I woke up this morning feeling rather glum. I knew why, and I had I known that it was likely I’d feel this way, so I had already planned a number of activities that could fill my day. Today my son and his family are moving house. Not to the other end of the country by any means but a lot further than the couple of miles away that they have been living until now. I have friends whose children live not only in other countries but on other continents so I fully appreciate my exceptionally good fortune in having easy access to my three, and therefore to my beautiful grandchildren. I know that I’ll still see the family regularly and I understand their reasons for moving but nevertheless, glum was how I felt. Son had declined help. There’s plenty we can do over the weekend but today we’d have just been in the way.
My day began with a hair appointment. I am very lucky to have a hairdresser daughter-in-law (obviously not the one moving house today – that would have been a request too far!). Once I’d been ‘silvered’ (a little plug here for Charles Worthington Ultra Violet shampoo which has at long last given me the tone I’ve been craving for years) and blow-dried I was off to the gym. I love my gym and have been a member for seven years. Don’t be lulled into admiring my commitment too much – whilst in theory I go for the exercise, it’s actually the coffee and the company of a great group of ladies who have become friends, that regularly spurs me on to attend. I wrote about this great facility, aimed specifically at ladies over forty, a while ago: https://thisissixty.blog/2017/05/14/the-gym-for-women-who-dont-do-gyms/
Having not yet spent the M&S giftcard that I’d received for my birthday, I had planned to drive over to Longbridge, about ten miles away, where, in late 2015, the most enormous branch of M&S was opened by Twiggy. Don’t you think she look more and more fabulous as she gets older? I wanted to buy a skincare product that my local branch doesn’t stock. We have a small branch which is a long, long way from being ‘top of the range’. One of my gym friends hadn’t been so, on the spur of the moment, decided to come with me. We had a good look at the Christmas clothing range (including a beautiful rich blue sequinned skirt. It was love at first sight. Sadly unrequited, but it would look wonderful on a size ten), had a coffee, bought the item I’d gone there for and then went into the food hall. It doesn’t quite compare with the amazing Harrod’s food hall, but it very, very good and there were lots of samples of the new Christmas specialty foods on offer. We had a free mini-lunch full of tasty morsels. Can you believe it, the store even has a champagne bar! No, we didn’t.
Longbridge, until 2005 was home to the Rover motor company. In its heyday the company offered employment to around 25,000 workers and it is where the original mini was built. The site had been abandoned for almost ten years and The Daily Mail reported years later that unfinished cars could still be seen rusting on the production line. It was later reported that a one billion pound regeneration project would see the vast 468 acre site turned over to housing, business and retail. Apparently it may take as long as twenty years to complete.
The journey there had been a bit tedious as we slowly worked our way through the roadworks so I chose a different route home. Some of the journey was through a quite rural area and it was really uplifting to see the lovely colours of the countryside in the autumn sunshine.
Once home it was inevitable that I would turn to my usual stress buster … cooking. First, for a late lunch, was Red pepper and tomato soup. Although this soup bowl is very small, I use it because it’s so pretty. One of a set of four, I inherited them from my mum. I’ve no idea where she got them from for they are not the kind of thing she would have bought for herself. No yummy crusty bread because I put on 2lbs after my recent holiday and I want it off by Monday’s weigh-in.
Then I made up a chicken recipe using chestnut and shiitake mushrooms, onions and mange tout. The sauce was a simple blend of oyster and soy sauces. We ate it for dinner with ‘giant wedges’. These are made by cutting baking potatoes into four lengthways, sprinkling with sea salt and black pepper, spraying with oil and popping in a hot oven for half an hour. I like them better this way than baked. The chicken was so tasty! I’ll definitely be making it again.
Finally, I made a lemon Madeira cake for Husband. Just a small one as there was some chocolate cake left from the last baking session. I’m hoping that I’ll manage to resist.
So that was my day. No so bad in the end.