Saturday, July 04, 2020
Friday, July 03, 2020
Thursday, July 02, 2020
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Monday, June 15, 2020
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Friday, June 12, 2020
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Monday, June 01, 2020
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Saturday, May 30, 2020
Friday, May 29, 2020
Thursday, May 28, 2020
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Monday, May 25, 2020
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Friday, May 22, 2020
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
|Diagram of Arum maculatum, or Jack-in-the-Pulpit |
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Monday, May 18, 2020
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Friday, May 15, 2020
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Monday, May 11, 2020
Sunday, May 10, 2020
2. In the evening, to sit in the garden with a really nice glass of dry white wine and chat with some old friends on the screen on my phone.
3. My latest round of physio comes with an app. It's oddly satisfying to tick off the exercises as I do them, recording the pain level and how many of the reps I managed.
Saturday, May 09, 2020
2. The herbs in the garden are now so lush and leafy that when I pick them for cooking I don't need to hold back.
3. To learn a new board game as a family. We're still playing rather co-operatively, but as we go along we can see ways to make it cut-throat and competitive.
Friday, May 08, 2020
Thursday, May 07, 2020
2. Bettany made a bit of a fuss about going home for her dance lesson. But while it was going on I peeped in at her and she gave me a little wave and a smile. She hates anyone watching her, so we have to put her and the laptop in the sitting room with the curtains drawn and the door shut.
3. A good ruck during D&D to help me forget my anxieties. We got in a fight with some evil druids and absolutely trounced them, despite some shocking dice rolls. Tim Knight has written up our adventures at Heropress.
Wednesday, May 06, 2020
Tuesday, May 05, 2020
2. On our walk, they confide in me about things that embarrass them -- namely, me saying hi to a boy we know who then ignores us; me photographing lichens; and having the wrong sort of football kit (not me for once). I make an effort to empathise while modelling a healthy disregard for the opinions of people whose ideas don't align with our own values.
3. At our writing meeting we make clickbait stories -- you know those tempting headlines that say 'The groom's mother asked the bride to change her hair and the reason will blow your mind'. And when you click through it turns out to be a tedious 30-page story designed to make you look at adverts. Anyway -- it's incredibly fun to write something that is not intended to give the reader a good time.
Monday, May 04, 2020
2. There are so many flowers on the common. I catch beech, sycamore, holly and crabapple (which smells a little if you get your nose in close).
3. My saffron bun doesn't look as golden as the recipe promises (ran out of strong white bread flour again, so I had to make weight with wholemeal), but when I bite into it the new-shoes saffron taste is there.
Sunday, May 03, 2020
Saturday, May 02, 2020
Friday, May 01, 2020
2. It's a bit of a juggling act when you're a freelancer. I want to maintain a stream of regular work to keep a good cashflow going; but I do need to take the odd big project on to bump up our income. And each month when I'm scheduling my work I have a horrible moment when it all seems like too much. Then I remember I have a few reliable, trustworthy colleagues I can hand routine work over to.
3. I am deep in my work when the sudden wild hiss of a hailstorm -- the sort that sets of car alarms -- brings me back to the world.
Thursday, April 30, 2020
2. On the way out of the house I stuff my pockets with a double handful of bouncy balls.
3. I am finding Hound of the Baskervilles much more enticing than A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four. It seems more lively somehow, and relies less on Watson's astonishment at Holmes's smug deducing. Watson always strikes me as a bit of a sad character, somehow. He's a first-rate storyteller; but he lets first the British Army and then Holmes treat him terribly badly in order to get excitement and adventure that he is not able to generate for himself.
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
2. The smell of toasted brioche bread.
3. Alec speculating about what might be going to happen next in the book we are reading. It's The Railway Children, and I feel as if I've reached peak motherhood.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
2. I escape for a run around the park with Zombies Run.
3. Our Zoom writing group is starting to feel 'normal' now. I am leading but I lose connection briefly because of network problems. I had passed a plan around beforehand, and the session continues without me while I get back online. I've noticed we're much less shy about sharing our work.
Monday, April 27, 2020
2. We're reading Beverley Cleary's Ramona and Her Mother and the other night there was a scene where Mrs Quimby looked out on to a rainy afternoon and wished she could sit outside on a cushion in the sunshine and blow dandelion clocks. So I thought of her as my children jostled with each other to get a particularly good one as we walked on the common.
3. Hot cross buns for tea.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
2. I love the snooze feature on Gmail -- it means a lot to be able to put a message to one side until the new working week.
3. It is satisfying to sharpen a kitchen knife and draw it quickly across the dough before the loaf goes in the oven.
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Friday, April 24, 2020
2. To -- at last -- get a decent loaf from the starter I've been nursing on the windowsill. I let it rise all night, and then shaped it and let it rise until mid-afternoon. I think that I hadn't been giving it enough time before -- and this time I had better flour, too.
3. This evening was a bit exciting for the children. They watched livecast by the Tunbridge Wells District Scout leader, joining their friends at cubs and beavers in renewing their promises; and then they did the clap for carers in their uniforms. They were absolutely buzzing by the time we took them up to bed, but we felt very proud of them.
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
2. After lunch, a nice long (socially distanced) chat with our neighbour over the garden wall. And then later, to talk in the park with another mum. It is almost starting to seem natural to stand six feet apart.
3. A colleague has been sending me cartoons from Punch, which I find very cheering. He sent one from 1859 showing a very Victorian papa in a top hat, cummerbund, watch chain and full whiskers walking down a city street holding the hand of his (equally Victorian) little girl. In his other hand, he is carrying her doll. It is titled 'TRUE COURAGE'. It made me laugh in particular because recently Bettany has been taking her doll to the park -- and of course she gets bored of being a mummy after five minutes and I'm left holding 'Baby', who has a slightly too real electronic cry and a manic laugh that go off if you are not very careful in the way you carry her. It is very satisfying to see something of my own experience represented in a scene from 160 years ago.
Also, the lovely Sarah Salway included this blog in her list of things that are cheering her up as she recovers from a bad case of coronavirus.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Monday, April 20, 2020
2. The children have turned out a box of toys in search of something or other. I spot something shining in the pile -- an unopened butterfly kite, no larger than my hand. I slide it into my pocket for our park exercise.
3. To tear off last week's meal plan page and put it in the recycling.
Sunday, April 19, 2020
2. Opening a new packet of biscuits at coffee time. 'Not healfy biscuits,' says Alec, looking at the packet with disappointment. But Mr Organic's Cocoa biscuits are delicious.
3. Digging around in the library's e-magazine selection, I find another old favourite, net -- which I remember as a gloriously enthusiastic publication about the sheer joy of the internet. It was gloriously bright and glossy at a time when the internet (for me, anyway, on a dial-up connection) was mostly white-on-black usenet posts and intimidating ftp servers. net is now 'the premiere print publication for web designers' and I understand about one word in ten -- although the long and helpful article on search engine optimisation was very much in my content-writing bailiwick.
Saturday, April 18, 2020
1. We open the door to not much of a shower - just enough to wet the dust. Nick remarks on the pleasant smell and I can tell him that the word for it is petrichor.
2. As I turn the last pages of Howl's Moving Castle (a real classic by Diana Wynne Jones), it occurs to me that it's really more of a young adult book than a children's story. But Alec and Bettany are delighted by the way all the characters realise they love each other; and they want to know if there are more Ingary books with the same characters.
3. We are woken in the night by an absolute downpour, the first proper rain for a month. It is still a wonder to me that the atmosphere can hold so much water; and that we have so little control over it.
Friday, April 17, 2020
Thursday, April 16, 2020
2. I found a few of those cards with seeds in them. This evening I have a spare few minutes so I quickly plant them.
3. A video call with Katie, during which we discuss our various makes, and I complete my embroidered bunny. It's a kit from Kiriki, but I don't think he's available any more, though they offer lots of other beautiful items.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
2. A video call from my sister, during which my small niece shambles about the kitchen and garden turning things upside down.
3. The temperature has dropped suddenly, and it makes me look forward very much to the summer heat.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Monday, April 13, 2020
2. In the park the children find a grassy slope and slide down it headfirst and arms around each other's shoulders.
3. The days have been merging into each other a bit, so I'm pleased to see my bit of needlework getting closer to completion.
PS: A few days ago, an old friend of Three Beautiful Things dropped me such a lovely email. He mentioned a blog and of course I tracked it down: Edible Reading. His corona diaries are well worth reading -- the story about the cauliflower curry during week one made me smile: we've had a fair few fails and near misses as we struggle to cook with unusual ingredients and improvise around missing items.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
Saturday, April 11, 2020
2. Bettany hangs colourful glittery eggs on the Japanese maple tree in the front garden.
3. Our hot cross buns are a bit rustic-looking because of an accident with the breadmaker, a shortage of strong white flour and because we're not yet entirely used to our sourdough starter. But they are OUR hot cross buns and they taste all right.
Friday, April 10, 2020
2. We liking tuning in to Tom Carradine's Cockney Sing-a-long on Thursday nights. It's fun to hear songs that you half remember, and the way the lyrics come edging back in your memory.
3. To crawl into bed feeling properly tired, so that the last few pages of your book don't really make much sense.
Thursday, April 09, 2020
2. To dig around on Spotify and find the ethereal piece of music we were listening to the night before. It was a choral arrangement of Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending by Paul Drayton.
3. 'This is how I thought the apocalypse would be,' says Nick contentedly. He is fixing a broken toastie maker while I make chicken stock from the bones left over from supper.
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
2. To sit with children and a cookbook planning what we might like to eat, if only we could get the ingredients.
3. Because of the leak under the sink we've had the water switched off for just over twelve hours. The plumber comes early in the day, and at bedtime we're still marvelling at being able to get water whenever we want by turning on a tap.
Tuesday, April 07, 2020
2. There's been a drip under the sink, and it's turned into rather a rush. During supper we get a call from the landlord to say that a plumber will come in the morning.
3. Before our meeting my writing group had been having a go at entries for a competition for a poem containing every letter of the alphabet. I'd half-heartedly played with pangrams, chasing jigging nymphs and angry dwarfs round the page before giving up. But the others come up with absolute beauties: even the quick brown fox can make you startle when it's placed with a fresh new image.
Monday, April 06, 2020
2. Watching the Queen's pep talk all together as a family.
3. I've been working so many evenings this week that I am very grateful for a chance to snuggle up next to Nick on the sofa and just do... nothing.
Sunday, April 05, 2020
2. Alec has been learning to use a knife and wants to practise his skills at every opportunity, so he's more willing than usual! I ask him to cut up some mushrooms and he goes at it with such vigor that he turns them into mushroom mince. The children usually complain -- loudly -- about mushrooms. I keep putting them in food because they are really nutritious and I'm convinced they will get used to them eventually. Alec's mushroom mince disappears into the meal and they eat it without comment, despite knowing it's there.
3. Using a teaspoon to scrape the seeds out of a courgette to make a space for stuffing.
Saturday, April 04, 2020
1. More birds: a goldfinch -- I always think they look a bit predatory with their blood-coloured faces, though the colours are lovely -- on the bare branches of the dying elder tree in the corner of the car park. It's the nearest tree to my window, and the only one I can see in any detail so the birds on it are always of interest.
2. The children are sleeping in a den tonight for their scouting district's Big Sleep Out. We haven't got enough garden for camping, so it's just in the bedroom.
3. Just as we switch out the light there is the pad of feet. Bettany comes running up the stairs to tell us that she's had a bad dream about an owl with a hand coming out of its bottom. She lies between us wriggling, and then when I suggest I could take her back to bed, she jumps up, and we set off back down the stairs, her leading. The last I see of her is her pyjama ankle cuffs disappearing into the den, and as I often do with our Bett, I feel a bit redundant.
Friday, April 03, 2020
1. The way Bettany answers 'Never!' when we ask her to do anything.
2. I spot a nuthatch in the Grove. I think of them as country birds, and it never occurred to me that we might find them in our home park, a circle of green a quarter mile round and two minutes' walk from the centre of town.
3. To hang out on Zoom with my gaming group. We played a new-to-us game called Fiasco, which calls for a lot of improv and off-the-cuff roleplaying. It felt amazing to just... play, and have fun and laugh with my friends. Fiasco is all about greed and poor impulse control and we ended up with a tale of smutty books, poorly-stored explosives and climate-change denial.
At present we're putting so much energy into self-restraint and it felt great to let go and make poor choices and selfish choices (even in roleplay) that resulted in hilarity, rather than total disaster.
I expect there will be a write-up on Tim Knight's Heropress in due course, and I'll link to it for those who are interested.
Thursday, April 02, 2020
2. At lunchtime Nick says he has recorded a documentary about the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, and would I like to watch it with him this evening on the sofa with some beer and a few chocolates. I would, very much. (The BBC documentary is excellent. It's presented by Mark Gatiss, who is a great favourite of mine).
3. The shepherd's pie that Nick brings out for supper. It is bubbling and golden with a tasty cheesy topping.
Wednesday, April 01, 2020
2. As I pass the back bedroom I catch sight of the children. They've cleared a spot among the scattered dressing-ups and plugged in Alec's little radio and tuned it to a rock station. They are playing an intricate game with little plastic people. I don't stop to comment because observing them will alter their peaceful activity -- probably for the worse.
3. Nick brings me a plate of crispbread and houmous and a mug of chamomile tea as I work into the evening.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
2. Alec comes up to remind me that we have decided to walk out one day and find the tall tree on the horizon.
3. The lasagne -- made with soy mince -- comes out in neat slices. 'Like housebricks,' Nick says.
Monday, March 30, 2020
2. There is a faint mist of yellow-green on a birch in The Grove and one of the horse chestnuts is hung with damp little leaves.
3. We eat a couple of those savoiardi biscuits for tea -- the Italian cafe on the corner has turned into a food shop, so now we're eating Italian versions of several staples. We had these biscuits when my siblings were babies in the eighties. They are a nice shape for small hands, and they melt in the mouth, so they're just right for people who are learning to eat. But they were called sponge fingers then.
Sunday, March 29, 2020
2. Napping in the afternoon.
3. I spend the evening watching the sitcom Spaced -- it's soothing, I know what happens next and takes me back to a comfortable, predictable time of my life.
Saturday, March 28, 2020
2. A client acknowledges a piece of work with 'a thanks for all you've done this week' -- and only then does it occur to me that yes, I have delivered a fair amount for them, at pace, this week, and I feel satisfied with that.
3. To hear that a postcard has arrived.
Friday, March 27, 2020
2. During the 8pm cheering for NHS workers I catch the eye of a neighbour over the road and he gives me a firm nod to communicate, 'AOK. I'll call if I need anything.' His handclaps are louder than anyone else's in the brick box of his porch.
3. Alec calls down the stairs that Nick and I are being too noisy while we watch Tom Carradine's Cockney Sing-Along. We get the giggles, so I quietly close the door. The songs are not too rude, so perhaps we'll let them join us next week.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
2. Every spring there is a day when Bettany announces that she want to clean up her fairy gardens. We salvage the decorations, and any pretty small plants and tip the rest into the compost heap. There's some scrubbing to do, and some snail removal, and then we put in soft fresh compost and hunt for new little plants around the garden..
3. I am working on a narrative project for a friend that calls for handwriting -- a lot of it, and it needs to be legible, and not my own script. It's pleasant to vanish into a slightly tedious task that calls for all my concentration.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
2. Bettany didn't know how to ride a bike at the start of the week. But today we watched her wobble off round the park, pedalling hard on a rusty pink bike with tiny wheels that is much too small for her.
3. We're doing a Writers' HQ Novel in Sixty Minutes video. The faciliter gets one of the other participants up on screen to read her story, and the children go crazy 'BECAUSE IT'S A GIRL FROM OUR SCHOOL AND SHE KNOWS US!'
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
2. We've had so many weeks of rain and the sense of vast space that clear skies supply is very welcome indeed.
4. My writing group meets on a video conferencing app. It's crackly and as a group we are still learning the grammar and syntax and etiquette of video conferencing -- but it's a relief to see the familiar faces and to keep the routine going.
PS: One of the exercises was to recommend three things online. Mine were:
a. Human/kind Journal
b. Morgen Bailey's website, in particular her 100-word story competition.
c. Dave Bonta's Morning Porch.
Monday, March 23, 2020
2. For Mothering Sunday I have signed myself up for an online writing retreat. It's reassuring to see other people's word-counts for the day. When you work so much alone it's hard to know what 'normal' is.
3. My aunt says that she has been spending a lot of time weeding the front garden so she can talk at a distance with the neighbours she is not allowed to see formally.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
2. The bottom of the compost heap is ready for sifting -- which is fortunate, as I don't think it will be easy to obtain compost for a while. I've got some seeds saved from last summer. I'll sow them as soon as the earth feels warm enough.
3. I am too tired to read to the children, so I offer to put an audiobook on. They choose The Secret Garden, which seems an old-fashioned, out-of-place choice, until they point out that they've heard about a new film version. It's nice to sit in the dark on the sofa and just listen.