Tuesday 26 February 2019

It's been six months since my last post. That's a long time to be away. Not for any particular reason. Call it bloggers block. Call it putting the computer in the drawer, and not taking it out until now. Call it what you will. I rather think that I've been lazy in the creative department. In quite a few departments actually. But there it is. It happens to the best of us I guess. It's been a long period of low level depression, which allows one to function, but doesn't leave much room for manoeuvre. Do you know what I mean? And of course, the lull of Instagram's instant snap and text, is rather appealing when you haven't the energy for much else.

Anyway, a little catch up. To set the tone, and re-launch my vague ramblings on here.

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Summer into Autumn

Well hello there!

Long time no hear, see or anything.

How are you all? I'm hoping that this finds you all fine and dandy. I've inadvertently dropped off of the blog radar. It wasn't deliberate. More a life getting in the way of sitting down and writing a coherent sentence at the end of the working day. For all of you that manage to juggle all of those plates, and still knock out a blog post. I salute you. Of course I've been ever present over on Instagram. I love it for its' holler over the garden fence interaction. It's suited me to post a picture and a line or two of text. And while I love the pictures - both posting and viewing - it's the text that I enjoy the most. I can't tell you how many times I've chuckled or been moved or felt stirred by the words that have accompanied the pictures of those I follow. I do enjoy looking at a lovingly curated square, but it's the words that really get to me.

Cornwall is hitting its' autumnal stride this week. The colours of the landscape are changing, highlighting earthy tones and textures. There are berries all along the hedgerows and footpaths. It's been a good year I think. I've gathered blackberries, sloes, hips, elderberries, apples and plums and they've become crumbles, jams and flavoured liquor. It's been a rare treat to squirrel myself away in the kitchen to concoct and create, and I've enjoyed it all very much. I'm looking forward to soups and stews next, although the weather here is still very mild. We've been able to visit the beach and sit in the sunshine, or paddle and swim in the sea. I've embraced my cossie like never before this summer, and have felt a sort of liberation at running down to the sea with my lily white backside on show for all who care to look. Of course, no one is actually looking at this middle aged woman in her black one piece. And it has been truly wonderful to swim in the surf, or lazily bob about in the clear waters. And Olly has loved having me there too. There's been a lot of fun to be had for an eight year old, and his devil may care Mum.

The sun is sitting a little lower in the sky, and this creates and different feel and hue to the day. The colours are softer and more golden. The shadows are longer. There is a sense of nature slowing down all around me. Apart from the insects, who are all having their last hurrah on the ivy flowers before cooler temperatures gather them into their hives and cubby holes. For some it heralds the end of their industrious lives. For others it brings a pause in the proceedings until next year. But for now there is still that ever present hum as I walk from a to b. I shall miss it when it stops.

There is some news from here.

Olly's hamster, Zeus sadly died last week. I had to break the news after school. He'd had a red card, so it was a double whammy for him. He was inconsolable for about forty minutes, but then managed to eat a gingerbread dinosaur and ask when we were likely to get a puppy . Honey's health has deteriorated this summer. She has become almost completely deaf, and has developed cataracts in both eyes. Her heart condition has scuppered any chance of an operation to remove them. But she seems happy and contented, and is taken out for a gentle sniffy walk every other day. Any more and her rheumatism plays up. She sleeps for much of the time now, and I have a real sense of her slowly fading. But she is and always will be my beautiful girl, and we have all accommodated to her changing needs.

Alfie is thriving at being at college. Yes he can still be a firebrand, but he's generally more happy and motivated. He's getting himself up without my intervention, and is out the door in plenty of time for the bus. I'm leaving all studying up to him, and am hopeful that he'll do well. Sam decided at the eleventh hour not to return to Liverpool to study for his PGCE. He will be applying to do a masters in History next year. He still intends to move back to Liverpool after Christmas, but is home for now. And a bit aimless, although I'm sure that once he finds work he'll feel better. Olly has not quite settled into year four as yet. His new teacher is great though, and I think once the initial shock of being back at school subsides, he'll have a positive year.

 As for The Wink, well it is still a work in progress. August was a waste of time in terms of potential buyers for our house, but Mr Jones is happy to wait until we sell. Everything else is ready to go. All eyes dotted and tees crossed. We just need that one person to walk though the door, and say to themselves 'I could live here.' It will happen.

And me? I'm still working at Seasalt, which is fab, but I sometimes find it hard to juggle the extra hours with life at home. My Mum has been an absolute star, and helps with child care and general duties around the house; I haven't ironed for months! However, I have lately felt a real sadness over the events of earlier this year with my sudden departure from Shipshape, and am thinking of ways to try and address it. I was never one to let bad feeling slide, and feel as if I need to offer some kind of hand of reconciliation. I just don't know how. And I feel for Marc too. He has lost his sister through all of this unpleasantness. Life is too short, my friends, to let bad feeling and lack of communication blight the chance of an embrace from someone whom you still love very much.

The quieter months of Autumn and Winter, are designed to gather in, and gather round. It has always been a time for family, with hearth and home being front and centre of it all. There are the traditional celebrations and festivities that envelop families and friends. And particularly here, there are birthdays and anniversaries aplenty. It has always been a time for my family to see and do more with each other. Sunday roast get togethers, and en mass sloe picking. Curry and card nights, and trips to the cinema. Bake Off and Strictly. Long walks along Porthmeor with the dogs, wrapped up in hats and scarves and coats. New Years Eve, and too much fizz. It's with all of this in mind that I am resolved to try and heal the rift that has cut a jagged edge within my family. I need to be brave, and I need to act.

Thank you friends, for letting me process on the page once again. Clearly it was time to return.

Leanne xx

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Summer Underway

Greetings friends,

How are we all? It's the first day of the school summer holidays, and as is the usual tradition here, Olly and I are doing bugger all. He's been allowed to play Minecraft on my phone for as long as I deem fit. Obviously he's thrilled. I have already had a little garden potter. I saw a few ladybirds, deadheaded a couple of geranium plants and thought about a bit of weeding and pulling up of spent blooms. The seagulls are going berserk on the roof, although Colin fledged and flew a couple of weeks ago. We have a wren nesting in the palm tree, and Geoff the wood pigeon is hanging about too. He sometimes brings his mates over, but I think he's having a quiet one too.

St Ives has been basking in the heatwave, and anyone here on holiday has enjoyed amazing long summer days, and humid sultry nights. There has been a lot of pink people parading along Fore Street. A lot of talk about the weather too, that usually starts with the refrain "I'm not wishing the weather away, but..." I have to say I'm not a fan of hot weather. I don't cope. I get, well, hot. And bothered. Not a great combination for this menopausal woman I can tell you. Today is no exception; wall to wall blue skies and steadily soaring temperatures. Luckily our house is cool in the summer months, and I enjoy opening all the doors and windows allowing the fresh sea air to blow through. It also makes for a fair few pesky flies, but you can't have it all.

The garden has suffered during this prolonged hot weather. Lots of frazzled plants, and where once was green lush grass is now mere brown scrub. Despite that, we've been treated to lots of lovely visitors. Several different butterflies, including ringlet, meadow brown, gatekeeper, comma, peacock, small tortoiseshell, all the whites and red admirals. Moths too. I've been dutifully looking them up in my moth guide book, and getting all excited about them. We have some solitary bees living in and amongst the crevices. And a rat made an appearance for a day or two. He was seen off by next doors cat, Skarloey being far too elder statesmanlike to personally manage his estate. He just lay there, flicking his tail and pretending not to notice.

We will be at Welfield a little while longer than we thought. The mining survey on The Wink, threw up a few issues that are being dealt with by the owner over the next couple of months. And because of this added delay, our buyer pulled out last week. We've decided to hold off re-marketing our house until the long holiday is over. August is the wrong month to sell in St Ives anyway. It's mostly holidaymakers that view properties, locals being far too busy to even think about moving. We were quite gutted when we received the news last Thursday, but have dusted ourselves down and are being positive once more.

I had a text from my Mum yesterday with the words 'DIGGER AT THE WINK!' She writes all of her texts in capitals. I'm not entirely sure why. To be fair, she's only been texting for about three months. Olly taught her how to do it. Me and my sister never thought we'd see the day, but perhaps you can teach an old dog new tricks. I am heartened that Mr Jones has indeed got his backside in gear. We've been told that he's quite a difficult character, although I'm sure I could charm him given half the chance. I spend my days at the shop charming the husbands of the ladies who are trying on 'just one more dress, Derek.' We have a chair situated at the front of the store for weary other halves. It's very well occupied.

Sam graduated last week, which was all rather wonderful. Lots of laughter and happy tears. I unexpectedly came over all emotional whilst watching him being helped into his gown and board in the robing room. Marc had to dash off to get me some tissues. A huge swell of pride just got hold of me, as I sat watching him. I dicked about when I was at University, and didn't appreciate the chance to immerse myself in my studies, so glib was I about my own education. By contrast, Sam has been diligent and worked so very hard. And held down a part time job to save money for his trip to the States. He earned his degree the right way, and I couldn't be prouder of his work ethic and how the past three years have shaped and moulded him. He's back to Liverpool in September to study for his pgce, but is back home now and I'm relishing it. Although I could do without the added mess, and my food bill has rocketed already.

Anyway, the next cup of tea beckons. As does some constructive house stuff. There are beds to be made, floors to be vacuumed and loos to be scoured. And I quite fancy an evening swim in the sea too. Have a lovely day.

Leanne xx

Thursday 28 June 2018

You Handsome Devil


That there is Alf, suited and booted and about to go to prom. He wasn't going to go. I think he wasn't sure whether it was his thing. But he also didn't want to not go, just in case he missed out on all the fun. I must say he scrubbed up pretty well in his sharp suit and hair just so. He's the spitting image of my Dad when he was a teen. And my Dad favoured the Barack Obamaesque suit too. Those long limbs of the men in my family really do a tapered leg justice!

The weather was perfect for a prom venue overlooking the sea. The intense heat of the sun had settled into a balmy early evening, as all the year eleven kids gathered on the lawn outside of the hotel. There was nervous laughter, and some cracking dresses. Some arrived on quad bikes, some in limos. A couple arrived in a flash Bentley. Alf had to settle for my rust bucket, with a tired and teasy eight year old in the back seat. He jumped out the car, and disappeared into the crowd. I parked up, and stayed on the outskirts, looking for him but keeping my distance too. There he stood with his mates, hands plunged deep into his pockets, looking a tad nervous. He talked to his old rugby coach, and I was struck at how not so long ago little Alf would crane his neck upwards to listen to tactics from him.

Most of the teachers were there, looking on at these kids that looked oh so grown up. Alf's English teacher wandered around shaking hands with all the boys. He gave Alf a squeeze on the shoulder, as if to acknowledge the five epic years of teaching a boy who has really struggled to get to grips with secondary school. He never gave up on Alf. None of them did. Not even Ms Magnin, the French teacher, who battled with my son on an almost daily basis with homework and vocab.

Alf has been free of the shackles of school for about a fortnight. The moment he has dreamt about for so long is finally a reality. And guess what? He misses it. He misses the routine and the security. The knowing what's expected of him, even if he doesn't comply. He misses the corridor banter and the lunch time pasty. He misses IT and Drama. I think he's a bit bored of the late nights and morning lie ins. I've left him to his own devices, and let him wander the halls. I think he thought I'd have him up and dressed every day. But why would I? He's got a job at the pizza take away. He doesn't start college until September. He has the whole summer in which to do as he pleases. It just turns out that he hadn't planned for there to be so much time to fill.

He is much more chilled, which is very much appreciated. Just the odd rumble of thunder, rather than constant stormy weather. It's done me the power of good I must say. I think I'd just about come to the end of my rope with the constant battling. It had taken its' toil on us all I think. Olly is happier too, without an older brother that loves and hates him fiercely. Often all at the same time. Alfie has become a much nicer person to be around. And he is smiling, which was a rare sight indeed.

I hope that he is having a brilliant time. I hope that the after prom party on the beach is all that it should be. I hope he comes home late. I hope he isn't drunk. I hope he gets the girl. He's a bloody handsome bugger, with the most gorgeous green eyes you ever did see. He has bone structure that you could hang your hat off of, and is tall and elegant. He is serious and thoughtful, and doesn't suffer fools gladly. He is loyal, and will fight to the death for the underdog. Don't try to arm wrestle him either, because he is freakishly strong. He walks his own path, and knows his own mind. He is stubborn and argumentative, and can follow you around the house trying to prove a point. He is articulate, wilful and headstrong. If he wants to, he may just rule the world one day.

Here's to Alfie. My middlest. My hardest. My firebrand. I love all that stuff locked inside you. I would fight tigers for you. And I love your quiffy hair.

Leanne xx

Sunday 17 June 2018

Woman At The Helm

Hello dear ones,

Following on from my last post - and thank you all who commented with suggestions, solidarity and the wise shaking of head at my naivety - I am pleased to report that Samuel was seen putting out the recycling, Alfie made his own bed and emptied his own waste paper bin and Olly cleared away some of his toys. It may not seem like much, but these are huge strides here. I'm pleased as punch. Samuel even washed up after himself following a late night pasta cooking session. I was so overwhelmed with joy, that I forced myself to overlook the burnt on food over the oven top. I can't have it all. No-one can.

Alfie came home on Friday, with a smile form ear to ear. The reason? His very last GCSE exam in the bag. A physics paper to boot. Did anyone enjoy physics at school? Did anyone have a science teacher that bought this world alive for you as a teen? I wish I had. Mrs Ramsey and Mr Moggeridge never inspired me, I have to say. It's such a shame really. These fascinating subjects should come alive, and hold the children rapt. In the same way that science does for them as younger children. Anyway, Alfie is now free from the shackles of school; his uniform has already been donated to my friend's boy. Some of us just loathe school, and Alfie was one of them. His demeanour has already improved, and we aren't butting heads. At the moment at least. But I'll take this interlude of calm. It's just so nice to see him happy.

This week Olly spent a night away with the school, sleeping with sharks. He was most anxious about it all. The trip involved a visit to The Eden Project, tea at Pizza Hut, camping out for the night at Plymouth Aquarium and ice skating the following day. How fantastic is that?! They played games and looked at all the animals in the aquarium and slept beside the big tank full of leopard and nurse sharks. He was full of it when I picked him up the following day, recounting in great detail all the things he'd seen and done. His teacher high fived him as he left, saying he'd been a superstar. He's been having a few problems at school, so it was great that the trip was such a positive experience for him. It ticked all of his boxes, and although I know the teachers like my quirky little boy, it made me feel better that they got to see this amazing side of him too; his enthusiasm and embedded knowledge of the world around him, and how it animates and inspires him. He doesn't always socialise well with his peers. He finds it exhausting navigating the queues and signals another person displays, and very often can't read them properly. This sometimes leads to difficult behaviour, and lots of walks of shame for me. So hoorah for a school that gives their pupils these amazing experiences. And hoorah for my boy, who dealt with it so well.

I have to say that I sometimes feel like throwing the towel in with this parenting lark. For long periods it seems like a never ending round of frustrating appeals to get them to do stuff; homework, clearing up, being polite, going to bed, brushing their teeth, eating their tea and all the rest. And it's all so tedious and no fun at all. For them as much as for me. I'm often playing the role of bad cop, and it's a tiring part to play. It's no picnic, for one thing. And I'm caught in the crossfire of this back and forth negotiating that renders me tearful and exhausted. It's all very well being told that the trick is to be proactive. To always be one step ahead of your children. I'd like whoever wrote these books to spend a week with my three strong willed, intelligent, canny boys, and see how proactive they can be then.

But there are these magical moments that happen. Seeing your angst ridden teenage son smile for the first time in forever. Knowing that secondary school has been hideous for him, and  seeing the relief that he feels at it being all over. Being able to share a joke with him for the first time in an age. Having him sit downstairs with you, instead of retreating to his Kurt Cobain pit of a room. Getting a hug and a kiss. Watching your eldest sort out and organise his trip to the States, his application for his PGCE and his confident and handsome demeanour, where once stood a lad that lacked all confidence in himself and his abilities. Knowing that your youngest rose to the very real challenge of being away from his Mum and his home, and returned happy and full of wonderful memories that will be banked forever. The joy I feel inside when I witness these gemstone moments more than make up for any amount of dirty dishes, cross words and sky high food bills.

I'm a woman at the helm, guiding my ship in a hap hazard fashion and trying to get to the various ports along the way. Sometimes the anchor is required, especially when there is inclement weather on the horizon. Sometimes the waters are calm, and I can see for miles. Often I'm having to fill in the ship's log and attend to a multitude of tasks. There's never a dull moment aboard this ship of mine, and there are times that I feel like abandoning ship. But I have a duty to my crew, and I will see this journey to its' end. I'm told that there are huge rewards for staying the course, and unloading my cargo intact. And anyway I signed a contract, which I'm told is nigh on impossible to get out of. Something to do with motherly love. And all the wine gums I can eat.

Have a lovely week, fellow helmswomen.

Leanne xx

Tuesday 12 June 2018

A mothers' manifesto

HMS Queen Elizabeth currently undergoing sea trials along the Cornish coast

Hello friends.

This morning as I wended my blurry eyed way downstairs, I tripped over several pairs of shoes that had been abandoned by the front door. It would appear that Sam has made himself at home once more. Of course, this is his home, but it's gotten used to him not being here. So when he is, it takes a while to re-absorb him and all his stuff. For example, there are three bags for life full of books in the living room. I'm waiting for them to be taken upstairs and popped back on his bookshelves, but I fear that Sam may have decided that that's where they live. I'm trying not to put them away myself, because I've started this whole mid life mother's rebellion.

Let me enlighten you:

As you know, I live in a house of men. Apart from Honey, and she doesn't really count as she expects me to wait on her hand, foot and finger too. For years I've  prowled around the house, keeping everything ship shape, muttering all the while. Dirty laundry? Discarded mugs and plates? Mournful cardboard loo roll tube waiting to be dispatched? Load dishwasher? Empty dishwasher? Vacuum? Dust? Cook? You get the gist.

Now while I don't mind my role as chief cook and bottle washer, I have lately come to resent the complete lack of awareness that anyone has in this house of what actually goes into keeping their home looking reasonable. My guess is that they all think it just sort of happens. Or worse still, that it's a piece of cake to achieve. Quite often these men of mine will berate and mock me for trying to achieve it all. And let's face it, most of what I'm doing, I'm doing for them. Or because of them (except actually it's mainly because of them). And it's for me too. I need to have order around me to be able to function properly, and having a clean and tidy house is a big part of that. It makes me happy. I can let it slide for a couple of days, but then I get twitchy and irritable. Our weekends are usually knee deep in crap, and come Monday I can be seen frantically restoring order from chaos.

I have come to loathe the response "Yeah, I'll do it in a minute," to my " Do you think you could.." plea. It makes me look like a total nag, when in reality what I'm asking is a perfectly reasonable request. And let's be honest, doing it 'in a minute' usually means doing it in an hour, a day or not at all. Unless I eventually decide to do it, and am then made to feel guilty or unreasonable for doing it, when if they had done it in the first place, I wouldn't have needed to do it at all.

Are you still with me?

So, I have a plan. It's not particularly cunning. Or indeed subtle. But I have decided to stop doing. I shall do what I consider a reasonable task to do, and no more. It's a risky enterprise, and as I haven't declared my intention to the house, it may take a while to filter from their peripheral to their central vision. But I'm feeling smug in the knowledge that I am about to declare a Mum war, and they don't even know it yet. The domestic worm has turned friends! She is declaring war on those that would happily discard their pants on the bathroom floor! Or leave cereal boxes open on the counter. She is standing up for her right to be free from the clutter of men. Clutter that isn't at all photogenic. Mess that resists all attempts to look artfully abandoned. Down with balled up socks by the side of the bed! Down with towels in a damp heap on the landing! No more car parts under the bed! I have become the doyenne of domestic direct action.

This evening, I'm sat here surrounded by dinosaur toys, glasses of water filled with hydrophobic sand (yes really), toy soldiers, those books, Lego, a half eaten apple and what looks like a smear of jam on the sofa. I'm fighting the urge to clear it all away. I've promised myself that I shall instruct Olly to attend to his plastic multitudes tomorrow. Ditto Sam's bags of books and multitudes of shoes. Ditto Alfie's hoodies (three) scattered about downstairs.

I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, I will.

No, I really will.

Leanne xx

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Ten Random Things

Hey friends,

It's been a funny old day, and I'm sat here thinking about life, the universe and everything. And wondering whether I'll ever cut the mustard as a fully fledged parenting adult. It's a roller coaster of a ride that's for sure. From chugging slowly upwards, to the white knuckle free fall beyond. I sometimes think that maybe it's because I'm not proactive enough. Or I didn't attend those parenting classes when I was expecting. I cold shouldered the NCT, and didn't much enjoy the competitive parenting of the toddler groups. Or maybe I'm just too soft, and let the boundaries slide from time to time. Perhaps I'm just a knackered Mum juggling those parenting plates, and letting one fall to the floor with a smash every now and then. I may start a support group; The Mums Who Occasionally Drop A Clanger, But Carry On Regardless Because That's What You Do When It All Goes To Rat Shit.

Anyway, some random items from life here in the far South West for your perusal.

  • We are at what is euphemistically known as a 'Mexican Stand Off' with the purchase of The Wink. The current owner is unwilling to pay for a mining survey, and has threatened to take it off the market and sell at auction instead. I'll let you know when there are further developments. Suffice to say, it is all very frustrating.
  • While weeding the garden last week, I dug up David Tennant. Not the David Tennant - that would have been wholly bizarre - but a toy Dr Who David Tennant. I'm not entirely sure how he came to be buried in my borders, but he's had a wash and is now hanging out in the living room.
  • I was given my staff discount card on Monday, and there isn't anything that I can justify buying. I'm really cross with myself and my sensible attitude. I thought I'd have been frenzied with retail lust. I may buy a frock to wear to Sam's graduation. It's blue linen, and sits below the knee. I'm not keen on my knees so it would be perfect.
  • We have a baby seagull on the roof, and every time I get in or out of the car one of its' parents gets very agitated. They swoop and squawk in a circular fashion, letting me know that they aren't at all happy with my trespassing on their property. They also poop a lot on the car and the windows of the house, which I'm sure is a deliberate tactic to drive me out. The baby gull is flip flopping precariously over the roof at the front of the house. Olly has named it Colin, which suits it. He has the look of a Colin, if you know what I mean.
  • Sam is home on Saturday. He's asked for a curry for tea. And that there be lots of food in. To be honest there's usually lots of food in the cupboards on a Saturday, because I tend to go shopping on a Friday. And it's usually all gone by the Sunday. After that the boys open and shut the cupboards in a desultory fashion, muttering under their breath about there being nothing good to eat, while I mutter under mine that there would be if they hadn't eaten it all.
  • I'm still thinking of getting a little tattoo. Just a teeny one you understand. Perhaps a little bee popped somewhere inconspicuous might be quite nice. You may already be aware of my tendency to procrastinate, so expect to read about this potential tattoo in a ten random things post in about five years time.
  • In order to earn some cash, Olly has devised a chores list. I have to pay him 10p for cleaning out Zeus, 30p for tidying his room, 10p for tidying the cushions on the sofas, 20p for vacuuming the house and 20p for washing up. I admire his entrepreneurial spirit. He has yet to do any chores and thus earn any money, and so I continue to plump the cushions.
  • There was great excitement last week in the garden, as I spotted my very first crab spider. I was watching a bee doing its' things on one of the foxgloves, when it scuttled sideways across one of the bell shaped flowers. I shouted for Olly to come see, and we marvelled at it together. I did try and take some pictures, but they weren't very good quality. Olly asked that I tell you, CT. He was delighted!
  • The snails and slugs have eaten all my cosmos. Bastards.
  • Cherry has stopped working at top Co-Op. I am very sad about this. She always made me chuckle. She wore frosted pink lipstick and had the best permed hair this side of the eighties. She used to wear a Slendertone to work. It was permanently strapped around her mid-drift. She was very kind and considerate to the elderly customer. She wore her slippers behind the counter, and for that alone she will always be my style icon.
Here's to a random week of loveliness for you all,

Leanne xx