Just Homesick

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It’s odd when you move.

You start noticing things that are suddenly missing in your life; weird and rather mundane things that you never even noticed while you were at home. Sounds and smells you never focused on before become part of the home-sickness. You suddenly really miss them and wish they were in your periphery again, the quiet unassuming remnants of home that never ventured into your radar when you were a full time occupant.

Things like the sound of my Dad coughing, I could recognise my Dad just from his cough if I needed, it was a familiar background sound that I heard daily but never focused my attention on.

I miss hearing that cough.

I miss hearing the recognizable footsteps of each family member going up and down the stairs. I could even tell you what mood those footsteps were in, sometimes.

I especially miss my Mum bringing me tea in the morning, that’s laziness talking really, but my bleary eyed and drowsy self misses waking up to the sound of the door creaking open slowly and the smell of a good cup of brew drifting in. She’d sometimes snap ‘wake up!’ at me as she placed the mug on my, I’d like to say bedside table but it was a chair by the bed, but I’d happily take a good snapping with a Tetley by my side.

Although I’ve kinda gone off Tetley now… I think they’ve done something to their recipe… just doesn’t taste the same.

I’m ‘totes’ into Rooibos nowadays.

So urban life, how does it compare to the countryside?

Well it’s dirty, I can feel it on my face and in my lungs, I wash my hair everyday and can’t imagine not scrubbing at my face twice a day now.

But there is transport here. No duh. I can go ‘whereves’ I want! No waiting days for the next train to take me home from a shopping trip. If I miss my last train home I know I could walk there easily enough, mind the stabbing, mugging and potential raping, but I could do it, safety permitting. It’s a very liberating feeling, I’ve not had this kind of freedom since I was at University, which was three years ago… a long time to wait for the ability to walk out my house and go somewhere.

I miss running though, since moving to London I haven’t had the courage to plod the streets and shed the pounds of home-sickness-comfort-eating fat I’ve piled on.  My running route at home was awesome, just over 10K with varying terrains from moors, woods and fields… *goes misty eyed*…

And a damned great big hill!

*thuds back to reality*… maybe I don’t miss that hill too much.

I’ve got roads, roads through estates, roads through parks, roads by canals, roads by the Thames… roads by more roads.

I’m going to have to brave it at some point but I know I was blessed with the best running route imaginable at home.

I miss my cats ignoring me, I don’t care that Millie probably only sat on my lap 3 times in the whole time we’ve had her, but I miss her black fuzzy fatty presence. Her and Diesel both would choose the armrests of our sofas over our thighs, they would stare at us in such an enticing way that each time we would hope against hope and coo at them to sit on us, only to have them jump on us to reach the back of the sofa.

Mind games.

Damned cats.

I miss Millie saying ‘ham’ actually saying ‘ham’, she somehow knew what it was and would always be there to plead me to give it to her while I was making my sandwich.

I’ve recorded her saying it, there is indisputable evidence, so don’t even try to denounce my claim.

I miss how our house functioned, from the creaky floorboards, low ceilings, noisy pipes and freezing cob walls, I was used to dealing with these issues. I knew which part of the landing to avoid in order to be quieter, I knew when to duck my head when I was in the living room, I knew what to do when the hot tap decided to randomly howl and I was ‘used’ to the cold…. as much as I disliked it.

I miss having to press the kitchen door hard against a piece of makeshift Velcro my Dad had stuck between the door and tabletop in order to keep it open rather than barely ajar.

Anyway, enough of the weird things you won’t really get or understand… down to the basics.

It’s the familiarity I miss, the everyday, the ordinary, the usual.

But most of all, I miss my family.

My rocks.

My bolts.

My glue.

Leaving them behind was always going to be tough, so you’ve got a lot to live up to London.

Don’t disappoint.

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Review Number Ten

10) DIY Cream Tea – Loose Valley

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Boom!

Hot off the press!

Yet another Cream Tea review!

Amazing!

I think it’s the sun, as soon as I feel warmth on my skin, my body goes into autopilot.

‘Must eat Cream Tea! Must eat in sun! Must make picnic!’

In a drooly creepy zombified kind of way, of course…

I have to be outside!

If the sun is shining, that’s it, I can’t stay indoors, it just feels unnatural and a complete waste if I don’t; especially as I’m in the UK. The weather here can be so unpredictable and frustratingly flighty. You never know when you’ll see Mr Blue Sky again, so outside I am drawn and outside I will stay.

Now on this particular occasion, this being the 16th of March and a SUNDAY, Ash and I decided to stick as close to his home as possible.

We had options; Sissinghurst Castle (the only local National Trust Property that was actually open), Headcorn and, our usual back up option, Leeds Castle.

But redoing those places just sounded a bore and unnecessarily far off… SO… as it was so lovely and we were feeling rather ‘picnicky’ we stuck to Loose Valley. We just walked out of Ash’s front door and found the closest and most scenic field available…

BUT THE PREP?!

Oh yes!

The prep!

The DIY job!

Right well, before we set off on our epically short venture we had to get the GOODS!

Ash drove us to Morrison’s to retrieve our supplies!

Roddas clotted cream: CHECK!

Cheap ass Raspberry Jam: CHECK!

Actual Raspberries: CHECK!

Scones: Errm…

DA ACTUAL HELL??? YOU ONLY HAVE FRUIT, CHEESE AND CHERRY SCONES?! WHERE DA PLAIN SCONES AT? DA HELL AM I GONNA EAT?

‘MORRISON SLAVE WHERE ARE YOU HIDING YOUR PLAIN SCONES? I SEE NONE ON THE SHELF! I DEMAND YOU FIND ME SOME OR I AM GOING TO FLIP OUT!’

‘Hang on let me check…’

*WHILST HYPERVETALATING* ‘ASH WHY IS GOD DOING THIS TO ME?’

The Morrison Drone returned with the worst news imaginable.

‘There are none.’

WHAT????!!!!!!

As you can imagine, I was dreadfully unhappy.

Ash held me as I fake sobbed dramatically.

Tightly, I might add, I think he was scared that I would beat the shit out of the Morrison employee, but my sorrow was stronger than my wrath.

I vowed never to shop at Morrison’s again.  

So after Bandicoot unruffled my feathers we went on a little adventure.

MATHMATICAL!!!

(Sorry, recently got into Adventure Time and I’ve taken to using their quirky exclamations… Amazing show… Really!)

Anyway… Spar and a Co-op were a major disappointment. I was almost losing hope, I thought for sure that none would be found, I was almost fake sobbing again… I was fit to burst as we pulled into to our last available option….

Who knew Tesco’s would be our salvation?!

I certainly didn’t, but there you go. TESCO SAVED THE DAY! YAY!

So, with a pack of four of Tesco’s finest we finally got on with our picnic. We made up some wraps, packed some samosa’s, brewed up a flask of tea, nicked the dog’s blanket and went to the valley of choice.

The sun was smiling, a river nearby trickled musically, ants invaded Ketchum’s juice cup, a soft breeze kept lifting up my dress, revealing my knickers to the world and a haze of wood smoke gave the scene a rustic smell.

Ah, it was glorious.

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And for a DIY Cream Tea, we did an excellent job. Though the scones weren’t exactly that big, there was certainly a gluttonous amount of them, quantity meant more to us that day it seems. But my finest plain scones were delicious, they were much better than the cherry ones Ash had settled with.

Oh and the jam! Like Bandicoot and I always say; raspberries are finitely better than strawberries, they just taste ‘redder’ (as Ash put it), I find strawberries are always such a disappointment. Who chose them anyway? Who decided strawberries were traditionally English? I’d like a word!

Also! Who needs to splash out for good jam? The cheap version was excellent and worked really well with our fresh raspberries.

I don’t think I need to sell Roddas Clotted Cream to anyone, it’s damned good and the sun made it gloriously spreadable!

The only downside to our DIY Cream Tea was that the tea itself tasted a little plasticky… can only blame Ash’s stupid flask…

Stupid flask.

But oh well, I didn’t allow such little trifle’s to dampen my mood. Basking in the sun, gorging on Cream Teas and lying on Bandicoots belly was utter bliss.

I treasure little moments like this.

They are truly priceless.

I definitely think I was a cat in my past life… I can’t get enough of lying on people’s bellies, warming myself in the sunshine and lapping up cream…

I can purr and I even like people stroking my nose!

I know… pretty weird…

Ah well, I’m looking forward to more sunny days and, of course, more Cream Teas.

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Review Number Nine

9) Fields – Sidmouth

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Fields of Sidmouth is a department store.

One of the few select, family owned and managed independent department stores remaining in the Uk.’

It’s a charming, old fashioned place with a luncheon room and a bustling clientele of 60+; an advantage I assure you, they make the place cosy and clean.

You won’t find any riff raff or youths here.

Except me of course… ahem but, ‘I’m with them!’

I often go there with my grandparents for a spot of breakfast and a chat, a great and refreshing way to start your day; you get a generous helping of sea air as its right by the coast.

It’s unique.

It’s like stepping back in time a few decades. I have recently become addicted to a show called Mr Selfridge, a programme about how the department store opened in Oxford Street back in 1909, and I was astounded at the similarities. Fields of Sidmouth have been around since the 1800’s and, I swear, their uniforms look as if they haven’t changed since they opened. Their staff are so well mannered and they treat all their customers exactly the same.

Everyone is a regular.

You feel as if they have always known you, it’s so personal, you can joke and laugh with them as if you have always been there. They make an effort to remember your ‘usual’ and seem to know exactly what you are going to order before you’ve even sat down.

They know exactly how you like your coffee, which is important, of course.

‘Muddy?’

‘Why, yes, thank you!’

I know why my grandparents love the place so much. It’s like a little trip into their past, a tipple down nostalgia lane. And I love it because it offers a sort of calm you can’t really find nowadays, it imbues more than just the look of the bygone days, it has the mentality too.

So the location and the staff?

Tick, tick, win win.

Now, the food.

I have more than one usual at this particular establishment. It all depends on my mood, appetite and, of course, the time of day.

If it’s really early and I’m not too peckish I have two slices of cinnamon toast with a pot of tea.

If it’s early and I feel like treating myself I’ll gobble up a caramel slice and yes, with a pot of tea.

If it’s nearing lunch and I’m starving, include a Panini or a bowl of soup with that caramel slice and you’ve got a party starting! Oh and don’t forget that pot of tea!

Nom nom nom.  

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So on the 1st of March I decided it was time I abandoned my usual’s and gave their scones a go.

I hoped the staff would gasp in unison, but they didn’t… they just took my order, with a smile, and got on with it. I guess that reaction is as good as any.

So the scone…

Needless to say, like all of their goods, it was damn tasty and served with style.

With little bowls for the jam and cream, a proper cake fork for the scone and an abundance of napkins for the potential mess… I tucked in feeling somewhat first class.

The scone was BIG, warm, obviously fresh out of the oven and they made sure everyone’s food arrived at the same time. The only negative comment I would make is that I wish they kept the scone in the oven just a little bit longer.

It was rather doughy.

Its consistency was so pliable and moist I’m sure I could’ve reshaped it into a ball and played around with it. It still tasted gorgeous but I fear the service came before the food.

The jam was very good though. Even I, the cream enthusiast, was overly generous. It was many different ‘s’s; strawberry, slippery and sweet.

I got it everywhere!

It kept sliding off my knife and landing on everything but my scone. I believe I managed to dirty every utensil on the table… it was infuriating but worth it. I’m just not sure where the jam was sourced from, may have to ask next time I visit.

The cream was proper clotted too! You could tell it was the genuine stuff because it had that crusty layer you find on the top to prove it. Again, I’m not sure if it was locally sourced but you could tell it was of decent quality. You also got the perfect amount, even had plenty to spare!

What has happened to me?!

They gave me plenty of hot water to top up my pot of tea; it endured and fuelled the whole conversation while retaining its strong colour.

They also gave me a GIANT strawberry to accompany my already indulgent breakfast treat. A lovely garnish I must say, it was sweet and juicy! No other cafe or restaurant I have been to has done this.

Pity…

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It’s the service though that really sells this place; you can guarantee there’ll be fresh flowers on every the table each morning and a vibrant smile for every customer as soon as you walk through the door.

It’s a place that really cares.

A place I can’t get enough of.

I’m going to give their cream tea a second try next time I go and see if the malleable scone problem was just a hiccup on that particular day.  I certainly recommend their cinnamon toasts and their caramel slices, I’ll be sorry to forego them next time…

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