Not here today #17


With the boy-child, Cambridge, England. Image: Leslie family archive 2006

With the current lock-down over, technically I am able to leave Auckland. However, as there are still cases of Covid-19 being transmitted within the city, I think I’ll be staying put a while longer. My desire for a holiday isn’t greater than my respect for the health of other New Zealanders.

So today’s #notheretoday is a little different. It’s certainly true that I can’t currently ravel to England, but the physical and geographical barriers are less in my mind than the temporal one.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” — LP Hartley “The Go-Between.”

No longer is my son small enough to pick up and hold in my arms. He now has a full set of (beautifully regular) adult teeth, and there’s a different aesthetic at play in his choice of t-shirt.

But the smile is the same; he still has the dog, and I love the twenty-two year old boy-child with as much intensity and absolute joy as ever.

Love is a doing word

su and tom second pic_cleaned up1

Motherhood; day 1. Image: Leslie-Gray family archive, 1998.

 The boy-child was not a model baby. Although delivered full-term, he weighed barely 2.5kg at birth, and we struggled hugely in his first few months with feeding difficulties and erratic sleeping patterns.

I’m not entirely sure what I expected of motherhood, but certainly not the exhaustion, guilt, fear, loneliness and utter helplessness I experienced. I had told clients I’d probably be back to work after about eight weeks. In reality, as eight weeks became twelve, I still considered it a good day if I managed to get both the baby and I dressed and out of the house.

The post-natal depression with which I was diagnosed lasted for years. Long after the boy-child’s sleeping ceased to be a problem, I still experienced the same sick, clenched stomach if he did cry out in the night.

There is a lot I just don’t remember about my son’s first year — and I certainly wasn’t up to taking lots of photos, or keeping a “Milestones” book as many of the other new mothers I knew did.

When I think back on that time, what I do remember is the music. The soundtrack of my son’s babyhood may well be the best bit, and there are so many songs I could choose from that time.

But I’ve always loved the opening line of this song, and I think that although it isn’t about motherhood, it speaks brilliantly to the essence of a mother’s love.

Love, love is a verb

Love is a doing word

Massive Attack, Teardrop

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — as Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind so brilliantly puts it “casual players welcome.”

In the pink

The pink onsie

The boy-child; healthy, happy and rocking the pink onesie. Image; Su Leslie 1998

Don’t you love looking at old photos of your kids?

I remember taking this shot, and more particularly remember my mother’s reaction to me dressing her grandson in pink (and lavender, lime green, red …)

That was over 20 years ago, and I had thought such outdated notions of gender-based clothing (not to mention toys, games, behaviors, etc) was steadily being consigned to the dustbin of history. Then last week I had a conversation with my sister in law about how her mother complains that my four year old niece is always dressed “like a boy” — in blue!


Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | pink

Attempting Mrs Oberon’s Cock-a-Hoop Honey Cake

One of my son’s favourite childhood books was Margaret Mahy’s A Busy Day for a Good Grandmother.

The good grandmother is Mrs Oberon, summoned by her son Scrimshaw to deliver one of her cock-a-hoop blue borage honey cakes — the only thing that will pacify his crying, teething baby son.

Her journey — by trailbike, plane, raft and skateboard — involves navigating rapids, and fighting off hungry vultures and alligators.

Arriving to find Scrimshaw at the end of his tether, she not only calms the baby but teaches her son to make his own honey cake.

I was reminded of the book recently by Amanda at Silkannthreades, and began wondering what a cock-a-hoop blue borage honey cake might look (and taste) like.

I did find a recipe, but not only was it missing blue borage honey, but seemed to lack the ingredients one might expect in a teething remedy.

This is my first attempt. It’s flavoured with blue borage honey (naturally), as well as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and chamomile — to soothe.

It’s ok. The texture is good, but none of the flavours emerge strongly enough and it looks disconcertingly like gingerbread.

Definitely not a six-word post this week — but bookended thus.

So, back to the drawing board.

Posted to Debbie’s Six Word Saturday

Playing for keeps

When the boy-child was at primary school, each year in around the second week of Term Three — maybe the first week in August — marbles started being played at school.

It wasn’t organised or announced. As far as I can tell, it was the most spontaneous, and in some ways the most momentous, event in the school calendar. For the boys anyway.

The craze usually lasted about two weeks before disappearing as suddenly as it came.

But in those two weeks, the boys experienced life intense and sometimes brutal: triumphs, failures, frustrations and anguish; rule-making, rule-breaking; bullying, humiliation and ranking — endless ranking. The marbles were ranked in value; the players even more so.

And always “playing for keeps.” Not just the marbles but the experiences too.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | marble

Halcyon Days


The boy-child with Wham the wonder-dog, Ivinghoe Beacon, 2006. Image: Su Leslie, 2006

The boy-child is nearly 21, and proving to be a capable and resilient adult.

Which is just as well, as life seems to be buffeting him around a bit at the moment.

As a mother, I am incredibly proud of his independence and determination to solve his own problems, but I can’t help longing — just a little — for those days past when his greatest joys were to be had running around in the open air, and his tears could be dried with a hug and an offer of ice-cream. When I felt like I could actually make a difference in his life.


Whamball — a most excellent game involving the throwing and catching of a wonder-dog. Invented on our English holiday in 2006. Image: Su Leslie

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | halcyon

Living in the journey


The last family holiday before the boy-child took wing. The path to Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany, 2015. Image: Su Leslie

“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
– Pat Conroy

Life is full of journeys. Twenty one years ago, the Big T and I had just set out on the longest and most significant voyage of our lives — nurturing the embryo that would become our son. It’s a journey filled with memories that refresh and strengthen as we share new moments together.

Posted to Debbie’s weekly quotation-inspired image challenge at Travel with Intent