musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

Positive thinking — July 16, 2021

Positive thinking

So in the 16ish months since the pandemic took real hold in the UK my family has done really quite well isolation wise.

None of us have been ‘pinged’. None of us have been called to self isolate by track and trace.

The kids have managed all their in person school without coming into close contact with a case.

it is probably mostly luck but there is also an element of me being a raving, anal control freak and (mostly) making us all stick to the rules. I am not sure anyone can hand on heart say they have never broken a COVID guideline but we have been pretty compliant. In the very early days some of us may have left the house for a walk more than once a day. But generally we have done as we were told.

As a result my older teen has missed out on an awful lot. Many an illicit get together, too large a party or a sneaky meet up with friends. I even banned him from meeting up with one mate last summer and ‘accidentally’ bumping into another pair of mates ‘who happened to be in the same park at the same time’….

To be honest I have got a bit sick of being the bad guy. All the time.

On Monday everyone will be free to do what the hell they want. As terrifying as that seems.

Both my husband and I have been double vaccinated and so I have got more relaxed about my pneumonia history.

So when Eldest asked to go to a party (well he didn’t really ask he just said he was) I decided to be a more ‘chill’ mum. I remembered back to being 17 and the summer between lower and upper sixth which I spent nearly exclusively with my boyfriend or mates and decided we could risk it.

In any event the guest list was limited to 30 and the party outside which was all in line with government guidelines although I severely doubted the 2m social distancing rule would be followed. Especially with the alcohol flowing.

Now both he and in turn me have COVID. And so my attempts at being ‘cool’ mum have spectacularly backfired. We are all locked up until Thursday (him and the others) and a week on Sunday for me and both he and I are locked in our rooms bored stupid. Middlest and Youngest are running the house and Youngest has forfeited her 14th birthday tomorrow as even to open presents will mean a Zoom call between us all or a massively socially distanced garden event.

And that’s if I feel up to wrapping her gifts which I haven’t done yet. I feel rough in the extreme and pray it doesn’t get much worse. And that that claim that both vaccines are a panacea (which clearly they are not) and will prevent me ending up in a hospital pan out.

In a month’s time I would have been gaily walking around free from isolation as a double vaccinated individual for those days between Eldest getting it and my symptoms (c 4 days) spreading it on.

When the local council called to check we were all isolating she asked if anyone had had the vaccine and I said I had and yet I had still caught it and she said ‘we are hearing that a lot especially when kids bring it home’.

So a word to the wise people.

I will be going back to anal, control freak mum. Eldest may have hated me if I had put my foot down last week. But if I had we’d be sitting here now (or actually walking around freely now) watching all his mates fall like flies (at least 10 have tested positive since) smug and healthy. Instead of which we are in this COVID hell.

Trying to be something you aren’t hardly ever pays off does it?

Break a leg…. — July 4, 2021

Break a leg….


So a year last December when we were all taking our daily lives for granted Middlest decided to audition for the school production.

This came hot on the heels of his appearance as one half of the Fool in Twelfth Night.

This sudden interest in treading the boards took me by surprise. He had never shown any interest in theatrical endeavours up to that point despite a few of his closest friends being school production stalwarts.

He had a small but funny part in his Year 6 Christmas show as the gadget man Q in their remake of James Bond (the title character played by Luke’s oldest friend, a flaming red head hence the reinvention of the character as James Strawberry Blonde) and had a blast.

But once the compulsory nature of such shows waned Middlest lost interest.

I am not really sure what drove him to audition for a musical production. Middlest never sings in public to my knowledge. I like to think it was my repeated stories about the fun I had taking part in Oliver Twist in Year 10 that had finally sunk in but I think it was more about mucking around with his mates.

Anyway over Christmas 2019 Middlest practised and practised his audition song for the part he wanted to go for. He auditioned (the scariest thing he has ever done apparently ) and faced call backs and disappointments.

But in the out turn he landed a small part with a couple of solo bits and a spot in the chorus. And rehearsals duly began in Jan 2020 which he mostly enjoyed despite being slightly bamboozled by the theatrical terminology and failing completely to learn the chorus dances.

Then we hit, well, you know what and the whole shebang came to a grinding halt.

Late that summer after a period of relative freedom and with the return of school beckoning I got a call from the Director. We were in Edinburgh castle at the time. She was calling all Year 11s to see if they wanted to carry on in the show which they hoped to put on in late autumn.

I signed him up. He was furious, worried about fitting rehearsing in with studies for his GCSEs. He accused me of interfering and not letting him make his own decisions. Bad mum….

Well in any event rehearsals never really got going as the pandemic resurfaced with avengance and I thought the show was dead in the water.

This spring with the exact nature and timing of Middlest’s GCSE replacement assessments unknown we got the letter asking him to recommit for a summer showing. Dealing with a lot of uncertainty Middlest’s immediate reaction was to decline.

I tried to back away and not ‘force’ him into something. I tried to let him make his own decision despite my disappointment after all the work he had put in up to that point. But then a chance encounter in the school car park with the drama teacher/ Director saw him recommit to his part and drop the chorus to allow more revision time.

And so rehearsals began again carefully planned around the Year 11 not GCSE GCSE assessments, year 8 activity weeks, self isolations, sports fixtures, internal year 10 and 9 exams and bubbles.

Middlest has just finished a 4 day run of the show. With actual PHE approved socially distanced audiences.

I picked him up after his last night and he was on a complete high.

We saw the show on Friday evening and it was a total triumph. An uplifting story, stunning sets, carefully planned costumes (many of which had to be altered several times over the 18 months) and truly breathtaking performances from these children.

His siblings and harshest critics were blown away by the whole experience. Middlest himself was brilliant if I say so myself.

The effort, time and dedication put in by not only the cast and band but also the staff is staggering. The whole show epitomised the very definition of resilience.

Middlest wants to do it all over again next year and I am overjoyed he has finally found something I knew he would love. The fact that he can do it with his mates (some of whom are immensely talented) is an added bonus. And he has made many new friends and forged great relationships with the staff of a whole new school department.

Massive congratulations to everyone involved in Wind in the Willows my new favourite musical. What an uplifting experience for all involved. Including the audience. Bravo indeed!

Beautiful moments — May 22, 2021

Beautiful moments

So life has been pretty shit over the last 6 months.

All the lockdown rubbish, the lack of Christmas, home schooling, the short dark cold days with unrelenting miserable weather, the uncertainty and anxiety of the slow re-opening, our new and wonderful fame as a virus hot spot.

Added to that the trauma of a serious mental illness which has ruled over all our lives like an iron rod beating us relentlessly over the head, shrinking our lives to small pin pricks of their former albeit quite restricted glory. The claustrophobia of family life in a melting pot of mental ill health and all the knock on effects on everyone. The slow and painful clambering up the sides of a slippery near vertical shelf with many many slips, very little light and not a whole lot of hope.

Within and amongst all this is the grief of the events and people missing from our lives. The family and friends missed. The rites of passage forgone. The exams not taken. The trophies and cups not won, the concerts not attended, the birthdays not celebrated. The music not sung.

And on top, the natural but painful pulling away of ones offspring. The beginning of their emotional detachment. Their preparations for their physical removal.

In this dark time there are few fleeting moments when one feels joy. A brief period of shining light.

Today on the way to school to drop off Middlest he wanted to share a new song discovery with me. And so we spent the next few minutes belting out Careless Whisper. He was impressed that I knew all the words. We bonded over it’s soaring notes (too high for Middlest), the power of the bridge, the pain fuelled sax solo.

It’s a great song. By a great singer/ songwriter.

It also today gave me a beautiful moment. A small shining raindrop-like jewel of time glinting in the weak sunlight.

Thanks George.

Negative vibes… — January 16, 2021

Negative vibes…

As per my previous post Hope we are currently struggling through this third lockdown.

Our daughter is really unwell and daily life is a struggle for her. And when I say struggle I really mean it. Not a struggle in a slight feeling of ‘meh’ as each day dawns in its groundhog fashion but proper struggling to even carry on.

She is 13.

The reasons are on the one hand fairly obvious but on the other complex and proving hard to untangle. There is a lot of anger and guilt and depression and unhelpful thoughts. For all of us.

And so what I find the most difficult to deal with other than watching my beloved daughter be completely wretched are the endless posts and assemblies and articles on thinking positive.

We actually had to leave an on line school assembly yesterday when the speaker suggested it was impossible to visualise negative thoughts. That one should merely be an optimist and look on the bright side. What a load of crap. Of course it is possible to visualise negative thoughts. My daughter is a pro. She sees no bright side. A year of her short life has been taken away. Fact. Hard to find any bright side in that.

We all have a right in this unprecedented situation to feel like shit. And when one feels like shit being told one should not feel like shit is not going to change that feeling. It is going to make it worse.

If mental health was as easy as ‘thinking positive’ there wouldn’t be any mental illness.

So, if like us, you are struggling in this lockdown I am not going to say that you should think positive, look on the bright side, find the upsides, look forward to a rosy future. Because for some of us that is not currently possible.

I am going to say feel angry, feel sad, cry, rage take each day one at a time, or each hour, or each minute. And try to keep yourself physically safe until your mind can deal with the shit it’s been dealt.

And try to stop feeling guilty for not coping. Not coping is fine. And actually perfectly understandable.

And seek help if you are able to.

And if you feel fine and feel positive and are optimistic and can look forward I am pleased for you. But please don’t ask my daughter to. It’s too hard.


Hope — January 5, 2021

Hope

A life without hope is an almost impossible thing to live.

Last night I stroked my 13 years old daughters head for over an hour whilst she struggled to sleep. She just kept saying that she did not know how she was going to survive this latest lock down. Her heart was racing. She felt sick. She is broken by this struggle.

Her world has shrunk into a black hole from which she can see no way out.

There is no point trying to give her hope. She no longer believes in it. She has been promised things for nearly a year that do not happen. She has lost faith in adults and the world.

Her pain is very very real and I am frankly sick of being asked to look on the bright side.

So here in this house we will just live each day at a time. And if necessary each hour.

Or each minute.

Here we go again on our own… — November 1, 2020

Here we go again on our own…

Perhaps my favourite Whitesnake track. I have slightly paraphrased.

Staring down the barrel of a new lockdown here are my thoughts so far.

It felt inevitable. And now it feels late.

It is slightly better than March as there seems to be a genuine desire to keep kids at school. Which is a good thing.

And yes I get that teachers are scared. Hopefully less community interaction for all, students and staff alike, will mean less incidence in the classroom. And safer classrooms. Whatever the pros and cons I am grateful to teachers and other staff. My kids cannot take another extended period of on line education.

It feels worse than last time. This won’t be a cure. Like we hoped the last time was. It’s a braking mechanism. And this shit will probably happen again.

It’s really quite simple. That helps the message. Stay at home. No really. Except for all the bits of life that aren’t fun; education, work, medical shit, exercise and caring. Otherwise stay at home. If something makes you want to leave the house it’s probably not allowed.

We need to give up on Christmas. Grieve it a bit. Not live in a false hope. Others have given up Eid and Diwali and other major festivals, Easter was locked down. We can and should give Christmas up too. Yes it’s shit. But hey what isn’t.

It’s winter. Enough said.

I need to start getting my head around all the stuff that will never be the same at least not whilst my kids remain at home. Things that probably won’t happen like their last school orchestral concerts, proms, first XV or first XI matches, ever seeing a teacher in the flesh again. So far I have been too chicken to face them. But I need to face this shit. Grieve and move on. Act like the adult I am supposed to be.

Being the adult is shit.

I am going to miss fireworks.

The tardiness of our inept Government at least means we got a 2 day caravan holiday and I got all my kids’ eyes and teeth checked, Middlest’s shoulder and neck osteo’d and all their hair cut.

By a strange co-incidence I have a haircut booked for Weds. I had a haircut booked the week before the last stay at home order. I may grow my hair. I seem to be tempting fate.

I don’t like having to have to console my weeping daughter who cannot conceive how she will get through the next four weeks without sport. She will of course. She has food and warmth and love. And is ok. Shifting down the Maslow hierarchy of needs is never fun though. In fact it’s shit.

Although I am glad school is open learning without any of the fun bits could be quite shit, especially with all the windows open. I pray for mild, unseasonable weather.

My second child looks increasingly likely to miss his GCSEs as well. And no, no one wants to not take them to avoid them. It’s stealing; the experience, the opportunity, the hard work to date, the sense of achievement, or failure.

I need to get my Christmas mojo on and actually order some gifts. It is going to be shit enough as it is I cannot give into despondency and not buy thoughtful and welcome gifts for my loved ones. Especially my kids, who need whatever magic we can wring from the festive season this year.

I am bit low on loo roll. Which would be literally shit.

I might read some of those books I meant to read last time; after I have finished re-reading Riders. Which is all my shit for brains brain seems able to cope with currently.

It could be worse. Could it?

It occurs to me that I have used the word shit a lot. Whatever your position in all this I think we can all agree that that is highly appropriate.

Stay safe folks.






Storm Fuckwit — August 26, 2020

Storm Fuckwit

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There comes a point in every holiday when the pervading mood tips from ‘enjoyment’ to ‘endurance test’.

This is usually on the way home when you may have been up at the crack of dawn to get that coach transfer which crawls along picking up people all feeling as depressed as you from 8 billion hotels before depositing you at the terminal where your flight is running 3 hours late and the only shops open sell dried up cheese croissants and terrible coffee.

Or maybe when you have been chucked out of your hotel room at 10am so the next lot of guests can sit on your veranda with a pina colada whilst you try to ‘enjoy the facilities’ whilst living out of a suitcase and using the communal shower facilities (which on one memorable occasion for me were smeared with human excrement) before getting on that coach and… see above.

Or you have to catch a train from Biarritz to Paris and then from Paris to London and then from London to home and you are finding it nigh on impossible to get the hire car into the incredibly tight multi storey in Biarritz , return 3 car seats across a very busy road whilst wheeling 5 suitcases and managing those three car seat occupants and it is 40 degrees in the shade. 

Etc.

Currently I can only dream of such privations.

On our current staycation we have hit the tipping point on Day 3.

Of 10.

We are currently caravanning in Northumberland and in the first 2 days we had weather. The weather did not stop us enjoying Lindisfarne Priory and Holy Island on Day 1 (including a cycle across the causeway for hubby and kids) nor Alnwick Castle and Gardens on Day 2 (although not Seahouses on the way home which hubby asserted was ‘lovely’ and which really wasn’t and turned out to be a step too far).

Although we had weather we also had coats and hats and hike boots and therefore we could deal with it.

Then Day 3 hit. We had already decided Day 3 would be a day around the campsite. It did indeed turn out to be a day around the campsite mostly because we were hemmed in by unrelenting pissing down rain. It started in the small hours and was quite relaxing whilst we had a lie in with cuppas and the paper.

It got less relaxing once we headed outside and found that our awning was basically a river. Thereby rendering most of our shoes and kit soaking wet.

To give us a break from the Chinese water torture sound of unrelenting pissing down rain on caravan roof we eventually decided to venture out to Berwick upon Tweed, a place which you will know if you have read Winter is Coming is one I had decided never to return to. It is 19 years since I froze all my digits off walking the walls in November. It hasn’t got any less grim. That probably wasnt helped by the unrelenting pissing down rain (did I mention that already?) which had now hit 12 solid hours.

Anyway we found a cafe for lunch, spent a happy 30 minutes and a lot of cash in a sheet music shop (which I haven’t done since a year last April when I found a similar treasure trove in Penrith another town with many independent shops), was disappointed by the cycle shop and spent a small fortune in Go Outdoors. Along with many other people a lot of whom were in flip flops and shorts and were buying up the waterproof clothing aisle. They had not prepared for weather at all. We also bought more rock pegs to try to peg down more of the awning and prevent the torrent passing through. That turned out to be a good move.

We were then pushed back to the site by the unrelenting pissing down rain and a date with the campsite swimming pool. I demurred (having had more than my fair share of water for the day) and I spent the hour doing loads of washing in my in laws’ static caravan (considerably dryer than ours) and emptying the caravan toilet in the unrelenting pissing down rain.

We had a nice curry cooked in the caravan by Youngest which went some way to masking the hideous smell of 5 pairs of drying trainers and then decamped to the in laws for the evening for warmth, alcohol and less fetid air. I don’t actually drink alcohol. Its days like day 3 when that seems totally irrational. 

Anyway we had to eventually go back and transform the caravan from its day configuration to its night configuration (a process that involves a kind of sliding block puzzle of cushions and duvets and pillows and PJs and teenagers made more difficult by 5 pairs of wet trainers whilst husband is abluting in the shower block (every damm time)) and went to bed. Assured that tomorrow would be a better day.

About midnight I was awoken by the howling gale that was now besetting our caravan and driving the continued unrelenting pissing down rain sideways.

I knew the south had been beset by high winds from Storm Fuckwit but the forecast had not mentioned them getting so far north. Nose bleed north.

(I know, by the by, that it was not Storm Fuckwit but its actual name escapes me. I know we had Storm Ellen about a week ago so I know that it is an F and male (bloody men) and Fuckwit seems as good a name as any).

We were not particularly worried about the actual caravan it weighing more than a small house but our inflatable awning was flapping alarmingly against the side. The inflatable awning had gone up really easily. This now seemed more than a little alarming and I was starting to miss the steel poled edifice that took two days to erect in balmy Norfolk. We had visions of it taking off and acting like a some sort of kite sail and dragging us across the site. This probably would not have happened but in the dead of the night such things loom large.

Husband decided to go out in the unrelenting pissing down rain and gale force winds to try to secure it back down with those new rock pegs.

He did so and in the process woke up all the kids (and probably our neighbours too) so we lay there listening to the wind and the slightly less flappy awning and the kids sighing and wondering which shake of the van was the kids turning restlessly or the gale force winds for about an hour until the awning was once again flapping free.

This set a pattern for most of the remainder of the night.

No one really slept. The unrelenting pissing down rain continued. The gale force winds continued. Our paranoia continued. The smell of drying trainers continued. I prayed for day light. And deliverance. 

When we awoke at 6am we seriously doubted we could stomach our planned trip to Edinburgh. What I actually felt like doing was stuffing all the wet gear in the van/ car/ bin, hitching up the caravan and driving home to civilisation and brick walls. 

Anyway we forced ourselves to carry on regardless. And actually we have had a great day. The weather was mixed again. But it was warmer than here and there were dry shops and a castle and Costa and MacDs. And a great view of the sea from the train.

And I remembered my umbrella. I am sure after a (hopefully) good nights sleep we will be back to enjoyment again. 

Until Friday the weather forecast for which is ‘heavy rain and a fresh breeze’  all day. 

Ouch. 

 

 

 

 

Trust in me… — August 24, 2020

Trust in me…


We are currently on holiday on Northumberland. Some of you know this from Winter is Coming. Today we went to Alnwick Castle and Gardens which has re-opened (albeit on a restricted basis) and it was 12 degrees and wet. This did not dampen our spirits as we got wet(ter) in surprise fountains and ran manically down tree corridors and got lost in bamboo labyrinths.

A day out at Alnwick is unusual for us. And the reason is because it is not part of the National Trust or English Heritage. We are card carrying members of both and love nothing more than to flex our membership and avoid any privately owned houses.

We made an exception for Alnwick as it is really cool.

We have taken our kids to National Trust properties and English Heritage sites since they were tiny. We don’t have that many near us in Bedford but Wimpole Hall Farm and Angelsey Abbey have been perennial favourites along with Wrest Park. And Christmas is not Christmas without our annual pilgrimage to Waddesdon Manor and it’s amazing lights and decorations.

Every year we go on an extended family Easter holiday (not this year obviously) to somewhere in England and it is great when we go to a location with many of these places. Over the years we have seen everything from work houses to the small residential houses of authors to enormous stately homes to massive castles to battle fields to priories to coastline to seals to lighthouses to tile museums. There are so many wild and wonderful properties to visit.

Some take a whole day like Dover Castle or Chartwell or Sutton Hoo or Battle. Some are little gems like Henry James’ house in Rye or Scotney Castle or Igtham Motte. Some blow my mind like Orford Castle (awesome plumbing) and Standen (amazing arts and crafts) and Hardwick Hall (Tudor I love the tudors).

But all these places have one thing in common. They bring history to life. My kids have learnt more about their country’s history in these places than anywhere else. We have seen every era. Discussed the War of the Roses, the Civil War, the Reformation, the World Wars, Viking’s, Saxons, Tudors (lots of Tudors), the Industrial Revolution, and everything in between.

English Heritage mainly does castles and priories. Often ruined. Very often quiet. You can usually get an audio tour. And a wooden sword.

National Trust are usually grand houses (or smaller ones) with gardens and often parklands. As well as the history my children have learnt about trees and plants and kitchen gardens and Capability Brown and Repton. There is always a cafe selling cream teas. And a shop with blankets and chutneys.

We have a fridge rammed with magnets from all the places we have visited.

Recently the National Trust has been in the news for a leaked document that suggests it may need to close all but 20 of its properties to save cash. I sincerely hope they can avoid this. Although in the relaxation of lock down we have still enjoyed the gardens and parklands of Felbrigg and Sheringham Park it is not the same without the houses. The houses and their contents (including the teasels on chairs) bring it all to life. As do their wonderful guides full of stories and interesting facts.

I paid my membership throughout lock down as it is not all about getting my ‘money’s worth’ but also about ensuring these places remain open for everyone.

On the way back from Lindisfarne yesterday (English Heritage) Eldest rain a quiz for us. He read the descriptions from either handbook of places we have visited over the years. One point was available for the name of the property and one for the correct county. It was amazing how many we got right, let alone had visited.

The National Trust and English Heritage are woven into the fabrics of my kids’ lives. They remember many places with great affection. As well as huge numbers of facts. (Mainly about re-redorters and lodges at the entrances to parklands and which is a beech tree all of which are my areas!).

I hope to be able to gift them memberships for their families in the future, and indeed go with them on some trips as my mother has done. And bore my grandkids about latrines and tree species and gatehouses.

Let’s hope this virus does not mean the end of such experiences.

Winter is Coming…. — August 22, 2020

Winter is Coming….

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So today we set out on our second round of ‘Caravanning in a Pandemic’….still not as intrepid as it sounds but perhaps a little more so than last time.

And that is for two reasons: 1) winter is coming and 2) we are oop north.

Let’s take 1) first. In England the long summer school holidays run from mid July to early September. This isn’t that great for many reasons. The light lasts longest in June when in usual times kids are sitting very important exams with BBQs in neighbour’s gardens running on until 10pm and hay fever at its peak. And anecdotally the weather is usually best in May, June and early July. See my exam point above again…

By this late in August one can smell that winter is coming. The light changes and gets that slanting misty feel which makes driving at about 8pm very tricky. It completely disappears at 8.30pm- those runs you were doing (I say ‘you’ because I don’t run but my offspring do) are seeing you return in the dark- not ideal.

There is a bite to the wind. All those beautiful lush gardens and hanging baskets are looking dry and yellow. I actually don’t like August much. It is a nothing month. A time when you feel you should be having a ball but all you really feel is like all those Winterfellers…. for winter is coming. It might hide behind a brief Indian summer, always after the kids have returned to school, and it might break you in gently with conkers and blackberries and kicking fallen leaves with gay abandon whilst avoiding dog shit. But it is there. Lurking.

This year it promises even more menace with predictions of gloom and virus resurgence.

It is against this backdrop that we got up at 5am (in the dark, note people) to set off for our next caravanning trip (so far with water but we got this far last time so we ain’t counting our chickens yet….if you are baffled please read Corona Camping).

And we arrived at 12.30pm. Because we decided to come to Northumberland. But not just Northumberland the northern most part of Northumberland. We are actually nearer to Scotland than the next major English city. Point 2)…

My husband booked the site. He is from the north east. But even he is a southern softie in these parts. People from north Northumberland probably feel the same about those from County Durham as geordies feel about those people from the midlands, places like Sheffield. We sailed past Sheffield before we stopped half way.

We booked the trip to meet up with my in laws who still hail from those parts. My husband must have said about twenty times “I didn’t realise just quite how north we are going”….

The one upside of the journey was that we got on the A1 at Bedford and got off it at the entrance to the camp site.

I am not sure we have ever done that many miles on one road before. About 270 in total. It is a truly astonishing road. Motorway and 3 lanes in places and then up here single carriageway and full of tractors and hay wains (well lorries but you get my drift). There are service stations with Greggs and Costas and caravan parking. And road side burger vans in parking bays.

Today it felt a little interminable. If I am honest.

Anyway 6.5 hours after leaving we made the site. It is fine, a little rough around the edges but on the whole fine. I am not sure there will be any moth walks.

Already we have visited Berwick upon Tweed. For duck tape (all that water has it’s downsides) and gooseberry yoghurts (not from the same shop I hasten to add). I vowed never again to ever visit Berwick after we came for the day during a holiday to mark our 1st wedding anniversary. We had booked a hotel whose exact location now escapes us. What we remember most about it was the ‘swan’ theming of our room. Even down to the gold swan taps that spewed hot water. Luckily in copious quantities. For we got married in November and so the holiday was a little parky. (That is pretend northern speak for cold).

We decided to spend one day walking the walls of Berwick. The wind was whipping mercilessly off the North Sea. I have to say it was probably the coldest I have ever been. Except for that other short break my (not yet) husband took me on to the Fatted Lamb in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria (another would be northern place) when we got snowed in and the pub had a power cut. I had to swap bed sides with my (not yet) husband as the draft through the window was making me so cold even in thermals, bed socks and PJs….and as anyone in a long term committed relationship knows swapping bed sides is only a last resort when all else fails…

But today I had to brave Berwick as it is the only place between us and Scotland.

The weather forecast for this week is best described as ‘mixed’. We have already had some weather. I was fitting that duck tape in the rain. Quite heavy rain. It was hard to see if I had fixed the leak to be honest (I hadn’t by the way).

We have rather optimistically brought the wet suits… hmm…

Anyway what we will probably spend most of the week doing is visiting castles in the rain. There are a lot of castles. Due to that Scottish border proximity. There is also part of a wall. To keep them out. Maybe it gave Trump the idea. But then it was built by the Romans. We have learnt since then. Walls don’t work and are very expensive. And anyway currently most Scots want to keep us out not vice versa….

And we will be walking along mostly empty beaches, often overlooked by castles and priories. And probably digging a big hole. I will be wearing my hat. I brought two. Both are woolly.

For although it is very north and has weather and many tractors Northumberland is absolutely stunning. We will be sure to make the most of that. Before we get back on the A1 and get off at home.

Waiting — August 17, 2020

Waiting

Currently there is a lot of waiting.

There is micro level waiting. To enter a supermarket or a bank. For a haircut booked once salons reopened for the first available appointment which was weeks later. For on line packages of clothes much needed after months of growing (upwards or outwards). For the end of a 14 day quarantine period after that trip to France.

There is macro level waiting. For schools to reopen. For a vaccine. For life to return to normal. For a dental appointment. For cancer treatment. For a hug with your mum. For certainty.

And then there is the waiting being imposed on around 700,000 children awaiting c 5 million GCSE results on Thursday.

There is not level to describe this waiting except for that free falling feeling you get when you know someone is going to give you bad news but you don’t yet know what it is.

Or it is like trying to stop your car in vain as it hurtles towards a pile up. In this case that pile up being A level results.

This whole sorry mess is unbelievably stressful for over a million kids.

And it was avoidable. At so many turns.

But yet again this government has shown a total disregard for young people.

And if anyone else tweets about failing their exams I am likely to explode. The clue is there…you failed. These kids have not even had that luxury.

And now the opening of schools maybe threatened by this debacle. Making it more and more likely next years cohort will find themselves in this position.

As a parent of a Year 11 and Year 10 I can honestly say that all those petitions to scrap GCSEs for next year need to be withdrawn.

I would not wish this on anyone.

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