On Friday afternoon I was able to order a case of wine. It arrived the following morning at 9am. I’ve no money but I am part of a wine club thing, I have been since I drunkenly signed up as a student many, many years ago, then wondered where the case of wine mysteriously appeared from.
I put some money into a wine bank account every month, I can’t really afford to and take payment holidays several times a year, but when I am able to I pop some funds in there. The wine company adds some funds too and then I forget about it, until, like now, I have absolutely nothing and I check out the wine balance and fingers crossed there is enough for a case, usually the cheapest one going, but a case nevertheless.
We are able to do one shop a month at Tescos and it’s now pot luck as to whether there is anything left. We are lucky that our butcher sells flour pretty cheaply so I’ve been making bread and pasta and we are able to get milk from the pound shop. But veg is a luxury now, salad is a once a month treat bar foraging for dandelions, sorrel, cleavers and lime leaves from the garden. I’m lucky that I had a pretty well stocked pantry before all of this but stocks are very low, unless you count a wealth of dried hibiscus flowers (great for a gin and tonic but I rarely use them for anything else).
But I do now have wine, wine that can be swapped for something edible from a friend or neighbour. Wine that can be sipped in the sun whilst I escape the kitchen and its challenges, wine that can be added to a smoky chorizo and chickpea stew. Thank fuck for wine club.
I have some incredible friends that live close by, one gave me pasta flour and a load of garlic last week that I have roasted up and am eating straight from the jar now. Yesterday she blew me away with a care package packed full of fresh, canned and frozen food, it was like Christmas. Shrieks of “SUGAR! STRAWBERRIES! OIL! COURGETTES!” resounded throughout the cottage. I’m still teary as I write about it. I was able to make a salad for dinner of fresh watercress, tomatoes, onions and dressing alongside the frozen prawns she had very generously included. Magical! As I type this there is bread dough in the mixer to make a loaf and some more focaccia so we will have bread again.
One friend left a huge bunch of rosemary on my doorstep that has since been turned into focaccia, gone into stews, pasta dishes and sits in a massive vase of water in the kitchen so I can keep dipping into it. It will also go into some pampering sugar scrubs once I get time and I’ll be sure to make her some lovely sugar scrub in return. Another has had some tobacco dropped off for us and the kindness of that delivery blew me away also.
This is not a post about asking for sympathy, far from it. We are in fact very lucky, we have amazing friends who live locally, flour in the pantry and now wine in the fridge which makes us more than lucky. Until I had begun accepting help I was beginning to feel quite alone in this, there is self isolation and then there is feeling isolated, and poverty can make you feel incredibly isolated.
I’ve been in dire straits before, hell I used to sell The Big Issue many years ago and get food from skips as standard. We will come through this.
I’m learning the power of true friendships, the generosity of others means the world. I’m learning to focus on the positives. I’m learning to take some time to relax, despite the huge pressure to bring in any money. I’m learning to ask for help.
I could focus on the things I miss, and there are many, but I’m trying to focus on the things we have instead. We have our health, a roof over our heads, a small outdoor space to escape to on a sunny day (and this really has been a lifeline) and I’m a pretty good cook so I can turn a group of random ingredients into a meal for two.
I am so very thankful that this has not happened in winter as there’s NO WAY we’d be able to heat the cottage, which stays cold even on the hottest of days. I have some income, not enough to cover bills, but enough to buy us food once a month and milk as we go. I have amazing friends and family…and I have wine.
So why am I writing all of this down? Well I wanted to let you know that you are not alone. Reach out, ask for help. I don’t have much but I will happily share what I do have, so if you need anything and you are local just drop me a message. If you just want someone to chat to, if you need a rant or a giggle, if you need recipe ideas, or if you’d like me to make you a loaf of bread, please, drop me a message. We will get through this, together.