Yesterday morning I started off bright and breezy but got more and more fed up as the morning went on. The brouhaha of getting the kids back to school, not even getting close to catching up with work stuff I’d been putting to one side over the holidays, and the additional admin hassle of starting to sort out getting the storm damage to the house fixed. When I start muttering to myself it’s always a pretty obvious sign that something is about to boil over and my nearest and dearest keep their distance at that point.

Well, I took myself and the scary muttering voice off to a nearby town to run a work errand. First good decision. Getting out. Changing the backdrop.

Second good decision – listening to Belle’s Chicken Little podcast in the car on the way there. Seriously, that woman is amazing. I want a bracelet engraved with every other sentence that emerges from her mouth. Taking care of yourself instead of hitting yourself over the head with two bottles of wine a night? Clean pyjamas? And these sound like a radical manifesto for change to me? How did we (ok, me, maybe you) get to a point where grown, capable, intelligent women with jobs and/or families put themselves so low on the list that an anaesthetic with some of the worst possible side effects seemed like the only solution to every day life?

Ran the errand. Too late to get home for lunch. HALT and all that so decided to have lunch out, which isn’t often something I have time/cash for. I went to a little deli where they also have a few tables, and ordered a coronation chicken sandwich. This is one of my all time favourite sandwich fillings. Chicken in curried creamy mayonnaise sauce, classically including apricot jam, sometimes with mango chutney instead, frequently including treats such as raisins and flaked almonds. Varied and delicious. It’s a justification of the monarchy all on its own.

I sat down with the sandwich and started reading a magazine article about Kate Winslet. I have always felt an affinity with her after my daughter asked once, “Mummy, why are you in the paper wearing a sparkly dress?” God, I LOVE my daughter, but must hasten to point out that any likeness is purely in the eye of a five year old. Put me, Kate, and the Cat in the Hat in a room and ask any passer by to pick the odd one out and they would pick the Dr Seuss character only after some considerable deliberation. In fact, I’d be lucky if they didn’t pick Kate. 🙂

Anyway, this was one of the uber-filled variety of coronation chicken sandwiches, requiring considerable concentration and a big heap of napkins to eat, so I soon gave up on the magazine and focused purely on the sandwich. People came and went in the deli, chatting amiably to the woman serving, but crucially as I was one town over from home, no-one I knew, so I could eat my sandwich in peace, focussing on getting the perfect balance of bread, salad and filling in each mouthful.

The granary bread was malty and rough with delicious nuggets of grain. The salad was crisp with the occasional surprise herb, the sauce was tangy, gloopy but not too runny, and the meat was moist pieces with the taste and texture of ones torn from a chicken you’d roasted yourself.

Once I’d finished the sandwich itself I diligently used the knife and fork to tidy up each delicious crumb, dab of sauce or fragment of salad from the plate.

Then I sat back, and just for a minute, just sat.

No-one else in the deli. No background music. The only sound was the girl behind the counter humming gently to herself. A rare moment of sun streaming in across the wooden floorboards.

I felt so clear, and so calm. It was a really precious moment.