1. Alec, breathless, describes the bright colours of the three blue tits playing in a holly tree.
2. In the sunshine, the children chasing each other up a ditch filled with dead leaves.
1. My back is sore this morning, so instead of starting work I sit in a bath of Epsom salts and listen to a podcast.
2. To bash out 500 words very quickly and then get paid for it.
3. There is a small amount of comedy as I have brought the wrong bottle of essential oil to the counter. Then the shop assistant changes for a different bottle that is still not what I wanted. 'It's definitely the focus blend I want,' I tell her.
1. The number of days we will walk with Alec to primary school is nearly down to double figures. I'm pleased we've left a little early today, and I'm pleased that Bettany asks me to come through the gate with her, so that I can look down to the Year 6 building and see Alec's yellow hood lining as he goes through the door.
2. Nick explains that they have come back from the supermarket with a shopping bag full of treats because Bettany originally wanted to get cake from an eye-wateringly expensive bakery.
3. At last I get a bit of time with my new Fortean Times.
1. I'm out this evening so we can't have a proper Burns supper -- but Nick has put together a plate of tatties, neeps and haggis at lunchtime and finds some suitable pipe music.
2. Even as a grand lady of eight years old, Alice is still puppy soft and very excited to see us.
3. It is a really good thing to re-count the entire campaign from start to finish. Sometimes we forget what an achievement it is to meet up regularly and sling dice; and there is so much pleasure to be had in flipping back through notes recalling our adventures. Everyone remembers different details, and it helps a lot to share and fill in the gaps.
1. Nick reports cheerfully that he tried his new litter picker this morning and it is far superior to the previous one.
2. I'm still feeling the dry horrors from yesterday's swimming and fried chicken. A cup of unidentifiable herbal tea in the middle of the afternoon.
3. Bettany leaves Cubs with a small pizza that they didn't have time to bake. I message Nick and ask him to put the oven on so the children can have it for their bedtime snack. As we near home, Bettany confides that she was very pleased to hear the dad walking behind us telling his Cub that they'd have to cook his pizza tomorrow.
1. To look underwater at Alec's goggled, grinning face.
2. As Nick warned us, Bettany finds the museum, which features a dark passageway and unnervingly placed Medieval mannikins, terrifying. I can feel her shaking during the audio-visual presentation. But minutes later, I catch her giggling as she deliberately sets off the scary man who shouts at you from the garderobe.
3. We have to run a bit, but we make it to the bus stop just in time, still clutching our bathers and our frozen suppers from Cook.
1. The satisfaction of closing off a large task.
2. Each day the hyacinths are a little less green and a little more of their own colour.
3. The Cricket World Cup trophy is visiting Tunbridge Wells CC, and Nick takes the children over to see. They need bribing to get them to go out again on a coldish night after a long day of school and activities, so we let them open their sweetie boxes and they fill their pockets.
1. The smiley man we often pass on the way to school is dressed for running today.
2. We like the new soap because it doesn't smell of anything and it matches the new tiles.
3. 'You can probably order a sheet of perspex off Ebay to replace that,' says Nick as I sweep picture frame glass off the stairs. So I do.
1. Fairly early to go to the bakers and buy cinnamon buns for elevensies.
2. She brings a bunch of tight-furled hyacinths and dark red tulips; and some daffodils bound with blue elastic bands -- 'because it ought to have some yellow in it.'
1. The news that our good friend Tim at Heropress is marking his fifteenth year of blogging. What a great achievement. If you like gaming and Dr Who and comic books and 'all that's interesting' then hop over for a read.
2. We can't see the sunset where we are, low on the bank above Eridge Road -- but we can see west-facing windows blazing red like the heart of a bonfire.
3. Alec offers to climb the tree that has the moon tangled in its branches. 'I'll bring it down, then I can have it on a stick,' he says.
1. A bank of milky fog hides the way to school.
2. To tuck my new hot water bottle into the old case. It's like nothing has changed.
3. Alec shows me a handmade zine about sea creatures which one of the Hong Kong boys has made for him. We marvel at the perfectly formed letters, and his neat drawings of a whale and of an ammonite. The lad is still a bit shy with his English, and Alec is very touched by the gift.
1. This morning we are walking straight into a bank of fog... and then a few minutes later we are up the hill and back in the sunshine.
2. I'm on a deadline, but it is hard to miss the view on my left where the sky is shading from orange to blue.
3. I pour the last drips of the Christmas Baileys into glasses to help us relax into our evening.
1. Our house points the wrong way for seeing the dawn and it doesn't have much of a view to the north east, but there is a pink sky this morning and I run around throwing open blinds and curtains and doors to find a place where I can see more of it.
2. Alec and I lift our heads from our breakfast bowls to see Bettany improvising a dance to Euday L. Bowman's '12th Street Rag'.
3. I don't like being shut off from the world on my morning walks, but I do need something to motivate me. So I use bone-conduction headphones. This morning can hear the birds and it makes the extra cost worth it.
1. She treads carefully across the dark surface of the car park: black ice.
2. In due course I go upstairs and find Bettany in the sulking cave she has built from blankets under her desk.
3. 'This pear looks like a teenager.' The C-shaped slice is somewhat bruised from being cut with a table knife and handled by both children. I nod and smile and she eats it anyway.
1. I come away from my massage feeling much lighter and looser.
2. We eat a really good lunch to celebrate not having to cater to the children's mad whims as they are now back to school dinners. It is so satisfying that I'm completely uninterested in the pizza they are having for supper.
3. Each day Bettany brings to my desk a small object made from pink Blu Tack, glitter and small pieces of foil. Love them, not sure what to do with them.
1. The sun hasn't reached us yet but it is shining on the bellies of circling birds.
2. It's been a difficult morning. I take a shower at lunchtime and wash it all down the drain.
3. My friend Andrew sends me a BBC Archives video of Marc Almond making mince pies with Victoria Studd. I can't get over the bit where she helps him take his jumper off. Andrew's emails about miscellaneous interesting things are a reliable source of joy. He worked for the BBC and the short film is one of his edits.
1. There is a choice of a tall stack and a short stack of pancakes. Of course both children want tall.
2. At sunset to watch the sky changing by the moment, from salmon-pink highlights on the clouds to ashy embers to orange glow.
3. Last year I was given Lia Leendertz's lovely Almanac, a compendium of natural phenomena packaged in perfect little hardback. I got into the habit of reading it and the gorgeous The Magpie and The Wardrobe book at the start of each month to see what the stars were doing, and what work I should be getting on with in the garden. To pick up the 2022 edition -- as an ebook, because though the books are lovely objects, I don't want a shelf full of them.
1. To catch in passing the aroma of something discreet and winter-scented.
2. A bath full of bubbles and bright pink water.
3. We realise that Alec, cross because we've said screen time is over, has shut his bedroom door for the first time ever.
1. We discover that we've made a calendar mistake: the children go back to school on Wednesday, not Tuesday.
2. At the pantomime, laughing until tears come. I slide a look sideways and see that Bettany, who sat stoney-faced through the first act, is shouting at the actors about the ghost creeping around behind them, and even Alec has a little smile. He is nearly too old for the panto, so this year and next seem as precious as anything in my jewellery box.
3. In the re-arranging of the children's bedrooms, miscellaneous items came out of the wardrobes, including a purple straw hat. Bettany has taken to wearing it, tilted raffishly, while I settle her and Alec for bedtime, and when she is working at her desk.
1. Bringing donations to the charity shop with Nick to carry the awkward things. 2. Sending an edit back when I have very little to say, ex...