Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Blue Week

Hey you.

I've been quite absent. I've got the blues. Not the mean reds, thank goodness. But a dark enough blue. A blue that has made me lose the plot a bit. A blue that has dragged me under. A blue that allows me to be on my best behaviour in public, but hits me sideways at home. A blue that lets me leave a pithy comment on a friend's status, or post a video that pokes fun at teasy tea-time tantrums. But also makes me want to curl up on the sofa and block out the chatter and noise. A blue that means I can perform and function, all the while wanting to stab a fork into my leg.

It's complicated. It rears it's head without warning. Even after all these years of living with the blues, I am often caught out. They are sneaky. The blues are covert, lying in the shadows waiting for the perfect moment to strike. They almost always hit their target. And I've been hit right between the eyes this time. A fuzzy head. Those horrible, irrational, crappy thoughts. The impulse to flee. And as an extra measure, you know just to really fuck me over, the overwhelming tiredness and ennui. These blues trap you into inaction and lethargy. And the guilt of it all. I think that's possibly the worse thing. The guilt that surrounds having the blues. I could win gold if guilt was an Olympic event.

Today the blues have changed colour a little. The blues are more like the skies in the pictures above. I can deal with these. I feel a little more energised. I feel as if I can tackle the list and the housework and the tea time madness without feeling physically bruised by it all. I can bat away the intrusive thoughts, and I feel my energy slowly returning. I know there is no pressure to do and be. My mind is a kinder place to be with today.

I shall walk out into the Autumn sunshine. I shall turn my face to the pale lemon sun, and I shall breathe. I will put my trust in good food, gentle exercise and those little white pills. I will smile at my children, and pull them close. I will promise Marc that he won't be coming home to such a bitch this weekend.

One step at a time. Always one step at a time.

Leanne xx

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Two Weeks In

So we have made it through the first two weeks of a new school year with barely a scrape. Samuel is currently writing, editing and having vetted his personal statement for his Uni application. He is attending several open days over the next couple of months. I think he quite fancies Liverpool, although the Oxbridge route is also a real possibility. It's a very exciting/daunting time for him, I think. And I'm excited for him too. And slightly alarmed by his intelligence, and where it may take him. Wherever he ends up, he's going to have a ball.

Alfie has had a good start too. I think not being the newbie has had some positive effects. Apparently the new children that have joined this year are 'so immature." Hmmm. To be honest his first year at secondary school was pretty grim in terms of his behaviour and attitude. Not so much at school, but definitely at home. So hoorah for school hierarchy! Especially if it gives this Mum some respite.

And Olly? Well, his first two weeks of school have been interesting. His school operates a gentle settling in period, so he has only attended for three hours for the past two weeks. Next week he will stay and have lunch, and then come home. And the week after that he starts full time. Given how tired he has been just attending for three hours, I do worry about how he will cope when he has to go full time. I'm hoping that it's just that everything is new and different, and therefore a little stressful for him. He has objected on a number of occasions at having to go every day.

As for me, can I admit to looking forward to when he does go full time? Not that I won't miss him, because I will. But school was always going to happen, wasn't it. I did toy with home schooling, but actually I don't think I'd be very good at it. I read Jennifer's post with great interest and admiration. I like the idea of a 50/50 approach, but that wouldn't be an option here. And I think that Olly wouldn't benefit long-term to being taught at home full time. And to be honest, it wouldn't be good for me either. Can I admit to a craving for my own company? I have a number of plans for those hours, and I feel rather excited about it. Nothing very glamorous or high achieving, to be sure. But then I never was one for reaching for the stars. But to have some time. Yes that sounds very appealing.

So for the past couple of weeks, my days have been a little dis-jointed. I drop Pops off, go for a swim or walk Honey, fly around the house with the vacuum and then pick him up again. He has needed quiet time, and so we have spent hours on the sofa, or quietly playing Lego. I don't mind. I have cherished it actually. Here I am with one just starting school, and one about to fly the nest. There's a lot going on!

We have been out and about. The weather has been glorious in West Cornwall. It always is in September. Our last hurrah, before the Autumn kicks in. We have spent time on the beach, and time up the country lanes. On Wednesday we went looking for hips, and found ourselves at St John's In The Field. The grounds of the church are a nature reserve, and there are always things to do and see. I found the hips (yay), and we also found conkers, feathers, leaves and seed pods. Back home I made rosehip syrup. Ostensibly for health. But actually for cocktails and an accompaniment to Prosecco. Honestly that and the sloe gin steeping in the broom cupboard, anyone would think I'm a foraging lush.

I got very over-excited about the butterflies gorging themselves in the sunshine. I haven't seen a Comma all summer, but there were several and they seemed quite docile and happy for me to get up close and personal. It never fails to bring such pleasure, this pursuit of the butterfly. I have a little app on my phone that I can use to help me identify them. I can also log the ones that I spotted. What more does a nature nerd need!

Two weeks in, and things are good. Thank goodness for that.

Have a great weekend!

Leanne xxx

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Precious Things

I'm thrilled to have been asked by Sarah over at Mitenska to contribute to this monthly series. She asked herself, what makes a thing precious? And which precious things would she take from her home if required? So for the past week or so, as I've gone about my business here at Today's Stuff, I've been looking at my things in a different way. What do I consider precious? If I had to exit stage left in a hurry, what precious things would I want to take with me?

As I've looked and thought, I've been rather surprised at the things that I would choose, and the reasons why I would choose them. Most of them have no real material value Any value they possess is purely sentimental. They evoke memories, which in turn send me to happy places. And like a line of dominoes, they topple into other thoughts and memories that lead down a spiral of reverie (and a slight case of self indulgence too..)

I would start with my books. I have a lot of books. But there are three books on my bookcase that I would feel compelled to take with me. These three books have probably had the most influence on me as I grew up. They are well thumbed, and two are falling apart at the seams. I cherish these books as old friends. And it's not just the book themselves. It's what they represent.

Let me explain.

The first time that I read 'The Secret Garden', I was transported. I pored over the descriptions of the landscape and the way that the characters spoke. I was fascinated with the idea of finding something hidden and secret. I think I borrowed it from the library at least half a dozen times, and that Christmas there was a copy of the book in my stocking. I loved this book. I still love it.

In the book, it is a robin that shows Mary the way. I had a robin that showed me the way once. I was struggling with post natal depression after Samuel was born. I was living in commuter belt hell, with no friends or family nearby. Marc worked long hours. I rarely got dressed. It was a tough time. But there was this one morning. I was outside in the garden, and a robin was sat on the fence. He was singing. I stood and watched him for a while, and I thought to myself  'It will be ok. I will be ok' That robin was a saviour of sorts. I cannot think where I would be now if it weren't for him.

'The Rainbow' was one of the first grown up -  intellectual even - works of literature I read. It was a set text on my English Literature A Level course. There are notes scribbled all over the pages of this book. There are also my attempts at practicing my signature in there too. And some rather dubious graffitti. I thought Lawrence was the business. Forget Plath, Lawrence was the man upstairs. I used this book as an accessory to demonstrate my intelligence; casually getting it out of my bag on the bus back from college. I devoured everything that he wrote, while trying my hand at writing some angst ridden, Freudian-laden nonsense of my own.

This book, more than any other, defined the gauche young woman that I was. I read it whilst undergoing a period of experimentation and change. I flirted with all sorts; drink, drugs, fashion statements. I ditched the drugs (apart from the ciggies), became attached to cans of Red Stripe at clubs where R&B was played and discovered the ubiquitous uniform of Levi 501s and a Breton tee. I emerged from the other side of my affair with Lawrence a bit less of a duckling, with a fledgling acceptance of me, myself and I. I learnt important life lessons while studying David Herbert. I have a lot to thank him for.

I studied Classics at University. I know. Useful. It was these three ancient Greek plays that led to four years of deciphering archaic languages, learning about age old cultures and falling in love with a world glimpsed through the eyes of the ancient poets. Going to University was a massive deal in my family. I was the first one to do so. My Dad took me to Georges book shop on Park Street, and together we bought the books on my first year reading list. This was one of them. A trio of plays from an ancient world, bought for me by a man who thought I was off my head when I didn't take that job at Sainsbury's, but bought me the books, and sent me on my way towards life changing experiences, enduring friendships and a deep love of gin.

Three precious things. Three books that are a little part of the story of me.

Leanne xx

You'll find the other contributors to Precious Things over at the following blogs. Please go have a look!

Sarah at Mitenska

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Happy Lately

I haven't posted anything at all for over a week. And as is always the case, another lovely blogger articulated much better than me about erratic summer blogging (thank you Gillian).

I'll tell you another thing; I have been hiding. For years. Behind the pages of a book, prettier girlfriends, being the funny one, as an under-achiever, a very bad pa, being nice when I should have been a bitch, saying yes when I should have said no. And lots more besides.

And now Pops has started school. I can't hide behind him anymore. Oh no. Swirly whirly brain. Can you tell?

So a happy/lately post. To get me back in the swing of things. You know how it is.

My garden is still putting on a show. The Dahlias are finally in bloom. I thought it was never going to happen. But our gorgeous late summer has persuaded them to come hither. I adore Dahlias. One of my rose bushes is having a second flush of flowers. I never expected that either, but am very glad that they are. And I have hips! And this is my pollinator corner. Olly and I draw up chairs and watch them go about their business. It's absorbing. I love my garden. There are plans afoot for it. I am very excited!

During the summer holidays Olly and I kept a nature list of all the wildlife that we saw. It was quite a long list by the end. It went into his holiday diary that his new teacher gave him (me) to complete over the holidays. After a little research, I believe (but am happy to be corrected) that these are an oak bush cricket, rose chafer beetle and a small copper. One on the beach, one at Godrevy and one in our bathroom!!

I have gathered so very many blackberries and sloes. It is a bumper season for them. The sloes are in the freezer, waiting to be bashed into submission and then thrust into gin for Christmas festivities. I have made jam and many a crumble with the blackberries. Some of them are in the freezer too, because September brings the obligatory diet. For Christmas. So that I can eat loads and not burst at the seams. Literally.

We have been out and about in West Cornwall in Betty, soaking up the last of the summer. I love Betty. I'm not bothered that she is the other woman in my life. Not any more. Today we went to Godrevy to put some flowers down for Granny. It's been three years since my beloved mother in law passed away. We all miss her still. She was fabulous. It was a super evening, and we spent it eating hot dogs, playing Frisbee and watching two curious seals watching us watching them. Oh and there were a lot of biscuits....

There now. That wasn't so bad. I can still do this, even with Pops in school.


Big love to you all,

Leanne xxxxx

Friday, 5 September 2014

A Slow Week

That's what it's been here. Yes there have been things to do, like ironing endless labels into Olly's schooliform,* running Sam around now that his bus pass has run out and cleaning. But we have spent our last week of the summer holiday at home. We haven't strayed far, and we haven't filled our days with busy. It's been lovely to potter about in the garden, and snuggle up on the sofa with Olly.

I think that we are ready for the new school year to begin. Olly has drawn his brothers pictures of himself, so that they won't miss him when he starts school. He's wearing a rather fetching turban in one of them. We have finished his holiday scrapbook to hand in on his first day. I say we....


Your comments on my last post warmed the cockles of my heart. Thank you. Yes things are going to very different around here soon. I think I am ready for it now. I have tossed and turned between a fear of letting go, and a need to have some time for me. I think I'm a bit scared of finding out that there's not much of me left. I guess I'll know soon enough!

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Leanne xx

*a Charlie & Lolaism

Friday, 29 August 2014

Thoughts on Thoughts

I haven't been sleeping well lately. An insomnia of sorts. I think that it's more than that though. My days are so rich and full at the moment, it should follow that my nights are spent in a deep satisfying slumber.

Not so much.

I'm tired. And yet my mind is a whir. Flitting from one thing to another. There are lists. And musings. And lots and lots of thinking. About all kinds of stuff. I feel as if I want to share them all here.

With you.

Because I know you. But then again I can't possibly know you. I would never presume such a thing. And yet I trust you. So I'm thinking that maybe all the process and knee jerk that fill these pages, is an attempt to let you really know me. Because the relationship that I have found myself making with you here has become so important. I want you to know me. Because I like you. I think that you're pretty cool. We seem to have a lot in common. And yet these relationships confuse me also. They fall through my fingers like the sand I walk across everyday. I want to give you all something. A pebble from my favourite beach maybe? A little tangible something to connect us.

I have been given support, encouragement and solidarity here. I have poked fun at myself, railed against the world and written posts when I am full throttle pre-menstrual. It has been at once liberating and cringe worthy. There have been posts of pure self indulgence, which I have relished as a thing rarely allowed in my real life. I take risks here by showing little bits of myself to you, and I'm thinking that that is good for me.

Here's the thing....I am not like this in real life. I am a reserved listener, who is rarely as candid as I am here. Would you believe me if I told you that I often feel so lonely slap bang in the centre of this little life I have created for myself?  That my voice has been lost in a sea of voices for a long time. And yet through this space my voice grows a little louder everyday. I am so thankful to you for letting me think here. I am thankful of your quiet holding of me as I go about my thinking.

I am thinking this when I should be asleep.

I am thinking that I shall have an extra cup of coffee instead.

I am thinking.

Thinking that I should open up more to those around me.

Thinking of new challenges ahead.

Thinking of change, and why it scares me.

Thinking of all the sloe and blackberries that I have picked.

Thinking that I don't give myself enough credit.

Thinking that a washed out early return from France wasn't so bad actually.

Thinking that I can be a moody cow.

Thinking that Barbara Kingsolver might just be the best thing since sliced bread.

Thinking about painting the kitchen grey.

Thinking about a slow week ahead (yay).

Thinking of that poor young journalist.

Thinking about nothing in particular.



That's it.

Leanne xx

Inspired by Annie. But also inspired by all of you.

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