Let's unpack that, shall we?
it's the worst part of travel
At 1am I saw someone on TikTok make a gorgeous-looking toast dish, and within five minutes I’d pulled down the flour and the yeast from the shelf. It did a nice rise overnight and is in the oven right now. Bread! It soothes and it nourishes.
The house is a mess. I have a hard and fast rule when it comes to travel: unpack as soon as you get home. If you can’t put the things exactly where they are supposed to be, put them close to their homes, so you can slot them in as you go. It keeps my head uncluttered, and stops me from digging around in a suitcase for three weeks after my return. On this trip, I brought back a number of things for the kitchen: the 480 (!) Yorkshire Tea teabags my mother sent back with me, shawa (dried herring), dried shrimp (THE QUEEN OF FLAVOUR), brown beans (cowpeas, for those of you invested in scientific names), apon (dried mango seed), garri Ijebu, my beloved Percy Pigs, M&S roast potato seasoning, and Swiss chocolate with hazelnuts. I’d asked my mum to get me a Nigerian broom and she provided an expertly bound beauty. She also insisted I bring with me literally six boxes of 10-a-pack Lemsip. My mother, burned by the pandemic once, will NOT be caught slipping again. I adore her. Even when I roll my eyes at her extraness, I appreciate it, and her. She’s the queen of love.
The empty suitcases are back in the closet but the clothes have not yet all found their way. At least the dirty laundry was put into its respective hampers ASAP. But there are spare (clean) socks rolled up angrily on the floor next to my bed. There are jumpers that went unworn in London that need to be folded correctly for the dresser. The new things I bought in England - a nightie and dressing gown set that is inappropriate for winter but will SLAY in spring, so many new M&S knickers and bras, workout leggings (?) - don’t even have a place yet, so they’re hanging out on the designated clothes chair, awaiting instructions.
This is my first winter in this apartment. When I left there were still more than a few leaves on the trees in front of my living room window. Now the branches turn evil-looking at night, bare and swaying. It gets stuffy quickly because the radiators are way too efficient. At night, I sweat and have to dig myself out of the duvet to turn them off. Come morning, the bedroom is too cool for January. It’s a learning curve.
I have to vacuum the floors. I have to do laundry. I have to cook something substantial that will provide me a week of easy dinners (obe ata, most likely, maybe fried rice?). I have to change my sheets and mop the kitchen floor. I have to do some exercise on the bike. I have to stretch, my goodness do I need to stretch. I have to read books and send emails, and keep in touch, and form ideas. I have to drink more water. I 100% need to sleep.
I’ll get to all of that. For now, the place is filling up with the scent of hot baking bread. A Lou Rawls record is playing. I’m going to sharpen my knives (yeah, I brought one of these back with me). I might fry a plantain tonight. It’s winter. We’re mostly okay - soon there will be bread to eat.
Obe ata looks incredible, thank you for mentioning it and prompting me to Google a recipe! Think I might swap this in for my usual shakshuka/purgatorio sauce and poach some eggs in it for a weekend brunch.
Having just travelled back to the UK for Christmas, I've loved these last two letters. Thank you Bim!