Monday, 1 December 2014

pressing the pause button

Hello everyone,

This feels such a bizarre and unreal thing to write. I will not be around much in the next few weeks or months, and I felt I needed to let you all know that I have not disappeared into the ether. I am not following and enjoying and commenting on your lovely blogs because I am no longer interested. And I am not under the weather.

My Dad is poorly. And I will be shuttling back and forth between St Ives and Bristol for the foreseeable future. It's all a bit shitty, but if you knew my Dad you would be comforted by the fact that he is probably the most tenacious and bloody minded bugger on the planet. He will face this hideous illness, and it's grim treatment, with his usual pragmatism.

And he will get through it. He has to. He promised to teach me to jive....

And me, my sister, my brother, his family and friends will be with him every step of the way.

I just felt the need to tell you. Because you are my friends. And I will miss being part of this very special community. Even if it is for a short while.

Have a wonderful Christmas. May all your festive wishes come true!

With all my love,

Leanne xx

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Precious Things

I'm quite an unadorned kind of gal. I rarely make up or jewellry. My hair has been the same style (apart from a couple of dodgy perms) since I was little. My eyebrows are untidy and my toenails hardly polished. It's not a boast. I'm not necessarily proud of my generally unkempt appearance. I'd love to know how to apply make up properly. I can happily spends eons picking up, inspecting and then putting back eye shadow trios in Boots. I have a friend who always wears lovely necklaces. My favorite section of The Antiques Roadshow is the jewelry. And I was very taken this year by a contestant's earrings on GBBO.

engagement middle. 21st left. just because right.

I have three rings given to me by my Dad. One for my twenty first, one for my engagement (it's complicated. Marc never got round to it, and Dad found a bobby dazzler for his girl. He sent it in the post. Can you imagine it) and one just because. They are beautiful, and I hardly ever wear them. They are actually precious, in that the stones are real diamonds and sapphires. They scare me little I have to admit. The above photo does not show them off at their best, because they glint and sparkle like nobody's business.

Before I had children, I always thought that I'd pass them onto the daughters I would most definitely have. I didn't have them. So now I think that maybe the boys might like to give them to their girls when they are older. Maybe as an engagement ring, if that's the path they eventually travel. Or maybe I'll give them to my grand-daughters, if I have any.

I should wear them. They are kept out of sight in a box at the back of my knicker drawer. And while I'm at it, I'll have a make over at one of those counters, have my hair styled, get my eyebrows waxed, paint my nails, pop on a pair of heels and sashay down the cobbles of Fore Street as if I'm Elizabeth Taylor.

I quite fancy being a diva.

Leanne xx

If you'd like to read more Precious Things,
 pop along to the following contributors

Sarah at Mitenska

Monday, 17 November 2014

Not Only But Also

Hello there!

Firstly thank you for your wonderful response to my last post. When I started writing it, I had in mind a kind of tips for raising boys kind of affair. But lets be honest here, the best thing to do is throw away the manuals when you have kids. They scupper any attempts to try and label them or put them in a box. The minute I think "gosh my boys are so thoughtful and lovely" they immediately do something vile. Likewise when I'm literally at the end of my tether and would quite happily list them on Ebay, they disarm me with acts of kindness and love. Such is the way of the child.


Apart from some ridiculous weather, things have been trucking along here. My daily business is unassuming and routine. I am swimming more, and enjoying being able to swim further and faster every week. I met up with Antonia and we had a rather lovely wander and natter and coffee and lunch. I think it's the start of a great friendship. And my friends, she wore a blue polka dot coat. I wonder if she heard my inner self covet it?

There have been huge flocks of Starlings congregating in my road. They appear between the heavy showers, and gorge themselves on the white seeds of the many palm trees in mine and my neighbours gardens. I have a massive palm tree. I had been toying with the idea of cutting it down. But watching this murmuring has made me wonder whether I should embrace it's bird feeding capacity, and just accept that I will be constantly picking up palm leaves forever and ever and ever..... I ran up and down my road trying to get the money shot of these birds in flight en mass. Sadly I just wasn't quick enough.


I have enjoyed walking Honey along the beaches once more. She seems to have got over her eye ailment, which is a relief for both of us. I am always struck by the amount of surfers in the water on a week day. Perhaps they are postmen, or chefs in between shifts. They are nearly always men at any rate. There was some particularly good surfing displays on Friday. The waves were good. Three feet and clean, I believe. I haven't made good on my promise to learn to surf. But I am a step closer to donning a wet suit. You just never know.

I pass this working studio every week on my way to my gardening job. It enchants me. I find it romantic. Look at the works in progress on their easels. Look at the tools of the painters trade; the brushes, the paint smeared cloth, containers of turps. The smell emanating from the open door was quite intoxicating. You are invited to come in, but I am very shy - almost intimidated - by such places. What must it be like to have a space such as this to work in? Are any of you lucky enough to have a space such as this?

I have been very taken with the pared back forms of the plants that border hedgerows and coastal paths. I am a fan of Angie Lewin. Her lino prints are out of my price range, but I can reproduce a little of her talent by taking a snap of the real thing. They are so beautifully sparse, don't you think.

 And I think I found a mermaid's purse on Lelant beach. I've never seen one before. Of all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) things that get washed up on that expanse of beach, it has somehow eluded me. There were razor shells in abundance too, and some may have found their way into my pocket and home.

Oh and Samuel has decided to accept the offer from Liverpool University. He will be a long way away from St Ives this time next year. I'm trying not to think about it too much.

Leanne xx

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Raising Boys

My alarm goes off at 6.30. It's been a night of musical beds, and so I am feeling a little tired. And therefore teasy. I go into Alf's room to rouse him from restful slumbers "Alf, time to get up." "Go away," comes the muffled response. I can hear Olly calling from his room. I open his door "Morning Pops." "Where's Daddy?" "He's at work. He'll be back tonight." "Can you go away when he comes back? I just want to be with Dad." Back into Alf's room "Up you get, mate." "Stop banging on," comes the reply.

 And on it goes. In fact by about 8.15 my patience - which is not great at the best of times - has failed me. Olly won't eat any breakfast, which causes me no end of stress on a school day. I have a need to feed, and the fact that he isn't playing ball leaves me frazzled. I have to physically wrestle him into his uniform, while he kicks and screams blue bloody murder. Alfie blames me for making him stay in the shower for half an hour, even though I have been banging on the door after five minutes telling him to vacate, like, Now!! Throw Sam into the mix - there is always the expectation that I drive him to college on a Thursday, because he starts later - and I can feel my eye starting to twitch, my pulse race and my voice become ever shrill.

It is pouring with rain, and so I agree to give Alfie a lift to school. "We have to leave by 8.30, so I can get Olly into school on time." We leave a 8.45, after Alfie has finished doing whatever it is that he does in his bedroom. The world and his wife are taking their offspring to school. It isn't helped by the fact that Alfie and Olly shout at each other constantly whilst they are in the car. Missiles are thrown, and I nearly drive into a traffic cone. I don't deposit Olly to school until 9.10. The teachers are fine about it, but I have a thing for lateness you see, and so I don't feel very fine about it.

I come home to find Sam taking clean cereal bowls out of the cupboard, inspecting them, and then putting them in the washing up bowl. "Why are you doing that?" (or words to that effect). 'They're all dirty." "No they're not." (or words to that effect) "Perhaps you should wash up better." "£$%^&***^%$" (or words to that effect). "Can I get a lift to college?" "No." "It's raining." "You have a buss pass." "It just smacks of favouritism in this house."

Then my phone tells me I have a text. From Alfie. "Forgot PE kit. Leave it at reception." Right! So off I go, back to school with his kit. I park in a disabled bay (I know, I know), run into the school in the howling wind and rain and deposit it with the lovely receptionist.  I meet my friend Nichola, who has brought in her son's forgotten packed lunch. We pass comment on what an absolute pain the arse both our boys are.

I get home, and drive Sam to college. The journey passes in complete silence. We arrive at college. "Have a nice day," I say. The door slams shut. I drive home. Actually I stop at the supermarket, because the boys have run out of fruit and cereal. Then I drive home. I make beds, pick up socks, pants and stuff from bedroom floors. I vacuum said floors. I empty their wastepaper bins. I do all of this completely grudgingly.

I pick up Olly from school. He has made some junk modelling for me "It's a present for you," he says. He tells me on the way home that he chose the floral box, because I like flowers. Alfie arrives home and gives me a huuuuge hug "The receptionist said you didn't look too happy this morning." "Well I wasn't." "I got 8/8 on my French test." Sam has had a letter from Cambridge. It's not good news. He is upset and seeks me out. "I didn't really want to go. But it would have been nice to know that I could have gone," he says.

"Fuck 'em," I say.

Sam laughs.

"Love you, Mum."

Leanne xx

(Yes I do occasionally use bad language in front of my children).

Monday, 10 November 2014


We stomped all over the Towans this weekend. The skies were wonderful. Bursts of the most brilliant sunshine, and then huge leaden skies that threatened rain. I love wandering underneath the big skies of West Cornwall. They are so vast. There wasn't much wild life to see. Mainly shifty crows and sneaky magpies. The boys played 'Assassin.' Basically it involved Marc and I wandering the dunes, whilst being closely stalked by Alf and Olly. Every now and then we would duck down and hide. And sometimes, when we felt really energetic, we'd stalk them too.

I went to the cinema to watch Interstellar with Sam. We sat slumped low in our seats, and shared a tub of popcorn. The film was fabulous. Yes it got slated in The Sunday Times, but I think that the critic missed the point. I sat there eyes wide throughout. I had the ends of my scarf scrunched between my fists, and these were pressed against my mouth. That's how much I enjoyed it. What I loved even more was sharing the experience with Sam. My boy is such good company. And so tall!

Alfie had another judo course on Sunday, and came away with his first blue tab to put on his green belt. He was very happy. He was also chuffed that our friend Simon, an ex para, came over to help him 'shrink the cap' or mould, and fit his army cadet beret to his head. I just know that when he next goes to cadets, he'll be telling anyone who will listen. Mind you, standing there bedecked in his uniform, I felt a tinge of unease. My son, the soldier child. Of course cadets isn't a recruitment drive for her Majesty's forces. But still.....

On a more trivial note, I just thought I'd share with you the joy of no longer having a paint stained oil cloth over my beloved dining table. Since Olly has started school, I have whipped that bugger off of my one and only piece of Habitat furniture, so that I my admire it's goodly form as I go about my business. It's a daily happy.

Hope you all have a great week!

Leanne xx

Monday, 3 November 2014

Bring The Noise

Well hello. How are we all? Fine of fettle I hope. I've been reading all your blog posts avidly. Last week was full of fun. And meeting new friends And hanging out on the beach. And baking. And garden tidying. And falling foul of a bug that required a lot of trips to the smallest room. With the water cut off.

I'm feeling old. I won't lie to you. Thirty years ago today, Duran Duran released 'Wild Boys' I bought the 7" and the 12" singles. I still have them up in the loft. I was rather a fan. Actually I attribute failing my Maths O Level to my obsessive conversations about them at the back of the class, with Kerina Balchin . For about four years, they were my whole world.

Me, Ben & Jane in 1985. In my Nick Rhodes jacket.

And then I discovered Rap. And James Brown and the R&B and Funk inspired clubs of late 80s Bristol. I discarded Duran Duran to a cardboard box and I moved on, hanging out at Manfred's decks at The Moon Club. He let me, because he fancied my friend Catherine. Those days everyone fancied my friend Catherine.

And then I discovered Madchester. I played my Stone Roses and Happy Mondays albums relentlessly. I kind of fell in love with a lad in massive flares and a The Las tour t shirt. He dumped me, but I kept the shirt. I'd wear it to bed and cry myself to sleep, listening to I Am The Ressurection and thinking about learning to play the guitar. I didn't get round to it though.

And then I went to see Paul Weller live. I had seen The Style Council live. I was too young to see The Jam. But my love for him was re-kindled and it has never died. I watched him play at V97 with Ocean Colour Scene supporting and Noel Gallagher screaming at us to bow down to his genius. And I did.

And let's not forget my mania for the female vocalist. From Kate Bush to Madonna. Arethra Franklin to Nena Cherry. I adored them all

Last week I was cooking tea, and Olly asked me to put the radio on. As if by magic 'A Town Called Malice' blared out of the speaker. I jumped around the kitchen. I was euphoric by the end. And a little out of breath it has to be said. Later I realised that Olly had taken a lot of one and two second videos of me on my phone. There I am, completely caught up in the music, dancing and singing at the top of my voice!

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here, other than I miss my music. For so long I have craved peace and quiet, and so I rarely listen to it anymore. And I loved my music growing up. I bought my first record in 1978. It was Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats. I saved up all my pocket money for months to buy the first Duran Duran album. I had the second one for my twelfth birthday. Any spare money I had went on records. I used to go and hang out in Rival Records at my local shopping centre, flipping through the albums and savouring the smell of the shop. I have an almost encylopedic knowledge of music from the sixties up until about the time that Alfie was born. Go on test me. I always win pop quizzes.

Then I kind of stopped listening. I sometimes heard. But my ears were tired of the noise of babies, their toys, the news, constant chatter, the fuzzy head. I'd had enough. From then on it was silence I craved. I got used to and comfortable with silence. I was very good at holding silence in the counselling room. I liked it's cocooning warmth. And how you were allowed to just be.

I have decided to turn my Radio from 4 to 6. Maybe I shall buy a turntable and get those records out of the loft. Perhaps I turn the volume up, wind down the window of the car, and let the music play.

It's not about filling the silence.

It's about embracing the noise.

And maybe not feeling so old.

Leanne xx


Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Wonder Stuff

The half term hoards are descending.The weather is mild, and we even saw a glimpse of the sun this afternoon as we adventured across the towans. It was lovely to return to old stomping grounds with Olly. I have missed our daily dog walking adventures together since he has started school. I may have been given the opportunity to stop and feel the breath as it were, but there is nothing so lovely as the energising rush of a child.

We did stop long enough to watch a kestrel hovering over the cliff tops, before being harassed by a group of crows. He bobbed and weaved along the length of the towans before turning tail, and out gunning them all the way back to the safety of his home at Godrevy. It was wonderful to watch and share it with Olly. It is my hope that all of his close at hand experiences with nature will foster a love and respect for the world around him, as he grows from boy to man. My Mum and Dad instilled it in me, and I hope to pass this joy of observation and discovery to my boys too.

Does that sound a bit naff? It looks a bit naff now I've written it down on the page. I guess it's the desire to pass on the idea of bearing witness to something other than ourselves. Our lives are so often spent heads down busy getting from A to B, and maybe the joy of seeing a bumble bee push it's way inside a snapdragon or the wonder at hearing the evening herald of a blackbird can get lost in transit. 

My own eyes were opened the day that my Dad and I saw a Kingfisher. I was about nine or ten maybe, and we were walking through the woods that bordered the Malago. I expect that we were walking along chatting about this and that. I talked a lot. All of a sudden my Dad stopped and pulled me close. "Shh," he said and pointed. I strained my eyes to look. And then I caught sight of an iridescence darting down the river bank. I held my breath as the kingfisher alighted on a branch of a low lying tree, and then dived into the water returning with a fish in it's beak. It was thrilling, and I just knew that me and my dad had witnessed something magical. I have never forgotten that moment; my Dad and I crouched low with baited breath, hands held tight and completely absorbed in this little creature going about his business.

I have never seen a Kingfisher in the wild since. I may never see one again. But I will never forget the time that I did. It's that feeling of wonder I'd love to pass on to my boys. So that they have some of that magic in their memory banks. And who knows, maybe one day they will pass that on to their children. That would be very cool.

I hope that you are all having a lovely weekend. 

Leanne xx

I couldn't think of a title for this post. I stress about post titles all the time. I'm considering giving future posts random lines from pop songs. So if the post itself is boring and self indulgent, you can at least have the pleasure of guessing the song. Maybe I'll give the answer in subsequent posts......