As good as it’s got

It’s been a funny old summer. Most odd. For some reason the only thing growing here has been weeds and the lawn. Actually it was a spectacular year for nettles.

In terms of garden produce this is about as good as it’s got.

Is this it. Is this as good as it gets.

My hopes and dreams would definitely say NO, so much more to come. The tired mind and body today might give a different answer. Sometimes I feel stuck. Caught in an endless loop. Two steps forward then two steps back. No clear route to my dreams. Lots of effort and then a few weeks later I’m still stood in the same place.

But then I drag my body to the back fence and I look at a particular tree. A tree that had come to represent so much in my life. A tree that is battered and bruised. Storm after storm. A couple of direct lightning strikes to boot. Once accidentally hit by a farm tractor.

Definitely a lob sided tree, stood alone on an exposed hill.

Yet it’s still here. It still stands proud. Every day I can see it in the distance.

One day maybe the rainbow will land on that tree. It certainly deserves that.

So yes I might be tired and frustrated today but that tree has reminded me to keep going. Change might not come today, but tomorrow is not set in stone. It could just happen. Hopes and Dreams most definitely still in play.

Is this it. Is this as good as it gets. LETS SEE ABOUT THAT.

Swiss Sunday

It’s very early Sunday morning here in Yorkshire. I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming big.

This week I was going through some old boxes that I had stored away when I cleaned mums house out. Looking for some old papers but I quickly got sidetracked. I found an old postcard. Wow, remember them….. It was one I had sent to my mum from my first trip to Switzerland. Many years ago. Pre parenting times. If I remember right it was sent on the first afternoon of the holiday. I used to write quite big as my handwriting is pretty poor. Not ideal with a small postcard. I struggled to fit mums address in the right half of the card. The first few words read of the message read.

“Hi Mum. Here safe. Switzerland is EPIC. I have never seen a land this beautiful, this magical, this perfect.”

Those words say it all. Switzerland is that good.

Whitby

Maybe being inside amongst strangers is still a step too far for Hawklad but he keeps trying. A late call but we headed towards the North East Coast. To Whitby. A small town with so much history. A small town which provided one of the key settings for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

These days it’s a busy tourist destination. Today was grey and cold, so hopefully not that busy.

Yes less busy but still too busy for Hawklad. He desperately tried to keep his distance. Often walking down the middle of the road to avoid strangers. His hoody pulled over almost to the bridge of his nose. He couldn’t stay long. It was too uncomfortable and unsettling. He resisted the urge to let me go inside to buy ice cream or the legendary Whitby Fish & Chips. We made it to see a few boats. A quick wander to the Pier. Then it was heading back to the safety and isolation of home.

What happens with school at the end of the week. Still to be determined. But to me there is only one viable road open.

The River

A Yorkshire River. A bit of an odd Yorkshire River. It’s not in flood……

In winter the River is often several feet above the top of the sand banks. But in summer the banks provide a perfect place for Swift’s to nest.

As we walked along the river edge my thoughts drifted back to when Hawklad had just started school. It was the start of the Aspergers journey. it was before any expert help came our way. Two parents trying to get their head’s round our family life. We kinda knew he was on the spectrum but what did we know. Expert guidance was still 2 years away. It was such a confusing time. But one of my clearest recollections of that time was Hawklads’s reaction to people.

Hawklad struggled with meeting people. He wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone apart from his mum, dad and grannies. His hood was always over his head and pulled down over his eyes. He would freeze or have meltdowns if an outsider was too near. If he was in a room with others then he frequently would be found in a corner, facing the wall. Outside he would hide behind trees until the coast was clear.

Slowly over the following years things started to change. With so much hard work he became better able deal with people. Not comfortable but he found a way. He developed a slightly wider network of friends. Really close friendships formed.

Today we are walking along The River. We are avoiding people. We came off the path because Hawklad was struggling. The hood was over his head again. We headed in another direction as soon as an outsider came into view. If he couldn’t avoid them then he hid behind me. Down by The River he could hide away. He had the place to himself and he could tell his Dad all about the migrational pattern of Swift’s. It felt isolated but safe to him. Away from others. He’s comfortable with me and his best friends. Others just no way.

It feels like I have been here before.

Moors

A short drive takes us into the heart of the Yorkshire MOORS. A stunningly moody setting for generations of fantastic storytellers. Wuthering Heights could only be set here in Yorkshire.

Today seemingly a perfect place for a trip out for Hawklad. He wanted to go out but to somewhere quiet and remote. The busiest time of the year for tourists yet we had the place to ourselves. Often it felt like we were the only two humans in these lands. That’s what Hawklad needed.

The setting perfect for forgetting the anxieties starting to build around the upcoming school return decision.

Then the decision was back centre stage for me. One small occurrence bringing the enormity of what Hawklad may soon be facing into clear focus.

A wall to be climbed. A set of steep, uneven narrow steps to be navigated. Helpfully a wooden handrail helped with my balance. But Hawklad couldn’t touch the handrail. Didn’t matter that I was probably the only person to touch the surface in hours. He just couldn’t touch it. Don’t laugh but he found a use for his old Dad. I stood next to the steps and he used the top of my head as a temporary balance aid. We laughed.

If he can’t touch surfaces how can he return to an overcrowded classroom with shared learning materials and equipment. He can’t touch door handles. He won’t even be able to touch his desk.

Two weeks to go and how can this school return happen.

Moody Moors. Moody Dad.

Summer holidays

So we are deep into the Summer School Holidays. Actually in Yorkshire they should be rebranded as the ‘Are you kidding me, is this really supposed to be summer’ School Holidays.

Currently I’m thinking about some of the things Hawklad gets up to and contrasting them back to my school ‘summer’ holidays. Bearing in mind that this was before home computing and just prior to the mass dinosaur extinction. Back then my brain was officially switched off for 6 weeks. Sharks think they are so clever when they can shut down half the brain for sleep but keep the other part of the brain functioning so they can still swim. What’s really special is me shutting all of my brain down for the entire summer holiday and still managing to occasionally get out of bed by lunchtime. I didn’t need the brain to find Dads secret chocolate stash each day. That tin in his garage was always filled with chocolate cigarettes – wow how things have changed. I could also just about name Newcastle United’s upcoming fixtures. That was the sum of my holiday brain work.

Now contrast that with this ‘summer’ holiday. Hawklad is memorising the French kings and queens. He’s learning the outcome of every case that went before the Nuremberg War Trials. He’s also trying to improve his knowledge on UK Sea Birds. He has also been watching every season of the American version of The Office on the TV while at the same time also watching a YouTube series about the Roman Empire on his tablet. Apparently he can only get through both series in the 6 weeks if he watches them at the same time. That’s in between playing online with his friend who has covid and trying to build bridges to the outside world again.

Has he really got 50% of my genes or are those genes just heavily concentrated in his bushy eyelashes.

Heather

A small family trip to the moors. A carpet of pink.

I’ve always considered my family pretty close knit. No conflicts. No splits. Yes we got geographically spread but we still kept in regular contact. Regular visits.

Then three things happened .

Mum left us…..It wasn’t until she was not there anymore that I noticed that she was the gravitational force that held us together. We would frequently meet up at her house. We would have family get togethers but these usually happened because of mum. We would make the effort because of mum. Now that force of attraction has gone, the family meet ups are becoming less frequent and fewer turn up when they do happen.

Lockdown……The less frequent meet ups STOPPED for over 18 months. One sister who I would see really frequently has ended up not seeing Hawklad in over 2 years now…. Brother its 3 years now.

Time……As time passes we develop our own worlds. New families.

So we had a small meet up today and it felt strange. We should have had plenty to talk about, lots of catching up to do. It never happened. Even though we were physically close there still seemed to be a distance. Even Hawklad felt it. He pulled his hoody fully up – that’s a sign that he wasn’t comfortable. That never used to be the case.

When will the next meet up be, who knows. Zero sign of getting all the brothers and sisters together. The last time that happened was my partners funeral. The slow drifting apart of my family is sad but it feels kinda inevitable.

A Yorkshire Summer

Almost too wet for the iPhone to cope….. That’s wet……

Later in the day, thankfully we can finally record a few hours of sunshine.

It doesn’t look like it but the fields are drenched. Two miles away a large concert became a mud bath at the weekend. Thankfully tractors came to tow cars out of the field car park. A Yorkshire summer….

As clouds roll in and the once again hidden sun sets, I find myself in the backroom. Putting off work that needs to be done this evening by writing these words. Listening to crackly copy of The Godfather soundtrack on vinyl which kinda sums up my mood. Drinking Chamomile tea to try to sooth a nervous stomach which isn’t very happy. Feeling fatigued after far too little sleep again, yet realising insomnia will win out again tonight. Hawklad is in the living room trying to forget about his rising anxieties. He’s playing games online with a close friend who has COVID. Yes a very Yorkshire summer……

Swiss Sunday

It’s very early Sunday morning here in wet and windy Yorkshire. A storm is raging and the central heating is on. But I’m awake and dreaming. Dreaming of what is still to come. I’m smiling.

It’s been far too long since I’ve stood on Swiss soil. A place which has been a huge part of my family holidays for years. It is such a place of dreams. So this stormy morning I will dream and yes many of those dreams will be set here.

Albatross

Another early trip to the coast. Early means tiredness but it is good. At that time it is quiet. That is perfect for Hawklad. Normally you also get to witness the beauty of first light. NOT THIS DAY….

It was dreadful. Heavy rain, Misty, Windy, Cold. Within minutes of standing in the cliff viewing platform the weather had made its way through our coats and clothes. Today birdwatching was going to be a trial. A few intrepid (bonkers mad) souls were hoping to catch sight of one of the rarest birds. An Albatross. The only Albatross in the Northern Hemisphere. Albert has decided to make the Yorkshire coast one of his pit stops. Last year he spent 3 days here. This year it’s been a month so far. Resting on one particular spot on a steep cliff.

This was our fifth visit to try and see him. We had been lucky on one trip. Seeing him through a telescope on the cliff. But no luck seeing the true spectacle of an Albatross flying. The other visits – no luck. Albert spends a lot of time at sea, or further down the coast or flying to an island off Northern Germany.

Today was not looking hopeful. No sign as he has been last seen flying off to sea. The weather was trying to drive us back to the warmth of the car. The other mad souls had given up. After an hour that was enough for Hawklad and we dragged our sudden bodies back to the car park. But then a couple of men ran back. He might have been spotted. So we headed back to the cliff. NOTHING.

Must have been an earlier sighting. After 30 minutes it was enough for Hawklad again. But for some reason I said ‘5 more minutes’. NOTHING. I started to pack away the drenched binoculars when suddenly a shout. ‘What’s that’.

Amongst the Gannets, one much larger bird with black wings.

Unbelievably Albert the Albatross was there. For 5 glorious minutes he performed close fly passes. Sometimes no more than 20 yards away. These photos don’t do him justice.

Finally Albert settled on the cliff and rested. One chap shouted over that this was like a bird spotters dream that could never happen.

So a very wet Hawklad had seen his first ever Albatross. As a toddler he had a soft toy just like Albert. He loved it and always said he wanted to one day see one. Who would have thought that one would come to him. Now let’s hope Albert somehow finds his way back home. But while he is here he will bring so much joy to many.

But it just goes to show that even when things are seemingly against you. When it’s looking grey and tough. Great things can just be around the corner. DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.