Friday, 30 September 2011

(just for the record)

© Jenny Kynaston

Thursday, in no particular order.

My friendly cartographer, Jenny,
sends a photo from the field site.
It is sunny and they are outside...
what's not to like?

The youngest academic is wearing
a fabulous yellow striped sun dress
that she bought on her last trip to Laos.
It was 'inspired' by, but cheaper than,
the Marc Jacobs dress for Michelle Obama.

I meet a new student who tells me
that university is not the right place for her.
It is a brave decision.

And I meet a student who has returned
after a period of illness.
It is good to see her smiling again.

The new Research Assistant
is wearing stylish linen trousers.
I ask him if he will be travelling
and he tells me that he will go to Glasgow.
I am not sure if I should sympathise.

The Post Doctoral fellow who is leaving
is wearing a Missoni dress.
She tells me about her contract
with the UN in Geneva and she smiles
when I tell her I am very proud
of what she has achieved.

The travel consultant is tall and slender
and I find myself distracted by her beads
when I should be concentrating
on discussions about field centres in Kenya.

The VP of the GeogSoc is between lectures.
He is a busy and organised person.
The Freshers pub crawl was a great success.
I am not surprised.

The enthusiastic Professor
is setting off for three months in Mexico
I make her promise to send photos
and I look forward to the quirky images
that will arrive in my inbox.

I tell the young Scottish academic
who is leaving to take up a teaching post
in the far South West that she cannot escape me.
One fine day I will arrive on her doorstep
and take her out to my favourite fish restaurant.
I hope that she knows I am serious.

My mentee and I discuss
how to achive a work-life balance.
We agree that there is no right way
but I am interested to learn from him.
He never looks at work emails at home.

As I leave the Department
I pass a student in a maxi dress.
She looks cool and stylish,
perfectly dressed for a summer evening.
And I wonder if MissM packed hers.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Crazy Times

Teapot, Ginger Jar and Slave Candlestick
Pieter van Roestraten (1695)
©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

It seems that I need to look at
pictures of things.
Photos of places and people
are off limits at the moment.

Still life paintings of teapots are perfect.
I can simultaneously indulge my craving
for milk thistle and lemon verbena tea
and my passion for china.

milk thistle tea...
What depraved depths have I sunk to?
Can somebody reassure me
that this is just a phase...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

MrsM fails. Again.

MrsM has made a major strategic mistake
because she told everyone at work
when she went to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

This has resulted in difficult conversations
when MrsM has been expected to give
a critical analysis of the characterisations,
an intelligent comparision with the book
and a critique of the key differences
between Gary Oldman and Alec Guinness.

MrsM has been quite unable to offer any insights
because she went to review the relative merits of
Ciaran Hinds, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch
and she did not want to be distracted.

Now everyone knows how shallow she is.

Monday, 26 September 2011

the road to uni

So...MrsM and MissM loaded the car with the clothes and the boots and the shoes and the handbags and the books and the wine glasses and the corkscrew and the breadknife and all of the essential items that you need to be a proper student and set off down the motorway. They noticed lots of other cars which were also going to uni and realised that everyone else had even more stuff. MrsM and MissM were particularly impressed by the boy with the ironing board.

As it is a long way to uni-land MrsM and MissM stopped overnight at a B&B which MrM had booked. It was not obvious from the website but the B&B was a centre for 'spiritual healing' and MrsM and MissM sat on the pink sofa pondering the leaflet describing the therapeutic opportunities. MrsM was tempted by the Angelic Reiki which channelled the healing powers of the Angelic Kingdom - reassuringly this worked while you were fully clothed. MissM pointed out that they were staying in the Ruby Room and so they were already experiencing the 'vibrational energy and colour of Crystal Healing' at no additional cost. It may have been the careful Feng Shui alignment of the beds or the multiple rose crystals but they both slept deeply and awoke with unblocked Auras and fully aligned Chakras ready to hit the road.

MrsM said to MissM "Remember, the Angels of Love and Light are always there for you ..." MissM replied "I know, I only have to ask for their help."

then MrsM chose the music and MissM turned up the volume and they set off again...

Sunday, 25 September 2011


2 Samuel 24:24

And the king said unto Araunah,
Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price:
neither will I offer burnt offerings
unto the LORD my God
of that which doth cost me nothing.

Today Thomas celebrated his last service as Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of St. Andrew's, Thornhaugh and St Mary's, Wansford.

The church was packed to overflowing with friends who had come to give thanks for his stewardship over the past ten years. MrM was there and has told me all about it.

I wish I could have been with them too but I know that Thomas and Audrey were surrounded with love on this very special day.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

MissM, Domestic Goddess

MissM is so organised
that she has already baked
the chocolate caramel shortbread*
to take to university on Saturday.
No shop-bought cakes for her!
Her grandma will be so proud.

*Lucy's delicious recipe

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

the long view


We spent Sunday afternoon at Kew Gardens
visiting the former Museum of Economic Botany,
reopened as part of the Open London weekend.

A PhD student from the Department,
is jointly sponsored by Kew Gardens
and she had co-organised the exhibition.
It was fascinating to see a small sample
of the thousands of artefacts in storage:
a brick of tea and a cassava grater,
a 'lace' bonnet made with delicate bark,
an intricate bamboo pannier to carry a baby
and an exquisite fan of boxwood.

The most enjoyable aspect of the exhibition
was the knowledge that Caroline
had achieved a major milestone in her studies
and that the exhibition, which was enjoyed
by hundreds of people over the weekend,
would not have happened without her enthusiasm.


I took a number of photographs at Kew
but this one delights me
because it captures the changeable light.

Sometimes one photograph is enough.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Monday Morning

Today is the first day of term...

let's just look at a calming picture
of the Normandy countryside.

Deep breath.

Off I go.

Friday, 16 September 2011

nihil novi

Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947)
Modele se deshabillant

MrsM looks in her wardrobe
and says to herself
"If only I can find ONE thing to wear
that is clean AND ironed
I absolutely PROMISE that
I will never ever EVER be so chaotic
about my laundry and ironing again."

And MrsM hears a stern voice
inside her head
which says
"You said that yesterday."

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Time Management

baked before bedtime

Strawberry cake

iced before breakfast

Chocolate cake

washed up after work

Lemon and Blueberry Cheesecake Cake



It is a while since I have made the chocolate cake recipe - it used to be my favourite cake but it was quite dry - I think I will add sour cream next time. The lemon and blueberry cake, on the other hand, was delicious. I added blueberries to a standard Victoria sponge recipe and made a cream cheese frosting flavoured with lemon rind. It was light, moist and not too sweet. I don't eat as much sweet food as I used to and I think that my tastes might have changed. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

She Married Him

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender

MrM, MrsM and MissM
enjoy an evening at the cinema
watching Jane Eyre

I thought it was an interesting script
because it assumed
that you knew the plot.

To be fair,
the only person in the world
who would be surprised
by the ending
is MasterM.

What do you mean?
He studied Jane Eyre
in his first year at University.

I am afraid that he was too busy
to read the whole book
because it was 'so long'.
His strategic approach was to read the first half
and concentrate on character analysis in the exam.
He never read the end.

Why am I not surprised?

High Noon

What a shame that you fell asleep!
They showed the alternative ending -
it was a real movie-fan treat.
But really sad...

MrM (still groggy)
Gary Cooper died!!
I didn't know there was
an alternative ending.

It was the director's preferred ending
but he was over-ruled by United Artists.

You should have woken me up

MrsM (kindly)
You were so tired
I felt sorry for you.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Saturday Morning

Henri Matisse
Odalisque with Red Trousers

MrsM lies in bed and reviews the week

Violet nail polish
Nasty shock in the morning.
Quite unsuitable for 'mature' skin.

Blue shirts for MrM
Too many.
All to be ironed.

MrsM sighs.

Green pesto sauce
After disastrous discovery
that jar of Tesco pesto was empty
forced to make some
with basil, parmesan and whatnot.

MrsM sighs again.

Yellow plums
sour, sour, sour
MrsM's cheeks have not yet recovered.

Orange handbook
MrsM's vibrant colour choice for 2011
has not been well received
Geographers prefer pastel shades.

Red and white spotty apron
It has not been a good week.
MrsM tries to think
of a reason to get out of bed...
She could 'treat' herself
to a new apron for her Saturday chores...

MrsM sighs deeply.

She is not motivated by aprons.
She makes alternative,
chocolate-based plans.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


A new Head of Department
has just moved into
the office next door

and it is only two weeks
before the start of term.

I am working long hours
and my brain feels numb
at the end of the day.

Too numb to write.

Service will be patchy.


Misericordia from l'Abbaye de la Trinité, Vendôme

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


MasterM is building sandcastles
just in case you wondered...

Monday, 5 September 2011

Shopping with MissM

The Great Bed of Ware

MrsM is browsing peacefully.
MissM and the Charming MasterN
are doing the hard work.

We were looking for you
We've got everything I need for uni.

Charming MasterN
Don't worry!
It is all very good value.

What's this?
A plain red duvet cover?

I haven't chosen anything expensive.

It doesn't match your towels.

That's true.
But that doesn't matter.
Does it?

Of course it matters.
I can't let you go to university
with a plain duvet cover
that doesn't match your towels.
My life is too short
to waste it worrying about you.
Find a shop assistant.
I need to talk to someone.

Friday, 2 September 2011

among trees

Today I am thinking of
Alicia and Andy
as they travel across America.

Alicia has been a source of inspiration
ever since I started blogging...
she has shared their life,
the happiness and the sadness of it,
with insight and honesty
and her voice is always true and warm.

May this be
just the beginning
of their journey.