Monday, April 30, 2007

Green vines, drums and music.

A new blog is about to join the family -- 12 Old Masters is quite well described as 'sticking your head into 12 pictures and having a good listen to any conversations that might being going on'. I will publish one piece a week on Wednesdays, starting on 2 May. The address will be announced shortly.

1. Having ivy leaves printed up and down my arms to celebrate Beltane.

2. Sitting in the sun on the edge of the cricket pitch playing along on my whistle with the drumming circle.

3. When I want to present my work to the public, all I have to do is click 'publish' (or if I'm feeling particularly daring, pack a submission into a brown envelope and send it off to a magazine). Oli the musician has to stand up in front of a crowded pub and sing.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Yellow cards, summer bearer and rough leaves.

This week I am doing some sections of the High Weald Landscape Trail. Saturday was the day for East Grinstead to Groombridge.

1. Coming across two signposts decorated with yellow cards -- they were sign-ins for an Essex County Council Expedition. Flying Fish boasted of being ahead of schedule, and told the organisers to have the icecreams ready; while Fatty and Gymnasts seemed fairly confident, but added a dramatic cliffhanger: 'Will Fatty and Gymnasts make it? Only time will tell'. Poor Clueless? were less happy. 'Sarah brought to tears. We've been carrying her bag since Forest Row' read the first card. The second read: 'Lost a group member, and Sophie's back hurts.' Hope they didn't ditch Sarah and her bag.

2. Hearing my first cuckcoo of the year while standing knee deep in a clover field. The next field is a long slope down to the woods, and I am so happy that I run down it -- until my map falls out of its case and I have to go back for it.

3. A patch of budding gunnera at the end of a pond.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Here today..., thieves and seeds.

1. Recently a tea urn appeared in our kitchen to 'save time'. It dispensed not quite boiling water via a spout that was too low for our coffee pot. The kettle was removed. 24 hours later, the urn broke down and the kettle reappeared, much to everyone's relief.

2. Ed spots some chavs dipping their hands into people's cars in the car park. We ask them if we can help and they shout bad words at us and drive off while we smile and wave at them and take their number plates. They haven't stolen anything, but the police are very pleased to hear from us all the same. A good bit of excitment for a hot Friday afternoon.

3. Seed fluff floating around and catching the light.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Run, how did that get there and fetch.

1. New hosiery is a lottery. I have had a run (sorry) of bad luck with tights lately. Pulling on a new, comparatively expensive pair as I dress for a meeting, I discover that they do not fit and I put my finger through them trying to get them on. I am inconsolable, until Katie points out that the black pair (or even, how daring, no tights at all) will do just as well. The black pair fit fine.

2. A red car parked next to the motorway in the middle of a wheat field. It has a 'Police Aware' sign on it.

3. Watching Oli sending clients running after the projector he wants for his presentation. I love the way he always asks for, and gets, whatever he needs. Being used to a make-do and mend philosophy, I would probably have everyone crowded round the laptop

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fixing a hole, sacred dog and running repairs.

1. A builder has come and made an investigative hole in my ceiling to check out a leak in the roof. It is scary -- a Victorian football and some old wallpaper had been stashed up there; and there are two mysterious cardboard boxes visible off to the left -- but it's giving me the feeling of a story idea. Something about a baby climbing up to the ceiling on a stairway made from the shadows of books. Or maybe an arm reaching down into the room and having a good... feel... about. Katie? Katie? Can I come and sleep in your bed?

2. Finding The Gift of the Sacred Dog, one of my favourite children's books, on this blog. I loved this book for its wonderful colours.

3. I am working (slowly) through the Roll of Honour, updating it and pruning out dead links. I am amazed and touched to see so many current 3BTs. There are some abandoned blogs still clinging on, gradually disintegrating as pictures are deleted and browser versions move on. I discover the travails of Jeff in China who, as far as I can tell from Babelfish, had access to various 3BT accounts shut off by his government. I find people who previously described dark times now enjoying an easier life. Babies have appeared in some blogs, while other have suffered a loss. Anyway -- thanks to all of you for keeping on the path. Hope it's changed your lives for the better.

Special mention to Sprite Writes, Life Aint That Bad, More Beautiful Things and of course Now's the Time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Blue, ginger and mauve.

1. The smell of bluebells overpowering the smell of a muck-spread field.

2. A slender cat the colour of ginger nuts waiting by the post box. It looks like a little lion and for a moment I wonder if round the corner there might be a herd of appropriately sized zebras and wildebeest.

3. Wisteria. I am always pleased to see houses draped with its long purple flowers springing from nearly leafless vines.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Drops, covering and island life.

1. A few specks of rain after weeks of dry weather.

2. Trees get more leafy almost as I watch.

3. Tove Jansson's The Summer Book. I like it because characters, themes and places that appear in the Moomin books are repeated. It allows me the reader to look at them through a different coloured window; and it gives me the writer a chance to examine the mechanics of an authoress I admire.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Home making, breakfast and hot meal.

1. A squirrel runs along the top of the board fence and stops to nibble a new lime leaf before jumping onto the trunk and hurrying up into the branches. It seems to have made itself at home because as I type it's now pushing sticks into the place where the trunk divides. Perhaps it's building a dray.

2. Breakfast trays with tea and coffee pots and a milk jug and all the different spreads for toast.

3. Coming back from the pub and finding Katie has cooked me some supper and it's just that minute ready.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Equipment, stop me and buy one and quiet evening in.

1. In the park, a father pushes a tractor-tricycle on the end of pole. In the trailer at the back is a newspaper.

2. The icecream van has come in a burst of tinkly Greensleeves. Movement in the park is suddenly directed at the Claremont Road corner. A little girl comes back to the family next to us and hands her mother some change, explaining: 'There's 60p less because I bought one for my new friend.'

3. People I like sitting on the sofa in a nest of rugs and cushions.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mmm, smile and I never meant that.

1. When people in the office comments on how delicious your lunch smells. (Thank you Katie for letting me take the supper leftovers).

2. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named smiling secretively about something.

3. Confronting an old friend with some of our early efforts at writing. 'This sounds as if it was translated from the Japanese by someone who doesn't speak much English.'

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mementoes, studio and happy days.

1. There is a lady making bobbin lace at the needlework fair, and I stop for a chat. While she's telling me about knots and spiders and cushions, I notice that many of her bobbins have messages poker-worked on to them -- 'A present from...' or 'Thanks for all your help.'

2. Walking into the studio at Charleston because it is such a light, bright room full of fascinating things. It feels as if someone has pulled everything they liked to see into one room.

3. On top of Firle Beacon I spot a woman in a distinctive blue jersey dress. She seems to be alone, but there's something about her that isn't alone, although I can't see anyone in the car with her. I imagine she has come up here to take in the silence of a high place, the bright blue sky and the green downs. Later we spot her in the garden at Charleston. She is sitting on a the grass with a jolly-looking baby -- I guess that's why she wasn't alone up on the Beacon. Sometimes when I think of the future and the family I might have, all I can think of are the things it will stop me doing. But this woman didn't seem to be burdened by responsibility, and didn't seem to be missing out on things she wanted to do -- she looked like she was enjoying time with her baby.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tall tales, bluebells and job done.

1. In the car on the way to work, chewing over a story idea in with Oli and getting the benefit of his experience on the matter.

2. Bluebells in flower under the hedge.

3. Moving the final page from the pile of unproofread pages to the proofed pile.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Speculation, fewer worries and small person.

1. On most mornings I pass an old man who is almost bent double. I've seen him coming out of a house which is labelled as belonging to a respected woman's organisation. I speculate that he might be the illicit boyfriend of one of the residents and that he sneaks out every morning at 8.30am so he is not caught by the warden. Or he might just be the husband of the member of a respected woman's organisation on his way to get a newspaper.

2. It is not sunny today, which is much more natural for April. If the sky is clear and blue and the air is balmy, everyone mutters dire warnings about global warming. A dull day means fewer reminders of the handbasket in which we are all going to hell.

3. The anonymous nephew of an un-named colleague is brought in so we can admire him. He has grown considerably since we last saw him -- the anonymous mother, the sister of the un-named and very proud colleague -- says that it's like having a little boy around the house, intead of a baby. Anonymous nephew is also a lot stronger, and when I sit him on my desk, leans back, pushing against my hands. He also grips my fingers, and has to be pried off when it's time to go.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hot pink, nesting and Tupperware.

1. Walking up Rodean Road stepping on fallen hot pink rhodendron flowers.

2. Sparrows are nesting in the roof of the office. I like it when a shadow sparrow suddenly appears on the wall as the real sparrow flies up the window and into the eaves.

3. He-who-shall-not-be-named has brought a new box of coffee and we pass it around for a sniff.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Cure, lunch and work time.

1. Hungover and dozing on a quiet train.

2. Sunshine, pizza, beer.

3. Getting down to work.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

London's lungs, cake stand, Patricia and Katie.

1. Having a few quiet moments to sit with Lou in shady Embankment Gardens enjoying the wallflowers and tulips and watching families with small children having fun in one of London's green space.

2. Tea at the Savoy Hotel -- particularly the rose scented green tea and the way the cake plate kept on being refilled with chestnut puree choux buns decorated with gold leaf.

3. When I started going to pole dancing classes, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named made me a CD of appropriate music, including a track called Patricia the Stripper (to tremendous applause she took off her drawers), which quickly became one of my favourites. Katie's birthday celebrations took us to a burlesque club -- Madame Jojo's -- and Patricia was one of the songs they performed.

4. My flatmate Katie is 30, so she is the fourth beautiful thing today. We've been friends for just about 19 years now, which is quite an achievement (on her part, anyway). So here's to Katie at 30.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Back to bed, my records and job done.

1. Instead of getting up and going all the way to the office, I am working from home, so make breakfast and take it and the laptop back to bed with me.

2. My father reminiscing about the stack of LPs I have taken from him. 'The Beatles? My favourites.' and 'I didn't think much of that one.' and 'We got these Gregorian chants for [my great aunt] when no-one listened to Gregorian chants.'

3. I am so glad to have finished the magazine of embarrassing photos that I have made for Katie's birthday that I have to give it to her early. It gives her a chance to have a look through it in peace, because it will be a bit of scramble on the day. And it gives me a chance to enjoy seeing her reaction, and to pick out a few last-minute mistakes before I make copies to show everyone.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Divine retribution, gods of shopping and aubergines.

1. As we pull out of Oli's drive to turn right, a speeding BMW forces Oli to brake suddenly. We pull out after him -- just in time to see the speed camera flash. We feel good. We feel better when we crest the hill and see him stuck behind a slow bus. He overtakes (dangerously) only to find himself crawling up the hill behind a truck carrying gas cylinders. We pootle along behind him all the way to work. I make faces for him to see in his rear view mirror, and Oli makes lewd speculations about how he likes someone being right up his bum for a change.

2. The miraculous finding of a bag that picks up all the colours (pink, coral, oyster, midnight blue and powder blue) in my new dress. The bag was in a different shop, and (so the counter lady told me) is by a designer not known for her us of bold colours. It was also the last one out.

4. The smell of a moussaka bubbling in the oven.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rising sap, open leaves and up the pole.

1. Oli saying that warm spring mornings makes him feel nostalgic for his school days. 'We would go down to this place called 'smokers' corner' -- none of us actually smoked, but the teachers didn't know about it, and the girls from the local girls school would go there, too. It would have been the first time in the year it was warm enough to go there and...' he tails off, and I make encouraging noises, so he continues: 'Well, you know, there would've been snogging.'

2. Spotting unfurled rose leaves below my bedroom window.

3. New achievements in pole-dancing because each new thing I do gives me the confidence to try something else.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shedding a layer, skylarks and herbs.

1. Walking to work and wishing that I hadn't bothered to put on a jacket.

2. Hearing skylarks singing above the office.

3. Cooking with sage from the pot on my balcony.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bed tea, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap, buffing up.

1. My father opens the curtains and puts on the bedside table a cup of tea. I drink it, roll over and go back to sleep.

2. Woodpecker holes in a dead pine tree.

3. Polishing my desk with beeswax so the shine comes up again. I always leave it far too long between polishings, and then when it's done, I wonder why I didn't do it sooner.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Little houses, fire and chocolate.

1. Caddis fly larva cases made from plant stalks. The back end is made from tiny fibres layered in a hexagon pattern.

2. Icecream pudding decorated with flaming cocktail umbrellas.

3. Finding an Easter egg in my shoe.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Home sounds, birdlife and bitter almonds.

1. The snorting gurgle of the coffee pot coming to the boil.

2. Pheasants chasing each other round the garden. They lean right forward and hunch their wings in while making a terrifying cock-cock-cocking noise. It's strange to see them feeding with the little birds, and to think that to a sparrow, a pheasant must seem bigger than an elephant does to us.

3. Amaretto biscuits that taste strongly of bitter almonds.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Running repairs, floating away and into the past.

1. My glasses pop apart and while trying to repair them, I loose the screw. On the first day of a four-day holiday with so much computer work to do, this is not good. But I go into town in search of an opticians; find one open and discover they'll do the repair for a pound. Never have I been so pleased to see a lady holding a tiny screwdriver.

2. I pass a mother and a little girl in fits of laughter because their balloon on a stick has escaped and blown away down the road. In between laughing, the little girl shouts 'Save my balloon' and the mother warns her away from the road. A lady with grey hair and lots of shopping retrieves and crosses the street to bring it back.

3. Baby photos of respectable and dignified friends.

Friday, April 06, 2007

To do, closing and box of chocolates.

1. When things are tough at work, Charlotte is calm, kind and level-headed. She notices what must be done, and does it without making a fuss.

2. I am coming up for my last session of life coaching, and my coach announces that she is moving out of town, which makes the ending seem natural and right.

3. Sharing the wonderful box of chocolates that Katie brought me back from Paris. It is pleasingly heavy, and made of bright red, ridged cardboard. Inside, it doesn't waste space with plastic trays -- two strips of gold card keep things neat, but apart from that, it's chocolates all the way.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Delivery, lunch and signs of spring.

1. Coming to work and finding a few parcels waiting for me -- including the Copper print I had been waiting for.

2. A table with lots of my family sitting round.

3. In the four days that I have been away lots of things have changed -- chestnut buds are turning to little limp leaves and the rhododendrons have flowered on my walk to work.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Light, treasure and distance.

1. Having a morning bath in a bathroom with a window.

2. Making Rosey go into a cave, even though it 'smells of wee', just happening to have a torch in my bag, and finding a geocache.

3. Leaning on the rail of the ferry I watch Rosey getting smaller and smaller as she walks back to her Landrover. When she is the size of my top little finger joint, she turns round and waves at me.

Monday, April 02, 2007

No-where to hide, locate and pile of stones.

1. We are walking down a long valley of heather and moorland grass. Rosey says it reminds of a scene in one of her favourite books, 39 Steps. The hero is walking down just such a valley afraid that at any moment a plane will appear because there is no-where to hide. Just as we are discussing the possibilities, a helicopter appears over the mountain.

2. Rosey finding her first geocache.

3. Stacking rocks on the beach. It's a game I like because there is an element of chance in what rocks will be to hand; it takes skill to balance them on top of each other; and looking back down the beach at the trail of stacks is very satisfying.

Moss, heather and finding food.

The beautiful things from the next couple of days come from a trip to Arran where I helped Rosey measure wind movement on a wooded hill.

1. Sitting in a forest glade listening to the sea lapping on the shore far below.

2. Lying in the heather on a high moor feeling the sun warm on my face.

3. At 8pm on a Sunday on a Scottish island, we find a restaurant willing to give us supper.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Application, sparkles and exploring.

1. The mother sitting opposite me on the train reapplies her lipstick. Her five-year-old son asks: 'Can I do that, can I do that?' At first she is reluctant... I mean, who wants their little boy using make-up? But it turns out that he means he would like to put it on her, and so, very carefully and surprisingly successfully against the gentle rocking of the train, he gives his mother another coat.

2. A pair of glittery dark blue ballet slippers.

3. Rosey and I are staying by ourselves in a 10-bedroomed house, which means there are lots of doors to throw wide or open a crack revealling the sunset and views of moor and mountain from different angles.