Happy Days – Spiez

Looking out at the rain and the trees bending in the wind. It’s all just a bit too grey. Sometimes you soul needs more. For us that was a holiday in Switzerland. We probably couldn’t afford it but was it worth it – you bet.

We always used the small town of Spiez as our base. A stunning and friendly place sitting by the banks of Lake Thun. A transport fanatics dream. On one side you can take the regular boat service (sometimes an old steamer) to explore the lake from Thun to Interlaken. On the other side a brilliant train station offering precision perfect links to the rest of Switzerland, Germany and Milan.

After a hours of exploring we always ended the day with a walk up through the vineyards to a small hill top with stunning views across the lake to the Alps.

Memories and views like that are worth so much more than money. It’s why my beloved partner indicated that she wanted some of her ashes scattering here. A perfect choice. One day hopefully I will do the same. So our souls can wander here forever…..

Daffodils and that pesky problem.

It might be cold. It might be windy. It might feel nothing like Spring. But at least the daffodils are out in force.

I couldn’t sleep last night. On a hill the wind tends to howl. And wow did it howl. It’s been like that for days. A number of the local tourist sites are closed on safety grounds.

So today my brain has been running a bit in neutral. Processing a barrage of questions.

“Dad why does Gordon Ramsey swear so much?”

“How is May still Prime Minister?”

“Has the Champions League draw taken place?”

“When can we go to see Captain Marvel?”

“Why do Daffodils have such a short flowering season and why is it in a time period which is notorious for poor weather?”

“Why haven’t they made a new series of Gravity Falls?”

“Why do we focus so much attention on the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror. Yet we never talk about the years proceeding the battle. They are just as important.”

“What’s a Gravity wave?”

“How old is Alice Cooper?”

and on and on.

And yet I managed to hold my own. It was that sort of day. Maybe not on top form but ticking off jobs.

  • Cleaned the Gerbil Cage without accidentally releasing the little darlings to cause havoc around the house,
  • Managed to negotiate a cheaper broadband deal,
  • Get the old laptop working again,
  • Completed this weeks work requirements,
  • Change a wiper blade on the car,
  • Repair some knee holes in jeans,
  • Sort out some problems with son’s school iPad,
  • Prepare meals for tonight,
  • Replace a hose in the hoover,
  • Finish the ironing,
  • Clean the bathroom,
  • Get all the outstanding bills pad,
  • Convince the Council to give us a free replacement wheely bin as our old one is held together with 2 rolls of tape.

But then the success came to a grinding halt. Failure in the face of an insurmountable problem. Defeated by a super complex Riemman Hypothesis. My version of Star Treks Kobayashi Maru.

Changing our son’s Duvet Cover.

How difficult can it be. The cover comes off so easy. But when you try to put it back on. Suddenly it’s like trying to play a game of Twister with Ninja Octopus. Gets twisted, Rides up. Goes in the wrong way. Decides to turn inside out. Suddenly the duvet appears to be covered in the worlds stickiest Velcro. It’s just a nightmare. SIXTY PESKY MINUTES later and the only thing I had achieved was to go into full Hulk Rage.

Come on Spring. Please arrive soon. Bring in the warmer weather so I can ditch the duvets and those demonic covers – for a wonderful couple of months. Daffodils remind you that those happy days are coming.

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.

Feel the pain

I often hear fitness experts say that you know when exercise is really working because it starts to hurt. No pain no gain. Well I think I successfully disproved that theory this morning. Pain means PAIN.

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Somedays it’s good to be brought back down to earth. An Aspergers child with beautiful honesty is a perfectly designed tool for this job.

At school the kids had to tell the class one thing their parent(s) were brilliant at. Apparently talents such as football, rugby, accountancy, building, driving, cooking, singing, languages, science, nursing, making money, horse riding, swimming, judo, gardening, running, pottery and writing we’re all mentioned. But not in one case…

A certain boy said “well it depends on your exact definition of brilliant, in my Dads case I may need to think about this for a while….”

The boy knows me too well.

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Maybe his hesitation on awarding brilliance was influenced by a little accident this morning. I have a little bit of a sore eye. During my early morning workout I somehow managed to hit myself in the face with a 14lb Kettlebell… So going back to the pain theory – experts would say that my pain was a sign of a most rewarding workout. Really!!!!

Tree

“Dad did you just say a money tree. Can you really get a money tree?”

Son will often take things very literally. I’ve talked about this before. It is something which is fairly common with autism. I must admit I did this as a kid. You often find yourself trying to re-explain phrases that you often through into conversations (I am sure my parents had to do a similar thing).

My explanation of a money tree was rudely interrupted by Captain Chaos.

Dad the pup is running round the garden with a sock. Correction. He is now burying the sock.”

I really can’t wait for the Sock Tree to grow….

Then we started thinking about other really useful trees we wish we could grow in the garden

  • The Money Tree (obviously) or if that’s a problem then we would settle for a Pay Your Bills Tree,
  • The Hugging tree – readily available hugs would be nice,
  • The one our cat can climb without getting stuck Tree,
  • The Anxiety Absorbing Tree,
  • The Children’s Clothes Tree – not having to constantly go to the sewing basket and fix knee and elbow holes would be lovely,
  • The Pancake Tree – would have been really useful today after my rather soggy attempts,
  • The Remote Control Tree – why do remote controls have stealth technology built into them, bloody thing is always going missing,
  • The Brexit Tree – would have to grow within the next few days….,
  • The Prune itself Tree – really essential after my last eye injury,
  • The Mirror of Erised Tree – if Harry Potter can have his deepest desires mirror then surely we can have a tree that does the same thing. Having said that I would prefer a Take you back 6 years to happier times Tree,
  • The Bird Dropping Missile Defence Shield Tree – how good would it be to have a tree that can eliminate bird droppings before they hit the ground,
  • The Chocolate Tree – now we are talking,
  • The Donut Tree – horticultural heaven.

So as I go outside to see if the Sock Tree has started to grow (probably next to the Pants Tree) can you think of any better ones.

I am walking

Well he survived the first day back at school. Currently he is bouncing on the trampoline. I have got no idea where the energy comes from. He trooped in from school. Gave the school day 2 out of 10. Demolished 3 tomatoes, an apple and a slice of cake. Gave me a run down on the newly announced Generation 8 of Pokemon. Apparently this generation is based on Britain – that’s going to the grumpiest bunch of Pokemon ever…. Then he set off for the trampoline.

This is all on the back of 2 hours sleep last night. Just too anxious to sleep.

His Dad is somewhat less energised. Evidenced by this morning. I had a morning meeting. So I left the house with car keys in hand. Ten minutes later I came to my senses. I had walked straight past the car, down the drive, out of the village and heading down the path towards the next village. No idea where I was walking. If it was work then that’s a 10 mile hike…….

Bern

Bern is Switzerland’s de facto capital. It’s the location for the country’s Federal Government – it is really the country’s Federal City. It is built around the River Aare. It is relatively small and extremely beautiful.

Bern’s famous Clock Tower provides an elaborate mechanical show every hour. Medieval figures and bears intricately dance and weave. This Tower provided the inspiration for the young Einstein to start his journey on the way to understanding time, space and light.

We visited Bern so many times. Strangely it never once rained. Coming from Yorkshire that is mind boggling. The city has a wonderful small Zoo and a Bear Park (thankfully now upgraded). With our son’s Aspergers we would precisely follow the same itinerary on each visit.

  • Arrive by Train
  • Zoo
  • Bear Park
  • Sausages and Fries over looking the river
  • Clock Tower
  • Ice cream
  • Back on the Train

One memory sticks and it really sums up Switzerland. On our very first visit we arrived by train and had absolutely no idea how to get to the Zoo. Clearly lost we asked a random person if they had any idea where we would find the Tourist Information. The really friendly Swiss chap asked (in perfect English) was there anywhere in particular we were trying to get to. He went into his bag gave us a pristine timetable and then explained the precise timings. Five minutes later the chap had walked with us to the Bus Stop and waited with us until the Tierpark Bus had arrived. So utterly Swiss….

Frazzled

Frazzled that’s a good word. When I was younger I used it to describe the dreaded over heating meltdown the early laptops would often descend into. These days my laptop is that old and slow that it can’t even get warm – except for when the fat boy cat decides to sleep on it.

But now I have adopted Frazzled as my most common state of mind…..that’s even before school holidays start.

School holidays are fantastic as I get to spend even more quality time with our son. Yes I would prefer to sit with a cup of coffee in the happy knowledge that he is having wonderful adventures with friends. But this is a great backup option.

But one downside of school holidays is an outbreak of acute Frazzlement.

I start from a point of parenting fatigue. Then from breakfast until bed time I engage continually with a mind that operates on a completely different level to mine. One that runs at a speed way beyond the capacity of my really outdated brain. So many questions, so many different facts, so many different logic constructs. No outside world to help reset the brain. Rapidly my brain overheats and becomes frazzled. Son calls it Zombie Parenting. I’m there but the brain has shutdown. The simplest tasks become impossible. By the end of the day I am spent. Then you wake up even more tired and the cycle continues.

A blogger far cleverer than me talked about the desirability of having a backspace button options in life. I so so want a brain reset button. That would be fantastic. The chance to press reset then sit 5 minutes while the brain clears out the crap and reloads itself again. I would then be good to go again. Rather than wandering around for hours with an overheating and completely useless brain. System error messages pinging around the head. That’s my excuse for the poor level of my parenting currently. Today’s highlight has to be peeling a banana then handing our son the banana skin. Yes the actual banana had been binned. Not far behind that was trying to unload the bag from the Hoover … while the Hoover was still switched on… had to clean the ceiling.

Bring on Frazzled Friday.

Changes

We had a lovely trip to Doncaster Wildlife Park today. It was a relatively brief visit. He was a bit uncomfortable with the crowds, but as we got there early so we had an hour of relative quiet before the masses started to arrive. The animals all outside – basking in the warm sun…Yes warm sun and Yorkshire.

On the way back home he was getting increasingly agitated at the amount of building work appearing in the countryside. I have to say it is staggering and so frustrating. The amount of derelict and unused land in built up areas and we still decide to encroach on what is left of our unspoilt areas. Can we please leave just a bit of our beautiful planet for future generations.

A few miles later I asked our son what things he would change in the world today. Reading my mind he initially said

The last 4 Star Wars Movies

And

Buying that Alvin and The Chipmunks DVD

And

Giving the pup that really annoying squeaking Toy Crocodile

And

Buying those Lycra Cycle shorts (I added that one, what was I thinking of)

But eventually he answered for himself and the changes he proposed were revealing.

  • Tackling Climate Change
  • Not one more tree felled
  • U.K. NOT leaving Europe
  • Finding a way to end Terrorism
  • Replacing President Trump and Prime Minister May.

I really can’t argue with theses changes.

What would you change?

Train journey

We are on a train heading towards Grindelwald. It is a beautifully warm spring morning. My partner is gazing out of the window smiling. Our son is playing with a couple of toy animals on the table. My coffee tastes stunning. The views are breathtaking.

Then I wake up. It’s been a dream. An almost exact replay of a holiday from 8 years ago. So exact that I have found a photograph from that very train journey.

I fling open the curtains and take in the fine Yorkshire View. FOG. THICK FOG. Not a dream this time…..

Son enters the room and asks what I’m doing. Admiring the view.

He looks out of the window while I go to let the dog out into the garden. On my return our son is laughing.

“It’s a fine view Dad, especially the sight of our pup running about with your pants in his mouth…..”

Give me that train window view back please……