flouting the regulations. Entering into a strange, alien world with an unseen threat. My Wall.

So for very different reasons, yes this is our WALL.

Motivation

Not sure it’s the slightly unhinged world but here the daffodils are looking extra special this year. Much needed colour. Much needed motivation to keep believing in our world.

“Come on Dad, your doing the PE lesson with me.”

So 20 minutes later we are doing a fitness workout. I do slag the school off quite a bit but sometimes it does do things well. The online PE lessons was really good. It started with a daily workout from YouTube. The Body Coach TV (PE with Joe Wicks). The person doing it was great and made the session so much fun for kids. Son warmed to him straight away. Which is no mean feat.

My second workout of the day was definitely very different from the first. Standard weights and short burn military fitness exercises at 7am. Pretending to be Spider-Man and bouncing like a bunny rabbit at 11am. The latter was way more fun. So maybe, just maybe tomorrow at 7am you might see a grown man pretending to be a rabbit. That’s my excuse if I get wheeled away in a straight jacket.

But you need balance in life. If you get good then often the not so good arrives to bring life back into order. The Food Technology online lesson was grisly. Son attempted the task which was so tough for him given the difficulties he has with handwriting, spelling and drawing. But he tried and that’s all we can ask. A bit later the response came back. One or two good efforts but some are very poor presentations. Well that’s done his confidence a world of good.

So we have balance. Motivated and demotivated. Looking forward to the next lesson and dreading the next lesson. One has 1.5 Million subscribers (plus two more from our house) and the other has a kid desperate to drop the subject.

I’m sure even this guy was motivated to move just a bit during the fitness workout.

I should really tell this guys story as well. Completely ignored him when I waffled on about his gnome buddy. His name is Gene. Can you work out why? Gene is a relative baby. He’s about 7 years old. He was a Christmas present from my brother. He was supposed to be fireplace ornament. Unfortunately my partner hated it. As did our dear departed psychotic girl cat. So he was banished to the garden to save him from the sledgehammer and the apex predator. On his bottom a sign says – Not for external use. Yet after 7 years of grizzly Yorkshire weather he is still shinny and looking like new. So he clearly likes dancing in the Yorkshire rain.

Take care my friends and try to smile.

Plank

It’s been a blustery day with the clouds clearly in a hurry to pass over Yorkshire. Frustratingly work demands prevented a run. Looked a really good day for one. Maybe tomorrow. I managed to get work done 40 minutes before I had to drive to pick up son. The school bus experiment has now been abandoned. It was causing him just too much stress. So with a few minutes free just enough time to change the bedding and clear the ironing. I’m not sure which activity is more dangerous. Burns from the iron or the BP over a 1000 while trying to put on the new duvet cover. Today it was the ironing – yet another finger burn…..

Unbelievably both tasks were completed well within the 40 minutes. Still got 8 minutes free. So what to do. Not enough time to go for a run or get the weights out. I’m clearly thinking like a psychopath as I opted for trying to do a plank. Why did I not opt for a bounce on the trampoline or a quick cup of tea or a sit down. No I went for a plank. All was good for the first 4 minutes then the shakes began to kick in. At 6 minutes my body is experiencing a magnitude 9 earthquake. How can this be good for you. Thankfully the school run out me out of my misery. Seriously how did some nutter set a plank record which was over 8 hours longer than my attempt. I bet that nutter has those super tight abs that can crack a walnut. I’m not jealous.

Something which has lasted longer than my plank is my semi isolation. It’s now coming up to two weeks since I spoke to anyone other than our son. A school holiday in which we shut ourselves away boosted the numbers. Not sure what my first words will be when I do actually speak to another human. Maybe it will be when was the last time you did a plank. Or maybe it will be just one word – spellings.

Clearly school has decided that one spelling test this week is not enough. So stand by your beds troopers it’s time for your second spelling test of the week.

Article

Exaggerating

Gossip

Biased

Headline

Subtitles

Dramatic

Features

Scenery

Interaction

Relationships

Emotions

Claudio

Leonato

Margaret.

Claudio, Leonato and Margaret have given the game away. The teacher is clearly reading Much Ado About Nothing. So we have a new game. Let’s try to guess where the English Teacher has taken her spellings from. Clearly if it’s ever from an Encyclopaedia of Dinosaurs or the Guide to Welsh Place Names, then we are in for some rough spellings. We could get

Archaeornithomimus

Or

Llanfairpwllgwngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Energy

Well this friend likes my baking.

These days nothing goes to waste. Always find grateful recipients of any food we can’t finish. But there is a limit.

Today has been a bit unusual. Normally the body is willing but the mind refuses to leave my sleepless bed. Today was the complete reverse. My body felt like it was just a heavy sack of spuds. However the mind was sharp. Those three brain cells of mine were purring. Screamed through the workload which freed up an hour for exercise. Here is where the problems started. The bag of spuds just didn’t want to play. I dragged my body through the session but only just. The school run became a real effort. Trying to keep up with son proved impossible. I just wanted to collapse in a chair.

Now it was time for the three brain cells to follow my bodies lead and shutdown. Basically I had nothing. Unfortunately this coincided with Pancake Tuesday. An utter and unmitigated baking disaster. A simple pancake was beyond me. The sticky mess produced was deemed even too bad for the wildlife. So for the first time in ages food went into the bin. I finally just slumped into a chair. Then it dawned on me. I had not eaten in over 24 hours. I’m on the 16:8 diet. Can only eat in one 8 hour spell. I had simple forgotten about an 8 hour food window. What a prize pillock.

Thankfully heaps of junk food has restored my energy levels. The body is now beginning to function. Unfortunately the three brain cells are now a spent force. So the status quo has been restored. Back to being a brisk walking zombie. But it just goes to show if you start to overthink life it’s so easy to take your eye off the basics. It’s also another important warning. We are down to one parent and hence we are walking a tightrope. That’s why it’s so important that in all my efforts to be a good mum and dad, that I remember to care for myself as well.

Uphill

It won’t be long until the snowdrops are gone for another year. This year has been a good one for them here. My partner would be so happy. She would be less happy with our Government. All the headlines are proclaiming the new hardline stance on immigration. Basically if you don’t speak English brilliantly then don’t bother trying to work here. Not sure they have thought this one through. Basically anyone from around here speaks Yorkshire so we are buggered.

After a largely sleepless night I could feel the first signs of cabin fever building. It’s been days since I’ve been able to go for a run. So needs must. I told Son that I was going into the garden for 50 minutes. The plan was to just run around the edge of the garden – repeatedly. Round and round. It’s not a big garden so a full circuit only takes a few seconds. But it’s a run. Well it was going ok until the boredom set in. Then the irrational thoughts started. All directed at one thing. The small slope the garden is on. Every few seconds I had to run up this little slope. Yes it’s only about 15 paces of uphill grass – but every few seconds I was going up it. Pathological hatred.

Wasn’t this steep when we moved here surely..

What possessed us to buy a house on a hill..

Why haven’t we levelled the garden..

Why haven’t we put little steps in..

Because we can’t as after a couple of inches of soil you hit hill rock which is basically armour plated and brakes spades.

Fifty minutes later the run ends and the cabin fever has quickly dissipated. My irrational hatred has gone. My partner would say that if we ever won the lottery we would buy a place with parkland. If it was a big lottery win then we would also have a second home in Switzerland. Sadly my partner never got that chance to live out her lottery dream. But she did get the time to enjoy this little house on the hill. The house with the garden and that little slope. It became our source of memories. That’s actually such a cool slope. It was the little sledge sliding run for our Son when he was a toddler. It was the slope where Son played with his dinosaurs. It was where we would sit on a night and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine. So the next time I do the garden run I will remember that.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of Switzerland.

Once on every visit to this great country I would try to go for a run. While the rest of the team where having an extra hour in bed I would quietly sneak out for an early morning run.

It was always the same run.

Not a long run. Just about 1 hour.

An hour punctuated with polite ‘Grüessech‘ exchanges with passing runners and walkers.

A stunning lake side run. For most of the route you are running within inches of the water.

With just the sound of the lapping alpine lake water. The occasional passing passenger boat.

Stunning Alpine scenery.

To me it’s the best run ever.