Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chat, in bed and sun trap.

A beautiful thing which I forgot to mention yesterday -- we watched a documentary in which Simon Armitage explored the story of King Arthur. It appears that the Glastonbury Cup (which might also be the Holy Grail) has ended up in an untidy terraced cottage, in the stewardship of a rather vague elderly lady, the last surviving member of the family to whom the relic was entrusted after the dissolution of the monasteries. Simon Armitage interviewed her with as much grace, patience and courtesy as if he had been Sir Galahad.

1. The lavender trimming continues. People stop and chat to you when you work in the front garden. They comment that theirs needs doing too; that they use shears, not secateurs; and that you can go right back to the wood if you want.

2. He brings back a copy of Gardener's World magazine "Because I like to see you reading it in bed."

3. There is a cool edge to the air -- but our sheltered back garden has warmed up, and it's very pleasant to sit out on kitchen chairs with our tea tray balanced on a box.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Breakfast meeting, hedge cutting and rain wash.

1. Over breakfast at Juliet's, I fill notebook pages with shorthand notes about Miss Glory Pearl, Burly-Pole artist.

2. The lavender hedge needs a trim now the flowers are finished and the bees have gone elsewhere. What a pleasant, fragrant task for a Sunday.

3. The rain has washed the grey stickiness out of the air.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Miracle, worm and cricket.

1. Nick tells his mother over the phone that we've got a DVD about birth to watch. "...yes, we'll eat dinner first."

2. Finding a pearl-coloured worm, curling and coiling, on one of my blackberries -- because, of course, finding it means I didn't eat it.

3. A smattering of polite applause suggests that there might just be some cricket to watch once we've come to the end of the blackberry hedge.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dressing gown, finding and tonic.

1. I mentioned in passing earlier this week that I need a new winter dressing gown -- I threw the old one away when we moved. Nick has been telling me that we are going to spend the afternoon of his day off looking for one. Our favourite is dark rose-bay velour, and it reaches my ankles and has a hood. I feel very spoilt, and quite ready for winter.

2. I come alone to the pub, and scan the tables for my friends. It's good to spot the back of a familiar head.

3. A glass of bitter tonic water.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hum, multi-tasking and lettuce.

1. In yoga, we do a breath that involves a long vibrating hum.

2. She says: "Can you just give him his milk? Just put your finger on the bottom of the bottle." As he sucks, he laughs at me -- I'm afraid the milk will go down the wrong way. I realise he's laughing because I'm smiling at him.

3. Slicing a sandwich packed with crisp Little Gem lettuce leaves.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rain coming, glass and the sound of slicing bread.

1. Keeping an eye on the sky because there's washing on the line -- and getting it all in just as the promised rain begins.

2. A glass of Cherry Coke (a rare treat because it's quite hard to find) -- apparently cola is high in potassium, which is said to be helpful against the leg cramps that have been waking me up the last few nights.

3. Nick slices the new loaf of bread and the crust crackles. He says: "I love that sound."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lie still, tea and booklovers.

1. These days, it doesn't pay to get up too quickly. I must be patient with myself -- and with Baby Badger. I like to lie in bed until 8.30am and watch (through the curtains that I have opened for reading light) the wind shaking the blue-grey gum tree across the car park.

2. With my mug of tea I get three ginger biscuits.

3. We watched BBC4's Among the Ruins, a documentary about British novelists between the wars. The series features rare footage of some of these towering names: E. M. Forster (who seemed like a charming, disarming dear), Graham Greene (who wouldn't show his face), Evelyn Waugh (who was breath-takingly rude); Barbara Cartland (who was just... Barbara Cartland) and Virginia Woolf. Check out 08:38, where Alan Bennett mocks the Bloomsbury set. I could have kissed him, because (this is very shaming to admit, and I know I'm letting the woman writer side down) my admiration for Virginia Woolf is very grudging.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Miners, not autumn and convenience.

1. I love this quote about the trapped miners responding to the camera lowered down to them. The Chilean president, Sebastian Pinera said: "Many of them approached the camera and put their faces right up against it, like children, and we could see happiness and hope in their eyes." But four months still seems terribly long to wait to get back to the surface.

2. The berries on this mountain ash are still green -- autumn is not coming to this alleyway just yet.

3. A small boy, trousers round his ankles, piddles proudly in the park.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Drawer, before the rain and reduction.

 Nicki commented the other day, saying that she was thinking of starting a 3BT blog, but that she wasn't sure if she had anything to say. But to my mind, everyone has something to say in a 3BT blog.

Everyone comes across beautiful things (or at least things that are less horrid than the other stuff) every day. Just pick your favourite three and list them. Or your three least unfavourite, as the case may be.

There's a reason why this blog is not called "Three Compelling Things Which Will Be Of Interest To Everyone". If it were, I would never get started from sheer anxiety.

1. To open the kitchen drawer and see a new and shining set of matching cutlery.

2. To get home just as the rain starts; and to open the back door and watch the world getting wet.

3. The ftr-ftr-ftr sound of gravy reducing in the pan.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Home, library and report.

1. Nick calls home to find that his mother is out of hospital.

2. We put up the last of the bookcases -- and then spend the rest of the day trying to decide how to organise our library. I start off putting them in alpha order, but who thinks "I want to read a book by someone whose name begins with A"?

3. We go out for tea and come back to find a car smashed across the top of our road. Drama! Our neighbour leans out of her upstairs window to tell us everything.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sleep, kip and for butterflies.

I was chatting Needles, who often comments here, and she told me about a beautiful thing which has been making her smile all week:

She says: "I am a lover of all furnishings old....from old and shabby to antique and beautiful. But our economic level doesn't often allow for such things to become part of our home.

"Last Wednesday a co-worker of my husband brought to me not one but TWO of his family heirlooms that he must get rid of!!! My dining room is now home to a GORGEOUS buffet and china cabinet."

She added that the co-worker was not pleased to have to lose his furniture, but knowing that it would have a good, loving home made him feel a lot better about it.

1. This is one of those days when I can't wake up. I tell Katie-who-I-used-to-work-with when I meet her for lunch. She says she's been up all night with her computer, and that she feels the same way. "Shall we just go to the park and sleep on benches for an hour?"

2. Towards the end of the afternoon, I wave the white flag and go back to bed. I don't wake up until Nick gets home.

3. Ivan Hicks' garden at Butterfly World is featured on Gardener's World. He talks about the way his walled spaces provide shelter, and concentrate the smells from the scented plants. The walls themselves are built from broken drainpipes, bottles and airbricks. "Everything is too rendered these days," he says -- his walls are meant to provide roosts and refuges for all kinds of creatures.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Juice, wriggling and end of the day.

I put another sponsored post up last night.

Courtney over at Wunderbug has sent me a link to her 3BT posts. I'll be adding her to the Roll of Honour shortly.

1. The carton of apple and boysenberry I've just opened is rather delicious -- I'm thinking of telling Nick to try some, but he's not a great drinker of fruit juice so perhaps it's kinder to keep quiet.

2. Baby Badger's 11am wriggle falls right in the middle of the meditation session -- it's hard to be serene with such a tangible reminder of the thing that makes me happiest. BB wriggles are fairly regular -- I worry if I don't notice a session. Perhaps BB worries about me when I lie still for too long, and gives a few kicks to check I'm still there.

3. A few chocolates and a good book.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sponsored post: Road manners

One of the things that made me smile during my travels in Asia is the way drivers use horns. Getting ready to turn? Peep-peep! Greeting a friend? Peep-peep! Wondering what's causing this traffic jam? Peep-peep! Need to get past that beautifully painted lorry? Peep-peep! Goats in the road? Peep-peep!

Here in the UK, however, horns are used mainly in anger -- Baaaaaaaarp! "What are you doing you idiot?" The sound of a UK carhorn makes me jump -- and it makes me feel as if I'm doing something wrong (even if I'm not the target). AXA Car Insurance has recently carried out research into the effects on car horns, measuring the mental stress caused by some of the UK's most popular car makes. The Fiat Punto came out as the most evil. Of course a car horn needs to pull a careless roaduser up short, but is it acceptable to distract everyone else on the scene to that degree? On a more positive note, visitors to the Respect on the Road site can vote for their favourite car horn sound.

The insurer is running a campaign to encourage people to say with pride "I respect the road". There's a Facebook group -- 'liking' it would be a good way to make a stand for good road manners, and to encourage your friends to do the same.

And if you're not convinced that politeness is the way forward, what do you think of these little darlings? This short film shows children using road rage tactics to resolve a kiddie car accident. Not a pretty sight.

AXA Respect On The Road also has its own YouTube channel which includes cabcam footage of an unusual taxi driver -- he wants to hear his passengers' opinions, rather than talking away to himself.

Sponsored Post

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Single white pigeon, glamour and for the evening.

1. One white pigeon in a flock of greys.

2. I am doing an early evening phone interview with someone very glamorous. She says: "Excuse me, I'm going to smoke." And then "I've got a glass of wine, too." I can almost see her sitting at a little table by the door into the garden, wearing bright red lipstick and a vintage dress. I'm rather envious.

4. James and Kim drop by with two bottles of posh soft drink. What a thoughtful present for a pregnant woman who misses her 6pm apéritif very much indeed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Biscuits, get help and shelving.

1. This is a lean month -- it strikes me that baking biscuits using eggs, butter and flour that I already own is more sensible than buying a packet from the corner shop. It's surprisingly easy and satisfying (the mixture goes from this-is-wrong, this-is-wrong crumbs to pliant dough as I knead it). I feel very good about having a dozen golden biscuits in the tin, and two rolls of dough for future use in the freezer.

2. Ikea's instructions depict a sadsack character looking despondently at a heap of bookshelf parts. The next box shows two smiling characters -- this is clearly a two-man job, so we do it together.

3. "It's starting to feel like our house now, with bookshelves in every space," says Nick. We sit for a moment on the bed and look over our handiwork (and armiwork -- carrying books down from the attic takes a lot of muscle.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sawdust, ghosts and a supper.

1. I wake up to the new bookshelves' smell of sawdust.

2. The breadmaker is going. The floury ghosts of measuring spoons are laid out on the worktop.



3. Green runner beans and parsley in red tomato mince.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Breakfast, on the river and come home.

I've been away for a few days, which is why I haven't been posting. I'll be catching up later today.

Karen got in touch to say that there was a new link for her 3BT posts -- she's been hanging out with her nephews recently. Do let me know if you're 3BTing on your own blog -- or if you've been doing it in private in a notebook -- I love to hear about people's 3BT experiences.

1. A thick bacon sandwich and an insulated cup of tea.

2. We've hired boats on the Rother and are making good progress downstream and against the wind. The reeds shake on either side -- ss-sss-ssss. A pair of little brown birds follow us, racing from trembling perch to trembling perch.

3. To come home to Nick -- and a clean, dry bed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First to see, carrying the colours and tent mushroom.

1. Amy is first to spot the castle -- she has been hanging back to take photographs, and peers through a garden gate and round the round the side of a house.

2. We tell them that we've been down to ask the lady organising the tournament if any knights are actually harmed by the jousting. But really, we've arranged for the handsome French knight to carry the birthday girl's colours.

3. When the rain comes down, a pop-up tent springs up next to us. It's trembling because the occupants are giggling -- and then their dad dives in and they start shrieking. The rain gets harder, and their mother crawls in, too.

3ai. Rather incongruously (it's War of the Roses day) there's a man wearing Victorian tropical gear -- complete with pith helmet.

3a. Turning a few marshmallows over the remains of a barbecue.

4. We spot a shooting star, and I go to bed happy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wait, pop-up and moving light.

1. To wait for a pick-up with a packed bag.

2. Thanks to carbon fibre poles under stress, the tent pops up -- just like it says in the instructions. It makes me think of something out of Harry Potter.

3. "That's a satelitte," says Nicky. A needle point of light moves purposefully across the star spattered heavens.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Parcels, work and a foodshop.

1. I have been fretting all day about whether they will deliver our bookshelves down our narrow cobbled street. "It's not very friendly for a lorry," says the delivery man, as he wheels the boxes down from the corner.

2. Getting words down, one by one, until the article is finished. There is a time for everything.

3. Louise, Charlotte and I go shopping for this weekend's trip. We slip childish (and more grown-up) treats in among the camping supplies. This is about pleasure, not budgeting and good nutrition.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Corrected, upstairs and on air.

1.A call to customer services sorts it all out.

2. Nick's mum looks like the cat who got the cream: she says that she went up and down stairs today; and that they've brought her kitchen and bathroom tests forward: if she can make a cup of tea and wash and dress herself, she will be discharged. "And she's going home tomorrow, too," she says of her friend in the pink dressing gown. "If no-one throws a spanner in the works," adds the friend.

3. It's like some sort of nightmare -- I've gone up to interview the chaps at the hospital radio station for a feature, and I find myself ushered into a studio, which is live on air. I feel slightly strangled as I give my name... but I chat with the presenter, and afterwards they tell me I did all right. "Some people just don't say anything at all."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wet day, waiting at the station and hearing the rain.

1. I like to wake up to a dramatic change in the weather: the sky is dark, and all but the closest houses are indistinct in the mist. I like to be called back from my work by the hissing of heavy rain.

2. To be waiting outside the station, sheltering from the drizzle with the smokers and the taxi drivers; and to see my husband come through the gates from the platform.

3. We eat supper with the doors open so we can hear the rain falling in the garden and chuckling in the gutters.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More sleep, bread pudding and making a risotto.

1. I am not waking up this morning. It is pointed out to me that I am growing a baby and probably need the sleep for a reason. The next thing I know, it's half past nine.

2. There is a satisfying heft to this tin of bread pudding.

3. Finding a perfect slice of mushroom in the packet of dried porcini. And the smell of vermouth boiling off in my risotto.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Baker, quiet and half-hour hole.

1. Nick has baked a loaf of fruit bread overnight. It's very good for breakfast with butter and jam.

2. Tinny mobile phone music behind us on the footpath. Off button.

3. Even half an hour makes a hole in this work.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Aunt, brother and walking down the ward.

1. My aunt brings: a shiny new spade; a heated propagator; a badger handpuppet and a bright orange blanket on which BB and I can play. She also brings my cousin Amy, who brings a card showing us waiting for BB; and a cheerful yellow flower from my cousin Laura.

2. Robert rings. We discuss baby names. I tell him we've already chosen. "So this has been a pointless conversation, then." But I like it better than the conversations about whether we're going to find out the baby's sex.

3. Nick comes back from the hospital with news that his mother is walking down the ward without a flotilla of nurses attending her.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Hat from Ghent, photographer and an easy mistake.

1. She comes for elevenses wearing her hat from Ghent.

2. As I hurry through The Grove, I spot Plutarch taking photos, I think of a wood pigeon pacing among the litter left around the teenager benches.

3. On my return, Nick tells me that he nearly ate the cake-shaped bathmelt that I left in the kitchen. "I didn't think you'd leave just one cake out if you didn't mean me to eat it."

Friday, August 06, 2010

Sardines, on the move and lights out.

1. Granary bread sandwiches of tinned sardine and tomato.

2. Nick's mother has been moved to the far end of the ward. She has been coveting a bed here for a few days: it's lighter, and the bays are much bigger, and it's next to her friend in the pink dressing gown. She is walking with a frame (and a nurse hovering anxiously behind her). And her spirits are still high -- every time we visit, she is full of funny stories and jokes about the hospital happenings. "There's so much going on here, I don't get bored." The nurses help, too -- I think I've fallen a bit in love with the male nurse who asked her about my father-in-law: "Is this your dad?"

3. We've had a hard few days, and some restless nights. I am so glad to be settled in the dark by 10pm.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rain in August, save and new bread.

1. To go outside and find that a little rain has fallen on a warm day.

2. Thunder storm: save your work.


3. I unlock the door and the house smells of new bread.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Moon, a movement and friends.

1. The Rise of the Iron Moon has an autonomous Steammen kingdom. It has a cloaked highwayman of the marshes. It has a romantic novelist with symbiotic machines in her blood. It has a mystic computer in the centre of the planet. It has a blue-skinned slave on the run from his masters. It has a broken-down war hero who talks to his suitcase. It has a royalist prisoner trapped in a cruel industrial orphanage. And the action doesn't stop for a second.

2. A shut-up bedroom is still and hot. I shake the duvet out and the moving air cools my face.

3. She says her friend in the pink dressing gown had her birthday this week. "I got a piece of paper from one of the nurses and made her a card with a picture of us both our hospital beds."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Pigeons, chocolate and sleeping.

1. The pigeons drop from the sky on to the roof.

2. I tell you what, though. I really, really enjoyed eating that chocolate bar after I'd carried it all round the park.

3. To doze off as Baby Badger wriggles and kicks.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Nesting, caution and Blue.

1. Sarah Salway gave us a nestbox for a wedding present. I think it brought us luck in our house-hunting. Nick has come up with a cunning plan that allows us to wire it to the trellis in the garden.

2. Nick's dad rings. I say I'll call Nick down from the attic. "Tell him to be careful on those stairs."

3. Recently I friended a fictional character on Facebook. She's the creation of a friend -- a character in a TV series (I think) that he's working on about an institution for gifted teenagers. Blue Malone's gift is that when she holds an item, she knows things about the last person to use it. She writes up her diary on FB and posts snippets that she's picked up. She's been known to comment on her friends' posts, which is strange -- but pleasing, too. I've never consumed fiction like this before -- I know it's out there, but until now, I've never found anything that appeals to me. I think anyone can friend her -- try this link to her profile.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Missed, measuring up and snack.

1. Nick comes back from a trip into town. "I went to the Aeroplane Bookshop, and he said 'Where is she?'"

2. We measure up and order our bookshelves -- I'll be glad to stop hunting through tottering stacks in search of reference books, and I'll be happy to see Nick's collections safely shelved.

3. We are about to switch off the light, when I realise that I'm very hungry. I go downstairs and come back with supplies. "This is a three-biscuit problem," I tell Nick as I nibble on a malted milk.