3 Aug 2011

What we mean when we say goodbye, and a breakfast smoothie.

The summer has been full of hellos and goodbyes. Yesterday we said goodbye to our 17th and 18th staying guests, my step-daughter and step-grandson who have been with us for ten days. Oliver, who’s seven, ate snails for the first time. And olives. And saucisson. In fact he ate everything that was put in front of him, the kind of behaviour that both astonishes and frustrates parents who are used to their kids’ resistance at home.


He won’t have sauce, his mother says. He never has sauce on anything. Or gravy. Nothing. Ten minutes later he’s wolfing down the chicken in cream sauce his Papi has made.


If that salami has peppercorns in it... Yes, but he’s already eaten half the packet.

Kids and animals. Kids and animals.

If you have to give your holiday a score between 1 and 10, I ask him before he leaves, what would you give it?
100, he says. No, 200.

Goodbye: a contraction of ‘God be with you.’ We want the people we love to be looked after, to stay well, to travel safely. Adieu, the French say: ‘To god.’ And the Spanish too: Adios. But what if we don’t believe in god, what can we say to people when they leave us?

Pob (= every) hwyl, we say in Welsh. Or just Hwyl, or Hwyl fawr (= big). Hwyl means 'the sail of a ship' and also ‘fun’. But it also refers to how people are, their ‘feeling’ or ‘mood’. You can sing with hwyl, with emotional fervour. And you can ask people how they’re feeling: Sut hwyl sydd arnat ti?

I like Hwyl fawr. Big feeling. What I want to give away. What I’m grateful to receive.

The house is quiet today. The washing machine is on its second load. Sheets and pillowcases are drying in the sunshine ready for la prochaine vague of guests, and more hellos, on Friday evening.

We’ll eat lightly for a couple of days: fruit and soup and salad. I need a short break from cooking, or, more truthfully, a break from thinking about cooking and shopping for cooking. The actual cooking side of things is the easy bit.

And this is my easy breakfast: a coconut yoghurt and watermelon smoothie. The easiest thing in the world. And dreamy. Think Pina Colada without Barry Manilow at the bar of the Cocacabana. Although this was the one thing that Oliver was unimpressed by: Nah, he said after tasting it and went back to tracking lizards.

Coconut and Watermelon Smoothie


1 coconut yoghurt
1 big open handful of chilled, roughly chopped watermelon

Blitz in a liquidiser. Pour and ahhhhhh…

That’s the good news. The bad news is that while Activia (although I buy Carrefour’s own brand) sell coconut yoghurt in France, it wasn't available in any English or Welsh supermarkets the last time I checked. Ohhhhhh… But other good news is that Rachel’s does an organic coconut greek yoghurt which, of course, isn’t available in France. Will someone please let me know how that tastes before I leave France? Otherwise I’ll have to buy a Eurotunnel season ticket for regular trips to Calais after October.


Hungry Writing Prompts
  • Write about resistance.
  • Write about keeping someone safe.
  • Write about waiting for someone to arrive.
  • Write about bad news.
  • Write about not getting what you want.