Saturday, December 31, 2005

green, green grass

With Christmas over; the wild boar devoured, the wine drunk, the presents unwrapped and the headaches gone, for the past few days I haven't been able to stop my mind wandering off to Spring. It seems such a long way off, with the cold and dreary months of January and February to come, and yet I can almost touch the soft new grass, the bright trumpets of daffodils and smell the scent of opening buds. I long to be surrounded by green, not the barren wasteland of leafless trees and bare gardens that I feel enclosed in now.

Next week I shall start my garden design course. I'm really looking forward to having something creative to get my teeth in to, and have already had a thousand ideas, foxgloves and hammocks, fountains and vegetables plots all stirring up in to a mass of colour. To me it is an exciting way to start the new year, with a new project that already has me enthralled.

On Monday I will also start dance classes with Lyndsey, a way to keep those pounds off I hope. We had a fabulous time at the ballet on Thursday, the dancing was better than last year, and the sets were amazing. We've promised to go up to London this year, to catch some more, if only as it makes us stand up straight and glide for the rest of the evening!

For now though, have a Very Happy New Year. May it bring you adventures galore!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


This week the office has been inundated with presents from members of faculty. We've had a large range of chocolates, bottles of bubbly and beautiful cyclamens in deep blood red. I could never say that we go unappreciated, with the thanks and well wishes we have received. It's been really heartening to know that we're doing a good job but I have to admit that I've never seen anything like the response we've had.

Everyone is winding down at the moment, and there is a general air of sleepiness set about the place. Voices are hushed, footsteps are small and dragged along the corridors, eyes opened blearily. My kettle has boiled many times today, and I've filled the room with the thick roasted smell of coffee in an effort to keep myself awake. I day dream of duvets and roasted chestnuts, of walking along Ashdown Forest as the sun begins to set, and warm glasses of red wine.

I am finally starting to feel Christmassy. This year it seems to have taken me so long, and now with only two days to go, I'm beginning to feel that tingle in my soul. In three days time I'll be tucking in to a succulent leg of wild boar, sitting around the table with my family, in the countryside again. Presents will be opened, jokes will be told and silly hats will be worn, in true Christmas spirit. So for me, there is only tomorrow morning to go before the holidays start.

Monday, December 19, 2005

friday's success & sunday's sleeplessness

Friday was a success; not only did I find one black dress, I found three, and to compromise I bought two. I strolled around with Katharine and Sam, from shop to shop, holding up dresses, smiling into the mirror and after three quarters of an hour, found three in a row. It was a splendid afternoon, made even more splendid when I realised that one of them was a size ten.

To celebrate, the girls sat drinking nicely chilled wine and nibbling on Katharine's home made salsa and guacamole. We talked nonsense, shared our plans for the new year and vowed to meet up again in a couple of weeks.

Saturday I walked through the Lanes with Mum & Dad, dropping into shops and feeling the cold air redden my face. We stopped for lunch and talked books, presents and Christmas. I got home feeling achey and by six o'clock had a temperature and shook under the blanket on the sofa, wide eyed and pathetic. It meant I missed Ben's party, and the chance to wear my new dress. I was frustrated and fed up, so I picked up Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell again, and took myself away from the sofa.

Sunday was quiet, a day of reading The Sunday Times, ironing, and lounging in the bath. For a moment I thought the new-ish neighbours were moving out, that the late night noise and sleeplessness was over. I spoke too soon. At 2:00am I was still awake, pillow over head to blot out the music. It leaves me feeling tired today, and ever so slightly melancholy.

Friday, December 16, 2005

the black dress

Today is a short day, I'll be leaving at 2pm to meet Katharine at St Peters Church. We are going on an expedition to find me a black dress. As yet, I'm not sure whether we will be successful. Although I know what I don't want, I'm not quite sure what I do want, which makes shopping for me, remarkably difficult.

I haven't had a black dress since I was an insect thin size eight, in my late teens and early twenties. I can't believe that I've gone the last six years without one, and the other day it got too much for me. I decided, whilst jotting down a list of things to do in my moleskine, that a black dress is a priority, a necessity. I must have one. And I must have one before Christmas. I suspect that jotting down things to do whilst watching "What Not To Wear" from the corner of my eye, is something I should do less of, it could get expensive.

I would like to have found the perfect dress, miraculously, in time for this evening. The girls are coming around for wine and nibbles to welcome in Christmas. I imagine smoked salmon, asparagus spears, thick lumps of melt in the mouth Camembert and glasses of dark rich red wine, and me, back straight, smiling in my beautiful black dress.

I know that by five o'clock I'll be tired, frustrated and in need of a bath to calm my nerves, but I'm crossing my fingers that, somehow, I find the dress and all will be right for an evening.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


This morning I am alone. The office is open, the phones are ringing and the emails wash in as on every other day but for a change I'm here by myself. It is pleasant, to sit quietly working. I feel a soft calm in my fingers as they write, each word neater, each sentence given more thought. I move with no rush, and in my head I'm purring, little shivers down my spine.

The sun is streaming through the windows behind me, lighting up the white walls and throwing shadows that move and flicker. There is the gentle hum of everyday from the cafe along the corridor, occasional notes of the radio and laughs of conversation. People come in, and I smile and answer, unhurried.

To be this solitary every day would be lonley, but once in a while it is a pleasure to be enjoyed. This afternoon the bustle will be back to normal, with a Christmas Quiz, sticky mulled wine and too-sweet mince pies but this morning I am serene.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

lunch with james

I have just come back from a lovely lunch with James. When I say lovely lunch, I describe the company and not the food. Although IDS provided me with a tuna baked potato, no one could describe it as lovely. Filling and functional would do it for me. James however, was happy, cheerful and full of interesting conversation. We discussed an article in today's Argus on the fury of local businesses, recent planning developments and the Brighton of the future.

James also explained deconstruction to me, fresh from the first term of his MA in Critical Theory, clarifying that the dictionary definition that I'd gone by was completely untrue and that deconstruction could have no definition. That, apparently, is the nature of the beast. After a while I began to feel as if I were slipping into some scientific explanation bordering on big bang theory. James fortunately stopped at this point, and let me buy a new moleskine (this one actually fits in my bag!) and Schott's Almanac. He says that, like me, it has no soul. I was reminded of the day I sold mine, for a champagne cocktail and a pair of kitten heels. Far too cheap really, now I come to think of it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


This afternoon I went to watch my Dad paraglide off a hillside in Glynde. By the time Mum & I arrived everyone was starting to feel very tired, and the mood was much quieter that the jubilance I was expecting.

Dad had one good flight, but unfortunately the one I managed to see wasn't his best of the day. However, he seemed to enjoy himself and Mum and I are expecting him to start signing up for weekend courses and be an expert by this time next year!

I will book my own flight for the summer - it looked amazing, the graceful float through the air under this silk wing, looking out across the Sussex countryside in a field of alpacas. I think I could even cope with running up and down hills for an afternoon, just for those moments alone in the air.

Friday, December 09, 2005

end of term

It is the last day of term, a day which started badly but is improving with each passing minute. It's a day of clearing up the office, taking extended lunch breaks and eating vast quantities of chocolate. On today's chocolate menu we have:

2 chocolate cakes
chocolate cornflake cakes
and chocolates!

We are all exhausted, we've worked hard and we've done very well, so today I feel proud of my team. We deserve the chocolate goodness!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

away with the fairies

I'm in a dream world today, my brain is refusing to engage in any practical way so I am left sitting, staring out of windows or doodling in my notebook for minutes at a time whilst my mind wanders.

So far today it's wandered off on an adventure looking for wine courses. I have seen a couple that look interesting, wine being something I'd like to get better at. Not necessarily drinking it, I can do that quite well enough. I'd like to know more about it, learn to appreciate it more than my current love of the opening glug.

My brain has also wandered off into spring, which is clever of it. It had a nice long walk by the river at Barcombe and stopped off at The Jolly Sportsman in East Chiltington (after a brief teleport from the river, obviously). I found this remarkable, having only ever been there as a child many years ago when I lived along the road (during the Family Adventure in the Countryside) and so not having partaken of the famously delicious food, but my brain seemed to know all about it. I'd like to point out that this was before lunch, since lunch my brain has remained reasonably far away from all restaurants.

It has been on a search for Christmas cards, which wasn't very exciting. It also got a little worried about impending recessions after reading an article on Jamie Oliver's new Fifteen Restaurant in Cornwall. And finally it found me a lovely hotel in Paris, which Lyndsey & myself will be visiting in May.

It is fortunate that I can do many things at once and keep up with all the work, but I'd quite like my brain to come back now. I feel quite dull without it.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Unfortunately Feeder cancelled on Friday after about five songs due to a nasty throat infection. It was disappointing, but understandable, and at least I got to laugh at Goldie Looking Chain. James had never managed to get it across to me just how funny they actually are, I was very amused. So instead of watching Feeder, Dad and I wandered off, grabbed a pizza and drank cocktails until the early hours, discussing a multitude of things including religion and pulled muscles.

I woke on Saturday morning feeling remarkably well considering, made breakfast, drank coffee and then spent the rest of the day relaxing. It was fabulous. I did much the same on Sunday too. After the past couple of months, having an entire weekend to myself with nothing planned seemed too good to be true. I watched films, read books, read papers, had baths, made soups, stroked cats, took naps and generally spent a lot of time doing not much at all.

I still have four presents to buy, Christmas cards to get and send and a couple of other things to do, but they can wait. Having a peaceful weekend left me feeling rested and rejuvinated and was worth every blissful minute.

Friday, December 02, 2005

finishing stretch

Only one more week of term left, and I'm exhausted and aching and can't wait for it all to be over. We've been busy this week and next week looks like its going to be busier, but we're coping well and received a round of applause at a recent meeting for all our efforts. This would have cheered me more, if I hadn't have pulled my hamstrings badly in an effort to get fitter. I'm coming to the conclusion that exercise isn't necessarily good for you, having spent the last two days hobbling along in agony. Not clever.

Last night I forgot the pain, sat on the sofa with a blanket, a curry, a bottle of red wine and Katharine to gossip and giggle. It was a lovely evening, with Katharine praising my Christmas Tree and only spilling one glass of wine.

This evening I'm off to see Feeder. I suspect I may need more coffee first.