This is my response to this week’s Flashback Track Friday prompt, where we were given Excerpt from a Teenage Opera by Keith West and asked:

Please tell us about something you miss.

“Mum, have you seen my shorts? I have PE third lesson.”

“Mum, did you see my French homework?”

“Mum, I’m late. Can you give me a lift to the bus stop?”

“Mum, did you see my bus pass?”

Nobody told me, when I was pregnant, that my fourteen-year-old child would be so dependent. They are going to school, yet I am the one running around. I thought this would get better with age.

This morning, he made himself late again. I wish he could learn to organise himself better. As it happens, not only does he need to be ready for 7:30, but I do too, to drop him off. He even missed the bus today, and I had to take him all the way to school.

I wonder, will this reliance ever ease off?

Still, it’s done now, and I have almost an hour before I need to log in to work. Is there any water in the kettle?

It took a while to decide what to write today. Originally, I was going to write a eulogy to my final item, but thought I’d expand it to include a few more things.

I used to go over to Europe a lot. France, mainly. Often we’d just go for the weekend, which would include a supermarket trip. Since the stroke, I don’t get there. I’ve been once, but for just a few days which did not include shopping. So, here are a few of the things I miss:

Fa Shower Gel
Jacques Dessange Shampoo and Conditioner

Okay, these aren’t biggies. we can just about get hygiene products in the UK. I think we can even get Dessange, but it is a lot more expensive. And the shampoo I’m currently using has a delicious smell of melted caramel – I’m not sure whether to put it on my head or in my mouth. Fa was just a supermarket shower gel, but I used to like the fruity flavours. They were made by Schwarzkopf. so there might even be a direct UK equivalent. But I never saw Fa here.

These were just two products that I liked to buy there.

Vinegar and Shallot Crisps/chips

In the UK, most of our crisps are flavoured, and the most popular is salt and vinegar. You can imagine, it’s a very sharp taste.

Well, these crisps were sharper. As crisps go, I think these were probably my favourite. I’d buy 5-6 big bags to enjoy here when I got home (not all at once). They would last a few months.

Spa Mineral Water

I’m thinking particularly of Belgium here, where this is ubiquitous.

Did you ever hear of Spa? It’s a town in southern Belgium, its big claim to fame is that it has a racetrack, where they regularly stage grands prix. The only Formula One race I ever watched was at Spa, before I lost interest in motor racing.

The older claim to fame is, well, a spa!

You know how mineral water has on its label, so many grammes of Potassium etc.? Evian, for example, has hundreds of milligrammes of bicarbonate, because the Alps are made of limestone. Awful taste!

Spa water. by contrast, has everything almost zero. A mineral water without any minerals! It tastes “wet” to Evian’s “dry” – imagine wine and you’ll know what I mean.

UK suppliers were few and far between, and I’d put orders in for hundreds of litres costing hundreds of pounds.

In the end, we put a reverse osmosis filter onto the regular tap – which tastes good. We keep up with filter changes and they cost about a fifth of the mineral water.

Soft Cashmere Tea

This was the one item that was irreplaceable.

Made by Lipton, these days just a brand name owned by Unilever, Soft Cashmere was just a supermarket tea. It wasn’t even particularly expensive. It was based on black Indian tea (hence the Cashmere), but was blended with rose, cinnamon, and a hint of caramel.

I could only ever buy it in France anyway, and quite simply, Unilever stopped making it. It just became harder and harder, and finally impossible, to buy. I even had a sommelier try to recreate the blend for me, with all the proper ingredients, rose petals etc., but the taste was nowhere near.

Best tea I ever tasted. Miss that most of all. I did hunt for a graphic of it to use in this post, but for some reason I have very few phone photos from before the stroke, so I can’t even show you a picture. There are images on the net, but not of the tea I used to drink, although I did find a few new leads when I looked. –

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