PHIL CALVERT: Christmas dinner par excellence thanks to my daughters!

Turkey

Turkey

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I REMEMBER when I was a teenager, it was the norm for young people to be preparing to leave the family nest before striking out to make their mark in the world.

I left home at 18 to go to university, and was married at 21, in a career and paying a mortgage. How different things are today!

It seems to be the normal route for young people to be much more relaxed about their futures, take a year out, go travelling and then, when they are ready, start looking for a career. In some ways I envy them. They want to live a little and see the world before they get stuck on the treadmill of careers, mortgages, bills and children. Very few of my contemporaries actually have grandchildren as having babies seems to be put off until couples are in their late 30s, if they ever bother at all.

Of course, jobs were much easier to find in times past. I graduated just after the “winter of discontent” and the economy was, as now, in the doldrums. Nevertheless, despite widespread unemployment, for graduates there still existed the “milk round” where employers trawled the universities actually seeking to employ people with degrees. I had to move to Stockton-on-Tees but I got a pretty reasonable job in banking, which subject to my results, was in the bag before I even sat my finals. Apart from a few transitional weeks, I went straight from university into the workplace.

When my own eldest daughter went off to university, I never even considered she would return home. But three years later she was back and out of work. To her credit she landed a six-month job in Australia, and I’m proud to say, has always dragged herself out of bed to do work at various places since she, for the second time, returned home. In many ways for young people these are tough times and the opportunities that previously existed are no longer there. So long after a time when I had fledged they are still at home.

In many ways, of course this is lovely, and it is great having them around. Mind you the issue of shampoo and conditioner bottles scattered around the bathroom is a constant niggle. Girls shoes seem to be discarded in the most unlikely and varied places. The hallway, landing, stairs and lounge are the hot-spots but they seem to appear anywhere. Washing and ironing are other issues but I won’t go there except to say the ironing board should live under the stairs when not in use.

However, one area in which both girls have excelled while staying at my free hotel, is in the area of cooking. Wifey has been a wonderful teacher and both girls are very competent cooks. Interestingly though, rather than just turning out the same stuff their mother does, they have both developed their own styles.

Wifey cooks generally to pander to my tastes I think, and meal times for me are a delight. When the girls cook, they ignore me, but produce some beautiful food. Whoever cooks, I am always presented with lovely stuff with consequences on my ... err build! A choice of resolution this time will be simple!

The high point came on Christmas Day, when Wifey and I were banished from the house to take Monty for a walk, while the girls made dinner. With extended family around, they raised their game a notch and produced the most beautiful dinner I can remember. Perfect veg, tasty sauce (not gravy), crunchy yet fluffy taties, succulent cranberries and the tastiest, most moist turkey (I’m not usually a fan) I have ever eaten. Credit where it is due, it was marvellous, and far better than Wifey and I could have produced when we were their age. Mind you it took me three hours to rebuild the kitchen afterwards.

Nevertheless, it will be a lucky man who marries either of them ... if they ever leave!

Happy New Year.

PHIL CALVERT