We have just eaten a really delicious Greek Salad, seriously yummy with hot pitta and a Cambodian Wedding Day dip. As you do on the weekend. The Cambodian Wedding day dip tasted exactly as one would imagine it to, sort of dippy and wedding day-ish, and most definitely Cambodian. But the Greek Salad just did not taste like it used to during the years I spent in Corfu. The tomatoes weren't tasty enough, the feta not crumbly or salty enough, the red onion not sweet enough, the olives not rich and purple enough and the olive oil not green and thick as it should be. It wasn't a bad attempt, just not the same.
It still managed to transport me back to my days as a Groom on the stunningly verdant island of Corfu. The summers would be spent looking after a menagerie of animals, not unlike Gerald Durrell's when he was a boy, as well as the show jumping horses who were on their holiday from the show circuit on the mainland. My job involved recovering from enormous all night partying in Corfu's 18-30 hot spots, jumping in the Fiat 500 with the dogs and chugging my way up the mountains deep into the Greek countryside. Past gnarled olive groves, tortoises ambling across the roads and waving to locals who knew me as the crazy English horse girl. I would feed Hoffy, the 45 year old gelding with one eye, before opening up the gates to the yard where I would be greeted by a gaggle of hissing and spitting geese, way more effective than any dog.
The days were spent alone with the animals. Riding through dried scrub land scented with oregano and rosemary, green snakes weaving their way across our paths making me squeal and the horses shy, over olive nets, across the height of the hills with magnificent views to Albania with a deep turquoise sea separating the island from the mainland. These are very happy memories. I was 24 or so, no responsibilities other than to keep myself alive - and I tested that often enough. I would love my children to have the opportunity of freedom and adventure before life gets too serious. These experiences shape your life and will provide me with brain fodder as I rock aimlessly in the nursing home.
I remember when the tomatoes used to taste of tomatoes, the red wine was bought by the 5 litre plastic container and the days were spent riding bareback without a hat.
Ah yes, I hope my children have plenty of 'I-remember-when's'.