2003

2003. A time before parenting. A happy dreaming couple. A time when digital photography was still seen as the work of the devil by many. When a mobile phone was just that – a mobile phone – nothing else. My football team was still playing in the European Champions League.

31st May 2003. As the local paper described it. A once in a lifetime opportunity. The chance to see a 90% solar eclipse. Two problems

  • The peak eclipse would happen dead on sunrise. Best viewed from the East Coast.
  • This is Yorkshire.

Yorkshire does many things well. Cricket, Rhubard, Beer, Ferrets, Terriers, Chocolate, Moody Moors. We also do lots of cloud and rain. We don’t really do sun – bit of a bugger when your looking forward to a solar eclipse.

With a wing and a prayer we set off for the coast at 3am. Arriving at Scarborough an hour later. People looking out across the sea. Just before sunrise it’s hard to tell if the clouds have formed.

The first signs of morning and we wait with baited breath. Will the Sun appear.

As the sunrise time came still no sign of the sun. Maybe too much sea mist.

Then at 4.36am a thin red strip of sun appears. The crowd let’s out a huge cheer. Some hardy folk jump into the sea for a swim.

Unbelievably the infamous Yorkshire weather was playing ball today. Not a cloud in the sky.

As the Sun continued to rise a beautiful red then orange water path virtually led the way to the eclipse. Someone had brought a ghetto blaster and almost hypnotic music drifted across the morning air. The dreaming couple talked about an adventure to a far off land to see a full eclipse one day. One day.

17 years later. The Yorkshire weather is certainly not playing ball. I came across these photos looking for my birth certificate. They instantly took me back to that time of dreams and a truly magical partial eclipse.

One more little miracle. A photo involving me. A photo I can sign up to. So to those who have asked for a picture. Ok here it is.. Me back in 2003.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of Switzerland.

Time travelling back a few years. The Hotel Owner takes a look at our shorts, T-shirt and sunglasses.

“I do hope you have brought something warmer with you. It’s going to be warm this morning but we have a cold snap coming through this afternoon. If not let me know and I can get you some jumpers”

I know it’s a generalisation but I always found the Swiss to be staggeringly polite. My partner knew this country so well. Even though this was deep into May she knew it was worth bringing a few items of wool. So with warmer gear in my rucksack we set off. Within a couple of hours it was most appreciated.

Another thing about Switzerland. The weather forecasts. In the UK our gerbils give more accurate forecasts than the weather services. Switzerland is different. Like its trains the forecasts are usually precision perfect. Each day would start with watching the weather guide on the TV. No weather presenter here. Stunning live web videos from the countries best locations with the hourly forecast underneath. I could watch that all day. So on this Sunday the forecast had snow from 2pm. At 1pm the clouds rolled in and suddenly the temperatures dropped sharply. Just after 2pm the snow started.

We watched the snow line descend rapidly down the mountains.

A few snow ball fights later and we found ourselves in the hotel enjoying copious amounts of pizza and apfelsaftschorle. The Hotel Owner confidently predicting that tomorrow would be a sun cream day.

The next morning we opened the hotel window and were rewarded with this view. Yesterday’s cold snap was so worth it.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of Switzerland.

When I did my first Sunday post about Switzerland never did I imagine that it would still be going as we move towards a new decade.

As long as people enjoy it then the photos will keep coming. Ok some photos will get repeated. But when I run out new photographs then I can dip into my partners family albums. Years and years of lovely family trips to this wonderful country.

Maybe just maybe we will find a way of going back. Keeping that family link going.

Creating more memories.

I’m sure my partner would love that.

Need the full picture

Glorious weather for this morning’s run?

Looks can be deceiving. Looks good with a creative but of zooming. The actual full picture taken seconds after the first photo tells a different story.

Actually it was a cold, dark and damp run. Only seeing part of the picture can make such a difference.

One of the current on going battles with school relates to our sons dyslexia. What support does he need when answering written class questions or when he’s taking tests. At present he receives no help with reading questions or is given no additional time. The schools argues that because his marks are generally really good then he clearly doesn’t need help. Interestingly school seem to think his marks are too good to warrant help and yet he is classed as low attainment. The other reason school argues for not providing any help is that he doesn’t put his hand up and ask for it. Seriously which kid is going to put his hand up in a class of 30 plus pupils and announce that I can’t read this. It’s not going to happen. I don’t think I would put my hand up if I was in that position.

Let’s look at a few of questions our son has got wrong recently.

How many sides and angles does a parallelogram have?

The teacher was surprised he got this easy question wrong. Now let’s look at how our son reads the question. Remember with his dyslexia he can pick up no more than about half the words with the other words he fills in with educated guesses or leaves them blank. So the question he worked with was

How many sides and a……. does a p………………….. have? He correctly guessed the missing a was angle but the p was more of a problem. Is it parallelogram or Pentagon. He guessed Pentagon as he thought parallelogram would be too easy a question. He answered his maths correctly but got the actual question wrong. No marks. So let’s look at another maths question.

In a sale, the price of a notebook is decreased by ten per cent. What is the new price if the old price was one pound twenty pence?

Need my calculator for this one. Now let’s see the question our son read.

In a s…, the price of a n…………. is d…………. by ten per cent. What is the new price if the old price was one p…….. t………. p………? Suddenly this question goes beyond a calculator. He guessed the d was discounted which was ok but the price he used to work out the answer was one pound thirty pence. He used the right calculation method in his head but on the wrong amount. So he got no marks. His mathematics was perfect but he was penalised for his reading skills. Ok let’s look at a science question.

Tissue is a structure made of many cells performing a similar function and different tissues do different jobs. Which tissue carries the fluid containing nutrients, oxygen and waste products?

This question made me think. Now let’s try to answer the question our son could see

T……. is a s……….. made of many cells p………… a s………. function and different t……… do different jobs. Which t……. c……… the fluid c…………….. n……….., oxygen and w…….. products? To me that now becomes almost impossible to answer. He correctly guessed the T was tissue but was not sure as it could be tongue. He guessed the W was water. Unsurprisingly he didn’t answer this question just leaving it blank. Let’s look at one more question.

Refer only to Paragraphs 3 to 9. How is the author trying to build tension. What emotions are the two Detectives experiencing?

I will address the elephant in the room soon but our son read this question as

R….. only to P………………. 3 to 9. How is the author trying to build t………. . What e……… are the two D………………… e…………………….? Son eventually worked out roughly what the question was asking but it took him quite a bit of time. That’s limited exam time used up before he can even start thinking about answering the question. And the elephant in the room. That’s someone with dyslexia expected to read two pages of literature without help…..

This just does not feel like a level playing field. Not a fare chance. I know school argue that he’s doing ok in tests. But how good could he do with support or with straightforward adjustments. We just don’t know at the moment. Maybe this is his level. Maybe his level is higher. What’s the harm in giving him and kids like him a chance. That question is aimed at school and more importantly the Schools Minister. I wonder if they properly see the big picture.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of calming Switzerland.

Last couple of weeks have found us replaying some wonderful memories from a family trip to the pyramid mountain. The Niesen.

Week 1

Week 2

I had a couple of lovely emails saying how much they had enjoyed the views and asked if I had any more photos from that trip. Thank you and here goes with round 3 then.

As with a number of Swiss mountains you can enjoy a hot drink, fine food and maybe something a little stronger at the top. The Niesen has a wonderful sun lounge that offers stunning views of The Alps.

And someone enjoyed himself.

Sunset

Over the last month or so sunsets have sadly been at a premium in Yorkshire.

But when they do make an appearance they are often stunning.

As grim and frustrating as a day may have been just one moment can lift the spirits. An unexpected smile, a compliment, someone showing that they care, a loving hug or in this case a brief piece of natural theatre. I really hope everyone finds at least one of those moments today.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be a Swiss Sunday. It’s my little tribute to that beautiful country.

I had a completely different set of photos lined up. Proper high alpine ones. But this week I’ve had one image in my head. It’s featured in a few late night dreams. No mountain landscape here. Just one house balcony. The house is in Spiez. It’s on a lovely little street behind the towns Schloss (castle). At least once on every trip we would have to walk past the house. On the house balcony there are a couple of human size fantasy models. Son loves them.

Drag yourself away from fantasy Middle Earth and you quickly get views like these.

Then it’s a view across the Lake.

Spiez is such a beautiful town. Sandwiched between the mountains and Lake Thun.

Mind wrestling

Yorkshire weather. Good running weather. Why would I want to run in dry warm windless conditions. Well that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I’m like Count Dracula. I would turn to dust in direct sunlight. I wonder what I would do if someone offered me the chance though.

I’m mind wrestling with something at the moment. My partner was an epic traveller. She visited so many countries. It was her extravagance. From her late teens she would save up during the year for one great adventure. Family and her adventures was what she lived for. The adventures only stopped when we became a family. Her dream was that when our son became older we could have adventures together. The two places she always talked about was New Zealand (would have been her first time) and Chile. She always said that we would all love Chile.

Then life happened.

I really want to complete those journeys for her. Our Autism World may preclude that. Circumstances may preclude it. But we will see. I most admit a part of me doesn’t want to do those trips. It’s just not right that it would only be the two of us.

Sorry I digress. Back to my mind wrestling. So many adventures and so many photographs. All sat neatly and well organised in carefully stored albums. Here is the dilemma. Part of me wants to do a retrospective photo journal. Tell her travel story. Her trip to the Soviet Union (gives you an idea of the timeframe) maybe would be a great starting point. YET another part of me recoils at the idea. What if she hates that idea. What if I’m breaking some unwritten bond of trust. It’s like having two competing voices on either shoulder each shouting differing viewpoints on life.

She’s not here anymore. What’s the problem!

YOU KNOW SHE WOULD SAY NO. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT THIS!

But this feeling is something I’ve grown used to over these three years. On virtually every major decision I have these doubts. ‘What do I want to do’ balanced against ‘what would she do’. I try to see the world through my eyes and at the same time through her eyes. Problem is that we were two completely different characters. We each had our own unique take on the world. We would frequently disagree on the right answer. Often we would compromise. I’m still trying to compromise now. Yet I can’t replicate her thought process. I never could and I never will. I’m probably getting her point of view completely wrong. But I still do it.

Maybe other people do this. Maybe it’s just me sinking further into cabin fever.

So am I going to publish this travel journal? I don’t know. WE still haven’t decided.

Thirty Minutes

About a month a go I visited the Moorlands Nature Reserve. It’s a small but ever so beautiful piece of nature on the edge of the city. After years of driving past it and thinking ‘must go there’ – I finally found the time. Really pleased I made myself stop the car and go for it.

Well another work visit to the City. Work completed sooner than expected. So a spare 30 minutes before I head for the school run. No better use of that time than another walk round the Reserve.

The colours have so changed in just one month.

Countless studies have shown the positive impact nature can have on a persons wellbeing and stress levels. I’m no statistician but I confirm that even just 30 minutes is just so uplifting.

I just love the beautiful carvings which are dotted around the reserve. The old 14th century acorn quote is brilliant. We can make a difference. Seemingly small and modest things can grow into something impressive given time and patience.

I really need to make a date to come and look at that quote every single month. Yes seemingly small changes in my lifestyle can have a significant impact. The garden can be made into our own little nature reserve. I can make a difference. Son can achieve his dreams. I can do this. He can do this. We can do this.

Swiss Sunday

It’s the end of the Halloween. The kids are back in school on Monday after a week away from purgatory. It’s also the week we would most often visit Switzerland. It’s quiet. Attractions like Lake Boats and Cable Cars are still operating full summer timetables. Winter hasn’t kicked in but snow has returned to the mountains. The colours are glorious and the skies are frequently so atmospheric. As ever photos don’t do it justice but here goes.