Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Breakfast In The Garden















Olly and I were sat in the conservatory this morning, watching a blackbird pulling worms out of the ground. It's the same one that's been visiting for about a week now. His return heralds the start of Autumn around here. He has a slight discolouration on one of his wings, which makes it seem as if he's going grey. We enjoy watching him hop warily about the garden poking about here and there. It's a gentle start to the day for us. Olly is enjoying school, but the increased work load is taking its' toll on his energy levels. Skarloey, the cat enjoys watching him too. But his days of chasing down birds are most definitely at an end.

The flowers are starting to go to over. No amount of dead heading will stop their gradual retreat into the earth. I've collected lots of seed, and they are tucked safely away inside envelopes, ready for next Spring. I'm already thinking about changes to the garden for next year. Truthfully, it was a mixed bag in the garden this year. The slugs and snails had the last laugh, and laid waste to most of my efforts. All those vibrant young plants that I had raised from seed in the greenhouse seemed to be gobbled up overnight. My tomatoes and cucumbers were prolific, but my courgettes, beans, sweetcorn and Olly's pumpkin went the way of the flowers. I remain undeterred, however, You have to have a half glass full mentality in the garden. It serves me well, seeing as I'm a glass half empty kind of gal in the house.

The sparrows are back in the privet, and squabble incessantly. They scrap on the bird feeders, each of them trying to usurp the other from the wire mesh that contains the peanuts they love so much. There haven't been many birds visit the garden this summer. I've put it down to the nesting gulls on the roof. They raised their two chicks up there, and became very territorial if anything or anyone came into the garden. We even watched them dive and chase a luckless heron who had the misfortune to fly over the house. But this past week, we have had a posse of long tailed tits visit, and the robin and wren can be heard too.

We are still to have our wood burner installed, but the weather is very mild here so no need for the warmth of a flickering flame just yet. I'm still able to throw open the windows of a morning, although we've had a lot of rain. The flip flops have been put away for another year, and the wellies are back out. I'm still getting used to having socks on my feet. They feel all squashed in and uncomfortable. And too hot. Walking to school in the rain is a pet peeve of mine. We only live a couple of minutes away, but I can still get soaked to my knickers on the daily run.

There are pollinators still. They mainly concentrate on the flowering ivy now. And the large white butterfly is ever present. But numbers must have been down this year, as I didn't see a single painted lady, and only a few commas. I've missed seeing them fluttering to and fro in the garden, or out along the hedgerows. It may be that my eyesight isn't as keen as it was. It has deteriorated a lot this year. I find it takes me longer to focus my camera on some bug or other, and they've wandered off long before I've clicked the shutter. It's all very frustrating. I may not be grey like my blackbird, but other areas of me are feeling my age somewhat.

We've picked tons of blackberries, and they've been turned into jam and lots of crumbles. We are big crumble fans here. Olly eats it for breakfast. He's not supposed to, but can be found with his bottom hanging out of the fridge snaffling up last night's pudding. Autumn is the return of slow cooked meals, roast dinners and hot deserts. It's also the return of the satsuma and clementine. How I love their shiny orange presence in the fruit bowl. So easy to eat too. I also really enjoy a crunchy, sharp English apple. But they are scant around here, more's the pity.

Telly is always better during the darker months too, don't you find? I'm ecstatic at all the gritty psychological crime dramas returning to our screens. Series three of The Fall starts Friday. Literally cannot wait to curl my cushion into my mouth while watching it. And I am trying to enjoy Bake Off, even though it will be the last. For me anyway. I cannot countenance watching it without Mel, Sue and Mary Berry, even though I salute them not jumping ship, and following the money trail.

And from this weekend, Honey is once more allowed to walk along the beaches of St Ives. Hoorah!! She's keeping quiet about it all, but I just know she's looking forward to the return of our daily constitutional along Porthmeor. She'll have to run to keep up with me though; I've started running in earnest again. I'm aiming to complete my first park run the first weekend of November. I am struggling a little with joggers nipple, so have ordered a very stern looking sports bra. I must be keen. Or else my mid life crisis is having some positive effects.

How's everything with you? Do you enjoy the changing of the seasons too? Are you also looking forward to those surreptitious glances in your neighbours windows now that the nights are drawing in, and your dreadful nosiness at the lives of others can be satisfied under cover of darkness? Or is that just me;)) Have a lovely evening. I'm in the middle of another Anne Tyler. Olly and Marc are in bed (Marc has a cold) and Alfie is doing maths homework at the dining table while huffing and cracking his knuckles. Oh and Sam is currently auditioning for LUDS. That's Liverpool University Drama Society, which will be performing A Taste Of Honey at some point this term. Good luck Sam!!

Night night.

Leanne xx

(the above photos were taken at the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden and museum last week. Me and my friend attended an event organised for the September Festival here in St Ives. I had coffee and a croissant surrounded by exquisite works of art, and then a lovely informal lecture in what was probably her living room. If you look carefully you may spot us).

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Ten Random Things









Hello there.

Some randomness from here. My whole life is pretty random actually. Does that count as one?


  • There's been a change of colour around here. Everything becoming more muted in its' palette. Earthy tones are returning; those moss greens, bracken browns and slate greys of nature are more visible as the sharp yellows and bright blues retreat. There's the odd pop from the boats in the harbour, or the buckets and spades outside the post office. But the colours are easier on the eye, which pleases me very much.
  • I have bought a new jumper. It's grey. Of course it is. I always buy grey jumpers.
  • Olly starts Beavers on Wednesday. It's his first after school club. I've held him back from them for some reason. Alfie was already swimming, surfing, tag rugbying and judoing at his age. Sam eschewed clubs until he found drama in his teens. What cubs do your children go to? I kind of feel that you can do too many. Alfie certainly did, and he burned out. He does none now.
  • My friend Sarah wants me to start going to yoga with her. I kind of want to, but I also don't want to. To be frank, I'm petrified of breaking wind during dog head down. It's happened before, to my eternal shame.
  • We spent a lovely morning visiting St Michaels Mount on Sunday. Unfortunately the battery in my camera died, so the last picture above is the only evidence. Olly loved all the weapons in the armoury. Of course he did. CJs latest (and hilarious) post told of a boy and a desire for an axe. I can sympathise. I found Olly wielding the fish gutting knife this week....
  • I'm currently reading 'The Devil's Serpent' by Sarah Perry, after having a huge Anne Tyler fest over the summer. I read a really intriguing article about Ms Perry, and was desperate to get hold of the book. So hurrah for Kindle daily deals.
  • Olly seems to have settled in well into his new class. There is a definite shift towards more formal schooling, rather than the emotional and social aspects of development that his first two years concentrated on. We have spellings, reading books and maths sheets. It's all a bit too much, but he's taking it in his stride for now. I'm remaining very laid back about it all. I really don't have much truck with SATs, which is what it's all geared toward. I won't set any store by their outcome in the summer either. I feel dead rebellious in the playground, brandishing my devil may care attitude.
  • My phone is broken. Again.
  • It is still very mild in St Ives, and the flowers in the garden are thriving. I even have some late blooming Dahlias. I have tidied a little, but have given way to laziness in the face of such floral abundance.
  • It's my wedding anniversary tomorrow. Twenty years of marriage. I don't recognise that girl in the wedding photos.
Thank you for you lovely words after my last post of woe. It's really hard being a SAHM, who is no longer needed in quite the same way as before. Who feels rather left behind in the world of work, tech and all that that entails. Who wonders whether it was right to stay at home at all, and whether it would have been better all round to have combined work and the family. It's a weird time for me, I won't lie. I have found my confidence has been sapped over the years, along with my voice. But you all help to amplify, and put into perspective, and edge me closer to action. Aren't you lovely. Give yourselves a gold star.

Leanne xx



Friday, 16 September 2016

Song Of The Shore






































The beach is a place of upheaval. With every wave, and every advance and retreat of the tide, the landscape is rearranged. I'm lucky enough to walk the beaches every day. There's a lot to choose from around here. Sometimes I walk with Honey. Sometimes with the family. And every now and again, I walk alone. Whenever I need some space, or some time to clear my head I wander down to the sea. I come and  meditate to the sounds of the water's edge. That surge and tumble as the waves advance and retreat up and down the beach is a balm for the soul. I allow myself the time to stand and stare. I breathe it all in; a slightly salty, fresh smell peculiar to here. The sea smells different elsewhere. It sounds different elsewhere too. I feel a sense of kinship with it. My bit of sea.

Life hasn't quite returned back to normal here. Marc is still looking for work, and I am feeling rather restless. It happens from time to time, as any of you who are familiar with this space know. I went to a wedding in August, and at the reception I was sat next to the bride's Grandad. It turned out that this gentlemen could read palms. I'm a cynic when it comes to this sort of caper. But as he took my hand, I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise. He told me things about myself. Good things. Personal things. Strange things. "You don't believe in yourself," he said. "You dither, and procrastinate. What are you scared of?" I shrugged my shoulders and smiled, but could feel the tears prickle behind my eyes. "You need to shout louder, my dear, so that people can hear you once more."

How to do that though? How do you shout louder when you have become used to whispering? And who do you shout to? Yourself? Someone else? The world? I'm buggered if I know. The days just slip by somehow, and I find that before I know it, another year is pushing on towards the next and I'm no closer to grasping hold of what exactly it is I'm feeling restless about. I'm not dissatisfied with my life. Far from it. But I feel itchy from time to time. It's an inner itch that keeps me awake at night, and has me drifting from room to room. Picking up and putting down again. Am I having a mid life crisis?

My antidote is always the sea. Standing there listening to the song of the shore helps me regain balance once again. Helps me to clear my head, and gain perspective once more. It helped me this evening as I stood and took the pictures above. Now I just have to figure out what on earth this itch is.

Have a lovely weekend friends.


Leanne xx



Thursday, 8 September 2016

New Term


















Yesterday I paid a visit to the smallest room, and as I turned to avail myself of the facilities, I was confronted by a rather sad looking cardboard tube sparsely decorated with tissue. I sat there muttering under my breath, and then yelled. Loudly. After a short while, the door opened a fraction of an inch, and an arm thrust itself through proffering a full roll of the finest white two ply.

That, my friends, has been a recurring theme around here for the past few months. And it has driven me absolutely mad. Ditto damp towels on the floor, tea spillages up the stairs, a wanton disregard for washing up, a laundry pile that would make a professional weep and sky high food bills.

But just like that, it's all over. Today saw Sam back to Uni, and Alf and Olly back to school. I couldn't believe the quiet. I couldn't believe the tidy. I couldn't get over the fact that my cupboards stand a good chance of not being bare thirty seconds after the weekly food shop. I drank a cup of tea in silence. And it was bliss. My mind hopped, skipped and jumped around sabbatical memories. And there are some corkers. We have been a full and busy house this summer. And sometimes it has been hard work. But it has also been flipping marvellous.

Knowing me as you do by now, you'll be pleased to hear that the house has been ship shaped and shiny'd. The anti bac wipes and spray with bleach has been put to good use. Nothing has escaped the purge. And this anal retentive girl feels calm and replete once more.

Onwards and upwards then. Back to normal once more.

It's so good to be back.

Leanne xx

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