Month: May 2016

Bright Spots | Week Twenty

  A belated bright spots, for the week that was: the night a storm threatened, the air crisp and crackling, clouds racing overhead like skaters on a pond. Dusk arrived early and there was a bite to the air so we stood by the stove and between us stirred risotto, rich with lemons and salty stock, the remnants of a courgette, a halved cauliflower and long lashings of spinach. Reading in bed, mostly this book, which was everything I hoped it would be. I enjoyed the crisp crackle of the pages as my eyes raced across its pages, full of stories so incredible you’d think they couldn’t possible be real but that they are – real as they come. A night of small plates, blood orange soda and girl talk (giggles), the pavements outside slick with rain. Feeling happier, more contented, in my choices —for what will be will be. My grandfather, dancing into the room with a cup of tea and my grandmother, always chuckling about something. The tomato plants, which grew several inches in a week! Anticipation …

Poem For The Weekend #52

In your next letter, please describe the weather in great detail. If possible, enclose a fist of snow or mud, everything you know about the soil, how tomato leaves rub green against your skin and make you itch, how slow the corn is growing on the hill. Thank you for the photographs of where the chicken coop once stood, clouds that did not become tornadoes. When I try to explain where I’m from, people imagine corn bread, cast-iron, cows drifting across grass. I interrupt with barbed wire, wind, harvest air that reeks of wheat and diesel. I hope your sleep comes easy now that you’ve surrendered the upstairs, hope the sun still lets you drink one bitter cup before its rise. I don’t miss flannel shirts, radios with only AM stations, but there’s a certain kind of star I can’t see from where I am— bright, clear, unconcerned. I need your recipes for gravy, pie crust, canned green beans. I’m sending you the buttons I can’t sew back on. Please put them in the jar …

The Best Holiday Reads

I love to read, and have for as long as I can remember. It’s the worst-kept secret in the world. I raced through the library at the end of my street when I was little and dragged my parents to another London borough so I could join a new set of bigger, better book-lending establishments. I worked in a library for several years during university and, now, a trip to the library or an illicit visit to the cavernous Foyle’s on the Charing Cross Road is my favourite and most foolproof way to unwind after a long day at work. Oh, books! In honour of an upcoming thirteen-hour plane ride, I thought I’d share a selection of my favourite holiday reads – books that are inherently readable, engaging without being overly weighty, marked by characters you fall in love with. Please share your favourites with me so I can race to the library/bookshop before my flight to Singapore later this week! ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, Anthony Doerr The prose is beautiful, and although I found …

Been There | Landeau, Lisbon

Lisbon in May is a rather different beast to Lisbon in February. The orange trees are past their harvest, having budded into full lime leaf, and instead bougainvillea, wisteria and the most eager roses drape the city streets. The avenues are full. Tourists armed with guide books and cameras lurk at every miradouro in Alfama. The quiet nooks that I first fell in love with, that rain-soaked Valentine’s weekend, were a little harder to find. In fact, much of central Lisbon – particularly the district of Baixa-Chiado – feels like a tourist trap designed to ensnare even the canniest traveller. It was something not so marked during a wet Lisbon winter but this spring, as the sun set the streets alight with gold, it was harder to ignore. Much of the city centre is marked by gaudy pastelerias piled high with overpriced pasteis de nata, cavernous souvenir shops hawking tile-printed wares and ‘snack bars’ designed to take your money and maybe give you food poisoning for the privilege. But on our stormy last day we were desperate for somewhere pleasant, away from the …

Bright Spots | Week Nineteen

I could talk about the tomato plants, a pair of them ripe with promise, on our windowsill or the novels I purchased from my favourite bookshop this breezy afternoon. I could talk about the lilacs, tulips, wisteria, roses all over the city; London daubed, suddenly, stupendously, in splashes of spring colour. I could talk of the delicious, lip-licking coffee we brewed for breakfast and the simple joy of sitting out to read the paper in the morning sunshine. But instead, I’d like to talk this week of those living, breathing bright spots, without which my weeks would be void of joy – the humans I rely on and hold dear. My grandfather, his cockneyed ‘sweetheart’ echoing down the telephone line. He gave us those tomato vines, complete with instructions for care, and takes care of my little elderly cat as if she were his own. My grandmother, always laughing, who bakes and bakes, just to see us smile at the sweetness even though she flat-out refuses to eat her own cooking. My sister, for her dedication, for always being a phone call away. …