Alice came over for dinner last night. For me, this was a little big deal as I really rarely cook for other people. I reckon I'd have people over only a handful of times a year, which is a bit stupid as I love cooking. Not having the infrastructure at home in the form of a dining room table doesn't help, nor does the fact that my friends are mostly coupled up with kids. I tend to go to my friend's places to catch up - not the other way around.
Anyway, we had a lovely dinner of Cajun salmon, mashed sweet potato and salad. Just lovely. This was followed by strawberries and yogurt. Again, simple and easy.
But what made my night was what Alice brought along as a treat. See, Alice and I bonded over the fact that we lived a mile away from each other in London - at the same time. Alice, who originally hails from Essex, is not like any Essex girl you will see in the telly - she's smart, alternative and not orange. She's also been in Australia for ten years. She made a job at a software house bearable.
Alice knows I'm an anglophile - so she stopped at the British shop on he way to my place and bought this.
I haven't haven't had Purdeys in over ten years. It was something that I used to have as a treat when I lived in England nearly 15 years ago. For those who've never had it, it's a fruit juice, carbonated water and herbal concoction that is not too sweet and very refreshing. The silver label over brown glass makes it feel like a posh drink.
It got me thinking about a few of the things I miss about England - not that I've let myself miss things in England for a while.
In no order, here are some of those things that creep up on you when you find them unexpectedly in the supermarket, or a friend brings them back as a treat.
Tunnocks Caramel Wafers
Just like a better, bigger, chewier Kit Kat. Fabulously addictive. Sold in bags of four or five at the supermarket - though no here in Australia (unless you go to Treats from Home in Collins Street or speciality English Shops.
Nice and Spice Nic Nacs were my crisp of choice when I lived in London. One of the great things about English Crisps (not chips - chips are hot and greasy and come wrapped in newspaper) is that they come in small bags of 30 grams, not the big mother bags that come out here in Australia. You savour the taste of your crisps. Nice and Spicy Nic Nacs are fabulous. The Scampi and Lemon ones aren't bad either.
Nic Nacs are better tasting Twisties - though nothing beats a good bag of Twisties.
Flavoured White Stilton
Not that I can eat cheese any more, but the English do Stilton cheese better than anywhere in the world.
White Stilton and Ginger is my absolute favourite. Rich and creamy with a bit of a bite. None of this sweet fruit cheese you get here. With a glass of red by a fire. Magic.
The Eponymous Fry-Up
Australia's gone a bit wanky when it comes to breakfast -says she who had a Reuben Sandwich after meditation this morning. The Sunday Morning Fry Up, best had at the local greasy spoon cafe is a delicacy that is best served on a cold winter morning. Two fried eggs, bacon, sausage, fried slice and beans with a bit of brown sauce (HP Sauce). If it's a bit posh, you might have hash browns or black pudding. I always turn down the tomato - don't really like tomato for breakfast. Nothing beats it.
Though you could be working your way to an early heart attack if you did them too often.
One of the best hangover cures to be found.
Persil Laundry Liquid
Unlike Australia where there are all sorts of washing powders, Persil is the laundry detergent of choice in the UK.
Persil is pretty nondescript in the nostrils, but it works very well in the front loaders that everybody has stored under the kitchen bench. This was a source of wonder to me when I arrived in London - space being tight, a laundry room was never an option.
The smell of Persil takes me back to my West Hampstead flat with the Aussie-Kiwi share house downstairs.
The thing I missed most about Australia when I was in London was a clothes line. Clothes that are slung over the radiators or run through the clothes dryer don't feel anywhere near as fresh as air dried clothes.
There are a lot more things that I miss about England. Friends, pubs, history, great museums, Shakespeare, eccentrics, good trains, roast dinners on Pimms and Lemonade on a perfect summer's day by the river...
It was just lovely to be taken back, even just for the little while as we sipped on a Purdey's last night.