Terrifying Headless Lady
She wants you to join her behind the red curtain.
Perhaps if you become very good friends she will let you try on her spare arms.

Fuck my Noguchi coffee table

This is the most poncey, self-indulgent, fuck-your-Noguchi-coffee-table hipster-crap thing I have ever done. AND YET I DO NOT CARE, because it makes me happy, damn it, and it was my birthday yesterday and I felt like I was allowed.

My favourite bit of my birthday was the books I got (Crafting With Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya from my husband, and The Wastewater Plant by Dodge Winston from my brother). My second favourite bit of my birthday was installing our new bookshelf / tchotchke-display area, and filling the best, most visible shelf with the following items:

To the left, books representing the writers and artists whose work has influenced me the most, plus a little model of a beach hut from my mum.

To the right, my author copies of my books, plus a seashell and an antique perfume bottle.

And in the centre, my beautiful retro typewriter (which, come to think of it, I still need to pay my friend for). This beautiful retro typewriter closely resembles the typewriter (at the time not beautiful and retro, but simply what there was) that I wrote my first novel on, when I was fifteen. The text on the paper is the first sentence of my first published novel, The Summer We All Ran Away.

No, I didn’t actually write “The Summer We All Ran Away” on a beautiful retro typewriter. I used a laptop like everyone else. Yes, I am aware this makes the whole thing even more pretentious than it was before. And I am not in the least little bit sorry. In fact I am rather proud of myself.

Furthermore, in a few weeks I will compound my ponceyness by adding my author copies of The Beach Hut, and switching up the first sentence on the typewriter. I can’t be 100% sure, but I don’t think I’ll be sorry then either.

What can I say? Sometimes you just have to do this stuff, in the full knowledge that you’re being ridiculous. But then you blog about it in a vaguely self-deprecating manner that you imagine gets you off the hook for doing these things. So that makes it okay. Maybe.

A teacake


Also a teacake

Also a teacake







My son takes an interest in Bear Grylls. Partly because he himself was almost called “Bear”; partly because Bear Grylls climbs big mountains and eats gross stuff on TV. But these days, it’s mostly because it has recently come to his attention that Bear Grylls proposed to his wife by pulling her engagement ring out from between his bum-cheeks while skinny-dipping.

This was his other idea for making it a really special and memorable moment.

This was his other idea for making it a really special and memorable moment.

My son thought this was awesome, because he is eight and it involves extensive discussion of the bum-cheeks of someone he admires, so of course he did. So awesome, in fact, that he decided to draw a picture of it.

BG full piece

He drew this at bedtime, while allegedly listening to me reading The Famous Five. I’m not sure why it’s meant to be read right to left, but maybe he was channeling his inner Manga artist.

As you can see, it comes in three distinct parts. The first part is the moment of the proposal:

BG proposal 2

There’s clearly some thought gone into this. It contains all the essential elements of a really good marriage proposal, as understood by an eight-year-old boy. Bear is down on one knee, because that’s the proper way to propose to someone. There’s some sort of disturbing phallic symbolism going on with Bear’s arms. The ring is gigantic (I bet Bear was glad to get that bad boy out from storage, Christ). His future wife is smiling, because she’s so happy to be proposed to. Naturally, she’s asking the question all newly-engaged women ask at such a moment: “Where did you get it!” And Bear, also smiling, proudly replies, “From my butt”.

I will admit that’s a much more memorable answer than “Beaverbrooks”.

By the way, my son and I are both painfully aware that he has spelt “Where” wrong. Sometimes in the white heat of artistic creation, these things slip through the net.

The next piece of the picture is a bit more mysterious:


My son’s best explanation of this is that it was “some of my homework that I had to cross out”, accompanied by the mysterious smile that means he doesn’t want to discuss it any further. As far as I can tell, it’s a picture of a pyramid with an eye on the top, and the inscription “50 gerfit” scrawled across the bottom. Maybe they were studying Masonic initiation rituals.

And now the final piece of the triptych, which shows Bear happily contemplating what he’s just achieved:

Bear Grylls proposal

“I got my ring from my butt.” Well, yes you did, Bear. Yes you did.

Goodbye Vacuum Cleaner

Sometimes, I knit or sew stuff. For the last few months, I’ve been knitting a blanket, inspired by Cornish Blue pottery in general, and my Cornish Blue gravy-jug in particular.

Cornish Blue Blanket

Quite a few Facebook friends have asked for the pattern, so here it is. It’s free to use, share, adapt and generally distribute to anyone who fancies a copy – although if you are sharing publicly, a credit would be very much appreciated.


Wool: I knitted this in Sirdar DK Snuggly, in Denim (shade 326) and Cream (shade 303). I’m honestly not sure how many balls of each colour I used, because I basically make my craft projects up as I go and I had to restock halfway through – but I think I used about a dozen 50g balls of each colour. If you’re looking for a good place to buy, I really like Wool Warehouse.

Needles: this is knitted on 4.5mm, extra long (40cm) needles, like these. 40cm long needles can be annoying to work with, so as an alternative you can also knit this on circular needles, like these.

Finished project size: the finished blanket will fit a single bed. It also makes a nice sofa throw.

Stitch: the blanket’s knitted in British Moss Stitch (in the US this is called Seed Stitch), which makes a lovely nubbly texture that feels gorgeous. It’s a dead simple stitch to do. First, you cast on an even number of stitches. Then on the odd rows, it’s Knit One, Purl One; and on the even rows, it’s Purl One, Knit One.

Moss Stitch

How to make:

1. Cast on 260 stitches in cream wool. You can make your blanket wider or narrower by varying the number of stitches – but it is very important that the total number of stitches is an even number.

2. Knit twenty rows in British Moss Stitch:
K1, P1 on the Odd rows
P1, K1 on the Even rows

3. At the end of Row 20, change to blue wool.

4. Knit twenty rows in British Moss Stitch:
K1, P1 on the Odd rows
P1, K1 on the Even rows

(You’ll find that your transition rows between the stripes will be a lovely mini-stripe as the front of the stitch alternates between the front and the back, like this.)

Transition between stripes

5. Knit alternate 20-row stripes of blue and white until you’re happy with the size of your blanket, finishing with a white stripe. My blanket is 29 stripes long.

6. Cast off, and weave in the ends.

And that’s it! It’s quite a big project so it does take a while, but it’s not technically challenging at all – if you can knit, purl and count then this is definitely do-able. If you have a go, I’d love you see the finished project, so do please leave links or photos in the comments.

Stuff my kids will remember about their summer holidays - portrait


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,107 other followers