Luck?

Is there such a thing?

It’s something everyone seems to refer to in daily conversation yet is it any different to believing in fate or destiny (which is often less socially ‘acceptable’)?

I am personally a believer in something to do with destiny and an end goal. I believe in there being more going on in the universe than we appreciate, karma or the exchanges of energy in particular. I like to think that what we put out comes back to us at some point.

However, I have recently had what people have been referring to as “a run of bad luck”. Lovely people try to soften this with “you’re due some good luck now”. But it’s all relative really isn’t it? And practically a lot of it is connected. Like the issues I’ve had with cars seem like “bad luck” but it all leads back to the same car dealer being useless and quite frankly, dangerous.

I also think a lot of my personality traits/lifestyle/health issues come with a degree of ‘risk’ for want of a better word. I am constantly multi-tasking, taking on too much, juggling everything, making snap decisions etc. At the end of the day, if you’re doing twice as much as most people, then you’ve got twice the chance of something going wrong. And if you’re dividing your attention and not evaluating decisions properly before charging in, then things are bound to slip up now and then. I am very very clumsy, I am on all sorts of medication, I am pregnant. Tripping over and hurting myself isn’t “bad luck”, it’s a direct consequence of my current physical state.

Perception also comes into play when interpreting “luck”. If you’re a positive person who focuses on the good things in their life, you probably overlook the little things that go wrong every day for everyone and instead revel in the positives. If you’re in a more negative frame of mind then you’re going to ruminate on what went wrong and dismiss the positives. Equally, if something ‘big’ has gone wrong that has had an impact on your life, then you’re going to be feeling defeated and fed up and in need of a bit of a wallow. If something small then happens to go wrong which would normally not phase you, then you’re going to take it worse than you usually would. And then all of a sudden ‘everything’ is going wrong, and you hone in on all the little annoyances we all experience on a daily basis and take them as a personal attack by the universe.

In conclusion, I don’t think there really is such a thing as luck. I don’t think that it’s any different than believing in religion, or fate/destiny. It’s a way of trying to understand and cope with the unpredictability of life, and to alleviate ourselves of a degree of responsibility for what happens day to day. If you hit a load of traffic, you can blame luck and not the fact that you took a different route or travelled during rush hour. If an accident happens on the route you would usually take, then bonus points for ‘fate’ saving you for being involved, or God for deciding he wants you on earth for another day as you still have a purpose to fulfil.

I’m not really sure what this waffling was about but it’s nice to get some of the random crap out of my head for once!

Break The Silence

I’m back. Actually back. I have far too much in my head to not come back. I need an outlet and I’ve tried this vlogging thing and it just isn’t for me. I enjoy the odd rant or ramble so InstaStories does it for me (areweouttathewoods) but the whole IGTV thing just didn’t work for me. Sooooo I’m back to old fashioned blogging.

Important Updates:

  • I’m halfway divorced… well, I’ve been halfway divorced (as in decree nisi) for about 15months now… one day I’ll get my absolute!)
  • I am pregnant with my 4th child, it’s a girl, and I’m going solo with it
  • I have a new job, I really enjoy it, but I’m currently signed off with low blood pressure because I keep randomly falling asleep and going faint and confused and tearful
  • I have been diagnosed with ADHD and CPTSD and have some lovely medication and a therapist which have sorted me right out
  • I have 5 cats now!

So now you’re back in the loop, next post can be a proper one. I did have a tumblr account but I think I only blogged there twice. If I can remember my account I will see if the posts are worth bringing over here but to be honest they were probably some of my written in the dead of the night depressing ones, which, I know you all love, but are probably not applicable anymore 😉

Back soon!

Touching Base

It has been a very long time since I last blogged, and an unimaginable amount of change has happened in that time. I haven’t felt the motivation or desire to write about things as they have unfolded so have refrained from writing at all.

I intend to rectify this soon, so I am posting this as a reminder to myself to return 🙂

NaPoWriMo Day 3

“I will always” is so frequently said
In many different situations.
An expression of sadness, joy, or love
or during a confrontation.
It isn’t so different to “I will never”,
Except it’s seen more positively,
Especially if you’re stupid enough to play drinking games with me.

NaPoWriMo Day One – First

Well I’m 19 days behind. That’s an achievement even for me. And I’m horribly rusty and most of my poems come out more like prose…. but meh, it’s only for fun…

 

At first I don’t notice.
There is silence,
But there always is at this time of night.
I tiptoe upstairs and prepare
As quietly as possible –
So not to wake them.
I have some clothes to put away,
But when I arrive at the door
Something is wrong.
It is wide open
Inviting me into the dark
Toys scattered across the floor
Covers strewn across beds
Empty.
Panic rises in me imagining the worst
And then I remember, that this is the first….
The first night of many I will spend in our home
Alone.

So in the midst of the madness of the summer holidays, my friend and I decided to throw caution to the wind and embark on a caravan holiday together. Two adults, an 8 year old, an autistic 7 year old, two 5 year olds with questionable communication, and a headstrong and mischievous 18month old. What could possibly go wrong?

As it happens, not as much as could have. We rented privately with an owner through TripAdvisor and stayed at Combe Haven in St Leonards. We didn’t really know what to expect but we were basically thinking we would have our caravan and a patch of green to turf the kids out on. No. Combe Haven, it turns out, is just piles and piles of caravans on top of each other with no space in between. Unlike places like Center Parcs, cars are free to come and go and you park outside your caravan so even walking to the complex was a mission as people disobeyed the 10mph rule and sped round corners and the roads had limited pathways. It was, at times, quite worrying. Ball games were banned except on the “courts” which was one basketball court for the entire resort. There was also one small play area that we encountered, and a nature reserve that was poorly signposted and inaccurately represented on the map. The swimming pool was awful. There were no timed sessions so you basically had to turn up and queue and once it was full, you just had to wait until somebody left. The outdoor pool wasn’t very heated so with the baby we were confined indoors. There was no seperate section for small children, it was just a pool with people of all ages chucking beach balls around, crashing into everyone, ploughing through and past you, and in my case, regularly scratching you with their armbands. I have never witnessed such carnage in a swimming pool and I’ve been to a lot of shitty leisure centres. It was terrifying and unpleasant to say the least.

As you can probably imagine from my comments, we spent as little time on the resort as possible. On our first day we couldn’t check in until 2pm so on the way we stopped at Raystede Animal shelter and spent the day there.

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We checked in to the caravan park, got into our caravan, and then I took the 5 year olds to collect the Tesco shop we had ordered through click and collect. If you haven’t thought of it before, start doing it. Every time we holiday anywhere with self-catering, I find the nearest supermarket and pre-order my shopping for click and collect to save some serious stress. It’s a lifesaver. Anyway, we unpacked the shopping and stuff and the kids wanted to watch Zootropolis, but alas, we couldn’t find the advertised DVD player, just a remote. Around this point, a maintenance guy showed up with a washing up bowl and some glasses that apparently belonged to the property and said he would put a DVD player on the request list for us and if any became available or they could dig one out in the main office, they’d bring us one the next day and he seemed optimistic this would happen. So we put the TV on and set about cooking the pizza. Another knock on the door and it’s another maintenance guy here to do some repairs. He was as friendly and lovely as the first guy and got the jobs done really quickly, had a bit of banter, and was off. We served the kids tea and there was another knock on the door. Having double parked we were sure we were going to be told off this time but it was the first Haven guy with a colleague bringing us a DVD player! We were very impressed and thanked them profusely. The kids went to bed late and chatted until even later, and we stayed up drinking a bottle of wine and watching trash TV.

At 5.44am, the darling toddler awoke and screamed the place down so I dragged him into bed with me and we had a cuddle and a snooze before the rest of the kids got up and traipsed in to watch TV. It was lovely weather so we decided to walk to the beach. The plan was a lounge on the beach and a bit of a paddle, chips for lunch, and then head back via an ice cream if possible. What happened was a backstreet walk through a housing estate along a waterway whereby we witnessed a kestrel catch some prey and fly right by us making some impressive noises, the kids practically swimming in the sea (and my friend going for it!) and then the most epic trek to Hastings to find amazing chips, and then bargain ice creams, and a looooong walk back. By the time we got home, we’d walked 5miles, and most of us had sunburn.The evening played out in a similar manner except one of the kids was restless all night and up and down like a yo-yo and the toddler got up screaming at 11pm and ended up in bed with me all night.

Wednesday we decided to explore the ‘resort’ and so went for a walk through the nature reserve having sussed out a route on the Monday. We saw a buzzard, butterflies, dragonflies, and heard plenty of grasshoppers. Lunch at the caravan was followed by a horrific 45minute swimming pool trip which the kids loved but really messed me up due to my anxiety issues around swimming pools and changing rooms and then we went to the on-site pub which overlooked the pool and had chips, garlic bread, and I had a nice and well-deserved beer. Movies and dinner at the caravan and a slightly more restful night.

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We decided to head to Bodiam castle on the Thursday and it was lovely. The castle was just beautiful and the staff were so into it. I will definitely be returning and also doing the river tours and train station next time. I would recommend anyone go there in good weather for a big day out. The kids played wooden skittles on the grass, made a coin, and we watched a woman weaving using some insanely complicated cards. The views were stunning too.

On Friday we had to be out by 10am and the toddler woke at exactly 5.44am again which was fun. To break up the journey home we decided to stop off at Ightham Mote. We both got lost and stuck in traffic and what should have been an hours drive took 2hours for me and 2.5hours for my friend. It was meant to rain torrentially all day but was showery on and off and we only had a bad downpour at the end of the day. We walked through the house and then the kids enjoyed the natural playground while the toddler went crazy and my friend took him off for a walk. We then did a woodland walk in the rain which seemed to take forever but it went incredibly high and we got some stunning views. Nursery rhymes were sung on the long walk back and after 7 miles of walking throughout the day, it was time to go home.

The week went really quickly, although some periods of time reeeealllly dragged. Combe Haven itself was a bit of a disappointment, I think the only redeeming feature was the staff as everyone we encountered was so friendly and lovely. The site itself was rubbish and the activities all had age ranges that meant we would have to split the kids and didn’t really meet our needs time wise or skills wise and whilst I didn’t ask, it didn’t feel very special needs friendly as the activities we saw on our walk round were one member of staff to about 10 children. I’m sure it’s perfect for pre-teens and teens and we saw loads of them wandering around causing trouble trying to occupy themselves or going loopy in the pool, but for a family like ours, it wasn’t the location for us but was a good location as a base for exploring East Sussex. The dynamics of the group did cause some friction now and then but what group of kids doesn’t fall out? It was definitely hard work having 5 kids between us but I think we balanced it nicely by switching roles and my friend was a god-send in taking the bear when I was losing my mind with him and his wandering off/running away and tantrums and headbanging. As she is also my childminder, he was comfortable enough with her to go off with her or let her change or dress him (and she’s more than comfortable to do it) which probably wouldn’t have worked if it had been anybody else, and we have been hanging out as a group in the school holidays for at least the last 5 years so we are comfortable enough to tell each other’s kids off and supervise them, and they listen to whichever of us is there so we are always able to split the group in any way appropriate at the time without it causing drama. I would do it again, but only with the same friend or someone I am as comfortable around as her!! But I’m ready for a break away from children right now and it’s coming on Thursday 😉

May Half Term

OK, so since we got “the diagnosis”, before we head to new places, especially places that cost a lot of money, I have taken to googling that place plus choice words such as “disability” “sen” “autism” and “asd” to try and find reviews or clues as to whether this place is even worth contemplating visiting or is destined for disaster. The results are few and far between, so I figured I’d do it myself in the hopes of assisting others in similar predicaments. So instead of just writing a generic “here’s what we did at half term”, I’m going to be doing that, but with the added bonus of evaluating each outing on it’s suitability for a child such as mine. Here goes…

Monday was a bank holiday so we had hubby home (hurrah!). I decided we would go to Beachy Head to look for fossils as T is really into the idea of being a museum curator at the moment. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any fossils, but there is an awesome group that meet once a month and guarantee fossil finding success: http://www.discoveringfossils.co.uk/beachy_head_fossils.htm

Despite the lack of fossils, we had a lovely walk along the cliff and down the slightly terrifying steps/ladder, a rummage in the rock pools and a very windy picnic. Parking was free which is always a bonus, and there was a children’s playground and a cafe and gardens where we had parked on the main road. No real SEN review needed here, obviously we had to be vigilant on the cliff and on the rocks but no dramas.

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Tuesday I was riding solo and we were meant to be going to Leith Hill with friends but it poured it down with torrential rain literally ALL DAY. Instead, said friends invited us round, and the kids watched a film and played with the Wii and generally caused mayhem in her home.

Wednesday  we had a bit of a group outing of 3 adults and 8 children to Hever Castle. We love Hever Castle and have annual membership as it’s such good value and it’s easy to spend a day there. We have only been into the actual castle twice, and I don’t personally consider it particularly child friendly, especially not curious/not listening/like to touch children. It makes me incredibly anxious just being in there and so I avoid it most visits. That said, if you have a child who’s into their history or museums or art, I’m sure they would love it and I personally found it interesting, my kids are just the wrong age and mindset. The gardens are HUGE and you can happily wander/run around, and in the holidays and on special occasions they have all sorts of things going on such as trails, live performances, role play characters, and jousting. In addition to the gardens there is a massive lake and we walked round it for the first time this week and it was quite a pleasant walk. There is also a water maze during the good weather season, which is good fun for the kids but can result in a few injuries and a lot of tears when they start running around and slipping, and of course you need to take towels and a change of clothes with you which can be a bit of a nuisance but we still use a buggy for the bear to carry all the stuff more than anything, and the gardens/grounds are very buggy/wheelchair friendly. In addition to all this, there is also a kids playground, a maze, and you can pay extra to have a go at archery. I cannot recommend Hever enough for kids of most ages, and there are no real barriers to those with additional needs, in fact, the big open spaces allow a lot of freedom, and the flowers and shrubs and water provide a range of sensory experiences too.

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Thursday was our slightly ambitious trip to Drusillas Zoo. We may have underestimated how busy it was, and when we arrived at 11am it was absolutely heaving, with a long queue to pay to get in. We had brought our DLA forms as Drusillas offer a free adult carer with every full paying child with a DLA letter or professionals letter explaining why the child can’t go along. Whilst they sound quite specific, the woman just skim read ours and nowhere does it specifically say that, it just says we have high care so I think that was it. My friend had the bright idea of going to ask in visitor services if there was any way we could bypass the ridiculously long queue to get in as our children were clearly not going to cope, well, mine at least. Having read the website and reviews before we set off, there was no mention of assistance for children with disabilities but when my friend went to visitor services, she was given an access pass for both our children, which allowed the entire party queue jump for all rides and we were allowed to go through the ‘annual pass’ queue to pay to get in. This was a massive unexpected bonus, and I really don’t understand why they don’t publicise this as for a lot of families these touches are make or break when decided whether to visit somewhere. That said, trying to attract the attention of staff members to actually use the ride passes was a bit of a mission, and with the Thomas train we felt a bit embarassed as we were walked in front of everyone whilst the guy unlocked the special ‘disability’ carriage at the front of the train for us, complete with wheelchair ramp. He offered us the carriage behind as well but we felt that sitting on the floor in the ‘disability carriage’ felt better as that way we hadn’t ‘taken’ anyone’s seats, as it were. Another flaw of Drusilla’s is the play area. There are 2 play areas and a splash pad type thing all linked together and surrounded by shops and cafes but no way of keeping an eye on more than one child, and nothing stopping them wandering off. It’s basically a safeguarding nightmare. As it happens, we managed to lose Dolly and it took us about 20minutes to realise she was actually missing, as opposed to somewhere in the vast play area, and then I had to park all the kids in the soft play with my friend, dump all my stuff in a locker (which, by the way, KEEPS YOUR POUND) and go on a mission to find her. We had run through some safety basics and what to do if they got lost before they had gone to play, and one of the things we said was to go in a shop, so I went in the nearest one and as I did, the tannoy above it announced that another shop had my daughter and could I please come and collect her. Having retrieved her, a lovely lady approached me and said she’d found her crying in the cafe where we had eaten lunch (and she had last seen me) and she’d been able to give her name, my name, and that I was wearing a blue top. The woman became more worried after leaving her with the staff and returning to the playground to realise you can’t hear the tannoy in the playground which is obviously a concern as that’s naturally where you are looking for your missing child.

In conclusion, I generally consider Drusilla’s poor value for money but if you go off-peak or have a DLA letter, then it is a lot more reasonable. The ‘zoo’ section is rather large and if your kids have an interest in the animals, then it’s great as there are stamps to collect as you go around and the information is educational, but mine don’t have the attention span for that and run from one enclosure to the next. Going off-peak, or if you home ed, then on a school day, would obviously be preferable but do know that if it’s busy you can go to visitor services for the access pass. Avoid the adventure playground like the plague, unless you have enough adults to supervise each individual child, or very confident, and sensible children who will know what to do if they can’t find you.

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Friday  we went to Alice Holt forest to do the Gruffalo and Stick Man trail. We live in Crawley and the Sat Nav said it was a 1hr 4min drive but with traffic it took an hour a half. Weirdly, without traffic, the drive home took the same amount of time. I don’t know what happens but 20-30mins magically get added to the satnavs estimate! Alice Holt is free to enter but you have to pay for parking. It went up in increments but I think 4hrs/all day was £8ish if I remember correctly. It’s all ticketless and you pay using your registration number before you leave.

The whole thing is basically a massive forest (hence the name) but they have made set trails for you to follow (maps are free from information desk), with details on how accessible they are, how far they are, and how long they might take. There is a dedicated cycle trail as well I think. There’s also toilets, a cafe, and a playground. We were there from 11ish – 4ish in the end and spent all of that in the playground and just doing the StickMan trail. The trail had activities to complete at every sign post, such as making a nest from twigs, or making a den, and the kids got really into it. You could buy a trail pack for £3, which we did, and it had some pipe cleaner to make a stickman, a trail sheet, a colouring sheet, and an activity sheet, with pencil and crayon (for doing bark rubbings). It was a lovely walk and the kids all seemed to enjoy it. Even though the car park was absolutely heaving, there were so many trails and the forest so big that it didn’t feel busy at all. The cafe served hot and cold food, drinks, and snacks and took into account food allergies, and seemed standard pricing for the setting (slices of cake £2.95-4 for example). It was great for all our kids as they were out in the fresh air, there were no rules or pressure, no real dangers present, and they had the freedom to run around, climb, and engage in the activities if they wanted. We didn’t take the buggy but as I say, accessibility is mentioned in the leaflet and the route we were on felt very accessible for all.

 

So there you have it. Sorry if it’s a bit lengthy but my posts are never short! Will do our weekend activities in another post another time but hope this has been of some help to people 🙂