I spend a lot of time on my own when I’m in Brighton.
Now that university is on hold for another summer, I find myself short on cash and long on time, which means taking up my old job back in Kent as a clinical assistant/receptionist in an independent optician.
Which means revisiting the 9-5 lifestyle.
Which means moving back in with my parents.
Which means sharing a room with my sister. Sharing meal times. Sharing the TV, stories of each others’ days. Sharing a house with people (ie. my parents) who are more morally qualified to get their own way than I am when it comes to running said house. You see, at uni, my housemates and I assume an equal level of responsibility and entitlement when it comes to household matters, because we all arrived at the same time, we all pay the same rent, and are all the same age with similar lifestyles, commitments and incomes. At home, my parents pay the mortgage, the bills; I was born of them and regardless of the fact that I am 21 and am perfectly capable of looking after my own finance, health and cleanliness, when I live under their roof, I must do as I am told. That’s fine, I get it. They built this family, they should be the ones in charge. They love my brother, my sister and I and they look after us admirably. Family life just all gets a bit much every now and then.
Which is when I escape to my Brighton hideaway.
Gareth has Wednesdays off, so if I’m not working, we travel down to Brighton and spend Tuesday night together. He goes home Wednesday evening in time for work at 7am on Thursday, and I stay for another day or two teaching cello lessons, and having the silent alone time that I come to crave so desperately after living in what feels like such a crowded house. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I love spending time with them; it’s lively and fun, there are four other lifestyles to learn about – the mechanics, the fireman, the nursery nurse, the student. The teenager, the young woman, the married couple. I thrive, but I get stressed with the compromise this vibrancy entails. I can’t live my life in the way I have become used to living it.
My kitchen in Brighton has it all. I have white flours, brown flours, rye flour, gluten-free flours. I have flaxseed, chia seed, pumpkin seeds, pecans, macadamias, walnuts. I have rice, pasta, lentils, quinoa, oats. I have prunes and raisins and dried sour cherries. I have edamame beans in the freezer. I have dark chocolate hidden away in the door of the fridge, should I feel the need. I have two round pizza trays. I have kitchen foil, cling film, greaseproof paper. I have cardamom pods, vanilla extract, caraway seed, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda. I have agave nectar and maple syrup. I never run out of peanut butter or garlic. This is a list of all the culinary things I feel I need to conduct my activities, the absence of which I find it hard to overcome when trying to cook in my family home. I am a kitchen prima donna, I know. But I can’t help it. Cooking is my hobby, and I am very particular.
I rent this house despite not having much time to enjoy it this summer. My money goes into my bank account and straight back out again. The opticians gives me numbers in exchange for my time, presence and good manners. The letting agent, the phone and the energy companies take away my numbers. Different combinations of numbers and the absence or presence of a minus sign dictates how many pairs of silver, high-waisted leggings or second-hand American Apparel wrap dresses I can buy at any given time. Numbers go up at the pump. The dial goes up in my car’s petrol gauge. The dial goes down in my car’s petrol gauge. I impart what knowledge I have gained from my 13 years of playing the cello to a charming autistic 12-year old in exchange for paper that represents some other numbers, but that doesn’t really represent anything because the bank made too many I.O.Us and that’s why spinach has gone up from £1 a bag to £1.75, and why I now buy kale, which still costs £1 in my local supermarket. Who cares, it’s just numbers on a screen, false promises on paper, needles on a gauge, and one day we’re all gonna die.
What matters is that I made gluten-free pancakes for breakfast (adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef).
First, make sure you are fresh out of bed. You must retain cockatoo bed hair, and the pancakes will taste better if all you are wearing is your bed t-shirt and knickers. After all, everyone’s gone home for the summer. Get a cafetiere on the go, this is true me-time. You can see your friends later.
Eat the pancakes in bed.
Maybe stick on some crap TV…
… around this point was where I started to feel full.
… fuller still…
… but I finished them all anyway.
That’s the thing about bouncing back and forth between abodes; you never get a decent food shop in. The best thing about a giant, extravagant breakfast is knowing there’s no food in for lunch.
Banana Maple Pecan Pancakes (gluten-free, dairy-free)
70g sweet brown rice flour
30g tapioca flour
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
A dash of cinnamon
100ml of buttermilk (or milk/soy milk with a few drops of lemon juice, left to stand)
A drop of vanilla extract
A tablespoon of mild olive oil/vegetable oil
Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Combine.
Heat frying pan with oil. Make pancakes.
Top with delicious morsels; I used maple syrup, banana and chopped pecans.
This would probably serve 2. It served me just fine. Pig.
I spend a lot of time on my own when I’m in Brighton. But don’t worry, I like it.