Blog post ideas

So, after finding it really easy to come up with blog posts for the first week I have begun to have writers block. It comes and goes but before it comes to stay I need a list of posts I want to write about. So here goes. If you have a post you would like to read contact me and request it. I’ll do my best.

 

  1. Home education – I was home educated and think it’s great. A list of pro’s and con’s maybe?
  2. What is autism? – Do you still think of rain man when you think of autism? Enough said really.
  3. Book review – first I will have to read a new book but maybe it will happen. I just struggle with adults books and think children’s books are so much better. Especially picture books – there are some amazing ones out there.
  4. Film review – the last film I saw was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I loved it so maybe a review should come.
  5. How to set up a bullet journal – if I convinced you with my previous post about the BuJo and you would like to start but don’t know where then look no further.
  6. A short story – I have half an idea, which involves collecting charms for a charm bracelet but I’m not quite sure where it’s going. Any ideas?
  7. How to make a bedding roll – useful skill for Guides which I don’t want to see die out.
  8. Kit review – I love camping kit and would love to write a review of my favourite pieces (I have no links to places so it would be impartial)
  9. How to tie a karate belt – this is a new skill I am just learning and would love to help others learn. Which leads me on to…
  10. How to tie knots – I enjoy tying knots and teaching others. I can see a photo blog coming along here.
  11. Vertical clothes filing – I know I’m a bit obsessive but I do fold my clothes in a specific way to keep them organised.
  12. A to Z – on autism, on fencing, on karate, on everything.
  13. Mental health – I am no expert but I do have personal experience. To anyone who thinks you can just “Snap out of it” you can’t.
  14. Idioms – these just make me smile now
  15. Why eye contact is overrated – I am not a fan of eye contact. I don’t see the point. Actually I want to see the mouth – this helps me process what you are saying (a bit like lip reading)
  16. Bullet journal collections/pages ideas – a bit like this post but especially for BuJo’s
  17. My favourite cruise liner – I have been with 4 different liners and two stood heads and shoulders above the rest (just my opinion)
  18. Quotes – ones I have found that mean something to me
  19. A poem – Poetry is something I dip into occasionally – they rarely rhyme but sometimes a poem is the only way to express something.
  20. Ideas for a novel – for children, of course!

 

So there you go 20 posts, if there is one you would really like to read about get in touch using the contact page or leave me a comment.

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Back to fencing – the sport!

Having been fencing a few years ago I decided I wanted to go back. Starting karate and really enjoying it prompted this thought – maybe exercise was okay after all and I do need to lose some weight. After a bit of research I found a more local club meeting on a Friday (the last club had been 50 minutes away so finding one only 25 minutes away was much better).

When we (Mum) got through to the named instructor on the telephone I was invited to attend that evening! I’m not very patient so that pleased me enormously. Straight away I was up in the loft (or to be more precise Dad was) finding my fencing gear. It needed a good wash and was soaking for several hours in whitening powder.

Being a bit unsure, I went along the first week and elected to watch (partly because I like to know what I’m letting myself into and partly because all my gear was soaking). What I saw impressed me. The coaches tried to persuade me to join in but I politely declined. I enjoyed watching and was pleased to see lots of adults as well as children all varying in abilities.

The next week came and I was looking forward to joining in. I was quite nervous. Although I enjoyed it I was only able to stay one hour – it takes so much fitness to fence. I was exhausted.

For those of you who have only ever seen fencing on films or television there are three main fencing weapons: the foil, the epee and the sabre. At my previous club I had done mostly sabre and this club did mostly foil.

Foil is usually the type of weapon you begin with. Your aim is to hit the torso (not the arms, legs or head) with the point of the sword – kind of a stabbing motion. The epee is next and this is again a stabbing motion but with a much bigger target area (that includes the arms and legs). Finally you have sabre, which you can stab or slice with including hitting them on the head (I promise I’m not really violent but I love that move). Not a very technical description but a bit of an introduction for you if you’ve never really seen it.

We started with a warm up and then moved on to footwork. (I didn’t need to worry here. After doing an hour of footwork a week at my previous club I think everything was engrained into me!)

Partner work followed, where we were looking at disengaging (moving the sword) and parrying (blocking a hit). This began to bring back memories and I realised how rusty I was. It took a few attempts but I soon remembered what I was supposed to be doing! Not saying I got it right but at least the theory was coming back.

After some short bouts I was more than ready for home although I was encouraged to stay for the second hour.

Week two was also enjoyable. We did a lot more fencing and I got the chance to try refereeing. Refereeing is hard as the sport is so quick. I also got a private lesson and discovered it is really hard to hear a coach when you are both wearing masks. I think it’s an Aspie thing – I don’t like telephones either I think it’s because I can’t see the lips moving. I will have to mention it next time.

One fencer there offered me a chance to fight sabre. I was delighted but unfortunately because I didn’t have breeches we were unable to do so. A bit disappointing but at least I knew I’d get the chance at some point. I ordered some breeches (three quarter length white trousers) and a foil (sword) as soon as I got home (an early birthday present from mum and dad), hopeful that I would once again fence sabre.

I was very excited when I received the parcel on Thursday – just in time to fence on Friday. Unfortunately the breeches were far too small. Having measured myself using a tape measure and chosen the right size I wasn’t best pleased.

Week three and no breeches so still no sabre but it was fun. We started with skipping. Very aerobic. Some people had obviously never been taught how to run into a moving rope and so a lot of press-ups ensued. After my dealings with Guiding I found the skipping doable and avoided the dreaded press-ups (I’ve never been able to do press-ups). My favourite part through was trying to hit a dangling tennis ball; first of all stood still, then with a step and then with a lunge. It got harder but it’s something I can practise at home.

Overall I’m glad I’ve gone back to fencing. Two weeks left and then a break over summer but at least it’s something to look forward to after my holidays are all over.

Cooking over a tea light

So here is a great activity for kids (and adults) – making rice krispie cakes using nothing more than a tea light as the heat source. You will probably find you have a lot of the things you need in the house anyway.

You will need:

  • Tea lights – not scented
  • Matches or lighter
  • Foil tray (like the kind you get mince pies in at Christmas)
  • Wooden peg
  • Chocolate buttons – I haven’t tried it with a bar of chocolate but I think it would just take a bit longer to melt. Let me know if you try it.
  • Spoon
  • Rice krispies or corn flakes
  • Bun cases – we used the mini ones but bun sized ones would work well
  • Sweets to decorate – optional

What to do

  1. Count out 8 chocolate buttons and put them in the foil tray. (8 made just enough for three mini bun cases worth of cakes)
  2. Clip the peg onto the tin (this will be the handle)
  3. Light two tea lights (pushed close together) and, using the peg, hold the foil tin over the heat source. A wooden peg is highly recommended because although it shouldn’t get too hot you don’t want to melt the plastic type.
  4. Stir – to stop the chocolate burning. It doesn’t take too long to melt.
  5. When the chocolate is all melted, blow out the candles and add in a small handful of rice krispies to the melted chocolate. Corn flakes will work too but they are quite big for the small bun cases.
  6. Stir in the rice krispies/corn flakes adding more if you need to.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the bun cases and let set. Add in any sweets at this stage to decorate.
  8. Lick the spoon – it’s the best part of baking after all.
  9. Eat and enjoy. Ideally you would let the mixture set but sometimes this just isn’t possible.

Why cruise ships are great for Aspies

I have been on five cruises over the past few years with four different providers. My conclusion – I love cruising.

I love the fact that you only have to unpack once but that each day you are somewhere new to explore. I enjoy the excursions (especially when we have been lucky enough to have a fantastic guides) and I enjoy getting dressed up in an evening.

But, why do I think they are so good for Aspies? I think it’s the structure. Cruise ships are well organised, well most are, but that’s for another post.

Each evening you receive a timetable for the next day. This tells you exactly what time everything will happen and allows you to plan your day including when to have time out and just relax.

If you are going on an excursion you know exactly what time to meet (and, if like us you are always early, you get to go on the first bus and get going before the second bus is even full). There are people waiting to point you to the right bus and then once again you are organised by the excursions and know exactly what you will be doing and when.

You might think being in a new place would be bad but actually I love exploring new places. Excursions also make it less scary because you have a guide and know what you are going to do and what time to be back. Once you get home you can decide which places are worth visiting again for a long weekend.

Then, it is to dinner. I love having a fixed table at a fixed time with the same people every night. This means I don’t have to meet new people every night. Also, apart from days off, you get the same waiters or waitresses. This means, when we have arranged for me to have different food we only have to explain once. On one ship we were given the menus twenty-four hours ahead of the meal so if there was nothing I liked I could place a different order (from a small agreed list) and the chefs would make that for me. I always knew there was tomato pasta and chicken goujons on offer.

For those of you who don’t know, Aspies can have sensory issues and one of the ones I struggle with is taste. I am not being fussy I just can’t cope with certain tastes and textures and will throw up.

Finally, I love the towel animals. I spend the entire cruises waiting for an animal and then unfolding it and creating my own. On one cruise I ended up with my own menagerie of animals sitting on the table (they brought me extra towels so I didn’t have to destroy the creations). Elephants, monkeys and swans. They were all there.

DSCN0987

In conclusion, if you need organisation cruise ships are great.

 

My experience of the Bullet Journal (BuJo)

I’m not sure what I think about bullet journaling. I love it – it’s so Aspie organised and so pretty but I’m not very good about keeping up to it so then I have gaps and that makes the whole thing look wrong to me.

For those of you who have no idea what a bullet journal is – get googling. There are loads of blogs and websites showing you how to get started and even a website set up by the creator to explain the system. It’s all about bullet points and rapid logging although some people have now made it an art form.

So, back to my bullet journal. I started off with a small notebook. About A6 (quarter of A4 size). This was my first journal and was definitely about trial and error. I tried out a different layout each week and didn’t worry too much about mistakes. I knew I wasn’t going to keep it long.

Pros: It was small enough to carry around and this meant I was better at using it.

Cons: It was too small to fit what I needed on a page and I was zooming through it too quickly. It was also lined and my boxes and grids never looked very neat.

My second bullet journal was better. It was A5 and gridded (like an exercise book). Grids are definitely the answer as they are so versatile and allow you to draw tables so easily. I  then started a journaling project which took over the book and it was full after only about a month.

Pros: The grid and space was amazing. Everything fit.

Cons: Too big for my handbag and I kept making mistakes. I know I should just turn over – it’s a work in progress anyway but these mistakes upset perfectionist me.

My bullet journal now is an A5 folder (very pretty with owls all over it) with a 6 ring binder inside.

Pros: I can get rid of pages if I don’t want them or make a mistake. I can buy dividers so my projects don’t take over the bullet journaling part and it’s pretty (yes I know I’ve said that already!)

Cons: It’s big and bulky and has to stay at home. Also I have struggled to get gridded paper and have resorted to cutting down A4 gridded paper and punching the holes with a single hole punch (This is time consuming)

My final solution: Use the small notebooks to carry around and jot down ideas/events/appointments and then transfer the information to my official bullet journal. Now all I need to do is remember to pick up my handbag and stop just carrying everything in my pockets. Ah well, a girl can only try.

Spiked Drinks – my first short story for adults

As it was the writing group tonight I have decided to post my first short story for adults (usually I write for children). Hope you enjoy!

Spiked Drinks

John

The newspaper had a large headline on the front. “Drinks spiked in seven local nightclubs. Police don’t know why.” I smiled as I read the short article describing the last episode where the lady had only been saved because a passer by had rushed to her rescue and performed CPR. 

Melissa

Here I was in another slum nightclub, it wasn’t as glamorous as I had expected. The smoke smell was still evident, even now years after the smoking ban had come into force. It obviously hadn’t been deep cleaned since, if ever.

Watching and waiting I slurped at my water. Everyone would presume it was neat vodka in the shot glass that I had tipped it into. I ran through everything I might need to remember from my first aid training.

John

There they were, happily dancing, leaving their drinks on the side for anybody to spike. Hadn’t they heard about the spiker?

Walking towards the two glasses, taking my own with me of course, I slipped on the floor. The places I end up at are not known for their cleanliness. As I got up and tried to get my feet using the table to help me I held up my hand to show I was alright. Everyone would obviously presume I was just drunk. I carried on to the bar.

Melissa

I had been there at least three hours when it finally happened. I was always worried in case they left before the dose took effect. The screaming always penetrated. You would think it wouldn’t be as loud with the music blaring out but honestly it is.

John

There was chaos on the dance floor. It took me a moment to realise what was happening but I should have been expecting it. Hurrying over, I had to be first on scene.

Pushing my way through the crowd I knelt down before the unconscious woman. Even though I knew what was wrong with her I had to do the checks you always do.

Melissa

I couldn’t get through. There was a man already knelt there getting ready to perform CPR. I tried to push through the crowds but unless I did something dramatic, they weren’t going to move for me.

I only had one option left, get out before the police arrived. Turning to the loos where I knew there was a non-alarmed fire door I left.

John

CPR was the most important thing now. Why hadn’t they listened to the advice and not left their drinks unattended. Now they were fighting for their life.

“Ring an ambulance,” I called. Mostly to the people on the other end of the microphone attached to my chest but I think some party goers assumed it was to them and began hunting for their phone.

Melissa

Anger flooded through my body as I sidled along the corridor to the exit. If I was in the paper tomorrow it wouldn’t be as a kindly passer by, or a heroine but as a criminal. My only chance now was to escape and lay low for a while. Why hadn’t I guessed he was police?

John

You see it on the TV where suddenly someone comes round after about 40 seconds of CPR. It’s not really like that. But, by some miracle, this time the woman did come round well before the ambulance arrived. Relieved I rolled her onto her side; covered her up and stood up. My gammy knee giving me pain again after the earlier fall.

I had been right though when I had put all the events on paper and calculated she would hit tonight and where she should hit. She hadn’t been very clever about changing it up.

Melissa

They were waiting, just outside the door. I was stupid to carry any extra round with me but there was always the chance I would get a second in that night. A second chance to be a hero. Instead they stopped me and checked my face against several CCTV stills. I thought I had been careful but they had a couple of good shots of me. Not enough for an arrest, after all they only ever saw me helping but enough with the evidence in my bag.

John

The police paperwork afterwards bores me, but it has to be done. The newspaper had a new headline. “Don’t get your money from ATMs”. I smiled as I read the article. I had a new job that night.

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

This book was the reason I took up fencing many years ago. I have recently returned to fencing (a different club) and am thoroughly enjoying it. As an introduction to my fencing I have decided to write a quick blog about the book that started it all.

If you haven’t read the book, Speed of dark, it is almost dystopian in nature and is told from the point of view of Lou, the main character. While it probably isn’t technically dystopian it is definitely set in a future world that is based on our world but with some differences – for instance they can “cure” autism at birth and can make people live longer.

I’m not a fan of the idea of “curing” autism at birth as I think people with autism have a lot to offer the world. I know I am biased as an Aspie but this is my blog and I’m allowed to be a bit biased.

Lou has autism and works as a process analyst with other people with autism as their skills set suits this type of intense pattern seeking. He is fantastic at his job and in return the company he works for is amazing providing a trampoline and music to help him cope with the stressors of work. I’d love to work for somewhere like that! Some people at his work are not so understanding however and don’t think they should be treated any differently from anyone else.

Lou’s main hobby is fencing and here he meets with other people, none of whom have autism. I loved the description of the fencing matches and how Lou was able to process them in slow motion. It made me wonder if I’d be any good. He even enters a competition, something I would love to be good enough to do.

When the company Lou works for puts pressure on him to have a new experimental treatment that would take away his autism Lou is divided about what to do. I know I wouldn’t get rid of my autism but some people really struggle with it so I can see why they might be tempted. For me though it makes me who I am.

I won’t spoil the ending but if you are at all interested in what life from an autistic point of view is like or if you are connected in some way to somebody with autism, it is well worth a read.

Memorising Music

I’ve booked to start piano lessons again. I’m so looking forward to it and I’ve been practising. I even bought my grade five book and started sight reading the pieces and choosing the ones I like. (Why do so many of them have so many flats and sharps?). They weren’t too bad but I know what my piano teacher will say to me on Monday. “What can you do without looking at the music?”

And the answer to that question; well, after several hours of practise. None of it. I couldn’t remember the first notes. (It’s an F and an F I now know!) What to do?

I began my favourite hobby – googling. There must be an answer somewhere. People said to hide the book, play what you can and only peep when you absolutely have to. That was fine but what were those two notes to start again?

They even suggested placing the book at the other end of the room so you couldn’t just take a quick peek. All well and good but I’d spend my entire practise time walking across the dining room.

Another suggestion was to learn it backwards starting with the last bar of music and then adding the penultimate and so on. I wasn’t convinced. I was struggling to learn even a bar.

Somebody else suggested alternating playing with the book and without the book. This was the suggestion I went with – simple yet it was reasoned well. So I started. I played with the book and then resolutely ignored the book and tried to play – I got further than the first notes (only a couple of notes but still an improvement) so I was impressed. I couldn’t quite get rid of the book. It was still sat there but I was making myself not cheat (most of the time)!

Turns out it works well. By playing without looking and then with looking you don’t miss out notes and learn a piece wrong. Also I did find I got a little bit further each time because it was in my short term memory from just having played it.

After about half an hour I had a line and a half somewhat memorised. Not bad and now only the rest of the double page spread to do.

Cruise Packing

So, we are going on holiday in a few weeks on a cruise around France, Spain and Guernsey. As you can expect I’m quite excited but also a bit apprehensive. I hate those security machines that beep if you wear metal and you have to go through them every time you come back from a day onshore.

The part I do enjoy though is planning what to pack and the process of packing. It’s one of my skills is packing.

Tip 1:

Roll your clothes. You get so much more in and you can see what you have packed when you look in your case. If you don’t unpack properly it’s much easier than going through piles of t-shirts to find just the right one. T-shirts can be rolled easily but so can shorts and underwear. Jumpers can be a bit fiddly but I have seen a great tutorial of folding hoodies into the hood. Then, when you have done, your posh formal clothes can lie on top ready to be hung up as soon as possible.

Tip 2:

Bring a small towel. I know they provide them on the ship for the swimming pool but when you want to go ashore it’s great to have a microfibre towel so if you just happen to find the sea you are prepared. These are so small they will easily fit into your bag but are as big as regular towels and dry you well. (Be warned some towels say to pat yourself dry rather than rub and it is strange until you get used to it.)

Tip 3:

Obvious but choose wisely what to pack in your carry on. Medications, electronic tablets, laptops, swimming costume, camera all need to be in there.

The medication is in case they leave your bag at port – it does happen.

The electronics are so you carry it and can choose your own level of carelessness with the bag. I’m sure you have all seen the pictures of people throwing suitcases around when putting them on planes. I’m sure it will happen on cruise ships too.

And the swimming costume… while everyone else is waiting for the bags you can go and change into your costume and enjoy the quiet time in the pool until you can get into your cabin. I hate it when the swimming pool is full so this is a good time to go.

Tip 4:

When you are packing leave a hole in the middle the same size as your toilet bag (or several small holes if you have lots of toiletries.) Usually your toilet bag is the last thing to go in because you used it in the morning before you travelled. I guess some people have several sets of make up, deodorant, perfume and shampoo but I don’t so I need to put in my toilet bag after getting ready in the morning. If there is a nice space for it, it all shuts better rather than trying to plonk it on top and then do up the zip. Also, you don’t get that funny bulge and all your perfume/aftershave is a bit more protected by the clothes that surround it.

Tip 5:

Shoes go at the bottom. Obvious but essential. I have even heard of people taking free shower caps from hotels and using these to hold muddy shoes together and keep everything else cleaner. Then use the empty space to pack underwear and other trifles until you get a flat base to start your rolled clothes.

Tip 6:

A toilet bag that hangs up is a must have. Cruise ships are not known for space, especially if you don’t have a suite. To be fair we often go for the cheapest inside cabin and spend money on excursions. Hopefully we won’t spend too much time in the cabin. If your toilet bag can hang over the bathroom door you can store extra things. It’s important not to leave too much out in the bathroom because if you hit a rough patch of sea you will find that stuff ends up on the floor. By hanging your bag over the door it keeps everything contained and safe from sliding around.

 

Life as a White Belt Aspie

I have now done three weeks of karate and I love it. I even spent most of the weekend looking at gi’s online (that was what they called the karate suit although I can’t say I’m certain of the spelling) I can’t wait to look the part and post a picture.

The thing that I really enjoy (although I didn’t to start with) is the kata. For those of you not sure a kata is a series of moves linked together with turns and blocks. It is like you are attacking multiple attackers at once. Although, they are very chivalrous attackers taking it in turns, I must say.

I struggled with the kata in week two. Although I was taught it multiple times and so patiently (thank you to my friend) it was like it was brand new each time.

So, being me, I began to Google. It’s called Pinan Nidan by the way and originally it was part of a much longer kata that they split into five. This one was long enough so I’m glad they split it.

I found pictures breaking it down into steps and videos showing it from all angles.

Anyway, with a bit of help I soon discovered there was a pattern to it `(Thanks Beth) and soon was going over it with somebody calling the next move. It didn’t take long to learn (even though I miss out a move every single time). Now I know what to do I think I’m going to enjoy katas.

Just one thing is worrying me though, apparently there are many different styles of karate so I hope the kata I learned is the right one 🙂

Braving the shops!

I quite like shopping. I like new things, they’re shiny and new and exciting. I don’t really mind the act of shopping, I definitely don’t want anybody else to do it for me. I like choosing. Internet shopping is not the same.

Some people with ASD hate shopping. I can see why, its crowded, noisy, smelly and too much is going on but I quite like it. Until Christmas that is, then it’s far too busy!

Too much information going in often equals meltdown out. It’s not a choice. I can’t help it, it just happens. I need time in a quiet space getting used to the smell and scenery and not having different perfume wafted under my nose every few seconds. Honestly, I take in so much detail and there is just so much to look at.

My favourite time to shop is the evening. It’s much quieter (volume) and less busy.

Today was a good shopping day. I managed to get the trousers in the first (empty) shop I went into. Success. Then, of course, Dad had to suggest something he needed from the sweet shop. How tempting is that. I couldn’t resist.

A quiet evening to follow and my first blog. A new shiny and exciting initiative. Can’t wait until tomorrow and another adventure.

Thanks for reading.

Alice

 

 

Blogging

Welcome to my blog. It’s been a journey to set it up but I’m looking forward to sharing the life of an Aspie. Each Aspie is unique and that certainly describes me. I have some traits that are very stereotypical. I love maths and computers, have obsessions, struggle with social interaction and have some anxiety. But, other parts of me are more uncommon and that’s the way I like it.

Come join in my life from karate to fencing, church to Guiding, piano to writing. This is what I do.