Tucking into muesli and strawberry yoghurt one morning during the half term break, I am startled by the strength and depth of the flavour. I do a double-take and inspect the bowl as if I might find a hidden mystery ingredient that’s making it taste so good. My search is fruitless, (or as fruitless as Marks and Spencer 48% Fruit Muesli allows), and I surrender, sitting back to savour this unexpected pleasure. I let the mixture roll voluptuously across my palate like a wine taster, seeking the right vocabulary to describe the complex sensation.
Why does my breakfast taste so different today? It’s much the same breakfast that I have every day of the week, though the type of yoghurt may vary slightly, depending on what’s currently on special offer at the supermarket – or whether I’ve misread the label. Cherry, blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb – hurrah; forest fruits – bother, I thought it was blueberry, but still it will do.
How can this familiar taste suddenly strike me as exotic? I gaze across the table and out of the caravan window for a clue – and this gesture is in itself a clue. Usually, I’m not facing a window at breakfast. Nor am I sitting at a table. First gulp of the yoghurt is grabbed as I pass by the kitchen counter, a chaser to the handful of tablets I take on waking (thyroxine for an underactive thyroid, sulfasalazine for rheumatoid arthritis). Before the next spoonful, I whisk upstairs to give a ten-minute warning to my sleeping husband and daughter; the next is grabbed on the way to the utility room to iron the latter’s school uniform. My morning yoghurt may or may not be mixed with muesli, depending on hungry I’ve been on waking.
I thrust a few coins into my daughter’s purse to pay for her toast at morning break, then grab another spoon of yoghurt on the way to pack her schoolbag. (Better not mix those two actions up.)
Occasionally as I dash about on my early morning auto-pilot course, I recall my lovely, late friend Eileen’s insistence that there are no calories in anything you eat standing up. If there’s some raisin bread in the breadbin, I’ll add a slice of fruit toast and butter, confident that it will pass my waistline bywithout sticking.
On workdays, my mind is far too full of early morning routine tasks to spare a thought for the enjoyment of my breakfast. Now, on holiday, with time and energy to spare, I wonder what other pleasures my usual morning rush makes me miss. And vow, when I go back to work next week, to take the time each day to smell the muesli.