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.' 

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 ...