August in London has always been quiet but this year the exodus feels extreme. When exactly did we become so European that practically everyone now takes the entire month off and disappears to Cornwall/France/Norfolk/our-new-ruin-in-Croatia for the whole rest of summer? (And why am I still here?) My neighbours are away for so long even the house-sitter is having a short holiday during their holiday. I agreed to provide ‘Possum cover’ for the holiday within the holiday, with no idea what Possum was. Happily, he turns out to be a fluffy black cat and not a python so I will be shaking biscuits into a bowl rather than defrosting mice in a microwave. Apparently there is also a gerbil though if I’ve read between the lines of the neighbour’s email correctly they’d be quite relieved if they came back and there wasn’t a gerbil any more.
I quite like this strange feeling of time suspended. I actually had an impromptu drink with a friend the other day, which would never happen during the usual shatteringly tight timetabling of September through June. A glass of white in my kitchen turned into several, plus four packets of Jacob’s salt & vinegar oddities and a last-minute ready meal. I’m going to buy some more of that wine – it’s an old favourite and, as Harriet said, “This wine always makes me think of BEING ON HOLIDAY.” Also, it’s on special this week so a good time to plunge in.
Torres Viña Esmeralda 2013 Spain (11%, Waitrose, £6.99 down from £8.49 until Thursday 7th August) Thank goodness it’s only 11%, quite frankly. White. Light and scented – the two grapes in here are gewürztraminer and muscat so it’s quite flowery – but with a fresh, skittish edge that rushes along like the surf of a shallow wave washing the beach. Made in north-east Spain and a staple of Barcelona tapas bars where it tastes good with fat, garlicky prawns. We loved this with Thai red curry from a box, tarted up with a squeeze of fresh lime and chopped fresh coriander.