About Lizzie

Hello, I'm Lizzie. Thanks for visiting! I write about my life in the hopes that my experiences will resonate with you. I'd love to hear from you, so please do comment or drop me a line!

Comma, full stop.

I'm sitting in a clearing, in the woods at the top of the hill. Other than a flash of white or grey among the branches, I can’t see the birds, but I can certainly hear them. Birdsong forms an arc around me. There is no breeze, and it is unseasonably warm. An almost balmy day in mid-November. What a treat! Albeit a guilty one: it’s not okay for it to be this warm on the cusp of winter. As a human with utility bills to pay, my perspective is tinged with relief at being able to delay putting the central heating on. It’s becoming a cliché to talk about that, isn’t it? I'm so fortunate to not have to choose between heating and eating. But still, most of us must tighten our purse strings. These are such difficult times. As I picked my way along the meandering path to the clearing, an insect bumped right into my cheek. I imagine it was startled to encounter a face on its flight path. Not many people walk this way, although there are [...]

By |2022-12-02T15:26:20+00:00November 28, 2022|Comfort reads|4 Comments

Swimming

Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash When my physiotherapist first suggested that swimming would be the best exercise for me, I shrugged, and sighed. “Yeah, I know, but I really hate swimming.” At that point, I wasn’t desperate enough to submit to all the attendant unpleasantness: the cold shudder as buttocks meet water when you get into the pool, strangers’ hairs crawling over slimy tiles in the showers, the baffling ineffectualness of towels in a changing room environment, leaving your skin so sticky that you have to crowbar yourself back into your jeans… Some months down the line, however, I was feeling so sludgy and lacklustre from lack of exercise that swimming seemed like… not the worst idea. Particularly when a dear friend offered to go with me one day a week. After one session, I was hooked. Now, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, shortly after 8am, you will find me at the Splash leisure centre. I saunter in with the air of entitlement that befits a direct debit-paying member, nonchalantly swipe my card through the turnstile, drop [...]

By |2022-12-02T15:25:51+00:00October 19, 2022|Comfort reads|6 Comments

In stillness

I’ve kept the birthday card you chose for me, Mum. I might even frame it. The dog’s expression is so funny, as if he’s just raised his head from a good session licking something unsavoury. Ready for the next, inevitably fabulous turn of events. I was pleasantly surprised that you’d managed to pick it out for me. Sorry - that sounds patronising. What I mean is, it’s the perfect card, the sort of card you might always have chosen. Actually, that’s not quite true… It is better than your choices of recent years, plump teddy bears proffering armfuls of flowers dedicated “To a special daughter, with lots of love.” Dad said the scruffy dog made you chuckle when you spotted it on the rack at the garden centre. I laughed out loud when I opened it. Your eyes widened in delight. I took that as a sign that you are still here. There. Still Mum. On occasion, you do sound quite like your old self when you speak. Certain turns of phrase that startle me with their briskness, their spick-and-span [...]

By |2022-11-30T09:31:58+00:00September 26, 2022|Talking to Mum|8 Comments

The bearable lightness of being

I am sitting in my living room, on a hot August day, with the window wide open to let in the morning air before the heat becomes chewy and oppressive. Stretched out on her side at my feet, my dog is softly snoring. Every minute or two, somebody walks past, and I catch snippets of conversation, or simply observe their gait. There goes a muscular young man in a tight gym vest, singing to himself, loose-limbed, swaggering with a barely-contained energy that could erupt into dance at any moment. Here comes a rangy, shirted office worker, shoulders hunched, head down, propelling himself forward with jerky, angular movements. At least, I assume he is heading off to work, with his laptop-sized backpack. There's the occasional grumble of an engine, the clanging of a manhole cover as the wheels pass over. I revel in the gentle, tepid breeze on my face and arms. Flinch at the harsh rasp of a moped. Bella snores through it all. A wood pigeon calls from the top of a chimney. The song of other birds filters [...]

By |2022-12-02T15:27:06+00:00August 12, 2022|Comfort reads|10 Comments

Grandma’s bowl

  Grandma’s bowl is a deep, rosy pink. Exuberant yellow, mauve, and blue crocus flowers adorn the rim and the hollow. On its bottom is the maker’s stamp, Maling, Newcastle on Tyne - which means nothing to me. What captivates me about Grandma’s bowl is its opaline lustre. Its surface is alive with reflected light. And memories. It was by far the prettiest object in my grandparents’ rather spartan, sepia-toned living room, where its colours were jarring against the palette of brown, beige, and nicotine stains. Grandma used to keep her keys and bits and bobs in it, along with the odd humbug. In the same way as the scent of Pear’s soap, Grandma’s bowl conjures up not her ghost, but her flesh-on-bones presence; if I gaze into it, I can give myself over to believing that all four-feet-ten-inches of her are standing right there beside me. Grandma… Why do the words dart away from me like speckled, cunning fish when I try to describe her? How could I have spent so much time in her company - getting under [...]

By |2022-12-02T15:27:31+00:00May 24, 2022|Comfort reads|4 Comments

A dog walk

Ah… Ginger pom-pom dog approaching, we’d better wait here where the pavement’s wide. Bella, it’s very rude to lick your lips like that, it’s not a snack. Leave… Leave … Good girl. A young couple up ahead, very young, pausing, looking at the view. Young love. Will they still be together in thirty years? Three weeks? The girl, woman, casts her eyes downwards as we pass. She doesn’t look unhappy, just not happy either, as if I’ve caught her midway through a small agony of indecision. Glasses. Pale skin. Long, mousey hair and long, mousey skirt. The boy, man, has dark straggly hair, his faded jeans sit low and loose. They draw closer together, almost imperceptibly, as we pass. Claiming the space between them. The breeze lifts my unbuttoned coat as we round the corner, cools my face, feels nice in my hair. Beyond the rooftops, in the slanting fields, a solitary cherry tree foams white against green. Such bravado. At once vulnerable and defiant. A Range Rover growls by, making me flinch. Smoked windows, bodywork glinting oil-black. The shadow [...]

By |2022-12-02T15:28:03+00:00April 26, 2022|Comfort reads|8 Comments

Polzeath

year after year I have stood here hip-deep in churning water shoulders hunched against the wind shivering, scrutinizing, flinching from the ocean’s cold fist too fearful of submersion to join in my eyes are trained on you, and you alone out there in Neptune’s fairground where the sun makes mischief casting stars onto briny day board poised to mount the next foaming wave your body is a mirage of mercury and saltwater hungry for the wild alchemy of flightless bodies made winged I watch you plunging back, further back long-limbed and laughing so liquid with rapture that you are almost one with the moon-bridled tide windmilling my arms for warmth fleshy sand mouthing my bone-white feet I take deep, brackish breaths and wonder what strange creatures inhabit the heavy silence beneath this bellowing throat and not all of them benign ride each wave, my boy boldly, triumphantly joyously to the shore… the ocean is vast, glorious, terrifying, thrilling brutal - out there, far from the beach when you rise up for air I will be standing here would that it [...]

By |2022-04-07T14:11:44+00:00April 7, 2022|Poems|2 Comments

Joris en de Draak

“Well, they’re going to have to inject me with enough sedative to knock out a rhino. There’s no way I’ll get in that scanner otherwise.” “It won’t be any different to the tunnel on that ride in Holland…” “What? You mean that godawful rollercoaster? There was no tunnel on that!” “Of course there was! We were in it when the photo was taken!” “Well, how would I know?! I had my eyes shut!” Actually, I had my eyes shut for the entire ride. It was, categorically, the most ghastly experience of my life. Apart from that time when, with two small children in my charge, I was suspended above the French Alps in a halted, solitary cable car, screeching ‘Aidez-nous!!’ at the tree canopy… Or that time in the tatty hotel in Ibiza when we got trapped in a tiny lift, with a sizeable German family and a finite oxygen supply… Or, indeed, that time I got vertigo after climbing to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral with my Dad and, having flattened myself like a starfish against the domed [...]

By |2022-12-02T15:28:45+00:00March 19, 2022|Comfort reads|2 Comments

Sempervivum

It’s been nearly three weeks since I posted any writing to the blog. I have been working on a piece but, as if dragging a sack of gravel, I’m struggling to get it over the finish line. Ironic, as the subject is quite light! Like the writing, today each of my extremities feels at once heavy and light. My son is off school with a second dose of covid in three months. Since the first bout, in November, he has been easy prey for every passing pathogen. Understandably, he is feeling fed up, as he coughs, splutters, and sneezes, launching spike proteins at me and the dog, who is spending her days concertinaed on the sofa beside him. She must now be a four-legged, pot-bellied petri dish. Although my latest lateral flow test assures me otherwise, I am pretty certain I have caught covid too, as I have symptoms that mirror my son’s, and transferring the laundry from washing machine to tumble dryer just now has left me feeling like one of those wobble-necked felted dogs that used to nod [...]

By |2022-03-04T11:49:33+00:00March 1, 2022|Comfort reads|4 Comments

A dream

Hello, Mum, how are you? Did you go to see the swans in Worcester yesterday? Yes, it’s lovely to see you too. I’m OK. Busy. Oh, Sean’s doing fine, moans about school though he’s enjoying it really. Dad says you’ve been helping him with the jigsaw puzzle. The rain looks pretty set in, doesn't it? Shall I make you a coffee before I start work? By the way, Mum… I had a strange dream the other night. Dad and I were living in a house next door to very rowdy neighbours, who argued and played loud music all day long. It was summer, their garden was daubed with cheap, gaudy plastic, my thoughts all had jagged edges and my nerves wanted to crawl right out of my body. I couldn’t stand it any longer, I had to get away from them. I ran off, and found myself on a steeply slanting lane, scabby with moss. The surface was slippery, the lane so narrow that I would be clipped by any passing car. My fingers, my arms, the nape of my neck [...]

By |2022-11-30T09:32:33+00:00February 10, 2022|Talking to Mum|6 Comments
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