Polar express

A beautiful train line in the distance. Even beautiful at night…

Last night we had a chat about Christmas. This year will be a slightly different one. No family visits and wider family meals. No friend visits. No 50000 spectator football match. No concert. No special trips out. No nice country walks. No carol singers. No Father Christmas riding through the village on a tractor collecting for charity and then handing out sweets to the kids. Basically just us, the pets, the house, the garden and one visit from the jolly big fella dressed in red.

It’s still Christmas. Still a time to make memories. Still a time to live. So we make the best of it. Never forgetting those we love the most.

Last year we thought that we had started a new tradition. A trip out on a Christmas Train. A wonderful night trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. A beautiful illuminated stream train with even some magical creatures in the passing fields.

So we had planned to do the same this year……

Well it’s not happening. So it’s time for plan b. We have decided that on the same day as last year we will head out on our own polar express. I have some really cheap solar powered Christmas lights. The car will adorned with these. A Christmas music cd will be loaded up on the car stereo. Christmas snacks will find their way into the car. Silly hats and reindeer jumpers will be donned. And off we go on our own polar express. A slow drive around a little used country lane route.

That’s a start. What else can we come up with. What new memories can be born. Always remembering to carry those we love in our hearts as memories are made.

Irony

It was another one of those Yorkshire days. Cold, wet, windy, brooding.

That weather combined with a pandemic, homeschooling and our enforced lockdown is a heady mix. A mix which gets me pondering life. Probably too much pondering some days.

I was sat looking out through the window at that dark sky. Sat alone while Hawklad did his school work in the bedroom. I was suddenly taken back to before 2016. The old small conservatory had finally fallen to bits. We had found the money for a replacement one. I think we planned for years of sitting in there, spending time together. But here’s the thing. We never really did. Life always got in the way. We always seemed to be too busy. If only we had found a way of slowing life down. Creating time at home. Seemingly having too much time on our hands. No excuses to not sit together in that new conservatory. At the time it kind of never really mattered. We had so many years ahead of us to do that.

Well that plan didn’t go well.

Here’s the irony that 2020 presents. Suddenly time has slowed down. Often a feeling of too much time on our hands. A lockdown enforcing time together. No outside distractions this time. A perfect time to sit with my partner and look at that dark sky. Thinking how lucky we are to have that time together. The irony is not lost on me.

Weekends

It’s almost the weekend, time to enjoy ourselves. Definitely feels like I should be a Fun Guy! Obviously being restricted to the house and garden doesn’t give me Mush Room to do that.

Sorry!!!!!!

Before March weekends felt special. Different. A week of classrooms for Hawklad and work for me – we needed the weekend. So we crammed it with stuff we couldn’t fit into the week. Football, walks, movies, Xbox, games, talking, visiting family, trips out, food outside and talking in the garden. Weekends were fun, unique, different.

Now it’s all changed. Seven months of family lockdown have seen to that.

No trips to school. No work for me. Home all the time. Some stuff is now beyond us. But other stuff is still there but now it can happen any day of the week. Suddenly weekend stuff is happening on a Monday, Tuesday…… Its often the same routine across all 7 days. Weekends don’t feel so special now. They certainly don’t feel that different.

That Truffles me because I have a Lichen for the weekend .

We definitely need to work on this. Recapture the weekend. Make them special again. As a start let’s try the trampoline on Saturday. Let’s have an extra long game of football and chat in the garden. Lets get the table tennis set out. Let’s find a special movie for Saturday. We can do this.

Failure to communicate

I wonder what it’s like not to communicate. Doesn’t seem to do the roses any harm. I guess they communicate in other ways – scent, colour, thorns….

When I communicate it too often messes up or the point completely misses its target. One day I will find a way.

I also said something similar about my football team. One day they will be crowned champions. I’m still waiting. The last time was 1926-1927. Even I am not that old.

So I should have known better when I picked up the phone to school. Maybe I could still persuade school to be a bit more proactive with our son. Give him a tad more support at home. Maybe even some feedback on how his submitted work is looking. Even possibly if school would work with me by using the enforced time at home to try out some new learning approaches. For example a more online and interactive approach to learning French.

Twenty minutes later. Well that went well. NOT. So basically nothing will change unless the school is forced to go into lockdown. At that stage more support and access to online systems will be opened up to all pupils. Must admit school is following Government guidance and is clearly experiencing some staff shortages. Anyway I got the proverbial Talk To The Hand.

So yes verbal communication is vastly overrated.

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.

Creaky world tour 9

It’s time for another bit of virtual sightseeing. Last year I started my very own world tour. Let’s see how far I can get powered only by

  • My falling to bits exercise bike
  • My falling to bits running shoes
  • Pokemon Go….

When I started the tour I was restricted to Yorkshire now that has become the garden. So let’s see where we left off last time. We had just visited beautiful Timisoara in Romania. Now the journey continues. We still had many kilometres unused and we have added another 200km this week. So where have we got to….

We have arrived in the capital of Moldova, Chisinau. Let’s start with some random facts about this city.

  • A population of about 730000,
  • The official language is Moldovan,
  • During the Soviet Union the city was called Kishinyov,
  • It’s called the White Stone Town due to many of its buildings being built from Limestone.

So let’s take a look at some of the city sights.

Cathedrals

Milestii Mici

Officially the biggest wine cellar in the world

Dendrarium Park

Valea Morilor

Eternal Flame

Stefan cel Mare Park

So thank you Chisinau. Now where next on the world tour.

********* all City photos from TripAdvisor. ************

The Dads

The ‘Stay at Home unless you are a pompous cretin called Cummings who thinks he is the UK Government‘ message has been on for months now. Ok the social distancing thing is starting to fall apart but for some of us, it’s still very much in force. One knock on effect of that is that you end of taking photos of the same thing, over and over again. SORRY. More cows. One day maybe we might get a giraffe or a camel.

This post is a tribute to Dads. I don’t need to say sorry about that.

Dad in Art I have to create some characters for my stop motion cartoon project. I have to think of some designs, sketch them and then cut them out. They will then become the stars of the cartoon. Any ideas?.”

Well you want to make them simple to make. What about superheroes. Make a simple version of Captain America and Ironman. Lots of muscles, great costumes and heroic.

That gives me a great idea. Let’s go for the complete opposite. No muscles, no dress sense and bad haircuts. Let’s go for Dads…..”

So here goes. Our little tribute to all the Dads out there. I’m trying to work out which one is me…. Maybe it’s the one still to be made which looks just a little like Thor….

Honesty

Sometimes it’s best to check the facts behind what someone tells you. Often it’s what they don’t tell you that is the key thing….

So this week we have had utter governmental incompetence. First they proclaim that having the second highest death toll in the world represented a great achievement. Then they pronounced that it was time to celebrate as the lockdown was ending. Two days later that message suddenly changed to the lockdown is staying in place. Then Sunday night the PM announced that those who can’t work from home should start to go back to work the next day but don’t use public transport. Within hours that became best wait till Wednesday.

It’s absolute chaos. The lockdown stays in place in Scotland and Wales but not England. In those countries the message is Stay HOME. In England it’s changed to Stay ALERT. How do you stay alert to something you can’t see. You can now see your parents and family but they can’t agree on where, when and how. Already this morning, the rule on how many elderly parents you can now visit has changed 4 times….. We currently have incomprehensible madness. You can go to work and see work colleagues but you can only meet up with one member of your family. You can drive to destinations but they won’t tell you what your allowed to do when you arrive – are you even allowed out of the car? They talk about using the R number (the effective virus reproduction number) as the decider of policy. Yet they can’t measure it. In other countries they give a definite number. Here it’s always given as a range somewhere between 0.5 (in your dreams…) and something well over 1 (more likely). If we only test a few people then how are we supposed to work the number out. People with mild conditions are told to stay at home but are not tested.

So much waffle and misinformation. Clearly it’s what they are desperately trying to avoid telling us that is the key. Strangely that’s the stuff which will also show what a catastrophic cockup our PM has made of this crisis. Can we please have some some real honesty.

So in the spirit of Honesty, I will come clean with you. I’ve not been telling you all the facts. I’ve hidden something from you. SORRY. I’ve been talking about my swimming analogy. Grief and life feeling like I’m swimming towards an ever receding islands. That better stay as something in my mind and not actually happen. As I CAN’T SWIM….

Aa a kid we only had two swimming options. One was to swim in the Sea. That’s the North Sea. It’s better known as the OMG how cold is that Sea. Also in my day the local Steel, Chemical and Nuclear Plants would dump far too much into the icy waters. Big signs on the beach would warn against eating shell fish. If that wasn’t bad enough, you would get signs next to the poison signs warning Do not swim due to dangerous currents. So not a great place to learn to swim.

The only other swimming option was the town’s swimming pool. A very old swimming pool. Obviously built before they had invented the words – Heating or Hygiene. My new School would do weekly swimming lessons there. That was my big chance. Sadly that chance evaporated. The first lesson was curtailed when one of the older boys thought it would be funny to have a wee in the pool. The second lesson was only a few minutes old when part of the Pool’s glass roof started to fall down. Again we were evacuated. The pool didn’t reopen while I was at school. So that’s my excuse – I can’t swim.

See it’s easy to be open…..