Omelettes

Six young lambs have appeared in our back field today and despite the morning’s gloom – more the effect of living north of the Downs than any solar eclipse – Spring seems to be springing.

One of the gauges of this is the fact that we – the women – will be walking down to the pub tonight with dogs though I suspect a head torch might be required – or walking very fast.

In the height of the summer we – the women involved – also walk back, slightly looser footed and rather giggly and at least one of the men, not mine I hasten to add, views this as rather louche and unbecoming. (Though he has not said anything of the sort since he got the clear and unrestrained message to wind his neck in on the subject.)

Anyway, Spring also means an end to comforting, warming casseroles and stews which have sat in the Aga for hours and provide rib-sticking comfort food.

Even I, a casserole fan, and one who really rather likes a proper winter, must give in to the warming weather and lighter nights and go in search of something appropriate to cook.

I was thinking of my favourite summer meal which is omelette, chips and salad and I remembered the best time I ate it.

Not in a Provençale restaurant, though I have had good ones there, nor in Paris in July when all sensible Parisians are on holiday and you have to search to find a decent bistro still open.

No, this memorable time was in Sussex many years ago before I had any idea I would end up here.

My oldest friend and I had decided to do a walking holiday along the South Downs Way and had secured the good offices of a chap to carry our rucksacks from one B&B to another whilst we strolled along the chalk paths by day.

Our first day we got dropped at the start of the Seven Sisters. It was pouring with rain and howling a gale. My best friend was shouting to the taxi driver to come back and take her home but her words got lost in the wind.

So we set out. As any reader of a previous blog of mine will recall, I am pretty useless at map reading, so she kept it in her hands.

Actually you cannot really go wrong, just keep walking along the path away from where you started and hope, in our case, not to get blown over the cliffs.

After what seemed like hours and hours and hours ( and was indeed hours and hours and hours) we turned inland along a path – trudging, cold, drenched, hoods up and quiet.

At one point my best friend turned round to say something to me and found I had been beamed up by aliens.

Behind her, as far as the path stretched, there was no sign of me at all. She stopped, a little alarmed at the loss of someone she had been best friends with since the first day at university.

She turned slowly all the way round scanning the rainswept fields.

Meanwhile, I had stopped too and was on her left hand side. As she turned slowly to the right, I followed her round wondering what she was looking at.

So we did this little comedy basic of her going nearly 360 degrees before she realised I was standing next to her.

How we laughed. Mind you given the day, we were easily pleased by anything which was not rain or wind.

So, having been reunited we discussed how bloody hungry we were and luckily, god sent, there was a sign to a National Trust Café.

(On later walks my best friend would frog march me at breakneck speed to get to a National Trust Café where they had a cake she had had her eye on, but on this occasion we just wanted warmth and somewhere dry.)

Along the last mile or so to this café, I had decided as this was my summer holiday, my tradition dictated I should have omelette, chips and salad.

Needless to say this was not listed on the menu but as I dripped on their floor and looked for all the world as if I had walked many miles in appalling weather conditions, I begged.

I explained this was my summer holiday, and on every summer holiday etc etc.

The waitress hesitated, went into the kitchen and then came back and said did we want cheese and ham or just cheese omelettes?

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