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25th April: Cuddle in a Bowl (Chicken Soup)

What are the words I most long to hear?

He’s been away for a few days… ‘working’. It doesn’t happen often, thankfully. His rare trips away swing from tedious days spent in conference centres in the midlands….to booze-filled schmoozefests in various glamourous locations.

This trip was the latter. He rocks up home with a sickening ski tan. As if sensing his demise, he immediately produces a load of gourmet gifts, chocolates, perfume and booze for me. Wise man, it did the trick.

My hat goes off to all the single parents who do this on their own full time. I am utterly exhausted. Obviously I’m used to being on my own during the day. I have this down to a fine (ish) art. It’s the sort of grinding endlessness of it that I’m not used to. The mornings are too busy for me to engage in even the most rudimentary of basic personal hygiene. The evenings are filled with chores that have backed up, chores that are usually halved after the kids have gone to sleep.

I’m so grouchy at breakfast. There’s no one to make me a cup of tea, which usually takes the edge off my mood. I’ve been up in the night, and then again since 5.30am. I can barely speak I’m so furious. I look around and realise the kids are mute, unsmiling. Like citizens of some joyless dictatorial state. I am suddenly wracked with guilt and shame that their hero is away and I am behaving like some sort of ogre. I break out into song to perk things up. They leap out of their skins. Jekyll meets Hyde over weetabix.

I need comforting. Since that’s obviously not going to come in the form of a cuddle from my beloved (him being too busy working on his carving turns earning our crust), and since it’s too early for even me to crack open the gin….chicken soup will have to do.

I’d made some stock from a leftover roast chicken. I blitz onion, leeks, celery, garlic, carrots in my whizzer. Then soften them in some butter. I add dried thyme and the chicken stock and simmer away for 20 minutes or so. With 10 minutes to go I add in some soup pasta. When the pasta’s cooked, I stir in some leftover chicken, some lemon juice and some creme fraiche. To paraphrase that dreadful man, Gregg Wallace, “it’s like a bear hug from a big lemony chicken”…. 9/10.

On day 3, my mum comes to stay. Like an angel sent from on high, she says those words I’ve so longed to hear…”you go and run yourself a hot bath and get your head down for a couple of hours”. I could cry thinking about it. Love you mum x

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