Monday, 23 May 2016

The Wanderer Returns



Hello gorgeous ones.

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

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

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

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

What a great start to the week.

Leanne xx

Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Observationist



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


Saturday, 7 May 2016

A landscape


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Leanne xxx

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Balancing Act




Evening lovelies.

You find me in a calm mood this evening. Although my feet are cold. I've tucked them under Honey, but they haven't thawed out yet. It's this weather. It beguiles you with promises of May sunshine, but unless you are in a sheltered spot, that sharp breeze catches your flip flop clad feet unawares. I refuse to continue wearing winter boots. I've had it with them. The wellies are on guard in the hallway for squelchy field walks. And the Converse are moping by the back door. It's flip flops or die until at least October.

How have you all been? Well, fair to middling or hiding under the table? I've been a bit of all three this past week. It's been rather hectic, but I can't for the life of me tell you what exactly I've been up to. I do know that I have an errand pile that's steadily growing in the kitchen, and it's another odd week of bank holidays, school trips, inset days and late birthday treats. The treat was a day at a spa with my sister in law. We went today, hence the Zen-like mood. Although it could be the two glasses of wine I had at lunch time. In my excitement I kind of forgot that I had to pick up Olly, but I think I got away with feeling (and no doubt looking) slightly squiffy at the school gate. On a Tuesday! Honestly! I feel terribly ashamed.....

This morning I had to rescue a sparrow that had managed to fly into the greenhouse, but not able to fly out. I left it to its' own devices for a while, thinking that I would probably scare it witless if I appeared hands outstretched in a confined space. I had just come back from fetching the car from up the road, and looked rather beguiling in my pj/gardening coat/welly combo. Anyway he didn't seem to be making a lot of progress, so after a few minutes I grabbed him and helped him on his way. Olly was very cross that he missed the excitement, and is hopeful that another bird may stray into the path of the greenhouse and be trapped - "it might be a swan next time," he said over breakfast.

He has spent this afternoon hunting for dead bugs to pop under the pocket microscope Sam bought him for Christmas. He showed me the ant; it was still twitching. When I pointed out that Mr Ant didn't seem particularly dead, he shrugged his shoulders. "He will be soon." So we had the chat about looking after all creatures - big and small  - and how cruel it is to deliberately hurt anything. In his zeal to see a bug up close and personal, he lost sight of this (at least I hope he did). I'm wondering whether I could get hold of some ready made specimens for him to look at. That might be very cool.

Other animal highlights include seeing my first common blue of the season, sitting in Sophie's garden surrounded by hover flies and bees, and watching a blackbird feeding his young. I wonder how many insects a blackbird needs to collect every day just to satisfy his hungry brood? Hundreds I would imagine. He used to same route to leave and enter the nest. I reckon he did a return trip every five minutes. It must be exhausting. My blackbird was feeding his three babies in our garden last week. They hopped under cover of the shrubs and plants, calling to their Dad to get a move on with breakfast. I've not seen them for a few days, so imagine they've finally flown the nest.

Tomorrow I'm on another school trip with Olly's class. We are off to the museum to look at all things Egyptian. I've heard all about how the brain was pulled out through the nose with a terrifying looking hook (I have a very graphic picture on the fridge that illustrates this), how they were stuffed with straw and that Tutankhamun had a lot of money. At least five hundred pounds, apparently. I just love helping out at the school. There's something rather wonderful about infant school children, and how their imaginations can just run riot when given the right environment. Olly is so lucky to be at a school that focuses on child led learning. I am acutely aware of the 'Let Our Kids Be Kids' campaign that is growing in strength around the UK, from a growing fear of putting too much pressure and stress on the heads of young people. Particularly when it comes to national testing in schools. I am not a fan of these Sat's. At all. But I'm also not a fan of schools that make such a fuss about them, that it impinges on the confidence, learning and development of a young person.

I also wonder how much pressure we can place on the shoulders of our children? Unwittingly or otherwise. I've seen some rather outrageous behaviour from parents when it comes to hot housing their children. It isn't right to completely stress out a seven year old, by telling them that they'll amount to nothing if they don't do well. I know that I shan't be paying much attention to the key stage two Sat's that Olly will have to take next year. I look at it this way; this time last year he couldn't even read. Now he is enjoying reading to me, and is being very gently moved along towards more complicated sentence structures, punctuation and language. He sets his own pace, and is never made to feel under pressure. Either at school or at home. Everyone is happy, but especially Olly. Happiness is the most important key, no?

And on that note, I shall take my leave. I was tickled pink by all your kind words, comments and bad language on my last blog post. Sweary Mary rules I reckon! I am aware that my blogging has been rather sporadic and random of late. This post, too, is one of something and nothing. There's lots going on behind the scenes here, and while my blog has always been a place that I can come and wear my heart on its' sleeve, I'm not able to give full and honest reign to it all. I'm finding that hard. My blog doesn't have the structure or discipline of others. In fact my most favourites have exactly that, and they are full of warmth, personality and them. But I've never really achieved that happy balance. Which could be the title of my biography by the way:

Leanne Paxton
Who tried to achieve balance, but kept wobbling and eventually fell off 

Have a fabulous week.

Leanne xx

Monday, 25 April 2016

You Know What You Should Do



 I am sat here this evening, a vision in a gentlemen's dressing gown. I'd rather like a more feminine article, but so far I haven't taken the plunge. You know me and the art of procrastination. I probably have a list of ones I've liked and where I liked them somewhere.

There were goldfinches feasting on the dandelion seed heads in the grass this afternoon. Much squabbling ensued as they fought for the best patch of grass. I was wrestling with assembling my new lawn mower at the time. The old one having finally given up the ghost last week. It must have been at least a quarter of a century old. My Auntie Julie gave it, and lots of gardening tools to us before she emigrated to Australia the year Sam was born. So as I sat on the rug in the conservatory, swearing quietly at the very unhelpful instructions, I was struck at the sweet serendipity of it all.

I am not an assembler. Not a good one anyway. I'm not much cop at assembling myself. While waiting for Olly to come out of his class at the end of school, I noticed that I had dirty patches on my trousers from kneeling on all fours while scrubbing floors that morning. And splatters from the Flash with bleach that I like to spray around the house with gay abandon. It's a requirement in a house full of boys. It was all rather unkempt with a bit of middle aged haywire thrown in for good measure.

Anyway, there I stood musing away when someone felt the need to give me nutritional advice. I don't know why. I didn't ask for any. In fact only last week I purged the house of all cookery books pertaining to the delicious,  the glowing or  the quitting of sugar. I felt cleansed. It was better than a detox any day of the week. It was like telling them all to go boil their heads and leave me alone with my wobbly tummy and dodgy thighs.

I stood and nodded and smiled, because that's what I do when offered uninvited advice. That often starts with 'you know what you should do' and ends with me punching them in the face. Except not really. I never punch them. Well sometimes I do. In my mind. Not in real life. In real life I'm actually very restrained and lovely ;))  I smile a lot, and I laugh loudly. I'll notice if you look pretty, or had your hair cut. I can sense sadness and defeat. I'll not offer advice, but I'll listen and give you my full and undivided attention. I'm a massive shrew, but only with my friend Liz. Who brings out the worst in me, and I'm terribly thankful for it.

In fact now I think about it, I've been offered a lot of helpful advice lately. It ranges from the hairstyle that would suit me (a kind of rock chick messy bob apparently. I thought it already was. Minus the rock chick bit). To why a bit of make up would really perk up my looks. Can I just say for the record that while I have nothing against make up, I really don't like the feel of it on my skin. Also I never seem to get it right. I don't really know what I'm doing. So I don't. And I'm quite happy with it. It just bugs me that other people aren't. Why do they care?

This weekend has been glorious and awful in equal measure. The above pictures show some of the glorious. My frayed edges carry the awful. It was a sobbing into my husband's shoulder awful. It was more of the same, with a extra helping of for fucks' sake thrown in for good measure. This week is all about a deep breath, a steeling of the shoulders and marching back into battle. Because sometimes all you can do is dig your heels in and keep walking in a straight line.

I leave you with a quote from my favourite film...

"You know what we should do."
"How could I possibly know what we should do. What should we do?"
"Get out of it for a while. Rejuvenate."
"Rejuvenate? I'm in a park and I'm practically dead!"
(Withnail & I)
 Leanne xx

(I should apologise for my last post. I realised yesterday that half of it had been deleted and the rest was all in the wrong place. So sorry if it seemed rather abrupt. It wasn't meant to be so. And thank you for your comments and kind words).