Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mid-week interlude

A break for lunch today - a delicious Byron burger, fries and freshly-squeezed lemonade in Islington.

Butterfly sun hat for Little Planet from Green Baby next door - the store we virtually lived at when Little Planet was a baby.

Organic baby creams also from Green Baby.

Back home to work. Having completed detailed outlines for the plot, sub plots, characters, setting and structure, I am now working on mapping out the novel's scenes.

Homemade tonkatsu and carrot and daikon pickles for dinner tonight when M returns home. And the planting of two more tomato plants.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekend eating and playing

Strolling along the Southbank / Getting lost in Ernesto Neto's magical playground for children and adults at the Hayward Gallery / Bangers and mash, beetroot salad, chicken pie, and crayons for lunch at Canteen / Vietnamese chicken, rice and pickles for dinner / Sussex cherries for dessert

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Words that make my heart sing

hullabaloo / festooned / fabulosity / cacophony / inkling / mellifluous / serendipity / iridescent / potpourri / medley / cackle / curvaceous / embrace / dulcet / harmony / phosphorescent / tranquility / calliope / evocative / grandiose / bombastic / quirky / smudge / swoop / gleaming / shiny / crisp / flamboyant / azure / vermilion / cobalt / indigo / persnickety / smitten / fortuitous / diffuse / crinoline / quiver / shiver / flutter / expiration / inhalation / beguiling / evanescent / diaphanous / emollient / languid / unravel / melody / soliloquy / opalescence / cadence / sepulchral / tangential / breathe / kiss

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekend notes

  • After a morning of writing, I met up with M for lunch in town - om soba with pork, squid and prawns, deep fried tofu, sea cucumber with seaweed salad and Calpis soda at Abeno on Museum Street, near the British Museum.
  • He went back to work and I headed to the Renoir to see Kristin Scott Thomas in French-language film Partir: A middle class English wife abruptly leaves her family to pursue a passionate affair with a working-class Spanish father. A pot-boiler plot but remarkably well-acted.
  • For dinner, I made linguine with asparagus, broad beans and peas in a Dijon mustard, olive oil and chives (from our garden) sauce. We ate in the garden.

  • My mother-in-law was staying with us this weekend, so she and my sister-in-law looked after Little Planet while M and I headed into town to visit some galleries.
  • We walked along the Regent's Canal to the Victoria Miro gallery to view In The Company Of Alice - a captivating show of paintings by a variety of artists such as Chris Ofili, Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Karen Kilimnik (painting above) and Elizabeth Peyton who were all inspired by the painter Alice Neel who was born in 1900 and painted in dire circumstances and often in obscurity. Her fascinating story is written in the FT.
  • We popped next door to the Parasol Unit to see the animations of Tabaimo whose focus is satirising contemporary Japanese life. I found the work a little too contrived (and, dare I say it, too much like an end of year graduate show) for my liking.
  • We walked to Hoxton Square where we had a mediocre "freshly-squeezed" (it tasted store-bought) orange juice from Ruby Cafe, before going into the White Cube to see the heady Kupferstichkabinett exhibition of drawings from artists such as Joseph Beuys, Luc Tuymans, Rachel Whiteread, Harland Miller, Gavin Turk, Tracy Emin, Lucian Freud and my very favourite Anselm Kiefer and Tacita Dean.
  • We'd had enough art by now (is this possible?) and were feeling hungry, so be bused it over to Soho where we lunched at So Sushi: salmon and avocado chirashi-sushi, deep-fried tofu, seared scallops with daikon and yuzu mayonnaise, spicy tuna roll, California roll, iced green tea and Calpis (photo above). Yes, we were hungry and the food was so fresh and delicious that we gobbled it all up (most un-Japanese like).
  • Before heading home, we stocked up on groceries at the John Lewis Food Hall.
  • Dinner was whole sea bream cooked on the BBQ and accompanied by freshly-made aioli, sauteed potatoes and oven-baked cherry tomatoes on the vine, which we ate outside (photo below).
  • I woke up ill: sore throat, congested chest and a hacking cough. Still, I was a good wife and gave M a lie in as he was recovering from a cold (the one he'd now passed onto me). I took Little Planet downstairs with me when she woke and we ate our breakfast on the sofa in the living room watching recorded episodes of the CBeebies show Everything's Rosie, which is whimsical and delightful. My daughter sat beside me and every so often made comments to me on what she was seeing. After two years, I still can't believe I have a little daughter - my little companion in life :-)
  • When M woke up around 9.30am, I took to bed as I was coughing quite a bit by this stage. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law took Little Planet to the park and M did some gardening. A couple hours of sleeping and I felt better and the two of us headed to the park where we had lunch in the cafe with Little Planet and her Grandma. Little Planet shared a plate of fish fingers, chips, peas and ketchup with Grandma, M ate omelette with salad and I had a jacket potato with cheese and baked beans.
  • M and his mum went to the butchers and grocers but I took Little Planet home for her nap as she was very tired from all the playing (it's a hard life, eh?).
  • In the afternoon, Little Planet's other Grandma - her dida (my mum) - came to visit and we all whiled away the hours in the sunny garden.
  • After Little Planet's bedtime, we dined on a BBQ of lamb chops, chorizo and seared red peppers, in between scooting back inside to catch bits of the (boring) World Cup final. My mum had bought a delicious blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake from Waitrose for our dessert, but M also put slabs of fresh pineapple on the BBQ which was heavenly.
  • And then I had an early night.
This morning I'm still feeling quite rough so I've been napping, doing five loads of laundry (one-hour cycles; the air is so warm, everything is drying quickly - saves me doing laundry for the rest of the week when I will be writing), watching some rubbish TV and, of course, blogging this.

M is at work and will be working late, Little Planet is at daycare, my mother-in-law has returned to her home. I am going to take it easy today (and hanging out laundry is quite meditative actually) and hope that I can get back to normal tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My new 9 to 5

Hello, I'm still here but I'm writing, and when I'm not writing, I am tired of writing. So it's been a little while since my last post.

Nearly two weeks in and I'm in a good routine now. It's a routine that revolves entirely around writing. Having written two other books, plus two research theses and numerous conference papers, I know that the only way to get any writing done is to simply sit down and get on with it.

M continues to drop Little Planet off at daycare each morning. After waving them both goodbye at 8.30am, I go upstairs to the study with a tall glass of water, sit down at my desk, fire up my laptop and write... well I'm outlining at the moment - working on the plot and the characters, but writing all the same. I like the discipline and structure of outlining first - it suits my personality and I've found it's the best way for me to write.

Three mornings a week I power walk round the park for an hour or so before settling down to write. On these mornings I'll be sitting at my desk at 10am.

My breaks revolve around doing laundry, cleaning, reading magazines, eating lunch, getting a head start on dinner, pottering in the garden, pacing the house (I do this a lot whilst thinking) and doing a bit of shopping - but not every day (well, except eating lunch and pottering around the garden and pacing). I then finish writing around 5-5.30pm when I go and pick up Little Planet. And that's my writing over with for the day, though I keep notebooks in every room to jot down ideas.

Evenings are for Little Planet (in this good weather we water the plants together and kick a ball around as she tells me about her day: "We went to the park" "I chalked on the ground" "I played with Play Doh. It was green and yellow" "D was on the potty watching Third And Bird" "Baby M bit my arm and Auntie J put ice on it" "It's milk time now?"). Then, after her bedtime, my evenings are for M. Evenings are also for reading and sitting in the garden - we recently bought a teak table and chairs plus a bench and it's lovely sitting outside by candlelight and looking at our geraniums, fuchsias, jasmine and herbs. I'm struggling to read contemporary novels whilst writing - this happened to me the last time too - so I think I will go back to reading the classics.

Weekends are often all about family because I now crave the socialising I miss during the week: last weekend was spent in the company of my sister-in-law and her friend, plus my mum and her friend and her son. M had the good fortune of attending the Ladies Finals at Wimbledon - though he insists he was working as he was with clients. This weekend will be spent with both my mum and my mother-in-law, though M and I will scoot off into town together to check out some galleries and go for a quiet meal whilst both Grandmas look after Little Planet for the day.

Do I miss work? At the moment, no. Because this is my work now - my new "9 to 5".