Monday, October 31, 2011

Cold care, comics and slow food.

1. Annoyingly, it looks as if I'm going down with the cold that Nick and Alec have had. Very kindly, they amuse each other all day so I can rest up.

2. Have I mentioned before how much I like Kurt Busiek's Astrocity? It's character-driven and location-driven superhero comics.

3. To spend time -- because we have it -- lingering over a meal and playing with Alec.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carrying, cake and Rosey is off.

1. I've been mourning Alec's sling -- he's getting too heavy for it -- but we've dug out the backpack, and it works excellently. He falls asleep while we are walking, and (unlike the sling) it's manly enough for his grandfather to use.

2. My mother quietly feeding Alec cake.

3. My little sister who has been focussed and tenacious and got herself a job in Antarctica. It's a fantastic opportunity to experience the last great wilderness first hand, but oh, such a long way away, and for 18 months. The thought of the time and the distance brought me to tears as we said goodbye. Can't wait to see the pictures and hear the stories, though.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Game, eat and shake hands.

1. Fifteen minutes of office larking around towards the end of the afternoon. We play a game where everyone writes a tune on a piece of paper and they are drawn at random, played on Spottify and we have to guess who picked what tune. The stairs is the only place that everyone can hear the music, and there's lots of looking over the bannisters to gauge people's reactions. It's strange to look down at upside down faces that are studying you right back.

2. It is gratifying to hear that Alec won't take pasta at nursery, either. I'm still a bit annoyed that he will eat their yoghurt from a spoon, though. At home spoons are just not done these days.

3. While we are queuing for chips -- the queue goes out of the door, down the steps and up the street -- a respectable looking grandfather type (he must have just left the pub because he smells rather of drink) stops on his way out, shifts his paper parcel to the other arm and shakes Alec's hand. He hurries off towards a taxi which has been waiting, lit up red.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Moving round, lightened and pink.

1. I read on Facebook that Heather is grateful for the strength and agility to re-arrange her furniture. I am inspired to have a go at our living room. Lately it has stopped feeling like our cosy space because the TV dominates it, there's a draught from the front door, and the pushchair always seems to be... well, there. Alec is somewhat perturbed when he comes down from his nap, and Nick has a similar reaction when he comes home from work. But I think they'll start liking it soon.

2. The boss is in, but the office is full of laughter.

3. The sunset and the autumn leaves between them redden the light.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

On the move, rain and dry.

1. Some of the NCT babies are mobile -- but they all do it differently. One crawls so fast that you can't take your eyes off him for a moment. One bum-shuffles, stretching out her legs then bending them to pull herself forward. Another commando crawls, dragging himself on his arms. Someone else is working his way round the furniture.

2. I am completely soaked by the time I get to the top of the road. I'm so glad that Alec is safe and dry in the push chair under the rain hood.

3. To peel off all my wet clothes and put on warm, dry pyjamas. Outside, it rains harder than ever.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trick, sleep and back on his feed.

1. I show The Mother the trick with the greaseproof paper when grating orange rind*. I am very gratified that she hasn't seen it before.

2. I have some baby-free, work-free time. I go to bed and sleep.

3. After a few days of not wanting any food, Alec takes an interest in supper. He eats almost a whole sausage and good piece of toad batter.

* Put a piece of greaseproof over the grater, and grate the orange through it. The rind sticks to the paper and is easy to scrape off.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cavalry, swings and tired out.

1. The cavalry comes -- in the form of the mother and Rosey. They confirm that Alec is indeed looking peaky, and I feel a lot more confident as a parent.

2. Alec cheers up for the swings -- when he is not tired, he's his old giggly self, so I don't think he's seriously ill. He just wants more milk and more cuddles.

3. He doesn't even wait for his good night milk, but falls asleep in Nick's arms. "Put him in his cot and come down for your supper," I tell him. Nick's in no hurry. He says: "I love holding him."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Late, watching and outdoors.

1. We are not going to get out of the house for 9am, and we are not going to make the cafe at nine thirty. I text Katie to warn her, and get a message back saying that she's running late, too -- because she was looking up out-of-print Ladybird books... I don't feel so bad for giving Alec a good long feed in bed.

2. To sit next to Alec on a squashy sofa. I chat to Katie and he pulls himself up and looks over the back at the garden centre staff spraying frost on to branches.

3. It's late when Nick brings the washing in from the garden. It makes the kitchen smell of outdoors.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sour face, cake and what I am doing.


1. Alec makes a sour face at the segment of orange. Then he picks it up and gives it another suck. Same sour face.

2. After supper, there is cake.

3. Entertainment tonight is a radio series. By the start of episode three, I have adjusted a winter shirt for breastfeeding, cleaned up my computer desktop, hung out the washing and launched a virus scan. I sit still for a moment, try to think of something to do, and then remember that I am listening to the radio. That is what I am doing. Listening.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breakfast duty, first oranges and rising.

1. Nick take the baby and does breakfast duty so I can pull the duvet around myself and doze..

2. The season's first oranges in our vegetable box.

3.  We've had a few disappointing loaves these last few weeks -- dry crumb and knotted tops. It is a relief to look into the machine and see a perfect round top rising up.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Snow suit, ready for supper and with Nick.

1. I dig out Alec's snow suit, and try it on him, because it looks cold in that push chair. He squirms and protests and tries to distract me, but once it's on, he looks rather pleased with himself, waves the gloves around and tips himself over backwards on to the bed. He seems to like large puffy snuggly things -- duvets and pillows are also popular.

2. When I get in from work, Nick has gone out to collect Alec from nursery, but the oven is warming ready for our supper.

3. Enough work now. I sit back and enjoy an evening of TV with Nick.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meeting, falling over and damp baby.

1. To come out of the hairdressers and see Nick and Alec strolling down towards me.

2. Alec thinks it's great fun to fall over backwards on the bed. It's even more funny when he discovers that he can 'push' me back and I'll fall over, too.

3. To lift a damp baby out of the bath and wrap him in a towel on my knee.

Bread, spinach and chin.

1. "A man asked me where I got my bread," says Nick proudly. It was just from the newsagents over the other side of the park. They do that soft white English bakery bread with a glossy sesame seed crust. I'm sure artisan bakers turn up their noses at it, but it is very delicious.

2. I love the way a pan full of spinach cooks down, until there's just a wad of dark green in the bottom of the pan. I mix it was nutmeg and butter and chop it finely (Alec still doesn't like it, though.)

3. Blowing under Alec's chin to make him laugh.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hungry, baby care and lift.

1. To wake up and want -- really want -- a bit of breakfast.

2. I open my mouth to ask, and my father says: "Shall I take him?" Moments later I hear the sound of bells coming from downstairs.

3. Today, tired and very sorry for myself, I was glad to be given a lift home.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Uncle, sleep and good timing.

1. Robert says: "Can I have a go?" and holds out his arms for Alec.

2. A good long sleep in the afternoon, for both me and the baby.

3. I throw up for the second time while we are watching Stardust -- it's just at the point where Yvain makes her speech about love.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rosey, painting and coffee cake.

1. To spot a sister down at the end of the platform. Robert and I plan to spend the weekend giving her 18-months worth of pushing, pinching and biting so she doesn't miss us too much in Antarctica. Or Auntarctica, as Alec will be calling it by the time she gets back.

2. My cousin Laura has completed the painting my father commissioned from her. We're all in it, and the more you look at it, the more details you spot.

3. A thick piece of coffee and walnut cake with lots of buttery icing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sketch, fishcakes and pleased to see me.

1. To see a person in the park carrying a sketch book.

2. "We know they're good," says the fishmonger about the fishcakes I've just asked for "because we made them ourselves.

3. Instead of raging at me when I arrive to pick him up, Alec looks up from his comfortable spot on the nursery nurse's lap, smiles and bounces because he is very pleased and excited to see me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Giggler, almond tart and tweak.

1. I leave the room for a moment to get Alec his jumper. I hear giggling. When I go back in he has rolled over and hidden himself under a pillow.

2. To stop on the way home and buy an almond tart as a treat for Nick and me.

3. We have had to tweak the bedtime routine -- Alec had started howling in the bath. He is growing so fast that he is more tired in the evenings. Instead of waiting for Nick to come home and do bathtime, I take Alec up right after supper. When Nick gets in, he reads to Alec. It's much calmer and more fun for everyone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lull, not competitive and on the roof.

1. Anthony -- unlike some babies -- smiles and nods when his mother swings him. Smiles and nods, nods and smiles and lolls... and smiles and nods and nods and... "He's asleep, isn't he." In the next swing, meanwhile, Alec is so excited he keeps forgetting to breathe.

2. "It's not a competitive NCT group, which I like," says Jane. "Although we are winning the teeth." We are proud of her son's astonishing eight -- the rest of us have only two or three.

3. A birch tree on a gable end is catching the last of the sun, leaves flashing green and gold.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Soup, looking up and sauce bottle.

1. My soup goes blup blup blup in the pan.

2. I love the way Alec looks up when he hears Nick coming through the gate.

3. This is going to sound like Hyacinth Bucket, but the glass Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottle that arrived with our groceries looks so much better than the old squeezy one. I may decant in future (or I might recant when I remember just why we switched to squeezy in the first place).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Baby girl, toast and swing.

1. After swimming, a mother sits in the communal showers soaping her fat and giggly baby girl.

2. At the tea room they bring toast fingers for Alec, which he seems to like very much. But then I discover that he has been dropping them over the bannister next to us, so I run down and pick them all up.

3. There is a swing like a giant dream catcher. We put Alec on and he lies back, closes his eyes against the sun, curls his fingers into the ropes and enjoys the ride. I tell Godfather Tim that it looks like a spider's web, too. The spider would think all his Christmases had come at once. Tim says he likes the dream catcher better.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Travelling lunch, bells and home.

1. The pasties tucked into our travelling bag smell very appetising.

2. We walk round the side of the new Marlowe Theatre and discover that a quirk of the architecture makes the cathedral bells loud in one spot, muffled in another.

2a. I assume it's a shop, open on a Sunday -- but it's not, it's a tiny Catholic church in a white room with chairs set out and bright crocheted cushions and the door open ready for mass at noon.

2a. The silver balloon has followed us home. Alec catches it, laughs and tries to gum it.

3. To pull the house keys from the bottom of a bag, where they have been sitting all weekend.

Chance survival, archaeologist, balloon.

1. Roman glass, cloudy, glowing and so unlikely.

2. In the children's room at the Roman museum they have trays of bones and potsherds to examine. Alec checks them out in his own way. "Those are real finds," says the curator. We hurriedly pull a piece of cattle bone out of his mouth. "It's OK," she tells us, "That's what they're for." The couple who have been following us round say: "He's going to be an archaeologist. Did you hear him talking about it all?" "I did," says the curator. "I've been enjoying listening to him."

2a. The artists' impression of Roman Canterbury slipping into ruin.

3. The waitresses at Strada tie a shiny silver balloon to Alec's chair.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Arrival, Charlie and stop worrying.

1. "It's such a joyful feeling, arriving somewhere," says Nick as we come out of the station.

2. We are all a bit drunk and giggly when the owner leads us off on a tour of his museum.
"Can I call you Charlie?" she asks.
"No," he says and continues the tour.
"He kissed me on the cheek at the end," she says afterwards, so I don't think he really minded.

3. To be told to stop worrying and do my own thing.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Picture, irises and cooking chocolate.

There will be a short break in posting -- I'll catch up on Monday.

1. Alec's key worker is very proud that she has managed to take a picture of him for his book. He is digging into a basket of musical instruments. The updates she gives me always sound very much like my baby: "He's been looking at books" and "He was fascinated by the wind in the trees".

2. I have a moment to look -- really look -- at the irises Nick brought home on Monday. They are a dependable violet and clear hot yellow. As he walked home, a woman outside a pub shouted: "Your wife upset with you then?" I felt a bit sorry for her, that she needed to be annoyed with her husband before he would buy her flowers.

3. Thank heavens for a bar of cooking chocolate in the back of the larder.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Cheering up, tomatoes and reading.

1. We have a rough morning -- Nick leaves us for the attic at 5am. Alec is so demanding and implacable and so unlike his usual cheerful self that I decide to get a doctor's appointment about his cold and cough. But then we fall asleep and don't wake up until 10am. He seems happier, but just wants to cuddle, so I cancel all our plans and we do just that.

2. I'd given up hope of my tomatoes ever ripening -- but one of them is streaked with red, and another is looking distinctly orange.

3. This quiet day has given me plenty of time to read -- in particular The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, which Caroline brought round (as usual she has judged my taste very well). It's a modern gothic novel set in Provence, and if you've read Rebecca you'll find some of the other threads and themes very familiar. Caroline thought I'd like it because one of the perfume theme running through it -- one of my aims with 3BT is to capture input from all the senses using words. Now I've read this, I don't think I do smell very well and it's something I should concentrate more on.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Help, everything I know and email.

1. "Is there any housework I can do?" my mother asks. I hand her some carrots that need making into soup, and the mince for a supper I didn't have time to cook. What a relief.

2. "Good thinking!" says Anna at my suggestion. I remind her that she taught me everything I know about sourcing pictures on zero budget.

3. Halfway through the afternoon, a charming domestic email from my husband.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Scone, pat and own time.

1. I realise as we are getting on the train that I don't have a snack for Alec, so I pick up a bakery scone. We find a shaded bench near the swimming pool and share it. The pigeons step up in their crisp grey suits and pick at our crumbs.

2. She is dimpled and small -- but giant compared to Alec. She squats down beside him in the water and stares. Then she reaches up and pats my shoulder.

3. A long nap time meant that I got plenty of work done today -- so the evening is my own.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Chimes, the seat and giving up.

1. The ice cream chimes ring out, and tinies run out of the bushes where they have been playing. Their dads, who are lounging on the grass outside the pub, call: "You've already had some, go back." And three of them burst into wide-mouthed howls. The dads laugh guiltily.

2. We are sitting in the park, Alec and I. A two-year-old girl strolls up and examines him. Then "Sit?" I nod, and she plumps herself down next to Alec on my legs.

3. Alec won't go to sleep and won't go to sleep and won't go to sleep and I have to work and I'm running out of time. "I give up," I tell him. "I'm going to come to bed now and and I'm going to lie here and feed you." Within 15 minutes he's so deeply asleep that I can work next to him. So much of motherhood is about surrendering.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Saturday breakfast, shower and bake-off.

1. Coffee and crisp croissants for breakfast -- and someone else to do the Weetabix spooning.

2. I love to take a steamy shower when I have bunged up nose.

3. The Great British Bake-Off is oddly compelling -- it provides good baking tips and the contestants' fortunes can change in a moment under Mary Berry's steely blue gaze. It's undemanding viewing, though -- the bakers want to do well, of course, but they haven't built their entire lives around it. Even the losers go away with a bit of a spring in their step -- they're glad to have got this far.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Nap, book and news.

1. Alec takes a nap from 9am to 10am.

2. I come to the nursery and see through the door that Alec is sitting with a book -- upside down, but he's an alternative kind of guy. "He does love his books," they say. And that he's been much more settled today.

3. To hear a helicopter circling, and to check the Tunbridge Wells Twitter stream to see what it's all about -- @kentpolicetwell is ever informative and vigilent.