20 July 2015


Around this time of year you'll often find some bunches of dried poppies around the house. They seem to last for ages until you accidentally brush them when dusting the mantelpiece and a scattering of seed rains down. That's not an idle metaphor - it really does sound like rain. So now I have a bowl of poppyseed and rather than sift it into a clean jar to be used for cake I am tempted to take a handful, get on my bike and scatter it around the borough.

What's more, looking out of the window, I notice that the police horses have left a line of fresh manure which, interestingly, passing cars are trying to avoid as if they were wearing new wellies and not old tyres, and now I'm wondering whether it would be too eccentric to go out with a shovel and bucket and collect it for the little apple tree.

Quandaries, quandaries. Anything to avoid the housework.

16 July 2015


There are only a few places where you can comfortably watch the clouds go by without craning your neck, and one of them is lying on a beach and it was here that I suddenly realised how surreal the seaside can be. It's the place you can eat Christmas Pudding in summer, albeit as the very best ice cream in England - just after breakfast and again before supper; where normally decorous women can show their knickers as they lift up their skirts to avoid the waves while paddling and nobody bats an eyelid; where grown-ups can eat fragrantly vinegary hot food with their hands out of a paper bag without the raising of a single judgemental eyebrow- none that I saw at least; where sculptures adorn beaches and towers and delight passing strangers.

And even the hollyhocks are tempted to steal a march to the shore. (Did they follow me, I wonder?)

In our surreal little bubble, we lay on the beach, hiding under straw hats and hammamas from the strength of the sun in the afternoon, reading, snoozing, eating and drinking tea brought onto the beach from the rented flat, took an evening promenade, walked to the next village for a cream tea and raced the bus back. Then we came home with our haul of books, brooches and sneaked-in fabric and slipped clumsily back into the real world.

05 July 2015

10 good things

I know, I know. I never kept it up for more than a few days. But there is a slight conflict between wanting to spend less time looking at screens and writing blog posts, so as a peace offering here is a collection of some of the good things from the last ten days.

:: Hollyhocks! I have never seen such wonderful hollyhocks in London at this time of year and these, in front of a house round the corner, are my favourites with strong competition from this lengthy run a few blocks away. (John wants to know why his aren't included. Later, later.)

:: The little apple tree which is clearly responding to the nightly waterings with perkier leaves and the disappearance of the woolly aphids which were apparently responsible for much of the damage to the new leaves, though not so sure quite how helpful the masses of harlequin ladybirds are going to be.

:: Jolly babies and busy children We went to a small 4th July party yesterday where there were three happy babies splashing, cruising, gappy-smiling, and not a cry to be heard for several hours. It was infectiously joyous. The apple pie and home made buttermilk ice-cream may have helped. And some more frantic children at our community fun-day,on bouncy castles, queuing to have their faces painted, playing pirates with swords made out of balloons, licking the frosting off of cupcakes, throwing quoits and frisbees. We sat in the sun observing the mayhem, calmly pouring tea carried from home and eating cake.

:: More cake. Banana cake actually. Banana cake made with the enormous amount of spotty bananas sold to me by a benevolent stall holder. Around a dozen banana cakes. Butterscotch banana cake. Melted butter banana cake. Dark banana and ginger/chocolate cake.  Banana, coconut and cranberry cake (from Kitchen, Nigella Lawson). I'm open to more suggestions for experimentation.

:: Margate on a sunny day, a good choice for a trip out with my mum who tires from too much walking. We hit the perfect combination with lunch and a view of the beach, a trip around Provincial Punk, a walk around the old town, back along the front, checking out how everything reverberates, an ice cream and a paddle.

Mum's verdict? Ice cream far too expensive, Grayson Perry fabulous.

:: The Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel It was the Empire when my mum was courting, and the ABC when I was old enough to go to Saturday Morning pictures. Now it's the Genesis and as cool as can be on a hot night, even with a delicious cup of coffee and a bargain ticket for those of a certain age who need to be indulged with tales of ageing beekeepers and the evil of bounty hunting. (Mr Holmes and Slow West, worth a trip both). The bus stop is just outside the door and if you are really lucky and a number 25 comes along quickly, you can be home in 10 minutes...  provided of course you haven't forgotten that you arrived by car. 

Sonic walking, a new skirt and the glory of the bicycle. Pleasures all and about which I want to say more.

London from Rainham Marshes

Rain: How lovely it has been to hear the sound of the rain, breathe in the scent of damp pavements, forget about wilting plants and barren seed rows, stay indoors sewing rather than feel that when the sun is shining there are adventures to be had, places to go, stories to discover and tell.