Elemental would cover it, I think. Mist, fog, sun, rain, hail, snow. And pounding seas. We threw some provisions in the campervan (yesterday’s soup, rolls from the freezer, hummus, tea bags) and trundled off to West Runton fired-up and optimistic, and with the sound track of Springsteen’s new album.
There followed a headlong-into-the-elements walk up the beach to Sheringhm and back, picking out some fossils as we trudged at 45degrees top-of-the-head-leading, three layers, hats, gloves, the lot. Marvellous.
Lunch was a bit of a steam-up in the van and then we fell into the comfortable conversation mode that always emerges when we are sitting knee to knee in the van. The best conversations happen in that van – what we want to do this year, priorities, family visits, work deadlines, holiday dreams.
Now we are home. It is freezing. The gritter lorries are out. I don’t want to spend ages cooking – I am completely hooked on Elena Ferranti’s Neapolitan novels – so tonight’s vegan dinner is a simple but comforting one.
Jacket potatoes all crisp on the outside and fluffy on the in. And a ratattoule hastily thrown into the pan, chopped onion, courgette, red pepper, aubergine, garlic sweated in oil and a little bit of water. Then a scattering of smoked paprika, black pepper and half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. And in go a tin of any beans (today it’s cannellini) including the juice. And green beans left over from Saturday. Stir round then cook with the lid on for 10 minUtes then add a tin of chopped tomatoes and an equal amount of cold water.Add a good dash of white wine vinegar and a squirt of agave syrup (or a dessert spoon of brown sugar). Bring slowly up to a simmer then cook with the lid off for about an hour and a half. Or two. The longer you cook it the more unctuous it becomes. Add salt at the end rather than at the beginning because otherwise the bean skins go a bit tough. When it is done I shall add the 50g or so of tofu I have left over from yesterday, broken up then stirred in. And a good handful of chopped fresh basil or fresh coriander just before serving.
To be honest with you, if you cook it long and slow it will go thick and treacly. When it gets to that stage it is simply wonderful for breakfast on toasted sourdough.