Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Love gift, palm and knives.

1. Fenella buying a venus flytrap for her boyfriend Andy.

2. My new coconut palm seedling. It's burst out of its coconut and grown to nearly six feet tall. The leaves are as long as my arm and split down the middle as they grow. I don't know how long it will last - my fears that it will reach 20 feet and incur the wrath of the flat owners' association are probably unfounded.

3. Owning a really good sharp kitchen knife.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Beer, jelly and fennel.

1. Having small bottles of beer in the fridge.

2. My jar and a half of apple jelly. Don't you dare ask how many pounds of crab apples went into them!

3. Roasted vegetables with surprising bits of fennel bulb.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Imaginary coffee, shopping and jelly.

1. The cup of coffee that I would have had for breakfast if I hadn't run out of coffee.

2. Farmers' market time again. There were apples everywhere - I bought worcester pearmains, which are crisp and sharp.

3. Making crab apple jelly. Drops of juice hung on the outside of the jelly bag waiting to fall into the bowl below

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Rain, fish and sports.

1. The sort of rain that is pleasant to walk in because the air is clear and still and cool.

2. Watching fish watching me from inside a large glass globe.

3. I spent the evening at Caroline's. We had supper and drank wine and watched The Olympics, screaming abuse and encouragement at Paula Radcliffe. Because I don't have a TV at home, even adverts seem slightly miraculous, let alone a stadium full of athletes and cheering crowds..

Friday, August 27, 2004

Acquaintances, milestones and drink.

1. Running into two people I know on the way to work.

2. Noticing that I've just passed 100 posts, and that the hit counter was sitting on 999.

3. Going for a swift half after work.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Jam, baking and crumble.

1. Apricot and almond jam at Simply Wild - the organic supermarket.

2. A random whiff of baking coming from one of the flats under the offices next door.

3. Crumble made from blackberries I picked myself on the Common. The berries are very tart and the juice and topping are very sweet.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Adonis, Cos and siblings.

1. The pub down the road is having some work done. Work by two blonde Australian surfer types with shaggy hair, god-like physiques and the smallest shorts possible. I hardly know where to look as I pass.

2. Went to Habitat looking for storage ideas. I wanted a desk kit cupboard for a 16in space. But then I fell in love with this Cos CD rack. It's made of birch plywood and it comes flat and slots together like a building toy. Being grown-up, I made the shop man get his tape measure out. It's exactly 16ins wide. So I bought it and moved my pens and sticky things to the shelf previously occupied by CDs.

3. Getting in trouble with my little sister Rosey (more usually known as Bumface) because I haven't mentioned her in Three Beautiful Things yet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Joinery, carrots and aniseed.

1. I set off for work leaving a flat severely deficient in book space, and came home to a new bathroom bookcase built by my friend Pete. He's a joiner, so they will never fall down or crack. I've got to finish painting them, and I can hardly wait to move my books in. No more crushing and cramming. No more stacking. Yay.

2. Hummus with raw carrots.

3. Aniseed sirop.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Nursery, Romans and pink.

1. On Saturday, Rob gave me some sickly basil plants to nurse. I have had to rearrange the entire flat to give them a decent amount of sun. They seem a little less yellow, I'm sure of it. And there is a definite smell of basil about the place.

2. The Course of Honour by Lindsey Davis. It's a love story set in ancient Rome involving a feisty slave girl - Caenis - and a nobleman who eventually becomes the emperor Vespasian. One moment we're rejoicing in late afternoon liaisons, letters and wine, and the next, Caenis is living alone in a filthy tenement and being harassed by a pasty schoolmaster. Lindsey Davis is hot on the little details make historicals come alive, and she's definitely got a knack for luuuurve that makes your heart beat faster. I've got a weakness for novels about interesting rather than beautiful women who claim in chapter one that they're not interested in romance, but by chapter three have fallen into the arms of an unconventional man. I feel so exploited.

3. Drinking rose wine with Lou and Nicky to celebrate the half moon.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Generous gardener, ummm and talk.

1. Rob took me up to his allotment and a kind lady gave us a bunch of dahlias. She explained that they were rare varieties from the Harrowgate Show. Some were pompons, and some were the big lily variety. There are three colours - deep blood red with gold centre, tinned salmon pink and bright girly pink.

2. Ran into an old... um... friend. His girlfriend asked who I was. Neither of us was sure what to say.

3. Ali, who was at Durham with me, came to stay. We had dinner, went the pub and then we chatted about contented things until we fell sleep.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Hometown, shopping and darkness visible.

1. Standing in the bank at lunchtime with my paycheque I realised I'd forgotten my purse. So I strolled home, picked it up and ambled back to the bank. I kept thinking 'this ought to be cross-making' but it wasn't. The novelty of working near home still hasn't worn off after seven months.
2. I hate supermarket shopping, but this week I've got no choice - I've missed about four farmers' markets in a row because of too much excitement and supplies are running dangerously low. Luckily PaulV swoops out of the sky and carries me off to Sainsbury's. We share two-for-one offers, giggle like fiends at off-colour jokes about sausages and race our trolleys around the carpark. I hope there are always people like PaulV in my life.

3. Having a fridge so full of food that I can't see the light.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Red, other people's friends and whistles.

1. Tomato salad with crunchy sea salt.

2. I bought a second-hand creative visualisation book from Oxfam. It includes some exercises, including Think of a person you especially love or admire. List all their positive qualities. Think about how those qualities mirror you. A previous owner has written: 'Devi - Centred, kind, funny, stimulating, compassionate, fascinating, powerful, successful.'

3. If I hold my penny whistle in a particular way I can feel the air inside it vibrating under my fingertips.

Couture, water and ursa major.

1. Going out wearing a jacket that you are convinced makes you look rather good.

2. Puddles in the road reflecting the night. I'm looking down at the pavement and they make me recall that Oscar Wilde quote - 'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.'
3. Walking home after a rainstorm and seeing the great bear through a gap in the clouds.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Up, falling and cake delivery.

1. Looking up at the sky between tall buildings.

2. Everything went quiet for a moment in the High Street and I could hear the rain.

3. PaulV coming round just before midnight with chocolate cake. We ate it in bed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Old friend, come home and miz-maz.

1. Marie, a uni friend from up north who I haven't seen for nearly two years, phones me out of the blue. We have lunch together.

2. The feeling of relief when my books are returned to me.

3. Lou has asked me for Cretan maze instructions. I find that drawing up a step-by-step page improves my own understanding.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Brekkie, cocktail and confection.

1. Breakfast in a bun at Cropredy School. My egg was runny the way I like it and proceeds went towards the school coffers. Everyone's a winner.

2. Manhattan Sour at Sam's, High Street, Windsor. I think it involved whisky, lemon juice and orgeat sirop.

3. The extraordinary chateau-style Royal Holloway University. It looks like the sort of place that would froth local peasants into a slathering mob, baying for aristrocratic blood.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Boats, banners and bubbles.

1. Narrow boats. The canal was double parked for about a mile in honour of the festival.

2. Flags - people bag their spots in the arena field early in the day and mark them with home-made flags so their friends can find them. I spotted a pair of silver and black boxers, a red tee-shirt, a banner thanking the organisers, some giant sweets, three wobbly seagulls, rainbow whirly things, a jolly roger, flying pigs and wide mouthed fish.

3. Giant bubbles. A stall - which I never found - was selling a cunning device that made bubbles bigger than your head. They floated off in the twilight, reflecting a ring of stage lights.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

World at your feet, tee hee and nightcap.

1. On the M40 going west, there is a long hill with a deep cutting at the top. As we crested this hill, we saw the whole Vale of Oxford laid out before us.

2. Lou explaining how at last year's Cropredy Festival, she tried to sober up her husband Rob with coffee, unaware that it was laced with brandy.

3. Hot chocolate with brandy after an evening standing in a field with 12,000 other people.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Surf's up, mint leaves and chatty.

1. Weblog surfing. Go to www.blogspot.com and scroll down to the bottom of the page. There's a box called Recently updated in the bottom right corner. Take your pick. Some are really funny - teenagers whinging about their parents; mothers swearing about their children. Some are tragic - the newly dumped; the desperately fat. Some are creepy - a sex addict, and a poor chap saying he had asked a girl out eight (EIGHT) times and been turned down. He wondered how many more times he would feel he had to ask her out. I sometimes wonder if these people know that ANYONE can read their logs. Especially the sex addict guy.

2. A jug of sour sugary mint-leafy mojito at Cubana with friends. Cubana is achingly Che-chic. Cocktails for all come the revolution.

3. A learning difficulties lady kept talking to me at Waterloo East. Although she was sweet and shy, normally I would have run away covered in confusion. But tonight, I was the sort of drunk that gently fills you with love for everyone. So we chatted away about the difficulties of catching trains and I helped her on board when it arrived. She asked me to let the guard know she would need help at her station. He was lovely too - 'Short lady? Oh she's a regular. I dunno what she does, just rides up and down all day. We never ask her for her ticket.'

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Go mango wharf, dark clouds and mousie.

1. Dried mango - sweet and chewy and free from fresh mango's dribbliness.

2. Walking home with black clouds piling up in the sky behind me.

3. Origami mouse. This is one of the first models I learnt. This traditional design is simple but it has something essentially mousish about it. I prefer the traditional designs because of this. And being simple, it's easy to do a good job of them. This one is particularly good with thickish paper.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Juice, origami and hairwash.

1. Spanish oj - it tastes properly of oranges - sourness, bitterness and all - which Florida juice does not. Florida juice tastes as if it has been sugared and watered down. The supermarket I use has recently changed hands and now offers both. Plus Spanish juice means fewer food miles. Hurrah.

2. Opening a packet of thick and beautifully patterned origami paper and using it to make a couple of models involving pleasing moves.

3. Washing your hair after a sticky day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Ill, red meat and lost love.

1. Feeling ill at work, going home, having a couple of hours' kip with a hot water bottle. I woke up feeling fine and was able to scoot back for an afternoon's work. I really, really like living so close to the office.

2. As juicy a piece of steak as I've ever had the pleasure of putting on my plate.

3. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro which I read in one sitting and enjoyed hugely. I was intrigued all the way through by the love story and fascinated by the manservant-gentleman relationship. The story-telling technique was masterly, too - Stevens is writing as his journey unfolds, so we really have no idea what is going to happen next in the outer story.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Lost, ocean and lollies.

1. Walking a 20ft maze drawn in the sand.

2. Swimming in the sea on a hot day.

3. Mr Men ice lollies - small, cheap, tasty and free from artificial colourings, they are as welcome today as they were when I was at school.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Going back, bouncing light and pink shoes.

1. Janet Ellis standing in on Excess Baggage. Her chinchillaish voice vortexes me back to teatime television like Jigsaw and Blue Peter.

2. A man sitting in the window of a cafe. Sunlight reflected off his cup of coffee rippled on his face.

3. Finding the perfect pair of shoes on the morning of the day I need them. They match my new undies.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Twenty minutes, plantlife and haircare.

1. Heading back to work after a satisfying lunchtime shopping foray and realising I still have 20 minutes left.

2. The security of knowing my new spider plant (courtesy of Jason) is absorbing harmful radiation from my screen.

3. Laura suggested I might get the shine back in my hair by applying almond oil and leaving it for two hours before washing it out. I spent the early evening looking like a chav and wondering what I would do if it wouldn't wash out. But it shampooed out beautifully and my hair felt softer than it has in ages. So that was all right.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Pink, sparkly and a fight.

1. Going to pay for a set of silk undies the colour of an African sunset and discovering they were £5 cheaper than it said on the label.

2. A parcel from Katie containing two pink hair bobbles. Each has two plastic spheres the size of the large kind of marble full of water and sparkly bits.

3. Being woken by a fight below my window. It involved three belligerent girls, a fat bouncer and the police. There was proper swearing 'Look what he's done to her!' and 'I'm gonna take you to court!' and 'Just go home now!' and 'If you don't move on I'll nick you.' I could even hear the policeman on the radio describing what she saw on CCTV. If only I'd had some popcorn.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Dog, return and travel.

1. Saying goodbye to Sprite and realising that I was going to miss her.

2. Coming home to my little flat after a week away and taking a shower after a week of washing my hair in a bath.

3. When buses come on time.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

No more snot, little birds and essential oils.

1. Waking up and realising that I am starting not to have a cold any more.

2. Sparrows in a hedge.

3. The smell of cupressus on a still, hot day.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Amble, little drops of water and shop talk.

1. Sprite is rather lame and has to investigate every interesting smell on her morning walk. I have to walk at a quarter of my normal pace, which is less frustrating than I thought it would be.
2. A few drops of rain falling after a long hot day.

3. Talking novels with Peter, a writer my own age.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Lucky find, pride and dust.

1. Early in the morning while walking Sprite on the on the scrubby almost-park at the back of the house I saw a boy and a girl from the council estate over the valley. They walked hand in hand along the top of the bank, and then the girl said: 'There it is!' She slid down the bank on her bum and picked something up out of the grass.

2. Explaining the train announcement ticker to two nervous Japanese tourists and feeling oddly proud. The trains may be late, but at least we know by how many minutes, damn it.

3. Sandy dust under bare feet.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Green and scarlet, a kip and little pigs.

1. Rowan berries. Mountain ash trees are a-flame here. The berries are bright, bright scarlet and the leaves are a dusty jade. I love them because they are so bold and so intensely colourful at a time of year when so many things look a bit faded and and crispy and mildewy. They are also rather sad because they mean autumn is on the way.

2. Falling asleep in the shade over a book.

3. The squeaky noises that guinea pigs make.