As a child, growing up in the UK, I always found Christmas to be a magical time of the year. However, when I moved away to live in Australia, somehow the season lost much of its specialness for me.
I have a theory about supermarkets.
OK, it’s probably not a particularly robust theory and can probably be disproven by the nation’s Marketing Maestros and Dukes of Data, but it is a theory nevertheless.
In recent years, the very word ‘Blackberry’ has become synonymous with a certain type of ultra-important, busy-busy lifestyle in which one just has to be on call 24/7.
But it wasn’t always thus.
Over the last few years, any holidays back to the UK have usually taken place during the summer months, as we hope for a bit of sunshine to brighten up those long hours of daylight.
One abiding memory of those holidays has been the lunchtimes spent around my mum’s kitchen table, as it groans under the weight of the vast array of food she has prepared to ‘keep us going’.
But when it came to drinks, I always found myself drawn towards a rather tall elegant green bottle, lurking in the recesses of her fridge, cunningly named Bottle Green.
Last weekend, the weather finally got its act together and treated us to some glorious sunshine, appreciated all the more after the weeks of dankness that preceded it.
So when a friend called to suggest meeting up on Sunday lunchtime, it also provided the ideal opportunity to indulge in that most bucolic of English pleasures, the country pub.
During the colder winter days of my childhood, my mother felt that we kids needed a warming breakfast before being sent out to catch our latest virus at school.
For this, she typically turned to a burly Scotsman in a kilt and a vest, somewhat incongruously preparing for a spot of early morning shot putting (maybe as the result of strength drawn from devouring his own hot breakfast?).
In the days before obesity crises, fad diets, celebrity weight watching and obsessive calorie counting there was cake.
In my youth, cake was somehow a symbol for wholesome, home-baked, fresh from the oven treats, but nowadays it seems to have fallen off the radar as its newer, trendier rivals hog all the limelight.
I’ve always had a sweet tooth which has manifest itself in a love of puddings, cakes, biscuits and other miscellaneous treats. But above all, it has led to a love of chocolate.
One of the earliest forms of chocolate I can recall being allowed to eat was the Penguin biscuit – chocolate biscuits with a chocolate filling, coated in chocolate. All up a chocoholic’s dream.
Australia has an vibrant coffee culture, helped no doubt by the arrival down under of large numbers of southern Europeans in decades gone by. People for whom coffee is not just a hot drink, more a way of life.
In modern day Australian cities, a great cup of coffee is seldom more than a stone’s throw away and the role of the barista has become a desirable occupation amongst the local hipsters on a par with being a DJ, graphic artist, pro-skateboarder or street poet.