Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Sabbatical


Evening all.

I hope that this finds you happy and well.

All is good here, but life has been rather getting in the way of regular blogging.

So a decision.

To take a sabbatical along with Marc, and go forth and adventure for the next couple of months.

I'll still check in with you. And I'll still be on Instagram.

And I'll possibly write a post or two. I mean, never say never.

But for now, friends, have a lovely summer.

Leanne xx





Saturday, 25 June 2016

Exterior, Interior and Obligatory Ranting


 


Morning campers!

You find me sat in my pyjamas surrounded by dust and boxes and furniture. The aim is to try and restore some order from the chaos of the past two weeks. Truthfully, right now I just can't be bothered. Marc has gone off to a sailing regatta, and I'm left at home feeling like a 1950s housewife. Olly has plonked himself in front of the tv and Sam and Alf are yet to surface from their respective middens. I'm trying to channel my inner Julie Andrews, but I fear that she's rebelled. She's swapped her dirndl for a mini and gone clubbing. Good for her. I'm hoping that gin, and Adele belting out a power ballad on the Pyramid stage at Glasonbury will sort me out later, but it's touch and go.

We have more or less finished the re-vamp, but are still awaiting the arrival of new sofas and the wood burner. I was hoping to show it all off a bit here, but maybe I'll slip some photos into a later post when all is finally finished. I have to say that I am beyond happy with what has been done so far. Once again our house is a beacon of white on the hill. I'm proud of my handsome looking house, but she was looking rather grubby and down at heel. Only the chimneys await a lick of paint, but we now have Mr and Mrs Seagull and their two babies nesting on the roof, so have had to retreat back down the ladders for a while.

Actually the babies seem to have taken up residence just below one of the velux windows in the roof of my bedroom. They flip flopped out of the nest, and found their way there last week. Now they can't get back, so are skittering about under the watchful eye of their parents. They like to play seagull slide up and down the velux at four in the morning, which is going down a treat here, as you can imagine. Olly and I lay in bed this morning, watching them clamber onto the window, scrabble up a little way and then slide down. "That looks like fun," Olly remarked.

Inside we have had the wooden flooring of the living room and convservatory sanded and re-varnished. I was going to white wash it, but in the end I chose a mat water based clear varnish. I was afraid white walls and floors would look rather stark and give off a kind of generic coastal home vibe, if that makes sense. Anyway I'm thrilled with how it has turned out. The floor looks like the colour of pale honey, and I have spent hours just staring at it. We opened up the old fireplace, which revealed a hideous (and huge) feature fire surround. It consisted of machine cut blocks of granite, and was probably installed in the seventies, judging by the crazy paving-esque design. However there was a beautiful curved granite lintel just above the fireplace itself. So the decision was taken to render the fireplace leaving this piece of granite exposed, and install a mantel above. The result is frankly a thing of beauty. The mantel is probably a little too high, but actually I really like it. A slate hearth has been added, and once the wood burner is installed, I may take up residence there and never leave its' side.

We have also painted all of the skirting boards and architraves white, which gives a clean, fresh finish to what was horrid varnished pine that had taken on that orange hue from years of sun exposure. It's amazing what a difference it makes to the room. We are lucky to live in a light house, but this just adds to it. The vile upvc patio doors that led from the living room into the conservatory have been riped out, and for the time being we have decided not to install any other doors. I love the flow of the whole space now. We have always used the conservatory throughout the year, but it just includes it into the downstairs space more, if that makes any sense. All of the walls have been given a lick of paint (white) and I may paint a feature wall in a different colour. Or I may not. I really like white walls, even if they show up the muddy paws that reside in this house.

As I write, I am very aware that all my interior decorating seems so trite in comparison to the events that have unfolded here in the UK. I was absolutely gutted by the referendum result. I was saddened and sickened by the senseless death of Jo Cox. Like many other people living in the UK, I am worried for the future of our country. I sometimes despair at the manipulation and scare mongering of our politicians and media. I wish Murdoch would butt out of our affairs. I cannot believe that inflated concerns surrounded immigration, have been twisted and used in such a perverse way. I can't say that I'm sad to see Cameron go, but I'm furious that Corbyn didn't have the balls to stand up and be counted. I really don't want to see Boris bufooning his way into no 10, any more than I could bear it if odious Gove snuck in the back door. I worry about our wonderful NHS. I worry about what the future holds for my three boys, and all the young people of this country. It just goes on and on and on at the moment.

You know what? I think I'm ready for a bit of furious scrubbing.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Hopefully normal service has been resumed.

Leanne xx






Sunday, 5 June 2016

Internal Drifting



 





I have a lot of internal chatter right now. Do you ever get that? It's not anxiety, although there are worries lurking away. I've not really been able to write a coherent sentence for a while, either on here or in my journal or the other writing that waits in the wings. I think it's because life has been really busy here - good stuff and not so good stuff - and I find I haven't got the energy to devote elsewhere.

And I've been thinking a lot about my time spent training and studying to be a counsellor. I loved my counselling course. I mean, I really loved it. The learning experience, the knowledge gathered, the skills acquired and all the really amazing people that I met and shared it all with along the way. I don't regret giving up working as a counsellor. I found it really hard to juggle it's demands and the demands of home. I think I probably wasn't resilient enough in the end, although I did have faith in my counselling practice. It just took too much out of me, and so I had to prioritise what was most important. Ultimately it was my family, and when I walked away it wasn't with regret or a sense of guilt. I knew that I had made the right decision, even though it made me feel sad too. And that was okay, because it was a healthy sadness and I could process it and move on.

But I do miss the bit before. The learning bit, and the connections made. I miss writing my reflective journal (although I guess in some ways I'm still doing that). The fact that that it was read by my tutors as part of my course appraisal, was something I came to value so much for their comments and input into my thoughts and feelings. I trusted them implicitly with those precious words. I wanted them to read it. I think it was because I really wanted someone to stand beside me while I poured out the stuff that was rolling around in my head. I liked knowing that they knew it all too. That they held it for me, and kept a bond of trust by their confidential stance. It never felt like exposure.

I'm wondering whether I'm retuning to that time, because right now I need to return to those skills, and I need to be able to re-connect with the core tenants of my person centred training. I need to for the sake of stuff at home. In many ways I have to try and find a way to not just be 'Mum' but also be listener, empathiser, congruent and non-judgemental, balancing that with all the necessary boundaries and rules of the household. And of course a Mum strives to all that too; I just need to be able to side step a bit of the Mum. Kind of walk around her, and pop her on the back burner every now and again.

But I think I also need something else. I need to open up that intellectual side of me once more. I crave those books spread out in front of me, and the chewing of the pencil. I yearn for the racking of the brains to gain an understanding of something new. I want a little of that eureka moment, when it all starts to make sense and slot into place. My reading levels have been soaring through the roof this year. I'm devouring novels at an alarming rate. That's not a boast, but an indicator of how much my brain is demanding to be used in a way other than the role I play in my daily life.

Don't get me wrong, my daily life is full and rewarding and hard and difficult and wonderful and everything in between. I'm not bored by any means. And anyway I chose it in good faith, and I wouldn't have it any other way. There's just a space. A gap. Something that needs to be filled. Something a little more for me and my head. I'm not hugely clever or gifted. Bright, yes. Quick witted, yes. But so many things are completely out of my realm of understanding. But I'd just really like a bit of study.

......

I'm also totally aware of my neglect of you all these past few weeks. It's something that I do feel guilty about, because I cant begin to tell you how much I value this community that I have been welcomed into. My blog is really important to me, and I know that so are yours to you all. And I have been slack in the being witness, advocate, joker and commenting on your lives and thoughts and feelings, which is rather remiss of me. I have a fortnight of work to the house coming up. Big stuff; painting the outside of the house, and an re-vamp of the living and dining room. We're talking sanding floors, wood burners, re-arrangement, painting and decorating the whole sh-bang. So clearly that's going to upset the apple cart some. But I'm hoping that the return to school and term time routines will offset some of the mayhem that will ensue. And that I can find time and space for visiting you all. I feel like a friend that's been a bit rubbish actually. Sorry. I'd make it up to you with cake if I could. Or a curry and a beer :)

I do have some posts of my own planned. Quite loosely obviously. As you know my blog isn't scripted. It's a mixture of news from here, 'stuff' and processing on the page. But there's quite a few things that I'd like to share with you all, and to record it here for future reading. The above snaps were taken with my phone (as I've been writing this, I'm aware that I have no idea where my camera is. Slightly concerned, I won't lie). We've been camping. I'm getting over a bout of tonsillitis (I've had a child's illness. Can it get more ridiculous?!). The garden looks beautiful, and I'm so proud of it. St Ives is glorious right now. The blues are out of this world. The twinkly sea mesmerising. Betty is back on the drive and gearing up for a little re-fit of her own. And the big story chez Today's Stuff, is that Marc is taking a two month sabbatical during July and August. Have I mentioned that already? I'm so excited about it. We haven't spent any real length of time as a full family unit for thirteen years.

And now it's 12.30am, and I think my mind has been let off steam ;))

Thank you blog.

Thanks guys. Aren't you lovely.

Leanne xx

Thursday, 26 May 2016

A Life In A Day










I've hurt my knee, and ripped a hole through my favourite linen trousers. My knee hurts. So does my pride. I went arse over elbow, by tripping up over a tree root while watching a speckled wood. It's dangerous stuff this nature nerd lark. Honey was unimpressed; she didn't even raise her head from sniffing a clump of couch grass.

Olly is currently lying on the sofa coughing. Actually it's more of a hacking. He gets it from time to time. The GP says it's a recurrent virus, go home, let it run its' course. So we are. But his chest and throat hurt and he's really bad tempered. So I've put YouTube on, and Stampy is currently rampaging around Minecraft (don't ask).

I really want a gin and tonic, after seeing a picture of one on Instagram. Curse you @annafield1

I went to great lengths this lunchtime to explain to a group of Year one children about why bees aren't scary, how marvellous they are and all the good that they do for us. They stood and listened, eyes wide with wonder. Then a bee buzzed past, Arthur screamed "Killer Bee!" and they all ran away. I guess you can't convert everyone.

I woke at about 5.20 this morning, and watched the most spectacular sunrise over the bay of St Ives. The colours were extraordinary; peachy pink hues infused with heat from the receding red of the sun's first rays. Louie Armstrong was spot on.

I cut some lilac from my tree in the front garden. It is filling the house with its' perfume. Why do the blooms that smell so good go over so quickly? Is there an actual reason for it?

The light has been so bright today that I've had to wear my hat and sunglasses. I'm increasingly finding that I get a headache if my crown is exposed to sunshine for any length of time. I'd forgotten how much I like wearing a hat. Hats suit me. I think it's because I have so little hair.

I have eaten three slices of the Victoria sponge that I baked for the boys yesterday. I say slices, but really they were more like hunks. Three massive hunks. I don't feel at all guilty. The lack of guilt worries me.

I spent this morning gardening for two of my friends, when I should have been in my own garden. Now I can't be arsed to plant out the remaining marigolds. I'm all gardened out, and I've split a nail. Gardening is not for the glamorous.

The house needs vacuuming.

The boys are having pasta for the third time this week. I'm in a real food rut at the moment. I'm so bored of cooking tea. It's just the same old, same old don't you think? It is here at any rate.

I am really behind in my blog reading. I've been going to bed really early, and reading all the books I scored at the charity shops in Falmouth a couple of weeks ago. I bought ten books for about five pounds. Not bad eh? I'm currently reading this, which was only published last year. I have the Pat Barker Regeneration trilogy, a biography of Charlotte Bronte, some Jo Nesbo and others. Forgive me, lovely ones. I will catch up over the weekend.

I have a spot. Why?

Alfie and I had the 'revision' conversation this afternoon. He has end of year exams after half term. He won't revise. I am frustrated with that, even though I never did at his age either. He has too much of me in him, and I spend a lot of my time wishing he didn't. Do you ever notice those quirks your children display that remind you of you? It's not always easy to admit that you've passed on some of your less brilliant traits.

My sweet peas are struggling. Come on sweet peas!

My resident Speckled Wood chased away an Orange Tip today. I fear my garden will be a butterfly free zone, tanks to my feisty tenant. He's had a go at me too. I was only walking around with my cup of tea, and he came out and  fluttered at me. He's very dogged.

The above photos are from a lovely day spent at Boscastle yesterday. The woodland that covers the valley was full of life. I spotted a silver washed fritillary that the info boards told me would be flying. It was lovely. Lots of damselflies too. And it was so green and lush. A cheese, tomato and basil sandwich on multi seed bread, eaten overlooking the entrance to the harbour just about topped it off.

Back soon.

Leanne xx





Monday, 23 May 2016

The Wanderer Returns



  

 












Hello gorgeous ones.

Eh, it's all go. I've taken a little blog break, to re-group and have a think. I've said before that stuff behind the scenes here have been a tad fraught. Thankfully they seem to have settled down for now. Hopefully long enough to give my frazzled nerves a wee break. Between the babe, the teen and the soon to be nineteen, I'm wrung as tight as my Nanny's dish cloth.

Thank the Lord for the great outdoors. A place where I can always find peace, quiet, wonder and a clarity of vision. Mid May, and the hedgerows have pulled out all the stops in terms of variety and colour. There is a walk I like to do at this time of year. It's not far from my house; about five minutes to the footpath. From there you follow an ancient track down towards Hellesveor Cliffs. It's owned and managed by the National Trust, and they have left it to it's own devices.

It has an air of magic. It's a place that makes my heart stop, and makes me want to pinch myself that I live here at all. I embrace the space that big skies and endless sea creates. I need it to balance the claustrophobia I sometimes feel at home. It hasn't helped that the weather has been so unpredictable. St Ives has been subject to the dreaded sea mist lately. It envelopes the town and oppresses. It leaches the town of colour. I can't see the lighthouse when I pull Olly's blinds in the morning, and I miss her presence in my eye line as I go about my day.

Not today though. Today was sweet. I walked instead of swam. And then I powered through the post weekend housework and food shop. To top it off, I was visited by an orange tip as I hung out the washing. Who was chased away by my resident speckled wood.

What a great start to the week.

Leanne xx












Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Observationist



 
 

 
 




Any ideas CT?
 
 
Three women sitting in the garden having a cup of tea. The sun is shining after a dull start to the day, and the air is still and warm with just a whisper of a breeze. The conversation is flowing freely, and there is laughter. There are conspiratorial conversations, and ribald jokes. One person is not fully engaged in the process. Her eyes are darting here and there. She is distracted by glimpses of little things with wings. Her attention is elsewhere. She misses whole passages of chat, and is gently mocked for her sudden jumping up and out of her chair to inspect something in the grass.
 
She grabs her camera to make a record of things she sees. She isn't able to capture it all, but doesn't mind. It is the experience that she relishes the most. The being there when it happens. She is thrilled that it is happening in her humble plot. She wonders what else might be crawling and flying and wriggling and walking through. She feels a pure joy that comes with connecting with something other; the bee, the butterfly, the slowworm, the frog, the bird.
 
She cannot put a name to everything that she sees. But she feels that the seeing, the noticing, is the most crucial bit. It's the acknowledgement to herself that it was there. That she saw it all is the bit that makes her insides swell with the wonder of it all. It brings colour and drama and depth to her life, and she is forever grateful to it. When she is frazzled and worn down to a nub, she can look out of the window and be calmed and restored at the life witnessed outside.
 
.....
 
Thank you for your wonderfully generous comments on my last post.
Welcome all those new to here.
A smile and a wave to you all.
I shall be away for about a week.
Love and kisses.
 
Leanne xx
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


Saturday, 7 May 2016

A landscape

  








Well my friends it's been a mixed bag of a week, and that's the truth. Family life seems to swing from rather wonderful to completely hideous at the moment, and I'm left fighting for breath and trying to catch up. Part of me is happy for the rain forecast for today. It means that I can stay at home and potter and do. I haven't slept well for what seems like ages, and my energy levels are low. I'm having a relaxy pants day. I'm planning some comforting food for our evening meal, and I'm already looking forward to an evening bath, clean pyjamas and bed with a book (I'm currently this, and rather enjoying it).

As always in times of strife and woe, the landscape of West Cornwall wraps it's rugged arm around me and pulls me close. Up the hill on Wednesday after tea, I played hide and seek with Olly. It was a glorious evening; warm and still. The sheep and their babies were grazing on the tough grass, and the buzzards were soaring high overhead. We spotted rabbits, and there were a few common blue butterflies flitting over the day-glo yellow gorse.

It occurred to me as I looked down upon the landscape below, that to some it must look barren and rather dull. There are no trees for one thing. They only thrive in the valleys and more sheltered parts of the area. Standing on the hill, you can see the bay of  St Ives on one side, and the bay of Penzance on the other. It is a narrow peninsula, and the landscape has been shaped and defined by the weather fronts that come in from the sea, and sweep over it, battering anything but the most hardy into submission. Gorse, ferns and heather dominate here. The wild flowers that thrive are those that can form a carpet of ground hugging and incongruous display; dog violets, spurge, stitchwort, celandines and the like. Their beauty can only be appreciated by close examination, which normally involves laying close to the ground for inspection.

The landscape is strewn with rocks. Giant boulders randomly scattered over time hewn from tough, indomitable granite. These too have been shaped and moulded by the weather over thousands of years. When I lean against these beautiful beasts, or run my hand along them, they are unyielding and yet warm to the touch. They offer up a real feeling of safety when I am feeling scared and undone. I can trust that they will always be there. Standing proud, jutting out from the ground. And although they may look drab, on closer inspection they are a myriad of colours. From bluish grey to sparkling silvers. Their colours change with the light, and they seem to glow in the golden hour of the day's end.

The landscape is scored throughout by the stone boundaries of fields, created by the people who have farmed this area for generations. Some of them are ancient. They are exquisite works of art. They signify toil and labour. They enclose animals and crops. Their construction has always fascinated me, and they too, have this tactile quality that makes me want to reach out and run my hand along them. They support the existence of lichen, ferns, mosses and other small plants. They are a living, breathing thing.

Throughout my life I have always felt slightly out of place. I never felt like I truly fitted in. Being shy didn't help. Nor did the pink National Health glasses with a patch over one of the lenses. Even my skin didn't fit, as I lurched from childhood into adolescence and the free fall of adulthood. I have experienced truly awful periods of blackness and despair, and wondered whether I'd ever function as a human being again. I cannot claim success in any shape or form. I get up and greet the day, and hope that it will be a good one. And oftentimes it is. It is normal and unassuming, and I am perfectly contented and happy with it. But sometimes it isn't, and then I find that I am doubting myself in every conceivable way. It's just not always enough to be a nice person, who just wants the best for others, and a quiet life for herself. It's just not always enough to be who you are.

But this landscape, this adopted home of mine, assures me again and again that what can at first appear to be rather unpromising is actually wonderfully varied with a beautiful honesty. It bows its' head to the incoming storm and has learned to thrive despite everything. And maybe you need to take a closer look to appreciate it. Take your time to see what lies beneath. It's worth it though. There's magic there, and a depth of colour painted in layer after layer. The landscape fits me like a glove, and assures me that all will be well. That I can yield to the incoming storm without fear. I am thankful to be held in its' embrace.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Leanne xxx