Blue

Blue Sky. Well just a bit but it makes such a difference. It really does.

After weeks of not using the work’s computer system it’s such a shock when you have to finally turn it back on again. Not a clue what my username or password is. I picked something I would never forget which I have now forgotten….. In fact where is the laptop ON button. Trying to tell my fingers that it’s not a touch control screen, that’s the reason you get psychedelic colour patterns every time I press it. What’s a keyboard. Having somehow turned the computer on, it must be time for a hot drink. See back in the swing of work already. When I returned the computer had decided to upgrade itself and was stuck at 4%. So the computer was quickly back in the normal swing of things as well. So the hot drink was enjoyed outside. That blue does look good…

So I’m back inside and ready to rumble. Now the upgrade is at 2% completion. As a professional accountant I can just about work out that it’s just lost 2% of its upgrade thingy in the last 20 minutes. So it’s de-upgrading. I can’t work out if that means it will complete sometime in 2026 or maybe it would have been completed in 2014 in a time-warping kinda way. Randomly throwing pink socks at the screen I guess will not speed things up. I wonder if the laptop finds that really annoying. Strangely I find it very therapeutic. Just like lovely friends and blue skies.

Horse Racing

Another post and another rose. At least I can grow a few roses. That’s a start isn’t it. A start is usually a good thing…. In this post today means yesterday thanks to WordPress refusing to post last night.

This morning I started looking at employment options. It looks like my job will get mothballed for many months. It’s so dependent on public and sporting events. Realistically these will not properly restart any time soon. So it looks like the sensible decision is to close the company down and then relook to launch again in 2021. Which leaves a decision to be made. As it’s a great fit with my single parent circumstances, do I try to survive on savings until it’s back again? Or do I find something different to either fill in the gap or completely change career path again. So today I today I started looking at available options. I have to say trying to find a job I can make fit round our Son is not easy. I really fell on my feet with this current role. Yes the money is not great but the flexibility is such a bonus. Today’s search just confirmed that. Couldn’t find one option which would work for us. Especially when you factor in the potential commitment to full time homeschooling. But I will keep looking.

Dad not sure a Train Driver is a great idea. Even on tracks you would just end up getting lost.”

True…. what about a Zookeeper

Dad your scared on spiders, snakes, wasps and parrots.”

Ok what about a librarian

Your far too noisy and you can’t even put your own books away.”

Pants that’s true. What about a parking attendant. I would get a free hat.

You are too nice, you would never hand out any tickets.”

What about a chef.

Just NO.”

How about a window cleaner.

Have you seen how dirty our windows are”

So after drawing a complete blank we headed outside to contemplate life, the universe and the state of our windows. There we heard a sound which we haven’t listened to since March. Horse Racing… Our nearest neighbour is a lovely elderly lady. I’ve known her for 18 years now. Over those years she has become increasingly frail and hard of hearing. Each year her TV volume needs to be turned up one extra setting. Definitely now turned to 11 on the 10 scale. Which is great as I can turn my music up just a little louder without fear of upsetting the neighbours. Not sure the quaint old village is quite ready for loud Mongolian Throat metal quite yet… Its certainly not something you hear from my neighbours TV.

She only watches one thing really. Horse Racing. Today Horse Racing restarted without crowds, in the UK and it’s most definitely on next door. That means my neighbour is happy. And that’s a good thing.

Homework

The hardy old rose bush right next to the front door. Against all the odds, it just keeps on giving.

In a few hours the school at home project restarts again. One more 7 week push before we finally arrive at the summer holidays. What kind of Britain will it be? The old normal, the new normal or something else.

This afternoon was glorious. Hot (for here) and sunny. Unbelievably not a single cloud all day. This is Yorkshire remember.

Yes this is Yorkshire but sadly it’s connected to England. Which means it has to live with the Government’s take on education. So while the sun beat down, we were inside. Trying to get homework completed and revision to stick. It’s bizarre that we force kids to work during holidays and weekends AND yet we have a part time Prime Minister who avoids such weekend and holiday work at all costs…. Yet again one rule for the many and another much nicer rule for the few.

The really frustrating thing is what exactly is the homework achieving. Four hours today and what did our Son learn….

What is the point of this Dad. I’ve not learnt one new fact. Not done anything which is interesting. I’m bored out of my mind. My hand hurts from writing and I dislike these subjects even more.”

Sadly I can’t argue with this. The school system here has been deliberately broken. Not by the teachers but by people in The Government. People who enjoyed the benefits of expensive private education. It’s not about developing individual kids now. It’s all about ticking political boxes for those in power. This government will not change its mind. But change is needed. So it will be local change.

We will continue with the school at home project until the summer. Remember this is not homeschooling….this is just trying to do exactly the same school lessons just not with the kids sat at a desk in the cramped classroom. In the summer our Son will decide what he does next. To go back to school or to go for full homeschooling. It’s his call. If he defers to me then he is leaving school. But what to do with the next 7 weeks. We have just brought in a new house rule.

Son will only be expected to do additional homework if it meets one of 3 conditions

  • He will actually learn something from it,
  • He will find it interesting,
  • It actually is going to contribute to his overall assessment. (Staggeringly much homework does not. Frequently it is not even marked in detail and sometimes not at all.)

We did have a fourth condition but that was dropped

Dad that’s a pointless condition. How many kids will honestly admit to actually wanting to do a piece of homework. Definitely never me….”

So if a piece of homework does not meet one of these conditions then he won’t be asked to complete it. I will write into school and let the teacher know. If the school wants to push it then they can deal with me. In our house – I am the headteacher and remember I don’t currently have a PM…..

Get my head round

The sun is shining. It’s still cold but we will settle for this.

So it’s almost official. School has emailed parents to say that looking at the latest government guidance – which apparently isn’t much – only some Primary pupils and those sitting final exams next year will get any direct teaching over the next few months. The earliest Son will be back in school is going to be September. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

Looking at the government’s plan for the economy – doesn’t take long as it’s basically wrote on the back of the PMs hand – probably means the company I work for won’t be operating anytime before September. That’s being extremely optimistic and requires an awful lot of good fortune. Being realistic there is a high probability it will not survive. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

It’s also time to get my head round the likelihood that I won’t be seeing my brother and sisters much in 2020. If things improve then maybe visits at Christmas might be a possibility. Realistically meet ups are not happening anytime this side of September. Already one Government official has said Summer family holidays and meet ups are cancelled, as these are unsafe – but apparently getting on a packed bus and going to work is completely safe.

AND WE HAVE TO GET OUR HEADS ROUND TWO EVEN MORE PRESSING MATTERS.

  • How are we going to celebrate my partners birthday in just over a weeks time. We had been planning on doing a camp fire party. Unfortunately the fire pit didn’t survive the Yorkshire winter. Yesterday I tried to pick it up to clean and the metal just crumbled, leaving me holding just two wooden handles. At least they can be used as fire wood. The other idea was to have my partners favourite meal – Chinese. Unfortunately the local takeaways are still closed and the local supermarket is completely sold out of Chinese food – apart from crispy seaweed. Which brought the response “well the gerbils will eat well then….”. I did offer to cook Chinese from scratch, but that brought the response “I’d rather suck on a gooseberry….”. So we are in plan F territory.
  • Dad I am so missing not going on my trampoline.” A couple of months back our garden pigeons decided to nest right next to the big bouncy thing (thats not my tummy before you say anything….). When I say right next to, I mean within 10 centimetres (not using inches will really upset Boris). Well the pigeons and chicks are showing no sign of moving, so I have two options. One is to dismantle and then rebuild somewhere else. Problem is that it’s in the only flat part of the garden and it’s like trying to assemble a Super Tanker. The instructions helpfully explained that you will need three reasonably fit adults to assemble. They failed to mention at least one of those adults must be an expert in structural engineering and the other two will need to have the strength of The Hulk. The other option is to try and drag the complete trampoline. We tried yesterday and after 30 minutes had shifted it 1 cm (up yours Boris). So we are also on Plan F here as well.

But at least the sun is shining.

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…..

Tree

This is a tree we can see from our garden. The walk across the farmers field takes you right beside it. When we first moved here it was so much bigger. Almost symmetrical. Unfortunately countless storms and a couple of lightning strikes have taken their toll. I guess that’s the price you pay for being a big isolated tree on an exposed hill top.

So it finally happened. All the countries schools will close on Friday. A skeleton childcare service will be provided for essential workers and vulnerable kids. Our school is planning to try and run lessons online. It’s an indefinite closure with much talk of this extending into the summer. It will be an interesting trial with homeschooling in mind. Let’s see what works. Let’s see what the optimum learning time is. Let’s see if I can cope. As a single parent, the work shutdown will allow me to fully focus on son and his learning.

Life can often bring much isolation. With the new life motto – ‘Social Distancing’, more are going to have deal with the challenges that it brings. Each one of us has to find our own way of dealing with this. Don’t laugh but walking past this old tree and just giving it a friendly pat can help me. The tree has survived longer and more intense isolation than I ever will. It’s only right that I show solidarity with a fellow survivor.

I went for a walk today and almost didn’t see another soul. Plenty of sheep and crows but so few people. Hardly any cars as well. It just seemed kinda normal. I guess after three years I am getting use to the isolation. Just about. Had to make a few work calls today but that’s going to be it for many weeks now. As people increasingly keep their distance the reality is that the only person I will be physically talking to over the next couple of months will our son. Maybe an occasional telephone call with a sister. That’s why blogging will be so important for me.

I’m someone who has to continually work on my conversation skills these days. Without it I become a gibbering, shy wreck. That’s why I have recently become a crap Dr Doolittle. I am increasingly talking to animals. Not just the mad pets. The birds and squirrels waiting to be fed in the garden. The frog who comes for a warm when the tumble dryer is on. The bee trying to break into the house. The farmers sheep, cows and a grumpy bull. I’m a crap Doolittle as I talk to the poor animals but I still can’t understand what they say back. Probably a good job as I can imagine the responses.

“Will you just sod off”

“Boring, boring”

“Do you mind if I hump your leg”

So on the walk I crouched down to have a chat with a sheep. The local sheep are happy to listen to my waffles as long as I bring some biscuits with me. So I was asking this particular sheep if she ever got bored just walking in the same field and did she like these biscuits . Nearly jumped out of my skin when behind me a booming voice replied.

“If they keep producing the wool for my jumpers I will happily let them eat biscuits. This one likes Digestives, the others are partial to those biscuits .”

I had not heard the farmer sneak up on me. Another day and another …. Oh the shame. But at least I know that I need to bring two types of biscuits on the walks now. All this took place under the a much battered, yet resilient tree.

Bee

Slightly unnerving BEEing (being) eyeballed by this woolly friend. Couldn’t work out if it was admiring my silky garden football skills or was waiting for a Rich Tea biscuit. I lived in footballing worship hope until a biscuit was handed over and the woolly one then walked off.

Not always but occasionally life balances itself out. This morning I finished my last bit of paid work before the company basically shuts down for a couple of months (maybe longer). So no money coming in. As I closed the work laptop the phone rang. It was the garage, they still can’t get the parts needed for my cars poorly braking system. They will keep trying but the repair work won’t happen much before May. That’s a bit of a result. Won’t BEE (be) using the car much at all and that’s one hefty bill kicked into the long grass.

Talking about long grass. Last year someone gave me a wild bee hotel. The poor souls are struggling here so I thought I would do my bit. A quiet corner in the garden has been allowed to go wild. To be factually correct that should have been described as – I have let a part of the badly overgrown garden to go even wilder than the rest of the mess…

Anyway in the wild corner I have carefully located the bee hotel. Still no little takers after many months. I remember my Dad telling me that the first bee you see in spring is probably looking for a new home. He was a stubborn Yorkshireman so I never dared to question his apicultural knowledge. So our first bee of the season arrived.

A bee clearly fixated on trying to squeeze under the back door and get into our house. I tried showing the bee the currently vacant and palatial hotel. As hard as I pointed at the hotel’s front door, the bee just ignored me. Even a little honey failed to entice the bee. UnBEElievable (Unbelievable)

My question to you. What is the bee phrase for ‘Sorry pal your not coming in here. This thing I’m pointing at is your free of charge new house. I will even feed you each day.”

Doll

Let’s see what we can find in our little part of this beautiful planet. Today it’s the village pond. Few will know it exists as it’s hidden well behind the church, backing onto farmland. Yes a footpath passes close by but if you stick to it then the water is hidden. To find the pond you need to venture off the path and slog your way through an overgrown and very muddy piece of land. Hard work but worth it.

Understandably today brought a catalogue of work event cancellations. Certainly the rest of March and April will be virtually workless. Probably May as well. Three months without pay really. But we are so fortunate. As a family we can just about survive until work picks up again. At least I will have a job after things stabilise. Many will not be that fortunate. My heart goes out to you if your in that position.

I can’t do anything about the lack of work. What I can do is to use the time it frees up to focus even more on our son. Like many kids he is concerned, frightened, confused… I need to use this time to try and make happy memories for him. And maybe me as well.

So lets see what we can squeeze out of this strange period in our life’s. Fun and good stuff might not necessarily be easy to find currently. But like the village pond, with a bit of hard work it must be there somewhere. We will find it and create memories.

The village pond always brings a smile. Its already a location which has helped form good memories. His old nursery had this thing about getting the kids to look after and care for various toys. One weekend our son was sent home with a doll in a beautiful white dress. He had to look after the doll, show her his home, care for her and record all this in her diary. He decided that he wanted to show the doll the village pond. We set off with him carefully cradling the doll. Unfortunately on the way our son accidentally dropped her in a cow pat. The poor doll was submerged, head first with just her legs sticking out of the smelly pile of poo. Our little four year olds son looked at the poor doll, then calmly at me and with a cheeky smile said the immortal words

“Dad what have you done….”

Just turn round

Sometimes it’s worth taking the time to turn round and see what’s behind you.

A few years back I was driving back home late at night. As a I was feeling tired I pulled over on a country lane and looked south at the beautiful starlight view. Feeling happy with myself I got back into the car. The next day the local news was full of videos of that nights stunning Northern Lights show. If I had just turned round I just might have seen one of the natural worlds greatest sights. Its a big deal here as we rarely get to see them. I still haven’t seen them. Just turn round…

Today I spent two hours ransacking the work base for one box. Not a sign of it. Then I turned round. Yep suddenly it was right in front of me. If only I had turned round sooner. With the box in hand I set off back home. If I had turned round as I left the office I would have seen my wallet and house keys on the desk. I then would have not got virtually back home before I realised that I had to turn round and go back to work.

I remember a Saturday afternoon visiting my partners bedside in the hospice. When I left the room something inside of me told me to turn round and spend some more time with her. I decided to go and pick my son up from relatives. I often think that I should have turned round as she died just a few hours later. Other times I think I probably made the right call. Son needed me. That’s probably an excusable failure to turn round.

Doncaster Wildlife Park is our zoo of choice. It’s a new park so the animals seem to be given space. It’s normally a good sign that due to the space and quality of the habitat that there is no guarantee that you will see all the animals. Some places (often the older sites) you visit are deeply depressing. Here it often doesn’t feel like a zoo as you walk round it. That’s probably why son likes it so much. Space for the animals, space for the humans.

The Wildlife Park also has a claim to fame. It’s the only place I have ever seen a snake in the wild. It was on a path at the edge of the Park – chomping on an unfortunate frog.

The irony. In my whole life the only snake I’ve seen in the wild was in a zoo which doesn’t have any snakes.

The Wildlife Park has one often overlooked attraction. As the visitors stand and look for the tigers a few people turn round. They look in the opposite direction. Across to the wetlands. It’s a stunning view. Yet so many miss it. What a waste.

Sometimes just turn round.

Garibaldi

When I was a kid I loved a Garibaldi biscuit. Not had one in years. Sorry rubbish connection but beyond tired at present.

It’s been one of those days. Constant motion. Housework, Pre School Routine, Work, Dinner, Work. Lots of action, no sitting down yet achieving absolutely nothing. Even the dog walk up the hill lane just seemed to take longer today. The days culmination was forgetting about tomorrow’s school uniform. So panic washing cycle started at 11.30pm. Waiting for it to finish now. Then we are going to crank up the Tumble Dryer to its highest setting – equivalent to splitting the atom. Hoping I will get a semi dry uniform to iron by 2am. It’s been one of those days…..

Anyway back to my rubbish connection.

When we went to see Kiss the support act was a performance painter called David Garibaldi. Have to say he is definitely gifted. Frankly it’s just showing off just a bit too much when you can paint Elton John brilliantly, before a Rocket Man finishes and doing the painting upside down. But seriously the guy is a genius.

“Dad he could do my bedroom like a modern Sistine Chapel during one Spongebob episode. It’s taken you a year and it’s still resembles a building site.”

I bet Garibaldi isn’t trying to paint a masterpiece at 1am while he waits for what’s left of a school uniform to dry. But maybe the secret is to take the painters approach to time management. Pick a song then try to finish the painting job before it finishes. I wonder if that could work with housework and washing.