What I Want

As each day passes,

I realise

With starker clarity

That I don’t have to feel lonely

Or adhere to people’s expectations of me.

I don’t have to cook fancy meals when family come to visit

Even when I don’t want to

I don’t have to pretend to feel stressed over the things my husband stresses about, to show solidarity.

I don’t have to smile when somebody insults me, to keep the family peace.

I don’t have to drive to visit my in-laws, just because they think I should.

I can get up with my kids and go anywhere and do anything.

I don’t have to feel like a failure for not meeting the expectations other people have of me.

I can

Just

Do

What

the

DICKENS

I

want.

So today, in the pouring rain, I am going to blast some tunes in the car, pop my kids in their waterproofs, and go to a woodland garden. We are going to get very wet. We will look at stones and jump in all the puddles. I will get the biggest coffee with the largest dollop of whipped cream, bank account be damned. Thighs be damned too.

It’s not a failure to not adhere to a routine.

Espresso

I spilt my coffee all over the table and if it hadn’t been for that, I would not have become who I am today.

It all started that morning. The twenty third of August. I woke up ten minutes late feeling exhausted. And my hands were shaking in that way that only coffee can cure. Or cause. I am not a habitual coffee drinker. I would not know.

I went into the coffee shop and asked for their strongest drink. The coffee-tender looked at me oddly before pouring me an espresso. I overheard a man wearing a cashmere jumper saying primly that it was called ‘espresso, not expresso’, and he ‘didn’t know where these hobos got their kicks’.

Nevertheless, I sat down with quite a thump, earning me some disapproving glances from a pair of thickly spectacled young ladies who were tapping away at ten thousand words per minute, while simultaneously sipping their drinks. Whatever they were drinking looked heavenly because they kept smacking their lips and commenting on the divinity of their beverage.

So I took my first sip of espresso, turning my eyes to the golden rays of morning sunshine flooding the city streets, preparing my mind for the stressful day at work ahead, when the abominable taste of coffee knocked me to my senses. I spluttered most unbecomingly and slapped the table, feeling my face flush deeply as I struggled to contain the hot coffee in my throat without choking.

Choke I did, of course, and I made such a palaver of it that everybody stopped what they were doing to stare at me. Well done, they all thought, can’t even choke quietly.

While I was making my racket my hand flew outwards uncontrollably and I knocked the espresso all over the table.

There is a monster under my bed. I swear it. And he is intent on having me scramble out of bed on the wrong side every day, minutes late for anything I set out to do. There is a monster under my bed, and he is hindering me from success.

 

 

On Coffee

I have been hearing terrible things about coffee of late. Things that have made me start to doubt this new acquaintance of mine. I used to think she was classy, retro music as she swirls her rich froth in a ceramic mug. The trusty companion on sleepless nights of typing and research. Her of the crisp, strong aroma; I can’t get enough of her smell.

I had even heard that she did strange and powerful things, like help me burn fat.

I instantly took her on as a close friend. Anybody who helps me burn fat is a good friend of mine. Every morning we would watch the sun rise together. Her strong and bare, not smothered with milk, and me in my pyjamas with eye bags the size (and roughly the shape) of Sri Lanka.

No more did I shun her, as the child me used to.

‘Coffee!?’ I would say, ‘Eurgh! I don’t know how the adults can stomach such a strong tasting drink.’

Now, I sip away merrily, all my tired troubles fading away as she races through my blood vessels, strengthening me, energising me, lifting the fog of exhaustion from my tired lids.

But lately, folks, since my doctor has told me to lay off the golden, precious stuff, I have heard some things off the grapevine that are causing me to stop in my tracks and rethink my relationship with this sexy, confident beverage.

I heard coffee can stop you digesting things properly because it stimulates production of Hydrochloric acid meaning when you actually eat something, there is not enough of this precious acid to digest food properly.

I heard it can stop you absorbing minerals, which can lead to nutrient deficiency.

This makes sense to me. I have severe nutrient deficiency, which is probably why I am losing all my hair at a young age.

However it makes me sad, knowing this beverage could stunt me like that.

What a betrayal.

I revert to drinking my herbal teas, and the sunrises are no longer vibrant and beautiful. They are no longer purple and pink and they don’t splash the sky with enchantment because my eyes are always too droopy to see anything properly.

I also realised that ‘Americano’ is called ‘Americano’ because it is how the Americans like their coffee! Here in the UK, they like it with milk (or cream) and it is usually the French who order espressos. I know this because I used to operate a coffee machine when I worked at a hospital cafe for a while. I noticed the types of people and what they liked to order. They generally followed a cultural pattern, although, as always, there were the deviants. That machine was my personal baby. I cleaned it till it sparkled, and filled it with beans and cleaned the grounds away and the sound of the milk frother was music to my ears.

I still hear it now, and the smell of grinding coffee beans is a faint accompaniment in my memory.

I sure do miss coffee.

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Can you SMELL those beans?

 

My Doctor Says I should Not Drink Coffee

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My. Doctor. Says. I Should, Not. Drink. Coffee

Even. Though. It. Kills.

Me

So I DON’T

Drink it

No I DON’T

Drink it

Even though it kills me.

Even though it kills me.

 

(This has a tune. I don’t know how to write the tunes I make up. But it goes somewhat like this: My DOCtor says I should Not Drink Coffee. Oh. I can’t get all the variations of tone in. Forget it. *sadface*)

Books and Coffee

Friday we had an adventure.

We pushed through curtains of thick rain and heavy clouds to the city of intellectuals on a gloomy Friday. Did you know that around 30 of all nobel prize winners graduated from Cambridge? Or that Cambridge is not just a university town, but also an industrial town? Scores of markets were torn down to make way for some of the colleges by the river.

Saturday the sun came out, the brides walked their aisles, the tourists snippety snapped as popular  businesses rolled around in cash brought in from Asia and America, Africa and Europe. Namely among them, and I was one of the hundreds to succumb foolishly to it’s charms, was a quaint little affair called called Hardy’s Original Sweetshop.

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So needless to say, I enjoyed Cambridge thoroughly. There was a sea of tourists, most notable among them were the Chinese and the Americans, milling about all the most popular places, like King’s college, the Fitzwilliam Museum and most of the punting stations. We also photobombed some wedding shots, and I found The Haunted Bookshop, which appealed to me because a). it was haunted, and b). it was a bookshop.

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I am not too sure about the haunting though, I eavesdropped on a tour guide telling a crowd of bored looking Americans that there had been a little girl who was murdered there, and you can tell she is drifting about because she is always accompanied by a smell. I am not too clear on the particulars of the story. The bookshop was messy and small and glorious, with tottering piles of books fitted into every nook and cranny, little notes here and there, and the most exciting books hiding in the most intricate places. There is nothing quite like a long browse through volumes that were once thumbed by ancestors we only read about in books. I found some original Beatrix Potter, Austen and even Shelley! Worn covers and faded inscriptions inside were enough to tell me that the people of yore did in fact exist and they loved books just as much as we do.

The gardens were top notch, and the colleges were the stuff of day dreams and night dreams. And regular thought-dreams.

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The feeling that stood out the most for me in Cambridge was that I honestly thought I was in an entirely different world. It felt like I had stepped back in time, or was wondering the cobbled streets of another country. Roses climbed up old stone walls, greenery mingled comfortably with ancient architecture, flutes were played, coffee was had, and tudor houses hunched their breasts out over winding streets.

There was even one instance where I needed to call my husband, and I almost checked myself, thinking ‘oh no, I can’t call him I am roaming!’

But I was still in the UK! It really didn’t feel like it.

Cambridge is a sight not to be missed. Especially if you love books. There were books and bookshops galore. Plenty of coffee, ice cream and parks too. Imagine a fine summer’s day, sitting on a bench with a lovely view of one of the beautiful college chapels, coffee in one hand and an exciting novel in the other.. what could be better, in this ancient university town?