The last few months have been somewhat tricky; more about that tomorrow. But today was a happy day. Greeted by a smiley boy this morning, we headed to Bigbury, where feet touched the sand for the first time since October. The picture being waved around is a photo montage from school.
Archie’s keen to surf again (yay yay double yay & a happy dance). So we tested the water. Fine without boots! I reckon. So I’m back to studying the surf forecast & hope to be hitting the waves in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll still fit into my wetsuit without turning purple.
I was asked to write a guest post for Mumsnet yesterday. It was sort of about our time at a Horse Boy camp a number of years ago, and sort of about the positive effects of the great outdoors on Archie.
I am having a hellishly busy week this week, so haven’t had much time to put together a post – so for now I thought I’d add a few recent photos of Archie enjoying outdoors life, our favourite picnic spots etc. I’ll write more on being outdoors after we’ve done our first wild camping trip.
We have had the most dreadful week. As is often the case when dealing with special needs, due to something that should never have happened. One day I’ll write about it.
However, difficult times aside Archie and I headed to the beach on Saturday and found amazing surf. Even in the worst weeks it’s impossible to be unhappy when the surf is this good. Archie headed out the back with Harry where Harry’s friends cheered the pair of them onto waves. A bucketful of stoke later we headed home, singing our hearts out to Priscilla all the way.
You may have noticed it has rained a lot over the last few months. We certainly have. We booked in for our roof to be repaired in December, scaffolding went up in January, it hasn’t stopped raining since and work hasn’t been able to start. One bedroom is now resembling a swamp. Facing up to the problem headfirst and with much strength I have shut the door (and will open it again when it stops dripping in there).
One effect of the frankly bloody awful weather is that Archie and I have been surfing a grand total of twice in 2014. We usually surf pretty much year round, but it’s been so wet and the waves have been too big, even for Archie. The water quality can be pretty poor when it rains so much as well and I wasn’t all that keen to trade a surf for a stomach bug.
So our first trip back into the water was with some trepidation. It was a gorgeous day. The water was freezing, but the sun was shining and there was a decent swell. The beach was busy and (luckily as it happens) pretty crowded. Archie had a great lesson with Harry H and I was delighted to be able to catch some waves even while wearing boots (usually I just catapult off the board if I surf in boots).
After our lesson the beautiful day quickly had a shadow cast over it when Harry H spotted someone unresponsive in the water. He was helped to pull him out of the water, and together with another Discovery surf coach, Harry B, started CPR. Because the beach was busy some doctors passing by were rounded up to help, the Bigbury defribrillator was fetched and the air ambulance called. Archie paid no attention to a helicopter landing on the beach, focussed as he was on his post surf sausage sandwich. I felt this was preferable to the people taking photographs of the scene before them (why oh why would you do that?). And it is – thank goodness – a story with a happy ending – a few days later we heard the man was expected to make a full recovery.
We left before the air ambulance – (and passed the land ambulance taking the wrong turning – we did redirect it – although it reminded me of the need for an air ambulance in a rural county and I went home and made a donation to the air ambulance service) and later I looked on Twitter for reassurance that the man had pulled through. I didn’t find any reassurance there, but I did find a photograph of Archie and Harry H. Taken by a random beach goer who had obviously spotted the absolute joy Archie gets from surfing. After such an emotional day (it really was), I must admit I had a little something in my eye.
I picked up a new car on Thursday. Cars are still very exciting to Archie, and this one has a proper handbrake (an a chunky one at that), so is particularly exciting.
By Saturday afternoon it had packed up. I’d driven out to Bigbury to surf in the morning. Had some trouble getting it going at Bigbury but luckily managed it on about the 15th attempt. Tried to go out again a few hours later and it wouldn’t start. Archie sat patiently next to me for ten minutes while I swore at the thing, pressed random buttons and flicked hopelessly through instruction manuals. RAC’s verdict is a dud starter, and after rolling it backwards down a hill for a hill start, the RAC man drove it back to the dealers. Where it remains.
I was very impressed by Archie. Six months ago a non-starting car would have led to him launching himself through the window in frustration. And a new car would have been a hundred times worse. After ten minutes of trying I suggested we switch to Dad’s car. This was met with no complaints, and Archie even waited patiently while I ran around the house hunting for keys.
Hopefully it’s progress rather than him hating the new car (I think I hate the new car…..).
Luckily we’d been surfing before the car died. Fab waves, they were huge. I surfed for about 45 minutes when the waves became even bigger with the dropping tide and so I decided to grab my camera. I only had my phone on my, so the photos aren’t great, but they sum up the session.
Autumn has arrived in style since the above photo was taken last Saturday with rain, rain and more rain (my dad’s patch-up job has worked though, and the roof doesn’t seem to be leaking – hoorah). We’d headed for Bigbury for a surf; found a little swell and a dead whale floating off Burgh Island. The lifeguards had been called out to investigate because a member of the public thought it was an upturned boat. Whilst it is a good thing is wasn’t, the whale caused some interest. I hadn’t given much thought to dead whales before, but apparently they can cause a bit of a problem as there are no large shark-like scavengers (as there would be in say Australia) and the sea is cold so they can hang around for a while, until they sink.
Archie has taken a while to get back into routine. Partly I think because everything has changed. Joseph has changed schools and arrives home at a different time, Archie’s bus has changed time as well, and things aren’t quite the same. He has also gone down with the first heavy school cold of the season (luckily he got his surf in first). Archie refuses to admit he is poorly though, if asked he will cough and splutter ‘no’ whilst burning up. Being poorly means missing school so is rarely admitted to. Thinking about it that simple sentence ‘will cough and splutter ‘no’ tells it’s own tale. It wasn’t until Archie was about 9 or 10 that he even had a functional yes and no, and we couldn’t have had a conversation about poorlyness.
And now a request for help. The guys who took Archie surfing in Ireland; Alive Surf School, working with Autism Initiatives NI have put a bid in for funding for tandem boards. This would allow them to take people like Archie out surfing regularly. The boards are expensive (they borrowed one for Archie’s lesson). The public can vote for them by clicking on this link and choosing Autism Initiatives NI. A worthwhile cause, and if they get the boards I’m hoping Archie will get a ride on one next year.
All the boys have now returned to school. We have been lucky; it’s been a great summer. Archie has been so chilled that, at times, he’s been almost horizontal. He only really became a little angsty during the last week of the holidays; he’d had enough and knew school was approaching.
At the end of August we managed to get some video of Archie surfing. The waves were perfect and as soon as I have caught up on my work backlog I’ll do something with the footage. For now, a little clip. This was taken by someone holding the camera surfing alongside Archie. It was fabulous to watch.