Monday, January 31, 2005

Sandwiches, cake and scrawl.

1. Fishfinger sandwiches. You need three or four fishfingers (make sure they aren't cod to preserve our stocks - public service announcement ends) and some really fresh bread. And some butter and some tomato sauce. Grill the fishfingers until they are cruncy, butter the bread and spread one slice with tomato sauce. Add the fishfingers and sandwich together. Bliss.

2. Fenella's black forest cherry cake. Mmm-mmm. It is impossible to eat in a civilised manner because the cherry-juice swirled cream goes everywhere. And she gave me a slice to put in my lunch box.

3. I found this resonant quote from Brenda Ueland about the act of writing on The Write Coach website.

I learned that you should feel when writing not like Lord Byron, on a mountain top, but like child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

B&M, PR and art.

1. All I wanted was bread and milk. I couldn't face stressing round the supermarket on a Saturday so I raced down the hill to the farmshop. They had one bottle of milk left.

2. Jay telling me that my little press release about his mind, body and spirit fair has been popping up all over the place.

3. We gathered at Laura and Andy's to paint masks. It was a good evening of paint and mess. The masks are papier mache moulded on balloons. The varied designs were amazing - trees, a dragon, a snowy owl, a firey creature, an alien with a lascivious mouth, a dangerous mole and a silver and black Janus. The workshop was an idea I'd had early this winter, so it was good to see it happening at last. I was impressed by everyone's willingness to join in - I get a real kick out of encouraging people to

Saturday, January 29, 2005

An adventurer is you, just in time and out of range.

1. Kingdom of Loathing. Adventure game. A limited on the number of plays each day makes it hard to play for so long that you go blind. Plus it's funny.

2. Being asked out to dinner just as you are opening the fridge to start cooking.

3. Leaving your phone at home.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Teatime, success and gay bar.

1. The blue and white mug that He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named gave me for Christmas and which I use for my work tea. It's so much nicer than the communal mugs which are scummed with brown rings. And one of them has a picture of a Scotsman's bottom on it.

2. Receiving praise for the way I have conducted my love life. For once.

3. When decorative men come up to enquire whether or not PaulV is homosexual.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Snuggle buggle, horizon and chatter.

1. When your bed is exactly the right warmness.

2. The sunsets at this time of year are fantastic. Lower sky the colour of smoked salmon with raggy slate grey clouds slowly transforming into indigo via an almost-green on the way.

3. Collecting the girls together to help with a task that occupies your hands and leaves your mind free. I imagine this is what the quilting bees in Katy and Anne of Green Gables must have been like. The task - making blank papier mache masks for a workshop - would have been exhausting, stressful and dull if I'd done it alone. With Lou and Nicky there to gossip to it flew by, and before I knew it there were 12 balloon heads hanging up to dry and it was 10pm.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Technics, bargain and all for me.

More loveliness from guest 3BTer Katie.

1. Remembering where the hell to put a battery backed write cache enabler in a Proliant DL380 G3.

2. Finding two perfect lamps in the Oka sale with 60% off.

3. Knowing that there is half a bottle of white wine in the fridge, but wanting to enjoy it quietly alone, when the boyfriend calls to say he will be out seeing a friend tonight. Perfect.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Weather, craft and *£#!

1. Snow that whirls down in huge fat flakes.

2. I bought myself an embroidery ring. It was a lot cheaper than I expected - just £1.75. It keeps the fabric flat so I don't have to keep shifting it round to keep shadows off the spot I am working on. The thread also makes a satisfying raspy noise as it goes through the holes. And it makes it look as if I really am doing embroidery and not just boring mending.

3. James calls with a list of films we might see: '...And Ben suggested Meet the... I can't even say that word,' he tails off coyly.

Monday, January 24, 2005

On the bright side, shattered and devour.

1. The days are still short which is foul, but it means that my flat is full of sun from about 8am to around 3.30pm. And its angle is so low that the rainbows from my crystal get into all sorts of out of the way places.

2. I know it rarely heralds good news, but I can't help but like the particular crunk noise of a glass cracking when you hit it really gently while washing up. It reminds me of what a miraculous substance glass is. Why is it see-through? Why doesn't it fly apart more often?

3. Reading a book in one sitting - in this case Tanith Lee's East of Midnight.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

De rig, preparations and colours.

1. An old colleague, Lin, has moved into one of the flats in this block. She invited me round for tea, so I strolled down. She laughed at my slippers. 'Fenella and I always wear our slippers when we visit each other,' I replied witheringly.

2. In Anais Nin's Delta of Venus there is a voluptous description of a woman waiting for her lover to arrive.

'I would bathe myself, spread polish on my nails, perfume myself, rouge my nipples, brush my hair, put on a negligee, and all the preparations would turn my imaginations to the scenes to come.'

I like it because it seems to me that these preparations are more for the woman than for the man who is about to arrive.

3. At a party I tried to explain how I feel about bright colours and how they can make me gasp with pleasure.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Making ourselves at home, clouds and biscuits.

1. I arrived at work to find that Ed had put his shoes neatly to one side and was wearing his slippers.

2. A cloud formation resembling fish-scales.

3. Marks and Spencers' toffee Viennese biscuits. Shortbread with toffee on top with a coating of M&S's excellent chocolate that is thick enough to pick off. What more could you want in a biscuit?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Grin, influence and washing.

1. Going to the dentist because they always say kind things about my teeth and how well I take care of them. Possibly they do this to everyone as an encouragement, but it's always satisfying to be told you are doing something right.

2. For Christmas my little sister gave me Golddiggas, Headnodders & Pholk Songs by Beautiful South and I've been listening ever since. It's an album of covers, including This Will be Our Year by The Zombies. Chris at work dug out a copy of the obscure album Odyssey and Oracle so I could have a listen to the original.

3. The mountain of laundry that came back from the holiday has for the last week been not clean when I need it, tangling round my feet in the kitchen, sloshing, thumping and whizzing in the washing machine, steaming up the windows and draped over every surface. But finally the sleeping bag and the skiing trousers are dry; everything that needs ironing has been flattened and crammed back in the cupboards. And I can go back to a clean shirt every day. Hurrah.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Success, ooh and sofa.

1. Getting the following email from Fenella who is currently on a chilly business trip to New York:


Andy passed his exams - just found out. Could I ask you a big favour - would you mind popping out to the shops and getting him a nice box of chocolates and a congratulations helium balloon or something special and dropping it by my flat so he has a nice surprise tomorrow evening when he gets in? I'll give you back the money with interest on Saturday. If you haven't time then don't worry about it, i'll get him something on my return.



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2. The tickly feeling you get from touching your gums.

3. My sofa which will arrive in exactly one month.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I'm not the pheasant plucker, rays and manners.

These are by a guest 3bter, Katie.

1. Pheasant feathers. They look like a patchwork quilt of Indian jewels.

2. Winter afternoon golden sunlight shining along the valley on the farm.

3. Cheering your mother up by writing a thank you email to one of her best friends. The best friend then rings the mother and says what a wonderful daughter she has.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Fit, long way and cosy.

1. Putting on a jacket I discover that it is rather looser than I remember it being the last time I wore it.

2. Feelings of superiority and achievement from reading about the struggles and ignorances of those new to your passtime.

3. Hot water bottles - friends to shivering single women everywhere.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Paperwork, who? and catch-up.

1. Despite the vast size of my pile of post, only two thing needed an immediate response and both were easily dealt with and came with pre-paid envelopes.

2. Waiting for me is an email from a man I was once half and unsuccessfully in love with. It is some time before I even notice it.

3. Ringing round all my friends to check that nothing important has changed in my absence.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Transport, viewpoint and banquet.

1. Garth Nix's Sabriel which completely absorbed me. I thoroughly enjoyed the company of this practical, convincing heroine.

2. Rob battled us for the window seat on the plane - we gave because he has never got over being stampeded out of a window seat by one of his university lecturers on a field trip. But it was worth it for his excitement - he must have spent the entire leg with his nose pressed to the glass.

3. Chinese food for lots of people so there is plenty of choice.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Furniture, communication and dancing feet.

1. Standing outside the loos in the restaurant where we had lunch was a wardrobe painted with the four seasons. Each one featured a mother and a child. In spring, summer and autumn the fat child is doing not much, but in winter it is poking wood into the stove.

2. Lou and I got back to the table to find that Rob had made friends with an English man who now lived in Austria. We chatted away for a bit about languages and he told us how he had once left his non-German speaking mother in his Vienna apartment. 'The cleaning lady's coming, but she doesn't speak English. You'll be all right won't you?' And off he went to work. When he returned that night, he asked his mother how her day had been. 'What a nice cleaning lady you have. But what a pity about her brother and his lung cancer.' So they had found a way to communicate after all.

3. The feeling of relief when you take off your stiff, too hot, too cold, rubby, achy ski boots for the very last time and slip your feet into walking boots that seem so light you could dance.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Weather eye, trance and dress sense.

1. I slept with the window a little open and the first breath I drew smelt familiar. Cold but not too cold... Staticky... FALLING SNOW!

2. Trying to focus on falling flakes at different distances.

3. Realising you have set out for a day's skiing wearing exactly the right number of layers.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Phenomenon, pears and stories.

1. Strange rainbow rings around the sun.

2. Drinking William Schnapps - first the alcohol scalds your mouth and you think you've been poisoned; and then suddenly you are flooded with the nailpolishy taste of very soft, ripe pears.

3. Hearing stories about Tunbridge Wells from Lou's grandfather - he told us about bunking off school to go to the cinema and about watching iron tyres being put on cart wheels.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Embrace, nutrition and spill.

1. The colour of top of the sky over the ski slopes on a fine day. 'It's like it's wrapped around you,' said Lou.

2. Goulashesuppe because it's thick and tomatoey and full of meat and potatoes.

3. Watching really good falls on the slopes - the skiier slid for about 100m in a cloud of snow powder, a goofy grin on his face.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tweet, solvent and night.

1. Little birds flying in and out of the trees alongside the ski lift. They might have been crested tits from their agility and their silly twitterings. Higher up, we watched choughs mobbing a bird of prey and saw ravens swooping above us with their wing tip feathers all splayed out.

2. I've been having a few problems with my debit card - shops in Austria won't take it and the cash point keeps making excuses. Finally I find one willing to take my card. I walk away from the hole in the wall so happy that we have to find a bar so I can buy a round of drinks.

3. Walking in the dark with people who don't make a big deal of it. Even on snow, Rob and Lou don't squeal and scramble and cling and they don't insist on shining a torch out in front to spoil our night eyes.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Financial security, dress sense and peaks.

1. Having a friend who trusts you enough to put your ski hire and lift pass on her card because yours won't work.

2. On the first run I get all wobbly because I remember my grandfather teaching me to ski.

3. The first sight of mountains at the very top of the resort. They stretch out for miles and mile before us, clear and untrodden.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Reading matter, awakening and blush.

1. Buying a pile of magazines for a journey - I had The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Take a Break.

2. Dozing off while floodplain fields go past and waking up in the mountains among snow-dusted pine trees with a blue meltwater river running alongside the railway.

3. The mountains turning pink as the sun goes down. And then watching the dirty pink colour moving up the sky.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Keeping still, chalk lion and kittens.

1. I pressed a little way into the woods after breakfast hoping to see the deer fighting again, but it was the wrong time of year. Instead, I heard the noises trees make when everything is quiet - mainly branches rubbing together, leaves scuttering around on the ground and the wind racing through the upper twigs.

2. The white lion cut into the chalk above Whipsnade Zoo.

3. Kittens running about with mad eyes and fur up on end.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Moving house, ruin and end of an era.

1. Narrowboats moored on a canal that is higher than the surrounding fields.

2. Berkhamstead Castle, which is a few honey-coloured tumble-down walls and some grassy mounds. There is a little cottage in the middle of all this - I imagine the curator lives there.

3. Hearing the hunt go by with horns and hounds in full cry. It was their last day of legal hunting. 'I support you,' said **** to a red-faced rider in a dark blue coat and high hat. 'Thank you, my dear,' he replied as his horse stepped along the chalk path.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Light, leisure and luggage.

1. I came into work half an hour early, which means that when I come to leave it's still daylight (just).

2. I am going away tomorrow so I have a real bought sandwich for lunch instead of a home-made one and a takeaway for supper.

3. One of my bags has gone on ahead and the other is standing packed in my flat. I check my journey times again and get into bed, but I am too excited to sleep.
There will be a short interlude while I go on holiday. I will return next week with some beautiful things.



Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Genetics, story and post.

1. A little girl with blonde hair and jaggy front teeth that she hadn't quite grown into. She was eating a bag of Doritos and had a little handbag strung elegantly on her wrist as if she was the sort of person who addressed everyone as 'Darhling'. Her mother and two brothers were extraordinarily plain, scabby and glum-looking.

2. When your convictions about the future plot of a soap are shown to be spot on.

3. A big pile of stuffed, addressed envelopes.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Demi, oo-oo ooo and bargain.

1. Half loaves of French bread - they were made for single girls.

2. Beautiful South's cover of You're the one that I want. It is so haunting that it makes me forget the song ever had anything to do with Grease.

3. My new scarf. It's soft and the colour of the dust under my bed. It was reduced from £60 to £10. I'm just going to have to write that again. It was reduced from £60 to £10.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Light, festive and home.

1. Not eating much for breakfast in preparation for a big family lunch.

2. Finishing the last bits of Christmas food and drink - gingerbread, marzipan and the dregs of the port.

3. Getting off the train and strolling down the street and then out of the cold and the dark and into my own little flat.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Night soil, quick job and crispy sheets.

1. Walking into the kitchen I discover an empty 3L Coke bottle. I remember something... 'James, Adam, did we drink this Coke?' 'No. You threw it out of the window.' Ah yes. The shouty drunk with his screeching female. The perfect arc. His leather jacket. The fact that they had no idea which window it came from. Yay.

2. When tidying up doesn't take as long as you thought it would. 'I think you shouted at Jon for trying to use a plate at one point. You told him to tip it on the floor because hoovering is easier than washing up.' Oh.

3. Changing bed linen so that you can sleep in cool, clean sheets.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Anti grav, inappropriate crockery and hnort.

1. Because I had been knocking back the mulled wine my senses were a bit softer than normal. When midnight came I opened the fizzy wine and the corks seems to float between my hand and the mouth of the bottle for minutes.

2. Drinking whiskey out of coffee cups. I told my guests that they were Japanese spirit cups. I think they were fooled.

3. When you are drunk and you say something completely crass that causes drink nose squirting laughter among your listeners. And you can't remember what it was you said the next morning.

Art book, gossip and watermelon.

1. Among my birthday presents is a new book of Tove Jansson's art, featuring lots of bits I've never seen before. 2. Stopping for a ...