My time management was getting out of hand. I was too consumed with making the next deal to notice my priorities were off balance. When the economic meltdown made everyone panic and the phone stopped ringing I did two things: started losing sleep and started taking stock of my life. Did I want to continue along my chosen route of highs and lows; high disposable income but low amounts of time with my family? Or did I want to get to know my children as they grew up. I decided the income could wait, my children couldn’t. It was time to swap disposable income for disposable nappies.
As my wife was now the only one out working, one of the first things I had to get used to, was cooking for her and the children. That meant dealing with the supermarkets. I hate going to the supermarket. It’s right up there with paper cuts and sitting on a crowded commuter train. Whose bright idea was it to put uncontrollable trolleys in the hands of people not looking where they’re going?
Nevertheless I was determined to succeed, so one evening with the help of my trusted friends Mr Gin and his brother Mr Tonic, I hit the cookery books. Quite by chance that evening River Cottage was on TV. Even if you’re eating your dinner at the time, that show can still make you feel hungry. This particular evening Hugh was urging the viewers to support their local butcher. I didn’t even know if there was a butcher near me. A quick internet search and I discovered there was one in a village called Claygate, just a couple of miles away.
What a gem of a village. It had everything I needed; butcher, baker, fishmonger, grocer, coffee shop - and I could park right outside the shops for free. I can’t tell you how excited I was that first visit. I learnt more that morning, chatting with the shopkeepers, than I’ve ever learnt in twenty years of going to the supermarket.
I bought everything I needed for the recipes that had inspired me the night before and couldn’t wait to get home to surprise my wife with a lovely homemade dinner. I even bought a set of chef’s whites so I'd look the part when she came home. I started with something simple, a bolognese sauce. In the past we’d always bought ready-made sauces but this time I made it all from scratch, it was by far the best Bolognese I’ve ever had - even the children loved it.
Despite the nerve tingling terror of making such a radical change when I’m the slightly grumpy side of 39, am I pleased I’ve done it...? You bet. Oh and we've got a new set of rules in our kitchen now, if I ask my wife a question while I'm cooking, she has to answer ‘yes chef’...