Last week I joined a group of people staring into the window of a new shop opened in town - Patisserie Valerie. Like them, I was mesmerised by the sumptuous display of elaborate cakes, glazed fruit tarts and chocolate and cream delicacies. The French pastries equivalent of Ladies Day at Ascot.
I wanted one to take home. I took ages to decide and finally chose this gorgeous looking raspberry tart. I felt guilty walking along with it in its own deep cardboard box in its own little carrier bag because I was debating eating it all on my own before my husband got home.
I put it on a pretty cake plate and made a cup of tea. And looked at it. Quite a big tart. Eat it all now or share it with my husband for dessert at lunchtime? Decide I can't wait and cut it in half. Eat my half now and leave his for lunch.
The raspberries are sharp, the custard beneath them is sweetish but meagre, the pastry .....well the pastry is hard and a bit thick. My disappointment sweeps away my guilt. I had a taste picture in my mind even before a crumb touched my lips - sweet fragrant berries, wobbly velvety vanilla custard and meltingly short crust pastry - all making a fruity crumbly mouthful of heaven. My imagination is too bright for the tart in front of me. Maybe I wanted too much from it.
Next week I'm going to Cornwall on my own for five days. I've been given this gift of time by my sister who is coming to stay and look after my husband while her husband is away. I'm feeling excited and apprehensive. I 'm planning to read and write and walk by the sea. And to sit by the wood burning stove in the little house I've rented and think.
But my plan may turn out like the shop raspberry tart. I may be expecting and wanting too much from my mini-retreat. And when I'm truly alone I'll find myself comfort eating....... sleeping a lot.....and weeping to the far reaches of my grief.....