Secret Toast

He always asked for secret toast. His bedside table stacked with books, the curtains always flung wide open and the windows dangling on the edges of falling off. Surges of winter air when the months were cold and gusts of fresh earthy breeze in spring. In the summer hot air pregnant with the scent of the roses outside and the apple trees burdened with their scarlet load. Tangy and sweet.

Secret toast, melted butter, the thinnest layer of strawberry preserves. Preferably with a cup of tea. Cocoa when he was smaller. Becky would bring it upstairs to him. After he was tucked in bed. After the lights were turned off. After he had brushed his teeth. He would hear the familiar creak of the stairs down the hallway. The squeeze of the floorboard just outside his bedroom door. Secret toast and hot cocoa.

‘Now eat up and go straight to sleep,’ Becky would say, leaving him with it.

She wouldn’t sit and talk to him, or play a game of chess. He never stopped pleading. By the light of the moon, he sat alone in his bedroom eating his secret toast and sipping his warm hot cocoa. Sometimes the stars would twinkle through the large windows of his childhood bedroom. Sometimes the stars would twinkle through the dormer window of his adult attic. Studio attic. Stacks of books everywhere, no shelves to put them in. Stacks of books neatly put away in shelves in his childhood, probably by Becky.

Secret toast at 12am, 1am, 2am, three.

Secret toast with butter and the thinnest layer of the cheapest jam he could find at the local corner shop. Cup of tea with a splash of milk and a tablespoon of sugar. Sweet and strong, like arms guiding him through the tough moments of it all.

The loneliness of it.

But the comfort in its familiarity.

Image Credit

Cuppa Tea

Are you fussy about your tea?

(or coffee).

First, what do you call your cup of tea? Just tea? Or are you like my mum, ‘Ooooh I need a cuppa,’ as she sits down after a trip to town.

Are you more northern, and need a ‘brew’ to perk you up for the rest of the day?

‘I can’t have anything sweet,’ a friend told me yesterday, ‘else I’ll need a brew with it.’

A brew, I mused, a brew. How homely does that sound!

I call my tea just plain tea. I am not from the south like my mum, because I grew up in another country. I am not from the north, I just live here. My accent is different; I say ‘dinner’ instead of ‘tea’ and ‘lunch’ instead of ‘dinner’. So I just have plain old tea.

My husband makes rubbish tea. Sometimes when he makes me tea I have to wait for him to disappear so I can pour it down the sink and make a fresh one.

Tea bag in, one teaspoon of sugar. Pour boiling water on top, let sit for a good 3-5 minutes to ‘brew’ (maybe Northerners call it ‘brew’ because like their tea strong?), then a glug of milk, a good stir, teabag out, another thorough stir and bob’s your second cousin.

My husband loves my tea. Says I make the best tea he has ever had. I don’t know if that is a ploy to keep me making him tea.

He has to have something sweet with his tea. His favourite biscuit is the chocolate chip shortbread. Mine is a viennese whirl. Yum. Or a viennese chocolate finger.

My mum likes to dunk chocolate digestives in tea.

When we were small, she would give us a biscuit and we could dunk it in her tea.

‘Can I dip my biscuit in your tea?’ we would ask, whenever we saw her sit down with a mug.

How do you like your tea? And do you have something to go with it? Do you like tea with company? Or a book? Or a scenic scene? Or just by yourself on a sunny afternoon or raining evening?

Image Credit: Laura A Farrar

Baby Bathwater

My two children have been insanely poorly this week. High temperatures, breaking 40C, coughing, lethargy, crying, aches and pains and multiple visits to the GP and also A&E. They’re both on antibiotics because their fevers just refused to budge after 5+ days, my daughter fell over and couldn’t stand on her left leg for abut two days…

Then our fridge stopped working.

Our car started making a funny noise and the mechanic said it was the exhaust pipe connector thingy and would cost about £1800 to fix… the car itself is only worth about £1000, if that.

So now we have no car, no fridge, two poorly children with no appetites, and just a general air of ‘What will happen next?!’

There is a saying isn’t there? Something about raining and pouring? It doesn’t rain, it pours?

All the bad things happen at once?

I heard a man say yesterday, ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and it shivered me timbers, I tell you. What an awful saying. What, why would you throw the baby out with the bath water?

I have heard this saying multiple times and it’s so horrid, so I did some research and it means something like, don’t discard something valuable with the rubbish.

Just like that man who accidentally threw away his hard drive containing a tonne of bitcoin, estimated to be now worth 150 million pounds, so he has assembled a team of experts to excavate a landfill in order to find it. He certainly did throw the baby out with the bathwater.

But back to that, WHO came up with that saying? Had someone actually done that, so it became a bar by which to judge other similar and not so similar situations? Could we not say something else? Why must it be so horrific and morbid?

Those are my thoughts for today. Unfiltered, unedited, just posting because I need to say something, not that the void needs to hear another yammering voice.

We seem to have become a generation of all talk and no listening.

Inspirational Cake

Here is a statement.

Cake is inspirational.

I say this as I lick the last remnants of the strangest and perhaps the most delicious cake I have ever eaten from my lips.

It was small, and arrived in a box. It was coated in a soft, luxurious film of glossy chocolate, and on top lay five single curls of the same, arranged to deceive my eyes. When the sharp knife slid down right into its core, and a small slice was gently pulled out of the whole, a golden brown substance oozed from the middle.

Once on my place, a cup of cinnamon and apple tea steaming beside me, I examined it. It was very brown, and I realised the little moist smudges within the cakey texture were dates. A date cake, then, coated with chocolate and filled with…?

I let my fork sink into the cake, taking a sizeable chunk along with some of the golden cream, and closed my lips over it.

An explosion in my mouth. Sweetness, solid cake, my mouth enriched.

First the dates. Not bad at all. Then the chocolate. Finally, swirling its fingers over my tongue, caressing my tastebuds, a surge of.. salted caramel?!

What an odd combination of flavours, but how well they worked together.

Immediately the exhaustion evaporated, I settled back to really enjoy this slice. Immediately my brain fizzled into action. I no longer felt lethargic. I washed my cake down with the deep warm cinnamon tea, the perfect balance to the overwhelming sweetness of cake.

Cake.

The perfect high note to a day filled with lows.

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Levi Wells Prentice (1851-1935)

Something Precious

It’s not what you think.

It’s not family, love or hope.

It’s not vivid nature, nor personal exuberance.

It’s not the skies flying rapidly by, changing colour with each hour, month, season.

It’s not the sun, revolving around the earth.

It’s not the moon controlling the tides.

It’s not growth, not the blossoming of petals after stark, winter dormancy.

It’s not appreciation of the world in all its forms.

It’s not peace.

Not world connectivity, cultures drawn together, happiness spread.

It’s beans on toast when the skies are grey and the world is cold. It’s steaming beans trickling over warm toast with butter melted on top, and a fried egg, sunny side up, on the corner of the plate. Some mushrooms pile up in another corner. Maybe a little bit of feta too. It’s a mug of delicious hot earl grey with a teaspoon of sugar and a glug of milk, because it’s the weekend and I am indulging.It’s fluffy socks, crossed under the table, as the delicious breakfast is downed slowly, every bite savoured, all washed down with the sweet, flavourful tea. It’s a day stretched out, wonderfully  empty, with no assignments or chores looming ahead. A pile of exciting books by a freshly made bed, crisp sheets, a soft dressing gown. A pretty, glowing lamp in the corner of the living room after a relaxing walk in the cold evening, cheeks red, nose cold. It’s falling asleep to the gentle patter of rain on the window panes, all relaxed and ready for the hectic week ahead.

It’s the little things.

 

 

 

N.B. I can’t wait to move into my own place again so I can experience said precious thing. Living with so many people is starting to take a toll on my sanity.

Two Packets of Crisps

“Len, why did you have two packets of crisps?” my sister marched into the room. I could hear the kettle boiling gently in the kitchen when she opened the door.

“What? How did you know?” that was me, shocked. How did she know?

“You didn’t even say sorry!” she turned and walked out, determined and cross.

“Why should I say sorry. I’m not sorry.” I was still bemused about how she knew I’d eaten two.

“You should, you’re fat.” she called from the kitchen, the clink of a teaspoon hitting the ceramic of a mug a rattling tune to accompany her voice.

“That’s not true!” I cried, indignant. Secretly, though, I could feel the extra pooch around my middle settle comfortably, and place its hands on its tummy. It wasn’t going to budge for a very long time, and only after much sweating, effort, and wheedling. The backs of my arms jiggled a little as I quickly typed the conclusion to my essay. Gulp. I am fat. I ate two.

In less than two minutes.

I got up to put the heater on.

“Well it is,” my sister, ever the obstinate, stubborn creature, took her tea up the stairs. Her long, cricket legs bending sharply beneath her.

She glanced back at me, an evil glint in her eye.

Do you ever feel guilty after involuntarily shoving down two packets of crisps? Don’t you think some junk is sometimes warranted, especially under duress?

Or are you like my slender, tall sister, who, no matter how many she eats, always maintains her sculpted, streamlined body?

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By 1mad-moo-cow1 on Deviant Art (obtained from Google Images)