Food: How to make friends and influence people

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Friends made a habit of literally inviting themselves round specifically so my mother would have the privilege of cooking them rice soup.

Source: Food: How to make friends and influence people

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Food: How to make friends and influence people

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As a kid, I would often come home from school to the sounds of onions and garlic frying on the stove. Having a mediterranean-born mother meant that inevitably these two ingredients made up the majority of the meals in our house. But that was ok. Because I LOVED them!
Turkish rice soup (so thick it may as well have been a risotto!), rice and black beans, Turkish “meatballs” – kofte in reality and mum’s patented liver coated in gravy with creamy mash, to name but a few.

Don’t get me wrong, there was the occasional fish finger meal thrown in there for good measure, but most of the time it was the hearty cooking of the Mediterranean Mummy!

This was so much a part of my life that if I ever went on a school trip, while other kids’ packed lunches were all chocolate and banana sandwiches, mine consisted of a huge supply of Turkish meatballs wrapped in layers of tin foil amongst other things.

While this made me feel somewhat of an outsider to the rest of my peers at the time, with hindsight I think I was just seen by everyone else as “the kid with the cool Turkish mum who actually bothers to cook interesting meals.”

This turned out to be a good vehicle for increasing my fairly average popularity level at school. Friends made a habit of literally inviting themselves round specifically so my mother would have the privilege of cooking them rice soup.

She must have had the patience of a saint.

I also feel sorry for the poor mums and dads out there who must have been thinking “well, what’s wrong with my egg and chips for tea then?!”.

If you want to read more on my relationship with food. I wrote a blog post about giving up flour and sugar in 2014 which you might like.

Sunshine, Stawberries and the Art of Waiting

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The queue at Wimbledon, 2016

A woman walks up and down holding a green flag with the letter Q on it, the fabric billowing behind her in the morning light. “This way to the end of the queue” she shouts cheerily as stream after stream of people pile into Wimbledon Park ready to stop and sit for a few hours.

We Brits have queuing down to a fine art and this is the pinacle of all queues – this is the Wimbledon queue.

It’s 7am and I’ve already been up for 2 hours, having stayed in a nearby Air BnB flat in leafy Morden the night before along with my childhood best friend. Now, I sit on a blue checked picnic blanket with a venti coffee resting on the grass next to me while my buddy disappears in search of bacon and orange juice.

The atmosphere here is one of international collaboration. Nearby, groups from America and Latin countries who are camped next to each other for this brief few hours happily converse over the various merits of the top players and crack jokes. Happy coincidence has brought them together and they make the most of this time.

Meanwhile, a cheery gentleman donning an orange “honorary steward” tabbard and green and purple Panama strolls past informing us we will be moving in 5 minutes’ time.

We do, and the queue bunches up a little.

As people wait, pairs on the outskirts pass the time knocking little green rubber balls back and forth in a spirit of tennis-infused amateur enthusiasm. The pat-pat sound is comforting somehow and I close my weary eyes to listen to it.

Soon, the warm mid-morning sunlight streams over us and I lay back, my head resting on my backpack, soaking in the vitamin D, opening my eyes enough to watch the landing Heathrow-bound planes and half falling asleep.

I wonder how many of these fellow queuers are part of tennis clubs. How many play regularly week in and week out at club nights and socials. And every year from around the world all these tennis enthusiasts, somewhat minorities in the day to day, come together to celebrate this beautiful sport.

All this, just to wait around for a few hours.

What a wonderful annual tradition.

It’s all about how you feel

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This weekend I’ve been spending time with my lovely four bridesmaids up in the lovely Manchester deciding on what lovely bridesmaids dress to choose for the wedding.

The fact that we found one and that it is truly lovely is another blog post, however one evening we were reminiscing about being hormone-infused teenagers and how boys and songs really floated our boats.

This got bridesmaid Laura (who again, really is lovely) asking the question: So what makes a good song …?

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Poem – “The Winter Train”

A train journey in early winter.
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The December sun sits low in the sky,
The air, calm and crisp,
As we move, slowly at first and constant,
Passing fields, towns, stations that whizz by,
As if in a dream, pretending they don’t exist.

I close my eyes in my seat,
And snooze, oblivious to the coolness of the mist…

Sunlight awakens my senses,
Rays peek through dapples of brown, amber, orange, berry red,
An artwork of light and growth. A still, quiet strength.

A lake. Pin-pricked by feathered feet and wide-spread wings,
While lone birds drift in the hazy air above, surveying…pondering.

It’s as though the World is in slow-motion, half-asleep,
Slowed down, wading through treacle,
Its synapses numbed by the chill of the atmosphere.
The world senses that this is a time for measured slowness,
Keeping things calm and considered,
and waiting, patiently waiting…

We slow.

An airport. Engulfed in a sky hazy and out of focus.
Larger birds wait now. Watching as they take their turns,
to put on the show, defying gravity.

A single silhouette of a man stands in the distance, entranced, as am I, by the display.
It is one of sheer defiant power; defying gravity, defying nature around it.

And yet…

The sky is dangerous in its quietness,
its softly-spoken, unassuming glory.

The Radio 4 Challenge – How cultured can I truly become?

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As a student at uni in South West London, living the dream in my eclecticly-furnished housing estate maisonette, I discovered the joy of listening to Chris Moyles on the afternoon show on Radio One.

I would be deftly procrastinating on a Thursday afternoon to my heart’s content, suddenly feeling the urge to polish my desk rather than actually study on it, Chris’ hearty tones would radiate from my hifi, being my constant companion and a source of a huge amount of entertainment and frivolity.

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