Sunday, May 31, 2009

New printer, sausage and who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

1. Buying a new printer to replace the old one that only takes a sheet of paper at a time.

2. A few pieces of juicy chorizo in my supper.

3. We watch an adventure film set in the 1930s -- The Shadow. He fights crime using his mind control skills to make himself seem invisible. One of the franchise's early manifestations was as a radio drama -- how fantastic to write a radio script about an invisible protagonist.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

You're out, planters and dinner.

1. We are finally given an official date for the closing of the subs' desk -- very sad, but huge relief. It'll be good to have the summer off -- there's not much work going at the moment, so I'm not expecting to find anything soon.

2. My mother-in-law has so much on her plate; but she still found the energy to bring by bus a couple of plastic troughs for me to plant up with tomatoes and lettuces.

3. I make Nick a round of sandwiches when he comes back from hospital visiting; but he likes the look of the greens, mince and potatoes on my plate. There's some left in the pot; and extra potatoes too so I can indulge him with no resentment. We'll save the sandwiches for tomorrow's lunch.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The final frontier, garden and sleep.

I'm in the Courier this week -- see page 27.

1. Wherever you are, whatever time it is, there is always some form of Star Trek on television.

2. I like showing Nick's mother the containers of flowers and vegetables along our window ledges. Some of them are plants that she has given me.

3. With satisfaction he says: 'The alarm will go off in nine hours. Nine whole hours.'

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dirty weather, dinner sorted and on the mend.

1. A day of wind and rain, and no good reason to leave the house.

2. Putting a potato and a ready meal from Cook in the oven.

3. It is suggested that as I was well enough to spend the day playing Lego Star Wars, I'm well enough to go to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cavalry, Alice and toffee.

1. Anna emails a soup recipe she says will help a cold; and Fenella offers to drop in some supplies if we need them.

2. Bryan Talbot's Alice in Sunderland has spent a lot of time lying heavy in my lap in the last 24 hours. It's a lavish and ambitious comic that guides the reader round a fascinating part of England by way of a variety performance of illustration, photographs and collages.

3. I discover that chewing treacle toffee helps earache.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two years, wildlife and inside the barrel.

1. Nick wakes me up and to tell me I'm his two-year girl. It's hard to believe that it's the second anniversary of our meeting at Tim and Rachel's wedding -- sometimes it seems as if we've been together since always; other times it seems we are walking into new territory.

2. A church round the corner has an embroidery exhibition. To give me a change from the flat's four walls, we go and have a look. My favourite was a pair of blue egg-shaped panels covered in lacy white images of magnified planckton and algae.

3. BBC2's South Pacific documentary included footage filmed inside a 12ft high breaking wave that left me with my mouth hanging open.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sun bath, writer's book and dinner.

Hi everyone. I've got a bit behind with posting, and with my inbox because I'm ill (sore throat that has migrated down to a chest infection -- yuck). So if you wrote to me and I haven't replied, or if you should have been added to the Roll of Honour by now, I'll be with you in due course.

1. He puts the deckchair out so I can sit half in sun and half in shade.

2. I picked up Russel T. Davies' book, Dr Who: The Writer's Tale (finally, Clare. What took you so long?) Even with brain preoccupied with deploying antibodies and maintaining white blood cell morale, I'm taking in so much about the writing process. I am always thrilled to read books about writing by respected writers. I find myself thinking 'yes, yes, this is how it is. This is what I feel, too. That's what I'm trying to do.'

3. 'Dinner's ready', he calls. And it's waiting for me on a plate.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Juice, ill and watch the skies.

1. Hot apple juice with honey stirred in.

2. I have spent the day sleeping and waking -- I seem to hit a wall after a couple of hours awake, and doze off wherever I am.

3. A documentary about the Cloud Appreciation Society reminds us to look up.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Networking, bleach and back from work.

1. Joining a social networking service and seeing a flood of people I know. I'm on Twitter as threebt -- feel free to follow if that's what you like.

2. I like to hang pieces of white winter bedlinen in the spring sunshine before it is packed away.

3. He comes home bringing the latest installment of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which cheers me up a lot.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Where we live now, box of books and glad I did.

1. At the bus stop he tells me that last summer they had a small swimming pool in their garden, and a waterslide. 'It was full of kids. My children's friends came, and they brought their friends.' He tells me that he's moved to a new street this summer. 'Everyone says it's a bit rough, but it's fine. So long as you say "All right mate" when you see them, don't ignore them as you go past, it's fine. They'll give you a hand with anything, and don't expect nothing for it, either.'

2. I like picking up a couple of books from the bookshop. One is the lovely Homemade: Gorgeous Things to Make with Love. It's clothbound in gorgous aquamarine, and heavy with thick, satisfying pages.

3. Nick comes home, and a great wave of aching tiredness crashes down on me. I can hardly bear to go to art. But as always, when I look at what I've done, I'm glad that I took the risk.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Illumination, sundog and cakewalk.

1. The low morning sun shines through stained glass purple petals of rabbit's ears lavender.

2. A rainbow smudge in the clouds -- sundog.

2-and-a-half. A pair of male blackbirds disagree about their boundary. They fly at each other, tails fanned, beaks wide. Then one crouches low, small in his submission. But it's all a trick -- he's up again, stout with outrage.

3. There is a white chocolate and blueberry cookie waiting for me when I get home. Nick says it's from the Moonwalk team at his work.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Red and white, the morning after and an alternative.

Vote for this blog over at Dorset Cereals. Who will be the first?

1. Stacking slices of cheese and tomato (pips scraped out) in a sandwich.

2. I am glad I walked to work on a sunny morning after a night of rain.

3. The BBC i-player is runs on my work computer once again, so I can spend my lunch break listening to a play instead of mooching round DIY shops.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Small rain, do it right and network.


Thank you so much for all your birthday wishes. I'm glad I made the effort to mark the occasion.

1. A little rain makes hesitant rings in a puddle.

2. My colleague who moonlights as a pub landlady and creatrix of fairy cakes brings my fish and chips to the table and says: 'I told him, don't you dare mess this up. I know these people.'

3. I like seeing people I know swapping contact details with each other.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trick of the light, cherries and wet wool.

Today is Three Beautiful Things' fifth birthday. I can't quite believe I've been going for five years -- that's 1,825 days, and 5,475 beautiful things (plus a few extra for the days when I couldn't pick just three).

Thanks for reading everyone -- I really appreciate your company and your comments.

For anyone in the Tunbridge Wells area, I'll be at the Guinea Butt on Calverley Road from 6.30pm. Come over and celebrate with me.

1. Sunlight and shadow from the cupressus tree play on the wall outside the kitchen window.

2. Discovering that our nearest newsagents is a source of Polish cherry jaffacakes.

3. The lanolin smell of a wool jumper drying.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mercury, sing it and national dress.

1. They have for sale an antique thermometer; a blob of mercury the size of my little fingertip contained in a glass bulb. I move it gently to see the not-of-this-world quicksilver re-arrange itself. I put it back (with some regret) as I'd rather not have the responsibility of a toxic metal in the house.

2. A little girl in pink marches towards us. She's not even hip-high yet, but she knows the words to Mama Mia well enough to belt them out in time to her steps.

3. At the market, the lady who sells the meatballs and the herrings and the red cabbage salad wears a yellow and blue Swedish dress.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Applause, boy's own and gale.

1. I am still watching the lettuce raising its pairs of seed leaves to the sky. I have almost convinced myself to hear them clapping to cheer each other on.

2. He's carrying his skateboard under one arm. The other arm is wrapped around his girlfriend's waist.

3. The coolant circulating in the new fridge sounds like a gale blowing beyond thick stone walls.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Leaves, lines and un-colour.

1. In a tray on the ledge outside our bedroom window, lettuce seeds push a crowd of green leaves out of the compost.

2. Using line shading to give shape to a drawing of a rusty key.

3. It's satisfying take off nail polish by dipping each finger into a sponge soaked in acetone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm really hoping no-one noticed the paid-for text link to a printing service that I put on the sidebar on Tuesday and took down yesterday. It turns out that it was connected to a scam involving free business cards.

If you ordered anything from the site concerned, go to
Hubbers' blogpost for more information on what the scam is all about, and what you need to do.

I dropped the ball on this one, for which I apologise. I feel terrible, particularly because I would normally do a thorough check before agreeing to such a link. A quick Google search would have told me all I needed to know. The company often sends leaflets in Amazon parcels, so I guess I let that familiarity cloud my judgement. Also, with redundancy hanging over my head, I was a bit too eager to snap up the payment they offered.

Once again, I am very sorry, particularly to anyone who has been inconvenienced. I will be more careful about who I choose to work with in future.

1. Wet day. Someone has rubbed the town's pencil lines with their thumb until the background has disappeared and the foreground is more of a suggestion than actual houses, buses and people.

2. Glass green lettuce in a blue-and-white bowl.

3. I have been looking forward to the Ted Chiang story (72 Letters) in Steampunk, a wonderful Vandermeer anthology. I love Chiang's thoughtful, beautiful stories. I find myself turning them over and over long after I've finished reading. He works very slowly and meticulously -- his body of work is tiny -- and it shows in the polished finish and the way the complex concepts have space to work their way into the reader's mind.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Reset, watering and it's summer.

Anyone else for 3BT's fifth birthday party drinks at a pub in Tunbridge Wells? Drop me an email if you're coming.

1. After a sleep, the path seems clearer.

2. The sound of a watering can filling up.

3. It's summer because the sticky sash window in the bedroom opens fully.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From the east, shrt pree-sentay-shun abaut your nyew hoawt tub and icy.

1. This fresh east wind has turned the placid air upside down and inside out until no-one knows where they are or what they should be doing.

2. We three are transfixed -- in Homebase -- by an inflatable hot-tub presentation. It's not so much the lifestyle of year-round back garden cavorting with fair-haired beautiful people that has attracted our interest; it's that the narrator appears to be a Danish speech synthesiser.

3. Putting a tub of ice cream in our new icebox.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Desolation, aeronauts and home tasks.

1. We are shocked that the desolate, delapidated, tumble weed and dog shit Marine Parade of Folkestone was recommended in a tourist leaflet. We try to find decayed grandeur, but see only neglect and sadness. Then a path under a bridge tempts us into a garden of wandering paths, pine tree shade and sculptures.

2. "Scree-sree scree-sree," insist the swifts who are throwing themselves around the blue space above us.

3. To come home, add a few treasures to the window ledge and inspect the health and happiness of my plants.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Narrow guage, over the fence and history lesson.

1. The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is so narrow that you could only just drop a foot ruler between the tracks.

2. The line between Romney Sands and Dungeness runs between two rows of houses. Heads (an aristocratic greyhound, a sun-red man with tattoos and medallions, a small and friendly hoodie with his mother) pop over back fences to see us go past.

3. I talk with an ATS re-enactor and she explains some of the things my grandmother talks about -- the hat band over the top; and the mysterious bootlace hairstyle. We learn from a Desert Rat that the men were allowed two pints of water a day (for everything) and used petrol to wash as it was more widely available. The Desert Rat tells a passing boy re-enactor 'You've got yer belt on upside down. You'd be on a charge for that.' The boy disappears into a tent to sort himself out.

4. The whole reason we have come down here is to see a replica of the armoured train that patrolled the railway during world war two. It stands in a siding, a sad grey plywood shell. But once I've seen some pictures of the original, I can imagine how satisfying it would have been to patrol up and down, ready to defend against the German invasion.

5. I liked seeing the father and two toddlers who sat in the next compartment tumble out at the end of the line to meet mum, pushchair and terrier.

A change of clothes, it is real and luck for dinner.

1. At the last minute, I change my mind and tuck a dress into my weekend bag.

2. The train is crowded and we have to sit apart for the whole journey. I reach across the aisle and pat Nick's arm to make sure we really are together and we really are going away to the seaside.

3. I hadn't expected to walk in and get a table at The Little Bistro -- it has just 16 seats. I'm so glad we did. An ancient Australian bluesman came in and played for us -- 'This is a little song I wrote a long time ago about...' The whisper went from table to table that he is very famous and 'a friend of the family'. We got to try a perfect pan-fried slip -- a delicate variety of sole that is only available on the Kent coast for a few weeks a year. And lamb from Romney Marsh, slow-cooked into tender shreds and sitting in a pool of burgundy gravy.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Blue book, emptying a bag and going nowhere to do nothing.

1. I come home from work and find a parcel -- Fiona Robyn's The Blue Handbag. I've joined her 100 Readers project. Once I've finished reading and done the interview, I need to pass the book on to someone else. I love the idea of books being re-read by a whole succession of people. If anyone likes the sound of it, let me know and I'll pass it on to you.

2. Tipping the last quarter bag of compost into a new planter. I like the dead weight pouring and tumbling away.

3. One of the other students in my art class says her daughter has been camping in Spain since March -- just relaxing on the beach, eating and sleeping. She felt she'd never had a gap year, so she and her fella went out there to stay until their money ran out.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

May scheme, asparagus and rhubarb.

1. All the hedges are May green and foamy white.

2. Fat and thin asparagus spears in our vegetable box. I like the way they change colour as they cook from dusky green with purple chevrons to bright seaweed jade.

3. I like taking a dish of slow-cooked rhubarb out of the oven and stirring it so that the stalks fall into tangled threads.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Not doing it, squatters and popcorn.

1. She says she can't stand the sight of this scribbled on proof. I take it off her and do the corrections. I'm glad that someone else has hours like that; and knowing that I can get the favour back later on.

2. There is a piece of wasteland on the industrial estate, waiting for... waiting for I don't know what. At the edge, a white lilac thrives, and in its shade on a bank, a tumble of late primroses.

3. There wasn't much corn, but it had a lot of pop; and once I've filled a few snack boxes for work, there is a lot left for us to have with our supper.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Laundry, bark bark bark and the night in.

1. I take a shirt from the wardrobe. It smells of sky and sunlight because it has been dried outside on the washing line.

2. The two dogs take turns to thrust their heads out of the catflap and bark greetings to us.

3. Dinner is in the oven. We are in the bath.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Garbage out, doing itself and yellow effort.

1. We carry the recycling across town and get some space back in our kitchen.

2. The occasional rattle of falling ice suggests the defrosting fridge is hard at work, even if I am not.

3. Of the three laburnum trees by the accountants' wall, the smallest has put on the best show of yellow flowers.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Chiaoscuro, drapery and utopia

1. I like the mixture of sun and shade in the gardens along the Embankment.

2. We go to see the Van Dyck exhbition at Tate Britain. I love to see how artists express vibrant coloured silk. Another thing I like about these portraits is the way they engage with the viewer -- there were a lot of eyes following us around the gallery.

3. I come to the end of Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed, which I have been enjoying very much. I like utopian science fiction -- particularly if the utopia is put under the microscope. This one is about a physicist trying to work on an idea that his anarchist society need.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The little garden, a cutting and priests.

We've got a venue, and a promise of cake, for the 3BT fifth birthday event here in Tunbridge Wells on Monday 18 May -- please drop me an email if you'd like to come and I will fill you in: iamfive@threebeautifulthings.co.uk.

1. Inspecting the plants on the window ledges -- I like to see how my seedlings have changed each day.

2. Our conversation stops short at the sight of a flowering tree we don't recognise. The leaves and look like a cherry, but the flowers hang in small loose cones, like a miniature lilac. I take a cutting in the hopes of having one of my own.

3. I like watching Father Ted because it makes both of us laugh.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Don't get up, framed and negative space.

1. Hit the wrong alarm button and sleep in by accident.

2. The framer hasn't had a chance to use this frame yet ('It's fascinating. It looks like it's been charred') and would like to very much. But we agree with regret that the one of black and coppery sepia goes better.

3. We learn about the places in a picture where things are not. We are asked to draw the bits that aren't chair, and a light clicks on in my head. Drawing a chair that shoots off in all dimensions -- difficult. Copying flat triangles and parallelograms, then (eventually) filling in the bits of chair -- do-able.