Hunting

Everyday a large bird of prey has decided to spend some of its hunting time in the field next to us. A free nature cinematic thrill ride. Now if it would just come a little closer and not fly so fast then I might get some closer shots.

Hawklad (son) is so happy that this can now be seen from the safety of his garden. This is such a bonus. With it looking like a few more months of isolation we look to nature to bring the world to us. With patience it never lets us down.

Hedge

A completely random photograph of our hedge…..

A hedge which has many roles. Too many to list but I guess the main ones are

  • Photosynthesis,
  • Making more hedges,
  • Survival,
  • Home for wildlife,
  • Boundary marker,
  • Barrier to try and keep a dog this side of it,
  • A Barrier to try and keep a football this side of it,
  • Boost to Son’s feeling of security,
  • Something to look at,
  • A home of long lost toys, balls and garden gnomes,
  • And now something to photograph.

Our brush with hospital this week reinforced one issue. Many people including single parents often have few backup options. Plan B’s are rare. I was sat trying to get my head round what would I do if son had to stay overnight on the ward. I wouldn’t leave him (wasn’t allowed to leave him alone). So how was I going to

  • Bring in a change of clothes,
  • Fetch stuff to entertain him (his iPad and a charger),
  • Bring some food and drink which son would actually consider having,
  • Fetch my phone charger,
  • Feed the pets, let the dog out into the garden,
  • Put a new parking ticket on the car,
  • Bring my reading glasses,
  • Check that I had locked the back door……

Yes in normal times I would have a couple of family options. But these are not normal times. They are either unavailable or would take many hours to arrive. No other immediate options. Thankfully son was allowed to go home at 11pm. But it’s a stark reminder that many of us operate with the most fragile foundations. I was lucky as at least an option existed, even though it was far from practical. Too many people have zero options. That’s a sobering thought.

Service

Maybe I can call our little part of the world a Rose Garden. Makes a change from Jungle or Weedville.

Well so far we have survived the boiler service. The chap turned up and to be fair to him, he did use a mask and gloves. He did confirm that it wasn’t me being a muppet. It had fuel. It was turned ON. He explained that it was the oldest boiler he had seen in ages. Possibly over 40 years old. It’s poor motor had finally died. Unbelievably he found a replacement motor in the van that just about fitted. So with a hefty bill winging my way he departed. Apparently after all those years it is still working at 90% efficiency. Wish I was that good at 40.

The thought of an outsider entering the house sent son into an anxiety meltdown. Unplanned visitors is not easy at the best of times for someone with Aspergers. But during a pandemic…..

To try and keep a lid on his anxiety we agreed a decontamination protocol. Thankfully this was carried out to the letter.

  • The service person wore masks and gloves,
  • He only entered the house via the back door,
  • He only ventured into one room,
  • After he finished I quickly disinfected the room and the door he used,
  • That room and that side of the house was then closed off for 3 days,
  • As was the path which the serviceman walked across,
  • I than had a shower and completely changed clothes.

It might seem OTT but to our son this was the bare minimum which was acceptable to him. His way of protecting his safe place. He will be much less stressed out when that part of the house comes out of lockdown. Later we had a chat about all things pandemic and his anxieties. Clearly we won’t be dropping our local procedures for a considerable time. Putting aside the merits of homeschooling debate, I just can’t see how he cope function in a public environment any time soon. Certainly not in a crowded school at the start of September. Thankfully the concerts we were due to see have been cancelled. (The Who, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Europe, Aerosmith, Hollywood Vampires). We are down to just two in October now. Deep Purple and Ozzy. But I just can’t see them happening as well.

So maybe we start to adopt a mindset that actually our enforced house and garden lockdown will last into 2021. Will need to think about that. What additional things do we have to put in place to ensure that we both can continue to enjoy life for all those months. Maybe that industrial sized ice cream and slush puppy machine is not such a far fetched idea……

Not had a rant for days…..

I came outside to look at the roses. And breathe..

The UK Government has a natural ability to take the breathe away. What are the words I am looking for

Self-serving

Incompetence

Charlatan

Criminally negligent

Fraud

Part timers

Out of their depth

Nest of vipers

Dangerous

Liars

Elitist

One rule for the many, doesn’t apply to them

When you think it can’t get any worse and then they take it a new level……

So on the 4th July Britain is open for business again. Something we all can sign up to if it’s done properly and safely. But this is Boris Johnson we are talking about. The laziest and most inept Prime Minister in over 150 years. So here are just a few nuggets of his so called plan

  • The governments own scientists have warned against easing restrictions too soon. If we do the safe way is to do that carefully and in small stages. The PM has said oh tish to that. British wartime spirit apparently is all we need to follow. It clearly does help a leaders senses when he has rich backers and views the world through the bottom of an empty champagne glass….
  • For months we have been told that masks are a waste of time and that we should be keeping at least 2 metres apart. Suddenly 1m is cool as long as your wear those marvellous masks (but only if you really want to).
  • Since March we have been told that the key to beating this virus is the Tracking and Tracing App. Rather than go with the Google and Apple one we decided to give a contract to friends of the Government. This world class app was promised to go live in April, then May, then June. Then suddenly it’s dropped because it didn’t work (not the Government’s fault of course, it was all down to those pesky people at Apple). Now it won’t be ready until the winter but it’s ok as it was never a priority – everyone must have repeatedly misheard the PM and the Health Secretary …..
  • This scene according to the PM is perfectly safe, carries no pandemic risk and so can happen freely (this was our nearest beach yesterday) …..
  • However this scene is not allowed, carries huge pandemic risks and deemed unsafe….
  • People are not allowed to attend live theatre due to the risks yet our PM is delighted to allow pubs to open. The PM clearly trusts Joe Bloggs and his drunken mates to act responsibly and stay 1m apart at all times (wearing a mask) after 10 pints of strong lager.

But no they haven’t finished yet. Apparently schools will reopen fully in September. The plan is to ditch all social distancing rules for children. All we need to do is to tell the kids not to sneeze on others. Squeeze them back into cramped classrooms and act as if nothing has changed. Just in case each class should try not to spend too much time with other classes. Really. It’s ok for the Government as they send their kids to private schools where class sizes are less than 15, here social distancing can still happen. But not for the state schools with class sizes of over 30. In fact the PM has dropped rules so that the class sizes can go much higher than 30. If teachers become sick then you can just have supersized classes.

Well they can just sod off. They are no Government of mine. Time to bunker down.

So back to the roses and breathe.

Another day

Another hot one. One more day then proper weather sweeps back in.

Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s overthinking. Maybe it’s these crazy times. Maybe it’s lack of sleep. Maybe it’s feeling just a little bit alone in this fight. Maybe it’s just one of those days. But today has been on off day. A down day. A misfiring day. A depressed day. I get these days. Not as many as I used to but it doesn’t really help when they strike. These days it definitely feels like good weeks and bad days. So it’s a bit of a surprise when the bad days sneak up on you. All the more frustrating because there is not a definite cause. No warning. Just wake up feeling this way.

A day when

  • The mojo has gone on holiday.
  • Life feels hard and unremittingly uphill.
  • Just feeling yucky.
  • Everything is an effort.
  • The daily workout was completed but never got out of 1st gear.
  • You just want to sit and slouch.
  • That smile is an effort.
  • Routine things become annoying.
  • Those various body injuries just hurt that little bit more.
  • An old photo which made you smile yesterday today brings a tear.
  • That inner demon is just a bit stronger today. The negative voice is just that bit louder.
  • Definitely a little snappy and quick tempered.

Basically low and deflated. It will pass but until it does then it’s no fun. I was going to swear but I won’t. Let’s get through the day and see what tomorrow brings. If it’s the same feeling then maybe a bit of shock therapy is required. I think I will ask son to fill a huge bucket with cold water then fill it with ice cubes and whatever else he fancies. Then he can dump it over me. It worked last time I was like this, maybe it will work again. Only one way to find out….

Fragmented

Good to see the local motorway is busy…. It’s still too busy for our son. I got special dispensation to step 10 yards out of the front gate to take this photo. Life on the edge.

It really does feel a bit like that at present. On one hand we have what apparently counts as our Government rapidly relaxing restrictions and on the other hand kids like our son….

His social and health phobias are in a pandemic fuelled maelstrom. Every few minutes he feels the need to wash his hands. To repeatedly rinse his mouth out. The fear of germs and hidden dangers becoming a real nightmare for him. He struggles to touch items like taps and handles. Even putting potentially unclean shoes on is a challenge these days. Deliveries have to go into garage quarantine for at least 4 days. Clothes need changing every few hours. And then another spanner in the works. The old house boiler completely failed. So a service call out is required. It’s now way beyond a temporary Dad patch up. That means an additional new threat to sons safe area. A house visitor! After much discussion we agreed a plan. The service engineer would come into the house only via the back door. The engineer must wear a mask at all times. I will keep 2m away from the engineer at all times. When the work is finished we will effectively lock down half of the house. We won’t venture into the areas the engineer visited for three days. Not ideal but it’s a plan. Son’s stress levels will rise but hopefully not too far. The damage to his safe area minimised.

Yet individuals like our son are expected to just re-enter the world by July 4th. The date our part time PM is declaring as the day he defeated the virus. The date he can heroically restart England. It’s perfectly fine to open overcrowded public schools in September. A few more hand sanitisers in the corridors and relaxing the rules further to allow for even larger class sizes to cope with increased teacher sickness is now the best way to deal with a pathogen. We are told ‘everything is now fine’ by the very leaders who have been proven to be wrong on virtually every single major decision they have made over the last 6 months. The very leaders who now widely seen as charlatans and pathological liars. People see this. Our son sees this. This just adds fuel to his anxieties. It’s making a bad situation even worse.

So when England reopens on the 4th July a small bungalow in Yorkshire will not. It stays on lockdown until son is able to face the world again. Who knows how long that will take. Much patience is required. We won’t be the only family facing this prospect. Again my country further fragments. I’m not entirely sure it’s ever really going to come back together again.

Lost Friends

And another rose photo…. I have to say out garden is blessed with weeds and roses. Each year they appear and they always feel like the return of friends.

Last night I had another weird dream. This time it took me back to my university days. It started off by showing that my career path had been influenced by a slip of a pen. I had applied to do a degree in Economics but had been put on a Home Economics course. A degree in cooking for the worlds worst chef, OK.… But the main part of the dream was centred around friendships. All my college friends were on the course but no one recognised me. As hard as I tried, nothing. I was just blanked by them. Most unsettling.

As ever the weird dream put an end to my nighttime sleep hopes. So it was time to drink tea and think. A quick search on the internet found recent pictures of some of my old college friends. I just about recognised them. Would they remember my face which is perfect for radio – probably the same I guess. But here’s the key thing. These were really close friends. Yet when was the last time we met up in person. Our careers and life’s moved us apart. I’m not sure it was even this century. But it doesn’t stop there

  • I haven’t seen my schools friends since I first left my childhood home to go to University.
  • One really close school friend I did keep in contact with. We would meet up every few months. But again our life’s drifted further apart and the last time I heard she was living in Israel. That must be over 20 years ago.
  • My climbing friends still keep in touch via letters. Yes letters – how old fashioned does that sound…But we haven’t been climbing together in 6 years.
  • I still keep in regular text contact with a good friend who I went to football matches with. But I’ve stopped going to games now due to circumstances, so we don’t meet up in person.
  • Work and parenting friendships have come and gone.
  • Friends in the village have dwindled. Some have moved away, some have sadly left this world.

So in terms of actual physical friend meet-ups it’s down to one chap I normally work with. He occasionally drags me for a game of golf. There are so many stories right theremy golf career is about as good as my cooking career. But due to the pandemic I have not seen him since the start of March.

Life and my choices have sent me down this path. Living in a rural area, bereavement, single parenting and autism in the house have all contributed. But it is was it is. A huge element of personal choice comes into the mix as well.

Yes this is sad but I am so lucky. The gaps left here have created space for blogging friendships. I’m doing the best job in the world – parenting. Job is the wrong word, it’s more a privilege. I have a great life. But I do so worry for others. Feeling alone can be such a dark place. Alone and yet claustrophobic. No one to reach out to. No one to interact or grow with. Some choose that option freely. But many are forced into it by circumstance. Illness, age, special needs parenting, single parenting, location, social factors, fears and yes a pandemic. It’s so easy and unfortunately very convenient to forget about those who drop off the grid. Last night was a timely reminder for me.

Take care my friends.

Not my berries

Wild strawberries get everywhere. Now they have found a way into the large tub which contains the old blueberry bush. This raises one of the great life mysteries. Wild strawberries are cropping up all over the garden. Even on the stone drive. Yet I find it impossible to grow them when and where I want them to. Nothing ever happens with my strawberry seeds. Most frustrating….

So officially no work until September at the earliest now. I guess it gives me more time to tend my strawberries. But we are SO fortunate compared to many others. We have beautiful memories. We have a nice (if slightly chaotic) garden with a lovely view. We are relatively secluded. Son can feel safe here. We can scrape by and pay the bills. We can still have fun and enjoy life. Yes another 3 months of this self contained world can at times seem a claustrophobic thought. But that thought is there only if I let it exist. In reality I’m losing a few brief encounters, some knee jarring runs and an occasional trip out. Counter to that – Son is gaining a feeling of security. For that security I can more than cope with a few inconveniences. Everyday we still have the ability to create memories and live out our dreams. Maybe not my frequent night dreams featuring talking cows and dinosaurs. But you know what I mean.

So let’s be thankful for what we have. Let’s use what we have. Let’s remember to live.

Let’s take the time to watch the wild berries grow…

The other thing about the wild strawberries is that they don’t last long. The are stripped bare by our frequent garden visitors. That’s fine with me. I guess they were the ones who brought the seeds here in the first place. So they grew them, so why not let them enjoy the rewards. And the answer to the great life mystery. I should leave the gardening to the experts. The wildlife. Having said that – they don’t seem very willing to cut the lawn.

Movies

We are running out of sun cream this summer….. So need protecting from the unbroken sun beating down on parched Yorkshire……

Over time you find ways to protect your inner self and your family. Unlike sun protection, these things are needed frequently here. With Son’s Aspergers he can suffer with severe anxiety attacks. To be fair I struggle as well. But over time you find ways to block out the anxieties for a little while. For me the best blocking techniques are running, exercise, music and climbing. With Son it’s dreaming, talking and watching wrestling. One thing that works for BOTH of us is watching movies.

I remember being told by various parents that I should limit screen and TV time. It’s bad for all kids. Apparently it’s ok for the same parents to watch as much TV as they like. Ok. We need to remember that all kids are different. Unique personalities. What works for one child may not be suitable for another. In the case of our Son, movies help brake the downward descent into an awful anxiety whirlpool. So when he needs to, he can watch a movie. If it takes two movies, then it’s back to back cinematic viewings. I guess the ultimate would be to watch the entire Marvel Universe in one sitting…..

The other upside to movies is that it helps with my anxieties as well. It’s good sometimes to forget the current world and just escape. Son tends to be in full control of the movie schedule. His choices will work for me. Often these are cartoons. That suits me just fine as I’m a big kid at heart. Nothing better than 90 minutes of ScoobyDoo or Ice Age. Part of me secretly would love to be deposited in one of those cartoon worlds. They always feel so much safer and more fun than ours.

Well the other night we both needed a bit of cheering up. So we sat in front of the TV and Son scanned the available options. Which Scooby movie would he pick. He might even pick a Marvel epic. This is going to be so cool…. Five minutes later we were watching the Playmobil movie.

Now that was not what I was expecting. Son hasn’t played with a Playmobil toy since he was about 4. Ok I will just grin and bare it. Well I will go to the bottom of our garden. WE both loved it. So much so that when I couldn’t sleep during the night, I watched it again. Ok that’s my rock and roll credentials blown out of the water but so be it. Yes its not going to get any Oscars but it certainly wins on the anxiety blocking scale. Now am I too old to get out the Playmobil figures……

Unbelievably while writing this ….the sun has come out. Where is the sun cream.

Quarantine and Mental Health

So pleased to have another wonderful post from Katie and Evee for you. Can’t thank them enough. They also have just posted something from me on their site as well. If you get the time please check it out.

Thank you so much.

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Our current Quarantine Routine, looks a bit like this:

– Katie wakes up and makes us both a coffee and works out

– We read, write, blog or go on walks or bike rides.

– Evee works out

– We cook dinner together

– We have our own evenings where we chill out, talk to our friends, or watch Netflix. (Evee falls asleep significantly later than Katie (usually with the odd noise complaint thrown in!))

At the beginning of quarantine, there was a clear and obvious push for people to make the most of this time. People were learning how to make banana bread, teach themselves how to do handstands, and learn Spanish or Italian. We also had good intentions; to paint, write, eat completely cleanly and have a strict regimented workout plan.

When we couldn’t bring ourselves to be productive, we were filled with guilt at the thought of wasting this precious gift of time ( https://thegriefreality.blog/2020/05/06/the-gift-of-time/ link if possible ). It was almost too easy for our minds to wonder back to the days of our own lockdown after Mum’s funeral and the depression that followed. During these days, counsellors encouraged us to mark small things as “wins”: showering, exercising, or eating healthily. But also, to the even smaller wins, like waking up in the morning, making the bed.

After our mum passed away, we were completely alone. As said beautifully in Gary’s post, there does come a point when people stop checking in and stop asking how you are. Apart from a few golden people, many individuals you thought were going to be with you until the end, become memories as well. It is a desolate place to find yourself in.

Thankfully, we have always had each other, and through trying to look after one another, we found ways to build ourselves back up.

Simple acts of self-love may appear futile or irrelevant when the future holds so much uncertainty, but we cannot imagine what our health and wellbeing would look like without them.

Lockdown has been a journey and has impacted our mental health, alongside thousands of others’. For us, it felt hauntingly similar to those grey days of 2018 that bore witness to some of the darkest moments of our lives. But through self-care, we learnt self-love.

Self-care grew to become an essential part of our healing and an ongoing exercise for our health and wellbeing. It is a wonderful thing to do that we strongly advocate, and promote heavily on our blog: Plant those little seeds of self-love into your body and mind.

As with any new exercise, it has been a difficult lesson to learn. But today when the world finds itself in so much chaos, we know to focus our attention on making ourselves feel happy and healthy. Eventually, our calm approach to life and clarity come back to us, and we ground ourselves once again.

One simple act of self-care is to sit in the bath, with a face mask, cuppa tea, bubbles and a coconut oil hair mask. It truly is amazing how much these luxuries make a huge difference to our wellbeing.

We have linked a post of little self-care tid-bits, everyone can do; it doesn’t have to eat up too much of your time. (if you could link this post https://thegriefreality.blog/2019/04/03/i-dont-self-care/ that would be wonderful ) It can be as small as making yourself your favourite tea before bed.

Hold tight, eventually, the hustle and bustle of normality will resume, and when it does we hope you carry forward these acts of self-kindness. In doing so, we have no doubt you’ll be more than capable and prepared for it.

Katie & Evee x