Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Catch up, take that and it really works.

1. Some mornings I see Johnny P rolling up the hill in front of me. He's a slow walker, so I can usually catch him up by trotting quickly until I'm within calling distance.

2. The 'poo slinging' going on at Tale of Two Sisters, a take-off of another site. The writer of the other site has threatened to sue The Fabulous Goldsteins for stealing her words and changing them. The Goldstein's friends and the other site's toadies clash in the comments section, with ill-informed legal threats and literary insults. You can read the whole sorry history here.

NB I am siding with TOTS because I really do think the other site is a stuck-up second-rate Sex in the City pastiche, not because I'm jealous of her book deal or anything. I'm sure she worked very hard for it.

3. A cunning pudding device. Morrison's own caramel custards come in little yoghurt pots with scalloped insides. 'Hmm, that's going to be annoying to eat - shame you can't turn them out,' I thought. But what's this tab on the bottom of the pot? It conceals a little hole that by some miracle of vacuums allows the pudding to slide out neatly on to a plate.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

No work, summer fruit and book buying.

1. Waking up on a Monday morning two and a half hours after I would have been at work had it not been August Bank Holiday.

2. Ice cream with whole blackcurrants in it.

3. Finding nearly-new copies of three children's fantasies that I have been wanting to read for ages - The Neverending Story, Shadowmancer and Mortal Engines.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thistledown, leap and accompaniment.

1. Fluffy seeds catching the light as they float off into the blue sky.

2. There is a cat lounging on the lawn, half asleep. A dragonfly goes by and suddenly, the cat is in the air, paws outstretched.

3. Being walked home.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Regular, cobs and warmth.

1. A number of beautiful things happened while I was marketing today: 'You're running a bit late this morning.' 'And I'm going to throw in a free foccacia.' 'Oh don't worry if you haven't got that pound - give it to me next time. You're a regular.'

2. Kentish cob nuts. The shells in their ribbed hoods are still greenish, downy and soft enough to crack with my back teeth. The nut inside is ripe, sweet, juicy and crunchy. I used to love picking them from the overgrown hedge in my parents' garden.

3. A comforting hot water bottle for an aching midriff. I also love the warm patch left behind when you move it round to some other complaining muscle.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Recovery, he slays himself and bitter sweet.

1. I wake up cross and scratchy after a 20-minute nap: Don't want to get up; don't want to get dressed; don't want to go out to dinner. But I do all these things, and by the time I've put on my make-up and filled my bag with the pudding I promised I'd take, I feel ready to glitter.

2. The way Rob tells jokes. Before he's even halfway through, he's having wheezy hysterics at the thought of the punchline.

3. I like rich chocolate things with acid fruit - say, warm chocolate brownie with fresh strawberries.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Green, Nurse Matilda and Charlie.


1. Having fresh herbs to snip over supper, and a homegrown cucumber.

2. When I was very small, we had a series of books about Nurse Matilda. Mrs Covelli read us the first one at school, and I came home demanding the rest. They went down a storm with the whole family - helped along because Edward Ardizzone drew the pictures, and he is The Mother's favouritest illustrator in the whole entire world. Christianna Brand tells about the Brown children, who do things like fill the family's boots with syrup, feed paper to the poodle to try and make him stammer and steal grapes from hospital patients and tread them into wine in a hip bath. There is also a baby with starfish hands and falling-down nappies. One day, a mysterious nanny arrives to look after them. Nurse Matilda is ferociously ugly, with a tooth like a tombstone. When she bangs her big black stick, the children are forced to continue with whatever mischief they are making. Yesterday, I saw a poster for a film called Nanny McPhee, which is based on those books.

3. Rosey, The Mother and I watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was quite, quite magical. I was glad it kept so close to Roald Dahl's text, too. I loved the way it played Willy Wonka as a Peter Pan character - childlike in nice ways, as well as in slighty sinister ways.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Words, shivers and fungus.

1. Oli has written a poem describing how Tunbridge Wells makes him veer between wanting to fall in love and wanting to shoot people. Which is nice. What I like is the number of details he picks out that made me go 'Oh yeah! I noticed that too!', such as the apparent coldness of the army surplus shop. I have put the poem (I would have used the word 'verse' here so as not to repeat 'poem' but Oli got cross yesterday when I called it 'verse'. Given the theme, I'm trying to stay on his good side) up on Tunbridge Wells Tells, my celebration of 400 years of the town.

2. I got caught in the rain again, but I enjoyed warming up under a hot shower.

3. Dried mushrooms because they magically expand when cooked.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Validation, from sun to shade and harvest.

1. I am on a bench in the sunshine, knitting in hand. A couple walks past, and the lady says, with a strong German accent: 'You've picked a lovely spot.'

2. Stepping from a warm patch of sunlight to a cool patch of shade.

3. Picking blackberries in the sunshine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Falling, hot drink and clean linen.

1. I like the way the world changes in the rain. I like seeing water racing down hills and hearing it gurgling in gutters. I like the horizon drawing near, and the hills hiding in the mist. I like the wet road shining, and I like the way the woods smell of earth and mushrooms.

2. I am more than a little damp around the edges from walking home in the rain, so I put on dry clothes and make myself a hot chocolate.

3. Throwing a clean duvet over my bed.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Watering, strange smells and the names of colours.

1. My watering can seems un-necessarily complicated - the water must go into the handle, towards the back of the can, down across the bottom of the can and then out of the spout. I don't fully understand why it needs to do this, but I do like the gurgling noise it makes as you pour.

2. Cooked celeriac smells like the smoke from fireworks.

3. I got ten tubes of acryllic paint. I like the names of colours - cadmium yellow, raw umber, lemon yellow, pure rose, crimson, phthalo green, ochre, cerulean blue.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Jackets off, Mediterranean and way out west.

1. The way a cooked beetroot's skin just slips off.

2. Bread and olive oil.

3. At 7.30pm PaulV turns up wondering if I will accompany him on a job, leaving in five minutes. Since it's at an outdoor concert, and we'll be travelling west on a warm evening with a thrilling sunset, I say yes.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Tipping down, little people and thinking of Anna.

1. It rained and rained and rained. I always wonder at how much water can be held in air; and how it all suddenly falls out when the temperature drops.

2. Learning a little about illustrator Rosie Cecil O'Neil, who created the Kewpies, at Toonpedia. In the divorce proceedings with her second husband, he cited her incessant baby-talk and she cited his taciturn moodiness. And the idea of Kewpies came to her in a dream.

3. Last night, I dreamed about Anna, an old university friend who I haven't seen since graduating. Her photo fell down the other day, so I'm racking my brains to think why I should be remembering her. The photo isn't a particularly flattering one - she's at her desk and in her dressing gown. I love it because despite having her studies interrupted by a camera flash, she has an enormous Anna grin on her face. I can almost hear her sensible, comforting advice, freely doled out in a Wigan accent: 'It'll be better in the morning.' 'Well I've got some paracetamol if you want it.' And her AWFUL jokes... 'You all right, chuck?' 'Yes.' 'No yer not, yer half left!' Got me every time.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Being fed, girls and slightly concerning.

1. Not only did Fenella cook supper for me, she also plied me with caramel shortbread made by Andy's parents. Mmmmm sticky.

2. I like knitting while chatting about comfortable, girly things.

3. As I left, Andy announced that he had finished his computer game, Doom. 'Well done. So everyone's dead now?' 'Only the bad people. I'm like Father Christmas.' Hmmm.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

All change, princesses and warmth.

1. When the key changes in a song.

2. Pictures of princesses by Edmund DuLac in Stories from the Arabian Nights

3. Just before I fall asleep on a hot night I throw my covers off. I wake up chilly a few hours later and pull the cooled covers round myself.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Race that knows Joseph, secret garden and rolling rock.

1. In L. M. Montgomery's Anne books, a character called Miss Cornelia Bryant describes people she likes and who understand her as 'The race that knows Joseph'. I don't know where the phrase comes from - I always imagined it must be from the Bible. A Google search turns up nothing but Anne references.

2. Sitting in a little garden behind high privet hedges talking and drinking wine as the sun goes down.

3. Watching a fat, egg-shaped moon roll over the rooftops.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Foamy, ginger and manners.

1. A new bar of soap.

2. The syrup in a jar of stem ginger. In fact, stem ginger in general. There are not many things I like more than three pieces of stem ginger in a small dish with a little cream. It's very nice straight out of the jar, too.

3. Four skateboarders were practising something complicated on the kerb underneath my window at about 11.30pm. Rrrrr-ollll clatter clatter crash. Rrrrr-ollll clatter clatter crash. 'Would you chaps mind awfully doing that somewhere else? I want to go to sleep now.' 'Of course, no problem.' 'Thank you!' And they were gone before I'd got back up the stairs to my flat.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hot chocolate, all aboard and gardens.

1. I like making hot chocolate that you have to stir and stir. One moment it is the consistency of milk, the next it is thick and nourishing and must be served that second.

2. The sound of a steam train's whistle.

3. Large gardens with secret woodlandy bits and concealed statues and hidden ponds.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Yellow, little doggies and what can that terrible crunching and clatter be?

1. Picking sunflowers from a field and carrying them back to the house over my shoulders.

2. Puppies. They widdle on your skirt, nip your fingers with little pin teeth, fall asleep in your lap and snarl at each other in silly high-pitched voices. You feel a tugging behind you and realise that three of them are fighting over your shirt tail, while another is chewing on your sandle strap. When you try to leave, they all stop what they are doing and look up at you with little button eyes.

3. Last night while I nodded nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of someone gently... no, it was more of a snorting and a huffing and a clattering. A steam roller - a really-o truly-o road roller powered by a coal-smelling, red glowing steam engine - was being escorted up the High Street by a police car.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Tummy fat, apples and thinking of Rich.

1. Men with large tummies playing cricket - or more precisely, looking for their ball in a nettle patch. There was a barbecue back at the pavillion.

2. I like small apples because they disappear in a few crunches.

3. Back in February, my friend Rich died very suddenly and long before his time. I wrote an entry about him. I love the way his friends keep commenting and e-mailing me about him. Each account adds a bit more to the picture.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Meat, apples and gourd.

1. Buying meat from a real butcher because you can ask for 'enough for two' or say that you want the other piece with a bit less fat. And because it doesn't come in those polystyrene and clingfilm coffins that supermarkets use.

2. English apples have appeared in the greengrocers.

3. I like splitting open a marrow because of the cracking noise the rind makes.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Singed bread, hey Mr Postman and needles.

1. The smell of toast.

2. Scrawling 'No longer at this address - return to sender' on some letters addressed to a troublesome neighbour who has moved away.

3. When 'just one more row' of knitting turns into an entire sock heel.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Webs, beans and crimp.

1. The cobwebs all over the lawn between Inner and Outer London Road. They are very thick and about the size of the circle made by a thumb and forefinger. First thing, they are covered in dew and catch the light with tiny rainbow sparkles.

2. Runner beans are my favourite vegetable in the entire world, for their taste and their rough texture. I like them lightly boiled with a little salt and butter. I like eating one or two raw as I prepare them.

3. The curliness of wool when you unravel knitting.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Orange, pudding and wild food.

1. Walking through a dewy garden to pick a bunch of marigolds for my desk at work.

2. When people come round for dinner and bring a tub of icecream.

3. Early blackberries, particularly the one off the end of the bramble. I think they are all the more delicious because you haven't tasted blackberries since last year.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Little zoo, cake and tee hee.

1. We found a cow parsley plant with at least seven different kinds of fly on it. Some of them were yellow and black to imitate bees and wasps, while others were metalic blue and green. There were armies of soldier beetles, too, and black and white chequered ladybirds.

2. Homemade chocolate cake with red jam inside. And meringues that are squishy from being stored in a tin with a cake.

3. Making Rose giggle so much that the mother told us off for making the bed shake.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Toms, sneaking in and flicker.

1. The bag of tomatoes in my veggie box actually smells of tomatoes.

2. Walking through the Bateman's herb garden at 8pm. Herb gardens are particularly scentsome in the twilight and the naughtiness of being in a National Trust property after hours made it all the more exciting.

3. The noise a cinema projector makes. We were watching Vanity Fair in an outdoor cinema.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

All in, blueberries and washed.

1. Katie has made me a new tote bag - it is in a pretty shade of smokey blue trimmed with a wide strip of blue flowery and green ferny curtain material. It is so capacious and strong that it will take two bottles of wine, a change of clothes, a book and my knitting.

2. Oli brought a box of M&S blueberries back from lunch. They were from Norfolk, and labelled with the name of the farm that grew that. Pat on the back for Mr Marks and Mr Spencer for reminding us of where food comes from. Plus they were absolutely delicious - not those bitter little bags of pips that blueberries can be at their worst. These were sweet and plump, begging to be eaten.

3. The smell of clean sheets.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Little blue, crossing and olives.

1. In a desert of sand-coloured August grass a cluster of bright blue harebells smiles at the sky. They are that sort of blue that makes you want to crinkle up your eyes and look away.

2. The path that cuts straight through the Common. When I am halfway down, I like looking back up towards Mount Ephraim Road.

3. A little dish of small black olives.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mmm tasty, watching me watching you and fungus.

1. Three of us had ordered prawn ciabattas for lunch. The barman bought them up from the kitchen and shouted what sounded like 'Three salmonella sandwiches and a brie salad'. We collapsed in giggles.

2. Spotted a goldfinch eating thistle seeds along Mount Ephraim. I stopped, and he stopped and we *watched* one another for a while, until I realised that people passing were watching me. (Photo by Michael Grant)

3. Also on the way home, I ran into Ed. He spotted some white lumpy things under a tree to one side of the path. 'What are those?' I couldn't tell from where we were standing so we yomped into the long grass for a proper look. Their leggy proportions and light shagginess made me think they were parasol mushrooms, but I wasn't sure enough to pick them for supper.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Chocolate, vapours and banged grains.

1. Buying three expensive chocolates from Bean and eating them. One was a syrupy cherry and marzipan in dark chocolate; one was white chocolate with dark chocolate ganache flavoured with cinnamon inside; and the third was a tirmisu truffle - shaggy on the outside with smooth toffee-coloured cream inside.

2. The sun has come out again and the woods smell good after the rain.

3. Making popcorn - I've done it loads of times, but I still can't quite believe, when I tip the hard grains into a hot pan, that they will pop. I love the way the pops speed up and then slow down again, and I love the way one last bang surprises you when you take the lid off the pan.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tears, fly and right all along.

1. A lady on a mobility scooter having her tears mopped up by a stout Chinese man. Not sure if she was laughing, or just having a sad moment.

2. Small child making wild cries as he chases pigeons in the precinct.

3. I'm finally reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Apart from enjoying the ratchetting tension and the new cheeky sixth year Harry, I was right about Harry's love interest from the moment she joined the series.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Games, words and chips.

1. There were unsupervised children everywhere - I saw two little girls walking back from the supermarket, each with a plastic bag full of sweets and comics; and three small boys were charging round the Grove carrying a length of metal pipe between them; and three kids in Calverley Rec had set up a game involving little plastic tiles on one of the paths.

2. Jon's latest comforting saying: 'It's better to be a star on a cloudy night than a teardrop in the rain.'

3. Other people's chips.