Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Far from the maddening crowd

As you can imagine, St Ives is a very busy place to live at the moment. It would appear that the world and his wife have descended upon the town this year. While that is Good News for a community that by and large depends on holidaymakers, it can be rather claustrophobic too. The beaches fill up very early on a sunny day, and you can feel hemmed in on all sides. I prefer to go later, when people are leaving to get ready for dinner. It's actually the best time (but don't tell them that); the warmth of the sun is a little less, but the sand and rock radiate their own heat. The colours don't possess the harshness that a mid-day sun can bring. They are golden, turning peachy pink as the evening draws near. There is space to play. An unadulterated view for this Mum, so that she can let her son run the length and breadth of the west end of the beach, without worrying.

But if I'm honest, we don't go to the town beaches that often during the month of August. And I think that's more to do with my own dislike of it than anything else. It feels rather impersonal, and a bit too garish what with all the windbreaks and primary colours of bucket and spade. And I feel as if the town has handed over itself to the visitor. There doesn't always seem room for the resident. Again, that's not a complaint. We get to keep it for ourselves for most of the year, and that's precious indeed.

The long summer holiday is a mixture of mad activity versus lazy hanging out days at home. What we get up do depends on what the weather looks like as I draw the blinds on any given morning. And anyway, the mornings tend to be a mix of quiet play for Olly and chores for me. There is always laundry, and floors to sweep. There are many Star Wars battles to be had, or Knex models to be made (which at the moment seem to all be models of mass destruction. Should I be worried?)

While it's all very well to sit and play in the garden, Honey still needs to be walked, and Olly still needs to run, play and explore. Especially if I'm to tire him out enough for bedtime. There are the various parks of course, and we are going to one of his favourites this morning. But there are our also our special favourite places that we return to time and again. They are quiet and unspoilt. They are the hidden gems of our local area. These are the places that belong to us all year round.

One of them is Rosewall. I have mentioned and written about our adventures up on the hill quite a few times here. But oh how I love it there. It's not a particularly high or steep hill. But there is magic up there. It is protected and untouched. That's not to say that it is unknown; Barbara Hepworth would climb the hill and look down on the landscape. You can see its' inspiring view in some of her work. Walkers of dogs, and ramblers visit. But there are never too many at any given time. In fact we almost always have the place to ourselves. I always feel a little smug that just a couple of miles away St Ives is teeming, while we are stood up high looking down on a majestic landscape whose only throng are the animals that live here too.

We've yet to watch the sun set up on Rosewall Hill, but it's on the list. I can't imagine anything nicer than sitting on top of the world with a flask of hot chocolate, the dog and the boy to contemplate the sun as it sinks below the horizon.

Leanne xx

(several of the above photos were taken by Olly. I think he did rather well).

Monday, 17 August 2015

Monday Miscellany



I've been re-reading Nina Stibbe's book 'Love Nina.' Have you read it? I rarely laugh out loud at books. Bill Bryson and Jason Sedaris make me giggle. The Adrian Mole books too. Anyway, you know that it's a good one, when you keep quoting bits from it to your nearest and dearest. For example:

Stella was worried she'd be late (9 am start). I said I'd ring her just as I left NW1 to wake her and give plenty of time to get in. Which I did. She turned up looking flustered, ten minutes into it -
 we were discussing 'Why comedy matters' unfortunately.
Me: How come you're late? I gave you an alarm call.
Stella: My kimono sleeve caught fire on the grill pan.
Me: what were you cooking?
Stella: I was lighting a fag.

After the fifth consecutive quote yesterday morning, Marc turned to me and said "Aren't you supposed to be getting ready for Emma's wedding party?" Well of course I was, but I never see any point in taking too long over these things. The blue, slightly Amish looking dress that I had planed to wear hadn't arrived (it plopped through the letterbox this morning), and so I wore a yellow linen number.

I pulled a brush through my hair, had a go at a bit of eye make-up, moisturised my legs and was out the door. I sashayed down Stennack to catch the coach with my friend Liz. We had pre-coach cocktails at The Alba (v posh. Grey walls), and then travelled to Perranporth on the party bus. We bagged the back seats, but didn't moon or flick the bird to passing motorists through the back window, because we are now middle aged. Did you ever do that when you were at school? I was reminded of this sketch by French and Saunders:

Too good!!

Anyway as you can imagine, there was lots of love and laughter. Shrewing aplenty (I'm sorry, but there was a lot of shrew material wandering around Perranporth beach) and Emma had thoughtfully sat me next to the pic n mix station. I think it was for the children, but a few stern stares and they left the white chocolate jazzies well alone ;)) No photos unfortunately, they are all on my camera phone. There are a few floating around Facebook. They aren't too terrible.

In other news, we were visited by a rather gorgeous dragonfly this weekend. He buzzed and hung around for hours. I trooped each of the boys out in turn to look at him. They all thought he was rather fab. And because he stayed for so long, I did indulge in some photography. He was very generous, and let me get very close indeed. In fact he seemed to like the attention. I even felt the need to touch him ever so slightly.

I have a huge glut of tomatoes, and am unsure what to do with them. I'd quite like to roast of bake them somehow; do you have any suggestions, or lovely recipies that I could try? Either that or I may make some chutney, and start stockpiling for my annual Christmas hamper presents.

I have started to learn to crochet. After the initial fingers and thumbs disaster and lots and lots of under-breath swearing, I have got the hang of the initial process. My neighbour is coming over this evening to assist me in the next step; single crochet. I am pleased at my perseverance, because usually if I don't 'get it' straight away, I just discard whatever it is that I am learning. A teacher once referred to it on a school report by writing:

 "Leanne finds it nigh on impossible to grapple with this subject. Her understanding of Mathematics could be greatly improved if she applied the same tenacity that she does at swinging on her chair."

Thank goodness that Sam does not show my lack of courage when it comes to grappling. He has secured his place at Liverpool University to study History and Politics. I am overwhelmingly proud of him. His A Level results were amazing. It also means that he is definitely leaving home in September. Many of you may be in the position that I am now. Or you have been through it all. I have cried a lot this week. I am happy and sad and bereft and excited and scared all at once. Sam is very cool about it all. He is glad to be going, and I think big city living will suit him very much indeed. He has never seemed entirely at home in St Ives, and I think that he will like the anonymity that a city can offer.

Here's hoping that Monday is as bright and sunny where you are as it is here. Olly and I are off to the beach in about five minutes. I just need to top and tail the kitchen and plump up the cushions.

Have a lovely day, friends.

Leanne xx


Wednesday, 12 August 2015


This morning as I walked outside with a basket of washing, I noticed three Peacock butterflies in the garden. Three! I could hardly believe it. "Get my camera! Get my camera!" I yelled at Pops, who ran around headless chicken style in the living room. I made a dash for it myself, thinking that at least one of these beautiful creatures would still be there when I returned. I skidded on the conservatory floor, bumped into the dog, grabbed the camera and ran back outside. They had gone. And I had missed a most perfect moment. Not the click the shutter moment. That moment of wonder. That moment of calling to Olly to come look and see, instead of demanding that he go and fetch. A perfect moment of seeing several of the most delightful butterflies floating around my little garden was lost to me forever.

It was the same yesterday evening. Me, Olly, Alf and Honey went up Rosewall for a spot of after tea play. The sun had gone behind the patchy cloud, but the air was still and it was warm up on the rocks. I watched as two Painted Ladies chased and dive bombed a poor Red Admiral butterfly. I should have contented myself with spectating and enjoying, and yet I spent most of it trying to capture the event on my camera. It was never going to happen, and I found myself feeling terribly frustrated by it all. Why wouldn't they just stay put for me? Why couldn't they fly a little lower, so I could capture them in all their brilliance of colour?

I sometimes feel that if I don't gather evidence, it didn't happen. I never actually saw it. I have been forgetting the sheer joy of catching sight of something remarkable. Rather like the Heron Olly and I stumbled across last week, about five minutes after we sat enthralled to a Emperor Dragonfly zoom up and down the path that we were walking. The Hummingbird Moths that have graced us with their presence, and the rather wonderful insects that we have watched going about their business in our back yard. I haven't recorded any of them. And yet the joy is undiminished.

This weekend, Olly came downstairs to tell me that there was a bee stranded on the stairs. We gathered him up on a piece of paper, and set about getting him a little something to drink. A jam jar lid containing water with a little sugar. We placed it all in the shade just outside the conservatory doors, and sat down to watch. I told Pops that it may take a while for the bee to recover, and said a silent prayer that all would go to plan. After a couple of minutes, the bee had a little drink. He then had a clean, and a kind of all over buzz that made me and Pops laugh. And before we knew it, he had flown onto a nearby Marigold and starting foraging for food. Olly was so happy and excited about it all, and I would have missed his joy had I been behind the lens.

I have worked hard to create some kind of pollinator haven, and it has really paid off this year. We have so many different varieties visiting, and it makes me feel immensely proud that out little plot can be beneficial to so many insects. But I think that I need to spend a little more time simply enjoying it, rather than going for the money shot. And it's also about taking a photograph because I want to, not because I think it might look like the kind of photo I should be taking. I have a good quality camera. I have a hit and miss eye. I live in the world's most photogenic place. But it seems to me that best pictures I have ever taken weren't particularly framed or composed. With some of them I just got lucky. And with many more, it was the environment or the gorgeous child that made it look so good.

Maybe I should try and be more 'in the moment' from now on, and re-connect with all that goes on around me. It might do me the world of good.

Hope you are all having a lovely week.

Leanne xx

(I am still having terrible problems with my new computer, and once again have to apologise for not being able to keep up with all of you and yours. As Tilly would say "Bear with, bear with....")

Thursday, 6 August 2015


Is it, CT?



Hello all.

I'm debating an early night with my new book, watching Bake Off on I-Player or a film. Once I've put Olly to bed. He's watching Toy Story, although he really should be asleep. It's just been me and him this week, and the normal family routine has gone right out of the window. Even the holiday routine, which is generally very relaxed, has done a bunk.

Marc, Sam and Alfie return at various times tomorrow. Alf has been on an army cadet camp for ten days, and judging from the amount of texts and phone calls, has been rather homesick. He tells me that he has enjoyed it, but there has been tiredness and a cold to contend with, and no Mum administering any tlc. Not that I'm a particularly good nurse. I don't deal with blood very well. Ditto vomit. And I'm rather dismissive of colds. Apart from my own. Then I can found dragging my sorry arse about the house and looking for sympathy. I shall be very glad to have him home. I've missed him and his fiery temper.

Olly and I have made the most of the good weather, and embraced the bad. Yesterday we were picking strawberries and following the animal trail at our local pick your own farm. It was pouring with rain. I've left my wellies in Bristol, so slipped and slopped in flip flops. Olly ate his punnet in the car on the way home. Mine went into a cake this afternoon. I've had a slice, but I'm not sure that I like it much. I should have just eaten them with cream and meringue. We've been to the beach, gone swimming, found a new favourite Honey walk, watched numerous DVDs, hung out together, played Lego, gone to the cinema and he's been very helpful in the housework department. My windows have never been so clean. All in all we've had a thoroughly lovely time together.

I do think that I may crave some structure to my days soon enough. I am not able to swim during the holidays, and although I bought myself some exercise dvds, the cellophane is still intact. I say no more. I am ambling instead of power walking, and my sugar free thing is not so much right now. It's all too easy to fall into bad habits when the days coast along. And while I'm all for coasting (I've spent most of my life doing it), I don't want to entirely lose control.

I've been thinking, too, about getting a bit of structure here. I'm not sure how. But I do like the idea of at least one post a week that forms part of a series of similar posts. Perhaps I shall reinstate the happy. I really enjoyed that Little Birdie inspired project. Once September comes, and everything settles back into the term time routine, I shall be going back to work (albeit as a volunteer) in school, and as a counsellor once more. I may have less time, inclination or energy as I sit and 'be' with others. I will be returning once more to the tricky business of balancing work and home, which as many of you know is not always easy. Especially when you are doing it alone for the most part. Work will be good for me. But maybe not so much for the boys. We'll see. It's all part of my slow resurfacing. Back at the helm, with all guns blazing. Perhaps I need a nice new notebook to go with it? I've already bought the dress......

Have a lovely weekend.

Make sure you always have wine in the fridge.

Leanne xx

Monday, 3 August 2015

spit and polish


So I've just had to decant an enormous curry made for five into a Tupperware box. I cooked on auto pilot; it's only Olly and me at home this week. Then again, that's Saturday's tea sorted. A sort of serendipity. And it occurred to me that meal times will change around here very soon. Without Sam, I will not have to stick to such a rigid tea time routine. Since secondary school, he has slunk into the kitchen at about ten to five every evening, asking "When's tea ready?" That won't be happening from September.

Mealtimes will not be so complex either. I'm so used to cooking at least three different meals (I know already), that it will feel rather strange to only cook one, maybe two. Definitely two. Now I think about it, Alfie will only eat three main meals; macaroni cheese, roast (grudgingly) and a cooked breakfast tea. He'd happily eat pizza every day. But even I put my foot down with that one.

And while we're on the subject.... laundry. I'll have less laundry! Sam gets through the entire contents of his drawers in a single day. I've given up asking him to wear his pyjamas more that once. It's easier to just stuff them in the machine and mutter under my breath. I'll be helping to save the planet one less wash at a time.

Then there's the ironing. Sam is partial to a shirt. It's all part of this preppy look that he's got going on. Trouble is he wears them even if he's not going out of the house. With relaxy pants. Why? I've given up asking. Or suggesting that a t-shirt would suffice when he's hunched over his computer, or lounging in front of the tv. It's not unusual for me to iron fifteen shirts a week. I'll have a third less by September. I feel giddy just thinking about it.

What else? Well I won't have the pleasure of emptying his bin. I think some of the stuff I tip out of there may not conform to EU regulations. And the general unkemptness of his room. I spent the best part of today giving his and his brother's room a deep clean. It was hideous. Honestly. I think I've gone in and out of their rooms several times, just for the sheer pleasure of seeing them so sparkly. With open windows, blinds drawn and everything.

I'll miss his sense of humour though. He does make me laugh. And what's even better is that I make him laugh too. He says I'm the funniest person he knows, which is high praise indeed I reckon. And I'll miss his relentless thirst for knowledge. His broad intelligence, and the fact that I now turn to him to answer a question rather than the other way around. I'll miss his interest in politics and world affairs. His love of history. His beautiful green eyes. The way he looks up under his fringe at me when I'm cross. The fact that he will always say sorry, and seeks me out to make up when we've had a row.

Oh dear, I think I'm really going to miss my boy.

Leanne xx

(the pictures were from a recent visit to Lanhydrock. I wouldn't mind cooking three different meals, all ready to eat at 5 on the dot if I had a kitchen like this)

Friday, 24 July 2015

Sunshine On A Rainy Day


Hello you lovely lot. All fine and dandy I hope?

So today Olly and I drove to an unfamiliar part of Cornwall, and met up with Christina, whose blog A Colourful Life, has long been a favourite of mine. If you haven't already, you should pop over and say hello.

The weather in Cornwall has been decidedly mixed, and today was no exception. In fact I was woken up early this morning by the most torrential downpour. The night before, I had packed a bag full of sun cream and swimming shorts. This morning, I re-packed with wellies and waterproofs. As Olly and I drove from one side of Cornwall to the other, I was struck by how the landscape was devoid of colour. There were no blue hues from sea and sky. Nor any verdant green hedgerows to admire. It was all a bit murky and drab.

Looking at the above pictures now, I am struck by the three very colourful boys that take centre stage. And it's not just their brightly coloured coats, although I did think that was rather cute. The photos give an indication of their colourful personalities, fizzing energy, inclusivity, happiness and zest for life. They just got on with hanging out together, and I loved that. They were three mad pops of colour, and they more than made up for the slate grey seas and sombre skies.

I can't believe I didn't think to get a picture of Christina and I together. It was an absolute pleasure to meet her, and her family. Olly and I were made to feel so welcome, with homemade scones, cups of tea and enthusiastic (and very loud) games around the table.

What a lovely way to start our summer holidays.

Leanne xx

(I shall be away from here for about a week).

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Speak Like A Child




I've said it before, and I'll say it again.....

It's been a bitch of a couple of days.

What with one thing and another, I am wrung out. I am this far away from going to the Co-op and buying a carton of ice cream. I wonder if they do gin flavoured? Who'd be a Mum to three boys? That's what I want to know. Three topsy turvey, unruly, naughty boys. Buggers. That's what they are. Utterly doing my head in.

Rant over. Cheers for that. Feel a bit better now.

I sat in my friend Sophie's garden earlier. We clinked our bottles of beer, and set the world to rights, while Pops and her little one ran round and round and round, in that way that little boys do. I think that I remember running just like that, but when I close my eyes, I can't capture the feeling. I just sit there, amazed at the fizzing energy, and wondering how I can get me some of it. I'd really love to have just one day of feeling like a child again. To reclaim that essence of being young. I would dearly love to just live in the moment, with 'Spontaneous!' emblazoned on my grubby t shirt.

I piggy backed Olly home this evening, and as we came down the hill towards our house, we sang the 'Horsey, Horsey' rhyme. I stopped, I clippity clopped, I swished my tail and I turned around. All the while Olly was laughing and dangling to the side. I think this is as close as it gets to being a child for me. I'll take that.

Tomorrow is the last day of the school year for Olly and Alfie. It's not been without its' ups and downs. The ups have been fabulous. The down have been hard. I am looking forward to a day of pj wafting. And the grass needs cutting. I may do that on the first day of the jollies. I don't need to get changed for that. Olly has told me that he will be making the biggest Lego base 'ever in the world ever.' Alfie said that he is not to be disturbed until at least three in the afternoon. Both sound like good plans indeed.

Forgive me. I'm in a place right now, where grasping the moment and getting it down on the page is proving difficult. It's all a bit of a jumble of thoughts and words, with no real coherence. I think the waft will do me good.

Do you think I could make gin ice cream? You know, just in case.

Leanne xx

(for some reason, I am not able to access Bloglovin' Please bear with, until I remedy this).