May 2014. Yorkshire had gone the winter without any snow. Hawklad had almost forgotten what the white stuff was like. May was leaving it late, but finally a family holiday to Switzerland saved the day.
Hawklad got his winter playground.
Switzerland is a special place, it generates happy memories.
It was time to live life on the edge. We finally charged up one of Hawklad’s birthday presents, a remote control helicopter. Not one of the professional ones, this one was surprisingly tiny made out of what appeared to be the thinnest of plastics and the most brittle of metals. It was one of those Amazon ‘80% off’ deals that entices you in for that one extra present, yet never quite explains to you that basically there is a really good reason this thing is so CHEAP.
Anyway after a few months it was time to give this helicopter its inaugural and probably only flight. The instructions talked optimistically of 15 minutes battery flying time, yet it gave off the impression of a single use item. As Hawklad said
“Well if it’s going to crash and burn on its first flight, let’s make it spectacular and film it”.
This is not our first dabble into the world of remote control, cheap toys.
There was the rally car that split in two when it hit the apple tree.
There was the toy drone that launched itself over the house and imbedded itself in the neighbour’s drive. It ended up as flat as a pancake.
There was the first helicopter then smashed into the house at a Warp Speed 10 and smashed into a thousand pieces.
And there was the so called unbreakable hovering glowing ball that had one uncontrolled hop before it smashed into the fence. It was then definitely anything other than unbroken.
So we were understandably not very hopeful. But you know what. The helicopter actually flew. It hovered. It landed. Yes it had a few heavy landings but it SURVIVED.
It was unmarked when the batteries ran out. Here is the really cool bit that made me smile. Hawklad took the remote control and flew it himself. Normally he backs away and watches others take control. He often just watches me do it. But on this day he had confidence in himself. Yes I had to check that we were fully alone first but he did it. He enjoyed it.
And here is what I figured out. Actually this was the first time that he took the controls, the first time I could convince him to have more fun doing than just watching. The first time he could overcome his fears of failure. So what did I figure out then…..
I’ve had the controls every single time one of the toys has crashed and burned. Muppet Dad is a liability. Toys last when I watch and don’t play. OH PANTS.
So my job is now paying for things and then most definitely just filming when they are enjoyed…….
It’s now been over 7 years since our last family holiday to PERFECT Switzerland. Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. Perfect for relaxing. Perfect for adventure. Wonderful food and drink. With its precision perfect public transport, no need for a car. Friendly. Polite. Safe. Cultural. Healthy. I could go on and on. But there is another reason that it’s PERFECT for our FAMILY. Asperger/Autism Families often find travel difficult. Ours most definitely did. Holidays can be a logistical nightmare. For an enjoyable holiday, so many factors often need to be carefully controlled. Routine is important. Does Hawklad feel safe, relaxed, happy. He needs so many factors to be in place to enjoy a holiday. It’s so easy for things to spiral out of control and you end up just wishing to be back home. Back home to that safe, predictable and controlled environment.
But here’s the thing about Switzerland. He is always happy here. Yes the trip part way across Europe by plane or train was usually a nightmare for Hawklad. Yes a logistical nightmare which needed precision planning. But every single time we crossed the border into alpine heaven, he was relaxed and happy. Everything seemed to be in place for him and worked just right for him.
Yes it’s back. Just when we thought it was shorts weather for the next six months, oh no, it’s back into THREE jumper weather.
Definitely not enough for even the most rubbish snow angel ever but just enough to send all exposed skin a funny shade of blue.
Alberts back as well…
Can’t believe that the only Albatross in the northern hemisphere has decided during this truly tropical spell to return to the Yorkshire coast. Albert definitely needs to fire his holiday adviser. Last year he stayed 30 miles away from our house, for his summer holidays. It was actually mostly very nice and almost warm. Maybe that’s why he stayed for nearly two months. Sadly this years vacation finds temperatures north of zero. He must be tempted to head somewhere warmer.
If he hangs around this time then we will try to catch up with him. Last year was an awesome meet-up.
With any luck we can visit him when the Easter School Break starts next Friday. Easter is a bit of a challenge these days. Hawklad likes to get out, likes to visit places. But he needs these place quiet or even better, EMPTY. That doesn’t often happen over the two and a bit week break. Most places tend to be mobbed. This forces us into the early strategy. Get there as soon as a place opens and then stay until it starts to fill up. It’s not a guarantee of success. Last year we had several visits to RSPB Bempton to try to catch an albatross sighting. Problem is that such an extremely rare epic bird brings people, lots of people. We had a number of trips were although we had set off from home just after 7am, when we arrived a busy car park was way too much for Hawklad. So we started setting off much earlier. 4.30am early….. The prize was for an hour or so we did get the cliffs almost to ourselves and as soon as the crowds started to arrive, we left. Back home before 9am. It might be tiring but even if you don’t get to see Albert it’s so worth it.
Isolation has drawbacks but every so often it doesn’t half deliver. We just wouldn’t be stood on a cliff as the sun comes up.
There is something truly magical about a Walk in the Woods when the weather has closed in. It can be the start of so many stories and adventures.
A planned meet-up with my sister failed today. Hawklad agreed to go for it and then my sisters car went on strike. These things happen. A distraction would have been good. Just one of those days in which Hawklad’s anxieties spiked. When they hit, they hit in waves. Not just one thing, a range of things. When he gets kind of on top of one thing, two more jump in to replace them. Doesn’t matter that it’s Christmas Eve, these anxiety waves can hit at any time. They confuse his thought process. They cause him sensory overload. They stop him in his tracks.
I know what it’s feels like. I’ve been there as well.
Distraction sometimes works. Pacing about. Scooby Doo. Lego. Walks. But at some stage we have to work through the anxieties. Try to unpick them. Put them into context. Do what we can.
Slowly this time, the waves begin to subside. You can tell when he is getting there. The first signs
“Dad where is The Big Red Fella on Track Santa”
On his way to Madagascar apparently. He arrives in 7 minutes.
“I wonder just how many in England have been put on the naughty list this year”
It’s probably more a massive database than a list. You won’t be on it.
“Dad you are officially on the naughty list with that jumper of yours. Even Elton John wouldn’t wear that.”
I will have you know it’s a handmade Italian climbing sweater.
“Which they export for muppets like you to buy because no self respecting Italian will ever wear that.”
Harsh but fair….
“Why in earth is it about three sizes to big for you…”
I bought it when I was climbing in Wales years ago. My size was standard price but the garden shed size was 80% off. That’sa bargain I couldn’t turn down.
“But it’s far too big for you…”
It’s not that big….
“Dad there’s more room in that jumper than in our loft, a family of 4 could live in there”
That’s mostly down to all the weight I’ve lost on my diets…
“If only Dad….”
Ok. It is a tad big. I can change my T-shirt without taking it off.But I could give it to you. Think of it as a precious hand me downfrom father to son.
“Just NO. That would really give me something to worry about…..”
####he chuckled at that one, that’s a good sign###
The sheep are back. Must be time to dig out my old Pink Floyd – Animals LP.
The return of the sheep always makes me smile.
A much younger Hawklad carefully feeding the sheep. Following the instructions from the farmer on which sheep liked which biscuits.
And yes that’s a puppy Captain Chaos.
Sometimes that wooden fence wasn’t keeping those sheep from those biscuits.
Then there was the first night in our home. My partner was watching the newly unpacked TV and I had come out into the crisp night air to look at the stars. Wow no light pollution here. No street lighting. Pitch black. So many stars. Then suddenly that sinking feeling.
I AM NOT ALONE…..
Somewhere near the fence dozens of eyes fixed on their prey. Me. I took it like a man. Screamed and ran inside, the door bolted behind me. As a modicum of courage returned, I tentatively ventured outside again with a torch and Slazenger cricket bat. I found dozens of sheep stood at the fence, all eyeballing me. Clearly saying ‘Where’s the biscuits..’ That was definitely the SHEEP OF THINGS TO COME. But I guess it was ALL’S WOOL THAT ENDS WOOL. I will shut up now. Don’tto RAM THE POINT HOME, I wouldn’t do that to EWE.
The amount of time I used to waste on the roads. Rush hour first thing, then rush hour on the way home. Travelling distances for meetings. Rushing here and there. Grabbing a sandwich while scurrying to my next appointment. Surviving on ever increasing amounts of caffeine. Time I could have spent truly living, doing things that truly matter. It wasn’t until single parenting forced me out of the rat race that I finally managed to see this. Time passed me by and I didn’t even notice. You don’t get that time back. What was I thinking about.
Now it’s a different life. My priorities have changed. Being a Mum and Dad, Single parenting, homeschooling, housework, trying to keep a part time job going. All mostly done without reference to an appointments diary AND NO TIME LOST in the rush hour, work madness.
When the world changed I kinda assumed that it was just about putting my career on hold. Maybe somewhere after 2023 the career would live again. It doesn’t work like that. I now realise that old life has gone full stop…… Other priorities, other commitments, I’m a different person. A new realisation.
Life has to be about making the most of precious time and not letting it slip through my fingers stuck in permanent traffic jams and never ending meeting cycles. Now the stuff I do MATTERS. If I don’t do it then it doesn’t happen. Can’t do that as a parent. Contrast that with the rat race. Do they even know that I quit my career. Did anyone notice one less driver stuck in the traffic queues.
YES, one person most definitely has.
YES my son. I’m there for him when he needs me, that doesn’t happen if I’m stuck on the M1 somewhere near Junction 42. I’m not there for him if I’m chasing my career.
Empty shelves in the shops, no petrol anywhere across the area, limited availability of blood test container tubes for Doctors resulting in the rationing of patient tests……..Another day in the Brave New World after Brexit.
As Hawklad rather adroitly put it this afternoon “this is what happens when a country needs leaders but votes in CLOWNS. Really nasty clowns.” As one commentator put it – the kinda clown who would happily pull out the plug on your life support machine so they could charge up their mobile phone.
It’s all going very dystopian here in Britain. To make the Huxley story link then we need a bit of genetically engineered trickery. What follows is the lamest link ever. Genetical engineering in the form of baking. My baking. Yes that is my latest bread loaf. Cheese topped Gluten Free, Dairy Free Honey and Sunflower Seed Bread. Huxley would be proud of me – it tastes rather fine. BUT…
“Dad that’s all very well but weren’t you supposed to be baking a sponge cake .”
Oh yes, I wondered why I was making bread when I already had a full homemade loaf still to eat. I must have got confused.
“That’s what happens when a kitchen needs a parent who knows what he’s doing and ends up with a MUPPET. Admittedly a muppet who can now bake bread.”
You know summer has gone when you return from an evening mad dog walk and you opt for a hot chocolate rather than a cold drink. Tonight was back to back drinks, that’s proper chilly.
“Dad we should go for a really long walk. Take Captain Chaos with us.”
That’s a big call for Hawklad. That might mean lots of gates to navigate without touching, increases the risk of meeting others. Needs to be carefully mapped out and planned. So maybe we could try to walk a bit further on the evening walk. It’s definitely quiet and I know exactly where the gates are.
Maybe he is thinking about building bridges. Getting use to being out in the big bad world again.
“No Dad we need to go much further but definitely when it’s quiet. It’s nothing to do with meeting people again.”
Ok then we might need to get up at dawn. Does he want to go anywhere in particular.
Apparently not. He just wants a long walk. Maybe it’s just a fitness thing. Maybe he thinks the four legged one needs more exercise.
Apparently not as well. So why does he want the long walk. Actually he wants his longest ever walk.
“It’s really about you Dad”
Oh I never saw that coming. Is he thinking I need to get out more. Maybe start hill walking again.
“No Dad. I was thinking this afternoon about my longest ever. Do you remember it. You took me when I had just started school for a short walk on the army land. You got lost and didn’t bother bringing a map because you didn’t need one. 5 hours later we got back to the car. Do you remember it rained and I didn’t have my coat as you said that I didn’t need one. We didn’t have any food or water. At one stage a soldier told us get back on the path”
Oh yes I remember that….
“I was thinking that my longest ever walk should have a purpose and not just be about my Dad being a muppet.”