05 May, 2009
special celebration: 500th Post!
Really, the milestone leaves me slightly breathless. Five hundred posts! The average about 2000 words per post? You do the math. Pretty staggering. I reckon about 1/2% of my deathless prose is actually deathless, but even on those odds there are a fair number of words here that I care an awful lot about, and I want to thank each and every one of you for the appreciative and so often responsive reading you've given them all.
Memorable among them are my early recordings of bewildered times in our adopted homeland, glorious memories of long-ago trips to foreign lands, deep delvings into my culinary past, lovely moments from Avery's childhood here. There have been moments of unbearable sadness, although you learn to bear them, moments of great passion that lurk under the surface but do not, anymore than the great tragedy, make it to the blogging page. There have been great reunions and small country adventures, summer adventures with friends and family back in America.
Most of all, the blog has provided me with a way to appreciate life three times: once in the living, once in the telling (all right, all right, I sometimes embellish!) and once more in the reading of the telling. This last is, I admit, a totally guilty pleasure: what did my life look like in the telling? Not always the way it looked like in the living. Happier, funnier, more intense. But always entertaining.
Another guilty confession. I just downed a tiny slice of Avery's breakfast lemon drizzle cake and... it did not suck. The child is lucky. At least some days.
Just look at the architectural and horticultural glory of our adventure, the last few days. The house itself, hidden in deepest Hereford, has a name, but unlike our maiden food writing voyage at the Devon house called Totleigh, the name this time never planted a seed with me. I don't know what I will end up calling it in my secret heart, but I think it's something dull like "the reunion house." Which will work, as far as nomenclature, until we have our next reunion, which we hope will be very, very soon. The magic of the setting was in part due to the house's artless, unselfconscious charm, set as it was in a garden of truly artistic achievement. We all feared that with the reincarnation of the house as a holiday destination, the garden would return to its old wildness, and fair enough. Not being a gardener myself, I always feel a conciliatory pull towards the wilderness: let her have her plants and her acres back to herself. But frankly, let me harvest the asparagus FIRST.
Friday afternoon found me racing toward Paddington with John because I told him we were leaving from King's Cross. MAJOR panic. Halfway there, I resurrect the train sheet from my bag. "Oh, never mind, it's Paddington," I said airily, taking a full ten minutes off his life, poor man. He was not sorry to let me down, and I found my train and my book and promptly spent the next hour and some reliving our old October adventures and fully planning to top them, full stop, in the next four days. This was easily achieved by the first glorious encounter of the weekend: Rosie at the Bath train station to collect me for the journey. Her impossibly snapping blue eyes, root of all fun and mischief, her boundless hug, and most important, her huge Land Rover, although, dear readers, I may tell you that I am glad I did not bring a kitten with me because there was NO ROOM. Exotic lemons, chilli peppers, bison grass vodka, living basil plants and gardens of lettuce, cheeses and breads, whisky and wine, I cannot list it all.
To this I added my beloved Richard Corrigan Crab Tart (although disappointingly, I was not able to convert one single of my company all weekend to Richard's charms, other than as a cook: my crush went unshared), my cool bag of Giggly Pig bacons and sausages, my cannellini bean salad, my Smirnoff and Armagnac. We set off and found, after some impossibly complex traffic negotiations and much frantic conversation, Sam. Dear, dear Sam, such a unique combination of youth and wisdom. I say unique, and yet he shared his moment of glory over the weekend with a very different and yet equally charming young man, Adam. How are very young men these days so WISE? Positively dispensing wisdom, which we older ladies were only too glad to absorb. Of course it could be their undoubted physical glories as well! But I digress.
Our journey was punctuated by ridiculous laughter, memories of our original adventures in October, Sam's stories of his teaching jobs, Rosie's of her film forays, mine of, sadly, Lost Property, and such mundane occupations. Then we arrived in a gathering misty twilight to find our compatriots, wine glasses in hand, grinning absurdly, we piling out of the car in abandon, many kisses and hugs. These friends who I remember with varying degrees of familiarity and affection, made so much more real over the intervening months by the magic of email, set before me again like people in a dollhouse, yet undeniably fleshly and real.
That first night was a combination of stimulation, coziness, the promise of excitement to come and the relaxation of friends. Rosie's carrot, pinenut (why does that word make me laugh so now, I cannot say) tart with turmeric and ground almonds, alongside my crab and goats cheese offering, glorious salads and cheeses, fine wines and loads of laughter... We stayed up far too late, which was the watchword for the holiday. And Saturday offered more delights...