Sunday, October 31, 2010

Russets, blanket and new computer.

Quite a few people have been saying in the comments that they've only recently discovered 3BT. Welcome! But are you all coming from the same place, I wonder? Do let me know who sent you -- it's always nice to say cheers to people who mention 3BT.

1. My heart sank when I saw russets in our vegetable box. Their rough skins set my teeth on edge, and I can hardly bear to touch them, let alone bite into them. But there they are, and they ought to be eaten. So I set to work with a potato peeler, and I'm so glad I did. The flesh is crisp, like those early apples that I crave so much, but denser and more fragrant.

2. Caroline comes round with a present for Baby Badger -- it's a hand-knitted fleecy blanket, which we love immediately. I love these home-made presents -- there are good wishes in every stitch, I think.

3. I'm writing this post at the kitchen table on a new laptop. I'm getting too ponderous to run up and down stairs to and from the computer in the attic; and things aren't going to get any better once BB arrives. We've been discussing this for some time -- but this week's desktop malfunction galvanised us into action.  So the new laptop -- Nick picked out a selection in our price range and that he felt would be powerful enough for our needs. Then he asked which I'd like and I went for the one the colour of the red leather armchairs in a gentleman's club. We bore it back in triumph from the industrial estate, and now I'm enjoying making myself at home on it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Company, early home and parents on the loose.

1. Normally I'm alone in the editor's office. Today I've been moved into production -- it's lovely to have a bit of company.

2. Nick comes home early, and we have a quick nap before I go out for dinner. He has a hard evening ahead watching the World Series.

3. Susan describes going out with her NCT group -- "We went and saw this comedian, but he wasn't very good, and we drank all this wine and started heckling him. Then we went to the Pitcher and Piano and danced round a table."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blessing, something for everyone and bonus.

1. We had no internet connection yesterday -- I got as far as turning everything on and off, and then got disheartened at the thought of talking to our service provider. But today it must be done. When I turn on the computer, however, it's all working -- one of those mystifying blessings.

2. While shopping, I spot a stall selling calendars depicting rats; and pigeons. Also, Twilight.

3. Something that I really like about being pregnant -- I'm never cold. Normally, I suffer at this time of year from that bone coldness, that I'll-never-be-warm-again feeling. Not this year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not lost, sparrow and chilli.

My cousin Amy dropped me a line to say:
I was on a trip with uni to the design museum and while we were all waiting outside there were three or four teenage guys with skateboards taking it in turns to skate along a bench and jump off the end. Watching them were two little girls of about three or four who were jumping up and down and squealing with excitement every time one of the skaters jumped! Our tutor commented that it was good to have a fan base!

1. While tidying, I find a box of books that never got unpacked. It contains a number of treasures that I thought I'd lost, and I feel very pleased.

2. A sparrow picks at something invisible between the paving stones.

3. Almost the last thing I am aware of before I fall asleep is the faint burning in the lines of my fingertips from the chilli I cut up for supper.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Size, support and advice.

1. My midwife warned me that everyone will have an opinion about the size of my bump. "Don't worry about it," she said. "They don't know a thing." Today, one person tells me that I'm looking big; and another tells me I'm looking small -- both intended as compliments, rather than expressions of concern.

2. The mother brings supper, and then takes us to a tour of our nearest hospital. I'm glad to not cook for myself -- and I'm very grateful that she can give us a lift on such a wet and horrible night.

3. The midwife who shows us round tells us that she has six children, and that her husband says her badge should read "Madwife". She tells us that we only have to deal with one contraction at a time -- "You can do anything for 60 seconds, can't you -- that's all they are, 60 seconds." A lot of faces relax and lighten. Later she tells us that the first nappy is black and tarry. "It gets everywhere. Then they kick, and it's all over their little feet. Messy." I whisper to Nick that of course he can have the honour of doing the first nappy.

4. In the home-from-home suite, there is a woman in the first stages of labour. When Nick sees the size of her bump, he vows to step up the stretch mark cream routine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back to bed, ready for winter and birds.

1. I go looking for a writing group -- but it's half term, so they're not meeting. Good -- I can go back to bed.

2. It's such a beautiful day -- and I have plenty to do in the back yard. I plant a few bulbs, and feel pleased at the sight of fresh compost in the pots. I also cut down the tired mint -- it makes the rubbish bag very fresh smelling.
 
3. A high flock of birds -- each one small as stubble on a man's cheek.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Earlier, shoes and found in the fridge.

Natalie commented the other day to say that she has started her own 3BT blog. Go Natalie!

1. We think we should probably get up. I guess that it must be at least lunchtime. It turns out that it's only twenty to eleven.

2. Nick's dad is still thrilled with the results of his cataract operation -- "The curtains when I woke up the morning after. All those reds and greens." Plus he is thoroughly enjoying the sharing of his gory eye surgery story. Now he has gout -- but it seems that even this cloud has a silver lining. He can fit into a pair of shoes (the colour of a freshly picked up conker) that were previously too big. "They're handmade, look, beautiful. We found them in a charity shop for £6."

3. "This is going to be more of an amuse bouche than a bowl of soup," says Nick looking anxiously at the single serving that is going to have to do for two of us. But there's some cream that needs finishing, and leftover cold potatoes in the fridge to help it stretch -- and he's baked a fine loaf of bread, too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Recipe for sir, curtain up and fried fish.

1. At the farmer's market, the fishmonger's assistant has transformed from a sullen teenager to a brisk, cheerful stallholder. He says to Nick: "This is a recipe for you, Sir -- beer batter. The beer needs to be very cold and fizzy."

2. The windows in Hoopers department store are now hidden behind red curtains. A notice announces that all will be revealed on November 6. Every year, they borrow ballet costumes for a magical Christmas display. We run into Katie on the way down the hill, and she speculates on this year's theme -- Peter Pan, she reckons.

3. A rapid web search reveals that beer batter should be the consistency of emulsion paint. I tell Nick, and point him towards a bowl, a whisk and a large pan. The fish is delicious -- crisp and golden brown.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lie in, practice and clean bath.

1. Nick has a day off, and we sleep in until almost noon.

2. The carrycot portion of Baby Badger's transport arrangement arrives. We put it together to make sure it's all in order. When I come into the sitting room where Nick is watching a baseball game, the cot is in the corner. "I'm just practising," he says.

3. The bath bomb -- which smelt deliciously of orange and spices -- has left brick red scum round the bath. It's very satisfying to clean it off.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stores, the hunger and first grandchild.

Zee has written about taking the time to notice. I liked her friend's thought about making each day special by making one thing stand out in her mind. That's one of the reasons I keep 3BTing -- I'm not happy with the idea that days slip away un-noticed and unloved.

1. First frost. I catch a squirrel in the act of digging up its winter food stock.

2. The after-yoga biscuit wasn't enough. I bought and ate a sticky bun on the way up the hill. My chiropractor tells me that when she was pregnant she once got the hunger and had to go over the road to the cafe in the park. "About three of my clients walked past -- what they must have thought of their chiropracter eating something as unhealthy as egg, beans and chips."

3. "There's no mistaking that," says my mother, embracing the part of me that contains her grandchild-to-be.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sleep, I know you and left to my own devices.

1. I feel as if a grey tiredness blanket has fallen over me. My head is drooping at breakfast. I go back to bed.

2. I know the girl in the shoe shop -- I know what her name is -- but I can't place her. So I screw up my courage and ask. "I was wondering the same thing about you," she says. "I know we didn't go to school together..." Then I remember: "Little Irish Jason! We must have met at one his parties."

3. Nick is out tonight, so I amuse myself by watching three episodes of The Simpsons on the trot.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Up a ladder, storm and chocolates.

1. I am woken with the horrid words: "There's no hot water, darling girl." I send an unwilling husband up a ladder to check the boiler. "Yes, I know you're going to be late," I tell him, "But I thought you'd be more cross if I went up by myself." Lucky for us, it's just that the central heating needs repressurising -- the landlord has left a helpful note next to the valve -- and the house is soon full of ticks and clunks and warmth.

2. There's a storm coming in -- oily black clouds are looming over us, the light is tobacco stained and a wild sunset is rampaging on the horizon. The landlord hopes he can get home before the rain comes in from Sussex.

3. There are two chocolates left, that is all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hungry, bags of books and we must wait.

Rosebud -- don't know if you saw my comment on the Barbara Pym post, but I'd be delighted to put my (secondhand) Jane and Prudence in the post to you if you can't get hold of a copy yourself. Drop me an email with an address.

1. So hungry. Bread pudding at 11am. Moist, dark, full of fruit, sanded with white sugar.

2. Sarah brings round two bags of writing and poetry books and tells me to pick out what I want. While we are talking, I remember that it was her who turned me on to Barbara Pym.

3. To lie in a warm bath. I hold my book up high so that at the bottom of the page I can see Baby Badger roiling and writhing across my mushroom white belly. It must be getting tight for space in there now. I can only counsel patience -- eight weeks seems like forever for me, too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Help, dinosaurs and leaves.

1. Two boys -- maybe seven and eight -- in sunglasses sit waiting on the edge of the Pantiles. The bigger one helps the little one untangle the cord of his headphones, arranging it behind his ear and down his neck. The little one looks rather like a kitten, or a young chimp, submitting to a thorough grooming.

1a. Katie brings Baby Badger a yellow and green t-shirt from Ireland -- it says "The leprechauns made me do it."

2. Nick comes back from his gaming show at Crystal Palace. He took a walk around the park while he was there -- he said rather wistfully that it was full of dads and babies -- and came back with photos of the Victorian concrete dinosaurs. They are strange creatures lurking among the tree ferns -- they resemble crocodiles with dinosaur heads. The palaeontologists who designed the display believed that dinos were rather more primitive in the leg joints than we give them credit for today. The display makes me think of 1950s illustrations of the future, but in reverse.

3. Children in our park treat the fallen leaves like snow. They fling them at each other, hide under them and marvel at this strange new world.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tired, parcels and transport.

1. "Don't look so sad," he says as he gets ready to go out while I am still in bed. "You're just tired because you're growing our baby."

2. Nick brings parcels back from the Post Office -- among them this Moomins Cookbook, which he ordered because he thought I deserved a treat. It's a quick and charming introduction to Finnish cookery, illustrated with Tove Jansson's line drawings and spiked with quotes from the books.


3. Nick orders everything we'll need to transport Baby Badger while I have a kip.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sleep, Venice and semifreddo.

1. On the way to London, I had a kip on the train.

2. We go to the Canaletto exhibition at the National Gallery -- it's paintings of Venice for the grand tour market. I found it fascinating to compare pictures of the same views hung side by side; and to spot repeated themes -- Canaletto has put a chimney sweep in a few of this pictures; and his nephew Bellotto often adds in a small person in a red cloak.

3. Ice cream studded with hazelnuts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Red-white, up and refill.

1. In Calverley Rec, three groundsmen discuss a problem with the bedding plants: "They unloaded the trays in groups of red and white, but we didn't know that and we've mixed them up." They make me think of that Alice in Wonderland scene where the gardeners are trying to paint a white rose red  before the Queen of Hearts discovers them.

2. The first thing Ben does when he is put on the floor is climb up on to my lap.

3. Pouring new spice -- caraway seeds -- into a jar.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Enough, twist and Barbara Pym.

1. There is quite a lot of lemon curd left in the bottom of the bowl -- not enough to put in a jar; but enough to go on top of my yoghurt at lunchtime.

2. Downton Abbey -- we watched Sunday's episode, with its jaw-dropping I-did-not-see-that-coming plot twist.

3. I wish I could remember who suggested Barbara Pym's books -- I picked up Jane and Prudence and I think it's wonderful - a steely account of 1950s middle class match-making.. The quote on the cover is from Philip Larkin, who lays aside his curmudgeonly cynicism to say that he'd rather read a new Barbara Pym than a new Jane Austen. Lucky, lucky Barbara Pym.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Merger, whole body happiness and adventure.

1. If you're enjoying Downton Abbey, and you like Harry Potter, I'd like to strongly recommend Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones. Put-upon Conrad is sent by his uncle up to the big house charged with getting a job as a servant and doing away with someone he should have killed in a former life. He finds himself working alongside Christopher er... Smith another fake servant who will be familiar to fans of the Chrestomanci books.

2. She reclines in her stroller and when she smiles her arms and legs get involved, too.

3. Pete's Tuesday Knights adventure sees our spies on a training exercise with our US colleagues in Maine. To cut a long story short, the president of the Republic of Ireland is kidnapped, and we are given the task of searching a supposedly haunted mansion before she is smuggled across the border to Canada. Pete spends the evening reassuring us that our American friends are not taking the piss and that there are no vampires. "This is set in the real world. No, you can't buy a holy symbol and a chainsaw from the local store. There are no clerics in town willing to be hired." Personally, I'm not convinced by the store keeper -- but he and his Canadian friends are not going to get away with it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lie-in, stop and progress.

1. We have an accidental lie-in -- Nick thinks he turned the volume on the radio alarm clock down while he was dusting -- and we wake more than an hour after our usual time. First, it felt good to sleep in. Second, how wonderful to have a husband who dusts.

2. To lay down a burden.

3. My husband says as I cross the room to greet him: "You're starting to waddle now."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Transmission, assistance and party.

1. The first thing Nick says when I wake up is that when I sleep snuggled up behind him, he can feel Baby Badger moving against his back. I'm amazed to discover that BB can kick that strongly and not wake me up, and pleased to think that the two of them get some time alone together.

2. Katie has put a call out for bulb planting assistance -- so I go round and spend a few hours in her sunny back garden -- in return, I get lunch and two slices of chocolate cake.

3. There is a children's party going on in the hall across the hill. Little voices roar out cheesy pop music -- "Hey-ay-ay baby, will you be my girl?" and laugh at the DJ's jokes. A few brave souls get up to sing: "Twinkle twinkle little star" and from one rebel: "Happy birthday to you, stick your head down the loo..."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Listening, curious gentlemen and hot water bottle.

Thanks for all your compliments about the picture I posted the day before yesterday -- I feel quite glowy with pride.

1. I am down on my hands and knees planting spring bulbs under the weeping plum willow in the front garden. Passers-by can't see me, and I hear all sorts of secrets.

2. Earth worms -- clean pink and grey like city gents -- heave themselves out of the soil and wave their pointed noses at me: what's all this digging about?

3. "I like doing little things for you," he says, filling me a hot water bottle to take to the concert in a church with hard seats.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Apples, don't call me babe and shoes in the hall.

1. I like those crisp, sour apples that don't keep very well -- take your eye off them for a moment and they turn grainy and soft. I keep them in the fridge and move them one by one into the fruit bowl.

2. On a very trying day, I get a text message from Oli to say that he has just laughed out loud remembering the time he accidentally called the publishing director 'babe'.

3. To come home from work and see Nick's shoes in the hall.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Better, head massage and picture record.

1. I tell my yoga teacher that I'm feeling much less anxious this week. "That's the pregnancy hormones kicking in," she says. "They do, about week 30."

2. The chiropractor gives me a head massage; and then some advice on how to sit correctly. Which I am following now, honest.

3. PaulV comes round and takes some photos of me and Baby Badger at 30 weeks. He says that the blind in our kitchen makes an ideal studio backdrop.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Small world, sun comes out and ginger biscuits.

1.Heavy rain, low cloud. The world goes as far as the end of the car park, and stops. It has shrunk like a wool sweater washed too hot.

2. The sun comes out, and the Met Office promises that it's here for the next few days. The entire nation is relieved.


3. Freshly baked ginger biscuits stacked up to cool (they're to big to fall through the holes in the rack).

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The find, not me and post.

1. I've been trawling charity shops for a squat and heavy glass vase. I saw an orchid potted up like this (the roots need light) in a magazine, and I thought it was more stylish than the clear plastic pot that contains mine. Today, I find just the right vase. It's dusty and smeared, but the dishwasher will take care of that.

2. I get a call from one of my editors. She says that from the office window they can see an ambulance in our road. "It's not for you, is it?" I tell her it's not me, and she's gratifyingly relieved.

3. Two parcels (a book about Chinese military uniforms and some yellowing fanzines) for Nick, and a Postcrossing card for me. A good letter day.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Pans, mushrooms and lemon cake.

1. The Mother and I pick out a set of weighty saucepans -- wedding present. The bags wait un-opened in the kitchen so Nick can open them when he gets home from work.

2. Mushrooms the colour of fallen leaves have put their umbrellas up on the wet grass.

3. Sharp lemon juice has soaked right into the snow soft crumb of my cake.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Dreaming of the south, bag and imperfect words.

Word Imperfect is back in action with her invented meaning word game -- go on over and join in.

1. That book that Caroline thought I'd like -- she was quite right. I do really, really like it. Tim Gautreaux's Waiting for the Evening News: Stories of the Deep South. It manages to be both dark and up-lifting. These are stories about people who fall and fall, and come back stronger and wiser.


2. Nick shakes off his umbrella and pulls from his bag: a very large box of chocolates and the latest Gardener's World magazine.

3. I was emailing secret chef -- yes, we have a clandestine restaurant in the area -- asking for a quick interview, and my spell-checker flagged the word restauranteur. A quick search later, and I discovered that the word is actually restaurateur (although my spelling is just about tolerated in more liberal circles). I've never noticed that -- never seen it mentioned in all the newspaper style guides that I've read. But that's the English language for you: she's always got something new to amuse and intrigue.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Autumn, iron and marker pen.

1. Nick's dad seems pleased with the result of his cataract operation -- he says he can see the trees changing colour.

2. I can taste the iron in these dark green chard leaves.

3. To have a marker pen handy for writing on freezer bags and spice jars.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Back to work, boys and the bride returns.

1. It's getting close to 2pm on a rainy Friday. The pub door spits office workers, all with coats pulled over their heads.

2. She's not at home. Dad answers the door with a dribbly son on his hip. "We're doing things that Mummy wouldn't approve of," he says.

3. Katie comes down with my mixer -- it made all the cupcakes for her wedding. She is relaxed and happy and brown from her honeymoon, and it's great to sit and talk it over while the rain streaks down outside.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Bare earth, a comfort and some gifts.

1. The park keepers are clearing the beds in the park. The bare brown earth is as pleasing as the bright bedding plants. Later, I come across them doing the same outside the town hall. The planting was ornamental vegetables. Someone has put the red stemmed chard to one side, perhaps for their dinner.

2. I get myself a muffin and a hot chocolate and write a few thank you cards.

3. She comes round with a book I might like, a deep red cyclamen and (as someone who has been there, done that) lots and lots of reassurance about work.