Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Pie, pie glorious pie

So often when we talk about food we are talking about family. In fact that was how the hungry writer blog began, nearly six years ago: weekly memories or life stories linked by the theme of food. Food is nurture and love. It can be celebration and anxiety too. It can also be a battleground, as the parents of young children know so intimately! Which is rather a satisfying segue into the family featuring in this week's blogpost: The Radfords. Because if anyone understands the feeding of children, really, really understands, it has to be Sue Radford who, with her husband, Noel, has 19 children. You can read about the family on their website but don't rush off yet as what I really want to talk about is pie. And specifically Radford's pies.
Noel Radford has been a baker for 25 years and opened his own bakery in 1999 in Heysham, Lancashire and makes pies with locally sourced ingredients. That, along with his skill as a master baker, means that the pictures of the 'filled to t…

Eat, laugh, cry, remember: Baked Camembert

Once, on a holiday in Malta, I dressed Tony up in my gypsy skirt and stretchy white vest, used two satsumas for breasts and made up his eyes and lips with the brightest colours I had with me. Then I took a photograph. He didn’t seem to mind, in fact he seemed quite tickled by the fuss and attention to detail, but the quantity of rosé we’d shared at Snoopy’s restaurant on the seafront in Sliema earlier in the evening might have had something to do with that.

This was 1988. There were no digital cameras for instant viewing (and, praise be, instant deletion). The only instant photographs at the time came courtesy of Polaroid, with their packages of square film and box-like cameras, and slid out of the front of the machine on shiny thick card that everyone huddled over and watched develop. But they tended to be party cameras, appearing at Christmas, birthdays, engagements. You captured your holiday photos on a proper camera, one you had to load and feed film into, then unload and drop off…

The Mythic Biscuit: Oreos

My childhood biscuits were mainly plain but had lovely names: Marie, Nice, Rich Tea. Quiet biscuits. The kind of biscuits that would never interrupt a conversation. Polite, not pushy. At the other end of the spectrum, and only irregularly present, probably a result of practical economics, were cheeky Jammy Dodgers, irritable Garibaldis, and self-contented and reliable Bourbons. And even more irregularly, the flashy inhabitants of a Christmas Box of Biscuits: Pink Wafers. I ate them at the same time as not liking them very much, a bit like Miss World Contestants in sparkly dresses, too much eye make-up and a saccharine idea of world peace. 
I'm in the mood to think, and personify, 'biscuits' because the lovely team at Oreo sent me some samples of their new Oreo Thins. I hadn't heard of Oreos until the early 1990s when a friend asked if I would bring him back a packet from a Florida holiday. I forgot and pretended I couldn't find them. 'But they're everywher…