Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Life In The Slow Lane

Picture courtesy Carol Benett 
Swimming. My new thing. One of the best new things I've ever done.

I trawl up and down the pool. Just me, myself and I.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

My mind is almost a blank as I propel myself through the water. Sometimes it settles on something. But not for long. I find it very therapeutic actually, without all that stuff roaring around my head.

There was a time I enjoyed hockey, athletics and high octane aerobics. Or dancing for hours on end in nightclubs. But now I want peace. I don't want loud music. I don't want other people shouting instruction at me. I want to be left alone.

Time seems to stand still in the water. I like that.

The surface ripples, as I move through it. An occasional splash from a fellow swimmer. The light bounces off the the water making pretty patterns.

The water makes us all equal too. Me, the young girl, the elderly lady. We are all the same in the water. Our bodies are buoyed and capable. There is no distinction. Another attraction for this body conscious, insecure, ridiculous girl.

Leanne xx

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Consols Pond

Consols Pond lies at the very top end of St Ives. Every Good Friday the people of St Ives gather to launch their sailing boats, many of whom have been handed down from father to son. The oldest ones are home made, and beautifully crafted.

The annual tradition of sailing a model boat on Consols Pond has been going for over a hundred years. It is thought that this tradition began in the early 1900s when sailors and their children would sail model boats in the harbour, as a gesture to generations before that would launch miniature boats to ensure safe passage at sea.

After moving here, I bought Marc a model boat for his birthday, and we have been sailing it at the pond every year since. It's great fun, although water and children can sometimes make for nervous mothers. Fathers are not so nervous, it would seem. Olly really enjoyed sailing the boat, and the weather was perfect for it. Beautiful sunshine with a very slight breeze. We didn't enter the competition for the best sailing boat. But we did buy a coffee and a hot cross bun from the lovely ladies in the Chapel that sits next to the pond.

I love the local traditions of St Ives. Are there any local traditions where you live that you enjoy?

Have a lovely Easter.

Leanne xx

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Up The Steeple

When the boys are on their school holidays, I try and strike a balance between getting out and about and chillaxing at home. So this morning saw me pottering about the house engaged in the menial and humdrum, while Olly played with PlayDoh and Lego. We have been blessed with beautiful weather in West Cornwall. All sunshine and blustery wind. Lovely to wake up to in the morning. Brilliant for hanging out the washing. Fantastic if you happen to be here for the Easter holidays. It makes me love living here all the more. We have spent quite a lot of our time at the beach. But we don't have to go. We can pick and choose. And today we chose not to.

Olly and Alfie wanted to walk to Steeple Woods. I was happy to oblige, as it's one of my favourite walks to take Honey. It's long enough for a good run out for her. There is lots to occupy a little boy en route, so the uphill climb doesn't seem so hard on his legs. And the lanes are safe to navigate, so loads of running like loons. There's lots for me to look at too. The sun was very bright and so taking photos of wild flora proved difficult. But there were carpets of celandine, wood anemone, bluebells, violets, gorse, blossom and buds galore. There were bees and butterflies busying themselves and the sound of birdsong was glorious.

Knills Monument is situated on a hill overlooking the town. Built in 1782 by John Knill, it is a triangular monument made of granite and stands over 50ft high. Knill was a rather eccentric mayor of St Ives, and this was to be his mausoleum. He actually died and was buried in London, but the monument remained. It's undergone some restoration recently and was looking rather magnificent in the Spring sunshine.

The area surrounding the monument is heathland.To the south lies Trelyon Downs and below is Steeple Woods. These three form the Steeple Nature Reserve. It's a rather special place, and you often hear people in St Ives talking about "Going up the Steeple." The view from the top is spectacular - a 360 degree panorama of the surrounding area. You can see for miles up there, and apart from the Atlantic, it is a rural landscape. While St Ives swells with the day tripper, Steeple Woods is a reminder that there is space around us. It's a real get away from it all kind of a place.

The boys love the tree climbing possibilities. And the rope swing in the woods. I watched as Olly challenged himself and followed his brother up trees and on the swing. I resisted the urge to stop him, and only helped him when he asked for it. Boys need these physical challenges, and I am loving how Olly is really pushing his own boundaries. The delight on his face as he overcame initial reticence and swung on the rope swing was priceless. And by the end of the afternoon he was as quick as a cat along the low lying branches of the trees.


This evening I have had a tired and teasy boy, which gave a sense of a job well done. Kids should be tired from their activities at the end of the day, right? So that they sink into bed and silent slumbers, while Mum drinks her gin and tonic in peace downstairs.

Leanne xx

Friday, 11 April 2014

We Should Have Called You Brett!

"Nigel says that Sharon Botts will show you everything for 50p and a pound of grapes."

The news of the death of Sue Townsend this morning has upset me deeply. Famous people die, and we commiserate and feel it a shame. And that's it. But I loved Sue Townsend. I thought she was marvellous. I think she would have thought me a berk for thinking that. She always seemed like she wouldn't suffer fools gladly, which was another thing about her I admired. She was one of several woman who had a huge impact on the teenage me, growing up in 80s Britain.

For any of you that aren't familiar with her, Sue Townsend was a British writer, who found fame as the creator of the eponymous Adrian Mole. Adrian kept a diary, and he started it when he was 13 and 3/4. I am a year younger than Adrian, and so his teenage years parallelled mine. I have also kept a diary since I was a teen. Spots, The Falklands War, unrequited love, poetry, underwhelming Christmas presents and general angst were Adrian's trademark. Mine was probably very similar at his age. Apart from The Falklands. I was never as politically motivated as Adrian. My diary contained more Duran Duran and less Margaret Thatcher.

"I have just realised that I have never seen a dead body or a real female nipple.
 This is what comes of living in a cul-de-sac."

Although marketed as children's fiction, it still moves me at forty four. I love her acid comedy, her ease at addressing 'difficult' issues and the way that she didn't patronise or talk down to kids. I have often felt that without her there would have been no JK Rowling. Not in this country anyway. I wonder if the parents who put her books into their children's Christmas stockings knew that they contained such strong opinions on the British class system, politics, feminism and losing ones virginity.

"Donkey Dawkins of 5P says that his thing comes off the end of a ruler."

When many of my class mates were reading about Judy Blume's Margaret and her periods, I was reading about Adrian and his love of Pandora Braithwaite. I cried tears of laughter at the poem he penned for her (Pandora, I adore ya!). At thirteen I, too, was a fledgling poet. I had written my best poem to date, and was convinced that I was just waiting to be discovered. So did Adrian. He realised that he was an intellectual at about the same time that I did. Alas for both of us, no-one else recognised it

 "I am an intellectual. But at the same time, I'm not very clever."

I still have my Adrian Mole books - The Secret Diary, The Growing Pains, The Cappuccino Years, The Prostate Years. They are dogged eared and cherished. I have read them more times I have read Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre.

If our whole is the sum of our parts, then a little part of me belongs to Sue Townsend.

Leanne xx

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Plot Number 10

 Hello lovely people. This post comes with an undercurrent of great excitement!!

That's me looking at my little piece of England. 

Last week I went to the Town Hall to enquire about putting my name down for an allotment plot. To my complete surprise I was told that there were several plots available. I was given a little map with highlighted squares, and told to go have a look and see which plot took my fancy. So after tea me Olly and Alfie drove to Trowan, which lies on the back road out of St Ives. It really is the most wonderfully idyllic setting for growing your own, with Rosewall Hill in the background and the Atlantic to the fore. 

There wasn't anyone there, and as I can barely direct anyone up the crease of a map, me and the boys just ran around exploring. It was beautifully peaceful. No sounds of traffic and just the Blackbirds for company. I was entranced by the higgledy piggledy sheds and cold frames that had been erected. I was rather taken with one particular plot that had a swathe of fruit canes and a blue bench in one corner. Olly liked the scarecrow. I felt that tingle of excitement mixed with anxiety, as I contemplated whether I could actually take on a plot of my own. 

The allotment site was given over to the Association and the plot holders in August 2010, so it is very new as allotments go. The site was a former farming field covered in couch grass and other plants. There are about fifty plots, and they have been created from scratch. Each plot is ten metres by twelve metres in size, and cost £60 pounds a year to lease. I think that's a very cheap way to extend your gardening opportunities, don't you?

Yesterday evening I took Marc to have a look around too. I needed a map reader. I also needed to ask for a bit of help. As the plots available are still untended, full of couch grass and weeds that need to be cleared. It means a lot of hard graft - digging mostly - before any of the fun stuff can begin. Thank goodness that he was as excited as I was. Armed with the knowledge that I would not be doing it completely alone, I felt ready to commit.

And so Plot Number 10 is mine ours! 

I have already sketched out a layout, and in my minds eye I can see exactly how it will look in a couple of seasons time. This first season it would be great to get the plot in a state fit for planting, and possibly start off some veg to over winter. I have high hopes, and my brain is swimming in ideas. We spoke to a fellow plot holder, who has told us that the soil is fabulous for growing, after so many years of being fertilised by cows. He proudly showed us his garlic, leeks and onions and he also had a huge strawberry bed.

The only problem may be the wind coming off the sea. All the best sites are protected by the hedgerows from neighbouring fields, and they have already been taken. So I will need to invest in some protective screening of my own. Again, thank goodness for Marc, his engineers brain and Screwfix catalogue. He'll have one rigged up in no time. Of course I desire beautiful hedging as a screen, with Clematis scrambling through, but all in good time. 

I think it will be a lovely place to bring Olly, and I have already decided that a small patch will be given over to grow stuff with him in mind. Pollinator friendly plants and a Strawberry bed. A little sand pit for him to play in in the summer months, and a place for bees and bugs to hibernate. Most likely he will be free-wheeling on his bike making friends with fellow plot holders. Or stomping in and falling into muddy puddles, as he did yesterday. But I would really like the ethos of why I started to garden in the first place to be continued here on plot number 10. 

My gardening adventures have got very much bigger. Wish me luck.

Leanne xx

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Not Too Shabby For Rachel

Finally the day that I have longed for since God knows when arrived at my door. A glorious sunny Spring day from beginning to end. I could see the sun peeping through the curtains when I woke, and as I drank my first cup of tea, I watched our Blackbird catching the worm in the garden. And I just knew that today was going to be a Black Eyed Peas kind of a day.

It meant playing outside. Washing on the line. Gardening in earnest. Lunch al fresco. A dip in the tub.

The Lego was the toy of choice, and battles were played out in the borders. Olly and I pond dipped to see whether the frog spawn has spawned (it has). Beryl and Jean obviously enjoyed the sun too, judging by their squawks. And yes of course the boys squabbled over Halo figures and Nerf darts. And yes Olly got a telling off for pulling up a couple of my Tulips. And of course I still had to do the ironing, shopping, bathrooms and have tea ready by 5pm so the worker could get to his washing up duties on time. But it all went down rather easier with the sun warming my back.

Please tell me it's here for a while at least!

Leanne xx

(apologies for the smudge on the camera lens. It may have been mayonnaise...)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Just A Little Catch Up

Sunday evening, and I have just recovered from the hangover from hell. Elderflower Prosecco  goes down very well on a Saturday evening with family. It doesn't feel so good when being woken at 6am by Olly. Yikes! I may have been over excited by the fact that Marc is home for the next ten days. The boys are thrilled. I am relieved. Our plans are for trips out locally, hanging out at home and just being together.

Beryl and Jean are laying every day. They are enjoying the longer days and cluck excitedly whenever I approach them. They only want the food, but I like to think they want to see me too. This weekend I have made egg custards, lemon drizzle cake, omelettes and poached eggs a plenty.

Sam has started his first part time job. He is a kitchen porter at a restaurant in town. I am thrilled for him. His cousin got him the job (thank you Matt). It will be good for him. It will give him confidence if nothing else. Although he made me laugh on Friday night, complaining about not having sat down for over four hours. Bless him!

My garden is full of Tulips. Beautiful brightly coloured blooms that just lift my spirits so much. The weather may be completely miserable outside, which is really ticking me off. But the flowers are busting out. I stand at the conservatory doors drinking my morning tea, staring at them. And listening to the bird song. A Jenny Wren has taken to sitting in the tree proclaiming his territory and displaying his wares for a mate.

We have been talking holidays. To France in Betty. To Camp Bestival. To Wales. To weekends away whenever we feel like it. Marc's job means that we aren't able to plan too far ahead. And to honest we are terrible at it too.

Just a little catch up. Our weekend was good. I hope yours was too.

Leanne xx