Thursday, April 29, 2010

I ain't coming

What a shame.

We were all off to the 'Over The Edge Rally' tomorrow with a friend and Gadgeteen's girlfriend, but she isn't allowed to come so Gadgeteen doesn't want to come. I don't blame him for not wanting to leave her here to come his own though, and he says he wouldn't enjoy it without her so would probably be miserable most of the time.

I always knew and accepted that one day he wouldn't want to come away with us anymore, and that one day we would be able to trust him staying at home alone. He is 17 now so quite capable of looking after himself and probably he and his girlfriend will chill out at home quietly most of the weekend.

It happens so suddenly though and without any warning. All was fine and he was coming and looking forward to it, then he met his girlfriend and life has narrowed down to when he is going to see her next.

Gadgetman isn't happy about it really but can understand Max's predicament and choice.

I will miss having him there.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Old engines

Last night a friend sent me this link to the sound of an engine that was incredibly evocative and reminded us of a baltic trader called 'Dana' back in Grenada in the 70's.

This got me to thinking of other engines closer to home.

These Burrell engines for example.

My forefather was Mr.Charles Burrell and he and his descendants designed and built steam and traction engines for over 100 years until 1928.

In my twenties in the eighties I went to Rushmoor steam and traction engine rally every year for a few years, exhibiting an old running stationary engine ourselves to qualify us for camping in the grounds for the weekend with friends, who had old motor bikes to show and ride.

There were other exhibitors too such as the old army vehicles, old vehicles in general, oldy-worldy fairground attractions and a craft fair.

For me though, it was the steam and traction engines that attracted me. I was even able to ride on one similar to this one after talking to an owner about my heritage which was such a thrill for me.

What a fantastic weekend that was, steam and traction engines of all shapes and sizes could feel a constant rumble through the ground beneath your feet from these powerful machines.

In the evenings as we sat around our fire surrounded by these amazing sights and sounds, at some point a bored engineer on his engine would blow his steam whistle and start all the others off, then there would be 5-10 minutes of all types of steam whistles being blown into the night air and everyone felt the excitement that this would create.

What an atmosphere. When all the whistling stopped, the sound of clapping could be heard from around the arena as campers showed their appreciation.

Engines would be run throughout the weekend from early morn til dusk, as the enthusiasts played with their machines around the grounds, and on both days there was a procession in the arena with a commentator describing each engine as it steamed by.

I loved the early mornings as the guys powered up their engines and they hissed as steam wafted up through the trees.

Monday, April 26, 2010


The whole process of understanding Gadgeteen has altered my understanding of ‘normal’.

During my earlier blogging days I wrote of a slippery slope that I could see him on and how inadequate I felt to see him on this slope and not to be able to find a way to help him.

He was subsequently expelled from three schools, bad behaviour was blamed, and according to the Exclusion officer for the borough, no other child had ever been excluded from three schools before.

You see, Gadgeteen comes across as any other teen does; in fact he is more articulate and engages better than the average teen. He is intelligent and charming so can impress where needed and it is because he appeared 'normal' that his behaviour in school was apparently deemed the unacceptable behaviour of a 'normal' teen.

After the third school I was desperate to find a way to help Gadgeteen to get through his final year with some GCSE’s and finally decided that a label would help us and those that work with him, to better understand his needs, needs that he didn’t even understand himself.

We are often afraid of labelling people, because of then justifying unacceptable behaviour by using the label, and expecting no more from the labelled person than the label described, but in my son’s case, he was failing without a label so we would be no worse off if he had one.

My Internet research quite quickly and very surprisingly led me to ADHD. My only experience of ADHD was of reading in the media that ADHD was an excuse for poor parenting and didn’t really exist. I was beyond believing that I was responsible for Gadgeteens behaviour or that I could influence it anymore than I already did. I took the findings of Internet tests that we had completed in the family from different perspectives, to my doctor, who agreed to refer us on to a specialist, which would take a couple of months.

In the meantime we had a private assessment which confirmed the ADHD and recommended medication as a means to help calm him down sufficiently to be able to focus in class. He was then assessed by the NHS psychiatrist who confirmed the private assessment and he continued to prescribe Concerta.

Gadgeteen then attended a pupil referral unit and passed five GCSE’s before the summer of 2009. The diagnosis had achieved it’s purpose.

He is now at college studying motorsport engineering on a two-year course and although he still struggles with the course load and his idiosyncrasies, he is still there.

Since his diagnosis at 16, we have continued to learn how to manage his behaviour and needs. He has also been diagnosed with Childhood Autism and has Asberger traits too.

He struggles with changes to routine, for example, getting him back into college after a half term break is a struggle. He talks about quitting because he isn’t learning anything and he talks about refusing to go. We know that we have to just listen actively without getting drawn into any kind of argument about whether or not he is going, because on the day…he will go.

He struggles with remembering what he needs to take and in fact I am going to write a list of everything that he needs to remember to take with him each day before he leaves the house because he often forgets something.

He struggles with appointments, whether it be for the doctor, dentist or other. He gets anxious and agitated about any kind of appointment, even his driving lessons. I give him a countdown over a period of a few weeks so that he has time to mentally prepare.

He struggles with going away for the weekend because it’s yet another change to his daily life that requires additional mental thought. During any journey he becomes agitated about how long the journey will take and why we aren’t arriving at the estimated time. Again…time to prepare helps minimise the anxiety.

He struggles with getting to places on time…..often he will delay departure unnecessarily even though we give a countdown.

He can become fixated on things, for example, needing a new pair of shoes. He will go on and on about needing a new pair of shoes even though his comments might be inappropriate at the time, such as in the middle of a doctor’s appointment.

He’s very volatile and when aggressive, punches walls and doors before thinking about the consequences. He then believes that he has broken a bone in his hand and becomes obsessed with his knuckles, feeling and poking and prodding them to emphasise an injury. If he does fall over or hurt himself elsewhere he becomes adamant that he needs to go to hospital and when we have decided that a trip to the hospital is not necessary or warranted, sometimes he has taken himself.

He still lies in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary and still steals from us if he is given an opportunity that he can’t resist.

Many traits are subtle and handled badly can result in huge outbursts of aggression and a lack of cooperation but many can be pre-empted by careful anticipation and preparation.

People will say that all of these traits of those of a ‘normal’ teenager, but we know that throughout all of our years with Gadgeteen, his ‘normal’ is different to ours and we are doing our best to guide him through his life with us, so that he is better able to cope as an adult without us.

I love my son.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More on Point Salines and a friend reunited

Really I should have written this post before the Point Salines one because I wouldn't have written about it at all without a certain person's influence.

My brother reunited me with an old friend from Grenada a likkle while ago and recently we have been chatting late into the early mornings on Skype. He's a bad influence because he can talk for...well....Canada and Grenada put together and keeps me up late.

He tells a good story though, and can always find a way to 'mek a long story short' and by this he doesn't really mean making it shorter, what he really means prepared cos this is going to tek a while......

The photo I used of Point Salines is one that a friend of his had put on facebook, so credit for the photo goes elsewhere. This is another view, and the height above sea level is easier to understand from this one.

I have done a likkle research of my own and found these pictures on the web too. This is an old postcard so I haven't got a clue who this person is!When I told my friend that I had written about the lighthouse he had his own memories of visits there.

He can remember such detail too. Back in the days of the Trinidad to Grenada race over 40++ years ago his father, who worked for the radio broadcasting corporation, used to take him and his brother down to the point in the early morning to report live, on the radio, of the yachts crossing the line.

He and his brother were left to their own devices and used to climb the rickety old winding wooden staircase up to the top of the lighthouse tower and watch the approaching yachts from the railings on the gallery outside, whilst his father broadcasted details on the radio.

He remembers that there was an old tea kettle filled with paraffin or what ever the lamp used to be lit with, with the wick hanging out of the spout. He remembers the smell of the lantern room and the hissing of the lens as it rounded the lamp again and again.

He remembers being so young that he and his brother would push down past tourists and other visitors trying to climb to the top up that old staircase.

This photo below is of the airport and of what is left of the point now. the lighthouse stood on a much larger cliff than the small outcrop on the right side of this photo.

This is all that's left.....just an almost unrecognisable bit of the lantern on some concrete pillar that doesn't do the old piece of history any justice at all. What a shame......

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Point Salines

Only those of us over 40 will remember this, a lonely lighthouse on an imposing cliff edge facing out to sea.

It always seemed at least a mile high when I was a kid on ‘Kim’ sailing past but in fact was only at most 150' high. We'd wave up at all the visitors both locals and tourists, who came to see the view from Grenada's southernmost point.

Amazing green flashes and awesome sunsets, passing yachts, approaching weather fronts and a good vantage point for the annual round-the-island race.

Down to the sea, the cliff face appeared to sink straight below the surface, deeper and deeper into the darkest dark blue, so that when we sailed past we could be so close that we could almost touch the cliff. We’d always ask dad to go yet closer.

There was a lurking danger though.......about 100' off the cliff, a rock lay in wait below the surface at just the right depth. Fine most of the time....but in the trough of the swell and in the wrong spot.....and OUCH!

Many a fine sailor and yacht has located this uncharted delight and several lead keels will have the tell-tale scrapes along their bottoms to prove it.

We were loaded with medical students and their families as charter guests one day. A decent wind blew from behind us and we were flying along on a broad reach doing about 8-9 knots.

Suddenly we stopped flying along and heeled over alarmingly. Time stood still and we wondered fleetingly if we needed to switch on the bilge pumps......Then we gacefully grated over the top and 'Kim' carried on as if nothing had happened.

The lighthouse no longer lives on the cliff edge, and in fact, the cliff no longer exists as it once did, standing tall and proud to be Grenadian.

The lighthouse was moved to the grounds of the airport somewhere, and the point was blasted down to insignificance so as not to cause a hazard to aircraft landing at the airport built out to the point.

Only those of us over 40 would wish that some things like this didn’t have to change.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh Canada

Our Canadian plans are a step or two closer than when I last wrote. We have passed the eligibility stage after submitting 280 pages of documents, and are at the medical examination stage at last.

On Saturday we will submit ourselves for chest x-rays, blood & urine tests and all sorts of detailed questions on our physical and mental health, enough to satisfy the Canadian High Commission that we are not going to be a burden on the social and medical health system once in Canada.

What a hassle it is, gathering all the requested documents together but at least a worthwhile one.

Tonight we are off to find a passport photo booth that works.......

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm back

I'm gonna try this writing lark again. I miss the blogging world and pop around from time to time to see what blogging favourites have been up to but have only got as far as posting updates on facebook.

Time to change that.

There are things that I'd like to write about.

Right now sausages are burning!