Thoughts

All of a flutter.

Things are a little tense in my corner of the world at the moment as we wait in anticipation for the safe arrival of the new little member of our family.  He or she will soon be here and for a while im sure life will go a little crazy.

So far as a Grandma or (nonna) to be goes I still feel pretty much the same.  My skirt length hasn’t changed, in fact I have spent most of the summer in a pair of cut down jeans shorts with frayed edges, feeling very  ‘ungrandmotherly’  if indeed there is such a word.  I think I have been cutting an old pair of Jeans down to shorts since I was about 13 but it still seems to be an acceptable fashion item,  and I count myself lucky that at 55 I can still get away with it.

This post however isn’t about being a Grandma or giving birth but about parenting, and how yesterday I got a ‘birds eye’ view (pardon the pun) of how it works in the world of our feathered friends.

One minute we were sat having coffee, the next it was raining sparrows and we were suddenly surrounded by fledglings, unable to fly or feed themselves.  I’m not quite sure how they made their way to the ground without breaking something, but somehow they did.

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Two were fairly healthy looking but this little guy looked like he’d been given his marching orders a little too early, and although Dad spent the day feeding all three in different parts of the garden, I didn’t think this little bundle of fluff had much chance of survival.

Baby sparrows leave the nest unable to feed themselves and the male will continue to provide for them for up to two weeks while his wife gets on with laying her next batch of eggs.  Gosh she must be one exhausted female!

I really didn’t expect them to survive the night and I’m pretty sure only 2 have .  It’s a tough world out there and I guess it really is ‘survival of the fittest’, but I was pleased to see this little chap popping his head up from his bed this morning and we had a little chat of relief while I took his photo.

Parenting is a tough job.  It takes commitment, courage, hard work and a whole heart full of unconditional love.  We are thrown into it with no real training, but somehow we survive and amazingly so do our children.  I take my hat off to this proud Dad who has probably been up all night worrying about his young as they spent their first night without him.  Dont we all know what that is like?  He is now completing his final step of the journey as their dad, and bravely letting them go.

Very soon I will be watching two new young parents take the first steps on that same journey.  If I was to give them some advice I think I would say this…Trust yourselves, trust your heart and love and support each other… the rest I think will come naturally just as it does for Mr and Mrs Sparrow.

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And at the end of the day if all else fails there is always a Nonna in denim the other side of town.

 

 

 

Love Alison x

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Thoughts

Listening in on Fistral Beach.

 

“Give it a magic tap Lilly”

A squeal of delight as a bucket is lifted,

and Lilly’s first sandcastle stands proud.

A little room for improvement,

with jagged turrets and crumbling  walls,

but isn’t that how a perfect sandcastle should be.

Built with enthusiasm

excited smiles, and

a bit of help from Dad.

                                                                                ~

“Dont knock it down yet!”

Lilly’s face crumbles

a little like the walls

of her sandcastle built,

but Dad has other plans

grand ideas for his pride and joy.

A row of ten and

then,

“then you can knock them down Lilly”

                                                                                 ~

Dad and Lilly work hard

Magic taps abound

buckets are filled and emptied

with salty tasting sand

and love,

and as the tide turns

Father and Daughter stand back

admiring what they have built

together.

                                                                                ~

“Go on then Lilly”

With a hint of the rascal

a little girl runs,

jumps, twists and turns.

Sand castles once standing tall

now flattened with childish glee.

                                                                                 ~

As the tide creeps in

bags are packed,

sandy little toes are dried

and a small hand is held.

Looking back over his shoulder

as the last remnants of their handiwork

are gently washed away

Dad smiles to himself.

“Well done Lilly”

 

 

By Alison Fielding x

 

 

Thoughts

Heading for The Headland.

Are you a regular Hotel goer?  Is fine dining, napkins laid in your lap, wine placed in a cooler on the table and poured by an Italian looking waiter part of your regular yearly routine?  Or are you like me, and the nearest you’ve come to this over the years is a night on the sofa with Julia Roberts as she plays ‘Vivienne’ in the film “Pretty Woman’.   Oh how I love that film.

If you are one of the lucky ones then I would advise a night on the sofa with Julia,  it’s a great film if you’ve never seen it, but if you are like me and summers as a single mum meant a paddling pool in the garden and an Ice pop from the fridge, then don’t be too surprised when the waiter pulls out a chair.  It’s not because he’s noticed that the chair leg is wobbly, and doesn’t want an accident on his hands, hes doing it for you,  Just for you!

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The Headland Hotel has been the most iconic of Cornish hotels for over a century.  I think the word  ‘Grand’  goes someway to describe it, especially for a hotel virgin like myself.  The staircase leading down to dinner in the evening seemed to arouse a floating feeling and I had to be careful not to trip on my dress as I did my best ‘Meghan Markle’ impression.  I certainly felt quite the royal as I made my way down those stairs each night.  I wonder if anyone could tell?   Its strange to think that I was walking in the footsteps of Princes Edward and Bertie who stayed in the hotel as teenagers being among the early guests.

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In the late 19th century the building of this hotel wasn’t welcomed by all.  Local fishermen who claimed that it was being built on common land where their nets had been dried for generations, even went to the lengths of pushing the foreman’s hut into the Atlantic.  I’m hoping the foreman was out on a tea break at the time.   During the 2nd World War it was used as a hospital and there are many unproven claims of ghostly sitings, nurses in uniform wandering around at night.  Thankfully I slept very peacefully apart from the odd snore which definitely wasnt of a ghostly nature.

Some of you may recognize it as the filming location for  ‘The Witches’ , written by Roald Dahl, and released as a film in 1990 with Rowan Atkinson playing the hotel manager.

The hotel is so welcoming with a really relaxed atmosphere.  There are an array of lounge rooms to choose from whether you’re wanting a meal, a drink, a game of chess or just a bit of quiet, and although beautifully decorated it still maintains its original charm, giving you a taste of history wherever you choose to sit.  When you are lucky to have wall to wall sunshine as in the last few days there is a lovely decked area where you can sit and watch the tide rolling in and out,

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Or just watch in awe as the sun sets in the evening.

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Of course nothing beats waking up to the sound of a seagull swooping above you, the fresh smell of sea air and the gentle sound of the waves as they crumple onto the shore.  What could be more perfect and rejuvenating.

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I think my summers past, with one hand holding an ice pop and a foot in the paddling pool have only served to increase my appreciation of a few nights spent in such a special place….and I can’t help but be thankful.

 

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Love Alison x

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Thoughts

Helen. (A short story)

It was exactly ten years to the day that Helen found herself sat in her car, tears flowing freely, on a street just minutes away from her home.  As her loud sobbing began to subside and her shaking body began to calm she glanced quickly around.  Her sight, momentarily blurred from the infusion of tears took a little while to clear, but as it did she realized that she had stopped only a few feet away from where he lived.  Without warning an intense heat began to rise from her chest to her neck, then like flames in an uncontrolled fire began to work its way up, encircling her face as the full force of the emotion she was feeling surged through her body.  All she could do was sit and wait,  knowing from experience that it would eventually pass.

Life for Helen over the last decade, had been messy to say the least.  A cacophony of  mixed feelings, difficult relationships and entangled lives.  A roller coaster of emotions and Helen hated roller coasters.  She detested most fairground rides with the exception of the merry-go-round, which even as an adult she still couldn’t resist.  The brave colours and enchanting music had drawn her towards it, and with a little girls dream of riding her own pony, it was the closest she came to getting her feet in those stirrups.   As an adult the gentle turning and up and down motion of the brightly coloured horses was calming, and gave her the sense of safety and control that she so often craved.  Other than that the fairground would always be enjoyed for the sweet taste of candy floss and the excited screams of her children as she watched them from a place of safety, feet firmly on the ground.

As her panic began to fade, and feeling more relaxed Helen began watching passers-by and wondered if their lives were as complex as hers.  A tall, elegant young woman being pulled eagerly along by a lively Red Setter,  passed by on the other side of the road.  She threw a quick glance at the tear stained face in the car, then carried on her way.  Helen hastily emptied her handbag on the passenger seat in search of a tissue and began to dab her eyes, trying to remove the stains of waterproof mascara that were now tatoed onto her cheeks.  After a few attempts she realized that this would have to wait till later, she also made a mental note that waterproof mascara didn’t behave as it should, at least not the brand that she afforded.

A few more cheerful dog walkers passed by.  Children were happily riding their bikes in the midday sun, whiling away the long summer hours.  In her now slightly dreamy state she only just managed to duck as a figure she knew  ‘oh so well’  came out of his door to place some rubbish in the bin.  Trying to breathe calmly Helen wondered at the irony of finding herself in this place so many years after they had met, and knew that a torch was still being carried, if only in her own heart.  Amongst all the chaos of her life emotions had been buried but not dealt with.  It was one of her fortes ..’why deal with today what can be put off till tomorrow?’  she really did need to work on that one and maybe her doctors suggestion of cognitive therapy wasn’t such a bad idea after all.  Something else to add to her long list of  ‘things to do’  to improve her mental and physical well-being.

An hour passed.  Calm and quiet were replacing the turbulent state of mind which had caused Helen to jump in her car, in search of a bit of space where she could collect her thoughts.  Being a single mother had not been what Helen had in mind when the words  “I DO”  had poured eagerly and naively from her mouth.  A blushing bride, gazing adoringly into the eyes of her husband to be, dreaming the dreams of a young girl brought up on fairy tales.  Fifteen years later, the only bit of him she adored was his contribution to the procreation of their children.  Any further contribution was on his terms only and definitely not so enjoyable.

The warm sun shone through the car windscreen and landed on Helen’s long, already tanned legs.  She had always had an enviable figure and one that would often be the reason for a turned head in the street, but the kind nature in her possession didn’t allow her to use her looks for her own gain.  She did however take a little secret pleasure from the male attention she received, whilst still nursing a broken heart.

Sitting in the safety of her car Helen wondered what was going on in the house she had left behind.  She hoped that moods would be changing and apologies being prepared, if a little unwillingly.  On a good day coping with four teenagers and their raging hormones  was challenging enough, but there were many occasions when she felt totally out of her depth, and leaving the situation was the only way she could keep some form of control, if only of herself.

Looking around and taking in the all too familiar surroundings brought difficult memories flooding back to the forefront of her mind.  She tried in vain to squash them down to a place where they no longer caused her pain.  Did he suffer like this?  She thought not, and once again a fresh stream of tears began to flow down her already mascara stained cheeks.  She really did need to invest more money in herself and made a mental note to give Chanel a try.

Catching sight of the clock in the car Helen knew that it wouldn’t be long before she had to make tracks and return home.  She hoped that putting some space between them would have helped calm a difficult situation.  How she longed for the support of a partner at these times.  A male voice to guide her boys through teenage trials and a strong pair of arms around her to provide comfort on stormy days.   Helen did her best but boys needed men in their lives to look up to, and above all to learn how to treat the women in their lives with respect.  How could they learn this with no resident role model.  An idea travelled through Helen’s mind and made her smile.  ‘Rent a role model’  maybe she could start a business providing struggling single mums with positive male role models or maybe just male models…..what single mum could resist.  Uncles might have been a close substitute but Helen’s brothers all lived abroad and at times this had left her feeling very alone.

Looking at her reflection in the wing mirror of her car she noticed the hair bobble holding it in place.  She laughed to herself as she remembered the light-hearted teasing of the mechanic as he had put her car through its M.O.T.,  bobble intact.  The Fiat Punto, which had cost a mere £300 had served her well and in the three years they had been together it had been completely faithful.  Sadly, more reliable than the men in her life.

Helen’s upbringing had been strictly religious.  She had been discouraged from dating outside of the church and had grown up with a shallow experience of the world and its ways.  Meeting her lover whilst still grieving a failed marriage had been the starting point of change in Helen’s life, and although he had brought a lot of additional pain to her door, she found it hard to forget him.

Helen could scarcely believe that the years had passed so quickly.  The fact that she had pulled up just minutes from his home-made her realize that feeling close to him, or to memories of the times they spent together, still brought her a sense of safety in her troubled day.  She wondered if this constituted stalking and contemplated starting the engine only to take her hands of the keys and let her mind wander and relive, if only for a moment the way he had made her feel.  Looking back it was as if he had been all the men she had never met, all the experiences she had never had.  As a young woman in her twenties when all her piers were just enjoying life, she was knee-deep in nappies and domesticity having never really known herself.  The way he touched her had made her feel like a goddess, sexy, attractive adored and beautiful.  His body was youthful, tanned and muscular and the thoughts of being wrapped in those strong arms made her feel safe.  She needed them now when she was alone, not knowing which way to turn.  She needed to hear his voice comforting her,  and she needed to feel the passion to which she had become so hopelessly addicted.

Helen knew her time of reprieve was fleeting, but those precious moments of escape had been just what she needed to pull herself together.  The sun was getting warmer and she felt cramped in the limited space.  Deciding to stretch her legs before returning home she opened the car door and let the fresh air cool her warm body, blowing away what was left of the cobwebs in her mind.  She could now return home with a slightly renewed sense of self, although could she have afforded it a holiday might have been more beneficial.  Bringing all her senses into action she tried to recall memories of holidays taken.  Her small children playing happily in the sand and splashing in the waves, not a care in the world.  Donkey rides and buckets and spades had now been replaced with X boxes and I pads, a natural progression through life but Helen knew which she preferred.  Watching her children beginning to discover life for themselves was causing her to feel anxious, and although she knew it would come right in the end she still had to squash down an overwhelming sense of fear and loss.

Having only walked a few paces from the car Helen suddenly realized that she could now clearly be seen from his house.  Her previous feelings of safety wrapped up in familiar surroundings were replaced by a rapidly beating heart and she knew she had crossed a line.  Hurrying back to the car she opened the door and sank into her seat, and as her racing heart began to slow she started the engine.  Glancing in her rear view mirror as she drove away, she knew she had to let go.

Pulling into her drive Helen could hear laughter and music coming from the house.  Her daughter came to the door and smiled, genuinely pleased to see her.  Walking into the house she could see that the washing up had been done, not to her standard but done none the less.  Picking up a tea towel she started to dry the dishes and smiled as she listened to the concoction of music travelling down the stairs.

Her life wasnt perfect, but it was her life, and for that she was grateful.

 

 

By Alison Fielding x

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Thoughts

One sunny afternoon.

There is nothing I love more than spending a bit of time sitting near water. Whether it’s the Sea, a lake, a pond or even sitting in my garden listening to the water fountain, the sound of water soothes and relaxes me.  Why is this?  Is it because of the watery start we all had in our mothers womb?  It must have felt very cosy, warm and safe in there although I can’t say that I remember it too well, but I guess it is a reasonable theory.

Just as the warmth of the sun provides the energy needed to keep my garden fountain working as it should, so a few hours sat at the water’s edge can renew and refresh us, restoring our energy and enabling us to return to our lives with a fresh perspective and zeal.

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Settling myself down in this spot on a sunny Sunday afternoon with a book, my camera and a bag of walkers crisps (ready salted in case you’re wondering) was a welcome bit of me time.  Time to ‘sit and stare’ and just to BE.

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I’ve always loved watching and photographing the Inhabitants of my local pond, and was perfectly happy to while away an hour or two watching these proud new parents enjoying a sunday afternoon swim with their offspring.

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It got me thinking about my son and his fiance who are soon to become the parents of my first grandchild. It wont be long before they are the ones walking proudly around on a Sunday afternoon, with their tiny little bundle of joy.   The dawning of a new little family.  I wonder what it will be? I was pleased that they decided to wait till the birth to find out what they are having as I think it is one of life’s really special surprises, and nothing beats hearing those three words when the baby is born and someone says “It’s a boy’ or ‘It’s a girl”.  It’s a beautiful moment and one that I know they will cherish for the rest of their lives.  A moment when life is changed forever as a first tiny new breath is taken.

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Back to watching the babes on the pond, the baby Coots have improved their looks somewhat as they are such funny little things when they first hatch.

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They are definitely not the cutest kids on the pond, but they are a little less ugly duckling than when they first crack open their egg and pop their little heads out into the world.

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Ducks just continue to be Ducks!

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But my favourites are definitely the fluffy goslings.  Judi Castile at A French Homestead life has been posting about her own new goslings of which I am quite envious, but I can at least borrow these little cuties for an afternoon of enjoyment and relaxation as I watch them drifting goosily through their day.

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Beauty is never far away and lifes’ difficult moments are cushioned by the joyful ones that are around the next corner.  Sometimes we get frustrated when we can’t see round that bend, but how boring life would be if we didn’t have to go through the waiting, if everything was just handed to us.  That is where we learn and grow, we just need to be patient and try to enjoy each moment of the journey, till eventually we are living whats ahead.  And as we are waiting, we can always sit for a while longer and be soothed by the  calming sounds of the water, just as we were when we were cosy and warm and safe in our mothers womb.

 

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Love Alison x

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Thoughts

Mangetout and the menagerie

For those of you who havent read my post Cottage life. I live in a mid terrace on a part owned council estate in the midlands, but to me it is my cottage in the countryside. It comes complete with the sweet sound of humming as the bees lovingly collect their nectar, and is surrounded by trees which exude birdsong from morning till night.  My two hens cluck happily away as they scratch and peck at the ground, and I happily consume their fresh produce for my lunch most days.  I have a lovely dog named Jess, a family of sparrows in the eaves and my two hens Ginger and Cilla.  Generally we all tick along with each other just fine.

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Well I did say generally!!  Jess is normally a little hen-pecked by these two, but on this occasion I’m afraid  ‘sharing’  wasn’t an option and Jess was definitely the ‘cat that got the cream’  if a little more canine than feline.

Even with just two hens there is a pecking order, and Ginger likes to think she is ‘Top Dog,’  cheekily pecking both Jess and Cilla if they get in her way,  and often found trying to escape.  Jess knows where they should be and has started coming to fetch me when this bundle of feathers is doing her dare-devil act.

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I have always wanted to grow vegetables, but with my love of chickens in a small city garden this has never been easy.  This year I have managed to grow my first lot of Mangetout against what is affectionately known as my ‘Mexican Bar’,  a pallet construction which primarily serves to keep my dog away from the neighbours’, and although my feelings aren’t totally shared, I rather like it, especially now that it lights up at night.

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Having never grown vegetables before, I was filled with a childlike excitement on finding this beautiful flower yesterday which I’m guessing is a good sign that my Mangetout are developing as they should, although some more hastily than others.

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I was struck by the vibrant colours, symmetry and sheer beauty of this flower,  and no way are those greedy hens gonna destroy this little moment of victory.  They have on two occasions already tried to make a quick meal of my Sweat Peas which I try to grow every year.  This year they are planted in an old pine kitchen cupboard, which with the door taken off and placed on its back,  has made an excellent planter.  It should last a good few years, and was even given the seal of approval with a “that was one of your better ideas”!!  Hmmm!

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I love finding new uses for things that I’m not quite ready to throw out.  This chopping board has made a cute little shelf and was saved from the scrap heap for a little longer,

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and for anyone who has read my Who sacked the Teapot? post you will know that there is always a use for a lidless pot.

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I love my little garden and its inhabitants, and the things I’m learning in my small corner of the world.  Yes of course I have dreams,  but learning to appreciate what we have and being able to make the most of it is so life enhancing,  and definitely the way to contentment.

And anyway don’t we all know that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, although something tells me that Cilla would beg to differ!

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Love Alison xx

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