Forgotten Memory

It’s another one of those cold damp bleak Yorkshire days. Hawklad is sat in his bedroom trying to get his school work done. Or maybe he is asleep…. I’m sat by a radiator watching the incessant rain rattle against the window. Trying to warm up after my really cold morning garden workout. It feels like this will be long old winter. A long winter on many fronts.

I’m listing to an old Opeth cd. Back in the time when they were still a proper dark metal band. A memory floods black. I went to buy this very cd just before the millennium. A time way before parenting reality found its way to me. From a music shop which would eventually sadly succumb to economic reality. With the gatefold cd in hand I went to pay for it at the till. The clearly just out of school assistant looked at the cd and then gave me a questioning look. He said something like

This is one of my favourite bands but it’s very heavy dude. Might not be your thing. I can show you the section with the more mainstream rock cds”

I stopped him before he got they chance to mention The Moody Blues. I pointed out to him that I had in fact all of Opeth’s records. And while he was probably still in nappies watching the Care Bears I was at gigs watching the likes of Motörhead and Black Sabbath. After that we had a laugh and he admitted that when he saw me walk into the shop he had switched the music he was playing from Iron Maiden to Deacon Blue. I admitted that I had seen Maiden but strangely forget to add that I had also seen Deacon Blue as well…..

A happy, long forgotten memory…. A memory which took my mind off winter for a few precious minutes.

Desert Island

Last night a Red Sky. Need to change the saying. Red Sky at Night, REALLY big puddles next day….

There is a long running British radio show called Desert Island Discs. Guests talk about their life and then play songs that they would take on a desert island with them. In addition to the Bible and the Works of Shakespeares they get to take a luxury item.

Well we played our own version of that last night. A few tweaks to the shows rules. I’ve done mine while Hawklad is taking his time over his. So you will get three posts from the Desert Island. Mine is here and Hawklad’s will follow. There will also be a third post – can you summon up for inner Sherlock and figure out what’s its about.

So here’s mine. Starting with the 9 tracks.

Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

Lynyrd Skynyrd – That Smell

Shinedown – Get Up

Alter Bridge – Godspeed

Paul Gross – Ride Forever (from the TV Due South)

Foo Fighters – Walking After You

The Book I would take would be Terry Pratchett – Mort. The movie I would take would be End Game. The TV series would be the XFiles. Favourite food would be Apple Crumble and Custard. Favourite Drink would be full on Coffee. My favourite snack would be Cheese and Onion Crisps. And my luxury item would be a Telescope to look at the stars.

So that’s my list. If the desert island is anything like Yorkshire this afternoon then I would need a very thick jumper and the largest umbrella. Maybe not the most ideal desert island weather.

Irony

It was another one of those Yorkshire days. Cold, wet, windy, brooding.

That weather combined with a pandemic, homeschooling and our enforced lockdown is a heady mix. A mix which gets me pondering life. Probably too much pondering some days.

I was sat looking out through the window at that dark sky. Sat alone while Hawklad did his school work in the bedroom. I was suddenly taken back to before 2016. The old small conservatory had finally fallen to bits. We had found the money for a replacement one. I think we planned for years of sitting in there, spending time together. But here’s the thing. We never really did. Life always got in the way. We always seemed to be too busy. If only we had found a way of slowing life down. Creating time at home. Seemingly having too much time on our hands. No excuses to not sit together in that new conservatory. At the time it kind of never really mattered. We had so many years ahead of us to do that.

Well that plan didn’t go well.

Here’s the irony that 2020 presents. Suddenly time has slowed down. Often a feeling of too much time on our hands. A lockdown enforcing time together. No outside distractions this time. A perfect time to sit with my partner and look at that dark sky. Thinking how lucky we are to have that time together. The irony is not lost on me.

Wet

It’s the perfect day to try to hand wash. Even better for drying said washing.

Under that bench cover is the washing. Marvellous…..

The washing is even too wet for the radiators and getting wetter.

I wonder if you can microwave washing?

Could I cook the washing at 200C?

Maybe if I run about really fast with it over my head it might dry?

Maybe I could hop on a plane and dry it in a warmer climate.

Or I could just say pants to it, leave it out in the rain. Shrug my shoulders and go eat some chocolate. Yes that sounds like a plan.

New Sport

It’s dark, bit of blue sky, very windy. Good drying weather.

Friday was one of those days. Hassle from school. Missing items. Me being a walking accident magnet. My favourite music magazine, one I’ve been reading for ages, went out of business. And the washing machine….. it decided to eat itself. Two hours of fruitless home repair confirmed that in the words of Monty Python –

E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-WASHING MACHINE…..

A bit of disaster when we have such a heavy lockdown washing requirement. A replacement one was finally sourced that has an expected delivery window of less than 3 months!! So it’s the delights of hand washing for a while. Given Hawklads anxieties – lots of it. I guess it’s a good arm workout.

I need the weather to be nice and cooperate. Outdoor drying would really help. Please help me dry the washing, pretty please….

So here’s the new sport. It’s great for endurance and reactions. Much bending over and sprinting. It’s called ‘catching my pants as they hurtle across the farmers field’. The sizeable wind was clearly trying to turn my underwear into a new post brexit export to Belgium. In fact given the colossal size of my pants they would constitute a bigger new trade deal than anything our clowns of a government have secured in one year…..

See what the wind brings.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and see what the wind brings.

Drying clothes outside is proving a bit of a nightmare. Every few minutes the wind brings in another shower. Thankfully the bench cover is just about big enough to quickly chuck over the clothes horse. Given the dirty state of the cover rather defeats the purpose of washing. But needs must.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and see what the wind brings.

Further lockdown measures are set to be announced for northern areas next week. For the last month our part of the north has been an island. Surrounded by areas having significant pandemic outbreaks. Here it’s been reasonably calm. That means that things like shopping and daily life have continued without too much disruption. But is that about to change. Has our area succumbed.

Sons school has had confirmed cases. The local cafe had had to close due to a local outbreak. All public events are being cancelled (that includes Christmas events). Now the local city is reporting a huge growth in cases. 79% rise in 7 days, our rural area has gone up by 60%. Higher than some of the areas already under lockdown. Police are starting to enforce lockdown laws.

It’s the confusion that makes it so much harder for people. One week the PM tells people to grow a backbone and get out. Then suddenly the PM tells us it’s our fault fir getting out. Some places (often government supporting areas) have high infection rates but are excluded from lockdown while other areas with lower rates are forced into lockdown.

Feels like we as an area are about to be forced into a tough, restrictive extended period. All we can do is continue with our own family approach. Try to shield son from as much of the negative, doom loaded news. It’s the last thing he needs to hear. Much better for his (and my well-being) to sit in the back garden and see what the weather brings in.

Unpredictable

Today the weather can’t make its mind up. Every few minutes it just keeps changing. So unpredictable. I remember my Dad telling me an expression about unpredictable life. Unfortunately it’s not an expression that translates very well into the modern politically correct world. So here’s one I’ve just made up. The weather today is about as predictable as a ferret which has been let loose in a sweet shop.

Thinking about it – I could do with a sugar rush right now. Better not….

What is pretty predictable is that our little family lockdown is going to extend into 2021. I just can’t see our son making sufficient progress to even consider venturing into busy environments any time soon. We are in this for the long haul. On top of this we is the wider pandemic situation. We are seemingly entering a lengthy period of stricter social distancing rules.

We just have to be realistic. The initial aim has to be just getting son to venture out a few times to remote and quiet outside locations. If we can achieve that over the next 3 months then we are doing well.

So my mindset is now focused around the continuing physical isolation which the rest of this year will bring. But that’s a step forward. Uncertainly and just not knowing is worse for me. At least now I can start to get my head round the situation. Start to draw up plans to get keep our spirits up. Normally the dark months are punctuated with special events and family meet-ups. Not this time. So what do we do?

For son part of the strategy means spending money. Much money…. Going to try and get him the latest Xbox. His current one is well battered now. That will keep him occupied and he enjoys playing his football game. The hope is that I can encourage him to try a few new games rather than just FIFA football. The rest of the approach for him will revolve around just trying to do fun stuff. It’s still his childhood, he still has to enjoy it.

What do I do? I guess I get an old Xbox to play on…. Keep the fitness up. Certainly more reading. Get stuck into improving my spoken German (maybe buy a learning app that can double up as a homeschooling aid). The garden is long overdue a real makeover. Let’s see if I can dust down the 35 year old telescope and get out a bit more on those rare clear winter nights. Going to learn how to play the keyboard

I’ve told the story before of our son asking for a keyboard for Christmas. I did well and got a decent electronic one for next to nothing on a Black Friday sale. Unfortunately when it came to Christmas it transpired that the required keyboard was not supposed to be musical but one for his tablet. So it’s basically sat gathering dust….

Until now.

That’s a start. It’s something to work and build on. I’m no use to our son if I spiral downwards, so it’s time to GET UP and make sure I do more than just existing.

WE can do this.

It has started

I love the Autumn colours. The hot chocolate. The coming prospect of winter sports on the telly. An excuse to snuggle into warm, thick jumpers (sweaters). The dark skies filled with stars.

Some things I don’t like so much.

The dark days. The sense of isolation. The sense of foreboding. The rain. The mind numbingly cold wind. The rain seeping through the back door.

AND the leaves. Thousands of fallen leaves. For some reason our garden is seemingly the final destination for all the trees in the area. Today I looked at the neighbouring gardens, at most a couple of lonely leaves – all missing their buddies. Well I can tell them where they are. In my garden….

So it has started. Going to get a lot worse, well in our garden anyway…..

L

More weather

It’s definitely a weather day. Lots of it. Just had to retrieve our bin from the neighbours garden. Very clever really as the bin had navigated two gates and had happily settled in the wrong back garden. Definitely weather but it will change again.

It’s very like grief.

Sometimes the storms are damaging. They cause disruption and seem to go on for ever. Wave after wave crashing down, adding yet more pressure, that awful feeling of sinking further and further down. But eventually the storm will subside. The weather will change.

That’s what needs to be held on to. The weather will inevitably change, even in Yorkshire.

Working hard on harvesting

Apparently we are enjoying the last few days of summer weather. It’s kinda sunny and kinda warm – if you ignore the cold wind. The forecasters are warning that soon the weather will be most definitely very different. Very cold, wet, grim and grey. As a result the farmers around here are desperately trying to get on with stuff. Even working when it’s dark.

It’s also time to start harvesting our own little garden crop. Today it’s a few apples, onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. Some have done better than others……

Can anyone speak carrot. What’s the carrot for ‘you do know this is Yorkshire and you are about to be given a right weather spanking. You don’t have months of sunny growing weather left, you have no more than 3 days. So get a move on….’

Why is it so simple to grow weeds yet those so called easy grow carrots prove so pesky. It’s as if the carrots pop out of the seeds, feel the Yorkshire soil and go ‘YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING’.

So if the carrots play ball then we are moving into a spell of living off stews, soups and apple crumble. I can happily live with that. I’m always thankful for whatever the garden yields. It does have to contend with the muppet gardener and Captain Chaos.

So yes it’s that time of year. The weather starts to break OR in our case, break even more. It starts to get colder and darker. For many it can be a tough change. Heralding a long period of what feels like ever increasing claustrophobic imprisonment. Me included. That’s where friendships, happy things and dreams are so important. They can help soften the sadness, even lift us into a better place. So for me it’s time to increasingly focus on those things. I can’t do anything about the weather but I can do influence the truly important stuff. Soon the autumn colours will become spectacular. The important stuff can lift the soul. Yes the following months can be bleak BUT they can also yield so much beauty and wonderful moments as well

Now it’s time to give those carrots a good talking to.