family life, Parenting

Langdon Hills Country Park

So after almost a week of the entire family being stuck at home isolating whilst we awaited Neil’s Covid-19 test results we finally got the all clear on Friday which meant we were finally able to get out to the house with the boys, that we could take advantage of the glorious sunshine that the weekend had bought us. Now rather than going somewhere where there would be lots of people we chose to go for a lovely family walk at one of our local country parks, away from the hustle and bustle of people and possibly covid-19. Im being over cautious again as I do not want to find ourselves having to isolate again anytime too soon.

Now for months I have been going on at Mark about how much I’ve wanted to locate somewhere local called Cashes Well, an old abandoned spring water well from the early 1920s. I’ve really wanted to go and photograph it, however I wasn’t too sure where exactly it was, all I knew was it was located on the far outskirts of the Langdon Hills Country Parks woods and so we went on a little adventure to try and find it..

Walking through the woodland we found ourselves surrounded by magnificent oak trees sycamores, birch and ash trees, some that are centuries old, all offering us a cover of very welcomed shade in the 26 degree heat as we continued on our adventure. The woodland was deceptive and I hadn’t realised just how much of an incline the woodland had the further we walked on. I can honestly say I was secretly hoping for an alternative route back, one which may be a little kinder and wouldn’t kill me off walking back. I mean I am definitely no way the fittest person in the world here, yet here I was pushing boundaries determined as I so desperately wanted to find the well.

Finally after twenty-five minutes of walking down an incline, trying not to slip or trip over large tree roots and making our way across a small dried up ditch we finally discovered the well and it didn’t disappoint me.. the boys on the other hand thought I was crazy!

The well was abandoned over a decade ago and is reported to be haunted by the spirits of children of a local sanatorium, time has certainly not done the well any favors, its clearly been subjected to the elements and there is evident signs of vandalism from the graffiti over many of the walls, yet I still find the entire site absolutely fascinating. It was great to be able to explore and capture images of this ruins. Hints of its Grecian temple design can still clearly be seen from its remains, its just ashame its been allowed to succumb to the elements and the woodland which has grown up around it , hiding this little gem in the middle of nowhere.

Once I had finished with the well we continued on our little adventure, walking down long winding lanes, through more forest and across beautiful green fields. It was so nice to be outside amongst nature and not stuck indoors like we have been this past week, we found a lovely spot to sit down in the shade and relax, the boys kicked a football around and we had a really nice afternoon, although after a couple of hours the boys seemed to have lost the entusiasm they started off with, it was hot and the boys were weary so Mark and I decided to call it a day and make our way back to the car and head home. It was a lovely afternoon and I was happy that we had found the well and I got the photographs I wanted.

Now to plan where our next adventure may take us.

Autism, family life, Parenting

Its all negative

Waiting!

So its been a few days since I last posted, we have all been self isolating whilst we eagerly awaited Neil’s Covid-19 test results in order to hopefully get back to some normality.

Now I have to say that our experience with the whole Covid-19 testing system hasn’t been a great one, the government have been pushing for people to get tested, they tell you to get a test if you have Covid-19 symptoms yet when you actually need a test its like mission bloody impossible trying to get hold of one. We had major issues with trying to get an appointment online, Mark spent hours refreshing the browser for one to finally come up, however when one did finally appear it was saying our nearest testing centre was in London when we knew of ones far closer to home that were empty. Even when we got to the London one it was empty there too, much like the rest of the testing centres around the Country. Then when we had finished the test we were warned that due to an increase in the number of people being tested it may take up to 5 days to get the results. Now this was confusing because no one could get appointments online and the test centres were saying they were empty, I mean something doesn’t add up there.

But the guy wasn’t wrong, well actually he was because it took 6 Days! In fact it took 147 hours for us to receive Neil’s negative test results by text message and breathe a sigh of relief. Another week of missed school for the boys, another week of being stuck at home whilst we all isolated waiting – The whole testing system is a complete mess and as we start to approach the colder months and the season of coughs and colds I fear there will be many more days of missed school for the boys and many other children across the country unless they sort the whole testing system out.

Autism, family life, Mental Health, Parenting

Getting tested

So this morning when Neil woke up he was feeling one hundred times worse than last night. We knew we needed to get him a covid-test arranged sooner rather than later but we were still faced with the issue of trying to get one. For four hours Mark refreshed the website repeatedly hoping for availability, he spent 2 hours on hold to 119 the NHS Covid line, he tried family and friends postcodes willing to drive where ever in order to get him tested and then when he refreshed the browser one last time some appointments appeared for 5pm in London today so he booked it immediately.

With our QR code and identification for Neil to hand we made our way into London towards the O2 Arena in Greenwich where the temporary testing centre had been set up and Mark had managed to get Neil an appointment.

When we arrived we were directed into a carpark where there were hundreds if not thousands of bright orange road traffic cones on the tarmac snaking around the carpark creating a temporary car queuing system as if they were anticipating a large volume of cars, however we were shocked that there was no queue, there were no other cars, just us and members of staff standing around looking bored, pointing and directing us telling us which way we needed to go.

Yes I know the sign says no photography, whoops!

We were then directed to yet another carpark with even more cones snaking around and then fonally directed to a bay next to a converted white shipping container where a gentleman came out of and after asking a series of questions bought out the test and proceeded to instruct us on what we needed to do step by step.

After passing me the test and a biohazard bag through a partially opened window we were then directed to an area where we had to park up and do the test. Now Neil didn’t feel confident doing it himself, he was extremely apprehensive so I had to climb into the back of the car without any ounce of dignity to be able to do the test on him as your not allowed to exit the vehicle on site. Now to do the test you have to swab the tonsil area for fifteen seconds and then place that same swab approximately 2.5cm up the nose and move around for another 15 seconds. I felt awful having to do it to him, he resisted a bit but he said it wasn’t too bad in the end, we managed to do it with no meltdowns. The swab was then popped into the vile and popped into a biohazardous bag ready to be sent off for testing.

So now its a waiting game whilst we wait for a text and email with the results. We have now all got to isolate at home until we receive the results which I pray are negative. I’ve been told it could take up to five days to receive them, that means more missed time off of school for all three of the boys. So Neil’s currently self isolating in his bedroom away from us all which I feel awful about but what else can I do?

Im just glad Mark managed to get a test, although the thing that really surprised me was how empty it was, people are struggling to get appointments yet the testing centre was empty, there must have been in excess of 100 members of staff there doing abdolutely nothing which is crazy, it literally makes no sense to me at all..

Parenting

The Covid dilemma..

With the boys being off of school for so long and not being around other children like they usually would it means they haven’t been building up their immune systems, that they haven’t been exposed to your typical everyday coughs and colds like they normally would have, so since their return to school last week Mark and I have been placing our bets on how long before one of the boys come home unwell from school, its not that we want them to be poorly but come on it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen at some point… and it would seem that day was today, exactly a week since they started back at school.

When Mark picked the boys up from school Neil mentioned that he wasn’t feeling too well, he was complaining of a sore throat and said it hurt to swallow and he had been feeling hot all day. Once home the thermometer confirmed a fever and as the evening passed he started presenting with your typical cold like symptoms, you know a cough, loss of taste and smell and runny nose. However this is where we have a bit of a dilemma.

The government guidelines state that if you have a temperature, a new persitant cough or loose your taste or smell that you need to self isolate and arrange to get a covid test done, the schools also seem to have created their own precautionary guidelines to add to the above which also include sore throats and cold like symptoms telling you not to send children in with any of these symptoms and to self isolate and get tested, that once a negative result has been received its safe for the child to return. So the sensible thing to do is get Neil to have a Covid test, simple you would think, after all our government keep pushing these covid tests – but this is where the issue is… there are no tests available anywhere, they have run out of home testing kits to send out to you in the post, there are no appointments available at any of the local testing centres and there are no appointments available at any of the testing centres further afield, I know because Ive been trying for hours and hours to get Neil one – so what the hell are we suppose to do?

Its absolutely crazy, the government have been pushing and pushing for people with symptoms to be tested yet there are either no tests or appointments available. So instead of getting Neil tested and keeping him off of school for a couple of days whilst we wait for the results we are instead going to have to keep him at home self isolating for 14 days unless we can manage to get a test somewhere, even if its hundreds of miles away as he has already missed so much time at school as it is and even though I am 100% its just a cold we still have to be cautious just in case it is Covid-19.

The thing is Autumn/ Winter is fast approaching which brings with it even more nasty coughs and colds. How many children will have to take unnecessary time off of school just because they can’t get a bloody test. It’s a complete nightmare and I forsee this not being the only time we find ourselves faced with this exact same issue, especially with the boys being back at school after almost six months off.

family life, Parenting

Learning to drive

I’m not one for new years resolutions, however one of the goals that I set for myself for 2020 was to finally learn how to drive. Mark and I have talked about it so many times over the years, it would make our lives so much easier if I could drive as I wouldn’t be relying on Mark all of the time, I would have so much more flexibility and freedom, I could take the boys out when Marks having to work and it would just make life that little bit easier, however there has always been this one tiny little thing which has stood in my way preventing me from learning to drive… seizures.

At the age of 18 years old I was unexpectedly out of the blue diagnosed as being epileptic after suffering a massive seizure which I almost lost my life too. Whilst all of my friends were learning to drive, passing their tests and getting cars and enjoying their new found freedom I was having to accept this new diagnosis and the fact that legally I now wasn’t allowed to get behind the wheel of a car again until I was 2 years seizure free and it was so bloody frustrating.

Now learning to drive its still something I am determined I want to do even if it means passing when I’m in my forties, so be it, but unfortunately everytime I have made an attempt to start lessons I would experience yet another setback in the form of some kind of seizure which would mean restarting that countdown of two years again and again and again, I’ve often said that maybe I’m not meant to learn yet I still so desperately want to.

Now by the time we welcomed in 2020 I had been seizure free long enough to look into starting up lessons again. I managed to find a lovely female instructor with availability and she had even scheduled me in for my first lesson… then Covid-19 and lockdown came along and put stop to that. So for the time being I will have to wait. Even though instructors have been allowed to start up again mine has chosen not too and in all honesty I respect that decision and fully support her reasonings. Learning whilst wearing a facemask is not ideal, you can’t social distance in a small metal box on wheels and there is a massive back log for theory and practical tests so I have agreed that I will hold off until the new year. I’ve waiting 18 years so what’s another?! Although saying that at this rate Ethan will probably pass before I do, he got rather comfy sitting in the drivers seat keeping me company in the front whilst waiting for Daddy to come back to the car this afternoon.

family life, Parenting

When the silence is deafening

And just like that after almost six months of having the children at home with us all three boys are finally back to school as Grayson finally returned this morning to start his year one journey.

Its was so strange walking into the house after the school run this morning, turning the key in the lock and opening the front door to complete silence. Im so use to the house being so alive, the sounds of the boys running around playing together, the constant sound of chatter, their laughter filling the house but there was nothing, the silence was deafening.

Now in my head I had a list of a million and one things which I could of got on and done un-interupted by the boys today, you know the kind of things. I also had all good intentions that once I  got home I would get changed and do a thirty minute step aerobic workout.. however when it actually came to it I just couldnt be bothered. I just felt mentally and physically exhausted, it was like a comedown from lockdown. So instead of doing anything vaguely productive today I bingewatched Netflix and enjoyed a little uninterrupted nap until the boys came home and the house came alive again and chaos ensued.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a little more productive..

Parenting

Covid frustrations

So this evening its been announced that due to a spike in confirmed Covid-19 cases here in the UK that as of Monday 14th September the government are making it illegal for groups of more than six people to socialise in homes, parks, bars, restaurants etc. However there are some exemptions including workplaces, schools, funerals, weddings and sporting events as long as social distancing is being practiced. Hmmm!

So let me get this right…  I can send my children to school where they are grouped together in a year bubble, the children in the bubble can all be in a room together, they can be sitting next to one another and its perfectly fine, yet I cannot get together with close friends who I know and trust wouldn’t knowingly put my family at risk and vice versa. That I could pop to my local shopping centre where there are hundreds of people walking around, many ignoring social distancing and refusing to wear face coverings but we won’t be able to drive up to see Marks parents because 5+2=7 which is more than six so we would be breaking the law. That thirty people can gather for a wedding and celebrate yet I can’t celebrate my sons Birthday at home and invite family because we would exceed the six. – I mean it makes no bloody sense to me.

And yet again why Monday? Six days away? Is Covid-19 on some sort of vacation between now and then? Will it not be infecting people between now and then? Is it now that clever? For the past month or so the government have been encouraging people to go out to eat with the “eat out to help out” scheme, they have been encouraging businesses to re open so people can return to work and now this – Our government frustrates me so bloody much.

family life, Parenting

Returning to school

Back to school

So this morning the alarm went off for the first time in what feels like forever. – Its been a surreal few months, I don’t think any of us envisaged a pandemic as we welcomed in 2020. Months of learning lost, friends being missed, school memories not being made and let’s not forget the joys of home learning.

It’s been a turbulent time to say the least, but there is no denying I’ve kind of enjoyed having the boys here at home with us. There may have been days they annoyed me and drove me crazy, days where I’ve considered pouring a glass of gin at 9am, days where I did pour a glass of gin by 11am, days where I have wanted to run away and hide, days I’ve wanted to cry and give up, BUT we have also laughed together, had fun together and most importantly made memories together.

2020 is a year we will never forget, however the time has now come to get some normality and routine back into our lives. Covid-19 is still out there and I doubt its going anywhere anytime soon, we cannot become complacent about it but at the same time we do need to start moving on with our lives and so today we saw Neil returning back to school in year 10 and Ethan returning back to school in year 4. The thing is it will be different, it might be scary but we have to do this.

Missing his brothers.
Autism, family life, Parenting

Bowling

Let’s go bowling she said! It will be fun she said! – Who the hell was I trying to kid?

I awoke this morning and spontaneously decided that we should take the boys bowling this evening, you know just like you do, you can’t beat a bit of spontaneity in your life. So I popped online to book a couple of rounds for the five of us this evening and then told the boys of our plans. – The boys all seemed excited at the idea and all day Ethan and Grayson were getting on at me, annoying me and asking when we were going, as far as I was concerned they were excited and looking forward to our family evening out – oh how quickly that all changed.

Things started off well, the boys were all happy and excited and I even managed to capture a few happy photos , however then it all started to go to hell. – Firstly Mummy kind of overlooked the fact we would be inside and therefore we needed to wear facemasks for the duration, whilst bowling, for two games – that was a struggle and just like that all three boys moods changed from smiles and happiness to.. well you can see from the photographs below.

Neil turned into Mr Attitude – nothing was right, he didn’t like wearing the mask, he didn’t like the ball selection, he didn’t like that his brothers were scoring higher. Your typical stroppy teenager crap that I could seriously have done without tonight.

Next we had Grayson, the little man with a whole lot of big personality whose bowling came with a full on amateur dramatics performance. Grayson was sure to let everyone know what he was thinking and feeling. This included telling his brothers they were both rubbish at bowling! He was loving bowling, well until Daddy overtook his score and then the tears came and Mummy wanted to throttle Daddy for upsetting Grayson!

Then we had Ethan. His game started off really well, in fact it started with a strike first go.. however after that it went downhill rapidly and Ethan became a complete emotional wreck because he wasn’t knocking down all the pins each time. I found myself consoling a sobbing Ethan after each go as there was no reasoning with him. He didn’t like his little brother was winning or the fact Grayson was intent on reminding Ethan he was losing and so I did what any Mum would do for an easy life.. I lost on purpose!

I mean seriously. You try to do something nice and they ruin it. I literally got to the point where I almost called it quits and left the bowling alley early mid game. So much for a nice family evening together. We won’t be doing that again anytime soon.

family life, Parenting

A day at London Zoo

So on Sunday we ventured out for our first proper family day out since lockdown restrictions were eased as Mark drove us into London so we could take the boys to London Zoo.

London Zoo is a place which I haven’t visited since I was really young myself ( I must have been Grayson’s age) and neither Mark or the boys have ever been so we thought it would make a nice change to the usual zoos that we visit and being only in London its not too far for us to travel from here in Essex.

Now I wont lie, I was a little apprehensive about going, apart from long family walks and taking the boys out on their scooters we have tried to avoid places with lots of people as much as possible. We havent been out all six of us together since the start of March when it was Nin-Nins Birthday, over five and a half months ago, how crazy is that.

Truth be told whilst Mark was diving there I found myself going into a little panic. I started having second thoughts and started questioning whether I had made a mistake, I found myself worrying about how busy it may be when we get there. I had booked the first time slot of the day and although I knew that the zoo had reduced visitor numbers, put lots of social distancing measures into place as well as hand sanitiser stations all around the zoo I was worried about all the other people, those who just simply don’t seem to care.  However I could never have disappointed the boys and the tickets had all been paid for, I just needed to be brave and stop worring so much (easier said than done!)

So with our face masks and hand sanitiser to hand we started to explore the zoo. Walking around the outside wasn’t too bad at all, the majority of people were respectful and adhering to the social distancing rules. Any of the indoor exhibits you went into you had to wear your face masks which wasn’t too bad at all, it was just annoyance keep having to put the masks on and take them off again repeatedly all day and I guess something we just all need to get use too.

As we walked around the boys thoroughly enjoyed all of the different exhibits and getting to see all the different animals. Grayson got to see his favorite the Meerkats..

.. and Mummy got to see her favorite animal the giraffes and Ethan was super excited that he was finally able to see his first ever Sloth in the Zoos Amazonian exhibit. He has been going on for weeks about wanting to see one and he was lucky enough to get to see two.

We were really fortunate that the majority of the animals were out for us to be able to see and enjoy which allowed both Ethan and Mummy to capture some awesome photos of the animals. There is nothing worse than going to a zoo and all the animals are hiding and you get to see nothing.

It was so nice seeing the boys outside and so happy, they have spent so much time at home indoors these past few months glued to their tablets or playing on the XBox or PS4 that this really was needed. We so desperately need some normality in our lives about now and to start braving going out again and I think the trip to London zoo was the perfect start to that. We all had a thoroughly enjoyable time, there was big smiles and laughter there, lots of joking and clowning around and there was no fighting or arguments at all, perfection!- even Neil coped well managing to walk around for the duration of the day using his crutches for support. And so we left London Zoo extremely happy and weary and we even seem to have come home with three new additions to the family.. a cuddly sloth and two cuddly meerkats to add to all the other cuddly Meerkats Grayson already has.