8am: The day starts off with great excitement for the kids and blind panic for me, when I go to let the cat in and realise that we are locked in. Prisoners in our own home! Tom is 120 miles away, on the outskirts of Northampton with one key, and the other is with our neighbour who’s been feeding the cat.
Daisy is jubilant about the prospect of missing school, and Ollie is throwing himself about because he hasn’t got a clue what’s going on but he’s picked up on the atmosphere of excitement and panic.
I phone Tom and can barely hear him over the children’s shouts of joy. His only suggestion is to lower Daisy out of the living room window so she can run to the neighbours. Both her and Ollie are more than happy to oblige, but they’re shrieking so much as they climb out, that I have to reassure some passers by that the house isn’t on fire.
They retrieve the key and come whooping back down the street, which leads to the next charade of trying to explain to Daisy how to unlock the front door. Unsuccessful, she posts the key through the letterbox and we are finally reunited.
Later in the day, Ollie and I make a trip to the Asian supermarket on the ring road. On the way I tell him excitedly that they sell food from different countries. “Why?” He asks, suspiciously. “Well,” I say, “because people like different food and because Chinese people, for example, who live in Norwich, want to be able to buy the food they would have at home”.
We are just pulling into the car park when Ollie bursts into loud, spontaneous tears and I nearly crash into a bollard. “Poor Chinese people!” He wails. “They are lonely and they just want to go home!” “Not really”, I reassure him but he won’t be persuaded.
The supermarket is great. Cool, quiet aisles full of exciting foreign food, and a huge walk in fridge with pak choi, bunches of fresh coriander and Asian fruit. It gives me a desperate urge to jump on a plane and be in another land. The moment is slightly ruined though by Ollie’s continual sobs next to me.
“Look there’s one!” He calls out, pointing to the Chinese cashier. “There’s a sad Chinese woman who just wants to go home!” Embarrassed, I try to shhh him down but fortunately the lobster tank has caught his eye and he galavants off so I can resume my search for lime leaves.
“Can we take a pet lobster home with us?” Ollie shouts across the store. “They’re not pets, darling,” I reply, “they’re for eating.” And instantly regret it. “Awww poor lobsters,” he says, “that’s not very nice. Do they drain all their blood out to kill them? And do they eat their babies?”
On the way home, Ollie is silent and I’m hoping that we are now off the subject of homesick Chinese people, but as we park up he says, “Poor Gilly,” his voice heavy with emotion. “Why Gilly?” I ask. She is my sister-in-law’s mum and we had lunch with her yesterday.
“I think she’s Chinese and I think she just wants to go home,” he says, his head slumped forward.
I can’t bare another moment of this so I break all the rules and let him eat a Lidl trifle on the new sofa whilst watching Tintin.
Today has been especially cold and tonight’s dinner was inspired by our South American travellers yesterday, and by this month’s cover of Good Food magazine.
The soup has chicken in it but could easily be adapted to make it veggie. It is quick to make and tastes so good. The feta on top is ingenious. Serve with flour tortillas folded into quarters and toasted in the toaster.