Back in The NL
and wondering how spending two and a half weeks in The UK has changed my perspective. I must say that the UK showed its best side while we were there: trees in full leaf, allotment excelling at growing couch grass and Red Kites in the sky.
As we’re going on a tour encompassing Utrecht and the Hanseatic Towns, we needed to food shop. Being well stocked means we can moor overnight wherever we like. Although harbours are very comforting and also useful for doing laundry and servicing the chemical toilet, it is something special to moor on an island or alongside fields and woodlands. And why not, as our Small Ship is capable of at least three days of freedom and independence?
So we tied up outside ‘Jumbo’,’beste supermarkt van Friesland’
and went in with a long list and a thick wallet. Actually, food prices here are comparable with those in the UK and often the quality is better. We did a massive shop and have enough fresh food for this evening and tinned and packaged food for when we’re cast away. Eating is important. Vital even – you are what you eat. It’s a scandal that in the UK at present, many families have neither the quantity not qualityof food that they need. The comments sections in the Guardian or the the BBC website, will show you that being uninformed or prejudiced, doesn’t stop some people from broadcasting their opinions about this to the world. And many of them think that food poverty doesn’t exist and/or is a result of fecklessness and ignorance. ‘Soup costs pennies’ they say. And then there’s the, ‘I feed myself for £1 a day’ types, who pop up with depressing regularity. It would be better if some of them thought before they pressed ‘post’. The baying masses often don’t realise that poverty isn’t a uniform condition and that its causes range from unexpectedly falling on hard times (British Steel and Nissan redundancies coming soon) and complete destitution, often suffered by people who’ve come here because their lives were threatened at home, but whom we deem not qualifying for any support whatsoever. And so one size or one solution doesn’t fit them all. I’ve just read a report by the Child Poverty Action Group which greatly increased my understanding of this problem and put me on the same page as the UN, who’ve just chastised the UK government for failing to look after its citizens, particularly children, as a matter of deliberate choice. And as for those who say that because there was worse poverty in the past or there is still worse poverty overseas, therefore the poor have ‘nothing to complain about’. I think they demonstrate how de-humanised they have become and their example isn’t one we should follow.
So I’m very grateful to be able to stock up and eat well.
We arrived last night, after the shops had closed and discovered that I hadn’t left the food locker as well stocked as I thought. But we feasted on pasta, accompanied by onions fried with garlic and herbs and tinned spinach – all covered with cheese sauce from a packet. And it was delicious. Oh and plus two beers we found under the floor, because we’re worth it. If you’re shocked that I use packet sauces, just remember we don’t have a fridge here and the summers are hot, so keeping things like butter is impossible. I also have only two gas rings, so meals have to be simple. My cooking practices here do fall far short of my ‘home’ standards. But even at home, I have decided never to cook rice again. You might be surprised hearing that from someone whose professional life involved so much cooking – I was pretty good at rice when I was cooking for five or six of us, but now there’s only two, I can’t seem to get the quantities and timings right and I’ve decided that life is too short to clean a sticky rice pan. How the mighty are fallen.