Fog

The first proper autumnal fog, the first of many….

I was looking at an online social media chat about Bereavement ….. well it beats watching my team try to play football. The chat was all about the recent UK State Funeral and how it had triggered emotions in many about their own personal losses. It is hard to watch a funeral and not be reminded of matters much closer to hand. I must admit as I watched the Funeral, one thought really struck me. How on earth do you grieve in front of millions, I couldn’t do it in front 40 people.

Two funerals in 6 weeks and I didn’t grieve at either of them. Focused on an 8 year old and trying to process far too many thoughts. I’m not that sure I took any of the funerals in. I can’t remember anything that was said. Can’t remember the music. Can’t remember that much at all. I can remember my brother whispering something in my ear that brought a half smile. I can remember standing with Hawklad looking at a fishpond after his mums funeral. That’s about it. Just felt like it was about waiting for them to be over.

It does feel so strange that I took far more in for a woman I had never met than I ever did for either of my mum or partner. I sometimes wish I had a video of both Funerals so I could experience them, hear what was said. Feel a part of them after 6 years.

Back to the online chat, the consensus was very similar. Mostly funerals are an ordeal, to organise, to sit through. Often the grieving can only really start when you have the funeral behind you. That definitely was my experience, it felt like it was months and months later before I started. This may sound crazy but until that point I was hurting but I wasn’t grieving. I wasn’t really accepting the reality, wasn’t ready to let go. Maybe if I had let the Funerals in more, maybe I would have been more receptive to grieving.

The fog of life might have started to clear much sooner.

Swiss Sunday

Must be time for another Sunday walk down memory lane. A virtual trip to alpine heaven. SWITZERLAND. This one takes us back to 2012, where did those years go.

A family adventure started with a certain young child wanting to try this cool looking drink, available at the train station. I can’t think why he wasn’t allowed it….

The spectacular Aare Gorge is a just under 2km long with a narrow, raised walkway along one side of the vertical cliffs. It lies just a short distance from the infamous Reichenback Falls where Sherlock Holmes fell into the abyss with Moriaty. At times the Gorge narrows to just a few feet wide. All this accompanied by the sound of a deafening river, crashing through the the narrow rock gap below. Definitely not a place for claustrophobics, but definitely an absolute thrill ride. At night it must be a truly terrifying place. Tiny Hawklad absolutely loved it, he was convinced that monsters and sea creatures must live here, sadly he didn’t managed to capture any on his little toy camera. But it’s still a location he talks about today. Maybe soon he can go back again. Let’s hope so.

Wrestling with the logistics

He misses out on so much, so much of the teenage life. You can only experience so much when you spend so much time isolated. What highlights the isolation is that since March 2020 he has spent some time with only ONE friend in that time – his only contact with someone his own age. Yes a really good friend but that’s a shed load of teenage socialising missed out on. It’s not the same but when a chance to do something special for him presents itself then you grab it, regardless of the difficulties.

The alarm went off before 5am.

300 miles of driving later, two traffic jams and we park up in Cardiff.

Trying frustratingly to find facilities that weren’t too busy and that could be used without causing too much stress.

Trying to take in a bit of the history of the Capital of Wales while avoiding the crowds.

Watching the anxiety levels rise as we join the long queues to get into a huge stadium.

But then the goal. The whole point of this. Getting the wrestling mad Hawklad into the UK’s first major Wrestling Televised Live Event in 30 years, along with 62000 other crazy fans. Was I so underdressed in a grey T-shirt and Jeans…. With much trying I had obtained 2 tickets at the back but crucially in an area with some space around us. Then for 4 hours Hawklad could be part of something, experiencing something different, something exciting. A brief breakout from the isolation

Then it was over, 300 mile night driving and almost 24 hours later we arrived back home. Wow I was tired. Yes it was difficult. Yes the trip highlighted many issues that create roadblocks to eventually easing the isolation and maybe returning him to a classroom. But Hawklad did some of that exciting living and that is all that mattered.

Swiss Sunday

It just seems appropriate to recount this one small tale from a wonderful country called Switzerland.

I think it was back in 2010 and we find ourselves on a quite busy train heading to Geneva Airport, after a family holiday in alpine heaven. The Guard appeared and went along the carriage checking tickets. I’m always amazed at how effortlessly they switch speaking between German, French and Italian. When he got to us, I remember him looking quite sternly at us, then saying ‘oh from England, sorry my English isn’t what it should be. I will come back.” Sounded like we were in trouble for some reason, did we have the wrong tickets…..

After several nervous minutes waiting to be hauled off the train, he returned with an English Translation book in hand. He sat down in the spare seat next to me and with a smile said ‘The rest of the tickets can check themselves. I’m learning English so it’s good to get a chance to try it out”

Did he really say his English ‘wasn’t what it should be’…. For about 20 minutes he talked better English than I could ever manage. And what did he talk about, ask questions about. The Queen, he really respected her. Admired her dedication, her unwavering civic duty and respect for others. He hoped one day to meet her, maybe that was why he was so focused on learning another Language.

Finally he looked at his watch and said the next station is approaching. With that he left toddler Hawklad with a train badge and was off.

I wonder if he ever did get to meet The Queen. I hope so.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time to dream. Dream about family holidays to Alpine Heaven, to beautiful Switzerland. It’s been a while now but maybe that time will come again.

I was listening to the radio when the Presenter talked about how difficult it was to find new holiday ideas because travel blogs were getting longer and longer. More detailed. The choice was getting tougher.

So an idea popped into my head. SEVEN word only travel blogs. Just 7 words to describe a country, a city or a tourist attraction. So we tried it on Switzerland. Hawklad went for

Happy childhood memories, beauty, warm, mountains, love.

And Muppet Dad went for

Alps, Lakes, Relaxation, Mountain Air, Walking Heaven

Another SEVEN words come to mind.

The best place I have ever visited

And another SEVEN words

I want to go back to SWITZERLAND.

Swiss Sunday

Last week I was asked when was the last time I was in Switzerland. Instantly I responded.

August 2015.

The follow up question was much tougher. Back then did I realise it was going to be my last trip, certainly for many years.

Not officially. Some vague discussions briefly mentioned about another family trip in a years time. Maybe that next time we could take Hawklad’s Granny for one last visit, her husband’s ashes are scattered here. But this time it felt different to me, it felt like times were changing. Some things can’t be avoided for too long. So I walked those Swiss paths and kinda realised things might be very different if another trip happened.

Hawklad’s mum clearly had things on her mind as well. Without any warning, on one walk she pointed to a spot and with a matter of fact tone, quietly whispered. “You can scatter some of my ashes here one day”.

A day later on a Swiss train to Grindelwald she mentioned another place in Switzerland where she wanted Ashes scattered. Same location as her Dad.

You sometimes never join the dots up…

Now the next trip will be very different. But one day when Hawklad is ready, we will venture back. A very different family now.

Swiss Sunday

I’m writing this post sat in our little back room, which in the great tradition of Yorkshire reasoning, is actually at the front of the house. A room which six years ago was mostly the reserve of Hawklad’s mum, I rarely ventured in there. It was her quiet room, a place she could escape from parenting and ME. It was filled with her clothes, her work files, her pictures and her books. Time moves on and it is a very different room now. Yes some of the pictures on the wall are reminders of the past but most of her things are now gone. Her wardrobe made way for Hawklad’s Xbox. The work files on the old desk replaced by my old battered record player. The sound of typing and silence now replaced with the latest FIFA game and my terrible taste in music.

Hawklad’s mum loved the sound of silence, that’s why she loved Switzerland and in particular one small town. Spiez is located around a small bay on the banks of Lake Thun, just on the edge of The Alps. It was a gateway to so much yet was very peaceful. Yet the peace was sometimes broken by the sound of excitement, much to the consternation of Hawklad’s mum. But all very exciting to others….. International Beach Football matches, Speed Boating, Sky Diving, Bollywood Movie Filming and Music Festivals. Not often, but sometimes the town came truly vibrantly alive for a few brief days before the peace was restored.

So this Saturday night, while a David Gilmour vinyl crackles away, I’m thinking of an anything but peaceful Spiez. Tonight is the second night of the annual Spiez Seaside Music Festival. That’s some Yorkshire logic right there as no part of Switzerland is anywhere near the sea….. The closest sea is 160km away. So right now, the concerts will be in full swing. I’m guessing a Swiss Music Star, Stephan Eicher will just be finishing before TOTO close out. It’s decades since I saw Toto support Tina Turner. Hawklad’s mum would hate the loud music whereas Hawklad and his muppet dad would be somewhere in the crowd. But then by Monday the peace of this small beautiful Swiss town will be restored.

And let’s not forget that Spiez is a TWO Lolly kinda place…

Swiss Sunday

It’s now been over 7 years since our last family holiday to PERFECT Switzerland. Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. Perfect for relaxing. Perfect for adventure. Wonderful food and drink. With its precision perfect public transport, no need for a car. Friendly. Polite. Safe. Cultural. Healthy. I could go on and on. But there is another reason that it’s PERFECT for our FAMILY. Asperger/Autism Families often find travel difficult. Ours most definitely did. Holidays can be a logistical nightmare. For an enjoyable holiday, so many factors often need to be carefully controlled. Routine is important. Does Hawklad feel safe, relaxed, happy. He needs so many factors to be in place to enjoy a holiday. It’s so easy for things to spiral out of control and you end up just wishing to be back home. Back home to that safe, predictable and controlled environment.

But here’s the thing about Switzerland. He is always happy here. Yes the trip part way across Europe by plane or train was usually a nightmare for Hawklad. Yes a logistical nightmare which needed precision planning. But every single time we crossed the border into alpine heaven, he was relaxed and happy. Everything seemed to be in place for him and worked just right for him.

He can’t wait to go back.

I can’t wait to go back.

Yes, to our family, Switzerland is PERFECT.

Swiss Sunday

Switzerland is one of those special places. Breathtaking views, fresh mountain air and a wonderful life feel. Every single time I crossed the border into this wonderful land, I could feel peaceful calm drifting over me, the stresses of my life quickly forgotten. Looking at the photos, replaying the memories, I can clearly remember just how different I feel while I’m in this alpine paradise. I could do with that right now, definitely could.

Out of the blue

No Blue Skies today…. Definitely OUT OF BLUE

Worst link ever……

Today completely OUT OF THE BLUE Hawklad asked

“Dad at mum’s funeral, why did we sit nearly at the back of the church”.

Nearly six years have passed and I had forgotten that I had chosen to do that. Back in 2016, I wasn’t thinking straight. Two closest of deaths within 6 weeks had taking its toll. I wasn’t sleeping, I was lost, I was trying to sort out my mums affairs and house, trying to sort out my partners affairs and funeral, I was trying to be a single parent. When I needed to be at my best, I was a mess. So that was the first thing I replied to Hawklad.

You know I’m a bit of a muppet at the best of times, imagine how much of a muppet I could be at the worst of times……

He knows me so he completely understood that.

I wanted to protect Hawklad. A small, low key funeral had morphed into something much larger. My partners family and sisters needed something different to me. Many more people. Many more strangers for Hawklad to deal with. He was just starting his Aspergers journey and stranger’s eyes could really bother him.

I thought being at the back of the church would mean you wouldn’t feel like you had lots of strangers looking at you……..more space as well.

“Dad wouldn’t they just turn round and look at me…”

I know, I didn’t really think that one through.

The church only had one exit which was at the back. If you needed to get out quickly then we would have had to walk along the aisle past all the mourners.

I thought it would have been easier to get out from the back.

Easier for me Dad”.

Easier for both of us. Easier for ME. You were dealing with everything better than I was.

Can you remember who sat near us Dad”

Not a clue, it was just a confusing storm to me. I know my brother sat behind me because I remember unbelievably that he made me smile at one stage with a comment he whispered in my ear. That’s one of the only things I can remember from the funeral. I had even forgotten we were at the back.

Hawklad then described the funeral to me. It was like I wasn’t there, all this detail has just passed me by.