Saturday, 11 December 2010

The festive season starts here

With Saturday shopping out of the way nice and early, it was time to settle into proper birthday mode – indeed, into proper festive mode.

Someone asked me yesterday whether, when I was growing up, having a birthday at this time of year had meant a sort of suffering. I wouldn't put it in such an over-dramatic fashion, but it did always get absorbed into that general holiday two weeks later.

Now, I've taken to seeing it as the proper start of the seasonal festivities. When I was a great deal younger, I'd be allowed to watch BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, which was always on the Sunday night closest to the day itself. Even though I haven't watched it for years, it seems odd that, this year, it's a whole week later than my birthday.

For some reason or other, which is a little vague and may be partly the inaccuracies of memory, the film Ice Cold in Alex attaches itself to my relatively few specific birthday memories. My sister and I had been at home while my mother had to go out. I wanted to watch this classic old war movie, but she'd already said 'no' for some reason. I watched it anyway, followed by a certain amount of telling off when this was discovered. You see what a badly behaved child I was.

It might not have been around my birthday, but that's what the memory banks claim, so we'll stick with that tale.

Working at home on Tuesday as I recovered from my gastricky chill, I had a phone call from The Other Half in the office, warning me that a parcel was due to be delivered – and that I was on no account to open it.

In due course it arrived – a vast box from Amazon that I struggled to get down the narrow corridor from our front door and into the hall, where the kittens took control of it.

It sat there until yesterday when, after I'd left for work, The Other Half wrapped it.

And then it waited until shopping was finished, the kitchen bin bag had been emptied, assorted bits and pieces had been removed to the recycling crate and other such little jobs had been completed.

The cats, of course, are delighted with the now-removed paper: it's shiny, for starters, which will amuse them for some time.

In the meantime, I'm delighted with the contents – a lovely Kenwood mixer. It's the sort of thing that makes me feel as though I've reached a new level with my culinary endeavours.

It seems to say: 'You're a grown-up cook now, so you can have a grown-up appliance'.

The Other Half used to be reluctant to give as presents anything that we could describe as a 'household gadget' – when you've next-to-no money, you don't want 'practical' for Christmas or birthdays but fun – but this is perfect for a keen cook. And not only is it practical, it's a thing of beauty too, all gleaming metal and 'raspberry' enamel.

I intend to bake tomorrow, but in the meantime, I'm going to be very good and actually read the manual properly first. And then there's the little practical matter of working out where it's going to sit in the kitchen.

And this apprentice gourmet also received a book on 500 cheeses, together with a history of bad language in English: words and food – George knows me well.

It's common to say to people that they're aging like good wine, but in the last few years, I feel in some ways as though I'm aging like a sauce that's being reduced: that instead of being all over the place with interests and so on, things are becoming concentrated; stronger and clearer.

This seems to be an appropriate extension of that, as I start to contemplate things I've never made before: macaroons and meringue for starters.


  1. Sorry, I hoped you'd see this in Hell, but thus, anyway: Happy Birthday Amanda. We miss you awfully on the shores of ye olde frozen lake. I want to take the opportunity to invite you back, to the non-political fora, if the others are too odd, but otoh, if you're happier thusly...I hope you had the most awesome birthday ever! If you're ever here in bonn/cologne/düsseldorf, give me a heads up. *hug*

  2. Marcel, thank you. That's very kind. I had dropped all my forums, for a variety of reasons. I didn't really expect to be missed much. But I will head back to the HH.

    And thank you again for your good wishes.

  3. Count on you to age in a saucier manner than a mere bottle of wine would. Happy birthday, Syb.


  4. In your neck o' the woods, I guess you'd say "than wine would do"?