Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Special fried rice, that one bar and not seeing it.

1. I come down to find Nick and Bettany intent on a large pan of special fried rice that they have made together.

2. There is one bar that is troubling Alec -- to hear him try it just one more time. 

3. We don't see the Northern Lights because of cloud cover, but it is enticing to think that we might.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Equipment, gamers and coffee.

1. Quite suddenly we find ourselves buying brushes and model paints for Bettany.

2. Across the hall I note Nick, Alec and Harvey gathered seriously round a miniature western scene, tape measures and dice ready.

3. It's possible that it's because I'm very hungry, rather cold and definitely uncaffeinated; but the coffee that I order with my lunch tastes really, really good.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Nephew, hunter and orienteering.

1. I have Jim on my knee while he drinks his box of apple juice. It's pleasant to see my brother-in-law's expressions and features flitting across his face.

2. The others have moved on, but we spot that the chameleon, clasping a branch with its mitten hands, is eyeing a striped cricket at the top of its enclosure. We wait patiently for a few moments. POW -- the sticky tongue shoots out and the cricket is gone. 

3. Scouts tonight is a night orienteering course, all around a park in Tonbridge. I've got three lads (not Alec because being in a group with your own mother is social death), all of whom are game, but not too competitive, so we alternate between jogging over the grass and ambling alongside the Medway's many channels looking for some of the checkpoints.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Daffs, free ride and no fuss.


1. To spot a couple of daffodils in pots, still wrapped in their sepals.

2. The man standing at the bus stop with me has a vision impairment, so I let him know when the bus is arriving. He uses his bus pass to pay me on as his assistant and we chat all the way into town. I am entirely astonished when he correctly judges my age after laying a hand on my cheek. And I notice that each time I use an emotion word, his hand goes to my jaw to discover my expression from the muscle tension there.

3. It's a little late, but homework has been done without too much fuss, and so I read a chapter to the children.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Batter, flip and win.

1. Mixing batter by hand -- according to the notes on the recipe, this four-egg quantity is too large for the whizzulator. It doesn't seem like much work if I take it slowly and let my mind wander around an editing problem.

2. Flipping a pancake and feeling satisfied by the spotting on the cooked surface.

3. To achieve a comfortable win at Monopoly -- and playing with adults, so no need to worry about managing anyone else's feelings.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

First day of term, out of the house and on it.

1. Once everyone has left the house on the first day of term, I sit down with my Fortean Times for half an hour.

2. I come downstairs to scenes of jubilation: after ten days of false alarms, phone queues and broken promises a courier has come and taken Alec's defective laptop away so it can be replaced.

3. 'Sainsbury's are here, but Bettany and I are on it,' Nick calls up the stairs.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Baking, music practice and better times.

1. The kitchen is a mess of sticky smears, used utensils and rainbow-coloured crumbs -- but Bettany has cakes for the bake sale.

2. To hear Alec firmly counting to himself as he practises his music. 

3. To watch Digging For Britain, and see archaeologists at work in bright sunny days. At this time of year we need a reminder that the weather will get warmer and the days longer.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Snowdrops, cocktails and parcel waiting.

1. A couple of snowdrops present themselves for duty in the garden: I'd given up hope of them coming this year. 

2. Our lunch comes with a free cocktail.

3. On our return we find a parcel hidden in the garden. A large hardback book: Nick's valentine gift to me. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Mist, board game and supporting information.

1. I wake early enough to wonder at the mist settling on the town.

2. There's time at the end of the day to play a board game with the children. It's a bit argumentative; and no one is sure who won, but we had a fun half hour; and perhaps we'll do better at it next time.

3. It's quite late, but we sit up in bed flipping through Alec's Lord of the Rings concordances to try to make sense of the The Rings of Power. One more episode to go. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Moon by day, round the park and stars.

1. This morning a whisper of moon hangs faintly in the blue sky.

2. After dark, Alec and I go out and circle the park for half an hour -- him running and me walking -- to get some fresh air. From the slope by the Compasses I see his stick figure in silhouette before the lights of Buckingham Road. 

3. Tonight, the winter stars arrayed for us to wonder at.


Monday, February 13, 2023

Baking, making and three chapters.

1. There's a smell of warm sugar and butter from the flapjacks that Alec has in the oven. 

2. Once again, Bettany has convinced us to help with a craft she has found on a Korean YouTube channel. This time, though, everyone knows what they're doing, and the work goes rather faster, with less swearing and no reprints.

3. We're running early, so this evening I read three chapters to the children.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Not much, penguin photo and catches.

1. Pots of muscari don't look like much at this time of year (not compared with crisp tulip shoots nosing their way up) but their straggling leaves are a welcome sight nonetheless.

2. A photo of penguins from my brother tells us that he's back at Rothera after a long season on Thwaites Glacier.

3. An author mentions in her acknowledgements a couple of very pleasing general knowledge catches.

3b. Both are poems this evening are by Eleanor Farjeon, who is one of my favourites.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Catching the bus, lights and in character.

1. I've given up on the bus and am standing in line for a train ticket when I see the 402 pulling up the hill. A brief, undignified run is needed, but I catch it.

2. To turn and look down the hill at the lights of Tonbridge lying spread before me. When he answers the door, Tim wonders if I'm looking for the moon, which is huge tonight, and keeps peering through the window at our games night.

3. In our game this evening, my character prefers to take photos, rather than piling in to help with the fight; and I get a style point for acting in line with her insatiable need to get the story.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Terrarium, no more interaction and PHSE.

1. There is moss and compost all over the table. Nick is making some adjustments to his terrarium.

2. As he passes the table where I am deep in reading the landlord murmurs 'Hi Clare' and no more interaction is needed.

3. The children are having a good giggle and a lively discussion about the content of Alec's latest PHSE (personal, social and health education) lesson, which featured lots of taboo words.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Sellable, not for him and unsupervised.

1. We've done our best to clean up an unwanted but still usable school bag; but it's still slightly greyish and I have my doubts about whether the charity shop will be able to sell it. I ask before donating, as I don't want them paying to dispose of it. The volunteer almost pulls it out of my hands in her eagerness to give it a second life.

2. The baristas try to hide their laughter when Bettany asks if I'll buy a hot chocolate for her, but not get one for Alec.

3. We come home to find that Alec, completely unsupervised, has written a paragraph about his home, and translated it into English: that's a good chunk of his homework. 

Friday, February 03, 2023

Dawn, wonder pens and after nightfall.

1. 'What are you doing? Get back into bed!' says Bettany severely. I assure her that I'm just looking out of the window at the pink sky. I can't help but think of it as a warning to shepherds, though, and expect rain later.

2. I've seen these friction-erasable pens spoken of with a mix of reverence and wonder on embroidery forums. Everything I'd heard was true -- the marks miraculously vanish when I pass the iron over them. 

3. I bring Bettany's completed number day T-shirt upstairs to her darkened room. She is fast asleep.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Networking, sticky and pamphlet.

1. Even though I have a deadline today, I put my head into a zoom call for local editors. I'm very glad I did: freelance editing is a very isolating business. The work needs deep focus, and I can do it much better if I'm not tied by the social obligations of an office environment; but seeing live faces and hearing people's stories in their own voices always perks me up.

2. While the men are out, Bettany and I spend a satisfying fifteen minutes decluttering the sweetie cupboard by finishing some open packets and throwing away anything that seems too sticky, or that we don't like. 

3. At last there's time to sit down with a new poetry pamphlet -- Charley Barnes' Leaf-eater. I'd recommend it to anyone who is fond of dogs, or has experience of small children; and anyone who wants to see the winter world in a completely different way. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Four-minute shower, boys and nougat.

1. To achieve the four-minute shower presently prescribed by this winter's arbiters of virtue.

2. Far below me, through the white noise of my work, I can hear Alec and his friend hooting and laughing at the video game they are playing.

3. After supper, while the children are distracted, we cut a few slices off a piece of nougat and quietly eat them.


Lolly, rabbits and fairy festival.

1. As we walk, the grinding, crunching sound of Bettany working on a chalky double lolly. 2. Midsummer afternoon on the common -- rabbits gr...