So it's Valentines Day on Saturday.
As ever, there are lots of tempting food tales knocking around to help you show appreciation for your loved one. And yet again, I've failed to pre-empt this and have some suitable treats to share with you here, but the thing is, I'm not very good at making a special thing out of Valentines Day these days.
You see, this is a bittersweet time of year for me. Circumstances first conspired just over 16 years ago with the outcome that our wedding anniversary takes place on 13th February (and not on 29th May as originally planned...) - cue several years of being asked if we'd got the date wrong as we booked and then sat in empty restaurants, NOT enjoying the 'specially chosen Valentines menu' because we were 'a day early'. And then, as this year, the raised eyebrow from those suspicious types that think we must be mad to have got married on the 13th and have to endure a Friday 13th wedding anniversary every so often (to that I say "13 is a lucky number in Italy". Check it out.) By the time you've got over all that and enjoyed the anniversary, well, we've mostly said it all on our anniversary.
And then, in 2006, Blue was diagnosed with leukaemia - on 13th February. Our wedding anniversary. This is absolutely not a 'poor me, poor us' post, although I guess it is quite self-indulgent. But it was a dark day if ever there was one. And although that is all over now, I still can't resist giving it a prod every now and again, just to see if it still hurts as much. Thankfully, it doesn't - each time I go there, and I go there less and less - the part of my soul that screams whenever I edge towards it is a little harder to find, the nightmare is a little less easy to wake.
My memories of that period are slowly distilling themselves into a series of snapshots. Not quite sepia tones yet, but fading year by year as Blue shows himself to be strong and healthy, robust and nothing like the chemo-ravaged toddler I cradled for so many months, willing him to survive and hoping that the Husband & my relationship would too...
One of those snapshots is of a table for 2, carefully laid with a clean tablecloth, the wedding present cutlery, candles ready to be lit, a fire laid in the grate. I was going to cook a special meal for the Husband that night in 2006. It was a Monday night. It was going to be Nigella's sake steak and something chocolatey. But I left the house that afternoon to take Blue for a hospital appointment and didn't go home for 2 weeks.
Somehow I've never felt like cooking for either our anniversary or Valentines since, but just as Blue has recovered so have better memories begun to replace the bleak ones, and I've become more willing to celebrate our anniversary with something more than a battening down of the hatches and a thankfulness that we're all still here and alive another year on. So this year, the Husband and I are heading out. I'm very excited. The babysitter is booked and we're heading off to Lampeter Town Hall where Tom Holden will be hosting one of his supper clubs.
Enjoy cooking for your loved ones - while you're slaving over a hot stove, I'll be enjoying something quite delicious!