Monday, 29 July 2013

An English Summer & The Shipping Forecast

The English summertime has returned. I confess I haven't known what to do with all this sunshine we've been experiencing. It's very high pressure weather, and by that I don't mean the particular front that happens to be wafting over us, but that you must get out there and enjoy it, spend every waking minute in it, despite your prickly heat prone skin, because soon it will be gone.

Rain is much more accepting. Inclement weather can be so very comforting, take the shipping forecast.

All together now : 

North Utsire, South Utsire. Southwest veering southeast 4 or 5. Good, occasionally poor. 

Dogger, Northwest 8, veering North, gale 8 or 9. Squally showers. Poor.

Malin, Rockall South 6, occasionally 7 veering Southeast. Light snow showers. Good.

That's poetry if ever I heard it. Sometimes I even catch up on iplayer.

Books of Note

Books of note

I love narrow rule. I am distressed by the proliferation of wide and college rule over my preferred form. Difficult and expensive to find; I snuffle it out online and make special trips to stationers that I know occasionally stock the stuff, no matter how many miles out of my way. Nothing makes me feel more like I am performing a focused, worthwhile bit of writing like narrow rule, as appose to the scrawly mess I make on fat lined paper – as though a drunken spider has danced over the page after being dipped in a well of black ink.
Stationery sellers, I implore you: we are adults, we can write between the lines, sell us the good stuff.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Sunday's Sketchbook Spread

There is something nice about messing around with felt tips and a biro with a firmly chewed end. It feels like being a child again, frees you up and stops you worrying about the correct way to outline a tern's knee.

I believe that anyone can draw but that many of us have a tendency to fret over things being not quite right. It's your sketchbook and you are supposed to fill it with the imperfect, with smudges and scribbles and that scrap of something or other you fancied sticking in one rainy Tuesday afternoon, just because it cheered you up. Sketchbooks are wonderful things, better records of thought and skill than most diaries, and, I venture, much less painful to look back on.

On Uniform

A Uniform Look

I like the idea of a uniform. If those minutes spent each morning, bleary eyed, staring into the chasm of my wardrobe trying to assemble an outfit that will simultaneously make me appear impeccable, capable and attractive could be stricken from the day I would be forever thankful. I have a habit of adding up the  insignificant times, the moments that become days, weeks, months spent faffing around. How we dress is such a small part of who we are yet I  spend incomprehensible hours looking at clothes, at pictures of clothes, clothes on people whose lifestyles are so far removed from my own that they ought to be of no interest at all. 

I only need to open a magazine to be confronted with endless  rails of dresses, jackets, trousers, shoes, handbags at unobtainable prices, draped over women that lead unrecognisable existences. I should know that buying that dress or adding that must have,' staple', handbag to my collection will make me no more accomplished than I was without it. What we do and perhaps even more importantly what we wish to do with our time, because that is one commodity magazines and the like cannot sell back to us, should be the sole factor that influences our sartorial choices. Looking smart, in control, “well put together" would then naturally follow.

In my teens I spent the bulk of my days with my horse. I worked on a livery yard and the only thing I would change to attend college were my shoes. Sometimes I wouldn't even go that far and stroll up to the gates having only removed my chaps.  I never wondered what to wear when I got up in the morning, everything, down to my bra, was dictated by purpose. Sadly I am no longer a pony mad teenager. I have a life that revolves around a different and more varied arena. The clothes I buy now must serve from home to the office and all the usual in-betweens. Nevertheless I think that if we try hard enough there is a uniform to be had here as well. 

Of course we can wear the same thing every day. As much as we are encouraged to think it: life is not a fashion parade. A uniform is perfect, fitted to task and requires no further thought than having it pressed and neatly hung ready to take on the world. 

At least then I might have time for breakfast.

Thursday, 25 July 2013


To her home was less a house of cold stone and mortar, rather the warm wooden hollow of a hull. Drab, moth-nibbled curtains became white sails that billowed out over the small, dark cabins of her rooms. The narrow hall way, a galley and the kitchen an officer’s mess. The cherry tree that swayed and shivered beyond her window became a mast and always, pervading through the floorboards, the familiar damp smell of the sea.

Shipwrecked amongst her treasures she constructed rafts with her books, drew endless, borderless maps and waited for the perfect tide, all the while gazing longingly out of portholes. Portholes that shifted and changed by the day, onto worlds that were beyond her imagining. Better, she thought, to risk sinking after all.