5,7,5 – 365  19th January 2016

5,7,5 – 365 19th January 2016


A haiku and a diary entry, every now and then, for a year


Yesterday, when I started this, it was Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year and something apparently dreamt up to sell holiday bookings. Whatever its origin, the concept works for me, January is to the months of the year what Monday is to the days of the week.

Christmas was special this time round and as a result I am experiencing that Monday feeling all the more. We were very nearly at home the whole way through, and these days more than ever The Old Pump Cottage feels like home. The repairs, refurbishment, renovation and redecoration of the house are still ongoing but after eleven years here, we can now really see what’s possible and where things are heading. With the windows all now properly fitted and sealed and the new boiler working efficiently, it’s warm and draught free. Insulation in the loft and eaves keeps things comfortable at night too. But there is much more to it than that, something that drew the kids home. Melissa, now finished at university and working in Manchester as a teacher, came home with boyfriend Jacob. Jacob is every bit as much a part of this family as Melissa or Harry and it wouldn’t be Christmas anymore without him. Our Harry also came back home from his first year at university and the house and bathroom was properly full again.

Christmas Day saw all five of us spend the entire day in a tasteful selection of plaid pyjamas, not something pre planned or arranged, just a happy coincidence. The log burner was lit and got going before breakfast, making it too hot for the dogs to do anything other than flop in front of it. Melissa’s gift to us, a wreath of fir tree branches, holly, cinnamon and oranges, hung over the fire and filled the house with the scent of Christmas. We did presents, ate too much, popped a bottle of Rimbaud Champagne, ate too much, watched TV and ate too much.


The following week provided Laila and I with a few days at home alone together. I had run Melissa and Jacob back to Manchester and Harry was seeing the New Year in up in Scotland with girlfriend Alex. We had breakfasts in bed, managed a few chores and made a start on the Northern Exposure box set but generally just took things easy. On New Years Day we were joined by best friend Lynne, who hadn’t visited The Old Pump Cottage before – the state of the house has previously deterred us from inviting guests. We told Lynne to help herself to anything and make herself at home. When she curled up to sleep on the sofa in front of the fire on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons we thought we must have gotten something right.

On the drive to Manchester Melissa had asked me what we were going to do now it was just the two of us rattling about in such a big house? Well it’s simple, we are going to live in it. After all, it’s not a house, it’s a home! Besides, I’ve already booked two weeks off work for next Christmas but recourse to a Blue Monday travel agent will not be necessary.


Holiday highlights

Something we already knew

This house is our home

5,7,5 – 365  4th January 2016

5,7,5 – 365 4th January 2016

A haiku and a diary entry, every now and then, for a year


I had planned to write (that’s five syllables). Christmas would give me the time (there’s seven). But I did nothing (and five again).


Oh well, I could make a timely resolution to try harder but those never stick. Besides, I’m enjoying this, why take the fun out of it? I’ve had some really encouraging feedback and I’m reading some inspiring work on here. I shall continue, pretend it was a planned Christmas break and not beat myself up over missed blogs.

Happy New Year.

5,7,5 – 365  22nd December 2015

5,7,5 – 365

22nd December 2015

A haiku, and a diary entry, every day for a year.   


Yesterday, the gloomiest of days, marked the winter solstice – the year’s shortest day and its longest night. I can be pretty gloomy myself, even on the longest and brightest of days, but these annual events, marking the passage of time, always lead me to reflect on what has and will be lost. On this dark morning, when I look at Laila, who grows ever more beautiful, I’m am once again struck by the relentless passage of time; what we once were has been lost, what we are now will soon no longer be, what we become too shall fade.

The days grow longer

Another year behind us

Our days grow shorter 


5,7,5 – 365  16th December 2015

5,7,5 – 365
16th December 2015

A haiku, and a diary entry (not for the Peterborough Tourist Board), every day for a year.  

Peterborough is not my favourite city but I visit every day. What it lacks in charm and warmth, it makes up for in some small part by having a rail link into London. Poor public transport links to the city from the outlying countryside and villages, stupidly expensive station parking (£14 a day!) and the ever expanding controlled parking zones haven’t done anything to help – I long for the day that I won’t have to return again. Yesterday morning however, as I walked to the station through the dark, the city’s usual sounds muffled by the fog – blackbirds calling from the trees, front garden hedges and lights through front door windows took me back to my teenage newspaper delivery route and for a moment at least there was something comforting and familiar about the place.


This morning, arriving a little later, the cold, charmless light of day has broken through the illusion and I’m walking through Peterborough again, a place at its best before sunrise.


Dawn streetlight bird song

Orange fog muffled traffic 

Memories of home

5,7,5 – 365  8th December 2015 

5,7,5 – 365

8th December 2015

A haiku, eight hairy legs , and a diary entry, almost every day for a year. 

The internet had us out collecting conkers this October, they apparently will ward off house spiders. It does seems to have worked. Now the only time we see anything with eight hairy legs is when Archie and Arnie are wrestling under the coffee table. Sadly however, whereas the old lady who swallowed a fly ended her story with a horse, we began ours with a horse chestnut and now find ourselves bothered by flies. Beware! You meddle with nature at your peril.


Bowls of horse chestnuts

Have house arachnids conquered

But plague us with flies

5,7,5 – 365  8th December 2015 (b)

5,7,5 – 365

8th December 2015 (b)

A haiku or two, and a diary entry, almost every day for a year.  

I read a haiku on here earlier today, about the Western pipistrelle, got me thinking of our own common pipistrelles. They were one of the surprise treats our first year living in Lincolnshire. Their aerobatics in the garden proving to be such a distraction from both television and supper that they have become the first thing I check on when returning home on summer evenings. Laila even bought me this bat detector for my birthday, that has been deployed every summer since.

Standing silently outside at dusk, holding hands, we have often had the tiny bats fly right between us, seemingly oblivious to our presence. Zipping back and forth makes them difficult to count, there might be only three that just seem like thirty. Here are two, or possibly one, captured with a flash that first summer.



Common pipistrelle

Your spiralling dance and swoop

Passing between us