Let them eat cake

In an attempt to feel better, fitter, newly-improved and upgraded, I have an appointment for acupuncture at the Haven in Fulham. It is my first appointment and, as Fran is staying, she comes with me on the promise of lunch. We sit in the waiting area drinking coffee and eschewing the healthier-than-thou biscuits. Eventually I am called and ride in the small lift with my acupuncturist. He takes notes and asks lots of questions. What are my overriding concerns? What areas should we concentrate on? I tell him pain, exhaustion, headaches, sleeplessness – there is a whole catalogue but I restrain myself from asking for an upgrade on the basis that he cannot work miracles. He eventually tells me to take my shoes and socks off and I lie down on the treatment couch while he holds my wrists pensively before selecting needles. After inserting a few, he asks some more questions, apparently at random. How is my husband? Do I get nightmares? (These are not connected, I feel) He then inserts more needles – in my wrist, ankles and legs, asking if they feel ‘achey’. I am not sure we are on the same page with this word but I work out he means can I feel the needles are in when he twangs them. The answer is yes. But they still don’t feel achey. He checks my neck and then leaves me to relax while the needles work their magic. I find it strangely soporific, lying harpooned like a minor species of whale. I close my eyes and almost immediately begin those strange daytime dreams that sometimes happen when I’m very tired. After a few minutes, he returns and begins to remove the needles. As I sit up, I tell him I feel quite spaced out but he says this is normal and that I’ll feel drunk and then tired after a bit. On the way out, I make another appointment.

Fran and I decide to walk back from Fulham to Hamersmith station in an effort to boost my walking range. Race For Life is coming up awfully quickly and that 10k target is quite daunting. Fran is already at odds with my pedometer which she thinks wickedly underestimates how far we walk. We find a street map which shows us where we are, being unfamiliar with Fulham, and set off. North End Road is an interesting area, full of market stalls and local, independent shops. We weave our way in and out of charity shops but don’t buy anything. Fran is shortly about to move to Bangkok so buying things is not on her list at all and I don’t see anything I like. We are still not sure what to do about lunch but feel we might see something along the way. Over the road we see a baker’s and cross to examine it further. In the window, a woman stands making falafel at a very impressive rate. They sell samosas, cakes, pastries and lots, lots more. The array is dazzling with cakes of every shade, shape and colour and I know I have to buy one to take back for Mark. Fran doesn’t want a cake, even though some of them are distinctly day-glo, but she is tempted by some enormous savoury pastries. We opt for 2 lamb and vegetable and a spinach and cheese pastry, a huge slab of bread pudding, a bright red strawberry tart and an almond and custard pastry, snowy with icing sugar. I ask the woman if she minds if I take some photos while we are there. She says it is fine but her colleague seems less keen and ducks out of the way of my lens. I send Mark a text to tell him lunch is on the way.

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We wend our way back towards Hammersmith tube, which I am sure has been moved further away from Fulham especially for my walk today, via a small cafe where Fran orders banana cake and I have a slice of lemon cake. They are satisfactory but I feel I could do better with the lemon cake myself. I must get back into the kitchen. I haven’t cooked for such a long time but feel I want to be back, stirring, pouring and creating again. We arrive home with our bags and put the pastries in the oven. When they are hot enough, we whip them out with much salivation from Dog and Mark. They are delicious and I save my crusts for Dog so he can have a treat whilst out on his walk. I may just have to walk back from my next acupuncture appointment…

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