Monday, May 31, 2010

Solemn, stripping off and Going Postal.

1. The children are looking serious as they draw. Until George (who says he is drawing a nose) mentions bogeys.

2. It was cold enough for a coat this morning. On the way home, I carry it draped over my arm.

3.  I really enjoyed the first part of Going Postal -- partly because I like seeing Ankh Morpork brought to life, and partly because Moist Von Lipwig is a really engaging hero who makes a satisfying journey to redemption.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Found, the house and Lark Rise.

1. I take Nick to the gallery at Trinity -- it's the last day of a magical exhibition called Lost and Found. The room has been screened off with sheets, to create spaces stuffed with ephemera and small treasures. My favourite was a stack of postcards from northern France, all reading: "Peter, love Daddy" -- except the final one, which read: "Daddy's coming home". The reason I've come back for the final day is that visitors are invited to pin their own losts and founds, written on luggage labels, to the sheets, and I want to see the new stories.

2. Because I'm very excited to be getting a real house, Katie and I walk up the hill for a nosey at our new place to be. It just so happens that the landlord (and his small daughter on a set of reins) has dropped round to check the cleaning is satisfactory, so he lets us in for a look round. I take in some of the details I missed before -- a cellar, the gas hob and the giant fridge. The landlord's daughter says she wants to go in all the bedroom cupboards -- but when it comes to it, a peer round the door is enough.

3. An evening of folk music with The Lark Rise Band brought to life some of the songs and scenes from Flora Thompson's books.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Preparation, regular work and gluing.

1. When I pass the house we are going to rent, I can see through the open door that there are cleaners mopping the floors. Later, we get emails to say that we've passed the credit check.

2. I am offered regular work -- just a morning a week, but it's a good bit of security.

3. To mess around with torn paper and white glue.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sparrow boys, breath out and not worrying.

1. Sparrows are sitting on gables and in the angles of downpipes. Their screeches are like London street cries: "'Ave a late. 'Ave a late." "Free fer a pahnd. Free fer a pahnd." "Real leaver! Come on ladies, it's all real leaver."

2. I tell the chiropractor that I'm fine -- but then she starts work, and I realise that I've been holding my breath.

3. Nick is late home -- but I'm napping and oblivious.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who is he, another nap and last of the cupcakes.

1. I'm chatting with the volunteers at the Oxfam bookshop, and they are wondering about Plutarch, who writes Now's the Time. They know he frequents the shop, but they can't think who he is. I give them a (flattering) description, and tell them to bait a trap with some French books.

2. It's been a long day. I barely have time to get my shoes off before I fall asleep.

3. Nick brings me the last of the cupcakes to me as I lie in the bath.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Expert, for us and game on.

1. It is humbling to hear an expert (Frances Smith, salad leaf pioneer) defer to another expert ("Joy Larcombe: she gets it all right, while the others only get some of it right. It was one of her books that got our business going.")

2. I do some tidying and cleaning -- and it's for us, not for a viewing.

3. Games night -- Timeless Treats delivers a box of beautiful cupcakes and Pete delivers a thrilling adventure on a lonely atoll.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Song, sun screen and the house.

1. Blackbird's song is wild cherries dropping.

2. The smell of sun screen makes me feel as if I'm on holiday (instead of going out for a day's work).

3. To walk past the house we are going to rent.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lesson planning, anniversary and tulips.

1. Louise needs help planning a PE lesson -- we go to Tonbridge Racecourse and find a spot by the river to play bowling and fielding games. People lie around on the grass, or potter along the paths. A kite like a great black bird of prey looks down on us.

2. Tim and Rachel are celebrating their wedding anniversary -- so Nick and I mark day we met by going out to our the restaurant where we had our first date. It's been three years and they've gone so quickly, although it sometimes it's hard to remember how things were before.

3. Tulips -- butter yellow with crimson flares and flashes. Raspberry ripple ice cream.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Open air, laburnum and robin.

1. To swim outdoors.

2. Our laburnum tree is out -- this time last year, I was sad that we wouldn't see its pure yellow flowers again. It's one good thing about the flat sale taking so long.

3. We walk down through the woods on the Common. Bird song falls all around us. A robin scatters notes from a blunt dead oak branch

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The buyer, pink flask and sleeping baby.

1. We get a cash buyer -- a cash buyer in a hurry -- for Nick's flat. What a huge relief. Now there's all the fun of finding a little house to rent.

2. The production editor asks if anyone wants a drink. I ask him to refill my water bottle. From downstairs we hear the ad staff asking: "Is that your pink flask?"

3. This large and fretful baby has fallen asleep lying sideways on my arm. What beautiful eyelashes she has.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Figaro, buttercup and sea spinach.

1. I can hear Nick in the bathroom singing along to Largo al Factotum from Barber of Seville. I'm not sure I don't prefer it to Woody's version -- but of course that's what I would say.

2. "Come on," says her mother.
But she is busy checking with a buttercup. "Do I like butter?"
"Yes, you do. Come on."
"Do you like butter?"
The mother puts her chin out, and the glossy yellow petals light up her neck.

3. I've never heard of sea spinach. "It's a saltmarsh vegetable -- like samphire," says the fishmonger at Sankey's. I am intrigued, and buy some for supper. The leaves are fleshier than spinach, and I blanch them quickly over the potatoes and then stir fry them. They are tender and salty -- none of spinach's metallic tang.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Afternoon off, gardens and brightened.

1. I'm supposed to be working this afternoon -- and I have some proofing to do this morning, so I crack on and get it done. I get a call cancelling the work, and the afternoon is my own.

2. I take a flat viewer round to see the communal gardens -- we don't often use them because they are round the other side of the house, and pressed hard up against the other flats. Anyway, we prefer the company of our own plants. I'm always surprised at how pleasant the gardens are when I do go round -- handkerchief lawns with daisies, and flowering shrubs underplanted with bluebells.

3. To put a drooping, travel sick lettuce in a sink of water and a couple of hours later, take it out looking crisp and brisk.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Good morning, chocolate and going to bed.

1. I am just awake enough to feel him run his finger down my hair as he passes on his way to the bathroom.

2. I like Daim bars because the chocolate comes off easily -- and because the butterscotch gums up my teeth for a good long time.

3. When I am very sleepy, to just give in and...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Butterfly, new angle and a holiday.

MM has been writing three beautiful things in Finnish. Translation here.

1. Fenella notices a yellow spotted butterfly sunning itself on a gravestone.

2. He tips himself back and lies along my legs. He looks so pleased with himself -- and with the dark yew branch against the sky -- that I don't want to lift him up again (until I remember that he's still very full of milk).

3. To have my husband home on a weekday.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sticky, evening in and stitch over.

1. To play around with white glue and scraps of paper.

2. Katie is home alone, so she comes round to have supper and watch Time Team with us (apparently she can't watch it at home without Jules commenting about how they've just thrown coins down the hole for the archaeologists to find). She brings a bunch of lilies of the valley -- they are a bit of a pest in her garden, but it's easy to forgive them for their sweet scent and lacy bells.

3. I'm loving Di Van Niekerk's ribbon embroidery -- if you make a mistake, stitch over it, because it all adds texture. I need to take some more pictures, as I've progressed a bit since this was taken.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Adjustment, acting and lanterns.

1. I went to the chiropractor, and now I don't wince when I try to bend forward.

2. We go to the theatre -- it's a play where three actors play all the characters. I love the way a hat can transform a person into a chain smoking 80-year-old lady, a coach driver and a grumpy ex-miner.

3. At night -- dandelion clocks lit up by the headlights of passing cars.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Beech, viewing and evening gardening.

1. The leaves of the beech tree are still new, lime green, but there is not a scrap of sky between them.

2. The viewing is over and the flat is mine again.

3. In the early evening, to hear scrape-scrape-scrape scrape-scrape -- someone is hoeing weeds out of their drive.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Waiting, sandwich and seeing.

1.In the waiting room again. A little boy scoots over to say hallo, to ask if I'm seeing the nurse and to tell me to shush.

2. A cheese and pickle sandwich (made with Branston's and home made bread).

3. We watch Art of The Sea -- a documentary about... well art, and the sea. There's a segment (starts at 02:30) about John Wonnacott, who is most famous for his portraits -- but apparently, he considers a stretch of coastline his main subject. The amazing thing is that his stretch of coast is on the Thames Estuary, Leigh-on-Sea -- which with its mixture of mud, tack and industry, is really not known for its loveliness. Wonnacott talks about how if you get to know a place, if you study it and really look, you find beauty. "All beauty is a bit strange... A loveliness I don't think I would find terribly interesting... Visual beauty is to do with a kind of exhilaration... I like it when they build a new cafe where I can sit and draw, a new lamp post, a new jetty. They're always rebuilding these overflows."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lunch, tickets and the sketch.

1. Soup reheats. Blup. Blup. Blup.

2. To pick up a pair of theatre tickets.

3. To draw is to look properly and thoroughly. For the first time, I understand the triangles and diamonds in an asparagus spear.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wake up, seed and half asleep.

1. This morning, I am awake enough to eat my breakfast with my husband and wave him off as he walks out to the station.

2. Among the brown fibres and black crumbs, an oval of green is waking up.

3. The baby's eyes open, just a peep, and then close again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Second chance, batteries and new coat.

1. The starling flies off, leaving his worm -- I wonder if it will make good its escape.

2. "I'll take those, too" says the tip attendant. I drop spent batteries into his hands.

3. I've never had a spring-autumn coat before. I wish away the weeks feeling unstylish in a bulky fleece or chilled as I pull a cotton cardigan around me. Today I buy a navy blue mac with a neat belt and a double columns of large-faced buttons.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mystery book, Hell's Belles and archaeology.

1. We have both received emails from the library saying our reserved books are in, so we go down there together. The librarian tells me that they have a mystery book scheme on -- do I want to join in? Of course I do, so she hands me a mysterious bag. It contains Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow -- apparently all the books in the scheme have been chosen because they deserve to be better known. I enjoyed and was challenged by Bellow's Augie March, so I'm hoping Humboldt's Gift will  do the same. And if I don't like it? Well, I can always abandon it and take it back -- I didn't choose it, after all.

2. The other book I picked up at the library was the next Paul Magyrs book about Brenda and Effie, Hell's Belles!. Brenda is a large lady with an unusual past (she's escaping from it by running a b&b), and Effie is a witch in denial (she owns a junkshop). They live in the atmospheric Goth haven of Whitby, and they fight evil (particularly the malevolent Mrs Claus, who runs a perpetual Christmas at her cliff top hotel) -- it's a bit like Mma Ramotswe, but with monsters.


3. Time Team are digging up a rare Anglo Saxon hall. Two of the archaeologists are introduced to the joys of flyte, a ritualised insulting competition -- in this instance a sequence about shovels. Phil and Matt then spent the rest of the dig swapping jeers about their equipment (and if that made you snigger, you've got the basic idea of Anglo Saxon insults).

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Biscuit, work and pizza.

1. A caramel chocolate digestive to dip in my tea -- they are brilliant because the caramel keeps the biscuit together.

2. A bit of work comes in and it pretty much pays for my haircut.

3. To walk up the road and pick up a pizza from Firebelly, which does the best in Tunbridge Wells.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Tidy up trick, pay cheque and haircut.

1. To make tidying up before a viewing easier, we've left space in one of the under-bed drawers. I throw in loose clothes from the bedroom and personal items from the bathroom and I'm glad not to think about them until it's time to put our home back the way it was.

2. A pay cheque comes in the post.

3. I have a haircut and feel much better for it.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Dustmen, not a baby and wait for me.

1. Waving the the dustmen as they pull and push the communal bin past the window.

2. "He's not a baby any more, he's a little boy." He's smiling and smiling and following us with his big blue eyes.

3. Nick has asked me to wait for him to come home from work so we can walk to the polling station together. Afterwards, we talk about our ballots -- we've voted the same way.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

On the fence, up the hill and The Winslow Boy.

1. The lady who lives over the road stops to talk to the blackbird on her fence. He's very bold.

2. To see a friend driving up the hill towards me. She has dropped by to see if I was in. I wasn't, but I am now (nearly).

3. I go to see The Winslow Boy and run into Anke and Mrs Anke. There is an empty seat beside them, so I hop down two rows to join them: "Like a mongoose," says Anke. The play is excellent -- lots of subtle laughs, issues to chew over and characters to sympathise with. I thought the boy was particularly good, wavering between child and man.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Switch off, caper and oatcakes.

1. There is always time for a nap.

2. Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding is thrilling -- a rakish but incompetent airship pirate goes on the run with his rag-tag crew after a heist goes very wrong indeed. I'm intrigued by the hints of back-stories, and the dieselpunk setting.


3. An oatcake with apricot jam.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Things change, dry spot and chocolate.

1. I wake from a nap to find that Nick has polished all the shoes and trimmed the overbearing cupressus tree.

2. On a day when the washing has gone out... and come back in again... and gone out again, to go to the shops with an umbrella which we did not need.

3. Marks and Spencer do an almond chocolate with caramelised salt. It's delicious.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Heroes, water and riverside.

1. Tim (who introduced me and Nick, and who hosts our games nights) has a geeky blog called Heropress, and today he interviews one of his favourite authors Philip Reeve -- who wrote the startling Mortal Engines series about mobile cities devouring each other in a post-apocalyptic sea bed. Philip Reeve in his turn has said admiring things about Tim on his blog. It means so much to receive compliments from one's heroes.

2. To lie on the sofa and watch the rain falling.

3. Time Team is about a stretch of river in County Durham. A pair of local divers have pulled out more than 2,000 Roman artefacts from the shallow water. Goes to show what you can do if you have a bit of local knowledge and don't mind getting wet.

After the rain, in the rain and after the show.

1. After the rain, town is as green as a bowl of salad.

2. We go to see Singin' In the Rain -- they have a rain set, and the falling water moves a sigh of cool air across the overheated audience.

3. One of Nick's friends is in town for a wedding. After the show, we go and find him in his hotel.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Sausages, mint and last one in.

I spotted today that Sprite is marking five years of 3BTing, which made me feel unaccountably proud of this little idea.

1. A fat, squashy package of sausages wrapped in paper.

2. A few leaves of mint in the potato water.

3. Quite late at night, to wriggle into bed next to my husband.