September 8th 2017
Today was a special day. It was special because I acted on impulse. It was special because that impulse actually bloody well paid off. It was special because today I had the most incredible dark, delicious, indulgent chocolate brownie known to (wo)man. Now top that if you can.
Said brownie was purchased from The Curious Kitchen, a wonderful little cafe in my new hometown, Brixham. The Curious Kitchen is my go-to place on days I want to indulge myself in ridiculously beautiful gastronomical delights. It's where I go on days when I've decided that dessert will trump everything. Do you know the kind of days I mean? Well today was one of those days. I've already sampled one of their vegan 'Freakshakes' (see shameless pic below) so this time I decided I could not, any longer, ignore the rich, glistening, chocolatey presence of the vegan brownie.
I was on my way to a friend's house and had already purchased two massive baguettes for us in utter defiance of my recent pact to do 'absolutley-no-carbs-throughout-the-day', so what difference would a tiny little brownie make? None. That's what.
Skip forward a couple of hours and the baguettes are gone. My friend and I - let's call her 'Isobel' for she decided that would be a suitably exotic name for my ever-so highbrow blog - had chewed slowly through them whilst catching up. We were catching up because over the summer holidays Isobel had popped out her fourth (yes, fourth) baby whilst I'd been lost to a world of football camps and many, many visitors from the North. Now we found ourselves back in the early throes of term-time and we finally had the opportunity to find out what the heck was going on in each other's lives.
(Now let me quickly tell you how Isobel and I met. It was March and I'd lived in Brixham for a whole three months, meaning I was now totally clued-up on the way people do school runs around here. They do them boldly, brazenly, urgently filling scarce parking spaces like their lives depend on it. I was currently parked in one of these scarce parking spaces, feeling no less than euphoric, when I felt my car bump and sway in a way it most definitely should not with the engine off and the handbrake on. Turns out Isobel had driven straight into it, whilst trying her damndest to figure out this school run madness for herself. As I got out of the car to face her, I tried hard to seem a straight-forward, practical kinda gal who knows how to collect a person's insurance details with a stiff, non-committal smile, but instead my heart melted a little bit when I saw her beautiful little boy in the back and her baby bump under her raincoat. Then she shrilled 'We've just moved here and I'm not used to these tiny roads. The school run wasn't like this at home!' and I knew I'd met a kindred spirit. Later that night I texted her to tell her not to worry about the minimal damage to our car - it already had more dimples in it than a baby's bum - to then receive a gushing text of relief and the avid promise of G&T's after her baby was born. Thus (obviously) began our friendship)
One of the things I love about Isobel is that we can always get straight down to the rough stuff. Who cares that so far, our friendship is based on chatting at the school gates or whilst meandering back up the hill to our homes with our children running / scooting / stomping along with us? Sometimes that is absolutely enough.
So today, during our baguettes, we listened intently to each other's concerns about each other's children, each other's homes, each other's lives. The baby has colic. The hubby isn't listening. The nine-year-old is playing up. Will hypoallergenic milk make a difference? Will CAMHS ever get their arse in gear? Can we get away with serving up sausage casserole for the third night in a row? Our worries flowed freely and the baguettes were gone. Time for the brownies.
I'm sure we meant to sit down to eat them. I'm sure we meant to get out Isobel's best crockery and silver cutlery and pick at them daintily like proper ladies do. But no. Instead we stood rooted at the kitchen bench, and ate them like heathens direct from their brown paper bags. Once we were in, there's no way we could have moved to the sofa, and definitely not the dining table. After one upward glance of mutual ecstasy, we were glued to the spot, each working our way mindfully through the sticky slabs of gorgeousness. To be fair though, halfway through Isobel did work out that we needed forks, otherwise there was danger that some of it may drop through our fingers onto the floor and not actually make it down our throats to stick on our hips and bellies and bums forever and ever amen.
Curse you Curious Kitchen. Curse you.
But actually, no. For the conversation - although slower and stickier than before - moved into different realms. Realms where the soul talks and the heart listens and the head looks on in disbelief. We talked effortlessly about which of our children we think has been here before; how some higher consciousness knows we can not only cope, but thrive with these young souls; how sometimes without even a word you find a connection with a person that feels startling but age-old; and not for the first time this year, I smiled inwardly at the universe for letting Isobel bump into my car on that drizzly, March afternoon.
Now whilst I'm certain there was nothing naughty in this particular brownie, I do think you should never underestimate the power of a sweet treat along with a quiet chat with a friend. Especially when you've just moved to a new area. And especially when one or both of you is sleep-deprived and exasperated by the ever-changing demands of parenthood. The hardest thing about moving away from my native North East was definitely leaving behind my tribe of beautiful, powerful, empathetic female friends (you know who you are). And whilst I will never really have left them at heart and we will always keep in touch, Isobel has softened that blow.
And so inevitably, the reality of the impending school run gatecrashed our brownie magic and I dashed out in my beaten-up car (thanks to Isobel) to try my chances at finding a mythical parking space and pick up all of our children, whilst Isobel stayed at home to tend to her now wide-awake baby girl and stirring toddler son. Not long after that and all of our children were stomping around her living room in a hedonistic tornado of shouting, laughing, eating and games of Just Dance 3 on the Wii. The brownie a distant memory and the soulful conversation only just still hanging in our ears, and Isobel and I were back to our brilliant, abundant, chaotic reality.
Moral of the story? Eat the brownie.
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