Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Repair, tunes and shortbread.

1. In the dark garden last night, I noted a pleasant watery noise. But this morning, it is still going on, and it is less pleasant because from my desk I can hear it slapping on the gravel after a long fall from a displaced overflow pipe. Towards the middle of the morning, a black van halts on the double yellows and a man in gym kit gets out. He stretches out an extending ladder and makes a two-minute repair with plumber's tape. Job done.

2. It turns out that Alec has never heard 'The Next Right Thing' from Frozen 2, so we listen to it, and some other music and one thing leads to another; and now I have Blur's 'Ong Ong' as an earworm.

3. My shortbread works out all right -- probably because this time I've properly internalised the idea that cornflour and corn starch are different things.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Attention, mites and no longer there.

1. A mother exclaims with exaggerated joy, trying to get the attention of her toddler, who is balanced like a flour sack on a smart trike being pushed by dad. The trike bell sounds ting-ting even when they are out of sight.

2. A drab little tit bird chases mites not visible to us on the white back wall.

3. After a good declutter, I almost fall over my feet trying to step round a crate of books that is no longer there. (Oxfam Books, we'll be seeing a lot of you in the next few days!)

Monday, May 29, 2023

Growing things, scone and cherries.

1. Taking a breath of garden air first thing I see that the sunflowers seeds in Bettany's pots have put up their heads.

2. We discover that Alec's school offers a scone with clotted cream as a breaktime snack option, which seems very fancy -- but also, very understanding of what schoolboys really appreciate.

3. I remember last thing at night that there are cherries in the freezer that would go well with the waffles and chocolate spread the children have planned for breakfast. I go downstairs in the dark and put them ready.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Toadflax, blackbird sings and going over.

Cymbalaria muralis growing in the angle between a brown-painted wood gate and a white-painted brick wall.

Cymbalaria muralis growing on a white-painted brick wall.

1. Shout out to my frenemy toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis): a pernicious weed that quickly smothers a container and is hard to eradicate because it grows from tiny pieces of root and drops its seeds very readily... but also pretty with its mauve and yellow flowers, and it has a dramatic habit of growing straight out of an inhospitable vertical surface.

2. On the aerial two doors up, a blackbird sings for anyone who is listening. Two sparrows sitting just below mock it with raucous shouts of 'TWEET!'

3. Rather low, a vintage aircraft goes straight overhead, heading across the clear sky to the coast. It's airshow season.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Evening cricket, no-mow May and train coming.

1. Through the laurels, the sound of men playing evening cricket.

2. The grass is shimmered with buttercups and stands of grass heads in all their varied glory. I really appreciate no-mow May.

3. Then we run back because a train is going under the bridge we've just crossed.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Paper, snails and nectarines.

1. To my astonishment, they have A5 pads, unpunched and with no margins -- just the way I like them -- in The Range.

2. Snails, bothered by my gardening activities, wave their horns from the high places in the compost heap. 

3. It's the time of year for nectarines and peaches that are perfectly ripe and juicy to an undignified degree.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Passing through, cakes and drowned out.

1. A low sound from the sky: a helicopter flies straight on overhead, taking its troubles elsewhere.

2. At teatime, remembering that we have a tin of chocolate rice crispie cakes.

3. The TV's dialogue is nearly drowned by the birdsong from outside. We have to turn up the sound and draw the curtains.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Sparrows, black bee and revolution.

1. The sudden movement of sparrows touches our garden.

2. A little black bumble bee working round the alkanet flowers.

3. We have to keep stopping to discuss what's going on, but Bettany seems to enjoy watching Les Misérables (2012), which she's picked out for this evening's entertainment.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Early, golden light and foraging.

1. Bettany insists that we will be leaving early for school, as she wants her photo taken on the giant deckchairs advertising the new well water in the Pantiles.

2. To ride on the bus in the half hour before sunset on a day when the light is golden from the rain clouds massing behind us.

3. I pass a girl still in school uniform, walking her dog with one hand and carrying a bunch of grass in the other -- maybe for a rabbit or guinea pig at home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Early, just seeds and float.

1. I was expecting Nick home towards the end of the afternoon, but he comes in time for me to make him a sandwich for lunch. 

2. The Cubs have a minibeast hunt, and a vegetable-related activity. But one lad just wants to plant more seeds. So I sit with him and let him get on, answering questions as required.

3. Willow fluffs floating in the evening sun.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Crack, underside and waiting to weed.

1. To be the one who opens a watermelon.

2. Lifting a slice of french toast to see the underside is perfectly cooked.

3. The ferny soft green leaves and little pink flowers of the wild geranium that infests our garden. In due course I'll weed it out, but for now, it's very attractive. The same for the green alkanet -- the bees love its china blue flowers, and even though the roots grow very deep and hard, I won't weed it out yet.


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Ash leaves, waiting out the storm and afterwards.

1. Before the long weekend the nobbled branches of the ash trees were bare. Now they carry yellow-green leaves.

2. I'm rather vexed that a soaking is inevitable, but I do like the mixture of people crowded into the library vestibule, pausing until the storm passes.

3. ...and sure enough, there's a rainbow on the way home.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Last minute, May flowers and faded grandeur.

1. The small shop across the park always astonishes because it sells things that people might want at the last minute -- like ingredients for a full English breakfast, tomato juice and headache pills.

2. Turning into our gate, I feel satisfaction at the flowers: pink and white daisies, twinkly blue flowers on the alkanet, dandelions, old gold pansies, bluebells, London pride's pink spotted offering and even the cleavers has white blooms as tiny and faint as distant stars.

3. Bettany uses a little gold paint to apply some faded grandeur to her scarlet shoebox shadow theatre.

Friday, May 05, 2023

In the wind, black tulips and blue mugs.


1. Now the cherry blossom is blowing across the street.

2. I am very pleased indeed with the black tulips in the back garden.

3. For sale they have an artist's blue ceramic mugs with little hands at the base of the handles, giving them an appearance of determination and authority on the shelf.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Cherry blossom, warmer soil and summer shoots.

1. To walk under a cherry tree bowed down with bubble-gum pink blossom.

2. When I push my hands into the soil to make space for planting, it's much less cold than it was last time. Warmer weather is here.

3. Shoots of freesias and glads poke out of the bare soil in their respective pots. Ready for later.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Bunting, over the road and spider.

1. Every time I walk up or down the street, there is more bunting.

2. The library's first floor window is on a level with the walkway over the road. Outside the flat on the corner, a man sits on a white chair at a white table enjoying the evening sun. 

3. Supper is briefly halted while I catch the spider that fell out of Bettany's plate. When I finally have it in hand, I realise that it has all along been clasping its own supper. I put it outside to enjoy its ant in peace.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Promised rain, clay cakes and condensed milk.

1. We have left it late in the day to go out, and we will almost certainly be caught in the promised rain, going by the dark clouds and the rise in humidity. The shower, when it comes, is completely contained within the time we are in the supermarket. We walk home in clear light and air that smells of petrichor.

2. Putting Bettany's tiny clay foods into the oven to harden. Today's batch was three donuts and some avocado toast.

3. The shocking increases in food prices have made doubly welcome the treats in the red hamper we won in the PTA's Easter raffle -- this evening, a tin of condensed milk with our mandarins. 

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...