Learn to Eskimo roll

This was on the original 100 list, and for various reasons I never got round to it.  But now, hurrah!  I have joined the local canoe club, endured my half day ‘start session’, and thus was allowed to attend their swimming pool session: by far the best way to learn skills that involve capsizing repeatedly.

So, off I went, swallowing the indignity of learning my new skill alongside a bunch of 10 year olds, and prepared to take full advantage of the availability of willing coaches.  The pool was full, the youngsters were many; the boats were not quite numerous enough to go round, and the coaches were in short supply.  It threatened to be a frustrating wait.  But, eventually, a large chap called Dave was able to give me some time.  I spent a lot of it hanging on the side of the pool upside down and trying to right myself with the critical hip flick. 

Dave moved on to assist a youth, but I then caught the attention of the venerable Doug, who I quickly realised was something of a legend in the canoe club.  I later discovered he was the very founder of the club.  He took charge of me, and relentlessly tipped me upside down for half an hour, at first moving the paddle into correct position for me, then gradually intervening less and less.  He had all manner of useful tips.  Any protest was answered with an impatient ‘Don’t worry about that.  Go on, get on with it.’ And over I’d go again. 

By the end of the session I had done 5 rolls under my own steam, and went on my way utterly delighted.  I finally understand all the elements that I am supposed to bring together.  It would be a whole different thing to do it in a crisis situation, but at least I have mastered the movements and I know what it is supposed to look like.

(2 days later and Dave suggests we sell our kayaks.   What!!??  After 10 years trying to enlighten me, it is now me trying to persuade him that we still want to go kayaking.  What the f***!?)

Eating all the food in the house

The challenge is done, and the cupboards are bare. We have had some highs and lows!

All the usual favourites were gone in a handful of days. The children began to feel the lack. No pain au chocolats for breakfast. No more crunchy cereal. No ‘proper’ toast. No pitta breads left for the packed lunches. No more chicken nuggets, or bolognaise.

Breakfast was not a disaster for some time. We still had porridge (with sugar or syrup, once the honey was gone), and Weetabix. Even after all the favourites are gone, these 2 are acceptable alternatives.

Lunches were more challenging. They quickly deteriorated to a mix of dry bread, buttered crackers, and hunks of cheese. But we still had fruit. And the box of chocolate treats will outlast all our other supplies, so the lunches can end on a happy note, even if the main content is bleak.

Dinners have been the difficult time. A bag of rotting carrots was salvaged and souped, with lentils. A sack of frozen bread rolls converted into croutons. A disappointing risotto was fashioned from nothing but rice and frozen prawns. A strange Catalan fish curry with some frozen Pollock and more prawns (An enormous value-pack of prawns has haunted us for some time, you see). My tuna and olive pasta sauce was a surprising hit with the children, once they finally tasted it (after they had stared at it miserably for 40 minutes and eventually realised it was not going anywhere). All the beans in the cupboard created a flatulence-enhancing casserole. Then school requested donations for the local foodbank, and that pretty much cleaned us out of tinned produce!

My parents came for dinner, and I almost cracked, but realised I could make pastry and therefore a quiche with the last of the eggs and a lump of blue cheese that was in truth a little past its best. Quite remarkable hospitality!

A christmas pudding was a surprising choice for June, but it was taking up valuable cupboard space. (It didn’t seem right to give it to the foodbank!)

Once we were down to a sack of rice and a shelfful of spices, I declared the experiment done. No one was malnourished, and we have found a few more dishes and combinations that are acceptable to the small people.

But most triumphantly, I avoided the supermarket for nearly a month. I have just been again, and proved my theory that simply crossing the threshold of Tesco is enough to relieve me of £100. I don’t think I have ever escaped for less!