3BT – begins with the dog, tree, brickwork, and it ends with a dog story too

1. John is playing with the dog while I’m waking up. The game involves him throwing a sock on the bed and her overly-excitedly bounding over to pick it up. The sock lands on my belly and she lands on my legs with a heavy thump to pick it up. After a few throws elsewhere, the sock lands on my face: she plods up my body, legs straddling my chest, then extracts the sock with the gentlest precision manoeuvre. The hairs on her chin tickle my cheek.

2. A perfectly proportioned tree just coming into leaf.

3. Neat new pointing in between the rough old stones.

4. As I sit on the cold concrete block outside the abandoned building, I regret changing our plan: instead of getting the bus home as usual, I suggested John (and Lily) pick me up on the way home from his mum’s (her grandma’s) house and we can go for a walk in Bingley. I have to wait more than half an hour but it’s worth it in the end: we have the park around the river to ourselves — well, except for some ducks. Lily paddles in the water and we walk around in the fading evening sun, catching up on our afternoons apart.

Dirt boobs, quick glances, looking up

1. I spend most for the day grinding old paint from the metal railing and floor of our balcony. (We figure we’ll do it properly once and it shouldn’t need treating again while we’re here.) I’m covered in dust by lunchtime and for some reason, the dirt has particularly stuck in two circles over my boobs. We laugh when we notice.

2. They look to me for reassurance and I laugh and smile at the right times, like an inverse Simon Cowell.

3. Waiting at the bus stop, my mum tells me about the sunset in Southport – strangely orange over the sea. I tell her in Bingley, the sky is still blue but the clouds to the west make the hills look taller than they are. I’m sat opposite the old Bradford & Bingley building – which the giant vinyl banners tell me is now for sale or to let – and notice the neglected trellises on the upper balconies.

3BT – wrapped up warm, it’s coming together, casserole

1. They walk to meet her at the train station but end up meeting on the corner. He explains they were running late because it took longer than he thought to put on the dog’s coat. She picks up the jacketed Westie for a hug then hugs him too. They walk away together, holding hands over the leash, as she tells him about her day.

2. The shelving units – to be fitted in the dining room after the decorator has done his thing – arrive while I’m out. The wood is beautifully smooth to the touch and I’m delighted by the attention to detail – the handles, the hinges, the catches – on the cupboards.

3. The casserole is a bit of a hodge-podge but very welcome and warming.

3BT – wildlife and silliness

1. The squirrel returns for another nut-fest – and brings three of its friends. All four of them run wildly around the balcony, up & down the steps, over the fencing and into the elderberry tree, picking up nuts on fly-bys. We watch through the window, as intrigued as the cats.

2. In the time I’m in the post office, the horses who live next-door-but-one to us travel from one side of their soggy field to the other. They’re near the fence as I walk past, almost as if they know I have treats for them. They crunch the carrot and I stroke their damp noses. My sleeve is confused for more carrots and gets investigated by wet lips. It smells faintly of horses for the rest of the day.

3. In the evening, I go to Bingley Little Theatre to watch a play. It’s not something I would ordinarily choose to go to see but Rosemary, the director, offered me a free ticket for the first night. “It’s very silly,” she assured me every time it was mentioned and she was right: it is very silly but good-silly. The audience is a little shy at first but by the second half, they’re laughing raucously.

3BT – balance, beer and books

new-books1. As I wait for the bus to Bingley, I spy a crow perched in a tree near the bus stop. It’s too heavy for the tiny, spindly branches but it finds balance anyway.

2. After class, Katherine picks me up from Shipley and we go out to dinner at Coopers in Guiseley. At the end of the meal, we decided to both buy take home pints of ale for our Johns – she gets a Black Sheep, I get a Ruby Cascade but we somehow get them confused on the way to the car. On instant messenger later, we both simultaneously say “john doesn’t think his tastes like black sheep. he says either way it’s nice” then laugh.

3. I get home to find our book delivery has arrived. The first new-new books I’ve bought in a while – two by Richard Yates, two by TC Boyle. The off-white pages are flat and smooth.