The sun has been out in style again today: after what seems to have been a really long, cold winter, we seem to have barely got ourselves into the spring before something more akin to summer has arrived.
I love, love, love the sun.
When it's like it has been since Saturday, all I want to do is soak it up. Crystal clear skies over Manchester, making me have to don sunglasses to watch Saturday's derby game against the unmentionables, even managed to make dying-seconds defeat less difficult to take.
For Otto and Loki, of course, this is their first experience of the sun. It might only be small, but they love the garden. Otto adores rolling around in what passes for soil in our little plot, while there are moments when his brother simply springs around the place with utterly infectious pleasure.
For me, it's as though the sun soothes and relaxes me.
I spent most of Tuesday in the sun, and then followed it with the simplest food: asparagus, boiled and then dressed in virgin oil and lemon juice, seasoned with Maldon Sea Salt, followed by a lemon sole, brushed with a little olive oil and then grilled, then served with lemon and seasoning. Nothing else – and utterly blissful. It left me feeling sublimely satisfied.
I don't know whether it was because I had particularly good ingredients that the meal was so good. But then again, as far as I know, the ingredients were no better than those that I usually buy.
We're so used to cramming a single plate full of food that perhaps we don't even really taste one or two simple things properly. It's that simplicity thing again – but I'm beginning (yes, I know I'm rather slow at this) to understand that the best way to do this is two or three courses, done this way.
It's also remarkable just how much cultural baggage I find I'm carry with regard food. When we were away, I was talking with The Other Half about fish and how he doesn't appear to like having a whole fish on his plate – even when, like plaice or sole, they're really easy to take off the bone.
It emerged that what he doesn't like is having such a fish whole – when his plate is crammed with loads of other things, that makes dealing with the fish more difficult. It also emerged that I give him far too bigger portions of potatoes – he thinks this is another cultural thing, whereby Woman of House gives Man of House more of everything (and particularly the stodge) because Him Man and Needs More Food for His Hard Work. Okay – he didn't actually make the last bit of analysis. But he's right.
And similarly, I have that cultural baggage of 'meat and two veg' (one of which is potatoes) to contend with. Actually, I don't think I'm doing badly on all food fronts – but it's an interesting indication of how difficult it is to really, at foundation level, alter food habits. And of course, once you recognise such things, it's easier again to move forward.