I have just woken up on day 5 of 9 (if you count weekends) of a week off work that I’m sharing with Charlotte. Sometimes, between her being a rugby-playing-therapist and me being a two-jobs-Joe, we’re a bit like ships in the night and don’t really get much time together. So this week is all about doing nothing, together!… Or, almost nothing!..
She was a bold, intelligent and adventurous woman. In her life, Grandma travelled much of the UK, Europe, the US and Canada and always had a brilliant story to back that up. While there were, I am sure, occasional embellishments and exaggerations in such stories, she never failed to grab your attention when she told one and always had you going back for more.
She was musical, and could play the piano very well for much of her life. When my sister was young and receiving piano lessons at home, my Grandma was absolutely glued to watching her play and seeing the rapid progress she made. It wasn’t long before they started playing together, and I have wonderful memories of watching the two of them sat singing “as long as he needs me”, while my sister played.
She also loved musicals and going to shows. There was nothing quite like the joy of seeing her foot tap and face light up in response to a good song and dance, which is absolutely unforgettable and something I will really miss. In fact, popping a musical on has always been how she, my Grandad, Charlotte and I have wrapped up every one of the lunches we’ve had together!
My Grandma was a wonderfully proud and supportive person. I could share any dream I wanted with her and she would always believe, and make me believe, that it was possible- even if she didn’t really understand my interest. Whether it was ambitions to be a rock star, an actress, a chef or to travel to the far corners of Asia and Africa and try food unheard of, she made me believe I could do anything. There was one occasion, of course, where she responsibly brought me back down to earth, when I was 15 in classic teenage crisis of what I wanted to do when I left school and declared to her “I was thinking I would make a good Doctor”, not accounting for a moment my school grades in essential areas such as maths and science. In response to this, she patted my hand and said “Well, maybe something else, pet.”
My Grandma taught me that family comes first and love is all. Between she and my Grandad, everything has always been done to ensure that me, my sister, my Mum and my Dad have the best life possible. They have always helped us at times of need, and some of the best memories of my life are of our family trips to Florida- which was only made possible by them. She welcomed Iain and Charlotte into the family with loving arms and has acted as wonderful a grandmother to them as she has to me and Hana.
She was incredibly loyal and, my whole life, she has always had time to listen. Grandma was there whenever I needed her emotionally which, particularly as a teenager, I did a lot. Her perfectly unique and often baffling phrases never failed to help. For example, I can remember when I was 17 crying on my Grandma with my first ever broken heart and monologued on at her with how dreadful I was feeling for what must have been 10 minutes, while my Grandma cuddled me, patted my back, and listened. Finally, she came out with her simple conclusion on the matter:
“Oooh, she’s a bitch! Of the first water!”
I immediately stopped crying.
I loved my Grandma’s cooking, as many did. When I was in college, I would get the bus every Thursday to my Grandparent’s house for dinner- which was usually one of roast chicken, steak or duck in orange, which she did exquisitely well. She also loved helping my Mum in the kitchen any chance she got and took pride in which ever Sunday Roast task she was given. She taught me a great deal in the kitchen, from how to stop an apple going brown, to how to make her coveted Christmas Pudding and, of course, that delicious cream. I always enjoyed hearing her talk about her Auntie while we cooked, which she did with such affection after learning many of these cooking techniques from her, first. I think my Grandma knew from that relationship, that you can live forever in your recipes.
She knew what she liked, and she knew what she didn’t! She was quite famous in our family for being able to polish off a full rack of ribs without a pause nor with a scrap of meat left on the bone. And yet, after hearing of the holiday my sister and brother-in-law had together, declared if she ever went to Vietnam she would probably starve!
That said, she couldn’t be predicted! I remember once cheekily challenging my family to eat a dried scorpion on a stick after I had “generously” brought enough back for everyone from Thailand. The room hesitated, of course, while to our shock Grandma dived straight in and shoved it in her mouth, chomping down hard and grinning proudly! I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed and could not stop laughing! You can see how much she enjoyed it from this picture.
I said before my Grandma was always very supportive. One of the many phases of mine which my Grandma was particularly proud and supportive of was the poetry writing phase. Therefore, I have written a poem for her, which I’d like to share with you now.
I always knew this day would come –
I’m not that naive.
But now that it’s arrived
It’s still hard to believe.
She has always been my shelter,
She has always been my friend,
She has always been my ally,
She has always helped me mend.
Now all we have are memories,
Now all we have are things,
And it’s so hard to imagine
What life without her now will bring.
We’ll use the strength she taught us,
We’ll walk with heads held high.
And just the way she showed us,
We won’t let life pass us by.
We’ll use the love she gave us,
To fill the empty space she’ll leave.
We’ll remain with joy and laughter
Of her memory, while we grieve.
I speak to you directly now,
Even though you’d say “that’s daft!
Life is for the living,
And when you’ve passed, you’ve passed!”
I want to say, there’s just no way
To say goodbye to you,
Because I am always with you
And you are always with me, too.
Today, we celebrate the life of my Grandma. And we all mourn the loss of a very dear friend.
My Grandma has loved ones all over the globe. Wherever you are in the world reading, please do enjoy those happy memories, and raise a glass to
Rowena: A Life Well Lived.
That’s right, after a year and a half of being unable to do much more than a google search, I am once again the proud owner of a computer that will allow me to do high tech things like talk about food and upload photos of that food.
A surprising amount has changed in just 18 months, some of it good, some of it bad. I’ll try to keep it all in order!
First, I should mention that Charlotte girl, who I believe was the focus of my last post in August 2016 when we were celebrating a year of knowing each other. I’m pleased to say a year has become two, soon to be three and bring on the rest! I’m genuinely happier every day with her.
I’m not normally one to be publically mushy, but here it is.
Almost one short year ago, I had quite honestly the best date of my life. All I did that evening with Charlotte was laugh and laugh until my face hurt! I have continued to laugh with her since, and have no plans to stop.
That fateful night we also spontaneously enjoyed a selection of tapas and a friendly serving of wine. What better way to celebrate a happy year, this Thursday, than with the same such delights!
At Charlotte’s suggestion, we will be preparing a number of tapas to share, but one had to be prepared a little early. Grilled Marinated Aubergines! A delicious snack and something I’ve always wanted to try my hand to. What a great excuse!
I’ve left it just a little later than I had intended- but then time really has shot by me this year. But, with two days to go I’d say I’m right in the nick of time! Here’s what I used…
- 1 Aubergine
- 6 teaspoons of dried oregano
- A big pinch of salt
- A few sprankles of crushed black pepper, plus about a teaspoon more
- A sprinkle of chilli flakes
- A sprinkle of Garlic Powder
- A sprinkle of Onion Salt
- 1 Fresh Red Chilli
- Half a bulb of Garlic
- Sprig of Thyme
- About 500ml of Olive Oil
After a somewhat long working week, I’m pleased to be entertaining for a few friends this weekend! As much as I love cooking though, I don’t want to spend the entire time in the kitchen, so want an easy dessert that would last the few days. What else but cake?
First visit is this evening from my friend and colleague Steph, and my girlfriend Charlotte- both huge lovers of coffee! I’ve no doubt that Cappuccino Cake will go down very well indeed, and with any luck enough will be left for when Scott and Simon visit tomorrow!
- 125g of Self Raising Flour
- 125g of unsalted butter
- 125g of Caster Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 40 grams of Instant Coffee (Nescafe Gold Blend would be best!)
NOTE: The are ingredients per tier. I expect you to do at least two tiers. One tiered cakes are a pointless waste of space.
For icing two tiers:
- One vanilla pod or a teaspoon of vanilla concentrate
- 500g of Icing Sugar
- 250g of Unsalted Butter
- A handful of Cocoa Powder
Well, it certainly has been a long time since posting though not for the lack of cooking, eating and making memories but more for the uncontrollable business of life!
Since last writing, I am so excited to announce that the fresh start on life I’ve been aiming for these last two years has finally arrived! I have now left the home of my lovely parents and moved into a little place of my own- and, if I may say so, it’s lovely!
I’ve already gone cooking crazy since living here! I’ve indulged in old favourites such as Thai Red Curry and Chicken Pathia, naturally had Josh and Stephen to visit for Wholegrain Maple Gammon, and on my first weekend here I had my parents to dinner to show my gratitude for everything they have done to support me, where we had a starter of Mojo Chicken, a main course of Beef Bourgignon and a dessert of Retox Pie.
But all those recipes are to follow soon! Last, I had my cousins Sarah and Samantha to stay and we indulged in a simple favourite- Chicken Fajitas! Sarah’s birthday passed recently on 31st May so I thought it would be nice to treat her to a favourite for dessert. Having exposed her more than once as a psychotic cheesecake thief, a strawberry cheesecake seemed the only option! And then there was this bottle of rum just lying around…
AND SO STRAWBERRY RUM CHEESE CAKE WAS BORN!!
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.
CONTENT TO FOLLOW.
Ham ham ham…