Saturday, February 28, 2009

A dress, paneer and bedtime story.

1. "That's very you," he says, and I change my mind about the dress I want.

2. She has made paneer from scratch for our supper -- cheese is a small kitchen miracle.

3. Saiya snuggles up to me as I read her a story about a haunted hotel. "Your arm is nice and soft."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Petits soldats, posh nosh and candles on the cake.

1. Nick has been wondering about the large parcel with his name on it. It's a box of soldiers -- little ones, from France. He says 'Tim'll be so jealous.'

2. We go out for lunch and eat from glass plates decorated with dabs and dots of sauce and tiny pieces of vegetable.

3. I hadn't realised how late it had got until I carried the candlelit cake through the dark hall.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A kindness, a frog and smoke.

1. She has fallen asleep in the drawing room. A carer comes by and moves her glasses to a safer spot.

2. It's a dead leaf on the platform. No, it's a large frog taking the air on a mild February night.

3. Outside the hotel on the corner, two men are smoking and talking quietly in the dark. The smell of their weed has something to say.

Story teller, better with two and read to me.

1. The podiatrist offers a fistful of stories about miracle cure anxiety, lost and found dogs and a bag of swag stashed under the roots of an oak tree.

2. On the train: A lady talks anxiously into her phone about how to get to the passport office. 'I left in such a hurry this morning I didn't have time to check the details. It's near Victoria, isn't it? Globe House?' There's no help for her at the end of the phone, though, and the conversation ends. Then a voice pipes up from the seat behind: 'Sorry to listen in, but are you going to the passport office? I'm going there, too.'

3. Cat hands me my favourite goddaughter and a book called The Smartest Giant in Town. She says: 'I always hear this in your voice for some reason.'

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taking my time, cheers and I love badgers.

1. A day off means not racing through the bathroom.

2. When I thank the cleaner for her two of hours of work, she looks round the room, smiles, and says 'Enjoy'.

3. The Badger Trust sends a sheet of stickers reading 'I love badgers.' I

Monday, February 23, 2009

The speaker, time and knitting.

1. I went to hear a writing friend read and speak in a short story discussion. The people in front of me caught her in the viewfinder of their camera again and again.

2. After an uncalculated saunter towards a train leaving at an uncertain time I walk into the station with ten minutes to spare.

3. Knitting with plastic bags is rather satisfying. I used the instructions at Atomic Shrimp to make the yarn, and then knitted it up on needles in the usual fashion. I'm not sure what I'll use the result for -- I'm aware of the irony of using about 100 plastic bags to make one shopping bag. I might go for a bag for carrying my water bottle.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Washing line, angry blond and the soundtrack.

1. The washing goes out on the line for a few hours -- first time this year.

2. He hands me a 2cm tall warrior which is going away to be painted tomorrow. 'These are great. They've got real Saxon expressions. "I'm here to kill your monsta!". When we watch Beowulf, I'm going to line them up so they can see it.'

3. We spend a cheerful -- if argumentative evening testing wedding music to see what makes me cry (Handel's wedding march, not Wagner's one; Linden Lea, but only a crackly 1930s recording; and the grand march from Aida).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lady, gentleman and French film.

1. A female blackbird with mud on her beak.

2. A male blackbird sings in a bush, dropping trills into the street. A cat behind glass watches him.

3. I show Nick one of my favourite films, Amélie.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thirsty, get back and artichoke.

1. Waking in the small hours, going into the kitchen and drinking a glass of water.

2. Gathering out-of-place coathangers and putting them back in the wardrobe.

3. A large bowl of artichoke soup cools on the table.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bun, a compliment and beyond the call of duty.

1. I buy a jam donut from the bakers. It is perfect, being soft and fresh and warm. The sugar is crisp. There is no taste of oil on it; and the jam has a faint flavour of plums.

2. She hands me the tin of paint and says: 'You've got a lovely voice.' I thank her, feeling suddenly shy. She continues: 'I was hoping you'd talk again, just so I could hear it. You sound like someone off the TV...'

3. Paramedics -- who I actually believe are angels in green uniforms anyway -- but particularly ones who are about to go off shift but are STILL calm and compassionate; and the ones who almost didn't come into work this evening because they've got a new baby; and ones who flex the rules a little; the ones who support the relatives as much as the patient.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Flat day, going nowhere to do nothing and a treat at the end of the day.

1. It's a flat sort of day, and all I can find to amuse myself is a cluster of scarlet berries in a hedge and an old bird's nest on the end of a bare branch. I've passed it every day this winter, but not noticed it before.

2. Cheeky little boys out and about with their bikes because it's half term.

3. Lying in a silky Lush You've been Mangoed bath with a Neil Gaiman book and a glass of wine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bare hands, traffic and cake.

1. For the first time this year, I'm not wearing gloves outside. Holding Nick's naked hand is strange and new.

2. The traffic is backed up in both directions past work, and all the way into town. I like the feeling of knowing something somewhere is up, but not knowing quite what.

3. Nick reports that the cricket commentators on Five Live are happy because someone brought them in a cake.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Runners, linen and biscuits.

1. We get up early to watch the half marathon runners go by. They're on the last two miles. Some of them look as if they're out for a stroll; others are running on determination alone. We see vest numbers in high 1,000s, and guess at numbers that way. It's fascinating to see all the different styles of running -- feet out this way, arms out that way. Head high, head forward. Eyes ahead or drawn to our clapping.

2. Nick's mother sends him back with a small pile of lacy handkerchiefs -- surplus her requirements, but not to mine.

3. I am called back from storyland by a plate with some biscuits on it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In training, sweetheart and frying as usual.

1. At the model train show, children carry little stools on which to stand so they can see the layouts. I liked hearing them spotting details. "There's some men shooting!" "That's the firebuckets, there on the fence." One not-so-small boy discovers a strip club at Foss Landing.

2. Sugary and chocolatey gifts appear on tea trays for the whole day.

3. Slicing cold baked potatoes and sauteeing them to go with steak and a wintery salad.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hurry up, can't get there and a tin.

1. I pick up some cut and come again salad seeds to help spring come sooner.

2. I walk home the long way to give myself some space at the end of a busy week. There is a church that I see every morning, but I can't work out where it is. I set off towards it, but find myself walking away from it. I can see the bank on which it stands through the gaps in the houses, but no side road leads towards it. I start to wonder if it is inaccessible and that no-one has noticed.

3. I'm too tired to cook. Beans on toast.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Got you, work done and snowfall.

1. We came across this story and picture of a rescued dormouse dozing on a rose. Katie-at-work said she thought it was awful that they took advantage of a wild animal like that. I said: 'Well you're going to hate the pictures of it dressed in a tiny clown suit, then.' And then she didn't believe anything I told her for the rest of the day -- including that a pack of wild dogs was loose in Canterbury.

2. Going through my art portfolio and seeing that some of the drawings I did in the early days are not that bad -- almost likeable, even. Our teacher explains that because of the time gap, I'm able to step away from them and judge them dispassionately without ideas about what I think I can and can't do getting in the way.

3. Snow flakes kiss down on to my umbrella.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Job done, mud on my shoes and to the cinema.

1. Putting a completed page proof in the tray.

2. Coming back to the office with muddy shoes after a lunchtime walk.

3. Anna whisks me off after work to see the wonderful Babette's Feast, a tale of redemption told in wintery colours and beautiful food.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get out, stuff it in and twice lucky.

1. I have somewhere to be, so I get permission to leave a couple of minutes early. It's good to walk out when I've finished my work, rather than spending the last ten minutes pretending to be busy.

2. Pete describes, complete with expressions, encouraging his small son to eat six quarters of brussel sprout while his wife's back was turned.

3. Rolling two natural twenties in a row.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ladder, more light and shining path.

1. I like to see the window cleaner move his ladder with his rucksack clipped on to the fourth rung. He leans it carefully against the wall and climbs up to put soap on a shop's glass, before swiping it off again. The other morning, he passed a frightening man who was muttering angrily to himself in a bus stop and said: 'Hallo Mike.'

2. Changing a lightbulb with too few watts to a brighter one.

3. On a rainy night the path up the hill shines when everything else is dark and dirty.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Can't put my finger on it, peeled and all done.

1. There is something of spring in the air -- but I can't decide if it's a warmth, or a smell or a sort of light.

2. Peeling the white threads off a tangerine.

3. There is washing up, but the next time I come into the kitchen, it has vanished.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Heart, lippy and Fenella at 30.

1. Sun at a low angle reflects off a puddle in the drive and makes a shining heart on the garage wall.

2. Andy is at work in the kitchen when we arrive. I ask if the lipstick is part of his costume for Fenella de Ville's 30th birthday party. He smiles and says: 'It's the weekend.' Later he reappears as an unwilling dalmatian in a furry suit.

3. When the time comes to cut the wonderful chocolate cake, Fenella is swaying slightly, but as proud and as happy as any woman should be at the age of 30.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

While you work, new paper and to do.

1. The bus driver is singing 'I'm on the top of the world and looking down on creation' which is one of my favourite songs ever.

2. The fresh copies of the paper are fat and slightly damp. I like putting mine in my bag to take home.

3. Louise is coming to dinner. I run through a list of things to do before she arrives, and because I'm running late, switch some items from 'must do' to 'would have liked to have done'. Nick comes home early and picks up all the 'would have liked' items before I've even explained what they are.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Carrots, top slide of beef and tearing.

1. 'I'm going to have a Weight Watchers carrot cake,' says Katie, pulling the packet of tiny slices out of her desk drawer.
'I'm going to have a carrot,' I respond piously.

2. The butcher says he forgets about the glass curve on the counter and lets peoples' meat slide off the front.

3. Ripping canvas off a frame is very satisfying. It tears off in strips, pulling the staples with it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Red, shut the door and resin.

1. On top of my almond macaroon there is a sliver of sweet scarlet glacè cherry.

2. Closing the door on the ice outside.

3. Our soap has a resin scent that I can't get enough of.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Loose lid, white and green and my prints.

Trevor -- who I met back on the bushcraft course in the wet August of 2007 -- contributes his beautiful things:

1 My children enjoying building a snowman so much more than any tv programme or toy.

2 The squeaking sound of the fresh snow as I walked where no others had in the trees

3 The Spaniel that came running up to me with his 3 canine friends overjoyed at the stick he had found and wanted to share his good fortune

And my sister Rosey pointed out that this site reached 225,000 hits yesterday. All I can say is 'Wow'.

1. The pigeons who live up in the railway bridge make a sound like a pot with a loose lid about to overboil.

2. Snow on deep green ivy leaves.

3. I'll tread on fresh snow, even if I have to walk between the foot and cycle paths to do it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Let go, light in the snow and my marks.

1. Your over-excited spaniel wants to run off the lead into the snow with your over-excited son.

2. Tonight, light has frozen into the snow: in the Grove children are still building snowmen; and the shouts of sledging and snowboarding boys ring about the common.

3. I put my prints in untrodden snow leading up to our door.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Ice feathers, drop scones and Larkrise.

1. Dry snow flakes chase each other in the eddying east wind.

2. Warm drop scones pile up under a napkin.

3. We are curled up on the sofa -- Larkrise is our one weakness.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Faces behind the footsteps, a task and it's coming.

1. We run into our neighbour and his two little girls picking out truffles to eat with their hot chocolate. I've never seen them before -- just heard their feet hurrying up and downstairs.

2. A meal out is a break from weekend tasks. But it seems to me that one important thing we mustn't forget to do is look at each other over glasses of golden wine and candles; and talk about gentle things; and enjoy good fresh food.

3. As we race from the restaurant to home, faces freezing, it is easy to believe that Arctic weather is sweeping in.

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...