Wednesday, September 30, 2020

News, meringue and nuisance.

1. I love morning coffee, and hearing Nick's news from the school run and his visit to his mum.

2. My mother brings us a hazelnut and raspberry meringue, which we devour after supper.

3. The children have been a complete nuisance with their whoopie cushion this week. It feels really good to throw it out of the back door while threatening to nail it to the ceiling.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Company, a fine sunset and push on.

1. Coffee, cake and a friendly chat with a mum from school.

2. Our walk home takes us towards a fine sunset, a mix of slate grey cloud in tyre track shapes,and orange sky fading into blue.

3. I am almost too sleepy to participate properly in my writing group, but I push on through and enjoy some great writing from the others; and then I fall satisfied into bed afterwards.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Herbs, master and reveal.

1. Chopping fresh herbs in smaller and smaller and smaller pieces with a heavy knife.

2. The restrictions on meeting face-to-face are tough -- but it has opened up a whole world of remote writing workshops. There is no need to go anywhere: I can sit at my desk and benefit from the live, real-time expertise of masters of the craft.

3. The children's faces when it is revealed that Long John Silver is not the man that Jim Hawkins thought he was. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The sound of heavy rain, minutes and cake.

1. Waking to the sound of heavy rain.

2. To sit and cuddle the children for a few minutes before we go downstairs. It makes the mornings so much easier -- and we're lucky that we can do it. If both of us had to work outside the home it would be difficult to find the mindset and the time to do this.

3. During his Cubs Zoom meeting Alec made a mug cake -- except he had to make it in a conventional oven because we don't have a microwave, so it's more of an oven-safe dish cake. And the oven-safe dish was rather larger than a mug, so he was very generous with the ingredients, with the result that his mug cake serves four quite nicely.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Cooler, pirates and rest.

1. In less than an hour the air has gone from muggy to cool enough that I wish I'd bought a warmer jumper. The weather has freshened ahead of the rain that is coming over night. (I get a lecture from Alec later about how this is all caused by a storm in the Atlantic meeting cold air from Finland).

2. I am reading Treasure Island to the children. It is really very good, even though I have to keep stopping to explain things; and the children argue about how the voices should sound. I'm hoping to do Swallows and Amazons in due course, so they need a grounding in pirate stories.

3. A planned event is cancelled. I spend the evening doing... nothing much, and I am so grateful for a chance to rest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Bugs, picnic supper and moon.

1. I help out at Beavers, supervising four little fellas on a bug hunt. They scamper around, exclaiming about spider's webs and feathers then head straight for the hole in the hedge leading out of the park. I call them back and persuade them to stick their heads in the hedge to look for bird's nests. Then they find a place where the ground is soft and dig for earthworms until the Beaver leaders call us back.

2. To sit on the last bench to lose the sun and eat our picnic supper before we trot home through the woods.

3. In the course of my writing group's session the thin moon moves across the sky before my window.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Patience, coaching and handover.

1. It's been a busy morning and we are all rather frazzled. Nonetheless, and although it is out of our way, we decide to walk home through the woods -- and I think it does us good.

2. In our front garden Bettany has set up a stall selling packets of seeds. From the hidden green space behind the sweetpeas, where I have retreated to supervise at a distance, I hear Alec coaching Bettany, encouraging her to address passers-by with a cheery 'Hello, would you like to buy some seeds.'

3. When I get tired of grinding spices I hand the mortar and pestle over to Nick.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Mist, warming up and action.

1. To see a faint mist against the wooded flank of Broadwater Down.

2. Over the course of my half-hour fake commute the day warms up. 

3. I have been dreading starting the complaint process about a broken toy we purchased only in June. ?It seems so trivial, but the toy was not cheap and it's much loved and well used. Bettany's pointed remarks from the bath prod me in action and I start the process while I wait for her to wash. A short text conversation later and a replacement is on the way. Nick even has a shoebox in which to return the original.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Cake, ice cream and frogs.

1. Nick messages after the school run to say that he's having coffee with one of the mums. She sends back a slice of apple cake for me to have with my coffee later in the morning.

2. Ice cream with hot stewed fruit.

3. Bett is very overexcited after supper, so we take a walk around the block. We end up on the street with lots of frog statues, and we hunt them down one by one.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Destruction, sparrows and back.

1. It is terribly uncomfortable and confronting to listen to Alec's litany of facts about the destruction of the Amazon. It's really embarrassing to have him realise what an almighty fuck-up we've made (thanks Aquila and World Wildlife Fund). But I am so pleased that he is starting to understand the world's wider story. I hope that his understanding will translate into more empathy for the smaller home actions that are uncomfortable for him -- like eating mushrooms and lentils rather than processed foods; saying no to more Lego; sending him back upstairs to turn off lights; and rejecting the car lifestyle so he has to walk everywhere. 

2. To spend a few minutes watching sparrow drama in the tree below my office window.

3. It leaves me feeling disoriented, spacy and very tired -- but what a relief to have my back adjusted by Emma the chiropractor. For the last few weeks I have had no idea where I am in space, or what a relaxed, neutral position is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Puzzle, seesaw and dusk.

1. Alec, who is off school with a cold, comes up to quickly tell me that he has just completed a very difficult puzzle in a book. 

2. While I am bouncing the seesaw for Bettany a smaller girl comes running over. I step back so she can sit on the other end. She doesn't really know how to use a seesaw and is surprised at the jolting, but her mum gives her instructions and encouragement. Bettany looks uncommonly pleased, and bounces very gently until the other girl gets used to it.

3. On our return journey we walk in the dusk through places that are still warm from the day's sun; and places that are still cool from the day's shade.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Plants with stories, what you need and proper house.

1. At every turn there are plants that have stories. 'There's your mum's pinks; and this is that rose you gave me.' And I can see cuttings from my sage plant newly potted on; and a scented geranium grown from a cutting I took from a plant given to me, itself grown from a cutting. 

2. Bettany tells me that we need to spend a day shopping for fancy clothes that rich ladies wear, getting our nails done and going out for coffee and cocktails. She says, 'You've been working too much. In the middle of our day you will say, "What was I worrying about again? I can't remember."'

3. I spend an hour framing and hanging some prints I bought from my cousin Laura Thompson's Daydream Emporium. Nick looks at my handiwork and says, 'We've got pictures on the stairs like in a proper house.'

Friday, September 11, 2020

Secret flowers, school run and scones.

1. Under the flower troughs on the railings by the Pantiles there are bright blooms grown from last year's scattered seed.

2. I do my first school run. To see and talk to people we haven't seen for months on end.

3. There is clotted cream for our scones.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Newborn, unexpected and castle.

1. The news, with pictures, that our friend has been safely delivered of a baby girl.

2. A parcel arrives unexpectedly early.

3. To spend forty-five minutes swearing at a cardboard castle while the children bring together all their equipment for knights and princesses (not princesses, Mummy, I'm a queen).

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Coffee, tea and stars.

1. We know the warm days are running out -- who knows if this will be the last one of the year? To sit with friends outside the cafe at Calverley Adventure Ground and enjoy a coffee that merges into lunch.

2. On a warm afternoon a large mug of cold-brewed green tea with condensation running down it.

3. A letter in the Fortean Times has me fascinated: it seems there are a fair few people out there who, given the right conditions, can perceive the moons of Jupiter by naked eye. Jupiter and Saturn are this week hanging just above the horizon directly in front of our kitchen door. It feels just right this evening to waste some time before bed fiddling around with binoculars and swearing at clouds.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Conkers, plans and looking forward to bedtime.

1. The shining white insides of conker cases. And conkers arranged on the wall of a house with boots and scooters in the porch.

2. These last few days the children have been planning ahead. Bettany is collecting melon seeds to plant next spring; and Alec has spread rosebay willowherb seed in the garden in the hopes of attracting hawk moths.

3. Nick calls up the stairs to say the new Fortean Times has arrived. It makes me look forward to bedtime, when I can sit and read it.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Belter, Wolverine and reading.

1. Watching Alec playing cricket. He hits a couple of real belters, and I feel very proud.

2. At bathtime Bettany appears wearing a wolf hat and a pair of wicketkeeper's gloves. 'I'm Wolverine,' she says with utter conviction.

3. I push past the children's complaints and make them read 'our' book. It's a good way of getting the school's required listening-to-reading minutes in; and it saves my voice.

Friday, September 04, 2020

PTA, cartoon and rain.

1. One of the PTA mums has put together a 'tea and tissues' gift for the mums of new starters at school. It seems such a kind, welcoming thing to do. Of course, it is partly to encourage people to get involved with the PTA -- but I'm sure that some of the new starters will also really appreciate the message that the other parents are friendly and happy to help out.

2. The lovely Peppy Scott has drawn us a little cartoon of a family joke. I show Bettany at supper and her face lights up. 

3. When I go to close the roof light at the end of the day I can smell the rain.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Chaos, walking home and return.

1. It's the first day of term -- after six months away from school. We wake up to discover that we are expecting the landlord and two hob fitters within the hour. It's actually fine: among the kitchen chaos the children forget to be anxious about the new school routine, and forget to act up.

2. Alec has started to enquire about walking to and from school by himself. 

3. The sound of the front door and the sound of the children's voices at the end of the school day.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Timing, waiting and slicing.

1. Bettany comes stumbling down the stairs rubbing her eyes and squinting through her mass of hair just as I am opening the wafflemaker.

2. To see Nick waiting for us by the sweetpeas when we come home from our walk.

3. To slice spring onions very finely.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Blackberry picking, jigsaw and scrunchie.

1. I am glad I brought a box for blackberries out with us. 

2. A few nights ago Nick and I stopped doing the jigsaw at our bedtime even though we wanted to push on and place the last fifty pieces. This afternoon the children and I finish it up and they feel very pleased about that.

3. Bettany now has such long hair that it needs to be put up for school. And I suddenly realised that this would by my job each morning. I asked if we could have a practice after bath and she gave me a look. 'I can do it myself,' she said, pulling a scrunchie on to her wrist. And sure enough, she can put her own hair up.

Art book, gossip and watermelon.

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