Preparing for Brexit

I am no expert. Not in politics, not in parenting, not in home education, not in Midwifery. However, through open and honest discussions with a range of people in a range of fields, and through reading around things and asking relevant questions, I have an idea of what I think the Brexit situation risks are.

So, what do I think?

Lots of media outlets worldwide have already spoken to me over the last few months. They’ve mostly asked the same questions. One thing they’ve all covered, at least to some extent, is am I panicking? Over reacting? Crazy?

The UK is ever closer to B day – 29th March 2019. Each week, sometimes each day, brings more news from parliament and/or Number 10. Each time more information trickles in the way the future looks fluctuates, but only slightly. Now, just ten weeks away, and it’s look more likely than ever that the UK faces dropping off a cliff edge into, mostly, unknown waters.

Unkown doesn’t mean unpredictable though. We can cross the road with our eyes closed and ears blocked, but we can predict whether we might get hit by a car, even though we don’t know if there may be one there. In a similar way it can be predicted what the likely result of a no deal Brexit will be. The experts – experienced knowledgeable people – in a variety of fields have discussed it at length already.

As a summary, here’s how I’ve understood the “worst case” situation, and what I’m doing to cushion my family where appropriate:

Delays with imports

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This includes food, medicines, packaging, parts, materials, raw ingredients, chemicals and anything else the UK imports from ANYWHERE in the WORLD.

The estimates for the length of delays varies quite widely.

Ultimately, fresh produce – fruit, veg, meat – will be most affected as they have a very short shelf life in the first place.

Shelf stable items may suffer in the short term, whilst things settle down, but hopefully after a couple of months there will be a flow of some sorts getting to the shops.

Panic buying may occur when shelves begin to empty, this will likely not be product or origin specific but, much more general mass purchasing of whatever people can get.

Shortages may occur on unexpected items as a result of panic buying and substituting of difficult to obtain products.

We have bought in extra of the shelf stable items we would normally use and also considered some alternatives to short shelf life things we would normally have – eg. milk, fruit, vegetables, meat etc. We’ve considered less obvious things too like pet food, toilet roll and sanitary protection. We have also started growing vegetables in the garden – trying anyway – as a way to supplement whatever is available.

Stockpiling, as we have, is different to panic buying. We have bought little and often – an extra pack of rice/pasta each time we shop – and we always follow the “never leave a shelf empty” rule to ensure there is something for the next person. Gathering a supply in this way, now, also means that supermarkets and chemists (in the case of medicines) can restock easily and adjust the quanitity they purchase now, while they still can.

 

Electricity

Curently, the UK is part of an EU wide system that allows an “exchange” of electric between those with excess and those with deficit. This allows us to maintain sufficient power for our needs 100% of the time. Currently, the UK does indeed draw on this system fairly regularly. Leaving the EU may mean shortages of electricity during peak demand periods.

I am not expecting major disruption to power, though many Brexit Preppers are. What I envisage is rolling blackouts at planned times, when electricity will be rationed to essential services.

To prepare for this we have done very little. We are already campers so have equipment for cooking etc without electric. We have made sure we have spare batteries for the torches, and know where to find said cooking equipment should we need or want it. We had solar panels put on our house anyway, though these are currently useless in a power cut as we are still awaiting the import of the equipment to take them off grid in a power outtage. In the meantime, the solar panels contribute to the UK’s self sufficiency for power production, more than none at all at least!

Water Supplies

This is a slightly more tricky one to predict. Some of the chemicals used to treat our drinking water are imported, some of these have a very short shelf life. Delays in imports may affect the availability of water treatment chemicals. Water is also pumped using electricity, interruptions in electricity supply may affect the pumping of water.

Whatever happens with the water, it is likely that a clean water supply would be prioritised in some way.

We have a Drink Safe water filtration bottle, and spare filter, to use with our large rain water harvesting tank.

Tariffs for imports

Leaving the EU means leaving the Customs Union (Tarriff free trade) and all the Trade agreements we currently enjoy with the rest of the world.

The result will be tariffs applied to everything we import (and export) making everything more expensive. This is likely to be passed on to the consumer so, things will likely cost more for us to use and buy.

We have fixed our electricity and our mortgage. Stockpiling also protects our wallet from price increases, as well as shortages of products.

Travel

Fuel may be in short supply, and more expensive. Some understand the risk to be greater with Diesel than Petrol.

Flights in and out of the UK may be affected as once we leave the EU our airports, planes, pilots and maintenence etc will be technically unregulated. The UK have stated they will not prevent flights landing but, that doesn’t mean other countries will reciprocate

This doesn’t just affect EU flights or flights going through EU airspace. As I understand it, the airspace is not the issue, our lack of regulatory body may be of concern for all airlines, WORLDWIDE.

We plan to keep the car filled up when we can. We have not booked a holiday for this year yet, and will not until things become more clear. We are making sure we all have usable bicycles for local trips.

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So, what if it’s not as bad as predicted? What if we don’t crash out of the EU?

Then I will be one very happy woman! We’ve bought and done very little that we wouldn’t have anyway. Most of the surplus food will go to food banks, the rest we’ll use as normal.

We are less anxious about the whole uncertain situation knowing we have invested in a small insurance policy for our family by way of our stockpile. It’s there if we need it, if we don’t then great, we’ll simply pass it on to someone else who does.

And to those who think what we’re doing is selfish or irresponsible:

It’s quite the opposite. We are making additional purchases slowly and in advance, during a period of time where it’s still possible for supermarkets to restock and adjust their ordering accordingly. This will mean more is available for those that can’t prepare in advance.

We are also preparing boxes for friends and family who cannot for themselves – it’s not a lot, but hopefully enough to be of use to them.

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Brexit Means… Be Prepared?

 

A no deal departure from the EU is looking like a real possibility and, that would not be without widespread implications to so many everyday things the people of the United Kingdom take for granted every single day. Whether you voted to leave or to remain, whether you’ve changed your mind or not, everyone should be aware of the issues.

At the moment the UK has few, if any, trade deals in its own right. Rather, all the deals with other nations are through the EU. That is, the other nations have a deal with the EU and, as a member state, the UK can utilise these deals. What this means is in a no deal scenario (a transition period has already been agreed in the event a deal can be struck) the UK will have to begin renegotiating all of these deals (After Brexit UK Treaties).

The impact on everyday life is huge. This is not just going to affect foodstuffs originating from the EU. This is going to affect EVERYTHING that the UK currently imports, including packaging, ingredients for products, power, and fuel. As well as treaties regarding things like travel – no you can’t just fly to America/Africa/Asia instead. Food and other things that originate in, say, China are going to be affected too.

What this might mean is massive delays at the import points in the UK. Long lines of lorries are expected at Dover, indeed changes are underway to the M20 in Kent to accommodate miles and miles of queuing lorries (M20 Lorry Park). Food, medicines and other products are likely to be caught up in the delays both in and out of the UK. The bottom line is, even if it can get to your home, it’s going to take much longer to do so.

As a family of five at best we are anticipating sporadic availability of most items we are used to being able to get when we need to; at worst we’re preparing for long delays of essentials for at least a couple of months. That is basic food items and medicines, both for us humans and our furry friends. The items most sensitive to these delays are fresh produce and medicines. Even if temporary, emergency agreements are put in place, that may well take several months to sort out – the proper, long-term agreements could take years. Following the resolution of the flow of supplies, we are anticipating a change to the products, and types of products available in the supermarket, not to mention the cost.

Whatever side of the fence you sit, given the facts, there is no denying that a no deal Brexit is going to be catastrophic – at the very least in the early stages, though probably for much, much longer.

For us we are stockpiling foods we would normally eat, but have a long shelf life, starting to grow vegetables (we are categorically NOT gardeners!) to ensure at least sporadic access to fresh veg for vitamins, buying some vegetarian sources of protein (we are very much an omnivorous family!), keeping on top of medicine prescriptions, getting extra paracetamol in and ensuring we are prepared for possible interruptions to power supply amongst other things.

On Saturday I did something I have never done before, I attended a protest march in London. The march was in support of The People’s Vote, a campaign to put a final choice of options to the public vote, a campaign to give everyone a voice. The proposed options cover: whatever deal the PM has agreed, no deal, and remain. The purpose of a People’s Vote is to give Leavers a voice, Remainers a voice, and I’ve-changed-my-minders a voice.  The vast majority of placards and banners there were against Brexit but it was good to also see a large number of placards wanting a second chance, eluding to having voted Leave the last time: “I didn’t vote for calamity”, “We voted on fiction, now we want to vote on fact”, and “I didn’t vote for THIS” as just a few examples.

To use a phrase seen on many placards: Even Baldrick had a F**king Plan!

 

The Curiosity Box – Science

 

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Targeted at 6-11 year olds, this box is above the youngest and right at the top end of the middle one. We started our subscription at the start of the year, when Middle It was almost 12 and Little It was almost 4. We had hoped that Middle It could work alongside Little It so both could get something out of it.

It has taken quite sometime to review as they still haven’t completed the first box of activities. While Little It was mostly engaged, the activities were far too arts and crafts based  for Middle It’s tastes, with the scientific content not really being at the right level for him. The box we have partially tried was themed around light.

What we were hoping for and expecting was something with a bit of hands on science stuff that is a little trickier to source things at home for. What we got was entirely things that use basic materials to build and craft things. I cannot say if this was specific for this box or a more general theme for other boxes too – we do have one more box that we have yet to open and explore.

I think this box is better suited to children who enjoy crafting things, something Middle It avoids as much as he can!

Opening the Box

Should you wish to check them out yourselves, they can be found here: http://www.curiosity-box.com/

Making Some of the Hardness of Home Ed Easier… Trying Anyway!

Home Education is hard, whichever angle you approach it from, whatever age your children. Home Education is hard. It’s time consuming, it does no good for your bloodpressure or self doubt, and it can be expensive if you try to combat the other drawbacks.

In the last twelve months we’ve tried a couple of different educational subscription boxes, with mixed results, to try and balance out some of the learning and alleviate some of the self doubt. I think this is a specific exploration journey that will continue until all the children are finished with their education.

To do each box justice I feel they need a post of their own. I’ve already blogged about other subscription boxes, the next few will be purely educational.

I also gained a step daughter at the end of last year, she began her home education journey in September, age four, when she would have started Reception if in school. This itself has brought a whole host of new and extra challenges to the home ed journey. Hours and hours and hours spent trawling the internet looking for resources to put together to make projects on topics we want to cover. Worrying about reading and writing – something my own son could do before he came out of school and began his home ed journey. Juggling all this with time with her mum who has her a couple of days a week, but the days are never consistent.

The family dynamics have changed significantly, which has brought both relief and extra challenges. The home education journey marches, or plods on some days, on!

A little-known fact about Santa…

The mentality of some is unbelievable. 😦

Ordinary Hopes

It is not widely known, but Santa is an equal-opportunities employer. Every Elf is encouraged to fulfill their full potential and every Elf is valued equally.

Which is why Santa has been rather cross to read some online comments recently – comments which relate to the value of disabled people, in particular, those who require Changing Places toilets.

A story hit the media, where a mum, my dear friend Mum on a Mission had expressed her hurt that a big store, John Lewis, had spent £7,000,000 on a Christmas advert whilst doing nothing at all to help disabled people who require toilets with a hoist and changing table to access their stores and restaurants with dignity, despite having been asked to for many years. These are just a few of the comments which have left Santa wondering what happened to the Christmas Spirit.

Daily Fail Comments

Santa was not happy with comments…

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Atypical Summer Holiday with Children

No, that’s not a typo, I really meant atypical:

atypical
eɪˈtɪpɪk(ə)l,aˈtɪpɪk(ə)l/
adjective
  1. not representative of a type, group, or class.

What exactly do I mean? Let me try to explain it.

For most families, the school holidays often go along the lines of planning a few days out, staying at home, sometimes going away on holiday for a weekend or a week or even a fortnight. If the weather is bad, or someone is unwell, or there has been a busy day previously, plans are juggled around or postponed to a more feasible day. Simple. Most things can be done this way, barring the actual holiday away, even if days out can’t be postponed in this time period there’s always another time – at the weekend, or later in the year.

Not so when your very ability to leave the house is dependent on facilities that are simply not present in most places.

We have friends who have this very issue. Adam is almost 11, he’s a full time wheelchair user and cannot stand, not even for a second to transfer. All he needs to be able to go out is an accessible toilet with a changing bench and a hoist. He can use the toilet, but needs a hoist to transfer to a bench, to sort clothes and change slings, and then hoist over to the toilet. Strangely the majority of “disabled” toilets can’t even accommodate his wheelchair, let alone his mum as well. They certainly don’t have a hoist and bench that he can use.

The toilets Adam, and many others, need are known as Changing Places or Space to Change toilets. There are companies that will assess and fit them into spaces, not as much space is needed as you might think. There are also mobile versions called Mobiloo that can be hired for events and so on.

Room in the Loo?

In Cornwall, where we live, very few places have a suitable toilet for Adam. So, a couple of local charities have arranged for a Mobiloo to come down a few times over the summer holidays. But a few times, on specific days, does not allow for bad weather, illness, or a busy few days.

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Last week we went to a local theme park on a day that was pouring with rain. We did not reschedule, because Adam couldn’t. This week Adam was excitedly awaiting a day out to the zoo. He’s unwell so can’t go. He’s upset because he knows that he can’t just go another day when he’s feeling better.

In addition to the unnecessary issues with days out, Adam and his family cannot simply go on holiday either. That too is fraught with issues, difficulties, extra expenses, and stress. There are not so many places with hoists fitted in the accommodation, and if there were, where would they go on days out anyway. In the past airlines have destroyed Adam’s wheelchair, his only means of getting around, what is he supposed to do then. Places like Disneyland are all to happy to invest huge sums of money into whole new sections of park, but are yet to install suitable toilet facilities.

It shouldn’t be like that. Toilets should be available PERMANENTLY at the majority of places. Them not being there is discrimination against those that require them. It would be deemed unacceptable for places not to have standard toilets – properly accessible toilets should be no different. And no, standard “disabled” toilets do not count.

What makes the situation even more shocking, is that the majority of places, when contacted, either brush it off, or ignore the request completely. A common excuse is: “our customers don’t need one”. That may be because the customers that do, can’t be YOUR customers.

Fun, inclusion and days out with friends should not be limited to specific days simply because your needs are slightly different from the majority. Particularly not in a county based on tourism, and particularly not when you are 10 years old.

Every holiday period, every day out, every trip to the supermarket, every day is atypical for Adam and his family. Really, every day should be as “normal” for him as it is for other children.

For more information on accessible toilets see the blog written by Adam’s mum: Ordinary Hopes

 

 

Children should not be scared to go out.

It isn’t right, it isn’t fair, it isn’t necessary. Life should and could be made much easier, and better, and inclusive for many people, adults and children. Greater awareness of the realities is what is key. No, disabled people are not already protected in law, there is still an awfully long way to go before they are.

Ordinary Hopes

I have this little boy called Adam.
He is very sweet and very kind.
He is loving and giving,
And scared of many things.

Because life has shown him a harsher side than it shows to most 10 year old children.

He has had many surgeries.
He has known much pain.
He has cried with terror upon waking to find most of his body in plaster.

He has broken bones doing everyday things.
He has had terrifying episodes of sudden illness.
He has struggled to breathe.

He has been stared at and pointed at.
At a theme park, a group of children even snaked their way BACK through the queue to stare some more.

It took him many years to learn to speak.
It took almost 10 years to master sitting.
It took over 10 years to be able to move his legs.

He still can’t stand.
He may not ever.

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When this is the best option you have.

Ordinary Hopes

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If you use social media you have probably seen a picture of a child with disabilities lying on a toilet floor.

I am sure that the mere sight of the pictures ignited strong feelings.

There are always many comments on these photos.

Most are from people who are horrified to learn that this happens. They hadn’tconsidered this before,but now they know, they hurt for these parents.

If you don’t live with these difficulties or know somebody who does, you cannot possibly be expected to know how awful things can be. There was a time when I didn’t know.

I wish I still lived in that time, with that blissful lack of knowledge of the horrors people face each day.

Then there are the hurtful comments. Maybe they come from “trolls” ormaybe they just come from people who don’t understand. Somehow they blame the parent. They would never do this. They

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Underground and Overground Adventures in the Sun

Our two final days before packing up ready to head home. We drove three hours south to Waitomo Caves to explore the Stalagmites, Stalactites, Columns, Weta and Glowworms before heading over to Matamata for the night ready for Hobbiton today.

On the way to Waitomo we took a slightly longer, more emotional, route to go through the city I was supposed to be working in (Hamilton), and the small down South of there that we had planned to live in (Te Awamutu). I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t have a look at them, I couldn’t quite manage to stop and explore properly though :/

At Waitomo there were three caves we toured, we did them in reverse order as we arrived at lunchtime. The first was a dry cave with Cave Weta, the second and third caves had flowing water and glow worms inside – no photographs were permitted in the third cave, the main one of the three. All three had stalagmites, stalactites and limestone, together with very knowledgeable guides who gave us lots of information.

After a quick overnight stay we headed over to the Hobbiton Film Set for a guided tour there. It was incredibly busy here, lots of tours going on alongside each other. I must confess I am not a LOTR or Hobbit fan in the slightest, I’ve only seen bits of some of the films by way of osmosis when the boys have been watching them. However, it was a beautiful setting and thoroughly enjoyable experience in its own right. There were only two downsides: 1 – time, because it was busy there was no opportunity to spend longer in the Green Dragon Inn and have lunch, we had to stay with our group and get the same bus back to meeting point. 2 – there were stoneware drinking cups in the Inn that they were serving the complimentary drinks in, I wanted to buy some, the gift shop did not sell them!