Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Toy panic, tinplate and soon to be.

1. The post has brought a new Fortean Times, which promises lurid tales of panic about satanic toys -- just in time for Christmas shopping.

2. I have a few minutes to wait and I spend it looking at the bright simple graphics on tinplate toys in a shop window.

3. The joyful news that our friends are soon to be grandparents. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Headache, unicorn and in person.

1. I've had the vague, jittery kind of headache all day and don't really want to take anyone out for hot chocolate -- but sit down in the window, a chat and a huge mug of sweet chai sorts me right out.

2. We cross the road then stop and have a good look at the illuminated Christmas unicorn rearing above the tall laurel hedge.

3. I'd heard through the grape vine that she'd had an accident: to see her in person, cheerful and healing.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Mutiny, sneezing and spring onions.

1. I enact a one-person mutiny at the thought of making pancakes for breakfast -- I've always done it, but today, I just don't want to. Nick asks where the recipe is, and when I come downstairs he is making the batter. Later, we show Bettany how to cook and flip a pancake.

2. I step away from the market stall we are admiring because I'm about to sneeze. I sneeze once, which is a relief, and then I sneeze a lot of times. When I stop, I get a round of applause and some congratulations. Bettany, meanwhile, has sidled away because she doesn't want to be associated with a parent who draws attention to herself. 

3. Green and white spring onions dropped into the middle of the soup make it look like human food, rather than bland fuel. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Work, easy button and extra.

1. This morning has been hard work. It's a relief to slip in between the lines of a structural edit, which is a task where I can let the words be and concentrate on the story.

2. Nick reminds us on this rainy evening to 'Hit the easy button all the way. Get a taxi up there,' he says.

3. '...and then Mummy said it looked delicious and she was starving, and the lady gave us extra.'

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Blackcurrant jam, broad beans and selecting.

1. Homemade blackcurrant jam -- it's a summer afternoon that you can put on a toasted bagel.

2. Nick exclaims rather happily, 'Broad beans are nothing like they used to be.'

3. Granny and Bettany go through the toyshop's Christmas catalogue.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Paperwhites, M&S run and Brut.

1. Anna and I plant up some paperwhites and look after our minds. Remembering Elspeth Thompson.

2. With a jar of Anna's homemade jam in the bottom of my handbag, I hurry on to M&S to stock up with scones and cake for a special tea.

3. We've been working our way through a bottle of Brut -- courtesy of Nick's mother -- since lunchtime.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Morning after, prizes and so pink.

1. The children bounce into our bed and demand to know if we have 'a drunken hangover'. We assure them that we do not: we only had one drink, although Nick did stay out very late dancing.

2. Even a grown-up person like Alec takes pleasure in shaking my phone to see what prizes we've won in the Christmas giveaway on the coffee shop's app.

3.  Bettany painted my nails a bright coral pink for the party last night. They keep catching my eye. 


Friday, November 18, 2022

Houseplant, last of the leaves and bellicose.

1. Helping someone else choose a houseplant. It's a beautiful thing with great gleaming leaves and long speckled stems; and I won't have to pay for it or look after it.

2. My gaze is caught by the last fragments of bright yellow foliage on the birch tree that you can just see if you sit in the right spot in our kitchen.

3. Coming up the hill and spotting Mars's angry red face glaring down at humanity. A moment later, and he's stamped himself off behind the roofline again.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Between, sewn on and mistakes.

1. At least there is sunlight between the showers.

2. To look up and find that Bettany has sewn on three buttons while I wasn't looking.

3. It sounds as if Alec has had a lot of fun at the Scouts cooking competition. His team came second to last and he recounts the disastrous mistakes ('but at least we didn't serve raw chicken like the team that came last') with a glee that belies his claims of sympathy for the Young Leaders who were doing the judging.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Job ad, clearing up and audiobook.

1. A job ad has appeared in our bathroom, saying that Bettany's shop is now hiring. I explain to the advertiser that it would be conventional to put her contact details on the tear strips along the bottom of the poster, rather than leaving them blank. 'But I don't have phone,' she says. 'Maybe I could write "Shout Bettany" on each one?"

2. It was raining so heavily as I was getting ready to leave the house that I put on all my waterproofs. Now there is a clear Jupiter dodging among the chimney pots, and the square that makes up Pegasus nearby.

3. To plug into an audiobook and vanish into the world of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Earl Grey, reassurance and long shadows.

1. The scent of Earl Grey tea.

2. The feeling after a fortifying coffee and a reassuring chat.

3. Even the crumbs of soil on the patio have long shadows. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Parade, autumn colours and sport on TV.

1. Catching sight of our children in the Remembrance Day parade, marching with Royal Tunbridge Wells Scouts. They both look rather pleased and proud to be there. It's nice also to catch sight of our friends from school in the crowd and in the parade.

2. 'It's like a lightshow,' says Nick of the yellow leaves on the long hedge of lime trees.

3. As the afternoon goes on, in Nana's living room I am half distracted by Bettany's requests for help with her hedgehog pincushion; and half distracted by the TV. It is showing incredible athletic and physical feats by aggressive and wheelchair rugby league players. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

After rain, better biscuits and tracking.

1. The last time I was at the cricket club at the back end of August, the ground was like a piece of toast. Today, it is lush green and rather muddy underfoot.

2. These stroopwaffels are rather superior, being both crisp and soft at the same time.

3. What a difference a tracking spreadsheet makes to my productivity -- not necessarily to how much work I've done; but how much work I know I've done.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Change of air, cold weather and soft fruit.

1. Wintery sunshine and a brisk drying wind make all the difference after a week of long wet days and heavy showers.

2. Alec comes in from school and remarks that he has enjoyed walking home in the sort of cold weather that makes you glad it isn't a hot day. He suggested I might like to use this here, and so I said I might. Then he suggested I add that it's the kind of temperature that makes you want a piece of Granny's flapjack. I'm not sure why he doesn't just send her a message and ask. 

3. I rarely buy fresh soft fruit out-of-season because it's often disappointing to taste; it's not very good for the environment; and it's poor value compared with frozen fruit. But Bettany doesn't know any of that -- and inevitably if Nick needs to pop to the shops on the way home from school he bribes her by allowing her to add raspberries or blueberries to the basket. It must have been a hard sell today, because they also have a small chocolate cake, which goes very well with the fruit.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Flock, bicarb and caraway seeds.

1. A flock of starlings rises briefly above the trees.

2. The chocolate swiss rolls -- special edition for bonfire night -- that we have with our coffee have captured the bicarb taste of cinder toffee rather well.

3. To find there are caraway seeds in the rye bread I have bought for lunch. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Dot, bathtime and a good night's sleep.

1. 3.30ish: to watch Alec's dot on the map getting closer and closer.

2. The smell of Bettany's chocolate body wash mixing with the disco tunes we're listening to while she plays in the bath.

3. I'm already in bed, packed round with pillows and the winter quilt, when I hit the tiredness wall. I'm half aware of the shifting mattress and the change of light when Nick comes to bed; and then nothing until morning.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Craft, beads and muddy coat.

1. When I bring everything together from various stashes around the house, I realise we have a lot of boxes, tins, picture frames and other things that can be decorated on a rainy afternoon. 

2. When I turn back the girls are making something complicated using Hamabeads.

3. Nick takes my muddy coat from me and puts it in through the wash.

Friday, November 04, 2022

Umbrellas, music lessons and quilt.

1. Bettany's friends share their umbrellas with her, until they discover that they can use them to flick water at each other.

2. Flicking through some books my mother has brought for Alec's piano lessons, I remember the kindness and encouragement of my own music teacher.

3. With the heavy winter quilt on the bed, our night-times feel extra secure and snuggly.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Liquidambar, parting and dump.

1. The fallen leaves of a liquidambar lie spikey in the grass.

2. Where our ways part, we linger chatting.

3. There is a real feeling that when the older Scouts dump their slightly creepy guys on the fire that something uncomfortable is being driven away, out of the circle and into the sky by the blast of light and heat.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Coffee break, still there and the right snack.

1. After a short break, we are back to having morning coffee again.  

2. The book I didn't buy on Sunday is still there.

3. Today I have brought the right snack.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Trick, good manners and family planning.

1. Before breakfast, quite casually, Bettany demonstrates a sleight of hand that proves I have eleven fingers. It's only once everyone has left for school that I work out how it is done.

2. A boy who left the children's primary school a few years ago comes to the door in costume for some Halloween sweets. He recognises me and politely asks after the children, which both charms and impresses me.

3. At bedtime I remember that I have a new video of the cousins dancing around like a pair of loons. Alec and Bettany make me play it four times. Then Bettany tells Alec that he should think about starting a family soon because he likes toddlers so much.

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...