Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Homework, reward and stages.

1. The neat pencil drawings of laboratory hazards on Alec's homework.

2. ...and when he has done enough of them, we can go out for coffee.

3. Bettany looks down at her empty bowl and announces that she will not be ordering off the children's menu again.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Small children, red and sow's bread.

1. Before Rosey comes back outside, we have got Jimmy out of the birdbath and convinced Annie to put her dress on again.

2. The sun shining red through a turkey's wattle.

3. Under the hedges and at roadsides, when you think summer is starting to finish, among dry leaves and dusty earth there are pink and white wild cyclamen flowers.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Ramen, easy and mocktails.

1. Alec has organised lunch today -- ramen with leftover chicken and a fried egg on top. 

2. I've been floundering a little with uncertainty over work for a new client. It is a relief to switch over to old familiar content that almost writes itself, and to remember that one day, the new client's work will be easier, too.

3. I come down for supper to find Bettany mixing up juice drinks in a cocktail shaker wrapped professionally in a towel. 

United for Ukraine: out now. An anthology of prose and poetry to raise money for the people of Ukraine, United for Ukraine is a celebration of hope and solidarity featuring work by Maggie Yaxley Smith, Fiona O'Brien, Clare Law, Margaret Beston, Linda James and more. Edited by Susan Norvill. Published by Boudicca Press.

To buy a copy of United for Ukraine, visit Boudicca Press.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Ping, an evening talk and across the sky.

Today I’m reading as part of the launch of an anthology to benefit the DEC’s Ukraine fund. You can find the livestream for the United for Ukraine launch from 12noon London time on the Boudicca Press Facebook page and the Boudicca Press Twitter.
The anthology includes work by some of my favourite poetry people -- including Susan Norvill, Gavin Rodney, Fiona O'Brien, Peppy Scott, David Smith and Steve Walters. If you'd like a copy, it's available here.

1. Nick calls up the stairs his supermarket points app has pinged -- which tells him Bettany has successfully bought something on her first solo trip to the shops.

2. Even if it's over screens, a good long commiserating gossip with my friend.

3. I'm inherently suspicious of Starlink, but I do love spotting a satellite hurrying across the sky.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Ice cream, underfoot and Cranford.

I’m reading in the livestream launch of an anthology to benefit the DEC’s Ukraine fund tomorrow (Thursday) at 12noon London time. Anyone can view it through the Boudicca Press Facebook page and the Boudicca Press Twitter. Please do drop by.

1. The children's excitement when they discover the ice cream wafers and sauces I have ordered with the groceries.

2. The path is thick with fallen acorn galls that crunch satisfyingly underfoot.

3. Last thing at night, to vanish into Mrs Gaskell's Cranford, which is fast becoming a favourite. She has the knack of sketching a whole personality from a single habit; and Mary Smith is a kind but perceptive observer. It reminds me a lot of L. M. Montgomery's Avonlea books -- but Mrs G is much less wedded to a happy-ever-after.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Cathedral trick, top floor and pudding pans.

1. In Canterbury, the mysterious way the cathedral appears and disappears -- by some miracle, its great sandy gold mass is invisible in the streets closest by, but in the outer streets snapshots of the pinnacles and spires are framed in alleyways and between the buildings.

2. Alec, dancing ahead down the hotel corridors, leads me up the stair to the fourth floor to see the view (it's the cathedral again, but it's worth it).

3. At the Roman Museum there is a case of reddish pottery dishes, some crusted with sea worm casts. They were pulled up near Pudding Pan Rock by fishermen, and were prized by their wives for daily use. It turns out they are Roman dishes, Samian ware -- some marked with maker's names -- from a shipwreck or dumped cargoes.

4. It's a bright hot walk from the bus stop to the station. To our right is a green space where the river is split by sluices for a long-gone mill. We divert through to walk on the grass and look down at the passing water, then re-join the route that Google Maps is telling us to take.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Early out, snakes and accomplishment.

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1. To leave the house before anyone else is awake.

2. Bettany has been asking for a pet snake this summer. We're on a mission to find out lots about them so we can work out if we'd be good at keeping snakes: it's a big commitment, and they live a long time. Today Kacper and his mum bring us three snakes to visit.  We marvel at the shimmering scales on the heavy python and the boa, and call our neighbour to wonder at them through the garden gate. But the one we really like is the slate blue and orange corn snake that quests around our pockets and around our shoulders.

3. We knew Kacper when he was a very little boy doing his best with his second language in a new country. Today, he is an almost grown man, articulate and knowledgeable and a great ambassador for the National Centre for Reptile Welfare. We are very lucky to have such a great source of advice, and if you see him with NCRW at any shows or events, ask him lots of questions: I guarantee you'll learn something interesting. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Tea, climb and sparring.

1. Towards the end of the afternoon when I'm busily writing b2b web content in the corner of our bedroom, there is a scuffling on the stair, and afternoon tea swings into view, complete with a loaded cake stand.

2. After a lot of discussion about routes and many, many questions about whether they can jump this or that gap, the children make successful bid for the top of Wellington Rocks.

3. While Nick and I are clearing away supper, the cheerful sounds of Alec and Bettany knocking each other about the boxing ring on a copy Wii sports that is older than they are.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Rain, houseplants and catching myself.

1. When I start work, there are long spatters of rain on the window, and a faint pricking sound of more to come.

2. In the rain boys from an office line up houseplants in matching white pots against the red brick wall.

3. I've been focussed on my work today, not rushing exactly, but pushing ahead and not lingering on anything. Now we are making sushi for supper, and I'm hungry and I want to hurry the children along. 'Make some sashimi,' I say. Slices of salmon and tuna are faster than the rolls they've been making. But then I realise, this is our family time. We've nowhere to be but here, and soon the rice will be finished.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Watering, pauses and Bugsy Malone.

 1. The scent of wet earth through the bedroom window tells us that our neighbour is doing her watering on this hot dry morning.

2. I have a lot of desk work to do today, and I'm grateful for the natural pauses of a physio appointment, coffee time, going out to fetch a child from an activity.

3. We stop our evening's work and watch Bugsy Malone. Bettany has been listening to the songs all day at her dance workshop, and she has many, many questions. It is a bit tricky to get her to go to bed because she is more interested in constructing a mobster costume out of school uniform.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Pineapple, in the envelope and night streets.

1. The pineapple part of my ice lolly. 

2. We're playing Cluedo with Bettany. I ask Nick if he's sure the cards are in the envelope. Our gazes meet and we both laugh remembering Father Ted.

3. It's bedtime, but in the cooling dark I'm circling our streets to find an alarm that is going off. Fragments of quiet chat, lamplight and TV sounds finger their way out of open windows, and the scent of jasmine, honeysuckle is everywhere.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Delivered, walk and the end.

1. 'Your passport is here!' Nick calls up the stairs. Looks like I'll be going skiing next Easter, even if the children aren't. Their first passports are taking much longer than my renewal.

2. After supper, Nick leaves the washing up and we walk out, just for the exercise.

3. To feel desolate at the end of a book.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Blackberry, fading and phone call.

1. Picking and eating an early blackberry -- sweet and warm from the sun.

2. To sit in the garden watching the day fade out of the sky.

3. Towards the end of the evening, Alec calls to tell us about his day.

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 ...