Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 19 May 2012

When the cats away the mice gets all upset and twitchy and wonders, sometimes, what's the point of cooking at all if you are sitting alone at the table. However, trips into town can make up for the quietest cottage in East Sussex.

Trips to see things, meet things and celebrate things include, creamy hot chocolate from PAUL. I know its a chain but when the cup has chocolate that is so thick you could hang your gate from it it can be forgiven. Especially when the chocolate has been bought by one of the shiniest boys in town.

I've just finished reading 'PEACHES FOR MONSIEUR LE CURÉ' Joanne Harris'. Her latest offering. I'm interviewing her next week. The book is so full of smells and tastes, colour and 'chocolat' that when I finished it I balled my eyes out, missed the old git even more and vowed that even if it thickened my waist I would take thick hot chocolate whenever I could. Its a terrific read all about 'Lesquenet', 'Vianne Roche's' village eight years on. Buy it, borrow it, even do that awful electronic 'Kindle' thing if you have to, but do try and read it.

So having been into town, on Wednesday, to interview Tom Chambers and Summer Strallon about 'TOP HAT' and topped up on unctious liquids I took the train home and watched all the recorded shows. From 'The Maestro' to 'The Apprentice' from 'Corrie' to 'Episodes.'

I actively dislike two of 'The Maestro' participants, I actively dislike all the Apprentices, and have promised myself that it is positively the last time I will watch 16 go-getting youngsters who have as much business nouse as my local vicar. I actively adore 'Episodes' and 'Corrie', and the good thing about recording it is that I can skip story lines that bore me. Par example I cannot watch the kissing scenes between Dev's missus and Stella's husband. They make me sick. There is nothing worse than soapy snogs. Too close for comfort.

Yesterday I could not bear the noise inside my head. Felt like my occiput was hammering on an anvil so I took myself down the hill to the pub. My cottage is in a publet - as I like to call it - a clutch of houses and a Fifteenth Century Inn. The regulars were in there, although I haven't seen them for years. I last frequented the pub properly when we had our wedding reception there 24 years ago. One of the drinkers was 60 when I saw him last, yesterday he was celebrating his 86th birthday, and everybody sung to him and signed a card. I sat at one of the sticky old oak tables and ordered a Ploughmans. Time it was when it was served on a big oval plate with mountains of salad, the cheese was thick, the pickle sweet and the bread doorstep chunks of hot crusty manna, with creamy, white butter on the side. Now you get a 'Castaway' globe of greens that even Tom Hanks would moan about, and he never moans. Little scraps of cucumber and red onion, a slither of red tomato and that frizzee lettuce that always attacks the cheeks. I cannot get it into my mouth, however I cut it, without smudging my lipstick. Half a ciabatta roll, two packets of butter and a pie-chart piece of cheese. Which, though big, was utterly tasteless. I had my customary coffee which used to be a little filter thing that sat on top of the cup and dripped its dark liquid slowly into the cup until it was full. Yesterday it was a cup of filtered coffee with two foil topped cream containers, a chocolate in silver wrapping that took me four attempts to tear open, and two bags of sugar. It was not the same. I did, however, manage to read some of my book, a cerebral work about the new unconscious, by the time I had got to the end of the chapter half my vinaigrette dressing had dripped on page 54 whilst all the crumbs had accumulated in the crack of the pages.

I walked up the hill and decided to lie in the bath and read about the memory and how we trick ourselves into remembering things that never happened at all. I poured in Patchouli oil - dont ask - and a huge handful of Epsom Salts, I lay there until the water went cold. Dressed and set off for London Town. Listened to the News and The News Quiz and arrived by 7.00

I was meeting a friend and her daughter who is heading back to her home in California and my own dawter who had signed her first contract with a manager. We met at 'Grouchos'.

Loud and trendy.

Loud and busy.

Loud and pricy.

But the we loved it in there. She had a plate of meze and vegetarian spring rolls. I had a dish of honey and mustard coated sausages. I requested that everybody kept their grubby fingers out of my bangers as there were only six. They go down in one gulp. And a bowl of chips, that used to be big and chunky but now have that spindly look that overgrown basil has.

Pink wine was ordered and we toasted the girls success and then off I went to my secret parking spot in Covent Garden. Of course I will not tell you where it is. I've had too many parking tickets to kiss and tell.

I arrived home by 1.00 having talked to the old git and the dawter on handsfree.

I finally went to bed at 3.00, and promptly woke three hours later.

I am going into TWells for breakfast, then the osteopath to have the back mended then off to Brighton to visit my mother who is the reason for my stiff lumbar. The nurse said my mums demise was not imminent but it would be sooner than later. My mother cried last week and apologised to me for dying. I drove home through the fog of my tears and promptly devoured 28 chocolate fingers.

I would have had more if there had been any more but I had eaten the other 28 the night before

Inside me there is a young woman screaming at me about life and death and the ugliness of elasticated waistbands but I can usually silence her with a big bar of Galaxy.

This one is for the delicious Elaine. xx

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes


1. At May 19, 2012 6:19 PM Rhianon wrote:

Evening all. Jeni, have you ever read any of Simone Weil's work? Just wondered. I've been meandering through it. Or at least the simpler bits.

2. At May 20, 2012 5:18 PM Elaine wrote:

Thank you darling Jeni - you've made my day. We had sad news last night - another of our family's matriarch's died - Jackie, artist, former co-worker of Andy Warhol, former lady in waiting to Indira Ghandi, and Mum to my lovely sister-in-law Bet. Now there'll only be my Dad and my mother-in-law at the head of the table at our family get-togethers....she's left a big empty place!

3. At May 21, 2012 12:12 AM LV wrote:

AU CHOCOLAT - C'est bon! Who needs drugs and alcohol, when we have chocolate and patchouli oil.
It is still the great pacifier now as it was when i was small. And that's no bad thing.

Now talking of drugs versus genius. The economist is asking; should alternative medicine be taught in med school? Naturally or should i say unnaturally, the scientists refer to the as yet not fully understood - as placebo. Now that is simply arrogance over confidence before the offset..

It is just a one click vote and no personal info. Nice and easy. Have a look if your interested. The holistics are gaining ground.


Love Light LV

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