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In Defence of Baking

Some things never turn out as you expect them to.
The silence of staircases.

We’ve had guests for most of June and the beginning of July: my niece and her family, then close friends and finally my nephew and his fiancée, with only a few days of grace between each visit to change beds, wash linen and towels, go shopping and clean the house. When I came back from the airport this morning I imagined I’d luxuriate in the house’s silence, flex my freedom muscles and reconnect with the intimacy of living only with Tony. And it’s true that the house is silent, and regular doses of that is something I need and thrive on. And there’s something very satisfying about your home being returned to your private ownership even if your visitors have been lovely and lively and life-enriching. But, at the same time,

I feel hollow, like a Kinder egg without a toy, and fragmented, as if the days ahead are a jigsaw waiting to be completed but I haven’t been given the cover of the box.

I know it can take time to shift from one mind-set to another. And I know too that if I immerse myself into one of several ongoing projects this feeling will fade and pass. But for today, I let myself mooch around Facebook and clean up my Sent box on Yahoo in between loads of laundry because I don’t want the echoes of these people to leave too quickly. I still want to hear my great-nephew giggling under the beach towel when we played hide and seek. I want to measure our friends’ unloosening as they passed a second day doing nothing more than sighing and sipping a pastis in the shade of the sun umbrella. The laughter, kisses and cocktails between two people about to get married.

And to make myself feel a little more grounded I bake.

Some things never turn out as you expect them to.

It sounded so lovely, the banana bread with walnuts and seeds. But it’s dry and not sweet enough, even when loaded with lavender honey. And I’ve wanted to make this soda bread since the cookery book arrived two weeks ago but the knobbly steel-crusted specimen currently cooling on my breadboard does not speak of promise.
The photos possibly tell another story. The right angle and the right light make all the difference.

I even managed to convince myself, for a short while, that the banana bread was saved by the addition of a big dollop of crème fraiche, but, to be honest, it just transforms a slice of barely tolerable rusticity into a slice of ‘fur coat and no knickers’: all superficial richness and mean draughts.

But despite these culinary disasters I still feel better for my afternoon of sifting and mashing and mixing.

The right angle and the right light.

Some things never turn out as you expect them to. There could yet be hope living in the cooling crumb of the soda bread.

(p.s. There wasn't!)

Hungry Writing Prompts
  • Write about the arrival of a guest.
  • Write about something that used to be full but is now empty.
  • Write about a child laughing.
  • Write a list of promises that you will not keep.
  • Write about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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