Tomorrow

Yesterday the clouds put on a free show.

Thank you to everyone who sent such kind wishes. It was so greatly appreciated and made the day a little easier to take. Yes it was only another day. We have have had over 1000 of these days. But something deep inside of me told me this was going to be a particular tough one. It did turn out to be a tough-un. I am still not 100% sure why that should be the case. Maybe on previous birthdays we have had a special trip out as a distraction. Who knows but it feels like I learnt a little more about myself yesterday. Its also clear that I still love my partner and this grief journey has still got a distance to go.

Spending the day with our son without any outside distractions did tell me one thing. It’s so easy to get complacent in life. To think your hitting all your marks and targets. I assumed I was giving our Son the attention he needed. Yesterday disproved that. He needs and wants more quality time with me. He will get that… His human world is a very sparse place at the moment. Since the lockdown started in March he has had so few interactions. One telephone conversion with one of my sisters, a brief chat with his health lead, a couple of nice email exchanges with friends and his online dialogue with teachers. That’s it in over two months. When I’m invited into his world then no ifs or buts, I need to go. Not only is it a responsibility, it is an honour. No guarantees that those invites will keep heading my way.

It’s now the next day and we move on. Changed probably yes. But still moving on.

Battered Rose

This rose bush was here when we first moved in. So it’s at least 18 years old. Given the state of it even then, I suspect it’s been here much, much longer. The changes it has seen over those years. Some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. It’s in a really annoying place. Right next to the front door. Constant pruning required to stop your arms and legs getting lacerated just trying to get into your own home. I dread to think how many times it’s been smashed and broken by washing machine and furniture deliveries. It’s regularly attacked by the local wildlife and pets. So yes it’s had a challenging life.

Yes it’s a tad battered. The roses are never perfect these days. Always a little worn at the edges. The foliage is getting a little thin in places. But it’s still here. Just like we are. I can’t speak for you but in my case I am so like this bush. A bit old. The body has taken one too many hits. Definitely battered and a little frayed round the edges. You could even argue that I’m starting to take root. But currently I am still here. Still trying to live. I will give thanks for that.

No Rose Show yet

No jokes today. No script. Let’s just see where this takes me.

It’s the very early hours. It’s my partners birthday. Once I’ve finished I will close the iPad for today and hopefully I will see you tomorrow.

These are strange times for all of us. But to be fair it’s been a strange time for our little family since 2016. That’s the year the world stopped and changed for us forever. Those six weeks from hell. We lost my mum and our Son’s beloved little nan on the first day of that period. That day started as a fun birthday for me and finished in heartache. Almost straight after the funeral my partner wasn’t feeling great and went into hospital overnight for routine tests. The next day having come to pick her up, I was taken to one side by the Doctor to tell me that things where bleak. She only had a 5% chance of surviving the month. Zero chance of making it to Christmas. She was deteriorating rapidly and she wasn’t really conscious. The following conversation with an 8 year old will haunt me forever.

She never fully regained consciousness. We had no more conversations. I can’t even remember the last one we had. Three weeks later I was telling the 8 year old his mum was dead. 2016 and those six weeks from hell.

This day in 2016 I had just given my partner a plant, a Yorkshire White Rose. She had always wanted one. I wish I had bought it so many years earlier so she could have enjoyed it. Since then it has always bloomed in time for her birthday. Not this year. The bad winter has set things back. It’s a few weeks behind schedule. But it will get there. It’s a hardy soul. It feels like one of the few life bridges which didn’t break in 2016. A link to a world now gone but certainly not forgotten.

So now I will focus on our Son. Yes there might be a few tears but hopefully if I do my job right then there will also be smiles. Let’s be thankful for those wonderful times. Let’s remember those other times when the world changed. Changed for the better. Our first date. Our first night in the new house. Finding out those pregnancy results. Holding our baby. Our first family family holiday.

Wonderful, loving times.

So that’s it. Take care and remember that this is still a wonderful world. No more words today. See you tomorrow.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to one of the worlds most beautiful places, Switzerland.

This week is a little different. A transport theme. Switzerland is renowned for it’s staggeringly efficient public transport system.

Riding on the train, boat, bus or cable car is a visual delight. Just sit with a drink and take in the views. All the photos from here on are taking from the comfort of the passenger seat.

It’s one of the few countries where you really don’t need a car to travel. Bus, train, boat, tram and cable car all link seamlessly.

The system is completely integrated. As you approach a train station, look out the window. Watch the all the connected buses, boats and trains coming in at the same time. Everything links up.

It runs to precision timing. Living in the UK that thought is mind blowing. If a train is listed to leave at 11.59, then watch the station clock tick round and unbelievably it does leave on the dot.

All the announcements are beautifully delivered in German, French, Italian and then in English. Sometimes traditional Swiss singing is even provided onboard.

In all my time I only ever experienced one late running train here. I was on platform at Spiez waiting to get to somewhere deep in The Alps. The PA announced that a mountain rockfall had blocked the line and the train would be delayed. The PA promised an update within 5 minutes. In the UK that would block the line for weeks. Quickly followed another announcement saying that specialist teams were already on site and the train would be be delayed by 20 minutes. 20 minutes….. Then guards walked up the platform apologising for the delay and making sure every passenger had a revised connection schedule. When the guard spoke to me, he phoned the other station to ensure a connection would be available for me. Unbelievably I did eventually arrive at my destination only 20 minutes late. My bus connection was waiting. Simply staggering.

My partners mum always loved to get to the top of at least one Swiss mountain every time she visited. It reminded her of the days she would walk in The Alps with my partners beloved Dad. Unfortunately as she got older her mobility declined and she became very frail. Yet thanks to the wonders of Switzerland she managed to keep making those mountains journeys. A bus (or tourist road train) would pick her up from the hotel and take her to the station hub. Then trains would take her to the bottom of the mountain. Finally either a pulley train or cable car would carry her to the top. Here she should would sit in the restaurant, drink coffee and just look at the view. That meant so much to her.

Until next time. Stay safe and be happy. And finally travelling on a boat is such thirsty work….

The forecast

The weather forecast is saying it’s clear blue sky and no rain today.

The clouds and the showers would beg to differ.

Another inaccurate weather forecast. It’s clearly the forecasters fault that it’s raining …. It always is. I remember going to a Test Match (Cricket) between England and India. It had been a good weather forecast. But it was chucking it down and play was suspended. With perfect timing the main TV weatherman came onto the pitch to do a weather forecast. I’ve never heard anyone get so many boo’s. It was his fault that it was raining.

To be honest we get many incorrect predictions. Leaders saying a pandemic will just go away. Those pension salespeople saying that you will be able to retire at 50. Being told that Betamax and V2000 would be the best video recording formats. No one would be daft enough to vote for Trump or Boris. My Dad saying Status Quo wouldn’t last as they can’t sing or play. Brexit was easy and could be sorted in days. The Sinclair C5 was the vehicle of the future…..

Basically life is to unpredictable. You just never know what will happen. What’s round the corner.

I know this all too well. One day your talking about the next family trip to Switzerland. Discussing trying for a second child or adopting. Then 3 weeks later I’m leaving the crematorium with my partners ashes. A broken single parent. That wasn’t in the forecast or the plans.

We often learn this lesson far too late. I did. Don’t assume there will be a tomorrow. Remember to hug those you love today. Start ticking off those bucket list items, right now. If something special to you is broken, then try and fix it today. Today, speak to those you care for. Make sure you live today.

Lecture over…. And yes it’s still raining here. I blame it on the weather forecaster.

Busy

Running round the small garden for what seems like the millionth time and desperately trying to find an excuse to stop for a few seconds. Thankfully a yellow rose is a suitable excuse for a photo pit stop.

I’m sat writing this during another brief day pit stop. Son is having a wander round the garden, dreaming and working on what we do next this Sunday afternoon. It will be a short pit stop. Maybe 30 minutes at most. It’s an odd busy feeling….

My mind wanders back to pre Aspergers, pre parenting life. Early commutes, days filled with meetings, projects, accounts and people management. The working week punctuated by the occasional long train journey to London. Trying to get the works laptop to link to the train WIFI, so many unread emails to look at. I would return home and think – wow that was busy. Then the world changed three times. Parenting, Aspergers and then bereavement. One overriding thought comes to mind. What was I doing with that career life. Busy maybe, happy not, fulfilled – most definitely NOT. The first two events forced both our careers to alter. Suddenly the careers had to start fitting around our Son. One of us had always to be there for him. Definitely feeling busier. Then with a flick of a switch, two parents became one. The career was untenable and that was it. A new part time job and a full time single parent role.

Now the world has changed again. A social distancing fuelled change.

So I’m sat here watching son dream and I’m waffling on with these words….. Thinking about

  • A backlog of washing and domestic tasks,
  • Getting my head round this weeks school at home project,
  • Laying the groundwork for a switch to full on homeschooling,
  • Preparing the next appeal document to try and source the additional help our son needs,
  • Arranging calls and sending emails to teachers. Trying to make schooling work for son,
  • A garden which looks like an Amazonian Rainforest,
  • Looking at other work from home options as the current ideal role is potentially not outlasting the pandemic fuelled government incompetence,
  • Reading online DIY guides, preparing for the next home servicing and repair task,
  • What to cook for lunch and tea,
  • Scouring the online food supply options. Trying to figure out what we really need. Then trying to somehow book a home delivery for what is available,
  • Picking up the courage to get out the sewing kit and repair those pesky trouser knee holes,
  • Looking at the home finances spreadsheet AGAIN. I must be missing something,
  • Thinking about what things we can line up to fill the half term week off with fun and happiness. All without going through the front gate.

So the meetings, the commutes and professional career have gone. Yes I am at home. Yes my paid work is part time normally but has currently ceased completely. It may not seem like I am busy. But sat here, looking out the window, I have never felt so busy. Busy definitely YES, Fulfilled most definitely YES.

Now I am called back into action. Take care everyone. WE will do this.

Swiss Sunday

Way-hay it’s Sunday here, so it must be time to do a bit of much needed virtual travelling. A journey which will take us to beautiful Switzerland.

So while we wander round this stunning land, why don’t we consider some ever so important Swiss Facts….

Switzerland virtually every year has at least two cities in the top 10 list of best cities to live on the planet.

Switzerland makes half of the worlds production of luxury watches.

Switzerland consumes more chocolate per capita than any other country in the world. It also produces more chocolate than anywhere else. They invented milk chocolate.

Switzerland is about 3 times smaller than New York.

In 2007 peace loving Switzerland accidentally invaded Lichtenstein. Thankfully the world didn’t spiral into a global nuclear war following the incident. If it had then the country has enough nuclear shelters to house its entire population.

It has a square national flag. You won’t find many other countries in the world doing that..

They have FOUR official languages. German, French, Italian and Romansh.

It’s also a little known fact that in Switzerland it is illegal for Dads to have an ice lolly.

What are you doing…

What are you doing…..

This morning’s workout was cold, breezy and often damp. It’s odd. If I had been running across the fields, I would quite enjoy those conditions. It makes me feel so alive, help blow the cobwebs away. But when I’m restricted to the garden. When I’m trying to do push-ups and throw a kettlebell about – it’s not fun, not fun at all.

So why do I do it?

The obvious reason is fitness. Another key reason is that I need to stay as fit as I can (for as long as I can) for our Son. When he wants a game of football, I don’t want to be found wanting. He doesn’t have friends in the village to pass that responsibility on to.

But there is another reason for being cold and wet while trying to lift weights above my head. It’s very like my Dad and gardening….

Dad left this world many years ago. In the end it was a blessing as he was clearly in pain. The things he enjoyed doing were now beyond him. One of which was gardening. He would spend hours outside or in his greenhouse. Regardless of the weather he would be gardening. I can see him in the pouring rain, clearly cold and very wet finding some plant related task to complete. He would go out stressed and clearly not happy with life. A few hours later he would return relaxed and smiling. Yes he would often rush to the fire to try and warm up, but he was in a much better place than he had been.

Dad clearly struggled with his life. Pretty sure with depression. He suffered in silence. Talking about the D word was just not the thing to be done in those days. One of the few things that worked for him was gardening. It was his release. The thing that could help release the demons. His medicine. That’s why he went out in all weathers.

Exercise is my release. Whether that’s trail running, hill walking, weight lifting, cycling, CrossFit…. that’s my medicine. Sometimes activities like climbing have to stop, but they get replaced. It’s my daily release. It’s an anchor to help maintain life balance. People like The Rock have talked about this better than I ever will. We are all different. What works for me may not work for you. I guess we all have to find our thing, that activity which becomes the anchor. Maybe that is sport, maybe it’s writing, or music or knitting or cooking or gardening. Whatever it is, we need to find it. We then need to find the time to do it. That’s why tomorrow morning, whatever the weather is like, you will find me outside, running round the garden. Yes it might look odd but it makes perfect sense to me.

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…..

Swiss Sunday

Is it Sunday already. Where did that week go. But to be honest Swiss Sunday doesn’t come round quick enough for me. A time to remember family holidays to this wonderful country.

A time to remember the mountains.

The spectacular rivers.

The countryside.

The constantly changing colours.

The times you see a building and think how good that view must be.

The lakes and how relaxing travel is here.

Yes Switzerland is staggeringly beautiful. If that wasn’t already enough for one small country let’s not forget another thing it does so well. The chocolate….