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Welcome, Food watchers!

It’s great to be back with you, giving another update. This week sees me almost shouting ‘my kingdom for a car’! It also sees us help a new man who doesn’t cook, for safety reasons.

As I left the house in the morning, it became apparent that the overnight temperatures in our quiet little village had dropped significantly. ‘Arthur’ the van, white anyway, had a windscreen as opaque as his carapace. Even the wee scratch on his back was whited out.

Thinking absently how nice a respray would be if it made him look like this all the time, I scraped the ice on the outside; then the ice on the inside of the windows. A cold, soft white rain showered onto my lap. By the time it was done, I was perturbed to see the outsides of the windows had frosted up again (!) I called my poor, cold-riddled husband on my mobile. Out he came, wrapped up like an Eskimo; armed with a second scraper. He redid the outside, I the rapidly refreezing inside; until the warmth from the air conditioning had taken effect.

Then; disaster! ‘Arthur’ just stopped revving. Five times I tried, but the battery would not work. As he had reversed into our cul de sac already, we had to stop everything and push him back in or he’d block traffic. Sensing that I was going to be late, I ruefully began scraping the windscreen of the Polo instead.

My first helper called; he was ill, and I would be going alone to Morrison’s. Well, that would save a few minutes. After wishing him better, I pulled out into traffic. Upon my arrival at Morrison’s I met Fred who, being a bus user, was frozen and desperate for tea. In we went, meeting George and a new volunteer – Saty – along the way. A chat and a warm cuppa later, very late for the pick-up, we queued up for our lovely Community Champion.

Gillian was back from a fortnight’s holiday this week; as if by magic, there was a nice big 4-crate donation awaiting our attentions. We snagged a trolley and headed for Saty’s van, confident it would all fit in. By spoken agreement we felt like heading straight for the Hollies, and not arranging it all into bags in the car park like we usually do. It was so cold I feared I saw yet another tea-related delay on the horizon if we did! Saty took off with great efficiency, and George was almost past me when the Polo sputtered to a halt before moving an inch. More attempts to start it merely resulted in the air conditioning roaring at me. George, seeing my consternation on his way past, stopped his own progress and gave it a go himself. We repeatedly bashed the dashboard the way Keith the mechanic had showed us; and we still don’t know why, for the second time in three weeks, our newest vehicle only started when it was good and ready. Still, onwards and upwards.

Saty, obviously an experienced driver, had managed to reverse the van into the Hollies’ driveway. Those of you who remember the suicidal gulls and the cyclist from the previous week will smile in admiration, as I did. The crates were unloaded, and soon 19 bags overflowed with lovely fresh food. Clive, our chef, and Susan the ex-chef began artisan bread rolls and a thick, flavoursome soup.

With the leek and onions being chopped I beat a hasty retreat into the freezing sun. Past readers may remember that, like Bram Stoker’s most famous creation, my allergies mean that I cannot be nearby when the smell of any member of the garlic family is present. Trees, gulls and grass cheered me as I called home to remind my lovely husband to feed the cats. A seagull with a sense of humour was perched on my car roof, obviously gloating that its wings were more reliable than both my travel options. After a long, smug glance in my direction it flapped away in a leisurely manner, mercifully failing to score a direct hit.

Soup was served, firstly to us volunteers. Clive produced artisan rolls to try as well. My soup had been created separately, Clive having had experience of multiple allergics like me before and having previously been shown my ‘safe foods’ list. Potato, celery and carrot soup made a tasty, warm meal. Readers please note; even complicated special diets can be catered for! Off we went to our separate runs; George and Fred to the Prestonpans run, and me to Musselburgh to engage the help of Adele. Saty, whose young family were expecting him, helped clean up in the kitchen and left for the day with our grateful thanks.

Musselburgh run began in earnest, with the winter sunlight fading fast. We whizzed through house after house, unloading veg and rescuing what bags we could for next week’s runs. Hot soup was given to those who wanted some (nearly everyone). Our celiac lady elected to forego the rolls as they contained gluten. George and Fred, who had the Restalrig run to do as well, had one man who was awaiting just fresh, hot soup; he could not safely cook for himself and, living alone, saw no point in accepting the veg bag. By all reports he tucked in to the potato and leek soup with gusto. One last trip to take the kitchen staff home, and George and I met up afterwards for our own weekly shop. I was only too happy to park the Polo with its idiosyncrasies – we were going in George’s ever-ready vehicle! J

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