Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Warm words in a cold book

Ben Vear 
It’s amazing how time just disappears. In the end it’s all we have. Time. 

Between running classes, renovating this old house, writing blog posts, looking after three young and wonderfully demanding children, gardening, cleaning, walking the dogs, looking after the chickens, housework it is so hard to find a moment. I’ve really neglected my friends and it’s about all I can do to keep up with my own family.  I am, however, as happy as I’ve ever been.  The one thing I have made time for is ten minutes meditation a day.  It doesn’t sound like much, but I feel spiritually in touch with who I am, and some how this is a dynamo that really helps keep me going.

Of course I can’t work at this pace indefinitely and so in July this year I was exhausted. I literally packed up this blog, suspended my twitter account, abandoned facebook and shut off any kind of technology.  We headed to the South West of France. For the first few days I was almost in a daze. It was almost like I was recovering from an illness.  We did nothing. I did have almost withdrawal symptoms from not using any kind of technology though. The feelings were oddly similar to when I stopped smoking many years ago.  After a week of fighting a nervous twitch without my phone in my hand I started to remember what life was like pre social media.  It helped that there was no signal in France.  It did however leave me with a pile of work to do when I got back.  I’ve been working my way through and saving the best bits until last.

A few days ago Matt Inward the art director at Absolute Press send me a lovely tweet which served to remind me I hadn’t had the time to properly read a book Ice cream and otherfrozen delights, written by a great friend and brilliant chap Ben Vear.  There is a lovely review here by Helen of Fuss free Flavours. So that evening I made sure I had a couple of hours clear. This was my treat, my moment to actually really read and digest this beautiful book of ice cream, and I had been looking forward to it all day.

Ben's grandfather first started making ice cream in the 1920's
With a large a glass of red wine I settled down in my most comfortable chair and turned each and every page. I caught myself smiling, as the flavour combinations are so perfectly balanced and delighted in some of the utterly delicious flavour combinations.  This is a serious ice cream book with truly stunning photography, but with a really fun side to it. My mind started to wander through my fridge and panty working out if I had all the ingredients to make the gingerbread recipe. I almost got up out of the chair to start making ice cream despite it being late.  The recipes are written and photographed in such a way that they actually make you want to start making them right away.  I stood up and then sat down again and reminded myself that I really should carry on and read all the recipes.

It really is a superb book. The combinations are all just delicious sounding. I loved the balsamic, blackberry and strawberry ice cream as well as the damson gin ice cream and I will definitely be making my favorite sweet in the whole world, baked Alaska later in the week. 

As it got towards midnight I flicked the last page, the acknowledgments.  Time for bed my husband announced. I was about to close the page when a word caught my attention; it was the last paragraph on the first page of acknowledgements. Matt had mentioned them in his tweet.  Divine chocolate.  Good on you Ben! I thought. I’m passionate about Fairtrade.  I’ll have to tweet Ben in the morning I thought. I carried on reading; after all it was just half a page more.  I couldn’t be more pleased that I did. The very last paragraph in this lovely book was written about me, and how my adventure inspired Ben to start writing.  It was an absolutely totally unexpected and utterly delightful surprise.

Damson gin ice cream looks like a prefect autumn evening dessert 
As I finished reading Ben’s lovely acknowledgment quite unexpectedly tears just rolled down my face. The sudden intensity of my emotion response took me by surprise.   They were tears of happiness and tears of grief all at once.  

When Mott Green died so unexpectedly in June I had been completely immersed in the material from such an amazing trip with one of the most inspiring people I had ever met. I'd been listening to recordings I made from the week for several hours, making notes and chuckling away in my office, reliving the celebration of bringing in the chocolate 5000 miles on the Tres Hombres. Less then an hour after I had been listening to those celebratory recordings that were made just two weeks previously I was told he had died. 

It was a real shock, and I found myself reluctant to venture out of my comfort zone since.  It's surprising what you learn about both yourself and others when you something tragic happens. I found myself shortly afterwards reassessing my relationships with people around me and I've busied myself more so than usual in my work and family, avoided socialising people over the past few months. 

Somehow as I read the Ben’s Ben had written about me they shined light on this subconscious barrier I had put up.  The truth is that to inspire people I mustn’t be afraid to give part of myself way. I need to be warm hearted to be me. It was a huge privilege to get to know Mott, and even though it feels vulnerable to write about real feelings for all the world to read, it is also a time to remember and celebrate knowing him.

I am reminded of the Buddhist saying. "thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened." 

Well done Ben on such a beautiful book.  Thank you for your kind words and I will be making ice cream for my loved ones from it for years to come.

1 comment:

  1. What a thrill, and an honour to be named as someone's inspiration! My goodness how exciting and satisfying all at the same time. Congratulations - we don't always want to be recognised in such a public way but it must be nice to know that you have played a small part in someone's achievement.


If you are reading my blog I must warn you that I am not impartial. I want to influence you. I want to make you stop for just a moment and consider the effect of a lifetime of seemingly insignificant decisions and how making small delicious choices can change the world.

I believe that we can change the world one bite at a time.

It's a delicious revolution.