Week-end: blooming

A branch of pussy-willow in a bare hedge

The good

Generally encouraging outcome from Monday’s appointment. All seems more or less as it should be.

The days are getting longer, and the mornings are getting lighter, and there are crocuses and winter aconites and pussy willow and one brave daffodil.

The difficult and perplexing

I am not much less tired than I was. It is meant to be passing off by now!

What’s working

Protein, particularly at breakfast. I had cottage cheese on my toast and was amazed by the way I didn’t need to head straight to the canteen for a sausage sandwich upon arrival at work. Now I am investigating protein-rich snacks.

And I’m really enjoying being in the garden.

Experimenting with

Different configurations of pillows. (Tonight: three under my head and one under my top knee. We’ll see how that goes.)


Notes on ‘Camp’ (Susan Sontag), mostly to see if I had enough brain for theory. On the whole, yes, although I think Sontag is one of the more accessible critics anyway.

I have found several interesting blogs to add to my RSS feed reader. Some of them have not been updated in a while, but the great thing about RSS is that if they are it will show up.

Continuing with These Violent Delights and Death in Cyprus. And I did reread Persuasion, as I’ve been threatening for a few weeks.


Apparently the book that wants to be written is the book about writing a book when you have a job. So I’m going with that. I’m accumulating a lot of longhand that needs typing up, though I’m not sure when that’s going to happen.

I also saw a call for submissions I liked the look of and wrote a first draft of a poem, which hasn’t happened for a long time. Really not sure if it’s any good or not.


Continuing to catch up on: Four Continents; Alpine skiing world championships; biathlon world championships.

Looking at

Well, I meant to visit the exhibition on Alexander the Great at the British Library, but I’ve missed it. A combination of meetings running into lunchtime, not being able to remember my password to the online booking system, and general disorganisation.


Not a huge amount: a pleasantly stodgy cheese and broccoli pasta bake earlier in the week, and then stuffed peppers (couscous and tomato with harissa) with grilled halloumi yesterday. That was extremely nice.


Since we were both in Cambridge on Monday, we went to the Haymakers in Chesterton, which used to be our designated local, and had pizza. Mine was a Capricciosa – artichokes, ham, olives, and probably other tasty things I’ve forgotten (it says mushrooms on the menu, but I asked for them to be left off).


I wish to note that I managed to get my bike all the way up Back Hill without having to get off to push it for the first time in ages. (I often feel that I could do it more often if I only tried a little harder, but by that time in the evening I’m usually short on willpower as well as energy.)


Attempted an escape room with colleagues; we failed miserably but had fun.


A hare, lolloping across a frosty field.

In the garden

The loveliest thing happened yesterday: I was getting the washing in, and three small long-tailed tits came and started pecking away at the suet block, maybe a metre and a half away from me, tops. I waited to get the last few things down from the line until they’d finished.

I finished pruning the last apple tree and had a go at taming the wisteria. Maybe tomorrow I’ll look up what I need to do to plum trees, other than get the vines out of them.

I’m beginning to think about what I want to plant this year. Tarragon, certainly. Maybe I’ll finally manage to keep some parsley alive.


Increased light and warmth. The return of the idea-generating bit of my brain.


Tickets to a couple of events at the Church Times Faith and Literature festival. I had no idea this was happening until I looked on Winchester Cathedral’s website to see when Evensong was going to be next weekend, since I’m going there for something completely different. The programme is slightly frustrating, in that there are several things I’d like to hear all on at the same time, but since this was an entirely unexpected opportunity I’m not going to complain too much. I just hope I’ll have the energy for it. (Also wish to note that it didn’t even occur to me until several hours later to consider myself a failure for not having made enough of a name as a faithful litterata to have been invited. A couple of years ago it might really have got to me.)

Two cookery books: The Roasting Tin (this might have been last week) and The Pressure Cooker Cookbook. And a recipe binder in the Paperchase closing down sale.

More food containers.


Well, I still have the rest of the cupboard to organise.

Line of the week

I really liked this blog post by K. J. Charles.

We see holiness—wonderful things—everywhere, if we only look. Because life is everywhere, although time passes, and babies age, and people and things and ways go and are forgotten. No, not ‘though’. Because the tide is always going out.

Saturday snippet

For the writing a book book:

This is one of those irritating inner voices that is never satisfied. It will move the goalposts to the other end of town if you give it a chance. You? Writing a book? Don’t be ridiculous. That’s for people with… You can fill in your own blanks.

This coming week

More travelling than is really ideal, but not much I can do about that.

Anything you’d like to share from this week? Any hopes for next week? Share them here! Or recommend me protein-rich snacks (I don’t like milky drinks, though).

December Reflections 8: favourite photo of 2020

winter trees silhouetted against a pale pink and blue sky. There are three squirrels in among the branches

I’ve already mentioned how much I’m enjoying the camera on my new phone. It’s better than the camera on my old phone. It’s better than the camera on my camera – and, because it’s on my phone, I’ve been taking it with me pretty much everywhere.

So I’ve taken a lot of photos this year. Many of them are of things in my garden: beans, flowers, fruit, ladybirds, trees. Trees outside my garden, too. Lately I’ve been fascinated by the richness of winter morning light on lichened bark, by silhouettes of bare branches. Many of them are of the amazing fenland skies that I’m coming to know better: sunsets from my study window, sunrises from my morning walk, imposing cloudscapes over flat ploughed fields.

I couldn’t have chosen between all the trees. I couldn’t have chosen between all the skies. But there was only one morning when I saw three squirrels in the same tree, and this is the photo in which they’re looking their most squirrelsome. So here it is: my favourite photo of 2020.