Friday morning began with a trip to buy school shoes. Youngest granddaughter (7) isn’t known for her co-operation in all matters but on this occasion she was the ‘Golden child’. She’d moved up into the next size range and out of what she deemed ‘babyish’ shoes. Positively beaming from being allowed the shoes she chose (Clarks £42 – it’s an awful lot of money, isn’t it?), the good mood remained in place all day. Lucky me…given that I was having her for the day!
We went to MacDonald’s for a second breakfast where she ate pancakes with sausage burger and maple syrup (what a horrible combination) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had coffee – a decent enough cup – but overall it won’t be an experience I shall rush to repeat. It’s too loud and too messy for me. I’d suggested a few ways in which we might spend the rest of the day and we drove to The Valley (which used to be Evesham Country Park but was re-branded last year). It is a garden centre and children’s play park with retail units and cafes. It’s always been a place we’ve enjoyed visiting but for the past couple of years they have provided ‘The beach’ – a giant sandpit filled with buckets and spades. Surrounded by various water activities, crazy golf and fairground rides, it’s free to enter and to use the sandpit but tokens must be purchased for the other activities. The attraction is bringing in lots of extra visitors and the purpose is, of course, commercial but we spent three and a half hours there for the cost of an ice-cream, a cup of coffee and ten tokens (£10) which I thought reasonable enough. However, if you were taking a family with three or four children it would be a costly day. This is how it looked last year – it’s a marginally better photo than the one I took on Friday.
A miniature steam railway encircles the park and a trip can be taken out to the elevated picnic and play area with its huge wooden fort climbing frame.
Having hooked a big plastic duck and won a furry version of same Granddaughter declared him called Pancake, “to remind me of my breakfast.” What a good job we don’t name our offspring in a similar way – my eldest might have been called Mars Bar given my penchant for them when I was expecting him.
On Saturday morning I met up with a friend for coffee. In the days when we both had very young children we met often but nowadays with work, grandchildren and generally busy lives it doesn’t happen often enough so there’s always lots to catch up on. In the afternoon I cooked – we had guests coming for dinner. Although I realise that I have unwittingly cooked lots of vegan meals, (several vegetarians in the family and a strong liking for vegi food myself ), I was a tad nervous at feeding a vegan guest because of unsuitable ‘hidden’ ingredients (who knew that not all baking powder is vegan- suitable; I got the right stuff in M&S) and I do tend to use a lot of eggs and cheese which are not eaten in a vegan diet. I considered a cheese and vegetable bake but having looked at vegan cheese it seemed very yellow and ‘plasticky’, so instead I chose an Indian theme with onion bhajees and vegetable samosas with salad to start, followed by a sweet potato and spinach curry with rice and naan breads. I’ve never made my own naan and it didn’t seem a sensible time to try it out so a certain amount of reading ingredients lists was necessary. Like baking powder, not all naan is created equal! I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like food made in a slow cooker – everything gets so completely permeated by the predominant flavour that I’ve no idea whether I’m eating a piece of sweet potato or Jerusalem artichoke! However, I find it a very useful piece of equipment for keeping things hot so after cooking I transferred the curry to the slow cooker which kept it at the right temperature for 20 minutes until we were ready to eat. (Cook’s tip: a slow cooker is excellent for keeping the gravy warm ready for seconds when you have a dozen people for Christmas dinner)!
For dessert I’d decided on a fruit salad presented in my usual manner – I like them better plated than all mixed together as I prefer to choose individual items. I already buy soya ‘cream’ and know it tasted pretty good so served it with this.
To serve alongside it the BBC Food website came up trumps with a vegan lemon cake recipe. If you’re wondering, as I did, how a cake can be made with no eggs, I can vouch for this – it was so nice that I shall make it again. I added extra lemon zest and juice. If I’m making something lemon flavoured, I like it to taste of what it’s meant to – I don’t really do subtle where citrus is concerned. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/user/4614791/recipe/vegan-lemon-cake
Sunday morning began disappointingly – overcast and with a few threatening clouds. My cousin was having a large family party. The usual promises had taken place at a family funeral earlier in the year: “What a shame we only see each other at weddings and funerals. It would be so nice to see all the children – we MUST arrange for us all to get together.” Cousin S had done something about it. Nearly forty of us travelled to Worcester with various edible contributions – mine was a bean stew and crusty bread rolls.
Just as we arrived the dark clouds lifted and the entire day was one of glorious sunshine. How lucky were we! Great, great aunt and uncle, new partners, second and third cousins meeting, some for the first time – we had a fabulous day. With an age range from less than 2 years old to almost eighty, I soon lost count of the number of times I explained the differences between second cousins and first cousins once removed and so on. My grandchildren behaved impeccably and I was so proud of them. Next door’s chickens proved a great source of entertainment to the smallest ones and my cousin’s very large garden meant that the older children could play tennis and badminton and some of the adults, boules.
And now it’s Monday. I’ve been to the gym and I’m spending the rest of the day doing nothing much at all. In fact, I think I shall have a little snooze in the chair – all this action wears me out!