Walls Work

The snow has left little old Yorkshire. Still cold but no white stuff. At the edge of the garden the thaw has revealed the first signs of spring. At last some colour. Before this photo we had four flowers. Unfortunately a slightly excited dog obliterated one. So now a hastily erected wall of stones – eat your heart out Mr President – is protecting the remaining delicate buds. And as we are told walls do work.

School Dracula

This is the Hospitium a 14th century listed building in York’s Museum Gardens. These days it’s a venue for conferences, weddings and special events. Many years ago it was a support building for the Abbey.

St Mary’s Abbey was founded in 1088. The surviving ruins date back from about 1270. York is such a good place for kids to actually touch history.

Over Christmas our son spent a few hours here trying to imagine what life was like before it fell into ruin. Recreating the sounds, the people, the buildings, the life. Big scale creative play. I must admit I was lost in the world of dreams to. Mine was a world of ghosts, ghouls and vampires. I had almost forgotten how much fun you can have when you release your imagination.

This was the visit when the first seeds of home schooling started to be scattered. Last term had been grisly. No real sign of development. No evidence of school making any effort to provide an effective and supportive teaching environment. Most importantly a really unhappy and anxious child.

Our son loves subjects like history but not the way school deliver it. He likes the History Teacher, she is really nice. But being in the bottom set and given his encyclopaedic knowledge – he’s not learning anything. Plus regardless of which class you are in the teaching is so traditional. Text book after text book. Very dry and not very dyslexic friendly. Unfortunately it’s the set teaching approach dictated by the government.

Between my thoughts of ghosts and ghouls I also pondered with so much real life history so close to hand, why not bring the classroom here. Bring the lessons alive. That’s when the thought pinged, if school won’t teach here, why don’t I.

We will see.

The trip was completed with the required extra portions of ice cream. That night my imagination had clearly not been put back in its box yet. A dream about Dracula. But not the bloodthirsty vampire. This one was about a reformed Prince of Darkness. He had sold his Transylvanian castle and bought York’s Museum Gardens. He wanted to turn the gardens into the finest history school in the world. All the teachers were ghosts and ghouls. And Dracula was selling the ice creams and he didn’t skimp on the portions. Now that’s a school.

Countries gone mad

“Dad if we won the lottery could we buy a deserted island and live there?

It’s kinda sad that an 11 year old thinks that way. But I fully understand why and YES I would jump at the chance. I remember a time when I loved my country. Those days have sadly gone. Like many folk from Yorkshire we would happily declare independence. York becoming a capital city sounds cool. The national dish could be the Yorkshire Pudding. Our national sports would be cricket and being grumpy. The national animal would be the Ferret. Instead of having a nuclear deterrent we could threaten people with our rhubarb sticks.

You might think this is daft but trust me this is off the scale sensibility compared to the stupidity of modern Britain. Nothing sums up the state of the union better than just one single news story. Given all the potentially catastrophic events circulating around us (and there are many) – the attention of the media and a good proportion of the population has been on …… the horror of a bakery introducing a vegan sausage roll across its 900 stores. The likes of Piers Morgan (one of the not funny loonies and self pronounced TV Star) went into meltdown saying things like “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage you PC ravaged clowns”. The news story is everywhere, you just can’t get away from it. I use the term news story very loosely.

I waited with anticipation for our son to return. He would cheer me up, bring much needed sensibility to my world. Unfortunately not this time.

“Dad the school want me to either write left handed or type left handed until my right hand gets better, that includes trying to do exams with my weak hand. I told them that I struggle to coordinate my left hand and that’s the reason I can’t tie knots. Told them that the Doctor was trying to help me with it but the teacher said I just had to do it”

“Dad did you complain about the behaviour in our bottom class”

Yes….

Well they did something”

Please let it be something positive

They moved a really well behaved girl up a set because she was struggling with the behaviour in our class and they moved a really naughty boy in to replace her. It was a lot worse today”

Only thing left is to go and buy a lottery ticket. That remote island is calling. Anybody fancy joining us.

York is not the end of the story

It only takes us 30 minutes to drive into our closest city, the beautiful York. We are so fortunate to live so close to such an historic city. Such a rich pedigree.

  • It was founded by the Romans in 71AD,
  • The Emperor Septimus Severus ruled the entire Roman Empire from York for 2 years,
  • Constantine The Great was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York,
  • York was captured by the Vikings and named Jorvik,
  • Guy Fawkes (remember remember the fifth of November) was born in York,
  • York Minster is one of the worlds largest Cathedrals and took 250 years to build. It is the largest Gothic Cathedral in Northern Europe,

  • The Shambles is the best preserved ancient retail street in Europe dating back before 1086,

  • Dick Turpin the famous Highwayman was executed in York,
  • It has 3 miles of ancient City Walls still intact,

  • It is regarded as one of the worlds most haunted cities with over 500 recorded ghosts,
  • It has the worlds largest Railway Museum,
  • While other Northern British Cities built their wealth on coal, steel and textiles – York made it on Chocolate and Sweets. Rowntree’s and Terrys.

That was supposed to be the end of the post. Trust me York is worth a visit. Basically it’s a really cool City. Especially for a young kid with aspergers whose thirst for facts just keeps growing. He just laps up the facts. When I started writing this post I asked our son to supply me with the information. I completely trust his memory and haven’t bothered to double check the facts.

So it’s so upsetting when he came out with the following Statement a couple of hours later:

“I don’t want to be stupid, I would love to be clever one day”

So off we went for another late night dog walk. I try to provide reassurance. Try to build up his confidence and restore his faith in his dreams. But it often feels like a short term fix. Applying a temporary bandage to the wound. A bandage only protects the wound it doesn’t treat it. As Extreme would sing – I need to find more than words. I need to raise my game…..

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.

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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.

White Christmas!!!!!!!

“Dad any chance of a White Christmas”

Look out the window and see for yourself.

“It’s not happening is it!!”

I think the current state of the wheelbarrow tells you everything about the current Yorkshire weather situation. Apart from one year when we took our 2 year old son out to show him snow straight after Christmas Lunch, he’s never had a White Christmas. Maybe next year.

But the show goes on. Let’s create the white stuff feel. It’s time for ice cream and watch Snow Dogs. Our son just loves this movie. Now it feels like it’s a White Christmas.

Strange Yellow Disk pt2

Day after day of dark clouds and rain. The usual dog walk preparation – about 10 layers underneath at least two layers of waterproofing. Dog caked in mud after a couple of minutes. Then…

In the distance a small band of blue. Quickly the blue sky approached and then the strange yellow disk poked out from behind the clouds.

That’s two sightings this winter – already a record for Yorkshire.

Now rush back home, quick blog then work work work. Hope for no school phone calls today. After that it’s the late Amazon present scramble. I dream of having our son’s (and beloved partners) planning skills.

Strange Yellow Thing

The morning started as has the last 5 days have – grey, wet and cold.

The school bus was missed yesterday morning – never a good sign. We slightly overslept, only by a few minutes but…. Sticking to the established routine is so important to our son. Routine is king. I tried to stick to the plan but just slightly quicker. It was never going to work. I could sense the tension building within him so we just went back to the usual routine. So we missed the bus. It’s not a disaster it’s only a 15 minute car journey to school. Plus it’s one less bus trip for him to deal with.

On the way back from school a very odd thing happened. The clouds parted and a strange yellow disk appeared in the sky. I don’t know what it was (remember this is Yorkshire) but it was lovely to see. With this being Yorkshire the strange yellow disk disappeared behind grey clouds thirty minutes later.

Update. Looking out into the pouring rain this morning – even too wet for the dog – I am confidently predicting the strange yellow disk has packed his bags and won’t be appearing here anytime soon.

Different takes on the world.

Came across a photograph taken probably 5 years ago. Oh how the world seemed so different then. Every Sunday in Switzerland we had the same ritual. We would take the first boat across Lake Thun to Interlaken. We would immediately head for this hotel and drink hot chocolate outside – regardless of the weather.

I also vividly recall sitting here when one morning my son’s different take on the world (to myself) became clear. I noticed sports cars driving past. I remember saying something like

“that’s a Ferrari and that’s a Porsche and wow that’s a Maserati.” Don’t get many of those in Yorkshire.

I remember turning to my partner who said without raising a glance “that’s nice” as she continued to scan the food menu.

Looking at our son he was excitedly flapping his hands. Not at the cars but at a bird flying above us.

“It’s a vulture.” Don’t get any of those in Yorkshire.

Now that my son has educated me. I realise which view is more stunning. Which view should be treasured. Now I would say “Wow that’s a stunning big bird, son what is it and I wish those noisy dirty cars would sod off”.

It feels like a zoo

This house is increasingly become a zoo. Two mad cats, bonkers puppy and a hyper active mole. Added to this we have:

  • Farm cows – now best friends with puppy
  • Various garden birds
  • A family of Starlings who live in the roof
  • Two squirrels who bury their nuts in our lawn
  • A badger who digs up the rest of the garden, probably pinching the Squirrels nuts
  • What feels like the worlds population of snails
  • Wasp Nest in the attic (found this week)

Well another creature has joined the party now. More on this soon, but first…

Yesterday started quite well and I was in an ok mood when I finally sat down to do some work. But a few minutes later, mood change, one song, one of my partners favourite songs on the radio. Tears and complete feeling of what has been lost. I couldn’t concentrate on work so decided to do a clothes wash. Then drink some very strong coffee. Still feeling sad.

When the wash finished it was time for the tumble dryer currently living in the garage. I took the wet washing into the garage but the phone rang. I put the washing on the floor to answer the call. After an hour of continued sadness I remembered the discarded washing. Went back into the garage and picked up the washing. A reptilian face appeared from the pile of wet clothes. I of course took this crisis like a hero. Screamed, dropped the clothing and ran. ‘Oh my god it’s a snake’ and it could be a big one.

After a few minutes I calmed down a bit. Don’t be daft, this is Yorkshire in autumn, I must have just imagined it. Carefully I went back into the garage. As I moved closer, definite movement in the clothes. Another scream and legged it again. I am petrified of snakes.

In all the panic I had lost track of time. The front door opened and in walked our son from school. He looked on rather dubiously as I told him about the man eating snake in the garage. He convinced me to face up to my fears and confront the beast. Together we carefully went back into the garage. The washing moved again and I legged it again – completely forgetting my son. I ran back into the garage with the nearest weapon I could find, the floor brush. In the garage I found our son laughing his head off.

“Dad you complete muppet. Have a look at your killer snake”

Ok the monster snake in fact did look a lot like a frog, a rather small one at that. So now we have another member of the zoo. This new member has been named “Viper the Frog” by our thoroughly understanding son. Is there no end to my shame.

But thank you Mr Viper, you made me forget all about the sadness, at least for a few hours anyway.