Week-end: the last dance

A small brown lizard on a grey rock surrounded by ivy and other bright green leaves

The good

Wedding! One of my brothers got married yesterday; it was a lovely afternoon in the sunshine by the river. There was a bus jaunt and a ceilidh and dancing to Pa’s 45s at the end of the night (hello, Mary Lou, goodbye heart…).

I couldn’t help noticing how much better I was yesterday than at the last ceilidh I attended, thirteen months ago. Back then I was a month out from COVID and managed three dances, with extensive sit-downs between them. This time, seven months pregnant, I did two thirds or more (though my goodness, I was feeling it in my hips all night afterwards).

The mixed

Rail strikes made travel more complicated than it needed to be, though in practice this just meant an extra night in Portsmouth and a relaxed amble to the hovercraft.

The difficult and perplexing

I felt dreadfully flat afterwards. I think this was mostly tiredness, as I’m more cheerful today (also helps to have seen, and had longer conversations with, more of the family over lunch today). But the other part of it was that this was the last big thing before the baby arrives, and suddenly the calendar, which up until now was full of little islands of events and excursions, is all unexplored territory.

What’s working

Letting other people sort themselves out.


The Third Policeman (Flann O’Brien), which, at two chapters in, is already engagingly weird. Elephants Can Remember (Agatha Christie); I remembered the entire solution, which rather spoils it, though Mrs Oliver is always good value for money.


Little and not very often. I have a week off so maybe I’ll get some down when I get home. Or maybe I’ll rearrange the study. Or just nap.


Nothing, but I note here that the person who previously owned my frock clearly had exactly the same problem with the neckline, as I found the remains of some stitching just where I was putting a safety pin.


The Giro d’Italia, though not so much the last few days. Maybe I’ll catch up. Maybe I’ll catch up with Eurovision, too.

Looking at

The delightfully eclectic mix of buildings in Old Portsmouth: eighteenth century pubs and 1960s council houses and the cathedral which has been a church for a very long time but a cathedral only for a century or so all rubbing shoulders. And the end of the A3, which runs out in a narrow street, laid with setts and disused tramlines, at the harbour.


Things with chips in pubs and various sorts of breakfasts in various different caf├ęs (the Spinnaker at Portsmouth and the Blue Door in Newport were both very good). Wedding cake. And so forth.


Warsteiner Fresh (alcohol free) – really not bad at all. And an excellent cup of coffee while we were waiting for the hovercraft at Southsea.


Dancing. Lots of it. And walking around Ventnor, which takes no little effort.


Lizards! I always go looking for lizards when I’m in Ventnor during the summer months, and I spotted three or four when I was walking back from the seafront today. Yesterday I saw four impressively large fish in the river after the wedding ceremony (I do not know what species they might have been).

In the garden

It got a lot of rain last week, and I didn’t do much to it before we went away.


My family, and how we generally get on with each other and like seeing each other (not universally the case, as a conversation with my taxi driver on the way to the station on Thursday morning reminded me). A lift home from Tuesday’s antenatal class, saving me from a prolonged downpour. Having the disposable income to book an extra night in a hotel without having to worry about it. My frock fitting (another week and I think it would have been too tight). Modern technology meaning that I could participate in a discussion that I was at least partly responsible for initiating.


A charity shop top with a design of leaves and leopards.


Nothing, really.

Line of the week

I have a cat on my lap; this feature may follow when I don’t. Or it may not.

Sunday snippet

As above.

This coming week

One day of attacking the contents of my father’s house (I thought I might do some of that this afternoon, but I had a nap in a chair instead), then home to get my own house in order.

Anything you’d like to share from this week? Any hopes for next week? Share them here!

Week-end: sudden standstill

Model San Francisco cable car, with box, in front of a window through which can be seen the sea

The mixed

I’m doing this on my pone so it’s all going in tgether. I am on the Isle of Wight. (This piture shows Ventnor, not San Francisco.) I was meant to be watching the Tour of Britain, which was meant to be crossing the Island and coming through Ventnor tomorrow. However, the Queen died (and that’s quite a thing to get one’s head around in itself) and so it’s cancelled. So it’s turned into a regular Island-weekend-with-family, which is very good in itself, but it would have been even more fun to watch the cycling together.

And because regular Island weekends with family tend to mean clearing my father’s house, we’ve been doing that, and it’s slow going. Yesterday I was close to despairing. Today I took a load of shelves to bits and felt better. But yes, it’s not an easy process. Often aggravating. Occasionally poignant. Sometimes hilarious. We found a little card on which was recorded my first visit to a pub. I was less than a month old. And I have to say that should I have need of a 1950s model San Francisco cable car (this will become relevant later), I have a far greater than average chance of finding one.

Plus the trains have been awful and I’ve been knackered.

What’s working

Pumping up the tyres on my bike. Made it much easier to get up the hill, even with a holdall, a satchel, and a tote bag with a cork yoga block.


Madame Clorinda is back! Not that she’s been Madame Clorinda for a long time, of course, but she’s been brightening my mornings.

Started The Embroidered Sunset (Joan Aiken) with an online readalong.

Finished Double or Nothing: very good, twisty, introduces some engaging new characters and had me looking forward to seeing more of them.

I also read, and loved, Last Night at the Telegraph Club (Malinda Lo), and I would rave about it if I weren’t typing in this hideous mobile interface. Amazing sense of time and place. Let the cable car speak for how much I liked it.


Up against it with this patchwork thing.


The Tour of Britain, or what there was of it.


Beef olives, for the first time ever, and baked figs.

Listening to

Jeremy Wilson talking about Beryl Burton at Ventnor Exchange. Very difficult to stop Beryl Burton, even when all other cycling stops.


Scrabble, with my mother. I won, largely because I drew J, Q, Z and K.


The full moon over the sea.


Beryl. Will also be taking some things home from my father’s house…


Various dresses on the Joanie site. I don’t really need any new dresses.

Line of the week

From Last Night at the Telegraph Club:

The door was propped open, and inside she saw Shirley’s baby-blue party dress on a hanger hooked over the edge of a locker door, like the shell of a girl floating in midair.

This coming week

Back to the writing. An early bus and an early hovercraft. And a nice quiet Saturday, I hope.

Anything you’d like to share from this week? Any hopes for next week? Share them here!

December Reflections 17: things I missed

plastic tumbler with blue design representing the various things that go on at Ventnor Fringe Festival

I did make it to Ventnor, and was very glad to do so, but of course the Fringe was cancelled. I was able to see my family, but I missed the buzz and the music and the hanging around at the Book Bus drinking Belgian beer until it was time to go and watch something strange or brilliant or completely whack. There were a lot of holes in the calendar this year: Ventnor Fringe; our housewarming party; the Discworld convention; the national Ultreya. Whole months went by without my looking at the calendar at all.

I missed the things I’d promised myself I’d do more of – live theatre, yes (I saw two operas in two weeks back in February, though I wasn’t intending to maintain that ratio), but ice skating, too, cinema (we live five minutes from a cinema now!), taking trains to places on the Continent. I missed the things I took for granted: a pint at the pub, being able to sing in church.

I’ve said a few times that I’m quite prepared to continue being an antisocial cow for as long as it takes, and that’s true. But there are things I’m missing a lot, and I shall be very glad to do them again when it’s safe.

See you on the Book Bus

2013 May 232

Later this week I’ll be back on the Isle of Wight for Ventnor Fringe, an independent arts festival that turns every conceivable nook and cranny in this delightfully higgledy-piggledy Victorian resort into a performance space. Ventnor is possibly my favourite town in the entire country, but I have never yet managed to make it down there for the Fringe. Until now.

You may well find me in the Book Bus in St Catherine’s churchyard, where I’ll have copies of both my books on sale. (Mine are new. Everything else on there is second hand.) The bus (which is the one in the picture above) will be there all week, and is open from 10am to 6pm; I have to eat and sleep and would quite like to see some of the other events as well, so I can’t guarantee that I’ll necessarily be there when you happen to turn up. But hey, it’s a bus full of books; you don’t need me to be around to have a whale of a time there.

All this talk of independent events reminds me of an initiative I came across via Twitter this week, Just A Card. The idea is that if everybody who came into a [studio/craft shop/art gallery/bookshop] bought ‘just a [card/brooch/fridge magnet/book]’, that establishment would be able to remain in business for rather longer than it would otherwise.

Obviously I’m not advocating filling your house up with useless crap that you hate, particularly not if money’s tight; but if you find something cheap and pleasing, something that you think that a friend or family member might appreciate even if it’s not your thing, then buying it might go a little way to keeping an independent business going.

(Connoisseurs of British seaside towns may legitimately point out that this is obviously Brighton, not Ventnor. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the bus in Ventnor, although by this time next week I almost certainly will have fixed that.)