Monday, 28 July 2008

Indicators of warm weather

  • short sleeves and trousers
  • bra straps showing
  • bumble bees on flowers
  • sticky tarmac
  • cars with windows down
  • other people's music
  • a curtain flapping out of an open window
  • people describing the outdoors atmosphere as 'really chilled'
  • slow walking
  • deep shadows
  • sunbathers on towels in the park
  • a longing for cool drinks
  • the smell of cucumber
  • clinking of ice cubes
  • lethargy
  • sunburn
  • traffic jams; the smell of hot cars; scorching my legs on dark leather upholstery
  • aromatic plants
  • not being able to sleep in the heat and throwing off the covers and sleeping under a sheet
  • cold showers
  • sound of an aeroplane overhead
  • sound of a lawnmower or a strimmer
  • children shrieking and splashing
  • scent of pine woods
  • buzzing insects trapped indoors
  • ants circling
  • not trying to keep warm
  • prickly heat
  • seeking shade
  • heat haze
  • stillness
  • bird song
  • crickets ticking and flies buzzing past your head
  • flowers make splashes of bright colour on brown and green background
  • drying grass heads
  • things flipping and flollopping into the pond
  • flower heads turning towards the sun
  • creatures rustling in the shade
  • the sun is warmer than the air
  • the grass is damp
  • ice cream vans
  • air conditioning shivering my skin and fans whirring and drying out my throat
  • thin cardigans
  • not wanting to touch white paper or white sewing
  • strawberries, cherries, raspberries, melon
  • dust outside
  • bare feet
  • treading in water and leaving footprints on the terrace
  • finding tea very refreshing
  • not wanting to be near supermarket freezers; and seeing that all the other people in the queue have bought meat and drink for a barbecue
  • not drinking enough
  • Pimm's; white wine; cider; cold beer; gin and tonic with lime
  • vegetables and herbs from the garden
  • very soft butter
  • food spoiling in the sun and outside air but no-one can be bothered to clear it away
  • horses crowding into the shade and standing with their heads down
  • trying to get some air through the house by opening all the doors and windows. Closing all the doors last thing at night, and opening them all first thing in the morning
  • putting my face against something cool

Sunday, 27 July 2008


This is my first go at sashiko embroidery -- it's a beginner level sampler that I picked up at the stitch fair at Ally Pally last autumn. I think I might sew this panel on to my black cotton shopping bag.

It comes from Euro Japan Links. They offer more advanced samplers, and I'd like to try them out. As you can see, this effort was a bit wonky, but I'm sure I'll improve with time.
I'd like to try this sort of sewing on some denim -- I've got a pair of jeans with a busted crotch; and if the tailor at Manuela's Retoucherie says 'No', I'm going to cut the legs up and make me some panels.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Ways for Clare to make work bearable

  1. Adjust your mode of transport -- if it's fine, walk in. If it's not, get the train. Check for train problems before you leave. Wear comfortable shoes for gettig to work. Empty your handbag regularly so you are not carrying un-necessary weight. Keep an umbrella and a waterproof at work.
  2. If you're running late, don't worry -- phone in and apologise. It's not going to get you there any earlier.
  3. Choose five outfits for the week -- most of my clothes can be edited up or down depending on the weather. Keep a pair of black shoes, and a pair of brown shoes at the office.
  4. Have five photographs on your desk, and change them each week.
  5. Buy sandwiches from the van, and have snacks available (unless there's something particularly nice to bring in).
  6. Keep handcream and a nailfile and a lip salve on your desk -- those are things you like to have by you, and there's no shame in that.
  7. Keep a needlework to do at lunchtime.
  8. Work out how much spending money you have and enjoy it. Take a look at how long you must work for certain things.
  9. Be positive.
  10. They have a library downstairs, so there will always be something to read at lunchtime.
  11. Have something to do that is not obviously not work for those times when there is no work to do.

Monday, 14 July 2008


Tania has tagged me.
  1. What were you doing ten years' ago?
  2. 1998. I was between university and the working life. I was at my parents' house, which is in the middle of no-where, and I was applying for every entry-level job that involved editing, hoping that one of them would let me move somewhere with better access to public transit. In the September I ended up working for my region's local newspaper, The Courier. There is some irony that this question should come today -- see the next answer.

  3. What 5 things are on your to-do list today?
    • Say YES to Courier job. (done)
    • Buy a present and card for Louise.
    • Think about supper so my tired housemate doesn't have to.
    • Write 3BT (done), Once Around the Park and my notebook prompt. (done)
    • Hunt down 3BTs all about change for a submission.

  4. What would you do with a billion dollars?
    Gradually buy the entire block of flats where Nick lives and make it into one house then set up a fund to ensure we have enough to live on comfortably for the rest of our lives. A billion dollars is such a mind-boggling amount of money -- I have no idea what I could do with it! A quick Google indicates that I might be able to buy YouTube or a social networking site; but I think I'd be inclined to get rid of whatever I didn't need as quickly as possible so that I don't have to worry too much about it.

  5. List the places you have lived:
    • A white weatherboard and brick semi-detached house in the middle of wheat fields.
    • A black converted barn in the middle of a forest.
    • A strange-smelling university hall of residence.
    • A buttermilk coloured terraced house beside a busy road, in a room with bars on the tiny window and a drafty door down to the cellar behind the bed.
    • A split-level brick house in the middle of a city, in a room with a curtain for a door, a piano and a sliding window out to some external steps.
    • A damp concrete box on a sunny residential dead-end street. I grew sunflowers on the flat roof outside.
    • An end-of-terrace with garden, shared with my partner's best friend and his collection of wonderful books.
    • A second floor flat on the High Street. The kitchen was beautiful and I still miss it.
    • A first floor flat with a huge living room and beautiful fireplaces on the junction between two residential streets. My room overlooks some lime trees.

  6. List the jobs you have held:
    • Writer
    • Assistant to a writer
    • Editorial assistant at small publisher
    • Proofreader
    • Sub-editor at a company producing material in Braille and large print
    • Freelance journalist
    • Healthcare journalist
    • Freelance Sub-editor for a homes magazine
    • Sub-editor for a gardening magazine
    • Freelance sub-editor for newspapers
    • Freelance editor for a website
    • Sub-editor for a local newspaper
    • Memoir editor
    • Plant label typer
    • Cherry seller
    • Apple picker
    • Baby sitter
    • Dock leaf weeder

  7. List the people you'd like to know more about:

Friday, 4 July 2008

Ten beautiful things about classes and courses.

1. Now it is spring and the nights are drawing out. For the first time this year, I hurry to a writing class in daylight, taking a short cut across the park.

2. Twelve years after leaving school, I am still amazed at how, in the real world, no-one shouts at you for being late. They just want you to get to your seat with as little disruption as possible.

3. Stapling my scripts for writing class. It's all very well seeing the lines on the screen, but having real pages makes me feel as if I've done the work.

4. I like it when the class gets the giggles -- this week it was because of Sarah's stories about a mischievous writing trip to Venice.

5. For nibbles at writing class we have discs of smooth milk chocolate flavoured with Earl Grey tea.

6. Russ patiently shows me how to take tiny slivers off the bowl of my wooden spoon with a crook knife. I am surprised at how quickly and neatly the bowl forms and I work at this until it gets too dark.

7. During yoga, I open my eyes and spot a classmate silently pointing out the sunset to the woman next to him.

8. Learning new knots and the stories that go with them. 'This one is used by Siberian goat herders because they don't have to take their gloves off for long when they are making it. Wave to your friend over here... if there's a triangle there you're doing it right...' 'Round this one twice then both once...'

9. We read my plot and the teacher says: 'Everyone, let's brainstorm this.' And within minutes, the other students have produced a selection of ideas from which I can write the first couple of scenes.

10. My poledancing teacher says: 'That bit at the end where you stopped yourself falling. You were supporting your own weight on your arms, which you said you couldn't do. Now I know you can. Busted.'