Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Bento #7

Post-holiday, I am inspired
to dizzying new heights
of Bento achievement.

Couscous and roasted vegetables
with lamb from my Sunday roast.
Turns out you can use leftovers.
Who knew?

What's that I hear you cry?
"Give me a CLOSE UP
of the ORANGE tomato"

since you asked so nicely...

Goat's cheese with nutty toasts.
Same old, same old?
I think not.
This coriander leaf was home grown.

My famous mango and black grape salad.
It is a secret family recipe
I could give you the method
but I would have to kill you afterwards.

I am eating this one with Jee.
She has done my job
and knows how much pain
the Exam term involves.
She will fan me with marksheets
and I will look at photos
of her adorable granddaughter
and I am sure I will stop hyper-ventilating.

Monday, 29 April 2013

thought for the day

I think it is my duty
to share these pictures
of embroidered boots.

I really want a pair of these boots
even though I am sure that I would not
be brave enough to wear them.

There is an H.E.Bates short story
which haunted me as a teenager
about a woman who had a wardrobe
full of extravagant ball gowns
that she looked at but never wore.

Have I become that woman?

Friday, 26 April 2013

stop all the clocks

This weekend I'm having a lie-in.
It's exhausting being back at work.
All those people to talk to...

Yes, I know,
it is hard for you
to be sympathetic
when I have spent all week
showing you pictures
of my holiday.

exquisite quilting at Cotehele

Thursday, 25 April 2013

(just for the record)

The campus is alight
with patches of daffodils
catching the morning sun.

The Head of Department tells me
about the birthday treat
he has organised for his wife:
cocktails at the top of Centrepoint.
I feel a teeny, weeny bit jealous.

Dr H-next-door is wearing fabulous
white framed vintage sunglasses
that she bought in Long Beach.
In her office.
We indulge her because it is her birthday.

The academic who is approximately 44
has organised a conference in a Scottish castle.
He describes the hall which bristles with
antlers, muskets and jousting armour.
I hope he concentrates on the conference.

The fastest academic
has just run a spectacular time
in the London Marathon.
We are all very proud of him.
Watch your back, Mo.

Do you remember the student
who mentioned me in his thesis?
He has just got married
inside a Cornish tin mine.
It was a great party with a band
and no one minded about the noise.

A student walks past my office
wearing a short white dress
with a thin gold belt and sandals
in a classical Greek style.
She looks interesting but chilly.

The post graduate student
comes in to give me details
about his fieldwork in Rwanda.
I tell him that I have heard
Rwanda is a beautiful country
and he looks emotional
"It is a beautiful country,
it is my homeland".

A much loved colleague is leaving.
She has rescued me on several occasions
from administrative tangles
of my own making and I will miss her.
Out of the blue she emails to ask
if I will write references for her.
I am absolutely delighted.

In the middle of a long meeting
about examination procedures
I am distracted by the sight
of a small girl with chirpy bunches
running past the window,
shouting with excitement.

Lovely Jenny has her photograph
used on the homepage
of the College website.
I have stolen it for you to see too.

At the end of the day
I remember the cocktails...
there is vodka in the freezer...
and blood orange juice...
which makes a screwdriver...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

color of water

Exposición 'Mundo submarino'
en el Bosque de la Alhambra

This is an exhibition of photos
in the beautiful wooded valley
that joins the Alhambra
and the city of Granada.

The green leaves and patchy sunlight
create a strange underwater world
that flows around the photo boards.

Here is a video of the opening ceremony
but be warned - it is inexplicably hypnotic.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

the road to Torrox

There is a small, rough road
that links Frigiliana near Nerja
with the next small town, Torrox.

It winds over the hills
following the contours
so that you can look down
into the deep valleys.

If you drive that way in spring
you will be totally surrounded
by meadows of wild flowers.

It is like falling
into a living tapestry.

I was completely unprepared
for the beauty of it,
the abundance.

and it was so still and clear
that I didn't want to leave.

In the distance
I could hear the bells
of a herd of goats
which added to the
surreal atmosphere.

The clatter of bells grew louder
and the herd of goats
came up to road behind us
and then turned off
onto a drovers track
between the olive trees.

I don't think I could live
surrounded by such beauty.
It would make me too intolerant
of the complexities, challenges
and ugliness of everyday life

but I think of that goat herder
and I am glad that he walks
through the flower meadows
beside the road to Torrox.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Love letter to Nerja

There is that blissful moment
when you stand on the roof terrace,
the sea and the sky are blue
and the horizon is hazy,

you look towards the palm trees
on the Balcón de Europa
and breathe out slowly.

In a while you might stroll down
to the warm sand of Burriana beach
and perhaps stop for a bowl of paella

but it is so tempting to sit still,
drink a glass of wine
listen to the swallows,

and you know that
you have all week,
there is no rush.

We ate and drank and explored
and sunbathed and swam and slept
and discovered that MasterM
can hold four shot glasses in one hand.

MrM watched rugby in the Irish bar,
MasterM spent a night in the police station*,
MissM started her 2013 suntan
and MrsM continued her love affair with Nerja.

It was a wonderful holiday,
one of the the best,
full of happy memories.

Nerja, we are missing you already.


* don't panic Granny,
he was translating for Canadian tourists
who had their bag stolen on the beach.
His Spanish teacher will be very proud.

Friday, 19 April 2013

No man is an island

We have been away.

We found sunshine, good food and time together as a family. I am very grateful for all of those things, especially the time together, and this was thrown into sharp relief by the news of the bomb attack in Boston.

I immediately thought of my friend, Naomi, who has just moved to that beautiful city, and of my readers who live there, or have family and friends who are affected.

Keep safe, my friends, keep safe.


No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Thursday, 11 April 2013

I may be gone a little while

MasterM is home for a flying visit.

I am moving into full Housework Mode.

If you need me I'll be in the kitchen.

Posting may be sporadic.


Thank you for all your comments yesterday!
You are all very lovely
except bad MrM
who had a record number of comments deleted.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

what she said

MrsM is absolutely delighted to have a short story published in issue 15 of Oh Comely. The whole magazine looks fabulous and will be in a WH Smith near you very soon - buy it just to read the alphabet spaghetti poem.

MrsM gets her contributor copy of the magazine, finds her own article which is one of a series of three stories paired with spare and beautiful photographs and immediately shows it to colleagues at work. A colleague, who shall not be identified but fortunately does not read this blog, read the story and then passed back the magazine saying "You do realise it is a very gendered piece of writing. Only a woman of a certain age would write that." MrsM did not know how to reply.

Later, MrsM did what she always does in situations like this, she told MissM who was shocked. "You didn't allow yourself to be patronised did you? Of course it is gendered writing - you were writing to a specific brief for a women's magazine about three women. It wasn't an academic treatise about, for example, footbridges. You would be really cross if someone said that to me so you shouldn't accept it as a valid criticism of your own writing. I'm afraid it sounds rather socially inept."

MrsM thought about it again and realised that MissM was right - that the comment said more about the person than her writing and she laughed. And at that moment she started to feel like a real writer.


My purpose in writing this post is to demonstrate that it is foolish and unrealistic to see every comment as searing insight into your work and you should only absorb comments which help you improve your work in future. This is true for all forms of creative output.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

MasterM, trail runner

Check out this crazy trail run.
We ran for three and a half hours!

I don't know where he inherited
his running ability from.

As the only other runner in the family
MrsM tries to look modest.

Monday, 8 April 2013

new beginnings

Hellebore are undemanding.
When you are ready to step out of the door
they are there waiting quietly for you.

I fell out of love with gardening.
When? Why? I can't explain.

Now is the time to change that.
Little by little I must reclaim the space
and learn to love it again.

Sometimes we need to give ourselves
permission for a fresh start.
To step out of the garden door
as if for the first time.

Today, when I stepped out of the door
the hellebore were flowering,
dusty pink blooms catching the sunlight.


these are not my hellebore
but mine looked just as good.