From Curtains to Coffee Dreams

3 January

The children have moved home so many times that I've lost count. Obviously, I realise this sounds misleading; they were no longer children when they moved home, otherwise that would make me a truly horrible parent (“Get out! Find somewhere else to live today. If you can’t keep your bedroom tidy, I don’t want you here any more.) Actually, I could count the number of times if I really wanted to. I'm just being lazy.

But what with all the university/college/flats/houses/cities in which they've made their temporary homes for reasons of study and work, me and Mr Young have trudged our way over literally dozens of doorsteps with boxes and binbags full of Ikea frying pans, duvets, ironing boards and hairdryers, and staggered under the weight of hundreds of books. All over the country, there must be stray socks and crumbs belonging to my children down the backs of countless sofas. It makes me very proud.

Anyway, I digress.

As a result, there is a pair of turquoise curtains in the spare room wardrobe (now called the Wedding Dress Room, because Harry has been storing her dress there since last November, and it now has as much presence there as an actual guest. I digress again.)

This week, I have finally got around to replacing the magenta, window-sill length curtains in the TV room with these floor-length turquoise curtains.

The overall effect is vastly, magnificently different. Changing Rooms different. (Remember Changing Rooms? Ah, Laurence. It would be nice to see you back on our screens again.) In a good way. They transform the room. I swap around some cushions in a contrasty, arty fashion that look extremely chic, and blow the dust off a vase that I find in a cupboard, which turns out to look perfect in this new glamorous setting.

Mr Young is away, so Ruby and I bask alone in the glory I have created.

We can’t wait for him to come home and congratulate us.

4 January

Reader, you are probably ahead of me. I think you know him by now. As soon as he puts down his briefcase, I hustle him along the hallway to the doorway of the TV room, Ta Daaing with a sweeping gesture.

Ruby is running in tiny Laurence Llewellyn Bowen circles.

He raises his eyebrows, and I know he's thinking very, very hard. “Oooh,” he says eventually, hoping I’ll give him a clue.

“Can’t you tell?” I ask, a bit sadly.

“Have you…put a new cushion in here?” he ventures. Ruby stops running in circles and looks at him with disgust.

She spends the evening sulking on the new turquoise velvet cushions.

As do I. I mean, what’s the point?

5 January

Our New Year resolution is to give up alcohol for a month, and to eat organically. All the money we save on wine and beer will now be more usefully, and healthily, spent on this more expensive food. My halo gets so heavy that I have to take it off while I finish my Ocado shop, which consists entirely of produce beginning with O (as in organic – not oranges, oxtail soup and Opal fruits – although onions and olive oil are on the list, interestingly. Or uninterestingly, as this isn’t very exciting, I now realise on second read-through. As is most of this diary. But no matter. It’s more interesting than a blank page. Slightly.)

We bite the organic bullet and order a vegetable box as well, which sounds as if it will be a bit of a lucky dip.

Well, Mr Young and I say bravely to each other, we can always make soup.

When the box arrives, it has potatoes, greens, lots of beetroot, a very grubby swede (vegetable, not an unwashed Scandinavian*), parsnips, carrots, a hefty aubergine, some very muscular onions, and lots of Brussels sprouts; none of which look anything like the ones I usually buy. This makes me realise just how much I’ve become used to perfect-looking vegetables, because these sprouts are all different sizes, and definitely need peeling and sorting and preparing. I feel incredibly virtuous, almost as if I’d wellied-up and nipped out into my own allotment and picked them all myself.

I prepare roasted vegetables with some organic sausages. The aubergine goes in with the onion, some parsnips, carrots, and a couple of the beetroot. I don’t know why, but I’m amazed by how delicious the sausages turn out to be, and all the vegetables roast wonderfully with rosemary and thyme from the garden, with some garlic and olive oil.

Except the bloody beetroot. This remains rock hard. I cut it up into even smaller chunks while all my other perfect organic food keeps obligingly warm, and check it again after another fifteen minutes.

Still stubbornly rock hard. It is like little pebbles. Bloody beetroot. I turn up the oven, so it smokes and I then have charred rock hard beetroot.

In the end, I cut it into even tinier chunks and microwave it and scatter it amongst the rest of my lovely organic meal. Like gravel.

Mr Young says it’s all delicious. But then he’s been waiting for an hour and a half and so I think it goes down so quickly, he probably doesn't even notice the crunchy addition. I'm just thankful he doesn't break a tooth.

6 January

My dream last night was very specific. The whole family went out for a meal at a restaurant, and I ordered a coffee. When it arrived, in a white cup and saucer, it did look beautiful, frothy, with a creamy swirl on the top, and it had a sort of nutmeggy taste (yes, I do taste in my dreams, and smell. I have lovely dreams.).

I glanced at the menu; £90.25 for the coffee, with an oddly pretentious title - "How It's Made..."

“What?” I spluttered, choking on a £10 mouthful. “That can’t be right, surely?” As the main courses were no more than £10, I was shocked. And alarmed; Caveat Emptor, and all that. After all, the price was clearly marked, and I had ordered it, so it was sort of my fault.

Nonetheless, I can’t resist a good argument in a restaurant (see last week; truffle oil), so I went to find the manager, and pointed out that this was a ridiculous price for coffee.

“No one else has a problem with it,” he said, shrugging.

“But…but…” My dream self is not quite as good at arguing as my real self. “How do you justify charging that sort of price for coffee? It’s just coffee, after all? And what does the title mean?”

“Well, you shouldn’t have ordered it then, should you?” He had a point. "And that's just what our chef calls it."

“But…but…” I wondered if I could just not pay, but I’m never very good at running in my dreams. I was also sorry that I’d spent so much time arguing because my coffee was now cold. So that was £90.25 down the drain. (Or £80.25, as I’d already had a mouthful.)

I woke up then, marvelling at this outrageous bit of over-pricing, and keen to tell Mr Young all about it.

But he’s never very interested in my dreams.

Grumpy Mr Young.

Just because it was five o’clock in the morning.

7 January

Off to Waitrose again as Lucy, Jonny and Harry are coming for lunch and we don’t have enough organic foodstuff to feed them all.

A surreal experience in the carpark; where the ticket machine usually is, there is just an empty space with a large notice saying that the ticket machines have been stolen, but they are still enforcing the two-hour parking rule.

This is so odd that I laugh out loud. Whatever next? I half expect to turn round and find that Waitrose itself has disappeared, with just a sign in its place, saying that the building has been stolen, but a reminder that the trolleys should not be removed from the car park.

After lunch, I tell everyone about my baffling coffee dream, and Lucy googles it; apparently, it means that you are looking deeper into the heart of the matter before making a decision or choice. We all decide that this could apply to absolutely anything. Just like horoscopes in magazines.

Drinking specifically hot, delicious coffee, on the other hand, implies surprising good news is on the way.

(Unsurprisingly, I suppose, there isn’t an analysis for coffee that costs specifically £90.25.)

I do hope that the manager of Waitrose is dreaming about drinking hot delicious coffee.

*Sorry. Irresistible.