Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Simple Pleasures

When it comes down to it, all children enjoy simple pleasures the most. I can sometimes lose sight of this during the summer holidays. I feel the need to 'fill' it with interest for them, and when you are dealing with the age spread that I do, it usually only means one thing. Trouble. Trying to come up with activities and days out that will satisfy them all is impossible. That hasn't stopped me from trying. And failing. And getting stressed out and angry at what? The fact that two of them would much rather spend it doing their own thing than be with me!




So this summer, I have literally left Sam alone. It is the first time that I haven't cajoled or forced him to come out with us for day trips or walks. I mean the poor boy is seventeen, for goodness sake. Time for this mother to let go. So I have, and he has opted for not coming on any trips out or holidays with us. And it's actually been ok. Letting go has not been as upsetting as I thought it might be. He has started to carve out his own life away from us. One that I am not privy too, and I'm fine with that. Trawling through my memory banks to when I was seventeen, I remember it as a time of real change and growth. I had so many new experiences - my first boyfriend, my fist sip (ahem) of alcohol, a holiday job and secret adventures of my own that my family were definitely not privy to.

It's a bit more difficult with Alf. At twelve and a half, he can be left at home while I am out and about for a couple of hours. But not all day. And never during the evening. I still feel that I have to impose time limits on anything electronic, even though it feels as if that is all he would like to do. I crave fresh air and exercise for him. I want him to be outside roaming with his mates at the skate park or down at the beach. He shows no interest in any of these things this summer. He has started the pupa stage of teen. He spends most of his time in his pyjamas, wrapped up in his duvet and sat in a dark un-ventilated bedroom. He would spend all of his time on his games console if I let him. I don't. It causes a lot of shouting. From both of us.




A compromise of sorts has been reached. He is allowed to do his (hideous gaming) thing, as long as he comes out with me and Pops some of the time. I know it's a bit of a woolly compromise, but it comes without the vile screaming matches that occur, me at the bottom and him at the top of the stairs. They are exhausting, and not good for anyone. And if I trawl back further through my memory banks, I remember feeling the same. My Dad was very authoritarian. He said 'jump', I said 'how high?' Until I reached the age of about thirteen. Then I said no! It was a very emphatic no as I recall, and it caused all sorts of problems between us until the day I left home at eighteen. He wouldn't allow me the no. He couldn't understand that I could and should be left alone to do my own thing. Even if that thing was sitting and watching Black Adder videos all day. Or listening to music in my bedroom and not seeing the light of day for weeks. I don't want to be that kind of parent. I think my Dad got that bit of my upbringing wrong, and yet I fear that I am making the same mistakes with my own children, and especially with Alfie. You may have gathered that we are very alike.....




Obviously with Pops, things are a piece of cake. Everything I suggest is brilliant, according to him. He bounces and flick flacks along with unbridled enthusiasm for all adventuring with his Mum. Thank God for my four year old, otherwise I'd be walking along and talking to myself. We have had a fabulous holiday together, whether it be hanging out watching Pixar movies, playing on the beach or walking the dog. It's all fun and go and do with Pops, which is just how I like it too. I am looking forward to many more years to come before he pulls away from me. I think I've hit the balance nail on the head with him. A case of third time lucky maybe?

 
 

My attempts at balance in the holidays worked beautifully yesterday. It was one of those lovely late summer evenings. Perfect for bouldering up Rosewall and Buttermilk Hill. Olly had fallen from rocks at Cape Cornwall the day before, and spent most of the day in repose on the sofa, feeling sore and miserable. He seemed fully recovered by late afternoon however, and so I thought a spot of clambering over the ancient stones that lay at the top of these hills might just be the way to get him back in the saddle, so to speak. Alfie came too. Reluctantly at first, but once there, his inner child got the better of him. We spent a couple of hours scrambling, climbing and playing hide and seek. Neither of them wanted to come home, and I was grateful for this time that we spent together. It was unplanned with minimum fuss and stress. Simple pleasures are definitely the best whatever the age. They just need a little nudge to be reminded sometimes. And a Mum with the sense to know when and when not to do the nudging. I guess we are all a work in progress!

Leanne xx


Friday, 15 August 2014

Happy

I've not done a Friday Happy for a couple of weeks.

I am feeling a bit tired at the moment. It's my own fault enitrely. I'm reading far too late in the night, and going full whack during the day. I've decided to take it a bit easier over the weekend, and then ramp it up again next week. We are off to France on Thursday, so lots of packing, shopping and cleaning to be done before then. I also want to visit a couple of local places of interest. Places I've been meaning to go for a while. I wonder if I'm cramming as much as possible into my final weeks with Pops at home full time?

Anyway, bumper happies!! Joining in with the rather gorgeous Gillian, who I met earlier this month. What a babe. What treat to meet her and her lovely family. Next time (because there will be a next time), I'd like to chat over a few beers and set the world to rights with her. She's that kind of a gal! And she wore a rather lovely necklace. I notice these things, you see......

Bristol




No sooner had I come home from Bestival, I was off again to Bristol. Probably not the best planning, but it was the only time I could go. And I miss my family a lot. We are a close knit bunch. It was the weekend of the annual balloon festival, and my sister's house is in the perfect place to watch them float by in the early morning. Olly was entranced by them. We went into central Bristol a few times, which is always great. There is a vibe to Bristol. It can be edgy sometimes, but it's a creative, vibrant hub, and I love it. Visiting Bristol has also sent me off into a spiral of thoughts and memories. I'm still trying to catch hold of them, and decipher what they mean.

Garden



The garden has been a mixed bag this summer. I have loved my sunflowers, thistles and Achillia. But the Dahlias are a poor show, and my greenhouse was infested with something that laid waste to everything. I did get some tomatoes and cucumbers, but in the end I admitted defeat. I have cleared it out, and given it a very good clean. Hopefully I will be able to start again with seed planting for Plot No 10. I am still picking blueberries, and the plums are ripening too. Everyone should have a blueberry plant. They are pretty and crop prolifically. Put it on your list, and go get yourself one next Spring.

New



I have bought three more cushions in an attempt to brighten up my horrid brown leather sofas. They were cheap as chips from IKEA and Asda. (Another reason for loving Bristol is the choice of retail options. I spent a couple of hours in John Lewis, just walking around with my mouth open..... but I digress). I have also bought a straw bag. I need another bag like a hole in the head, but it was in the sale. I love a sale. It gives me permission to treat myself - "Oh this? It was in the sale." I say that a lot to Marc. A sale justifies any purchase, however unnecessary, don't you think?

Read


I have been a proper little book worm of late. I stay up far later than I should, lying on my tummy with the pillows scrunched underneath me just so. I pull my bedside table closer to the bed, so that the lamp can shine down onto the page. I finished 'A Homemade Life' last night. I read about it on Isabelle's post for The Year In Books, and it sounded like my cup of tea. I would recommend it. She is a blogger, who has written a memoir/recipie book. Poignant and sad in places, but ultimately uplifting. My late submission for Laura's series is in the pile too - 'The Shock Of The Fall' by Nathan Filer. I shall be taking it with me to France.

Result


Last, but by no means least, Sam got his AS Level results!! He wrote them down on a piece of paper and passed them to me while I was on the telephone to a friend. I think that friend is now deaf. I can't begin to describe how proud I am of him. He has grown and changed so much this year. He has this amazing work ethic, both for his studies and his holiday job, and I have watched him with a quiet pride and great bursts of love. Yes he is a messy git, and I really wish he would get a hair cut. I hate that he has taken to eating pizza in his room late at night (I am woken by the waft of cheese and tomato regularly), and I hate his taste in music (I am a music Nazi, apparently). But, you know, sometimes all those years of pull your hair out parenting does feel worth it. This one of those times. And yes, I know that academic results aren't everything blah, blah, blah....but actually these are important to him and what he wants to do. So they are important to me.

That was the happy.

Right, I'm off for a date with my sister in law and a bottle of wine. Or two. See ya!

Leanne xx


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A Walk After Tea

One thing about being away from home for nine days out of eleven is that there is a lot to catch up on. So it's been all go on the domestic front. Olly hasn't minded all the healthy neglect. He's been re-acquainting himself with all of his toys. And watching Despicable Me. Quite a lot.

 But after tea I felt the need to get out and stretch my legs. The early evening sun beckoned me, Pops and  Honey up the road to Burthallan Lane, and from there to Clodgy Point. I love this walk, as it's completely brilliant for little boys who need to run off their energies before bedtime. Or anytime in fact. Marc and I have paraded all our boys along this route through the years, and it never fails to hit the spot.

Our road. We live bottom left. Alf's friend used to call it
 The White House,  which sounds much grander than it actually is!
Olly is into Batman at the moment. And cutlasses. So he jumped, spoke in a growly voice and brandished his weapon at any unsuspecting passer by. Where on earth this boy gets his energy from I have no idea. He literally bounds and bounces his way through each and every day. He is always up for adventure, and his enthusiasm is just wonderful. However he did nearly fall into the path of an oncomming car. I cannot always anticipate his every quick as lightening moves. The driver gesticulated. I returned the compliment. I think I've bought a bit of Bristol back home with me.




There are three enviable houses that we pass on our walk. To me anyway. One is just up the road from us. Sam used to call it The Witches' House, and I guess it does have that Brother's Grimm look about it. I've been lucky enough to have a poke about inside, which only makes me covet it more, being Arts and Craft in style with a beautiful living room fireplace complete with Bernard Leach tiles.

The next house is at the beginning of Burthallan Lane. It must have stood alone once upon a time, but other houses have sprung up around it over the years. It's a wonderful cottage, with the most exquisite garden. I particularly love their low box hedging, and herbs growing out of the Cornish stone wall.

Finally is a new house that stands in the most enviable position, overlooking the whole of St Ives Bay and beyond. Olly was a baby when this build started, and it was only completed last year. Money was definitely not an issue when it came to this house, but today I noticed how the owners are starting to soften it with thoughtful planting schemes.

These houses always satisfy my nosey-parker tendencies.





 Along the lane and down the footpath towards Clodgy Point are the hedgerows. We picked and ate our first Blackberries, and Olly broke off a dried plant stem to make yet another weapon. He thrust it in and out of the bushes, scattering seeds from the dried out pods of Campion and others. I wonder if Mother Nature ever banked upon little boys to be effective agents of dispersal? The hedgerows show the turning of the seasons better than any where else I know. I may be awaiting my Dahlia show in the garden, but it's here that I am assured an end to summer is approaching. There are still lovely things to see though, and I promised myself that I would gather an armful of those dried stems on our return. I know Marc will be thrilled at the prospect of another twiggy display at home.






 And then before we knew it, we had reached Clodgy Point. It's an outcrop that stretches it's tip into the sea. There are several of them heading down the coast towards Land's End. They are know as the 'Seven Sisters', and on a good day you can see them all from here. The view is magnificent. A panorama that takes in the coast that lies north of St Ives, maybe as far as Chapel Porth or St Agnes (I'll have to find out). And way down South towards the Pendeen and beyond. I want to sit and stare. Olly wants to play hide and seek. Honey wants me to throw her a stick. Two out of three's not bad.

We do watch a man and his little girl fly a kite. She is about the same age as Pops, and her laughter is infectious. It's a lovely scene. I 'hallooo' a few people that I know. One is out dog walking, the other is puff puffing up the hill in her running gear. I feel rather guilty that I have been so slothful of late, but then I remind myself that come September I will have the time to devote to rather more self involved practices. So to celebrate that thought, I offer a piece of fudge to Pops and have one myself.

It's time to turn back the way we came. I chivy Pops along by telling him the story of Hansel and Gretl on the way. We only stop to look at the horses in the fields, and the swallows darting and skimming within. The sun is starting to dip, and I'm surprised to notice that we've been out for over two hours. I think that our tea must have gone down by now. It's a less whirly gig walk home, and I piggy back Olly some of the way. Once home, it's straight into pyjamas for both of us. A glass of milk, a clean of the teeth and a bedtime story. Lights out, and Olly is in the land of nod in minutes.



I artfully arrange my twigs, and pour myself a glass of wine.

Happy days.


Leanne xx


(all pics were taken with my phone, so not the best quality. And a few squiffy horizons to boot!)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

On Tour

Well hello!

My attendance here will be rather erratic for a while.

We are here, there and everywhere.

It's nice (apart from all the laundry). More than nice. It's lovely. Wonderful.

We came back from Camp Bestival yesterday evening, having had an amazing time. We all made the most of every day. The weather was extremely good to us. Such fantastic experiences and memories for Pops and Alfie. If I had to choose a highlight, it would have to be dancing to Basement Jaxx on Sunday evening. The boys really got into it, and danced their socks off. It was brilliant!!





So I shall be dipping in and out. A post here and there. A catch up with you and yours.

But we will be having adventures aplenty for the next month, so forgive me if I am not as present as usual.

Tomorrow we decamp to Bristol.

I can't wait!

Leanne xx



Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Liebster

 Christina from A Colourful Life has nominated me for a Liebster. For those of you that don't know, the idea is to write eleven 11 random facts about yourself, answer the eleven questions from your nominator, write eleven questions of your own and nominate people you would like to partake. I always like reading these when other bloggers partake. I am just very nosey.... 

gratuitous picture of cake


So eleven random facts about myself. Is there anything you don't already know?


  • I have the world's worst handwriting. Everyday I thank God for the computer and word processing.
  • I loathe having my photograph taken. Whenever I see a picture of myself, my immediate thought is that I can't possibly look like that! But I've been told that yes, I do.
  • I have five lamps in my living room. They are not necessarily all on at once.
  • I have decided that the tunic is to be added to my wardrobe staples, along with breton tops, skinny jeans and flip flops. The tunic is my new friend. It hides a multitude of sins, and for that I am eternally grateful.
  • Although I allow my emotions and feelings to flow here, in real life I am actually very well behaved. I rarely let anyone see that side of me. I'm more of a listener and less of a talker when it come to emotions.
  • Having said that I can and will talk the hind legs off a donkey. Try and get a word in edgeways. Go on, I dare you.
  • I am not very well travelled, but I hope to rectify that as I get older. My top three places would be New Zealand, Iceland and Scotland. I've never been further north than Newcastle.
  • When I was little I used to love colouring books. I still have a fondness for Berol felt pens. I like to sniff them too.
  • I have twelve loyalty cards in my purse. My favourite is my Cath Kidston 'St Ives Local' one, which I got when they opened a store in St Ives. I get 10% off all purchases. It's come in very handy.
  • At the moment I am watching Homeland on Netflix. He's a bit of a bugger that Nicholas Brodie.
  • I really fancy a glass of wine right now, but I am in my pjs and I can't be bothered to change and pop to the shop. I have no mixer for the gin either, so another cup of tea it is.

Christina has asked the following questions:

  • What or who inspired you to start your blog?

    Anyone who has followed my blog, will probably know that I started it as a way to record and chart the everyday stuff of my life. It was also to document my fledgling garden, and the growing love and appreciation for the wildlife that could be attracted into it. Olly was an outdoorsy baby, and being outside with him made me stop and look and really see the natural world in a way that I hadn't done since I was little myself. But it was actually Sam who suggested that I write a blog, and he was the one that came up with the name. So although there have been times that I have thought about changing 'Today's Stuff' to something else, I never have. It kind of fits, the name. And anyway what else would it be called?

  • Do you have any pet hates?

    Well, manners cost nothing. Not offering your seat to people less able than you, whether they are old or pregnant or have a toddler on their hip or are on crutches. I used to work in London and would catch the tube to work. I was always amazed at how selfish people could be, when it came to a bum on a seat. I always offered up mine. When I was heavily pregnant with Sam, no-one ever asked if I would like to sit. I hate seeing people spit. Urgh. In a tissue if you have to please. I don't like it when people talk behind their hand. And I don't like litter. No need. Put it in your pocket and take it home. And your dog's whotsits. Take that too.

  • What magazine subscriptions to you have?

    My Mum bought me a subscription to County Living magazine for my birthday. In May it featured a house near Porth Leven. My house is going to look like that one day. I have ripped it out and saved it. It is so pretty.

  • Do you avoid walking under ladders or do you have any other superstitions?

    I am not at all superstitious. I don't believe in ghosts or any of that rubbish either. Load of old clap trap!

  • Describe the art on your living room wall.

    I have several prints on my walls of art exhibitions, book covers and seaside themes. I have two charcoal drawings by Seb West, a local artist. I also have three clay tiles with pressed flower reliefs. If I had to choose a favourite it would be the framed poster of Virginia Woolf's 'To The Lighthouse.'

  • What was the last concert you went to?

    Well I went to Camp Bestival last year and jumped about to various artists, my favourite being The Proclaimers.

  • If you could invite one well known person for dinner, who would it be and why?

    This is a tough one. I think I'd like to invite the comedienne and writer Victoria Wood. I just adore her observational humour so much. I can quote whole rafts of her sketches and shows. Do you want me to?

  • What are you wearing just now?

    My pyjamas and my dressing gown. I know. What a stunner.

  • What type of holiday do you enjoy most?

    One where I don't cook or wash up. I have never been on one of those, but I would imagine that they are quite nice.

  • What is the naughtiest thing you have done as a child?

    Oh God! I really don't want to answer this. You'll think I'm really horrible. The absolute worse thing that I can remember is persuading someone to eat a chocolate digestive biscuit. The chocolate was actually wet mud. He ate it too. I did many more more naughty things as a teen and young adult, but you would definitely hate me if I told you any of those. Let's just say that I have reinvented myself over the years. Well, don't we all?

  • Do you have or did you ever have a role model? Who and why?

    I have had several role models as I have grown up. They have all been women, and they have all had a huge positive influence over the emerging me. My Mum is the main one. She is selfless and kind. She is very stoic, and always sees things from both sides. She has a great sense of humour and is able laugh at herself. She loves unconditionally, and is generous with time, money, you name it. She has great legs. I inherited her sense of humour.


    My questions are:
  • Which activities can make you lose track of time?
  • Who is the funniest person you know?
  • What small act of kindness were you shown that you will never forget?
  • What can you do today that couldn't do last year?
  • Who is your favourite literary heroine?
  • Name three things that has made you smile this week.
  • What is your favourite sound?
  • If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be and why?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What do you see when you close your eyes?
  • Who was your favourite band or singer when you were sixteen?

I'm really bad at nominating people. But it would be really cool if some of you would join in. Go on. It makes a change. It's just a bit of fun, and it's better than another sponsored post about dish cloths or the latest vacuum. Or the new must have chair...

Have a go. It would make my day. It's not a cop out*. Honest.

Leanne xx

*okay it's a cop out. Creative Academic, Countryside Tales, Notes From Delft.....how about you guys? x









Monday, 28 July 2014

Lately

Hello!

How are you? Well I hope.

Hey, thank you all so much for your lovely comments about my guest post on The Colour Collaborative. Really. Warmed the cockles of my heart. Lovely people.

































July has flashed by. I'm staring August in the face, and the long summer holiday is stretched out before me. I've written a list. Three actually. Four if you count my Camp Bestival list (we are going on Thursday). I feel a little as if the holidays started a couple of weeks ago, but it may just be that the weather has been so great that opportunities for outdoor fun has been maximised.

Olly has finished nursery. I made a giant cream tea for the teaching staff to enjoy. He bounded out on his last day with a cake and lots of crafty stuff. He said goodbye and didn't look back. I cried my eyes out on the way home. When do you start looking back or feeling nostalgic? Little ones just don't do they. Onward to new adventures. Life is just one long summer holiday for them I reckon.

We have enjoyed evenings at the beach, tea overlooking Godrevy, walks in the woods, a trip out in the fishing dingy, spotting seals in the harbour, crafting madness at home, Lilo and Stitch on Netflix, making Rhubarb and Strawberry jelly (heavenly) and general pottering and pootling about. Don't get me wrong, it's not all been plain sailing. Olly has not been sleeping well, Alfie has been an utter git and Sam is tired - and therefore teasy -  from all the pot washing at work. So it can be a drag here, to be honest. As I've said before, it's those very concentrated periods of hideousness that seem to place a weight on top of my head and push it down.

But......

Yesterday I had a quiet word with myself. I am singing that song from Frozen. I am letting it go. I am going to chill the flip out. I am going to ignore the boundary pushing behaviour. I am going to snuggle up and watch a bit of telly with Pops if we are tired. I shall blithely float past Sam's sharp responses. I am not going to go mad, feeling that I should do this or ought to do that. I have my list, but I'm focusing on relaxation for better hallway vision*

I'm going to try anyway!

Leanne xx

*The Breakfast Club. Remember it?


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Colour Collaborative: July: Sail

Hello there.

A huge thank you to Annie and the collaborators for letting me guest post for The Colour Collaborative this month. When asked I said yes immediately, without stopping to think that the post I wrote would have to actually fit the brief. No wandering off and processing on the page for me. And I have to say I rather enjoyed the challenge. I hope you enjoy my interpretation of this month's theme.

.........................


If you follow the road that leads into town from the Tate Gallery, and keep following it left up Back Road West, you will find a small granite cottage, with a plaque above a brown front door that reads:

 Alfred Wallis
 artist and mariner
 1855-1942
 lived here


You may know about Wallace already. He was discovered by the artist Ben Nicholson, who on passing Wallace's cottage, noticed his paintings hung all over the walls. He was enthralled by the art he saw and by Wallace himself. Wallace's work was inspirational for Nicholson's own development as an artist, and the naive quality of his paintings were highly influential in the development of British Modernism.




Alfred Wallis is a bit of a hero of mine too. This is a man who after the death of his wife, started painting. He was seventy. He said he did it 'for company.' I have this mental image of him picking up a brush, dipping it into a pot of marine paint and conjuring up a boat from his memory banks. For a person such as myself who over-thinks everything, I find this remarkable. He just got on and did it. He wasn't concerned with any intellectual pursuit that often accompanies artistic endeavour. Wallace painted because it made him feel better.

He used a limited colour palette of sludgy grey, brown, pungent green, black and blue. These are not the colours that you would expect from a man living a stone's throw away from a beach that can boast the whitest sand and the bluest sea in the UK. But for me they are perfectly in tune with the colours of West Cornwall. They are muted and pared back, synonymous with it's coastline and surrounding countryside.

These are the colours that I am drawn to. They are the flat mat colours of land and sea mingling together at the water's edge, where pebbles are rolled over and over in the ebb and flow of the tide. They are the colours of seaweed and anenomes waiting to be found in rock pools. These colours reflect a natural form that encircles St Ives in the sweep of its' bay.They capture the smell and flavour of a sea that is not dotted with bright yellow surf boards or jet skis. These are the colours of St Ives when the tourists go home.

They are also the colours of St Ives in the days of Wallace, before the candy cane windbreak came along. The life of a Cornish fisherman was hard, and these colours create a sense of that too. Even though St Ives is known to be a mecca for artists and writers, it's roots lie in the toil of the sea and the land. These colours are hardworking and honest, rather like Wallace himself. They tell of a man who lived a hard life at sea, and navigated more rough waters throughout his lifetime.






Wallace's paintings are small and seemingly unassuming. But they draw you in. The grey and black of the sea as his boats set a course through it, is full of movement and mystery. It conveys the idea of adventure and danger. The boats themselves are simply drawn, but exquisite. They are going places before your eyes, as they chart a course out into the Atlantic, and set sail for new horizons.

But above all it is the colours that I love. Those earthy honest colours that I see around me as I walk the beaches and coastline of St Ives and the surrounding area. These are unpretentious colours, that don't need an explanation. They soothe me and give me another connection to a place that I have fallen in love with. The colours of an Alfred Wallace painting tell me that I am home.

Leanne xx

.................................


If you'd like to read the sail posts by other Colour Collaborative bloggers please follow the links below:

Annie at Annie Cholewa
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Jennifer at Thistlebear

What is The Colour Collaborative? 



All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.