We eat a lot of pickle in our house, not the Branston kind full of sugar, preservatives and strange hard lumpy vegetables , but the home made kind. I made some runner bean chutney yesterday. Sounds revolting, but actually is absolutely delicious, and with a strong cheddar a whole jar can be snaffled in one sitting. The runner beans had been sitting in the freezer for about a year and the only way to use them really, was to boil them up with vinegar and sugar to make them edible. Actually, the only reason I grow runner beans is to make this chutney, not only for the flavour but for its ability to transport me back in time to when I was about 8.
Memories of my childhood are as warm and fuzzy as the 1970's polaroid shots. Everyday blissfully warm spent in shorts and flip-flops or freezing cold pulling a sledge through snow. There was nothing in between. Summers were spent in north Cornwall with an Auntie and cousins who were actually neither, just my parents friends who obtained the prefix through familiarity and love. All of us would pile down to the beach, a long trek from the car to a deserted cove, far away from the grockles and emmets, to go rock pooling, sand drawing, swimming, pebble collecting and sea anemone poking - gently of course. And when we were hungry we would all trek back up the steep cliffs (I wonder how steep they would be now?) to Auntie's house for potato pasty pie and runner bean chutney. The days when nutrition was less understood and food enjoyed. Now of course, it sounds like something out of the Famous Five, but those lunches tasted sublime - hands and face covered in a fine layer of crusty sea salt which added to the tautness of our sunburnt skin. Factor 50? Factor schmifty.
And as I look forward to my runner bean and cheddar sarnie today I can only hope that my own children look back on their own childhoods with such fondness. I want them to have memories of carelessness and freedom, of security and love, of adventure and lashings of ginger beer.