Aldi, Lidl, Booths, Hoghton Tower, Merlot, Ostrich & the Joys of Samphire

I sit before you, having just eaten a most scrumptious lunch, washed down with a glass of Merlot. Rather an improvement on my more usual handful of nuts and seeds on the run, though I concede sitting at a table would have been better than sitting at the computer. However, I multi-task out of necessity.

When I was visiting M in hospital on Sunday, I noticed the hospital was fortuitously situated right opposite a Booths store. Arriving early at the hospital yesterday I thought I would take advantage of my new discovery and I wasn’t to be disappointed. What did I find but samphire! Produce of Israel, which I grabbed before anyone else could get their sticky fingers on it.

I first tasted samphire eight years ago at the wedding reception of Wendy and Peter. Upon my return to Lancashire I was determined to get more, but found it only grew (according to Google) on our south east shores and had a very limited season. To have had it shipped to me would have been astronomically expensive and likewise even having it pickled would have been £9 a jar, plus postage.

So today came the question – what to eat with my samphire? I remembered the ‘new’ potatoes from Lidl and the ostrich medallions in the freezer bought at Aldi – so cheap compared to the pack I bought previously at the Farmers Market at Hoghton Towers (which incidentally, I love). To cook my ostrich dish flamed in brandy, I really needed some cream to finish it off and intended to walk down to the Co-op to buy some. Then I remembered the bedroom window was open and it was protecting my newly repaired window sill from the rain and so I didn’t want to close it. The window fortunately is hinged at the top, swinging outwards and so keeping the rain off the wood-filler. As anyone could shin up the ivy in minutes, I decided to abandon the cream (pity about that as it would really have improved the sauce).

I was in raptures as I munched my way through the samphire, then suddenly I heard the familiar rattle on my teeth – oh no – an amalgam filling! I spat it out – only to find it was in fact a snub nosed screw! I really was quite pleased to discover it wasn’t a filling and shan’t be returning the remaining half pack of samphire to Booths, nor asking for compensation. In fact, I did give them the benefit of the doubt by checking on my saucepan lids to see if the offending screw has fallen out of one of them. But no, the screw must have arrived with the samphire!

As the merlot is now taking effect and as the wood filler still isn’t ready for the next layer – and as Mother won’t be back from her Tuesday day-care for a couple of hours – and as I hope to be at salsa till late tonight – I may just try and grab a siesta!


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Born in Liverpool at the end of WW2, but raised in Skelmersdale. I first studied art in Southport from 1960-63 and worked in graphic design till I married. In December 1969 I moved to Zambia with my husband and two young children. There I taught art in the local girls school, illustrated for the National Correspondence College and did all sorts of other artwork, paid and unpaid. In 1978 I divorced and remarried in the summer of 1980. In 1985 I became ill and the following year cancer was diagnosed. There was no treatment available in Zambia and so I had to go to the UK. After recovering from a radium needle implant I went back to Zambia, but 18 months later the cancer recurred and it was off to the UK again for radical surgery. This time I realised I must stay in the UK where treatment was available, so I never returned to Zambia nor my husband. A few months later I applied for a degree course, but two years later the disease metastasised and I spent most of my final year in and out of hospital. It’s been a long hard road, but I’m still plodding on and it is now 24 years since my last cancer treatment. Because of my experience of cancer and surviving against the odds, I try and help others cope with their devastating diagnosis and prognosis.

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