New Year, New Dreams

January’s a funny old month; Christmas a distant memory yet daffodils a hopeful pipe dream.  Sunshine is what we need and where better to recharge, recalibrate and fire oneself up for the year ahead than… er… the Northumbrian coast.  A great big Greek bloke, posh Jersey bird and their brute of a rescue dog holed up in a teeny tiny whitewashed cottage in Seahouses.

My mother’s uncles were  fishermen in Seahouses, back in the day.  I grew up with Mum’s endless stories of Alnwick, Bamburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed.  Of Lowry’s paintings.  Of how the endless consumption of oily fish made her aunts  the least wrinkly ladies ever.  Of the time Mum was supposed to be looking after her little brother, Jimmy, when they got cut off by the tide and nearly drowned until she spotted steps to safety.  Magical steps, that appeared magically!  Steps that had never been seen before nor again after.  The steps that saved their lives.

I confess, I didn’t want to listen to Mum’s dreary old northern ramblings as a child growing up in Jersey.  But I suppose those stories became embedded because, well, here I am.  The old girl has talked about coming back to visit for years – along with all the other places she’d been saving for her retirement.  But her eyesight’s gone, unexpectedly.  She can’t even stalk Seahouses on Google Maps now, so here I am.  Seeing it all for her.   I’ve seen ‘her’ castle; the Bamburgh butcher (Carter’s, established in 1887, and one of Rick Stein’s original food heroes) where I ‘had’ to buy sausages (the Greek God’s cooking them as I type).  I haven’t seen the magical life-saving steps though.  Funny, that.

The weird thing?  I’m strangely at home here.  I can find my way without satnav.  I’ve fallen in love – hopelessly, helplessly and irrevocably – with the arse-bitingly cold wind that chases us as we slip and slide over the frozen rockpools and frosty rocks; mad cows guarding the gate from dune to beach; hot kippers in a bun; proper pubs full of glowing glass and brass with pints of Farne Island beer to be swigged by a roaring fire.

Tomorrow we visit Holy Island after which my grandmother, Lindis, was named.  The perfect way to spend our last day.  But we’ll be back.  I’m already secretly searching for houses.  Shhhhh.  It’s our little secret.  I need to talk the Greek God round first.

Up the Caffeine Creek

I don’t know how food writers cope with the whole ‘eating out’ thing all the time.  I’ve only managed half a sausage roll and, after three flat whites, am shaking too much to type and can’t concentrate on anything more than my urge to pee.  Perhaps that’s why novelists write in cafés; the pressing urgency to write a day’s quota of words before their bladders burst.

I need to start writing again.  Coffee shops will be my escape from pitta-baking and the neglected housework, I decided.  I’m writing this in my third of the day; the first in which I shared a sausage roll with the Greek God and indulged in a VERY creative discussion about profit, loss & dividends; the second into which I was lured by a clever A-board but where the coffee was vile and the music snooze-inducing and now this one: bursting – more than my too-tight greedy-arse jeans – with groovy tattooed tutors and waistcoat-wearing gentlemen.  There’s a man drawing circles in a notebook and I wonder whether he’s an artist, architect or venn diagram enthusiast.  He’s had beans on toast for lunch though.  That tells me all I need to know about him.  Another flat white, if you please, with some foil-wrapped headspace…

I wrote a novel once.  Unpublished, but still.  All those words spilling out of my brain, through my fingers and onto a page.  I’m still bursting with words.  But they seem to be the wrong words at the mo.  Never mind, eh?  Being a street food lady now, I know to keep all the wrong words in an airtight tub to keep them fresh; they’ll probably come in handy if I run out completely.   Tupperwared words.  Who knew?

But anyway.  While I wrestle the wrong words into submission, this isn’t too bad a place to hang out, right..?