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!

 

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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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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!

To the North!

Our journey continues up onto the North Island of New Zealand. In Wellington we took a tour to Zealandia, an amazing urban wildlife reserve where they have worked tirelessly to fence in the native species and remove as many introduced species as possible. Birds with flight are free to come and go, flightless birds are protected from the predators that were introduced by both the Maori and European settlers all those years ago. The result has been species close to extinction becoming reestablished, and a species thought to be extinct brought back after a few were found in the mountains.

The tour also took a drive around Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, with a very knowledgeable coach driver giving us detailed information on various buildings of interest and the damage caused by a very recent earthquake. He also took us to the Old St Paul’s Cathedral for a look around, a wooden structure built by shipmakers, something giving the building real character when looking at the roof structure from inside which closely resembles an upturned boat.

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Between Christchurch and Wellington, it really is quite humbling to see the damage caused by earthquakes. Lots of empty spaces in Christchurch, fewer spaces in Wellington, but being more recent there are still cracks evident across the roads. Since our visit, we have heard news of devastating wild fires in Christchurch, truly saddening especially for a beautiful city that was still recovering from the 2011 earthquake.

After Wellington came the small harbour of Tauranga. We took an excursion to Rotarua from here to see the truly amazing hot springs and mud pools at the thermal reserve. Wow is the only way to describe it. If you’re lucky enough to get to NZ you must try and get to Waiotapu in Rotarua – this has got to be the best of the excursions by far. We learnt that the reason for the hot springs is the active volcanoes around the area causing hot magma to lie below the surface and heat the water. The extreme heat also draws mineral out of the rocks to dissolve in the water, causing the bright colours. There are hot springs, bubbling mud pools and geysers aplenty in this area. The Maori tribe that settled here used, and still use, the heat provided by nature to cook their food.

Our final day on board was in the Bay of Islands, just north of Auckland. We had booked a tall ship experience here, a day spent on an authentic schooner, sailing in the sunshine around the bays, finding a secluded beach for some swimming in the sea and relaxing with a BBQ lunch on board. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side, for the first time, so the trip was cancelled – I had a spa treatment on board the cruise ship, with a sauna and full body massage with hot stones, instead 😉

The final leg of our adventure is already underway in Auckland, I will post a summary of that in a few days.

Next Stop – New Zealand!

From Melbourne we spent two full days at sea before arriving at New Zealand’s South Island. The first day was spent on the ship admiring the views and wildlife in the Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds, which it turns out are actually Fjords – the on board Naturalist explained the difference between the two features. We were lucky enough to get clear views of the Milford Sound which is more commonly draped in a thick mist. The temperature at Milford was icy, with cool winds coming down off the mountains.

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While cruising the sounds we were able to sea seals, dolphins and albatross in their natural environment. As well as mountain waterfalls going right into the sea, and amazing lines in the water where the freshwater from the mountains mixed with the salt water from the sea. A truly stunning welcome to New Zealand!

Onwards from the sounds was Dunedin, a city built predominantly some Scottish settlers, including the nephew of Robert Burns. The name comes from the name Edinburgh as that is where it was fashioned on. The timing of our visit could not have been better – the day of their largest annual market – Thieves’ Alley Market Day – the origins of which we’ve thus far been unable to ascertain! We were sure to visit the Cadburys’ Chocolate Factory while we were there with the awesome chocolate waterfall, although sadly pictures were not allowed on the tour 😦 Turns out the Kiwis like their chocolate with marshmallow in the middle.

Our final stop on the South Island was Akaroa, a beautiful natural harbour formed my a crater of an extinct volcano that has merged with the sea on one side. To get out of Akaroa and over to Christchurch we had to ride up and over the crater edge in a coach. Christchuch was really poignant; almost exactly six years on from the massive earthquake and there is still much evidence of the destruction that occurred. After our bus tour of the city we went to a nearby nature reserve to see the Kiwi birds and Kai Apline Parrots, as well as a Maori culture experience which included seeing original Maori huts and a performance of traditional Maori dances.

Magic Milestones!

My son was the one that had the special privilege of spending the night at the home of his very good friend. And a great time he had too!

Ordinary Hopes

We all worry about our children.

We worry that they will be unhappy or might not make friends or might struggle with all manner of things. Will they read at the “expected time” and to the “expected level”? Will they be able to “keep up” with the other children? Will they be “good enough” at school?

We all worry.

But when your beautiful child has a complex range of disabilities those worries really are in a whole new league.

One of my greatest wishes for my son is that he will have true friends.

It is a simple wish really but it has been a huge worry.

Because, whilst his wheelchair is obvious, what you don’t see from photos is his learning disabilities or social difficulties. Yet those differences can make a child stand out as being “different” just as much as the wheelchair does.

And sometimes those difficulties can…

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