After making my ‘to do’ list, the following days were spent thinking about the task ahead, and precisely where to start in striking items off the newly formed annual agenda.
Which should take precedence, which are easiest, which are hardest, which do I want to do the most?
All this mental athletics ended up with me tormenting myself about the seemingly everest of tasks I had set myself. Wasn’t this mean’t to be easy, and more importantly, fun?
As the days trickled by, my dreams of eagerly tearing through my catalogue of adventures faded to the background as life, so despondently, resumed.
And, while wallowing in my self loathing for seemingly falling before even making it to the first hurdle, my fist opportunity presented itself.
Basking in Holly’s hungover glow, even after preparing a big breakfast, the idea of a roast Sunday lunch was floated.
A ha, light bulb.
I could make it myself rather than venturing out, much to Holly’s fragile delight, and in an instant, crossing off my first item became a possibility.
Dragging Holly from her death bed, the local Tesco superstore would be our first stop, collecting our ingredients, and most importantly, the bird. I opted for chicken here, as a beginner, I was led to believe that this would be the easiest for my roasting virginity.
With the bird in toe, and chicken too, we giddily galloped back home to start preparations.
First, I was to tackle the paltry poultry.
My very first instinct was to go to a cookbook, and where better than Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Chef. What a fantastic book this is. A book about accelerated learning, in the guise of a cookbook. Tim has a wonderful way with words, a man able to convey thoughts, ideas and instructions, concentrated, and injected with concise clarity. Reading the simple instructions, the chicken was prepared and ready to go in a meter of minute. Piece of cake this was.
With the chicken set in his little warm house, we cracked on with the veg prep. This was a far cry from the days when peeling spuds for lunch was chore, as this time, it all seemed to be building to our goal.
Timing was the crucial factor, and after a quick lesson from my mother, I had the programming down to a T. OK, chickens in, prep veg. Wait 20 mins, but potatoes on, wait 10 mins, stick on greens, start gravy prep and so forth.
What struck me was the unexpected stress that comes with all this concentrating and timing. What if things got cold? What if I burnt something? This could all culminate to one egregious fuck up. As i sweated and dashed between pans, there was no time for clearing up mid cook, that was to be left to the end.
A valuable tip was to have a finish time in mind when everything would come together. As the time ticked towards 4 o’clock, worry and stress started to leave my body, as a feeling of achievement started to creep in.
Oh no. Oh shit. We’ve messed up. We’ve only went and forgot something. The bloody yorkshire puddings! These little baked wonders make a dinner and without them, I would feel an immeasurable level of failure. Time to fly to the local supermarket and pick up some pre-made ones to stick in the oven. And right on queue, while rushing back, trying to park and get back into the flat, my mam calls and in her most reputable way, keeps me on the phone far too long, creating visions of the dinner spiralling out of control and deep into turmoil.
Alas, back to the flat and nothing is on fire. Time to take the chicken out.
With a wide grin connecting my ears, I took a moment to just look at the glorious golden bird, nestled in his roasting tin, ready to satisfy.
My job was not over yet.
Pounding the swede with carrot, and then onto the mash, it all seemed to come to us naturally, our excitement felt in the air with the warm smell of roasting meat and bubbling gravy.
I took my new carving set out and set about the bird while holly dished out the veg.
Sitting down to eat, we used our dining table for the first time since moving in, two and a half years ago. Absolutely delicious.
Although to some, ok, probably a lot of you guys out there, a simple roast dinner may not seem like much. But to me it was far more than just knocking up some lunch for my fiancé and me. A meal that I have enjoyed almost every week since I can remember, made by either my family or by Holly’s family, a deeply traditional affair that always takes me back to smiling faces around a dinner table, surrounded by steamed up windows and that perfect aroma of a home made roast. Feeling like a torch had been passed, I only look forward now to making many more, and inviting more people to enjoy it with me.
So heres to the achievement first crossed off my list, albeit a simple and small one, it’s one I will cherish.
Now the aftermath and clearing up.
Totally worth it.