Swiss Sunday

Looking out on a Yorkshire evening scene and the clouds are rolling in. Yes it’s been sunny at times with blue skies but it’s just not a Swiss sky. It’s something Hawklad talks about, just how BLUE a blue sky is in Alpine heaven.

It’s a breathtaking colour with seemingly so little air pollution to cloud the view. Now I’m thinking about the clean fresh air, I know it sounds strange to say this but breathing in The Alps is just seems better, healthier.

And even when the weather closes in, Switzerland is just perfect. I so hope it’s not too long before we get the chance to experience these special gifts again real soon.

Pesky minus

Autumn is here. The Swallows and Swifts have left for warmer climes. Today felt cold even under a thick hoody.

Hawklad is making great strides on the dyslexia front. His reading is really good, now able to read History Textbooks. It’s hard to believe that back in 2020 he struggled to read books aimed at 6 and 7 year olds and school had decided that he would never read, so there was no point trying anymore. Sadly I realise they never really started trying in the first place. I had even gone out and bought a reading pen. He can now accurately read maybe 80% of the words then he can make educated guesses on most of the other ones. It works for him and that’s all that matters.

What is still very much a work in progress is his number dyslexia. He has finally conquered his difficultly with 4 and 7’s. Getting the two mixed up and often writing the two numbers back to front. But he just can’t break the roadblocks that are decimal points, fractions and minuses. Today he was easily expanding out complex equations, yet he would immediately grind to a halt when faced with something like +5-7. He just can’t visualise that. The problem is at home I can gently help with that, but in an exam there is no help.

This week has also highlighted another school stumbling block with reading. SHAKESPEARE. Hawklad’s way of reading just can’t cope with Shakespearean language and spellings.

And I will take thy word: yet if thou swear’st,

An open et caetera, thou a poperin pear!

I did try to read the sonnets to him but I struggle with Shakespeare as well. Plus according to Hawklad when I read, my character voice sounds like I’m reading parts from a SpongeBob cartoon. My Romeo apparently is a dead ringer for Patrick. But at least we have a solution to this one. Just watch the play on thou swear’st Netflix.

Wrestling with the logistics

He misses out on so much, so much of the teenage life. You can only experience so much when you spend so much time isolated. What highlights the isolation is that since March 2020 he has spent some time with only ONE friend in that time – his only contact with someone his own age. Yes a really good friend but that’s a shed load of teenage socialising missed out on. It’s not the same but when a chance to do something special for him presents itself then you grab it, regardless of the difficulties.

The alarm went off before 5am.

300 miles of driving later, two traffic jams and we park up in Cardiff.

Trying frustratingly to find facilities that weren’t too busy and that could be used without causing too much stress.

Trying to take in a bit of the history of the Capital of Wales while avoiding the crowds.

Watching the anxiety levels rise as we join the long queues to get into a huge stadium.

But then the goal. The whole point of this. Getting the wrestling mad Hawklad into the UK’s first major Wrestling Televised Live Event in 30 years, along with 62000 other crazy fans. Was I so underdressed in a grey T-shirt and Jeans…. With much trying I had obtained 2 tickets at the back but crucially in an area with some space around us. Then for 4 hours Hawklad could be part of something, experiencing something different, something exciting. A brief breakout from the isolation

Then it was over, 300 mile night driving and almost 24 hours later we arrived back home. Wow I was tired. Yes it was difficult. Yes the trip highlighted many issues that create roadblocks to eventually easing the isolation and maybe returning him to a classroom. But Hawklad did some of that exciting living and that is all that mattered.

Swiss Sunday

It just seems appropriate to recount this one small tale from a wonderful country called Switzerland.

I think it was back in 2010 and we find ourselves on a quite busy train heading to Geneva Airport, after a family holiday in alpine heaven. The Guard appeared and went along the carriage checking tickets. I’m always amazed at how effortlessly they switch speaking between German, French and Italian. When he got to us, I remember him looking quite sternly at us, then saying ‘oh from England, sorry my English isn’t what it should be. I will come back.” Sounded like we were in trouble for some reason, did we have the wrong tickets…..

After several nervous minutes waiting to be hauled off the train, he returned with an English Translation book in hand. He sat down in the spare seat next to me and with a smile said ‘The rest of the tickets can check themselves. I’m learning English so it’s good to get a chance to try it out”

Did he really say his English ‘wasn’t what it should be’…. For about 20 minutes he talked better English than I could ever manage. And what did he talk about, ask questions about. The Queen, he really respected her. Admired her dedication, her unwavering civic duty and respect for others. He hoped one day to meet her, maybe that was why he was so focused on learning another Language.

Finally he looked at his watch and said the next station is approaching. With that he left toddler Hawklad with a train badge and was off.

I wonder if he ever did get to meet The Queen. I hope so.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time to dream. Dream about family holidays to Alpine Heaven, to beautiful Switzerland. It’s been a while now but maybe that time will come again.

I was listening to the radio when the Presenter talked about how difficult it was to find new holiday ideas because travel blogs were getting longer and longer. More detailed. The choice was getting tougher.

So an idea popped into my head. SEVEN word only travel blogs. Just 7 words to describe a country, a city or a tourist attraction. So we tried it on Switzerland. Hawklad went for

Happy childhood memories, beauty, warm, mountains, love.

And Muppet Dad went for

Alps, Lakes, Relaxation, Mountain Air, Walking Heaven

Another SEVEN words come to mind.

The best place I have ever visited

And another SEVEN words

I want to go back to SWITZERLAND.

Summer going

Where did that summer school break go. Just over a week left now and the weather is suitably moody as well.

Something hasn’t really properly sunk in until now. This is Hawklad’s last proper school summer holiday. He leaves school in under one year now. Yes some will get another summer break before college starts but others could jump into a job straight away – official end of childhood according to society.

Where did those years go.

Still no clearer on the educational path ahead. Kinda feeling like I’m going round in circles as a parent. What’s right, what’s wrong, what works, what might not work. What’s best for Hawklad’s future, what’s best for Hawklad now.

I really don’t know anymore.

One thing I do know for sure. I wish I could reset this summer break. Go back 5 weeks and make SUMMER last just that bit longer. Hawklad probably needs that. I definitely need that.

Swiss Sunday

Last week I was asked when was the last time I was in Switzerland. Instantly I responded.

August 2015.

The follow up question was much tougher. Back then did I realise it was going to be my last trip, certainly for many years.

Not officially. Some vague discussions briefly mentioned about another family trip in a years time. Maybe that next time we could take Hawklad’s Granny for one last visit, her husband’s ashes are scattered here. But this time it felt different to me, it felt like times were changing. Some things can’t be avoided for too long. So I walked those Swiss paths and kinda realised things might be very different if another trip happened.

Hawklad’s mum clearly had things on her mind as well. Without any warning, on one walk she pointed to a spot and with a matter of fact tone, quietly whispered. “You can scatter some of my ashes here one day”.

A day later on a Swiss train to Grindelwald she mentioned another place in Switzerland where she wanted Ashes scattered. Same location as her Dad.

You sometimes never join the dots up…

Now the next trip will be very different. But one day when Hawklad is ready, we will venture back. A very different family now.

Autumn….

You can almost feel the nights drawing in.

A conversation today with Hawklad’s lead Clinician kinda confirmed the Plan A course. It’s been increasingly the likely path. Support which now comes his way from the NHS will not focus on a return to the school classroom. It will shift towards trying to get him ready for sitting exams in 10 months time, but sitting them away from the main group of pupils. A neutral, non school location. Plus the long term goal is to see if they can help him start College after this year is finished. They will issue a ‘can’t currently return to classroom note on medical grounds’. That is a relief as The Government is pressuring schools to start fining parents for keeping children away from school, even when the parent believes it’s in the child’s best interest.

So another year of school at home beckons, maybe it’s will end up being a full on homeschooling approach. Better stock up on the coffee then. Oh hang on, I’ve quit caffeine. Better stock up on Donuts then…..

Swiss Sunday

I’m writing this post sat in our little back room, which in the great tradition of Yorkshire reasoning, is actually at the front of the house. A room which six years ago was mostly the reserve of Hawklad’s mum, I rarely ventured in there. It was her quiet room, a place she could escape from parenting and ME. It was filled with her clothes, her work files, her pictures and her books. Time moves on and it is a very different room now. Yes some of the pictures on the wall are reminders of the past but most of her things are now gone. Her wardrobe made way for Hawklad’s Xbox. The work files on the old desk replaced by my old battered record player. The sound of typing and silence now replaced with the latest FIFA game and my terrible taste in music.

Hawklad’s mum loved the sound of silence, that’s why she loved Switzerland and in particular one small town. Spiez is located around a small bay on the banks of Lake Thun, just on the edge of The Alps. It was a gateway to so much yet was very peaceful. Yet the peace was sometimes broken by the sound of excitement, much to the consternation of Hawklad’s mum. But all very exciting to others….. International Beach Football matches, Speed Boating, Sky Diving, Bollywood Movie Filming and Music Festivals. Not often, but sometimes the town came truly vibrantly alive for a few brief days before the peace was restored.

So this Saturday night, while a David Gilmour vinyl crackles away, I’m thinking of an anything but peaceful Spiez. Tonight is the second night of the annual Spiez Seaside Music Festival. That’s some Yorkshire logic right there as no part of Switzerland is anywhere near the sea….. The closest sea is 160km away. So right now, the concerts will be in full swing. I’m guessing a Swiss Music Star, Stephan Eicher will just be finishing before TOTO close out. It’s decades since I saw Toto support Tina Turner. Hawklad’s mum would hate the loud music whereas Hawklad and his muppet dad would be somewhere in the crowd. But then by Monday the peace of this small beautiful Swiss town will be restored.

And let’s not forget that Spiez is a TWO Lolly kinda place…

I figured something out

It was time to live life on the edge. We finally charged up one of Hawklad’s birthday presents, a remote control helicopter. Not one of the professional ones, this one was surprisingly tiny made out of what appeared to be the thinnest of plastics and the most brittle of metals. It was one of those Amazon ‘80% off’ deals that entices you in for that one extra present, yet never quite explains to you that basically there is a really good reason this thing is so CHEAP.

Anyway after a few months it was time to give this helicopter its inaugural and probably only flight. The instructions talked optimistically of 15 minutes battery flying time, yet it gave off the impression of a single use item. As Hawklad said

“Well if it’s going to crash and burn on its first flight, let’s make it spectacular and film it”.

He remembers….

This is not our first dabble into the world of remote control, cheap toys.

There was the rally car that split in two when it hit the apple tree.

There was the toy drone that launched itself over the house and imbedded itself in the neighbour’s drive. It ended up as flat as a pancake.

There was the first helicopter then smashed into the house at a Warp Speed 10 and smashed into a thousand pieces.

And there was the so called unbreakable hovering glowing ball that had one uncontrolled hop before it smashed into the fence. It was then definitely anything other than unbroken.

So we were understandably not very hopeful. But you know what. The helicopter actually flew. It hovered. It landed. Yes it had a few heavy landings but it SURVIVED.

It was unmarked when the batteries ran out. Here is the really cool bit that made me smile. Hawklad took the remote control and flew it himself. Normally he backs away and watches others take control. He often just watches me do it. But on this day he had confidence in himself. Yes I had to check that we were fully alone first but he did it. He enjoyed it.

Yes that lawn has taken a hit from a family of moles, a badger and an excavating pup…

And here is what I figured out. Actually this was the first time that he took the controls, the first time I could convince him to have more fun doing than just watching. The first time he could overcome his fears of failure. So what did I figure out then…..

I’ve had the controls every single time one of the toys has crashed and burned. Muppet Dad is a liability. Toys last when I watch and don’t play. OH PANTS.

So my job is now paying for things and then most definitely just filming when they are enjoyed…….