I believe there is a saying which goes something like “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive” – well I have to say that I can´t quite agree with Robert Louis Stevenson. But I expect he wasn´t heading to London for eight days to visit my family and friends, so I´ll just have to excuse him.
I arrived home late last night to be met by my wonderful Big Man bearing flowers. Lilies…my favourite. It´s been a while since he bought me flowers, (impossible to get where we live) so the surprise romantic gesture was very much appreciated.
Being a canny packer of cases, I always go right to the limit on my baggage allowances. 20kg in the suitcase, 10kg in the hand luggage and the biggest hand bag possible. No, I most definitely don´t travel light! I went out loaded with Christmas presents (can´t tell you much about them though, as I don´t want to give any surprises away). The case was also packed with packs of chorizo and morcilla to make Fabada Asturiana, plastic lid things to “flip” your tortilla, chillies from my garden, wine glass/tumblers, gifts from my recent holiday, chocolates for my niece and nephew, books to entertain young children on a long flight to the States to see their grandmother, Spanish fans for a friend´s mum, olives, biscuits….well, I think you get the picture.
The advantage of this is that once you´ve unpacked and “shared the love”, you have an almost empty suitcase waiting to be filled with gorgeous things to take back home with you. Of course, I wasn´t about to go home empty handed.
I carefully packed some lovely pictures done by the wonderful children I got to spend time with. A very flattering portrait of me done by my 10 year old niece, Lara. Look at that fabulous waist and bust…if only! A lovely thank you card from 4 year old William and his 2 year old brother Matthew.
Chocolate. And then some more chocolate. If you haven´t tried Quality Street, track it down! Lots of lovely chocolate toffee and caramel sweets in a tin. They just take me back to childhood Christmases when these were a very special treat. And then you get to use the tin to put your cakes in!
I had a bit of a mad fabric buying spree. I´m laying some of the blame for this on my new blogging pal Evie, over at Pendle Stitches. I was the very lucky winner of this beautiful shawl that she had made, and it was waiting for me at my parents´ house. Very handy actually, as it was a little nippy last week in London. Anwyay, Evie suggested some wonderful fabric shops for me to look at in London. The fabrics were amazing.
Eventually I bought a huge variety of fabrics in Tooting Broadway, my old neighbourhood in South London, plus an amazing discovery of some vintage fabrics, still neatly folded and never taken out of storage since about 1950. They almost tipped me over the baggage allowance, but as there were only 31 people on the flight home (I felt like I was on my own private jet), the check in girl turned a very kind blind eye to my extra kilo…20 metres of cotton, linen, silk, jersey, viyella, crepe and who knows what else do weigh rather a lot. I also bought a new magazine to inspire me.
And finally, to food. My mother stocked me up with all sorts of odd and bizarre things I find hard or expensive to buy out here.
All spice berries, Golden Syrup, Maldon Salt.
Loaf tin liners and vanilla for my baking.
My mum made me a wonderful beef curry with lots of vegetable curries to accompany it.
Best friend Ria made a fantastic chicken and cannellini bean casserole (recipe another day) even though she was feeling poorly last week.
And talking of food, guess what? I got to meet one of my new blogging pals face to face. It was Mad Dog, who was not in the least bit mad and not remotely dog like! We spent a happy and all too short hour in Bar Italia, in the heart of London´s Soho, drinking coffee and chatting about food, Spain, food, photography, food, ourselves. What a great guy he is, and he gave me a fantastic gift of the film Tampopo, a comedy featuring…yes you´ve guessed…food!
So, now I´m home again and looking forward to getting back into my kitchen. Big Man has already started stocking up on autumn fruits and vegetables.
A neighbour gave us a crate of Membrillo, or quince, so we´ll be making quince jelly this weekend.
Another neighbour gave us some enormous pomegranates (or Granadas) from his tree. I may just have to eat them as is, as I adore them served simply.
I also have a couple of kilos of broad beans, but I think you already know many of my recipes for this gorgeous little vegetable.
So, time to unpack, wash, cook and sew. Sounds odd, but I can´t wait!
PS. Am looking forward to a few days of blog catching up – really looking forward to seeing what you have all been up to.