It was such a rare event. In fact I cannot remember when the last time was. With the latest news coming from the media; about children staying at home till they are 35, I am not sure there ever will be another.
Having deposited our children at various venues; Mini Son on cub camp, Middle Son to a birthday BBQ and No 1 Son out with friends, Sexy Sporty Dad and I were unusually left with no children on a Saturday night. The week had been the usual cocktail of stress, emotion and effort and this new concept of chillaxing was completely alien to me.
We decided to dine out. The thinking behind the suggestion definitely came from me in that flash moment of realisation that I didn’t have to cook for the children so why should I cook at all. With only two of us, a pub meal would not be quite as financially draining as when we have three hungry boys baying for more.
We are really very lucky where we live as we are surrounded by great pubs, takeaways and restaurants; so where to go? The decision to go out had not been rashly taken; I had realised this during the week, so had been pondering for a while. Were we going up-market, or pub grub? Did we want to go international with Indian, Italian or Chinese? Would we need to organise a taxi home or go close enough to walk?
There is always my favourite restaurant the Fontmell where I know I would get a wonderful welcome and fabulous food. We would need to drive there and those boys of mine might want to return home. Dreaming of the food I could see it all now; we would be just taking the first succulent taste of pan fried sole or the popular fontmell fish pie and the phone would go “can I have a lift”. Torn between the parmesan crust or chauffeuring the children, I suspect I would do one but wish the other.
It needed to be closer to home.
We opted for not going Chinese or Indian as we have a regular family date at the end of term with two families where we celebrate surviving to the end. I dug out my old list of all the pubs I wanted to visit. Frighteningly the list of those still to visit is quite long, but here was the opportunity to knock one from it.
Individually we went through each one, ticking off their individual merits, there was always a but! What happened to the spur of the moment, try and see attitude I had in my teens?
Finally we opted for the one at the end of the road where No 1 Son was visiting. This ticked most boxes and had just been taken over so the new owners could wow us with their culinary capabilities. It also meant that we could provide the lift home easily without interrupting our meal.
We arrived in baking sunshine and ordered our meals. We took drinks down to the garden to enjoy the last beautiful rays of the sun setting over the town. No 1 Son arrived very smartly not wanting a meal but a drink was quickly accepted. The little beer garden tucked at the back of the car park was laid out with various tables, a group of people around a table to the side. We sat quietly down in the opposite corner and relaxed with our drinks.
The sun was still hot and the evening breeze played with the wisps of out of place hair. Cool refreshing ginger beer revitalised the sagging spirits as we recalled life before children when this was a more common occurrence. No 1 Son texting and waving to the house behind where his friend Stuart was hanging out of the window. The two dogs from the other group played and chased each other round the beer garden.
As we watched; the two dogs careered round and round the garden laughed at by their owners. One was the reincarnated “Bullseye” from the film “Oliver” and the other very similar but with different colourings and an added “hienz” variety giving him more speed. I was amazed at the speed they both had, after all “Bullseye” never gave the impression of any real agility. They raced oblivious into one of the spare tables and carried on without even stopping. They raced under our table and over my feet not even realising we were there; the owners still laughing did not stop them or apologise to us. One crashed over No 1 Son’s bag, from which luckily he had removed his camera and was trying to show us pictures he had taken that day. The owners having topped their pints up laughed louder and said nothing.
We found a seat in the small outside patio near the front door of the ivy clad Dolphin pub and let the staff know where to bring our meal. Stuart arrived and joined us. The two of them disappeared inside to buy themselves drinks, a sign that they were really growing up. The food arrived; good old comfort food scampi and chips.
The sun was going down but still cast a warm blanket over the gardens. There was little noise despite being next to the road and the food was delicious. A huge portion which really I should not have finished but I found myself unable to leave a morsel. I thought of all the old stories I used on the children: don’t waste it – I’ve paid good money for that; think of all the starving children in Africa who don’t get anything to eat; you can only have one item on your plate you don’t like – so eat all the rest..
I, unlike the children couldn’t find anything not to like and was enjoying every mouthful. I managed to leave my plate spotless just as Stuart’s Dad James joined us. Another round of drinks ordered as we told the boys of Datsun Cherries, do you remember them and how many people would fit in them. We laughed about exploding car exhausts which had made the two boys hit the decks thinking they were being shot at earlier in the day. Don’t you remember when an exploding car exhaust was a common occurrence, now it seems more likely to be a gunshot? Driving round with a baked bean can on the end of the exhaust because there was a hole in it. Keeping a spare pair of tights in your handbag; not because you might lose the ones you were wearing but in case the fan belt went; which in the case of my first little car Notty, a fiat 850 was a regular event. Life has moved on.
In answer the boys told us they had decided to go on a “protein only” diet and were looking for inspiration. Their breakfast consisted of bacon in a butty; not sure about the protein in processed bread, and they were definitely not convinced that this should be an occasional treat rather than everyday ritual. They were happy to be eating dry roasted peanuts to fill the need and could not be persuaded otherwise, baked beans were too healthy, lentils or any pulses not acceptable at all. Sexy Sport Dad appeared from inside the pub with a raw egg in a glass to tell tales of bravery and nutrition. The peanuts disappeared and the egg stayed firmly in the glass. The glass moved round the table stopping periodically in front of each person before the thought more than the sight of it caused it to be moved on.
We arrived home not long after Middle Son; who had settled himself down with a hot chocolate to watch a late night film. Mini Son returned the next day exhausted having had little sleep but lots of fun from his camping trip. My family all safe and back home but I had cut another string of motherhood a little more by letting all three out of my sight without babysitter for the whole evening.
This week I have managed to find a little inspiration and have written my first draft of the evil story. It is not easy to get inside someone else’s mind if you really cannot understand what makes them like that. So a little more work required I think. My magazine is now out in the public domain. A few hiccoughs but hopefully none that cannot be sorted next time.
Check out my other blog on http://tiggy-tea.blogspot.co.uk/ and enjoy some tasty treats.