The Cottage Smallholder


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Shopping with Hitler

our measuring spoonsRushing around Waitrose this afternoon with only twenty minutes to do the big shop, I spotted that the barbecue section is now dedicated to Christmas. Today, I didn’t have time to potter there.

Each year I’m attracted by the pretty pots of apricots in brandy until I see exactly how much brandy they contain. I’m a bit sniffy about the “gift” selections, such as the miniature bottle of whisky sitting cosily beside a decent sized tumbler or the two Chinese bowls with chop sticks, nuzzling a bottle of soy sauce for those themed evenings á deux. Late on Christmas Eve it’s another story. I’m tossing “seasonal giftettes” into my trolley in a vain attempt to fill the pillowcase that Father Christmas leaves at the bottom of my mother’s bed and Danny’s bed.

When I start to flap, around mid-November, Danny is always calm and assures me that there will be enough time to find presents that will distract and amuse my mother during The Christmas Visit. Three years ago he said “Let’s go to Norwich on Christmas Eve. We’ll have lunch and get some great stuff. It won’t take long.”

It didn’t take long.

Danny started to get fractious the moment that his foot hit the pavement outside the multi storey car park. “We’ve got two hours,” he said, the first time that we went. He was checking his watch as he strode down the street. “That’s enough isn’t it?”, he barked at me as I ran to keep up.

That was three Christmases ago. I didn’t spot the Christmas Spirit once on the fleeting visit. I was frogmarched past enticing displays and forced to stick to a list. I didn’t have a list so, to avoid ructions, we stuck to Danny’s. During the sprint back to the car park, I stopped to catch my breath, just long enough to say, “this is like shopping with Hitler.” Danny didn’t respond.

He must have taken it on board, as the following year he announced that I had an extra twenty minutes in the John Lewis kitchen department as he wanted to examine the Range Cookers.

Without a basket or shopping assistant, it’s surprising what you can grab when the green flag goes up. Danny was startled when he returned and spied a fast moving stack of boxes topped with a layer of tea cloths. He recognised my shoes and settled up at the till without complaint.

The measuring spoons in the photograph were snatched during the “20 minute shopping frenzy” two Christmases ago in Norwich. I didn’t know how useful they would be. All our teaspoons are different sizes. With these you can be exact. If you want to repeat or adapt a recipe you can be confident that your measurements are true.


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