Open your eyes

Looking through a few flower photos and guess what I found. Another appearance from our friendly garden visitor. This unexpected find brought a much needed smile.

The unexpected hospital visit was tough. It was physically and mentally tough for our son. Hospitals are not pleasant places at the best of times but during a pandemic. Just awful.

It was a routine procedure but it made me face some demons. Waiting for news in the building where my mother died and where I found out my partner would be dead within days. Too many traumatic memories flooded back. Sat by myself in a waiting room. Yes it’s ok to cry.

Those memories and the clear unpredictability of the future made me realise what is so important to me. The things I need to cherish and make the most of. No more trying to email when talking to our son. It’s such a bad habit, you miss out on so much and son can see the lack of focus. Quality time MEANS quality time. It took something so unpleasant to clear my mind and refocus my priorities. Your never to old to open your eyes.

Swiss Sunday

It’s just turned Sunday here in Yorkshire. It must be time for our weekly trip to the country which means so much to our little family. Beautiful Switzerland.

A country which is just under 850 miles away to the south east of our little Yorkshire bungalow. Actually 850 miles doesn’t sound that far away when you say it quickly. Ok 2020 will sadly be another year without breathing in that alpine air but 850 miles surely is doable in the near future.

My partners family has been visiting Switzerland since just after the Second World War. My partner fell in love with the country as a young child during the seventies. She introduced me to Alpine Heaven 20 years ago. Our son made his first trip here when he was one.

850 miles doesn’t sound so far. Just short enough to give us a few travel options. The air option is convenient. Either a direct flight or a quick change in Amsterdam. These days you spend more time going through security than actually in the air. Flight time is less than 2 hours.

The second option was by train. Super relaxing but much longer. A 6am train to take us into London. A two minute walk to the Eurostar terminal. Navigate the security which is completed in minutes then wait to board the tunnel train that takes you under the sea into France. Just over two hours later your stood in a Paris station. Then it’s a short walk or a subway journey to a connecting station.

You now have three options. The first option is a train journey to Strasbourg then a short train journey into Switzerland.

The second option is a HGV bullet train to Basel in Switzerland.

The third option is to stay in Paris for a couple of days to allow a visit to Paris Disneyland. Definitely fun….

The train to Switzerland option is long one, especially if it involves a trip to see Mickey Mouse. It’s a full day of travel but incredibly relaxing. Another option does exist. It’s to drive. Never tried it but it might be the best option for our son. It would be about 12 hours including an hour on a tunnel train. Driving through The Alps does sound fun. If only we had a Aston Martin to cruise in.

Until next week. Take care everyone. Remember to live and let’s see how far our little legs can carry us.

His eyes

It’s been a few months since I went trail running along this route. The first time I did this route I remember thinking that the route will gentle meander up the hill. Wrong. A direct, straight up mud fest.

When we came walking here with the dog I remember telling our son that the route was into the trees. Straight up and then down the other side. His response

Why don’t we just walk round the base of the hill. We will eventually end up in roughly the same place. Makes more sense to me.

That is the perfect metaphor for life and parenting. It’s something I’m desperate to learn from.

Each person, each child is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. My path might be right for me but is it really the right path for our son. The answer is probably NO. So why should be follow me up that hill path. He sees the world through his eyes not mine. He will see and interpret things differently to me. He has to find the route that works for him. That’s the way he becomes the person that he was meant to be. Not the person I, or the government or society believes he should be. He has to live his OWN life. Become the person he is most at ease with. His true self.

Dad why wasn’t I christened?”

Because that has to be YOUR decision not OURS…..

I might be convinced that homeschooling is best for him. But only HE really knows, so it has to be his call. If in September he decides that school is safe and that it’s where he wants to learn then he will go back.

It’s tough for the parent. Trying to find the right balance. I probably get it wrong every single day. But the secret is to learn from those mistakes. Parents should learn just as much or more from their children than we teach them. So hopefully I can stop myself from saying things like

  • You need to do…
  • This is what will happen…
  • This is best for you…
  • That is wrong for you…
  • This is the truth…

Replace these phrases with

  • What do you think…
  • How do you see things…
  • What is your heart telling you…
  • What works for you…
  • This is only my opinion…
  • It’s your call…

Ultimately it’s HIS life. It’s the ultimate privilege that he allows me access his world. To sometimes act sometimes as guide and but more often just as a companion. But it’s a two way process. He also guides me. More than he realises. Until he decides to spread his wings and fly, then I’ve made the life choice to be that companion and occasional guide.

Where’s the shed

Here once stood the garden shed. But then an ageing Oil Tank had to be changed. The new rule was that flammable items had to be at least 6 feet away. A wooden shed just 3 feet away just didn’t cut the mustard. So it had to come down. I remember the day so well. My partner organised the skip. She took the first swing with the sledgehammer and then left the rest to me. It was a tough fight. Eventually I won the contest on a split points decision. Yes the shed was down but most of it now appeared to be imbedded in me.

We never did get round to putting a new one up. Actually we didn’t need one. The area became a little bit more green. A place to randomly put those potted plants which we have collected over the years. A nice home for a 90 year old wooden bench which has long since served its purpose and has been retired. It’s also a bit of a magnet of our sons footballs….

It so needs a good weeding but actually yellow poppies and wild strawberries are starting to grow here. Well that’s my excuse.

I’m not sure what my partner would make of it. Maybe a bit too chaotic for her. She liked organisation. The new shed was high up on my list of things to do before the world changed. But then she left our little world. Then every weekend her mum would pop over for an hour or so. She loved it. When she came over at the weekend she would often sit and look at it while drinking her coffee. Thinking about life. Watching the birds make use of it.

I’m writing this at about the time her mum would have been visiting. I’m sat in the chair she would be sat in. Yes I do think the little green area works. Maybe that new garden shed can wait for a few more years. Sorry my love…..

Needs work

Another moody Yorkshire summer afternoon. Everyday it’s such a blessing to wake to this view. No wonder my partner fell in love with this house within seconds. And as ever she was on the right side of the conversation. The ‘needs work’ line was a little weak. Actually it still needs work but that view is still here. Tell me what’s more important.

Looking back my line about ‘needs work’ was more about avoiding change. Sticking with what we had. Avoiding that leap of faith. That’s been a theme of my life story so far. I always think my past climbing hobby is a perfect reflection of life. Many goals set but never attempted. It was easier to avoid them, find excuses. Too much caution climbing routes. Using fear and self doubt as an excuse to avoid those more challenging climbs. Backing away from leaps of faith. Yes I had fun but what could have been.

Now the life safety net has been removed. Single parenting and being without that person who held my hand on those big steps. Life has changed but so am I. It’s a slow process but it’s happening. Now is the time to face some of those fears which have held me back. Time to start ditching those constraints that have grounded me. Time to re-evaluate myself. Only by doing that can I be that parent our son truly deserves. Yes the one who protects him but the one who also encourages him to truly flourish. To be that person who he truly wants to be. To live his life.

Swiss Sunday

Now that’s a view from a train station. It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to stunning Switzerland.

Some wonderful news. Switzerland is now open again to most of the world. Hopefully soon the good people from the US will be able to get there as well.

We have not been back to this Alpine Heaven since the summer of 2015. It seems like an absolute lifetime. So much has happened.

Yes we have so many obstacles to overcome but one day WE will return.

Switzerland is just part of us now. Feels more like Home than England. That feeling gets stronger each day.

We still have my partners ashes to spread here. The view across Lake Thun with the snow covered mountains in the background is one of the places she wants to become a part of. Her Home. Our Home.

So yes these virtual trips feel like a return to what should be our home. One day just maybe that will happen.

Good to see someone maintains a balanced diet when he visits his future home…..

Tomorrow’s Rose

A few hours ago talked about a Yorkshire White Rose which has a connection with my partner. I said that it would become even more beautiful. Well here’s the proof.

This little bush produces the most stunning roses. The sadness is my partner never really got to see them. But they are such a beautiful tribute to her. That’s such a nice thought.

Take care everyone and remember to live. It’s can still be a wonderful life.

White Rose

This was the rose I gave to my partner just four months before she left us. She always wanted a Yorkshire Rose.

Normally the rose flowers on her birthday but not this year. The weird weather has set it back just over a month. But today it finally started to reveal its beauty. Just the one so far but it’s a lovely start. It feels like this rose is a connection. A link that still exists with my partner. There are a few of those links

  • The house,
  • The garden view,
  • A rainbow,
  • Her favourite places,
  • A couple of songs,
  • And most importantly OUR SON.

So today I feel just a little bit closer to her. More moments thinking about the good times. As much as I might want to linger just a bit longer, I have to pull myself away from the rose and those moments frozen in time. As hard as I try to imagine those memories they will just stay just that, memories.

So it’s time to focus on the here and now. Its time to focus on OUR son. Yes focus on me as well. I can always pay a quick visit to the rose and those memories tomorrow. Tomorrow the rose will be even more stunning.

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.

Plant Life

It doesn’t look the most impressive plant but it certainly has meaning.

Something like 18 years ago we had just moved into the house. The garden was so badly overgrown. The lawn was more like a corn field. Took us three days to cut it. Having revealed the garden we found it appeared to have no flowering plants. Many weeds and one Apple tree. I guess that’s called a blank canvass.

A week or so later the village had a plant fare and we nervously ventured down to it. We knew hardly anyone there. We did meet some lovely people. Unfortunately over time those we get to know have either left or sadly passed away. Can’t remember much about the actual fare apart from my partner telling me that we needed to buy something. I randomly picked a hand full of plants. As we were late the selection of healthy plants was completely exhausted. Our new plants looked somewhere between decidedly unhealthy and dead. They didn’t survive long. All except one and here it still is. Who would of thought that the most sickly looking plant would end up outliving my partner and a number of the residents at the fare. Life is definitely bizarre and it is often so unfair. But that is life. We need to treasure it, treasure all life.