Friday, 16 February 2018

Nurdles, Newts and Not enough time

I am sitting here, a vision in my fleecy dressing gown. Olly is watching something appalling on TV, Alfie is gaming upstairs with his friend and Marc has just returned home for the weekend. It is all entirely normal and humdrum, which is exactly the way that it should be.

I've had real trouble with my blog. It has been playing silly buggers for the past couple of weeks, and I almost gave up on it completely last Tuesday, and toyed with trying to set up a new blog on another format. But here I am again, banging away at the computer, and writing about nothing in particular.

I've also been busy. Flying around with my scrub bag, pricing up work and sending out quotations for new jobs. We have been unexpectedly busy this half term week. The good weather forecast has meant last minute bookings, which in turn has seen Karen and I frantically getting properties that had been closed for the winter ship shape and shiny. I think I've got repetitive strain injury in my wrist from the amount of glass and tiled surfaces I've polished.

We've also attended some very murky scrubs too. I'll spare you the details, but I'm thinking of buying a sharps bucket for future end of tenancy cleans. The cost of that particular job will definitely reflect the possible hazard to health. We've become much better when it comes to pricing. And standing your ground when those around you think you're the lowest rung on the ladder (apart from the tenants. I think they're seen as the actual lowest low). 

Anyway half term has been a bit of a damp squid. I had to cancel all the plans that I had for Olly and I, which was hugely guilt inducing. He did get a play date with his chum, and I was able to take him out this afternoon to The Bluff. He ran up and down the dunes, thrashed about in the pools left by the retreating tide, and helped me to beach clean. Nanny was with us too. She has become something of an eco warrior since moving to St Ives, and can often be seen with her bag collecting plastic debris from the beach. 

There were thousands of nurdles in amongst the sand. Nurdles is the name given to those small plastic pellets that form the raw material of the plastics industry. I'm buggered if I know how they actually end up in our oceans, but I suspect it's all part of the huge amounts of industrial waste that is dumped every year. You just cant collect any real quantity of it, as you pick your way across the beach. You'd need to sift through every bit of sand. Olly and I were trying to think of machines that we could invent to solve the problem. He came up with some very creative ideas, and it gave me hope that our youngsters will be the ones that deal with this problem that has been inadvertently caused by those that have come before.

It can be very depressing once you start the process of cleaning your favourite stretch of beach. In fact as we were leaving, I could see a carrier bag dancing along the sand. It was too far away, and I felt terribly ashamed that I had left it to wend its' way along the beach. There are also times when I simply can't lift or drag the huge swathes of fishing nets, plastic barrels and the rest that has been lost (or tossed) from fishing vessels. Our beaches aren't patrolled by any agency or council department. There isn't any official whose job it is to clear them of such waste. So it just gets washed back out to sea with the returning high tides. But as my mother so sagely points out, what we collect and take away means that there is a little less every time. And Olly seems very pleased with himself too. 

In other news, the blackbird and his lady friend are frequenting the garden more and more. He sits on the fence, while she hops about on the grass. The garden is starting to wake up, and begin it's annual cycle once again. The alium bulbs that I planted last year have all started to come up, as have the tulips. There are foxgloves galore, and all my pelargonium cuttings are thriving. I'm acutely aware that my time in the garden will be quite limited this year, so I have been mulching and tidying in earnest. I've cleared the pond of palm leaves. The frogs are back, although the frogspawn will no doubt be eaten by the newts once again. Nature in tooth and claw right there. I'm hopeful that the garden will still thrive despite my neglect this year. Just another thing to feel guilty about.

Alfie has an interview for sixth form college at the end of the month. He is hoping to do an advanced diploma in game and web design. He doesn't want to do A Levels, and is unsure whether he wants to go to University. I think he'd like to earn money sooner rather than later, and is unwilling to consider leaving Cornwall just yet. All this may change of course, but it has been an important step for Alfie to consider any future at all. His teachers have all been fantastic in their belief in his abilities. He is such a bright spark, but lacks all confidence. He is also starting to mature emotionally, which has been a huge relief. His outbursts and bad language are now very rare, which makes for a more harmonious home I can tell you. We seem to be making friends again, and share a laugh together. Our relationship has been fraught for several years, so I can't begin to tell you how happy this makes me.

Running has taken a three week back seat. The lurgy, work and a general feeling of fatigue have contributed. I'm hoping to get a couple of runs in next week, and then build back up to four a week once more. Karen and I have signed up for the Plymouth half in April, so I need to be match fit by then. We are up to a comfortable ten miles (we were), but I need to be running fifteen. I'm not bothered by times. I'm a steady runner with a good sprint finish. I shan't be racing anyone. I'll be competing with myself, which is always the way with me.

One more thing before I go and top up my glass; can I recommend the novel 'Eleanor Oliphant Is Extremely Fine.' A beautiful book about loneliness and friendship. It moved me to tears - "You've made me all shiny, Laura" - and I haven't read anything this good in a long time. 

Have a wonderful weekend, friends. I shall be scrubbing; at home and abroad, having friends for supper (not literally you understand. I'm making lasagne), and maybe baking a cake.

With love,

Leanne xx


  1. As always a wonderful post, you think you have nothing to write about, but you do. Life's a bigger sometimes, but you give it depth and soul. Glad that: Alfie and you are becoming friends again
    that your Mom is finding her way in Cornwall
    that you're doing well in your business
    that Ollie finds joy in the beach.

  2. I am so happy to hear that Alfie is slowly finding his path. Being a teen in our time and age is not easy (I know, I sound like my grandfather). I hope you can carve out a little bit of time to go running and to potter around in the garden, for your personal wellbeing. Please don't feel guilty about the choices you make in your life. I have reached an agreement with my own personal guilt, it stays out of my way and I do what I can and enjoy it. Working full time and feeling guilty about things I can't do as a result was too much for my mental health and wellbeing. It is not always easy to ignore what I once thought was important for my life but it has been getting easier. The guilt is still there of course, tucked away in the deep recesses of my mind, but we keep at a distance and glare at each other now and then. Anyway, hope your weekend is not too busy with scrubbing. Lots of love from a damp and miserable Glasgow. xx

  3. So glad you succeeded to post here. I love your voice (sorry if I sound like a groupie!) Keep up the good work on ALL fronts, you are doing everything you can. Alfie will find his way, as will you. Thanks for the book recommendation

  4. I'm so glad to hear from you. It sounds like you've been busy, but that's really good. I'm happy to know your business is a success, and that you've been able to do all of this beach-cleaning. Good for you. I'm also glad to hear how well Alfie is doing. I am sure he will do fine. I read Eleanor Oliphant too and really loved it. It hit a little close to home in several ways, but that was okay because there are things I've been working hard at to improve and be healthier about, and the book gave me a new way of thinking, I guess. I hope you have a good weekend, Leanne, take care.

  5. I love Christina's comment about the guilt thing above. I think the vast majority of parents (mostly mums probably) carry guilt around like a dead weight. It's the times we live in – we are bombarded with advice, role models, shining examples. For our own sakes, we have to make the choices that are right for us and for our own reasons. Our kids will be fine. More than fine. I'm so glad Alfie is coming though the awful years and starting to find his way, and that you're both reconnecting. You sound busy and happy, which is brilliant. Have a lovely weekend. Sam x

  6. I finished Eleanor Oliphant yesterday, love it too. Well done all on the picking up of plastic on the beach. It is everywhere isn't it. On the beach I love in North Wales, along the banks of the Severn when I walk there with the dog. All of the places. We have the odd newt in our pond now I think, we saw newt tadpoles and a baby newt last year. But so many frogs that I think plenty of their tadpoles avoid getting eaten. Well done on the business, it sounds as if things are going really well. I know what you mean about the guilt though. If I have something that needs to be done and I tell the littlest boy to stop pestering me or don't manage to take him somewhere nice I always feel bad. Lovely that Alfie is planning what he might like to do, and also that he has such good teachers. I hope he likes what he sees at the college. It is GCSE-choosing time here for my eldest. I have the feeling this is the beginning of a fast ride. He still loves birdwatching, so all his efforts are pointed towards a possible career in that direction at the moment. Long may it last. Sorry your blog is giving you trouble. I'm in the middle of creating a couple of websites for my writing business (well, I'm on the first one, haven't started the second one yet) so I sympathise with all technological trickery. Have a good weekend Leanne. CJ xx PS Do you follow George Monbiot's blog? I think you would like his writing a great deal. if you're interested. Cx

  7. What a lovely post with lovely pictures...
    Have a great weekend!

  8. So pleased for you and Alfie that calm is being regained. Well done on the beach clean. Love your mum’s attitude to it. The running sounds good- just wondering why you’re aiming for 15 miles in training? You’d be able to run a half based on 12 miles. Worth bearing in mind if time gets tight. Mother guilt, yes, it’s an old chestnut, isn’t it? I try to ignore it as much as possible. Glad to have a post from you, chick xx

  9. Looks like Spring is coming to Cornwall faster than up north. Great pics. I loved Eleanor Oliphant too. X

  10. I too loved Eleanor Oliphant, she was so brave considering how 'completely fine' she was. I found it so sad that she was just left to get on with 'it' - her life. Shocking. Still it was a good read, I really loved her character and rooted for her to do well and be happy. Amazing book. I think we always seem to feel guilty about stuff as Mums. For me, I don't like spending money such as meals out with the book club etc - when my husband works all week on his driving school and to make ends meet he works the weekends on taxi nights. I work part time, cleaning houses for friends, with holiday relief cleaning a church 2 weeks twice a year. I often think about working full time again but don't feel I have the energy. Take care and have a good week, Cathy x

  11. You can run 10 miles??? Sheesh! ��
    Finished 'Eleanor' this afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it: there were a few lines which really stood out - I loved the shiny bit, too, as Eleanor says she is matte and dull. Wonderful.
    Your beach cleaning is brilliant and I admire you for this. I don't leave litter anywhere but neither do I tidy others' litter. You're a good person Xx

  12. Your title sounds the same as my life at the moment but without the newts! It is depressing to find so many nurdles, are yours mainly blue or other colours? Hope life has returned to a gentler pace after the half term rush. My nephew took the web design route rather than Uni and has done much better than those who went to Uni and without the debts! Sarah x

  13. Elinor Oliphant is one of our bookclub reads this year. And thank you for cleaning up the beach. It always shocks me that taking home your rubbish isn't just what people do in this world. I always remember one of the parts of Mad Men that shocked me most (apart from the smoking) was when they had a picnic with disposable plates and cutlery, and at the end just shook off the cloth and left. I work in a part of Liverpool where not many people own their own homes, and the litter is crazy. It's like they have no personal investment in keeping it good looking. Or the cars who drop their empty McD bags out the window. They know they shouldn't. Thanks for being an environmental angel x