Thursday, 21 February 2013

T is for Three Years, Three Miles and Three Courses

Yesterday was the third anniversary of hope triumphing over experience (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde) - the day I married my second husband. 

It has been a wonderful three years in so many ways and definitely worth celebrating. In the interests of economy and convenience (our babysitting daughter was busy with the opening night of the panto staged by her amateur dramatics group), we opted for a stay at home three course meal. Three years and three courses - a perfect T alphabet date.

Yesterday was also one of the nights I run with my running club. I didn't want to miss it because I have a 5K race to prepare for on Saturday and I am trying to keep on track with my Lent target to run 40 miles before Easter. As has become the norm for my life, a lot to fit in with very little time!

I had to keep things simple to make it all work. I chose to do a starter of mushroom pate which I could prepare well in advance and has romantic significance as it was one of the starters served for our wedding breakfast three years ago. I was kept well entertained during my planning and preparation as a very large tree in my neighbour's garden that had become somewhat unstable was cut down section by section by a nimble and completely fearless tree surgeon.

Choosing a main course that required very little work yet was impressive enough to feel like an indulgence was difficult. Despite having already had it a week ago for valentines day and the fact that my O'Level Food and Nutrition education could find compelling reasons why it did not go with the starter, I decided to go with baked camembert. It is so simple, my husband and I both love it and camembert was on special offer in Morrisons! To make it slightly different from last week's meal, I chose to serve it with sliced red pepper cooked in olive oil. A little splash of colour would look good and there is always that whole 'five a day' thing to think about. Camembert and baguette were purchased, peppers sliced and ready.

I was just contemplating my options for the third course when my husband telephoned to ask if I would like him to bring dessert home with him. YES PLEASE!

I put a lot of thought into laying the table. I used the black and ivory colour scheme we had at our wedding with a red accent colour. Folding red napkins into a heart shape is so easy and I thought it was a cute touch. I found heart table confetti when I was looking for something else so that was sprinkled liberally (to disguise the fact that I hadn't ironed the tablecloth). Three candles represented the three years of married life and each candlestick was decorated with little wired crystals that I had saved from the wedding flowers. The table runner was a bargain I picked up after Christmas. It reminded me of the design on my wedding cake and with a price tag of 10p it was perfect!

I was already in my running gear when my husband came home from work. He presented me with a single ivory coloured rose which finished the table setting off beautifully. He had also bought a bottle of 2005 wine - the year that we got together. His dessert offering was a dodgy looking trifle that had not travelled well in the carrier bag but he had fresh strawberries and assured me it would look beautiful when he had finished with it. I left him to it with two eager little assistants willing to eat any unused fruits!

I ran. I had the option to run a 2 mile route but wanted to push myself a little and joined the 3-4 mile group. There were a few moments during the course of the run that I regretted that decision, especially around the 2 mile mark when I was thinking - I'd be finishing now with the other group!! But I never gave up and I smiled thinking of the evening ahead waiting for me. Had we been a herd of migrating wildebeest, my daughter and I would definitely have been the two picked off by hungry lions... but we didn't care. We were comfortable with our place at the back. I think it was probably my favourite run of the year so far. For the majority of the route we were running down unlit country roads, relying on our head torches and reflective running clothes for any sort of visibility. I loved it. After three miles, we joined a smaller group led by Taylor's boyfriend, George, to take a more direct route back. When the finish was in sight I lengthened my stride and put every last reserve of energy I had for a final push of speed. I felt strong and powerful and fast .... until George came up behind me saying "you've got to do better than that Paula" as he literally flew past, like a rocket, leaving me standing! He's 18, I'll be 50 next year - does that make it OK?! I know I will never be a competitive runner but I am really enjoying what I do - at my level. Maybe one day I'll tie George's shoe laces together and see if I can beat him.

A slightly sweaty but exuberant me returned home. A quick shower later and I was ready to help put the little ones to bed. Once they were both sleeping peacefully, our T date could begin. Everything was wonderful. The food turned out even better than I hoped - it was unhurried and stress free. The trifle was never going to win any prizes for presentation but it was delicious and served at a point in the meal where enough wine had been consumed to totally see the funny side. We listened to love songs and reminded ourselves how lucky we are to have each other and share the love we have.

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