Based on the Three Beautiful Things project by Clare Law, I try to write about three pleasant things from my day.

3BT – pack/squeak-squeak-squeak//buddies, fan, it’s ok/memories

1. Our neighbour calls: there’s been a change of plan and could we possibly look after their dog today? I run downstairs to John with my arms flailing above my head. When I go into their house to fetch her, she’s sat with both the cats on the sofas in the snug – three creatures who each, in turn, hated the new interloper when they first arrived but now are a happy pack. (The cats expect me to feed them but I just give them hugs instead.)

1b. I don’t know where from, but M-dog finds a squeaky toy that Lily had in her later months (it came free with some dog food). The squeaking is so incessant that it becomes funny. Ditto the beanbag digging.

1c. Strange wants to be M-dog’s friend but she can’t quite bring herself to just accept her. Slowly, over several interactions (and some scent swapping by me), they get closer and close until they sniff noses and happy sleep just a few inches apart.

2. I alternate the different salamis and arrange them in a fan.

3. I’m haunted by the water-up-nose from the first week and am nervous to try the repeated dunks that he suggests – but I grow more confident with each one.

3b. Driving down Armley Ridge Road on the way to the pub brings back two layers of memories.

3BT – it’s all we can do, back and forth, speckle

1. R comes over with some terrible news. We sit out on the balcony with the cats circling and the chickens milling about in the garden below and talk about nothing for a couple of hours.

2. It’s a largely ineffectual afternoon in the garden. I gather pieces of scrap wood to make a raised bed, struggle with the tools to put it together, stain the newer wood to match the older stuff – then realise I don’t like it so take it apart again. Similarly but on a smaller scale, I carry a plant ladder awkwardly down two flights of stairs before changing my mind about that too and having to carry it back up again. Still though, I do make some progress – some more rubbish collected together, a lupin sat neatly in a wooden planter I made (and liked) a few years ago, the blackcurrants tied back from the path and an old chimney pot lined and filled to house a cheerful delphinium.

3. Black pepper and chilli flakes speckle the butter.

3BT – S-dog, a little goes a long way/p-p-pumpkin plant/neat, locate

1. As we’re chatting, S-dog, who he has been calling, finally appears around the elder tree. She always looks so happy. Kaufman, who has been on my knee on the balcony, sneaks down onto the wood store to keep an eye on her: he watches long after she’s gone.

2. An afternoon at the allotment. The weeds have gone crazy in the sunshine and showers of the last week, and both plots are awash with dandelions again – but I still make some progress. Little bits of work clearing open beds and patches of paths makes the entire plots look less unkempt.

2b. A perfectly proportioned pumpkin plant.

2c. I watch J on the other corner plot erect a frame of neat canes.

3. Strange meows to echo locate us. Later, she’s in a padding mood and stands on me for ages, kneading the blanket between us.

3BT – check in, raisins/huge/confused/pose, just about worth it

1. A kind check in from a friend.

2. Z tells us how his car seat works while spraying raisins all over the backseat.

2b. He calls me in to see his creation. I don’t have to feign awe: it is genuinely one of the biggest poos I’ve ever seen.

2c. As John notes, his confused face is a picture – and it’s worth being silly to provoke it again and again.

2d. Little JJ takes the sunglasses from her granny and poses like a starlet on the red carpet.

3. It’s 9:30pm on a Sunday night and the gelato place is still heaving, with sugar-happy groups laughing and chatting loudly. It’s a little too bright, a little too loud, to be truly enjoyable but the waffle and ice cream goes a long way to making up for it.

3BT – bakery, it’s the realism that makes it funny/plants/contrast, settling in/fun

1. While I’m still asleep, John goes to the new pop up bakery in Saltaire and brings back bread, pies and cakes. He discovers that it’s run by the same people as used to run the bakery in the back of the health food store in Shipley – ie, the people that make the best chocolate brownies in the world. Later, when I open the paper, I worry that they’ve lost their special brownie tray (which they claim is the secret to their success) as it looks dry – but when I bite into it, I realise it’s as perfect as ever: the dry “crust” is less than a millimetre thick – just enough to hold the slice together – and inside, it’s rich and almost impossibly moist.

2. Laughing our way around the garden centre. John makes lots of bad puns about trees but his – and my – favourite joke is one that calls back to a cartoon we watched earlier in the week. He is left almost breathless amongst the fuchsias as he laughs and laughs.

2b. I buy more plants than I intended – and arguably, a few more than I need. I only have time to plant out half of them before I have to finish for the evening, but already they’ve fill in the deadspots in the pots on the patio.

2c. I plant the bright green sedum in our old black colander.

3. N-cat is getting braver as predicted. He rubs legs, accepts tickles and eyes up John’s pizza from the arm of the chair.

3b. O’s genuine enjoyment of Eurovision allows the rest of us to make fun of it.

3bt – it only takes one, all good, distraction from the cold

1. Sending a single email makes me feel like the day is infinitely more productive and successful.

2. The lime and coriander transform the chilli sauce. The calamari rings are firm but not chewy. The steak is not quite medium-rare, but it’s exactly how I want it.

3. As darkness falls, it’s a little too cold to be in a skirt with no tights. My teeth chatter on the way into the shop but stop as soon as I am sufficiently distracted by the cakes.