Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Clouds, plans and ownership.

1. Mackerel sky.

2. Having plans for the weekend.

3. A naughty thrush swaggering about as if he owns the street corner.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

After dinner, coneys and lime blossom.

1. Coming out into cool evening air from a flat full of cooking

2. The orange fur on the back of a rabbit's neck.

3. The smell of lime trees in bloom. The scent appears and disappears from pace to pace. At first, I thought I must have imagined it.

Owing to popular demand, I would like to make special mention of the new picture in Fenella's hallway. A gift from her gentleman friend, Andrew, it shows four strawberries tastefully arranged in the form of affectionate dogs.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Social whirl, sunny afternoon and all ready.

1. At 9.30am I got a call from Fenella inquiring about lunch. At 10.30am I got a call from Rob wondering if I wanted breakfast at the cafe in Calverley Rec. At 1pm I got a call from Caroline asking about tea in the park. And when I finally got a moment to myself at 8pm, Cat called from Germany wanting to know if now was a good time to chat. I did them all, and didn't feel in the slightest bit guilty about not spending the day writing.

2. Long, warm afternoons lying on a rug in the Grove with a bottle of wine.

3. Getting into bed on Sunday night. I look around the flat, which is tidy and as clean as it ever is and feel ready to face the week ahead.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Light reading, slow road and walkingstick.

1. Reading A Hatful of Sky by Terry Pratchett and enjoying it hugely. It's about a young girl learning to be a witch. He is quite hard on the occult jewellery brigade. I have been reading his books since I was 13, and I love the way he has improved. I reckon one or two of his books will turn out to be classics.

2. I walked to Linda's along Pembury Road. This is one of the main roads out of Tunbridge Wells and normally when I travel it, I'm being driven. Because I was walking, I noticed all sorts of things - a house called 'The Walled Garden' and a couple of artists' houses with 'open studio' signs. I decided that I would investigate these as soon as possible.

3. Andy made me a staff. The storms this week blew down half a white maple in his front garden, and he said that one of the branches was just my size. It's very plain - marked with a sign for fire, and OGMA and BRIDGET written in ogham script. The pale wood seems to glow at dusk. Andy said that he worked on in the rain and under the moon. He thought that when I got stuck with writing, I could take it for a walk. I don't normally do accoutrements, but I was so touched by this gift - and by the other presents he, Laura and Tally gave me. There was a diary by Shakti Gawain that will help me improve my intuition, and a portable incense kit - a tiny burner and some short incense sticks.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

More sunflowers, potatoes to die for and a little bit of love.

1. I walked into work a different way so I could pick up some breakfast. It meant I could walk in the sunshine, and I noticed another sunflower relief - this time high up on Hooper's, the department store at the top of the high street.

2. The Rose and Crown is an old man's pub. They do a special lunch for £3.95(!) Mine included what was described as 'mash' and turned out to be new potatoes slightly crushed and still in their skins with spring onions and olive oil. I didn't want the plate to end.

3. Estelle explained how she deals with aggressive drivers. She blows kisses at them. It helps that she's got a bit of a Marilyn Munroe thing going.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Architecture, sky and tea for three.

1. I noticed a brickwork relief of sunflowers on the first floor of a furniture shop down the road. I pass it almost every day but I'd never spotted it before.

2. A skyful of fluffy white clouds. I wonder why it's such a satisfying sight?

3. Joyce and her daughter Amy dropped by for a cup of tea at half past eight. I love living in a flat that people are always 'just passing'.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Consider the lilies, clatter bones and camping.

1. The yellow lilies in my bouquet are starting to open. There are still some closed, so I expect they will keep appearing for days.

2. Learning a yoga stretch that makes my spine click much more efficiently than the one I've been doing.

3. Gossiping with Paul V about his Glastonbury plans. I am almost as excited as he is - and I don't have to worry about the rain and the mud.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Roses, flowers and drinking stars.

1. My mother brought round a few roses from the garden yesterday. They are 'Gertrude Jekyll' - soft but solid pink and very full of petals. Their smell was the first thing I noticed when I woke up.

2. Work gave me an enormous bunch of yellow flowers - a proper bouquet wrapped in tissue and cellophane and ribbons. I don't think I've ever had one before! And Ed made me a special card for everyone to sign.

3. There was half a bottle of champagne left after Sunday, so I had a glass when I got in from work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Midsummer, nice cup of tea and home comforts.

1. Watching the sun comes up on the longest day.

2. A hot mug of tea after a night out under the stars.

3. My bed after a night camping on the beach.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Timing, toad, patience and a rainbow.

1. We walked through the woods to lunch at The High Rocks. As we arrived, the first few drops of rain fell. It quickly turned into a proper downpour, which lasted until they brought our coffee. After lunch, we walked back to town through sparkly clean woods.

2. Over lunch I complained that I had never seen a toad in my life. As we walked back through the woods, a big, fat warty one in mackingtosh fawn and chocolate brown spots crawled across our path.

3. Jay drove a gang of us down to Cuckmere Haven for a night's camping. Jon, who organised it all, is one of the worst backseat drivers I have ever met - mainly, I think, because he was in a seriously destructive accident several years ago. Jay, who passed his test not long ago, was superhumanly patient with Jon's commentary.

4. As it was my birthday, you get a bonus beautiful thing - the rainbow that followed us out of town.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Cleaning, freakshow and the benefits of adulthood.

1. I cleaned my kitchen floor. It is a different colour and there are no longer fluffs the size of your fist under the computer.

2. The accountant at the Duke of York who whipped out his hem-hem to show off the 16 piercings to three slack-jawed friends.

3. Learning the words to the last two verses of Seven Drunken Nights.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Florals, mystery and golden flowers.

1. Two more parcels: one smells of flowery bath things and came from Aunty Biddy and co.

2. The other was a bit of a mystery. In the end, I tore off the cardboard, assuming there would be a parcel inside. There wasn't - but what was in there was nearly as nice. It was a disc with a submission for the next writers' newsletter - which means I don't have to write it all myself - and a book. Raymond Nickford has been reading his intensly spooky psychological novel Mister Kreasey's Demon at the writers' group I go to. Reading out loud to other writers helps the editing process in nit-picky ways. But now his book is published - how exciting is that? There was also a kind note in which he described my writing as 'bubbly' and 'Wodehousian'.

3. Bright yellow ragwort growing on the edge of the common.

Friday, June 18, 2004

A handbag, more post and finally filling the fridge.

1. I finally bought myself a new handbag. The old one is lovely - it's black with a picture of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman about to kiss - but I've been fretting for a few weeks that it's a bit wintery, plus it's one you carry in your hand, and I don't think it's doing much for my posture. So this new satchel, which is made of soft sandy corduroy and stiff red-brown leather, is thrice welcomed. I can carry it on my shoulder. It lovely to touch. And it's always pleasing to take everything out of any old handbag and put them into a new one.

2. Two parcels - one from Rosey and one mystery one from Amazon. I don't think I ordered anything, though it's not impossible. But anyway, I'm waiting for my birthday before I open it.

3. I've been a little lazy about food recently, living off packets of noodles and bread and cheese. I went shopping properly, even planning my meals for the next few days, and filled the fridge with fresh food.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Fish out of water, little birdies and ouch.

1. A gi-normous, and I do mean gi-normous - it's about the size of my head - dried spikey pufferfish that I see through a basement window I pass on my way to work. It's sitting on a plate on someone's dining room table.

2. A thrush - they're the ones with the speckly breasts - hopping around on the grass with a beakful of something wriggly.

3. Putting my trousers back on after having my legs waxed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Mmmm, growing things and a forgotten treasure.

1. Eating an icecream while walking slowly back to the office after lunch.

2. The smell of bracken.

3. Finding a Thornton's chocolate bar at the back of my cupboard.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Park life, secret package and my notebook.

1. Sitting in the park on a warm evening after work enjoying a bit of quality time with my notebook.

2. Getting an exciting birthday present parcel from my American friend Rich.

3. My notebook - it has a Jordi Labanda illustration on the front. It's spiral bound so I can fold it back on itself, and the paper is punched so if I felt like it, I could tear pages out and file them. It also has a cunning tear strip down the side so you can rip off the scruffy spiral binding holes.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Hands and knees, perfect day and looking up from below.

1. Spending the morning working on Rob and Lou's allotment. Rob and I weeded a row of carrots and cleared a new area of what's going to be the herb garden. I'd forgotten how much I love grovelling around in the mud.

2. The sky was blue, the sun was hot and the air was clear. But we've had so many fine days that I didn't even think to comment on it and spent most of the day asleep. I love the idea that we have had so many perfect days that I feel able to squander them.

3. Lying on your back and looking up into the branches of an oak tree.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Witchcraft, food and burning logs.

1. Re-reading Diana Wynne Jones' Witch Week. Her books are properly crafted, and this one always makes me feel so happy that I don't ever have to go to school again.

2. Going to the farmers' market and not feeling suspicious and vaguely guilty about the origins what I bought.

3. The smell of pine burning.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Possibly a dream, undies and outerwear.

1. I was woken after midnight by music. 'Bloody Dav's' (the 'nightclub' two doors down from me.' But it was drumming and a sax, which isn't like Dav's at all. So I looked out of the window, and there in the street were two people - one drumming and one playing the sax. As I watch, a Dav's bouncer comes out and tells them to bugger off. This is where it gets strange. They rode off up the High Street - I *swear* I wasn't dreaming - on a musical bicycle. It was a tandem with a cart arrangement at the back for a drum, and a special device on the handlebars to hold a sax.

2. Silk knickers. They look good, they feel good and I'm wearing them for no-one but myself.

3. Going to work without a jumper or a jacket - it's warm enough and the sun is not so bright that I need to cover up.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Stroll in the park, I'll eat what I like and a shaming addiction.

1. Walking back across the park at 8pm and seeing fathers playing with their kids on the swings.

2. Not sitting down to a proper supper. I ate cold new potatoes in olive oil and salt and pepper while my tiny lamb chop grilled. Then I gnawed on the chop, dipping it in tomato sauce on a side plate.

3. My name's Clare, and I can't stop playing stupid games on Fenella's boyfriend's Nintendo 64. I've been working on Zelda: Ocarina of Time for about six weeks now, and I'm still only halfway through. It's vast and and it's beautiful. It's just difficult enough to be challenging, but easy enough that I don't get stuck and cross. The environment is incredibly detailed - it's a pleasure just to wander round Hyrule enjoying the scenery. I was very distressed when I woke from seven years' sleep in the Temple of Time to discover that the evil Ganondorf had trashed the place.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

In demand, cheeky pint and cheating housewife.

1. Two different friends called to invite me out for a drink. I had to say no because I was having dinner with a third.

2. A pint of bitter in pub garden on a warm evening after work.

3. Vanilla pods burnt as incense making my flat smell safe and homey - as if I've been baking.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Missives, leaves and three vases.

1. Getting a sweet email from James in Australia. He has moved out there to get married, and I'm saving up all my days off so I can go down to the wedding. He hopes that my disasterous lovelife will clear 'all obstacles for marriage to an aussie heartthrob with no physical flaws, allowing for your stay in aus to extend into the unknown future and keep me company.'

2. The wind turning the leaves on the lime trees so they flickered glossy dark green and chalky pale green.

3. The hall where my writer's circle meets is a place that makes you feel very small and unloved. We rattle around rather, and the severe acoustics are hard on any attempts at merriment. This week, however, one of the other groups that uses it had left three vases of flowers. One contained an unbelievable blowsey peony - shocking pink with egg-yolk-yellow stamens. We put them out on the tables and for an evening, the hall seemed more welcoming. Perhaps next time we'll bring our own flowers.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Speedwell, under the greenwood trees and out of the sun.

1. Bright blue speedwell growing in rank grass.

2. Strolling through the woods on The Common when it's hot.

3. Coming off the blindingly hot street into the windowless hall of my block. It's got a sort of dry, cellarish coolness.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Reasons to love a hangover, little conkers and twin Peakes.

1. A friend texted asking how I was. 'Hungover'. He replied that he quite liked being hungover at times. Which made me think of all the reasons why I like being hungover. An excuse to stay in bed and avoid painting the bathroom. An excuse to lie in the park and let the sun warm my aching hangover bones.

2. Seeing tiny conker bobbles on horse chestnut trees.

3. Paul V, who doesn't do books, spending ages in my bathroom because he found a book of Mervyn Peake's sketches and poetry. Paul V is a bit addicted to Gormenghast, which is a bit of a puzzle as it can seem impenetrable. I think it's best just to shut up and read, and I am thrilled that Paul has caught this. It's so exciting when people love the same books as me.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Men of letters, artificial additives and a well-placed invitation.

Essays on France.
Posted by Hello 1. Julian Barnes mentioning that Kinglsey Amis ('with pop-eyed truculence') once said of him: 'I wish he'd shut up about Flaubert. (Preface, Something to Declare)

2. A fairy cake with thick icing the colour of early sunset clouds and a pink and yellow dolly mixture on top. It was yummy.

3. Feeling a bit mopish and then getting a text asking if I felt like going round to Caroline's to christen her new flat with wine and chinese.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Passion, vodka and musical thrills.

This is set in my old university city.
Posted by Hello
1. Disappearing into a book so that hours passed and I didn't notice. It was The Benefits of Passion by Catherine Fox. It's about a woman who finds love despite being a sexually repressed trainee vicar. She's writing an erotic novel about seducing trainee vicars.

2. My new favourite drink - a variation on Moscow Mule. Put a finger of ginger cordial in a highball glass. Add rather more than a finger of vodka. Chuck in ice and a bit of lemon. Top up with water. It's very refreshing in sticky, still weather.

3. Surprises in my record collection. On rainy days I buy them ten at a time from charity shops, getting all excited about discovering tracks that I really want. Then it takes ages to get round to listening to them. Because of this, I hardly know what I've got, so every time I go through the pile, I get the thrills all over again.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Stingers, ice cream and noodles.

1. The smell of stinging nettles.

2. Ice cream and chocolate sauce.

3. Waking up ravenous at midnight and lying there thinking I had no food in the house; then I remembered a packet of noodles in the back of the cupboard. So I cooked and ate them. It was one of those moments that make me glad to be single.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Flashback, fancy seeing you, what a picture.

1. Wandering into a bookshop I picked up a Tintin book. It made me remember looking at a copy of The Calculus Affair before I could read - trying to pick out the story from the pictures, and loving the brightness of the colours.

2. Randomly running into a friend who has just come back from university - this time for good. We agreed to meet for lunch the next day.

3. Passing a house covered in painted flowers.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Summer rain, something to eat and a plate of cake.

1. It rained nearly all day. It wasn't the violent stormy tipping-it-down rain we've been having. More a gentle drizzle that I imagined must be doing the world good. It is the sort of rain that we love to describe as 'miserable weather' but secretly take pleasure in.

2. Katie and Paul V came round to dinner, which I enjoyed cooking and eating. We had stir fry made with prawns, peppers, baby sweetcorn, snap peas, noodles, onions, spring onions, ginger, lemon and garlic. Afterwards, we sat around gossiping and giggling.

3. Warm golden syrup cake with vanilla ice cream eaten off my grandmother's desert plates.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Sound engineering, blue & green and a weather phenomenon.

1. Finding a sweet spot in the park that was just far enough away from the play area that the kids' voices and the squeak-crash of the see-saw did not distract me, but made a good background.

2. Horse chestnut leaves against a mid-day sky at the end of May. There is nothing so green and blue.

3. There was a mysterious rainbow disc in a high cloud over the park. I've only ever seen one before from an aeroplane.