Still Clearing the Clutter

My children have all left home and I am still clearing up after them.  How did that happen?

It took me a whole afternoon to clean and pack up the remains in my daughter’s room.  The room is pristine.  I don’t remember it ever looking like this.  The only piece of furniture in it is the bed.  The rest I gave away on FreeCycle.  There is a little boy in Hammersmith happy with a new desk, chair and lamp.

I love FreeCycle.  I have given away quite a few things that would have probably ended up at the tip – not because there was anything wrong with them, but because they weren’t worth selling on E-bay or they weren’t right for the charity shops.

My next task is my son’s room.  As far as I’m concerned, he had all summer to pack away his things.  He even came home this past weekend to celebrate his birthday with his friends and to collect some more clothes.  Whatever he left behind is getting put in boxes.   I have a feeling that there will be quite a few bin bags of rubbish as well.  I am not looking forward to going into his room.  When I go up there I think to myself, ‘Where the heck do I start?’  By the time I finish, I may be left with just an empty space.  My next door neighbour is taking the bed.  She is actually giving me money for it!

I better get started.  It looks like it might take awhile!

Last One Out the Door!

I do NOT have empty nest syndrome.  In fact, I am ecstatic that I have finally taken my remaining child at home (he was on a gap year) off to University.  Rather, Amor drove while I navigated (with the help of SatNav).  If I am ecstatic, it is for two reasons: (1) I am so happy that my son is going to University to further his education, and (2) I will now be able to have the freedom to do what I want in my own home, again!

I love my children dearly.  I do not love the mess they create and the arguments that ensue when asking them to clean it up.  My children are very lucky to have me as a mother, even if they don’t realise it.  I don’t interfere in their personal life.  They come and go as they please.  All I asked is that they help keep the place tidy, as I have been trying to sell my home.  Oh, and leave me some milk for my morning coffee.  I loved it when they were at boarding school during the week.  The cleaner would come on Tuesday and the place would still be sparkling until 5:30 on Friday night.  I had the whole week to do what I wanted and eat what I wanted and then I was in a happy frame of mind to see them on the weekends.  That is, if they weren’t with their friends, at which point, I would go out dancing.

My children are very entertaining at times and I will miss the banter.  They make me laugh.  We talk about everything.  Nothing is taboo.  I do not love arguments.  I refuse to argue.  There were times, when they didn’t get their way, they would tell me they were going to move out or live with their Dad.  Ha!  Go ahead, I would say.  After all of these years, I could use the break.  Tell me when you want to go and I will take you there myself!

Raising children is not easy, especially alone.  I have been at a 3-1 disadvantage for many years.  I have looked at them occasionally and wonder how they survived these last 20-something years.  Children can push you to the brink of your sanity.  Living with them in the teenage years can be hell.  I am surprised that I haven’t ended up in prison or the loony bin.  They owe their lives to me in more ways than one.

While the children were at boarding school, I learned to appreciate the benefits of having some me time.  It is amazing how quickly one can get used to it.  I had my work and my hobbies, a clean and tidy house and no yelling or screaming.  No hormones to deal with unless they were my own.  Life was peaceful.  There was a bit of chaos when they were home for the holidays, but I knew that it would be short-lived.  Life was very good.

Life is still very good.  Some aspects could be better than others, but on the whole, I am very happy.  This summer has been interesting as far as my relationships with my children are concerned.  Although they are technically no longer children (they are young adults), they are still my children and always will be.  I try not to treat them that way, but it can be difficult when they refuse to act mature.  The relationships are changing.  It hasn’t been the easiest of times, but I am hoping that things will improve.  I have been trying to teach them to be responsible and to fulfil their obligations, without being asked.  You know, sometimes things can get worse before they get better.  They have to find their own way in life and I need to be strong and not be a pushover.  They test me to my limits and I must always stand my ground.  It hasn’t been an easy time and I feel that I might have missed out on something this summer.  I am hoping that the future will be better.  As far as I am concerned, I’ve done my job, the rest is now up to them.

My eldest has finished University and lives in his dad’s flat.  He is working, but not in his chosen profession, not yet anyway.  These are interesting times for work.  I have been inviting him over for dinner about once a week.  I really enjoy his company.  On Friday, I invited him over for dinner.  A sort of farewell dinner for the last remaining sibling.  Amor came up to London and my remaining son and his girlfriend were also with us.  It was a full house and one I probably won’t see for quite some time.  (My daughter had gone back to Uni earlier in the week.)  It was a lovely evening.  There was banter and hilarity.

My eldest popped in yesterday evening as he had left his phone behind from the other evening.  He noticed the leftover Thai food from the night before and invited himself to dinner this time.  I didn’t have a problem with that.  We ate, chatted and watched some TV together.  He decided to spend the night and go to work from my house.  Just goes to show you that you can never get rid of your children!  Especially if you have a spare bed in your house!  The thing is, I don’t think I would ever want to.  Well,  not permananently anyway.   🙂

A Walk Around Eastbourne, Beachy Head, Alfriston, Cuckmere Haven

The August Bank Holiday found me once again at the coast.   I was going to have a long  weekend as I didn’t have much work scheduled.  After fighting a traffic jam on the M25, surprisingly, the M23 towards Gatwick was amazingly clear.  Maybe people were taking advantage of the cheap ferry rates and going to France for the long weekend?  Regardless, I preferred to spend my weekend in Eastbourne.  I have been extremely lucky with the weather nearly every weekend since the beginning of March.  I have an amazing tan and I am getting very fit from all of the walking and cycling I have been doing.

The weather on the Saturday was beautiful and sunny and I parked myself on the beach for a few hours (ok, nearly 5, I was reading a book). My section of the beach was empty except for myself and another lady who was parked about 20 yards away from me.  After a few hours of relative peace and quiet, a young man in his 30’s (I am only guessing as I am rubbish as guessing people’s ages) parked himself between us, fully clothed (ok, he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and sunglasses), lying down on his front with his head facing my crotch.  The whole beach was empty otherwise and he had to park near me!  To me, that is like sitting in an empty cinema and putting yourself in front of the only two people in there.  A bit pervy and annoying.  I could have sat there a bit longer reading my book, but I was really put off, so I got dressed and left.  The next time someone does this, I will take a photo and send it to Amor.


My Empty Section of Beach before The Perv Arrived
My Empty Section of Beach before The Perv Arrived

Sunday started cloudy.  I walked into the town centre for a coffee and to read the Sunday papers.  There was a man playing the guitar and singing blues and bluegrass music.  He was really good.  I managed to get a table outside and was able to read the paper, have coffee and listen to music all at the same time!


The Camera Cbscura on the Pier was closed because of the weather.  Well, it was very cloudy.  I took a few photos and am very pleased with how dramatic the one below turned out.


It may have been cloudy, but the weather was warm and there were quite a few people out and about.  The sun eventually broke through the clouds at about 2pm and it turned into a really pleasant afternoon.  I finished reading the paper on the beach. 🙂  On my way home, I couldn’t resist stopping off for an ice cream.  I am working my way through the flavours at Favoloso.

Afterwards, I stopped into The Towner Gallery.  There were a couple of exhibitions I hadn’t seen before.  I forgot to get the information for one of the exhibitions, which consists of photographs and other mixed media.  It was interesting, but it really didn’t move me.  Instead, it got me thinking about art and photography and about what the criteria is to have one’s artwork shown in a gallery.  Such as:  Is it really important to have studied photography and to have a qualification (letters after one’s name) in order to be taken as a serious photographer?  Or is it more of who you know?  What if you learned about photography from books and are naturally talented with a good eye?  Does one have to enter and win a lot of contests to be taken seriously?  How do they do it?

The other exhibition was by Jodie Carey – In The Eyes of Others. I thought the plaster bones made into huge chandeliers was very creative, interesting and beautiful in their own right.  They looked like massive wedding cakes, but turned upside down.  What I didn’t get was why there were bundles of newspapers and empty fruit and vegetable cartons stacked around the room.  I lost the blurb about what it all meant and am afraid that I couldn’t for the life of me explain it to you as eloquently as the young lady working in the room that day.  Frankly, if one needs to write a couple of pages explaining the concept of the piece, then you’ve pretty much lost me.  I really don’t need to know.

I went home after the gallery and nearly stepped on a used condom that was in the middle of the pavement.  It took me a moment to appreciate the absurdity of coming across this item on a nice quiet street next to the tennis ground and so I turned around and took a photograph of it.  I won’t post it as it is pretty disgusting.  The surreal aspect of this became more poignant when I noticed that there was an elderly couple sitting in the car next to it.   Do you think…?

Bank Holiday Monday was scorchio.  We decided that we would walk to Beachy Head and have lunch at the pub on the top of the hill.  I had noticed that although there were a fair amount of people out and about that day, I thought there would have been a lot more, considering it was a Bank Holiday.  It was surprisingly quiet to what I was expecting.  The weather was sooo nice, I was  regretting not suggesting we veg on the beach instead.  In any event, and as the tide was out, we walked along and on the beach to Cow Gap.  If any of you ever contemplates doing this, I personally do not recommend it, especially in the heat, and from Holywell.   The walk along the promenade is fine, but once it finishes at Holywell, the walking becomes difficult because of the amount of boulders and shingle one must navigate across.  Then there is the aspect of avoiding boulders that have greenery on them, which can be quite slippery.  If one is not careful, it is very easy to twist an ankle taking this route.  I usually have good ideas, but this was not one of my best one’s in hindsight.  If you wanted to get to Cow Gap, it would be easier (and safer) to take the land route along Foyle Way and then walk down the stairs.  We did this the first time we went there.  In any event, we safely arrived at Cow Gap and climbed up the stairs to finish our journey to the top of the hill at Beachy Head.  Although it is fairly tough going, the view is pretty amazing and the thought of an ice cold beer waiting for us at the top kept us in good spirits.  We took our time with a nice gentle pace and eventually reached our destination. 🙂

While Amor went to find a table outside, I got in the beers before we worked out what we wanted for lunch.  The place, although busy, wasn’t actually heaving, so I was surprised that I had to wait nearly 10 minutes to be served.  When I eventually came back in to order lunch, there was no particular place to order it.  Some people queued up in front of one bartender, which didn’t seem unreasonable, until he advised us to find other bartenders.  There didn’t seem to be a system of one person taking orders and another doing the bar, which would have been quicker.  Even though I still had half of my drink waiting for me outside, I ordered more drinks as we were being told that our lunch order could take 40 minutes.  In the end, it was more like an hour before our meal arrived, my lunch order was wrong and they didn’t bring any condiments when they served us, unlike the table next to us.  I also never got the missing item from my order even though I asked for it (and we never got condiments).  The food and service was pretty disappointing to say the least.  In the future, we may stop here for drinks (it’s the only bar on Beachy Head), but we won’t ever eat here again.

We ambled down the hill back into Eastbourne.  This was easier than going up.  (On reflection, I think that all of the walking and cycling I had been doing these last few months have been paying off in that I had no pain the day after from my little trek.) 🙂  Since our lunch was a bit of a disappointment, we stopped into Favoloso for dessert!  This time we had a 99 with their soft ice cream.  It was thick and creamy, yum!

Tuesday was quite breezy and cloudy and by the afternoon there was a fair amount of sunshine.  I wanted to go out in my car and drive with the top down.  (What is the point of having a convertible and not using it?!)  So, we drove out to Alfriston for lunch at The Smugglers Inn.  The service and the food here was a good deal better than the lunch we had the day before.  I would definitely eat here again, but I would skip dessert and try the chocolate and ice cream from Not Just Chocolate. We just looked in the window as I was too stuffed to even contemplate going in there.

Alfriston is a very pretty and a very old village dating back to the 13th century.  For a small town, it has quite a few pubs.  We wandered around the village, went into the gallery, perused the shops, had a look inside the church, and walked around the churchyard.



After spending an hour or so walking off our lunch, I drove back towards Eastbourne via the scenic route, thus giving Amor a chance to admire the scenery and amazing views for a change.  Our first stop was at High and Over for some beautiful scenic views of the Cuckmere River.


High and Over
High and Over

A bit further along the path we came to Frog Firle which had some splendid views towards Cuckmere Haven where you have a view of the sea.  This is another walk I would like to do sometime.  This day though, I just wanted some gentle flat walking as a respite from the previous day’s walk.

Frog Firle

Frog Firle

We got back to the car and drove off to Cuckmere Haven.  I hadn’t been here since March, when I came here for the very first time with Amor.  This time the weather was warmer and sunnier, the tide was out and the sea was gentler.  I will never stop being amazed at the view of The Seven Sisters.  It is so beautiful.  One day I will walk it!  For now, I am happy to just admire it.  We spent a pleasant time looking at the sea and reminiscing.  What a lovely ending to a long weekend.