Friday, 29 March 2013

Spring is sprung!

The sky is as blue as a thrush egg,
the sheets are on the washing line
and I'm going to look for primroses.
Winter - I'm so over you.

Wishing you all sunshine
this Easter weekend.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

things various

it is the start of the Easter weekend
we have all worked ourselves to a standstill
and need to step away from our desks

the baby Geographer came for her first visit
in the hard terrain buggy
tucked up under her new blanket

unexpected email of the day
came from Spafax publishing
asking for permission to use
my photo of Fitzbillies Chelsea Buns in the
Royal Jordanian Airlines inflight magazine

in other baking related news...
hot cross buns!
made by MissM!
so proud!

before I forget to mention it...
I'm having coffee
with the Editor of Oh Comely

catch up with you later

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

the fish in the sea

After we had left the British Museum we walked to MrM's favourite tapas bar. It was a delight to step out of the cold into the friendly and noisy restaurant. We ate hot broad bean and garlic puree with a rough rosemary bread. Next, a selection of tapas: squid in a tempura batter, grilled pimentos, spicy potatoes, pan fried duck with toasted almonds and roast beetroot with red onion. It was all delicious.

The young waitress looked worried when MrM ordered the homemade cheescake and explained it was an experimental flavour: rice pudding cheesecake. It was an acquired taste, she said, and she recommended the almond tart. I had flan.

Such a wonderful evening.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The House of the Golden Bracelet

MrM and I have invitations
to the opening of the
Pompeii exhibition
at the British Museum tonight!

I am beside myself with excitement.
Look at this beautiful fresco...
Magpies! Blackbirds!
I can't wait.

House of the Golden Bracelet,
Fresco, 1st Century BC
1st Century AD,

Monday, 25 March 2013

MrsM, chef de cuisine

Bodegón con atún

MrsM is multi-tasking:
sorting laundry, planning menus,
listening to MrM, and cooking rice.
MrsM is at the top of her game.

The phone rings. It is MissM!
There is so much to talk about.
Books! Holidays! Cooking!

MrsM instructs MrM to sieve the rice.
MrM starts sieving and looks alarmed.
"There is something not quite right here"
MrsM looks into the saucepan.


MrsM forgot to put in the rice.

It is a very public humiliation

This post is for MrM
who accepts MrsM as she is
with all her multiple failings.

Recreate this scene!
Put on some music!
Turn up the volume!

Friday, 22 March 2013

a world before our world

The Lady Professor spends her life
working with the fossil bones of animals
and using them to reconstruct past climates:
wolves roaming the Somerset hills,
hippos swimming where Trafalgar Square is now,
woolly rhinoceros grazing in Staffordshire.

After she has been to the exhibition of
Ice Age Art at the British Museum
she shows me a replica carving
which is small enough to hold
in the palm of your hand
and we wonder at it together.

It is an adult woolly mammoth
carved by someone who saw them wild,
who knew what colour they were,
how they moved, what they smelt like,
recognised the sounds of their calls.

We cannot know why the statue was carved
or much about the person who carved it
but it is the briefest glimpse,
a pinpoint beam of light,
into a world before our world.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Bento #5

Readers Guide has made a Bento!
I am so excited about this!
I can pretend we are having lunch together!

This is a deconstructed Niçoise salad
made with quails eggs and smoked mackerel,
leftover potatoes and green beans.

Here is some Bento knowledge:

Quails eggs only take 2 minutes to boil
but half a lifetime to peel.

If you are eating in your office
with the Bento on your knee
do not get up too quickly
when the phone rings
or you will spend your lunchtime
cleaning pasta salad off the carpet.

Do not make your Bento too pretty
otherwise you will stare at it,
amazed at your own cleverness,
and be quite unable to eat it.

And now, if you will excuse me,
I have a hot date with Readers Guide.
I want her to tell me all about
N's trip to South America.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


in South Africa...

MasterM is improving his resume...

I'm getting some marketing experience!

Which one is you??

You'll have to guess...

The one between the two guys wearing shirts.

How did you know??

I recognised the knees.

Now I've got a complex about my knees :-(

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

the world comes to me

Very Senior Professor

The Young Academic and the Very Senior Professor
have been in the Falkland Islands
acting as official academic observers
for the referendum which took place last week.
My tiny role in this diplomatic mission
was to assist in the purchase
of high specification technical clothing
and in return they agreed to send me
pictures of aforementioned clothing in situ.

So here are two pictures of penguins
for the next edition of the Goretex catalogue.

Young Academic

Read about their role in the referendum here:
Geopolitics & Security

Monday, 18 March 2013


MrsM woke up on Saturday morning
and heard the rain on the windows
and she did not want to get out of bed

but the picture framer had called
and so she persuaded MrM
to chauffeur her to the shops
so she could collect her new picture

on the way back
MrM and MrsM stopped
at a local farm shop
and bought purple sprottling,

silver laced primulas
why would you not?

and huge field mushrooms
for the Chicken Forestiere dish
that MrsM was planning for supper

then they had broccoli  soup in a cafe
and MrM gave MrsM a tiny sliver
of his coffee and walnut cake
and so Saturday slipped by.

Friday, 15 March 2013

plain and simple

It's been a week.
I'm glad it's Friday.

I find myself
needing to look at
wooden bread boards.
Some time ago
I thought it would
be interesting
to collect them.

Perhaps I'll start
this weekend.
Have a good one.

p.s. I hope to catch up with my emails this weekend.
So many wonderful comments this week - thank you.
If you have been waiting for a reply, apologies.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

à la mode

this morning

we are going to take a moment
to comprehend these tulips...

white is the colour of the day


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Bento #4

Ta dah!
The Bento Box has landed!**

This was a surprise birthday present
from the Lovely but Ill Jenny.
A real Bento Box with features!
Layers, lids, compartments.

This allows me to have mini croustades
filled with lemon and coriander houmous.
I didn't make the croustade cases
but I did fill them with houmous
I know my skill set.

Rice salad.
with smoked mackerel.
And nuts.

Peach Melba salad.
Unnecessarily pretty.
Not much more I can say about that.

I'm eating this one with Jenny.
We are popping over to Shanghai
to visit the Jade Buddha temple.

Jenny will eat the famous
double mushroom noodles (双菇面)
while I admire the features of
my extremely groovy Bento Box
We'll be straight back for the
Department Board at 2pm. Honest.


** apologies to those of a sensitive disposition

Arthur Pinajian 1914 - 1999

Arthur Pinajian dedicated himself to painting.
He lived with his sister in Bellport, New York
and gave up his early career as a commercial artist
to focus entirely on exploring painting.
He did not sell his work or exhibit in galleries
and it is fortunate that when his sister died
his work was not disposed of and lost forever.
Luckily, the piles of paintings and journals
which were stacked in the small barn studio
were recognised as the unique collection
of an artist exploring the limits of his capabilities.

I try to imagine the fierce willpower
that permitted such exclusive focus.
Could I dedicate myself in this way
for half a lifetime without recognition?
I think not. It is a frightening prospect.
And yet I have a brief glimpse because
my determination to write is very strong
and over-rides almost everything else.

I would have selected other images
but the trustees of the Pinajian estate
prohibit use of their 'graphics'
and as they have the complete collection
access will be very restricted.
It is a shame because his work
deserves a wider audience
and the policy seems at odds
with the history of the collection.

Monday, 11 March 2013

an experiment

‘Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves
– slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.’

Thich Nhat Hanh
John Wrangham, London 1830-1831

MrsM has been recharging her batteries
by reading the blog zenhabits
and was very inspired by this post

Leo says...
'Yesterday I had tea with a Daoist tea monk
who said for tea to change you,
you have to create a sacred space
in your heart for the tea.

Elkington & Co., Birmingham, 1857

MrsM reads on...
Imagine that space for a moment.
How does it feel?
What can reside in that sacred space?
How different is it from mechanically drinking tea,
without paying attention to it?'

Christopher Dresser , Sheffield 1879

MrsM is impressed by this concept
and wonders if she can apply it
to other aspects of her life.
Andrew Fogelberg, London 1778-1779

She tries replacing the word 'tea'
with the word 'ironing'.
Konoike, Yokohama 1890-1895

Early indications are not promising.


all images
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
many thanks to the Victoria and Albert Museum
for their enlightened policy on digital images

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Minions in Winter

<< L to R >>

my father,
Bracken the dog,
my mother.

happy memories of a windswept day

Friday, 8 March 2013

(just for the record)

The celebrity speaker and the GeogSoc

The GeogSoc are making map bunting.

do I have scissors? Yes
and glue? Yes
and card? Yes
and string? Yes

The student who organised it
is walking around the Department
with his suit in a bag,
white with fright.

Two students who make cakes
have been drafted in to help.
Tiny cup cakes, lemon tarts,
raspberry and white chocolate brownies
All with map labels.

@OrdnanceSurvey tweets
"What about map cakes?"
No pressure then.

The celebrity speaker arrives.
She is immaculate in tailored tweed
but  immediately sees the map cake labels
and asks if she can take one home.

The student who organised it
is breathless with excitement
as he introduces
"Dr Vanessa Lawrence,
Chief Executive and Director General
of the Ordnance Survey"

The celebrity speaker starts.
"When I was an undergraduate
I was President of the GeogSoc
and so when my people told me
about your invitation to speak
I said 'I would like to do that'."

She talks about the role of maps
in development in China,
flood compensation in Australia,
land tenure in Rwanda
and her role in the United Nations.

There is an endearing habit
of prefacing her anecdotes
about extraordinary achievements
with the phrase
"I was very lucky because..."

"I was very lucky because I was asked
to provide all the mapping information
for London 2012.
It was the sort of opportunity
that only comes once in a lifetime."

Detailed mapping of each location
down to the nearest centimetre
sounds like a huge amount of work to me.

When the celebrity speaker mentions
new developments in the Ordnance Survey
MrsM feels that she should stand up and testify
for the half of her Christmas list
which was personalised maps.
An inspired idea.

The Head of Department thanks her
not just for a fascinating speech,
but also for her commitment
to the next generation of Geographers.
She responds with a delightful modesty.

The student who organised it is glowing.
"It was just as I imagined it.
She was amazing.

This one is for Lovely Jenny
who is not very well.
Get better quickly - it's quiet without you!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Bento #3

Did you think that the novelty would wear off?
You were wrong!

Today was a layered salmon salad
with mixed leaves, potatoes and spring onions
followed by strawberries and blueberries.

I find it surprisingly absorbing
to make these bento boxes.
They only take about ten minutes
and I enjoy assembling the ingredients.

I sprinkle sugar on the strawberries
so that it forms a light syrup
and prevents the strawberries from drying out.

This bento box is being eaten
with my favourite blogless buddies
Paola, ToffeeApple and Liz in Missouri.
We are meeting in Bloomsbury Square
and going to Persephone Books,
Loop (for the knitters)
Hatchards (for the readers)
followed by tea at Fortnums.
Is that a date, ladies?

There was a very exciting Bento happening today
but you will have to wait until next week
before all is revealed!
A Bento Ta-Dah!!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

office makeover

Look away NOW, bb

because my coathanger has been pimped.

Thank you Monica!

It has already been admired
by the academic who specialises
in the Geographies of Home.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

We built a community

apron by Gina

Let's look back to the very beginning of Blogland
a time when blogs were basic,
formatting sometimes went awry,
photographs were occasionally out of focus
but we were all learning together.

quilt by Tracy

Every day we would hang out
in each other's comment boxes,
enjoying Emma's new baby,
the fact that Ali was learning to knit,
Val was balancing work and home
and I had just started a new job.

basket by Val

Fast-forward five years...
we have developed in different ways
but we are all still here,
our friendship based on shared experience
and a respect for each others achievements.
It is a true community.

blanket by Lucy

And now out of that community
has come something truly extraordinary:
The Red Nose Day Dolls
a fundraising project
created by Emma and Ros...
and a list of craftswomen
that grows longer every day.

shawl by Annie

Red Nose Day dolls
Read all about them
Follow them on twitter
Donate to the project
Bid for them on eBay

clothes by Julie

They are raising money for Comic Relief
which works to transform lives in Africa
and closer to home in the UK.

But it is more than that...
this is a community of women
offering their time, their skills,
wanting to be part of a collaborative project.
I am in awe of what we created back then
with our blogs, our comments and emails,
our willingness to share our lives.

I'm so very proud of you all.


I have borrowed these images
from the Red Nose Day blog.
Emma and Ros, I hope you don't mind,
I would have preferred to ask permission
so let me know if there is a problem