Thursday, April 27, 2023

Space/time, my own hands and structure.

1. For the first time in ages, I've got a gap between books. So I take it very slowly today. Rather than efficiently rushing my content writing task, I stretch it out with some reading round to generate ideas for future posts. I pause to bake biscuits, go for a walk and do a little housework.

2. I've been digging around without gloves because I can't take out these columbines for transplant without feeling the roots. Now my fingers are burning from the cold soil's insults. I put my hands under tap and wash them until they are my own again.

3. 'Can I do that?' asks Bettany. I push the collapsing cardboard bakery across the table to her. In not too long, we have a plausible structure and Merida, Moana and a few space marines are drinking frappes and eating cherry pies.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Tipping, evening library and jonqs.

1. At the crossing a mother tips her pushchair backwards to make her daughter giggle. 'I used to do that to you,' I say to Bettany. 

'I know. I liked it.'

2. Nick has been gloating about going to the library after the tutoring drop-off. Today I've finished early, and it's my turn to go. I sit for half an hour by the window with an enormous art book that is far too big for us to own at home. Life in Bruges and Venice continues. People talk quietly. Someone plays the piano.

3. Coming in from the cold to a warm room scented with jonquils. Nick is not so fond, but they won't last forever.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Worms, return from the battlefield and lunch.

1. As I weed, small spring earthworms come to the surface -- just the right size for feeding baby birds. Hard luck on the worms, but think of them transferring nutrients from a winter of decay in the soil to nestlings that in a couple of weeks will be fully fledged birds of the air.

2. Not too tired and not too wet, Alec returns from his history trip and tells me about it in his school accent, which will have fallen away by supper time.

3. I remember to tell Nick that even a fancy ready meal for lunch is not as nice when he's not there to put it on my plate and eat it with me.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Old gold, copper beech and macarons.

1. Trays of old gold violas take my fancy: buy one, get one free.

2. Folded ready, the leaves of the copper beech are waiting.

3. To stack macarons -- chalky green, buff, ochre and beige -- on a bright plate with a few strawberries.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Missed, violets and no work.

1. There is a sudden splat on the pavement before the toes of my boots. From the oak branches twenty feet above me a crow launches itself, slow and dignified, into the grey sky.

2. Violets put out their faces on the bank.

3. I open the dishwasher to empty it, and it's still dirty.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Mocha, school run and keys.

1. Inexplicably, because though it used to be my drink of choice I haven't had one for years, I suddenly and vividly want a mocha -- so I take my notebook to a coffee shop and have one. It's delicious.

2. A kind friend deals with the school run so I don't have to take a chunk out of my working day. 

3. Alec asks me to play his piano piece so I can see what he's learning.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Industry, high/low and sauce.

1. Bettany is at home today, resting and recovering from a respiratory infection. I scatter toys and craft and science sets around the kitchen and retreat to my desk. Each time I come down, there is something different going on: bracelets decorated with stick-on gems; cartoons on the TV; a circuit to make an alarm sound; microscopy; pirates vs Scooby Doo. 

2. There's a chill in the air today that makes me wish I'd worn my hat. There are no highs and lows like those of an English spring.

3. A taste of the sharp Cheddar sauce from the children's macaroni cheese.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Spaced out, leftovers and five minutes.

1. When I arrive for my massage, there is spaced-out man at reception asking how to go about booking his next treatment. Looks like his session did the trick.

2. Nick arrives home and organises a supper that clears the fridge of leftovers. We've been in survival mode for a week now, and I've been throwing things on the table without much planning. But now we've got some space to think and breathe.

3. 'You've only read for five minutes,' says Alec rather crossly. But the next chapter is very long, and we are all rather tired so I decline to continue.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Pizza, long view and drying out.

1. A photo on WhatsApp to show that Alec has successfully cooked his pizza unsupervised.

2. To look out over a long view and compare it with my map.

3. It is so quiet that I can hear the water seeping out of the sodden bank. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Hail, tartlets and raspberries.



1. I'm not happy at the thought that it's going to shred my tulips; but there is something unlikely about a hailstorm -- solids falling from thin air seems like magic.

2. Just as I am coming downstairs for a five-minute screen break, there's a tap at the door. Our friends have left a small gift of Easter tartlets on the doorstep. 

3. I can't think why my skin smells of raspberries until I remember that I helped Bettany wash her hair with new shampoo.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Purple tulips, washed bright and mystery.

1. Last year or the year before, I planted dark purple tulips with long spiky purple petals. These bulbs generally don't do a second year in pots. But one has come up again, and I remember how smart and stylish the garden looked that spring.

2. It will rain again later, but for now the sky is washed bright.

3. We watch the first part of Hugh Laurie's Why Didn't They Ask Evans -- idyllic setting; sparky romance; and great one-liners -- and I go to bed turning the mystery over and over in my mind.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Here I am, throwing a ball and on TV.

I realised a few days into our skiing holiday that I never explained where I was going -- apologies for that. But we're back to normal now (just about).

1. This time, I'm ready for the flurry of communications that mark the day after a long weekend. They used to cause me anguish because they disrupted my work plans. But now I've noticed them, I can accept the 'hallo, I'm here; where are you at?' messages, and even take control by sending out a few of my own.

2. Looking from the window of the bus on to the lower cricket pitch I see a man throw a ball for his black and white dog. The dog just stands there.

3. The children ask very enthusiastically if we can watch David Attenborough's Wild Isles this evening.

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 ...