Thursday, August 18, 2016

a cause for celebration

Mycroft’s A level results have arrived. Sherlock has declared this an occasion for celebration, by which he means cake. He and Mrs Hudson are plotting, and he’s invited his mum to dinner. (By invited, I mean he rang her up and demanded that she come. Since she’s in [redacted] I think it’s unlikely she’ll make it, but who knows.)

I’m home from work early due to having gashed my arm open by ingloriously slipping on a literal banana peel and falling against the mysteriously sharp edge of a rusted metal ladder. Went to hospital, got stitches, tetanus booster, questioned how this was in fact my life. A banana peel. Honestly.

But! I’m happy to be home. Mycroft is home as well (apparently spy school let out early today) (yes, Mycroft, don’t call it that, I know), waiting kindly to open his results until we’re all here, apparently not nervous at all. So now we are all waiting for L, some of us (Mycroft) more patiently than others…

It’s not as if any of us doubt he did brilliantly, but I’d still like to know! 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

home again

Mycroft is done with his exams and gets to come home. L and I are going to meet him, have a ride on the bikes, get some lunch. Sherlock has campaigned to be allowed to stay home alone and bake Mycroft a cake all by himself. 'Alone' meaning that Mrs Hudson and security will still be in the building of course, but he'll be alone in the flat. He has absolutely promised not to set anything on fire. He's promised so often that one can only find it worrying. I'll let you know how it goes.

Update: I've taken Sherlock to the shops to buy cake ingredients. I can't tell if all of these things will be going in the cake or if some were chosen specifically as red herrings, but this was his shopping list:

  • chocolate
  • cocoa powder
  • a lot of eggs
  • something very spicy
  • some sort of tinned fish
  • a banana
  • edible gold dust
  • a can of Coke

I can only hope the fish won't really be going in the cake, but I'm not counting on anything. We didn't find edible gold dust, but we got those little silver cake decorating balls instead, which he pronounced 'not nearly as good.'

Update 2: Just about to have lunch with Mycroft as I write this. I've told him about the cake. His reaction: 'He's going to bake a sardine into my slice.' I admit this hadn't occurred to me, but that is the sort of thing Sherlock would do. Hopefully not in this case, as he is genuinely excited to have Mycroft home, but I'm not ruling anything out. I told Mycroft I'd switch slices with him. The things we do for love.

Update 3: We're home! Cake has been consumed and was fish-free. Half the sardines were eaten by Sherlock on toast and the rest were marinating in the Coke to see if they dissolved. They're still there. We've had worse things in the fridge.

The cake was a reasonably standard chocolate one, but Sherlock had cut it into pieces and build a sort of house out of it (because it was a welcome home cake, you see). Inside, there was an anatomical heart made from jelly. Because home is where the heart is and also because he couldn't find the jelly brain mould we have. Mrs. Hudson helped him with the heart. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

happy birthday mycroft!

Note: not his actual birthday. That’s next week, inconveniently on a Tuesday, but we’re whisking him away tomorrow to celebrate. A ride to the coast, fish and chips, ice cream, maybe even swimming…? Or maybe we’ll all get rained on and soaked through without the swim, though the weather looks promising at the moment.

Mycroft, we are, as always, both proud and happy to be a part of your life. I hope the summer job works out to be everything you hope it will. I’m sure you’ll impress everyone there and at university. And as you start out on this new phase of your life, please be sure to keep visiting us for holidays for as long as you can take our terrible jokes and L’s terrible dancing. ;)

I was going to to include a photo of baby swans here, but they were so far away (and I didn’t want to try getting much closer) that they’re just little greyish spots in the grass. Please imagine baby swans. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

well, well (a deep subject)

I've unwisely taught Sherlock a joke that my grandmother told me. Actually joke might be putting it too strongly, but as a result he and L keep having exchanges like this:

Sherlock: *asks a question*
L: Well--
S: *very seriously* A deep subject.

And then he cackles and L groans and I pretend I'm not still amused, but despite having heard this probably ten times today I still sort of am.

L is recovering. More slowly than he'd like, obviously -- well, more slowly than any of us would like. Ideally he'd be all better again by now, but naturally he's the most impatient since it's him stuck on the sofa.

One Mrs H has made more cake and the other has sent round a restrained bouquet of flowers. I'll leave you to guess which is which. I'm relieved about the flowers actually. When she phoned to say we should expect a delivery, that didn't occur to us as an option and we were guessing anything from a live crocodile (Sherlock) to a bionic knife-proof leg (L).

I keep searching for something useful to say about my own emotions in regard to this, but I don't think there is anything really. I'm still angrier than I ought to be. It's not really any worse than someone hurting him face to face. The intention is the same whether it's a trap or a direct attack. It's jarring though. Like having an IED show up on a London street. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

happy new year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2015 was good to you and that 2016 will be even better. As much as I love Christmas (L says I don't love Christmas, I just love tinsel, but he exaggerates - although I do also love tinsel), I might like Jan. 1 more. There's a quote (which might be from Anne of Green Gables, which strikes me as odd because I've never read it so how do I know the quote? but anyhow) that says "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it."

Well, today the whole year is fresh with no mistakes in it, and that's a nice feeling.

Last night, Mycroft took us all to Kew, which was lit up for the holidays... (all pictures by L)

Lights, carol-singing holly bushes, fountain light shows, fire lanterns, hot chocolate and toasted was great. Excellent way to end the year. 

This morning we went for a run, which I've done on probably most New Years Days of my adult life, but I must say it's much more pleasant without a hangover. I recommend it - not having a hangover, that is. Not necessarily the running. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

five years

Five years ago today, I met Greg - and the boys and Anthea shortly before that, Mrs H shortly before that. It seems simultaneously like I've known them all forever and like it can't possibly have been that long.

Time is a strange thing.

It passes more quickly when you're happy, but when I look back on happy times, most of them seem oddly protracted, taking up a larger portion of my memory than they factually ought to, while most of the worst ones seem jammed up together as if they happened in the space of seconds. They don't have any less weight than the happy ones do (more sometimes, depending on the day), but they don't seem to take up as much room as they used to.

A lot of that is because of Greg and his love and patience. And the quiet times spent browsing the internet on the sofa together looking for terrible Christmas socks for Mycroft. Or riding the bikes somewhere. Or just eating dinner together. There's a peace to my life with him now that I not only never had before but could not even imagine until...probably two or three years after I met him.

Thank you, Greg. I love you. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

national poetry day

So, it's National Poetry Day. A while ago, I posted Tu Fu to Li Po by Carolyn Kizer, and as Tu Fu and Li Po were both real people and poets, I thought I'd post some of their work today.

It's been so long since I headed for East Mountain—
how many times have the roses bloomed?
White clouds have scattered themselves away—
and this bright moon – whose house is it setting on?

Li Po

They see you're staying in a mountain temple,
in Hang-chou—or is it Yueh-chou?
In the wind and grime of war, how long since we parted!
At Chiang-han, bright autumns waste away.
While my shadow rests by monkey-loud trees,
my soul whirls off to where shell-born towers rise.
Next year on floods of spring I'll go downriver,
to the white clouds at the end of the east I'll look for you!

Tu Fu

Moonlight in front of my bed—
I took it for frost on the ground!
I lift my eyes to watch the mountain moon,
lower them and dream of home.

Li Po

Li Po was the wandering sort, I suppose. He always seems to be far from home in his poems.

In other news, I think my phone case is infested with tiny bugs. Not the listening sort, although I do sort of...tend to assume that Mrs H can hear every word I say at all times. Actual literal bugs. Very small. Sort of gnat like. I think they're eating it. It's a plastic case, but it's covered in fabric, and that's the only thing I can think of that might be attracting them. I like the fabric though; makes it easy to keep a grip on the phone even in less than ideal conditions, like 90% of my life and 100% of my working life.

So if I get rid of this one, I'll probably end up with another fabric one. And more bugs in a year or two? Surely this can't be a common problem though or the internet would be full of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over it.

Anyhow, I'm going to peel back the fabric a bit. If a flood of horrifying bugs pour out, I'll try to take pictures. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

mainly a picture post

First off, here is the garlic I mentioned getting out late from allotment. It's a little small and a bit bitter from being harvested too late (maybe? I'm guessing; maybe it's just not dry enough yet, though it seems to be), but there's plenty to plant next year, see if it goes any better. I think you're meant to have them out by the end of July. 

The rest of these are by L, including a very nice apple tree that is not ours. It would be nice to have though if one would fit. What do you think, Greg? (In the allotment, not in the house. I know someone is going to say something. I do not currently plan to grow fruit inside.)

And here are pictures from the Walkie Talkie...

Mycroft's back to school on the 8th, so L and I have been talking about going away somewhere for a short trip after that since we didn't want to spend our anniversary away from the boys right before they left (an excellent decision by the way, that dinner they cooked for us was amazing). 

I've been looking into a few places without telling L, but I don't want to spoil the surprise... Not quite yet at least. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

various pink things

It turns out it's actually impossible to get beetroot juice off of even a cooperative cat. Maf is now slightly pink and will be for some time.

Sherlock is going through a phase where he doesn't like beetroot - I'm sure he loved it just six months ago? - and attempted to feed it to the dogs. Not unsurprisingly, the dogs also don't enjoy beetroot. So there it was on the floor, and the story is understandable up until this point, but then I can only assume that Maf rolled in it, because she got herself absolutely covered and looked like a small reddish tiger when I found her lurking on top of  a bookcase.

I took her to the sink and did my best to get it off, but all I can really say I got for my efforts is that she doesn't smell like beetroot anymore and she isn't leaving smudges on the furniture.

It still went considerably better than the last time I tried to bathe a cat. I was looking after a neighbour's white Persian while she was away, and the cat (Pompom) tripped me up while I was carrying a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce. Pompom was unhurt but quite covered in sauce. I sprained my ankle and spent the next two hours limping after her around the flat and finally wrapping the more dangerous parts of her in a towel while I rinsed her off. Maf was an angel by comparison. Definitely one of my better patients.

Also here's a photo I've been meaning to post for a while. Wild strawberries creeping into the allotment:

They're very tiny and very tart - or they were. They're long gone now. Birds and Sherlock finished them off ages ago. Which reminds me, I've worked out why our pink blueberry bush never makes any blueberries: it needs a mate. It can't pollinate itself. So we're working on that. I don't know if it can cross pollinate with normal blueberries, or what the results would be if it did (purple? magenta? probably just blue I would guess), but I'm trying to find another pink one. Sherlock is excited all over again. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Greg texted me from work today to ask if I wanted to go to Venice this weekend. As in, the day after tomorrow. I got the text while I was trying, along with a police sergeant, to corral a large angry cat who had mauled an intruder. I'm not quite sure how that got to be our job - I expect we didn't step back fast enough when someone asked for volunteers.

I read it in a quiet moment in between cat-catching and treating the claw marks on the man's face. He lucky he didn't lose an eye. That cat had some strong feelings about him. Anyway, I was a little distracted so I just stared at it for a moment, typed back 'yes' and got on with my day.

It actually wasn't until I got home (to find dinner waiting, because my lovely husband got home first) and got leapt upon by a much smaller friendlier cat and a larger friendlier Sherlock (and my husband, who licked my face in case I was missing the dogs at all) that I fully grasped the concepts of 'Venice' and 'two days from now'.

Me: What do you mean Venice this weekend?
Sherlock: We're going to Venice??????
L: *gives me a hopeless look that indicates that Sherlock is not coming and that he hasn't told him this yet* One of my cousins is getting married. We're invited. Might be a nice holiday?
Sherlock: We're going to Venice???????????
Me: All right, but...what do you mean Venice this weekend?????

In my defence, I'd just got off a 12 hour shift and worked pretty much all twelve hours of it. Turns out what he meant by Venice this weekend was that we're going to Venice this weekend. Who would've thought, eh?

Sherlock is, much to his horror and everlasting crankiness, not coming along, for various reasons, including my firm belief that he would manage to hurl himself or us into at least five canals. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

happy birthday, Mycroft!

I have explicit instructions this year not to post about how amazed I am at his age because: 'It happens every year, John, honestly. It cannot be a surprise.' I told him to wait till he was older, and he reiterated his intention never ever to reproduce. I pointed out that he would probably, once in a while, encounter children anyway, and he said he'd make it a point not to be amazed by the process of aging.

Fair enough.  I think he may possibly have mentioned this last year, but as I explained to him I am ancient and forgetful now,  and he'll have to be patient with me...

So I won't say I'm amazed, but I will say I'm proud of what an amazing young man he's grown into, of his patience and fortitude and of the effort he puts into everything he does. He's also great fun to have around and has somehow developed the ability to get Sherlock to listen to him, so he probably qualifies as a superhero at this point.

He also has exams to study for, so we've only got him for the the afternoon, but he'll be home for half term at the end of the month. I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, and he said he planned on donating his body for medical research...which is something you can do when you're 17, so I assume he's only signing up for it, not handing himself over immediately.

Before that though, we're all having lunch and going for a ride on the bikes if the weather's decent, fingers crossed.

Also I believe it's Mother's Day in the US, so happy Mother's Day to you - I hope it's a good one! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

the marathon des sables again

71 year old Sir Ranulph Fiennes finished the Marathon des Sables...

He described that penultimate day's walk as "more hellish than Hell". I suppose this means I can't complain about the one night we spent sleeping out on the trip... 

It was great though, the whole thing, including sleeping out (the teepees were quite nice really, and the barbecue was delicious), despite the blisters, which everyone got but only Sherlock complained of. Note to Mycroft and Greg: there is such a thing as being too stoic. Then again, Sherlock probably complained enough for everyone - well, perhaps complained isn't the right word, so much as discussed. There was more interest than whinging, and he wanted to show everyone the huge one on his heel. And why don't dogs get blisters? Well, he probably wouldn't either if he walked everywhere barefoot. He wanted to try. It didn't last long. 

The wall was...really something. It looks fairly ordinary, but the more you walk along it and think about how long it's been there, what's happened since it was built, the more it has a sense of presence, almost like a living thing. Or at least a collection of human experience contained in stone.  

We're home now. I always feel a bit strange coming home from a trip, like part of me's stayed behind. It's always a transition. Trying to catch up to my normal life again. Doing the laundry usually sorts it out, but I still feel a bit absent today, and it wasn't for lack of laundry (believe me, there was a lot). I'd like to go back there at some point. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015


We'll have Mycroft and Anthea and the slobber twins (that's unfair, they don't actually slobber that much) home this Saturday for a good long while. We're thinking of going up to walk along some of Hadrian's Wall, although perhaps with more B&Bs than camping. Sherlock says it's not that cold, and he's right, it's not that cold, but he's young and has bones made of rubber (medical fact, trust me, I'm a doctor) that won't set up immovably from sleeping in the cold on the ground. Also he doesn't care about the availability of beer and warm food, whereas L and I care a great deal.

So there's that. L's head is much better, thanks everyone for your concern. I did my best to keep him in one place for five minutes and get him to rest a bit. Or, as he puts it, chained him to the sofa and weighed him down with a cat. She does get amazingly heavy when she doesn't want you to move, but the dogs would've been more effective. Next time...

Mycroft sent us a photo the other day of Anthea dressed all in black with the hounds on either side of her in an early morning mist. It's no wonder she makes all the boys there a bit nervous. It's probably good for them (and I feel fairly certain she enjoys it). I'm trying to save her some of L's dragon biscuits, but it's hard going. By which I mean I really want to eat them. He could probably make more, right?

Things have been mostly quiet, but at work a few days ago I did end up treating bite wounds in someone's house who had a massive salt water fish tank and an octopus named Dog who supposedly once ate a severed finger. I never got the full story, but I can only assume that the people who live in that house lead far more exciting lives than we do - I knew there had to be someone out there who did. And you see, Sherlock? This is why (among so many other reasons) we can't have an enormous aquarium the size of a small room. I don't want an octopus eating my severed finger. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

ever green

We've been back for a while, but things have been, as usual, slightly intense around here so I'm just getting pictures from the trip up now. Think I'm getting a cold as well. Unusually good timing for it, since Mycroft will go back to school tomorrow evening and Sherlock will be back to school on Monday. I'll try not to give them a virus to take back with them. 

At any rate, here is the very green bathroom: 

The place we were staying:

Our future residence, I mean, a houseboat: 

Distant seals, easier to see than to photograph:

Sitting room with jigsaw puzzle: 

Not pictured: madly squeaking bed or L in fits of laughter due to squeaking bed. I almost wish I'd recorded the sound, but at the same time am very glad I didn't because I know L would play it. When I'm least expecting it. 

And now I need to go and listen to Sherlock tell me about Alnwick Poison Garden and why we should go there immediately. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

glitter and chickens

Here's a completely insane and dangerous race that we wouldn't have to actually run... It's 5600 miles through South America. You can do it on motorcycles if you want to. What do you think, Greg? (I already know what you think, Sherlock.) (Mycroft is a mystery to me on this score. Sometimes he thinks we're all mad and then I'll find him and Sherlock planning a rafting trip on the Amazon together with maps and flight schedules.)

Greg was talking in the comments of the other post about moving out somewhere we could have goats and alpacas (why alpacas?) eventually, and I said what about chickens, and I was thinking of the ones that lay blue eggs, but when I went looking for a picture of them, I found this...

...which is a Silkie and does not lay blue eggs, but just look at it. I'm not entirely sure it's not an internet hoax, to be honest, but I want one. Several. 

Unrelatedly, I feel like many of you may have heard of this, but...

Does just what it says, and the FAQ is amazing. 

Q. Is this for real?
A. Yes, you fucking idiot. We spent too much time, money & resources putting this shit hole of a website up to not get paid for it.

Thanks to Sherlock, I have an unfortunately intimate knowledge of glitter, and I'm not sure I hate anyone this much, but if I did... 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

and a happy new year

Well...the holidays have gone by for another year. We have a fresh start, insomuch as anyone ever does with the weight of our lives trailing out behind us. Sherlock and Mycroft are still with their mum, L has gone to work, and the dogs are looking pitifully up at me as if they haven't been walked for weeks when in fact I took them out just an hour ago. But they're booooooored, can't I see they're boooooored? And when will Mycroft be home? And why doesn't Maf want to play?

Maf doesn't want to play so much that she has installed herself on the mantle and is looking down on everyone with her tail twitching back and forth like a pendulum. Occasionally one of the dogs comes to stare sadly up at her and she fluffs up her tail and takes a half hearted swipe at his nose.

Although it's no longer the season for Christmas jumpers, I am wearing the one that my husband lovingly/mockingly purchased for me. I think it's very nice, and if he didn't want me to wear it all winter (although possibly not out of the house), he probably shouldn't have bought it for me, right? 

Also, one of Sherlock's presents arrived late, yesterday before the boys left, and he said I should put up a picture of it, so here it is. An antique human tooth from a collection being sold off. He was very pleased with it. 

I hope you are all equally pleased with your holidays, and a happy new year to you all!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

gingerbread army

The flat has been taken over by gingerbread people, which I keep mistyping as fingerbread people. There are no fingers in them. Probably. It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas, though I'm not quite sure if Sherlock's commercial zeal is in line with the spirit of the season... Then again, going by the shops and the ads on television and everyone at work grumbling about how this toy their child absolutely has to have costs, I suppose it is.

Do you remember Furbies (Furbys)? Are they still around? I knew someone who claimed he'd had one confiscated because he took it to a meeting and it started repeating classified information. No explanation of why he took it to the meeting, or in fact of why he had it at all. Shockingly, this wasn't Murray.

Murray has broken up with his tennis-mad girlfriend, by the way, and would like you all to know that he's gloriously single again, although if the way he was moping around here eating Mrs H's biscuits is any indication, gloriously is not the right word. I only met her twice, but she seemed nice.

At any rate, he's coming for Christmas dinner, and so is Harry, and so is Clara, and so is Harry's new girlfriend, whom I haven't met yet. I imagine that will be interesting.

Lastly, have this link to dead bee art, which Sherlock showed me earlier. It's meant to draw attention to the number of bees being killed by pesticides. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

to stache or not to stache

Carla and Paul sent me this... 

Amazing, isn't it? Greg insists it's a fake (the picture as well as the moustache, which is clearly fake). I've put it up on the fridge to point at every time he comments on my moustache, which is not nearly that bad. And it's nearly over! I'll shave at the end of the month. The way he goes on about it, you'd think I intended to keep it forever.

Sherlock, incidentally, wants to keep it forever - or at least long enough to do some sort of experiment on. With trepidation, I've said he can and said no to having him use tape or wax to rip it off all at once and maintain the shape. So I'll be shaving into a box...or something. And then keeping a very close eye on him.

People at work have been very good about donating, but I do get a lot of comments like "Can I pay to get it removed sooner?" and honestly, you'd think it was some sort of massive wobbly caterpillar eternally crawling across my upper lip. I told L that last night and he looked at me with such horror it made the whole month worthwhile. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

close enough for horseshoes

That is a picture of horseshoe crabs being drained of 30% of their blood (which the article says is 'not usually fatal'). Sherlock read this to me and then asked me a number of questions I couldn't answer, including 'Why does our blood use iron and theirs uses copper and how can I make mine use copper so that it's blue?' If you would also like to turn your blood blue, I'm sorry, I can't help you.

The barber (this was while we were both getting our hair cut) wanted to know what would make Spock's blood green. I couldn't help him either. Maybe that's why I've ended up with a haircut that makes me look like a deranged squirrel. Sherlock speculated nickle, or a different sort of iron. (His hair looks fine.)

Greg laughed when he came home and then kissed me and then laughed some more and asked if I wanted curry, so it must be bad. Still, curry.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

tomorrow tomorrow

Tomorrow is race day. If you never hear from us again, assume we are still plodding along the track, hours or even days after everyone else has finished. If nothing else, I expect this to cure me entirely of ever wanting to do the Marathon des Sables. But maybe a full marathon next year if this works out without major agony or injury. One that doesn't take place in a desert with sandstorms and no roads and dehydration.

On a completely different subject, classical music. Sherlock's school has been showing them this thing. If you don't live here, I'm not sure that will play for you, so here's a youtube thing about it:

It's aimed at making classical music more accessible to children, which is nice, but I'm not completely convinced that the way they're going about it is...useful? Or possibly I'm just too old to appreciate it. Sherlock likes the music and hates the rest of it, as you might expect. He says they don't need to make it exciting, it's already exciting, people just need to listen properly (for accuracy, imagine those last two words in all caps).

Sometimes I wonder if the weight we put on classical music, classic literature, etc is really a good thing. Isn't art meant to speak to us as we are now? Not that there's anything wrong with the classics, but the assumption seems to be that they're better than what people are making now, and I'm not sure that's true.

Anyway, wish us luck tomorrow! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

under the artificial sea

There is almost too much to cover about Sherlock's birthday trip, but the aquarium was a bit hit. Have some pictures. Here is a queen angelfish to start with...

And Sherlock's favourite, the sawfish...

Some very nice jellyfish...

And some...things. You'll have to ask Sherlock about these as I can't remember what they are. 

Since we got back, Sherlock has drawn a design for a ceiling aquarium that would contain sawfish, so they could swim above him while he sleeps. He dragged someone up here from security who used to work in demolitions and consulted her about load bearing walls and weight tolerances. She says she thinks it might work.

Obviously, he's not getting a ceiling aquarium, but I am slightly nostalgic for the days when I could tell him the ceiling would probably collapse and he'd just believe me instead of calling in an expert. He's baking her biscuits as a thank you. Ten years from now I imagine he'll rule half of London and live in a house made of glass and fish and glitter.

Oh, and one more thing...

I know just how he feels. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

happy birthday sherlock!

Well...we've had cake, we've had sushi, we've had experimental cake sushi made by Sherlock (cake bits flattened out and rolled around icing). And I had a shock this morning when Sherlock walked into our room, announced that was NINE and that in JUST FOUR YEARS he would be a teenager. Then he said he was old enough to make his own breakfast and walked out again.

L and I stared at each other for a little while, three quarters asleep, and then got up to go after him in case he decided he was old enough to cook bacon and burn the kitchen down. When we got to the kitchen, he told us with great scorn that he was just making toast, god, and said it so exactly the way Carla does that neither of us could help laughing.

Sorry, Sherlock. You are old enough to make toast, certainly, and for many other things, and you seem to be getting more grown up every day. It's a joy to have you in our lives. Happy birthday! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

tall ships

You've heard a bit about the trip on L's blog, but here are some pictures...

There was also a bit where kids could put on a climbing harness and climb rigging...which Sherlock loved, as you might imagine. Although he did argue about the climbing harness for about five minutes before he agreed to put it on, on the grounds that he wouldn't have had to if he'd gone to sea a few centuries ago and he'd have been in battles and everything and he bet there were pirates somewhere in the world right now that would let him climb things without a harness, which he didn't need, at all.

I told him that poem-- All I need is a tall ship and a star to steer her by -- and he decided John Masefield was obviously a pirate. Nothing I said could convince him otherwise. Are you sensing a theme?

L and Mycroft and I have heard the word pirate so many times since that day that I think it's lost all meaning for us. Piratepiratepirate. He was so quiet in his room after school yesterday that I went up to check and was shocked to find him doing his homework and not, as I had suspected, making pirate hats for the degus. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

the wedding

I seem to have ended up mostly with pictures of the food, which I'm sure won't surprise any of you. The amount of cheese was... Well, this is only a fraction of it. 

The dessert, a sort of Eton mess type thing:

Post-ceremony ice cream...

Sherlock was very excited about the swords, about getting to hold one, about them cutting the cake with one...pretty sure the swords were his favourite bit. Or the number of people around who were prepared to have mock pirate battles with him using sticks or forks or in one case pieces of cheese. 

There was also a bouncy castle, which we did not get kicked out of. I really thought we might, but honestly there were more adults than kids in it. If you define 'adult' purely in terms of age. It was Spence's idea. I'm not at all surprised. Even Mycroft went in with us for a bit. 

I think both he and Sherlock danced more than we did. There were a number of girls around Mycroft's age who asked him, and Sherlock asked...nearly everyone I think? And danced by himself when no partner was forthcoming. 

And's our anniversary. Seems like quite a nice way to spend it, and I admit I'm very glad L got home in time. No anniversary is ideal when spent apart, but particularly the first one - that didn't seem quite fair. Life isn't, of course, but as Sherlock says: well it should be!

Monday, August 18, 2014

depressing poetry and the garden

Believe It
Joshua Mehigan

Hard to believe that, after all of it,
in bed for good now, knowing you haven’t done
one thing of any lasting benefit
or grasped how to be happy, or had fun,
you must surrender everything and pass
into a new condition that is not
night, or a country, or sleep, or peace,
but nothing, ever, anymore, for you.

... I almost feel like I should apologize for posting that one. Not the most cheerful thing in the world. But it really struck me.

Anyhow. Allotment pictures. The squash is growing. Slowly. The blossoms this year  keep being eaten by something. This is the first one that's made it past the blooming stage, and I feel like I ought to surround it with a small barbwire fence.

And these, finally, are the red Thai beans that Sherlock is so excited about. They're not as long as they're supposed to get, but they're already longer than my hand. And a lovely color, don't you think?

Finally, mulberries. Found while we were out walking. L, is there anything you want to cook with them when you get back, or shall we just piggishly eat them out of hand?

I'm missing my husband already, quite a bit. Sherlock managed to give me the silent treatment this morning for all of an hour for not letting him go with Greg to Ascension Island. Then he gave up in favor of explaining the elaborate cake we were going to bake for his return. He wants it to be shaped like a topographic map of the island...with glitter. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

paris, mainly in the rain

Paris! I actually only have pictures of the Eiffel Tower right now...and to be honest most of the photos we've taken have been of ourselves making ridiculous faces in front of various monuments to send to the boys. Got one back from Mycroft standing solemnly in front of the shop where he works holding an ice cream just out of Sherlock's reach. 

We climbed all of the Eiffel Tower that you can climb... 

I'm quite glad you can't climb all of it. This is from the second tier:

And from the third...

I think we did better than we would have before we started the half marathon training though. Today...rain. Hiding in a church from the raining. Getting briefly naked together as we changed clothes in a church in the rain... And Giverny, very briefly, in between the rain. We'll be home in time for dinner! Probably. Unless we get washed away.

Yesterday, among other things, we did this...

You can see ours a bit to the left of the pink ones. Hopefully it'll be there for many years to come, but part of the Ponte des Artes collapsed earlier this year under the weight, so who knows... 

The other things we did yesterday included a lot of walking and talking and eating, all of which we do at home, but it's different. I've been to Paris before and honestly not liked it all that much - not that I disliked it, but compared to other places it seemed a bit grey. Being here with L makes it seem like an entirely different city. I really can't describe how lovely this trip has been. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Greg's birthday is this week. Wednesday, in fact. I'm reminding him of this because he might want to take some time off. In case he gets a surprise trip somewhere. I'm just saying, it's not out of the realm of possibility. I thought about making it more surprising than this, but I think the destination will be enough.

The boys are going to stay with their mum, or, at least Sherlock is. Mycroft is insisting that he's old enough to stay here on his own. Which I think is fair enough, but that's ultimately his mum's decision, so I'll let them fight it out. It'd certainly be easier for him to get to work from here than from her place.

That's about it from me, except to say that I still have blackberry stains under my fingernails from picking them with Sherlock the other day. They may be permanent.

And I'm adding this in because L just showed it to me... A memorial for the people who died in World War I. Article here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


So apparently last year, this biologist did a poetry offshoot of Nanowrimo wherein you write a poem every day for a month. Hers are science oriented and illustrated, and I like them a lot. Link to the article here, and if you look at the end of it, there's also a link to where she's selling the book if you want it. There's also a few more of the poems. Sherlock likes the one about the bees, unsurprisingly. 

In other news, something besides us is eating our lettuce. Rabbits, I assume. Squirrels? Do they eat lettuce? The chard isn't doing at all well either, but I do have five fairly massive cucumbers sitting in the fridge, and there are more growing. Quite quickly. L may run out of things to do with them before the summer's over. (Not like that, I know what you're all thinking.)

The summer holidays are officially here. Sherlock tells me it's BOILING and we need to go swimming immediately and repeatedly and preferably in the fjords of Norway. He also wants to go to Iceland and eat puffins and also bring one home as a pet... L and I have been talking about a trip, but I'm not sure it's going to include puffins.

We went to visit Jo and Lisa and Tadhg, who is amazingly tiny and looks even smaller when L is holding him. He was very quiet and sleepy while we were there, but Jo and Lisa assure us that he cries non-stop when they're trying to sleep, which I suppose is the way of all babies. Sherlock held him for about 20 seconds and then asked when he'd be old enough to eat biscuits or talk. I suppose whichever came first?

And finally here is a thing about Richard III's grave.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

naked with a belt

Tollund Man, for instance, was found with a belt but no clothes. "It doesn't make sense to be naked and have a belt," Frei pointed out.

True... The rest of the article is here and talks about the possibility that they were tossing foreigners into the bog, not in some sort of religious ritual, but as an alternative to burying them with everyone else. But basically no one actually knows. 

And this is an overview of the allotment... 

We have lots of little green tomatoes. Something keeps taking one bite out of each one and then leaving the rest, but there are so many that surely some will ripen...eventually. We have beans and lettuce and a surprisingly small amount of chard, which got a late start. The enormous Thai purple beans show no sign of flowering yet, let alone doing anything else, but fingers crossed. Sherlock is very excited about them (so am I). 

A woman named Mary has a plot a little way down from ours. She has a silverbell tree (currently about four feet tall, but she says they're meant to grow up to thirty feet and that she'll keep it trimmed and good luck to her with that...), a border of cockle shells, and marigolds all in a row. This led to a discussion of nursery rhymes with Sherlock and the implication from L that Little Boy Blue blowing his horn was about...well, you can guess. And also, bizarrely, to Sherlock wanting to read The Secret Garden, once he was assured it didn't have any talking animals or other such nonsense. Not sure how that one's going to go, since it's also distinctly lacking in pirates, booty, and mysterious corpses. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

cucumbers and cats

Cucumber: the first of many. There are a million flowers and quite a few tiny cucumbers as well. This is the first moderately full sized one. Sherlock picked it and did not heed any warnings from me or Mycroft about the prickles all over it. He took them personally. I've seldom seen anyone that annoyed with a plant.

Also, L sent me this...

It's a book...of newspaper articles...about cats that hate cops. I think he's trying to say something about Maf. It's a weak case, considering how often she sleeps on his shoulder while he sits on the sofa. She's cleaning the top of his ear right now, and he's poking her every few seconds before it tickles, but she's determined.

She's doing all right with the dogs - holding her own. Using them as transport and things to jump off of in order to get onto the kitchen counter or the top of the table. I'm waiting for she and the dogs to start working in concert. With her brains and their brawn, I think they could get the fridge open. Then we'll really be in trouble. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

on a boat

Well...we're a on a ship. Sherlock and I and Mrs N and another teacher and roughly one million small children. The sound really bounces around in here when they shriek. As they do when Sherlock insists on telling gruesome pirate stories just before bedtime and acting them out by trying to jump on people like an animated skeleton would. After I put a stop to that for the third time, Mrs N came by to tell me she was so glad I'd decided to come along...ha.

In theory, they're sleeping now. In reality, they're talking in what they think are quiet whispers that adults can't hear, and they're mistaken. Which makes me wonder with some amount of paranoia just how much my parents and teachers chose to ignore when I was younger.

Glad I'm here though. It is fairly warm and slightly dank with a vaguely peculiar smell, but still - we're sleeping in a ship.