Say goodbye

This month we have already said goodbye to a couple of legends. The brilliant drummer Neil The Professor Peart and the wonderfully funny Terry Jones. In honour of Terry let’s all shout “He’s not the messiah, he’s just a very naughty boy”.

It’s so sad when we lose people we have grown to look up to and respect. But that’s the cycle of life. It’s inevitable that we have to say goodbye to people we admire, care for and love. Some burn bright and leave us far too soon. If anything the last few years have taught me it is that yes we shed tears but it’s so important to try and hold onto those precious memories.

Britain’s favourite mammal are in trouble. Big trouble. From 36 million in the 1950s to less than 1 million now. The last twenty years alone has seen a 50% drop in numbers.

Photo from the RSPCA

I remember hedgehogs being a common site. Every night we would see at least one hedgehog scurrying across the lawn. Things have changed. I can’t remember the last time I saw one in the wild. At least two or three years.

So it was time for local action. Today an hour was spent in the garden trying to make it more hedgehog friendly.

  • To try an link habitats some hedgehog highways have been built into the garden fences. 13cm wide fence holes needed to be made to allow the hedgehogs to move between gardens but this would have been equally attractive to Captain Chaos. Luckily work had some old piping which was about the right size. So hedgehog tunnels are now in place. Hopefully good for hedgehogs but not good for dogs.
  • The compost heap has been made open air. One is the sides has been removed.
  • A log pile has been built in one corner of the garden.
  • The log pile is now in a corner which will become the wild corner. I will let the grass grow and when it becomes warmer a wild flowers will be planted.
  • The random hedgehog dome house which has sat in the garage for years is now under a hedge near the compost heap and a hedgehog tunnel.
  • Each night a bowl of cat food and water will be put out. Important to remember to change and clean it every night. A bit of cat food will mean less for our big boy cat. This is good as he really needs to go on a diet.

It’s sad to say goodbye. Some goodbyes are inevitable and outside of our control. But some aren’t. Still time to save old friends like our hedgehogs.

Breaking his body

Running past this monumental feels like a daily privilege. Must admit running anywhere these days is a privilege.

The last two years brought injury after injury. Clearly doing the same thing over and over again was not working. Finally the penny dropped. But it did take the doctor warning me that actually I might have to PERMANENTLY STOP running and working out for common sense to finally take hold. Change was needed. A new exercise approach was put in place. Alternate Home CrossFit days with a day of running or cycling. No same exercise on two consecutive days. Sunday is a gentle exercise bike session and yoga. No pre exercise stretching warmup. If an exercise is causing the body pain stop it for a few days. If the exercise hurts again stop for a few weeks. If it hurts again then ditch the exercise. THATS IT. So far it’s working (touch wood). Four months of uninterrupted, mostly pain free exercise.

Change worked.

Our sons Aspergers journey continues. It’s a journey without a map. Who knows where it may lead. But I do have a gut feeling. The health professionals have talked about the possibility of our son becoming increasingly ill at ease with social interactions. Although from the age of 5 he has always struggled with this 2019 certainly has seen this intensify. Increasingly he just wants to spend his time in the safety of his home realm.

Although he seeks isolation from the outside world he struggles to be on his own. In our one parent, one child, mad pets kinda world that in practice means he struggles to be without me. With the advice from his health experts we have tried to gradually change things up to help with this. But it hasn’t worked. We tried things like him staying on his own at the house while I took the dog for a quick walk. Even though I would tell him the route. Stay in the village. Talk to him on the phone while I walked. The brief periods of solitude would throw him into a nervous meltdown. Any longer than 10 minutes and he would have to come looking for me. The only thing it achieved was to spike his anxiety levels. We decided to abandon the changes.

Whether this is Aspergers or whether it’s to do with losing his mum or both – who knows. But currently as a single parent I have to make the necessary adjustments to work around these constraints. One of which is that when he’s not at school my exercise programme is tied to the house or garden. Hence that rather puzzled look I got on Saturday. A group of walkers giving this rather odd looking chap a puzzled look. Even standing to watch for a few seconds. In the pouring cold rain why is a man in his garden dressed in shirts and a T-shirt jumping on and off an exercise bike to throw a 20lb kettlebell about.

It’s because I’m a single parent who can’t leave the house who has found a way to keep himself fit while not breaking his body. At least allow me that.

Night time visitor

For over a year we have had a nighttime visitor. Brief glimpses. Garden dug up. A few signs. Then last night FINALLY you revealed yourself in all your glory.

Kind enough to stay long enough for the mobile phone to adjust to the darkness.

Even a stroll close up to see what the strange humans were doing. The Government is trying to cull your kind. But you are most welcome here.

First time in 20 years

I’ve lived in or around these parts for 20 years now. In that time I must have used one particular road short cut hundreds of times. It keeps you off the dreaded city outer ring road. On the short cut is a little sign for a nature trail. On virtually every pass I would make a mental note to pay the trail a visit one day.

All those years and so many mental notes.

Well the other week on the way to do the weekly shop I did something radical. I stopped. Time to cash in all those mental notes.

And what a little find.

It probably only takes about 10 minutes to walk round the nature reserve.

But it’s so worth it.

You forget that you are on the edge of a city surrounded by farmland and golf courses.

On this wet day I had the reserve to myself.

Teeming with wildlife and wonderful sculptures.

MOORLANDS Nature Reserve, York. And it’s free.

Roses

The rose I bought for my partner just before she left us has sprung into life. Wish she was here to see it.

I finally shamed myself into sorting out the garden jungle. Maybe not immaculate but certainly almost passable. Suddenly we have flowers and roses. I had forgotten how many roses we bought before the world changed.

I remember the day we finally got our son’s medical diagnosis signed off. It was a bit of a journey to the Hospital so we stopped off at a garden centre for something to eat. They had an offer on roses and I bought one – think it was the deep red one.

We didn’t know for sure that we would get things signed off. Had so many false dawns. The diagnosis journey had been a nightmare and beyond frustrating. Finally we were lucky and came across a really good Consultant.

He added to our son’s medical record official confirmation of Aspergers, ADHD and DCD. When I asked what the hell DCD was the Consultant smiled and said something like this

“Its the new fad abbreviation and current hip term for Dyspraxia. If it’s OK I’ve used Aspergers rather than Autistic Spectrum. We are supposed to stop using the term Aspergers but not on my watch. I suspect it will always stay as Aspergers on his medical record. If it does change it really won’t have any impact. It’s just Semantics. He is also Dyslexic. In the old days I would have added that to his medical record today but I am not allowed to now. The diagnosis has to come from Education now. Unfortunately that is like getting blood from a stone. It’s a disgrace”

He explained that you can get Dyspraxia on its own but normally it normally coexists with other conditions. Frequently with Aspergers and Dyslexia.

Today he is sometimes listed as having Aspergers and sometimes Autism. Sometimes he has DCD sometimes he has Dyspraxia. At least we have agreement on the wording for ADHD. Whatever the terminology the various strands interlink and makeup who our son is.

Six years later and we are still fighting Education on the Dyslexia diagnosis. That is the one strand which we see as a limiting factor. It holds him back. The good Consultant has retired and our fight goes on.

The new Brexit team

It’s been a very good year for Daffodils. Flowers lift the heart. So while I set off my Stone Age Laptop to undertake a work task I headed into the garden to plant flower seeds. I have a horticultural tradition now. In September I visit the local garden shop and see what out of date seeds they are selling off cheap. One hour later 8 random and very cheap flower seed packs have been planted.

I returned inside to find the Laptop still apparently busy doing stuff so let’s put the TV on for a few moments. Just in time for the weather forecast.

“During the weekend the warm settled weather will be replaced with an extremely cold frontal pattern. Snow cannot be ruled out. Severe frosts are likely. Gardeners should take note of this Arctic Blast. Maybe delay planting for a couple of weeks”

You couldn’t tell me this an hour ago. Marvellous.

Then the news comes on. Brexit is still a monumental pile of pants – Deep Joy. Everyday I sound more and more like Stadler and Waldorf from the Muppets (sorry).

Anyway is it just me or does our Prime Minister look increasingly like Skeletor from the Master of the Universe cartoon. Sorry Skeletor you were never this self obsessed or so grossly incompetent.

We had a little game the other night. Come up with a list of cartoon characters who would do a better job of Brexit than the current shower of ineptitude – I cleaned this up as I did use two naughty words initially….

So our Cartoon Brexit Replacement Team is:

  • Prime Minister May becomes PM Lisa Simpson
  • Chancellor Hammond becomes Mr Krabby (Spongebob)
  • U.K. Europe Negotiator Robbins becomes Selma (The Simpson’s)
  • Foreign Secretary Hunt becomes Inspector Gadget
  • Brexit Secretary Barclay becomes Patrick (Spongebob)
  • Person responsible for negotiating trade deals – Liam Fox becomes Bill Cipher (Gravity Falls)
  • Minister for screwing up the Environment Michael Gove becomes Sid (Ice Age)
  • Brexit Buffoon Boris Johnson becomes Elmer Fudd
  • Brexit Twit Rees-Mogg becomes Yosemite Sam
  • Minister in charge of screwing things up Chris ‘Calamity’ Grayling becomes Goofy

I’m sure you would agree our cartoon team is significantly better equipped for the job. Now having sorted out Brexit it’s time to try and remember where I planted those seeds.

Fungi

This little beauty has appeared in a shady corner of the garden. Possibly something to do with it being an area favoured by the pup for his early morning constitutional. I was going to pull it up but …

“Dad don’t kill it. It’s got as much right to be here as us”

Already getting the all so familiar sinking feeling of an argument slipping through my grasp, I tried one feeble counter thrust. An incoherent ramble about weeds.

“What’s a weed?”

That vail of defeat rapidly falling towards me … one last throw of the dice … it’s the wrong type of plant in the wrong place (all those years in the greenhouse with my gardening dad and that’s the best I can dig up!!!!)

Well strictly speaking that’s not a plant , it’s in the separate fungi classification. Also who defines what the wrong type of plant is. Didn’t you tell me that being different is one of life’s blessings”

Total defeat. The weed, sorry no – plant, sorry no – fungi STAYS. Now I have to build him his own little fence to keep the pup away. Deep joy.