Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fruit, foxglove and a start.

My friend Chris, who was mentioned in the first 3BT post, is hoping for enough votes to make his cat Guido The Face of Wiskas. He really is a beautiful thing, and Chris is ridiculously fond of him, so your votes would make my day! You don't have to register -- it's just a click and you're away.

1. I go to grab my phone from my bag, and the box of strawberries sings out a perfumed breath.

2. A lone foxglove growing out of the cliff under Rock Cottage.

3. Starting to read a new book.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Can't catch me, engine and that's enough.

1. Early in the morning there is a smear of something white -- potato starch, or spilt milk -- on the worktop. But when I try to wipe it off, it turns out to be sunlight creeping round to the dark side of the house.

2. Hearing the steam engine working faster to pull us up a hill.

3. He reaches up and hands the cake back to his mother. She says: 'Lovely: you've licked off the jam, and that's it?'

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Baroque, paddling and outrunning the rain.

1. At the V&A's baroque exhibition, we can put our faces close to a ewer decorated with putti. Two of them are fighting: one has the other by the chin and is trying to push him back down into the sea.

2. The paddling pool in the V&A courtyard is full of children, damp-around-the-edges. Japanese women try to get in shot with a tiny and determined person dressed head-to-knee in a bottle green sun suit.

3. On the train, we see clouds piling up behind us. After we get home, Twitter and Facebook come alive with snippets about the sudden and torrential rain in London.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In the sun, here it comes and retro pulp.

1. On a hot day, I like to sit on the bench half way up the zig-zag path and watch people toiling up the hill.

2. While we are having our evening catch-up, a suitable title for one of my radio-plays-in-progress pops out of my mouth like an unexpected sneeze.

3. Nick produces another retro pulp film from his stash -- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow -- a wonderful piece of art deco noir action involving giant robots rampaging through wartime New York and planes that turn into submarines.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stay green, in the shade and sweets.

I've woken up my old blog Once Around the Park. 30-word accounts of a daily walk along the same route.

1. I like this time of year, when it is hot, but still green.

2. I am always afraid to put the shading into my pictures -- it's hard with portraits because the directional shading I'm so fond of looks like wrinkles, or sunburn. But when the teacher warns us that profile pictures can end up looking flat, I take a deep breath and give it a go. At the end of the class, he praises the depth of our portraits.

3. Sharing a box of mithai with Nick -- we're lucky enough to have a brilliant exotic supermarket in Tunbridge Wells (The Spice Store on Grosvenor Road), and a bite or two of an Indian sweet make a good change to our usual Jaffacakes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beetroots, chorizo and shutting out.

I'm looking for part-time work: does anyone know of a position (two or three days a week) in or around Tunbridge Wells for a diligent editorial person with a bit of web experience? I would be very grateful if you would drop me an email.

1. Fresh beetroots, hard and dense. They are the purple of dark places and secrets.

2. I fry some juicy red chorizo as a treat. I like to see the sausage skins turn opaque and then black.

3. We turn off the news, draw the curtains and lock the front door: we've seen enough of the outside world for today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reds and yellows, herbs and soup.

1. I take Louise a few red and yellow nasturtiums that I grew from seed. As I pick them, I notice -- really notice for the first time -- that only one yellow plant came up; and that the orange ones are all different: deep ember red; a flat plastic orange; flame colours and scarlet.

2. I like chopping coriander, and a few seedlings thinned from my spring onion trough.

3. A bowl of hot and sour soup with a few noodles and some pieces of chicken hidden in its corn-gold depths.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who are you like, the marvel and video gaming.

1. The estate agent tells us that he found his seven-year-old son crying because he likes books, not football: "I'm not like the other boys." "But," the estate agent told him, "You are like me because I love books, too."

2. The other estate agent admires my sunflower and says in his rapid-fire French accent: "I give these to the children: they grow so quickly and..." he shows how their eyes widen in wonder.

3. The flat is empty -- apart from me, a Peanut Butter Chunky Kitkat and Lego Indiana Jones (which Nick gave me for my birthday).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Orders, useful and beautiful and a dye.

1. Deadheading. I want you to concentrate on flowers, not capers. The nose-twisting smell of nasturtium sap.

2. Nick's mother tells me to spend it on "something nice that you need."

3. This plant food is such a bright blue that I am afraid it will tint my garden with undersea colours.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Be still, visitors and he ate it.

1. This morning at 7am, I am finally allowed to open the parcels that have been appearing all week. Then I am kicked out of bed for wriggling and told to do some writing so my poor tired fiance can have a decent lie in.

2. The sight of three friends walking towards me down the drive.

3. Fenella hands me a beautiful card with a real, tiny piece of knitting on it (complete with teeny needles) and apologises for the lack of present: she left it on the side, and her husband ate it.

4. I pick up a book of Viking Romances given to me last month by Plutarch. I am amazed at how violent and sexy and wild an rude and ALIVE they are.

5. We watch one of Nick's presents to me -- Australia -- and I let it play me like a lute. I laugh and pull the blanket over my face by turns; and at the end, because I've invested so much in the characters, and because I love 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow', tears spring to my eyes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Attention-seeking, the queue and getting rid.

1. I draw the curtain behind the monitor -- the bright sun makes it hard for me to work. But it still teases me for attention by projecting the pattern of the nets through the curtain.

2. We have to wait a while in the butchers -- but that's all right because it gives us time to decide exactly what we would like. His meat is laid out on antique china platters and dishes.

3. I need more space again. The stack of books in the hall is waist high by the time I've finished.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cricket week, boys and the end of the day.

3BT has passed the quarter million hit mark yesterday, which was very pleasing. Thanks for your continued support.

And my cousin Amy texted recently to say that she'd seen an elderly couple in a shopping centre ballroom dancing to no music.

1. Nick shares some of his favourite cricket noises: the sound the scoreboard being updated; and the twack of the ball hitting the advertising hoardings.

2. A party of schoolboys had got bored of watching the real cricket, and started their own game using a plastic chair for a wicket, and shoes for bats.

3. Once supper is enjoyed and washed up, I like the hour when we sit down on the sofa and lean against each other.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Age gap, hats here and moving back in.

1. Overheard: "I'm the oldest, Mommy. Stop treating me like the youngest."

2. Overheard at Waterloo Station on Ladies Day at Ascot: "All these beautiful women wandering about with these like massive hats on... And I'm all like:" She veers from side to side to show how the finery has been distracting her.

3. We put the mirror and the towel rings back in the bathroom, clean everything and start to move our stuff back in. It feels finished.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Howzat, decorating and bee.

1. Nick looks so happy to be striding off to the cricket with his sun hat, packed lunch and book.

2. A second coat of paint makes the colour deeper and purer. We did the first coat in the winter -- now we can open all the windows as we work, which makes such a difference.

3. A stout bee at work deep inside one of my orange nasturtiums

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The light, staying out of the rain and the backyard.

Fiona Robyn has interviewed me on 100 Readers about her book The Blue Handbag. I've passed my copy on to Lucy over at The Antidote.

1. I collared the window cleaners while they were working on the flat next door. Within 20 minutes, they've done a job we were dreading, and the flat is full of light.

2. I like to feel raindrops falling on the back of my neck as I pot up some seedlings.

2. The estate agent gives us a lift home because it's raining.

3. She has strawberries in a clay pot; and parsley grown from seed growing in her backyard that is shining wet after a rainstorm.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Froglets, bat cave and elder flowers.

1. Stand still on the bank of the pond. Tiny frogs are getting out of our way.

2. I stand on tip-toes to peer through the hole in the walled up bat cave. The air inside is cold and musty, and I can make out junk by the light that slants in through the high slots left for the bats.

3. Along the way, I pick a posy of elder flowers. I think that these creamy, foamy white flowers are the sort of thing I'd like to have for my wedding -- but of course, that's not possible for November; and the white flowers wouldn't show up in the photos. I take them home and make some elderflower cordial to drink before supper.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Basket, got it back and anniversary.

1. I like walking through town carrying a trug, containing a few plants for a friend.

2. I am glad to collect my engagement ring from the jeweller -- and now it doesn't keep slipping off my finger.

3. This is the time of year we celebrate our anniversary. We go to the restaurant where we had our first date, and spend the evening grinning at each other and not saying much.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Last day, front pages and planting on.

1. I'm so tired and bored of my walk to work and today is the last day I have to do it.

2. At lunch, we pass round the front pages that we have -- in secret -- been making for all the leavers. I think the one made for me is the funniest: the lead is about Clar Grunt, 12, walking to Essex to smash up the Sub-O-Matic 5000 with 'a small hammer'.

3. My tomato seedlings resemble children on their first day at school. They look very little -- but so grown up -- transplanted into their trough.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Trainees, open eye and last of the light.

1. Two guide dog puppies (long legs and big paws) in the shopping centre. The yellow one watches the tip of a furled umbrella carried by a woman walking past. He tries so hard to leave it, but at last can't resist having a chew. The black dog fails by stretching up to grab a shopping bag.

2. We are doing self-portraits in art. I liked drawing a practice eye and suddenly finding that it was looking at me.

3. Nick is not amused when I call him away from his baseball to walk back up the hill and look at the sunset. 'I've been walking down this road for 20 years. I know about the sunsets.' But this one is particularly good -- the edges of the clouds shine as if they have been heated to white hot.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's raining, good post and reading in the bath.

Hallo to all the Hungarians visiting. Thanks for your interest.

1. If it's raining, I take the bus into work instead of walking. Sometimes, it looks like it's going to rain and then doesn't -- and I feel bad for spending money I could have saved, and guilty for not taking the exercise. Today there were definite rain drops, and I felt I'd made the right choice.

2. In my pile of mail is a card from the postman saying I have a parcel waiting; and a snail badge from Sheer Sumptuosity.

3. I lie back in a violet-scented bubble bath and start reading Twisted Wing -- it's a gory university murder mystery set in a fictional Cambridge College. I'm not normally a serial killer story fan; but I do like a good university novel. It's a real gore-spattered page-turner, full of solid characters that you love and hate by turns. One of the view-point characters is a forensic psychologist, and it's fascinating (and educational) to see the world through his eyes, too.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wet day, in waiting and dungeon crawl.

I think I mentioned before that I'm on Twitter, and for those who are that way inclined, this is my profile. I'm playing with the idea of using #3bt to mark beautiful thing tweets, and hoping some other people will join in.

1. My garden on a wet morning because I can skip the watering for today.

2. A nasturium flower in a caul the colour of orange pith is waiting for the sun to come out.

3. I like the surreal elements of Tim's dungeons -- including a statue of a monkey in a fez that turned out to be a teleporter; and an electrified bed that bounced Nick's character across the room.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The end is coming, pet care and broken promises

1. There is not a great deal to do at work -- we're mainly sitting around waiting for the end. I'm thoroughly enjoying killing time playing my Nintendo DS.

2. The caterpillar in the roses has left droppings on the table. Nick suggests we consider getting it a caterpillar litter tray.

3. We tune in to the BBC's Springwatch, enticed by the promise of badgers that never materialise.We are consoled by the sight of a stoat rolling its prey, a dead rabbit about twice its size; and parent birds cramming insects into the gaping beaks of their young; and peregrine falcons taking their first flights off the tower of Chichester Cathedral; and hairy seahorses floating in eel grass.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Larva, chocolate spread and mouthful.

How Publishing Really Works is one of my favourite writing blogs for its wise advice. Jane marked her first birthday on Sunday with a blog pitch party. Go over and make some new friends.

1. There is a caterpillar on one of our roses. He emerges from a den deep in the scented heart of a Gertrude Jekyll. He is mottled and splotted in handsome python colours. I try to tempt him off with a piece of lettuce -- but judging by the nibbled petals, he prefers flowers to leaves.

2. Chocolate spread sandwiches.

3. As we are leaving the house, he puts a big piece of toffee in my mouth.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Come up smelling of roses, tiny garden and among the chores.

1. The kitchen smells of roses from the two bunches in mugs on the table.

2. The Alpine strawberries are making hard green promises of sweet red dots.

3. He puts a stack of dishes into the washing up bowl, and bubbles come up -- blop, blop, blop.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Treasure chest, picking roses and king of herbs.

1. My mother and I pull her wedding dress out from the bottom of the camphor wood chest.

2. I stand in the garden after the rain and my father hands me roses to take home.

3. The smell of basil fills the car.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Two shawls, red dots and regrouping.

1. Outside a basement flat, two shawls are airing -- pure turquoise and pure orange.


2. The beautician says: 'Oh you've got some lovely erythema forming.' I don't know what erythema are -- turns out, they're the red dots that appear after a leg wax. She explains that they are where blood rushes to heal the hair follicles; and they are a sign of healthy skin.


3. The subs go out to dinner to regroup and talk over our situation -- it's good to see people relaxing after so many weeks of worry.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Get out, a melon and catching up.

Various bits today:

  • Ruth from Sumptuosity (which sells beautiful embroidered embellishments) emailed me to say that she was 3BTing on her blog. She said that she was told about 3BT by a pair of customers, a mother and daughter who write their own 3BTs each day in paper diaries. So hi to them! And hallo to all you other people who quietly 3BT offline, or on private blogs. I'd love to hear your stories if you're willing to tell.

  • My sister Rosey has posted such a cool picture of an impromptu tight-rope walker.

1. At 12.30, they chase us out into the summer and tell us not to come back until two.

2. The smell of a ripe melon.

3. I like lying on the bed and telling Nick about my day, and hearing what he's been doing.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Irises, aeronauts and a walk.

1. This garden is flying irises -- the blue of deep sea and the yellow of suns drawn in wax crayon.

2. The swifts are louder than the engine of the bus.

3. In the middle of the day, to walk under warm air ticking with crickets in a tangled field starred with buttercups.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Roses, lemonade and summer drink.

1. Tea roses growing bravely on wasteland.

2. He has such twinkly eyes. 'R Whites is the best lemonade,' he says looking at the can I am about to buy. 'Ice cold, there's nothing like it.'

3. I like cutting up fruit for a glass of Pimm's.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sunday best, old advert and mash.

1. People, freshly washed and ironed, make their way to church.

2. On the brick end of a house, the shadow of a poster advertising tailoring: bespoke suits: four shillings and sixpence.

3. The strange alchemy that leads to creamy, tasty mashed potatoes.