Monday, 23 November 2015

When the boat comes in



The sun shone bright today, and it has been most gorgeous in St Ives. It's been a little while since we've had a day like this, and I wanted to be part of it for a while. I should have gone swimming. I flirted with a dip in the sea, but settled for a wander around town instead. It's quiet in St Ives at the moment. There are few, if any holidaymakers in town. The coach tours visit on a Tuesday or a Wednesday., so there were no groups wandering around with a pasty (and yes, people eat pasties at 9 in the morning. Even I couldn't eat one at that time of day). I wandered up to a favourite view, and looked out at the sea. She was calm and resplendent.

Honey and I meandered through the back streets, along the harbour front, past the de-commissioned life boat and onto the old slipway. There were two fishermen mending their nets. It's not something you see these days. There is only one net mending loft in St Ives. The rest of them have been turned into holiday lets. A friend of mine's Dad is one of the last mending the nets with traditional methods here. The town's fishing trade is very small. Back in the day the men would be mending their nets outside of their homes, or all along the harbour. It's all part of the town's past, only glimpsed in the photos contained in the books in the town's remaining bookshop.

I love living here. I really do. But sometimes the beauty feels like a veneer spread very thin over a town that has somehow lost it's way. Very few people live in the centre of town. Most live in the new estates that have been built on the way out. There is an uneasy alliance between many of the locals, and the holiday makers that come here. The town depends upon them, and yet they are disliked for the most part.

I stand to one side of that. The fishing trade collapsed a long time ago, and the town would be struggling financially were it not for the money generated by tourism. And I think that St Ives has capitalised successfully on it's beautiful beaches, the quirky feel of the place and it's artistic heritage.
There are many coastal towns that haven't fared as well. But being one of the most desirable places in the UK to live, has pushed up house prices to a ridiculous degree. Many homes are owned by so called second owners. This makes local people angry. They feel as if the town no longer belongs to them. There were four butchers when I moved here fourteen years ago. Now there is one. There were three book shops. Now there is only one. There were two hardware stores. Now there are none. The main street is lined with surf shops and high end retail. An ice cream costs a fortune.

I don't get involved in any of the heated discussions in the playground about all of the above. I don't feel as if I have the right to be honest. Sometimes I feel like an incomer too, even though I am an integrated part of this community. I have my own views on the complex issues that often divide the town. I'm not sure how a post about a morning walk has turned into something else. I guess I felt a kind of relief about town, even though there was no-one buying.

It's a beautiful place. And there is sadness around the edges. It's part of the town.

Have a great week, lovely people.

Leanne xx

Friday, 20 November 2015

Five On Friday

Joining in with Amy

Five happy things from this week.

1. I think it's fair to say that the weather has been particularly vile here in the South West this week. However, Carbis Bay was the place to be on Tuesday morning. It is a sheltered beach that is privately owned by the Carbis Bay Hotel. They tolerate dog walkers (but not for much longer, it would seem), and me and my sister in law went for a gentle stroll with ours. There was a tranquillity about the place, which was much needed by both of us. The sky eeked out shafts of blue here and there, and cast a luminous light. It was indeed a lovely hour.

2. This girl. She is a terrible patient, but is recuperating and healing well. She has been far braver than I could ever imagine being. We have sat and watched some awful day time telly together (House Enforcers anyone?), drank an obscene amount of tea and chatted about everything under the sun. Actually she has chatted. I can't ever get a word in edgeways. You may think that impossible, but 'tis true. The girl can talk the hind legs off a donkey.
3. In spite of the weather, I've had a few lovely nature nerd encounters. There were the long tailed tits squabbling about an inch from my nose the other day. I really wish I had my camera to record it, but it was great to stand up close and personal with them all the same. There was an epic battle between a Blackbird and a worm in the back garden. I was conflicted, but came down on the side of the bird in the end. There was also the seal pictured above. He kept this position in the water for at least half an hour. He just seemed floating about for the sheer pleasure of it. I loved how his head is staring up at the sky. Contemplating the secret to life, the universe and everything, I guess. I probably should have shouted "Number 42!" but left him in his reverie.
4. I have had a long time obsession with both Russell Brand and Noel Fielding. They are funny. And they are a couple of gorgeous Goths. At the moment I am more in love with Noel, than I am with Russell. And to celebrate, I have been watching him a lot on YouTube and the like. My life is such that I often indulge in these flights of fancy. I am quite a sad old bird at heart, and nothing gives me more pleasure than a man with a fancy haircut. I've never gone for the muscled hunk, far preferring the slightly pale and skinny. Noel is rather prettier than I would normally go for. But it is his quintessential Britishness that I find so attractive. Am I making myself clear? I have the hots for a Goth, and I share the following for your pleasure (well it makes me feel happy).
5. Last but by no means least, Olly gave his guided tour of the birds in the playground yesterday. His teacher, the marvellous Mrs Pulley, informed me that during it, the school was visited by a Golden Eagle. The other children were very impressed, although she has questioned the validity of Olly's identification. Olly is apparently sticking to his guns.
Have a wonderful weekend, friends. My weekend is full of craft fairs, Prosecco, lasagne and early nights with a book. Champion!
Leanne xx
(once again the computer seems intent on buggering up the position of my text on the page).

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Goldcrest, a Robin and a Blackbird


Olly and I turned up a little late for school this morning. Not too late, but late enough to go in via the secretary, Mrs Stevens. I gave 'watching the birds' as a reason for our late arrival. "What birds did you see, Oliver?" she asked. "A Goldcrest, a Robin and a Blackbird," he replied. "What a lovely way to start the day," she smiled.

I had to rouse Olly from his slumbers this morning. He didn't want to get out of bed, even though he had had a very chilled out weekend. The lousy weather had forced us to stay indoors. Between us, we pottered, played, baked, read and diy'ed. The light levels were low, and the lamps stayed on all day. I lit candles, and enjoyed the peace and harmony of a household quietly going about its' business.

It was all in stark contrast to the events unfolding elsewhere. We watched rolling news, until I could take it no more. It was not so long ago that Samuel drew at the table, pre-occupied and unconcerned, while I sat glued to the television watching the horrors of 9/11 unfold. And now years later, I sat feeling the same shock and horror as Olly engaged in very much the same thing. I thought of those poor people caught up in these attacks. Their families and friends. Their children. And I felt an aching sadness for this visceral pain that had reached out and was drawing them in.

I also thought of those that had committed these attacks. The picture of the young man wanted in connection with it all, made me feel so sad. He is so young. It would appear that they were all so young. They are victims too. They have been manipulated and brainwashed. They have been disenfranchised and ignored. They have been swept up by promises and false doctrines. They have had their hearts and minds filled with hatred. And I feel a sense of responsibility for that. I am one of a global community that has fanned the flames of extremism. I cast a gaze through the history of the world that I live in, and feel a sense of shame that past global actions have also left their mark. An indelible mark, ensuring that young men can be so easily indoctrinated into a life of hatred and self destruction.

But oh my God did I feel lucky. Lucky to be sat here listening to the wind and rain buffet our white house on the hill. Lucky to have the heating on and the lamps lit. Lucky to be able to wander through the house, pottering and pausing. Feeling safe and secure and happy. Lucky that I am still able to see life from both sides. To try and gain an understanding of the whole picture, so that when my children need to talk about what is happening in their world, I can hopefully help them to see through the hatred, and look beyond. It is all too easy to react in kind. Many of yesterday's papers were full of that. It is all too easy to proclaim an eye for an eye. It is all to easy to condemn and point the finger of blame at your neighbour.

Of course I don't condone violence. I find the slaughter of countless innocents abhorrent. But two wrongs will never make a right. My hope for my children is that they can shine a light through all of this, and see beyond all that knee jerk crap. After all, we will all be passing the baton to them someday. And I am naïve enough to think that compassion, understanding and the desire to change things for the greater good will prevail. I am unashamed in educating my children to look at something from both sides. To walk in someone else's shoes, and see how it fits. It's not about sitting on the fence. It's about trying to gain an understanding and perspective of the world outside of your own frame of reference.

I'm trying to help my children to see the beauty in the small. In the Goldcrest, the Robin and the Blackbird. To understand that there is more to life than computer games and the right kind of hairstyle. But I don't live in a bubble, and I do want them to be aware of the bigger picture. I just don't want it tainted by prejudice, ignorance and the Daily Mail.

I could go on, but I'll leave you with this; Mrs Stevens must have told Olly's head teacher about the reason for his late arrival. She has asked him whether he would teach her and his fellow pupils the names of some of the birds that can be seen in the school grounds. Isn't that wonderful? Oh and he is to be a cow in the school nativity. Suggestions for a costume that doesn't make him look like Nursey from Blackadder are appreciated.

Leanne xx

(my phone is broken, so no Instagram for me for a while. I'm bereft).

Thursday, 12 November 2015

So Random

Hello petals.
Another day, another dollar. I haven't got much of note to say, to be honest. Most of today was spent at my local cottage hospital, trying not to look at my sister in law's drain tube. I could never have been a nurse. She kept laughing at me as I got queasy at the sight of it. She was off her head on hospital drugs - "the good ones" - she whispered conspiratorially to me. I had to giggle; she's the kind of person that's normally constantly on the move. Always wiping down a surface and making endless cups of tea. In a strange way it was comforting to see her so relaxed.
She had a rather lovely little bag that the tube disappeared into, and a cute heart shaped pillow that was wedged under her arm for support. Apparently these are usually given to the breast ladies, for comfort and support after surgery. They are hand made and donated by the local WI. What a wonderful institution. What a marvellous idea; to give comfort, dignity and bit of style to ladies undergoing this kind of surgery.
Anyway, she's home now. We are planning on watching a lot of films next week, because she's on enforced sofa rest. I'm hiding the bloody dish cloths for a start. I don't fancy watching her clearing up in the kitchen, with an oozing drain bag......
I went for a walk on Porth Kidney beach, looking for beach treasures. I found a plastic toy tiger hidden amongst the seaweed, and a lot of massive crab claws. The tiger has pride of place on my kitchen window sill. Olly's named him Choppy. Of course he has. Honey and I had the beach to ourselves. I'm always amazed by that; I am often the only person walking along the beach. I stop and start. I take my time. I crouch down and rummage through what's been left by the tide. Sometimes I paddle in the shallows. I've been know to sing loudly. Usually 'Hungry Like The Wolf' by Duran Duran for some reason.
You'll be pleased to know that I have moved on from binge watching 'Criminal Minds' to binge watching 'Parks and Recreation.' After watching it, I think I'm going to challenge Sam to a lip synch battle. I'm going to choose either 'Rebel Without A Pause' by Public Enemy or 'Wuthering Heights' by Kate Bush. I bet he'll choose 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'
I'm going to stop now.
Leanne xx

Monday, 9 November 2015

What Weekends Are For


Monday evening, and I am already eating Nutella from the jar. The reason? The trials of homework coupled with pre menstrual madness. And I think I have toothache. I say think. I've never had toothache before. I've never had a filling before. I'm blaming it on stress induced hazelnut spread bingeing. Homework is giving me cavities.

Of course had I written this post earlier today (which was the plan, but other stuff got in the way), then it would have been a much more laid back affair. As it is, I am sat inwardly seething. After school shenanigans, which lead to confiscation of his games console and computer, Alf spent an hour or so doing his homework at the dining table. He huffed. He puffed. He kept making the computer talk to me. It kept saying "I'm tired," and "hello Mother," and "what's French for poo?" Then he started drumming his fingers on the table, cracking his knuckles and coughing.

Meanwhile Olly wouldn't read his reading book. And he wouldn't do his spellings. I have to admit my dismay last Thursday, when his teacher stood at the top of the steps that leads to his classroom, and announced the inclusion of spellings in his book bag. I nearly ran away. I have spent eighteen years cajoling homework out of my children. I think I deserve a medal frankly. Talk about pull your hair out parenting.

But I digress.......

Weekends chez Today's Stuff are fleeting and precious. Fleeting, because Marc is only home at the weekend. Precious, because of our time spent as a family. My favourite kind of weekend is one that is a mixture of doing something and doing nothing. I feel that the weekend has been wasted if we can't get out and about for at least some of it. I also feel it's important for everyone to be able to relax and chill out. Certainly since Olly has gone back to school, his need for relaxation at home has grown. Marc uses the time to unwind, relax and catch up on his sleep (or at least take advantage of a long Saturday lie in). Alfie disappears into his teenage cave. Sometimes the weekend is scuppered by illness. Or bad tempers. Or bickering. Sometimes the children are a handful. But on balance, the weekends are usually good all round.

This weekend was no exception. Saturday was gloriously sunny and warm, and we wandered into town for a pasty lunch. We sat on the harbour, and met up with friends. Olly climbed the harbour wall ropes. Town was busy, but not full. There was a good atmosphere along the front, as local people made the most of a town without too many visitors. A good day in November is as nice as a good one in July.

We walked home along Porthmeor, where the wind blew in gusts along the beach. The tide was on the turn, but the waves were foamy. Olly walked along holding onto his hood. There weren't many people; mainly dog walkers and the odd surfer. The cafés are closed until Christmas, and the Tate is closed until next May. Honey, who loves a bit of wind, barked until we threw pebbles for her. I inhaled lungful's of air in the vain hope that my detox headache would subside, and it did ease.

Weekends are all about food, and that usually means curry. And pudding. We had the curry on Saturday night, and the I made a rice pudding on Sunday. There are usually bacon sandwiches, there is lots of tea and coffee. I enjoy cooking, and Marc enjoys eating what I cook. He never complains, and is always grateful. Sometimes I think I'd like to be cooked for, but to be honest that's just the way it is here.

Weekends are all about lounging. On sofas, while engrossed in a book. I finished a book about The Krays this weekend. Not my usual thing, but interesting nonetheless. Or we sit watching the television. This weekend was the obligatory Attenborough, Dr Who, Star Wars, Antiques Roadshow and an Aardman film about pirates. Marc lounges, drinking coffee and snuggling up with the boys. Over the years, it has been tradition for them all to jump into bed with him on a weekend morning.

Weekends are about something different. This weekend, Alfie and his cadet chums were part of the Remembrance Sunday parade in Hayle. We went along too, in support of him and for the service itself. I had never been to one before. I usually watch it on the television. It was very emotional. I was immensely proud of Alfie, and very moved by the service. The names of those men from Hayle, who lost their lives in the two World Wars were read out. A poignant tribute.

Weekends are about baking. This weekend I made my Christmas cakes. I used self raising flour by mistake, and had an inner hissy fit while they cooked. But they seem alright to me. I was going to make a ginger cake, but couldn't be bothered to buy any more treacle. I enjoy baking at the weekends. It feels more leisurely than during the week.

This weekend was about a spot of DIY. There is a long list of stuff to be done, and the window of opportunity is very small. Non existent during sailing season. I am hopeful that some of it will get ticked off this side of Christmas. I don't blame Marc for not wanting to do it. He spends precious little time here as it is.

Weekends are far too short. It only feels like it has started when Marc gets home on Friday evening, and it finishes quite early on a Sunday evening. Marc has to be gone by 5am on Monday morning, and so it's an early night all round. Sometimes I get frustrated by it, but I'm also used to it.

Our weekends are no different to most others. But they are special nonetheless.

Leanne xx

Friday, 6 November 2015

Five On Friday



Linking up with the lovely Amy.

Five things that I shouldn't have done this week.

  1. I shouldn't have stayed up really late every night this week binge watching 'Criminal Minds.' I do this every now and again. I find a series - usually an American one, because there are lots of episodes - and I get a compulsion to watch that series to death. Last year it was 'The Good Wife.' Earlier this year it was 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt.' I burn myself out eventually, and get bored of said series. I have always liked the actor, Mandy Patinkin, since I saw him in the film 'The Princess Bride.' Anyway psychological crime dramas, that include loads of stereotypical pyscho babble is my guilty pleasure. Honestly I eat it up with a spoon.  
  2. I shouldn't have bribed Olly to go to sleep, by giving him a stocking filler that I had stashed away in the wardrobe, but I was stressed because it was book group. Since he's changed rooms he can hear everything, and so keeps coming downstairs to see what's going on. I realise that it was a daft thing to do, and so it's probably the last time I'll have book group at my house, which means I won't be able to be part of it anymore. I shall miss it.
  3. I shouldn't have hidden Olly's Play Doh. I bloody loathe the stuff, but particularly the smell. It makes me gip. He asked about it on the way home from school, and I sort of changed the subject.
  4. I shouldn't have had a second helping of lemon trifle at book group this week. I'm on a bloody detox. Which by the way has done nothing but given me a headache. Perhaps all the toxins are in my brain. Probably something to do with all the crap television I've watched lately.
  5. I shouldn't have ordered a pair of pyjama bottoms from Boden. My defence (such as it is) is that there was a 25% discount, and they are green with bunny rabbits all over them.
What have you done this week that you shouldn't have?

Have a lovely weekend!

Leanne xx

Monday, 2 November 2015

The horse's mouth



I have post house work arm ache. Do you ever get that? It was all about furious scrubbing this morning, as I restored the post half term house back into some semblance of order. I'm not sure what exactly happens here when everyone is at home. I gave up trying to keep on top of it all about Thursday. I tried to just go with the flow, unleashing my inner calm goddess. I know she's in there somewhere. I like to think she is half Nigella, half Meryl Streep.
It's been a solitary half term. Olly and I have busied ourselves with Lego, puppy sitting, horsey walks and a little exploring. We barely saw Alfie. He has retreated into his bedroom until he's sixteen. Unless there's the possibility that I may be going to the shop. Then he appears by my side, asking for crisps. I'm always amazed at the sixth sense of a teen. They can hear the rustle of a bag for life through four closed doors and a pair of headphones, but not the close quarter entreaties to make their beds. Weird.
I spoke to Sam on Saturday. I haven't heard his voice since he went away, and have been communicating (trying at least) via the private message function on Facebook. It was a dreadful line, but oh my goodness was this Mum thrilled to hear from him. I am now worrying that when he comes home for Christmas, he will find me dull and provincial. As he is stretching his wings, experiencing the new and growing up and away, I am gathering in, relishing the familiar and staying closer to home than ever.
I have been reading. Mainly books on the Neolithic heritage of West Cornwall. I plan to drag the family to all of them. It's fascinating stuff. For me at least. This end of Cornwall is still so unchanged in a way. Look at the fields in the pictures above. They are very small and their boundaries have remained unchanged for possibly thousands of years. The diversity in those hedges have me enthralled.
Book group beckons on Wednesday, and I am currently speed reading the chosen book. The fact that Liz described it as 'terrifying' kind of put me off to be honest. You may remember it being my turn to choose next, and I have agonised. I made my decision yesterday, and I think it will be a good one. But then I thought that about 'Stuart; A life Backwards' and they hated it. They didn't care for Barbara Kingsolver either, which left me in dismay.
We aren't dressing up this time, although 80s pop icons was mooted as a possibility. I'm not quite over Halloween yet, so am rather relieved. Olly was invited to a classmates Halloween party, and I have to say it was one of the more bizarre night's of my life. He had an absolute ball, while I was crazed with terror at the inebriated Dad lighting fireworks in the very small back garden. When the piñata was hung adjacent to the huge wide screen TV, and lots of five year olds hyped up on sugar invited to thwack merry hell out of it, I almost passed out. Luckily only the inebriated Dad was walloped, and he didn't seem to mind.
Have you ever been to an event that has got weirdly out of hand? When I was a student, I worked in a pub that held lots of functions for weddings, funerals and the like. It was not uncommon for huge brawls to break out over past family disputes, and on one occasion I stood behind the bar open mouthed, as a wedding punch up destroyed the three tiered cake standing pride of place on the buffet table.
Eeh, my not so provincial past. I could write a book!
Enjoy your evening, gorgeous ones.
Leanne xx
(I'm not sure why blogger is insisting that I centralise my text. I keep editing it, but it's being very stubborn).