I think it was on our last trip to Switzerland back in 2015. It was just after dawn and the family was still asleep, so I headed out for a lakeside run. One part of the lake path gets really narrow and coming in the other direction was an elderly chap carrying fishing rods. We got talking, initially in German but then switching to English. I couldn’t remember ever learning any Fishing related German words 😂😂😂. Clearly the Swiss fisherman was more up on plenty of English angling vocabulary.
He was about to head off in his little boat to his favourite spot on the lake. He had been doing this nearly every day, in every type of weather for over 40 years . When he used to work he would go fishing before dawn.
I remember saying that was dedication. He smiled, shook his head and quietly said ‘No, it’s love’. He went onto say that he tells his family it’s all about the fish. But in reality it was an excuse, he just needed that time out in the lake, amongst the mountains. It was his HOME, where he felt at one with life.
As we parted I asked, do you ever catch and fish. He laughed and said very rarely but on the way home I pass a really good place that sells fresh fish catch…..
It’s early Sunday morning here in Yorkshire. I am currently enduring the annual torture of a very very very long night as Hawklad is sat watching Wrestlemania. Don’t you just love a good international time difference. It is due to finish here at 5am…… I can’t remember seeing that wrestling related task in the parenting contract. My tired mind has wandered from what is on TV to real adventures. Time for a bit of wonderful Switzerland.
I don’t know why but I remembered an old, long forgotten Swiss holiday memory. The night before I had over indulged in fondue and Swiss chocolate. Really over indulged. It would have been very impolite not to have. So I got up early the next morning and went for a lakeside run to burn off some calories. The further I went on the run the more people I ran past. Very very very polite people. Every single one of them said hello and asked how I was.
Gruezi. Wie geht es dir an diesem schonen Morgen
Every single one of them hearing my very wooden Swiss German reply immediately switched to almost perfect English. A run that would normally take 30 minutes, lasted well over an hour. Finally back outside the hotel, I was sat on the lake edge when another runner stopped to say hello.
Then we talked some more. I mentioned just how polite the Swiss were compared to the English and the runner told me that running was often hard because you did have to stop so many times to exchange pleasantries. The runner said that one day he tried something different. He went for what was intended to be an uninterrupted long swim in the lake. I said that was a really cool idea and with a smile the runner said ‘it didn’t work’. Apparently several early morning fishermen had rowed over to him while he was swimming to say hello to him and and ask how is swim was going.
I do love Switzerland . Can’t wait to get back for a visit. I would move there in a heartbeat.
All the photos today are from that lakeside running route. Wish I could run that right now.
In years gone by if I needed to think. Be with my thoughts. I would go for a run. Maybe go climbing. Those things worked best for me. But then parenting and then single parenting curtailed the climbing option. It was then running. Fell running to collect and process my thoughts. Often I would start a run then become lost in my thoughts. Only the alarm on my watch would bring me back to reality. I would be miles into the hills and it would be a mad sprint to get back home for the return of the school bus.
Then the pandemic happened. We went into our family lockdown. So far 16 months of a lockdown. I lost running. But I didn’t lose my need to think. So I discovered the joys of leaning against our back garden fence. Thinking while looking over the fields and scanning the distant horizon from a little hill top home.
So this morning I was leaning on the fence. Thinking. Looking at a distant beautiful tree. Dreaming.
But then I was joined. Someone decided to invade my space and block my view.
I’m can’t really see the tree now. I’m having to stroke and feed this one. I’m telling this cow my dreams. She seems udderly fascinated. Or maybe she’s herd then all before. Definitely deja moo…
This was last year. One hour into my trail run. Apart from missing the exercise I hope you can see why I miss running free.
Eventually you have to accept reality.
Hawklad’s anxieties are still rising. More routine tasks are becoming more difficult for him. He can largely control the dynamics within our house and garden. Lots of washing, extensive quarantining of items and being careful what he touches. He is ok within his castle walls. He is not ok with me venturing out.
Beyond those walls and that’s a completely different world. An alien, dangerous world to him. His doctors are clear – this will take a very long time to start to address. It’s not going to start happening until a pandemic is well behind us and as one of our leading scientists pointed out – with a fair wind we may start returning to something like normal life at the end of 2021. That’s assuming the new vaccines work and roll out soon….
So for me the reality is that our personal lockdown will likely stretch through 2021 as well. My mindset has to change. Away from getting through the next few months TO living the much longer new reality.
So back to the photograph. Running has become a bit of a drug for me. Now I have to completely wean myself off that. I’m nearly there as it’s been so long without it. Time to permanently replace it with other things.
I sometimes worry that you think I’m a little drunk some days. The photos might look a little slanted. In my defence I have been tea total for years and struggling to get straight photos is down to living in the hills. Or maybe it’s because I tend to just be one second away from tripping over.
One of the highlights of the week these days is taking the car for a little run out. It doesn’t like sitting doing nothing. It seizes up and battery has a habit of going flat. Sounds a bit like me….. So once a week I take it for a 5 minute drive. Just along a few of our narrow country lanes. Most of them like this one are not wider enough for two cars. No motorways here.
Hawklad won’t currently come with me. Doesn’t feel comfortable enough. No point pushing that. He said that he will try to come with me starting in November. He stays at home hence it’s only a 5 minute trip. When I get back it’s time for full decontamination to keep him happy.
I thought I would take a photo of this one particular stretch of lane. It’s a favourite of mine. I would frequently run down here on my longer pre pandemic runs. Why is it a favourite?
It’s relatively flat. No ups and downs. Here that is such a lovely feeling. But even here I can’t get a truly level picture. But I will settle for this. At least I’m not falling over. Yet.
The third sequel already. The Trilogy done in one day. Eat your heart out Peter Jackson.
So this is the third instalment in the ‘what has changed over the 6 months of pandemic isolation’ saga. This time it’s what has changed for me. I guess this one is called The Return of the Kermit the Frog King. So what has changed then for me.
With Hawklads increasingly pronounced Social and Health related anxieties the last six months have seen a ramping up of the parenting pressures. Fewer breaks, more challenges and yes less support. In the UK small amount of support that has survived the Conservative Funding Cutbacks largely stops when kids hit the teenage years.
Have become a home educator. A school facilitator. A Classroom Supplies specialist. Much smirking…. After 6 months I’m still winging it.
I’m sleeping less. Much less. Just can’t seem to reset the insomnia cycle.
Certainly more isolated in terms of actually meeting people outside our little bubble. In 6 months I’ve seen family members twice, one work colleague (and good friend) maybe three times, neighbours a handful of times, the local shop workers maybe a couple of times a month, the dentist once, one visit from the boilerman, a few health workers and doctors. That’s about it. Oh actually forgot one person. The Postman, the only person I see regularly. I count his fairly frequent waves as my most regular physical contact. Luckily I have lovely online friends.
With not meeting too many people I’ve started noticing human life more. I notice dog walkers in the fields, cyclists, passing cars, voices from the street, even planes in the sky. A reminder that a bigger world still exists out there.
My conversation skills have never come easy to me. I have to work on and practice them. That’s just not happened for months. Even on most phone calls I can feel myself becoming increasingly wooden.
My largely unseen dress sense is becoming increasingly avant-garde.
I have lost 6lbs but you wouldn’t notice it. Having to resort to consuming far too much Soya (Soy) which isn’t great for my tummy. No I’m not pregnant.
I’ve stopped running and walking and road cycling. Must admit it’s not doing my old contact sport injuries any good. Bits are starting to seize up. So I’m trying to find my inner Yoga. Or as I call it Controlled Falling Over.
Work has dried up. This was supposed to be a really busy year. Lots of new jobs and major events. In practice that all was cancelled. Remains cancelled. Some plans have been put in place but really I’m not going to get much work until 2021.
I’m more able to fill my day without leaving our little household world. No need to visit shops daily, coffee shops, cinema, visit family or friends. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it comes easier to me now.
I do tend to overthink things now. Can have days when I do sober too much time internalising stuff. With me that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s such a short stroll to self doubt and negativity.
Yes things have changed for me. They will continue to change as our personal lockdown is not going to end anytime soon. Potentially months more, maybe much longer. With us being an Aspergers Family that was kind of in place before the pandemic. Maybe many of these changes were already happening before the March lockdown. They have just become more pronounced. Maybe these are longer term changes. Maybe it’s much more than a three episode trilogy. Maybe it’s a permanent feature.
This was a year ago. I stopped on one of my long runs to take this photo. It would have been just after 9am and Hawklad would have been in school. After the run was finished I would then drag my muddy body to the supermarket. Definitely seems like an eternity ago. I wonder when I will go running here again. Probably not in 2020.
We all need those things in life to hold on to. A person, a friendship, a love, faith, a hobby, a destination. It will be different for everyone. Maybe it’s one thing. Maybe it’s a range of things. But we do need these in our worlds. For our health and wellbeing. I remember listening to a politician who I really respected. He talked about his love of hill walking. How walking had become such an important part of his life. But he was sad because due to work demands he had been forced to stop something he loved so much. Tragically it didn’t work out for him and his life was cut short. We do need to hold onto these things which lift us up. We all need to find the time. Listen to what our inner selves are telling us and needing from us. Hold onto and treasure those things and people we love.
So running has gone. I’ve found better more enriching things to focus and care for. But I realise that I do need a fitness activity to replace running. Ultimately the exercise bike is monumentally boring. So at present running has been replaced with yoga. Briefly stopping to take a photo has been replaced with failing to get anywhere near holding a handstand. Happy Days. I feel another lego yoga post coming on. You have been warned.
Joking to one side, please remember to find the time for YOU. You need that.
One of Hawklads favourite movies is Groundhog Day. Must admit a I’ve always liked that film. I’m showing my 1000 year plus age now by saying FILM. Anyway I liked that Bill Murray film because it was funny and a bit about redemption. Repeatedly through life I’ve had that Groundhog Day feeling. It’s so hard to put down on paper. That feeling that on this long journey, the circumstances and challenges remain unchanged. Never ending. What ever I do, they just seem to repeat. Slowly it’s starts to eat away at my inner self. Plays havoc with my emotions. My inner belief ebbs away. That’s when it feels like I need another caring hand to lead me into a new tomorrow. So yes I get this movie.
Hopefully I’m not as bad as Phil was at the start of the film – sorry movie. But again it is starting to feel like days are starting to repeat themselves. Even when I try to introduce something new, try just that little harder, then the next day starts very like the previous day. Stuff just keeps repeating itself.
A largely sleepless night,
Get up and do the same exercises in the garden,
Try to get the dog to go outside for his charge around and do his morning constitutional,
Check the news – these days it’s always the same headline and the same frustrations,
Sticking to the same fasting diet regime,
Cooking the same meals for Hawklad (he has the same 7 day food menu which he sticks to),
Sort out the mess the pets have made,
Hoover and clean the same rooms (we only have 5 small ones, a bathroom and a kitchen to worry about),
Try to get the old washing machine door to lock so I can do a wash,
Have the same thoughts about been able to run free beyond our garden fence enclosures, *** don’t get me wrong I am so thankful for the garden, so many wonderful people don’t have that***
Look at the same walls, with the same pictures, often feeling like they are closing in on me,
Spend far too long moaning about the weather,
Check the work system and email the same people, saying basically the same thing,
Wash up the same plates and cups,
Make a list of today’s challenges and they are the same as yesterday’s, the week before, last months…..
Jump on the scales and whisper PANTS,
Want to eat healthily but having to rely on Soya (Soy). Then watching my body just basically say NO,
Try to find my keys which are missing again,
Walk 40 yards to the post box to post a letter – my big trip out of the day,
Start the car up to make sure the battery doesn’t go flat,
The things that brought pain and doubt yesterday are still here today,
Check the bank account and whisper BIG PANTS,
Talk to Hawklad about hand washing every time he goes to the bathroom – which is about every 10 minutes,
Wash my hands constantly to help ease Hawklad’s fears,
Unblock the toilet and kitchen sink once a day, the builder who installed those was clearly having a laugh –
Reset the WiFi at about the same time every day as it’s gone down with cabin fever,
Try to get the cat to eat it’s gluten, grain, dairy free food when clearly it just wants to eat all the stuff that gives it diarrhoea,
Bake and Fail – that’s a great book title…..
Field the same calls, from the same companies offering the same services I don’t want,
If and when it rains, try to stop a flood next to the back door. Basically ends up mopping out the pools of water,
Trying to chase moths and insects out of the house – the price you pay for living next to a farm,
Fight the same fears and demons,
Face the same self questioning,
Once a week cut the lawn with a lawnmower which basically hates cutting grass,
Every second Thursday realise the garden bin is still basically empty so have a mad gardening rush,
My dreams are still just dreams, seemingly no nearer becoming reality,
Go to bed so hoping for sleep, yet…..
Now don’t get me wrong some of the routine is just so fantastic. I just wouldn’t dream of changing those things. Going out in the garden at about the same time every day and talking with Hawklad. Spending time with him. Thinking of friends. Finding ways to make connections with those who are special to me. Looking at beautiful photos and videos – and smiling. Having fun playing games. Doing a bit of writing or waffling depending on your viewpoint. Saturday night movie night.
So yes it does feel like Groundhog Day. This time it may well keep feeling this way until our personal lockdown has been partially lifted. Maybe this time it’s could be labelled as Cabin Fever. Whatever it is, just like Phil in the movie, it often feels like I am the only one stuck in this repeat cycle. AND let’s not forget a really important factor – some people long for that repetitiveness. Hawklad is one. So maybe Groundhog Day can also be a good thing. Just got to go with the flow, make each day count as best I can and worry about tomorrow if it ever arrives.