Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Salt, frost and post.

1. Early frosty morning outside the chip shop, he shakes spirals of salt on to the pavement.

2. Dark blue station railings with a velvet coat of frost.

3. A pile of thank-you letters ready to post.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beads, threads and last thing.

I have tagged most of the posts referring to Nick for those who wanted this. It's really not a narrative, as 3BT was never intended to be used as such. These posts are an unsorted bundle of unimportant and important moments in our relationship. Some turning points in the story are not there, because I never wrote about them.

Here is a link to the first page of the list. The oldest posts are at the bottom of the page, and there is a link to the newer posts at the bottom of the page.

1. I am wearing a few strings of sandalwood beads that my parents brought me from India. Every so often, I can smell them, warm, musky and woody.

2. Splitting the threads and recombining them plumps them up and make the colours as rich as fruitcake.

3. Click by click, the house darkens.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The ribbon, making friends and blue star.

Nick and I are delighted by the kind messages coming in -- thanks, everyone.

To the Anonymous who wanted the whole Nick story, post-by-post, I do mean to sit down and do it at some point: you're not the only one who has asked.

To Rashmi about My Family and Other Animals: Buy it, buy it, buy it! It's a wonderful account of an eccentric family's extended stay on a Greek island. Gerald Durrell's style and joyful eye for detail are a huge influence on me (The New Noah was one of the first 'grown-up' mostly-words books I ever read). You can read the beginning of My Family here.

1. A Christmas present from my cousins comes wrapped in a thick piece of gold ribbon spotted with jewelly red, green and purple. Later, Ellie and Daniel laugh like loons as we play peek-a-boo along its length -- it's just wide enough to hide our eyes.

2. Ellie has been solemn and silent up until now, turning away from eye contact. 'She likes to be ignored at first,' says Cat. But just before we leave for lunch, I find Ellie standing in the hall in front of her blue boots. She lets me help her on with them, and we step outside together to scrunch in the gravel up the drive.

3. Daniel, packed into an all-in-one padded puddle suit, sets off on a private expedition, lurching, almost over-balancing as he hurries towards the road. I pick him up and turn him round to face a safer direction, and he spins away -- a determined blue wandering star.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Still working, paint and bedsocks.

1. Half the team is in and we are working in a huge empty office. It's very quiet, so we put the radio on.

2. The skirting boards in the bathroom are turning -- bit by bit -- snowy white.

3. Woollen bedsocks (which I knitted myself) keep the falling temperatures from disturbing my night.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ill, the picture and a book

Thanks for the good wishes everyone -- much appreciated.

1. My cold has come back -- which means mugs of hot tea and meals on trays.

2. My mother has had a picture re-framed as my Christmas present. I lie dozing and hearing Nick trying to work out how to hang it on a brick wall that bends nails. When it's done, he wakes me: 'Come and look, darling girl.' For me, it adds a bit more home to the kitchen.

3. Digging out My Family and Other Animals. The hot Corfu air creeps into the bedroom.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The fairytale, an answer and ladybirds.

1. We stop on The Common, in the December woods. Nick has something for me: a question and a ring.

2. I hug Nick and I feel as if I never want to let him go. But we have roast beef waiting for us at his parents' house, and some news to share. I put my gloves in my bag and we hurry on down the hill holding my hand so we can both see my great grandmother's Victorian diamonds in their new setting.

3. Chocolate ladybirds in red and black foil hide in the fruit bowl.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It'll do you good, tea and brandy butter.

1. From his Christmas Eve shopping, Nick brings me back a bottle of vile, sticky black cough mixture.

2. Christmas cake -- on one of the best blue plates -- and mug of tea is brought to me in bed.

3. I mix and mix, with a warmed spoon in a warmed bowl, and slowly, the butter, sugar and brandy combine.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From the other side, lunch and I'm going home.

1. I expect a noseful of rubbish from the dustcart on my left but instead get wet woods from the stream on my right.

2. A bowl of salty chips splashed with vinegar and a glass of red wine.

3. In our work clothes we pick our way back from the pub along footpaths through the woods. At the office I wave goodbye to my colleagues who still have things to do, and then I head for home.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New walk, going out and a message waiting.

Cake picture showing hellebore and holly details. Isn't my aunt clever!

1. After more than a week of taking the bus, the walk to work is full of new wonders. Bare earth has grass. The sun is in new places.

2. Cancelled. But we go out anyway, the two of us, to eat dim sum and drink tea at a table for four. The others are missed, but understood.

3. I've missed a phone call. Pick up the message to find a friend has heard the news along the grapevine that holds us all together.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not catching the sunrise, clothing and doing it.

1. We wake late on midwinter, and to sleepy Nick's surprise, I am out of the door a moment later, buttoning my coat over my pyjamas as I run up the still silent street to catch a sunrise that happened 20 minutes before.

2. My mother hands me a paper bag. 'I've bought you an outfit.' It's a graphite grey and blackcurrant pink dress with a matching cardigan. I love the colours immediately.

3. A heavy, leathery guilt slug has been lying across my legs because there are letters I have not written. The longer I leave this, the heavier the slug, and the more difficult the writing becomes. I sit down, and I do it. That feels good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

50 golden years, adding to the family and a transformation.

My small sister has been at it again with the camera. She found a smirking grasshopper, which we both think is superb.

1. Nick's parents are celebrating a grand achievement: their Golden Wedding.

2. Meeting Nick's sister, neice and great nephew for the first time. It's great to be able to put faces to names and voices heard on the phone.

3. The risotto's orange colour warms and deepens with every slosh of stock.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Silence!, lunch in the bag and a mystery

Festive message to anyone who would expect a Christmas card from me: I've spent the money on badgers, instead. I hope everyone enjoys a magical midwinter and a happy, successful 2009.

1. On Friday morning, the alarm clock is switched off until Sunday night.

2. As I pay for my sewing bits, the smell of the pastie in my bag breaks free.

3. A book, Fiona Robyn's The Letters, arrives by post. I sit in the bath with it and later curl up on the sofa to finish it. I can't escape its clutches until I understand all its twists and mysteries. I felt the same way about Anita Shreve's book, The Pilot's Wife. But The Letters is funny and English and gently domestic as well as enticing. The heroine, Violet, has got along pretty well in her life by being an un-bending workaholic. But now she is 51 and living alone. There are things she wants -- reconciliation with her lover; a better relationship with her exasperating grown-up children -- and she is beginning to realise that she can't have them without changing. Then a letter arrives. It was written in 1959 by a young woman waiting to give birth in a mothers and babies home. Who is this mother-to-be and what does her story have to do with Violet? Fiona, who also writes the blog A Small Stone, and its spin-off A Handful of Stones, has promised to visit 3BT on her blog-tour, which I'm very much looking forward to.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Freedom, on foot and the parcels.

1. Days when the computers at work give access to sites normally forbidden (i.e., anything interesting).

2. Walking past a traffic jam.

3. Wrapping the last few presents.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunrise, at the Post Office and grown marvels.

1. The sky is blushed pink-orange. Fluffs of high cloud shine like metal.

2. Her shock of brunette curls just reaches the counter. She tells everyone: 'We're waiting our turn.'

3. Our vegetable box is full of wonders: A squash resembles two green croquet balls run together in a physics mishap; a brown paper bag of wrinkled fudgy dates that might have flown in on a magic carpet from The Thousand and One Nights; and two green and red giant beans that turn out to be mangos.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Growing up, extra present and Nepali.

1. Two men on the bus -- one can't quite believe he's got a missus, a flat and a cat called Rampage.

2. I bring my secret Santa present back to the office. Under the strip lights, the organza bag of sweets is not just Arabian Nights purple: it's cranberry juice red, too.

3. A second Christmas celebration in one day. Tiny tastes and roti starred with coriander.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Better, hot food and celebration cake.

1. After nearly a week of grey, plodding cold misery and discouragement: I laugh out loud.

2. Coming home and smelling dinner in the oven.

3. My aunt brings us a cake decorated with holly and ivy and Christmas roses. It has a sugar arch, hung with snowflakes and snow men and Christmas trees decked with silver balls.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The day before, sleeping in and having my way.

1. Waking early and discovering it's not Monday -- it's still Sunday.

2. The sky was clear enough when I got up, but now the earth has rolled over, pulled the fog around itself and gone back to sleep.

3. While waiting to pay: 'They're three for two.' So I bring him the rejected third book. It's an old favourite of mine.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Your wish is my command, space and desert.

I've been getting such lovely messages and comments lately -- thank you very much, everyone.

1. 'Crate of apple juice' was written on my to-do list. I wasn't looking forward to walking down in the storm to order a delivery from the farmers' market. I come home from meeting friends for breakfast to find a clanking box of 12 bottles in the hall. 'Funny story,' explains stay-at-home-Nick. 'The apple juice man brought it round. He broke down on the way to the market, and decided to give it up as a bad job. But he didn't want you to miss out on your juice.'

2. The living room is full of men hooting at football. I spread myself and my books and magazines across the bedroom.

3. The chocolate pudding has fluffed up in the oven. We divide it into two blue and white striped bowls, and pour cool, sweet cream on it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Strange sky, not walking to work and busted.

Tunbridge Wells photograph story from Sarah Salway.

1. The new sun, bright in the east, throws down long, sharp shadows but the sky is gauzed by thin grey clouds.

2. The bus brings me to work, gently and on time.

3. It's a quiet morning. We sneak out early to buy some lunch... and meet all the managers coming upstairs from a meeting. They laugh at us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

More sleep, cucumber and sleeping companion.

1. I crawl back to bed at 11am and wake in the middle of the afternoon feeling as if I can face the world for a couple more hours.

2. Nick comments that the cucumber (which he loathes and won't eat himself) in my sandwich sounds nicely crunchy.

3. Making up a flask of tea to take to bed. When I wake in the night, I pour myself a cup to calm my cough.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hot drink, endless supplies and more vanilla.

1. Redbush tea spiked with cardamom.

2. He brings more red-and-yellow pills and a new box of extra soft tissues, and happily lavishes me with affection despite the rivers of snot. I feel like Ogden Nash's Isabel.

3. As I shower, the scent of vanilla from last night's bath comes off my skin.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cure, hot drink and immersion.

1. Finding some red and yellow cold pills in the bottom of my handbag.

2. Hot orange and honey.

3. A warm golden bath scented with comforting vanilla.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The return, planet rise and a laugh.

1. Waking up late on a Monday morning and then going back to sleep because it's our day off.

2. In the early evening, bright Venus and Jupiter just coming over the trees.

3. Nick's nature tends towards 'solemn and dignified', so it's a great source of pleasure to make him giggle like a schoolgirl by pouring water over his head and down his back while washing his hair.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Baubles, new look and a good dinner.

1. Bringing the Christmas decorations down from high places. I have been smuggling in bundles for a few weeks now, including the tiny beginnings of our Christmas books collection.

2. We clean the bedroom window and wash the net curtain. 'It looks like it's just been painted,' says Nick.

3. Roast beef and huge dishes of vegetables, including crispy roast potatoes, parsnips and swede.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Wise words, soldiering on and what might have been.

1. A mother on the phone comforts a distraught daughter: 'I know, I know... but you've got to learn to bite your tongue... When people are in the wrong... When people are in the wrong and they know it, they'll defend themselves to the... Well the drink doesn't help.'

2. I am drawn again to the bright colours of tiny Chinese street scenes at the toy soldier show. I also liked the Ancient Egyptian set, complete with a painter at work on a sarcophagus. On another stall, there are Aztec warriors who, though dressed to kill as wild beasts, are about to find out that they have brought obsidian-studded clubs to a gun- and crossbow fight.

3. The Cold War Modern exhibition shares a future that might have been, overlaying a future that was. In this world, houses are machines for living. People dress in Captain Scarlet tunics and catsuits, but the spacesuits have lace-up boots. An technology fair, housed in a geodesic dome, is hosted by Afghanistan, and the USA and the USSR compete to produce the best washing machine.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Soundtrack to a nap, vegetable dyes and an achievement.

1. I have a nap in the middle of the morning and drift in and out of sleep. The joiner fixing the window next door is whistling and ocassionally singing: 'A girl like you'

2. The colour of grated carrot -- it's such a bright, juicy orange on a wintery day.

3. I was once the child whose colouring went over the edge; whose samplers were speckled with blood and tears; whose cutting out was jagged and torn and whose handwriting was a constant worry to teachers. I used to feel very ashamed of my art and crafts and still burn to remember the headmaster pronouncing my paper curl chicken 'a mess'. But last night, I was looking at a box I'd decorated with a cut-out, and an embroidery I'm mounting, and I felt quite pleased and proud. It must be partly experience and practice; partly acceptance of my own limitations and partly better tools. I think my motor skills have improved with age -- I'd never have imagined I'd achieve the things I've done in my drawing for beginners class, and with my embroidery.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Foul weather, a small drama and creature.

1. It is raining hard, and very gloomy this morning. But I'm on holiday, so I can stay at home.

2. Overheard: 'Mummy you're always so nasty to me.' And feet running past the door.
'Everything's a drama when you're four,' sighs my osteopath.
A bit later the feet come back. 'Mummy, I'm sorry I was a bit naughty.'

3. I am wearing some new velvet pyjamas. Nick says: 'Oh, a mole.'

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fingers, faff and safe.

1. Early sun reaches shy fingers through alleyways to stroke the faces of houses on the hill.

2. Passing drivers who must scrape the ice off their cars before they can leave. I am glad that my journey to work is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.

3. The comedian mocks a man in a red coat who talked to him in the gents, a pregnant woman and a group of people who said they were bankers, but he doesn't pick on us.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The first time, night sky and dinner away.

1. This is the first clear still winter day I have experienced living on this street. While walking up the hill towards the low morning sun, I wonder what the town's valley will look like. The anticipation is almost too much, but I'm not too excited to stop and break the ice on a puddle.

2. Seeing the stars for the first time in weeks.

3. Katie-who-used-to-be-at-home and I share a bottle of wine and get more and more giggly. Virtuous PaulV looks on with his jug of water and his mint tea. When I get home, Nick comes to hug me at the door and I can't quite manage to focus on his eyes.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The cold, hot food and a pat on the back.

1. The morning is so cold and sharp that my cheeks tingle and blush red.

2. Baking a potato in the microwave at work.

3. Katie-at-work describes how once she was in the ladies at a shopping centre when she heard a little boy a few cubicles along pipe up: 'Well done, Mummy, you did a nice big poo.'

Monday, December 01, 2008

Running repair, stocking filler and baked apples.

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the 'Thank you' notes that have been appearing recently. I'm really glad so many of you take the time to read me. I'm glad I've helped people to learn English, and to relax at the end of a working day. I'm also delighted by the steadily growing list of Blogger followers (see right sidebar) and feed subscribers.

And Ian over at The Eye has created a Friendfeed room for 3BT -- go and join in the fun.

1. Patching the seat of my jeans on a cold, dark afternoon.

2. I look at the thing I have just made: a blue felt stocking sewn round with red blanket stitch and think that it would look neat stuffed with a couple of Cadbury's Wispas.

3. At bedtime, the smell of baked apples is still hanging round in the kitchen.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green stone, in flight and dinner.

1. The jeweller shows us deep green stones that I think are emeralds. She puts me right -- they are tsavorite, a sort of garnet.

2. We go to Nick's favourite shop to choose him a Christmas present. The owner laughs at us, and tells me the story of the wife who came in and said: 'I'd like a book about a type of aeroplane called a Spitfire. Have you ever heard of it?'

3. He looks down at his plate and says: 'It never fails to amaze me how you can take some leftovers that have been hanging around in the fridge for half a week and a few old vegetables and make a wonderful meal.'

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rabbits love liquorice, lamb chop and film.

1. 'Look,' says the lady behind the counter in the nut and seed shop. 'Rabbits love liquorice.' She is reading an information sheet about her products. 'They love liquorice, but they mustn't have the sweets because they contains too much sugar.' We agree that you learn something new every day. Perhaps the natural root would be OK, though.

2. The taste of a minted lamb chop.

3. Nick's (female) colleagues have told him he deprived me by not taking me to see Wall-E. One of them has lent us the DVD. We watch it, and fall in love.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sparrow, back home and that's all.

1. I like to see a sparrow bend double to hover under the eaves.

2. Two women with a baby use the free wifi to chat on a laptop with someone back home in the Philippines.

3. I ring my father to give him some news. 'Anything else?' he asks.
'Nope, that's all.'
'Well it's a pretty good all.'

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Leaving together, tea round and sleep.

1. In the grey light we leave the house together -- Nick is late and I am early.

2. Hot drinks from the machine have gone up by 5p. Teapots appear like desk mushrooms and the fridge is full of milk bottles.

3. Sleeping and waking twine in the first part of the night, and so do our fingers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Little lit, changes and thanks.

1. Short stories are exactly the right size for a lunch break.

2. The transformations in Fenella and Andy's home. Crisp white damask curtains arrived today and are presently tied into neat pleats: they are memory curtains, and if they are kept in place for 24 hours, will remember the shape and go back to it every time they are closed. When you've had no bedroom curtains for a few months, a 24-hour wait seems like a lifetime.

3. I come home to find an anonymous comment on yesterday's post that reminds me -- in the nicest possible way -- to write my thank you letters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thick clothes, a smile and sleep.

1. The cold lashes at my face, and I'm glad of my warm outer layers. They are mostly presents: my coat was a Christmas present from my mother. My hat was a gift from a colleague. My thick knitted mittens were a present from Christine. And my scarf was a present from myself.

2. Katie comes back from lunch to find me on the phone. 'Who were you talking to that's made you smile?' It's Cat and goddaughter Ellie.

3. Going to bed early, and settling down to sleep while Nick is still reading.

Monday, November 24, 2008

To start, citrus and a new word.

1. I stare at my starter: deep purple juice runs into the creme fraiche and creates feathered Mandelbrot sets on the pancake.

2. A dish of orange slices arranged in caramel.

3. We learn a new word: limerence -- it means, really, 'fallen-in-loveness'. Joyce (who is a relationship counsellor by day) uses it to explain my complaint that at present Nick and I find it very difficult to get anything done because we're always thinking about each other. Limerence lasts just 18 months to three years, so it could end for us at any moment (this makes it seem all the more exciting). Joyce says that with luck and skill it will turn into an affectionate bond. At that stage we should be able to get the housework down with fewer breaks for kissing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A kindness, repair and victor.

1. She buys a rice ball. It falls out of its bag on to the floor. 'Oh darling,' says the man at the stall. 'Come here and have another.' She hesitates. Pride? Wanting to take responsibility for her mistake? 'Come on,' says the man at the stall. 'Give that one to me, and I'll give you another.' We silently encourage her. She turns back to the stall.

2. Darning an uncomfortable hole in the toe of a pair of tights.

3. 'Guess who won,' says Nick as he comes in through the door.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Adornment, the past and Noel Coward.

1. Taking all my everyday jewellery out of its painted wooden box and sorting it into a new turquoise silk box. I haven't worn earrings for a long time, and I'd forgotten I had so many.

2. On Facebook coming across a set of photos from a past job. It's strange to see faces and places that I had forgotten.

3. We watch Brief Encounter -- another of Nick's wonderful favourite films.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas box, not today and prints.

1. A box of Christmas shopping sweets arrives for me at work from A Quarter Of. I have a lot more candy necklaces than I want, so the rest of the day is marked by the occassional crunch-crunch-crunch.

2. I go into M&S feeling as if I ought to take advantage of its 20 per cent off day by picking up some needful things. A lady near me looks at the queues and the crowds and the scrums and says: 'Oh how ridiculous.' I quite agree, and walk out again.

3. Rolling ink with a brayer because of the sticky noise it makes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New bag, a light supper and the beginning.

1. I go shopping at lunchtime and find a new bag for a fiver. It replaces my disreputable old day bag which has a hole in it.

2. Mushrooms on toast cooked with brandy and dots of green leek, purple onion and garlic.

3. A display of Christmas books in Waterstones makes me feel very excited about the home traditions Nick and I are making for ourselves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Baby face, sunset and eight-legged beast.

1. On my way to work: Through the window of a basement flat I see a mother in a mauve dressing gown sitting at her kitchen table, her baby in a highchair opposite.

2. Just after 4pm, I slip away from my desk to find a window that faces west. In these short days, I can watch dawn and dusk without hardship.

3. We scare off Tim's giant spider and he takes it back into his monster box with a a satisfying vrrrring noise to represent it zipping back up to the ceiling.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Soup, the journey and just us.

1. A mug of soup warms every part of me.

2. A voice and a face from the past reminds me of how far I have come.

3. All the people have gone now and our flat is full of us.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tea time, warmth and bean soup.

1. Down a corridor (on the other side of plushy velvet the lounge bar, past comfortable ladies knitting, and mothers with eyes only for their babies and dutiful people treating elderly relatives to afternoon tea) gold leaves fall past a window.

2. The waiter comments on the chill in the orangery. As he leaves us, he touches the floor to check the heating has come on.

3. A bowl of hot red spicy bean soup.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wake-up call, the nature of Monkey and magic.

I have a Small Stone published here.

1. Waking up next to Nick after a few days apart.

2. Monkey: Journey to the West. Ninja guards on very tall unicycles. Spider Fairy on a corde de lys with sheets of red silk.

3. We watch in amazement as our bath changes colour from turquoise to cobalt blue.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On edge, the journey and coming home.

'No journey is too long when you are coming home' -- John O' Donohue

1. At the waterfall, someone has hammered fistfuls of coins, edge first into a rotten tree stump.

2. I burst from the train, a whirlwind of fretful limbs, tickets and luggage.

3. I tap on the window as I pass, and Nick is at the door before I can get out my key.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The man, red and enough sleep.

1. I am told: 'Go along to the Mountain Boot Shop. He knows his stuff.' A third generation boot seller fits me up with matt black assassin's boots that are light and strong and will keep me going for a good few years.

2. 'Which one are you drawn to?' asks the shop lady, seeing my hand hesitate over a basket of scarves. It's the raspberry red one that I really want, but I don't know what I'll wear it with.

3. In the afternoon, I put down my book and sleep until I can sleep no more, while the rain and fog swirl outside.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Early morning, foam and damp place.

1. We start walking in the dark and see the sunrise pinking the sky. As we come to the top of the ridge, the sun light comes down to meet us.

2. Watching foam clots on a stream pool. They whirl and stretch and split and eddy and reform.

3. Water drips down mossy quarry cliffs.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mouse, underwater and tails.

Today we visited the Aquarium of the Lakes.

1. A harvest mouse, a scrap of fur the same weight as a 2p, in a tank of millet and wheat stalks.

2. Walking under a fresh water tank and seeing carp, bream and perch swimming over us. But best of all, ducks sculled with their feet and then dived in a scarf of bubbles, stretched neck to tail.

3. Yellow seahorses curl their boney tails around strands of weed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Top of the world, falling ice and fallen fort.

1. I tell Nick that there are two steeplejacks on the church -- but as I don't have my glasses on, he tells me not to be so silly. Later, he puts his glasses on and sees for himself. Much, much later, we visit the church and he chats to them. One steeplejack is feeling very pleased with himself because he's picked the sheltered side of the tower on a day of driving rain and hail. He says that the church will stay up for another 125 years. They are about to set out to the chippie for something hot, but the another shower sends them back to their van. (Picture by Nick).

2. The waiters pause to look out of the window at the sky tipping hail on to the outside tables.

3. We overheard people at dinner talking about a Roman fort. We find it on the map not far from the village and set out to look. Low walls mark the lines of the buildings. Sheep step in the sodden grass where soldiers homesick for other parts of the empire might have walked.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rainbow, pool and damson.

1. 'Look at the light!' The sun has come out in the rain. I am so busy wondering at the watery gold that Rosey has to point out the rainbow that has landed on the church.

2. Getting into a still, blue swimming pool.

3. A taste of pink damson and plum sorbet.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

1. At Preston the station master wears an aubergine-coloured great coat.

2. We catch a slip of sea view from the train. It's the wide sands at Morcombe Bay.

3. Having travelled on five trains from one end of the country to the other, we arrive just one minute late.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Debt, demob happy and shaker.

1. Katie-at-work lends me the last 10p I need to buy my lunch, but only once she has been paid back the 30p Debbie owes her.

2. Leaving work for a week's holiday.

3. Elodie has found a bottle of vitamin pills to rattle.

Friday, November 07, 2008

In colour, flask and drizzle.

1. I stop startled at the sight of a bright yellow maple tree. On a flat grey morning, it is the only thing with any colour -- apart from the chips and bubbles of bird song.

2. I buy a stainless steel flask to keep our tea hot.

3. Drizzle has beaded silver grey on my coat.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sharp point, smile and film.

1. Filling in a few Sudoku answers using a sharp pencil that has a rubber on the end.

2. I hurry home from work and I can't stop smiling at the thought.

3. We sit close together on the sofa and giggle our way through Team America.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The holes, a colleague and wonderful man.

1. Butter drips through the holes in my crumpet.

2. Debbie buys my lunch because I've forgotten my purse.

3. I come home to a hug; and 'My poor darling and her distraught early morning phone call'; and my summer shoes, the mould cleaned off, lined up under the bedroom heater.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Stay indoors, soup and malt.

1. The mist and rain draw the horizons in close. The wild world recommends that we stay in our safe warm places today.

2. A mug of hot soup warms my chilled fingers and soul.

3. My brewers yeast tablet doesn't quite go down first time. It tastes of malt, as if it ought to be taken with chocolate.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Change, go away and hot apple juice.

1. Overnight and under cover of rain and fog, autumn has turned to winter.

2. He came from an electricity board which doesn't exist, wouldn't say what he wanted and dropped a folder full of torn up newspaper. Nick's father put the chain on, hefted the stick he keeps close by and threatened to slam the door if the caller didn't remove his foot.

3. Pounding spices for hot apple juice.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Vine, bathroom laundry and foggy night.

1. A bunch of blushing grapes neither purple nor green.

2. Hanging clean towels and flannels in the bathroom, and leaving a damp footprint on the just washed bathmat.

3. After supper, when the rain really has stopped, we go out to see if there are any fireworks still going on. It's very foggy, and muffled bangs and whizzes are all we get. But the street is transformed into a strange place of fog and trickling water and dark alley ways lit at the end by a circle of foggy orange streetlight.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Biscuits, apothecary and sunset.

a. My father has used the stats machine to produce a list of countries from which 3BT visitors have come.

b. I'm really enjoying Fiona Robyn's
A Handful of Stones and I was in it back in September.

Elspeth Thompson recommends 3BT-style blogging in her The Wonderful Weekend Book -- which is a splendid and lovely volume for improving your life with photography, gardening, sex, brewing and staying in bed all day.

d. The Your Messages project is running again. This time Sarah and Lynn want 30 or 300 words from you. Every day.

1. Breaking a sandwich biscuit in half and eating the filling separately.

2. The rattle of a jar of vitamin pills.

3. Orange clouds massing on the horizon and a bitey feel to the air make me feel uneasy as I walk home. I am pleased to be safe inside, lamps lit and curtains drawn tight.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Cabbage, jasmine and Louise.

1. I find myself staring fascinated by the green-purple cabbages sent in our box this week. I dreamed about drawing them last night.

2. A front door wreathed in jasmine leaves.

3. In the afternoon sunlight at the end of autumn I sit on a bench and wait to meet Louise. I spot her from a long way off -- she is at the far end of the lake, but I know her by her stride and by the colours she wears.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cookie, tangerines and steampunk.

I love this post on Life ain't that bad: Deepawali, welcome and lit up.

1. Nibbling pieces of chocolate chip cookie.

2. There are tangerines like small suns in our vegetable box.

3. We listen to The Steppes of Thoth and spend the evening on the edge of the sofa as our heroes suffer a tidal storm in a Martian canal and are attacked by a German ironclad airship.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Morning town, white birds and staying in.

1. The top of town in the morning. A man stops to stare at the valley full houses that seem overlaid with tracing paper.

2. White birds crowd on a metal roof that gleams in the morning sun.

3. Nick moves to take his sandwich into the sitting room where he can catch up with the news, but thinks again and stays in the kitchen while I make my supper.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Morning sun, savages and light reading.

1. Looking down through an area railing and seeing sunlight coming in from the other side of the house.

2. Lego Starwars has turned us into savages -- mainly because we haven't quite got the hang of the controls yet. Every time I turn round there seems to be an explosion of Lego bodyparts, and then everyone else starts shooting.

3. Hunting for something gentle and cheerful to read, I find a Bill Bryson book.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Time to eat, stretch and a hand.

Some new additions to the Roll of Honour: The Three R's Blog, Rabbiting and Reader's Guide.

1. Bacon pops and cracks on the stove and creeps through the flat to tell Nick it's time for breakfast.

2. A tree fern bud tightly rolled reaches for the sky, stretching and uncoiling as if it is practising garden yoga.

3. An umbrella in pure rainbow colours is taken helpfully from a note-taking wife with no spare hands and rolled and rolled by an attentive husband.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Apples, still and sweets.

1. All the different apples laid out at the market. I love the shapes -- from long, almost pear shaped ones, to tiny round ones. And I love the colours -- yellow gold, deep red, shallow faded red, sour green, brownish russets.

2. It's mostly still, but a single blade-shaped of monbretia leaf turns over and back.

3. A trinket box reinvented as a bonbonniere because I've filled it with chocolates.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Advert, potato and a sound.

1. In a street I have passed many times, I spot a worn painted advert on the side of a Victorian house.

2. A baked potato with butter melting into it.

3. The sound of water dripping from the just-used shower on to the curtain makes me think of being covered with kisses.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Invisible diner, aubergine and an error of judgement.

Grant McCracken has something to say about counting your blessings -- it's what people do when the economy slows up.

And I've been ditting around over at my other blog.

1. A bird feeder rocks although there is no wind.

2. I thought these new socks were black, but they are the colour of an aubergine.

3. We get a note from the editor on one of our pages: 'People have died for less.'
Katie says: 'You spelt his name wrong.'
'That's because I asked you how to spell it.'

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Smoke, coal and bed.

1. A plume of smoke rises straight up from a house in the bowl of Tunbridge Wells.

2. The smell of the coal fire has nipped outside for a breath of fresh air.

3. The combination of rust orange bedding and a bear-brown fleece.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Collecting, mace and unstructured time.

1. Gathering chestnuts on a lunchtime walk. At 2pm I come back to my desk and find Jane has added a few extra.

2. Along with the usual spices I boil up with my rice, I add some mace (we saw this growing on Zanzibar -- it is like bright red seaweed wrapped round each nutmeg. When it's dried, the colour changes to shy orange). When the rice is done, the mace has softened into a gentle nutmeggy mouthful.

3. Nick's baseball night means time to myself -- I make chestnut soup, wash my hair and snuggle into bed with a book.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Following wind, neighbour and falling water.

I mentioned earlier the Wonderful Book sent to my by Lauren of All the Good Blog Names were Taken. She's posted pictures to share the joy.

1. The wind is at my back all the way to work, and dry leaves skitter past me.

2. A fallen leave crossing the corner of my vision turns out to be a palm-sized yellow frog who lives near our front door.

3. The glob-glob-splash sound of water filling a basin.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shine, two biscuits and hunters.

1. The shine on my boots after Nick has had a go at them with his shoe polishing kit.

2. At what would be elevensies time if we hadn't got up so late, two digestive biscuits on a plate.

3. We've been following The Fossil Detectives on BBC2. The team are so enthused that it makes us want to go out and hunt for football-sized lumps of amber, ammonites and devil's toenails.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Warm feet, the best view and invasion.

1. My feet are cold after an hour of working. Nick is still in bed, so I bring him a cup of tea and snuggle back in next to him.

2. Children climbing on railings and walls and people's shoulders, and scriggling around people's legs (remembering to say 'excuse me') to see the parade.

3. The squadron leader explained that it was a huge honour to be allowed to march through the town 'with bayonets fixed, drums beating and colours flying’: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is essentially saying that it trusts 579 Field Squadron not to invade.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beads, gift and footprints.

1. Katie-at-work hands me a carefully protected parcel of kitchen roll. 'I've got something for you. It doesn't suit me, but I thought you'd like it.' It's a black and silver beaded choker, and I love it immediately, and start thinking about an outfit to wear with it.

2. At the appointed time, a man comes home from work and wakes me up from an afternoon sleep. 'I've got a present for you.' It's a box of banoffee truffles.

3. Katie-previously-at-home describes Fenella's new bedroom as having a carpet so lush you leave footprints.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Advantages of bad housekeeping, music and dialect.

1. We get up late and the kitchen is bohemian (as in, the washing up hasn't been done and there are books and papers all over the table). This gives me an excuse to get my breakfast (a round and friendly Belgian bun stuffed with raisins and covered with crackly, sticky white icing) from a bakery on my way to work.

2. The plinky-plunky sound of an un-tuned piano comes from an open front door at which a child waits to be taken to school.

3. Reading a book that has a chapter is dialect. I'm reading the middle chapter of The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (not the one by Liam Callanan about balloon bombs in the Arctic, which I read thinking it was the Mitchell. It was very good, too).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Leaves, a gift and laughing.

1. A drift of autumn leaves has changed the grey pavement to yellow-gold.

2. A box has come by post. Lauren over at All the Good Blog Names Were Taken has sent me a wonderful 3BT journal. I can't stop looking at it. She has used all different papers for the pages, so every page is a surprise. These are some posts about her own 3BTing. Also in the box is this card, which I quietly admired on her blog the other day.

3. I spend the evening with old friends. Again and again I put my head back and laugh.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Something to wake up to, open air and knights.

1. 'You're always so pleased to see me in the morning,' comments Nick.

2. Out of the woods and into a field of grass and mushrooms.

3. What did you do last night? Rescued a princess, insulted a female pirate, ran away, killed a giant ape. We've been round at Tim's again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pavement stars, clouds and up the hill.

John Naish recommends keeping a journal similar to this as a good way to survive mass anxiety: How to survive the global panic. He calls me 'an expert gratitude spotter'.

1. Stars are pressed into the pavement in all the flamey reds and golds of autumn.

2. Rolls of fat grey cloud cover the sky. The low late sun tints the eastern bellies with grubby orange.

3. I am passing the bus stop just as the bus pulls in, and get a lift up the hill.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The maze, fishers and a stop.

1. We climb up to Dover Drop Redoubt. We walk round the top of the outer wall, and then as we are about to go back down to the town, we discover an entrance, a long canyon that looks like a scene from Labyrinth. Cool brick walls rise above us and there are ferns at our feet. We half expect to turn and to find the entrance vanished.

2. In the marina, cormorants bend their wings into s-shapes and hunch their shoulders to get some sun on their wing feathers.

3. The rail replacement bus services runs rigidly to the station at the bottom of town, and to the station we must go, even though the route passes near our home at the top of town. But another passenger cheekily asks for a stop at the top of town. The driver (who as we were boarding said 'I don't want to see your tickets. I don't care.') complies. We spill out gladly into the twilight. 'Cheers,' says the other passenger. 'That's made my day. Finally.'

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First light, breakfast, adding to a tradition, stay off the carpet and dinner.

1. We open the curtains on our top floor room to a warship coming into the harbour. This makes Nick's day before it has even begun. Coming downstairs and seeing out the view out of the hotel's back windows for the first time, we spot furtive-looking tunnels cut into the chalk high above us.

2. Our breakfast comes on loaded plates, attention-to-detail evident in the perfect egg yolks and the gently browned mushrooms.

3. The stairs to the castle have a rail plastered with discarded visitor stickers. Later we plan to add our own.

4. In the keep's main hall, a sign warns that no-one should tread on the carpet before the king's throne. A girl tugs her grandmother's hand and says very quietly 'Shall we go on the rug?' When they do, a stern recorded voice admonishes them 'What are you doing on that carpet?'. The little girl is thrilled and tries again: 'Stay off the King's carpet.'

5. Crackling -- faintly fennel-flavoured -- on slow-roast pork. And a neat line of roasted winter vegetables. We really struck lucky for dinner at the Hubert House Bistro, which we choose almost at random because we liked the look of it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Getting out of here, into Dover and harbour lights.

Nick and I spent this weekend in Dover. We very much recommend Loddington House Hotel.

1. On a sunny afternoon, leaving work with a light heart and a suitcase.

2. The train brings us into Dover just as night is muddying up the day's blue sky.

3. After supper, we go to the guests' lounge and watch dots and smudges of light moving about the harbour.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dinner, 3D and Billy

1. Putting a small pie and a skewer of potatoes in the oven.

2. The subject of the drawing class is jugs and tone. I find myself smudging in the curves with my fingers and I feel as if I'm forming the image out of clay, rather than paper and charcoal and chalk.

3. I'm reading Billy Liar and thinking that it's an incredible piece of work.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The rules, sky nut and a fix.

1. Without thinking I take up my mug from the end of the bath. I wonder if there is a health and safety rule that forbids drinking coffee while standing in the shower.

2. An oval moon makes me think of a blanched almond.

3. A blanket, a cuddle on the sofa, a few chocolates and Wind in the Willows fixes what nothing else can.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Loud, hot off the press and a laugh.

1. Instead of a shy tile like all the other houses in the street, number 61 announces itself on the side gate in foot high white painted Roman font.

2. Sneaking looks at an exciting feature while it is still being put on the page.

3. I only discover in the car that we are not going to watch comedy tonight -- we are going to be the comedy at an improv workshop.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dawn, her face and pasta.

1. Somewhere in the muddle of getting dressed, waking up, eating breakfast, washing and writing this blog, it goes from dark to light.

2. A child with a shock of black curly hair runs down the street. She stops suddenly and almost pitches over into the the puddle containing her own startling reflection.

3. As they cook spaghetti strands coil down into the water.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Family, robed and plates.

1. A substantial part of my extended family is waiting for me under a tree as I cross the street, my umbrella straining against the wind and the rain.

2. In the cathedral a clergywoman hurries past in full robes. Our eyes meet and we smile.

3. The washing up is done and shining plates are stacked on the table waiting to be put away.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cure, a dungeon cleared and settling in.

1. I lie on the sofa wrapped in a fleece blanket nursing a headache. Nick comes and sits with me and I rest my head on him. The sound of his breathing and the sound of the dryer balls merge and then disappear as I fall asleep.

2. We tidy the cupboard under the sink - a dark and dreadful place that makes us feel like bad housekeepers. We keep catching each other opening the doors to admire our work.

3. I tip new coffee into my tin. The last quarter of the bag won't go, until I bang the tin on the work surface to make the contents settle.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Slow start, clean coat and how it's going to be.

Tom has written a 3BT poem over at Summit Manor. And Sarah Salway has been using the 3BT format in a writing class. Anyone else been inspired by 3BT recently? I love hearing about things like that because it makes me feel very useful!

1. A late finish last night at work means a late start in the morning. I have a lie in, linger over breakfast and wash my hair.

2. I feel smug and self-satisfied because I had my winter coat cleaned before I put it away for the summer.

3. Dana has a vision board in her flat displaying pictures of the simple, gentle things she is hoping for in life -- a cottage in the country and a little car.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Lilies, alarm call and found.

A little something whipped up by He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, inspired by my piece for qarrtsiluni.

1. A thick high hedge through which the scent of lilies reaches out to tickle passers-by.

2. We lie in the dark whispering until we hear the potato water hissing on to the stove.

3. Coming home in the dark, I feel my phone go off in my pocket, and spot a familiar sibling loitering at the top of our road. I run up behind him and pull his hat over his eyes. Later he says that during that day, three people asked him for directions to three separate hospitals; and shows me pictures on his camera of the work he has been doing 30 floors above the streets of London.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Coming down, a saving and rosehip.

1. I have hurried through the rain to work. By the time I've settled at my desk and changed my shoes, it really starts to come down.

2. Requests for money-saving ideas have trickled down from the top of the company in briefings, notices and memos. The chief photographer suggested the company might make a saving by turning off the light at the end of the tunnel. We have been laughing at this all week.

3. I bite a hard wild rosehip in half to reveal a dome of tight-packed seeds.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oh rose, I know that and Scottish hamster.

1. On the autumn's first raw morning, a shell pink rose nestles low down in its bush, having pulled a nest of thorns around itself.

2. A colleague's TV theme tune ring tone makes me squeak with recognition, and a conversation starts across the desks.

3. I rediscover this wonderful thing -- it's a Dr Who theme tune generator, The Radiophonatron. It's brilliant, just clunky enough to make you feel that the perfect composition is out there, just out of reach.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

At speed, filling up and ginger.

1. I have left late this morning, and I hurry as I used to before I learnt to slow down and really look at life slipping past. It feels good to stretch my legs.

2. I look up from my work and realise that quietly, gently, subs and reporters have crowded around our part of the office to hear the latest team brief.

3. My chicken soup carries a touch of hot ginger.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tea, past the window and warmth.

1. A cup of sweet tea in the morning.

2. Seeing a visitor walk past the window on their way to to our front door.

3. My feet are cold to the core when I come to bed after some late computer work. Nick is already settled and radiates heat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Even before breakfast, finding history and a maze.

a. Just spotted that this is going to be my 1,600th post.

b. Joe Hyam from Best of Now has a poem on qarrtsiluni.

1. I go out early to get some bread and see (1) two women sitting on a bench at the top of the street drinking tea from real mugs; (2) an older woman limping determinedly along the hill carrying a newspaper cone from which bursts a bunch of mauve michaelmas daisies and waxy orange crocosmia; (3) a fine strong-looking lady, all curves and s-shapes, wearing khaki dress, white sunhat, stout walking shoes and rucksack strides out for a day's walking.

2. We followed London Wall Walk, and spent the day spotting ceramic plaques and sections of rough Roman stonework preserved amid the glass and concrete towers.

3. In a Barbican courtyard overlooked by the City of London Girls School, the remains of a maze marked out in masking tape.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dipper, in at the window and unpacked.

1. Dipping a biscuit in my coffee so that its chocolate coating melts and shines, tide-marked with the milk froth.

2. I am getting supper ready for Nick's return. He walks round to the kitchen window so he can look in and see me at work.

3. The last moving box is empty and flattened.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reboot, charcoal and Hilary.

1. In the before dawn dark, the computer ur-ur-urs and reboots, ur-ur-urs and reboots. This isn't right. Black thoughts of data irretrievable and work due in on Monday. I switch it off, count to 30, try again. ur-ur-ur reboot. ur-ur-ur reboot. I stare at the screen, wondering stupidly why I've bothered to get up at 6am if I can't do any work. I switch off at the plug and try again. I look at the keyboard, and something in my head says: 'F9'. I hit the key and normal service is resumed. Never have I been so pleased to see the green caterpillar on the Vista start-up screen.

2. My art teacher hands me a plain cardboard box of charcoal.

3. On my way home, through the unfamiliar night streets, I run into Hilary, my old boss' wife. She is waiting to pick up one of her daughters from a night out and has plenty of news to share.

4. Nick brings me a chocolate Goddess from my favourite chocolate shop.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wet woods, hall light and a picture.

1. The rain and the work clear up, so at lunch time we take a walk in the woods to see mist, puff balls, rosehips and rain-fat blackberries.

2. As I fumble with my keys to open the door, the hall light goes on.

3. I chat on the phone to Alan about unpacking the last couple of boxes. He fills in the details, a word-picture of Nick opening a box, recoiling in horror and turning on his heel, coat tails flying.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Band, prize lemons and pink clouds.

1. The rubber band around the jam jar paper is removed. It stretches and fattens until it is impossible to believe what it was before.

2. I have a portrait picture on my page of a nice, smiley old man at a horticultural show. He is holding up and in front of himself a plate on which are two lemons that he has grown. The photographer has provided a caption: 'NICE PAIR: X___ proudly displays his fine set of lemons at Y___ show.' There's something not quite right about that. I try '... shows off his pair of lemons.' and 'with his lovely lemons' and 'shares his prize-winning lemons.' but I'm still not comfortable. Slowly the realisation dawns that I am the victim of a mischievous photographer.

3. Coming towards home after work, pink clouds ahead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Point, prints and push.

1. At the first stroke, the sharp new point on my pencil pops and crumbles into a tiny constellation, black on white.

2. Dry morning. No-one in sight. Dew wet footprints on the path get fainter step by step.

3. One last push late at night to finish my day's proofreading.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn comes, off the line and chore.

1. Things have changed. In low places, there is a fresh, damp smell that makes me think of earth and mushrooms.

2. Washing coming in off the line smells of fresh air and sunlight.

3. We work briskly because we want to enjoy the last hours of our evening. Turn the mattress, lay the sheet drum tight and take a pillow each. We hunt for the corners of the duvet, shake it out and race the buttons to meet each other in the middle.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

For a public place, to bed and the belly button.

1. A girl lies in a deckchair, eyes closed, feet up while a woman uses two threads to shape her eyebrows. A lady in a hat spreads out tarot cards among crystals, reading for another lady in a hat. These are such intimate performances for a busy shopping street.

2. I buy myself a new night dress (the two I have are about ten years old -- I had them at university). It is mauve with plum-coloured spots; and it is cut to support and flatter a curvy figure, so I feel very beautiful when I wear it.

3. Sitting on the beach eating my lunch and watching the sea pull in and out. A phone conversation next to me and behind me describes our location: 'By the belly button. Not on the pier side, the other side.'

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Red-green, here she is and paid for.

I'm very proud today because I'm in a real lit'ry magazine, complete with sound file of me reading it -- check me out on qarrtsiluni.

1. In my lunch box, pieces of deep red tomato and emerald coriander. Katie says that for a moment she thought I was eating handfuls of sweets.

2. In the middle of tea, at 5.25pm, I tell Caroline about the lady who was supposed to come at five and pick up some boxes. 'I wonder where she is?' And the doorbell rings.

3. I am planning to whisk Nick off for a weekend away, and I am offered some editing work, which should pretty much cover the costs.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Once there, space and filling paper.

1. Where ivy has been pulled off the white car park wall, there are marks like dirty handprints.

2. I unpack another three boxes and make a new empty space on the floor.

3. My pictures are a mess of lines and charcoal smudges. But I don't care -- this is Drawing for Absolute Beginners.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blue sky thinking, books away and chocolate cake.

Another wonderful 3BT-inspired book from Lauren over at All the Good Blog Names Were Taken.

1. Looking up at strandy, hazy clouds barely stretched over the sky and commenting that it's going to be a fine day.

2. The shelves are in and my books are out of boxes. Nick has put so much time and effort and thought into these (we had a carpenter in for two days) and as I stacked my books I felt very loved and important. We have another set the same on the other side of the fireplace -- these are for Nick's model planes and games and other bits, many of which are at the bottom of the wardrobe now.

3. Using my front teeth to scrape butter icing off a piece of my mother's chocolate cake.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gingerbread, bundle and man about the house.

1. I buy a gingerbread man and bite his head off. He's delicious from his smartie buttons to his chocolate shoes.

2. In Tim's game, Clodius hits a giant crab with the group's only lantern. The players cry 'Nooo' and I can only reply: 'I'm sorry. Clodius is stupid. And surprised. It's what he would do.' The pay-off is that I roll 19 to split the beast's shell and set it on fire.

3. Returning home after a long day away, Nick proudly shows off the shelf brackets, the strong smell of glue, a new squeegee mop and the plastic sieve he has bought to stand over the sink to contain our green waste before it goes out to the bin.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Out of my hands, mushrooms and feet.

1. I move a difficult page down my to-do list while I wait for another story to go on it. A little later, I spot it up on someone else's screen -- we're short of work, and they've grabbed it out of the pool and finished it for me.

2. I set the mushrooms cooking early. I have been looking at them, butter plump in the pan while I waited for the rest of dinner to finish. When we serve up, the first thing I try is a mushroom.

3. Putting a pair of thick socks on my cold feet.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ferns, incense and Anna.

1. My parents put the tray of coffee down on the table. 'Look what they did on the foam. Ferns.'

2. We walk into the church and immediately notice the incense. On his tour, the verger returns to the theme again and again. 'When the sun comes through those windows and we've got the smoke going...' 'We light the discs with a blow torch...' 'This is the mix we use.' 'We sometimes add some of these rose petals...'

3. On our way round the church I lose Nick for a moment, but find Anna who is a dedicated 3BT fan. When Nick comes over, she wants to try his head for velvetiness.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One, two and three.

1. After one coat of paint the wall is no longer the colour of a ceiling that has sheltered a heavy smoker for 20 years.

2. After two coats of paint, the holes Nick repaired last night are no longer visible.

3. After three coats of paint, and a careful clean-up including a long time spent on the carpet with a stanley knife, the walls are bright and clean. We are satisfied and ready for the new bookshelves.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Greeting, amble and apples.

1. A small girl and her parents stand opposite me at the crossing. She waves at me, smiles and sticks her tongue out.

2. On Friday afternoons, I am an unrepentant saunterer. I spit on the idea of a brisk pace for exercise and concentrate on the scenery instead.

3. Quite quickly, bramley apples fall to pieces in the saucepan and fluff up until they look like unspun wool.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gourds, story and dinner.

1. Jane brings heavy shopping bags to work and leaves them on the surplus produce desk. 'What have you got, what have you got?' Inside the bags are heavy pieces of yellow pumpkin, slices of harvest moon.

2. Listening to reporters on the phone and trying to guess what the story is.

3. Nick comes home and we cook dinner together.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Frenchman, free fireworks and ferns.

1. Sarah asks if we don't think that her boyfriend is devastatingly handsome and classically Gallic. We can agree in all honesty, and immediately name him 'The Frenchman'.

2. A spray of sparks flies from the station clock tower late at night. Men are at work on the scaffolding that appeared earlier today. We walk up the hill looking back over our shoulders at the unexpected fireworks.

3. After washing the vegetables I empty the sink and find the water has left ferns of dirt and fragments of carrot frond.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fire, living rough and staving off the inevitable.

1. Pictures of a fire in a derelict house. Carverns of lily orange flames and window frames in black silhouette draw my eye.

2. One of the reporters comes round with a sponsorship form. She's spending a week living as a homeless person in town. Her mind is whirring with ideas about surviving not so much the cold nights but the empty days.

3. Susan is wearing sandals with a large silver buckle: 'It's not autumn, because I'm wearing my sandals.'

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Back to bed, first lesson and window.

1. I write some beautiful things in the cold electric light, and then go back to bed where it is warm and dark.

2. At the crossing a mother waits with a tiny girl, nappy bulging under her leggings, who wears a large backpack.

3. The road follows the line of the hill, and all the houses have names like Long View and Outlook. Through an open porch door there is a window. The sky beyond squeezes round its red and blue glass centrepiece.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Decorating, I shouldn't have to say this and larva.

1. The sound of wallpaper coming off in long strips. Nick compares it to a lightsabre. To me, it sounds like the drawn-out rrrrrriiiiippp of an activity normally forbidden by polite society. When the work is done, the pieces bagged up and the dustsheets put away, the exposed walls make us feel as if we have moved into someone else's house.

2. A father manhandles a pushchair through the mud at the autumn flowershow. He turns to the line of children behind him and says: 'This way, and don't pick up any more worms.'

3. On the underside of a railing, a caterpillar adorned with black bristles and tan brushes.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Coffee pot, rice and haircut.

Here's something that might amuse -- Happy Topics is a news website that concentrates on happy stories.

1. There are still ten boxes unopened (not including book boxes). Nick finds my stovetop espresso maker. It's not The Coffee Pot, but its coffee tastes very good with my breakfast.

2. I find, after searching three shops, a packet of risotto rice in the supermarket (where I should probably have looked first).

3. Nick returns from town with a velvety new haircut. I keep reaching up to stroke it the wrong way.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rowan tree, bright and soup.

1. A rowan tree on the industrial estate. The berries are so red and shiny that I want to rub them with my cheeks.

2. It is raining when I leave work, but as I start to climb the hill, the sun comes out, and people shade their eyes.

3. A blue and white striped bowl of bright crimson tomato soup when I'm very hungry.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Looking out, greens and luxury.

1. A new route to work means new gardens to peer into and new pleasures to discover.

2. I am the one who washes the lettuce, so I get to eat the heart.

3. I am settled in bed among the pillows with a 1970s sci fi novel. The box of chocolates swims into view, followed by a Nick.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Moving, compliment and home.

1. Compassionate removal men who work quickly to get my boxes and bundles into the van and out of the rain.

2. My mother appears bearing treats. Later, watching Nick pack a bed into her car she comments: 'He's nice and careful, isn't he.'

3. A corner of the kitchen is well-padded with books; my bed is put back together and suddenly this strange place looks like home.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Strawberries, a pair of hands and communication.

1. I buy a pair of bags to transport my linen and bedding. They are sky blue and decorated with summery strawberries. I hope that in the dead of winter, they make me think of a hot July.

2. My mother comes to help with the packing and she brings a cake.

3. In the dark hours when everyone should be asleep, a voice beside me: 'Are you worried about tomorrow?' 'Yes. But I was trying to do it quietly.' A hand reaches for mine. 'It's going to be all right.'

Monday, September 01, 2008

Flag day, a good pair of hands and nutrition.

1. Nick's mother confides that she put out a little flag the day their junkie neighbour moved out. 'I was just putting it out and I saw her looking out of the upstairs window.'

2. I set Nick to wrapping china and I know that it's in safe hands.

3. I am very hungry and the pan of pasta is very large.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My sunglasses, mushroom and the summer.

1. In all the chaos of moving, finding my sunglasses, on just about the first fine day in August, in the bottom of my rucksack.

2. Silently, not bothering anyone, a mushroom has pushed its scaled cap out of the soil under a fir tree by a busy stretch of pavement.

3. We sit outside in the warm evening shade with a jug of Pimm's and my writing buddy's new book of short stories.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

To do, message and black dogs.

1. Today a task that calls for steady, plodding concentration and no creativity is very welcome.

2. I find a message from Nick on my phone in which he comments that soon he won't have to ring me because I'll be living with him.

3. Two large and enthusiastic black dogs wallow and splollop in the scummy end of the lake stirring up mud and raising a stench of rotting leaves.

Friday, August 29, 2008

lunch, silver and tidy.

1. I had a horrible sandwich yesterday because our regular lunch lady is away. I'm in a rush trying to dress and eat breakfast all at once. Nick makes me a peanut butter sandwich.

2. Meeting interesting people -- a lady came to take away my table and she turns out to be a maker of jewellery out of silver spoons and forks.

3. It's surprisingly calming to have all my possessions packed away in boxes. No more looking for things -- I can't get at whatever it is anyway.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Made it, water splash and vegetables.

1. A man runs for the train. The doors have shut, but the guard holds his own door open and lets the running man through.

2. In a documentary about Chinese wildlife, a piece about The Water Splash Festival -- a huge waterfight celebrating a region's river. A dignified policeman wears an expression of weary dignity, but breaks into a smile when water is thrown at him.

3. Peas and beans at the bottom of our soup bowls.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pix, mystery and packing.

1. It's Monday and I pull out a fistful of photos to display on my PC tower. The collection I draw is is large and eclectic. It's full of memories, some good, some less so, but all the faces, figures and scenes are freighted with my own stories.

2. The temp is wearing purple shades. I wonder why but am too shy to ask.

3. The pile of book boxes in my room is growing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Milestone, pudding and film night.

1. Hearing that Ellie is now potty trained.

2. Blackberry crumble.

3. Lying beside Nick to watch a film that involves ballerinas, Loch Ness, Queen Victoria and six acrobatic dwarfs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Done, free music and place to play.

1. Completing a task left undone for too long.

2. We sit upstairs waiting for our suppers in Kirthon while outside on the Pantiles the music plays.

3. In the twilight a little boy plays with his toy cars in the dusty petanque court

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hoeing, fox and keys.

1. A very little girl in a pink neck-to-ankle dress has stopped to stare at a man scraping and clattering as he hoes weeds on the edge of the pavement.

2. At noon, in the shadow of the woods, a silent fox runs across my path, his tail straight out behind him.

3. My own key to Nick's flat on a gold heart keyring.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sofa gone, suitable name and the new bath.

1. My sofa is whisked away by Ian and Caroline and Caroline's dad. I am so glad it's going to a home where it will be appreciated. There is not much swearing, except Ian hangs up his jacket in the hall, commenting that he is going to forget it. Sure enough, as I am closing the front door, a cry of 'Clare Grant!' comes across the street, and the wild-haired boy races over to retrieve his clothing.

2. The man Oddbins suggests a champagne called Nicholas Feuilatte which seems very appropriate.

3. We sit in our new bath catching up and drinking fizz until even with all the candles, it is too dark to see each other.

Squaring up, cool beans and time out.

1. Katie comes hurrying in with a story about two respectable silver-haired commuters squaring up at the top of the station stairs. 'You know they're not going to start throwing punches, but you instinctively get out of the way.'

2. Runner beans with my supper.

3. An evening alone lies before me. I am so full of nerves I can't sit still, so I pull from under my bed a box of files and begin throwing things away.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nick, change and handiwork.

1. Sleepy Nick with his hair sticking up in all directions.

2. I never have enough 5ps for the coffee machine. I usually end up paying 20p instead of the advertised 15p because I have to use a 20p, or two 10ps. Getting change made my tea taste very good.

3. My pin cushion. I embroidered it from a Vari-Galore kit, and I feel very proud to have made something I like so much.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

From the past, the game begins and duck egg blue.

1. Tim agrees that it was a good surprise. Katie, his former colleague at the paper has given me a lift over to games night and she comes in for a quick visit.

2. As an after thought, my character in the game purchased a donkey to carry his stuff. Sturdy Faith proved invaluable, and if there was any justice in the world, would have gained more experience points than any of us for kicking a skeleton to dust. The next episode will see my character intimidating Pete's half-orc druid into using his one healing spell to cure the wounds Faith sustained while fighting giant rats.

3. Coming home to find that Nick has painted the entire bathroom while I wasn't looking.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Squares, answers and hot drink.

I've played catch-up for Sunday's post.

1. Looking down a drain and seeing a reflection of the sky squared by the grate.

2. I am working on Fiona Robyn's A Year of Questions and this week the mission is to think about space for quiet. Twice today I was delayed so I had to sit quietly waiting. I feel as if someone is lending me a hand.

3. A sympathetic cup of hot chocolate.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Talking time, positive identification and purple.

1. Janey sees that I have finished writing and remarks on this: 'Now I can talk to you.'

2. There are a lot of mushrooms that look like ceps in the garden, with their spice brown caps and spongey yellow undersides. I'm not sure enough to try one though. But Sue arrives and confirms it. They go on the barbecue and a hailed a success.

3. Lilac liqueur that tastes like Bailey's flavoured with blackberries.

4. At the top of the station staircase Nick is waiting.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The drive, strider and stopping place.

These posts are about this walk:

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1. We turn a corner and look down an undulating three-mile drive to Windsor Castle. The road is dotted with tiny citizens and a few deer walk over from the left, stepping through the double avenue before running off across the park.

2. A long-legged boat winch waits to roll down the slipway to draw a boat out of the water. I get the feeling that if it has to wait much longer, it might lock its wheels and walk stiffly away on rattling metal legs.

3. We are looking for a place to stop. But the hand-wide path runs between fence and river. At a footbridge over a ditch, we find a flattened place where the bank has dropped. We sit with cake and apples and watch damsel flies hover and disappear while the Thames slips by.

4. My aunt says that on long journeys when she was little, she would pick her favourite features from the places passed and weave them into a dream house.

5. Mistletoe looks deep green when growing on a tree with budgerigar yellow leaves.

6. Almost back at the car we nearly pass the Airforce Memorial. But I think that Nick would like to hear about it, so we go in. The long garden gives into a courtyard surrounded by cloisters listing names of the dead. The benches are dotted with offerings -- flowers real and silk, and even a sheet of photos telling an American airman who fell in the second world war that his exploits are family legend and showing pictures of his now elderly baby sisters. The white cloister opens into the chapel which has a window looking out down the hillside at London and all around spread before us like a Lego city. From here, and from the tower, it is easy to understand why anyone would want to rule the blue air.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Late start, pace, doll and assistant.

1. Today I am not needed until 10.30am, and there is time for a lie-in, a leisurely breakfast, a bit of writing and to buy train tickets for the weekend.
2. There are only a few pages to last the whole day, so I take my time asking questions of the reporters, trying different headlines and making minute adjustments so the boxes line up.
3. PaulV brings me a present from his holiday. It's a yellow any containing a brittle plastic doll dressed in a cloud of scratchy red and black lace. 'It's Amy Winehouse,' he says, referring to her sultry eyeliner and backcombed hair. I love it and would have kissed him but we are in the middle of the office and subs should not show affection to photographers.
4. I am up a ladder painting the ceiling. I have a Nick to hand me a wet rag fill the paint tray, pass me the brush, hold the roller and tell me when I've missed the spot over my head.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Heads up, shortbread and rain is marvellous.

1. The road to work runs through an unlovely industrial estate -- plains of concrete and rows of units selling tiles and carpets and plumbing supplies. However, if I keep my chin up, I can see the hills and woods beyond.

2. The sandwich lady has a cherry shortbread, which is light, crumbly and full of tiny pieces of cherry. The top is sprinkled with caster sugar.

3. After a bright morning, the rain comes roaring down into the valley. Work slows for a while so we can marvel.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Morning, dogs and cherry.

1. I don't buy any coffee today, but the barista has a smile for me as I pass his cart at the station.

2. Genius says he asked his children, who moved here recently from Zimbabwe, if they liked London better, or Hastings. They like Hastings, because there are more dogs.

3. The man in front of me at the sandwich van picks up a can of Cherry Coke and then realises he doesn't want Cherry Coke and swaps it for an ordinary Coke. So I have it, because I so rarely see Cherry Coke. It tastes good at 11am.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brave, dinner and mango.

Thanks to I Beati for sharing the 3BT blessings.

1. Nick tells me I am brave for staying over to give him morale support when there is no bath and the toilet has to be flushed with a bucket of water.

2. I am tired and hungry and supper comes -- sausages, new potatoes and baby sweetcorn and snap peas. I am grateful and sated.

3. I like cutting up a mango for pudding because I get to suck the stone and because I get the pleasure of the sweet scent under my knife.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Busy, in view and paint.

1. A piece of work leaves my hands, and another piece fills them.

2. I like seeing things that no-one has seen for years and years -- like the wall where tiles were, and the underneath of the old bath. Nick says 'Stand here' pointing to the corner where the bath's going. 'You'll never be able to do that again.'

3. At the end of the evening, we stand back and look at where we have started to paint the bathroom -- we are cutting in and doing the ceiling over where the bath will be while the bath isn't there. Amid all the chaos, it feels as if a small part of the room is complete.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Crescents, exploration and real dirt.

Do check out Bubble-talk and Double-talk -- it asks you to describe how you would react to a hair-raising situation.

1. I had forgotten that we bought croissants yesterday -- until they arrived warm and golden brown on the breakfast tray.

2. Lightly burdened with bits for the bathroom from the DIY store, we try a different route home, discover an interesting footpath and find ourselves at the gate of a nature reserve not far from my work. I promise Nick I will take him down there one day: the path goes under the railway viaduct. He rides over it every day on his way to work, but has never been made to feel small and insignificant by its towering brick arches.

3. Cleaning a wall ready for painting and seeing actual dirt coming off on the sponge.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dinner, salvo and sweetcorn.

1. Earlier in the week, Nick expressed a longing for steak and chips. So buying supper is easy: I choose two juicy-looking sirloins and a bag of tiny plum tomatoes.

2. At the end of the morning when the sky is looking drizzly, we dive into an architectural salvage shop. The air smells of mortar and stone, and everywhere we turn there are wonders. Alien lichens still growing on staddle stones. Tiles glazed with deep and luminous colours. carved freizes. Mirrors and fireplaces. The ceiling is starred with stained glass lanterns and light fittings suitable for a castle.

3. The year's first sweetcorn on the supper table brings a lot of cheer to the meal, as does the bunch of dahlias in white, orange and deep red.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Straw, pages and payment.

1. Sucking on a box drink.

2. Going through the paper and talking about the layout with Veronica. She retires today, and she trained me during my original stint at the paper. The weekly critique is comforting, like reading a children's book, or drinking warm milk. But it's a challenge, too, because you know that your work will be held up to the light. It's also enlightening, because page layout is a series of puzzles, and hearing someone else's thoughts will help me solve similar puzzles next week.

3. This week I have been paid for two bits of work I did some months ago.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fruit, flock and figs.

1. A red-gold Victoria plum. The skin is the colour of a faded bruise, and the flesh reminds me of teatime sunlight.

2. Passing a church we catch the moment when shining butterflies of confetti hang in the air.

3. Cutting up a fat ball of mozzarella and eating it with warm figs.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Chocolate, zoo and thunder.

1. It's a long work day, and so at tea time I buy a Double Decker from the snack machine. I look at it for a while, and then devour it, enjoying every crumb.

2. BBC 7 is playing The Boosh -- the radio version of the The Mighty Boosh. I play the first episode right before bed time.

3. Sitting up at my desk, long after I should have gone to bed, watching a thunder storm rolling around the sky.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The greens, in or out and wildlife.

1. Two ocean green skirts -- one in the broderie anglaise that is everywhere at the moment; and one in strips of silk and cotton.
2. While we have lunch in the pub, two long-haired alsatians asked to be let out into the garden. One is brown and could be mistaken for a lion in times of dodgy perspective. The other was deep, velvety black. Having asked to be let out, the dogs decided that they'd prefer to be inside, and lay with their noses against the window. In due course, the landlady opened the door let them in. The lion dog stood up and came in, but the black dog had gone. 'Midnight! Midnight!' It seems he had found his own way in through another door, because he responded to his name by walking quietly past our table and sitting down behind her. 'Midnight! Midnight!' Puzzled, she turned to shut the door and nearly fell over him in surprise.
3. A documentary about scientists collecting creatures in Nicaragua. A woman spends ten hours a day sitting in a tree waiting for monkeys to come and be filmed. An entomologist crawls into a hollow tree after crickets the size of your hand. An anxious climber descends into the cauldron of a waterfall to find a cold, rainy world of orange crabs and giant tree frogs. He and his team spend the night in a cave full of cockroaches which do their washing up by feeding on dirty plates.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lolly, got it and balance.

1. In the paper, a picture of a porcupine eating an ice lolly.

2. Seen from the street a small hand pressed against the window to help a child balance as he walks along the sofa.

3. A feeling of triumphant satisfaction at catching my train because I finished on time and walked very quickly.

Monday, August 04, 2008

New snail, one cottage and waiting for the rain to stop.

1. The morning tasks are interrupted because while he was cleaning his shoes on the doorstep, Nick has found a tiny baby snail -- the shell is not much bigger than the bright bobble on a pin head. We look in wonder at this tiny anatomy. It has wrapped itself in a shining bubble of mucus and waves its eyestalks but does not pull into its shell -- perhaps it's too small and naive to know what it should do. Or perhaps, with the world so new and all, it's as curious about us as we are about it.

2. Among all the brown and cream suburban homes, a house with russet and ruddy peg tiles and a white fretwork along its ridgepole.

3. During a Sunday evening shower, a father and two boys sit under a tree at the side of the games field. The pat their football to each other and laugh at the strangeness of the rainy world.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Paintshop pro, food for free and flipside.

I have mentioned Lauren Berghold's wonderful notebook a year ago. But I hadn't realised that in the meantime, she's been working away at the next three editions. She is celebrating her milestone with a generous give-away for the best beautiful thing. Go to All the GOOD Blog Names were Taken to find out more, but be quick, as it closes soon. And then go to this post to see what she's learnt from her year of 3BTing. And also, check out all the posts relating to 3BT.

1. While the lady in the paint shop mixes sample pots for us to add to the bathroom, we look through her wallpaper books. There are cries of 'Turquoise crocodile effect!' and 'I could stand there stroking this all day' and 'Toile de jouy' and 'National Geographic do a range of wallpapers'. When she brings us our tins, even though it's five minutes before closing, she shows us a whole range of ideas for our unformed plan to cover the chimney breast with the most exciting wallpaper we can afford.

2. Picking a few apples from a tree that overhangs the road from an office carpark. We are on our way to pick early blackberries for a crumble. The blackberries are rare, but they are nearly all the extra special ones that grow on the end of the bramble.

3. Nick has been unusually reticent about the educational video he plans to show me tonight -- normally I am offered a choice of three or four. He has picked a Play for Today from 1980, which he saw and loved when he was 13. He says that 'in the 80s, all television was like this'. The Flipside of Dominick Hide (spoilers) is a charming story of a time-travelling observer from 2130 who breaks the rules to land in London and look for his great-great grandfather. It's fascinating to see one-off plays for the TV -- television execs these days are convinced that they Do Not Work and Are Not Wanted by Viewers. You can deride my fear of committing to a series, and you can mock my lack of intellectual staying-power because story arcs leave me cold, but I really like one-off plays. If this policy means we don't get programmes as beautiful and as well-made as Dominick Hide, we've lost something.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Breakfast, no busy work and relief.

Business first -- this will be of interest mainly to the Tunbridge Wells crew. I'm moving in with Nick at the end of the month, and I need to pass on some of my things. I've made a list on Getting Rid of My Stuff.

1. 'Two teas, and two toast and marmalades'.

2. I am finding it hard to get my head round the idea, but there is no need to appear busy when there is no work to do.

3. Katie comes home just before midnight, rushes upstairs and begs me to unlace her corset so she can have a pee for the first time all evening. I feel just like a heroine from a historical novel.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Same train, time to go and painting.

1. Katie and I leave together and hurry across the park. Several trains have been cancelled and put-out commuters hurry across the bridge. We scramble on to a crowded train, picking carriage and seat at random and find ourselves next to Fenella and Andy. Of course it's good to have company, but I am very glad to jump off at the very next stop.

2. The paper is done just after 3pm, and as we have worked through lunch, it's time to go home. It seems such a strange thing to do that I have to ask if I can go.

3. I lie in the bath while Nick brushes paint samples on to the wall.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wildlife, helpline and dinner.

1. I take my lunch out to the seats in the back of the carpark. Within minutes, I have seen a dragonfly.

2. A new scarlet ethernet cable in a coil on my bedpost.

3. A housemate cooking spag bol and unpacking the Abel and Cole box.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Multitasking, work food and treat.

1. I walk to the end of the platform and a blackbird flies across scolding and holding a blackberry in her beak.

2. A salad bright with red lettuce, tomatoes and pickled peppers. Jules says 'Got to feed the working girl.'

3. A cup of tea and a biscuit.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Welcome, my place and messing about in boats.

1. I arrive at a new job and am handed a welcome pack full of forms, style sheets and supplies (including Post-it notes!) that I might need. Among the papers is a card from my beauticians at Serenity, just round the corner from where I live. At my last appointment, I'd mentioned that a had a first day coming up, and they'd remembered -- wasn't that kind of them!

2. A new desk with deep drawers where I can keep all the things that make the working day easier to enjoy.

3. At home time, PaulV says if I wait, I can have a lift. He takes me home the long way round, by Dunorlan Lake, where we hire a boat and drift around gossipping, trailing our toes in the water, and enjoying the quiet at the end of a long, hot day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pressing, passing and puzzles.

1. The smell of ironing and the deep, damp sigh of an iron letting off steam.
2. I used to babysit for my parents' neighbours. The girl who used to claim endless bedtime stories by refusing to let me finish a book today walks up the road with a dog, a horse bucket and a boyfriend.
3. We all lie in bed with the mother doing puzzles. Everyone wants to be first with the answer.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Excuses, fruit and galvanise.

1. A child on the bus crouches down under the seat. His father tells him to sit up properly. 'But Dad, I'm hiding from the police.'

2. Sitting in the sun eating strawberries and crushed up meringues. Later, Rosey serves pineapple in mint leaf sugar.

3. The rainstorm we have been longing for all day changes our aimless Saturday movements to a race to bring the table undercover, unpeg the washing and pick up shoes from the lawn.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sesame, new hair and salt and sweet.

1. Slices of toast cut from a loaf with sesame seeds on the crust.

2. Katie comes in from the hairdressers and says of her haircut and half-head-of-foils: 'But the best thing about it is the smell.'

3. The waiter at Palm Kerala recognises us and comes over to chat. I wonder if he remembers us because I like salt lassi and Nick likes sweet.

Friday, July 25, 2008

White stuff, choc-ice and in a box.

Another fantastic radio play, Sunbathing in the Rain -- sounds like a downer, but it really isn't.

1. Putting a drop of cream -- rather than milk -- in my coffee.

2. Biting into a choc-ice and feeling the chocolate crack, and finding that the icecream inside is slightly melted and speckled with vanilla seeds.

3. Katie gave Jules a locked box for his birthday. He knows the key is coming, but he doesn't know when, and he doesn't know how.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pink whizz, shooting up and shout and shake.

I humbly offer a dancing street cleaner which might brighten your day.

1. Making a smoothie from a banana and some strawberries.

2. On my way back to the park, where the local primary school is celebrating the end of term, I follow a girl who must be one of the leavers. Strong and fine, she is shooting out of her blue-and-white-striped dress in all directions. It is not hard to imagine myself as a reception infant again, looking up at her with awe and wondering if I would ever be so tall.

3. It's like the Mary Celeste -- a bench, a jacket, half a bottle of rum, some beer cans. Then we spot a drunken sixth former crouched in the bushes. I think of Tom Reynolds' 'Shout and Shake' rule. I talk to him, and when he doesn't respond, I hesitate. I am afraid to find him stone cold, or aggressive. But I am more afraid of being the person who walked on by, so I call louder and give his arm a shove. He doesn't move. We go and ask to borrow a phone from the circuit training group. Their first aider comes back to look at the lad. By the time, we get there, he's awake and lying on his side. 'You all right? Just drunk?'
'Drunk as a... a... I'm drunk.' He gives us a huge smile.
We decide he's fine, and the first aider says they'll keep an eye on him.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The album, labour saving and happiness.

I got a Postcrossing card yesterday, and the sender, Ron, shared three beautiful things from Memphis, Tennessee:
1. My friends (we had a big cook out and sat around camp fire drinking margaritas).
2. My horse.
3. Summer.

1. I go to the stamp shop and ask for some stamps -- the picture sort. The chap behind the counter got a faraway look in his eye and said: 'I'll show you this year's issues, and then you can have a look at 2007.' He handed me two large albums and added: 'We go all the way back to the 1860s.' I spend a happy quarter of an hour ohhing at the pictures and then buy far more first class stamps than I intended.

2. Feeling unmotivated by a pile of runner beans that need stringing and slicing, and then remember that we own a device for doing this very task.

3. My feet are in a bucket of warm salty water scented with lemongrass and peppermint, and on the radio an Irish actor is reading a creepy story that has been converted from a French to an Irish setting.

Hardboiled egg, back in line and foxgloves.

1. I hardboiled a few eggs this morning. At lunch, I note that the one Nick is eating has a perfect yolk -- just a little soft. 2. It just t...