3. We have been cheered each week by Carradine's Self-isolation Singalong. This week, the relentlessly jolly Tom Carradine admits that he's been feeling down -- 'a bit Groundhog Day,' he says. I value knowing that under the performer there's a real person. I do think fans have a duty of care towards performers -- particularly those who are asking for contributions, rather than selling tickets. So it seems like a good thing that he feels safe enough to admit to despondency and disappointment in this joyful space he's created.
1. There are creamy white elder flowers on the tree below my window.
2. Bettany and I sit in the big bed looking at Kay Nielsen's luxuriant pictures for The Arabian Nights. It is difficult to explain some of the stories to her -- almost embarrassing, actually, to explain that as women we've supported a system which lets other people control and punish us for who we love and what we choose to do. By the way, you can take a look at Kay Neilsen's Arabian Nights on NPR.
3. Today we heard that our friend Anna Lambert and her potato marketer husband Cedric Porter have started a podcast called PlanetPotato. Nick and I waited until bedtime to listen, as it features a soothing list of potato names. It did not disappoint, and we think that some of you will enjoy this quirky, charming and erudite mix of potato news, history and analysis.
1. The smell of limes comes all the way to the top of the house. Alec is using a lemon or lime ice cream recipe given to me years ago for my cook's notebook by a friend's mum.
2. It's bank holiday Monday, so I drop a little kahlua in our coffee.
3. Last week a parcel of children's books arrived from my aunt. Today Alec brings them upstairs, saying he's finished the lot. I can't quite believe he's read so fast, but when I question him, it's clear he has read them. I remember being quizzed in the same way about my reading.
1. When I come down for coffee, the latest Fortean Times is waiting for me.
2. In the Grove we find a Jack-in-the-Pulpit. We've been chatting about wild flowers, which is lovely, but they immediately name it 'willy flower' for its elongated spadix and dare each other to poke it. I decide that I might be better off supervising them from a distance.
1. To go down and make mid-morning coffee for myself and Nick; and to carry my mug back upstairs.
2. Bacon and eggs for supper.
3. 'That was fun,' says Nick, hitting send on a piece of editorial support work I've given him. I pay him a nominal amount for admin services each month, but I rarely call on him to check facts in his (many) areas of expertise. I should do it more often, as fact-checking can turn into a huge time sink. Today is also the day when I receive content from the two writers who help me out at busy times. It took me a long time to seek it out, but this support helps me to manage the 'feast or famine' lumps and bumps of freelance work.
1. I was well overdue a haircut before lockdown, and now my hair is very much longer than usual, and totally unstructured. Nick comes in while I am brushing it out and murmurs something about Pre-Raphaelites, which makes me feel better.
2. Bettany quietly working on an increasingly elaborate picture for her friend.
3. My back is too sore for me to join the others scrambling over a fallen oak, so I sit quietly on a mossy trunk and enjoy being in the woods. I notice that the side branches I am sitting among have grown straight upwards: the tree adapted and made a new life for itself after it fell.
1. Our lovely school calls us up and asks how we're doing. So I ask for advice, and get kind reassurance.
2. I've seen commentary that banana bread during lockdown is a middle class cliche -- but ours smells amazing, and Alec made it without much supervision.
3. To let Bettany go through my box of costume jewellery: she needs a costume for tomorrow's dance lesson, which has an Aladdin theme. She puts together an excellent Jaffar costume and lounges around looking malevolent and louche. She will almost certainly have changed her mind by lesson time -- my money's on the magic carpet.
1. To throw and catch a cricket ball under the trees in the park with Alec.
2. Nick comes upstairs and sorts out an IT problem that is beyond my skills.
3. We wrote to a really pleasing prompt last night: I am most happy when... We wondered if it would make us despondent to write about things we can't do now -- but afterwards we found it made us happier to spend a little time in memory; and to spend time in the memories of others, too.
1. Alec looks thoughtfully at the ladder-like handles of the drawers and the kitchen step. He's planning how he's going to bring his long limbs up on to the work surface so he can reach to program the breadmaker.
to bake his marmalade cake.
2. Bettany rifles through my sewing supplies and starts her own piece of textile art with fabric pens, velcro, silver thread and piece of white felt.
2. I rifle through my sewing supplies and find a piece of unbleached cotton stapled to the frame from a canvas. I started this about ten years ago, and then never got any further. But now I've got something in mind, so I make a start (in between threading needles and advising on bread machine programing).
1. Nick deals decisively and efficiently with a very much unwanted 16kg bag of self-raising flour that was delivered by mistake yesterday.
2. Alec rolling down the hill at the park
3. To hand Alec a book I loved as a child -- The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. 'Is it scary?' he wants to know. I have to admit that it is. 'But there are lots of happy and comfortable bits, too,' I promise him, thinking of the girls at the horrible school raiding the cheese basket; and Simon's cave with his geese and his chestnut bread,
1. The bright, deep red of a copper beech just coming into full leaf.
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.
1. The children request a duplicate of the walk they took with Nick on Saturday. It's a bit longer than our usual, and I have a call immediately after, so we're very firm with them about the consequences of all the things that make it difficult to get out of the house (not getting ready when asked to; refusing to put on socks; arguing about whether it's okay to bring a football; arguing about whether a coat is needed). And they are good as gold, so we have a long, relaxing walk.
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.
1. While we are otherwise occupied, the children re-organise their bedroom. They wanted another quiet nook for reading, and ask for a new rug to make the floor more cosy.
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.
1. There are fat crimson radishes in our veg box, with clean, fresh-looking tops that will make a great salad.
2. Though it's raining heavily the children announce that they are going out anyway. They put on the full waterproofs that they usually reject as being 'embarrassing' and scamper around the park, rolling on the grass and gleefully sitting in puddles.
3. To suddenly remember a thing you wanted to listen to at a point when you know you need to rest.
1. We get the children video-chatting with their friends, and it's nice to hear different children's voices.
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 off car alarms -- brings me back to the world.