Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Meet Me at the Fair

I am one of those born and raised in the country folk who cannot seem to get through the autumn months without a trip to the fair.  In the past that has always initialized visions of livestock shows, show jumping, horses, meeting the neighbours I hadn't seen last year and of course FAIR FOOD!!

Is there anything more tempting than a trip through the midway food vendors?  Nothing beats the aromas that waft out of the little concession stands.  Boiling corn, candy apples, fudge bubbling in the copper kettle, onions caramelizing on the grill with the burgers and hot dogs.  Then there is my personal favourite...the candy floss booth.

The morning I was to pick up my friend was damp and rainy.  The day had been heralded in by a night time of rain.  We dressed accordingly in big rubber boots and headed out on our adventure. It was pretty boggy in spots but that didn't dampen our spirits as we slogged across a farmer's field through the mud and trampled grass to the admission gate.  Safely installed inside with our little re-entry stamp on our hands we looked around deciding what we had missed most since last year.

It turned out to be the livestock.  What a comforting sight to see the barns in close proximity with all manner of rural sounds emanating from inside. On the way I was sidetracked by that familiar smell...the candy floss booth.  I decided that was to be my treat for the day and proceeded to buy the biggest bag they had (go big or go home as they say).I sat in the sheep barn watching the shearing demonstration contentedly munching on my precious treat.   My fingers were a little sticky and I didn't have a napkin but hey its the fair, who needs napkins anyway?

As we left the barn, I noticed the wind had come up a bit.  My hair was blowing into my face so of course I was busy brushing it away with sticky fingers which was no easy task.  The mud seemed to be getting deeper and deeper between the buildings.  I was eating my lovely pink floss in  spite of the wind and the more I brushed my hair back with sticky fingers the stiffer it seemed to become.  We made our way into one of the buildings and I was given a bit of a reprieve so I spent it buying fudge.

The crisis of the day seemed to happen around the location of the demolition derby.  Armed with floss and fudge we headed to the derby site.  It was a most popular place to be it seemed for around the bleachers the mud became gargantuan.  Attempting to ascend the bleachers was no easy task.  My feet were becoming heavier and heavier.  It was becoming almost impossible to put one foot in front of the other with the deepening mud.  And then it happened....stuck...

There I was stuck halfway up my boots in soft mucky mud.  My hair was stuck out like a brush with bits of coloured floss winding through it like a maniacal rainbow and I thought to myself that perhaps candy floss hadn't been the greatest idea after all.  After a colossal effort  I managed to extricate myself from my dilemma and get safely home with the help of my friend. In retrospect that evening while scrubbing mud off my boots and candy floss out of my hair I came to a decision.  I love the fair.  I enjoy being with my friends and taking in the sights sounds and smells of the day.  It has now occurred to me that perhaps taking a detour past the candy floss booth might be the better way to go about things in the future.  I was a bit worried about all the sugar I ate and was completely and totally surprised that I lost weight that week.

Is there a moral or a lesson to this story about the daily battle with food?  I think so.  In retrospect it was a great day.  Did the candy floss make it better?  Not really in fact it rather complicated things. Maybe next year I will learn to accept the sweetness of spending a day at the fair with good friends and accepting that sweet doesn't always mean sugar.  Sometimes its that wonderful feeling of creating fond memories.  It is the warm feeling of camaraderie and laughter.  Life is sweet.  Live it!

Sunday, June 15, 2014


There is no singular event that can be as life changing as a holiday.  Blessed with the privilege of fulfilling a lifelong dream of my mother’s as well as catching up with two very dear friends we embarked on our journey.  It was all we had hoped for and more.  The gift of being able to take my 89 year old Mum’s picture in front of her mother’s ancestral home of well over a hundred years ago was priceless to my heart.  It stood proudly in the center of the village perfectly preserved and cared for all these years.  Even with her staunch English background, I could detect the emotion in her voice when our eyes finally rested on the name plate still set into the stone hedge after all these years. 

Yes it was a holiday I shall always remember.  We talked, we drove many a mile, had cream teas and fish and chips by the seaside.  I would spend the evenings catching up with my friends after Mum had gone to bed and we silly young things ate and drank and ate and drank.  Having such a penchant for good cheese and wine I took advantage of being able to acquire both easily through the grocery store.  It was quite a novelty for a Canadian who doesn’t have that ability.  Each day I managed to consume a good ration of cheeses I would never be able to afford in that quantity here in Canada washed down with a selection of wines. 

Upon arriving home and subsequently going through the un-packing etc. it occurred to me I had brought more of my holiday home than I realized.  I seemed to be sitting on a lot of cheese and wine! I was feeling tired and lazy and blaming it on the time change.  How long does it take to get over that anyway…two weeks…three weeks?  Where had this heartburn come from? Could it be the change of weather? Had I picked up a stomach ailment on the plane trip home? 

Of course I was only kidding myself.  My clothes were sending me messages I was choosing to ignore and my usual perky self was missing.  Finally as the “rubber hit the road” I dragged out my bathroom scale and gingerly stepped on.  Wowsa!!  My conscience could hear my lonely running shoes in the closet weeping from each little eyelet.  I knew the time had come.  I knew it was now or never.  I was on the slippery slope we all find ourselves standing on at one time or another.  Was it time to “rock and roll”, or time to sit down and ponder my next action over a glass of wine and a tasting of cheese?

I pulled open the closet door and there they sat… all pretty and purple.  They matched my iPod and my running jacket.  I had forgotten how snazzy they looked. Reluctantly I gave myself a push and after what seemed like hours I was ready to go out for my walk.  It looked like rain a little bit (well not really). 

I switched on my tunes and Highway to Hell was the first to pour itself into my waiting ears.  How appropriate!  Off I went, each song building on the last.  I could feel myself starting to get into the swing of things. Motivated by the rhythms my spirits lifted higher and higher pushing my feet to walk faster and faster. 

Ten kilometers later, my body felt invigorated, my sneakers were doing the happy dance and my cheese and wine addiction had faded being replaced the natural high of stepping away from that dangerous slope. 

The battle continues with each passing day.  The bathroom scales are no longer hidden in a cupboard.  I look forward to stepping on them and receiving the reward of watching the numbers go down each week.  There will always be an England and I love you dear England.  I shall return and no doubt indulge in all that you offer, however it’s also nice to know I can count on myself to “keep calm and carry on” when I return.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Butter Month

 February is a short month.  It plays host to holidays such as Family Day and Valentine’s Day but for me it is 28 days of sheer struggle.  It is cold and dreary and long.  I detest going outside.  Invitations to go on winter excursions only make me shiver and sneak yet another peek at summer pictures on my new calendar.  I am far happier being miserable in February.  How do you deal with the cold dull ache in your joints and the constant cravings for stodgy foods? The rumble of the snow plough thundering up and down the road was getting on my nerves.  The month of February saw me clearing the snow off my car every single morning.  My wipers were stuck up like alien antennae so as not to freeze to my windscreen.  The taps in the old farm house I call home dribbled annoyingly every night so the pipes wouldn't freeze.  The furnace had broken down and there were subzero nights I slept in my coat and boots hugging a hot water bottle awaiting a part.  How do you get through this short depressing month?  It’s simple...you eat butter! 

Butter month as I affectionately named it was something I stumbled upon unwittingly.  Struggling with maintaining a weight loss and endeavouring to lose the last of my poundage I was blindsided by an undeniable craving for BUTTER!! I was cold and tired and sick of salad.  I opened the cupboard and there it sat in its bowl all yellow and soft and salty and inviting.  No matter what I did for the rest of the evening my thoughts would come back to the sight of that dish full of butter.  I tried oh so hard to sway my thoughts in other directions but to no avail.  The next thing I knew there I was standing in front of the butter bowl at three in the morning.  Butter is such an available vice.  It just sits there calling softly to you from its bowl every time a winter chill shudders through your body.  I of course answered its call.  Night after night I would wake up and hear that butter calling...calling...like the Sirens who tried to lure Odysseus to the island of Anthemoessa.   At the end of the day I am thankful that February is the short month.  Unlike Odysseus I didn't have any wax to plug my ears nor magical music from the poet Orpheus to drown out the sound of that infernal butter. 

Today the sun is shining.  I have turned the calendar and the vibrant greens of a March scene grace my kitchen wall.  Thankfully those twenty eight days have gone for another year.  Farewell Butter Month.  Perhaps another year I will worship another beautiful yellow entity.  I think the warm glow of an island sunrise is in my cards