Sunday, August 31, 2008

My sunglasses, mushroom and the summer.

1. In all the chaos of moving, finding my sunglasses, on just about the first fine day in August, in the bottom of my rucksack.

2. Silently, not bothering anyone, a mushroom has pushed its scaled cap out of the soil under a fir tree by a busy stretch of pavement.

3. We sit outside in the warm evening shade with a jug of Pimm's and my writing buddy's new book of short stories.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

To do, message and black dogs.

1. Today a task that calls for steady, plodding concentration and no creativity is very welcome.

2. I find a message from Nick on my phone in which he comments that soon he won't have to ring me because I'll be living with him.

3. Two large and enthusiastic black dogs wallow and splollop in the scummy end of the lake stirring up mud and raising a stench of rotting leaves.

Friday, August 29, 2008

lunch, silver and tidy.

1. I had a horrible sandwich yesterday because our regular lunch lady is away. I'm in a rush trying to dress and eat breakfast all at once. Nick makes me a peanut butter sandwich.

2. Meeting interesting people -- a lady came to take away my table and she turns out to be a maker of jewellery out of silver spoons and forks.

3. It's surprisingly calming to have all my possessions packed away in boxes. No more looking for things -- I can't get at whatever it is anyway.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Made it, water splash and vegetables.

1. A man runs for the train. The doors have shut, but the guard holds his own door open and lets the running man through.

2. In a documentary about Chinese wildlife, a piece about The Water Splash Festival -- a huge waterfight celebrating a region's river. A dignified policeman wears an expression of weary dignity, but breaks into a smile when water is thrown at him.

3. Peas and beans at the bottom of our soup bowls.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pix, mystery and packing.

1. It's Monday and I pull out a fistful of photos to display on my PC tower. The collection I draw is is large and eclectic. It's full of memories, some good, some less so, but all the faces, figures and scenes are freighted with my own stories.

2. The temp is wearing purple shades. I wonder why but am too shy to ask.

3. The pile of book boxes in my room is growing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Milestone, pudding and film night.

1. Hearing that Ellie is now potty trained.

2. Blackberry crumble.

3. Lying beside Nick to watch a film that involves ballerinas, Loch Ness, Queen Victoria and six acrobatic dwarfs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Done, free music and place to play.

1. Completing a task left undone for too long.

2. We sit upstairs waiting for our suppers in Kirthon while outside on the Pantiles the music plays.

3. In the twilight a little boy plays with his toy cars in the dusty petanque court

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hoeing, fox and keys.

1. A very little girl in a pink neck-to-ankle dress has stopped to stare at a man scraping and clattering as he hoes weeds on the edge of the pavement.

2. At noon, in the shadow of the woods, a silent fox runs across my path, his tail straight out behind him.

3. My own key to Nick's flat on a gold heart keyring.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sofa gone, suitable name and the new bath.

1. My sofa is whisked away by Ian and Caroline and Caroline's dad. I am so glad it's going to a home where it will be appreciated. There is not much swearing, except Ian hangs up his jacket in the hall, commenting that he is going to forget it. Sure enough, as I am closing the front door, a cry of 'Clare Grant!' comes across the street, and the wild-haired boy races over to retrieve his clothing.

2. The man Oddbins suggests a champagne called Nicholas Feuilatte which seems very appropriate.

3. We sit in our new bath catching up and drinking fizz until even with all the candles, it is too dark to see each other.

Squaring up, cool beans and time out.

1. Katie comes hurrying in with a story about two respectable silver-haired commuters squaring up at the top of the station stairs. 'You know they're not going to start throwing punches, but you instinctively get out of the way.'

2. Runner beans with my supper.

3. An evening alone lies before me. I am so full of nerves I can't sit still, so I pull from under my bed a box of files and begin throwing things away.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nick, change and handiwork.

1. Sleepy Nick with his hair sticking up in all directions.

2. I never have enough 5ps for the coffee machine. I usually end up paying 20p instead of the advertised 15p because I have to use a 20p, or two 10ps. Getting change made my tea taste very good.

3. My pin cushion. I embroidered it from a Vari-Galore kit, and I feel very proud to have made something I like so much.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

From the past, the game begins and duck egg blue.

1. Tim agrees that it was a good surprise. Katie, his former colleague at the paper has given me a lift over to games night and she comes in for a quick visit.

2. As an after thought, my character in the game purchased a donkey to carry his stuff. Sturdy Faith proved invaluable, and if there was any justice in the world, would have gained more experience points than any of us for kicking a skeleton to dust. The next episode will see my character intimidating Pete's half-orc druid into using his one healing spell to cure the wounds Faith sustained while fighting giant rats.

3. Coming home to find that Nick has painted the entire bathroom while I wasn't looking.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Squares, answers and hot drink.

I've played catch-up for Sunday's post.

1. Looking down a drain and seeing a reflection of the sky squared by the grate.

2. I am working on Fiona Robyn's A Year of Questions and this week the mission is to think about space for quiet. Twice today I was delayed so I had to sit quietly waiting. I feel as if someone is lending me a hand.

3. A sympathetic cup of hot chocolate.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Talking time, positive identification and purple.

1. Janey sees that I have finished writing and remarks on this: 'Now I can talk to you.'

2. There are a lot of mushrooms that look like ceps in the garden, with their spice brown caps and spongey yellow undersides. I'm not sure enough to try one though. But Sue arrives and confirms it. They go on the barbecue and a hailed a success.

3. Lilac liqueur that tastes like Bailey's flavoured with blackberries.

4. At the top of the station staircase Nick is waiting.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The drive, strider and stopping place.

These posts are about this walk:


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1. We turn a corner and look down an undulating three-mile drive to Windsor Castle. The road is dotted with tiny citizens and a few deer walk over from the left, stepping through the double avenue before running off across the park.

2. A long-legged boat winch waits to roll down the slipway to draw a boat out of the water. I get the feeling that if it has to wait much longer, it might lock its wheels and walk stiffly away on rattling metal legs.

3. We are looking for a place to stop. But the hand-wide path runs between fence and river. At a footbridge over a ditch, we find a flattened place where the bank has dropped. We sit with cake and apples and watch damsel flies hover and disappear while the Thames slips by.

4. My aunt says that on long journeys when she was little, she would pick her favourite features from the places passed and weave them into a dream house.

5. Mistletoe looks deep green when growing on a tree with budgerigar yellow leaves.

6. Almost back at the car we nearly pass the Airforce Memorial. But I think that Nick would like to hear about it, so we go in. The long garden gives into a courtyard surrounded by cloisters listing names of the dead. The benches are dotted with offerings -- flowers real and silk, and even a sheet of photos telling an American airman who fell in the second world war that his exploits are family legend and showing pictures of his now elderly baby sisters. The white cloister opens into the chapel which has a window looking out down the hillside at London and all around spread before us like a Lego city. From here, and from the tower, it is easy to understand why anyone would want to rule the blue air.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Late start, pace, doll and assistant.

1. Today I am not needed until 10.30am, and there is time for a lie-in, a leisurely breakfast, a bit of writing and to buy train tickets for the weekend.
2. There are only a few pages to last the whole day, so I take my time asking questions of the reporters, trying different headlines and making minute adjustments so the boxes line up.
3. PaulV brings me a present from his holiday. It's a yellow any containing a brittle plastic doll dressed in a cloud of scratchy red and black lace. 'It's Amy Winehouse,' he says, referring to her sultry eyeliner and backcombed hair. I love it and would have kissed him but we are in the middle of the office and subs should not show affection to photographers.
4. I am up a ladder painting the ceiling. I have a Nick to hand me a wet rag fill the paint tray, pass me the brush, hold the roller and tell me when I've missed the spot over my head.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Heads up, shortbread and rain is marvellous.

1. The road to work runs through an unlovely industrial estate -- plains of concrete and rows of units selling tiles and carpets and plumbing supplies. However, if I keep my chin up, I can see the hills and woods beyond.

2. The sandwich lady has a cherry shortbread, which is light, crumbly and full of tiny pieces of cherry. The top is sprinkled with caster sugar.

3. After a bright morning, the rain comes roaring down into the valley. Work slows for a while so we can marvel.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Morning, dogs and cherry.

1. I don't buy any coffee today, but the barista has a smile for me as I pass his cart at the station.

2. Genius says he asked his children, who moved here recently from Zimbabwe, if they liked London better, or Hastings. They like Hastings, because there are more dogs.

3. The man in front of me at the sandwich van picks up a can of Cherry Coke and then realises he doesn't want Cherry Coke and swaps it for an ordinary Coke. So I have it, because I so rarely see Cherry Coke. It tastes good at 11am.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brave, dinner and mango.

Thanks to I Beati for sharing the 3BT blessings.

1. Nick tells me I am brave for staying over to give him morale support when there is no bath and the toilet has to be flushed with a bucket of water.

2. I am tired and hungry and supper comes -- sausages, new potatoes and baby sweetcorn and snap peas. I am grateful and sated.

3. I like cutting up a mango for pudding because I get to suck the stone and because I get the pleasure of the sweet scent under my knife.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Busy, in view and paint.

1. A piece of work leaves my hands, and another piece fills them.

2. I like seeing things that no-one has seen for years and years -- like the wall where tiles were, and the underneath of the old bath. Nick says 'Stand here' pointing to the corner where the bath's going. 'You'll never be able to do that again.'

3. At the end of the evening, we stand back and look at where we have started to paint the bathroom -- we are cutting in and doing the ceiling over where the bath will be while the bath isn't there. Amid all the chaos, it feels as if a small part of the room is complete.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Crescents, exploration and real dirt.

Do check out Bubble-talk and Double-talk -- it asks you to describe how you would react to a hair-raising situation.

1. I had forgotten that we bought croissants yesterday -- until they arrived warm and golden brown on the breakfast tray.

2. Lightly burdened with bits for the bathroom from the DIY store, we try a different route home, discover an interesting footpath and find ourselves at the gate of a nature reserve not far from my work. I promise Nick I will take him down there one day: the path goes under the railway viaduct. He rides over it every day on his way to work, but has never been made to feel small and insignificant by its towering brick arches.

3. Cleaning a wall ready for painting and seeing actual dirt coming off on the sponge.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dinner, salvo and sweetcorn.

1. Earlier in the week, Nick expressed a longing for steak and chips. So buying supper is easy: I choose two juicy-looking sirloins and a bag of tiny plum tomatoes.

2. At the end of the morning when the sky is looking drizzly, we dive into an architectural salvage shop. The air smells of mortar and stone, and everywhere we turn there are wonders. Alien lichens still growing on staddle stones. Tiles glazed with deep and luminous colours. carved freizes. Mirrors and fireplaces. The ceiling is starred with stained glass lanterns and light fittings suitable for a castle.

3. The year's first sweetcorn on the supper table brings a lot of cheer to the meal, as does the bunch of dahlias in white, orange and deep red.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Straw, pages and payment.

1. Sucking on a box drink.

2. Going through the paper and talking about the layout with Veronica. She retires today, and she trained me during my original stint at the paper. The weekly critique is comforting, like reading a children's book, or drinking warm milk. But it's a challenge, too, because you know that your work will be held up to the light. It's also enlightening, because page layout is a series of puzzles, and hearing someone else's thoughts will help me solve similar puzzles next week.

3. This week I have been paid for two bits of work I did some months ago.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fruit, flock and figs.

1. A red-gold Victoria plum. The skin is the colour of a faded bruise, and the flesh reminds me of teatime sunlight.

2. Passing a church we catch the moment when shining butterflies of confetti hang in the air.

3. Cutting up a fat ball of mozzarella and eating it with warm figs.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Chocolate, zoo and thunder.

1. It's a long work day, and so at tea time I buy a Double Decker from the snack machine. I look at it for a while, and then devour it, enjoying every crumb.

2. BBC 7 is playing The Boosh -- the radio version of the The Mighty Boosh. I play the first episode right before bed time.

3. Sitting up at my desk, long after I should have gone to bed, watching a thunder storm rolling around the sky.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The greens, in or out and wildlife.

1. Two ocean green skirts -- one in the broderie anglaise that is everywhere at the moment; and one in strips of silk and cotton.
2. While we have lunch in the pub, two long-haired alsatians asked to be let out into the garden. One is brown and could be mistaken for a lion in times of dodgy perspective. The other was deep, velvety black. Having asked to be let out, the dogs decided that they'd prefer to be inside, and lay with their noses against the window. In due course, the landlady opened the door let them in. The lion dog stood up and came in, but the black dog had gone. 'Midnight! Midnight!' It seems he had found his own way in through another door, because he responded to his name by walking quietly past our table and sitting down behind her. 'Midnight! Midnight!' Puzzled, she turned to shut the door and nearly fell over him in surprise.
3. A documentary about scientists collecting creatures in Nicaragua. A woman spends ten hours a day sitting in a tree waiting for monkeys to come and be filmed. An entomologist crawls into a hollow tree after crickets the size of your hand. An anxious climber descends into the cauldron of a waterfall to find a cold, rainy world of orange crabs and giant tree frogs. He and his team spend the night in a cave full of cockroaches which do their washing up by feeding on dirty plates.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lolly, got it and balance.

1. In the paper, a picture of a porcupine eating an ice lolly.

2. Seen from the street a small hand pressed against the window to help a child balance as he walks along the sofa.

3. A feeling of triumphant satisfaction at catching my train because I finished on time and walked very quickly.

Monday, August 04, 2008

New snail, one cottage and waiting for the rain to stop.

1. The morning tasks are interrupted because while he was cleaning his shoes on the doorstep, Nick has found a tiny baby snail -- the shell is not much bigger than the bright bobble on a pin head. We look in wonder at this tiny anatomy. It has wrapped itself in a shining bubble of mucus and waves its eyestalks but does not pull into its shell -- perhaps it's too small and naive to know what it should do. Or perhaps, with the world so new and all, it's as curious about us as we are about it.

2. Among all the brown and cream suburban homes, a house with russet and ruddy peg tiles and a white fretwork along its ridgepole.

3. During a Sunday evening shower, a father and two boys sit under a tree at the side of the games field. The pat their football to each other and laugh at the strangeness of the rainy world.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Paintshop pro, food for free and flipside.

I have mentioned Lauren Berghold's wonderful notebook a year ago. But I hadn't realised that in the meantime, she's been working away at the next three editions. She is celebrating her milestone with a generous give-away for the best beautiful thing. Go to All the GOOD Blog Names were Taken to find out more, but be quick, as it closes soon. And then go to this post to see what she's learnt from her year of 3BTing. And also, check out all the posts relating to 3BT.

1. While the lady in the paint shop mixes sample pots for us to add to the bathroom, we look through her wallpaper books. There are cries of 'Turquoise crocodile effect!' and 'I could stand there stroking this all day' and 'Toile de jouy' and 'National Geographic do a range of wallpapers'. When she brings us our tins, even though it's five minutes before closing, she shows us a whole range of ideas for our unformed plan to cover the chimney breast with the most exciting wallpaper we can afford.

2. Picking a few apples from a tree that overhangs the road from an office carpark. We are on our way to pick early blackberries for a crumble. The blackberries are rare, but they are nearly all the extra special ones that grow on the end of the bramble.

3. Nick has been unusually reticent about the educational video he plans to show me tonight -- normally I am offered a choice of three or four. He has picked a Play for Today from 1980, which he saw and loved when he was 13. He says that 'in the 80s, all television was like this'. The Flipside of Dominick Hide (spoilers) is a charming story of a time-travelling observer from 2130 who breaks the rules to land in London and look for his great-great grandfather. It's fascinating to see one-off plays for the TV -- television execs these days are convinced that they Do Not Work and Are Not Wanted by Viewers. You can deride my fear of committing to a series, and you can mock my lack of intellectual staying-power because story arcs leave me cold, but I really like one-off plays. If this policy means we don't get programmes as beautiful and as well-made as Dominick Hide, we've lost something.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Breakfast, no busy work and relief.

Business first -- this will be of interest mainly to the Tunbridge Wells crew. I'm moving in with Nick at the end of the month, and I need to pass on some of my things. I've made a list on Getting Rid of My Stuff.

1. 'Two teas, and two toast and marmalades'.

2. I am finding it hard to get my head round the idea, but there is no need to appear busy when there is no work to do.

3. Katie comes home just before midnight, rushes upstairs and begs me to unlace her corset so she can have a pee for the first time all evening. I feel just like a heroine from a historical novel.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Same train, time to go and painting.

1. Katie and I leave together and hurry across the park. Several trains have been cancelled and put-out commuters hurry across the bridge. We scramble on to a crowded train, picking carriage and seat at random and find ourselves next to Fenella and Andy. Of course it's good to have company, but I am very glad to jump off at the very next stop.

2. The paper is done just after 3pm, and as we have worked through lunch, it's time to go home. It seems such a strange thing to do that I have to ask if I can go.

3. I lie in the bath while Nick brushes paint samples on to the wall.