Friday, July 31, 2020

Save, shade and non-stop.

1. The massage therapist helps me up and it saves me a moment of back ache.

2. To sit in the park in the shade on a rug and chat over coffee.

3. Grandpa brings the children back and Alec talks non-stop about the den he is building.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Snail, no rush and jigsaws.

1. A snail emerges sleepily from my watering can.

2. To have an evening where I don't feel in a rush. After bath, Bettany and I read story after story until the boys come home from cricket.

3. We listen to one of BBC Sounds podcasts, The Boring Talks. It's about jigsaws, and it makes us almost salivate at the thought of starting a new one.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Go, wineberries and velvety leaves.

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.

3. A plant with velvety leaves and a strange astringent smell that I remember from a day out at Sarah Raven's garden at Perch Hill.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Now I see it, note and insight.

1. I've been feeling troubled for days about an editing problem -- but when I come to write a report, the solution comes tumbling out.  

2. To think that you haven't heard from a friend in a while, and then to get a note from them.

3. A simple writing exercise produced to fill five minutes at the end of the evening brings up an insight that strikes me as worth examining carefully.

PS: The children and I are fascinated by Erwin Saunders' videos about pixie sightings, which were covered in the latest Fortean Times

Monday, July 27, 2020

Heft, honeysuckle and joke.

1. Rosey hands me my now toddler niece because she isn't ready to stand on the floor so soon after arrival. Feeling the unfamiliar heft of her.

2. Standing by the back door and smelling honeysuckle on the warm air.

3. Rosey and I burst out laughing and Annie, who can't have got the joke, giggles along with us.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Shared work, on the sofa and queue.

1. To share in the work of grinding a spice mix.

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.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Watermelon, yoghurt and tick.

1. We've seen hints that a watermelon is coming in our fruit and veg box for some weeks. Finally it's here.

2. Mixing new milk with the starter I saved from last week's yoghurt never gets old. 

3. Ticking off tasks on a paper to-do list; or moving them along on a project management system. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Fishing, unblock and handprints.

1. The children 'fishing' with a stick, some string and a bent paperclip in the grandly named Brighton Lake. 

2. The chalybeate spring that fills the lake is clogged with mud and sticks. Showing Alec how satisfying it is to unblock a culvert so that the flow washes clouds of red mud down into the lake.

3. The red muddy handprints that Alec leaves on the stone wall.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Vapour, home and back.

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).


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Blackberries, format and canes.

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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Wait, fried potatoes and break.

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.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Fill, picnic in August and untangle.

1. The sound of the water butt filling up.

3. Planning to meet up seems a bit scary right now -- but a call about a picnic at the end of August seems doable, and actually very enticing.

2. To untangle a toy's long hair while watching TV.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Cut, go and summer evening.

1. The hairdresser hands me the scissors and so I can take some of my hair. 

2. The children jump into Grandpa's car without a backward glance. Alec has packed at least four pairs of shorts and asks if we will send his school work.

3. After supper, instead of convincing the children that, yes, they do need to go to bed, we go out for a summer evening walk. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Morning, lolly and escape.

1. The children climb into bed with us every morning. And no matter what, the second to arrive will complain that the first is lying in the spot they want. 

2. A large, bright orange ice lolly.

3. The children crowd around my phone to see the start of Carradine's Cockney sing-along. Then I shake them off, kiss them and run downstairs to join Nick on the sofa.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Unfamiliar, plate and thrushes.

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.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Fishes, note and underground.

1. We have a whole smoked mackerel for lunch. The children seem to enjoy pretending to be scared of it. I wonder what they will make of the trout Nick is cooking for supper wrapped in buttered foil.

2.  To put a note through a friend's letterbox.

3. We play a new improv game, Girl Underground, and end up on a surreal adventure with a talkative toy tiger, an acquisitive adventure chicken, a shadow full of holes and a pit of green slime.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Second pass, national treasure and wake.

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.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Shorn, bubble and pie.

1. The children stroking the back of Nick's newly clipped head.

2. A giant bubble shimmering and wobbling in the afternoon park. 

3. I sort of forget about supper -- but in line with my meal plan, pie and greens appear on the table at the right time.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Taken care of, seeds and pudding.

1. We wake up late and come down to find the the children have let the landlord in to make a repair and have helped him find the tools he needs in our toolbox.

2. Seeds are drying in the corner of the hall.

3. Helping Nick slide the gypsy tart he has baked on to a plate.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Smile, raspberries and potatoes.

1. To see Bettany smiling to herself during her dance class (She doesn't like me to watch her, but I have to be in the room).

2. We eat two boxes of raspberries for pudding, just by themselves. No cream, no sugar needed. 

3. We've been waiting for bedtime so we can listen to the latest episode of PlanetPotato podcast.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Park flowers, defender and looking forward.

1. Someone has put a pot of purple flowers on the wall in the park and nasturtiums are falling on to the path.

2. The children were scrapping in the park and when Bettany and I are talking it over at bath time I tell her that Uncle Robert used to call Aunty Rosey a shrimp because she was so little. 
'And did he call you fat, Mummy?'
'Yes he did.'
'I will destroy him. '

3. To have things to look forward to. 

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Coasters, mango and Pluto.

1. A hamabead factory has appeared in the kitchen and there are bright new coasters everywhere.

2. To cut up a mango that I think is going to turn out really sweet and juicy. The children are arguing over who gets the seed. I'm tempted to take it for myself.

3. Cuddling up on the sofa with Nick to watch a documentary about the marvels found on Pluto, including shifting nitrogen snow fields and an ice volcano. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Wait, overgrown and new potatoes.

1. I like the wait in the fishmongers because there is always so much to look at in the display -- from the stripes on the mackerels' backs to the scarlet lobsters to the pure orange scallop corals.

2. To cut back the overgrown perennials in our tiny garden until it feels like we can move around again.

3. We have new potatoes this evening, and it's so tempting to eat 'just one more'.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Enthusiasm, balloons and sounds.

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.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Note, expedition and clear.

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. 

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Slug, bubbles, grey.

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.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Broadcast, mint and sleep.

1. To discover that Alec has been watching Doctor Who over Zoom with his friend by turning the laptop towards the TV.

2. Bruising mint for a cocktail. 

3. To be ready to sleep at sleeping time. 

Friday, July 03, 2020

Equipped, avocado and sweep.

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.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Telly, foam and chilli.

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.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Signs of life, shopping and background.

1. To pass a pub and notice signs of life: windows open, a radio playing and cleaning equipment on the bar.

2. Bettany hands over her birthday money to pay for a cowgirl outfit.

3. When he gets up for a drink he seems to vanish among the trees of his Zoom backdrop.