Friday, October 30, 2009


Kids going mad for Halloween - we have carved pumpkins, made them into pies, created spiders and dangled them to 'scare' Daddy when he gets home. Stan has also drawn a picture which contains a representation of all scary things "in the WORLD" - witches, bats, vampires, Darth Maul, spiders, and Daddy first thing in the morning ...
Can you see the spectre?

November is coming

The weather is turning and the garden descending into sludge. Chickens have almost stopped laying, the starlings are gathering in larger and larger flocks and I feel the pull of hibernation. We have had some extraordinarily warm days and good sunshine, but the clocks went back last week and suddenly we are plunged into darkness before the afternoon has really got going - the days foreshortened. Work as ever makes huge demands on my energy and there is little left for all of the other things that need attention. The work life scales are way off balance.
Thinking back to last year at the same time I remember feeling very bleak and thinking at the time that it was unusual, but perhaps it is just the natural cycle of things.
All that said I have managed some good forays out to suck up the fading rays and took these pictures last weekend which affirm the staggering scale and beauty of where we live.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Had a lovely time yesterday recovering from staggeringly late night on Friday. We were in London to celebrate Geo's 40th at the ever wonderful Drapers and had wangled a night sans kids and an absurdly cheap hotel in the Essex road. We got to bed at half three and because we were practically sleeping in the middle of the road, the traffic noise woke me at 6.30. eek! Anyway, eventually dragged ourselves out at 10 (needed to move the car or I think I would happily have slept all day!). We wanted to take some Turkish treats back to the friends who had hoovered up the sprogs at short notice so headed back to our old corner shop, the fabulous Turkish Food Centre on Ridley Road - a shop that has everything in it to make me a very happy foodie. Having picked out some of the plumpest, ripest and cheapest figs, we grabbed amongst other things, wonderful lamb and two boxes of super fresh baklava and a loaf of warm fresh turkish bread.
By that point our bodies were crying out for coffee and sugary stuff, we dithered around trying to remember where the good places were, when we remembered Broadway Market.

Auto pilot took over and all the short cuts and back streets came back to me. It has changed so much - obviously more chi-chi and busy, but happily less so than Columbia Road became. Michael had said that the perfect hangover cure would be the great Portuguese custard tarts, but I wasn't hopeful as that was from the Portobello years, but having walked the full length of the market admiring everything from piles of cakes,
rustic bread, spanking fresh fish, Ghanaian curries and more, his desire was rewarded and a small stack was spied! Grabbing a coffee from exactly the kind of cafe I would love to run one day - part deli, part caff, part community hub - we went and sat on a bench on the towpath
and admired/mocked the exertions of many many joggers. We surprised ourselves by re-imagining ourselves as Hackney dwellers - but that may have been the residual blood alcohol...
More poignant were the memories of endless walks along that towpath with Louise when G and Flora were newborns. We walked to and from Victoria Park often and once made it all the way to Limehouse Basin. With g's birthday last week and Flora's on Tuesday, the first she will have without her mother, there was much to ponder and be thankful for.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

new online mag

Rather love this new online mag For the Love of Life all about food, producers, restaurants and recipes, yum yum!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

G's birthday

Started the day at quite a sensible time, almost 7. As ever presents opened in our bed - which is becoming harder as they all get so much bigger. G was thrilled with the mini video camera we bought for her - I am concerned though that we may become unwitting stars of You Tube or You've Been framed.

The week has been full of reminders of her growing up - we have started the hard task of choosing which secondary school she will go to next year. Essentially it is a choice between 3 excellent schools as we are confident that she will pass the dread 11+ (results out in a week) So the choice is really between single sex or co-ed and then between local or Canterbury. All options have different but equally compelling benefits which makes it all harder.

Anyway back to birthday jollity. G requested pancakes for breakfast so I made a mountain and we enjoyed enough maple syrup to equal the debt of a third world country!
Her treat was a trip to a new-ish pizza place in Fav with loads of friends and then to the cinema, back home for hastily decorated cake and a friend to sleep over.
We rounded the day off with a huge bonfire in the garden, the wind was finally going the right way so as not to incur the wrath of our neighbour so loads of old pallets and offcuts have now been cleared away. I trimmed back our eucalyptus hedge and chucked that on too to Stan's delight - the leaves caught fire dramatically crackling and flaring up then floating away "like flaming butterflies" he said poetically.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Just back from a 2 day conference all about the regeneration on coastal resorts. It took place at Butlins in Skegness and was part of an arts festival called SEAS.
The final part of the agenda was a drive up the coast to Mablethorpe to visit a series of modern beach huts which were designed by artists and architects in an open competition. The one I really wanted to see was Jabba the Hut, as I thought the boys would have been tickled - their StarWars mania is undiminished Unfortunately Jabba nestles in some sand dunes half a mile away from the prom and we didn't have time, but we did see a couple of others. I have never been to Lincolnshire before and was struck the incredible beauty of the coast, miles and miles of sand and dunes stretching all the way to Grimsby with very little to interrupt the view. I would like to go back, but can't see M being persuaded.
Found this picture of Jabba on the Guardian's site

Not sure I will rush back to Butlins though- the accommodation was fine, comfortable and clean - but the food was appalling - never have so many hydrogenated fats, msg and flavour enhancers been eaten in such a short space of time. Also the scale and noise of the place really got to me after 24 hours.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Moare Music

What a fab weekend, went to Moare Music - it's their second year and we very much hope that it carries on - judging by the numbers this year they won't have any problem. Having said that about numbers, what is so lovely is how small it really is and how un-greedy they are, loads of space. The food as ever was sublime - we sat downwind of the barbecue and frankly didn't need to eat just inhaled it all!

Saturday was sunny and warm and the music very jazzy/funky - the kids pelted round and round the garden endlessly, lots of friends were there and Stan as ever made loads of new ones. Stan even took up flying

with some help
In between the sets plenty of opportunity to catch up with essential reading, for Rommy the Guardian's political pages
whilst for the 'big' boys an ancient copy of Jackie magazine, and mostly the problem pages
Sunday was chillier and somewhat more subdued (some of us might even have had a bit of a hangover....M?) but there was no stopping a significant number of older, somewhat portly men of a certain age from hurling themselves around when Suggs came on! In amongst them and having a total blast you might have spotted a certain 5 year old on his mother's shoulders bouncing and leaping around - my knees will never be the same!
The perfect antidote to the end of summer!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Space and de-junking

At the end of a child-free week which has been heavenly.
Whilst I obviously love the little darlings, we managed to revisit the world of spontaneity and selfishness this week. Out to supper with friends, quick trip to the cinema, last minute bar-b with Whitstable mates etc etc. Getting up in the morning and going to work without assembling packed lunches and various necessary items for holiday club's chosen theme of the day was one of the real highlights!
The week of lovliness started last Sunday, leaving children in a field in Sussex (with loving relatives..!) and scooting back home and then out to dinner to celebrate 12th wedding anniv. Dinner at sweet but expensive place in Whitstable, fininshed off with coffee and star gazing on the beach.
Yesterday we undertook to empty the entire workshop on to the driveway and made three piles; tip, freecycle, back in. We were amazingly ruthless and have created an entirely usable space again, instead of a barely navigable room filled with junk. This evening I posted loads on freecycle and nearly all had gone within half an hour, bonkers! As a reward for all our hard work we went for a quick pint at the Three Mariners and booked our tickets for Moare Music, can't wait, it's going to be fab - nice way to say farewell to summer
So week over, today I drove down to Stonehenge to meet Penny and the kids - they have clearly had an utterly amazing time and Penny is certainly going to relish the quiet of her particular corner of Devon! A small amount of re-entry difficulties on our part, but the kids have experienced no such difficulty, re-creating chaos , mayhem and noise as if they had never been away!

Thursday, August 27, 2009