Break It Down Now
My little family is about to take a little break. Not from each other, but from the city and work, from battling for parking and crowded living in a flat, from barricading our kid into the ungated backyard using a line of bins to stop her escaping onto the road while we hang out the laundry. H has resigned from his job and he will start a business of his own in one month. So for a month we are going to be all three together, mostly away from home. Thinking about this makes me feel excited and relieved and calm at the same time.
For a couple of weeks, at least, we will go stay at my parents’ farm. They will be there some of the time and not there some of the time, which will suit us all just fine. My mum has some serious May Blossom catching up to do, since she has been looking after her own mother in America for a month now.
I’ve been making a list of things I’d like to do during our time away. I admit that it is heavily influenced by my discovery two days ago of the magic and wonder and merriment and deliciousness that is the work of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Top name, splendid cook. I want to read all his books, watch all his shows and cook all his recipes and hyphenate all his names. Why stop at just one hyphen? Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall. That’s even better.
Back to my list. Here it is.
1. Make bread. 2. Make jam 3. Do a painting. A watercolour, probably. More forgiving, I think. 4. Walk on the beach a lot. 5. Swim, even if it’s a bit cold. 6. Forage for wild food. 7. Listen to some new music. 8. Read a book. A paper one. 9. Sing songs while H plays the guitar, like a pair of goddamn hippies. 10. Build my blog audience. How can you help, I hear you asking? Well that’s very kind of you to offer. Let’s see now. 1. I can do this myself. I’ll make normal yeasted bread (sourdough still scares me — what if I kill it?), follow H-F-W’s instructions to the letter and it will be as delicious as the soda bread from his recipe I made on Tuesday. I’ll take a picture and show you how it turns out. 2. Any tips? I’ve never jammed anything before. On H-F-W’s show he made dandelion jam, which looked whimsical but like it might have tasted gross. I have a vague memory of what my fingers tasted like after picking dandelions as a kid. Ick. I think I shall stick to fruit. Maybe some late season plums? 3. I am rubbish at art – today I tried to draw a pig but it was so bad I added lots of circles behind its body and told May Blossom it was a caterpillar. But whatever I come up with I’ll show you, as shit as it may be. 4. and 5. Ugh, exercise. I can probably manage these. I just have to silence the Can’t-Be-Arsed Fairies that often flutter around my head, whispering sweet do-nothings in my ear.
6. H-F-W is big on foraging, and thus so am I. Pictured above is the garlic that grows wild around the property, and I’ve spotted fennel too. We shall see what we find. I will try not to poison us. 7. and 8. Can you please recommend books and music for me? What have you read or listened to lately that you’ve liked? 9. We don’t need any help with this. Save the help for May Blossom in her teenage years when she has to deal with the memories we will create by singing ‘Electric Dreams’ at her like a pair of deranged, out-of-tune Seekers. 10. You can help with this one. If you’ve been enjoying Life With Gusto, would you please tell a friend about it? Link to it on Facebook or Twitter or whatever new soshull nerwerking site is the next big thing. I’ve crunched some stats and undertaken a comprehensive market research survey, and the following groups of people seem to be my target audience: my parents, my old school friends, my aunts, my counsellor, my physiotherapist, my former colleagues. Perhaps your mum, old school friends, aunts, counsellor, physiotherapist and former colleagues might like it too.