Smell the sea and feel the sky

Every Easter our little family makes the journey down to St Ives for a week. Although we’ve only done it for three years it has already become a tradition, a pilgrimage of sorts, that we all love. Luckily for me I have a super organised bezzie mate C who plans everything, researches the houses, books them, does an online Tesco shop to be delivered the evening we arrive. I just have to transfer the money to her and check the shopping list and make sure my rabble get there in one piece.

In previous years we’ve stayed in a house just five minutes walk away from the main beaches and shops, but up a very steep hill. This year C outdid herself and found us a traditional old cottage in the heart of St Ives in Downalong (the house with the blue windows pictured below). The current owners had bought it in a sorry state and managed to bring it back to life having lovingly refurbished it. They named it The Wreck and although this name may speak of its past, it certainly wasn’t the case now. The updates were sympathetic but contemporary and there was plenty of space for our happy rabble of four adults and four kids.

It was certainly a plus point to have a coffee shop/deli a few steps away. And the delectable St Ives Bakery, where the brownies and rocky road are huge and mouth-watering, was just around the corner.

On our first day we just had to visit our favourite eatery, Hub. Located right on the harbour their burgers and pulled pork are succulent and their skin-on fries are delicious. The kids get a fab lolly for pudding as part of the kids’ meal so everyone’s happy. That particular morning we were lucky enough to see the RNLI washing one of their boats right outside the window while we were eating. The little jumps of excitement and thrilled squeals from the mini people were just lovely.Arriving

We were so very lucky with the weather. It felt a tad colder than last year but we were treated to blue skies and perfect white clouds on pretty much every day we were there. As soon as we got to the beach the wetsuits were on and the kids were frolicking in the surf, and it was pretty hard trying to convince them to come out. Even though their hands and feet were freezing they would have stayed in the water all day if they could have. But common sense prevailed so after we dried them off and changed their clothes they were happy to explore the rockpools and waterfall on Porthmeor Beach.image
We always try to make sure that us adults get to have a date night each. with one couple staying in to babysit while the other goes out for a nice meal. This year we decided to try the Rum & Crab Shack and it did not disappoint – delicious food and rum cocktails in a welcoming restaurant overlooking the sea. Just perfect.

One evening, when the roads were quiet, Husb and I managed to walk the cobbled streets, exploring all the little lanes and nooks and crannies. We found sweet little fisherman’s cottages, cosy restaurants, indie shops with homewares, gifts and art, reams of bunting and  beautiful doors aplenty.

On one of the days having discovered that the weather forecast was not great we decided to get on the train for a change. For only a few pounds each we had a train ride with the most spectacular views of St Ives, Carbis Bay and Lelant Saltings. It was a short but sweet ride.

We then all bundled into our cars and headed to Newquay where we had a great time at the Blue Reef Aquarium. It was quite small but it kept us all entertained for the afternoon, the highlight being the tunnel where you could see the sealife swimming around and above you. Oh and how could we forget the superstar of the Aquarium, Omiros the rescued Loggerhead turtle?

image For the rest of the week we were blessed with more of those dreamy blue skies and fluffy white clouds. We spent as much time as we could at the beach, making sure we visited Porthminster, the Harbour and Porthgwidden. As well as another visit to the kids’ favourite, Porthmeor.

There is something about St Ives that I just can’t put my finger on. It could be that ethereal light that artists often seek out, a light that I’ve not seen anywhere else. It could be the beaches or the bluest skies. Whatever it is, I feel so happy there. And so does our whole gang. Some people ask us why we don’t visit other places but when all eight of us are happy to be somewhere, why change?

St Ives, we truly love you.image

The Year in Books | March 2016

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First a few words about February’s book The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. Laura @circleofpines wanted to try something different for #theyearinbooks for one month and suggested that anyone who was interested could read the same book. I was thrilled to win a copy in the giveaway Laura organised and came over all child-like when the parcel arrived with the beautiful, blue tome inside.

Goats and Sheep is set in the sweltering summer of 1976. Mrs Creasey has gone missing and the residents on The Avenue fear the worst so ten-year-old friends Grace and Tilly decide to investigate. Goats and Sheep was everything I could ask for in a book – intelligent, sympathetic, funny, keenly observed and oh-so-beautifully written. So many times I was transported to that street, I could see the neighbours milling and colluding and I could feel that uncomfortable heat. Oddly enough after my choice for January, this too was a book about secrets. But it was also about friendships, relationships, parents, how people can be quick to judge others, and how those judgements can influence others and ruin lives. And I fell in love with Tilly who was patient, sweet, innocent yet wiser than her years.

Laura organised a one-off #theyearinbooks twitter chat to discuss the book and it was such a treat to have the author join in. Joanna was funny and thoughtful and I could totally imagine sitting in a pub chatting with her (as I often do my fellow #ytheyearinbooks tweeters!). I look forward to reading her follow up but for now I hope she’s just enjoying the excellent reaction her debut is so deservedly getting.

And so to March. Although I’m in total denial, I’ll be turning the big four-oh this year (eeep!). To ease the pain a bit I’m re-visiting songs, albums, films, books from my formative years. I was a massive fan of the Brat Pack and John Hughes films so I was interested to see that both Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy (who I had the most mahoosive crush on) have added another string to their bow, that of published writer. I read Molly’s novel last year and loved it so much so that I’m hoping to re-read it this year. But I have chosen Andrew McCarthy’s, The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down for my March read. Part travel journal, part memoir, the reviews promise a personal exploration of Andrew’s commitment phobia, his life in showbiz and his relationships via his love of travel. I’m really looking forward to this one.

YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ABOUT #THEYEARINBOOKS AT CIRCLE OF PINES.

Found and lost

They come crashing into my mind at the strangest of times. A solitary pair, a phrase, a sentence. Often complete in themselves but crying out for a backstory. They excite me, these words. They fill me with a longing to spend days at a battered old desk overlooking the sea, filling in the gaps with more words. The warmest, fluffiest socks, copious amounts of coffee and ink scratching onto paper as the waves beat and crash against the shore. But these words also fill me with an ineffable sadness. I never have, never had the confidence. Never believed in myself enough to even try to make something more out of them. And so they are left to rattle about in my mind, like someone’s lost property, unforgotten and never quite finding the ending to their story.

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The Year in Books | February 2016

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I’ll start with some thoughts on my choice for January, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This was an excellent book to kick start my challenge for 2016. I read it in mere days, which is no mean feat with two typhoon-like boys running about, and from the moment I picked it up I was hooked. I found myself trying to steal a few minutes here and there, even if only to read a few more paragraphs.

At it’s heart this book is about secrets. You can think you know someone but there are always tiny fractures where secrets and thoughts are hidden. You can never really know someone. But it’s also about family, about wanting to fit in, and to please your loved ones. I loved that the pace of the story didn’t falter at all and that the author was able to depict events, places and even emotion with such precision, such care and without wasting any words. It’s intelligent and witty and heartbreaking and it’s sure to join the handful of books which I so love that I re-read from time to time.

Because I finished my January choice so quickly I was able to go back to a book that I started last year but didn’t quite finish. Admittedly I ran out of steam last year, for one reason or another my reading fell by the wayside and Life after Life by Kate Atkinson was one of the books I neglected. It often pops up as a favourite on the monthly #theyearinbooks twitter chats so I was keen to read it. Although I found myself getting confused (easily done!) at times with the flipping between lives, it didn’t disappoint. It was a clever and brave book and I think I’ll have to add the follow up to my list for 2016.

And so on to February. Please forgive me if it sounds like gloating, it’s not! But I was one of the lucky winners of Laura @circleofpines giveaway to win a copy of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. Laura wanted to try something different for one month and suggested that anyone who was interested could read the same book. I was pretty amazed when I received Laura’s email but I was genuinely excited when I received my copy in the post. It’s such a rare treat to receive real post these days instead of the endless leaflets and bills and invitations to apply for a credit card.  I’ve already started and so far so very good…I’m really looking forward to chatting about it with my fellow #theyearinbooks tweeters.

Five under £5 for January 2016

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I really enjoyed linking up with the lovely Julia and her Five under £5 last month and was really pleased when she decided to make the link-up an ongoing feature.  I’ve been thinking about the things I wanted to include for January for a couple of weeks, but typical me I’ve left it all last minute to take the photos, blog and link up so I find myself doing the blogging equivalent of last minute cramming for an exam (must try harder!).

So I have my five but please excuse the dodgy photography and the hurried (probably typo-riddled) post.

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I’ll start off with the fabulous Hello Kitty earrings which were a steal because they were reduced to £1.50 at Toys r Us. I think they must have been in the Claire’s Accessories concession but I was on a mission trying to buy pressies for some of the smaller relatives in the family and didn’t have enough time to check. They are just so darn cute and although I was a huge tomboy I loved Hello Kitty as a girl so I treated myself to these.

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As is usually the case at the beginning of a new year I have good intentions of clearing out old stuff, sorting and tidying. These intentions often fall by the wayside but I’m hoping at least some of them will stick this year. These sweet apple-shaped washing up scourers are so lovely, they make washing up a little bit easier and they were 99p for a pack of 4 from the 99p Shop. I also stocked up on my fabulous BB cream from Superdrug. At £6.99 I realise it’s over the £5 limit but I try to buy it when it’s in the BOGOF offer so it works out at about £3.50, which is a bargain and so much cheaper than the big brands. Not only that but it is lovely, it makes my skin seem smoother, less blemished and I don’t need to fiddle around with foundation (which is great because my makeup routine has to last less than 3 minutes with my two tasmanian devils running about the house!). And the best thing is, it’s paraben free which is important to me.

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I bought the tiny dinosaur rubbers, 75p for my dino-mad elder son and the A5, hard back, kraft notebook was £1.75, both from Wilko. The notebook is a desperate attempt to try and get organised!

And that’s my  for January 2016. Next month I think I’ll need to try and include something for my Husb and my younger son so they don’t feel left out!

Thanks so much Julia for letting me join in xx