Friday, 30 April 2010

Without M

This is how I spend my days. Photographing flowers from my mother's garden. Tulips that seem lifted straight from a Dutch oil painting, vases of the softly tinted blooms taken home to droop languidly over my dressing table as the week goes on. Lying under the fruit trees, level with the forget-me-nots as the grass prickles my bare arms. In an emerald silk dress at a green themed East London house warming, drinking mojitos packed full of mint leaves and worrying about the night bus home alone. Lounging on the grass on a Sunday afternoon with Anna in the garden of the Camden Arts Centre, an oasis of green calm raised above the Finchley Road, eating delectable little cakes stuffed with almonds and red berries and sipping lurid yellow chamomile tea. Stewing rhubarb with sugar and lemon peel, letting it cool, then spooning it over fridge-cold homemade yoghurt for my breakfast. Visiting the Very Sanderson exhibition with Dad on a muggy London afternoon, loving the vintage wallpaper, bemoaning the lack of postcards featuring the designs in the gift shop afterwards. Watching 'I am love' (Io sono l'amore) on a Wednesday evening, utterly absorbed by the opulent Italian interiors, breathtaking landscapes, stunning cinematography. Immersing myself in 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' for the first time, devouring the pages and wishing myself away to a sunlight filled Greek island whilst crammed onto rush hour trains or waiting for buses. Composing lengthy emails to M in my lunchbreak, laughing at tales of pickled sea cucumber, raw scallops and coffee from cans when I receive his responses in return. Lighting scented candles before bedtime, drifting around my room in my nightie, writing thoughts on scraps of paper, remembering to floss. Thinking of him often, but managing not to mope.

Thursday, 29 April 2010


A little bit of a celebration is in order I feel as this morning the long long awaited wireless router was finally delivered, and this afternoon, with a teeny tiny bit of telephone help from a more technically minded friend and a little more from the Virgin helpdesk, my flatmates and I manged to get it up and running.

This is a slightly false celebratory post, for as soon as I set up the internet I had to leave for Norfolk where I am writing this now, but just the thought of that lovely wireless connection waiting for me when I return to London on Saturday night fills me with joyful anticipation.

So three cheers for effective complaint letters, the Royal Mail delivery man who positively bounded up the stairs to me this morning, and functioning wireless internet a mere two months after we called to request set up!

Photo of gorse taken at Dunwich beach over the Easter weekend. No connection, just thought it seemed cheerful.

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Volcano, the Flight Ban and the Boy Who Missed the Cherry Blossom Festival

Once there was a boy who was looking forward to three weeks in Japan. He was meant to be arriving on a Friday morning, enjoying the local cherry blossom festival on the Saturday, and recovering from jet lag over the weekend ready to attend a series of collaboration meetings on High Energy Physics the following week.

He packed his bag, kissed his girlfriend goodbye, made his way to the airport...then heard that British airspace had been closed on account of atmospheric ash from an Icelandic volcano, and that no flights would be leaving the UK that day.

A week and a few more false starts later, airspace is once again open (photographic evidence above - spot the tiny vapour trail!) and M is finally off to Japan today. He missed the cherry blossom festival, and all of the meetings, but will be there for the next three weeks to undergo safety training, meet senior researchers and generally find out a bit more about the projects he will be working on for his year long placement, which starts in the autumn.

He may even catch the last of the blossom, before it flitters away, for if it is still flowering in the streets surrounding my house, as it was yesterday evening when these photos were taken, then perhaps it will still be flowering in Japan?

Have a wonderful trip M, and here's hoping you get to see some of this stuff...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


We still don't have internet at the new flat. Despite organising the contract over six weeks ago and the line being connected over four weeks ago the internet provider has as yet failed to provide us with the wireless router. C, my flatmate and the account holder, has called them repeatedly, and repeated promises have been made that the package is in the post, being re-sent, will be with us shortly, and so on, but as the router is sent by Royal Mail 1st Class they have no way of tracking progress. We are all extremely frustrated. I can check emails and do internet banking at work, and even keep up with all of you in my lunch break (hello to everyone who has joined me from Tea for Joy, and thanks Lynne for featuring me) but I can't really sit and blog myself which I miss. Tonight I am at M's using his internet while he packs (he is off to Japan for three weeks from tomorrow) and on Friday morning I am off to Glasgow for the weekend with my parents to visit the Glasgow Art School and the Mackintosh tea rooms (any other suggestions/tips of what is good to do whilst there welcome), and I am hoping hoping hoping that by the time I return Virgin will have got their act together and sorted out the internet situation.

In the meantime, I leave you with a couple of pictures from Easter Sunday in Southwold, the blue sky looking as serene as I wish I felt. Humpfh.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


The garden in Norfolk at this time of year is full of fresh, green shoots and bright flowers springing up everywhere. Daffodils, magnolia, the leaves of the horse chestnut unfurling from sticky buds, primroses, cowslips...

Then there are the violets. Mostly purple, some white, they scatter the lawn and spring up between tree roots. This Easter weekend I collected a few, arranged them in a tiny vase, and then had fun with my camera, the extension tube for close ups, and a few Easter themed props (both the eggcups are from Mum's childhood - the chicken one even says 'made in occupied Japan' on its base!). I'm thinking I might turn them into postcards in time for Easter next year.

I didn't take the flowers with me when I returned to London on Monday afternoon, they are extremely fragile and wouldn't have travelled well, but I did bring the china brooch, below, that I found in a Stowmarket charity shop on Saturday afternoon. A rather appropriate memento of a violet-filled Easter weekend.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Eggs etc.

Happy Easter chickens! Boiled eggs, home made soda bread and a glass of mango and passionfruit smoothie that perfectly matched the yolk for breakfast today before a drive to the sea. Lovely.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Saturday night

Thank you for all your lovely comments on the Paris post...I have been wanting to share those photos for ages, and it has been killing me that I haven't had access to good enough internet to allow me to do so. Really glad that I finally have. I also took my Polaroid camera to Paris with me, and a couple of precious packets of my remaining film. Very eager to share those photos too, but again reliant on technology, in this case waiting for M to scan them in at work for me.

Currently sitting at home on my laptop, hardly rock and roll, but then this sleepy Norfolk town is not the most happening of places. I'm really enjoying catching up on blog-world though, and to be honest my body is secretly breathing a sigh of relief that it doesn't have to do a repeat of last weekend quite so soon.

Off to brush my teeth now, then get into bed and dream about Easter eggs. It's wild here I tell you, wild.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Paris, finally

Leave work early on a Friday afternoon, board a train with a tall, dark, handsome not-so-stranger, complete the G2 crossword, read for awhile, make a few plans, and before you know it you look up and you are pulling into the Gare du Nord. Oh the joys of Eurostar.

Paris. Winds that whipped icy cold. Bright sunlight on water and bare branches. Constantly retreating indoors for chocolat chaud, vin chaud, anything to thaw our hands and warm our insides. Vintage clothes shops full to bursting with glitzy dresses, crocodile skin bags and strappy shoes for dainty feet. Sour citron presses and grilled goats cheese salad for lunch. A lazy breakfast wrapped in coats on a pretty balcony overlooking a quiet courtyard that would have been perfection on a warm morning in June. Pyramids of oranges, baskets of endive. Delectable cakes and pastries, regal looking in glass-fronted patisseries. Brusque waiters and tiny dogs. A butter yellow Citron parked near the river. Shutters and grey stone. Cobbles and art nouveau metro signs. Chickens in the rotisserie, thyme scented. Aperitifs before dinner with little bowls of salty nuts. Saxophonists on the metro, accordion players too. Breathtaking displays in all the florists, tulips and hyacinths but out of season flowers too - boughs of scented lilacs, imported roses in vivid hues. Greeting the taxidermy animals at Deyrolle, discovered via Wee Birdy, deciding, with regret, not to purchase a 300, 000 Euro stuffed polar bear to prowl my living room. Coo-ing at the Merci-Liberty collaboration, the exquisite prints, the beautiful displays. Sunset over leaded rooftops, seen from our hotel room window. Standing on a bridge, wind whipping our hair, fingers frozen, just to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, proud and upright in the distance. The chirping, tweeting, screeching at Sunday morning's bird market, the bright plumage of those on sale a sharp contrast to the smug pigeons sitting on the stall rooftops who may have looked drab compared to such finery, but at least were free. Huge goldfish swimming tight circuits in plastic tubs, guinea pigs with bright eyes nestled in the corners of straw-filled cages. Walking and walking, despite the cold, soaking it all in. Pushing through crowds in the grounds of an old chateau trying to spot our friends among the thousands of runners at the end of the Paris half marathon. Sticky toffee apples and sugar-dusted churros at the finish line. Hot chocolate served in bowls for breakfast, with thick wedges of fluffy brioche and sweet, runny jam. Ornate carousels on street corners. Clear skies and a sage green river.

Ah, Paris, we romanticise you, but you always give us reason to.

All photos by me, except me sipping a bowl of hot chocolate, Anna and I walking in the Jardin des Tuileries, the Liberty print car with flower outside Merci and the Eiffel Tower, which were taken by M.