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Preview: Planethalder


Updated: 2018-03-05T19:29:56.247+00:00


A new home


I have moved. Please update your feeds and bookmarks. New home(image)

Spring has sprung


• Planting hardy perennials in the flower beds

• Filling terracotta pots with seasonal pansies and primroses

• Feeding the roses

• Scarifying the lawn

• Watering the garden after the morning's first coffee

• Knitting in the garden as Little Planet plays

• Devouring gardening magazines and websites

• Opening all the windows and the back door to let fresh air course through the house for several hours

• Hoovering behind cupboards and sofas

• Emptying and cleaning kitchen cupboards

• Eating roast spring lamb with homemade mint sauce then stewing the leftovers with pumpkin and pomegranate molasses

• Preparing Easter school holiday activities for Little Planet

• Planning Easter weekend activities for house guests

• Trying not to get too angry with the birds who wake me up with their dawn chorus

• Watching two resident robins nuzzle our lawn and flowerbeds for worms; seeing their fledgling learn to fly

• Booking refresher driving lessons as I haven't driven in ten years; a fresh start

• Sorting through my Spring and Summer wardrobe and wearing short sleeves outside

• Looking forward to the heat of Summer(image)

Reading matters


Mr Planet has been working long hours over the last few months (he's a lawyer and a case of his is coming to trial) so once Little Planet is in bed I have found myself with a good couple of hours in the evening to read. Here are some of the books I've loved and want to re-read:

(image) Unfortunately, some of the books I've read have totally sucked: Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child (the writing was wooden and the plot simply plodded along, though perhaps I should give this another chance as I usually like Hollinghurst), Amanda Addison's Laura's Handmade Life (which I only bought as it was about a woman who sews, more fool me!) and Stephanie Meyer's Twilight (because I wanted to see what the fuss was about, again with the "more fool me!").

I'm currently reading Gil McNeil's Divas Don't Knit, which is is a light, chick-lit read and which I only bought because it involves knitting. Also, Haruki Murakami's most excellent What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Out and about


One of the many reasons I love living in London is the endless opportunities to do things. Yet I am always taking this forgranted and forgetting to blog about them. So to recap on some recent activities...Mr Planet and I have celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary by dining out on fantastic Polish food at the restaurant and vodka bar Baltic in Southwark.We've collected bark, twigs and leaves and chased pigeons in Russell Square, taken Little Planet out for burgers and fries at Byron near Holborn and shopped (in Marylebone) for bedding and photo frames at The White Company, children's books at Daunts and steaks at The Ginger Pig.We've gorged on ice creams (green tea, orange, chocolate) at Lick in Soho.I've been to the cinema to watch the fun and quirky Young Adult.Over the next few weekends and months, we've booked or plan to see... Complicite's production of The Master and Margarita at the Barbican, Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach at the Barbican, English National Ballet's My First Sleeping Beauty at the Peacock Theatre with Little Planet, David Hockney at the Royal Academy and Yayoi Kusama at Tate Modern.And with the weather picking up, there are the Royal Parks and, closer to home, the Heath to romp around in again. Winter has been spent shrugging one cold or tummy bug after the other off so I am looking forward to Spring.[...]

Days like these


The re-writing continues, slowly but surely.This picture frame allows me to rotate Little Planet's artwork.Little Planet made a combined Valentine's Day and 5th Wedding Anniversary card for us.I got this cute little knitting counter free in a magazine.My mother bought this cushion cover in Assam, India.A light snack.Little Planet's breakfast plate.My first cable scarf; my first ever attempt at cable stitch.I finished sewing these linen tablemats yesterday.Little Planet is so into her princesses these days that they marry each other, have children together (only daughters), and men are strictly not allowed to enter their world.[...]

Popping in and out again


Life is busy, life has always been busy, yet right now I am not bothered about blogging any of it. For now. A summary then: Week days are filled with looking after Little Planet and arranging endless (but very fun) activities for her (gym, sports) after preschool and playdates rotated among four of her little friends. Also sewing (linen placemats, patchwork quilts), knitting (more scarves). And the big activity: The Novel (third draft now). Weekends are spent with Mr Planet and Little Planet going out to museums, galleries, eating out and generally enjoying London. Plus Church (for me and occasionally Little Planet).

Until next time...(image)

Weekend chilling


This weekend, we visited Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park...And ate an Argentinian lunch at Garufa in Highbury, North London...But the rest of the weekend was spent at home. Painting...Jumping on the bed whilst the sheets were in the wash...Going to Mass...Eating Paul A. Young artisan chocolates...Reading...Knitting...Preparing to sew a patchwork cushion for Little Planet's bed...Putting up Christmas decorations...Finishing the second draft of my novel. Hurrah![...]

Quilty pleasures


Here are my recent fabric bundle purchases for making quilts and, later, a few dresses, skirts and blouses for Little Planet. From All The Fun At The Fair, Cath Kidston and Liberty.

(image) And a bag to stash it all away.
My Janome sewing machine is arriving next week - Mr Planet's early Christmas present to me. Yippee!(image)



This weekend, we visited a lot of art galleries, including Irrational Marks: Bacon Rembrandt at Ordovas / The King, The Island, The Train, The House, The Ship (Paul McCarthy) at Hauser & Wirth / Forsaken (Marlene Dumas) at Frith Street / Jeff Wall at White Cube, Mason's Yard. But it was Robert Motherwell's Works on Paper at Bernard Jacobson that blew us away completely.Gallery hopping makes for very tired feet!We queued round the block to get into Meat Liquor in Marylebone, but the burgers and fries were so good that the wait was certainly worth it.Little Planet attended a very pink 4th birthday party......That had a very pink birthday cake.And this weekend, Little Planet finally moved from her cot to her very own pink bed, which she absolutely loves.[...]

Feeling crafty


A couple of years ago, I took up knitting for the first time and have been knitting ever since. I haven't yet progressed beyond scarves for Little Planet and myself.

I find knitting a wonderfully meditative activity, to do when I can no longer read or write, for example when Little Planet is playing but still needs me around to chat with her.

But now I have the urge to do something more. Little Planet is reaching an age when she doesn't need me to play with her all the time and yet she still needs me in her presence. Sewing and knitting are perfect activities for moments such as these so I have made a list of craft activities I want to complete over the next 12 months:

- Finish the scarf I'm knitting for myself
- Knit a hot pink cushion for Little Planet's new bed
- Sew a quilt for her bed
- Sew some linen placemats and napkins for our kitchen table
- Make a wooden bead necklace for myself

I've never sewn before so I'm really looking forward to this.

What craft projects are you engaged in?(image)

Eulogy to my father


My speech at my father's funeral:Many who met my father for the first time must have thought that here was a friendly, gentle and unassuming man. And yes, he was these things, but he was also much, much more. My father was a passionate, curious and intense man who saw life as a rich map to explore.As soon as he completed his degree in India he was off to explore the world. He travelled to China, alone and against his parents’ wishes, leaving them and his twelve other brothers and sisters behind. Soon after, he decided he would board a boat to Germany, where he lived, studied and worked as an accountant for several years. Wanderlust kept him restless and he decided he wanted to see what Britain had to offer him. The rest, of course, is history - a history that soon became entwined with that of my mother and myself.My father was a passionate man who wooed my mother with love letters that criss-crossed their way from London to Calcutta and back again. After they married in India, they returned together to London and the first meal he cooked for his new wife was trout curry with cauliflowers and potato.My father loved cooking and was always experimenting. We would look aghast as he added apples or fruit yoghurt to a curry. But it tasted amazing! When I decided to become a vegetarian, he took it entirely in his stride and prepared as my first ever vegetarian meal a dish of curried lentils and spinach.He was an exemplary father, far ahead of his time. When my mother started working as a hospital doctor when I was 8 months old, he took over all the parenting duties despite also having a fulltime job. He took me to the childminder’s house, he bathed me, fed me, changed and washed my nappies, read me stories and put me to bed, prepared a meal for him and my mother when she returned from work, then got up in the night whenever I woke up, and tended to me when I was ill.A loving, caring father and yet a strict disciplinarian too - he certainly was no pushover. My mother spoiled me with presents and with her I was able to get away with a lot. My father, though, was the one who punished me and taught me right from wrong.He believed education was the key to freedom and drove me on and on and on. Oh the arguments we had! He always said, “Studies first, career second, husband third!” When I didn’t choose the A-level subjects he wanted me to choose, he didn’t speak to me for 6 weeks. Yet when I collected my DPhil certificate from Oxford, he cried tears of joy.My sentimental father, who kept all of Mum’s love letters and all my school books, school reports and my letters to him. He even printed out and kept all the emails I wrote to him.For he treasured relationships. He was a sociable man who loved spending time with people - laughing with them, listening to their stories. When he visited me in South Dakota in America, he not only managed to find the only Bengali in South Dakota but managed to befriend him and his wife and get us all invited back to their home for dinner!He loved his work as a Chartered Surveyor and valued work so much that he started his own business and then also became an Independent Financial Advisor. The work drove him, certainly, but work was also a way he could spend time with other people. After retirement he continued to work by volunteering for the Citizens Advice Bureau and Age UK where he visited elderly people just to chat with them and give them company.With them he shared a joke, laughed about the comedy programmes he always enjoyed watching and debated politics. My father always had a twinkle in his eye and it looks like his quirky sense of humour has been passed down the generations to his 3 year old granddaughter.Dad, you are the best role model a person can have. You have taught me never to give up and to always retain [...]

Rest in peace


(image) My beloved father died on the 10th November 2011. It was an expected death, of natural causes, but still a blow to us all. He was an amazing man.(image)

Tweet tweet


Since I am tweeting far more than I am blogging, I thought I'd compile some of my tweets since easter. Please read from the bottom up :-)Still following Paul McKenna's eating principles. Feels like second nature now. Combined with the running, I feel really trim & fit.2 chapters left to write and draft 2 of my novel will be written. Will have to a draft 3 though...Still doing my Couch to 5k runs three times a week but have had to repeat a few weeks as I find this running lark a bit tough.Lil P is having a Halloween party with her childminders this afternoon. From 7pm bedtime my lights will be off & I'll be ignoring the bell!I was (am) so lazy & NEVER wanted kids as I liked my life but Mr P persuaded me & am so happy he did! It's an adventureI am thankful for the time change and am looking forward to running in daylight again tomorrow (I am an early morning runner)... Clocks went back in the early hours of this morning but we still got a lie in and had to WAKE Little Planet up. Hurrah!Little Planet dressed all day today in her Halloween witch's dress & hat, running around like a crazy loon with her magic wand.Kali puja yesterday, pheasant & pumpkin pie for dinner tonight, slow cook venison stew on hob for dinner tomorrow, preschool starts again.I am naturally lazy so follow the "benign neglect" school of parenting. Little Planet seems fine inspite of it :-)Besides, you're not with your kid all day long - they go to school, sleep loads (hopefully). You DO get time for you.Yes, kids a lot of work but LIFE is a lot of work and that makes it so much more rewarding. Think about the longterm.I love fireworks but not when they keep 3 year olds, recovering from colds and still coughing, awake when they want to be sleeping.finished A Village Affair by Joanna Trollope #KindleI've actually stopped watching it (Downton) as I've lost interest in the plot. Sunday night is now just Curb Your Enthusiasm :-)finished The Photograph by Penelope Lively #KindleWe're back from NYC. Will post photos soon.finished The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt #KindleToday we're off to check out diners, galleries and boutiques in Williamsburg. But first, brunch at Freeman's. The weather is glorious!Saw the great Sam Shepard as Butch Cassidy in Blackthorn last night in a fab indie cinema on the Lower East Side. A great Western for 2011.Great NYC eating: strawberry milk & bagel bombs @ Momofoku Milk Bar, pizzas @ Keste, burgers & sausages @ DBGB, coffee/cake @ Ground SupportLittle Planet happy w. Grandma back in London but I am missing her like crazy. I admit I shed tears leaving her at nursery before flight.Lots of shopping in NYC - DKNY, JCrew, Barney's; biscuits & gravy at Peels in the East Village; De Kooning retro at MOMA.Momofoku Noodle Bar (NYC) in two words: Delicious, NOISY! I'm getting old.Off to NYC. Back next week.We have such great weekends. Love having Mr Planet home so we can enjoy life as a family. Must blog about our weekends again but time lacks.Lovely day today: Morning in Hyde Park, lunch at Rowley Leigh's very child-friendly & elegant Le Cafe Anglais, book shopping in Piccadilly.Countdown to our trip to NYC next week begins. Yippee!finished An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel. superb story of growing up in 60s england. #KindleLovely day today: Yang Fudong films at Parasol Unit, beef/bone marrow & pork/apple sliders at Spuntino, home for fun in paddling pool.Will stick to Anne Rice I think. Silly me for reading a teen book and thinking I might enjoy it. Oh, wait, Judy Bloom was awesome...Only a third of the way through the teen novel Twilight but really, it's quite poorly written isn't it. Still not understa[...]

Happy Halloween


(image) (image)



(image) Inspired by our visits to a variety of Momofuku restaurants on our recent trip to NYC and by David Chang's excellent Lucky Peach journal, Mr Planet made fresh ramen this weekend.(image)

Daily routine


Now that 3 year old Little Planet has started preschool (5 mornings a week), I have a new daily weekday routine that I thought I'd record here. She still goes to her childminder but now only two afternoons a week so that I have two full days for writing.

7am - Wake up Little Planet, get her ready and give her breakfast whilst we read together.
7.30am - I go out for a run (30 minutes); return, shower, eat breakfast; Mr Planet goes to work.
9am - Drop Little Planet off at preschool (2min walk away).
9.15am - Return home, sit at desk with coffee, write, stare out of window, write some more.
12pm - Pick Little Planet up and walk her to the childminder where she will have lunch, play, then have dinner.
12.30pm - Return home, have lunch, write, drift, write, do a few chores, look at time and in a panic write some more.
5.30pm - Collect Little Planet.
6pm - Return home, play with Little Planet, tidy up together.
7pm - Stories, milk and bedtime for Little Planet.
7.30pm - Make dinner and read, write some more, watch TV, surf Internet, knit, potter until Mr Planet comes home (anytime after 8.30pm) then eat dinner.
10.30pm - Bedtime (I like my sleep).

As Monday except no running.

Morning routine as Monday (including running).
12pm - Pick up Little Planet from preschool, bring her home, have lunch together then play.
2pm - Take Little Planet to her gym class.
3pm - Back home and playing including painting and/or phonics and/or numbers and/or computer and/or baking plus I try and fit in some chores.
5pm - Little Planet's dinner then a bit of TV then playtime.
7pm - Little Planet's bedtime routine then my evening as Monday.

Same day as Wednesday but no morning run, and instead of gym class Little Planet has a sports class in the afternoon.

Same day as Wednesday (including my morning run) then the afternoon is completely free for Little Planet and me. Her Dida (my Mum) will usually pop round for the afternoon to play with Little Planet, or we'll go to the library and/or the park.

Out and about as a family!


Campaign to better myself


Have been stuck in a lifestyle rut for a long while now so have decided to take baby steps to invigorate body and mind:
  • I have been powerwalking for some time now but need to up my game and start running so I'm starting the Couch to 5K programme using the NHS podcast. It's largely due to time constraints: to get a proper workout from walking I need to powerwalk for an hour and that, frankly, eats into my early morning. Running, on the other hand, would cut my workout time to half an hour.

  • My brain has gone rusty over the last few years - since I finished my PhD, in fact, way back in 2002. Since then I've exercised the brain matter largely on topics relating to work and parenting. So I am reading a daily quality newspaper every day again. There's no point me reading the news online because I get distracted. During lunch or after I've put Little Planet to bed I crack open the paper and try and educate myself on worldly issues.

  • I've slipped into a chick-lit reading rut too. After a busy day, it's easy to unwind with some pink-covered slush. I never used to be like this. I used to read William Gibson and Margaret Atwood in hardback. So I've consigned the pink fluff to the charity shops and am reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. More of that ilk in the to-read pile.

  • I also want to get more adventurous in my cooking. I tend to cook the same ten or so meals but I need to expand my repertoire of recipes. We have loads of cookbooks and Mr Planet is always perusing them and experimenting. I need to take a leaf out of his book.
My writing is going well - slowly, but surely. The book is longer and the plot much more intricate than I originally anticipated so it's taking me longer than I'd hoped. Also, my eating less regime is also going very well. I thought I'd fallen off the wagon for a couple of months but in fact had only put on 3lbs so the rules must be working for me at a subconscious level now, which is terrific.

Checking in and out


Just checking in to say I'm still here and we're all fine but have just been busy enjoying life. All my writing energy is focused on finishing the book and the rest of the time is spent enjoying family life: cooking, eating out (eg Wahaca in Covent Garden), galleries, museums, parks, the garden, family, friends. The usual really.

I'm also helping Little Planet learn to read her letters and simple words. She's only just turned 3 but she was expressing interest in reading so I thought Why not? I was reading by the time I was 4 so as she is showing interest I should help her. I'm using a system called Progressive Phonics which has free downloadable resources; I'm also using a phonics app called Pocket Phonics on the iPad which she really loves. We're really lucky because her childminders are supporting us in this and are reinforcing the phonics when she's with them during the week. The key thing is keeping it fun for her and not making it something she has to do. That's why the app is particularly good as she sees it as a game.

Anyway, hope you are all enjoying the summer. More soon.

The passing of time


(image) When this photo was taken, Little Planet was barely 30 minutes old, born after an emergency c-section but looking very well despite it all. Yesterday, we took her to her preschool induction, barely 3 years old. She'll start officially there this September. Next September, 2012, she'll start primary school, barely 4 years old. She's been in our lives just three years and I simply cannot imagine my life without her now.

Absolutely, the deepest, most intense love I've ever experienced.

Please excuse this most indulgent and sentimental post...

Random shots...


... from recent weeks. Building storage shelves for our understair cupboard:Driving the double decker bus at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden:New shelves for Little Planet's toys in one corner of our living room:An afternoon of Rabindranath Tagore songs at the Tagore Centre, North London:Homemade pizzas and a mozzarella and tomato salad for dinner one evening:Homemade pistachio biscuits with ice cream and strawberries for dessert:Little Planet made a pirate ship (with a little help from her dad) at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich:Little Planet helped Mr Planet make oat biscuits on a very wet Sunday:Plotting out the final few chapters of my novel:We've enjoyed a few meals out:We've enjoyed a few rounds of croquet in the garden:A warm Ottolenghi salad of butter beans, feta cheese, sumac, garlic and parsley for lunch:A boat trip down the River Thames. Little Planet pretended to steer:[...]

Three years old





Little Planet news #1: She's now doing poos and wees in the toilet and potty. Daytime nappies and pullups are now history. Not 100% sure whether success will be maintained on long days out. We have pretty little knickers hanging on the line.Little Planet news #2: We're weaning her off her buggy, getting her to walk more, building up her stamina so we can ditch the buggy altogether. I'll miss her buggy because it is a divine red Bugaboo Bee that we've had since her birth. It will be a while till we ditch it completely, I think, as we tend to go out for long days on the weekend and walk for miles. But the point is, we're working on it.Little Planet news #3: I'm taking her to Church every Sunday now. Just me and her. Mr Planet is an athiest. I'm very proud of her - she's a fidget and I need to take stickers and plastic dinosaurs with me, but she manages to keep fairly still and quiet for forty-five minutes. I think it's the perfect way to get her used to being patient and keeping quiet, excellent preparation for school. More importantly, she enjoys it and likes saying hello to the Father at Communion.Little Planet news #4: She's a week and a half away from turning three!Little Planet news #5: This September, she starts preschool. Next September, she starts primary school, gulp. Like me, she's a Summer baby, so will start primary school just turned four. To be honest, she's ready for proper school now.Mrs Planethalder news #1: I'm one month away from completing draft two of the novel. Thereafter, I want to do a third draft but that should only take a month (fingers crossed) and then I will send it off to agents whilst at the same time start writing a new novel.Mrs Planethalder news #2: I'm taking another year off, coinciding with Little Planet starting preschool and an idea for a new novel that I'm itching to write. I want to take Little Planet to activities such as football and/or ballet, I want to bake cakes with her, I want to do dropoffs and pickups and chat about her day. And I want to write. Simple.Mr Planethalder news #1: Mr Planet starts a new job soon - still in law, still in the City, but at a new firm that he is very, very excited about.Mr Planethalder news #2: He's still very much in love with David Chang's Momofuku cookbook and I am very much in love with eating David Chang's recipes.Planethalder family news #1: In between potty-training, buggy-weaning, winding down in old jobs and getting excited about pastures new, we're dashing about London enjoying ourselves - the science fiction exhibition at the British Library was sci-fi-tastic and the Philip-Lorca DiCorcia Polaroids at Spruth Magers were inspiring; I highly recommend the sliders of ground beef & bone marrow and the salt beef & mustard at Spuntino in Soho, alongside the shoestring fries, cheddar grits, brown sugar cheesecake and pretty young male servers with tattoos; much shopping and browsing at A.P.C on Dover Street, Skandium & Divertimenti in Marylebone, Albam & Postcard Teas in and around Soho, Oliver Spencer & Folk on Lambs Conduit, and toy shops in Islington (Highbury end) for Little Planet's upcoming birthday.Planethalder family news #2: And much cooking and eating, of course - everything from seared tuna steaks with rocket & orange salad plus wasabi mayo; through paneer, tomato & pea curry and chicken curry with fenugreek leaves; to sausages with fennel seeds & Marsala gravy with buttery mash. Tonight, either pizzas from Princi or linguine with articho[...]

Potty schmotty


Bah, the potty, who needs it! Certainly not Little Planet as she's now toilet-trained. And she's not even using a trainer seat. With the help of a step, she sits on a normal toilet seat. All applause to her childminders. If she was home with me, she'd be in nappies until she started school. I have the patience of a gnat. We still need to work on her poos, though.(image)

Long weekend


Thanks Will and Kate for the four-day weekend, most thoughtful of you :-) This weekend, we visited London Zoo......and the Natural History Museum.We strolled through Hyde Park.We checked out the Science Museum......which Little Planet was delighted to discover had an interactive play area for young children.We devoured South Indian vegetarian food at Ravi Shankar in Euston. Little Planet particularly loved the samosas, golgoppas, aloo chaat and sag paneer dosa.Back home, she enjoyed being the little movie director in the garden......while we enjoyed planting new shrubs and flowers.We ate well this weekend, of course, but Mr Planet surpassed himself with this simple Korean concoction of kimchi with bacon on butter lettuce.[...]

How to really love a child


(image) By Sark. Just lovely.(image)