Travelling during a pandemic

I want to discuss the situation of travelling during this hard time. Of course yet again a disclaimer:

*This is purely my thoughts, opinions and situation, please do not use this as a guide or as pure facts, this is just how I feel and how things have panned out personally for me, thank you for understanding* 

A rough description of my situation

I live at home with my partner and we both work from home and have been since March. We have both been isolating and only going out and seeing others when the guidelines had changed, we will always follow the guidelines to ensure our safety and the safety of others. The people we have been around are trusted and have been following the guidelines. 

Family

I discussed with my parents that if me and my partner came back home with positive tests we’d all isolate and me and my partner would do everything within our power to avoid contact with my parents; use separate towels, clean all surfaces, no sitting together or hugging etc. I believe it will not come to this as we have been extremely careful during our trip. 

Place of travel

I would then like to discuss the place of travel itself, we will not be travelling anywhere outside of the UK, we will only be travelling if we have isolated for a specific time before the travel date and we will ensure that our chosen locations are restricted and or follow the guidelines. 

We chose Southern England/South-West England due to the amount of activities we can do without being near anyone from the public. We are able to go on experiences that involve us being outside and or in our car which means we are less likely to cause any problems. We opted for an Air BnB as we will have our own kitchen and cleaning facilities, this means we won’t be a risk to hotel staff and we will not be at risk ourselves by being around many other people in a hotel. We also opted for a hire car to ensure no public transport is undertaken which of course protects both us and the public. 

Little things we ensured

We wore masks and ensured we used hand sanitiser with us at all times, we kept away from everyone and made sure we followed the social distancing rules. Something you can do when out and about during these times especially if you wish to travel or shop is reduce the amount of ‘touching’ you do when inside a shop or public area for example, you don’t need to pick up every book or every piece of clothing you walk past.

Reflecting on my Asperger’s and mental health

I particularly hated the airport, the main problem I had was the flight itself. They did not distance anyone on board and if I had known this would be the outcome I probably would’ve gone with another company or not flown. 

Another issue I have with traveling and just being out in public is the use of masks, my sensory problems really make wearing a mask a challenge, I feel as though I cannot breathe and I’m choking, it also brings my already very sensitive body temperature skyrocketing. I wear a combination of reusable and disposable masks depending on the situation and I will continue to wear these to ensure others around me feel more comfortable and I have to admit it does stop me from touching my face quite so much. Throughout this entire time I was very anxious and stressed, I struggled sleeping and suffered horrible doubts and thoughts surrounding illness, death and guilt. 

Shops were also very uncomfortable, some shops had rules and it was very slow and clinical but other shops acted as if rules were in place but people would not listen to the rules. This made me very uncomfortable when people pushed past or walked the wrong direction and disrupt the whole line. I dislike being constantly touched and having my personal space invaded even before this outbreak as I have always been nervous about illness, I do not have the flu vaccine as I get far too many reactions so I opt out and have to ensure I am protecting myself so the kind of behaviour I have witnessed upsets me in general as I am aware there are people who are extremely vulnerable and need to have the space to complete their tasks safely. Social distancing isn’t hard and its one of the easiest things you can do so please try your best. 

Over time I have come to realise that you cant stop your life or stop living. I’m not saying this situation should be forgotten or ignored but I believe it is here to stay, one day there may be a vaccine or herd immunity may help reduce the spread or many other things that I am not educated about may happen but for now it is here and we must learn and work together to get through it. You can travel during this time as long as you are aware of the risks and ensure you plan and prepare accordingly. No one is immune to this and you must ensure you are protecting yourself and others around you. 

Things to know when travelling

  • Traveling during this time may mean that you are unable to do things or go to certain places as they are shut so be aware that you may not be able to do exactly what you prepared for
  • The rules and guidelines are always changing so please keep an eye on the local area you are visiting to make sure you are aware and up to date with the latest guidelines
  • Different places may have different guidelines or rules, an example of this is coffee shops, some coffee shops don’t allow reusable cups or their own cups when you sit in but other coffee shops may insist that even if you wish to sit in that you must have a disposable cup
  • Masks, as of Saturday the 8th (I think) are to be worn inside of museums or certain attractions that may have not insisted masks be worn before , an example of this is the Roman baths in Bath, before Saturday you could choose to wear a mask but now it’s mandatory 
  • You may need to isolate when you get to your destination or when you return home so be prepared especially when it comes to work or family situation
  • Bring lots of hand sanitiser and ensure you have a mask with you whenever you go out, I hate the smell and texture of the sanitiser I’ve used in other shops and places I’ve visited so I for one enjoy using my own sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol
  • Ensure things haven’t been cancelled especially travel and accommodation 
  • Ensure you know the risks you’re taking and how to keep yourself and others around you safe, airlines may be crowded and you’ll be standing around near others which poses a higher risk etc
  • Some attractions social distance and you must follow a line, this means it may take much longer than expected to complete an experience
  • If you are classed as vulnerable or you have medical conditions that may make you more at risk maybe try to find a location that doesn’t involve travel like a stay-cation

Thank you for reading, please stay safe and ensure you prepare if you do also travel 🙂

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! I love this time of year, its starting to get warm, the animals are all coming out and I overall get more sunshine and enjoy the outdoors. Of course I also feel more inclined to bake, below I’ll share some of my favourite bakes from the previous year. One of my many special interests is baking.

I have a few special interests, being Aspergers this can sometimes be perceived as “obsessions” but I can hyper focus and learn how to do things that relate to my special interests much faster than the average person, in general people tend to be able to learn better when passionate and it is the same for us. Being Aspergers means that I normally excel in the subjects I “obess”/have a special interest in. Hyper-focusing is a skill that I have that allows me to put all of my attention on one thing whereas many people especially those without Aspergers don’t have the ability to do this whereas it comes naturally to me even with subjects of little interest. Some of us don’t have this and some of us have things that are way better, we are all very different 🙂

Just above are some treats I made for Halloween, this includes a brain cake which was inspired by Rosanna Pansino (I had to change the recipe as I was unable to find half of the ingredients at the time). Considering I didn’t use the same recipe etc I thought it turned out well and my parents and partner seemed to love it, it also went down well at the Halloween party.  But seriously I think Rosanna is great and I may not be the target audience but I love her baking skills!

HOW TO MAKE A BRAIN CAKE – NERDY NUMMIES 

I also love making brownies so there’s a couple of images of some brownies I’ve baked, I almost always make them different every time but I like using this recipe; https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/best-ever-chocolate-brownies-recipe

There are also some Pretzels which have a green milk chocolate and mint coating, a general chocolate coating and caramel and cinnamon coating.  For parties I always love covering everything with sprinkles because who doesn’t love them. 

Here are some random pictures of bakes I like to do such as; marble cake, cinnamon buns, banana cake, cinnamon toffee popcorn (aware its not really a baked good though haha), chocolate chip cookies, anything rainbow and double chocolate cake. I’ll give any bake a go 🙂

However, I would like to share some bakes that I did last year and this year for Easter.

I made little chocolate cupcakes with bunny bums and chocolate nests with m&ms (last year I couldn’t find any mini eggs AT ALL). This year I made a chocolate Bundt cake with an orange chocolate rice krispie treat nest with mini eggs and drizzle. It looks rather dry and I was really worried it would be all lumpy and hard to swallow however, it was very surprising. It wasn’t dry and even a day after it has kept its moisture. I find chocolate cake can be very dry at times but I was very pleased! Of course I did a generic chocolate rice krispie treat as well.

Easter Bundt cake

Ingredients

  • 220g of butter (I use half salted/lightly salted and then unsalted for the rest)
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 200g dark chocolate (I used 100g orange Bounville and 100g normal Bounville)
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (you could use orange extract)
  • 320g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 120ml buttermilk (I made this by using Lemon juice and normal milk and letting it sit for a few minutes)

For the decoration;

  • 150g of orange Bounville Chocolate
  • 50g Rice krispies or coco pops
  • 20 mini eggs
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 table spoon of sprinkles

You can add some golden syrup to make this a richer rice Krispy treat.

Method;

  1. Preheat the oven (gas 3, 170°C, fan 150°C). 
  2. Use some butter to make sure the Bundt tin is greased then lightly dust with cocoa powder, make sure you remove any excess powder by shaking. 
  3. Next melt the butter and chocolate chunks in a heatproof bowl, to do this you have to pop a pan with some simmering water in it on the oven (make sure it is not boiling and ensure that the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl) stir the mixture often. 
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and extract until light in colour. 
  5. Stir the cocoa powder, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and buttermilk into the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the sugar and egg mixture until it is all combined (make sure all the powders are sifted to reduce lumps). 
  6. Pour the fully combined mixture into the Bundt tin and tap the tin on the worksurface which will help remove any air bubbles. 
  7. Bake between 45mins to an hour, check with a skewer by pushing it into the middle and when it comes out clean it should be done (I should’ve took it out earlier than an hour to ensure it was for sure not dry). 
  8. Cool in the tin for 20 mins, then turn over and take it out to cool on a wire rack.
  9. For the decoration, melt the chocolate like you did for the cake (in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan). 
  10. Mix just over half of the melted chocolate with the rice krispies. I popped the rice krispies into the middle of the Bundt cake and then pushed the mini eggs on top. 
  11. Move the cake to a serving plate and then drizzle the rest of the melted chocolate and top with sprinkles and mini eggs. This can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

I love baking and due to always having lots of ingredients I took this hard time to bake a bit and try new things!

Everyone please stay safe and ensure that you are not putting anyone else at risk and even with this lovely weather and holiday weekend please try and stay home. Go for a short walk somewhere safe and don’t risk others lives or your own!

We all have to try together to keep each other safe, it might suck but this isn’t forever ❤

Before and after my assessment

When I ended up getting an assessment and was finely diagnosed with high functioning Asperger’s, a lot of my life changed surprisingly. 

What I like to remember and what I wish I could say to everyone going through this is, no matter what you’re diagnosed with you are still you and don’t listen to the negative way that people may react when you let them know. 

This post is about the day of my assessment, and what happened shortly after, I have not included the leading up or anything before/a while after etc. 

I was just about to turn 18 when I had a date for my assessment, on the day me and my parents had to be at the centre, it was key that my parents expressed what they saw while I grew up. Childhood is a very important stage of the process. AT the beginning of the assessment I was interviewed by two professionals and my parents were in another room being interviewed separately by the third professional. During my assessment I was asked to do various puzzles, read a book and choose a preferred activity as well as answer some questions about my life and feelings. Other peoples assessments may vary, this was my assessment personally. 

My parents were asked many questions regarding my physical health, mental abilities and my academic level and progress during childhood and currently. The questions varied from pregnancy till the present day, they asked questions about my eye sight and hearing, my speech. What I was like with food also came up in questions. The developmental stages were a large component of the assessment for example, when did I talk, walk and complete motor skill. 

They questioned what my special interests were (if any) and how they impacted my life. My thought process was also questioned, we all responded with the fact I can concentrate on a task and learn knew skills much quicker than my peers and the response was that may be because I was hyper-focusing and or it was a special interest. 

I have a lot of issues regarding my senses however, I have learnt to hide my feelings and reactions in order to create a more “acceptable” persona around family, friends and the public, I am able to be myself fully around my parents only and getting closer to being this way with my partner. The senses that I find are very heightened for me are; my sight, my sense of smell, hearing and my most affected, touch. I get regular migraines due to light sensitivity, I can find strong smells very overwhelming and may cause me to feel unwell or again a migraine. I am very sensitive to loud or specific noises, I can often hear things that others cannot or notice things that other may not notice till it is pointed out to them. Touch is very sensitive for me, it is almost like I feel textures on a whole knew level which can cause me to itch, gag or just in general feel very uncomfortable to the point where I need to leave. Food has been impacted massively due to my sensory issues, I have struggled with eating my whole life and at one stage just stopped eating normally for months, I would live on one snack a day and only water. I do love vegetables and fruit due to their water content and lack of textures. I was labelled “gifted” while growing up due to my fast learning and progression capabilities, I learnt how to talk and walk by the age of one, I went partially mute during secondary school due to anxiety traits and other issues however could talk happily with those I trusted or knew personally. 

After my diagnosis I had mixed reactions, some of the people in my life receded and acted as though I was diagnosed with some horrible life threatening disease. They would walk away and soon ghost me online and even in real life. I assumed it was because they no longer knew how to act around me, maybe they were worried about offending me or saying the wrong thing. I felt like begging them to realise that I am still me and the same person I was before. Not that that would’ve fixed anything. 

I know some people left my life because they were embarrassed or mortified to be associated with “someone like me” which hurt the most and then there were a lot of people who dismissed my diagnosis, ignored it or fully denied that I was different. I have felt very alone during the last few years while I have become accepting of my life long condition, I wish I had more people around who understood me or at least tried to understand. I was lucky to have my wonderful parents because without them I am not sure I would’ve come out the other end. I would’ve been so happy if people in my life had just asked me questions or maybe just looked at the definition so they could start to accept or respect me and who I am. I am not afraid of who I am or to talk about who I am. I think I let some of these negative reactions stunt my acceptance process which led me to be in denial for quite a few years in fact I only just decided to really accept myself in the past year. I find it is very important to learn about what loved ones are going through and ignoring or waiting for something to go away or get fixed can really hurt their minds. There is no cure, this is a neurological disorder that I was born with and I will live with my whole life and having a good support system is key. 

I urge families who may have loved ones who have similar issues, just maybe read an article or try to understand so that they don’t feel so alone or like an outsider in their own family. It is so easy to accidently do this because you may think “oh they’ll understand” when maybe they don’t, just because you understand something doesn’t mean the next person will. Dismissal is always the worst and most confusing reaction I have ever received, I have also had plenty of people act like it never happen or they continue to dismiss me because they don’t understand or underestimate what I have experienced with mental health and this neurological diagnosis due to not understanding themselves. 

Even though I have a lot of talents that the general average NT(neurotypical) will never have I still get dismissed and underestimated due to age which with my condition is actually irrelevant due to being able to self teach and learn knew tasks in a much shorter amount of time…as long as the motivation is there haha! If there is no motivation then there may never be progression. 😀

My mum and dad have always been the best they can be and have always been there for me even when I was a pain in the bum. Me and my parents have always had a really great family unit and mutual connection which has enabled us to be who we are with little to no secrets. This allowed me to learn and develop as a child and I believe I was very lucky because this may have been the reason why I don’t have as many behavioural problems as many other individuals with this diagnosis. A lot of others find our relationship rather strange as we are so open together and don’t have a problem talking about taboo subjects. Even though it was late in my teens when I was diagnosed we all knew there was something different and due to it not being negative we auto-adjusted to fit. All three of us are different in our own ways but fit together to make a great family unit.  ❤

Even after all of this, I still have a lot of trouble dealing with those in my life, the main issues that I have are with those who believe age=better when in some cases I believe motivation and passion=better, you can be older and have little to show for yourself and some of the young people I have met have shown far more and impressive minds than those I know who are much older! Or of course it can go the other way haha! We are all different and this goes for both NTs and us, don’t underestimate anyone because everyone can surprise you, in both negative and positive ways. 

❤ During these hard times we are all tense and stressed so please remember to care for yourself and others around you. Maybe have a little think about what you say to others, I know I fall short with this sometimes as I am VERY passionate and this can come across as arrogant even when I was meant to just help/inform someone, (sadly my Asperger’s plays a big part in this trait according to my doctors haha) but I am working on this but its a bit hard when your brain just keeps telling you”Morgan they need to know so nothing bad happens” at least be polite brain *sigh*.

Don’t be too quick to judge as everyone has secret feelings and worries that they may not be sharing especially during this time, just try your best to be positive and if you do feel those negative feelings creeping in, chat to someone about it and try not to be too shy as you may be surprised and talking may help sometimes. If not find a plate or a cup you really hate and throw it at a wall…metaphorically 😀 ❤

Things to do during lockdown

I am aware so many people have posted about this topic but I think it’s great to get some ideas even if most ideas are recycled on different posts 🙂 

During these hard times I know there is a lot of tension and a lot of anxiety, but we have to try and find things that can help us distract ourselves.

There are so many different things to do during this time that can even help you learn new skills or even improve on skills you already have!

I personally like to work from home and it also gives me my own space that I can also study in, I have to admit I am very lucky that I work in IT as I am able to work remotely. Due to putting some of my tasks on pause as we’re no longer allowed in the office it leaves me more time to try out some other tasks in different areas of IT which is really cool. 

The different things I have been doing to keep myself busy vary, for starters I have decided to write this blog which even with no one really reading it, it still makes me feel like I’m socialising haha. I am looking at different resources to study for some professional qualifications which I know will help me in my current job and future tasks, I tend to include some studying into my work day as well!

I am playing a lot of animal crossing which came out on the 20th of March which may not be very productive but it certainly makes me happy and I think during this time doing things that make you happy is essential! Exercise is also very important, I am currently writing up a study and exercise plan for both me and my partner to get on with to ensure we continue to look after our health even while in lockdown! Exercise is so important for both mental and physical health, even if you really don’t feel like doing anything why not try and do some yoga, I love doing a bit of flow yoga or hatha. I find yoga enables me to stretch and think while building some nice muscle to ensure that when this is all over I can still walk 😉 

Me and my partner are also trying to dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes a day to go for a walk with the dog and just forget about work for a bit, which I find is more important for him more than me as I feel as though he works too hard sometimes 🙂 

I am also reading a lot, I think in the past few weeks I have read about 2 books and started another 2, my goal is a minimum of 15 books so along with the books I read in Jan and Feb I think I can get to 15! 

I am very lucky I live with others because I am able to socialise with my household if I really want to and also have my own space! This also means I can spend a lot of time, when I am bored, talking and chatting…and drinking lots of tea and coffee. 

As for a lot of other people I know some of these things are unavailable or just not possible at the moment but there are plenty of things that you can maybe try that can make you feel a bit less alone or bored. 

Some of these ideas may not be for you so please don’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with! 

I find that some form of exercise is great, it can keep you fit even if you have to work out indoors and can add something to your day, produce some nice happy hormones and just overall hopefully make you feel happier! Below I will link some cool sites that I use for both yoga and indoor exercises with little to no equipment! Make sure you look after your mind as much as your body.

Home – Day 1 – Recognize  |  30 Days of Yoga With Adriene

The Best 15-Minute Beginner Workout — No Equipment Needed | Class FitSugar

Home Exercises for Kids

Read, learn and improve your skills, maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a language or a new skill, why not try to use apps or online educations sites such as Babbel and Udemy! I use Udemy for both personal and work reasons, I find they have such a crazy selection of courses that are really affordable and if you don’t enjoy it when you start you are able to get refunded and maybe try another one! I am currently learning some skills within the Linux area and Cognitive behaviour therapy sector (CBT). I have a big passion around Psychology and Behavioural subjects, I am always looking at ways to improve my understanding of people, being Aspergers I also do lots of research on other who have ASD so I can better understand myself and others in the community. 

There are lots of things to do during lockdown but just remember to be safe and look after yourself and other people who may be vulnerable in the community. I have only suggested a few things that I have seen other people doing including myself! But please look after yourself, stay safe and try to stay positive, we’re all in this together ❤ 

Some good sources that I like-

Study-

https://uk.babbel.com

https://www.udemy.com

Exercise and relaxation- 

https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

https://www.youtube.com/user/popsugartvfit

20 Minute Mindfulness Meditation for Being Present / Mindful Movement

Creative- 

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeniunelyMoriah

Simple Steps to Learn a New Skill

https://www.goodreads.com

Lockdown?

Yesterday the island where I live finely decided that a lockdown was best, I think I can speak for a lot of others living here; it was something that we as the public have been shouting about for a while. I’m not saying we should all panic, I think we all need to work together to ensure that those in our community who are at risk are taken care of. I think so far I have seen many people happy with the lockdown however, we must remember that hundreds have lost their jobs and some businesses may never open again. This keeps me awake at night; I am so lucky and thankful for my situation and I really hope those who need it gain the support and care soon.  

Before lockdown was enforced I was already working from home and avoiding contact with my family members and the public. This isn’t really much of a change for someone like me haha. I have always been rather antisocial and enjoyed spending time alone or indoors. However, I do love walking and I have to admit I’m rather nervous about going for walks so soon after the announcement.   

There are so many problems that will arise from this change such as mental health, many places around the world have had this implemented much longer than us and you can clearly see the affects of it already. We are about a week and a bit behind the UK, roughly. I am seeing more and more options to support people during this hard time in regards to online chats and counsellors which is a massive positive. I personally feel as though this whole change will continue to impact our lives and change the way we view the world even after “it” is “over”. Maybe not in an entirely negative but hopefully it’ll help people remember to wash their hands properly…    

I have been communicating a lot on some ASD and Asperger groups online lately and have seen an abundance of comments and posts about being bored, lonely and general struggling during this time. Not everyone who is on the spectrum has the same traits. I for one love being alone and when it comes to learning without interruption, oh I’m in heaven. I have a wonderful quote from Tony Attwood that just really sums up the fact at this time, for once I am very thankful about being Asperger’s, “Being alone can be a very effective way of calming down and is also enjoyable, especially if engaged in a special interest, one of the greatest pleasures in life for someone with Asperger’s syndrome.” I am aware that some of us truly love social interaction and are good at it (some may enjoy it however find themselves struggling to be accepted) I think this is a wonderful trait but at this time I really do feel for all those in the world whether you’re Asperger’s or not. 

Our medical experts, retail workers and general essential workers are still working on the front line to give us support, medical advice, medicine, food, water, electricity and so much more. Even those of you who work from home are still giving something back to the community, I hope everyone realises no matter how small of an effort you make it will always matter and impact those around you. Both of my parents are essential/critical workers and unless they become unwell they must continue to work, I have so so much respect for those brave workers who continue to work within the public. Nurses will continue to work first hand with those infected and just wow, you are all truly heroes. I am probably forgetting a lot of professionals here, or I have just not mentioned some and I apologise but I really hope everyone stays safe during these hard times, it will get better. 

For me this time has provided me with opportunities to move back into a workplace I previously worked for and has allowed me to gain more general knowledge in the areas I will work within. It is also giving me more time to expand my knowledge in particular fields of study that I think will improve my understanding of the workplace and my future goals. My “Special interests” usually revolve around reading and learning new things which enables me to learn new tasks much quicker and smoother, this has really been a highlight for me at this time. I wish to expand my knowledge in both the technical and psychological fields and this time deems perfect. For those who are struggling, I am so sorry, I really hope you find something that makes you feel a bit more comfortable and continue to be strong and stay home as this really will enable our community to stay safe. 

I hope you are all doing well, let me know how you’re coping with the lockdowns where you are? My traits allow me to handle the situation in a certain way, but we are all different so remember to check in with your loved ones and yourself! You matter just as much 🙂