Sunday, February 25, 2007

You fill up my senses, like a night in a forest...

A prize to the first person to tell me where the headline comes from. Because I can't remember myself.

We've just returned from a week in the woods. Griffon Forest, in Yorkshire. It was just what Buffy and I needed, some time away from rubbish modern life, dingy sarf-east London, rude commuters and the internet.

We stayed in a gorgeous log cabin deep in the middle of nowhere (that's 'just outside York' to be precise) complete with hot tub, four-poster bed, jacuzzi bath, peace, quiet and all the mod-cons you could possibly want for a week of hermitude. I have no idea if hermitude is a real word, but if not I'm claiming it as a neologism.

Normally, I return from holiday with handfuls of tales, most of them stories about what went wrong, but the whole week was a happy blur of laziness and lounging. We spent a lot of time in the water, even more time in bed, quite a lot of time shopping and a fair amount tramping about in the woods. We watched a lot of DVDs, glugged champers in the steamy hot tub while stars twinkled above the treetops (Buffy only sipped; I glugged), fed the birds (blue tits are SUCH bullies) and I went for a long bike ride to a weird village called Strensall which had nothing apart from a pub, a Tesco Express and a military shooting range. Yep - really. Every morning, we were awoken by the distant crackle of machine gun fire.

We ventured into York a few times, running up enormous taxi bills, though apart from visiting the Cathedral (rip-off, £7 to see some stained glass windows and a very disappointing crypt) we didn't do anything touristy. We just bought stuff in high street shops.

We attended the launch of Habitat's new VIP range for kids, though I was able to resist buying the Christian Lacroix monsters. Just. That same night, we went to an Indian restaurant where we tackled the biggest naan bread in the world ever. Look, I'm not kidding:

This was the second most interesting meal of the holiday. The most 'interesting' was on the first night, at Tykes restaurant, a short walk through a muddy field. We had risotto. Imagine eating a large bowl of salt, with some more salt poured on top, swimming in a salt sauce. Hmmm. Afterwards, the waitress offered us a free dessert because there was "something wrong" with the main course. She wasn't bloody kidding. Then we walked home down a pitch black country lane, armed only with two tiny maglites, and Sara had a Blair Witch style freakout. Oh, if only I'd had a video camera with me.

Here's Buffy not having a Blair Witch style freakout:

It was a brill, ace and fab holiday. It had to be, because next time we'll have Quiche in tow. Yep - our last kid-free holiday until Quiche is old enough to be left home alone. So, seven or eight years then...

There will be lots more about the holiday, including more pictures and Sara's very own perspective, on Sara Sizzle.

Finally, I've just discovered an amazing band. They're called The Sounds, they're from Sweden and this is the video for their new single, Tony the Beat. Single of the year so far:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bird flu over the chicken's roost

That laboured pun is my way of telling you I'm ill. Stuck at home feeling lousy and bored. Still, it could be worse. It could actually be bird flu, which I've been going on about for years. Catch Your Death, the novel I wrote with my friend Louise about viruses, is with an agent at the moment; 100 pages in, likes it so far, the usual... I've got everything crossed for some good news but don't expect it. Said Eeyore.

Buffy is 25 and a half weeks pregnant now. That means we have approx 15 more weeks of waiting. I know it's going to be exhausting and bewildering, not to mention bloody painful for Sara, but we're so excited and keen for Quichey to get here. Sara's mood swings have lessened now, although we did have a big row on Clapham Common. As soon as we got off the bus, Buffy announced that she wasn't up to walking anywhere. Which would have been fine if I'd been in possession of a wheelchair or known where on earth I was going. I just knew we were looking for the North Side. "I'm sure this must be it," I insisted, discovering ten minutes and several tantrums later that we were in fact on the south side. It was a classic couple argument, but we made up over a veggie breakfast in a weird restaurant. On the south side.

Clapham is overrated anyway. This is Clapham: a smug well-off couple with a baby in a Bugaboo sitting in Starbucks talking about property prices.

Buffy does look lovely in her fully blooming pregnant mode, as visitors to Sara Sizzle will know.

Some of my favourite people in the world are making comebacks at the moment. My musical hero, Brett Anderson, has a very catchy new single and album coming out. I heard too late about his London gigs but I'm keeping an eye on eBay.

Then there's Louis Theroux, who has a new TV series. The first programme reminded me why I don't gamble.

All I need now is for Donna Tartt to bring a new book out and my cultural life will be complete.

Congratulations to Sue and Darren on the birth of little Elyan. It's Arthurian, you know. Apparently, he does explosive poos. I'm scared.