Posts Tagged ‘food’


Grandma took us to a pick-your-own farm near Cupar. Wet weather had been followed by a day or two of hot sun. The fruit was at its peak.  All three children were eager participants. Gabe wanted reassurance that each raspberry he picked met the standard. He wouldn’t eat a raspberry or strawberry – a mixture of a need for hygiene and a concern it wasn’t allowed as they hadn’t been paid for. Robin picked and ate. Eliza was persuaded to try a raspberry and found it favourable. Better than sweets she agreed.

Back at home our plum tree’s crop was ready. Eliza and Robin, both drawn by the ladder, came with me to the end of the garden to pick. Each was to climb the ladder, pick three, then descend to allow the other a turn. So heavy was the crop that three had to be raised to ten if we were to complete the picking. Anyway, turn-taking on the ladder was made unnecessary by Robin’s scaling of the tree, which Eliza quickly emulated. As with Gabe and the raspberries, both children needed to be reassured that each of the plums they picked was ‘a good one’. Interest in picking didn’t evolve into interest in eating as both decided they didn’t like the taste of the plums they had picked.


Signature hairdo


Eliza’s race to grow hair down to her bum is being frustrated by the lengthening of her back. Anyway style, as much as length, is increasingly the focus. She likes plaits, top knot and French plait. She likes to avoid pony tails. She has developed her own signature hairdo, involving her hair being twisted and pinned on top of her head.


Gabe made a goal-scoring debut for his new team, the Eagles, ending a two year drought without a goal. He followed it up with a second in his next match. He’s been played in central midfield, up front and at right back. He’s had the freedom to run with the ball and has used his passing ability to create space and chances for his teammates. Most important of all, he has been relaxed and playing with a smile on his face.


Robin devours apples, eating four between school and bedtime one day last week. He’s a very thorough eater. He knaws and sucks the apple right down to a slither of stalk and stringy core.


12 metre wall

L took the kids on a half-term holiday treat to the local climbing wall. Robin, with pedigree in this activity, was the first to climb. Eliza was the first to scale the 12 metres. Gabe paced around nervously before his successful assault on the wall. By the end of their session, all three had reached the summit and all three had finished their final climb with legs juddering with exhaustion.

Home-made pizza

The most anticipated and enjoyed culinary event of the week saw the three kids adding toppings of their choice to a Tesco’s pizza base. Gabe stuck with the margarita, and seeking something extra asked for herbs. The only fresh herb in the fridge was coriander, which I allowed him to use so as not to discourage his willingness to test something new. Robin also settled with the tomato sauce and mozzarella option. Eliza was more adventurous, adding sausage and sweet corn to her margarita.

Park visits

Successful trips this half-term included: a keenly contested cricket match on a basketball court, pirate games and obstacle courses on a fallen tree, roller blading to and around our local park.

Double gold


Eliza’s gym class had an end of term competition. Eliza was in a group of 5 – the youngest girls. She was last to perform the floor routine, which involved cartwheel, forward roll, splits, crab and lifting herself off the ground from a seated position. She was precise and sharp, managing to perform every exercise and smooth transitions between them. She won enthusiastic applause from the audience of families. Eliza’s second discipline was a vault, which was across the hall from where we sat. The judges gave her gold for the floor routine, silver for the vault and joint gold for the overall competition. Each award required a trip to the podium – twice to receive a medal. She looked too skinny and scared to smile. Her pleasure seemed to come afterwards, knowing how well she had done and showing her medals to us and her friends when less exposed than when in front of a crowd.


Gabe asked to make lunch for everyone: toasted cheese sandwiches. He buttered the bread, arranged the cheese slices and, with a little help, handled the sandwich toaster. Eliza wanted a normal cheese sandwich, which he also made. She complained that there was too much butter. Gabe apologised. L and I stopped him, wanting him to see that making meals is work that should be accepted gratefully by others.


This week’s freezing weather has gradually broken down Robin’s resistance to warm clothing. First went the shorts. Then came gloves and zipping up his coat. Finally, he has worn his hat. He is no keener on snow now than he was during the great freeze in January.

Eat like a lion

the right kind of chops


Several weeks ago, Robin told L that he wanted to eat meat. L asked what he meant, as his limited diet does include ham and sausages. Robin explained that he wanted to eat like a lion. Cue an opportunity for me to see if he would join me so I was no longer the only eater of unprocessed red meat in the family.

I bought some lamb chops from our local butcher and grilled them for our tea. Robin’s response was swift. ‘Disgusting’. I encouraged him to try another morsel.
‘What are they?’
‘Lamb chops’.
‘But I wanted real chops, chop chops, not these.’


Eliza helped me prepare the mashed potato for this meal. She stood on a chair at the kitchen worktop and peeled the potatoes. I hovered around her, asking her to move her fingers away from the stroke of the peeler. On and on she peeled. I drifted from nervous to clock-watching. Five medium sized potatoes took Eliza 25 minutes to peel as she chipped away at their skin, eventually producing a very through job, and hundreds of flakes of potato skin for the compost.


Gabe asserts his seniority by coming downstairs after bath, usually to watch tv. It’s a status he adores, but one that he’s too nervous to take up if neither L nor I are downstairs. So when L is out and I have to put the other two to bed, Gabe feels the minutes wasting away as he waits in his room, or on the landing, or at my shoulder.

Last week, he found a way of speeding up his trip downstairs, as well as gaining my approval. While I read with Eliza, Gabe read a story to Robin, sang him a song and put him to bed. The ‘story’ comprised extracts from a children’s atlas. Gabe delightedly claimed to be angered by the atlas – it named an Eastern European country as Yugoslavia, despite being published in the last 10 years; and it identified the Nile as the world’s longest river, a title Gabe explained that has been handed to the Amazon after its source was discovered further into the South American continent.

Slow eater


Eliza eats food slowly if she doesn’t like it, spinning out the meal, hoping to be spared it. Eliza eats food slowly if she does like it, savouring and delighting in it. Eliza’s slow eating can be because she gets distracted, by chit-chat or by a game. It may even be because she has a small  mouth, or is missing teeth – but she ate slowly with a full mouth of teeth, too. Ice cream cornets have posed a particular challenge. Her favourite food can be lost if too much time is taken over it. This she has finally grasped, but still every cornet is a cliff-hanger.


With the end of summer, Robin’s junior football practice has moved inside. Robin has been insistent that he doesn’t want to play indoors and was refusing to go. His motivation, it seems, had been to get boots with studs, which couldn’t be worn inside. He wanted to know when he could get them and asked to look at catalogues of boots on the computer. L turned up an old pair of Gabe’s, three sizes too large. Robin enthused over them. He disappeared from the kitchen to hold them, look at them, stroke them. I tied the laces for him to wear them in the garden. He padded around, not quite tripping over his clowns’ feet, scuffing the football.

This morning, heavy rain and more forecast convinced Robin to return to football indoors. He scored, enjoyed himself and may be reconciled to waiting until his feet grow until he returns to the football field.


After our successful trip to Rome, L and I have talked to the children of doing something similar next year. Gabe wants control and has been regularly checking the Eurocamp website to check possible venues. He calls us into the study to see the latest perfect site he has found, pointing out the pool or, maybe recognising his audience, the landscape in which it is found. All the time trying to get commitments from his non-committal parents that this is where we will be going.

English children abroad


Robin at four remains solidly and attractively an infant. There’s no precociousness, but much charm. He walks, swinging both arms forward and backwards together. He runs, then skips and reverts to running. He waves with his forearm extended away from his body and a fast, little rotation of his open hand. Waiting for a train to take us into Rome, he asks, “How do trains know where we want to go?”


A great enthusiast for the very few foods he eats, Rome gave Gabe the chance to eat pizza at least once a day for a week. He did just that, having adult portions, and showing no signs of sating his passion for pizza.


Eliza’s holiday pleasure was encapsulated in the Rome snow-storm paperweight she chose as her souvenir. She guarded it closely, fearing other clumsy fingers. But dropping her bag at the airport on the way home, she smashed it and pleasure was transformed, for 20 minutes, into sobbing and despair.