Oh well, another half term has been and gone, the days have rushed by far too quickly and the cottage has returned to its normal quiet stillness, bliss.
It is certainly true that time seems to pass more quickly as one gets older and, despite the theory that children keep you young, having a school age child in the house does not do anything to slow down the niggle which is the ticking clock. In fact, sitting here writing I can hear the rather loud ticking of the large clock on the wall, every monotonous tick tock a second gone. School life runs on a six week clock, six weeks at school and then a holiday of some sort, whether it be a short half term or the longer breaks for Easter, Christmas and of course the six week summer holidays. Each quickly passing 42 days is a reminder of the passage of time; a haircut needed, shoes outgrown, trousers too short and growing child a little cheekier.
Being an older than average parent, I would be a fibber if I said I didn’t sometimes worry about the future. My body is already forewarning me of things to come and in no uncertain terms letting me know me I am no longer the spritely spring chicken I once was. I have recently found myself having to sit on the edge of the bed to put on my socks on in the morning, which in turn has harshly reminded me to moisturise my heels, my feet being the one part of my body that I actually ever liked and have always been determined to keep in reasonable condition, the rest of my body having long ago given up the ghost of ever being seen in public again, despite the odd well intentioned but usually half-hearted MOT.
After several exasperating digs from my husband to put my glasses on, I teetered on the edge of writing an email the other day to a publisher who had printed a cook book in light grey ink. Even with my glasses on I found the small font used in the index nigh on impossible to read no matter how far I held the book from my squinting eyes. I don’t even bother trying to read the itsy bitsy print on food packaging any more, it’s a good job that at my age I know how to cook most things without having to refer to any instructions.
I feel myself becoming that person who I used to feel sorry for when I bemoaned the difficulty of removing the lid from the milk bottle. “How an earth would an old person get get this off?” is a phrase I no longer utter, I now just nonchalantly pass the offending item to my son, he being blessed with more nimble fingers and better eye sight.
Before you begin to think I am all too easily giving in to the encroaching ravages of time, bodily aches and pains and estrogen levels aside, I would not swap myself now for a twenty year old for all the tea in China. I have grown into my grey hair, I don’t give a fig about turning up at the school gates without make up and hair akimbo. My clothes are comfortable and I don’t have to wear shoes that make me walk like a clockwork duck. I like the people and things I do for no other reason than they make me feel good and I don’t have to pretend I am something I am not.
I will never have an hour glass figure, never again be wrinkle free and never have a stable full of Appaloosa horses. I will never have a garden as magnificent and weed-free as Sissinghurst, never climb the snowy slopes of Mount Everest and never get to chat about conservation (amongst other things) with Leonardo Di Caprio.
I have found it very cathartic to give up goals that are never going to be attained, whether that be due to age, health or financial reasons. My unattainable grails have been replaced with more realistic targets, and therefore ones that will make me feel fullfilled rather than a failure. I could start riding lessons again, even if it was only once a month. My garden can be the best I can make it within my abilities. I have just signed up to walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks later this year, a far cry from Everest but still a test and hopefully one I can complete without getting too many painful blisters or embarrassing my younger walking companions.
This blog has brought me new challenges and has made me some wonderful new like-minded friends. My long held interest in photography has been rekindled and is an area of the blog I strive to improve upon all the time, even if at small steps at a time. This year’s financial goal is to save for a new camera, not just for food photography but also to indulge in my passion for wildlife and nature, something that brings me immense joy and sense of contentment.
But my biggest goal by far and one that hasn’t changed and will never change is to bring up a happy child. After all is said and done, although he can’t keep me young physically, he makes me want to stay young, to see him grow and watch him become a young man, happy, healthy and at one with himself. If I can manage that, then everything else will be just dandy, Leonardo or no Leonardo.
This moist cake, full of juicy raisins and crunchy walnuts makes a change to a plain ginger cake. It is best wrapped for a couple of days before eating to allow the lovely sticky top to develop but if you really can’t wait that long then I won’t blame you. If you have a jar of stem ginger in the cupboard, try brushing some of the syrup over the top of the cake to make it even stickier!
- 110g Golden Syrup
- 110g Cane Molasses (use Black Treacle if necessary)
- 75g Dark Brown Sugar
- 225g Plain Flour
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- 3 tsp Ground Ginger
- 125g Unsalted Butter
- 110g Raisins
- 110g Coarsely Chopped Walnuts
- 1 Egg
- 140ml Milk
- 2 Tbs Lemon Juice
- Preheat the oven to 170c (fan).
- Put the molasses, golden syrup and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, bicarb. and ginger.
- Using your fingers, rub in the butter until resembling small breadcrumbs.
- Add the cooled syrup mixture, egg, lemon juice and milk and mix until combined.
- Add the raisins and walnuts and mix in carefully so as to not break down the walnuts.
- Pour into the prepared tin. Cook for 1hr 15 mins, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly before removing from tin.