Frustrating

So frustrating. Quite a bit of the sky is blue yet the black clouds keep rolling over the top of us. Keeping the Sun hidden. That’s as close as we have been to a glimpse of the big yellow thing. Which happens to be an awful lot closer than we have had to anything resembling competent government recently…..

So this morning the Government has said that their message is crystal clear, the problem is that some people just can’t understand it…. So they have helpfully clarified some stuff. The new Stay Alert message means you must stay at home and also that you must not stay at home. You can only see one person a day from a different household. So if you have two parents then you can only see one of them. Yet people can go to work and meet work colleagues (as many as you like) as long as you follow the new workplace rules – rules which have not been written yet. People should wear masks, but only if they really want to. Don’t need to worry about things like if the masks meet minimum standards, an old sock will do – anyway that’s what many of our nurses and care workers have had to resort to using as the Government couldn’t be bothered to buy enough protective kit. It’s completely safe to go out but don’t try to use public transport as this may or may not be safe. We have the same rules across the UK and you can drive anywhere you want to. BUT not to Scotland or Wales as they might be using the same rules but differently. It will soon be completely safe to send under 10’s back to school but they won’t be able to play together as that would be completely unsafe. We have the most open and honest government in the world but we won’t be releasing the scientific advice we have been using and we will only answer questions that we think are appropriate. The Government has issued detailed rules, bizarrely many of these are still being written (that’s a minor technicality) and don’t get so hung up on the safety details. Just use good old British common sense and basically wing this …..

So yes the sun has refused to shine so far but there is always hope it will. Unfortunately with Boris there is absolutely no hope of competent government ever appearing. Sadly we are not the only country like this. I just hope you get more of the sun than we do…..

2024

I’ve done my Sunday morning exercise session. The poor bike is a bit like me, during every session something either stops working, starts creaking or drops off. So the bike is going into therapy for a day or so. Can’t think of a worse punishment than having my large behind perched on you for that length of time.

So now I’m sat outside. Now that’s a rarity. Sat with my iPad typing these ramblings. This is my view.

Apologies for the legs and yes my trainers are in real need of replacement. Actually forget the trainers, my body is in need of replacement. I’ve used this one up, can I have another one.

During the lockdown I just haven’t found the time to sit outside and relax. Where does the time go. Its not as if I am undertaking any huge Home Makeover projects or painting a landscape masterpiece. I guess it’s a reminder of the investment you need to make when you signup to a parenting gig. The greater the investment, the higher the chance that your parenting will actually prove worthwhile for your kids.

But this sunny morning I’ve found the time to sit for a few minutes. The main reason is that I’ve just seen the weather forecast. It’s back to proper Yorkshire weather this week. The next scheduled settled sunny spell is not forecast until sometime in 2024. So I had better make the most of that bright yellow thing in the sky while it’s still here.

Looking at the view and the sun slightly hidden by early morning thin mist, reminds me of the ending to last nights movie. The last Star Wars movie. I won’t give away the ending or the key story moments. Mainly because I am waiting for our Son to explain them to me. I found switching off the brain and ignoring the inevitable questions, actually turned the movie into a really fun adventure yarn. Visually and sound wise it was stunning. However the repeated interjections from my resident film critic suggested a few too many issues with the storyline. The general message seemed to be – I’ve not seen so many plot holes since we watched the Alvin and The Chipmunks Road Chip Movie.

And with that the clouds have moved in. So like the current Star Wars story arc, our summer is FINISHED…

Rolling in

This week along with some more flowers blooming, the school emails have steadily been rolling in. I’ve been lucky with 6 emails. Son not so lucky. So far he has 35 unread teacher emails and another 5 this morning. I thought this was the Easter break.

Dad I’m not reading these until the weekend. I’m on holiday”

Couldn’t agree more. Can we just let kids have some fun and have a break from all the crap.

Next holiday I’m putting on out of hours message. Something like – I’m now on holiday which finishes on xxxxxxx if you have any concerns please email my Dad.”

Yesterday was one of those rare Yorkshire days. A day when you here the little used words

Dad I think we need sun cream, do we have any”

Mad parenting panic quickly followed by a mad house search. This is Yorkshire. I remember going to a Test Match (cricket) here many moons ago. The helpful announcer kept playing Government warnings about the need to where hats and use sun lotion to avoid the harmful effects of sunburn. It was ironic as it chucked it down all day and we never once had a glimpse of the sun. Everyone was huddled under umbrellas or seeking cover from the torrential rain in the beer tents. Our county is many things but if you had to list the top 1000 things about Yorkshire, the words hot and sunshine are never going to feature.

After a chaotic search a tub of factor 30 was found. Probably last used on a trip to Switzerland.

Is it still in date Dad?”

I didn’t need to look at the date to confirm the answer. But in the spirit of accuracy I checked. It was only slightly….. 2018.

Well it will have to do but I will be informing my solicitors

We needn’t have worried as this is Yorkshire. In the time we had been protection hunting, the dark clouds had rolled in. Now the most appropriate form of protection was a jumper.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so in these challenging times, I think it’s time for a virtual tour of beautiful Switzerland.

One of the best times we to found to visit Switzerland as a family was over Easter.

In my country Easter, like most holidays has become over commercialised. Not in Switzerland. The atmosphere is just perfect.

The weather was frequently glorious for our visits. Snow still falling on the high mountains and yet beautifully warm at lower levels. The morning trains would find people in summer shorts sat next to skiers in full snow gear.

The weather was perfect for sitting outside and just watching the world slowly walk by.

Spring alpine flowers coming to life.

The snow line slowly retreating in the hot sunshine. Deep blue skies.

The yachts and small boats emerging from winter hibernation.

The colours constantly changing.

And after an exhausting day on the piste for a young one….

Nothing better than returning to the hotel to find the owners have left a little Easter gift. Thank you Switzerland for lifting the spirits again.

Onomatopoeia

That jolly yellow thing in the sky is still here. Any longer and it might qualify for the Yorkshire Cricket Team. I understand it’s called The Sun. A simple name yet so confusing for kids like our Son. Is it a Sun or is it a Son.

So on to this weeks spelling test. Ok campers your simple words this week are

Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Simile, Metaphor, Slang, Rhetorically, Personification, Emotive, Language, Imagery, Verb, Adjective, Adverb.

See I predicted it was only a matter of time before the poor kids had to try and spell complex dinosaur names. The Onomatopoeia was always my favourite flying dinosaur…..

I think school probably thinks that the spellings are getting too easy so they have now added a twist. Previously the teacher would say the actual word to be spelt and the kids tried to write it down. This week the teacher won’t say the word. Instead she will read out a definition and the kids have to decide which word it describes – then spell it. Easy with Onomatopoeia as it will be the only dinosaur….. if only.

So the kids will have to work out which of the above words fits with what the teacher definitions are and then try to spell it. From definitions like these

This is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes

This is when something is said to be something else

A describing word. Sometimes there are three together to make it more effective

A word describing how something is done

This is the repetition of letter sound at the start of a word

What chance has a dyslexic kid got when he struggles to spell and as a result has never really understood the technicalities of the English Language. But what do I know. A simple parent compared to the might and intellectual magnificence of the current government education regime. As our PM’s Dad publicly stated when he stood in for his Son in an interview.

Spelling “Pinocchio? That requires a degree of literacy, which I think the great British public doesn’t necessarily have.”

Its hard being a PM so he only handpicks a few interviews these days. Better to send his Dad. But the message is clear. The great unwashed didn’t go to Eton and Oxford. They are basically illiterate. They need to be force fed things like spelling.

I am one of the great unwashed. An illiterate who went to a poor sinkhole Comprehensive School and only to the clearly unworthy Warwick University. Maybe we are illiterate for a reason. The dreadful state of our crumbling education system. An education system that lets down so many kids. Which discriminates against those who don’t fit the mould. Money allows you to buy a better education. The money which the PMs Dad easily forked out to send his Son to Eton. But in the real world the majority struggle on. Dealing with an education system which has been systematically screwed by those with a view of the world so like that of PM and his Dad.

I might not be able to spell Pinocchio but at least I know my pterodactyls from my Onomatopoeias.

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.

Strange Yellow Thing

Such a change 24 hours. Yes still very very very wet and muddy. But that strange yellow thing in the sky has returned. It does make such a difference.

Son did you get time to look at the strange yellow thing in the sky today”

What strange yellow thing.

“That big yellow thing we don’t often get in Yorkshire”

Dad was it a large Canary or Yellow Parrot.

No it was Big Bird from Sesame Street”

Your pulling my leg aren’t you Dad. And Big Bird can’t fly.

Son it was the Sun. Did you see the Sun today”

Dad your not supposed to look at the Sun directly. It could damage your eyes.

*******

But life is good as the strange yellow thing is here.

*******

It’s Wednesday so it must be time for this weeks spelling test. Not the easiest thing for a kid with dyslexia. Ok Gang your words for this week which you need to learn or makeup fiction with are

Overreact, Hero, Claudio, Beatrice, Benedick, Character, Scene, Subservient, Discipline, Accused, Blessing, Suspicion, Breadwinner, Complicated, Stereotypical.

*******

But life is good as the strange yellow thing is here.

*******

A letter came home with Son today. In two weeks his year group will sit exams for all subjects. They will be organised in the same way as final exams to better prepare students. Exams will last 75 minutes with time for reading provided. Results are important as they will largely form this years assessment. This determines which set you are placed in.

*******

But life is good as the strange yellow thing is here.

*******

So beginneth the first true school test of 2020. A test for school not pupils. What support will school put in place for our son. For kids like our son. I have already let school know very clearly what we expect. Additional Time. A Reader & Scribe. Separate room. If these are not viable in any particular exam then significant marking adjustments or removing son from exams where adjustments can’t be made. Over to school now.

*******

But life is good as the strange yellow thing is here.

*******

Today at work I found out that the office unit might be relocating. A local Car Garage is looking for a trustworthy organisation to share a unit with. Oh what fun. It’s closer. More modern office. And best of all maybe I get some company. No more Billy no mates.

*******

But life is good as the strange yellow thing is here.

*******

On further investigation I do get some company just not quite what I was expecting. The garage will be using it’s part of the unit to store car parts and tyres. So my new buddies are called Mr Dunlop, Miss Bridgestone, Mr Goodyear, Mrs Pirelli and Mr Continental. Will have to tread carefully with these guys…..

*******

But life is good as the strange yellow thing is here.

Ratings

It’s December. Its still sunny and its that time of year when you watch those movies you wouldn’t dream of watching during the rest of the year. It was like that before the world changed. It’s like that after the world changed.

But one teeny weeny request.

Please filmmakers and TV schedulers can we try not to do Christmas movies that at some stage involves death. Death of a parent, death of a lover, death of a pet, death of a main character. Last year we watched festive movies which without warning introduced the mum dying (3x), the dad dying (x1), grandparent dying (x1) and the family pet dying (x2). Really it’s CHRISTMAS. I know it’s hard to believe but many of us out here in viewing land will be going through grief. But it doesn’t stop there. I remember our son saying this during one particularly happy start to a film.

Why is it that so many films have a single dad whose either bad tempered, drinking and gambling. And the child who is behaving badly, has no friends and is being bullied. It’s never just a nice dad and child who are doing ok just a bit sad.

So what’s the answer apart from watch Guardians of the Galaxy on loop. Oh hang on that’s got a mum death. Ok apart from watching Big Hero 6 on loop. Oh hang on the robot dies. Ok part from watching Muppets Christmas Carol on loop.

Well the answer is a new movie classification system. One which actually tells you what the movie is really about. So for example if a PG movie contains a parent death you could label it PG-PD. Or if a pet dies it could be labelled PG-PED. Or if a loveable main character dies PG-LMCD. So as a parent I would be pre informed of the upcoming sadness. That way I can make an informed decision on if we should find another film.

So Big Hero 6 would be classified in the UK as PG-LMCD. Guardians of the Galaxy would be 12-PD.

But the new movie classification system could go further. Suddenly the movie watcher could be truly enlightened.

-JWTT all the best bits are in the movie trailer (Just Watch The Trailer)

-F movie contains super delicious looking Food (helpful for those trying to stick to a diet)

-A movie contains alcohol drinking (for those trying to give up)

-K movie contains Kissing (this ones for our Son, he doesn’t like kissing)

-ET movie contains Expensive Toys which kids may start wanting

-S movie contains Snakes and Spiders (useful for Ophidiophobia and Arachnophobia)

-L movie is Long so you had better go on the toilet before hand

-I movie is so boring that it’s a cure for Insomnia

-TD movie contains a Transport accident or Disaster (for those travelling tomorrow)

-AC movie contains Alvin and The Chipmunks

-NPCS this ones really important to stop wasting 10 minutes waiting for the Credits to finish at the end of the movie. It’s always a bit awkward being the only ones left in the cinema. No Post Credit Scene.

-W movie contains a Wrestler trying to act (think Hulk Hogan)

-WR movie contains The Rock acting (we like him)

-ANS movie has Action but No Story so you can safely fast forward between the action scenes

-HD movie claims to be true but is Historically Dodgie (think Braveheart)

-Q movie is very Quiet so probably not a good idea to get a mega sized popcorn tub

-U2 movie contains a grotesque playing of a Bono song.

Pepper

Today was a trip to the Zoo. Cold and a bit damp but so worth it. Helps take son’s thoughts away from school. Animals never fail to deliver. Need to make him smile.

We bought a heavily discounted season pass last year. Unbeknown to a certain Dad the pass expired last night. So the trip was significantly more expensive than expected. As we go every couple of months the pass is worth it. Not often can you say that about the stuff you end up forking out for.

Son challenged me to the usual ‘who can spot the Painted Dog first competition’. As ever Dad lost. So what was the forfeit. In the cafe I was to buy a coffee. I could enjoy half the cup THEN….

It was seasoned with pepper. Plenty of pepper.

Strangely the Peppered Coffee was not the worst thing I’ve tasted this year. I can think of a few horrible tasting Jelly Beans which take that particular award. However I suspect Peppered Coffee isn’t going to feature too heavily on the Starbucks menu.

It certainly cleared my blocked nose.

Tonight we had a lovely dog walk. Enjoying an other world type sunset – all with an underlying peppery undertone.

Alien Sun

The thick fog briefly parted this afternoon and we had the pleasure of an almost alien like landscape. Having said that Yorkshire is a weird place most of the time….

We are so lucky to have this view from the back of the house. Maybe not so lucky when the farmers cows decide to turn the field into an open air toilet – normally next to our fence.

It’s a beautiful location at night. The village has no street lighting so apart from a few house lights it makes a perfect place to see the stars. An Astronomers paradise apart from the weather and the cowpats.

I remember the first night we spent here. 18 years ago. My partner was happily sat in front of the fire watching TV. I was outside gazing at a myriad of stars and marvelling at how dark it was. Pitch black. Then over a few minutes I started to get a feeling of being watched. The feeling grew and I became distinctly unnerved. Then a noise. A noise close by. A nervous glance towards the fence and to my horror not one but about 30 pairs of eyes fixed on me. Sheer Terror.

Thankfully the torch revealed no beasts from hell just inquisitive sheep. It’s not easy being the perfect amateur astronomer when in fact you are tonight’s entertainment for so many prying eyes.

**********************************

Challenge update: We sat watching Home Alone and looking for the plot hole. I must admit I forgot and switched into movie zombie biscuit eating mode. That was until:

Dad how did Kevin order the pizza delivery when the phone lines are down!”

So another day and it’s another round of jelly bean roulette for me. And again I picked the chamber with a bullet in the form of stinky sock flavour. Deep Joy.

Today’s challenge. Guess how many Scooby Doo films and episodes have been made. The loser again visits the jelly bean roulette lounge.