Saturday, December 31, 2005

Ow, sandwich and The Coral.

1. My leg muscles feel very stretched by yesterday's walk. According to Rose, the pain means they are improving somehow. I am dubious.

2. Cold ham and mango chutney in a sandwich.

3. I'm really loving The Coral's album The Invisible Invasion. There are some great sounds in the lyrics -- lots of words used for their noise value, rather than for their meaning. 'Open the door / If you dare / Venus fly trap on the stairs.' and 'Arabian sand / feel it slipping through your hands.'

Friday, December 30, 2005

Setting out, dessert and male art.

1. Going on a long walk round Tunbridge Wells -- we covered eight miles: not bad for a day's work. Highlights included the taste of chocolate; the strange rattling noise that stones make when you skitter them across thin ice; finding places called Modest Corner and Constitution Hill; discovering that the trains to Tonbridge go over a hugh viaduct with cathedral-like brick arches; and settling into a warm pub with beer and ham, egg and chips.

2. Bananas dipped in chocolate mousse.

3. The two perfect rows of knitting that PaulV added to the square lying round my flat -- he claims Sarah taught him when he was very young.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Parallel lines, string bags and b&b.

1. There is about three quarters of an inch of snow in the Grove and it is covered in sledge tracks.

2. A lady at the checkout asked me all about my string bags: how useful did I find them and where did I get them from. I try not to take plastic supermarket bags -- except when I've run out of binliners. Instead I have some string bags, which are great because they fit in my handbag; they stretch to accomodate anything from an onion to an entire week's shopping; they are easy on the hands; and they come in pretty colours, so I can match them to whatever I'm wearing (if I feel inclined). The bags I use, from The String Bag Lady, are made from jute by a ladies' fair-trade co-operative in India. The only bad thing is, the String Bag Lady is presently on a gap year. Hope she hurries home.

3. The taste of fresh bread and butter.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Softly, birches and TV.

1. The quietness of snow. I like the way it dulls sound in the forest.

2. Birch trees with snow on them.

3. Watching My family and other animals on TV. It's one of my favourite books ever -- I love it for the strange animals and for the colours in the sunlight. Seeing the sunshine on the olive trees made me forget that it was freezing midwinter outside.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

So unfair, overhead and white feathers.

1. Robert sulking because he wasn't a beautiful thing yesterday, unlike Rose.

2.Sun in the tree tops.

3. In the middle of supper it started snowing.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Me first, stories for children and triadic colours.

1. Being woken by Rose because she doesn't want to be the first one to start opening her stocking.

2. A new fairy tale book. It has a terrifying picture on the front of a child hiding under a sofa on which is sitting a grotesque and toothy man brandishing an axe. This picture would be less frightening if I could find the story to which it relates and discover what happens -- because OBVIOUSLY the child doesn't get eaten. Does he?

3. Flowers from the garden. This year Daddy found some bright orange iris berries cracking out of their pods and glossy periwinkle leaves with a few mauve flowers.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Glitter, presents and stockings.

1. Great showers of glitter have fallen off my wrapping paper and now the carpet will sparkle slightly for weeks.

2. A box full of parcels.

3. Putting together Christmas stockings -- we have all been buying for each other in secret and finally on Christmas Eve all the little gifts come together.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Shades, destination and bouncy.

1. My first ever pair of prescription sunnies -- I can now see even when the sun is eye-screwing bright.

2. Seeing a bus with 'Happy Christmas' on the destination board.

3. Getting drunk on Champagne with my brother and feeling all bouncy happy as we walked to the pub.

Friday, December 23, 2005

No. 7, taking to my heels and how we laughed.

1. The smell of No. 7 lippy, because it makes me feel as if I look beautiful.

2. The extra height from high heels.

3. Laughing at the poem Chris wrote to mark his leaving the company until my eye-makeup was quite ruined.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Longer days, gathering and gifts.

1. It's Yule, which is the shortest day of year, so from now on the days will get longer. Also, it's midsummer in South Africa, which is a nice thought.

2. Lots of good things happen if you encourage like-minded people to meet up. I love the way that the pagan moot has brought us all together. I have made real friendships of my own; and I like watching how other people have come together. There are two couples in particular, one new to Tunbridge Wells and the other keen to make more friends, who have really hit it off.

3. Jason gave us all identical presents at the moot. We carefully tucked them away in our bags and then one by one, people gave into the temptation. Anna opened the end of hers to see what it was without spoiling the surprise for anyone else. And I suddenly thought: 'This is a Yule present, damn it, so I shall open it on Yule.'

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Done it, game and Sara.

1. My father has achieved his 2005 aim of getting 1,000 photos on to the photo library Alamy.

2. A sparrow scooting around the shed roof -- for mysterious sparrow reasons -- with a leaf in its beak.

3. Suddenly recalling a girl I knew at uni. Sara Gardiner McNeil was a few years older than us, and at the time was incredibly sophisticated compared with us kiddies come straight from school. She kept a flat in Newcastle and when I was dumped by a boyfriend she kidnapped me and took me there for the night. We went grocery shopping in Fenwick's food court and ate smoked salmon straight from the packet without bread or lemon or anything. Sara once passed me on the stairs and announced that she was going to find her kalos kagathos -- it's ancient Greek for young nobleman, or a knight, or a young man that everyone talks about. Sara, wherever you are, hope you found him in the end.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Brave girl, Bach and stuffed.

1. Poor Madie slipped on the ice and has mashed up her car quite badly on a fence. It's at the garage now. She only passed her test this summer, so it's all a bit upsetting. But she was very brave about it, and we hardly knew anything was wrong.

2. Radio 3 is playing nothing but Bach. I like baroque music -- I'm not very well up on all the technicalities of it; what I like is the counter tenors and the plinky harpsicords.

3. Oli saying he would like to gorge himself on smoked salmon or parma ham.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ray of sun, festive food.

1. Swimming in the daytime so that I can feel the warmth of the sun pouring in through the windows.

2. Christmas lunch of fizzy wine, red wine, roast chicken, two kinds of stuffing, sausages, bacon, roast potatoes and parsnips, carrots, leeks and broccoli, gravy and bread sauce. Later, we had Christmas pudding with real brandy flames made in a ladle over the gas ring. Then there were little chocolates in the shape of Christmas puddings. And crackers -- mustn't forget the crackers. Afterwards the three of us retired to the sitting room to complain about having eaten too much. Thank you Fenella and Andy!

3. Singing carols by candlelight. The flame gets passed along the rows until everyone is holding lit candle.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Feed the birds, getting late and party games.

1. Watching nuthatches scoping out a pile of sunflower seeds. There were also two robins, but they were more interested in chasing each other away than eating.

2. Popping into a cafe for a drink and then deciding to have dinner.

3. I love jenga -- it's the game where you have to stack up finger-shaped blocks and then pull them out and softly softly add them to the top. If you do it wrong, the whole thing tumbles down with a fantastic crash.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

LED, moonlight and festive.

1. My hall is windowless and I discovered (after living here for nearly three years) that when it is completely dark and I have my night eyes, I can see the light from my smoke detector making stripes on the floor.

2. The moon is very fat and bright at the moment -- according to the BBC it's the biggest it has been for 18 years.

3. Walking up Chaple Place and seeing the lights strung across the road.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Cake, woods and hairful.

1. Visitors at work who bring cakes.

2. Madie took us on an adventure walk, but the path seemed to be taking us further and further from home and into a scary part of the woods. There were mossy fallen trees lying across the way, and great root plates that looked as if they hadn't been touched since the great storm of 1987. And there was a sinister pond with trees growing out of the water. I liked finding the gate back into the field.

3. Coming back from a walk and finding twigs in my hair.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Victory, Christmas tune and value.

1. Beating Ed at pool.

2. My number one Christmas piece of music ever in the entire world is the Troika from Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije. It illustrates a drunken ride in a three-horse sleigh. You can read about the Lieutenant's life and times in Wikipedia -- there's a link to the Troika there.

3. A venerable member of the writers' circle saying that she needed a little help going up the path because 'I'm old and I'm frail and I'm precious.'

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Arrival, phew and hanging.

1. Coming to the front of a long queue.

2. Losing my phone and then finding it again -- this time it was in a bag of old phones to be recycled by Oxfam. Sigh.

3. Looking for Christmas cards, I find my Christmas decorations and put a few up, including the red and green mobile.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Traveller's tales, hygienic and free.

1. The dentist spends longer telling me what to look out for in Africa than he does looking at my teeth.

2. I am officially free from yellow fever and have a certificate to prove it.

3. Having the day off work.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Reading, washers and apples.

1. Sitting in bed with a brand new Quality Women's Fiction -- it's a very much a writer's zine full of not-too-literary short stories. I like short stories -- good quality ones, and I'm a woman. What more do I need?

2. My shower hasn't been working; when I unscrew it a lot of perished washers fall out -- this is a cheap and easy problem to solve: no plumber needed. Also the hilarious moment when I realise that yes, when you unscrew the shower tap, water shoots out of the screw holes until you turn it off at the mains.

3. Stewed apples with lots of spices and big fat raisins.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Spicy, absorbed and expedition.

1. The scent of spiced apple juice.

2. I am making a top secret card for someone. I sit down to tweak part of it and get up again two hours later.

3. Putting stickers on my map of Africa to show where we are going.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Soggy, veil and chemicals.

1. When mist lies low so that you can see the trees and hedges sticking out of it. It hides the mud and the dead things... 'and gremlins,' adds Ellen.

2. Pale sun peering through the fog.

3. Seeing a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher let off. Dry ice smoke whirled around our feet.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Stars, deep blue and toast.

1. Japanese maple leaves pressed into the pavement look like little Christmas decorations.

2. A garden path of swimming pool blue tiles.

3. A small boy eating toast and jam in the sandwich shop.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Old saw, blue light and funfair.

1. When the phrase 'fortune favours the brave' turns out to be true.

2. The lights on Regent Street in London are beautiful this year. They are sheets of tiny bright blue bulbs with large white stars on them, and you can look down the whole road and see sheet after sheet.

3. There is a fair on Leicester Square -- which sounds like a song. There is a huge roundabout with galloping horses and strange birds, and a little pipe organ, and some chairoplanes.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Roll on, look out and fry up.

1. Summer in the City by the Lovin' Spoonful playing in the car on a frosty drive to work.

2. Coming out of the woods on the road to work and seeing the view right across to Crowborough.

3. Cooking pancakes for everyone at work -- thanks Joe in Vegas -- Rita brought in a little stove, and Ellen brought a frying pan. They were eaten with maple syrup almost faster than I could cook them.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Home, root and lick.

1. Getting my very own domain -- the official address of this blog is now so why not bookmark it?

2. Peeling fresh ginger root. I like the way the skin comes off easily under the knife, and the smell.

3. Sticking down the envelope of a chatty letter to a friend.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sunday trading, that's mine and back to summer.

1. Christmas shopping is hard work, but all my favourite shops are open on Sunday.

2. In Waterstones there is one copy of the latest Series of Unfortunate Events books left. And it's half price.

3. It's dark and cold here, but I'm reading Ellis Peters' An Excellent Mystery which is set in a sultry 12th century August. The heat, the blue skies, the harvesting and the dust make me feel as if summer has not gone away forever.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Fast, salesman and jollity.

1. Breakfast when I'm starving hungry.

2. A small boy selling Santa's grotto to another small boy: 'Would you like to see Father Christmas?'

3. I have had my head down working all this week, so it was good to spend a merry evening watching television and drinking wine with Andy and Fenella.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Delivery, all lit up and choices.

1. Two parcels of books arrived -- mostly Christmas shopping, but there was one thing in there for me (The Found Book).

2. Leaving work in the dark because you can look across the valley at the lights in Crowborough.

3. Choosing supper from the deli in Carluccio's.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Black and white, box and catch-up.

1. Pied wagtails on the roof outside our office.

2. Receiving an enormous parcel at work. Everyone wanted to know what was in it -- maple syrup and pancake mix from Joe in Vegas. We are going to have a special pancake day on Monday.

3. Playing running-round table tennis until I was out of breath from laughing.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Warm up, herbs and apples.

1. Doing the washing up when my hands are cold.

2. Fresh herbs in cous cous.

3. The smell of apples.

Lolly, rabbits and fairy festival.

1. As we walk, the grinding, crunching sound of Bettany working on a chalky double lolly. 2. Midsummer afternoon on the common -- rabbits gr...