Monday 31 December 2007

Looking Back

As I sit here at my computer on New Year’s Eve, eating a bag of Fair Trade Bombay mix, and drinking a bottle of Nicholas Feuillatte Champagne, I’m trying to think of something clever to write to sum up 2007. Not sure why I’m not drinking ale, and I’m failing miserably on the summing up. The year 2007 wasn’t a fantastic year for me, although there were probably more good times than I can possibly remember. We had a great holiday in Alsace. The lady got a much more interesting and better-paid job. And there were a number of nice outings and weekends away. To counteract that some shit happened; I was diagnosed with skin cancer, and we have so far failed to sell the house (with very little prospect of a sale in the near future), so no move to Norwich just yet. Bugger.

Quite by accident, I’ve just come across an article about the New Forest, on the website of The Boston Globe. I am immediately transported back to my childhood. I was probably about 10 or 11 and we had embarked on our first camping holiday. We were headed for Dorset. It was in the days before many major motorways, and so to avoid a lot of traffic, and being in the school holidays, it had been decided that we would travel overnight. We stopped for a few hours passed London, and all five of us tried to get some sleep. Mum and Dad managed some, but it was impossibility for excited children. After the early hours catnap we hit the road again, just as dawn was breaking. I could make a smutty joke about ‘the crack of Dawn’ at this juncture, but rest assured readers I’ll not bother. It was breakfast time as we came upon the edge of the New Forest. Our stomachs were rumbling. Time to stop. In this age of Health & Safety etc. etc. it’s probably not allowed, but on that morning Dad got out the Primus stove, started pumping away at it, lit it, and proceeded to fry up. Sausages, eggs and bacon in the New Forest. Mother busily buttered bread, or was it rolls? I can’t quite remember. I suppose it’s why barbecues are so popular, as you can’t beat the experience of food cooked and eaten out of doors. It assaults all of the senses. I’m sure in terms of what someone like Heston Blumenthal does it was very mediocre fare, but to a little lad on his first experience of a camping breakfast, it was the best meal I’d ever had. Still today I would say that it was certainly the best breakfast I’d ever eaten; Great smell, great taste, priceless atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. The memory of the smell, the air and the early morning dew on the leaves and plants will I hope never leave me.

I’ve looked a bit further back than just the past year. Thank you The Boston Globe for jogging my memory.