Sunday, May 31, 2015

In want of beauty

A dreary rainy morning. All at Kenny Towers up early, however. Beth off to a day of children's performances, many of which she had directed. Lorraine and I up and doing work. Lorraine also rewiring an old standard lamp. I worked on the pitch most of the day, with little forays into doing some work for my French client. Lorraine and I did however make some time this evening for a walk, as the weather had cleared, into our favourite walled garden.

Then we popped in the The Park View for a bite to eat this evening. They were playing extremely good music and the grub wasn't hideous, nor was the pint of Harveys bitter I gulped down rapidly.

Later, at home, Lorraine and I drank some of the gin we'd bought in Guernsey airport, and watched the excellent Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Then I packed and got ready for tomorrow for I am going up to London tomorrow and will stay overnight at Mum's place.

Below in the walled garden at Preston Park. Really beautiful. Finding myself in want of beauty because Lorraine and I had returned too quickly from Guernsey.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Back to work

So what with it being a Saturday I was hard at work from early in the morning till around two-ish intermittently chatting with colleagues. In the middle of the afternoon Lorraine and I walked down into town where my lovely wife bought me a pair of navy blue trousers, and we lurked about briefly before busing back home.

Watched the FA Cup on TV this afternoon, a one sided game with Arsenal beating Aston Villa 4-0. Spent the rest of the evening fiddling around with this blog and generally enjoying a sprawl on the gold sofa, listening to Grieg's Peer Gynt as Lorraine did various bits to do with her quilt and copying photos from her iPad onto an ancient laptop. Betty out seeing a show this evening put on by some of her pals and returned to find us uncharacteristically watching a trashy show about Celebrity Meltdowns in 2014 that we had randomly and briefly stumbled on.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The centre of my known universe

Up and our last full Guernsey breakfast, before packing. Wet tops on and Lorraine and I walked down to Moulin Huet. It was deserted. I was feeling twitchy generally for some reason, but the fact that Moulin Huet is the centre of my known universe and I was there with Lorraine soon had me feeling right as rain. It is the perfect place, even when grey and overcast. Lorraine loves it there too.

Eventually, and with slightly heavy hearts we walked up the hill back along the lovely lanes to the hotel. Our taxi came, fond farewells with our friends at La Barbarie, and a cheerful taxi driver took us in no time to the airport.

The plane journey bumpy and the serving of teas had to be curtailed. I was pleased with myself however, as I did not scream or rend my clothes once during the turbulence. Slow business at Gatwick, as a UK flight you now have to be collected in a coach from the plane and disgorged somewhere else. A long wait for the suitcases, enough time to speak on the phone to Valerie in Paris about a job while waiting. A bit of a performance getting to the car too but soon we were on the damp motorway home.

Plants and cats all doing well under Betty and John's stewardship. Lorraine and I went for a curry in the evening at the Shahi not wanting the holiday feeling to end. Cheery there as we ate our poppadoms and the walk there and back contributed to another healthy walking total.

Beth home late from work but we described our trip in great detail and inflicted our Guernsey photos on her. She has an interesting audition next week.

Below Moulin Huet looking empty and mysterious this morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A walk back towards Icart

Below our view while eating a picnic above Petit Bot, and shots along the cliff path to Icart. Including my lovely wife with the sun behind her, and the final view from our engagement bench.

Richard in Wonderland

Cloudy and spitting with rain this morning. Lorraine and I outside however, Lorraine determinedly sitting on the sun lounger under the clouds. Obviously as this was a holiday, I was contacted about work from my French clients and about the pitch. Had a stroll around St Martins, calling in on La Gran'mère to say hello, and miraculously seeing her without the obligatory white van parked in front was a pleasure. Then ambled about and walking down the lane opposite the corner of Les Douvres and finding new little pathways. Back to La Barbarie, where we then arranged to meet Richard at Icart.

The Icart outdoor cafe becoming increasingly Alice in Wonderland with the owner being as chatty and personable as ever, and his gardens already strange with tall echiums, now with twisty paths and nooks to sit in. Here we met Richard, leaving Holly in the van, and drank a coffee and Lorraine and I  ate a slice of Guernsey gâche. Very good to see Richard again, and discuss wide ranging subjects such as poetry and Richard's new found love of baking including a lethal-sounding chocolate granola block of his own invention, as well as the importance of gardens, and the absence of Jane who was overseas royal business.

Richard gave Lorraine and I a lift to St Martins where we bought a picnic as the evening was now rather warm and beautiful. With a bag of salads, strawberries and chicken legs we walked to the cliff path above Petit Bôt,  and ate our food and gulped sparkling water looking out to sea.

From here, we walked back to Icart as the sun lowered. I was slightly ambushed by feelings of vertigo but nevertheless it was a beautiful walk, and we ended it sitting briefly on 'our' bench before walking back along the lanes to the hotel, where we had a couple of drinks in the bar, and even coaxed a couple of words out of the taciturn new barman. We'd walked, according to my pedometer, over 20 thousand paces today which wasn't bad.

Below La Gran'mère and St Martin's Parish Church, an old glasshouse being reclaimed by nature, St Peter Port Daisies on a wall, a gate in St Martins, the ever-photogenic Richard, a large lummox with Richard, nooks in the garden at Icart, featuring some of the many echiums.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A walk around Herm

Up just in in time for breakfast, after sending off a fast note or two about the pitch next week. The full Guernsey Breakfast exemplary this morning, and set us up nicely for the journey into town where we bought two trident tickets to Herm, and mooched about shopping for sunglasses for me and shorts for Lorraine for the day had turned hot and glorious.

Over in the trident sitting up top. Found ourselves near Jenny Kendall Tobias who was talking authoritatively to a woman and her daughter from Brighton about the islands. Chatted to Jenny for a while, who was on holiday with her son camping in Herm for a few days. An enormous cruise liner like a futuristic floating slab on the water mid way.

Lorraine had never been to Herm, and I think last time I was there, I went with Dave my Grandfather so it must have been in the 90s. Thankfully it was almost unchanged. Although we were reliably informed by a woman in a shop in St Peter Port that the Mermaid has gone posh, and that there were still boats that took Guernsey people Christmas shopping in Herm.

Lorraine and I bought a cheap sunhat for me, and then we walked around the entire island, heading north and climbing one of the hills and skirting around the mysterious sand dunes of the northern end. Lots of interesting little plants, miniature daisies, tiny orange plants and yellow things, as well as ground hugging roses, dune grass till we reached Shell Beach where we ate the sandwiches we had brought with us and stood in the nippy water. The beach was white, being crushed shells, and the water turquoise and gorgeous. We had a little doze on the beach, then walked over to the cafe for a tea and some Herm-made flapjacks, before walking on the cliff path around the south of the island looking across at Sark. Absolutely gorgeous views all day. Lots of grouse around making cronking noises and one exploded up from the undergrowth when we got too close,

On the winding cliff path we passed an older woman who pointed to black and white bobbing dots in the water of Puffin Bay and told us they were puffins. A bit later we made a discovery of our own as I spotted a slow worm on the path, and then Lorraine pointed to another slow worm that was hurrying out of the undergrowth to join it, and there was more rustling in the bush. Never seen two slow worms before. I touched one and it felt slithery.

Lorraine and I made it back to the harbour in time to catch the 4:35 pm boat, having walked around the island, and stand at the prow feeling the spray on our legs. Home by bus, there at exactly the right moment, a quick pint of Roquette cider by the pool before showering, and then heading off to The Captains where we had a meal and a couple of drinks, before home to La Barbarie for an absolutely bloody final before an early bedtime.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

To Guernsey

To Guernsey. Blearily packing this morning, then Lorraine drove us to Gatwick where, apart from having reserved our space in the wrong terminal's carpark, everything went smoothly. A steadying gin and tonic taken in the Flying Horse, Lorraine had coffee, where we had a chat with an Irish lady who styled herself on Hyacinth Bucket as told us she was 78 and was demanding to be brought water of a nearby employee, 'but leave the tap running for a bit'.

The flight smooth and lovely the sky blue and carpeted with white cloud that broke up over Guernsey. To the Barbarie in beautiful weather, after the obligatory chat with the cabby after he asked if it was our first time on the island.

On arrival we discovered that we had been upgraded to an excellent room. Cheered by this we headed back to the bar for a refreshing glass of beer and hot sandwiches. Pure pleasure at being back filling me. Jane and Richard joined us, and it was rather splendid to see them.  Jane off to the UK tomorrow for another top-secret Camilla lookalike job. Richard looking well and cheery. A certain amount of breeze shot, and a promise to meet up again before we return.

Then Lorraine and I wandered off to Icart Point, which was dazzlingly lovely. Felt if I hadn't quite arrived yet, but I copied Lorraine as we sat on the bench I proposed on, with the sun falling on our closed eyes just listening to the wind and the sea and the birds and it was all rather magical.

Back to La Barbarie for dinner, after a short stroll on the cliff path, where we both had rather delicious lamb chops which I followed with sticky toffee pudding, and Lorraine with ice-cream. Nice greeting from Andy and others there. Went to bed full and cheerful.

Monday, May 25, 2015

On the cusp in Steyning

Up early doing some bits and pieces for the pitch next week, as it's a bank holiday. Drove to Janet and Ken's house to drop off a lilac plant as a late birthday present and have the briefest of chats. Then off to Steyning picking up Rosie en route. We found Dawn there and popped back to her house, which Rosie had not seen. Then we returned to mooch about the show, looking at pens full of animals including alpacas, and food stands and plants and listening to musicians including a lugubrious polka band in the town car park. Dawn off to staff the local museum stand. We t ended up at garden of the White Horse listening to a band, Rosie and Lorraine drinking Pimms and myself a beer and feeling cheerful on the cusp of a holiday.

We drove Rosie home, and returned back to eat some exemplary Steyning scones, before I  did some more work for the pitch. Leaving for Guernsey tomorrow, but it doesn't seem real yet.

A few sights in Steyning.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Popping over to Kent

We popped over to Kent to see Pat and Maureen with Beth. Lorraine took some of her patented leek and chicken pie filling and we all had a nice Sunday meal, and I had a saunter around the back garden with Pat discussing plants and tricks to keep snails off with salt and so on, and making off home later on with a fennel plant he'd selected from us.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Back to the Basketmakers

Off in the afternoon by bus into town. Sprang onto the bus, which proceeded ten metres along the road before breaking down. Eventually into town where I went with Lorraine into C&H fabrics for fabric, including the stuffing for a draft-excluding snake. Then into M&S and another shop with a ridiculous name and an incredibly bored looking man selling coffees to look at bras.

Luckily after this kind of thing, there was the Basketmakers to look forward to where we met Matt and Irish Tom and Bryn for a cheeky few beers and a bite to eat. Betty also joined us after work, before shooting off to see Laura. Sitting at a nearby table was three of the barbers in the shop I go to, who greeted me cheerily. Rather good fun to be in The Baskets again, and to see Matt who had been working on an allotment all day. If it's not about allotments Matt's not interested. He was talking so much about the allotment that I found it hard to interject to tell him about my garden. We used to talk about poetry and composers. Now it's all plants and mulch.

Lorraine and I home by cab and spilled out onto the sofa, where we watched the parade of nonsense that is The Eurovision Song Contest, who have for some years has maintained that Israel in Europe, and has now added Australia. The UK were third last, but I've only heard about thirty seconds of their song which seemed traditionally dire. And so to bed.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Area of insensitivity

Work punctuated by an occasional stroll into the garden to separate scrapping cats, then broke free for a haircut in the afternoon, and felt like falling asleep in the chair after being groomed. Felt slightly ashamed as I was moaning about my area of concern to a completely bald barber.

Then I walked up to see Janet and Ken for a cup of tea and chat with them. Lorraine home at lunchtime, and Sonia here too, whose birthday it was yesterday, and was suggesting I buy a property in Bulgaria near a golf course. A general feeling of cheer about the day, ahead of the bank holiday weekend, and L and I going over to Guernsey next week for three days.

Rather tired at the end of the week, Lorraine cooked a delicious balti curry and we sat down with Beth in the evening to watch the Paddington movie which, while perfectly fine, was actually for children.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New moon

A really good day's work. Up early feeling better than I have done for the last week or so and wrote two more DRTV scripts, plus a post for my business blog before 11 am, and a good afternoon's work too, followed by an epic backing up and cross referencing all the files across my laptop and desktop session. It has made my brain feel clean and lean. Sat outside in the sunshine for a while too, and watered plants and examined them on a two-hourly basis. The biggest threat to the garden comes in the tortoiseshell form of Calliope who sees the freshly dug and planted flowerbeds as there for her convenience.

Off in the evening to meet Anton for a swifty. We met in the Shakey's Head and moved up to the Good Companions to take advantage of the fact that Anton had been given a card allowing him discount on certain boozes and food. But as Anton was up with the larks and skipping across the pond tomorrow, and had received instructions from afar not to miss the plane nor was I to detain him, our drink and bite were brief.

I walked back home under the crescent new moon in the fading blue and as I seemed to still have my drinking boots on, I popped into The Preston Park Tavern for a glass of Anchor Steam Beer, brought to mind by the Anton's American business. Thinking about Gwen, my grandmother in the pub, who would dance in circles and bow to the new moon, while shaking silver coins in her cupped hands. It explains a lot. Then home to talk at some length to my lovely wife.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tranquil on trains

Up after a good night's sleep in Edgware. Downstairs for coffee and toast with Mum and Mas, discussing with Mas what he might do about his news that he is now borderline diabetic. A bit more exercise seems the thing. Not that Mum hasn't been telling him that for the last decade. Mum and I took a quick stroll around her garden, seeing as gardens are the new thing. Snuffly, but feeling far brighter than yesterday morning, and keen to get on with stuff. Mum drove me off to Mill Hill, and I began a ghastly three hour journey home, due to all kinds of cancellations and other stuff to dreary to go into. I was uncharacteristically philosophical as I knew there would be problems, and used the time to catch up on podcasts and listen to a bit of the audiobook of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

Walked home from Brighton Station and found Lorraine and Betty at home. Beth just off to do some drama teaching to children, and Lorraine working from home writing her reports. I worked for some time on a DRTV scripts and then capered about in the garden with the cats, and watering Brian's tail when he was sitting on new plants. The cystus has started flowering. When Lorraine was done and Betty was back, Beth cooked a strange but lovely dish of an entire cauliflower processed into a satisfying powdery bits with fresh coriander and toasted cumin seeds.  

A beautiful evening in Brighton and Lorraine and I took a stroll around the park and its elm trees, of course a rarity in the rest of the UK, the sun lowering attractively before returning home where I watched a program about British jets of the 1940s and 50s before retiring to bed with Lorraine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

River time

Up at the crack of sparrows, feeling rather rough and hot. Lorraine's patented cure all of a cup of tea and two paracetamol seemed to fix this however and I made my way to Chiswick station without mishap, noticing Strand on the Green's subtle river smell which is so ingrained in me having lived there for years.

A rather excellent day was then had. The work I'd been doing over the last few days went down very well, and the team led my Matty boy and Stephen worked really collaboratively. A luncheon in the City Barge of excellent fish and chips, then an afternoon of more work was followed by a swift beer with Matt, Stephen and First Matie in the Bull's Head. Good to see Katie down from Hull for a couple of days, and I'm really enjoying getting to know Stephen better. He is a genuinely ethical man, not something you encounter much in the agency world. Enjoyed working again with Yas and April too. April flourishing as a freelancer, and Yas is someone I took to right away.

Then off to Stanmore for another steak night with Mum and Mas in the Man in the Moon. We were sitting near a loud one armed man with a laugh like a crow, and some French folks. All pretty cheery, although hard for Mas to hear anything. Home and then slept the sleep of the virtuous, after talking to Lorraine who was laughing lots on the sofa with Betty.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rain and glimpsed gardens

Proper Monday, with rain. Out in the rain to get milk first thing. Lorraine not well with cold and temperature. Not feeling too lively myself and so I decided not to go to the poetry workshop tonight. Beth off to work this afternoon, not particularly lively either. I worked on the pitch most of the day apart from when I had to jot down another, completely tangental, idea for something frivolous as it was scrambling my brain.

Lorraine home at lunchtime, and took to the sofa where she worked on her laptop. I made us the comfort pasta, with fresh herbs fresh plucked from the garden. Watched some TV about the Chelsea Garden Show and felt a longing to melt into a garden somewhere like a Keats nightingale.

Spoke about work to Yas tonight, and then had a FaceTime chat with the Tobster on a bank holiday in Ottowa.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Open Houses

A hearty breakfast this morning, although I was talking about pitch matters with Yas briefly, before coming down to scarf my bacon sandwich. Krys somewhat better this morning and with her architect's eye looked at our kitchen and gave us some insightful thoughts on how to extend it.

Then Lorraine, Krys and I went off to visit some more Open Houses. I fell into conversation with several people, including most interestingly with a man called Brian Mander, who has an extraordinary garden, with a plethora of concrete heads, stag antlers a caravan stage, and a huge tree with chains depending weird antlered heads. Had a short chat with him about Shakespeare among other things. Krys bought some ceramics during the tour too.

Then to The Park View where we met up with Betty and John, and John's uncle Martin for a Sunday roast.  Back to ours for a bit, before fond farewells to Krys who left for the station with John and Martin in a taxi.

Lorraine and I then walked back down to one of the Open Houses to pick up a picture by Angie Meadon, in gold ink on black card called A Walk With Friends.

In the evening made a point of watching the first episode of the BBC's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell -- a good fist they made of it too -- very atmospheric and reminded me of Brian Mander's garden. I am going to find out more about him.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Planting, playing

Saturday woke up and had a large breakfast and walked down to the walled garden in Preston Park, which is the one we visit lots, which was having an open day which meant there was a couple of trestle tables with home made cakes and a few plants in pots for sale. Then a bit of food shopping, and home via buying some plants from someone's garden stall, before devoting the afternoon to intensive gardening, planting dozens of plants, many of which we were not even particularly sure what they were. Betty laughing at our garden frenzy. A really nice way to spend the time poking things into the earth and watering them heavily. A sunny gorgeous afternoon, not too warm and perfect for working in.

At tea time John and Krys arrived, but unfortunately Krys had begun to feel really rough on the journey down,  so had to go to bed early, and eat little or nothing.  John, Betty, Lorraine and I however played some hands of Euchre and Lorraine and I drank some rum and coke, and we had a really cheery night. Especially as I won the Euchre game, this time with John as my partner. At last a game I can win and baffle people with talk of left and right bowers. Then we played Uno which I did not win, but was fun nevertheless.

Friday, May 15, 2015

That Friday Feeling

Working on pitch ideas again at home all day, although sauntering into the garden several times for moments of reprise, and the occasional philosophical chat with Sonia about the nature of work.  Got an Amazon delivery today, of the Elizabeth Bishop's Poems and the Steven Wilson remix of Relayer, which is fantastic.

Lorraine home and she and I went straight back out to the Preston Park Tavern and had a meal and a drink there. Feeling really happy to be out on a date with Lorraine, walking down to the pub looking at the plants in people's gardens. We had a nice time there, chatting with people on the next table and sauntering home again, feeling free and cheery.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Drained and throaty, with sources of joy difficult to locate. A rainy cold day, so even a cup of tea in the garden precluded. Two poetry manuscripts back. And work all uphill due to low energy and motivation.

Giving up the work ghost at six, I sat chatting with Beth in the kitchen till Lorraine got back from work and fell asleep heavily on the sofa as she has had a hard week and a sore throat for all of it. Beth cooked for us and John, who came around after a rehearsal. He has a gig in the Northern Lights tomorrow night, but we have all been banned from attending as it is their first one.

He has to write an essay on an album from a musician from the 60s or 70s, and we listened to Nina Simone's Nina Simone and Piano! as a possible candidate. It's a strange album, but I love her version of I get along with out you very well (except some times) which makes me want to sob and tear at my own clothes.

Retrieved Lorraine from the sofa and went to bed early.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Woof woof

Another poor night's sleep, but slept in a little. Downstairs for leisurely cups of tea and coffee with Mum and Mas. Over breakfast, I was sent a lead from a friend for a client I'd love to work with, but as I followed it up during the day the opportunity had evaporated, still an interesting new contact. Ate toast chatted to Mas about his latest project which involves desalination of water, and mum gave me a lemon scented geranium, and drove me off to Mill Hill Station. The plant smelling lovely all the way down to Brighton.

Home fairly straightforwardly and back to work this afternoon, but not before eating a bowl of miso and noodle soup in the garden. There is a purple lilac tree at the bottom of the neighbour's garden which overhangs ours, and it is scented and gorgeous. The plants we put in the other day have survived, thanks to Lorraine putting in cat baffles such as circles cut from plastic bottles into the ground.

Lorraine and Beth both out this evening, so when Anton called I sloped off to meet him in the Joker, which had previously been called Circus Circus. I bumped into Adrian Turner again en route, and we paused to discuss foxes and badgers. The Joker sounds like some place characters from the Modern Toss cartoons would meet. Slow beers and good food from a narrow menu of chicken wings, chicken in a sandwich, salt beef sandwiches and fries. Anton asked me if I'd ever bitten into something which made me cry. Turns out that the heat grading on the chicken wings, of which there are five stages culminates in 'Viper'. Last week Anton and friend from work had two 'snake in the basket' dishes of mixed wings. They were sitting outside and bit into the lethal viper wings at the same time. Anton said they both began to cry instantly, go temporarily blind, and Anton was dancing from foot to foot and intermittently retching. At this moment Dawn walked by, who Anton hadn't seen for a few months, but he was unable to speak to her properly due to his various convulsions. She looked at him with some concern and I wish I'd been there.

Anton and I sensibly confined ourselves to Woof-Woof, only mid-way down the list and even for me, who loves a bit of chilli, found this sufficiently hot enough and when I'd finished eating only the steady intake of Heineken offered respite to my flaming mouth and lips. Other than this, Anton and I discussed many subjects. These included the general election, and the tetchy subject of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is one of Anton's favourite books of all time, and I think, much to his disgust, needed a hard edit. Both looking forward to the BBC adaptation starting at the weekend.

Homewards and I bumped again into Simon who I've worked with intermittently when I first was freelance, and I am now a neighbour of, and we arranged to meet up next week. Then home to Lorraine, who had just arrived. I had missed her just being away for a day, which I think is a bit sinister.  We caught up with the news of the last couple of days. Beth home very late after an infuriating day and night spent waiting to be used as an extra, and in the end wasn't chosen. Luckily she still gets paid.

Below, degrees of heat. The description of the Viper apparently no overclaim.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Old haunts

Up at six thirty and getting myself organised to zoom off to Chiswick. Nice morning, and Lorraine gave me a lift to near the station. Getting off the train at Chiswick station, having gone via Clapham, reflecting on how life returns you to the same place.  Spent the day with Matty boy, Stephen, and Yas working out creative and strategic responses to pitch brief. Working in a room upstairs in the City Barge, a pub I know of old, with the sun glinting on the river just outside. Nice to meet Yas again, who impressed me a good deal when I first met her, as she and her husband set up a charity in Sri Lanka which has now been running for several years. I'm finding that I'm noticing the people who actually make a difference these days, and find I'd like to be a bit more like that.

A couple of beers with Matt and Stephen after work downstairs in the bar, then I trained up to Stanmore where I met Mum and Mase in the Man in the Moon. I was late, but they had secured a booth, one with a strange noturnal painting of moonlight through a garden gate by the side of aand we drank and as it was Weatherspoons steak night, I even ate a steak for the first time in a long while. A nice time there, and then we scooted back to their house, where Salty could be heard miaowing before the car had even parked.

Soon to bed, however, as it had been a long day and my top hat was a little askew.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hands on

Up and working in the morning, after a bad night's sleep. A strange misty day, with the mist visibily rolling in from the sea, our street just a little above the mist-line. Then I hopped on a bus and bought new sodastream gas. Standing outside the shop on Western Road and watched a dealer blatantly dealing on the main road, happened to follow the purchaser down the street, and he trailed the smell of skunk like Pepé Le Pew. They might as well have been wearing day glo jackets.

I walked to the physio for what I hope is the last time. Lay on my side listening to her talking with great animation about a variety of subjects, her massaging broken off every now and then as she kept waving her arms about to make a point. Nevertheless she did an excellent job only occasionally making me yelp when she reached the tasty stuff where the tear is. I am now much improved, however, and can walk up stairs using both legs normally, thank goodness.

Then on to see Helen and listen to the work she has done on the opening of the opera. I think it is a fine opening, which Helen said she wrote using an Octotonic scale which makes it brooding and floaty (my words, not Helen's). Always fascinating and enjoyable working with Helen.

Then by a variety of buses to Preston Park where I picked up a ticket to take me to London tomorrow, and ambled back home up the hill. Lorraine had returned from home soon after, having dropped off the girls at the station and we stole a bit more time in the garden, planting things, till it was time to go in and cook. It's all very grounding, plunging your hands in the, um, ground.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


A busy day. Once the girls were up, Lorraine and I fed them all a large breakfast, the Lorraine drove us off to Middle Farm where Betty, Olivia and Emily cooed over a multiplicity of creatures and kept up various comedy routines, voices and so on as they went. Olivia, not over fond of birds, was menaced and rushed at by free running chickens. Betty exiting rapidly from the milking shed as the smell of warm milk was making her go green. Then to buy some veg from the farm shop for our Sunday roast, and we also sensibly invest in some good cider from the barrel to take home.

Home and Lorraine and I dug a new flower bed. I dug bits of it with my left leg not the right, and we were pleased with ourselves and it makes the back garden look more interesting. Then indoors to cook a big supper for everyone, and then watch the Baftas, which, being actresses, the girls naturally wanted to watch.

Below Olivia, Emily and Beth in the back of the car. One of the things with a nice face.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Ascent of Mount Beaky

A cheery day today. Lorraine and I walking down to look at some nearby open houses, and commission a glassmaking lady to make us a piece of glass. Guernsey's 70th Liberation Day today, and turns out the glassmaker's partner was from the Jewel of the Sea. We drifted about for a while, looked at some good art, and some art that was less good. On the way home we popped into Mrs Moles Flower Emporium to buy irises. Lorraine loves it in there and they are very friendly and chatty.

My leg really has improved, and now I am at the point where I can now ascend Mount Beaky (Beaconsfield Villas, accompanied by Sherpa Lorraine) and gain the summit without personal injury.

Betty in an highly excitable state when she got back from work as her University besties Olivia and Emily were coming down to stay. Emily arrived first and told us about her shop job and her acceptance to study to become a voice coach. And then Olivia arrived later in a cab, and Lorraine and I heard the girls squeaking excitedly outside. Then after quaffing a bit of Cava up in Betty's room the girls hit the town.

In contrast, Lorraine and I had a sedate, relaxing night in.

Below one of the responses to Brighton's political isolation that has cropped up online.

Friday, May 08, 2015


Reeling from the shock election result, which confounded all opinion polls. I stooped to venting on Facebook, something I try to avoid and I shall not duplicate all that here. There is precious little to be gained from venting, and more to be gained from actually doing something. I am pleased however that Caroline Lucas the solitary Green politician in parliament, is my local MP. Wasted lots of the day reading about the fallout of this event rather than doing much actual work.

Still it was Friday, and Lorraine and I zoomed off by bus to Hove, where we slipped into the Ashoka, to meet Rosie. People in the restaurant all around discussing the election. Rosie has not been well lately, but scoffed curry heartily nevertheless. And after a good feed, we bused home again.

Below Hove in red for Labour, Brighton for the Greens. The remainder of southern England resolutely Tory.

Thursday, May 07, 2015


In the morning making tea blearily saw the next door cat Cactus doing that pussyfooting slow walk away across the garden, and noticed that he was retreating from Calliope who had just sicked up her breakfast in his direction, obviously a scary new tactic in the cat wars.

Otherwise worked hard and uninterrupted apart from lunch with Betty before she zoomed off to Downs school to teach a drama lesson.

Lorraine home from work briefly before going out again, but we collected  Beth and the three residents of Kenny Towers off in the car tonight to vote, all for Caroline Lucas. She is the country's only Green MP, and is probably the best MP I've ever had, enough anyway to make me swallow my tribal Labour loyalty and vote for her. I spoke to the Labour and Green guys outside, who said that turnout had been brisk.

Lorraine off to see Jan and her pals, Beth went off to buy a chicken breast and I had fish and chips, and watched a documentary about sharks. There are some weird Greenland sharks that have parasites in its eyes which make them all blind, and they lurk about in the water under the iceflows eating things that fall through the ice. What a life.

Stayed up long enough to start to see the election results coming in. At 10 o'clock the BBC announced that the exit poll showed that the Tories, who had been neck-a-neck with Labour for weeks, had suddenly broken free and were set to be the largest single party. I was genuinely shocked by this, as the last poll I saw showed that Labour was 1% ahead. Lorraine back from seeing her girlfriends in time to sit on the sofa. Nobody believed the poll at first, with former leader of the LibDems Paddy Ashdown declaring that he would eat his hat if the exit poll was correct.

To bed gloom-ridden. The turkeys had voted for Christmas.

Below: a Greenland shark.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Learning about writing

A clap of thunder this morning as Lorraine and I got up. A chat with Matty boy this morning, and we may be doing some work together next week which will be nice. Otherwise hard at work on my various bits, including revitalising my marketing site, which I am now pouring some love into, prior to launching the marketing project I've been working on off and on.

Off on the afternoon for a variety of missions. Up to Oskar and Klaudia's school to do some literacy work with Oskar for an hour or so. I was a last minute stand in for Anton, and helped Oskar with some story work in a small group of children with a parent each. Oskar not paying much attention to the teachers who were leading the group, but having one good idea when it came to the actual writing, which rather saved the day. And I, at least, learnt about good writing from the two rather good teachers. As I was leaving, a brief howdy with Klaudia and Anna the bairn's godmother, who was collecting everyone.

Then to see Janet and Ken, as I was so close. Nice cup of tea there and a general catch up. Janet pleased this year to not be doing an open house. She is recovering from her radiotherapy now, and is happy that the treatments are done. Good to chat with Ken too. Then I hobbled down to seven dials where I met the illustrator Laura Dumbrell for a chat and to talk about a potential project. I like her illustrations, which sometimes looked like woodcuts, and I liked her too.

Then a cab home to my lovely Lorraine and the engorgement of a healthy stir fry.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Passing a prayer

Another wild and windy night. Up fairly early and working before I had to bus off to Hove again.  The bus route, prone to unpredictable reroutings at the moment, went down by the sea, and the waves were green and fierce. Got off and hobbled just in time to reach the no-nonsense Clare the physio - she seems excellent at what she does and my leg felt a good deal freer on the way home. She was talking about politics again today, what with the election being this week.  As for the torn leg it is improving slowly but is a few weeks off normalcy. If only I could say the same.

Caught a bus back into Brighton. A north African man was playing music softly on his iPad on the back seat and an older woman trundled her little shopping basket and sat next to him. Soon she was handing him a prayer in an envelope about the morning star Jesus Christ. He said he was Muslim, but accepted it gracefully, and when she got off a few stops later they were full of good wishes to each other, and as the bus drove on he read the prayer, of several pages, with great attention. A strangely heartwarming scene. Picked up some bits in town, then a long wait for a bus to take me up the hill. My leg still not loving the long slope of Beaconsfield Villas.

Working this afternoon, on various bits before Lorraine got home at a reasonable time. Feeling quite positive about life, and writing lists and getting stuff done. Lorraine and I having a pizza feast tonight, as Betty had returned from the food fair with them. Lorraine and I cusomised them with chilli and chorizo and all was good. Watched an episode of The Wire, which we hadn't done for a while a'fore an early night.

View from the 5B.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Foodie with few freebies

Sunny morning, but Lorraine plagued by work, got up early and worked in bed from early on. Once this done, and I did some of my bits too on my laptop up and off on the bus with John and Beth to Hove Lawns to visit the 'Foodies Festival'. We were able to enter without being charged, thankfully, as although there was a world of food and drink inside, there were very few freebies and the prices were high.

We met Rosie outside, who had been poorly for the last few days. On her first tentative venture outside, she instantly bumped into someone from work. I meanwhile was creeping about with my leg somewhat painful. I found myself a tent and sat in it, lapping up a pint of Pilsner Urqell and Lorraine and Rosie returned with a variety of food. Mine was a combination of pulled pork and a pork sausage in a long bun. Betty was working there on a store selling lovely brownies and associated tidbits.

Left Betty to work, and John to rehearsals and Rosie to return home. Lorraine and I went home rather cold, sat on the sofa drinking tea and watching a TV documentary about tsunamis, and then simply fell asleep. Spoke to Mum, who'd been doing dental things today, and messaged with Toby who was bored at work as L & I were busing back. My mind randomly went to Toby and my phone pinged a few seconds later with a message from him. I think he mind-controls people.

To bed with a rainstorm outside, the first really heavy rain we've had for some time. Now that I'm a horny handed son of the soil I notice these things.

Below, my view inside the tent.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Fog on the South Downs

A happy day. Lorraine and I off to Steyning to a shop where we bought some plants, and then to another garden centre to buy more plants and compost. I don't know what is happening to me, but I find myself staring at the variegated leaf of a zonal geranium and deeply appreciating it.

A misty day, with very low cloud over the downs, making them look particularly mysterious, and Lorraine and I pulled up in the car, got out and walked up a country path between two fields, one of which had horses galloping about for fun in it. The downs disappearing into the cloud were quite magical.

Home and we planted lots of plants into the garden, with Lorraine doing the digging to save my thigh. Really exciting to see the bed fill up with plants. I can't believe how much I like our garden. Now it's just a wait to see what survives the onslaught of slugs, snails, foxes, Calliope, Brian and the rest of the neighbourhood cats.

Lorraine cooked a lovely roast this evening. John came home with Betty, who had been working in the food fair, and we played Euchre all evening. I really enjoy this, as it links the past to my present, and I find myself channelling Dave my grandfather, ending a hand by dramatically playing the joker, tutting at my wife for reneging, and saying things like 'one more each and we'll be level'.

Misty view from our bedroom, and mist on The Downs.