On the road



I’m writing this in the car en route to my mother’s house.* This journey takes four hours and up, so over the years we have adopted some survival traditions.

The portable DVD player for my daughter’s entertainment, has now been replaced by the iPad, which I’m being allowed a rare go on to write this. I normally read the paper, or listen to the radio.

We have an excellent book of games for journeys and when tedium really takes hold, take turns to DJ on my phone, plugged into the car low fi.

But of course one of the most fundamental long journey traditions is the in-flight picnic. This has always meant a stop at the artisan bakery/deli in our town, where we would drop at least £20 on sandwiches, buns, drinks etc.

You know what’s coming don’t you?

In about five minutes I threw together a picnic of great splendour from the fridge and pantry. This comprised:

The last of the flipping pitas (for husband, who has been away and doesn’t have pita fatigue…)
Lump of cheddar
Half a Chorizo
Carrot sticks
4 flapjacks
A packet of mini Easter eggs
And – truly – lashings of ginger beer (3 tins from the fridge)

I also threw in a tiny chopping board (from a toy baking set my daughter had when she was little) and a paring knife, which made me feel like the families I remember from trains when I was Eurorailing in the early 80s.

They would get on with a couple of live chickens in a cage and divvy up their rations, with an ancient bone-handled knife, sharing with everyone in the carriage – right down to a squirt of rough red wine from the goatskin in Spain.

Our version was a perfect car picnic – and who knew how delicious flapjacks are with cheddar?



*This was written over a fortnight ago – this is the first chance I’ve had to post it, as I’ve been crazy busy downsizing my mum from a four-bedroom house, to a one-bedroom flat. I intend to get back to emptying my pantry now I’m home again.

  • Bernadette
    April 21, 2014

    Dear Maggie, in car picnic menu sounds fantastic and delicious. (Hope the car didn’t look like a few toddlers had taken up residence after the round trip was done? You know what I mean, bits of food finding their way into all sorts of tiny spaces). The downsizing – a few of my friends currently going through the same exercise with parents. Hope it wasn’t too traumatic and that your mother is taking things as well as can be expected. Such an emotion-stirring thing to do for you and her. Hope P now happily resettled in new digs? Did you find anything wonderful to take home with you as a great reminder of days gone by? x

  • Shelley
    April 21, 2014

    I’ve just caught up on the last few posts (and all the comments). I have things in the pantry that moved house with me 8 months ago and still haven’t been used. Time to chuck it or get creative.
    Maggie, have you read Sarah Wilson’s blog/book? I Quite Sugar. She is big on reducing food waste. (Although she is a touch preachy at times).
    Also, totally agree on the ‘perfect life’ aspect of Instagram. Especially the whole healthy “fitspo” photos of half naked girls in their gym gear drinking green juice. Makes me want to vomit.

    • maggiealderson
      April 22, 2014

      I really respect Sarah Wilson and her no sugar campaign – and also the way she got rid of nearly all her possessions. She’s a poster girl for decluttering in every area.

  • Miss Annie
    April 22, 2014

    I visited my Dad & Step Mum in NZ in Feb – they have just bought the most ginormous new fridge (which requires brute strength to open!) They also have 2 other fridges working at all tiems – all packed to the brim. As people who lived through the Great Depression I wonder if this has created the mind set that they need tonnes of food at hand at all times? They live by themselves but do have visitors. Step Mum is constantly baking…Oh yes, they have three kitchens in the farm house! Insane!

    • maggiealderson
      April 22, 2014

      THREE kitchens???!! Is that for the 200 shearers who haven’t come for the last 70 years? I think people who live in the country have an even greater tendency to hoard food, because of the drive to shops thing, but that is extreme!

  • bookgrrl
    April 22, 2014

    Bravo! I am so glad you are continuing whittling down your pantry and fridge :). I hope your downsizing of your mother’s house was not too fraught.

    • maggiealderson
      April 22, 2014

      It was great for me (the downsizing) much harder for her, although the great thing is that her house is still there with a lot of her stuff in it, so it looks furnished while we sell it, so that made the transition a little easier for her. For the time being she can hold on to the idea that she can go back and get stuff she really ‘needs’. I’m now just hoping the penny is dropping that she doesn’t need it…

  • Gerardine
    April 22, 2014

    Hi Maggie,
    I did the whole downsizing thing with my Mum about 10 years ago, she went from a 5 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom unit. It was a long slog and she is a real hoarder, she was retrieving things from the rubbish bin and packing them!! But she has been making an effort lately to get rid of stuff, so I live in hope. I am sure your mum will love her cosy new space and well done to you, it is a huge job.

    • maggiealderson
      April 22, 2014

      As I said to bookgrrl it was made much easier because her house isn’t sold yet, so we didn’t have to do the big clear at the point of the move and she can see what she really misses and we can get it for her. So far, I don’t think she’s missing her five full sets of china etc etc…

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