Monday, February 26, 2024

Grape hyacinths, there he is and buttered.

1. Spotting the waxy blue tops of grape hyacinths among the tiny daffodils in my tiny back garden. They are a very welcome sight.

2. Before Nick even gets home, I can see him in social media coverage of the wargaming event he's at.

3. Alec puts butter and honey on a crumpet for me. Then he makes hot honey and lemon for Nick, who is still suffering with that cough. 


Friday, February 23, 2024

Late home, warming up and Letters from a Long Marriage.

1. A polite message from Alec to say that he may be late home from school because he is exploring with a friend.

2. When I come downstairs to the kitchen for my teatime break, I find two damp boys drinking cocoa and eating banana bread.

3. Last thing at night, when I'm always ready to wind down with some lightweight entertainment, discovering that a new series of Letters from a Long Marriage has dropped.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Interview, gloves and pancakes.

1. Interviewing tasks have been just outside my comfort zone, even when I was doing two or three a week. But now today's is done, and I have a recording that I can draw on for the article.

2. There's an edge to the air, and I do not regret picking up my gloves as I left the house.

3. For supper, everyone has a go at making savoury pancakes. They are delicious with ham and slices of Emmental.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Banana bread, knitting and from the fridge.

1. Through the magic of baking, we swap a backlog of rapidly ripening bananas for two loaves of banana bread.

2. When your child asks for a thing that is easy to agree to. We sit side by side knitting and half listening to YouTube commentary about Stardew Valley.

3. Alec spends some time confessing to the things he ate from the fridge when he felt hungry overnight. 'I opened that smoked salmon. And I had some of the pasta, which was delicious. And some cottage cheese, which I didn't like.'

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Rise, black tea pirates and gelatinous.

1. Coming to the end of the uphill section of my walk.

2. Rumours suggest that there is a shortage of black tea. One proposed reason is pirates in the Red Sea, which seems like something from history. I expect the reality is more along the lines of new sources speculating about a bad season in the tea gardens have caused shoppers to buy more than usual, which has amplified supply chain issues. Anyway, Nick has managed to get a box of tea, so we'll be okay for a while. 

3. I think the GM is miffed that we dispatch his boss enemy with a single (rather enhanced) shot, but it does splatter everywhere in a very satisfying gelatinous manner, and we're pleased with our haul of experience points.


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Bench in the sun, afternoon up town and westering sun.

1. The dentist was mostly pleased with us so we walk across the common to the coffee van for hot drinks. We have them seated on a bench in the sun on what is probably the only fine day of half term.

2. Alec and I have a poke around in Waterstones, and then we buy a cake for tea. He picks one that he thinks Bettany will enjoy decorating.

3. We take the long way home to enjoy the 4pm sun on the sandstone houses.


Monday, February 12, 2024

Late, early spring flowers and winter scented.

1. I wake late and only when Bettany gets into bed beside me. We already have in the house one teenager keen to protect his space. So I try to be present for all these moments when Bettany wants me.

2. Today my snowdrops are properly out; and in another pot, deep purple crocuses stand tall, waiting for a their moment to open.

3. At this time of year, scented things with unseen flowers lie in wait on the cold street corners 

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Longer walk, the find and herbal tea.

1. There is time today for a longer walk than usual. I've set out early, and I've got a quiet day ahead.

2. I vacuum the sofa and find 20p.

3. Nick comments that he is starting to get used to the taste of the herbal tea I am making him drink for his cold.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Not fade away, sheet music and Christmas chocolate.

1. There is a wild grass on the common that died and dried at the end of the summer. It is still standing in this season of faded greys and duns and drabs, shining bright as sunlight.

2. For Christmas, I got Alec access to a digital sheet music website so he can download any songs he fancies trying to play. It suddenly occurs to me that I, too, can use it. And within five minutes I'm picking out Peter Maxwell Davies' Farewell to Stromness.

3. Nick halves the last of the crazy expensive chocolate he bought me for Christmas and we eat it very slowly.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Startle, Traitors and art book.

1. I go to wake Alec and he does a startley thing that I recognise from when he was a baby.

2. Bettany complains that everyone at school is playing Traitors and that she feels left out because she hasn't seen it. I tell her that in my meeting people were saying how entertaining it is and I felt a bit sad that I couldn't join in the conversation. So we agree to watch half an episode a night.

3. I still have an art book from Christmas that I haven't looked at yet. So as I have a spare evening, I spend it enjoying the pictures.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Speaking up , through the woods and frozen raspberries.

1. Sitting in the school hall and feeling quietly proud at my child's clear, firm voice.

2. To walk home across the common rather than along the road.

3. A chocolate tart with plenty of raspberries.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Shaking tails, chocolate bombe and practice.

1. In the bushes to the side of the path, I catch movement. First one wren then a second shake their stubby tails at us.

2. It never gets old, seeing the waiter pour hot chocolate sauce over Bettany's favourite dessert. And I like getting a taste of the chocolate mousse hidden beneath.

3. At last -- right at the very end of the day -- I can sit down and listen to Alec's music practice.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Coming up, saved and task completed.

1. To find snowdrops shouldering their way to the surface in one of my containers.

2. A few of the daisy leaves have frost scorched tips, but right down in the centre of the rosettes there are tight fists of flower buds.

3. ...and that's my tax return done.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Poached egg, early and difficult episodes.

1. My poached egg comes out neat and complete in the slotted spoon.

2. I'm not feeling great -- so I send myself home at 4pm. 

3. We're down to the last few episodes of Gravity Falls -- the ones that make Bettany feel frightened or embarrassed for the characters. We watch them, though, because they're great episodes. We can hide under the blanket when it gets scary, and we can safely see how people might handle risky conversations and awkward social situations.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Fierce, citrus and reading.

1. A robin on the path, his chest a fierce bright, bright scarlet among the duns and tired greens of the winter woods.

2. The fruit bowl is full of blood oranges, which I look forward to every year because nothing tastes quite like them, and there are Seville oranges in the shops, so we could -- if we felt like it -- make marmalade.

3. At the end of the day, there's a new Fortean Times waiting for me.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Getting ready, playing for real and sleep track.

1. There's a storm coming in the middle of the day, and though it's grey, drizzly and Sunday, the park is busy with urgent people exercising dogs and toddlers and themselves so they can bear twelve hours confined.

2. I am playing for real and Bettany wins.

3. For Christmas, I asked for and received a set of headphones in a stretchy band that is much more comfortable for sleeping than over-ear or in-ear arrangements. Tonight, I'm very pleased to block out the noise of the storm with a long and serene hypnosis track.

Friday, January 19, 2024

In the sun, staying warm and extended.

1. Where I wait to cross the road I can see the woods at the top of the bank. On the leaf litter, two pigeons rest in the sun.

2. At coffee time, Nick suggests I sit on the other side of the table to take advantage of the winter sun's warmth.

3. I miss the moment the sun goes under the horizon -- but the sky is stained pink to orange to blue for at least twenty minutes after.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Lunch without the children, paperbacks and video call.

1. At lunch, we look in the fridge and find leftover pasta, and some mince, and some mushrooms (which the children hate). Pasta always tastes better when reheated -- and I've seen somewhere a research paper that suggests it's more nutritious, too.

2. To drop some books off at Oxfam, and to treat myself to a couple of paperbacks, which will go straight back there when I've finished with them.

3. I still occasionally startle at the miracle of getting a client on a video call to go through some edits.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Shorts, catching the light and frozen city.

1. The bus driver exclaims as we pass a man in shorts. 'How can he do it? Is he proud of his legs?'

2. To cheer up a very cold week, Bettany and I hang a few ice decorations on a tree in the garden. They sparkle in the last of the daylight, and then later, in the glow of the street lamps.

3. At games night we push further and further into the frozen city we've been exploring, finding an unexpected ally and many, many zombies. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

Tongue, bargain and photos.

1. He is watching me with a little pink tongue tip poking out.

2. In a charity shop -- for a Sunday, busy and alive with customers and volunteers -- two blue and white bowls of the kind we use a lot, £1 each.

3. The photos of the day out at Hastings Aquarium come home before Nick and Bettany do.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Yellow light, last run out and wind down.

1. I wasn't expecting any sort of sun set because grey cloud has been lying over most of the afternoon -- but on the horizon, there's flash of pale yellow light.

2. While I'm going round the park at nightfall, I cross paths with a mother jogging. Her small boy is on a scooter with light-up wheels. 

3. It's been a long working day, but now I'm lying in bed with a very innocuous radio comedy.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Cracking ice, passing through and process.

1. Cracking the ice on a puddle, and crunching across mud that is crusted with ice.

2. A robin glares at me as I pass through his territory.

3. Listening to musicians talking hesitantly about their process and getting a sense of the faith that goes into any act of creation.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Snow, sun on my face and new shirt.

1. Most leaves are cupping snow.

2. The sun in my face as I turn the corner.

3. Nick comes home with a new padded flannel lumberjack shirt, and he is very pleased with it. It makes me think of the grungy boys at my school who were not allowed to wear flannel shirts over their blazers instead of coats.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Going out, socks and apricots.

1. I did not particularly want to walk out this morning -- but here I am, and it's cold and there's wet snow in my face, but it is unusual, and it's fun to see people's faces scrunched against the cold, and to see school boys without coats hurrying to the shops for their breaktime snack.

2. My friends take great pleasure in comparing their socks -- bees and seagulls, both on an eau de nil ground. I'm disappointed that I put on plain black socks that do not spoil the line of my plain black tights and plain black slippers.

3. Tinned apricots with a few amaretto biscuits left over from Christmas.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Soother, white space and blankets on the sofa.

1. Showing Alec how to make hot lemon and honey.

2. After the decorations are put away, an empty shelf.

3. We draw the blanket around ourselves against the cold from the open door.

Friday, January 05, 2024

Drama, lichen and wash.

1. I find myself laughing out loud at the melodrama as the voice actors depict a violent, gory scene -- but later, the implications of the rescue party's impossible, hopeless situation slips me into the narrative's emotional groove.

2. The recent storms have shaken down broken twigs covered with lichen from the trees. I like the creeping scales and the pallid greenish grey and greyish blues tendrils reaching for the world, so I pick up a few and bring them home.

3. The rain has washed much of the mud off my waterproof trousers.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Hallo moon, pair of biscuits and myth atlas.

1. It's before dawn when we open the blind, and a half moon is looking back at us.

2. At coffee time, I find a pair of Fox's chocolate ring biscuits in the bottom of the tin. One for each of us.

3. Bettany brings her myth atlas upstairs and we spend half an hour reading about Yoruba creation myths and Polynesian volcano goddesses.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Nest, coffee and out of the wind.

1. Nick has made Bettany a nest of red blankets on the sofa where she can rest and get well.

2. We dart through the pouring rain to Caffe Nero for our morning break. 

3. The wind in the park buffets me roughly. So I take my walk away down narrow paths and along the valley.

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Walk, mud and fossil.

1. Today, Alec would like to walk with me.

2. To brush mud off my waterproof trousers so the dust blows away across the garden.

3. We watch David Attenborough telling the story of how fossil hunters dug the skull of a pliosaur out of a cliff. It is a study in natural history at is most joyful; but also in British people repressing their emotions. Everyone controls their excitement to a dignified, scholarly level; and at one point fossil collector Steve Etches releases himself from his colleagues' ecstatic celebratory hug with a, 'Now, now, none of that.' 

Grape hyacinths, there he is and buttered.

1. Spotting the waxy blue tops of grape hyacinths among the tiny daffodils in my tiny back garden. They are a very welcome sight. 2. Before ...