SPRING IN MY STEP
Friday afternoon, I went for a walk on the heath and couldn’t recall the last time the weather had been so glorious. Spring flowers of every colour were everywhere. I thought the weekend would be the perfect time to pack away my woolly jumpers and plant bulbs for summer lilies. Then Saturday morning came and winter returned like an ex-lover who refuses to let you break up with them.
My heart broke for the camellias and the daffodils that were once again covered with snow. This year the poor flowers can’t seem to catch a break. I learned that even on my balcony, it’s not safe. My geranium sadly met its end.
My six-year-old, however, thinks the snow is brilliant. For her, it means snowwomen and snowball fights and going out for spicy Vietnamese pho–my favourite cure for a cold. For me, it means getting stuck in Portsmouth. I’ll explain.
THE BEAST FROM THE EAST
I had been asked by the Portsmouth Literary Hub to come teach an evening about food writing while a local supper club catered the event. As I waited at Waterloo Station, I wondered whether or not I’d make the event. It turned out that getting there was easy. Getting back was where I ran into difficulty. For over an hour, I stood on the platform in the blowing snow. Luckily, I had two of the evening’s hosts keeping me company. When I finally left, what should have been a two and half hour-long journey became four.
At each stop, a man in a high visibility vest would take a hatchet and knock off the ice had that frozen the train doors shut. It was like Dr. Zhivago out there, a total white out. Then the heating went off. I desperately tried to think of other things.
So I thought about my evening. Mostly about one of the guests, Ms. S. Forget the snowstorm outside. A blizzard couldn’t keep her away. She entered the building with her cane and ALL the animal prints. Years ago, she was a broadcast journalist in Benghazi and confided “Young Gaddafi was a dreamboat.” That evening she wrote a poem about me that she gave to me to keep and I will forever.
HOME IS WHERE THE TART IS
When I finally got home, everything was lovely and warm. The scent of the garlic and sautéed vegetables and grilled turkey lingered in the air. Hours later it still tasted nice. So did the rice my husband left on the stovetop. On the living room floor, there was a notepad that he used to score his Qwirkle game with Helena. She won. Upstairs, she was snuggled in her bed covered with stuffed friends. I put lip balm on her, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and finally crawled into bed.
The next morning I was so tired I felt jet-lagged. I was also unbelievably happy to be home. It was my husband’s birthday and we had a lunch reservation for two. Actually, it became a reservation for three once we received word that school had been cancelled due to the snow.
Upon our arrival at Winemakers in Deptford, Gallant Galahad greeted us. He was the restaurant’s dog. Lunch was perfect except there a slight sadness that hung in the air as the restaurant would be closing its doors after that weekend.
My husband doesn’t get excited about cakes the way I do. So I made a treacle tart for his birthday instead. I had never made one before. It was extremely easy to do and ridiculously good. The recipe I used was Tamasin Day-Lewis’s from her book Smart Tart.
ONCE MORE WITH FEELING
Recently I’ve been doing lots of yoga in the hopes that it will somehow counteract all the baked goods I’ve been making to keep out the cold. Unfortunately I can’t say it has, but I do feel my flexibility improving. Just like the spring flowers Freddie’s been delivering, I feel myself unfurling after a long winter.
Today the sun is shining and the sky is bright. I have just made lemon curd and I can’t help but have Eastery thoughts. Especially as this Saturday, I’m taking my daughter to Fortnum & Mason to make an Easter Bonnet. I hope it will be festooned with spring flowers—daffodils, lilies, primroses, and the like—and I hope she’ll wear it with aplomb like Judy Garland in Easter Parade.