Saturday 11th April
It’s a race against time to leave York. Tom is outside trying to assemble and attach a very complicated bike rack to the car; I am inside trying to pack and decide what to do with the 17 million boxes which contain my past life: school books, photographs, letters, you name it.
I come down from the attic to find grandma and Tom stopping in the hall for a brief chat.
“Come on people! We’re under a lot of pressure! No time to chat!” I shout, making everyone jump.
Grandma scuttles back in the kitchen to make us fried eggs and fried potatoes; a last meal for the road.(Since writing this blog I realise I eat an inordinate amount of fried eggs…)
As she serves up, I boom:
“Five minutes to eat, everyone! We need to get on the road!”
Grandma, who is not a fan of working under pressure, asks what the mad rush is about. She knows we are heading to Lincolnshire to see friends, but really, could we not take things a bit slower?
“We need to get to the Seal Surgery before it shuts!” informs Ollie, cheerfully. It’s actually a seal sanctuary but the idea of a waiting room full of ill seals makes me smile.
“I thought Mablethorpe was only two hours away? You’ll easily make it,” says grandma.
“Yes, well, it’s also The Grand National,” I whisper into my food.
“The Grand National!” grandma develops very acute hearing all of a sudden. “Don’t tell me all of this stress is so that you can watch a horse race!”
Well actually it is. We’ve placed our bets and I want to see the race, come hell or high water.
We set off, the car groaning under the weight of a bike and all of our luggage. On the A64, just as we’re picking up speed, the bike rack starts to omit an ear-splitting squealing sound.
“I know what that is,” says Tom, with an air of resignation. We pull over in a layby and he gets out with some gaffer tape. I have given up all hope of watching the race, so I start fiddling around madly with the radio to find Five Live. It’s the only time of the year I’d ever consider listening to it.
We’re just approaching the Humber Bridge as the race starts. We have the commentary on very loud and I’m gripping the dash-board. The kids think we’ve gone mad. It’s extremely exciting: from the off, Tom’s horse, Rebel Rebellion takes the lead and stays there. We’re shouting a lot. At one point, our four horses (we’ve all had a flutter) are the four out front. I can’t believe it!
With two furlongs to go, Many Clouds, Daisy’s horse takes the lead and stays there for the home straight.
“Daisy! You’re winning!” shout Tom and I in unison. “You’re going to win The Grand National!” There’s silence from the back. I swing round. For goodness sake! The child has her head in a book! She shows no interest until she realises that she’s going to win £30, then she’s all ears. A chip off the old block, I think, judging by her ability to pick a winner.
We arrive in Mablethorpe at tea-time. The seal surgery will have to wait until tomorrow. I sit on a chair in the kitchen, feet up on the oven, drinking tea, while Lynsey makes us sausage and mash (amazing jalepeno sausages).
As soon as I’m revived from the tea, I work alongside her making the pudding. It was supposed to be eaten in York – St.Clements is the name of my mum’s street – but it goes down just as well here in the depths of Lincolnshire.
The recipe appealed because it is gluten-free. I swapped the butter for Pure spread to make it dairy-free too. Next time I’d like to make a lemony sauce to go with it, but cream accompanied it beautifully too.
- soft butter/Pure spread, 250g
- golden caster sugar, 180g
- honey, 3 tsps
- eggs, 4
- large lemons, 2, zest & juice
- large orange, 1, zest & juice
- vanilla essence, 1tsp
- polenta, 125g
- ground almonds, 125g
- salt, large pinch
Preheat the oven to 160C / 320F /gas mark 2.5. Grease a 20cm shallow cake tin or oven-proof dish.
Cream together the butter, sugar & honey. Beat in the eggs one at a time. It may curdle but don’t worry.
Stir in the vanilla essence and lemon and orange zest and juice. Fold in the polenta, ground almonds and salt.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and just set. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Recipe from The Guardian mag last weekend: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/04/oxtail-risotto-st-clements-cake-recipes-easter-thomasina-miers