Monday, 25 April 2016

You Know What You Should Do



 

 













 
 I am sat here this evening, a vision in a gentlemen's dressing gown. I'd rather like a more feminine article, but so far I haven't taken the plunge. You know me and the art of procrastination. I probably have a list of ones I've liked and where I liked them somewhere.

There were goldfinches feasting on the dandelion seed heads in the grass this afternoon. Much squabbling ensued as they fought for the best patch of grass. I was wrestling with assembling my new lawn mower at the time. The old one having finally given up the ghost last week. It must have been at least a quarter of a century old. My Auntie Julie gave it, and lots of gardening tools to us before she emigrated to Australia the year Sam was born. So as I sat on the rug in the conservatory, swearing quietly at the very unhelpful instructions, I was struck at the sweet serendipity of it all.

I am not an assembler. Not a good one anyway. I'm not much cop at assembling myself. While waiting for Olly to come out of his class at the end of school, I noticed that I had dirty patches on my trousers from kneeling on all fours while scrubbing floors that morning. And splatters from the Flash with bleach that I like to spray around the house with gay abandon. It's a requirement in a house full of boys. It was all rather unkempt with a bit of middle aged haywire thrown in for good measure.

Anyway, there I stood musing away when someone felt the need to give me nutritional advice. I don't know why. I didn't ask for any. In fact only last week I purged the house of all cookery books pertaining to the delicious,  the glowing or  the quitting of sugar. I felt cleansed. It was better than a detox any day of the week. It was like telling them all to go boil their heads and leave me alone with my wobbly tummy and dodgy thighs.

I stood and nodded and smiled, because that's what I do when offered uninvited advice. That often starts with 'you know what you should do' and ends with me punching them in the face. Except not really. I never punch them. Well sometimes I do. In my mind. Not in real life. In real life I'm actually very restrained and lovely ;))  I smile a lot, and I laugh loudly. I'll notice if you look pretty, or had your hair cut. I can sense sadness and defeat. I'll not offer advice, but I'll listen and give you my full and undivided attention. I'm a massive shrew, but only with my friend Liz. Who brings out the worst in me, and I'm terribly thankful for it.

In fact now I think about it, I've been offered a lot of helpful advice lately. It ranges from the hairstyle that would suit me (a kind of rock chick messy bob apparently. I thought it already was. Minus the rock chick bit). To why a bit of make up would really perk up my looks. Can I just say for the record that while I have nothing against make up, I really don't like the feel of it on my skin. Also I never seem to get it right. I don't really know what I'm doing. So I don't. And I'm quite happy with it. It just bugs me that other people aren't. Why do they care?

This weekend has been glorious and awful in equal measure. The above pictures show some of the glorious. My frayed edges carry the awful. It was a sobbing into my husband's shoulder awful. It was more of the same, with a extra helping of for fucks' sake thrown in for good measure. This week is all about a deep breath, a steeling of the shoulders and marching back into battle. Because sometimes all you can do is dig your heels in and keep walking in a straight line.

I leave you with a quote from my favourite film...


"You know what we should do."
 
"How could I possibly know what we should do. What should we do?"
 
"Get out of it for a while. Rejuvenate."
 
"Rejuvenate? I'm in a park and I'm practically dead!"
 
(Withnail & I)
 
 
 Leanne xx



(I should apologise for my last post. I realised yesterday that half of it had been deleted and the rest was all in the wrong place. So sorry if it seemed rather abrupt. It wasn't meant to be so. And thank you for your comments and kind words).


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Up To You, Porky




 





Marc, my nephew and sister in law on Sunday. So proud of them all, but especially Karen. She's an inspiration.

thought you might like this, CT x




Above is a selection of snaps from this past week.

There has been a lot of outdoors action. Today I saw my first hummingbird moth. I've also seen small white butterflies over the towans. There are baby animals everywhere. I have to dodge the teeny rabbits as I drive along the back roads. They have no road sense whatsoever. I stood at the utility room window this evening, and watched my blackbird pair in the garden. He has a raggedy wing, and a kind of lop sided hop to his gait. She is very plump indeed. They make a lovely couple.

We have put up some bird feeders in the garden. Again. We have a go occasionally, by are inundated with crows who scare the little birds away. I seem to have struck gold this year though. We have had all different kinds visiting us. It has become a very absorbing pastime for Olly and I. We sit in the conservatory eating our breakfast watching the birds eating theirs. We are keeping a log of the birds that we see. It's important for me that Olly (like Alf and Sam before him) keeps his toe dipped into the natural world. Lately he has been going off the boil, which is fine really. Lots of children wax and wane. Besides the time travel project at school is fuelling his imagination no end, and he is entitled to choose where his interests lie.

But garden birds are seemingly ubiquitous, and I love that he recognises most of them. I love that he told me about the white flutters that he saw during his play time at school. I love his fascination for wood lice, and how he is often found lying on his side, watching them scuttle about the garden. He has no fear of bees, but is very wary of spiders. That's okay too; there's nothing wrong with a certain wariness of the natural world. It fosters a healthy respect for all that's out there. He sees me happily pick up and deposit spiders outside the house. They just make him shudder. In the same way that I'm not too keen on earwigs.


This evening you find me feeling very sad. The news of Victoria Wood's death today has knocked me sideways. She was my heroine. There isn't a day that passes that I don't quote something of hers. I discovered her when I was fourteen, and would avidly watch her television show every Tuesday evening on BBC2. It was laugh out loud funny. I loved her use of language, and how she could make the most ordinary word incredibly funny.  I shall leave you with this. Her acidic comedy is unsurpassed, and Kitty was my favourite.



Leanne xx

(my blog post title is actually the title of Victoria Wood's sketchbook published in 1985. My friend Claire bought it for me for Christmas that year. We used to act out some of the sketches before school, and even wrote some dreadful skits of our own inspired by it. In fact I remember one called 'At The Bus Stop' It brought the house down when we performed it to 5E)





Wednesday, 13 April 2016

In the greenhouse


As you may know, I have a small greenhouse situated in the front garden of my home. It is an unheated glass house measuring about 6ft square . Marc bought it for me as a Mother's Day present several years ago. Apparently it was a complete bugger to assemble and put up. I wouldn't know about that, because while he was wrestling with it, I was in my next door neighbours garden drinking wine.

I love my greenhouse. It is one of my most favourite places to be. I have spent many pleasurable hours with seeds and soil and pots. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy popping in and our of it during the day to check on the seed trays and look for small changes within. On a cold blustery day, the air is still and warm. The smell of things growing fills my nose and I swear all that lovely oxygen being pumped out is extremely good for me.

At the moment I have an assortment of flowers and veggies growing away. I try to grow everything from seed. Partly because it is cheaper. Partly because it's easier to do it with a greenhouse. But mostly because it is one of the most rewarding pastimes I know. Last year I saved an enormous quantity of flower seeds from my own garden. I also swapped seed with my friend Sophie and my neighbour Sandra. I was sent some by lovely people, and I also knocked on doors and asked whether I could take a seed pod or two.

For example, near my sister in law's house is a gorgeous garden with an array of plants. I admired a yellow poppy in particular, and I asked the lady that lived there whether I could have a couple of poppy heads. She invited me into her garden, and we spent a lovely half hour wandering around talking about different plants. I came away with several poppy seed heads, and some cuttings too. In return I gave her some of my marigold and cosmos seeds.

I find gardeners to be the loveliest of people. They are always generous with their produce. They love talking about plants as much as I do. They swap and share information, in a very democratic way. There's none of this know it all attitude with a gardener. I have learnt so much from talking, watching and listening to gardeners like my Uncle Alan and my father in law. I really value their input and advice, and their sharing of a lifetime's experience in their own gardens. I class myself still very much the beginner, and yet I love to pass on what I have learnt too.

I almost always grow more than I need. And so I pass seedlings and young plants on to other people. It's another reward of the greenhouse, that I can share its' bounty with others. My neighbour, Sarah, will probably be the main recipient this year. I have already given her a tray of sweet peas. I had five of them after all. I don't have the space for them all, and yet I just love sowing those seeds. The joy of seeing those first leaves push their way through the soil just never diminishes. I always sow extra veggies, because they don't always germinate. This year, every courgette and every cucumber and every tomato has. And they seem to be thriving. I shall be passing some of these on to anyone fool enough to take one off of my hands.

Olly likes to sow seeds too. This year he has chosen sweetcorn, sunflowers and rocket. The sweetcorn is more or less ready to pot on. The sunflowers - giant and a late flowering bronze variety - have just pushed their first leaves through the soil. He is very excited about them, because we are going to see how high we can grow them (Jennifer, get your ruler ready!). The rocket started off in the greenhouse, but we have moved it outside today. To make room for all the potting on that I am preparing to do in the next week or so. I think it may be quite a mammoth task. But one that gives me pause to sit quietly, and let my mind wander to this and that as I absorb myself in the process.

This weekend I shall be sowing all the legumes; runner, French, mange tout and peas. These will eventually be planted outside, but they are always started off in the greenhouse. The sweet peas will be moved outside to make room for them, and to prepare them to be planted in the garden. I cannot wait to be picking those first sweetly scented bunches to put by my bedside.

I always try something new, and this year I have sowed aubergine and dahlia seeds. The aubergines have all germinated and I'm really hopeful that I will get a crop of sorts this year. I had a go at the dahlias, because my established tubers in the garden did not thrive last year. I was apprehensive, because I had heard that it could be tricky getting them to germinate. So I am super pleased that they have, and are growing away with the true leaves showing that unmistakable variegated pattern.

I've also decided to do a little experiment. I have bought a selection of seeds for my dedicated butterfly area; cuckoo flower, red campion, ox eye daisy  and so on. Some I have sowed in seed trays, to be kept in the greenhouse. Some I have sowed directly into the garden. I'm interested to know whether the greenhouse will yield a greater number of seedlings for me to pot on and pot out, or whether these hardy plants will fare just fine from being sowed direct.

Finally, to prove that not everything goes according to plan, the bottom middle picture shows two  seeds trays that should have leek and chilli pepper seedlings romping away. They didn't germinate. I've no idea why. I thought leeks were really hardy. Another life skill that the greenhouse has taught me; to be pragmatic. As my father in law always says when planting seeds "they will go one way or the other."

I guess these went the other.

C'est la vie.

Leanne xx

Monday, 11 April 2016

Pleasurable Pursuits

 





 

 



 
Today was a day for throwing open the windows and letting the April air in. Far from resenting a morning spent indoors cleaning, I relished it. I love restoring the house to order after a school holiday. The first load of washing was on the line by 7.30am, and by 12.30 I had vacuumed, bleached, dusted, mopped, tidied, sorted and plumped like a woman possessed. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. Cleaning that is. I know that slob chic is a thing. I'm aware that a 'messy house means happy children' or some such rubbish. And frankly that's what it's been over the Easter holidays. I didn't venture into either Sam or Alfie's rooms once. I deposited their laundry outside their doors. I merely asked for dirty cups and plates to be bought downstairs when I was running low. I sniffed the air as I walked past their rooms, and restrained myself from barging in and demanding ventilation, and stripping beds of shameful sheets.
 
But I like clean and tidy. I love to walk past a sparkling bathroom. I find a real pleasure in seeing pressed bedding pulled and tucked to perfection. I swoon when I open my tea towel drawer to see a row of ironed cloths. I like my bits and bobs just so. I love to move furniture around for a different point of view. Call it my post holiday unwind. Call it restoring order from chaos.
 
We have been blessed with beautifully warm sunny weather today. A stark contrast to yesterday's bitter wind and evening thunderstorm. I sat in the back garden late this afternoon and dozed in the sun. It was heavenly to feel my freckles pop, and my skin slightly tighten on my cheeks. The boys were sat on the shed roof - which is forbidden, but goes unheeded - listening to Alf's iPod. I think it might have been Eminem, which wasn't the most pastoral tune going. But maybe it is if you're fourteen. What do I know? (I'm still recovering from dancing like a loon at a friend's fortieth bash on Saturday night. Can I just say that I was one of only two going totally Goth to 'She Sells Sanctuary' by The Cult. For the briefest of times, I convinced myself I was actually sixteen. My thighs the next day told me otherwise).
 
Olly was munching an apple. Alfie was swigging back tic tacs. And it was ideal. We ate tea outside. A kind of picnic tea of bacon baguettes, mugs of tea and apple juice. I'm sure I smelled a barbecue. It was probably our neighbour, Scouse Billy. He can be seen turning sausages, and swigging bottled beer at the first sign of sunshine. It's a very British thing to do, and he does it very well.
 
Of course, as the sun dipped the heat was gone. We wandered back inside, and went about our separate pursuits. I carried on pottering and doing. The boys wrestled in the living room. Good natured, I hasten to add. It's all about WWE here. I don't approve, but that's probably part of the appeal.
 
Bedtime reading was 'Mr Cleghorn's Seal' by Judith Kerr. We had finished 'Return To The Hundred Acre Wood' yesterday. I am enjoying reading a gentler story, after the Roald Dahl fest of recent months. I do like Dahl, but he can be rather violent, don't you think? And while my boys are all for a bit of indiscriminate brutality, they still desire gentler pursuits too. And I must confess that it's rather comforting knowing that Olly's head is filled with tales of animals holding a Harvest Festival, than someone getting their tail blown off by a drunk, before he goes to sleep.
 
I shall be wending my way to bed shortly. With a new book, 'The Trouble With Goats and Sheep' by Joanna Cannon. It was recommended by Rachel Joyce of Harold Fry fame. And because she is marvellous, I took her good advice. The question is, shall I have one last cup of tea before I wend my weary way? Or shall I fly in the face of convention and  go without?
 
Have a lovely week friends.
 
Leanne x
 
 
 
 





Monday, 4 April 2016

Another Walk After Tea

  






 Hello there!

I've spent the past half hour studiously ignoring an escalating argument between Sam and Alf. We are in the third week of Sam being home from University, and they have had quite enough of each other. It rarely comes to blows, but I've had to block my ears to some rather choice words being sparred back and forth. Olly is enthralled to Kung Fu Panda, and I've shut the door to lessen the sound. I could go up and intervene, but quite frankly I tend to make it much worse. Siblings just need to sort it out by themselves sometimes, don't you think?

They are so very different, you see. They clash on many levels. And add to this the older sibling imposing his new found status as an independent man of learning, and it's all a recipe for disaster. I'm actually quite surprised that it hasn't happened sooner. It's gone quiet again. For now.....

What I wanted to write about was a lovely walk that I took with Samuel yesterday evening. When he was little, and even before we had Honey, Sam and I would often stretch our legs after tea. Marc would bathe baby Alfie, and pop him to bed. I would take Sam out for an evening ramble, in order to try and tire him out. Or to alleviate whatever little worry was niggling him. He was always a sensitive child, prone to over thinking and developing fears of many things; vomiting, swallowing, choking and the like. He started to read voraciously as a way to distract himself, but it wasn't always enough. Sometimes it was hard to know what to do to help him.

From a young age, he would rather walk than be in his pram or buggy. He loved to stop and start, inspecting things along the way. He noticed everything; every insect, every bit of rubbish on the floor, every sound, every car. He asked incessant questions about it all. Sam was always full of the whys. It could be quite exhausting when you were indoors, trying to do all the other stuff as well as look after this questioning child. It was easier to be outside with him, walking at a leisurely pace and being able to give your attention to him fully.

And so as he grew older, Sam and I would often walk our favourite walks. And as he grew older, I started to learn from him. He told me everything that I would ever need to know about dinosaurs. Ditto traction engines and other steam powered machines. On one particular walk, I had a complete potted history of St Ives. And there was the time that he told me all about An Goff the Cornish martyr. We have seen some wonderful things together on these walks; a pod of dolphins swimming into Porthmeor, from around Man's Head was a particular highlight. He was a little sponge, soaking up all he saw and all he heard.

Of course these walks petered out eventually, and there came a time when he could hardly be prevailed to go on a walk at all. And all of his chuldhood worries and fears were replaced by the teenage angst that is familiar to us all. Any number of fears about fitting in, and looking the part. I guess you could call them the very 'normal' traumas of growing from boy to teen to man. But they were still as hard to witness. And his Dad and I tried to our best to help, in that ludicrously ham fisted way of ours.

And then he was gone. Up the line and away to the North. His visit home this Easter has been punctuated by his conflicted desires of home versus away. I don't mind. I felt the same when I moved away. Away was so much better. Away was more fun. Away meant your rules, as opposed to your parent's rules. I have so wanted to spend a little quality time with him. But he has been rather distant. Too busy. Too involved in keeping in touch with the friends that he has made. He has secured a job for the summer holidays, and is making plans for his return to Liverpool at the weekend.

But yesterday, I asked if he'd like to go for a walk with me after tea. A well trod route; up Burthallan Lane, down to Clodgy Point, past Porthmeor Brach and into town. He ummed and aahed, but then said he would. And so off we set. Chatting about this and that, although I found I was probably chatting the most. Compensating for his quiet solitude I guess. Sam can be a chatter box, but he's also quite a reserved young chap, and doesn't gab on for the sake of it. I found myself playing the 'remember when' game with him, and he warmed to the theme. He mentioned things that I had forgotten. We laughed about this and that. We talked a little politics and current affairs. We stood and watched the sea.

I thought to myself how much he has grown. He's only been away for a few months, and yet he has matured so  in just that short space of time. He can still be a total pain the arse. He tries to parent Olly far more than I would like him to. He can be demanding in that way peculiar to the eldest child. But he is also such a nice lad. Thoughtful, wise and displaying a kind of Big Bang Theory charm, that cracks me up. I think that Sam will never come home in any real capacity. His life is already elsewhere, and I think that it will remain so. City life suits him far more than small town living ever will. I think it fits him better. But I know that he loves the part of the world that he was brought up in. That it has played a part in defining and shaping the young man that he has become.

The main thing was to spend a little time with him. Just me and him together, walking side by side. I may not get to do it again for a long time.

It was a rather lovely walk.

Leanne xx


Thank you all so much for your kind words and encouragement about my taking up writing. You'll be pleased to hear that I have started scribbling in earnest. Not for any higher plain than my own pleasure. But very satisfying it has been. In the quiet of the evening, I sit at the dining table and tap, tap, tap. It is amazing what springs forth when you have a mind to do something.






Thursday, 31 March 2016

Easter Happenings

  
 





 
 



 

Some stuff from our holiday at home so far. Minus the bit where I tell you that I am recovering from St Ives flu (it's a real thing), because you all already know how stoic I am when it comes to a viral infection.....

Sunshine

I know! After the most appalling weather over the bank holiday weekend, and the promise of more to come, the far west of Cornwall did it's thing of proving the weather forecaster wrong. It's been flipping glorious. We have been making the most of it; in the garden, on the hill, along the beaches, up the lanes. There has been lined dried washing, and the seeds are going crazy in the greenhouse. I've never known Cosmos to germinate so quickly.

Nature Nerd

She's back. Because so it would seem are the pollinators. We have some rather gorgeous garden bumbles careering around the garden. They are enjoying the anemones, dandelions and bluebells very much. A hover fly has taken up residence by one of my flower trugs. He makes it his business to harass anyone going too near. Ladybirds have been spotted too. The frog spawn turned tadpole for about five minutes, then disappeared. It's the newts, I'm afraid. We pond dipped, and found five of them looking very pleased (and very full). I have seen my first flutters; Peacocks and small tortoiseshells along a walk around Bussow Lake. I became rather over-excited about it all.

Planning

A butterfly garden. Following CT's advice in her penultimate post, I have decided that this year I will try and create a space in the garden for butterflies to be able to feed, lay their eggs and hopefully hatch into caterpillars. I have so enjoyed encouraging the pollinators into my garden over these past few years, but gave scant thought to providing a suitable habitat for their whole life cycle. I have ear-marked a space at the bottom of the garden. It's near the bug house that Olly and I made a couple of years ago. I shall be naming it after CT, who has been a total inspiration for me, and whose blog I will miss terribly. I have ordered some seeds; cuckoo flower (for the orange tips), red campion, michlemass daisies and others. There are already nettles there, and some wild flowers too. I hope to write a more detailed post about it when it is more of a thing, but I am very excited about all.

Worrying

A little. About Honey. I've booked her in to see the vet tomorrow. It would appear that she is struggling a little with her breathing. Especially on our longer walks. She's a Cavalier, and they can have heart problems. Plus, she's ten this year, and I think I need to have a chat with the vet about our walks. I'm used to going for miles, and she's always, always trotted along happily by my side (actually to the left and just a little behind me). Lately, she seems more tired after her constitutional and I'm concerned. She is my constant, my little canine friend, my beautiful big eyed girl. I don't know what I'd do without her. She's the only member of the family not to have called me fat.

Inspecting

It's that time of year where every day yields little changes in and around the garden. As the ground slowly warms up, and especially now that the clocks have gone forward, there is new growth everywhere. The trees are starting to bud. My plum tree is about to burst into blossom at any moment. New shoots are rising up and out of the ground, from all the perennials that I always forget are there. The bulbs are growing apace. There are tulips flowering, and the plants that I bought for the pond at the beginning of the year are putting on growth. The clematis Montana has thousands of flower buds all along its' length and breadth, and the echium are a whisper away from shooting their flower spire up high into the sky. I have been enjoying my first cup of tea while wandering around and noticing these daily changes. It's good for the soul. Gardens are happy places indeed.

Making

Okay not quite making yet. But about to. Olly and I have to design and build a time machine. Not a real one, I hasten to add. His project at school for the next half term is time travel. It has been suggested - on a slip of paper thrust into my hand at the end of term - that this may be a nice project to do during the school holiday. Olly has very grand ideas about it all. I have been collecting enough suitable junk modelling materials to do it justice. I have PVA glue. I have paint, glitter, stickers, foil. I have the omnipresent image of the Dr's Tardis in my mind. I actually think that it's a rather marvellous project for a load of six years old to do. I guess it will be about going back or forward in time, history and a bit of science perhaps. All good fun anyway. I know that there is a trip to Truro museum in the offing, and I shall do my very best to be invited along. I am CRB checked, never fear. I'm quite well behaved and I rarely wander off.

Writing

Sam said to me the other day 'Why don't you write more than just your blog?' I explained that I'm really rather busy, and haven't got all that much free time. 'So? Start with short stories, or just a jumble of words and ideas. Just write for five minutes a day,' he replied. 'You should be writing more. You always wanted to be a writer, Mum.' At the time I smiled wryly to myself, thinking, as if!  As if I have the time, energy or inclination to write more than the words here. For what purpose would I do it anyway? And why? As it turns out, Sam is right. You don't have to write a grand opus, or become an over night JK Rowling in order to write. You can just do it for the pleasure thereof. He writes all the time; fan fiction, alternate histories, plays, short stories and a long running series that he admits he posts online but won't tell me where. I really admire Sam for this. He's not seeking fame or fortune through his writing. He is writing for the pleasure it gives him, and it a necessary creative outlet for him too. So I've taken my son's advice. I've bypassed the notebook, and gone straight to the word document. I'm really enjoying myself. Anyway I was never going to crochet that blanket. Who was I kidding about that kind of creative outlet?



Anyhoo lovely people near and far. It's 9pm, my pjs are calling, as is the kettle. I'm off to bed with my book. And quite possibly a mini twix bar.

Have a good one.

Leanne xx