Thursday, April 27, 2006


It's going to be a lovely day, the sun is already pouring through my open office windows, the sky is a perfect blue and it's beautifully warm.

One of the things I love about working on campus is the proximity to nature. Surrounded by grass and trees, there is wildlife everywhere. As I walked into work today there were birds hopping through the hedges, heads tilted to the sun, on the lookout for breakfast. Squirrels running up trees or sitting bravely on the grass until you get too close. Outside the main door is a beautiful tree covered in fountains of white scented blossom, just beginning to fall in a carpet of softest snow. Leaves are unfurling around me in fresh new yellow-green.

It is a day that I am going to hate being stuck inside for. I long to pack up and stroll off into the countryside with a picnic and a book, not a care in the world and bask in the spring sunlight.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I spent Friday evening sat on the floor with James at the Permanent Gallery, listening to people reading out tales and poems. There is something very comforting about sitting on the floor with a friend, especially when listening to stories. It took me back to some of my first days at school, when my classmates and I would sit on the once thick pile carpet in front of the window and take it in turns to read out sections of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe". Elizabeth, who's surname I can't remember, had a voice so soft and calm that on hearing it all I wanted to do was curl up like a kitten and purr myself to sleep.

Stories over for the evening, we headed off down Western Road. That was the end to peace and tranquility and back to the sharp reality of Friday night. I shall go to more storytelling though, and am really looking forward to hearing James' next amusing banana related tale.

Friday, April 21, 2006

17 degrees

Tomorrow promises to be 17 degrees with bright sunshine, a perfect day for taking the top down and driving out into the countryside. First though, I'm going to meet up with Katharine who is on a dietary mission this week and can only consume grapefruit juice from what I can gather. I fancy a wander through the Lanes in search of a spring skirt.

I fully intend to spend the afternoon speeding off into the sunlight, sunglasses on and wind in my hair. I need to stock up on bedding plants so will be trawling nurseries and garden centres looking for plants which will do well in the current hosepipe ban.

Firle Place opens more of its gardens on Sunday as part of the National Garden Scheme, so I intend to head out there once I've leisurely soaked up the newspapers. Borde Hill Gardens and Wakehurst Place are holding bluebell weekends, so if I have time I will pop along to one and wade through the carpets of soft purple flowers.

I have that yearning for wide open spaces, long grass and lush green as far as the eye can see. Birdsong and picnics, that's what I need.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the thick of it

The holiday is over. No more quiet afternoons, curled up with a book. No more walks into town, or strolls around country houses, admiring the views. Back to work, the first day of term, and the thick of it.

It took me a while to get back into the swing. I sat, looking blankly at my screen, trying to remember what on earth it is that I do all day. Before I remembered, everything started up around me and it all came flooding back. Now it's as if I haven't been away.

But I have, and it was glorious. I spent days reading books, nose tucked in and surrounded by silence. I cooked roast lamb and made homemade strawberry ice cream. I drove up to Sevenoaks, discussing the soul with James, and walked through Knole, seeped in history. I walked down to the sea, and stared off into the evening, stopped off at the Sanctuary Cafe for a glass of organic wine, and got blisters on the way home. I ate breakfast at Bill's and found that I'd wolfed it down in seconds, eyes shining with glee.

Being back isn't too bad, only two more days to go and then I shall make a start on the patio. I need to weed the flower bed, plant up the pots and hanging basket and clean the decking. I'm looking forward to that lovely fresh smell of just dug earth, to planting up and sitting back, achey but content. But I must stop, it's no good to be wishing my life away, a part of me will admit that it's good to be at work again.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


At last a whole six days off, an hour left and then I can walk out of the office and drive home with the welcoming thought that I have no more early mornings, no more emails and no more meetings until next Wednesday. What joy!

Tomorrow I plan to go to breakfast at Bill's before dropping into the library to fill up on books to last me the weekend. I've also got my new king size goose feather duvet to collect, a heart warming thought, and once I have I shall go home and snuggle in it for a while.

I have no plans for Friday, and the thought of all that freedom makes the tips of my fingers tingle with anticipation. Depending on the weather, I may take the top down and drive off into the countryside with a picnic to enjoy the spring flowers. I may go up to London and visit the National Gallery and the Tate Britain, or I may curl up with my new duvet and devour a book.

On Saturday James and I are off to Knole. I'm looking forward to strolling through the deer park and putting names to places having read so much about the house recently.

Sunday is more work on the house, one more door to hang and other bits to do. I will also cook roast lamb and spend the evening supping on delicious soft pink flesh and roast potatoes.

As for Monday and Tuesday, that's just too far off. I don't want to make plans, I want to relax and enjoy the first break I've had since Christmas and what will probably be the last free time I shall have before I move. I want to wallow in the peace and quiet and immerse myself in books, to wander the Lanes in the day light hours and walk along the beach, staring out at the waves from the city I love. How I love holidays....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

doors shot

I ache, well my shoulders and arms ache. It's that healthy "I've been doing lots of useful things" ache that you get when you've spent two days trying to hold doors straight whilst chiseling, drilling, sawing and the like goes on around you. The house filled with sawdust and wood chips, despite the fact that much of the sawing took place in the garden, waking the neighbours who fancied sleeping later than 11am and covering the decking with snow-like drifts of sawdust.

In two days we hung three doors, it's not bad going considering how much work goes into it. I drank far too much coffee, vacuumed more times that I can remember and lugged doors up and down the stairs like a pro.

On Sunday evening, the third door hung, I hid away for a quiet beer in the spare room. It has changed so much in the last few weeks that I almost felt that I didn't know it at all. Soon the whole house will feel like that, my home will no longer be my home and before I get used to that I'll be gone, settling in somewhere new. It's exciting, and now I feel more prepared, after all at least I now know how to hang doors.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

the best days of your life?

On my way to work yesterday, the radio informed me that my old school was closing. It came as a surprise, the last I'd heard the place was specialising in the Performing Arts and holding regular performances at the Gardner Arts Centre and as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe.

I began to think back to my school days, something I try to avoid normally as the last few years were not pleasant. This is mostly due to my raging hormones and desire to rebel in what, looking back, was undoubtedly more damaging to myself than anyone else. Those last few years burnt through all the memories, but they were still there, just slightly crispy around the edges.

There was the day my brother climbed up into the digger on the back playing field, managed to turn it on and started driving off towards the line of trees, with what I can only imagine was a manic grin on his face. At the time diggers, tractors and other large vehicles were his favourite things, since then his driving hasn't changed much!

My chums and I used to hang about twiddling our thumbs on long summer afternoons, until we invented The Game. It was a rather elaborate game of hide and seek, the details of which I can no longer remember, and it filled those summer afternoons with chases around the playing fields, huddled groups behind class rooms, and half-frightened whispers as we tried to work out who was where and if they were right behind us.

We used to hang out in the library, staring out of the large windows across the playing field and onto the downs, whilst writing stories. Some of these became novels, with pages and pages filled in neat handwriting and passed around, like a soap opera, each waiting for the next installment.

There was my first kiss, I was twelve and nervous and hidden in the prefects garden with Stuart Honeyball. And suddenly it was all over and he was off home for the holidays, whilst I was left standing there behind the conifers, all emotions.

I played a river-banker in the Wind in the Willows, make up pasted on with brush after brush, and was so jealous of those who were picked to be weasels as they got to dress in punk gear, with back-combed hair and more eyeliner than Robert Smith.

And suddenly the phrase "Those were the days..." pops into my head and for a while I wonder if they were the best days of my life, or simply a precursor for all those other fabulous days I've had since and will no doubt have more of in the future.

Monday, April 03, 2006

lost days

Birthday weekends are always messy, and this weekend was no exception. I left work early to go present shopping and have my hair cut, popping into the library on the way and stocking up with this weeks books. I found the presents I was looking for quickly, and so stopped for a cup of coffee before strolling to see my fabulous hairdresser, Peter. Trips to the hairdresser are always a treat, a time I get to spoil myself, relax and drift away. Friday was no exception and I left feeling revitalised and ready for anything.

Lyndsey and I met up for a quick drink at the Park Crescent, which turned into quite a few drinks and a short and giggly journey back to Lyndsey's flat where we gorged on pizza and pestered Pete until he eventually fell asleep, snoring his way through Jaws 3 (which I have to say, is the best way to watch it).

Saturday was a day of pain, drilling, sawing, pain, and a bit more pain. Whilst family worked around me, I sat on the sofa feeling sorry for myself and groaning under the agonies of the world. An ex-boyfriend once told me that he really enjoyed hangovers, something I not only could not comprehend but could also never foresee myself agreeing with.

Sunday morning broke with sunshine and blue sky, and I found myself smiling broadly after twelve hours sleep. I went to The George for lunch to celebrate Lyndsey's birthday with the gang. I sipped spicy carrot and parsnip soup and slowly drank a pint, what a glorious way to spend an afternoon.

But now it is Monday again and it doesn't feel as if the weekend ever existed. I long for the holiday break next week, when I will finally start to make a dig into clearing out my house. When I shall drive up to Knole with James, the top down on the car and my hair blowing every which way. Six whole days of freedom, it can't come soon enough.