Summer started at the end of April here in London. We had something miraculous: a sensational bank holiday weekend, during which we all rushed out in shorts and flip-flops and came back sun-burnt. I think the British are renowned for talking about the weather. It is hard to not pass a comment on the changes in weather. It doesn’t seem long ago since we had the most snow we have seen in about eight years. Apparently there are scientific, geological, meteorological reasons why the weather in Britain swings one way to the next some times even within a 24 hour period. I am one of those shrewd types that took a brolly in my bag even on those blistering hot days we have recently enjoyed. We like having a bit of a chitchat about the weather…it is an equalizer. Rich or poor we are all effected by it. We don’t even have the extremes of weather many other lands seem to face. We are too small and seem to be in a location that keeps our weather reasonably mild on the whole. We never feel we receive quite as much sunshine as we would like. But still…we should not complain. We should count our blessings – should we not!
Well, my tastes change entirely from winter to summer. I like my warm comforting treats throughout the winter. A steaming bowl of soup, a traditional favourite (vegetarian version in my case) cottage pie, hot pot, stew and dumplings, roast dinners, hot chocolate and yummy sticky gooey naughty puddings…(bad, bad, bad – we must keep reminding me!!!)
But now it is summer, I couldn’t touch any of that. With the increase of temperature, the winter duvet goes to the dry cleaners and then into storage and the summer duvet appears, I unpack my vacuum packed summer clothes and put them into my wardrobe and the winter woollies are packed away. My taste-buds are transformed entirely. Salad, lots and lots of salad, with the occasional new potato salad creeping onto my plate. Fruit…I like to mix red fruits together…strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries….and then I don’t seem to tire of lemon and lime, and also tropical fruits, mango, pineapples, kiwi. I don’t enjoy them anywhere near as much during the winter months. But now, I crave them. I drink litres of water each day. My occasional treat has changed from hot chocolate (last winter I went through a whole tub of white hot chocolate flakes) to fruit cordials or pressé. This year I have a favourite. I may have given it away in the title of this post. If in doubt, please see the photo below.
So refreshing. I have it with chilled water a lot. Or this evening, I diluted it with zero sugar lemonade. My treat for these summery days when I have had an excess of water already.
I finished one bottle last night so I have just been to the supermarket on the way home to buy some more. I had my tablet with me… (Do you know I have never bought a phone or a tablet in my life? Every phone I have had was someone else’s hand-me-down and the tablet I have I won. I filled out some test-your-knowledge cards relating to training booklets I had to complete at work in order to obtain some certificates for our staff training folder. I waited and waited for certificates and none came. I sent an e-mail to the course providers asking them about certificates and then I received an e-mail to say I had won the monthly prize drawer and they would send me a tablet. Bizarre. It took three more months for those certificates to arrive.) …anyway, I used my tablet to take some photos of the cordials I buy for a summer treat.
When I came upon the shelves all the bottles were out of order, so I spent a few minutes straightening them to be able to take a pretty picture for your benefit. They must have wondered what I was doing. I did go through a bottle of ginger cordial during the winter actually. I usually have elderflower cordial every summer. The lime and lemongrass is a new choice for me and I am very happy. I think I may try the elderflower and rose soon though.
Now on the subject of treats. These are treats for me. They are a bit pricey compared to some of the other cordials on the supermarket shelves. But please don’t judge my indulgence until you know a little more about me. I have never owned a house, though I have always had somewhere to live. I have never owned a car, though I am a driver and have driven various vehicles many thousands of miles for work purposes. Most of my clothes have been hand-me-downs or I have bought them from charity shops. I do buy new shoes and new underwear though. I have never spent money on buying a phone, though I do pay for my own credit – £10 per month means I have hundreds of free text messages. The tablet, I mentioned I won. I am on my fifth hand-me-down laptop in seven years. Before then I didn’t have one.
Essentially, my life is extraordinarily simple. My belongings would fit into a suitcase. I am only mentioning it because I feel a twinge of guilt buying cordial that is twice the price of some of the other cordials on the shelf. But it is my treat. I am on the whole very prudent with my pennies and I hope I am not too heavily under the influence of the commercial system…but hey, we all have to drink and eat and we all need a few pennies to buy the things we need. I am disgusted by the economic extremes this world allows for. Of course it will fail. Any economic system that allows for shocking monopolies and shocking poverty is utterly doomed.
I grew up thinking we were poor, but then I travelled. I saw the world through new eyes. I had no idea that so many millions had no access to the things we consider as basic, an electric shower, a flushing toilet, a refrigerator. Ever since I had the opportunity to do some travelling, I have tried not to be sucked into the treadmill of consumerism. I have remembered the beautiful men and women I met who lived on one dollar a day and knew more about life than many with far more possessions than they have.
That is one good reason why every teenager should travel to a country with a very different economic make-up to the one they grew up in…(I mean a country where there is not such an abundance) it is a huge education in reality. An education in what really matters. An education in appreciation.
I wish that everyone was able to have equal enjoyment of this beautiful planet. Equal responsibility to look after it and preserve it, but also equal enjoyment of it’s richness. When I am enjoying some pleasure – and there are such an abundance of delicious food and drinks available, I remember not all have these pleasures. I can’t wait for the day when this earth is how it should be and the human family – every single one – are happy and healthy and have everything they need and some extra treats too!
Imperfect I am indeed, please don’t judge me too harshly in my choice of a treat. I truly tell you lime and lemongrass cordial will be my indulgence this summer.