Saturday 29 June 2019

The latest thing I am failing to do

Glastonbury's looking pretty good this year isn't it? Good to see a rap artist headlining, I love the choices they make there, and I love the support for Greenpeace. I hope the fields aren't left full of 'disposable' tents though. For a thing that was originally all hippy, festivals have lost their way a bit on the environmental front. I have been doing my bit by watching Stormzy in my living room with a reusable mug.

The garden has gone all unintentionally purple. I love the dark plummy shades in particular and the centre of the flowers that look like blackcurrant bleeding out into the white petals. I wouldn't mind an afternoon out there with a book, but alas I will be trotting along to a football event. I've got some work to do anyway, so even if I was at home I probably wouldn't be out there. But it's all good, one day I'll manage it. In the meantime I'm ripping through the odd chapter as time permits.

I've just finished reading La Belle Sauvage to the urchins. It's set before Northern Lights and tells the story of when Lyra is a baby. I loved it, there are many depths to a Philip Pullman novel, and it will definitely bear being read again. In fact, the start of Northern Lights is popped in at the end of La Belle Sauvage. One of the urchins commented in horror that we might just end up stuck in a neverending loop of Philip Pullman's books. They like to torment me about my adoration of him. Do I care? I am his biggest fan and they cannot stop me.

The littlest boy has tried out big school for size. He had to take a pen and pencil and his lunch. He forgot the pen so he had to borrow one from his new tutor. I can't help feeling that there is a list somewhere with his name on it and a cautionary mark against it.

The dog went to the vet's for his annual booster. There was the customary squeezing and prodding and then the weigh-in. He'd weighed ten kilos at home a few days previously. At the vet's he somehow weighed eleven and a half. I tried valiantly to explain it away - he's just had his breakfast and it's very wet out, look, his fur is all damp - but you could tell they weren't really persuaded. Then they looked at his teeth and weren't happy with that either. Do you brush them? Um, no, not really. Would he let you brush them? No, he definitely wouldn't. Do you have toothpaste? No, not really. Toothpaste?! I found out later from a friend that there is apparently chicken-flavoured dog toothpaste. Honestly, life gets more complicated by the day. They gave me a leaflet entitled A Guide To Brushing  Your Dog's Teeth and we scuttled home, collective tails between our legs. We still don't have toothpaste or a toothbrush. Is there such a thing as a dog toothbrush? I suspect there must be. I cannot see it being a winner. Rather it will be the sort of thing that gathers dust on a shelf somewhere, silently reproaching me every time I notice it. Sigh.

Wishing all a splendid weekend of sun and relaxation. I shall be googling ethical bamboo dog toothbrush and herbal dog toothpaste and enjoying a little Glastonbury without a nylon tent in sight.

Sunday 23 June 2019

The right direction

It's been a peaceful weekend here. The littlest boy was off camping. Apparently they had wristbands to make sure they didn't have too many dinners. I am considering implementing the same system here.

On Saturday afternoon everyone was out except me, even the dog. Oh it was blissful. What to do first? I ended up pottering in the garden. A rare moment of peace is a very lovely thing. Wouldn't want them all gone for too long, but a couple of hours of quiet pootling is a very fine thing.

There are flowers and fruit and salad leaves and it's all so green out there. This is my favourite time of year I think. Everything is so fresh and new and heavy and lush.

I've been enjoying everyone's front gardens around here. There are some really pretty ones, and lots of inspiring ideas. Plenty of plants and trees I can't identify, but I'm learning gradually. It's been good to see lots of grass that hasn't been cut and that is full of flowers. More than ever before I think, so I'm guessing that they are being left for the pollinators and other wildlife, which is good.

Another good thing I've been noticing - the spread of veganism. I was vegan for 25 years and it really wasn't common at all back then. Now, there are so many fantastic recipe books, and lots of discussion of the health benefits and benefits to the planet and animals. I'm gently steering us in a more plant-based direction.

I spent the evening of the summer solstice at the cricket club. It's such a lovely place to be, which is just as well as we seem to spend quite a lot of time there.

Just three or four weeks of school left I think. I shall be powering into the work until then, and hopefully easing off over the break. Well, that's the grand plan, but we'll see how it goes. Until then I shall be enjoying these early days of summer, walking round the neighbourhood with the dog and peering into gardens. Simple pleasures.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Book hangover

Bert is wondering when the rain will stop. It is playing havoc with his curly hair, and mine too to be honest. I'm enjoying all the greenness of everything though. I was walking by the stream the other morning in a dark green tunnel of trees and everything was saturated, dripping, soaked. I couldn't think what it reminded me of for a minute, then it came to me. It was just like being on holiday. I mean that in a good way, I'm not being sarcastic. But there is usually a day of rain, and that is exactly what it feels like when you have to go out in it because you're on holiday and you're Making The Most Of It.

Other than being slightly damp with mad hair,  you find me in the grip of a book hangover. That is a thing apparently. I only heard the phrase a while back, but I immediately knew what it was. And now I have one. I finished an excellent book and now nothing else is good enough. Picture me running my finger along the bookshelf and sighing tragically. Tossing unread library books into an untidy pile on the sofa. Reading a few pages and flinging a book down in dramatic fashion. Sighing again. That's the trouble with good books, they spoil you for the one that follows.

The book in question was Jane Harper's The Lost Man.

It's set in outback Australia, where it is hot, hot, hot. And people are few and far between. The story is a psychological thriller, and the setting absolutely makes it. The searing, deathly heat, where you can only survive a scant few hours in the open. The way people live, the safeguards and adaptations. Oh, it was riveting.  I loved her other two books, especially her first, The Dry, but this one was my favourite. Do have a read if you can get your hands on a copy.

I made myself a kind of pinboard/noticeboard thing the other day with some leftover fabric, leftover batting and a £1 canvas from the recycling centre. I am not sure that I like it, and other people are certain that they don't like it, but I am waiting to see if it grows on me. Perhaps once it is covered in things it will fade into the background and I won't be sat here wondering if I like it. I have tucked bookmarks and cards from indie writers in there to inspire me.

The littlest boy has had a long-awaited birthday. In fact he was away on a school trip at the time. I think he had a good day. When he came back I made him a Victoria sandwich, which is what he always likes to have on his birthday. It didn't last long. I should make them more often.

There was sadly no cricket this weekend, so people have been milling around at a loose end. The urchins are all into card games and magic tricks at the moment. Every time I turn round there is someone there saying Pick a card, any card, and then they try and impress me with their trickery. Some are less impressive than others.

Hope all is well with you and yours. Any fads and crazes at your end? Or book hangovers? Or overly-curled dogs? I hear the rain will end soon.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Mind the cat

You find us awash with Trumps here in the UK. I was very taken with the photo of Larry the Downing Street cat sitting under 'the Beast', Donald Trump's presidential limousine, which had no doubt been flown over here at great expense for the three-day visit. Anyway, I am hoping someone got down on their hands and knees and checked that Larry had moved off to safety before driving away. Otherwise I fear Mr Trump would find himself a little unpopular... The nation is very attached to Larry, who was later pictured on the windowsill licking his, well, himself. Dear Larry. We are of course reading all sorts of symbolism into the whole thing.

Anyway, there is only one day left, after which we can return to our normal state of political drama and obsession over the cricket scores. Never mind the world cup, we are deep in the cricket season in this house and the washing machine is groaning as it tries to get the whites white. Bats have been handed down from big brother to smaller brother, and the biggest boy is developing a nice line in bat refurbishment, sanding, oiling, repairing and regripping things. I am huffing about the sawdust and smell of linseed oil. Is it linseed oil that bursts into flames if you leave it on a rag to dry? I can't remember. I'm hoping not.

I am currently in a complete willpower slump. I would like to be eating less, but alas, by 3pm each day all of the self-discipline has totally evaporated. By the evening I am just throwing crisps down my neck willy nilly and rummaging through the the fridge for tasty morsels. Where does the willpower go during the day? I am a fabulous model of self-control all morning, then it just crumbles. Ooh, crumble, I have just remembered, there is orange and rhubarb crumble. And I have cream. Happy sigh. No, it's hopeless, I cannot resist.

I am even being sucked back into the evil that is coffee. I'm always so envious of those people who drink water and eat raw food all day and bounce around with all the energy. Maybe I need to be locked in a detox facility until it sticks. I think a new habit takes around three weeks to form.

Any tips for being healthy gratefully received.

PS: I have just googled linseed oil and discovered that yes, it can indeed burst into flames on a rag without a spark. So now I am wondering where all the rags have been left. And what that orange glow is coming from the garage...