Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Precious Things

I'm thrilled to have been asked by Sarah over at Mitenska to contribute to this monthly series. She asked herself, what makes a thing precious? And which precious things would she take from her home if required? So for the past week or so, as I've gone about my business here at Today's Stuff, I've been looking at my things in a different way. What do I consider precious? If I had to exit stage left in a hurry, what precious things would I want to take with me?

As I've looked and thought, I've been rather surprised at the things that I would choose, and the reasons why I would choose them. Most of them have no real material value Any value they possess is purely sentimental. They evoke memories, which in turn send me to happy places. And like a line of dominoes, they topple into other thoughts and memories that lead down a spiral of reverie (and a slight case of self indulgence too..)

I would start with my books. I have a lot of books. But there are three books on my bookcase that I would feel compelled to take with me. These three books have probably had the most influence on me as I grew up. They are well thumbed, and two are falling apart at the seams. I cherish these books as old friends. And it's not just the book themselves. It's what they represent.

Let me explain.

The first time that I read 'The Secret Garden', I was transported. I pored over the descriptions of the landscape and the way that the characters spoke. I was fascinated with the idea of finding something hidden and secret. I think I borrowed it from the library at least half a dozen times, and that Christmas there was a copy of the book in my stocking. I loved this book. I still love it.

In the book, it is a robin that shows Mary the way. I had a robin that showed me the way once. I was struggling with post natal depression after Samuel was born. I was living in commuter belt hell, with no friends or family nearby. Marc worked long hours. I rarely got dressed. It was a tough time. But there was this one morning. I was outside in the garden, and a robin was sat on the fence. He was singing. I stood and watched him for a while, and I thought to myself  'It will be ok. I will be ok' That robin was a saviour of sorts. I cannot think where I would be now if it weren't for him.

'The Rainbow' was one of the first grown up -  intellectual even - works of literature I read. It was a set text on my English Literature A Level course. There are notes scribbled all over the pages of this book. There are also my attempts at practicing my signature in there too. And some rather dubious graffitti. I thought Lawrence was the business. Forget Plath, Lawrence was the man upstairs. I used this book as an accessory to demonstrate my intelligence; casually getting it out of my bag on the bus back from college. I devoured everything that he wrote, while trying my hand at writing some angst ridden, Freudian-laden nonsense of my own.

This book, more than any other, defined the gauche young woman that I was. I read it whilst undergoing a period of experimentation and change. I flirted with all sorts; drink, drugs, fashion statements. I ditched the drugs (apart from the ciggies), became attached to cans of Red Stripe at clubs where R&B was played and discovered the ubiquitous uniform of Levi 501s and a Breton tee. I emerged from the other side of my affair with Lawrence a bit less of a duckling, with a fledgling acceptance of me, myself and I. I learnt important life lessons while studying David Herbert. I have a lot to thank him for.

I studied Classics at University. I know. Useful. It was these three ancient Greek plays that led to four years of deciphering archaic languages, learning about age old cultures and falling in love with a world glimpsed through the eyes of the ancient poets. Going to University was a massive deal in my family. I was the first one to do so. My Dad took me to Georges book shop on Park Street, and together we bought the books on my first year reading list. This was one of them. A trio of plays from an ancient world, bought for me by a man who thought I was off my head when I didn't take that job at Sainsbury's, but bought me the books, and sent me on my way towards life changing experiences, enduring friendships and a deep love of gin.

Three precious things. Three books that are a little part of the story of me.

Leanne xx

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Happy Lately

I haven't posted anything at all for over a week. And as is always the case, another lovely blogger articulated much better than me about erratic summer blogging (thank you Gillian).

I'll tell you another thing; I have been hiding. For years. Behind the pages of a book, prettier girlfriends, being the funny one, as an under-achiever, a very bad pa, being nice when I should have been a bitch, saying yes when I should have said no. And lots more besides.

And now Pops has started school. I can't hide behind him anymore. Oh no. Swirly whirly brain. Can you tell?

So a happy/lately post. To get me back in the swing of things. You know how it is.

My garden is still putting on a show. The Dahlias are finally in bloom. I thought it was never going to happen. But our gorgeous late summer has persuaded them to come hither. I adore Dahlias. One of my rose bushes is having a second flush of flowers. I never expected that either, but am very glad that they are. And I have hips! And this is my pollinator corner. Olly and I draw up chairs and watch them go about their business. It's absorbing. I love my garden. There are plans afoot for it. I am very excited!

During the summer holidays Olly and I kept a nature list of all the wildlife that we saw. It was quite a long list by the end. It went into his holiday diary that his new teacher gave him (me) to complete over the holidays. After a little research, I believe (but am happy to be corrected) that these are an oak bush cricket, rose chafer beetle and a small copper. One on the beach, one at Godrevy and one in our bathroom!!

I have gathered so very many blackberries and sloes. It is a bumper season for them. The sloes are in the freezer, waiting to be bashed into submission and then thrust into gin for Christmas festivities. I have made jam and many a crumble with the blackberries. Some of them are in the freezer too, because September brings the obligatory diet. For Christmas. So that I can eat loads and not burst at the seams. Literally.

We have been out and about in West Cornwall in Betty, soaking up the last of the summer. I love Betty. I'm not bothered that she is the other woman in my life. Not any more. Today we went to Godrevy to put some flowers down for Granny. It's been three years since my beloved mother in law passed away. We all miss her still. She was fabulous. It was a super evening, and we spent it eating hot dogs, playing Frisbee and watching two curious seals watching us watching them. Oh and there were a lot of biscuits....

There now. That wasn't so bad. I can still do this, even with Pops in school.


Big love to you all,

Leanne xxxxx

Friday, 5 September 2014

A Slow Week

That's what it's been here. Yes there have been things to do, like ironing endless labels into Olly's schooliform,* running Sam around now that his bus pass has run out and cleaning. But we have spent our last week of the summer holiday at home. We haven't strayed far, and we haven't filled our days with busy. It's been lovely to potter about in the garden, and snuggle up on the sofa with Olly.

I think that we are ready for the new school year to begin. Olly has drawn his brothers pictures of himself, so that they won't miss him when he starts school. He's wearing a rather fetching turban in one of them. We have finished his holiday scrapbook to hand in on his first day. I say we....


Your comments on my last post warmed the cockles of my heart. Thank you. Yes things are going to very different around here soon. I think I am ready for it now. I have tossed and turned between a fear of letting go, and a need to have some time for me. I think I'm a bit scared of finding out that there's not much of me left. I guess I'll know soon enough!

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Leanne xx

*a Charlie & Lolaism

Friday, 29 August 2014

Thoughts on Thoughts

I haven't been sleeping well lately. An insomnia of sorts. I think that it's more than that though. My days are so rich and full at the moment, it should follow that my nights are spent in a deep satisfying slumber.

Not so much.

I'm tired. And yet my mind is a whir. Flitting from one thing to another. There are lists. And musings. And lots and lots of thinking. About all kinds of stuff. I feel as if I want to share them all here.

With you.

Because I know you. But then again I can't possibly know you. I would never presume such a thing. And yet I trust you. So I'm thinking that maybe all the process and knee jerk that fill these pages, is an attempt to let you really know me. Because the relationship that I have found myself making with you here has become so important. I want you to know me. Because I like you. I think that you're pretty cool. We seem to have a lot in common. And yet these relationships confuse me also. They fall through my fingers like the sand I walk across everyday. I want to give you all something. A pebble from my favourite beach maybe? A little tangible something to connect us.

I have been given support, encouragement and solidarity here. I have poked fun at myself, railed against the world and written posts when I am full throttle pre-menstrual. It has been at once liberating and cringe worthy. There have been posts of pure self indulgence, which I have relished as a thing rarely allowed in my real life. I take risks here by showing little bits of myself to you, and I'm thinking that that is good for me.

Here's the thing....I am not like this in real life. I am a reserved listener, who is rarely as candid as I am here. Would you believe me if I told you that I often feel so lonely slap bang in the centre of this little life I have created for myself?  That my voice has been lost in a sea of voices for a long time. And yet through this space my voice grows a little louder everyday. I am so thankful to you for letting me think here. I am thankful of your quiet holding of me as I go about my thinking.

I am thinking this when I should be asleep.

I am thinking that I shall have an extra cup of coffee instead.

I am thinking.

Thinking that I should open up more to those around me.

Thinking of new challenges ahead.

Thinking of change, and why it scares me.

Thinking of all the sloe and blackberries that I have picked.

Thinking that I don't give myself enough credit.

Thinking that a washed out early return from France wasn't so bad actually.

Thinking that I can be a moody cow.

Thinking that Barbara Kingsolver might just be the best thing since sliced bread.

Thinking about painting the kitchen grey.

Thinking about a slow week ahead (yay).

Thinking of that poor young journalist.

Thinking about nothing in particular.



That's it.

Leanne xx

Inspired by Annie. But also inspired by all of you.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Simple Pleasures

When it comes down to it, all children enjoy simple pleasures the most. I can sometimes lose sight of this during the summer holidays. I feel the need to 'fill' it with interest for them, and when you are dealing with the age spread that I do, it usually only means one thing. Trouble. Trying to come up with activities and days out that will satisfy them all is impossible. That hasn't stopped me from trying. And failing. And getting stressed out and angry at what? The fact that two of them would much rather spend it doing their own thing than be with me!

So this summer, I have literally left Sam alone. It is the first time that I haven't cajoled or forced him to come out with us for day trips or walks. I mean the poor boy is seventeen, for goodness sake. Time for this mother to let go. So I have, and he has opted for not coming on any trips out or holidays with us. And it's actually been ok. Letting go has not been as upsetting as I thought it might be. He has started to carve out his own life away from us. One that I am not privy too, and I'm fine with that. Trawling through my memory banks to when I was seventeen, I remember it as a time of real change and growth. I had so many new experiences - my first boyfriend, my fist sip (ahem) of alcohol, a holiday job and secret adventures of my own that my family were definitely not privy to.

It's a bit more difficult with Alf. At twelve and a half, he can be left at home while I am out and about for a couple of hours. But not all day. And never during the evening. I still feel that I have to impose time limits on anything electronic, even though it feels as if that is all he would like to do. I crave fresh air and exercise for him. I want him to be outside roaming with his mates at the skate park or down at the beach. He shows no interest in any of these things this summer. He has started the pupa stage of teen. He spends most of his time in his pyjamas, wrapped up in his duvet and sat in a dark un-ventilated bedroom. He would spend all of his time on his games console if I let him. I don't. It causes a lot of shouting. From both of us.

A compromise of sorts has been reached. He is allowed to do his (hideous gaming) thing, as long as he comes out with me and Pops some of the time. I know it's a bit of a woolly compromise, but it comes without the vile screaming matches that occur, me at the bottom and him at the top of the stairs. They are exhausting, and not good for anyone. And if I trawl back further through my memory banks, I remember feeling the same. My Dad was very authoritarian. He said 'jump', I said 'how high?' Until I reached the age of about thirteen. Then I said no! It was a very emphatic no as I recall, and it caused all sorts of problems between us until the day I left home at eighteen. He wouldn't allow me the no. He couldn't understand that I could and should be left alone to do my own thing. Even if that thing was sitting and watching Black Adder videos all day. Or listening to music in my bedroom and not seeing the light of day for weeks. I don't want to be that kind of parent. I think my Dad got that bit of my upbringing wrong, and yet I fear that I am making the same mistakes with my own children, and especially with Alfie. You may have gathered that we are very alike.....

Obviously with Pops, things are a piece of cake. Everything I suggest is brilliant, according to him. He bounces and flick flacks along with unbridled enthusiasm for all adventuring with his Mum. Thank God for my four year old, otherwise I'd be walking along and talking to myself. We have had a fabulous holiday together, whether it be hanging out watching Pixar movies, playing on the beach or walking the dog. It's all fun and go and do with Pops, which is just how I like it too. I am looking forward to many more years to come before he pulls away from me. I think I've hit the balance nail on the head with him. A case of third time lucky maybe?


My attempts at balance in the holidays worked beautifully yesterday. It was one of those lovely late summer evenings. Perfect for bouldering up Rosewall and Buttermilk Hill. Olly had fallen from rocks at Cape Cornwall the day before, and spent most of the day in repose on the sofa, feeling sore and miserable. He seemed fully recovered by late afternoon however, and so I thought a spot of clambering over the ancient stones that lay at the top of these hills might just be the way to get him back in the saddle, so to speak. Alfie came too. Reluctantly at first, but once there, his inner child got the better of him. We spent a couple of hours scrambling, climbing and playing hide and seek. Neither of them wanted to come home, and I was grateful for this time that we spent together. It was unplanned with minimum fuss and stress. Simple pleasures are definitely the best whatever the age. They just need a little nudge to be reminded sometimes. And a Mum with the sense to know when and when not to do the nudging. I guess we are all a work in progress!

Leanne xx

Friday, 15 August 2014


I've not done a Friday Happy for a couple of weeks.

I am feeling a bit tired at the moment. It's my own fault enitrely. I'm reading far too late in the night, and going full whack during the day. I've decided to take it a bit easier over the weekend, and then ramp it up again next week. We are off to France on Thursday, so lots of packing, shopping and cleaning to be done before then. I also want to visit a couple of local places of interest. Places I've been meaning to go for a while. I wonder if I'm cramming as much as possible into my final weeks with Pops at home full time?

Anyway, bumper happies!! Joining in with the rather gorgeous Gillian, who I met earlier this month. What a babe. What treat to meet her and her lovely family. Next time (because there will be a next time), I'd like to chat over a few beers and set the world to rights with her. She's that kind of a gal! And she wore a rather lovely necklace. I notice these things, you see......


No sooner had I come home from Bestival, I was off again to Bristol. Probably not the best planning, but it was the only time I could go. And I miss my family a lot. We are a close knit bunch. It was the weekend of the annual balloon festival, and my sister's house is in the perfect place to watch them float by in the early morning. Olly was entranced by them. We went into central Bristol a few times, which is always great. There is a vibe to Bristol. It can be edgy sometimes, but it's a creative, vibrant hub, and I love it. Visiting Bristol has also sent me off into a spiral of thoughts and memories. I'm still trying to catch hold of them, and decipher what they mean.


The garden has been a mixed bag this summer. I have loved my sunflowers, thistles and Achillia. But the Dahlias are a poor show, and my greenhouse was infested with something that laid waste to everything. I did get some tomatoes and cucumbers, but in the end I admitted defeat. I have cleared it out, and given it a very good clean. Hopefully I will be able to start again with seed planting for Plot No 10. I am still picking blueberries, and the plums are ripening too. Everyone should have a blueberry plant. They are pretty and crop prolifically. Put it on your list, and go get yourself one next Spring.


I have bought three more cushions in an attempt to brighten up my horrid brown leather sofas. They were cheap as chips from IKEA and Asda. (Another reason for loving Bristol is the choice of retail options. I spent a couple of hours in John Lewis, just walking around with my mouth open..... but I digress). I have also bought a straw bag. I need another bag like a hole in the head, but it was in the sale. I love a sale. It gives me permission to treat myself - "Oh this? It was in the sale." I say that a lot to Marc. A sale justifies any purchase, however unnecessary, don't you think?


I have been a proper little book worm of late. I stay up far later than I should, lying on my tummy with the pillows scrunched underneath me just so. I pull my bedside table closer to the bed, so that the lamp can shine down onto the page. I finished 'A Homemade Life' last night. I read about it on Isabelle's post for The Year In Books, and it sounded like my cup of tea. I would recommend it. She is a blogger, who has written a memoir/recipie book. Poignant and sad in places, but ultimately uplifting. My late submission for Laura's series is in the pile too - 'The Shock Of The Fall' by Nathan Filer. I shall be taking it with me to France.


Last, but by no means least, Sam got his AS Level results!! He wrote them down on a piece of paper and passed them to me while I was on the telephone to a friend. I think that friend is now deaf. I can't begin to describe how proud I am of him. He has grown and changed so much this year. He has this amazing work ethic, both for his studies and his holiday job, and I have watched him with a quiet pride and great bursts of love. Yes he is a messy git, and I really wish he would get a hair cut. I hate that he has taken to eating pizza in his room late at night (I am woken by the waft of cheese and tomato regularly), and I hate his taste in music (I am a music Nazi, apparently). But, you know, sometimes all those years of pull your hair out parenting does feel worth it. This one of those times. And yes, I know that academic results aren't everything blah, blah, blah....but actually these are important to him and what he wants to do. So they are important to me.

That was the happy.

Right, I'm off for a date with my sister in law and a bottle of wine. Or two. See ya!

Leanne xx

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A Walk After Tea

One thing about being away from home for nine days out of eleven is that there is a lot to catch up on. So it's been all go on the domestic front. Olly hasn't minded all the healthy neglect. He's been re-acquainting himself with all of his toys. And watching Despicable Me. Quite a lot.

 But after tea I felt the need to get out and stretch my legs. The early evening sun beckoned me, Pops and  Honey up the road to Burthallan Lane, and from there to Clodgy Point. I love this walk, as it's completely brilliant for little boys who need to run off their energies before bedtime. Or anytime in fact. Marc and I have paraded all our boys along this route through the years, and it never fails to hit the spot.

Our road. We live bottom left. Alf's friend used to call it
 The White House,  which sounds much grander than it actually is!
Olly is into Batman at the moment. And cutlasses. So he jumped, spoke in a growly voice and brandished his weapon at any unsuspecting passer by. Where on earth this boy gets his energy from I have no idea. He literally bounds and bounces his way through each and every day. He is always up for adventure, and his enthusiasm is just wonderful. However he did nearly fall into the path of an oncomming car. I cannot always anticipate his every quick as lightening moves. The driver gesticulated. I returned the compliment. I think I've bought a bit of Bristol back home with me.

There are three enviable houses that we pass on our walk. To me anyway. One is just up the road from us. Sam used to call it The Witches' House, and I guess it does have that Brother's Grimm look about it. I've been lucky enough to have a poke about inside, which only makes me covet it more, being Arts and Craft in style with a beautiful living room fireplace complete with Bernard Leach tiles.

The next house is at the beginning of Burthallan Lane. It must have stood alone once upon a time, but other houses have sprung up around it over the years. It's a wonderful cottage, with the most exquisite garden. I particularly love their low box hedging, and herbs growing out of the Cornish stone wall.

Finally is a new house that stands in the most enviable position, overlooking the whole of St Ives Bay and beyond. Olly was a baby when this build started, and it was only completed last year. Money was definitely not an issue when it came to this house, but today I noticed how the owners are starting to soften it with thoughtful planting schemes.

These houses always satisfy my nosey-parker tendencies.

 Along the lane and down the footpath towards Clodgy Point are the hedgerows. We picked and ate our first Blackberries, and Olly broke off a dried plant stem to make yet another weapon. He thrust it in and out of the bushes, scattering seeds from the dried out pods of Campion and others. I wonder if Mother Nature ever banked upon little boys to be effective agents of dispersal? The hedgerows show the turning of the seasons better than any where else I know. I may be awaiting my Dahlia show in the garden, but it's here that I am assured an end to summer is approaching. There are still lovely things to see though, and I promised myself that I would gather an armful of those dried stems on our return. I know Marc will be thrilled at the prospect of another twiggy display at home.

 And then before we knew it, we had reached Clodgy Point. It's an outcrop that stretches it's tip into the sea. There are several of them heading down the coast towards Land's End. They are know as the 'Seven Sisters', and on a good day you can see them all from here. The view is magnificent. A panorama that takes in the coast that lies north of St Ives, maybe as far as Chapel Porth or St Agnes (I'll have to find out). And way down South towards the Pendeen and beyond. I want to sit and stare. Olly wants to play hide and seek. Honey wants me to throw her a stick. Two out of three's not bad.

We do watch a man and his little girl fly a kite. She is about the same age as Pops, and her laughter is infectious. It's a lovely scene. I 'hallooo' a few people that I know. One is out dog walking, the other is puff puffing up the hill in her running gear. I feel rather guilty that I have been so slothful of late, but then I remind myself that come September I will have the time to devote to rather more self involved practices. So to celebrate that thought, I offer a piece of fudge to Pops and have one myself.

It's time to turn back the way we came. I chivy Pops along by telling him the story of Hansel and Gretl on the way. We only stop to look at the horses in the fields, and the swallows darting and skimming within. The sun is starting to dip, and I'm surprised to notice that we've been out for over two hours. I think that our tea must have gone down by now. It's a less whirly gig walk home, and I piggy back Olly some of the way. Once home, it's straight into pyjamas for both of us. A glass of milk, a clean of the teeth and a bedtime story. Lights out, and Olly is in the land of nod in minutes.

I artfully arrange my twigs, and pour myself a glass of wine.

Happy days.

Leanne xx

(all pics were taken with my phone, so not the best quality. And a few squiffy horizons to boot!)