Friday, September 30, 2005
2. Sitting in Ben and Jerry's icecream parlour eating huge banana splits while the rain throws down outside. We felt very English.
3. The scene in When Harry Met Sally where she orders the apple pie. I like it because it is an intrinsically funny speech and it is a neat and simple way of telling you all about her.
PS: If you're ever in Wolfeboro, I can't say enough good things about Tuc Me Inn -- The innkeepers made us feel right at home and did wonderful things with maple syrup for breakfast.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
2. The bronze frogs on the Frog Pond.
3. Our tyre is more than a bit flat and with an unfamiliar car, Katie feels a bit helpless. But the mechanic in Wolfboro kindly puts more air into it.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
2. A public loo in Newport with a jungle painted on the walls.
3. The restaurant where we have lunch is short staffed, so a pretty barman with an astonishing gravelly voice serves us.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
1. We met Rich's parents, Lucille and Fred, and you could see where he gets his kindness and generosity from. They welcomed us like long-lost friends, and I loved being 'The girls' right from the start. Later, we set out in Lucille's vast and beautiful 1980s Cadillac ('I'm the original little old lady who you want to buy a car from.' We went to the graveyard so we could salute Rich and give him some flowers. His stone is artful -- simple but full of meaning for anyone who knows how he gave Lucille gardenias, that he achieved Scouting honours and that he loved books.
1a. Driving towards the end of Long Island, we stopped at a Starbucks where the barista asked 'Are you on holiday?' I said: 'Yes.' Seems this was the right answer, because it got me a free coffee! 'He's probably used to dealing with some very rude and demanding people,' commented Bob.
2. 'Switch on your radio at 3.30,' said Bob. 'It's a good show.' And they played a special song for Clare and Katie driving through Long Island: Gilbert O'Sullivan's Clare. I never realised there was a song for my name -- and it's even spelt right.
2a. Visiting Pindar Vineyards Winery. When Rich visited us, he brought over some bottles of really quite nice wine and a big packet of bottle labels, which I used to decorate a little chest of drawers in my bathroom. We saw the original paintings used to make the labels, and tasted (and bought) some wine.
2b. Watching a storm blowing in towards Orient Point while we waited for the ferry. The wind whipped our hair and battered at our coats. After hot New York the sea air was a blast.
2c. Horseshoe crab shells. I've never seen these before except in pictures and I couldn't believe they were big enough to use as helmets.
3. On the other side of the ferry was our first solo US driving -- Katie's first solo US driving, I mean -- and we were both very scared. So arriving safely at the motel in Mystic was a great relief.
3a. I hadn't expected to hear so many whirring churring croaking things -- I like these noises because they make it feel as if you are properly on holiday.
Monday, September 26, 2005
1. We didn't have long in Central Park, so we picked and choosed -- the statues of Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen. Children were climbing all over Alice, and she seemed to have been designed with them in mind, because there were cunning footholds in the bronze. Hans Christian Andersen's ugly duckling was rubbed shiny.
2. We saw some Mennonite-type people preaching fire and brimstone in a park. The women all wore little muslim caps, and the men wore high trouser and braces. Later, I saw a little huddle of them standing in the middle of Times Square gawping at the lights.
3. During supper, I remembered that I hadn't seen any Andy Warhol sights. 'Oh we can go see where the Factory was,' said Bob. 'It's only a couple of blocks from here.' So we did. There's a Petco there now.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
1. They served pineapple for breakfast in the hotel, and it was like dream pineapple. Instead of veering between scalding acidity, fermented sloppiness and fiberous chewiness like certain English pineapples, it was sweet and tender and tasted of... pineapple.
2. An enormous wisteria growing over three fire escapes in Greenwich Village.
3. The parks all had dog enclosures. They seem to be pretty much the only place that dogs can run wild and free in New York. The owners sit around watching as the dogs frollick merrily -- while following to the letter the long list of rules -- and it looks like a good way to meet people.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
2. I always think you know your holiday has begun when you climb off a plane and find the air is much hotter than at home.
3. Rich's friend Bob picked us up at the airport. We loaded into a pale gold Chevrolet. 'This is Rich's car. His parents gave it to me since I spent so much time in it.' Rich had often mentioned his car, and we knew he was tremendously proud of it, so it was a good link -- if he couldn't be here to meet us, at least his wheels were.
Friday, September 23, 2005
2. Seeing an old school friend again after about six years. His choirboy voice has roughened and deepened and he has picked up a really cute posh end of London accent from somewhere.
3. Beautiful chunky sweater men running along beaches in Katie's knitting pattern books.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
2. Bean -- our favourite chocolate shop -- where you can slurp on milkshakes and frozen yoghurt. But it's upstairs, so people who don't climb can't get to it. When I went in for my chocolates, a man in a wheelchair was sitting in the shop downstairs enjoying a little cup of icecream and making faces at a baby parked next to him in a buggy.
3. The packed and luggage-labelled bag at the end of my bed.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
2. Our designer works from Capetown, so I haven't met her yet. She has come to England for a holiday, so we took her out to dinner in London. It's good to finally put a face to the e-mails.
3. We went out to Trafalgar Square to see the sculpture on the Fourth Plinth. It's made of white stone and it's called Alison Lapper Pregnant. Alison Lapper is an artist who was born with no arms and very small legs. The statue really does challenge ideas of what ought to be put on plinths in the middle of Trafalgar Square. Heavily pregnant disabled women aren't your usual subject, so this statue has really thumbed its nose at the parade of dead war heroes on horses.
And a guest contributor Douglas Findlay adds his own Beautiful Thing: 'When you're in the bath and you put your head underwater and move it from side to side so water goes in your ears.'
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
2. Memory sticks. Pop them in the USB port, move the files over, and you are ready to go. Wow. How do they get so much on to that little chip?
3. I love reading back my shorthand. I spent nearly a year learning it back in the late 1990s, and though I rarely get to exercise it, it is so useful when I need it. Sometimes a word can puzzle me, but I usually get there in the end. You have to note down the letters you have, and look at the context, and after a bit the answer leaps out.
Monday, September 19, 2005
2. I love the fat off a piece of cold roast lamb. After two days in the fridge, it has absorbed the flavours of garlic and rosemary.
3. Seeing conker shells on the trees. They are just about ready to burst -- any day now, I reckon. It's sad, too, because it means Autumn is on the way.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
2. Discovering a little romance is budding among my friends.
3. A garden full of candles and mirrors and chiming things.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
2. An elderly couple -- he pushing she in a wheelchair -- walking down the Common with their huge and fluffy dog.
3. Cooking for people who encourage you to make experimental puddings. Fenella and I -- supervised by Andy -- made rhubarb topped with a fluffy cloud of meringue.
Friday, September 16, 2005
2. When you cover jam pots with a circle of cellophane and an elastic band, it's impossible to get them smooth. But if you wet the cellophane, it miraculously tightens up to a drum-like tautness. How does it work? Anyone know?
3. When checking corrections on a manuscript, I like it when there is a big wodge of pages with no marks. It's very satisfying to see the 'done' pile growing quickly.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
2. I made mashed potato. But not any old mashed potato. Because I'm cooking for one, all sorts of things go in the pot to save washing-up. Last night, it was: one potato, a chunk of swede and a clove of garlic, with a leeks and some little pieces of chilli in a steamer above. When they were boiled I added milk, butter, pepper and salt and mashed it all up. Then the leeks and chilli went in, with a bit of parsley.
3. In this Year to Success programme, they tell you the secret of memorising numbers. See, you associate each digit with consonant sound and then you can make words -- or strings of words out of a long number -- which are easy to remember.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
2. Plums for lunch. They are the green sort, and they are sweet and squishy.
3. Discovering that Whittard's red fruit tea is refreshing, pink and doesn't make my mouth hurt.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
2. Every bench up on the Common near Wellington Rocks had someone sitting on it, waiting, or watching the world go by.
3. As I come off the Common, I see a man on the traffic island with tennis balls falling out of his bag. About dozen go rolling and bouncing across the road and the traffic stops while he gathers them up again.
Monday, September 12, 2005
2. The magic of my scanner. You can put three photos on the plate, and understanding this without being told, it scans three separate files. And it squares them off, too.
3. Cropping photos, either with a scalpel or in Photoshop. I love the way it improves the picture; and it makes you notice what's in the photograph - a wheelie bin, some pillars, a distracting headless passer-by in the background, a blurred bottle in the foreground. Next time I have my camera out, I will frame my shots better.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
2. The moment when a headline falls into place. The process goes like this: Heading heading heading head... First meeting with smiles... Smiles at start of... Laughs for all at first... First meeting to make you... Season starts with a smile.
3. My new American mittens - thank you Christine! They are knitted in thick turquoise wool, with pink and orange and green and purple diamonds on the back.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
2. Our office is right next to the kitchen, so everyone always drops in for a chat. If we are too busy, we just ignore them until they get bored and give up.
3. Getting a pack of photos back. This film covers The Isle of Wight Festival, a day sailing and the office go-karting evening.
PS: Ed says I spelt his name wrong on Thursday, but I'm not to change it because he doesn't want people knowing he writes on this blog.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
2. Fenella coming through the door with a bottle of pink wine and a whole pile of news.
3. Wandering into a pub where people know your name.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
2. Autumn crocuses. Yesterday I wrote autumn crocuses on my pad, possibly as a reminder to write about them. Or perhaps not. Anyway, there is a circle of them in my parents' garden. They appear among the dry grass as if from no-where, just the flowers in little groups of four or five, with cold white stems and pale mauve petals.
3. The soup I plan to make tomorrow needs to simmer for an hour. In her recipe, Delia Smith suggests spending this time in a hot bath with glass of sherry.
Monday, September 05, 2005
2. After lunch, Rosey and I fall asleep on the lawn. When I wake up, the pattern of the grass is pressed into my arms.
3. While we were visting Grandpa's grave, the undertaker and his wife, who were walking their dogs along the footpath, came over to say hallo and help admire the new headstone. This undertaker has done lots of our family's funerals - the year before I was born, he helped bring my other grandfather home from Sicily after he died on holiday. At my great aunt's funeral he told me that doing the reading was a very brave and honourable thing. And at my other grandmother's funeral, he said he would miss her: 'We had an understanding, your grandmother and I'.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
2. Spotted an eft in a tiny pond. An eft is a baby newt. They look like the little dagger marks used to indicate footnotes; or one of Tove Jansson's hattifatteners.
3. Sunset changed the light in the valley so that the pink geraniums by the front door seemed to glow.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
2. Last thing at night, I sit (in the orange chair) with my knitting and quiz Robert about Peru. I learn that in the market you see sacks of guinea pigs for sale; and that you can get a bed for the night for £3 and chicken and chips and salad for 80p. And that Peruvian pop music is not much to listen to, but that people do salsa dancing in the nightclubs.
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's - my new favourite novella. Holly is full of contradictions - inconstant yet faithful, savvy yet naive, slovenly yet impeccably elegant. I love her for kicking out the cat and then running after him; and for keeping secrets and sharing intimacies. I love the way the story ends - how did she get to Africa? Where did she finish up? I guess we'll never know for sure.
Friday, September 02, 2005
2. Skirting the games field on the Common, I hear shouts of 'Come on, come on, you're doing it, you're doing it! Keep pedaling.' A man is teaching a little boy to ride a bicycle. The boy waggles the handlebars as he goes, trying to keep his balance.
3. Genre fiction. I am reading a big fat red book of American mystery stories. There are private eyes; puzzles; capers and tales of love and horror.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
2. The way PaulV's face lights up at the sight of burger relishes.
3. As we walked down the Pantiles towards closing time, we saw about 20 people gathered under a floodlight on the far side of the bandstand. 'What are they up to?' Brawling? Play rehearsal? Looking for a lost diamond? They were playing petanque, which seemed a very civilised thing to do on a hot summers' night.