Monday, June 14, 2021

Waffle, lawn and handover.

1. The soft crunch of a waffle lifting off the iron.

2. I love the June light on a lawn of uncut grass, and seeing the variety of seedheads.

3. On a hot evening to bring the smoothie pops that Alec made this morning out of the freezer. Both children have made them in recent weeks, and I feel as if it is a task I can hand over to them.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Eclipse, cod and reading.


1. Nick and I watch the eclipse from our garden. It does not affect the light or temperature much, but it is rather marvellous to see that little bite taken out of our sun. 

2. For lunch Nick proudly produces a tray of cod in a tomato sauce with roasted fennel. 

3. To read a book that is really beautifully put together.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Voice acting, sky and target.

1. The slightly manic voice acting in the episode of Zombies Run Homefront I follow by way of exercise.

2.  To be able to glance up at the sky as I work and to feel the air on my cheek through the open window.

3. To push on through and finish a piece of work.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Mushrooms, pinks and time to read.

1. At lunchtime I mix mushrooms with French dressing, knowing they will be ready for supper.

2. The clove scent of pinks.

3. There is time -- just -- to read to the children this evening before I sign on for games night.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Inset day, our friends and children.

1. It's inset day today: a little bonus Monday with a lie-in at the end of half term.

2. A little way off, we see Alec's friend on his bike; and later his mum stepping across the park for a catch-up.

3. To hurry home through the woods with a child holding each hand.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Pancakes, dog and seaside portaits.

1. To see a stack of pancakes disappearing.

2. As we come across the common I ask if we can quickly divert to check on the tadpoles in Cabbage Stalk Pond. When we get there, a nice little dog, terrier-sized with curly gingery hair, is just coming out of the water carrying an orange ball. She drops it at Alec's feet and looks expectant, so he throws it for her, a good cricketing throw. She races through the grass, leaping like Bambi, and brings it back to me. We play with her for a while, wondering where her owner is. In due course a woman with crutches comes along and claims her dog. We chat -- about the tadpoles, who can be seen wriggling away happily -- and the dog keeps bringing the ball back so we can throw it.

3. At the market we chat to the people at the wooden bunting stall. They have started making little seaside scenes out of driftwood and beachcombings. Although they are not exact portraits, they capture so well the coastal places of Kent and Sussex that we love. Here's Hastings with its tall black net huts; and Dungeness's black and white lighthouse and shacks with coloured roofs.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Geese, on the water and pignuts.

1. Bettany is intrigued by a woman feeding the geese by the lake shore. She saves her crusts so that she too can summon powerful, dangerous birds.

2. Even at this distance we can hear Alec and his friends shouting in their boats on the lake. Bettany and I hire a boat a bit later: the water is a good place to be on this hot, still day.

3. I use PlantNet to check the identity of a tiny, dainty umbellifer growing in the park. It turns out that it is pignut. I try to learn a few wild plants each year, and I'm so pleased to add this one to my collection. I'm tempted to dig for its edible root, but I think that the borough council and the friends of the park would prefer I did not.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Check-in, every sparrow and shushi.

1. The post-bank holiday check-in emails that remind me I am working with real people. I always like the human being sentence -- the one that remarks on the weather, or mentions the weekend. 

2. The news that the wildlife hospital declared Tim's rescued sparrow ready for release.

3. It's not great looking sushi, but we have fun making it and the children are getting some good knife skills slicing it up. 


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Lollies, weeding and comedy.

1. During a period of warm weather, to slide ice lolly moulds full of orange and pink smoothie into the freezer.

2. To ensure we avoid the attention of the council's weedkiller man we pull out the briza grass and avens growing between the fence and the pavement. The soil smells sweet and damp, and even in that tiny gap there are big worms at work.

3. To sit back with a comedy podcast.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Early, shopping and kebabs.

1. I've been waking early these past few days, and I love to eat breakfast in a quiet house.

2. Bettany patiently and insistently extracts me from my desk to go shopping for a new pencil case.

3. Nick is not delighted by the chicken and chorizo kebabs I ordered from the supermarket. They have fallen apart in the packet. 'It's just meat and sticks,' he says.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Brewing, cricket sounds and grievances.

1. Bettany has packed a potion kit and is ready to brew in the field. (that's the smoothie and pudding she made me when we got home.)

2. As we approach we can hear cricket sounds -- it's a Twenty-Twenty game, so a bit noiser than you'd expect, with shouts and music from the pavilion.

3. Cross, tired children cuddling up to tell me their grievances.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Walk, irises and bins.

 1. When I wave the children and Nick off I realise that the air is so soft and summery that the only course of action that makes complete sense is to go for a walk before starting work. 

2. In the park there are tall yellow and black irises, and in another bed the promise of another colour pairing that is too parcelled up to discern.

3. The children scampering around the house and up and down the street doing their dustbin duties. I only wish that they would do each part of the task without getting distracted and without arguing when we try to put them back on track.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

More toast, no rush and early night.

1. Golden syrup on toast.

2. This evening I don't have anything on so there is no need to rush through the children's bedtime. 

3. To go to bed early so we have time to read before we are too tired.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Browsing, spotted and starling.

1. To feel okay about browsing in a clothing shop.

2. Our neighbour spots me in a coffee shop for the second time and pantomimes mocking gestures through the glass to suggest that I spend more time drinking coffee than working.

3. In the High Street to look up and see starlings on a bird feeder.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Picture message, bluebells and dress-up.

1. Getting a message enclosing a picture collage of my neice.
2. I get my walk in a bluebell wood.

3. The smell of acrylic paint and sealer works its way up the house: in the kitchen, Nick is painting a shield so Alec can go to school as a Spartan warrior on Greek day. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Pondlife, tab and clear.

1. To stand for a few minutes before the rain comes watching tadpoles in a shallow pond.

2. The tab on the back of my DMs that I use to pull them on.

3. Alec takes a bent stick and unclogs the spring gully at Brighton Lake so that water rushes out clear and shining.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Red boots, fennel and tip.

1. An older lady wearing shiny scarlet lace-up boots.

2. The soft fronds of last year's fennel plants in a neglected public flowerbed.

3. To tip a quarter of a bag of epsom salts into my bath. There is something very satisfying and abundant about using a large quantity.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Greek week, seed and buzzing.

1. Nick brings home his haul from Lidl -- it's Greek week, so there's quite a lot of baklava.

2. To show Bettany that her sunflower seed has germinated.

3. Alec comes back from Cubs absolutely buzzing because he enjoyed the athletics activities so much. 'Apart from the skipping. I'm never touching a skipping rope ever again.'

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Microsalad, making history and botanicals.

1. My breakfast comes with dots and curls of microsalad.

2. At lunchtime we watch a live history event: the unstoppering of a witch bottle. 

3. We keep finding snack boxes full of plant material that Bettany has gathered for reasons of her own. To show her how to lay her leaves and flowers out on a tray to dry.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The future is coming, wild children and map.

1. To drink coffee indoors and talk about a future poetry event.

2. The Beavers scamper across to the wild bit of the park on a scavenger hunt. It is pleasant to be led by their interests across the tussocky grass and into the boundary woods. 

3. Bettany, who has never shown an interest in maps before, locating her school, Nana's house and our road.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Dry patch, dry clothes and vegetables.

1. We find the only patch of sun in a rainy morning and sit in it, just taking in the forest and breathing.


2. Nana won't let me 'sit in wet clothes' and so I put on her spare trousers and top without a fuss.


3. By the time I've finished there is a bright array of chopped vegetables ready for Nick to put in his noodle soup.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Vaccinated, coffee and puzzles.

1. I am passed from hand to hand by smiling people in masks and hi-vis, and when I stumble out through a service door into the bright May drizzle, I am partially vaccinated against covid-19.


2. A coffee, a piece of cake and a nice long chat with a good friend.


3. To sit with the children doing rebus puzzles because I am too tired to read to them.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Marmite, books and pears.

1. Buttery Marmite toast.

2. A parcel arrives -- it's a packet of books that I ordered from the marvellous Hunt Emerson's shop. They are signed and doodled and there is a scattering of stickers and a CD of his music. The thought that a famous artist would go to all this trouble brings a lot of joy. 

3. Some not very nice pears become sweet and soft when stewed with some frozen raspberries.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Poetry, confidence and quip.

1. To move lines of poetry around the page.

2. While we are waiting for pick-up, one of Alec's friends confides something that is bothering him.

3. To come up with a quip for a character at games night.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Boots, bluebells and robins.

1. I am looking for a fallen hairclip but  find an entire career of outgrown football boots. Nick promises to wash them and put them on a neighbourhood group so that other boys can get some use out of them.

2. In a copse, a drift of bluebells.

3. The loud song of a robin startles us.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Cleavers, cells and ghost.

1. The children pick bundles of succulent green sticky grass and chase each other with it.

2. Alec has filled two more cells in his blank comic book.

3. To remember that there is a final Battersea Poltergeist episode that I have not listened to yet.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Hug, book and sunset.

1. I hug Nick because I am frazzled. Alec wriggles in between us: he doesn't want to be left out. 

2. I'm starting to think the book we are reading is a bad fit, as it is about an Edwardian teenage girl having Edwardian teenage girl problems with her place in the world and her hunger for a better education. It is, though, exquisitely written. I ask them what they think and they both say they are enjoying it and don't want to stop.

3. The west-facing windows of the houses on the hill reflect soft pink light from the setting sun.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Normal, not sticky and marshmallows.

1. I have an enormous, exciting job on at the moment, but they don't need me this morning. It makes me remember why my boring normal routine is my  normal routine. 

2. The rainstorms are clearing the sticky aphids off the acer. It's a bit hard on the aphids, but it means I can garden without getting gluey residue all over me.

3. Alec is doing campfire cooking with Cubs, so we let Bettany toast a marshmallow over the gas ring.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Gulls, released and confidence.

1. Seagulls hanging in the sky, straining against the wind.

2. To be released from a meeting earlier than expected.

3. Alec tells me and Bettany that everyone knows two people in his class are in love because they keep staring at each other in lessons. 'We don't know why they don't just get together,' he says. We spend some time thinking up things that might be keeping them apart.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Potion book, get out of the bathroom and storm.

1. Bettany shows me her potion book and a jar with fallen flowers from the park floating in it.

2. Alec wants me to help with his wash, but also to leave him alone in the bathroom to get on with it.

3. On a night when the weather is throwing itself against the house to pull the covers over myself and take refuge in sleep.