Oh to picnic!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 | home, weekend | No Comments

Sat on a Gatwick Express train, gently swaying through the countryside, all around is green but looking decidedly murky. Today has been muggy, particularly so. There have been glimpses of sunshine in Shoreditch, but mostly it has been threatening a downpour that so far hasn’t come. It is June but this year this gloomy weather does not surprise me.

It does, however, make me long for a picnic. A good, old fashioned, picnic. I yearn for a thick tartan blanket, with slight hints of cat hair. There will be a trestle table that someone has used for wallpapering, with a clean, white tablecloth to cover it. Someone will have brought folding chairs, canvas ones that you sit in momentarily and then fear you may never get out of. There will be cushions, old ones that “don’t matter if they get grass stains”. They will get grass stains. At one side there will be a large umbrella, for shade, that looks like it might blow away in the slightest breeze – someone will try to anchor it.

Ice will be melting around cold bottles of beer and sparkling wine (we may have even splashed out on Real Champagne). There will be sandwiches of all varieties, to suit both carnivores and vegetarians. Smoked mackerel pate, sausage rolls, Camemberthamroastchickensaladscotcheggs…  We’ll be tearing at french sticks, smearing them in slightly warm butter and dropping crumbs everywhere. The seagulls will approve.

And this glorious picnic, this glorious day of lounging on grass and flicking off insects, will descend into the beautifulness that is being half-cut on a summer’s day. There will be giggles, and short barking shouts of amusement. Someone will fall over, they’ll have grass stains too. Fingers sticky with strawberry juice will reach for sparkling water in an effort to keep hydration levels up, this will be a half-hearted attempt and a quick guzzle will soon polish off  what’s left. Pimms will be called for. And we will smile, and tell stories, and moan and complain about the usual little things that make us irritable. We’ll get slight sunburn, but none of us will think to shelter under the umbrella. It will be a splendid day and we will be happy.

So June, please do buck up. You see, I’ve got the plan all sorted.


Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 | brighton, london, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Murky Monday morning and my train pulled into Burgess Hill station. There, standing alone and removed from her group of friends was a little girl in her red school jumper, staring up the platform for her train south.

One look up from my Kindle and I was transported back to crisp autumn mornings, waiting at the bus stop up the road from my parents for my navy blue school bus. On a main road, but in a village; my memories of those few minutes every morning are of bird song, frosted grass crumpling under foot and something countryside clean. That fresh air. Those greeny browns of the falling leaves. That crunch of unbroken frost. The silence.

I realised that the greens, browns and golden sunsets that I catch out of the window each day have given me a sense of the silence and calm of the countryside. Together with the book on my lap they have created a bubble for me, between one City and the other city.

I’m writing this on my way home, trying to map at which sections of the journey this bubble closes round me. There’s the rush through the tube, but I now find this automatic and barely think about where I am. Once on the train I find My Seat, and before I take off my coat I realise I’ve pulled my Kindle from my bag and laid it on the table. I’ve always read a lot but I currently get through about four books a week. This makes my Kindle purchasing history since I was given it in June, somewhere around 50 books.

The fifteen minutes to East Croydon are still the City, the carriage is fuller, the voices are louder and these are the minutes I sink back into the story. There is no bubble yet, but as we pull out of the station and through the suburbs, trees line the tracks and I am enclosed.

There is a section around Three Bridges where sometimes sudden flashes of bright gold hit the screen and I turn to beautiful rolling clouds, drenched in a pink gold sunset. The sky seems wider from a train window but it’s only a glimpse and my eyes lower, bubble unbroken.

The one place that I consciously raise my head on each trip is Balcombe viaduct. I look up and out at the fields below and this evening am rewarded with a pink red sun, only a sliver of crescent above the blackened distant trees.

Around Burgess Hill and Hassocks I can occasionally smell the glorious scent of wood smoke, and yearn for log fires whilst snuggling further down into my seat and my book.

And my bubble carries me through to Preston Park, when the other city grows close and home beckons, reality starts to seep in.


London calling

Thursday, July 7th, 2011 | london, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So it’s day four of my commute and I’m already starting to find my pattern.  I was warned that I’d find myself waiting at specific points on the platform where the doors will open, that I’d be almost able to get to London in my sleep.  Although I’m definitely not at the sleeping stage yet, it’s been interesting to see how quickly I’ve picked up little habits already.  Yes, I have started waiting on platforms in the right spot, and I have got my commuter stride going, which I suspect is doing wonders for my thighs.

I am definitely loving getting three hours a day of solid reading in; my Kindle and I are becoming best friends.  This weeks list includes Caitlin Moran’s “How To Be A Woman” which has me giggling inappropriately and China Mieville’s “The City & The City”.  I’ve not yet had to stand for any part of the journey and I’ve only been delayed once and by five minutes.  I suspect that this golden period can’t last too long however, and I’m always conscious of the inevitable “leaves on the line”.

Of course, this laissez-faire attitude my well somewhat strengthened by the fact that it is a very exciting week.  But I’m not going to tell you about Lanyrd today, you’ll just have to catch up with our Friday week notes!

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Monday, May 23rd, 2011 | adventure, clearleft | No Comments

Four years ago, on a warm and sunny day in May, I started working at Clearleft.  I remember being somewhat daunted by this change in career and having to learn a whole new role, and I went and hid in the Library at lunchtime so I could sit quietly and gather my nerves.  Of course, I don’t do that sort of thing these days.

In the time in between I’ve seen the company double in size and have worked with some remarkably clever people and some fantastic clients.  I’ve also had the joy of organising our conferences: dConstruct, UX London and this year’s new addition Ampersand.  It has been a truly remarkable job and I have learnt an incredible amount and made some super friends.

As The Littlest Hobo would say (if dogs could indeed talk), “There’s a world that’s waiting to unfold” and I feel it’s time for me to grab my metaphorical hat and go unfold it. I shall be leaving Clearleft on the 17th June (Ampersand day – I thought I’d go out with a bang!) and will be jumping on a train to Old Street to join Natalie and Simon Willison at Lanyrd.  It’s a fantastic opportunity and the word “enthusiastic” doesn’t really cover how excited I am to be joining.

I shall be very sad to leave Clearleft and will wave fond farewells to all my chums.  Thanks guys, you’ve been Marvellous!

End of an era

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It’s come to the end of the decade, one which quite pleasingly encapsulates my twenties. This time ten years ago I was probably suffering from pre-party nerves and wondering if I could get away with opening the bubbly yet, but seeing as I can’t quite remember it is possible that I’d opened it already. But hey, who can blame me? Not many people get to see a new millennium in.

I can’t really sum up the last 10 years in 140 characters. Besides, it seems somewhat offhand to just serve out my whole twenties in such a way. Of course, I can’t write it all down either (and frankly neither would I want to, it would go on for, well, years). So here is a little summary (in no particular order).

I have watched and read far too many murder mysteries.
I have read far more books than I own.
I have started, but not finished, a creative writing course.
I haven’t even started the garden design course which resides in my cupboard.
I have changed career once, but had many jobs. (Doesn’t that sound like the beginning of a riddle?)
I have moved three times (which may not sound like much but that’s all within the last three years) and bought one flat.
I have owned three cars, and now none.
I have visited the USA, Switzerland, France, The Netherlands, Greece, Spain & Ireland. I have been to the desert and survived.
I have fallen in love twice and had my heart broken twice. And I have lost someone I could have loved if he had been able to cope with the world.
I have, on occasion, lost hope but fortunately always found it again.
I have stayed up & watched the sun rise on countless, messy occasions.
I have also stayed up and ignored the sun rise on countless, messy occasions.
I have made many friends who I hope I will always know.
Then again, I have met some people I’d rather not know.
I have cried at numerous films, either because the really were that bad, or because they made my heart swell up with sadness.
I have acquired a second cat and borrowed two more for a while.
As far as I remember, I have not danced the funky chicken dance. And nor do I intend to.
I am not where I thought I would be. But I have had many adventures on the way.
I’ve dyed, cut, grown, dyed, grown, cut etc. my hair.
I’ve started wearing contact lenses and glasses but I do miss being able to see without them.
I have broken a surprisingly large quantity of wine glasses.
I have changed my mind about tea, it’s actually rather nice.
I haven’t changed my mind about chocolate, or biscuits, or cakes. For which I regularly receive looks of shock and horror.
I have made any number of mistakes, but once I’ve cleared up the mess I realise I’ve learnt from them.
I have had six good years, two amazing years, one bad year and one year I’d like to burn, where is that desert when you need it?

So thank you to those people who made it what it was; you know who you are.



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