By the time you read this, I will be on holiday. In fact, I will be nearly back from holiday. Back, I hope, to crunchy leaves and high-tog duvets and tights fresh from the packet. I’m ready for crumbles and shepherds pies and soups thick with lentils. And mashed potato. I’m ready to eat a lot of mashed potato.
It must have been twenty years ago that I first tried mussels on holiday, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to shake off the sophistication I felt when eating moules mariniére for the first time.
We have been making the most of the heatwave this week, if you can call the sun deigning to appear and not give way to hailstorms for three days straight a ‘heatwave’. Having spent a weekend in Holland where it was so bitterly cold we were forced to buy chips for warmth (or so we justified it), it seemed an absolute coup to come home to brilliant bright sunshine.
When I was little, my mother read to me every night.
One of the last books she read to me – before I began Reading On My Own – was What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. The book was a gift from my mother: it was a one-volume Katy trilogy. It was a very big book for a very little girl. The book was fat and the pages were wafer thin, with no pictures at all breaking up the long prose: aged seven, it felt Very Grown Up indeed. I adored it. I’ve written before about my life being punctuated by books; memories of people I love, and loved, are hidden in their pages. I will always hear What Katy Did read in my mummy’s voice; I still quake at the thought of her finding out that I occasionally leave the house with wet hair.
I know what you’re thinking, dear reader, but you’re wrong. Unexpectedly, gloriously, this vindaloo is honestly, truly the perfect hot summer night dish.
Before my mother died, she would regularly send me parcels in the post. Sometimes she would send gifts (‘love treats’, she called them), sometimes practical items (once a set of snow shoe grips without explanation, which took me a long time to identify; another time, a dressing gown enclosing a clipped-out article on the perils of dehydration); sometimes, it would just be a card.