14 February 2014


Our idea of a celebration - pie, peas and mash, a pint of Broadside for him, the closest I could get to a milk stout in Bethnal Green in honour of Ena, Minnie and Martha, rain outside, and one of the barman's granny's amaretto truffles to finish. Oh, we know how to live.

12 February 2014

lighting up time

"Every year, in the third week of February, there is a day, or more usually a run of days, when one can say for sure that the light is back. Some juncture has been reached, and the light spills into the world from a sun suddenly higher in the sky. Today, a Sunday, is such a day, though the trees are still stark and without leaves; the grasses are dry and winter-beaten." Kathleen Jamie, Sightlines, 2012

I am writing this from my bed tucked underneath a duvet and a couple of woolen blankets, a jumper on to keep me warm. Our east-facing bedroom is unheated, and there are no sensible heavy curtains, just some light muslins so that the natural light can wake us up in the morning. The street lights have just gone off and now I notice that the sky is pink and bruised behind the couple of trees I can see through one window.

Jamie lives in the far north, and the return of the light there would perhaps have much more impact than here in the soft south. This year we can perhaps claim our fair share of grey, dreich days, the sky weeping daily the absence of the sun. At last though, and notwithstanding days of heavy rain, it does at least seem that the light is coming back.

Sightlines came off the shelf this week after a prompt here to name my top twenty books. Twenty? I'd have trouble naming a handful I commented. I think I've managed to come up with about a dozen so far, but I'm working on it.  It's time for breakfast now though.

08 February 2014

alfa female

There is no typical Saturday here. It all depends on the weather, and whether all the things that should have been done during the week have been done. There was something that was on my mind today though. I'd popped in to Sew Amazing during the week to buy sewing essentials - pins, some tweezers and a little thingy to make threading an overlocker easier after an hour and a half of exasperation remedied, successfully, by making a threader from some 5 amp fuse wire I found in the cellar. Now, I like to go in to Sew Amazing. All those rows of haberdashery kit - needles and studs and tailors chalk. And Rob, the man himself, he who can caress sewing machines into action. We have conversations about them - missing screws, bastardised Berninas, the history of the Juki... and the family's new poodle puppy. Around about chucking out time at the local primary school, the shop fills up - Have you got any pink felt? Do you mend Brother machines? Can I pay for these needles? And while Rob is dealing with the hubbub, I take a look at the shelves of second hand sewing machines like I always do. And that's where I develop a crush on a little 60's model - all metal and wood and touches of chrome.  The instruction booklet is pristine, all the feet tucked into the side drawer, a little plastic pouch for the embroidery cams. But the last thing I need is another sewing machine. I mean, that lovely little electric 1930s Singer that I saw in Herne Bay a couple of months back that smelt so evocatively of machine oil and lint, well, I managed to leave that behind didn't I? I've already got one, or two. So I admired the pictures of the pretty little poodle, said cheerio, and went home to make tea.

Back to Saturday. Wind and rain promised. We need to go to get the potatoes from the allotment shed. But I've been thinking about that little machine so we go up to the market, but Rob's is shut. An hour or so later we are back again. This time I try out the machine with Rob urging me on -"Go on, sew over that denim and leather and treble layer of fabric, pretend you're jumping over the hurdles. Lovely machine, isn't it?" I'm sold, and so is the machine.

Saturday becomes a stay at home day for me, spent in the kitchen, quilting something that should have been tackled ages ago. The machine jumps the hurdles as easy as anything.

This Alfa, this Romeo to my Juliet (what?for goodness sake!) weighs a ton, everything else feels lighter, brighter. It could be love.

05 February 2014

working through the cupboards

I know. It looks like Christmas again. It's because we have been eating our way through the cupboards, the freezer, the potatoes in the cellar, and the tiny stash of leftover bottles from Christmas. All part of lightening the load. I thought we might save the oloroso for next year's pudding, but it turned out to be quite unrealistic once we closed the doors to the inner sanctum of the back room to keep it warm and cosy while watching The Bridge - and if you must know, I was distraught at the end of it and really wished there had been even a tiny drop of something harder to buoy me up. 

On the food front, the potatoes - hotpot, mash, vegetable crumble, fish pies, wedges, jackets, soup, bubble - have held up well. There are more at the allotment to be tackled yet (we will have to share, I think), a few leeks and parsnips, winter greens and salads. There are tins of beans, tomatoes, sardines, jars of onions, frozen packets of fruits of the forest, jars of marmalade, a few jars of chutney, dried fruit, nuts, enough flour to keep us in bread and cakes for another month. We can probably last until the end of this month with only topping up on coffee, porridge, fresh fruit, milk. Whatever was I thinking of? Armageddon?

I've made a  tentative, very tentative, start on the fabric stash. Then there's the yarn, the cookery books, the novels to go. And don't even talk about the clothes; or the projects rolled up into bags, half started, a quarter finished. 

Gently, gently. It will be spring soon. It will be spring soon. 

Wake me up when it's half past April.