Sunday

Sunday, the perfect day for an afternoon walk. Heading down one of those mighty Yorkshire motorways to a beautiful hidden lake.

Ideal for Hawklad, quiet and feeling remote. Plenty of nature and wildlife, no crowds.

On a walk like this you can see the difference in Hawklad. Relaxed, funny, talkative, at ease with the world. Add people, add crowds, add school and the change in him is marked. On edge, worried, pensive, quiet, reserved.

We need more of these Sunday walks.

Go with the flow

A walk in the deep, dark wood. No encounter with The Gruffalo on this walk, maybe next time.

Another Yorkshire Gem, Dalby Forest on the edge of the Moors.

A short school at home week. Just 2 days. Should be eight lessons, one lesson dropped for Covid testing. Three lessons, no idea whether they happened or not. One lesson with a few brief notes provided. One quite detailed lesson and one exam to be sat at home.

Sometimes you have to go with the flow. Schools are struggling. Teachers off. Support staff off. Pupils off. Old, unventilated classrooms. Covid in school. Additional pandemic workload. These are challenging times. I will politely chase up homeschooling issues but with understanding.

So when the lessons don’t happen, we go with the flow. Lost schooling time creates more time for the school of life. That school is fun. It has few boundaries. Definitely no exams. Only expectation, having fun. A trip to the Deep Dark Wood is definitely fun……

Unique

Even on a grey, bleak day, there is always something to see. Always something to admire.

So many leaves on one small bush and every one is unique. How cool is that. Nature gives uniqueness a chance to shine.

Some things are hard to fathom out. Hawklad has made astonishing progress over the last couple of years. Two years ago he was struggling to read, falling further behind the class. Getting no help from the system. The attitude was that if he couldn’t read by that age then real progress was unlikely. Any help should focus on getting him used to using technology to help assist with his permanent dyslexia.

Fast forward today and he’s been happily reading a history textbook. No help required. He might need to guess the occasional word. He might read the occasional word incorrectly. But he’s reading. He’s aiming to finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy next year.

It just shows what can be achieved.

Why does the system give up so quickly on so many of our children. So much untapped potential.

I remember being told by a Psychologist of an autistic teenager who was profoundly dyslexic. She was wrote off by the school system yet she was clearly incredibly gifted in so many areas. She had a dream of learning to fly a plane. So many obstacles were placed before her. She was told her dreams were unrealistic, beyond her. Yet years later she became a qualified helicopter pilot.

Hawklad has kept believing. That helicopter pilot never stop believing. Isn’t it about time our society KEPT BELIEVING in every child.

Free

That’s another weekend gone. Feels like I immediately need another one to recharge. Wishful thinking…..

It’s been the usual school effected weekend. Six pieces of homework talking Hawklad about six hours to complete. Why as a society do we have such a problem in letting childhood mean fun, freedom and adventures. I keep saying it….. if our countries so called Leader has to have his weekends off (because he needs them) then why can’t we let our children have the same leisure time. Is it because some people are deemed more important than others….

Hawklad didn’t complete all the work that was required of him but I stopped him. Enough is enough. Time to try and recharge. He won’t ever recharge doing Calculus questions but he just might when he can be outside and free.

Autumn

Damp, dark, chilly and windy. Definitely Autumn in Yorkshire. it also means places like The Yorkshire Arboretum will be unusually quiet. That’s the perfect time for Hawklad to have a relaxing visit. It’s good when he feels like he just about has a place to himself. That makes such a difference to him.

And it did.

And it made all the difference to his old Dad as well.

Can’t beat the quiet, can’t beat nature, can’t beat the autumnal colours.

Albatross

Another early trip to the coast. Early means tiredness but it is good. At that time it is quiet. That is perfect for Hawklad. Normally you also get to witness the beauty of first light. NOT THIS DAY….

It was dreadful. Heavy rain, Misty, Windy, Cold. Within minutes of standing in the cliff viewing platform the weather had made its way through our coats and clothes. Today birdwatching was going to be a trial. A few intrepid (bonkers mad) souls were hoping to catch sight of one of the rarest birds. An Albatross. The only Albatross in the Northern Hemisphere. Albert has decided to make the Yorkshire coast one of his pit stops. Last year he spent 3 days here. This year it’s been a month so far. Resting on one particular spot on a steep cliff.

This was our fifth visit to try and see him. We had been lucky on one trip. Seeing him through a telescope on the cliff. But no luck seeing the true spectacle of an Albatross flying. The other visits – no luck. Albert spends a lot of time at sea, or further down the coast or flying to an island off Northern Germany.

Today was not looking hopeful. No sign as he has been last seen flying off to sea. The weather was trying to drive us back to the warmth of the car. The other mad souls had given up. After an hour that was enough for Hawklad and we dragged our sudden bodies back to the car park. But then a couple of men ran back. He might have been spotted. So we headed back to the cliff. NOTHING.

Must have been an earlier sighting. After 30 minutes it was enough for Hawklad again. But for some reason I said ‘5 more minutes’. NOTHING. I started to pack away the drenched binoculars when suddenly a shout. ‘What’s that’.

Amongst the Gannets, one much larger bird with black wings.

Unbelievably Albert the Albatross was there. For 5 glorious minutes he performed close fly passes. Sometimes no more than 20 yards away. These photos don’t do him justice.

Finally Albert settled on the cliff and rested. One chap shouted over that this was like a bird spotters dream that could never happen.

So a very wet Hawklad had seen his first ever Albatross. As a toddler he had a soft toy just like Albert. He loved it and always said he wanted to one day see one. Who would have thought that one would come to him. Now let’s hope Albert somehow finds his way back home. But while he is here he will bring so much joy to many.

But it just goes to show that even when things are seemingly against you. When it’s looking grey and tough. Great things can just be around the corner. DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.

Birds at dawn

Another early start. This time a seriously early one. A perfect insomniac storm. 3am. Hawklad has woken and can’t sleep. I have not been to bed yet and sleep feels a million miles away.

Hawklad wonders if we can see the dawn brake. On the coast.

So a few moments later and after I had sampled the meanest of espressos, we are driving. Driving past badgers, foxes and owls. Before 4am we arrive at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. It’s still pitch black and we have the site to ourselves. It’s such an eerie feeling walking in the complete absence of light and sound. Even to early for the thousands of seabirds perched precariously on the cliffs. No wind and even the sea was strangely becalmed.

In perfect time to watch dawn brake. No thoughts of an Albatross who was apparently out at sea. Who needs one bird when you get to watch all this unfold.

The dark was a challenge to my iPhone camera but it gave it a go.

By 7am a few people had started to arrive, mainly here to take up prime spots and wait. Hoping on catching sight of one particular bird. They had no idea what they had just missed. The deafening sound of seabirds hides the peace that existed just 2 hours ago.

We were back in the car and driving a few minutes later. The site had lost its appeal to Hawklad. Even a handful of strangers proving too much for him. But he had got to see a spectacular show first hand. Just the two of us so without his anxieties. He slept during the ride home.

Yes it was a ridiculously early start. Yes I went more than 24 hours without sleep. But it was worth it for those couple of hours when Hawklad felt that he had the world to himself. I suspect it won’t be the last time we do this. Yes there will be time for trips out to build those social bridges but those come with anxieties. We all need these times and places of sanctuary. Hawklad does. Yes even a worn down parent needs them.

Big

A quiet corner of the village church. There has been a church here since at least 1079AD. Over time it’s become one of those places where man and nature have merged together. Yes we can work together.

The UK’s so called Government believes that it’s not up to them to tackle climate change. Big Government is bad. It’s all about individual decisions. Micro steps. So they have helpfully suggested people should stop rinsing plates and freeze more left over bread. It’s up to others to sort out the environment.

In unrelated news the so called UK Government is set to announce approval for a new massive climate unfriendly oil field off the coast Shetland. Burning oil and nature clearly go hand in hand. Big Government is clearly good when it comes to making money. If only Government could think big when it comes to future generations. Problem is there is no money to be made now with the future.

Nature

I don’t mind gardening. Yes it can be hard work but it’s mostly enjoyable and relaxing. Problem is that I’m not very good at it. My gardening attempts to make things worse. Over time I’ve figured out that the garden will always look better if nature takes control. With patience it brings you gifts. It always does. So amongst the weeds the gifts keep on coming.

Sadly the ‘leave it to Nature’ strategy doesn’t stretch to the lawn. Nature won’t cut the grass. It just keeps on growing. It becomes a meadow. A meadow without wild flowers, just prickly, stingy things. Balls get lost. Pets go missing. Mine and the dogs hay fever goes into meltdown. Yes the dog had allergies. He takes exactly the same antihistamines as I do. It’s such an odd feeling swallowing my tablet while trying to get the mad dog to take his. So the lawn needs cutting. That’s down to me. But I do leave Nature a few areas of grass to do it’s thing with. You never know what it will do. What wonders it might bring. And it does give the mad dog a great place to hide socks, my socks.

Insomnia the gift

99 times out of a 100 not being able to sleep properly is a real pain in the posterior. It really is. It’s been like that for months. Yes the body gets use to it but it does slowly wear you down.

But there are some advantages. The quiet at night is a blessing. Our world is just too noisy. It’s a great time to think and daydream. In those moments you truly realise what is important to you. What you care more the most.

And

You get too hear and see the dawn. The new day start. The morning chorus of the birds is one is the great natural shows. The views are stunning in that new light. Even views you normally take for granted become epic.

Yes even insomnia can be wonderful.