Islands

Three years since I last stood here. Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the Northumberland coast of North Eastern England . Otherwise known as Holy Island. A place with a rich religious heritage dating back to 635AD.

It’s such a beautiful and evocative place. We would regularly visit here as a couple, as a small family and now as a family of two.

Saint Aidan came from Iona to found a monastery here. Iona is a small island of the western coast of Scotland. He must have liked wind and rain. Shall we say both islands are a tad exposed.

It’s a place I’ve always wanted to move to. Cut off from mainland for large parts of the day. Feels like you are surrounded by the vast open water on all sides. No escape from the unique feel and smell of the sea. A great place to think and breathe.

Not great for the waste. I would live off Fish and Chips…..

I’m talking about this as my mind wandered today. Hawklad is getting older. Won’t be many years before he is 18. Where did that time go. If he’s Independent then MAYBE I will need to find a new place to live. He’s always talked about never moving. So it might be be packing the bags. How knows maybe the bags will head here.

But it’s such a feeling. Such a big step. The thought of potentially starting again

Cricket

Daffodils still going strong here.

A few years back before parenting happened I played for a little village cricket team. They had a lovely tree lined cricket ground. Sadly the land was sold and they had to move. They moved to some land set on a sea cliff, right next to the edge. After every storm one side of the pitch shrunk by an inch or so. Washed out to sea. It was usually really cold. Not a tree in sight. On the other side of the pitch was a water treatment facility. Get a wind from the West and the smell brought tears to your eyes.

The actually pitch wasn’t exactly flat more like a mountain range….. And every April at the start of the season the outfield was covered in Daffodils.

It seemed that all our fears about the move were justified.

The cricket team was allowed to use the field by the local landowner for free. The two rules he insisted on was that he got a game for the team and as he liked Daffodils, we weren’t allowed to cut them back even if they started growing on the pitch. So yes we played around them. Made the game different. Took a lot of getting used to. But soon we got used to the change. And actually it was FUN. To the point that when the daffodils died back, we missed them. The game didn’t seem as good. Yes it was cold but the view over the sea was stunning. Even the Water Treatment Centre worked out great. They started sponsoring the team and soon we started getting brand new gear.

That’s the thing, change doesn’t have to be bad thing. Often change works out just fine and in fact can improve life. Improve it in ways you just can’t visualise before it happens.

Yes we can do this.

Sea

I was born by the Sea. Brought up by the sea. When I’ve been struggling in life I have often headed towards the Sea to breathe. A brilliant place to head to as a parent. Some of my best times have been by the Sea.

Even when I moved inland I would frequently find a way back for a few precious hours. Then life happened. A Pandemic changed everything. It must be over 18 months since my last trip to the Sea now. My longest time away.

So when life changes again AND IT WILL – guess where I’m heading.

Water

It’s been almost a year since I stood near a river. Well over a year since I stood by a lake. Won’t be long before it’s two years since I stood in the Sea.

I was looking out over the fields, trees and hills. I started to yearn for a River. A lake. The Sea. To look at, to stand next next to or even better. To stand in the water.

That’s why that little rain water flood pool that forms in the farm is such a big thing for me. It reminds me of that feeling. Of better times. Of freedom.

One day….

With one hand

August 2018

It’s been too long since I stood by the sea. Far too long. For someone born in a small north eastern seaside town, that’s tough. Genuinely don’t know when it will happen again. My gut feel is not in 2020. Our Government of Fools has now start reversing it’s rushed reopening plans. Yesterday it was perfectly safe to visit cinemas without a mask. Today you MUST wear a mask for your favourite movie. Yet kids and teachers are still expected to go mask free in classrooms. Last Friday we were being told to support the holiday industry and travel as it was safe. Just days later that all changed and more countries are being urgently added to the quarantine list with thousands of tourists now already out there. Even though those countries have much lower rates of deaths and infections than the UK.

Tougher lockdown regimes are being reintroduced into some areas with significantly rising infection rates . One such area is uncomfortable close to us. That is doing nothing for Hawklads anxiety levels. And now his garden consultation with his new health worker is in doubt. Such visits are now under review again. Somedays it feels like it’s one step forward and then one back. That’s at a time when his obsessive hand washing and fear of touching surfaces continues to mount.

But there is always hope and is it really one step forward, one step back…

When I first started climbing I hated having to retrace steps. One step forward, one step back seemed such a waste. A failure. Something to be avoided at all costs. But over time I learnt wiser ways. Things like climbing in things like pink compression tops and tight blue leggings is really not cool at all. Things like collecting rain water from rocky pools to drink might be a life saver but it doesn’t taste as nice as a can of coke stuffed into my climbing pack. Things like it’s not a great team building idea to lead a pitch when you have spilt asunder your tight blue leggings. I also learned that retracing steps is often a good thing. The times a few moments of retreat and sideways steps actually leads to a much easier and safe climbing way forward.

So yes things are tough and that garden visit would be useful but…..

The word BUT sounds to negative, maybe however is better.

However we do at least have access to the service still. That’s a huge bonus. The garden visit would bring stress currently, so if it doesn’t happen then it’s one less thing for Hawklad to worry about. It also encourages us both to try new things, see if we can find our own way through this maze. There will be things we haven’t tried. Maybe potential help has been there all the time and we just haven’t looked hard enough for it. Too much relying on someone else to find it for us. Maybe the only solution for Hawklad is to bunker down for a few more months until those clever vaccine people find something that works. So maybe retracing some steps is the best way forward.

There is always hope and yes I still have a pair of tight blue leggings…..

Honesty

Sometimes it’s best to check the facts behind what someone tells you. Often it’s what they don’t tell you that is the key thing….

So this week we have had utter governmental incompetence. First they proclaim that having the second highest death toll in the world represented a great achievement. Then they pronounced that it was time to celebrate as the lockdown was ending. Two days later that message suddenly changed to the lockdown is staying in place. Then Sunday night the PM announced that those who can’t work from home should start to go back to work the next day but don’t use public transport. Within hours that became best wait till Wednesday.

It’s absolute chaos. The lockdown stays in place in Scotland and Wales but not England. In those countries the message is Stay HOME. In England it’s changed to Stay ALERT. How do you stay alert to something you can’t see. You can now see your parents and family but they can’t agree on where, when and how. Already this morning, the rule on how many elderly parents you can now visit has changed 4 times….. We currently have incomprehensible madness. You can go to work and see work colleagues but you can only meet up with one member of your family. You can drive to destinations but they won’t tell you what your allowed to do when you arrive – are you even allowed out of the car? They talk about using the R number (the effective virus reproduction number) as the decider of policy. Yet they can’t measure it. In other countries they give a definite number. Here it’s always given as a range somewhere between 0.5 (in your dreams…) and something well over 1 (more likely). If we only test a few people then how are we supposed to work the number out. People with mild conditions are told to stay at home but are not tested.

So much waffle and misinformation. Clearly it’s what they are desperately trying to avoid telling us that is the key. Strangely that’s the stuff which will also show what a catastrophic cockup our PM has made of this crisis. Can we please have some some real honesty.

So in the spirit of Honesty, I will come clean with you. I’ve not been telling you all the facts. I’ve hidden something from you. SORRY. I’ve been talking about my swimming analogy. Grief and life feeling like I’m swimming towards an ever receding islands. That better stay as something in my mind and not actually happen. As I CAN’T SWIM….

Aa a kid we only had two swimming options. One was to swim in the Sea. That’s the North Sea. It’s better known as the OMG how cold is that Sea. Also in my day the local Steel, Chemical and Nuclear Plants would dump far too much into the icy waters. Big signs on the beach would warn against eating shell fish. If that wasn’t bad enough, you would get signs next to the poison signs warning Do not swim due to dangerous currents. So not a great place to learn to swim.

The only other swimming option was the town’s swimming pool. A very old swimming pool. Obviously built before they had invented the words – Heating or Hygiene. My new School would do weekly swimming lessons there. That was my big chance. Sadly that chance evaporated. The first lesson was curtailed when one of the older boys thought it would be funny to have a wee in the pool. The second lesson was only a few minutes old when part of the Pool’s glass roof started to fall down. Again we were evacuated. The pool didn’t reopen while I was at school. So that’s my excuse – I can’t swim.

See it’s easy to be open…..