Sunday, 21 June 2015

It's a magic number



According to De La Soul, that number would be three.

I have been blogging for three years.

Although I haven't been able to blog at all for nearly three weeks. It's all been rather frustrating, and terribly dull. My computer is an old girl, and she's feeling her age (a bit like me). She has become rather cantankerous, and is no longer playing ball. I've been able to follow you via my phone. But not comment. Because I am crap. At any kind of technology. At all. At the moment I am using Marc's computer. It's horrid. I can't find anything, and none of my shortcuts that were set up for me, so that I wouldn't have to worry about working things out for myself are not available. And I'm perfectly aware that maybe now would be the ideal opportunity to learn how to do it, But frankly I cannot be arsed. I have a million and one other mundane tasks and worries and other things that I have not yet mastered:

I cannot wire a plug.

I cannot assemble flat packed furniture

I cannot do quadratic equations

I cannot fix my greenhouse door

I cannot erect a beach tent

While I realise that none of the above are necessarily failings, they do represent how utterly useless I am at most things practical and/or mathematical. I do try. You should see the unit we have recently bought for the tv. I built it all by myself, and very pleased with it I was too. It bows. Actually it sags as badly as my poor cats' tummy. My handiwork has become the laughing stock of my street. Marc keeps walking past it and shaking his head. When asked for reassurance, my neighbour took just that little bit too long to answer that it looked okay to her.

What is to become of me?

In other news:

I have now been sugar free for three weeks. It's not so bad now, but I was hateful for the first week. All I could think about was pic n mix. I ate a lot of fruit, 'cause it's the refined sugar that I want to leave behind. I'm not a zealout like the 'I Quit Sugar' woman (who scares me, frankly), and I think we all need some sweetness in our lives. I have since discovered healthy sweet treats that I can make at home, and they make me feel satisfied. They must be helping, because today is Father's Day in the UK, and Marc has had a lot of chocolate. Him and the boys have enjoyed it for breakfast and as a mid-morning snack, while I haven't even been tempted. Honestly. Not one jot. Not even dabbing my moistened finger on the foil packaging in order to pick up the crumbs, and kidding myself that it doesn't count. Smug. That's me.

My garden is making me inordinately happy indeed. Lots of different types of pollinators visiting all through the day. Even a couple of hummingbird moths, which I adore. We have three seagull chicks on the roof, with two rather over-protective parents. They tolerate us, but only just. I have a bounty of plums growing on the tree. It's the first time my tree has been so productive. I'm hoping for plum jam later this year. Ollys' love affair with the snail finished this week. He has been growing strawberries, and as they have ripened they have been attacked and eaten. Egg shells, coffee granules and a few pellets have not helped. The snails have lost their biggest ally. I hope that they're prepared.

Sam has now finished his A Levels. It all passed surprisingly smoothly. In fact he's been more grouchy since than during. By contrast, Alfie seems to be intent on not doing any studying at all, which has led to detentions, blazing rows and all sorts of stressful hideousness. I have thrown my towel into the ring. Any suggestion as to how you encourage a bright, but unmotivated teenage boy to knuckle down and accept that homework just is, please do tell. I would genuinely be grateful.

Oooh what else? A new rug for the living room, lots and lots of reading, watching Luther for the umpteenth time, planning camping trips, forgetting my Mum's birthday (oh the shame of it), resuming working as a counsellor, enjoying blossoming and healthy friendships, looking forward to Wimbledon and lots of other stuff. Good, bad, indifferent. You know the score.

I have so missed the interaction here. I am so glad to be back.

Have a lovely Sunday,

Leanne xx

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The year in books 2015 - June (and other stuff too)

It occured to me about ten minutes ago, as I put the honey away in the cupboard I tend to store the washing powder, that I may be a little distracted. The swimming pool is closed for a fortnight, and I am missing my ploughing of the lanes. The weather sucks. It's unlikely that I'll get out for a walk today. I have the house to myself until Sam returns from sitting his first A Level paper, and I need to hit the housework running. It is minging. Honestly. Think washing up mournfully sitting in a bowl of tepid water, various spills and thrills all over the floors from the past week, as yet unmade beds, stuff everywhere, Lego scattered liberally throughout the house and what I think are splatters of orange juice all up one wall (and the ceiling as it happens).

I shall gird my loins in just a while, and fly through the house as only a woman on a mission can. Once I get going, I find I enjoy the task of getting my home back into some semblance of order. I'll curse and moan under my breath all the while (honestly, do boys really have to be so bloody filthy?), but when order is restored from chaos I know I'll feel better about life in general. I'll feel that sense of accomplishment that a plump cushion and a washed floor can bring.

But a few things that have made me smile today; Olly came downstairs in full batman/zombie pirate regalia this morning. He wasn't going back to school, he said. He was off to fight crime. What kind of crime, asked Sam. Crime against snails, came the reply. Obviously, he still hasn't forgiven me for the teeny tiny amount of pellets that I have put around my precious cosmos seedlings. Anyway I did manage to get him to school, and as he went into class, I saw him sidle up to Miss Rae. He patted his coat pocket. She and he peered into it, and she took out a snail. They had a little chat, and then together took the snail outside and placed it on the grass outside the classroom. What am I going to do with him?!

My friend Liz and I have just had a lovely chat about our dear friend Roo. We have laughed and had a little tear too. Roo had a very naughty sense of humour, and I know that she'd appreciate that we could giggle in memory of her. It's made me think a lot about friendship, and what that means to me. It's something I think I'll explore further in a later blog post. Life often just doesn't make sense to me. The whys and the how could theys and the how could it happen to them. And I am very aware that I can easily get bogged down in the maudlin. I think I shall take a leaf from Roo's book, who basically just got on with living her life even as it was drawing to a close.

Live it. Live your life. No philosophy or soul searching is required. Just get on with it.

I've already started my choice for June, due to the fact that I have promised no more book purchasing until I've finished the back log on Kindle and shelf. I associate Ms Greer with the eunuch, but this is proving a fascinating read. The flora and fauna discussed in the book are unfamiliar, but I am enjoying it nonetheless.

Linking up with Laura.

Right I'm off to do battle, housewife style!

And hello to new followers. You are most welcome here.

Leanne xx

Monday, 1 June 2015

Raising a glass

This evening I am raising a glass to my friend. Someone I met through book group. Someone with the most amazing zest and energy for life. Who faced things head on with bravery and a sense of humour. Who had courage, guts and determination. Who was honest and pragmatic about her illness. Who raised a glass to us all via her Facebook page at the weekend.

God bless you Roo.

I will miss you so very much.

Leanne xx

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Nature Nurture

From left to right: Hayle Towans, jellyfish washed up on Lelant beach, Olly and his snails,
 orange tip (open and closed), close up of clover, dor beetle, bee, wild strawberry, Mrs Blackbird, golden sands,
runner beans,  pill millipede, waiting for the butterfly, slow worm, holly blue closed

I visited the allotment on Wednesday. To weed and stake the beans.  At first I enjoyed the quiet and peace. A half term house full of three boys and one husband makes for a noisy home. Then I heard it; my first ever cuckoo. You'll probably all be amazed that I've never heard one before, but there you go. I stood up to listen more closely. It really did cuckoo, but the sound was softer than I had imagined. I wish you could have seen me, stood there, my jeans already grubby, with a big smile on my freckly face. It was a special moment.

And the allotment wasn't actually quiet at all. There was an ever present sound of the pollinators humming, the wren and blackbirds singing, the swallows wittering, the skylark high in the air chattering. Higher still, the buzzards cried out as they rode the thermals. The grasses swished in the gentle morning breeze, and there was the occasional cry of the grouse in the fields beyond. I was struck at how none of these different sounds jarred, or even overshadowed each other. I could single out the individual sounds and cries and noises. It was all in harmony and balance. Even the whinny of the horses and the low moan of the cows, felt in step with the wilder sounds of nature.

And then natures melody was shattered by a fellow plot holder, who started up the allotment strimmer. A man made sound. Whiny and shrill. And too bloody loud. It drowned out all other sound, grating and getting on my nerves. I was glad that I had more or less finished, and packed up to leave.


Olly and me have been lucky enough to see some wonderful creatures this week. And I'm not sure whether he is very eagle eyed, or just lower to the ground than me, but he was responsible for spotting most of them. None of them rare or fancy, but still miraculous to us. How often do you notice or see the very small? How many of us balk at the sight of bugs and creepy crawlies? I must admit that I used to. When I was a child, I'd run a mile from an earwig. They still make me rather nervous (I blame Anthony Jones, who told me that they crawl into your ear when you sleep and lay their eggs). Olly is a little nervous of spiders. Fair enough. But he loved the little pill millipede that he found. And marvelled at the jellyfish washed up on the beach. He rescued a slow worm from the cat's clutches. And was fascinated by its' dropped rear end writhing in the soil.

Germaine Greer writes of the sudden awareness of kinship that sees us stop and look at the midge rather than swat him. It's something I've become more and more aware of in myself these past three years. I have always been respectful of the natural world. I am a long time Attenborough fan. But I'm not sure that I ever really noticed what was going on all around me. I think I was probably too busy paying myself and my angst ridden ego too much attention. Now however, I feel this actual physical pull towards it. Maybe it's a sign of a real acceptance of myself, cellulite and all. My shaking off of a certain vanity, has opened my eyes to the wonder and beauty around me. I almost feel as if the natural world is taking its' own tentative steps, and inviting me to the party.

There are two more things to add to that:

I am going to Lou's Shoes in Penzance on Monday, and buying some Dunlop wellies. I've had it with designer rubber boots. They just don't cut the mustard.

I have mentioned it elsewhere, but Olly picked up the wriggling discarded rear end of the slow worm, and carried it around the house for a while. It did not sit well with my stomach.

Have a great weekend friends,

Leanne xx

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


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,

Leanne xx

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Take one bookcase

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?

Leanne xx

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,
Leanne xxx

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.