Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Crate, lunch waiting and arrangements.

 Here's a short story I wrote for Christmas -- Lydia's Christmas Resolution. Merry midwinter, everyone.

1. I ordered in a small crate of easy peelers with our supermarket delivery. It's a lot of citrus, but I have no regrets.

2. I've had a long, busy morning (it's now 2pm) but Nick has my lunch on the stove.

3. It turns out that Alec has made all the arrangements over the phone. When I come down, he and Bettany are sitting ready in their waterproof trousers, coats and shoes ready.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Quiet hour, pomander and gingerbread house.

1. I wake before everyone else and the quiet hour is a gift to myself.

2. The scent of a decade-old pomander in our box of Christmas decorations.

3. Alec shows off the purple welts on his hand from squeezing the icing tube to draw tiles on the roof of the gingerbread house.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Planning, catch-up and cardamom.

1. I find Alec sitting in bed with a Madhur Jaffrey book, planning dinner.

2. It's been a difficult week. While no-one's looking, I quietly play catch-up with the cardboard house advent calendar, fitting a tiny jelly to the table and assembling a few beds.

3. The scent of cardamom seeds and the oily, gritty feel of them under the pestle.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Best use, late arrival and on the mend.

1. At the back of my mind there's a commentary going on about how lying next to Bettany under a pile of blankets and watching a broadcast of the Wind in the Willows musical is a waste of my time -- but I ignore it: I'm resting AND spending time with my child.

2. Alec is rather late home from school and I have just messaged him to enquire when he knocks at the door, laden with secret Christmas shopping.

3. Quite suddenly, I can't bear not to clean the bathroom, which is how I know I'm getting better.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Low-hanging fruit, stopping and snowmen.



1. It marvels me that no one has run up the common and tugged on the low branches of the trees to shower their friends with snow. It's as if everyone has agreed to keep this snow day pristine.

2. I can't keep up my usual pace for long. It's a good excuse to stop and look around at the unfamiliar flat light and the buds packed hard and black against the snow. 

3. In the distance we can see three snowmen. When we arrive, we are impressed by the beer bottle nose and the broken stick teeth.

Monday, December 12, 2022

One bun, floating and weather.

1. Out of the batch of cinnamon buns, one looks perfect. I make sure Nick gets it.

2. It's my turn to be ill now, and I lie in bed listening to an audio book and floating around between asleep and awake.

3. ...and suddenly it is snowing.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Up the hill, between pavement and stars and hiding.

1. We walk to school along the valley bottom. The sunlight is catching the woods above us, still hanging on to their autumn colours. It's not until we're nearly at school that we can stand in the sun ourselves.

2. There is a perfect Mary Poppins sunset, with smoking chimneys before a dirty orange sky fading up from duck-egg blue to night blue.

3. It feels like Bettany and I will never grow out of lying under the covers, holding our breaths and trying not to giggle while we wait for someone to be surprised at finding us. 

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Gingerbread, even the winter sun and forgotten fiver.

1. To eat a few gingerbread biscuits at coffee time.

2. It's very cold indeed -- but towards the end of the morning, when the world has swung round, the light changes at my desk. I go downstairs and open the blind in the back bedroom to feel the warmth of the winter sun.

3. Alec has the joyful experience of finding a forgotten fiver in his winter coat.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Power, sempervivums and sky watch.

1. To our collective horror, the music teacher starts picking parents out of the audience to play an impromptu set -- just to show us the mighty power of his teaching methods. It's an effective demonstration -- some of these mums and dads have never even tried the instrument before; but We Will Rock You is recognisable.

2. A display of sempervivums at the garden centre catches my eye in their soft slatey blues and greys and pinks.

3. There's a nearly full moon to look forward to on my walk up the hill tonight, with Mars and Jupiter close by.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Not cold, treats and park in the dark.

1. The air is cold, but I, in the middle of a bundle of blankets, am not.

2. It's a foggy night and the park, though cheerfully lit for skating, feels secretive and rather intimate.

3. Catching sight of Bettany's hat coming round the rink. She is holding someone's hand, but looks determined.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Watching, gingerbread and spices.

1. Today we are resting. So we lie on the sofa watching Lilo and Stitch.

2. The ball of gingerbread dough is rather daunting; but thanks to the notes scribbled around the recipe, we find our rolling, cutting and baking skills again.

3. To let Alec loose among my spices so he can make hot apple juice.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Sunset, siblings and closing the door.

1.  The alarm goes off telling me that it's time to go and watch Bettany's dance class. I go to close the shutters before I leave and see that a deep red sun is touching the dark horizon.

2. In front of us very small siblings bob along in time to the music.

3. We close the door behind us, and we're home for the evening.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Parcels, wrong tea and advent calendar.

1. The children are very excited to find that two boxes of Christmas presents, and two mysterious advent parcels in biscuity wrapping paper have been delivered overnight.

2. At breakfast, somehow there is rooibos brewing in the pot, rather than tea. It makes an interesting change.

3. Bettany and I sit at the kitchen table with the house calendar and write festive treats and happenings on the tiny cardboard squares that go in our advent calendar house. It feels nice that she values the advent house experience so much that she wants to get involved in it, rather than just letting it happen to her.

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 ...