Saturday, 31 December 2011


I take these photos in a moment
but then spend weeks wondering
which order to publish them in.
Right to left? Left to right?

It is a good metaphor for my year.
I have alternated between
looking back and looking forward,
between a painful sense of loss
and anxious anticipation of the future.

I need to learn
to accept the present
but I have never been good
at standing still.

"Every horizon,
upon being reached,
reveals another
beckoning in the distance.
Always, I am on the threshold"

W. Eugene Smith

Friday, 30 December 2011

Rosa, aged five and a half

Rosa wears peppermint green shorts
and a stylish red wool coat
and carries her new umbrella
in the windiest of weather
and if you dawdle she shouts
"Keep Up Slow-Coaches!!"


We are in a wet, windy Cornwall
visiting the little girl cousins
and the little boy cousins.

The Christmas presents were left behind
and almost didn't make it
but MrM remembered in the nick of time
(well...within an hour of setting off...)
thereby gaining enough credits to cancel
the anti- wrinkle cream catastrophe.

Thursday, 29 December 2011


It is Christmas Eve in the busiest aisle in the busiest supermarket in the world. MrsM is trying to avoid being crushed by shopping trolleys pushed by women who would rather be power-walking. MrsM hears her phone go and tries to get it out of her pocket without injuring the small child who is being used to dart between trolleys to reach the biscuits on the bottom shelf. It is MrM phoning from his annual shopping trip "I am at the shops!" MrsM feigns surprise."I can't remember what sort of cream you want" MrsM mutters into the phone "I said I wanted night cream" and hopes no-one can hear her. MrM says "But there are two sorts of night cream - the grey one and the black one" MrsM immediately recognises her plan to introduce new concepts to the gift purchasing routine has the potential to go tragically wrong and hastily replies "Just plain night cream" "One is wrinkle cream - do you want that?" MrsM starts to panic and whispers "I want ANTI-wrinkle cream" MrM says "I can't hear you - can you speak up" Which is why MrsM found herself shouting into the phone on Christmas Eve in the middle of the busiest aisle in the busiest supermarket in the world "I want ANTI-WRINKLE CREAM".

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Days of China

Christmas Eve
Spode Clifton and left over ribbon
from the late, late wrapping show

Christmas Morning
A study in Orange
and the Wedgwood Landscape bowl
(Roses courtesy of MrM)

Christmas Lunch
Wedgwood Osborne
Sigh...isn't it perfect?
(The sprouts were acclaimed as 'unusually vile')

Boxing Day morning
Sunshine and Spode Blue Room plates
with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.

Boxing Day lunch
Christmas red fruit salad
in the Burleigh Calico bowl
(with my famous raspberry torte off-screen)


I'm sure that there was other stuff
that happened over the past three days
but if it didn't have china plates or bowls
I can't remember the details.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

I bought these tiny glass baubles today
and piled them in a glass dish
in the middle of our table.
They sparkle in the candlelight
and make me smile.

Thank you for your friendship
which reaches me from all over the world,
each of your comments and emails
a tiny sparkle to make me smile.

I wish you all safe journeys,
a peaceful Christmas day
and time with people you love.
Alice x

Friday, 23 December 2011

Snowman Crescent

I love getting Christmas cards
(which is ironic when you think of
the fuss I make about writing them)

I love the designs,
the charities that they support
and the messages inside.

When I left work today
I collected all of my cards
from students and colleagues

and took them away to enjoy
over the Christmas break.

I now have ten days at home
to spend time with my family

but it is good to be reminded
of the wonderful people
that I work with.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

woman, reclining

France c1600
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I have been so good
I have worked my way down The List
fairy lights
mince pies

so I allowed myself an evening off
to look at pounce pots and inkstands.

And now, mentally refreshed,
I shall go and finish my cards.

Yes...I do know it is 21st December
late late cards is a Family Tradition
and I'm holding my nerve.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Ice Therapy

MissM and the musical MissA
went skating today
at the Tower of London.

Not the most obvious activity
for our ailing heroine
with aforementioned cough

but MissM informs MrsM that
nothing is allowed
to get in the way
of serious holiday fun.

"I'm not going to waste my time
lying on the sofa
doing a Downton-athon."

(MrsM realises that she has
accidentally slipped into old age
because a Downton-athon
sounds quite appealing.)

Monday, 19 December 2011

News from the Sanatorium

MrM and MissM are coughing
as though they have been
living in a freezing garret.

MrsM prescribes vitamin rich food:
blueberry jam on croissants
Cosmopolitan cocktail with cranberry juice
orange fruit salad with kumquats

MrsM prescribes rest and relaxation
and supervises a sofa session
of "Love Actually"

MrsM prescribes cough medicine
and shows MissM how to open
the child proof lid.
Well...she is 20...


A number of blogfriends have been poorly
over the past couple of weeks
and I know how frustrating that is
when you have everything to do
but take care of yourselves first...
rest up as much as you can.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

When MissM came home...

...she approved the new addition of fairy lights on the mantlepiece, pointed out that the candles had excessive slump, gave permission for the weird, wobbly people to emerge from their safe place, opened the doors on the advent calendar which had been forgotten, supervised the decorating of the tree ensuring that the garlands that go around were not confused with the ones that drape downwards and hung her little glass angel on the top branch. And when MissM was quite satisfied that everything was under control she went out to the pub with a friend...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Precision Timing

Just setting off!
See you soon.
Oh! I haven't started packing yet!

How are you getting on?
Having breakfast with friends.
Starting to get my brain in gear
What!! Haven't you started yet??

Just stopped for coffee

Finished packing!
Good news!
We are parked outside...

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Brilliance of Professors

Christmas Lunch - December 2011

I think that this is one of the pictures
that I would put in my desert island photo album...
I know that whenever I looked at it
I would still hear the faint sound of laughter
and it would be impossible to feel lonely.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Message from...

please tell me
some intellectual things
to say about wine

(answer: errrr...what?? why??)

this is me with friends
at the ball last night
do you like my new dress?

(answer: yes!!)

Jazz Brunch on New Years Day?
Please respond : Yes; No; Maybe

(answer: Yes Definitely)

Panic over.
Quality Street sourced.
Turns out that Waitrose
is not the only supermarket.
Who knew?

(for those of you who have not experienced
the magic of Quality Street
I'm so sorry...
I am sure that if you are very good
you will enjoy them in your next life)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


This should be a tranquil post.
I should be relaxing.
But all I can think about is the fact
that tins of Quality Street
are completely sold out
and this is a Total Disaster.
My family will stop loving me
because Christmas is not Christmas
without a tin of Quality Street
If only I had bought one in August.
I am hoping they can be brave about it...
I don't suppose they will sob much.

Alternatively I can run away from home.

Will pack my suitcase
as soon as I have finished
my Winterberry cocktail.


Winterberry cocktail
one measure Creme de Cassis
one measure vodka
shake with ice
top up with tonic
embellish with 3 frozen raspberries

Monday, 12 December 2011


currants, raisins, sultanas
and mixed citrus peel
soaked in brandy

organic undyed dark cherries
(I long for unfashionable red cherries)

the best Spanish almonds

plain flour, cinnamon and mixed spice

butter, eggs, treacle
and muscovado sugar

and a perfectly lined cake tin.

Another thing ticked off The List...
Go me!!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Leave of Absence

Eeyore's Plight
The House at Pooh Corner (1928
E.H. Shephard

My favourite Christmas card so far
from the lovely people at
Peter Harrington


It's the Dept Christmas Party today...
I'm otherwise occupied...

Why don't you go and visit Julia in Prague
and share her joyful posts
about preparing for Christmas
in the Czech Republic?

Thursday, 8 December 2011

two turtle doves

My Christmas cards have arrived
and they tone perfectly
with my cushions!

*contented sigh*

What are you talking about?
Doesn't everyone do that?

I have just remembered
that MissM did the envelopes last year.
Which is awkward.

Maybe I will collect her early.
I am sure that she won't mind
missing her soirée...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Our Lady of the Fruits of the Earth

I am going to a ball next weekend...
and the theme is 'Fantasia'

MrsM immediately thinks of dancing elephants
but this is not what MissM has in mind


I am going as Titania
MrsM wonders about the Charming MasterN...
will he go as Oberon?
or Bottom?

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

I can't decide which heels to wear...
definitely not the black and white ones
because I got spectacular blisters last weekend.

MrsM realises that she has never thought
about what sort of shoes Titania wears.
Probably not black and white heels.


Could you pick me up on Thursday or Friday
because I have a dance on Monday
and a soirée on Wednesday.

MrsM tries not to smile
but it is very hard.

Nimue (Niniane), Damsel of the Lake

all paintings by
Frank Cadogan Cowper (1877 - 1958
'The last Pre-Raphaelite'


This post is for Hermes,
whose blogs have been a daily source
of inspiration and pleasure.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Coffee Time

Right...down tools everyone.
No talking about work...OK?

"The home-made mince pies
are supplied by the lovely wife
of the Professor of Interesting films."

"Did anyone hear
Isaac the Postman's Elvis impression?
It was legendary...
Or perhaps 'unforgettable'..."

"Talking of Elvis...
There were fried peanut butter sandwiches
at the Research Group party last night."

"Never mind the sandwiches...
there was a Somerset cider cake...
Austrian Stollen, Italian Pandoro
and Spanish nougat...
it is a very international student group."

"I saw some student feedback this morning
and there was one fabulous comment
'his voice is so soothing
that he should record relaxation tapes
with Peruvuan pan pipe music...'

"and another form which just said
'Marry me...'"

"I have seen 17 students in Santa hats today
and it is only 11 o'clock..."

"They are selling gingerbread 'people' on campus..
No stereotyping around here, thank goodness."

"The Department Office is covered in fairy lights
and the Daniel Craig grotto is tinselled up."

"I think that the new Head of Dept
should ban the twinkling Santa feature...
it would be a kindness to everyone."

"Is it true that the academic
who is 42 and a quarter
is doing a charity run this weekend
dressed as Santa?
Photos on Monday will be compulsory."

"I see that You-Know-Who
is wearing his red fleece top...
it MUST be nearly Christmas."

Right..drink up...
back to work slacking


for Ali M in Plymouth

Monday, 5 December 2011

Traditional* Advent Cocktail

One measure** vodka
One measure elderflower liqueur
One measure pink grapefruit juice.
Add to ice in cocktail shaker***
Strain**** into cocktail glasses
Embellish with lime slices

'traditional' as of Sunday 4 Dec 2011

South African Airways shot glass

Douwe Egberts coffee jar

tea strainer

MrM and MrsM sip their Advent cocktails
in their winter white sitting room
and agree to take personal responsibility
for maintaining this important family tradition.

Thank you to Lecia for this delicious recipe.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Winter White

When your children leave home
everything associated with Christmas
is soaked in memories
which is wonderful...
but also overpowering.

This morning I decided to make
some new memories and new traditions
because...well, I can if I want.

I filled the house with white flowers:
white orchids, white pointsettia
white hyacinth and white narcissi.
It felt fresh and wintry and made me happy.

I turned up the volume on the iPod
and at that moment
I felt the Christmas tingle again.

(MrM's beer Advent calendar made him happy too.)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Patent Medicine

"I'm very eager to hear your comments on my essay, unfortunately my rabbit has fallen rather sick and ... I need to feed him by syringe every 30 minutes and ...[and so] its rather hard for me to leave the house today."


I was not well yesterday.
(Winterval 'flu - nothing serious)
This email from a student was sent to me
by the Young Academic
to cheer me up.
It worked.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Where is MasterM?

It is his birthday today
he might be partying as the sun rises

or watching cricket in the shadow of the mountains

or maybe just sharing a beer with friends.

but MasterM is going to be here in January.
MrM has booked the flights
and we can't wait to see him.

Thursday, 1 December 2011



It's 1st December
I can't ignore it any longer...
I need to order cards
buy presents
make cake
do turkey

C'mon your worst