Rare

It’s been over 5 years since I sat down in a restaurant….. That’s as rare as a start to the morning like the photograph above. That’s as rare as my football team winning something. Oh hang on the last time that happened was 1969. So hopefully not that rare….😂😂😂

A bit like my so called football team and silverware, the next restaurant trip is not looking particularly imminent. Hawklad isn’t keen. I can’t think of the last time I went with my family to eat out. Maybe a couple of picnics or a garden bbq before the world changed. It’s well over a decade since I went for a meal with a friend. The height of culinary excellence with friends has been limited to the very occasional grabbing a bag of crisps on the way to see my team get beat again. And the other side of the family is understandably very much more distant now.

But here’s the thing. I’m not missing the food. I’m much happier with a bag of chips , sat on a sea wall and fighting off the mad seagulls. I’m not in a mad rush to expand my social circle again. Do you know what I miss about restaurants. That feeling of being grown up every so often. Having to smarten myself up, even combing my hair…. To sit properly. To feel like I’m doing stuff that other people are doing.

That probably makes no sense at all and anyway it’s not happening anytime soon.

Faceless

The old village church in the evening sun.

It’s a simple church dating back from the 10th century. The Font and an Effigy date back from the 13th century. The small graveyard shows the age more starkly with many of the gravestones now completely weathered by the Yorkshire wind and rain. Faceless.

Today as I wandered along the village street to post a letter I felt faceless. When I first moved here I knew many in the village. A number of good friends. But slowly those that knew me have thinned out. Left. Passed away. To the point where this morning I walked in a beautiful but alien village. I know hardly anyone here now. That has been amplified during a pandemic. I hope that as things open up just maybe I can start to feel part of the community again. It won’t be easy.

I suspect I’m not the only one facing this new challenge.

Almost Summer

Whisper it. It almost feels like summer here in Yorkshire. Warm, dry, traffic jams, the shops are sold out of strawberries and watermelons. Yep it must be summer here.

So next steps….

This morning Hawklad mentioned that he is now aiming to return to school at the start of September. If he can’t go back then he will go for full homeschooling.

Today in the summer sun we tried a day time walk. The first day time walk for Hawklad in over a year. A carefully selected walk. Quiet. Rarely visited. Across farm land. It was a success. An hour walk completed. Ok not another human encountered but it is another step forward.

So we have less than 3 months to see if we can build Hawklad from deserted walks to being crammed in a classroom with 30 plus other students and teachers. That’s a tough ask. So little time to take so many steps forward.

Thoughts and dreams

In years gone by if I needed to think. Be with my thoughts. I would go for a run. Maybe go climbing. Those things worked best for me. But then parenting and then single parenting curtailed the climbing option. It was then running. Fell running to collect and process my thoughts. Often I would start a run then become lost in my thoughts. Only the alarm on my watch would bring me back to reality. I would be miles into the hills and it would be a mad sprint to get back home for the return of the school bus.

Then the pandemic happened. We went into our family lockdown. So far 16 months of a lockdown. I lost running. But I didn’t lose my need to think. So I discovered the joys of leaning against our back garden fence. Thinking while looking over the fields and scanning the distant horizon from a little hill top home.

It worked.

So this morning I was leaning on the fence. Thinking. Looking at a distant beautiful tree. Dreaming.

But then I was joined. Someone decided to invade my space and block my view.

I’m can’t really see the tree now. I’m having to stroke and feed this one. I’m telling this cow my dreams. She seems udderly fascinated. Or maybe she’s herd then all before. Definitely deja moo

Road

Yes it’s another one of those massive, multi lane Yorkshire motorways.

We are a couple of weeks into the start of trying to help Hawklad build bridges back towards the wider world again. It started with us taking the mad dog for a walk at night. Nighttime as it would be quiet with no other people out and about. Small steps in breaking out of walls that surround our little house and garden. The isolation which started 15 months ago.

We quickly realised that actually it’s always pretty quiet here, not just at night. So we started going for the walk a little earlier. Now nearer 7pm. Guess what. We still hardly see another soul. Currently that’s perfect for Hawklad. Very rarely we see a farmer or another dog walker. When that happens Hawklad immediately turns on his heels and heads quickly home in the opposite direction.

The other thing is that Hawklad doesn’t like to walk on the path. Just doesn’t feel comfortable doing that. So we walk on the road. Our massive and very busy road….

Well you can see just how big our road is. Just how busy it really is can be gauged on one fact. We have been walking every night straight down the middle of the road. Not once have we encountered a vehicle. The road is ours….

That’s such a cool feel. Such a cool feel for both of us. I can concentrate fully on talking and in the quiet bits, on dreaming.

Hugs

How do you hug cautiously?

So the great UK coming out of lockdown started today. You can go inside pubs, restaurants, museums, comedy clubs….. You can hug. You can travel. We are on the way back to normal. Everything is good to go.

But then the mixed messages. Hang on our daily COVID cases are stubbornly high, higher than when we first went into lockdown. We have the Indian variant doubling in size every week. We have significant local outbreaks which are having to be managed. Large numbers of the young have not been vaccinated. The long term effectiveness of the vaccines against the variants is still not confirmed.

So we kind of reopen with everyone just making up their own rules. Some will be masked. Some will sometimes wear a mask. And others will refuse to wear a mask. Mixed messages. It’s either completely sorted and no need for any social distancing going forward. Or it’s we need to be cautious and stay safe, we need to keep social distancing. Or it doesn’t really matter whatever we do as we will be back in lockdown soon.

Never has HUGGING been so complicated….

So please feel free to hug anyone you want to as long as you hug cautiously. Cautiously hug doesn’t mean wearing masks but it might be an idea to do so if you are being cautious. Kissing might be ok but only if it’s a cautious kiss.

Dad did I just hear Johnson tell us to go out and hug people”

Yes he did say that.

I’m not hugging anyone, not even if that smeg head tells me to…..”

No I didn’t think you would. You haven’t hugged me since you were a toddler. You quickly worked out your preferred way of showing affection for your Dad was to smash him over the head with the nearest toy, book or item of cutlery.

Dad that’s much more hygienic. I had no idea where you had been….”

Just remember your partly me. My DNA runs through you. Having said that if you are lucky my genes are concentrated in your long eyelashes and your posterior.

If I get a flabby, hairy bum then I know who to blame and it’s definitely not mum. Anyway I am doing what the government is telling me to do with hugs. I’m hugging cautiously. I’m not hugging anyone…..”

That’s definitely cautious…..

Early

On our trip out the other day it was interesting to see the change in the pace of life. Suddenly shop car parks are full again. All the outside tables are taken at pubs and cafes. The public buses are busy again. People are gathering in groups again. Masks being worn outside are much more of a rarity. Social distancing…. what social distancing.

Don’t get me wrong I’m as eager as anyone to see things open up again. I won’t say return to normal as that thought annoys me – was the old normal that good and why didn’t we seize the opportunity to build a better normal. Yes our vaccination programme being delivered by the brilliant NHS is going really well. But I’m anxious. Hearing the Government announce that the battle is almost won, just beggars belief. It’s not won until all countries get on top of this dreadful virus. It’s not won when we are still getting deaths each day. Still at 2000 new cases a day. In younger age groups the infections rates are rising. Even after a period of lockdown rates are still stubbornly high. Outbreaks of mutations including the really worrying Indian variant are rising. The vaccines are not 100 effective, we are not sure just how long they will stay effective across the population and the younger groups have not been vaccinated at all. The Young can get severe CovidI was reading that as many as 12% of children catching the virus are needing to be hospitalised or are suffering from Long Covid. That doesn’t sound like a war won.

But we start the process of relaxing the rules. Foreign holidays allowed soon. Large Crowds returning to sporting and cultural events without social distancing. The requirement to wear masks in schools in communal areas such as corridors is to be removed. Rules surrounding isolation after contact with a positive case to be dropped in favour of fairly regular resting. The message is clear from the top hence I’m not surprised that the majority of people are ditching the masks.

Yes I’m anxious. At the very least masks and social distancing should stay while the reopening goes ahead, until mutations and case numbers fall to really low levels. Until vaccination is a world wide reality. This all feels like a bit of a punt to me. I just hope luck is with us this time.

Going round the bend

As part of the long process of helping Hawklad building bridges back to the wider world, we ventured out in the car. Further this time. In to the city. To get a take out burger.

All went well until we hit the city. More car, more people. Even though he was in the safety of the car he was on edge but willing to push on.

Finally we arrived at the burger place. You will know the one. It’s got some whopper burgers. The plan was Hawklad to stay in the car while I ventured out to get the takeout. As soon as I left the car Hawklad panicked. So plan B. The drive through. I’ve never tried one of those but they seem super cool in the movies.

We joined the queue of cars and and snaked our way towards the intercom. With excitement we finally made it to the marked intercom bay.

I started to patiently wait for the helpful voice.

Dad what are you waiting for.”

I’m waiting for the person to speak to me,

Dad you don’t wait you just say the order out. Come on Dad the cars behind will start to get annoyed”

####Pants so I blurted out the order. NOTHING. Is that it. Do I drive off now####

Dad they didn’t hear you, shout the order louder”

#### So I did, really loud this time. This time Hawklad got the giggles####

Dad you are a muppet”

####And suddenly the intercom whirled into life – ‘afternoon can I take your order’.####

I’m definitely going round the bend.

Blinded by the light

Blinded by the light.

Ok which version is better Bruce Springsteen or Manfred Mann…..

The home at school project is rapidly feeling like it’s blinded by something. More lessons with no support or materials provided. More time spent trying to find any educational resources hidden on the confusing school system. Far fewer teachers making contact and trying to explain work requirements. When class materials are sent they are often only arriving at the end of lessons or hours late. Hardly any work feedback being sent back. Very few teachers checking in on Hawklad to see if it’s going ok.

Contacting school occasionally improves things for a lesson or two then things fall back again.

With national lockdowns, local school closures and family lockdowns its been over a year since Hawklads last in school classroom day. Maybe school have decided enough is enough. Falling in line with Government thinking. So with an imminent school return looking most unlikely, the educational future is so unclear. Blinded by something……

Mad

Blueberries just starting to develop.

It’s a mad world. A mad Britain.

So there are growing concerns over the use of the lateral flow rapid Covid tests. The Government has been pushing them in schools, forcing children to take them several times a week. The results available within minutes deemed perfectly robust as a basis of reopening schools. They worked so well that they were made available for free to everyone. I was sent 7 tests this week.

Then we here the the Governments own experts are questioning the accuracy of these quick results. They are potentially too unreliable to use on there own. Should be only used as a guide, a gateway to the more robust tests.

Then on Friday the Government talked about the frustration with testing. It’s keeping too many children and more importantly workers at home. To many false positives. Far too unreliable.

And today the Government announced that it will sanction a large scale indoor test event. A music concert with no social distancing and no masks. That’s 5000 people being used as guinea pigs. Anyone going would have to have a rapid Covid test the same day as the concert. Then the will have to be tested a few days afterwards…..

Can we make our mind up…..

Are we really happy to allow 5000 people to crowd together indoors as a number of troubling mutations are starting to take hold….

Are we happy that the only check is the unreliable test….

Are we happy that potentially clinically vulnerable and unvaccinated people and children are being used as test subjects…..

I remember the Government saying opening up for Christmas was perfectly safe. Just go and look at the death spike that caused. Do we remember just days before the first lockdown and the Government saying that it was safe to hold the countries largest horse racing festival. Studies have shown the large number of unnecessary deaths that lead to…..