Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yellow paper, out and home now.

1. I make myself feel better by drawing rude pictures on sticky notes of villains in the ridiculousness at work.

2. At lunchtime, we go out. Away from the office and into the woods and fields, where we would rather have been right from the start.

3. Coming home -- the door is open to get some air circulating round our abandoned flat -- stripping off my boots and coat, washing my hands and starting on supper.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just like that, wafers and my words.

1. The sun, a magician, draws a shadow off the hedge, and the dew vanishes in a puff of steam.


2. Tunnock's Caramel wafers in their red and gold wrappers.

3. Waiting for me at home is a parcel containing the proofs of Three Beautiful Things.

Not snow, observed and that's not my fiance -- his chin is too smooth.

It'll be Three Beautiful Things' fifth birthday on Monday May 18. I'm thinking about an evening drinks celebration somewhere in TWells, to which everyone is welcome. It would be good to have an idea of numbers, though -- any takers?

I'd like to re-post a few favourite things -- suggestions always welcome.

Drop me a line: i am five at three beautiful things dot co dot uk (take out the spaces and replace ats and dots with symbols to make the address work).

1. Cherry blossom in the grass. A fall of pink snow.

2. Her ginger-gold hair is short and still baby-feathery. From the top of the wall she watches me coming up the street, shaking out my umbrella. We both smile. She has such tiny teeth.

3. Nick comes out of the bathroom with no beard. His chin is so soft that I keep wanting to touch it; and his unfamiliar face surprises me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring setting, red-green and get round.

1. Someone has shouted 'GO' and turned the whole town green.

2. The rocket burgeons on my plate, the colour of wild, tangled May grass; and the tomatoes are the red of heroes. In this, the prawns are a bit lost, but they are so sweet and juicy.

3. New moon -- near-the-horizon-huge -- not enough silver to shine up the whole ring.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tulips, where was I and the mystery vegetable.

1. This garden has black tulips; that one has red and white ragged ones that look like strawberry ripple icecream.

2. Nick has a new game, and the maps are spread out over the floor.

3. A kohlrabi came in our vegetable box. It looks like a Martian thing (it in shape size like a flattened tennis ball, white green, cool and smooth with long waxy stems growing out of its flanks and top) but was crisp and sweet sliced into matchsticks and laced with oil and vinegar.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Going goth, ooh sparkly and Tiny Tin Lady.

1. I like WoodburyPark Cemetery because on a bright blue sky day with a stiff breeze, it is restful to take some thoughts for a walk under the yew trees' light and shadows.

2. Katie-who-I-used-to-live-with shows me her engagement ring. I'm so glad to have her along on the bridal ride -- ever since school, I've always felt a lot better having her around at important milestones.

3. Tiny Tin Lady* came to Tunbridge Wells. Katie and I go down to The Forum to hear their girly folk music that manages to be both sweet and splendidly earthy at the same time. We loved the closing song -- which was inspired by a keg of beer and a rhyming dictionary. I think one reason I like them so much (apart from their magical harmonies) is that I'm aiming for that same spot between beautiful and not saccharine. It must be a very fine line for a bunch of very young women playing a genre mostly associated with beardy men.

* I first heard them back in August 2004, and I can't BELIEVE I didn't write about them then -- the lead singer was only about 13, and she was so overwhelmed by the Cropredy love that she cried; and I was smitten.

Friday, April 24, 2009

No coat, prize and roll it.

1. Leaving for work with no coat on.

2. Finding a prize coupon in a box of hundreds-and-thousands -- it was only 50p off another box of hundreds-and-thousands, but I still felt a thrill as I opened the tiny envelope.

3. The sticky sound of a brayer rolling on ink. And then rolling the ink on to a piece of paper to see the print appear.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's going on, evening match and in our box.

1. The questioning sound of a car reversing quickly.

2. In the park, a dozen small fry play football with four or five dads. The goalie has to keep stopping to redirect his crawling baby off the pitch.

3. These are new season carrots, so slender and sweet and crunchy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Balmy, landscape and out like a light.

I've put comment moderation on for a while because of spam.

1. When I go down to the sandwich van, I find the air outside is warmer than the air inside, and I'm tempted to stand around chatting, rather than hurrying back indoors to get away from a biting wind laced with freezing rain.

2. The lie of the land has caught a pocket of warm, damp air against the slope. We stand for a moment feeling the heat.

3. I am so tired by the end of the evening that I fall asleep almost before I realise I've got into bed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Smoky, cherry blossom and a place to sit.

1. The rust red and gold stripes on crispy bacon.

2. Every one of the cherry blossom that jostle for our attention has its own damp piece of new leaf. They remind me of soft fat ladies, powdered and rouged faces over little green silk scarves that are knotted round their necks, 1950s style.

3. There is some wind, and the air is spring cool -- but this smooth concrete bench has warmed up in the sun, and has a view across Romney Marsh, almost to the sea.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Face ache, hear ye, the dance.

1. She says that watching the ceremony has made her smile so much that her cheeks hurt. Mine do, too.

2. The bride and groom are standing behind the town crier trying not to laugh as he bellows the news of their marriage to the town.

3. The groom's parents come back on to the floor to dance to their song; and the groom, embracing them both, joins in.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Constellations, seeing glass and jewel box.

1. The verge is covered with yellow dandelion suns.

2. In the supermarket, an old man examines his receipt through a magnifying glass.

3. She walks up the road ahead of me eating grapes from a plastic box. As she lifts one to her mouth, the sunlight makes a green pearl of it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Going, a promise and page layout.

1. Just as I am waking up, my brother comes up to my room to say goodbye.

2. I have promised myself a train journey, a coffee, a couple of trashy magazines and a good long read of Ursula Le Guin's Planet of Exile. As the day's plans whirl round the breakfast table, I'm not sure if I can keep that promise to myself. But luckily, the car is too full, so I can't have a lift home -- instead I get a trip to the station with my aunt and a clean train journey.

3. I come home to a message from the people at Longbarn -- what do I think of these page designs for the Three Beautiful Things book?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Workspace, blown over and at height.

1. When the horizon draws near because of rain and mist, it is a fine thing to sit in an armchair near an upstairs window with some work to do

2. Watching a curled paper strip whirled over a cliff edge, and seeing it rising and falling as the wind pleases for a satisfyingly long time, until it falls into the sea.

3. To stand on the top of a hill -- near a trig point -- and to feel the wind against my back.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shell sound, that's what a squill is and no porpoises.

1. All week my father has been blowing on winkle shells to make them whistle

2. My aunt shows me tight-curled squills -- tiny fists that have squeezed themselves blue -- hiding in the rough clifftop grass.

3. There are no porpoises to be seen, but there is the wind thrumming on the cables of the coastguard's radio mast; and a white pony that gravely lips my open hands.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Family album, white flowers and love letter.

1. In a dark landing at Plas Newydd there is a row of seven chalk drawings of seven of the First Marquess of Anglesey's 18 children. They are dated 1823 (the children are in their late teens and early 20s). The pictures capture the texture of their skin and the shine on their noses.

2. We come out from under the dark, heavy leaves and the waxy red and sticky purple flowers of the rhododendron garden, into a clearing where sunlight picks out a slender waist-high bush dotted with neat white blossoms.

3. My aunt calls me over to read a love letter written by the artist to his patron's daughter. He begs her not to throw him over: 'You're such a chucker. You're the chucker queen.' Later, when I have moved into the next room, I hear other people reading the letter aloud to each other.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Getting out of here, windmill and copper mine.

1. We strike out up the road, independent with a rucksack, lunch, map and water.

2. We stand under a wind turbine and hearing its whomph-hiss, whomph-hiss. I feel very small and vulnerable.

3. The copper mine is like a filthy fingerprint on the green land. Standing in the dead land (filthy ponds in the middle of the sliced off mountain top) we can see in all directions green fields between the slag heaps.

4. A slice of gooey chocolate cake. Its butter icing is gritty with sugar.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tideline, pebbles and egret.

1. The salty smell of the tideline.

2. Pebbles shine under the water in red, green and grey.

3. An egret fishing -- bright white S-shape watches grey peaked water.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gorse, game of shadows and purple gaze.

1. The gorse in glorious cadmium yellow flower toasts in the sun smelling of coconut biscuits.

2. I like to hear Nick planning how he would deploy forces if he was playing a wargame across a landscape.

2.5. We are enticed from our route by a sign that says 'Permissive Path to Shop'. It leads through a squeaky metal gate decorated with a cut-out foxglove and round the edge of a field of black bullocks. The field lush green, but the path is as studded with daisies as the Milky Way is with stars.

3. A few violets fix us with a piercing indigo gaze from the bank under the hedge.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Boat song, that place and birthday cake.

These posts come from a holiday in Anglesey -- you can see a few family pictures on Rosey's website Through Rosey's Tinted Spectacles here, here, and here.

1. The mother across the aisle from us whiles away the journey by singing to her baby. She has a version of Row Row Row Your Boat which I haven't heard before, involving various animals and what you mustn't forget to do if you see them.


2. We bargain with my father who is picking us up so that we can get off the train at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch... because who wouldn't want to have their picture taken under the sign. There is some irony in the fact that passengers must get off from the middle of the train as the platform is too short to accomodate the ends of the two carriages.

3. At the house, there is a cake (made by my aunt) which depicts my father lying in a hammock with a large bottle of beer clutched to his chest.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pottering, a stranger and small voice.

1. I like picking a few deadheads off the flowers growing outside the front door.

2. A woman walking towards me extends her arms as if she plans to embrace me. Then I realise she is carrying weights to tone her arms.

3. The day has not gone to plan and I am tearing my hair out, racing from work to home, from supper to a coaching appointment -- but amid the chaos, the small voice says 'Simplify and ask for help,' and I listen.

Lift, draining away and on the bus.

The book mentioned in Thursday's post is I can do it by Louise L. Hay.

1. A colleague hoots his horn and leaps out of the traffic to pull up on the other side of the road.

2. I want to say 'no, I'm not all right,' but I don't. We talk of other things, and the feeling subsides.

3. Two young mums are giggling at a flirtacious old boy chatting to the geordie lass who is driving our bus. She asks him if he is going anywhere nice. 'No. Just a bowls meeting.'
'A bowels meeting?'
The young mums (and I) almost explode as he goes on to describe all the different places he likes to play bowls.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

It's time, coming through and all the good things.

1. The giant hornbeam tree that shades the street says -- and the saplings in the hedge agree -- that it's time to start putting out pleated leaves.

2. The whole two miles home is out of the sun -- except where a street heading west lets the red-gold light through to warm the baptist chapel.

3. A parcel comes, a book which one of you readers thinks I would like. It's about affirmations, and it reminds me (as do all your comments, and the growing list of followers) of all the good things I get from writing three beautiful things each day.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tidied, what happened next and gifts of the magi.

1. The town under a spring mist looks like a pile of junk in the corner of the room covered by a piece of voile.

2. A couple of winters ago I was temping in an office. A week into my stint the guy at the desk next to mine came back from his holiday looking as if he had discovered some wonderful truth. He kept telling us: 'I'd never have done it before, but now I can only say, if there's something you want, go for it. Do it.' He had fallen in love over the internet with a girl from Cape Town, and he had taken a three-week holiday to meet her for the first time. Yesterday on my way to work, I saw him -- and a girl -- on the other side of the crossing. I couldn't catch her voice over the traffic -- I hope she had a South African accent.

3. They bring some wine, and a chocolate tart, which are both really needed by me.

Monday, April 06, 2009

My space, relative value and resources.

1. I like to get up first and write in my diary while the house is still and quiet.

2. My aunt comes to pick up a computer and drop off some books. It's good to have her to myself for an hour or so. She was the last person in our family to get married; and she's been volunteering at the Oxford Book Festival.

3. I still have a lot of work to do -- but I also have a Nick who can cook supper (I sometimes forget this).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

On their way, the festival and secrets.

1. On their way to a wedding: he holds the umbrella above them; she holds the hem of her graphite blue dress out of the dust.

2. At the chocolate festival we move from stall to stall gobbling up free samples and filling up our shopping bag.

3. She is so proud of her new flat and tells us its secrets (there's a door behind here).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Mist, important and another way of doing it.

1. A little rain is mixed up in the fog, and people walk behind umbrellas and sour expressions.

2. My mother comes in her car to pick me up from work because we have something important to do.

3. Making mash with a couple of baked potatoes because the flavour is better.

Friday, April 03, 2009

On track, bricks and justification.

1. Hearing the voices of men working on the railway embankment above me.

2. Tipping packets on Lego on to the table and counting out the pieces I need.

3. He wonders why I am still awake. I tell him that the red shoes were expensive for these uncertain times; that I think I should have got the cheap pair. 'But,' he says, 'they will last, I think they look lovely and you'll wear them again and again.'

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Treasure trove, walking home and gotcha.

1. DIY shops -- which were once my idea of dull hell -- have become caverns of fascination: sheets of textured copper and red bath plug chain.

2. Nick is home early because of the G20 disruptions, so he walks out to meet me on my way home. Our paths converge in a bus shelter and he kisses me firmly to show anyone who might be looking that we belong to each other.

3. At bed time I realise that I have been got by A Quarter Of's April Fool's Day jape -- an ad for a new sort of chocolate bubbled through with helium.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Undressing, soup and writing space.

1. Magnolia flowers are shucking off their stubbly velvet coats. The sudden nudity makes their chins and cheeks blush magenta.

2. I like a few bright vegetables cooked in chicken broth.

3. Writing and drawing scribbled journal notes in a book with large pages while I talk on a hands-free phone.