Joining in with Annie.
Some happenings from my week.
Celebrating - Samuel's 18th birthday. It was a very low key affair. He didn't want any fuss or bother. Sam doesn't like the full glare of attention at times like these. We are all a bit like that here. He let Olly open his presents; some clothes, books and chocolate from us. His present proper happens in September, when his Dad and I take him to New York (it's a belated 40th for me too). It was a quiet day, as Sam still revised. But we picked up a chippy tea, drove in Betty to Godrevy and spent the evening there. We wandered over beach and headland, played Frisbee, squabbled a bit (about blowing out candles appropriately), collected beach treasures and laughed. I think that he had a nice time.
Marvelling - This morning as I drew back the blinds in the conservatory, I was greeted by the wonderful sight of my nesting Blackbird pair and their three babies on the grass. The babies are nearly fully grown, but still carry fluff and fat. They were herded under cover of the edges of the garden, and Dad hopped about collecting tasty morsels for his brood. I guess they must nearly be ready to fly the nest. It was quite a privilege to stand there with my cup of tea and observe another family go about their daily business.
Counting - eight different types of butterflies on a recent walk, including a Wall Brown. I've never seen one before, and I had to look it up on my butterfly app. I am happy to be corrected, but I think that I'm right. Apparently they are in decline, and generally only found in coastal areas. He was a lovely thing.
Planting - at least eighty Cosmos seedlings in the garden. The first twenty were eaten over-night by the wretched snail population of my garden. I have resorted to slug pellets. Animal friendly. Snail exterminators. Olly is appalled.
Admiring - the foxgloves in the garden. I have been the lucky recipient of self-seeding loveliness from next door. I've counted over twenty of them growing away. And now I'm being rewarded with spires of bell shaped flowers. Pink on the outside, speckled on the inside. It brings me untold joy.
Eating - too many nice things.Birthday cake, the best ever take-away curry, quiche, potato salad, bacon sandwiches, fish and chips. My lower sized jeans are protesting. I shall makes amends directly. Promise.
Leaving- the housework well alone. I top and tail. No more. Frankly there's no point when everyone are on holiday. Mum was visiting for the weekend, and as usual did all my ironing. I guess I'll have to resume that from tomorrow.
Receiving - a beautiful bowl. Mum and I went for coffee at a gallery and tea room on the back road to Penzance. Not only does it make a great cup of coffee, it also showcases and sells the wares of local craftspeople. I admired this particular bowl, and she bought it for me. I protested of course. But actually I loved being spoiled by my Mum!
Smelling - the vanilla scented Nemesia (edit). I bought it last year.It's doubled in size since then, and every now and again there is a sensuous aroma of vanilla. I would very much like some more of this plant. I'm on the hunt when the boys return to school.
Life here is good. Lots of other happenings. Marc is now the proud owner of a flat in Poole. It means that he has a decent place to come home to when he comes home from a days work. I'm going up soon to prettify it for him (and me. Obvs). It means that we can go up and visit him there and have adventures in another part of this amazing country. And CT, I shall be taking you up on the offer of a meet and greet very soon!
Have a lovely week, my friends,
Thursday, 21 May 2015
This week I decided to Spring Clean the bookcase in the living room. There was an ulterior motive. I suffer from restless furniture syndrome; the desire to change around one's living space every so often. I'm much better than I was. Gone are the days that Marc would come home from work to find the hall, stairs and landing carpet ripped up and thrown out the back door. But I am still often to be found hauling various items of furniture around the house.
I used to constantly change my bedroom around when I was young. Did you? I have often wondered why I was always re-arranging. I constantly faff about (which I've talked about at length before). I like to make my home feel and look good, although to be honest my home is already quite lovely. Don't get me wrong, it's not a show home by any stretch of the imagination. Five people in a medium sized living space will make a mess and a clutter. A lot of our furniture has seen better days. One of the sofas has three tears in the leather. I'm holding out until Olly is older before I buy new ones (John Lewis, charcoal grey, fabric). There are broken drawers which have been wedged back in place on a wing and a prayer. My own chest of drawers in my bedroom is rather tatty. It's a very old IKEA unit that has been painted multiple times. The bottom drawer has lost its' handles, something I mean to remedy every time I open it to take out clean bed linen.
But back to the bookcase....
I took the books off of the selves and line them up on the floor. There are a lot, and most of them were very dusty. So they are given a thorough clean with the duster. Then I have my annual book cull. The one where I ruthlessly get rid of books that I enjoyed but will never read again, those I didn't enjoy and those that I started, never finished and am no longer kidding myself that I ever will. They all get put in the boot of the car ready for the charity shop.
Then I pulled the bookcase away from the wall. I tell myself that it's so I can clean underneath and behind it. But we all know that it's really so that I can move it somewhere else. I want to put the bookcase against the wall next to the dining table. The very same place that our old bookcase stood in fact, before I decided that I wanted to move that one. Actually before I decided that that particular bookcase (some rough cubes storage units from B&Q) should be replaced with a bit of IKEA Billy. I think that the dresser will look nicer here, instead of over there, and the bookcase will look nicer over there instead of here. It's time the room had a re-fresh. It will make a nice change.
But there's a problem, and it's only as I heave the bookcase away from the wall that I remember Marc having to remove the skirting board in order to fit the sodding bookcase here in the first place. Aaah yes, it's all come flooding back. So I can't move it anyway. It will just have to stay put. Bugger.
So now I'm stood surrounded by hundreds of books, holding those bits of balsa wood that were placed under the bookcase so that it would fit flush to the wall. I have no idea exactly where they went, so I shove them under and manoeuvre the unit back into place. It lists, and there is now a gap between the wall and the bookcase where there wasn't before. That won't go unnoticed when Marc comes home on Friday....
I go and make a cup of tea, and sit down on the sofa. I put my feet up on top of a pile of books. It occurs to me that I could probably leave all my books right where they are, and no-one would notice anyway. Olly would turn them into hide outs or secret bases for his LEGO. Sam and Alfie only come down to eat, shower and moan, so they wouldn't care. And Marc would probably use them as a make-shift coffee table.
But I do eventually put all the books back. They are ordered by author, with two miscellaneous shelves. A His (camper van stuff and fishing) and a Hers (current gardening reference reads, craft books, note pads) and children's books that Olly is still too young for, which includes the seminal work 'Go The F*^k To Sleep' I find a book mark that Mum bought for me when she visited Howarth House in the 80s. I thought I'd lost it years ago, and I happily slip it inside my current read. I re-acquaint myself with old friends, and chuckle at some of the notes in the margin made by my sixteen year old self. I realise too that several of my Bill Brysons are missing, and so I go retrieve them from Sam's own over-crowded bookcase. With all of that de-cluttering there is space for a bit of frou frou. So I put some pottery that has been languishing in the utility room, getting on the cat's nerves (he likes to doze on the window sill and it gets in his way).
When I have finally finished, I stand back and look. My bookcase looks a bit odd. A bit too tidy and organised. You know that feeling when you've had your hair cut, and your face looks different? It takes a couple of days to get used to the new you. Those subtle changes that even just a trim of the fringe can create. Well it's a bit like that.
I have to admit that the bookcase looks fine where it is. It's tucked away into the 'awkward' space of the room. It fills and fits the space perfectly. Perhaps it can stay there after all.
Do you share my love of moving rooms around? Do you faff and frou frou?
By the way, there were 37 marbles, one Christmas biscuit from two years ago, 100s of assorted pieces of Lego, one dinosaur (plastic), what I think is a shriveled grape, 37 pence, a lot of pet hair, an empty juice carton, a toast crust and some nail clippers under that bloody bookcase.
Oh and also, craft books? lolololol
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
Oliver has spent a great deal of time constructing a home for snails. It all started at the weekend, as I wandered around the garden cursing them and their destruction of my Hostas. He got hold of a bucket, collecting as many as he could find. He spent ages studying them. Now I'm not a great fan of snails, being a gardener and all that, but they really are amazing creatures. Their construction for a start. That perfect whorl of their shell. Their eye stalks. The way they get around on one foot and the sticky mucus that they create and use to such fantastic effect. Anyway the net result is that we now have a snail sanctuary in the garden. I have pointed out to Olly that he may well have to liberate them in the next couple of days, but they seem happy enough for now.
Sam, Alfie and I sat on my bed last night, giggling over offensive tweets sent to our PM from members of the public. Is it a thing peculiar to the British, this constant satirising, scrutiny and just plain old poking fun at of people in high places. I've heard that those that serve us, adore programmes such as ''The Thick Of It' and many of the very quotable lines are voiced during their debates. Margaret Thatcher's favourite tv show was ''Yes Minister, which kind of indicates that even the iron lady had penchant for satire.
I sometimes feel that I don't mention Sam and Alfie enough here. Honestly they are a constant presence, what with their eating me out of house and home, and being so tall. Sam is revising furiously at the moment. His exams start at the beginning of June. He had a 'I'm going to fail everything' panic the other night. He won't. He's worked too bloody hard. I am in awe of his work ethic and his commitment. I also feel a little sad that it has taken precedence over other things. But he's his own man (nearly. He's eighteen next week), and sometimes I need to remember that.
Alfie continues to keep me on my toes. How the most loving and affectionate child can turn on a coin into a vile mouthed brute, I will never know. Feisty is an understatement. The waters had been rather calm until this week. We had words on Monday, which escalated with lightening speed into a full blown shouting and slanging match. I'm not much better than him, once we get going. The light at the end of the tunnel is his readiness to apologise. It may come a day after the event. But it is genuine, and I can handle that. I think Alf's process into adulthood is going to a complicated mix of holding his tongue versus letting rip at any given opportunity.
We have had some sad news. Jean the chicken has died. She was most likely eaten by a fox. Beryl and Jean had been over-wintering at my sister in laws house, and were due to come back any day now. We think that it will be better for Beryl to remain with Maisie, Godfrey the female turkey and Rosie the duck. I'm not sure whether I will get any more chickens. We shall see.
I remain rather overwhelmed at all your responses to my last post. Such words of encouragement, practical advice, gentle short shrift, and very, very kinds words have really left their mark. So thank you. You will be pleased to know that I have been to plot number ten a few times, and that all seems to be growing away. Olly's carrots haven't been eaten yet. Although I have a cunning plan should that happen. In fact I'm off up there in a mo, to weed and stake. If the weather holds.
Oh, and CT, is that a Painted Lady? I thought it was and have duly logged it on my app. I'm already down on last year, and she would boost my points no end.
Love and kisses,
This seems a rather anti-climatic post. I think I've lost my blog swing. Must try harder. Or perhaps I must try not so hard.
Tuesday, 12 May 2015
So I walk away from the words, and go look at the words of others. I go and visit some of you, and the words that you have been writing. You always seem to write in such a lovely manner. You write down words that tell me stories. Stories about your family life, and the ups and downs all of that entails. You share birthdays, happy times, sad events. There are funny stories and memories of times long past. A creation is shared. Progress in the garden. Or just general everyday flights of fancy.
I read my current novel. This week it's Lucy Wood's 'Weathering' and Thomas Hardy's 'Far From The Madding Crowd.' There is a passage in Lucy's novel that describes why one of the characters takes photographs:
"Why did she do it?.....She knew why. She could remember exactly why, even now. For the way time seemed to slow down and stretch, measured in the river's ripples rather than by clocks and mealtimes. For the invisibility. For the hush. To forget. To make some sort of record - but of what she wasn't sure exactly. To notice things she wouldn't otherwise have noticed: dragonflies hunting, the patterns of light, the specific way that water poured over a dipper's back."
Isn't that wonderful? It reminds me of why I want to write my words. To slow down. To remember. For the quiet and the calm it gives me. To make a kind of record, although it's debatable what kind of record it is. To appreciate and observe. To breathe.
Olly and I went to allotment on Sunday, armed to the teeth with vegetables grown lovingly from seed in the greenhouse. Green and leafy and pulsing with life. We took trowels, forks and a hoe. Some bamboo poles and twine. A flask of hot chocolate and a couple of kit kats.
We strode along the path towards our plot. Plot number 10. It's the one that's nestled between three of the more established plots. We walked through the lush grass with purpose, saying hello to fellow plot holders as we passed them. They were all busy as bees; digging, weeding, planting. We were surrounded by industry of the nicest sort.
I stood at the boundary of our plot and stared out over it. What I saw was a wasteland. A wasteland that I am futilely attempting to tame. The part that we have already gamely tried to cover with plastic sheeting in order to suppress the weeds, is being teased apart by the winds that race in from the Atlantic. Even though we have pegged and battened it all down, it has been ripped in places and rustles ominously. It felt as if it was growling at me as I stood there, feeling a sinking sense of dismay. And when I looked underneath...well the weeds don't look particularly suppressed to me. Rather they look in rude health; dock, nettle, thistle, couch grass and bramble pushing up and out. They object to being reined in. They are gathering like a protest in strength and number.
The ugly green netting has been secured by Marc, and I thought that at least the rabbits will be put off. But it looks so unattractive. There is no bucolic vision here. No Pinterest worthy vista. My naive visions of fruit bushes and honeysuckle draping and obscuring the boundary of the plot is a long way off. The reality of the plot is hard edges and green plastic.
We plonked the seed trays down, and I gave a long sigh of despair. Spring has arrived here. There are millions of little weeds staking a claim on the vegetable beds that we have made so far. There was nothing for it than to do battle with them. I felt a slow rise of panic, as I began the onerous task. What on earth was I doing here? This is supposed to be enjoyable. This is meant to be an engaging hobby. This is meant to assist me on my journey towards positive mental health and well being. I could come here for a month of Sundays and I'd still not tame this wild plot. This very British jungle. It will never, ever look photogenic enough for me to share it publicly. With pride and just a little hint of smugness at the wonderfully bucolic heaven I have created. All by myself on my own.
I turn to Olly and admit defeat. I tell him that perhaps his Mum has bitten off more than she can chew, and that maybe it would just be best to walk away from here, now, today, and let someone more deserving take over this almost virgin plot. Olly looks up at me, and I see a real disappointment in his face. Where, he inquires, would he plant his carrots? How would he be able to grow and harvest his Halloween pumpkins? He collected the seeds for them from last years pumpkin, and he's always had a yearning to grow carrots. He planted the seeds himself, and has helped me water them. He has watched their growth in the greenhouse with a keen interest.
I admitted to him that it all felt too overwhelming. I said it. Out loud. To another human being. That I find this as overwhelming as I find much about my daily life. That I lack commitment and confidence. That I have become the very person my younger self used to scoff at. Olly shrugged his shoulders, and suggested that we weed what we can and plant the vegetables anyway. He had already spotted three different beetles and a massive spider. He'd poked some sort of grub out from the soil, and patted earth over a worm. Olly wanted to stay, and told me in no uncertain terms that we were not to give up the plot.
So I did the only thing I could do. I gave myself a silent talking to. Whilst I could probably use the help of the army to knock the plot into shape, it's just me, Marc and Olly. I can only devote a limited amount of time to it every week. And yes I have avoided coming here, because that's my go to behaviour option when things seem too much. And when did my little boy suddenly get so grown up and wise? My five year old pragmatist. So together Olly and I weeded the beds again. We chatted away as we sat side by side. We saw lots of different bugs, and stopped occasionally to look and marvel at them all. We agreed that the iridescent green beetles scurrying to and fro over the emerging bare earth were our favourites. The swallows swooped low and fast around our heads as we sat engaged in our task. They wittered encouragement, as they gave us a free aerobatic display.
And finally we got down to the job of planting. Runner, borlotti, broad and french beans. Beetroot, chard, mange tout and Olly's carrots, pumpkins and squash. Olly inspected their roots very solemnly, and watered them all thoroughly. He stood looking at the plot. "We need a shed," he said.
Plot number 10 is the biggest thing I've ever tackled. Although that's not really saying much. I live such a small life. I have stopped all risk. I fear most things. I talk myself out of so much, and convince myself to do so little. The plot is 12mx10m in size. That may not seem such a big number, but for me it might as well be the size of a football pitch. It is virgin territory. No-one tended the plot before I came along. The council purchased the land about six years ago in order to offer the people of St Ives an allotment site. I'm actually very lucky to have secured a plot, because they have all be taken up now, and I've heard that there is a waiting list.
In the short time that it has been an allotment, a thriving community has grown around it. Like-minded people gather here. People who want to grow their own. People who feel the benefit of getting outside and doing some physical labour. People who derive pleasure from the land. There are those that also keep bees. There is a plot where nothing but sweet peas are grown. The smell in summer is intoxicating. A couple of young chefs have two plots. On one they encourage the nettles. They make great pesto, apparently. Every year there is a produce show. I have found everyone to be friendly and helpful. William has offered the use of his shed, until I get one of his own. He's also giving some cauliflower plants to Olly.
I shall stick with it, and maybe one day my plot will be both beautiful and bountiful. Plot number 10 will always be a work in progress, and perhaps I should just embrace that idea and go for it anyway. It may just be the making of me.
Have a lovely week, and I hope that the words come for you too.
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
I rang the school today to inform them that Olly has the pox. He isn't allowed back until next week. I'm quite pleased actually. He's over the worse, and is really rather chipper. So we are going to have a little week of adventures. The weather is set fair I think, so we have each made a to do list:
Tehidy Woods to see the bluebells and hopefully some butterflies.
Plot No. 10 to plant out all the veggies I didn't get a chance to over the weekend.
Bike ride along Penzance Prom.
Godrevy to see the seals.
Harbour beach if it's a scorcher.
Make Lego base.
Do more rainy day activity book.
Feed the horses.
Go to Moo Maid ice cream shop
Thank you for all your words of comfort and solidarity on my last rather blah post. My frown has turned into a smile. My moods tend to evaporate quite quickly to be honest. The door that many of you admired was here when we bought the house. It was actually what sold the house to me, the rest of it being rather dodgy. The afternoon light was filtering through it, and it brightened my mood after an unpleasant train journey to St Ives, involving a lot of morning sickness and a four and a half year old Sam who wriggled and wandered for the whole journey. It doesn't lead to Narnia (Gillian). It leads into the kitchen.
Oh and I managed to get a shot of our resident Blackbird. He came right up to the conservatory door this weekend. Sort of popped his head in to have a nosey. He's my kind of bird.
In between writing this post, I've had to pick up Alfie and his friend from army cadets. They were late coming out. I was listening to music in the car. Actually I was dancing in my seat whilst listening to music in my car. I have embarrassed Alf in front of his cadet chums, so lost in the rhythm was I. I'm never, ever to pick him up again. Ever.
(you try listening to that song without writhing around your nether regions.
It's impossible. I danced out of the church on my wedding day to it).
Sunday, 3 May 2015
Apparently my house is self cleaning. Clothes wash themselves. As do tea cups, plates and floors.
Olly has come down with chicken pox. He is covered, and has no zip. He is being very stoic, bless him
Marc has a cold. He has retired to bed for the bank holiday duration.
The weather is crap. Grey, dank and miserable.
Sam is in a frenzy of revision. Every now and again he bounds into the living room and shouts some fact or another at me. I'm left feeling rather uneducated.
Alfie has only come out of his room to eat and use the facilities.
Yesterday I made Thai chicken curry for dinner. It was lush.
There is a cherry and almond cake baking as I type. The smell is lovely.
Marc called me dour yesterday. I have been a bit. But only because they are all getting on my nerves.
My book choice for The Year In Books is above. I loved 'Room' and am nearly halfway through this already.
What's that sound you make when you are really fed up? I've just made it anyway.
Friday, 1 May 2015
Yesterday I was in short sleeves. Today I am wearing socks and wellies.
The forecast for the bank holiday weekend is for rain. Lots of rain.
Today I am joining in with Amy and her Five On Friday. Five things that celebrate my week. Which has been rather lovely, thank you for asking.
Red Tailed Bumblebee
Olly spotted him buzzing among the Bluebells. Look at his little face in the first picture, and his delicate wings in the second. I am very, very fond of bumbles, but perhaps the red tailed one is my favourite. We have seen quite a few this past week. Both in and out of the garden. I was very pleased that Olly got close up and personal with this one, because he was startled by another bumble a couple of weeks ago. It was a large Queen hunting about in the garden, and it careered into Olly and gave him a fright. He decided he didn't like them very much anymore, and I was afraid that this would be the beginning of the end for my mini nature nerd. Luckily this red tail was docile enough to let us watch him for ages, and Olly seems to have forgotten all about the queen and her rather off hand behaviour. Do you enjoy watching the bees? The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a great website for identification and so on. Me and Olly are members.
We have walked Honey over Lelant beach several times in the past week. Dogs are allowed here all year long, and she loves it. She gets to meet her friends, chase after thrown pebbles and dig huge holes to sit in. There's lots to sniff at too, like the massive jellyfish that had been washed up on Monday. And the rather gruesome looking fish carcass. She liked that a lot. There is something about the colours on this particular stretch of beach. They are so clear and bright and distinct. This article explains it far better than me. Interesting, no?
The past few weeks has seen a wide array of flotsom and jetsom washed up on the shore. Some gorgeous pieces of driftwood that are now sitting on the windowsill of my conservatory. But some huge pieces too. Stuff that would take three lads and a wheelbarrow to haul off the beach. I do have the wheelbarrow. Anyone know of three burly fellas I could borrow?
It's not all about the coast living here you know. One of my favourite things are the hedgerows. I have already started picking the cow parsley. It's so frothy and beautiful, and unlike most wildflowers, it lasts for ages in water. There is a passage in the Susan Hill book 'In The Springtime Of The Year' that describes this so perfectly. It's a wonderful book if you ever happen upon it. I have a fondness for buttercups too. We always put them under our chins to see if we liked butter when we were kids. Did you? Where did that come from I wonder? Another article explains the science behind it.
I get very excited whenever I see a Ladybird, and this little beauty was sunning herself on the Lady's Mantle yesterday morning. In a way it's a shame that I do get so excited. They seem to be less and less common. I remember them being in abundance when I was little. However Wagon Wheels seemed huge back then too, so maybe it's just memories of collecting them in jam jars (I know, I know). This one had six spots and just seemed to be hanging out. One of her wings was poking out from the outer casing which made her look a bit bed head. I liked that about her. She's more than welcome here. Perhaps she over-wintered in our bug house? I guess that you all know the nursery rhyme about ladybirds? Here is an article about the possible origins.
This weekend we will be mostly watching David Attenborough, visiting the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, squabbling, drinking copious cups of tea and walking Honey in the rain.
Whatever you are doing, having a lovely one.