Friday, April 30, 2010

Change in the weather, The Simpsons and cooking asparagus.

1. The weather changes. Large drops of rain kick up that earthy smell.

2. I watch two episodes of The Simpsons one after the other.

3. Silver-grey bubbles form on the bottom of the asparagus pan. When I tip the water away, it is the green of a pond in high summer.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's so funny, sign of spring and a whole lot of dodgy dealing.

1. I can hear a baby laughing and laughing at her parents bringing in their washing.

2. Commuters walking home in their shirt sleeves.

3. We stroll down to Trinity to watch Micmacs (and eat ice cream). It's a funny, dark little film about a man, aided by his freaky friends, getting revenge on the arms dealers that ruined his life.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The sun reveals all, the garden and magnolia.


1. The sun in the yard reveals secrets. Midges dancing in the morning. A thread of cobweb drifting skywards.

2. To mix up bright blue plant food in a watering can and glug it on to the pots and troughs (and the former fridge salad drawer) that are giving me so much pleasure.

3. Thick magnolia petals lie in drifts in the courtyard -- and there's more to come.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blackbird, orange socks and telling.

1. Blackbird not willing to leave his place on the fence as I pass. I look him right in the yellow-rimmed eye.

2. Small boy runs down a quiet street. Luminous orange socks.

3. No more secrets.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bread pudding, paper cuts and re-potting.

And you can see my other favourite beautiful things in my Google Reader starred items list. The 3BT bundle is here.

1. A piece of dense bread pudding and a banana.

2. The chance to mess about with paper and a very sharp scalpel.

3. To throw away sour soil and rotten leaves when re-potting a plant.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Aranjuez, a few moments in the sun and not washing up.

1. A choral version of Rodrigo's Aranjuez concerto woke me up yesterday morning -- it's a plaintive love song, set in the gardens of Aranjuez. It sounds to me like a couple calling to each other in the morning, just as its getting light. We heard it on BBC Radio 3's CD Review. You might be able to listen again (go to 2h36mins), depending on where you are in the world. Or the CD is Espana: A Choral Postcard From Spain.


2. Nick comes back from his errand. He smells of fresh air and sunshine.

3. "I'll do the washing up. You go and have a bath."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rowan tree, logo and St George's day.

1. I thought the rowan tree had died in the snow -- but silver green grey buds are pricking up like the ears of watchful rabbits.

2. I really like the Google logo doodles because they remind me of high days and special anniversaries. Today they had a knight in shining armour and a blue dragon for our own St George.

3. Late night text message from Oli who I used to work with: "I heard people shouting at the dodgy pub at the bottom of the road, banging things about. I thought it was a fight and went to investigate. Turns out it was a bunch of morris dancers 'doing' St George's day." It's odd, because earlier a picture of a smug-looking John Lennon flashed up on the TV, and I immediately thought of Oli's track, Bored of the Beatles.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lime time, nap and moving garden.

1. The lime tree leaves look less limp than they did at the start of the week -- summer is gaining strength.

2. I take a nap after lunch -- cool blue and white bedding in cool white room.

3.Pots on the window ledge, planted up with seeds and some hope. This garden will move with us to our new home.

PS: Rosey left for Svalbad earlier this week to co-lead a scientific-exploration expedition with the British Schools Exploring Society. She's worked incredibly hard to get on this expedition, and it's an amazing opportunity to put her outdoor skills to good use. There's a note on their blog this morning to say that they've arrived safely.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Seeds through the post, playwright and bird feeder.

1. Through the post comes a fat envelope of free seeds from the BBC's Dig In project. At the end of the day, when all my work is done, I start to plant them up.

2. I interview the playwright John Godber because one of his shows, Men of the World is coming to Trinity next month. He has a soft Yorkshire accent that I like very much indeed. When I transcribe my shorthand, I enjoy hearing it all over again in my head. "It's a very human activity, of humans re-enacting history for other humans to watch." His humans are pronounced  yewman.

3. There are two blue tits that share the feeder in the rowan tree. They are small enough to work at it together; or sometimes one sits on a nearby branch and waits patiently for the other to finish. I love the way they share, as well as their bright lime-rind yellows and sky blues.

Succession, wallflowers and game on.

1. This cherry tree has shaken off its blossom. Another is ready to take its place.

2.My winter-flowering wallflowers have out out their ragged red-orange-yellow petals. Finally.

3. Games night: We complete our mission without dying, and without the police turning up.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Interview, lunch in the park and

1. I pick up some copies of the Cream Tea guide that I wrote last month. The satisfaction of seeing my words in print (and knowing that I'm going to be paid) never goes away.

2. To sit in the park and eat a sandwich when the sun is shining.

3. I've just started out on Amelia Critchlow's Experimental Art E-Course. I sit down at the kitchen table and play in my sketch book.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tribal roar, raspberry and new moon.

1. As we are leaving, we are startled by a roar. I jump. "What's happened? What's happened?"
"Someone's just scored." Nick points to one of the upstairs flats -- our quiet and unassuming neighbour is leaning out of the window jabbing his thumbs at the sky. "10 seconds to go," he calls by way of explanation.

2. I am not above stealing a raspberry from Fenella's plate.

3. Neat arc of new moon. The shadow side is waiting.

Wake up, nesting and blossom.

1. After a sleepless night, to get up and do the work that has been keeping me awake.

2. A flickering bird darts into the eaves.

3. A breath of wind. Cherry petals spinning across the drive.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The walk, pushing out and the hosepipe.

1. "Do you want to go for a walk?" asks Nick as he comes in from work. I've had my face pressed up against a computer screen all day, so of course I'm keen.

2. We see violets and celandines and one pansy growing between the bricks of the pavement.

3. In a Channel 4 documentary about early film, Paul Merton shows this 49-second beauty by the Lumière Brothers -- L'Arroseur Arrosé. It's a simple conceit but it made me laugh. As Paul Merton commented, it works very well in film because it isn't the sort of gag you can easily do on stage.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Right tools for the job, gothic novel and the revue.

1. Writing on a CD with a fine new permanent pen purchased particularly for this task.

2. I'm really loving The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (although I do want to shout at the self-destructively virtuous and passive Laura Fairlie). When I settle down to read, I disappear into that dark world -- the brooding lake and the oppressive house and Mr Fairlie's shuttered study.


3. I went with a writing friend to the Comedy Cafe at Trinity -- and one of the acts was the pant-wettingly funny Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue (there's a video). Their set was a cavalcade of song lyric and typographic japery to a quick-fire soundtrack. It was very clever, and very slick.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Working day, what's going on here and mint.

1. How pleasing to interview a star of stage and screen while wearing pyjamas, and then to lie in the bath with one's husband until after 11am.

2. We look out of the waiting room window and see the police in the yard below -- they are shifting sacks and bundles out of a van. Very suspicious if you ask me.

3. Mint is burgeoning in the pot outside the front door, and I pick some to go with the courgettes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Busy-busy, expedition and the final wonder.

1. This morning, everyone wants a piece of me. I think this is what being a mother must feel like.

2. Rosey is off to the Arctic this weekend, and her worries put mine into perspective. Will a half litre bottle be large enough to pee into when she can't get out of her tent during a snow storm. Where is she going to find a black bra with no underwires in her weird size at short notice (she's not changing her clothes until June so a white bra will turn a distressing colour).

3. We watch the last Wonders of the Solar System -- Professor Brian Cox's final wonder is our civilisation. This put a big smile on my face. I fully admit that there are a lot of things wrong with what we are doing to the planet, but I do get tired of the way we run ourselves down. When you think about things like microchips, bicycles, chocolate biscuits, four-year crop rotation, neurology and German expressionist film, you have to admit that we have achieved an awful lot.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Seeds, theatre and new leaves.

1. I buy some packets of vegetable seeds from Oxfam. The man behind the counter spends some time looking carefully at one. As I turn to go, he says: "Er, what's mesclun, do you know?"
"I think it's a sort of lettuce." I pause. I know what we're both thinking. "Not mescaline."
We have a useful conversation about peyote and legal mushrooms.

2. I take Rosey to the theatre as a surprise -- one of her favourite actresses every (Honeysuckle Weeks from Foyle's War) is appearing in a touring Agatha Christie play, Witness for the Prosecution. It's excellent, thrilling and funny and strongly recommended.

3. Walking home at the end of the night -- chestnut leaves hang damp and exhausted after busting out of their buds.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Down the hill, smoked salmon sandwich and end of the series.

1. To walk down the hill in the middle of a spring day without wearing a coat; and to see magnolia buds kindly waiting for the cherry blossom to have its day.

2. A sandwich made of soft white bread with smoked salmon and cucumber.

3. We watch the last episode of Lark Rise, and leave the characters happy in their own particular ways. There is a new season coming, and their lives will be turned upside down again, but at least they'll have a contented winter.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Putting the bed back together, pizza and Beast Below.

1. The rattling, squeaky whirr of bolts being tightened in a metal bed frame.

2. We go out and I eat the pizza (pepperoni with fresh tomatoes, mozarella and an egg on top) that I have been longing for so vividly that it's almost painful.

3. Cracking episode of Dr Who -- The Beast Below. It's set on Starship UK -- the country (except Scotland, who wanted their own ship) has escaped from a planetary catastrophe on to a starship. Sinister fairground machines keep the denizens in a state of fear, and disobedience is rewarded with a trip to the Beast Below. The Doctor swears he never interferes -- but a little girl is crying...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

So below, drying out and work harder.

1. Spring flowers are fallen stars.

2. crick-crack crick crick-crack. Pine cones are opening in the hot bright air.

3. A crow watches the collared doves. A mean boss on a warm Friday afternoon.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Lettuce, decorated and Dover sole.

1. Abel and Cole sent us a bag of oriental salad leaves. It looks rather as if someone on a country walk has pulled a handful of wild greenery and brought it home for me. The different textures (large and floppy horseradish tasting leaves; tender, juicy stems with peppery leaflets) are a refreshing variation on our usual supermarket Little Gem and bland Butterhead.

2. The painter asks me to look over the bedroom. "Is it all OK?" It's brighter and cleaner and the ceiling seems higher. The room has been enticed into the modern world by a diligent man and his roller.

3. To dust a couple of Dover sole fillets with with flour and cayenne pepper, and fry them for a couple of minutes until they are warm gold and heated through.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Pink sky, blackbird and cherry blossom.

1. To wake early in an unfamiliar room and see that the eastern sky is pink.

2. Our blackbird splashing in the puddle by the bins.

3. The cherry blossom is out in our street. Nick says: 'It was just like this when I bought the flat.'

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Seedling, the week's work and waiting for me.

Happy Frog has made a list of eight positive things from her month. I'm thinking that I might try taking stock like this -- it would be a good cure for that awful feeling that life is passing you by.

1. The new Christmas tree has shed its seed case and is uncurling an alien fistful of green fingers.

2. To spend a morning pulling together my week's work. Doors open for me at a touch.

3. To come into a pub and find my husband waiting with his newspaper and a brandy.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Suck, simnal cake and sofa bed.

Here are my favourite beautiful things from this week. As always, the long-list is here. You can even subscribe to its feed and watch it growing as I do my Sunday reading!

1. To use a vacuum cleaner to suck dust off the skirting board under the bed.



2. My aunt baked us a simnal cake, and decorated it with a Zepplin flying across the Caucasus Mountains (she can represent anything in cake). We have a gooey slice with our tea. I love marzipan.

3. We move into the sitting room because the painter is coming to freshen up the bedroom. The sofa is smaller than our normal bed, so it's all very cosy.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Remember, gentleman callers and our neighbours.

1. Granny Pat remembers my husband. "She said: 'That's Nick Law'," my aunt tells us.


2. Stand still. Willow tit (drab little fellow in a black velvet cap) and nut hatch (black Lone Ranger mask, blue-grey jacket and a waistcoat the colour of the ragged inner bark that clings to sweet chestnut rails).

3. "That bright star on the horizon is Venus," says my uncle. "And at about four o'clock, there's a dimmer one -- that's Mercury. You don't often see them together." Later, as we walk home from the station, we look at the sky again. "Do you see stars, or just dots of light?" Nick asks.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Swimming reindeer, Kingdom of Ife and lady detectives.

1. The entrance of the British Museum is Saturday crowded -- too many people, too many voices, too much to take in. We dive into a darkened side room to collect ourselves and find the swimming reindeer sculpture -- 13,000 years old. There's no rush.

2. We go to the British Museum for an exhibition of sculptures from Ife (a kingdom in what is now Nigeria). Looking at some of the bronze heads, cast between 12th and 15th century, I can see real people staring proudly back at me. Many of the sculptures were lost in times of unrest and then found again and honoured in sacred groves. Among the life-like heads, a granite mudfish stands out for me -- a roughly shaped finger of rock with rusted nail eyes and nostrils. And two terracotta rams heads -- I can see them alive in my, fine fellows standing out from the sharp-scented flock, their heads drawn back, and their lips curled to show their teeth.

3. Waiting at the station, I spot a book that Tim recommended to me some time ago -- two eccentric lady detectives solve mysteries in the gothic seaside town of Whitby. Never the Bride by Paul Magrs involves aliens-on-the-run, a devilish beauty salon and a hotel where eternal Christmas Eve is presided over by a terrifying vision of enforced jollity who calls herself Mrs Claus -- plus a fish and chip shop called Cod Almighty. I've finished it by bedtime.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Thermal socks, queuing in the chippie and your usual.

1. I am wearing the best and the softest thermal socks ever, and I'm damned if my day is going to be spoiled by leaking boots. Out comes the hairdryer.

2. We go down to the fish and chip shop. Most of the people queuing have Good Friday 20 per cent off vouchers curled in their hands. Those without say "Yes please" and "Cheers mate" to anyone offering up their un-used 10 per cent off in April vouchers.

3. Still queuing at Downtown Fishbar. "Your usual, Peter?" "Yes please."

Friday, April 02, 2010

Stop, a treat and good work.

1. I am having a frustrating day. It feels good to admit defeat, to stop work and play a bit of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

2. Nick comes home bearing a bag of goodies from Lush. We add a bath night on to our weekend plan; and spend some time poring over Lush Times, the catalogue so we know what we'd like to try next -- Lovely Jubblies décolletage cream is high on the list.

3. To receive an email saying "Good job".

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Embroiderer, sugar bowl and jeans.

1. I interview a lady who embroiders tactile copies of famous paintings for people with visual impairments. She uses textures to express temperature and colour. It's fascinating to experience a piece of stitching with my fingertips as well as my eyes. "Try touching it lightly -- it sort of tingles," she says.

2. She brings us coffee -- and her sugar bowl matches the dinner service that I inherited from my grandmother. She tells me that she found a pair of matching egg cups in a charity shop, and that she eats boiled eggs just for the pleasure of using them.

3. Two newly-washed pairs of jeans lounge on the bed, proud of their clean, cold blues (one deep water blue and one shallow water blue).