1. Letting the children decide which route we will take (up the hill and along the top of the park, as it happens).
2. Picking wineberries -- Jane describes them as 'raspberries by Haribo'. They are strangely sticky and leave my fingers feeling faintly waxy; and they are sweet and delicious. Bettany and I eat rather a lot as we pick (sorry Jane!!) When we look back at the stripped canes, the receptacles left behind are bright orange.
2. I've had a busy time with work recently -- one of my clients is getting ready for Christmas. The children tell me that after tea we will be watching YouTube videos about fairy encounters. So we do, cuddled up on the sofa, and it is very satisfying.
3. To be able to queue up and listen to a dozen covers of the same song. When I was a child this would have seemed like a fairy tale.
1. In the early morning, vapour from a chimney trapped beneath an inversion.
2. In the middle of the morning the children come home. They mainly want cuddles and then to strew toys over the empty spaces of floor we've been enjoying in their absence.
3. While walking back slowly from cricket in the evening sun Bettany spots a garden full of concrete animals; and in a shady corner by the road, a place where fairies have been at work (at least that's what it says on a tiny slate).
1. There are already blackberries ripe but sour on the common.
2. To untangle a formatting problem (I have no idea how the author managed to apply a different font to the apostrophes and quotation marks, nor why it was so difficult to change it).
3. It's time to put some canes up for my sweetpeas, which have already collapsed over the front fence in a mass of angular stems, curling tendrils and bright pink flowers and -- already -- a few soft green seedpods.
1. Nick makes us wait to see the signal change and the train depart.
2. To hear that Alec has been praising Nick's fried potatoes. He says they are better than Granny's.
3. My writing group has kept on trucking right through lockdown with no break for Easter or half term or bank holidays. We agree that we should take August off. Some of us admit that we're not writing except at these sessions on a Monday. But despite ourselves, we write, and find things that we want to continue working at during the week.
1. We've been told by email to come in this way, walk here, don't touch that. But the diagram is difficult to understand and I have no idea where we should wait. There are enormous teenagers playing a serious match on the pitch, and no signs telling us where to go. To see across the field a group of people with children of a similar size to mine.
2. When I turn round I find that Bettany has got herself a full-sized plate and is unwrapping her sausage and chips.
3. We follow the pavement round the corner and suddenly evening birdsong is all we can hear: two thrushes in red prunus trees are trying to outdo each other.
1. The way a novel always seems better on the second editing pass.
2. During our writing video call we discuss -- with a lot of enthusiasm -- the new Talking Heads by Alan Bennett. For me, it's authentic presentation of characters observed kindly but neutrally. Bennett is beige in the best possible way.
3. I go to check on Alec last thing at night. He wakes up long enough to rub his face against mine and tell me he is having trouble falling asleep, and then rolls back over into his pillow, breathing gently again.
1. The manuscript I'm editing next arrives with an enthusiastic email.
2. Bettany brings me a balloon to tie. I tell her about tiny Alex setting off in a hot air balloon made from the washing basket and two string bags filled with balloons. It turns out she's had a similar idea and is building her own in the front room.
3. Picking out the novel instruments in an Ennio Morricone track. His presence in the world will be missed.
1. We leave a note on the door for Nick to say that we are going to the park.
2. I come back from my walk to find the children putting on full wet weather gear. They explain that they are going on an expedition to the eaves cupboards, 'to get footage'. The waterproofs are in case of spiders. Alec tells Bettany to put her hood up before she puts on her helmet.
3. To deliberately not pack the day full of tasks and odd jobs.
1. To wonder how a finger-sized slug got into our locked compost bucket.
2. We are blowing bubbles in the street. A passing neighbour, normally reserved and dignified, stops to pop a few with a pointed finger.
3. In Alison Uttley's semi-autobiographical A Country Child to catch a glimpse of her character Little Grey Rabbit in Susan as she hurries home from school in her grey cloak. Susan is a more complicated character, just as courageous but less protected by inherent goodness than the little rabbit.
1. Our afternoon park session leaves me feeling tight and tense. To go back upstairs and vanish into work. (it's not a great cure, but there are times when for a couple of hours I just need to feel as if I am competent and equipped with the right skills).
2. Slicing an avocado that is just perfectly ripe and then using the blade to slide the pieces onto someone's plate.
3. It is satisfying to sweep all the stairs in the house from top to bottom.
1. At breakfast Alec asks if I want to watch telly with him. At first I say no because I need to start work. But then I remember that there will come a time when he doesn't want to do anything with me. I watch two episodes of Teen Titans, and it's nice.
2. For her birthday we got Bettany a bath toy she has been asking for. It turns soapy foam into pretend ice cream. Nick does bathtime this evening and he reports that it also serves beer.
3. In the evening I make a lentil chilli for tomorrow's dinner. The children smell it and come in looking for a taste.