Thursday, 25 June 2009

Agoraphobia - same old same old...

Almost all the progress in diminishing Marie's agoraphobia have disappeared. Apart from a small improvement in her diet, all the agoraphobia-busting routines that she had observed have also disappeared, and with them the hope that she's making the effort to change her condition. I have to accept that Marie's inability to follow through with any sort of treatment or routine is part of her problem.

This means that the greater part of childcare - virtually all of it outside our home - continues to fall on me. I enjoy this immensely, but regret the absence of a mum for the children when embarking on excursions. And Marie misses so much - I sometimes wonder if she knows how much of her children's lives are currently inaccessible to her.

For example - here I am, making a fool of myself on the trampoline at Carla's house. Orla thought this was hysterically amusing. Marie wasn't able to get to the trampoline - it's about 10m from the back door of Carla's house.

The children love to "explore" and there is lots of exploration available all around us! Below, the ferns make this deer path seem like a trip through the jungle.

Marie may never see this pebble mound, on a beach a few miles from our home. Click on the picture if you want to read the inscription on the stone.

A dried-up ancient harbour is fascinating for children, who imagine pirate ships going in and out... In reality, all that passed through the entrance to this harbour were small goods ships carrying away the lime which was burned beside the harbour and bringing in coal to use in the lime kiln. But why spoil a good story by introducing the truth?

This is what that harbour looked like about 100 years ago. If you want to see the full-size picture, just click on it.

We have lots of beach activities. The children are never bored on a beach!

Plenty of activities for the children and me through the summer, then. Does Marie really know what she's missing? Perhaps I'm being somewhat pessimistic. Perhaps Marie will recover lost ground.

Nothing would make me happier.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Father's Day 2009

I had a really good Father's Day, sharing it with most of my family. Of my 7 children, only Jenna (living in Ireland) and Colm (happier at home) were absent, but both had sent Father's Day cards and phoned me. And of my grandchildren, only Elisha (living in Ireland) was missing.

Carla and her husband Jason hosted dinner for the 12 of us. Jason did the roast. Excellent job, Jason! Carla did the side dishes.

Jason surprised me by presenting me with 3 perfectly chilled bottles of my favourite beer - Newcastle Brown Ale - while saying, "My father hasn't been much good to me and you've been like a proper father to me." Jason's father deserted him when he was just a few years old and although they were reunited a few years ago, he doesn't bother with him much. I was both pleased and humbled by this gesture.

Here I am with 5 out of my 7 children.

I had a very enjoyable afternoon and evening.

Father's Day caused me to remember how fortunate I had been with my father, sadly no longer with me. I was also able to reflect on the passing of time and, of course, the unceasing countdown to my own demise. My oldest grandchild, Shannon - at the back of the group in the picture - is 14 now and dating. A great-grandchild within the next 10 years seems a real possibility. Am I that old? Then, having little children and grown-up children simultaneously suddenly seemed somewhat bizarre - unnatural perhaps? In any case, I can't change that - nor would I wish to!

Here the group includes Marie and 3 of my 4 grandchildren. This time next year, all being well, I'll have 2 more grandchildren!

My day actually started in Weymouth, at my Father-in-law's house, so Marie was able to share a little of Father's Day with him. He pretends to prefer his children to ignore Father's Day...but I saw him take his Father's Day cards to his desk for safekeeping!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Joseph's school, Orla's nursery and the local parish church all ignore Father's Day. They observe Mother's Day, of course. This is the secular version of the Christian festival of Mothering Sunday and has been observed for centuries, while Father's Day only started to be observed about 100 years ago. Nevertheless, one would think that some formal acknowledgement of the role that fathers have in the lives of their children would be on the calendar of all religions and educational establishments. I wonder if many others agree with me...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Animal Cruelty

I'm not much of a campaigner on animal rights issues.

I've always felt that caring about humans is much more important.

But when I came across this video footage, I couldn't ignore it.
It shows the horrors of fur farming in China.

And I mean horrors.

It contains scenes of animals being brutally beaten and skinned alive and then being tossed onto a heap of similarly unfortunate animals, some still alive.
This video is gross and I suggest that you don't watch it unless you have a very strong stomach.
I was unable to watch all of it - and I'm not easily sickened!

You don't have to watch it.
You can help to stop these barbaric practices by-

  • not buying any fur products. Some fur is farmed in a much more acceptable way (although no fur farming is acceptable to some people) but there is no way of knowing how your fur made its way to your shop.
  • passing on this information to others
  • checking out this site where there are other suggestions on how you can help animals such as these.
You don't have to watch this video clip,
but if you want to...just click below.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The journey away from agoraphobia - one step forward and two steps back...

Marie's agoraphobia has got worse.

There is a perfectly good explanation for this - she had been somewhat erratic about taking her medication, Free Smiley Face Courtesy of but has been taking it regularly for a week or so now.

Gone is the enthusiastic, vibrant, increasingly optimistic Marie. Instead we have anxious, tired, sick Marie.

Gone is the revised, healthy diet and exercising at the gym.
She has been suffering from headaches, feeling nauseous, lethargic, grumpy and vulnerable.

However, from past experience we know that these symptoms will pass.

Hopefully, progress on the agoraphobia front will resume shortly. Free Smiley Face Courtesy of

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Riding for the Disabled Association Exeter Show

Colm really enjoys his equestrian pursuits. And he's got real talent, too. At his local RDA branch, he's the star pupil. And at the RDA show in Exeter (where we were blessed with almost perfect weather), he was able to show off his skill competing in the dressage classes.

At Colm's oft-repeated (very oft!) request, I took him to the show, accompanied by two of his sisters,
Carla & Collette. (All the rest of his close family were either at work or at school or suffered from agoraphobia.)

It was the 1st time in a long time that his horse had been away from the riding centre, and he was difficult to control. Nevertheless, Colm performed really well and achieved commendable 3rd and 4th places in his classes. Colm's RDA branch were well pleased with this result.

Four of the staff and a fellow resident of Colm's (assisted living) house came to support him. It was a very warm, breathless, sunny day, so I was compelled to take them to a nearby hostelry for a few beers. To their great credit, none of them imbibed excessively. Colm really appreciated his well-chilled shandy too!

A very, very happy Colm returned home. He elicited a promise that I would attend one of his lessons in a couple of weeks' time. His tutor is rescheduling the lesson to accommodate me(! I'm impressed!) as I am normally engaged on the school run when Colm is having his lessons.

A good day was had by all! Roll on the next show!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The lucky father

There are more pictures of Orla than of Joseph on this blog. Why? Because, unlike his little sister, he's happy just blending into the background.

Because he's happy out of the limelight, his good points often go unnoticed. Academically, he's one of the top performers in his year. Well behaved, he's popular with both teachers and fellow pupils.

Recently, Joseph was "pupil of the week". A good achievement? It's better than that - he's been "pupil of the week" twice this year - the only child in the school to have done that.

Blaze loves Jospeph too. He's kind to the dog, and often takes it for a walk.

I showed Joseph how to brush out Orla's hair without hurting her. He's a great learner.

Joseph is so good at it that Orla can continue to watch Tom and Jerry almost oblivious to his ministrations.

Although he has the normal sibling rows from time to time, Joseph is mostly considerate to his little sister.

In return, she idolises him.

A day out with his sister can be really good fun, even if she
is only three!

What do you do on a dull, cold, spring evening?

Why not go to the beach?
If you go to this beach, you'll notice most of the stones are small and flat. Perfect for skimming.



Look! It's skimming!

When I was a boy, living beside the sea would have seemed like heaven! Now that I live near the coast, I can give my children the childhood environment I would have liked for myself. Joseph
loves the beaches around us and is happy to spend hours on them!

Does my description of Joseph sound too good to be true? There's not a day passes that I don't wonder at my good fortune having a son like him.

I hope I still feel that way when he's grown up!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

My autistic son - 29th birthday celebration

Big sister Colleen hosted Colm's 29th birthday party. Although she used all present as guinea pigs to try out her first attempt at Shepherd's Pie, everyone enjoyed themselves and no one has been reported suffering food poisioning.

Colm was in great form and thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Audrey (his enthusiastic girlfriend)came along to share in the celebrations.

Marie baked the birthday cake. It was topped with an impressive confection which was in the style of a picture of a horse. Colm was very impressed with it and insisted that half of it would be put into a container to be shared with the staff of his riding school at a later date.

Joseph enjoyed the cake too... did Orla (I really like this picture).

Now Colm is looking forward to next year when he will start his 3rd decade!