Saturday, 30 January 2010


This is to acknowledge my friend Siobhan. She started out as an architect, then switched to acting, and now she's a performance poet and writer. I don't think it's always been an easy journey for her, but she's now in a place where she can make her way through her own creativity and through helping others explore theirs. I really respect her for that.

I should also mention that she has 2 teenagers, a husband who we all adore, but must be exhausting to live with, 2 cats and, despite her dog phobia, has recently taken on a dog - and is managing it really well. So she has plenty to be getting on with. She's the kind of woman who can tell you she fancies a quiet night, and yet will host a roomful of almost strangers at 2.00 am with charm and aplomb. She is a great friend to  have.

So 3BT about Siobhan.

1 I laugh a lot when I'm with her
2 I talk a lot when I'm with her and feel like I'm interesting.
3 Siobhan's kitchen is the most welcoming kitchen in the world. It feels like the rest of the house is a bit of a tacked on afterthought. She designed it herself, so fair dues.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Work day

1 Everything fell into place car-wise as I had to do a home visit near the garage, so I got a lift there.

2 When we came down the hill to the house the cat was standing in the road looking like he was waiting for us

3 Suddenly there are snowdrops everywhere.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Wet day

Lights reflected on a wet pavement and the smell of woodsmoke in the air. I grew up in coal country, so wood smoke is a bit exotic for me.

Soft white bread. I know granary is healthier, but just once in a while it's nice to have that stretchy, chewy texture in your mouth.

Yogi tea. Spicy and with an uplifting quote that you can irritate your colleagues with.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Chilling at Yarde cafe

Here are the kids at the Yarde cafe a few weeks ago. Our favourite place to eat locally. The only problem is the portions are too big, so I very rarely get to eat cake there. They have a bunk house, too, with a great wood burner in it. One day I will work out a way of justifying staying there. You can find it here:

We missed the wassail this year because we were at a party (typical, isn't it, you have zero social life for weeks and then everything happens at once). Charlie, who cooks at the Yarde, came up to school with her very new and very gorgeous looking daughter yesterday, so this is in tribute to her...

1 I bought myself a new bowl for work. It's a really nice shape, and now I can eat soup.
2 I found a copy of a Willow farm book in Oxfam. I knew Rainbow would really like it and I got to give to a good cause at the same time!
3 Lucy gave me a thank you card, really thoughtfully written, made me feel really appreciated.

Still working on my optimism. It is being sorely tested at work, but I keep picking myself up, dusting off my shiny gold hope badge and pinning it back on.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Thanks Mum

This entry is brought to you in tribute to my mum who made our fantastic weekend possible by looking after her grandchildren for THREE nights. What a star. I hope she had a good time.

So we had a trip up north, to Leeds, in fact, which was fab. I've come back feeling slightly sad that my children are southerners, and likely to remain so...

We saw loads of lovely friends, stayed up far too late, indulged ourselves, ate out. It was Big Pete's 50th, great venue, great band (Moldy Joe) - who did a rather more fist pumping version of this rather wonderful song.

I have been trying to work out what it is about the north. I think people are far more determined to have a good time. I think it's maybe that there are a lot more Irish there?

So we had a great Indian meal in Arti's on Friday night - marsala dhosa, marvellous - a nice trendy arts centre lunch on Saturday, a cup of tea at Harvey Nicks , and Casa Mia's on Sunday at lunch time for the best meal I've had in a long time. I never thought a weekend in Leeds would feel like a glamourous city break but that's how it was. So my 3 BT:

1 Getting a dhosa. Fantastic. My favourite Indian dish of all time.
2 Hanging out with Siobhan for a bit. Not something I get to do very often.
3 Wearing a sticky out skirt and dancing all night.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Cultivating optimism

Cultivate optimism. Easy to say. I think I am generally optimistic, in the face of the grim realities of the world. You know, death, disease, destruction. The fact that getting old is the best you can hope for. There was an article by Charlotte Raven in the Guardian on Saturday, about starting to come to terms with a diagnosis of Huntingon's ( one of the  cruelest diseases ever, I reckon), that ended with some kind of optimism, so I guess if she can...

So I will be hopeful that the staffing issues at work will sort themselves out. I will be hopeful that this summer will be better than last. I will be hopeful.


1 Made marmalade - first time ever. I had always thought it would be difficult, but in fact, it was easy-peasy. Saw some Seville oranges in the greengrocers and bought a dozen on a whim (eggs, bottles and oranges always come in dozens or half dozens for me - wonder why?). It smelled so good bubbling away on the hob, and now it tastes fantastic. I have 9 smug jars in the pantry, and one not so smug mug-ful in the fridge. I never have quite enough jars when I preserve things.

2 Sorted out the freezer. I now have a very nice notebook with all contents noted down. How smug am I?

3 On Sunday we decided to go somewhere we had never been before. We ended up in a little bistro in Hatherleigh, with a very friendly owner, lovely food, all very cosy. The kids surpassed themselves in charm and good manners, BT ate a pile of beef and Rainbow ate home-made soup without decorating herself with it. Afterwards we went for a very muddy walk, met a little dog, watched a model plane enthusiast. Came home and watched the 3 Musketeers. Very Sunday. Very family. Very pleasant.

I haven't even mentioned the party we went to on Saturday night - I had that 5 o'clock "let's just stay in" feeling, but forced myself into a (slightly pathetic, token gesture) punk outfit (70s theme) and we went for it. It was great - most people had made a huge effort, everybody was up dancing from the moment the music started, and the food was lovely. So there you go.

Did see a really good slogan on the back of an ageing punk's pond-liner waistcoat - "Too old to die young".

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

a quickie

1 Helen had organised everything when I got to work
2 New wellies - don't leak - dry feet
3 Yer man fixed the boiler. What a wonderful husband he is!

The snow is all going. On the plus side I got the car out for the first time in more than a week. But it looks so sad, and there is so much water everywhere. Kids have had indoor play again today and so are crazy with excess energy.

Have just realised that we forgot to take the Christmas decorations down in the dining room. There are still slightly tacky gold garlands running into each corner. It's not like we don't use the room and it's not like they aren't fairly obvious...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The end of the snow (I think)

1 Somebody had made Real Coffee at work and left a note on it saying "help yourself". So I did.
2 Finally found some waterproof mittens that fit the kids!!! Why is it so hard to find waterproof gloves for children? I can spend at least 20 minutes outdoors without feeling the urge to throw a snowball. BT can manage about 20 secs.
3 Walked home from the top of the lane. Saw loads of deer tracks and bird tracks. Nice to know they're out there.

But despite the predicted heavy snow it's not settling and it all seems to be melting away! There are very few things more beautiful than fresh snow and very few things less attractive than snow as it goes.

When the screensaver comes into play our photos flash up randomly. If you watched them flick round, you would think it snowed here for about 3 months every year. At work today Mark showed me some photos he'd taken of snow on their local beach, snow right down to the high water mark.

Monday, 11 January 2010

The cold snap continues

We walked out today. Well, almost half way and then our neighbour with a landrover gave us a lift to the end of the lane. We look a bit rag tag - a mixture of waterproof trousers and fleecies and BT in odd gloves. I was wearing leather gardening gloves (once a fetching shade of purple) over running gloves. Got the kids to school, though.

Came back and were dropped off at the end of the  lane. Got as far as neighbour 1 and he ran us back  in his landie. The children sat in the back, delighted. Mind, he was sliding around a bit when he turned round at our place.

The cat continues to hone his hunting skills on our legs and heads. A bit hyper tonight. Maybe he missed us, and missed being outdoors today. The cat flap broke yesterday. A mixture of old age and cold, I think. Must get a new one. We've had to block it up, as part of our attempts to keep the house warm.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

more snow

Woke to snow. We weren't expecting it 'til lunchtime, but there it was. It kept going all morning and even when we went for a walk in the afternoon it was still sprinkling. Tinker came for a walk with us, unexpectedly. Part cat, part dog, part parrot (he likes sitting on your shoulder). He seems to be enjoying the snow.

We sledged on the lane outside the house, or at least the kids did. Not too far and not too fast, so perfect for them. The snow wasn't really deep enough for us to have a go, but YM walked over to the sledging field later on while the rest of us hung out at home and made dinner.  Then we walked, saw icicles along the gutter of the old barn across the road, and Rainbow saw a barn owl. We had watched a fox nosing along the hedge from our bedroom window this morning, and on the walk we saw plenty of pawprints and a stained patch in the snow, and a few feathers, where he must have made a kill.

I still haven't got my car out and am not sure when I am ever going to.

1 Black cat, white snow
2 Chopped wood this morning, and it's immensely satisfying when you bring the axe down and the wood splits cleanly and somehow suddenly
3 Bloodtester watched Ivanhoe this afternoon, and I was mooching around, kept hearing his little voice "come on goodies, get the baddies" - so excited and so into it all.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

and still there is snow...

Walked out to the car today and went into town. Swimming lessons, lunch, shopping, then sledging, pub. Parked up and walked back in with the shopping on the sledge. It was rather wonderful walking back in the dark with the snow reflecting back light. RG pulled the sledge all the way. Little star.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Still snowy...

Tried to take the car out today. Got stuck. Our neighbour, Mike, happened to be coming along in his tractor, and pulled me down the hill. Headed back up our hill, got stuck again, Mike pulled me out again. It's actually quite scary being towed backwards, which is what happened both times. Luckily our new neighbour's daughter was walking through with a sled load of provisions the first time I got stuck, so she took the kids back to their place (to eat biscuits and learn to play rummikub) while we faffed about with tow ropes. They were both flitting around getting in the way and I thought I'd be worrying about what they were doing and failing to concentrate on what I should be doing.

We have spent a lot of time drinking tea and chatting with various neighbours over the last few days. Our neighbours who farm have offered us emergency milk if the worst comes to it. Am desperate to run out so we can trek over there with a jug, but we are just too organised. I know it will finish in a few days, but also am enjoying the glow of knowing we could hold out for far longer, if we had to.

YM has been walking the mile out along the lane and then driving to work, but I have been stuck here since Tuesday. It has been lovely!

In the field today the whole surface of the snow was covered in little spicules of ice, like ice feathers. It glittered and sparkled. And tonight we stood outside the front door in the dark and I showed the children where Orion was. You get such a deep silence when it snows, and the moonlight on the snow was beautiful.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Twelfth Night

Took down the decorations. Always sad to say goodbye to Christmas.Walked in the snow - silent and beautiful.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


So much snow. I love it, and I love having a surprise day off with the kids. It's like a gift.