Perhaps it’s the new school year thing, or maybe just the way the weather forces us inside more. Or it could be the impending Christmas season, and all the planning it requires.
Although, honestly, it might just be that I tend to have a lot going on in autumn, and suddenly realise that if I want to stand a fighting chance of getting it all done, I need a better organisational system!
Anyway, I like to imagine myself sitting contemplatively in front of a roaring fire, sipping a hot chocolate, while I map out my plans and schemes for the winter in a beautiful leather notebook.
In reality, I’m usually wearing an amusingly furry fleece over my pyjamas and big fuzzy socks, because the heating in our new house is rubbish, swigging wine from a very large glass, and scribbling indecipherable notes to myself in the back of the Boots Christmas catalogue.
Something that’s making the whole ‘To Do’ panic worse this year is that I still haven’t adjusted to the new rhythms of how we live in this new house, and this new town. This new season of our lives, even.
Sometimes it’s the little things that catch me out: the fact we have a washer/dryer, now, rather than separate appliances, or how the postman unerringly delivers the mail – and the inevitable red ‘you were out so now you have to come and get your sack load of parcels from the sorting office’ card – when I’m either taking the daughter to school, or picking her up again.
But there are bigger things too – new friends, for me and for the daughter – and new opportunities to get and out do things, to play and have fun, or to chat over a cup of tea. These are some of the main reasons we moved here, and something I’m enjoying immensely – but I haven’t got used yet to the time it takes out of my day. There’s the fact I don’t have a car most days – rarely a problem, as most things are within walking distance. But it means we walk a lot more (often to the sorting office to pick up the aforementioned sack load of parcels) discovering new playgrounds on the way, and new piles of leaves to jump in. Wonderful things, things that give a new flow to the day. I like the flow, I’m just not quite sure where it goes yet.
And – I know this is really, really obvious, but sometimes I’m a bit slow – living further away means it takes longer to get places. It makes it harder to get together with friends from our old town, but only because I haven’t managed to plan it properly yet. And because I only just found the hoover behind a stack of boxes, and the house isn’t exactly ready for visitors right now!
I know everything will fall into place – we’ve only actually had less than three weeks living in this house – but I’m impatient. I love the new rhythms of our new life, and I want everything else – work, housework, obligations and travel – to slot neatly into place around them. So in the meantime, I’m scribbling my lists of things to be done, and highlighting the calendar so I can’t possibly forget that the daughter has to wear pyjamas to school tomorrow for Children in Need. Hopefully nothing major will slip through the cracks while I’m scrabbling around, trying to get on top of everything. Not least the very many books I’m supposed to be writing, revising or submitting…
One new tradition that’s developed very early in our new house is the Tradition of the Sunday Pudding. We can’t manage it every week, but if we’re all here for Sunday dinner, it’s a must. And it is by far my favourite of our new rhythms, for obvious, pudding related reasons.
It started the day that I unpacked the books. They’re all tucked on shelves in an alcove at the bottom of the stairs and, because the new kitchen is so tiny, the cook books have a shelf all of their own. While I was lugging around cardboard boxes, and trying to clear up after myself, I realised that the daughter had curled up in the alcove, with her I Can Cook book. Shortly afterwards, she appeared, holding the book open at the relevant page, and said, “Mummy, can I make these?”
Obviously the response to any pudding-making related question is usually yes. “Of course,” I said. “Why don’t we make them for pudding on Sunday?”
So that weekend, the daughter and I hunted around the shelves of the new, differently organised, Tesco for the relevant ingredients, and she made Sunday Pudding with, quite honestly, very little help from me!
This week’s pudding was such a success, I felt it qualified as an actual bake. So, here’s Bake 39, courtesy of the daughter, and the BBC book, I Can Cook. I’ll admit, I doubled the recipe from the quantities here, but we did have some left over!
Bake 39: Bread & Butter Surprise
- 25g soft butter
- 2 slices of day-old bread
- 2 tinned pear halves
- 50g milk chocolate drops
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 25g caster sugar
- Grease a small-ish oven proof dish
- Butter the dread and cut into triangles
- Cut the tinned pears into bite sized pieces
- Arrange half the bread in a layer to cover the bottom of the dish
- Sprinkle half the chocolate drops over, and then half the pear
- Arrange the rest of the bread on top, the sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate and pear
- Mix the egg, milk and sugar in a jug, then pour over the bread to cover
- Bake for 25-30 minutes at 200°C
- Serve to grateful parents!