It was therefore no surprise that the Pig family bus was filled with happy, happy smiles as it hurtled up the M20 a couple of weeks ago. The children whooped and shrieked from the back,
“We’re in the country we used to live in!”
“I can speak my own language and everyone will understand!”
Was it my imagination or was there great excitement in the Garden of England as we made our entrance? Were those Seven Oaks waving as we passed by? Did those flowers turn their heads to wish us happiness for the days ahead? Did they really put on that grand bicycle race in honour of our return? There really was no need.
Our thousand mile round trip took in the South East, London, the Midlands and the South West. It was a frenetic, hastily-arranged time of contrasts.
See me tottering along an urban street with fantastic Fran and the girls, eager to drink and giggle our way through a meal.
Watch my children bounce themselves to exhaustion with Jo’s lovely boys, whilst I watch her dig up the new potatoes that we will eat for our tea in her quiet, rural idyll.
Stand with me and admire the original art hanging in Sean and Erin’s beautiful Islington home, and pull up a chair to their Aga, it’ll warm you in this chilly month of July.
Sip some red wine with me and gaze at the sea and rolling hills that you see from Ali and Ian’s wooden house. If you stay long enough, Ali will pick you some raspberries for your lunch and Ian will share a sneaky fag with you.
Come for tea at Vicky’s. Anne is coming and it’ll be just like old times as we hide in the kitchen and drink Pinot Grigio, and the kids scamper around trying on every dressing-up item in the house.
Finally, come and run through the Kentish wheat fields and try and catch up with zippy Caroline. She’ll have you out running and home again before it’s 10am. Then she’ll make you some coffee and your children will disappear into her enormous house and we might not see them for hours.
Despite the different backgrounds, nationalities, locations and houses, all my friends had one thing in common. Within a very short space of time they were reaching for the corkscrew and proffering wine. Red, white, fizzy, we drank it all. We giggled, we debated, we watched telly, we ate, and we kept on drinking.
Unfortunately, it all had to come to an end. The Pig bus was dirtier, slightly more scratched, a bit smelly and dishevelled, and very downbeat as it emerged from the tunnel into the French sunshine. It drove in silence for much of the long journey and the children stared glumly out of the windows.
However, I am trying to be upbeat. We have unpacked our bags and are forging ahead with the summer holidays. I came back laden with supplies and goodies and I’m eager to get back to my cooking. I also came back laden with a little extra fat. I suspect it is not only around my middle, but also around my liver. I will be staying off the sauce for a while, and have made this pure and cleansing sorbet to get some of those streaks out of my bacon. I really hope it works. Cheers!
Cleansing Fruity Sorbet
This sorbet does not require an ice-cream maker, but to make your life easier, it probably requires a juicer. I never have a problem buying gadgets for the kitchen, it comes very naturally. If you need some justification for your juicer purchase, look at this interesting piece of writing which clearly shows that the urge to shop has very primeval origins. If that fails to convince you, you'll need a reamer.250g sugar
1-2 lemons (I used one lemon plus 2 extra tbsps of juice, you may want more or less, it depends on your taste and doesn't affect the final outcome)
- Place the sugar and water into a saucepan and heat until it boils. Leave on a rolling boil (I do like that term) for about 5 minutes, to reduce it slightly, then turn off the heat and allow to cool
- Remove the peel from the grapefruit and lemons and chop the flesh into chunks. Cut the tops off the oranges and carefully cut all the flesh out so that you leave an orange peel cup in which to serve your sorbet
- Feed the chunks down the funnel of your thirsty juicer and catch the resulting juice into a jug. My lovely eldest daughter helped so well with this, she bustled around the kitchen bossing me mercilessly, where does she get that from?
- Add the juice to the saucepan of cooled sugar syrup
- Taste it to see if it needs more sugar / more lemon juice, and then place in an ice-cream container
- Put the container in the freezer, and freeze overnight
- Prior to serving (about an hour) remove the sorbet from the freezer, it will have crystallised and needs to be softened up. Place the sorbet into a liquidiser. Whizz it up until it is smooth, it may need a few goes. Scoop the smooth sorbet into the orange cups and then return them to the freezer until you are ready to serve them
- Feel very cleansed