Sunday, 5 November 2017

Life Lessons


 


Well hello there.

I've been meaning to catch up for a little while, but time and tide, and all that. Anyway, life here trucks along. Half term was actually completely manic. The town was crazy busy, and therefore so was Ship Shape. We worked every day, and I have the repetitive strain that comes from cleaning glass shower cubicles to prove it. Mum moved down last Friday, and is currently ensconced in the teeny spare room. Olly is loving having her here. She has chocolate. As am I. She does my ironing. Ultimately the plan is for her to move into a place of her own, but I think we are leaving the search until the new year. A little time for the dust to settle, and for her to get into the rhythm of life in St Ives.

Running has rather taken a back seat these past few weeks. I don't seem to have enough hours in the day at the moment, and something has had to give. But I had a quite wonderful run this morning, and I am hopeful that November will give me further running opportunities. We will be quieter this month and next. The town has less visitors during these months, and I have to admit that I am relishing some time to devote to other things. Things like painting, baking, writing, pottering and walking. And just being in one spot for more than five minutes.

An interesting work development has been landing a contract with a lettings agency to clean empty properties before new tenants move in, or after they've done a bunk and moved out. It's been a very steep learning curve for Karen and I. Not the actual scrubbing. But dealing with - how shall I say - really bloody rude and patronising people who think that one's worth is decided by the assumptions made on the job one does. I don't know about you, but I was brought up to treat others as I would like to be treated myself. And my Dad impressed upon me from a very young age that no-one was more worthy than me, because of a position they held in society and vice versa. I think I've lived my life with these two tenants as a core of who I am. I am equal to all, and all are equal to me. And I would hope that I treat those around me or with who I come in contact with, in a respectful manner.

It's been a real shocker that both me and my sister in law have been roundly patronised, looked down upon and taken for fools this week. It has sat very badly with me. I've felt angry and frustrated. I've taken real exception to the idea that just because I clean for a living it somehow makes me stupid, and also some kind of serf. Honestly my blood just boils thinking about it now. Don't get me wrong; I've had similar experiences in the past. But it has been so transparent this week, that I've had difficulty processing it. On the one hand I want to drop my degree into conversation, just to inform these people that I am more than a mop and a bucket. But this has conflicted with my core belief that I am as worthy a person as the next man, regardless of education or employment. I have found my accent slowly sounding more posh, with really long words creeping into rather mundane conversations. I actually dislike the fact that I'm doing it. But I also really dislike the way that I am being treated, and there is an inner conflict building within.

I mutter to myself  "this says more about them, than it will ever say about you." And then find myself enraged that they are talking to my sister in law in that manner too! I feel protective of her, and want to slam them up against their poxy filing cabinet. It really has bought out some overwhelming feelings. I have had to acknowledge to myself that I have got into bed with the devil. For the moment, I am biding my time. I'm hoping that I will somehow change their perspective of others through my sheer force of nature, sharp wit and arcane literary references. However, I'm realising that there are some people that I will have dealings with that are complete dicks, and no amount of Mrs Nice Leanne will ever change that.

It has also been a lesson in humility. This week, we have cleaned two properties that frankly were the most depressing spaces I have ever stepped inside. The landlords had given scant interest to the maintenance and upkeep of said properties. Kitchens were falling apart, and in a very poor state. Bathrooms were run down and tatty. Both properties were in poor decorative repair, with shoddy workmanship throughout. Basic, a landlord would probably call it. I think the word is exploitative. People have to rent these God awful places, because there is such a shortage of decent social housing. The rents charged are sky high, because of the areas that they are in. And they are in this hideous housing trap of paying exorbitant rents, and never being able to save for much else, least of all a deposit on their own home. Cornwall has this reputation as a wonderfully high end place to come and stay. But scratch a little beneath the surface, and there are low wages, zero contract hours, nowhere affordable to live and a few making a mint out of the many.

Karen and I were open mouthed at first, wandering around not knowing where to start. How do you make a silk purse from a sows ear? How can we make this look anything other than bad? So we cleaned and scrubbed and polished and mopped and buffed these horrid places to within an inch of their lives. We felt that at the very least, new tenants could move into somewhere clean and fresh. It was the least we could do. And yes, I know we're being paid (although not as much as you might think), but there's a sense of pride to be had in a job well done. And a sense of sadness that we could do no more than we had.

I came back from one such clean today, and was so grateful for the lovely welcoming space that I live in. I was so grateful for the security that Marc and I can offer our boys. I was happy to feel the heat from the radiators. I was struck by the fact that perhaps our home isn't so bad after all. Yes it's showing a few signs of wear and tear. But it's looked after and maintained. It's full of the personalities of the people who live there, which includes the height charts of Sam, Alf and Olly scratched into the utility room door frame. It is welcoming and inviting, with a few scuffs here and there. It is a home.

I sometimes wonder if there is any point in worrying and fretting about things I cannot change. I live in a society that is unequal in so many respects. That showers opportunity on the few, and dumps on the many. But fret I do. I know that my children have probably a better than average chance of getting on in life. I know that I will probably be okay when I retire. For the most part I have my health, and I can provide for my family so that they can have theirs. I'm not stuck in the poverty trap that so many others are. I'm eternally grateful to my parents for the sacrifices that they made for me in order that I had an education that was not to be had by most kids in my neighbourhood. My horizons were broadened, and I was able to step a little way up the social ladder. The class system still exists in this country; it's just packaged in a different way now. Look at Grenfell. Look at I Am Daniel Blake. Look at food banks and Provident and Cash Converters.

I feel impotent with rage at it all.
And guilty.
And sad.
And a bit of a hypocrite too.

..........


Thanks for taking the time to read a little snapshot of the processing that has been going on behind the scenes here. It really is appreciated.

Have a lovely week. I shall be baking Christmas cakes, painting the landing, cleaning my own house, walking in the fresh air, taking Alf to the first of three college open events, trying to get Olly to stop saying the word 'moron' and having a gander at the new Home Bargains store that's just opened in Hayle.

All my love,

Leanne xx










Thursday, 12 October 2017

Candid Autumn












Well hello.

The photos above are from last week, but the weather today has been very much the same. A lovely,  warm, crisp Autumnal day. I've managed to walk the beach most days with Honey, and it's been a real tonic to take my shoes off (flips flops or die until November), paddle in the foamy surf and feel the sand between my toes. The summer wasn't the best here in St Ives, and my days off from working were just not beach worthy. I'm hopeful that Olly and I can venture down this weekend. I've promised him a trip to the cinema, but am thinking a pasty and a play on the beach first.

It's the absence of the windbreak that I love. And the reclaiming of space. It's quite hard to beach comb and grub about for nature when Porthmeor is full to bursting with visitors. We are still busy here, but not so many people venture onto the beach. They stick to the other delights that St Ives has to offer, and tend to cast admiring looks at our sweeping stretches of white sand from a distance. I guess that's what a zoom lens is for. I sometimes think that they are missing out, but on balance I'm quite happy for them to stay up there.

We've had lots of Portuguese Man Of War wash up along our shores. Spectacular creatures, with the most amazing iridescence in their colouring. Highly poisonous of course, and dog walkers are wary. Luckily for me, Honey takes no notice of anything when she's carrying her ball, so I have been able to get very close to them. I had never seen them before last week, and was enthralled. They were enticing, and I had to really resist the urge to touch or stroke them. Anyway lots of photos and videos were taken of them to show Olly. Who is struggling somewhat at the moment, bless him.

He has found the transition to junior school very difficult. The infants and juniors are different schools here, and routines, rules and all that goes with it are new for him. Unfortunately, he's regressed back into old patterns of disruptive behaviour and is challenging boundaries, both in the classroom and at home. I do feel for him. He's a complex little boy, who can find it difficult to engage effectively with his peers. He can push others away with words or defensive actions. He's eloquent and quick witted, but this can turn sharp and he can often end up upsetting others. It's really tough to be the Mum of a child who you know is utterly fabulous, and yet acknowledging that their behaviour can be unacceptable for a lot of the time.

Olly has a lovely teacher, who is working hard with him in the classroom. He has a token in his pocket that he can raise into the air if he's feeling agitated. It helps him to manage his feelings and behaviour, and also alerts staff so that they can deal with any issue in the moment. She has also made him a monitor to give him some responsibility in the classroom, especially during the transition parts of the school day. He enjoys this very much, and today helped her to use the guillotine. It was all he could talk about on the way home from school. I have hope that he will settle down eventually, but honestly there have been moments (yesterday evening comes to mind) when I'd love to be the Mum of three laid back, socially adept kids. I envy those who breeze in and out of school, unaware of the stress of the 'walk of shame.'

I know I've written these tales of woe here before, and I also know that there's not a Mum out there that has it easy every minute of every day. All of us have our own light and shade, and so do our children. I was a very socially awkward child. I never knew the appropriate reaction to a situation. I wasn't a child with a ready smile, or a cutesy face. I was more liking to be picking the scab on my knee or kicking the bus stop, than grinning at the elderly neighbour or charming those around me. I am not, and haven't been that person for longer than I was. So I grit my teeth, and keep plugging at this parenting lark. Like we all do.

Work carries on apace, as does running. I'm back up to three runs a week, and am gearing up to try and fit in a fourth. I run about five miles, which takes me about forty minutes. It fits in with work, dog walking and all the other stuff  that I have to cram into a school day. I'm happy with that. My latest challenge to be able to run up a particularly steep and winding hill in one go by the end of November. At the moment I can get nearly halfway before I'm bent double, with my hands on my thighs. I'll get there. I enjoy running during the Autumn so much more than any other time of the year. The heat has gone out of the sun, and so I'm not sweating like a bull mastiff five minutes in. The roads are quieter (my route takes me along the back roads for some of the run), and I'm not getting heckled by drivers who seem furious that you are on their turf. I run at the edge of the road, and am very visible. I expect they treat cyclists in much the same way. I don't get it though.

I am also counting down until Mum comes to live in St Ives once more. She will be living with us until at least after Christmas, so I have been sorting out the house in order to accommodate another person. For the time being, she will be sleeping in Sam's box room. But when he comes home for Christmas, I'll be turning the conservatory into a private space for her. It's the best I can do, but I feel bad that I can't find her anything more permanent. And although I know that she won't mind at all, I mind. I mind that she is coming down here, to be shunted around. She's such an amazing woman, and life hasn't been kind to her in her later years. I'm hoping that I'll be able to score her a reasonably priced rental after Christmas, and that she can start to make a real home for herself. I just want her to have her own front door. And maybe a cat.

I've also bottled putting up a short story that I've recently written. I need to be in a 'sod it' kind of a mood to hit publish, and I haven't been. It's daft really, but there you go. The thing is if I don't do it soon, then this blog of mine will disappear in the ever decreasing circle that it's in. I feel as if it needs to evolve a little, or else it will just run out of steam. I do feel as if I'm just repeating the same subjects in much the same way, over and over again.

Anyway, there you have it. A little bit of candid musings during the witching hour of a Thursday afternoon. This evening I hope to be drinking all the tea and settling down to the new David Fincher produced Netflix series. It's called Mind Hunter, and I'm terribly excited about it; pyschopaths, profiling and pyscho babble. All from a perspective of truth. I literally cannot wait!

Love to you all,

Leanne xx














Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Five Nectarines




There are five nectarines sat on my windowsill. They've been there since Monday, but I fear the weather has turned away from the ripening warmth that streams through my kitchen window during summer. It is officially Autumn after all. I shall most likely roast them or turn them into a crumble. Another indication of the turning of the seasons; it's time for hot puddings. We rarely eat pudding during Spring and Summer (unless you count the numerous ice creams from Moomaid), but come September I'm whipping up several a week.

Olly and I have been harvesting blackberries, elderberries, sloes and hips for a couple of months. It's been a good year for hedgerow bounty. I've made jams and jellies, sloe gin and elder brandy. My friend has let me pick as many apples as I can carry home. Her two small trees are laden, and she just feeds them to her ponies. So my larder is full of good things to eat, and to give away (or indulge in) at Christmas.

I've been flicking through recipe books. It's the season of the one pot meal, and that means stews, soups and legs of lamb or sides of pork slow roasted for hours at a time. Meals that can be left to their own devices, yet fill the house with their welcoming, hearty aroma. The sort of food that invites people to sit together around the table for long weekend suppers. Our summer months are snatched meal times, hastily thrown together picnics and tea on the beach. The older boys are working, and of course this summer I have been here, there and everywhere too.




Town is not so busy, but there's still a steady stream of visitors to clean for. I'm stripping and making beds, scrubbing bathrooms and plumping scatter cushions down Back Road West and along The Digey. The houses are seaside themed, full of reclaimed furniture and great princess and the pea beds. There are sea views that take your breath away, and quirky holiday lets that can make the hardest of hearts want to sell up and move down.

I enjoy what I do. I'm absolutely loving the independence and the growing in confidence. But I so look forward to returning to my little white house on the hill at the top of town. I still have a view, and a lot of my possessions are probably more shabby than chic. I come in and pop the kettle on, bring the laundry in and slump on the sofa with a brew. Kicking my flip flops off, I sit and reflect on the day. And my mind wanders to what to have for tea.




And there I go. Into the kitchen to chop, peel, dice and pour. Meditating at the counter. Listening to Olly as he plays nearby. I think it's my favourite room in the house. It's certainly the most used. Over the years my growing boys have sat at the breakfast bar to play, eat or do their homework. Sometimes to moan or pour their hearts out. And quite often to laugh and joke and share snippets of their lives away from home. All three have baked with me; scattering flour about with gay abandon and rolling out grubby lengths of pastry. Blobbing jam into a tart or licking the spoon of cake mixture. With each boy, I've got better at not letting the mess and mayhem get to me. I guess it's Olly that really seen the benefit of this. He is a dab hand at measuring out a sponge cake, or making crumble topping. He loves to prep and chop, and is trusted with the vegetable knife. We have lovely chats as we cook side by side; on Tuesday it was all about the hummingbird moth that I had snapped by the Drs surgery and who would win in a fight; Megatron or Optimus Prime? Olly came down on the side of the baddie; well, we all secretly love a good villain.



When I was growing up, the kitchen is where my Mum would most often be; cooking, ironing, drinking coffee and chatting to friends and family. And as me and my sister grew older we would join her. I'd sit on the step that led down from the dining room into the kitchen. My sister would sit on the side, her legs swinging back and forth and often leaving marks on the cupboard door. We'd share confidences, and I'd quite often be moaning about my Dad. Poor man, surrounded by three shrews congregating in the heart of the home. His ears must have burned constantly from 1992 until 1998.

I didn't learn to cook from my Mum. I showed absolutely no inclination for it, and when I left home - with one saucepan and a wooden spoon from Woolworths -  I could cook scrambled egg of toast. And heat up soup. It was only when I became a mother myself, and had charge of my own kitchen that I learnt. Trial and error and Delia's How To Cook was how I remember it. And the desire to wean baby Sam on freshly cooked food. I still have the stick blender that I used to whizz his first foods up with. It was my very first kitchen gadget, and is still in use for blending soups.

I asked my Mum for her fruit cake recipe, and learnt to make lasagne from my friend Helena. I cooked my very first Christmas lunch for Marc and I, in our freezing cold one bedroom flat in Muswell Hill. It was a triumph as I recall. I'd even cris-crossed bacon over the chicken's back. I'm probably no more refined now than I was back then in the early nineties. But my love of cooking and sharing food has grown as I have. If you come round for tea (and if you're in the area, please do) I can promise you hearty flavours, full to bursting plates, seconds if you should so desire and no standing on ceremony. I won't ask you to wash up, although carrying the plates through to the kitchen would be much appreciated. There will be wine or beer and definitely a cup of tea to help your dinner go down. And no doubt some rather rude jokes to go with it all.


This weekend, I'm planning slow roast pork with all the veggies and roast potatoes. Followed by apple pie and custard. What will you be having?

Leanne xx




Tuesday, 5 September 2017

A Life In A Day





I woke up this morning to a rather damp, grey and mizzly view. The light was low and the lamps were still on mid morning. I needed to be at the hygienist for 9.30, and go quote a job at 10. Talk about time management. And also child management. I'd asked Sam to look after Olly while I was away from home, but he announced to me that he was off for a few days. It rather put me on the back foot; childcare has become an issue of sorts since I've started Ship Shape. I guess it didn't help that it coincided with the summer holidays. We've muddled through okay, I guess. It is only part time at the moment. But the way things seem to be heading, it will very soon be more full than part.

I'm chuffed to bits in a way. I never thought I'd be part of something that's taken off so well. And while I don't need my degree (quoting Catullus and Ovid is not particularly relevant), it's fab to be part of something that feels so good. I'm feeling positive inside. My confidence is slowly re-emerging, and I'm daring to dream that this little scrub venture may just be the start of something rather more adventurous.

Anyway, Alfie stepped into the breach, after promises of a pasty, a coke and a bag of crisps. When I got home, I needed to do all the other stuff; washing, vacuuming, ironing, picking up and putting away. But I also needed to do some work stuff. Alfie had gone out with friends, clutching the pasty. Olly wanted to play. I sat and had a stab at working. And I did get some of it done. But there were the constant "Muuuuum," interruptions going on too. They punctuate my daily life, and I have never been very good at filtering them out. I'm terrible for jumping up as soon as I'm called. So it's no surprise that Olly got rather frustrated with it all, and came looking for attention. The kind that required him to sit on my lap and nuzzle into my shoulder.

Oh the guilt!!! His last day of the school summer holiday, and no fun to be had. The sun had appeared by this time, which kind of rubbed salt into the wound a little. I wouldn't have felt half as guilty if it was still lashing it down. What's a Mum to do? The only thing I could. We went out. A well trodden route to Clodgy. I've written about it many times here. It's one of several regular walks that we do with Honey. It was also one that I thought would be the least muddy. I'm adamant that my flip flops remain on until at least the end of October

We wandered up Burthallan Lane and watched the builders hoist roof struts onto a new build. It was all very exciting. We wandered past my favourite house, and noted their abundant apple and pear trees. I made a mental note to add fruit trees to my 'for the garden' list. I do this every year, by the way. We do have little apple trees growing away in a pot. Olly planted two pips earlier in the summer, and they seem to be thriving. All the way along the lane, the hedgerows were laden with blackberries. Olly scoffed his body weight as we wandered along. The ivy is in full flower, and the bees were in a feeding frenzy. So too were the butterflies. I was surprised to see so many; it was rather windy. But see them we did; Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, Tortoiseshell, Large and Small Whites. It was brilliant. One Red Admiral took rather a fancy to Olly's bright blue jacket and kept fluttering about and nestling on it. Olly loved it.

We looked at the multitude of spiders that seemed to all be hanging out in the centre of their webs. Is that a thing this time of year? Are they on display for a particular reason. Olly got up quite close and personal, which was pretty impressive for someone with a little fear about all things arachnid. The swallows are still about swooping low along the lane, but their numbers are getting less and less. And no sign of the barn owl, although we know that she is still there. The hedgerow flowers are still going strong, although many have already set their seed, their dried and pared back forms in contrast to the lush green of the ferns and grass. We found elderberries and sloes, which I collected (there is a jelly bag full of my hedgerow spoils drip, dripping in my kitchen as I type). A chap out walking told Olly that the blackberries further down the coast path were "'andsome, my boy." How I love the Cornish vernacular. It's not heard as much these days, but is full of friendly familiarity I think. A soft burr of an accent, that suits the environment so well.

Down the path we ventured, all thoughts of returning home gone. Pops was in his stride now and literally galloped down the path, hop skipping all the way. He stopped here and there, climbing this stone and picking more berries. He notices so many things. I'm constantly amazed by that. I always think that he's just whirly gigging along, and then his head shoots down or whips up, and he's pointing and calling. Either he's telling me what he's found, or asking me what it is. He still carries the hope that he'll one day see a crab spider. Or a lizard. Or perhaps even an adder. Bless my boy, with his half cup full attitude.

By now we could see the sea. It was all froth and undulating far out in the bay reaching towards the shore. There were a few people at the point. Some had been out walking, and some were just sat about or taking photos. It was beautiful today. We ambled down to our favourite rock, and Olly climbed all over it. Honey was wagging her tail and barking with glee, and I just stood and stared out to the horizon. We climbed down over the rocks to be nearer to the water, and watched as a large flock of Guillemots passed. Olly had never seen one dive into the water to feed before. It's quite a sight. They hover then keel around and dive down, hitting the sea at great speed. They have a long skewer like beak, that must break the skin of the water at such a force. Anyway it was wonderful to watch so many of them dive bombing right in front of us.

We carried on along the coast path all the way towards Man's Head, the rocky outcrop that overlooks Porthmeor Beach. There weren't many people on it today. A combination of back to school and the wind coming straight in off the Atlantic, I guess. The sand looked very white from our vantage though, and an intrepid kite surfer made his way out over the rolling breakers that were surging in. We wandered past the bowling green, and up the steep hill towards home. Poor Honey was flagging by now (she's snoring on the rug as I type. I thought that Olly might have been too. But no, he bounced and chirped all the way home.

Back home, I sorted out the hedgerow spoils and started gently heating it on the hob. Olly wanted to make some fairy cakes, and so with minimal intervention, he weighed out the ingredients, mixed and scooped the mixture into cake cases. He also ate a lot of it too, but hey, what's the last day of the holidays for? I made the boys the easiest tea ever (fish fingers, chips and beans), and started on mine and Karen's. She was popping round to discuss Ship Shape related matters. So, linguine with red pesto, ham and mushrooms. The cakes were iced with what looked like green sludge. Olly mixed all the food colourings together. He then used every sprinkle in the cupboard to decorate them. I didn't fancy one.

Bath and hair wash, followed by a bit of 'Horrid Henry' signalled the quiet hour of the day. By now Olly was subdued and cuddly. All rubbing of eye and making nests out of cushions and throws. I took him to bed at seven, and let him read until half past. Downstairs I started on the ironing pile, adding names to new school uniform with a Sharpie as I went. No name labels here. They lose everything by half term as it is, and in all my years of parenting, I've never yet found anything in lost property. Back up for lights out, and a tickle of the back and shoulders. Olly is partial to a bit of fuss, and I pandered to him this evening.

Karen and I continued our Ship Shape shop talk, and after she went home, I amended, printed off and filed the days work. Alfie appeared by my side. His new black jeans and Vans trainers came today, and I could tell that he thought he looked the cat's meow. He asked for money to go buy a pizza. The boy has literal hollow legs. I made him cheese on toast, with a side order of Cheerios. And a cup of tea.

Alfie starts his final year of secondary school tomorrow. Olly starts his first year at Juniors. It's all change here at Today's Stuff. The seasons are moving along, and already I can feel that this part of the year will be quite different to what we all have been used to for so long. There's a air of expectation and moving forward. There's a good vibe going on, and I for one am happy about that.

Lots of love friends,

Leanne xx


(The photos above do not correspond in any way to the text. It's all very frustrating. I can now upload my pics, and after a while they appear in my OneDrive account linked to my computer. I don't have the patience for that to happen this evening. So some photos that I took a week or so ago, on another foray out with Olly. I though you might like to see them anyway. I'm not much for continuity, me).

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Lately







Olly and I got home at about 9pm yesterday, after spending a few days visiting the family in Bristol. We were very busy, and the journey home was rather fraught. So instead of hitting the housework running, I'm having a bit of a lazy morning. All the tea is being drunk, Olly is having some screen time (he's thrilled) and I'm afraid Honey will have to wait awhile for her constitutional.

A few months ago, my camera broke (I dropped it. Shhh), and as it's insured I duly took it along to my local Curry's to have it repaired. In the meantime I snapped away using my phone. They got uploaded to that cloud thing, and all was well. Some appeared on my Instagram feed. A few months down the line, and my camera still hadn't been repaired and returned. Enquiries into this state of affairs revealed that said camera had been lost, profuse apologies given, a brand spanking new upgrade offered with a gift token for £100 as a gesture of goodwill. Officially I was cross. Secretly I did a happy dance.

I treated myself to a kick ass blender, for smoothies and homemade peanut butter (so good), and started to get to grips with my new toy. The buttons are all in different places, and I keep turning it off when I'm trying to zoom. I haven't got the knack of some of the functions, and although it's much lighter than my previous camera, it's not as light as my phone. And therein lies the rub; I've fallen out of the habit of taking it out and about with me. And for some reason, I can't access my uploaded pics from my phone and upload them here. I think that some reason is probably me to be honest. Technology in all it's guises is not my friend. I fall at the first hurdle, I'm afraid. I wish I didn't, but I just don't seem to have the intelligence for what is obviously a very straightforward thing to all of you.

I promised myself that I'd take it with me when I visited Bristol. I wanted to take some pictures of my home town, and write a reflective piece about the place that shaped and moulded me. It was all part of my thinking that I would start to slightly change how I wrote here. I use Instagram a lot. I love it's in the moment charm. I enjoy uploading to the stories, and playing the fool. I have made so many fabulous 'grammy' friends there too, and have found that I get out of it exactly what I want. Some days that may be perfectly curated squares, and others some comment that makes me chuckle. But I digress....

I have been thinking about using my blog in a slightly different way. Yes, there will be posts such as these; those something and nothing posts of mine. But I wanted to try and share a little more formal writing sometimes. If that's okay with you? A kind of tentative extending into the arena that I have talked about for so long, but never really had the confidence to enter. This has been inspired in part by an exchange I had with a favourite author of mine on Instagram, who will be releasing her third book in November.

Her first, 'Love, Nina' is a firm favourite of mine, and one I have read several times over. It has always really resonated with me; her writing style, her sense of comic timing, her sharp observations, her sometimes rather wicked sense of humour. But also the pathos and humanity that she articulates. There are no great flowery words, but there is a depth of knowledge of all things worldly and cerebral. Her background is a similar one to mine, although there are differences too. I have stalked her relentlessly online. On the off chance that she does read this, I make no apologies!

Anyway, what do you think?

...........

So, lately.....

  • Me, Olly, Mum and my nephew visited Longleat Safari Park. It was blooming brilliant. I am now obsessed with the preying mantis. I was struck at the trust the park had in letting children (of all ages) interact up close and personal with all kinds of animals. This trust fostered a real feeling of respect and awe at the animal kingdom; big and small. The keepers were helpful and knowledgeable, and while I would rather these wild things were thriving in the wild, they aren't. Thanks to us. I have hope that this kind of experience might just go a little way to altering that one day.
  • Sam is definitely gong to apply for a Masters in International Relations. I'm not exactly sure what this will entail (apart from more student debt), but the world could do with young people getting involved in its' systems of operating on the world stage. Perhaps it will start to become a thing of flexibility, rather than rigidity. Or am I being hopelessly optimistic?
  • I have once again started buying house plants. My track record with them is not great. Those greenish fingers of mine, don't seem to extend inside the house. However, spurred on by lots of lovely pictures of greenery filling the homes of others, I've bought a few of my own. And they're doing ok, so fingers crossed for a home filled with shape and form and lots more
    oxygen.
  • Shipshape Cleaning will soon have it's very own logo! These things are important. Like headed stationary and a bag chock full of gorgeous cleaning supplies, with the right kind of micro fibre cloth. And jeans that won't reveal all when you're bent double vacuuming under a sofa.
  • I have been persuaded to give GOT a go. Sam and I are halfway through series two. There's a lot of sex isn't there? And boobs. I wish someone would have warned me. I'm no prude, but even I squirmed watching a bit of rear end loving with my son.
  • I am seriously thinking about getting another dog. I'm blaming CJ and Gillian.
  • My Mum will be moving back to Cornwall in October. I am beyond happy. She will be living with us until we can find a suitable property to buy. My feelers are already out. Mum will be seventy next year; it's about time she retired once and for all.
  • I've put on weight. Am I the only person to put on weight during the summer months. All that peanut butter may be to blame.
  • My house looks like a pigsty. Anyone know of a good cleaner?


Have a good week, lovelies.

Leanne xx










Monday, 7 August 2017

Running Up THat Hill
















Alright then?

Firstly thank you all so much for your good wishes on my new business venture. Karen and I had an appointment with our small business adviser yesterday. I think it went well; we spent a fair bit of time talking about our husbands.....

I felt a bit odd sharing it with you, and if I'm honest I think it's because what I'm doing isn't particularly fancy. It's not cool or urbane. It's not even that interesting. There's only so much you can say about cleaning toilets for a living to be honest. What's important (for me anyway) is the mere fact of doing it at all. Any of you that have read my blog over the years, may be familiar with the ups and downs of my mental health. At times it has been completely debilitating, and I've spent many years making sure that my life is small enough to manage without losing the plot completely. And sometimes that has happened anyway.

I've always seen myself as a failed human being. Failed in that I never really took advantage of any of the opportunities that have come my way. It's a ridiculous notion I know. For some of us, just getting up in the morning is a success story. Creating a home for our children is another one. Being nice to people, just because you can, one more. And I'm aware that if any of my friends were to describe me, they would probably use the words funny, kind and caring. And I'm more than happy with that being my epitaph. I'm proud that I am person who cares. I like making people laugh. It comes from a place within that I'm not consciously in control of. And kindness is underrated frankly.

But I return again and again to that 'f' word. Why? It's from listening to those voices that tell me I'm not good enough. It's from listening to a world that tries to denigrate a woman if she is not juggling fifty plates in the air. It's from listening to those who would criticise the way that you raise your children, and the choices that you make for them. I've listened to all that chatter for far too long. It's damaging and hurtful and does no one any favours.

However, something has happened this past year. I've stopped feeling like such a failure. Running has helped enormously with that. Running has not just strengthened my legs and my heart. It has strengthened my mind. It has forced me to dig deep and address these feelings of failure at a very basic level. Running was really tough for me at the beginning. And actually it remains a challenge for me now. It forces me to get up and get outside, when I'd much rather curl up and stay in. It's made me challenge my physical capabilities over and over again. It's made me address that inner voice that tells me to quit, or that I can't do it.

And with the running has come all the fringe benefits. Yes I feel fitter and stronger. I feel better about myself when I look in a mirror. I'm not just seeing the room anymore. It's made my confidence grow. When I completed my first 10k earlier this year, I couldn't believe how emotional I became. As I crossed the line, I started to cry. And I didn't stop! It was a huge moment in my life. The fact that I actually achieved it at all. How often have I fallen at the first hurdle. That I had the stamina to complete what was a gruelling cross country cliff top race, was a complete revelation. I didn't come down from the high for about a week.

Of course the running has rather taken a back seat during the long summer holiday. And all the cleaning is giving me a different kind of workout. I'm not stressing about it though. Come September I'll be back out pounding the hills of St Ives. Running up towards Rosewall, and coasting down through Towednack. Looking at the sea to my right and the granite studded hills to my left. Breathing in that gorgeously salt scented air, and sweating cobs.

Here's to running, scrubbing, blogging and chuntering.

Love to you all,

Leanne xx


(I should add, for reasons of transparency, that should my friend Liz ever be asked to name my qualities, she would almost certainly add 'shrew' to offset the syrupy niceness. I'm ever thankful for her keeping me balanced).




Sunday, 30 July 2017

Bristol Fashion






















Well hello.

This year, my sister in law and I decided to do something about our idle day dreaming of going into business together. We've spent I don't know how many evenings talking about what we could do over the years, and always drawn a blank. She is a nurse working in primary care, feeling much the same as I did when I was counselling in GP practice; stressed, over worked and under paid. We both wanted to earn a decent amount of money that would put coffers into the pot, but we didn't want to be working all the hours that God sends. I don't want to go back to work full time while Olly is still at primary school, and she wanted to cut her working hours back, now that her children have flown the nest.

We aren't at all crafty. We didn't want to open some kind of shop. We didn't have enough room to upcycle furniture. She's not interested in cooking or baking. I'm not interested in professional car booting. And then we hit upon it. Something that we are both very good at doing indeed. Something that requires an attention to detail, and a love of bleach. We could clean for a living! We've both helped out friends in the holiday trade before, but we felt that we could market ourselves as women of a certain age who know exactly what's required for a ship shape and shiny house. Elbow grease, a beady eye for dust bunnies and an extendable feather duster.

So we sent out feelers, and lucked out with a property management company who were looking for just the kind of thing that we were offering. Apparently good old fashioned cleaning is a dying art. Who knew? St Ives depends for the most part on the visitors that swell our numbers during the summer months. But we are also a year round holiday destination. It costs a lot of money to stay here, and there are some very swanky places that you can stay in. The company that were interested in our services provide swanky places for swanky people. They are also in desperate need of a good quality housekeeping service.

And so this month, Ship Shape Cleaning Services was born. And boy have we hit the ground running! It's been a full on month of learning how design and operate spreadsheets, prepare invoices, engage with laundry companies, florists, wholesalers, designing logos, tallying figures and recording expenses, never mind the actual cleaning itself. Most of our work is on a Friday and Saturday, with some mid week work too. Olly has been enrolled into a Friday holiday club for the summer holidays, something that I agonised over. I felt so guilty about it. But I get the feeling he's going to love it; a lot of his school friends will be there so he won't be all alone. Alf will pick him up for me, and also look after him on a Saturday afternoon, once Marc has gone sailing.

I've just finished processing the invoice for this month. We've assigned ourselves roles within our  partnership, and I'm the one dealing with the money (the irony of a D at Maths O Level is not lost on me right now). I've had to get my remedial head around all sorts of vexing things; tax, expenses, insurance and so on. But it's been good for me too, because I've stepped right outside my comfort zone and tackled stuff that I would never have had the nerve to do even a year ago. I keep seeking out Marc, going over the same set of questions, and he patiently tells me the same set of answers.

Of course the cleaning itself is not a doddle. The pair of us work really hard. We've set very high standards for ourselves, and we pride ourselves on a job well done. Although it's early days, I think that we work well as a team. We clean the bigger properties together, and the smaller ones separately. I tend to clean the bathrooms, while Karen attends to the kitchens. We strip and change the beds together. We also check each others work, so that nothing goes unnoticed (like the piece of jigsaw and single oven chip that I missed under a sofa the other week. Oops). Karen has an obsession with smears, and I get very excited about the aesthetic of the bed linen.

And although we work hard, we also have lots of free time. Karen confesses that she isn't used to it yet, but I relish it because it's entirely guilt free. I've worked hard, and I can use the rest of my time to do all the things I do at home, and other fun stuff as well. It a win/win situation as far as I'm concerned. I'm also happy not to have a full time job, because my voluntary role at the Infant school has stepped up a gear too. I'm now a parent governor, and from September will have overall responsibility of the Infant school library. The governor role has been fascinating, and I've already been involved with some important decision making. The library will be such a wonderful place to be responsible for. I cannot wait to start lunch time reading sessions, poetry writing, introducing the author and all sorts of other activities for the children.

The above photos were taken this morning, in and around the part of St Ives that was once home to locals, but is now mostly holiday cottages and apartments. Traditionally I avoid it during the summer months, but now it's where I earn my bread and butter. I feel a little more connected to it, as I wander these streets with the tools of my trade in a sturdy hessian bag. I'm noticing all those little quirks and quaints that make my home town such a celebrated place to visit. Of course my mood may be quite different at the end of the summer, but right now I'm rather loving being part of the hustle and bustle of town.

How about yourselves? Are you all well?

Leanne xx