Tuesday, December 27, 2011


City doors closed behind them, wrapped up warm, a family of four. Through mist and through fog they drive, passing trees of winter that cling like sentinels to the edges of fields that bear both the scars of the harvest and the wounds of the December snow. Some of us sleep, others, not wanting to miss anything, watch quietly as things beyond their windows. Sunlight emerges through the bare forest just moments before we arrive, bright light fracturing through a web of bare branches, a thousand shards of clear winter sky.  
Drowsy girls are gathered into arms, the yeasty scent of sleep deeply inhaled, warm bodies are briefly squeezed tight as almost imperceptible whispers of 'I love you baby' are whispered into the secret darkness between woollen hood and small ear. Into the warmth where Christmas is for sale, the familiar pungent scent of cinnamon and cut trees sparking the light of festive feeling.
Food is shared between the family of four who are crowded around a table for two so that they can sit by the window where the bright, crisp light floods in and they can see the piglets snuffling and squelching in the cold, rich mud.  
Outside, wrapped in reluctant hats, buttoned tight, they talk to the piglets. 'What do piglets say baby? Oink oink? Oink oink.' And the goats and the sheep and the chickens too. One of the four wrestles and squirms and yells to get away, her small stockinged feet desperate to stand for themselves in the mud and the grass and the cold frost of winter.   
The sun, low in the sky casting long shadows that sing a song both melancholy and celebratory, they get back in the car. Heading in the direction of home they stop to buy eggs. There is a notebook and small metal box. On one they write what they are taking '18 eggs' and in the other they leave what they owe, an insubstantial sum for eggs still warm, still nestling soft white feathers against their speckled shells. Not for the first time they stand and stare at the freezers of meat, the bags of potatoes, the sign that announces 'we operate an honesty box system' and marvel that trust, that faith still exist. 
Bathed in the golden light that makes no promises to return any time soon, they walk. Up a winding track, past orchards of small fruit trees impossibly fragile in the cold, biting air. The shaded side of the path is encrusted in frost, a million tiny rough-hewn diamonds clinging to each blade of grass, each peak of mud, each fallen stick. Puddles crack and shatter under the wheels of the pushchair and in the last minutes before the sun sets two small but full laughs saturate and warm the still, frozen air.  
Back in the car they doze, trusting entirely that he will take them home safely. Trust exists, faith exists and even in the depths of winter the sun will make its appearance. 

Monday, December 26, 2011


Christmas Day: what I want to know:  
1. who you spent it with
2. what you ate
3. what you watched
4. what you got
5. who you fell out with 

I'll start shall I?  

1. Nye, Widdle & Puke (and virtually: Nye's parents, my mum, my gran, two aunts, two uncles, a dog-in-law and a cousin in a pear tree. God bless Skype.)  
2. Scrambled eggs & smoked salmon on multigrain french toast; vegetable lasagne, sprouts, parsnips & potatoes; French fruit tart & custard; champagne truffles.  
3. In Bruges (which was hilareous btw.) and 10 minutes of the original Miracle on 34th Street 
4. so much, but the top 3: a lush People Tree jersey scarf from my mum, tiny gold triangle studs from Nye & a Henry Holland tee with TWO BUNNIES on it from my aunt. 
5. The babies. (turns out that if your babies hate your homecooked food and throw it at your head every day of the year then expecting them to enjoy it on Christmas because you spent two days making it and had it ready early so you could eat as a family is a big mistake and may result in tears. On your part and theirs. It was short-lived though, they're kind of forgiveable.)

* santa, by Poolga via Flora's pinterest, which is one of my favourites. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Chrystanthemum.

This year Nye and I will mostly be hiding at home with the girls, the Muppets & a large pile of food. 
Then we'll be heading north to celebrate New Year with my family. 
Then we'll be coming home and starting all over again. 

Merry Everything to you. xx
*The Computer's First Christmas Card, by Edwin Morgan. 


Christmas Shopping

Trio Edwin Morgan 
Coming up Buchanan Street, quickly, on a sharp winter evening
a young man and two girls, under the Christmas lights -
The young man carries a new guitar in his arms,
the girl on the inside carries a very young baby,
and the girl on the outside carries a chihuahua. 

The chihuahua has a tiny Royal Stewart tartan coat like a teapot-holder,
the baby in its white shawl is all bright eyes and mouth like favours in a fresh sweet cake,
the guitar swells out under its milky plastic cover, tied at the neck with silver tinsel tape and a brisk sprig of mistletoe.
Orphean sprig! Melting baby! Warm chihuahua!
The vale of tears is powerless before you.
Whether Christ is born, or is not born, you
put paid to fate, it abdicates

under the Christmas lights.

* photo by tim stratton

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cards  Lotte Kramer 
Slip through the letter box with messages:
Some bland, some more intense, some aching with
Bereavements, wives abandoned, loss of jobs.
The annual contact on a patient card.
‘See you next year’ some say and quite forget
Before the ink is dry.   A plaster patch
That leaves no sticky mark on minor wounds
However much the cover faces please
With coloured art or kitsch or nearly art.
One threatens every time in wiry script
‘This is the last card I shall send.  I am
Too old now’.  Still it slides into my hand.
And there is one that comes anonymous,
Unsigned, the postmark adds its mystery,
A smudge, a ghost behind this paper mask?
Perhaps there’ll be a few to tuck away
After the show, in an old envelope,
Fingered at times because the sender once
Carved hope into a fraction of your years;
Or others will imply ‘I am still here’ -
A comma on your page a life ago.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

scenes from a marriage

I Can't Explain And I Won't Even Try

Scene: boy and girl walking in the park. Boy pushing double buggy, girl slipping around on ice, on verge of full blown panic attack. 

girl: agh! I'm going to fall over. I don't LIKE it.  
boy: you'll be fine.  
girl: that's not comforting. Will you catch me if I fall over?  
boy: I'll try 
girl: THAT'S NOT COMFORTING. Say 'don't worry Pix, I'll catch you if you fall over.' 
boy: don't worry Pix, I'll probably catch you if you fall over.  
girl: BLOODY HELL. I don't care if you actually catch me, I just need to hear you say you will. It's reassuring. 
boy: It's lying.  
girl: ohforfucksake. I'll just reassure myself shall I?  
boy: probably for the best.  
girl: fuck. 

*I Can't Explain and Won't Even Try by Stefan Bruggemann

Friday, December 16, 2011

the thought.

"99¢ Product Polaroids  
In light of these economic times, we are
offering a 99¢ polaroid of any over-priced
product in our store
(packaging included)."

Colour me amused.  

 * product polaroids from Partners and Spade. via The Hipster Alert. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


bkfst, alone.



Through a fortuitous series of events I ate breakfast alone yesterday, twice, (I was hungry), and it was Glorious.  
For the first 6 months of W&P's lives I ate breakfast alone, once they'd fallen asleep for their morning nap and while Nye was in bed after being up all night with one or other or both of them. It was when I read emails, caught up with blogs, sat and stared into the middle distance revelling in the silence, it was the only time of day that I spent alone and awake. Then they started eating breakfast too and while Nye was asleep we would throw food around the kitchen and yell together, it was great fun. I didn't miss breakfast alone but I did miss Nye. Then two months ago the most wonderful thing happened, the girls started sleeping through the night. (Or rather, we started ignoring them when they woke in the night. Semantics.) and Nye started coming to bed at the same time as me and most wonderfully, getting up at the same time as me and we all started having breakfast together. Four people around a table, throwing cereal and yelling together. A proper family breakfast like I don't remember since I was little and staying with my grandparents at the same time as my cousins, the kind I never thought I'd enjoy because I'm Not A Morning Person. But you know what? I love it.  
Except. Yesterday was kind of amazing. Breakfast alone, with no one yelling and no one throwing food is sort of a treat. You know, just once in a while.  

Photos by Isabelle Bertolini, K_ _ _ _ and Caroline Hancox, via BKFST (I love this blog.) 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

June 8th.

When feet were so small, heads were so flaky and laughter was so new. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Go, Buy.

So my friend Meg wrote a book. I want you to buy it. Because my friend Meg wrote it. That's reason enough, right? No? Okay, how about I'm quoted in it? That's pretty cool huh? You should probably buy it just to read what I have to say. No? Fine, let's start again. 
Are you engaged? Are you thinking about getting engaged? Is someone you know engaged or thinking about getting engaged? Are you or someone you know kind of keen on the idea of getting engaged but the thought of a wedding gives you/them the fear? Then you really need to buy this book. 
 I'm just going to let people who have read (or written) the book tell you why: 

"...Maybe we can talk about something else that's important—the fact that the wedding world is kind of out to get us. Between the reality TV shows, the magazines, and the blogs, the wedding industry makes us out to be both the victims and the villains of our own wedding stories. We're either doing Too Much or Not Enough and we can never win. And the industry is making boatloads of money off our insecurity. But this book, this monumental labor of love, it doesn't want that for you. It gives you the power to own your wedding, to make it something that is meaningful, joyful, respectful—and that's powerful. In fact, I'm surprised the wedding industry even allows this book to exist, that's how much it challenges the commonly-held notions about what weddings are supposed to be. And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating" Maddie, who read the book. 

"Ever since I started writing APW, I wanted to write a wedding book with my particular perspective. A sane book. A mildly irreverent book. A book that told you it was ok to do what you wanted, but you also had to respect other people's feelings. A book inspired by all the Miss Manners books I giggled over as a small child lying at the bottom of a very large bookshelf, but with how-to instructions on how to actually get the job done. A book with some proper wedding history included. A book that told you how to get to the other side with grace and with your dignity and savings more or less intact. I wanted to write the book I really needed when I was planning." Meg, who wrote the book.  

Sounds good, huh? Also, and this bit is important. If you buy the book today there's a chance we can push it onto the bestseller list, and that by doing that we'll tell the people who publish the Very Bad Wedding Books that we need more of these sane wedding books. Which would be pretty cool.  

Friday, December 02, 2011

two babies

Occasionally there are these moments that make Nye and I look at each other and say "Two baboes! We had TWO BABIES!." Sometimes we don't say the words, we just look at each other and we know that is exactly what the other is thinking. Sometimes we don't say the words because we're laughing too hard but we still look at each other and say 'two babies!' silently, through the breathless hilarity. This was one of those times. 

(sorry, I know gifs are really annoying. I promise I'll post something else soon so it's not at the top of the page, giving you a migraine. Oh, and if it's just a still picture of Ella's (absurdly long) legs you might wanna hit refresh or click on the picture, I'm not entirely sure how these things work, just that it took me three days to make this so you probably should give it a go.) 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December 1st

Every few months a small brown envelope drops through my letterbox and something lurches in my chest. Something like sadness, something like regret, something an awful lot like loss. I know what those envelopes mean. Their size, their deceptive lightness, the small piece of sellotape across the back that stops their news from sneaking out before it reaches its intended. I know that when I open it the words 'we regret to inform you... passed away... hospice... many of you knew her... for those that would like to attend... details will follow.' will escape from that envelope and permeate my heart, like a malignant cloud, and will follow me wherever I may go to try to escape. 

Most of the time the names don't mean much to me, just another client of the charity I used to work for. Sometimes they ring a bell, a story I heard, an anecdote shared comes back to me. And twice those names have belonged to the mothers of children I used to work with, mothers who would open the door to me weekly and allow me to take their daughters by the hand and spend an afternoon with them in the cinema, at the zoo, in toy shops while they took the small chance they were given to have a rest. Daughters who are now parentless. 

If an envelope were to drop through my door every time someone, somewhere dies from Aids I would receive over 5000 a day. If an envelope dropped through my door for every child everywhere that was orphaned to aids I would be the proud owner of over 20 million envelopes. As it is I just have my own small collection. Around a dozen names in my desk drawer, lost to a disease that is entirely preventable. 

December 1st. World Aids Day. If nothing else, remember.

(yes, this is reposted from December 1st 2009. I had nothing to say that said it any better.) 

Dear Universe

Dear Universe,  
So I get that the common cold is well... common and that the babies need to develop their immune systems etc etc. And of course Nye needs to get the flu occasionally to remind me that I love him even when he's sick. And period pains are my punishment for being a woman and whatever. And that thing with my computer refusing to open files is the price I pay for my reliance on technology. But the dead rat under the bathroom floor? The hidden dead rat that smells like pickled onion crisps mixed with pure evil? You really think that's necessary?  
Love P. 

*Banksy rat