Wednesday 30 December 2015

A very curious encounter

Picture the scene.
A young man (my son) is on a train sitting
at a table of four seats.
He is wearing a casual navy jacket,
a T-shirt and V-neck jumper
with a pair of dark maroon trousers.

Opposite him are a smartly dressed woman and her husband
in their late fifties or early sixties.
She has a cold.
After a while she opens a pack of Lemsip sachets
 takes them all out, and puts them in a tidy pile.
She then opens up the Lemsip box.

She turns it over and begins to write.
The young man does not take much notice of this,
(he is working on his laptop)
until she pushes the piece of card across the table to him.
She smiles. It is a message for him.
Here is what it says:

Do you think she makes a habit of offering 
unsolicited sartorial advice on trains?
Would an unremarkably dressed young man be likely to 
a) be grateful for this advice,
b) want to act on such specific advice?

Would she have risked doing this to a woman?

Would she have welcomed my return note
correcting her spelling of 'accentuate' and 'wear'?

What would you have felt?
What would you have said?

Saturday 26 December 2015

Wednesday 23 December 2015

It's beginning to look a bit like

A perfect dawn.
Time to see off this beastly bug for good.
The leaking coolant pipe in the car has been fixed
(yes that was the third thing),
the meat has been collected,
the veg box delivered,

the cake has been iced,

the Advent windows admired,

cards and twinkly lights,

are disposed about the house.
O. has made a huge batch of seething sourdough

and I have cracked open

the Quality Street.

Interesting how much smaller the old tins were.

And finally the orange pastry recipe for mince pies
from my  'well used' Josceline Dimblebey book.
I hope you can read it Frances.

Monday 21 December 2015

Things going slightly awry

I am being tested.
No sooner was the cooker fixed than the digibox
went on the blink and failed to record the Strictly final.
I had lovingly inputted all the programmes we would want to watch 
over Christmas using my bumper legendary Christmas Radio Times
and it has folded its arms and said, 
'No. You will watch live or not at all
like in the Olden Days.'
I have a cold.
The sort that might not loosen its foul grip in time for Friday.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Cooking on gas

It took two hours
and a hefty fee,

to change a 3 amp fuse -
which I provided.
But I am very grateful to the skinny
and much tattooed young man
who wrestled the beast out of its lair,
disemboweled it,
diagnosed the problem
and reassembled it,
without damaging either tiles or floor.

Let the roasting, baking and grilling re-commence.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Exquisite timing

With two loud bangs
our gas stove threw in the towel last night.

At first light the hunt began 
for anyone who knew how to fix it.

The usual rigmarole followed with The Four Seasons on hold.
The passing from hand to hand in various organisations. 
The out of order number, the wrong number,
'We're very busy, everybody wants their cookers fixed. 
I will get someone to call you back between
24 and 48 hours.
Then it will be up to 5 days before anyone can come.'
The lying on the floor with a torch to find
the ten digit model number engraved on its intestines.

The very real possibility that it is beyond repair,
(it is twenty years old),
or the parts are unavailable.
I consider the option of buying a new one,
shudder at the expense
and realise that we will still be sailing very close to the wind 
for delivery and installation.
Plus I happen to remember that the floor was laid up to
and not under the stove in a close fitting chimney alcove and 
that it was an even tighter fit after the walls were tiled.
Likely the floor and tiles will be damaged
as the old one is extracted and the new one pushed in.

Although the entire electrics have blown 
and the gas is therefore cut off to the ovens and grill, 
the burners on the top will still work with matches.

Poached goose anyone? 

Saturday 5 December 2015

Winging it

What do you do if you decide to make some mince pies
and discover that your mince pie tin is missing?
You get a fancy tin from the back of the cupboard,
thankful that you did not Kondo it

and make mince pie madeleines instead.

The broken one didn't spoil the line up for long.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Definitely losing it

Sitting on the bed, right there,
on a bright check blanket,
in all its fluorescent high vis yellow -
the tape measure.

How many times have we searched that virtually empty room?
This morning I put something else on that bed.
It wasn't there then.
Nothing has been taken off the bed that might have covered it.
Nobody here is inclined to play tricks.
There is nobody else here except my husband.
Grand-daughter has not been in there
and in any case could not have reached up onto the bed.

We are seriously weirded out.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Losing it

He jumped down from the bed,
took off his pyjamas and looked for his trousers.
He looked on the chair where he'd left them and
he looked on the floor under the chair -
and then he looked through the chest of drawers
in case they were there.
But they weren't.
They were nowhere.

You wouldn't think it was possible to lose a pair of men's trousers
in regular rotation.
Especially as there are no other men in the house at present.
Naturally it was assumed that they were somewhere in the washing cycle.
Laundry basket. Washing machine. Airer. Ironing basket.

'But they must be somewhere,' said Little Bear.
'Trousers don't disappear.
I'll go and ask Old Bear.
He'll know where they are.'*

But Old Bear didn't know where they were
because they weren't her trousers.
But once she knew they were missing she was a woman possessed.

She re-examined the washing cycle places.
She looked in the wardrobe.
She looked amongst her own trousers.
Just in case.
She looked in other people's wardrobes.
Just in case.
They wondered if they had been taken to the cleaners.
They wondered if they had been left in another house
because they had stayed away,
but no, that would have meant coming home in underpants.

But they must be somewhere, she wailed.
This is ridiculous.

A suspicion was entertained that Old Bear had taken them to a charity shop.
But she knew that she had done no such thing and was very indignant.

Time passed.
They began to believe that trousers could just disappear.
Just like her favourite necklace or the bee brooch.
And then one day a strange flash of intuition
pierced Old Bear's befuddled mind.
She looked at the laundry basket 
and held her breath for she had remembered something.
The basket has a drawstring liner so that you can lift the washing out
and sometimes people drop things into it
before the liner has been replaced.
And then the liner is brought back upstairs
and popped back in -
on top of whatever lurks in the dark at the bottom.

You are ahead of me.

Now we must turn our attention to the missing metal tape measure.
Used only yesterday for measuring up pictures
that are being re-hung on the freshly painted walls.
It is a new tape measure, self-locking and retracting.

Could it be in the laundry basket?

*Little Bear's Trousers by Jane Hissey.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Lovely to look back on

because I really don't want to look out of the window today.
Luckily it will soon be dark so that will sort that problem out.

Mackerel sky, mackerel sky,
Never long wet, never long dry.
Mackerel sky
Not twenty four hours dry.

Friday 20 November 2015

Have at thee Christmas!

Four jars of mincemeat made
and one Christmas card bought.
A Post-It note saying:

Make table bigger?
Get/make curtains.
Put curtains up spare room.

The illusion of being satisfactorily on top of things 
in that department
cannot be allowed to persist.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Self-sweeping leaves

Every morning when I open the front door
I find this heap of plane tree leaves
tidily swept into a pile by the south westerly wind.
Such a time saver.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Welcome back old friend

There's no knowing when he will show up,
but he was just what the doctor ordered today.

I think he has some admirers out there too.

I bought Mog's Christmas Calamity today.
Of all the supermarket Christmas ads
this is my favourite.
Freda pointed me towards this behind the scenes clip
with Mog's creator Judith Kerr.

P.S. I have crayons in pots envy.

Saturday 14 November 2015

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Fly past

One of the things I can be relied upon to say,
as I struggle to find anything to like about
this time of year is,

At least the flies have gone.

But here is a sight to add to my glass half empty -
 a murmuration over marshes at dusk.

First they flew past us
in a continuous stream.

Then the line coalesced into an ovoid,

before swooping down to roost for the night.
This sequence took just 15 seconds.
We were so lucky to catch it as we drove past.

Thursday 5 November 2015

La, la, lala la lah

Camber Sands at high tide is a thronged thoroughfare.

People stride up and down the narrow corridor
between the dunes and the spongy saturated sand.

All busy going nowhere,
for no particular reason.

What a pleasure it is.

Tuesday 3 November 2015


The weather has been calm, misty and uncannily warm for November.
We are used to being buffeted by strong winds when we walk on this coast,
even during the summer. 
Not for nothing is there an array of wind turbines at Romney Marsh.

It takes most of the day, but slowly
 the mist thins and lifts and layers of garments
are discarded and tied clumsily by their arms
around our waists.

It is warm enough not to have to shiver in sympathy
with the girl modelling a wedding dress in the dunes.

Almost Mediterranean.

A still small day of calm
in an otherwise rather frenetic patch.