Goals

It’s strange how my goals can shift. This time last year I was thinking about cranking my runs up. Eyeing up some longer trail runs. Trying to find ways to fit them in during school hours and work. Then building towards a 22 mile Moors run. Something to aim for during the winter months.

Fast forward a year and the thought of trail runs has long gone.

Now just a walk across the farmers field to that tree in the distance seems like a real goal. An aim. Something to dream about. How many times can we get to that tree over the next few months.

Until life resets again then that is something to hold onto. I realise it’s important to be realistic. To take account of the circumstances that are currently in place. Short term goals need to change to take account of this. But I can still dream on a grander scale. Push that horizon further. Hold those dreams close and maybe one day when life shifts, and it will, they become the achievable goals.

Sitting down

I must have run past this monument well into a three figure number. Lots of times. I wonder when will be the next run here? 2021? 2022? or later.

Without running I’ve switched to more CrossFit and Yoga. I can definitely see a few more muscles but I’m not sure how far I could run now. It’s been many many months since I last put on my running shoes. My joints would definitely need a good oiling before I tried.

Today’s yoga was definitely interesting. 10 minutes of doing what appeared to be a simple task. Standing up from a cross legged position without using my hands. The standing up bit was ok, it was the getting down bit which was the challenge. How hard can it possibly be to go from standing up to sitting on the floor with my hands behind my back. Humpty Dumpty comes to mind. Give me running any day please. I can do that. But I guess over the coming months I will get the chance to improve. Not sure my bottom can cope with the bruises for that length of time.

We had two deliveries and the postman this morning. It’s unsettling for me to see each person arrive at the door fully masked up. Imagine what it does to someone fighting fears about germs and bugs. It really did spook Hawklad. Should really say spooked him even more. My job over the week is to rig up a post box outside to stop letters coming through the front door. Another thing that increasingly bothers Hawklad. As these anxieties continue to grow he becomes more clingy with me. His health professional has told me that his fears are so ingrained that they may not start to ease until this pandemic is under control and the vaccine has been rolled out and proven to be effective.

A clear time frame is starting to emerge on our lockdown. This is going well into 2021, maybe longer. That has huge implications for school, my work and our quality of life. Quality of life in the sense that our world will be the house and garden for the foreseeable future.

Running is not happening so I had better start to learn new skills. Skills like not collapsing in a heap when I try to get onto the floor without using my hands.

The boys have lost things

This is the kind of house that just seems to encourage losing things. Lots of things. Which is remarkable when you consider it’s smallish bungalow. Including the garage and the loft, we only have 8 locations for stuff to mysteriously disappear. But it does. All the time.

The house is the home just to boys these days. That includes the pets. So we can definitely say that THE BOYS HAVE LOST THINGS.

Already today we couldn’t find

  • Hawklads FIFA 20 games disk,
  • The new pack of Weetabix,
  • My bank card to pay for something online,
  • My car key,
  • One of my socks – followed instantly by shouting at the dog,
  • A black pen. Can find loads of other colours but not a black pen which Hawklad needs to do a little homework,
  • My new pack of tea,
  • The laptop – how can you lose a laptop….
  • A pair of scissors,
  • My fitness band,
  • The WiFi passkey,
  • The new pack of batteries I bought on Thursday,
  • My mobile,
  • The book I’ve been trying to read for a couple of months now, frustratingly I only have 4 pages to go. It went missing while I was reading in bed. It has been lost for weeks. Ransacked the bedroom today, still no sign. It’s a rubbish crime story but I just want to find out who did it…..

That’s a typical day here. Boys will be boys….

But at least we found time to talk today. We ended up talking about our lockdown and the stuff that we miss. The things we have lost in our own little worlds. For me it was being around people.

Running in the countryside and walking in the mountains.

Going to see my team get beat. Spending time with the friend I meet up with.

We both agreed on missing concerts.

We also both agreed on missing going to Switzerland.

Hawklad talked about not going to zoos and falconries as much. Not being able to have a takeout or pop in for a real ice cream. Not being able to meet up with some of his friends. Missing out on not visiting the seaside.

Not going to wrestling shows.

And not being able to visit historical sites.

There was more but you get the point. Lockdown does have an impact on all our worlds. It means making sacrifices. But we do that all the time. The worry is that too many kids are losing out of key parts of their childhood. It’s about making the best of what we do have. Still trying to make memories. Remembering to keep living.

The third sequel

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.

You

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.

Groundhog Day

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,
  • Paying bills,
  • 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.

Dieting

What are they talking about

Dad the government is telling everyone to go on a diet. Boris apparently is going on one, bet that Cummings told him to do that.

Like everything else my money is on our so called Leader delegating his dieting to someone else. He’s far too busy having time off for things like that.

Dad your on a diet….”

☹️☹️☹️☹️☹️☹️

And with those words from Hawklad, I’m on a diet. I’ve been on this temporary fasting diet for a while now but it’s been an effort. I just haven’t been able to get the food alternatives that my body will accept. So I’ve been forced into eating and drinking far too much soya (soy) 🙄…. Basically my body and face balloon up with the stuff. Not helpful when your trying to look like your losing weight. But hopefully I’ve managed to get hold of a few more nicer foods this time. So here goes. Going to combine my partial fasting diet with a significantly healthier food range. It helps as my garden has finally decided to yield some vegetables. Just got to find them amongst the weeds.

But dieting is only part of it. Need to do something with exercise as well. I am working out each day and pushing myself. But I’m missing the long runs. They are just not happening due to circumstances. So I need a challenge. I had this initial idea of trying to build up to run a garden marathon. Others have done this. I’ve managed 50 minutes of running round our small garden. But I was so dizzy and cheesed off after that, the prospect of 4 hours worth of that is just a complete nonstarter. Lets not forget the epic route map from that.

What was I doing on some of those outlying paths….

So here’s Plan B. At the end of August I want to build up to a mega exercise bike marathon. Let’s see how far I can get on the bike in 4 straight hours. But to ensure it’s not just a gentle peddle session, I’m going to dig out the old HR sports watch. 4 hours with the BP somewhere near 150. That sounds like a challenge which I can do in the garden. Watch it rain and watch the bike collapse again….

Ok Boris for once I’m going to listen to you. I’m going to lose some weight. Are you?

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to stunning Switzerland. Pure Alpine Heaven.

One morning on every trip, I would be let out early to go for a short European jog.

Not too far as breakfast would be soon calling.

Everyone of today’s photos was taken from the route of my run.

It took me just under 40 minutes to do the route. Adding a couple of photo stops.

So in just 40 minutes, all this beauty.

So much on the doorstep of the hotel. The amazing thing is that Switzerland has so many places like this.

You don’t need to be running here to literally have your breathe taken away.

I might enjoy running but I have to say there are better ways to exercise and take in the beauty of Lake Thun.

Day 123

I clearly have too much time on my hands because I’ve been counting

It’s Day 123 of our lockdown…

Normally I do a weekly post – what have we found out this week from schooling at home’. But this week in honour of the 123 day milestone let’s do a special ‘what have we done withoutpost….

  • That’s 123 days without the school bus or ironing a school shirt,
  • That’s 123 days without missing the school bus,
  • That’s 123 days without a school bag,
  • That’s 123 days of not forgetting to pack a really important school item,
  • That’s 123 days without the carefully packed ingredients for food technology deciding to empty themselves over the other contents of the bag,
  • That’s 123 days without the school bag zipper becoming stuck,
  • That’s 123 days without having to patch up school trousers,
  • That’s also 123 days of not using his new trousers – bet they won’t fit now…
  • That’s 123 days without losing items of sports kit in the school changing rooms (but strangely they still find a way of going missing),
  • That’s 123 days without son combing his hair (ok that’s an exaggeration but it certainly looks like it most days….),
  • That’s 123 days of son not meeting another person except me,
  • That’s 123 days of me not going into the work unit,
  • That’s 123 days of not emptying the work unit bin or checking for out of date milk in the work fridge. As I’m the only one who does – I just dread to think what alien life maybe germinating in there,
  • That’s 123 days without a run (not counting the garden runs as they are more akin to a game of twister than actual running),
  • That’s 123 days of my mountain bike being sat unloved in the garage,
  • That’s 123 days without a trip to the ice cream parlour or a food takeaway,
  • That’s 123 days of not popping into a coffee or cake shop,
  • That’s 123 days without an excursion,
  • That’s 123 days without a trip to the zoo,
  • That’s 123 days of not going out then worrying constantly if I did remember to lock the front door,
  • That’s 123 days of living in shorts, sarongs, running leggings and tracksuit joggers (don’t panic they are getting washed) – I might have fibbed on one of those..
  • That’s 123 days without having to buy a car parking ticket,
  • That’s 123 days of not feeding the car petrol,
  • That’s 123 days without using a cash machine,
  • That’s 123 days of desperately not searching for my car keys and wallet,
  • That’s 123 days in which our entire world comprised only of the house and garden.

But even after 123 days, if I look hard enough I can still find something new to photograph. That’s shows how lucky we really are. Even after 123 days of lockdown.

Running wild

Remember those times before 2020. No masks or enforced social distancing. It seems an awful long time ago. So much enforced change. A world which has shrunk for virtually all of us.

After my partner died the world did shrink for me. No more holidays, no long distance work journeys, less visits to family and friends. No climbing expeditions. Things like trips to the gym even stopped. One thing that kept going was running. Son would go to school and my new found work flexibility would allow a couple of long runs every week. I got to see and breathe the local countryside. Run through the hills, valleys and woods. Every so often a little longer trip to the coast. The delights of a beach run. These became such an important part of my coping strategy. A way to manage my mental health and stay fit.

These runs have now stopped. The last run was in early March. Still there but out of reach. Out of reach until September when the secondary schools potentially go back. Maybe Son will opt for homeschooling and the runs cease permanently. But life goes on. It has to. So the runs have had to be replaced with exercise bike sessions – I have developed a pathological hatred of the piece of rock called the bike seat. Replaced with extra weights exercise in the garden. More CrossFit workouts. And yes with garden runs. A small garden doesn’t lend itself to a great variety of routes. Basically I can keep going round in circles clockwise and anti-clockwise. Constantly going round in circles. I measured it out, the longest straight line run possible is a massive 15 paces. Round and round again.

“Dad school have set a running challenge this week. They want the class to run and cycle. Using the Strava running app they want us all to work together to get to ferry in Dover and head off into Europe. Parents are encouraged to join in. Come on Dad. Get your running kit on.”

It’s a bit like my blogs creaky world tour but recorded using Strava. So I downloaded the app and dragged my tired body outside. I had already done my morning weights exercise routine. And off I went. Round and round the garden. Clocking up km after km. Bored out of my mind. Son did a bit of running himself before he went inside to start his next online class.

Eventually the knees said that’s enough. They can only take so much constant turning. And I went inside to send school the running results. The thing about Strava (and other running apps) is that you get a route diagram. A map of your run. They should look something like this…..

Well mine was a masterpiece. It’s my finest work of art I have ever produced….

The final ironic element to the story. A couple of hours later…

Oh Dad. Just had an email from school. You had better sit down…. Apparently a few parents have complained about privacy and the schools online Strava Running Club. So they have had to delete the club and cancel the running challenge.

Oh well at least I got a work of art out of it.