Last week we had a dinner party for some delectable folks, one, my brand new goddaughter Alice May, peach that she was, she didn’t drink a drop of proffered wine, insisted quite simply on her mother’s finest homebrew. Meanwhile, however, the rest of the bunch well possibly just moi and one or two others got completely plastered.
After a super healthy stroll through the stunning forest that is Bedgebury National Pinetum. A perfect spot for super healthy families; you know the type: with long-haired dogs, bikes, helmets and matching rain jackets for all the family. Though we, sort of, try our best to be 2.4, the truth is I am not a good or even a bike-rider at all, and only learnt whilst heavily up la duff with twins in the fifth month of my first pregnancy age thirty. (When I did finally get on again about a year later I fell off and cut my ankle and have been a total wuss ever since.) We do not own good raincoats or even coats that match, more a medley of wool and second-hand adidas macs – that look good – but do not keep the rain out.
Why is buying a house such an almighty headache? The game of stoney-faced poker one has to play whilst either buying or selling is so exceptionally stressful. To take part you must be a bloody good liar. Lying about your income, your deposit, your state of play, how much you don’t like something, when secretly you do. It is a nightmare and I for one am totally crap at it. You look around the house with the estate agent, generally a spotty teenager, who aimlessly wanders about ‘showing’ you the bathroom or bedroom – I mean how hard can it be?
However, when you do get out there and nose around other peoples houses you realise just what incredibly bad taste people have. One house we visited, their child owned some kind of animal in a cage. The stench in the room was unbearable; a sort of sweet, warm, acrid urinal scent mixed in with rotten hay – we could barely breathe and could not wait to get out of that house – we mumbled something sufficiently polite to the estate agent and legged it.
In the shed of another house the owner had a, not so, secret obsession with trains – the shed housed hundreds of model engines. Even those with pots of money to splash out on a decent bathroom or kitchen still show no signs of having any kind of simple taste with vast swathes of chintz curling creepily and suffocatingly all over the walls, sofas, windows and beds.
When we found the house of our dreams, which we did tucked away on a beautiful hill overlooking the Box valley – the owner took it off the market unable to part with her home. And for us, although we could barely get the cash together to buy it anyway, we were still absolutely gutted to lose the one house we fell in love with…
However, coming down a peg or two in your financial reality is no bad thing – and something we must all embrace if we want to stay buoyant – so when we stumbled across a crumbling Victorian town house in deserate need of some serious love, cash and work spent on her – we realised this could be made into the dream…given plenty of time and deniro….So we lied about it and pretended to show interest elsewhere all the while, weighing up the pros and cons of living in another old house in need of constant attention and furthermore being in town when we had wanted to be in the country. But the grass is always greener right?
The thing with chutney is you never know truly how good your batch is until several months after you have made it. Maturing is the name of the game in chutney-making. And the more mature the better the taste, so patience is indeed a virtue.