Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter weekend at home: Feasting and family.

I truly believe sitting helplessly on a delayed train when you know you've got a tight connection to make afterwards may be one of the most stressful things EVER. 

I should've had a solid 26 minute turnaround at St Pancras on my journey home from Brussels for Easter weekend - naturally, I thought I'd planned it to perfection, giving myself time to get an AMT coconut yogushake (SO GOOD!), collect my tickets and make my way to my train in a stress-free fashion, appreciating the sight of home comforts like M&S and Costa as I went. 

No no, that did not occur. 

My Eurostar arrived TWENTY MINUTES LATE! So I had SIX MINUTES to get off the train, race around the excited tourists and returning holiday-makers with their huge Disneyland balloons, run down the escalators trying not to knock over small children (you're cute but GET OUTTA THE WAY) with my bags, dash through customs, weave my way through the crowds and leg it (past AMT *sob*) up to the East Midlands Trains section. As I did so, I thought to myself: this is blatantly because I smashed a mirror this morning. 

Amazingly, not all my luck has been turned bad for seven years though, as there was no queue at the ticket machine. But good Lord above, they sure seem to take their sweet time to print your tickets, seat reservations and receipts (that helpfully all look EXACTLY THE SAME) when you're in a hurry. 

But guess what, I sprinted on to the platform with a solid minute and a half to spare and practically sauntered on to the train. So casual. PHEW!

It wasn't till I sat down, put my feet up (yolo) and plugged into my iPod that I stopped to breathe. According to shuffle, Westlife was the order of the day, and as I listened to their dulcet tones and gazed out the window at the Union Jacks flying in the wind off PC World, the sun of that Good Friday afternoon shining in on me, I couldn't help but grin. I was home

I went for springy pastel rainbow nails for Easter weekend
There's nothing like living abroad to make you appreciate your home country. I've realised recently that as well as being about half as far from home as Bayreuth (where I was for the first half of my year abroad), Brussels just feels a lot less foreign. It may be partly because I'm working for a British company but it just doesn't feel so far away. 

Bayreuth, on the other hand, was pretty different, and I miss it dearly. I miss my housemates, my colleagues, my pupils and my wonderful friends. I miss German people in general, German food, German ways and the German language. 

Anyway, going home for Easter weekend was a dream, and it was more-needed than I knew. I was so looking forward to watching TV on an actual TV, mama's cooking and being able to sleep without wearing earplugs. (#studentproblems)

The long weekend was spent doing all sorts of homey things:

 - Country dog walks with my family

Oh, the excitement for walkies

There's nothing like popping on your wellies and taking a stroll through the fields amongst the cows and sheep to give a girl a good dose of countryside before heading back to the city. 

Everything seems so much greener than when I was last in the green and pleasant land that is England, and with all the blossom, daffodils and tulips it was all too lovely and springy. 

One of the things I really love is that I can just go into the garden and pick beautiful bunches of flowers. As a city gal at Uni/work, I feel really lucky to have a big bountiful garden at home.

Tippy be like 'Whatcha got there? Can I eat it?'

- Chilling with my fam. And the dogs.

Tippy enjoyed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire almost as much as we did
I don't know about you, but in the Hosie household we tend to just live in the kitchen. It's absolutely the heart of our home and there are few things I love more than just hanging out with my family round the kitchen table, reading the papers, playing with the dogs, drinking tea, instagramming (on my part anyway) and generally chatting about weird things. Usually in Northern accents. Because that's just what my mum, sister and I do, much to the dismay of my father. 

- Baking and Eating. Quelle surprise.

I already told you about these cupcakes which fuelled a catch-up with one of my oldest friends ever, the wonderful Jessie, but a lot of eating occurred over the weekend. Any student will know that when back home with the parents you've just got to eat as much as you can BECAUSE WE'RE POOR (and, ironically, mostly overweight.)

There's nothing like a hot cross bun with a side of Wills and Kate to start the day.
One of the things I was most looking forward to was a hot cross bun or two. My faves are the apple and cinnamon ones from M&S. SO GOOD. They've got that sticky exterior and are full of plump sultanas and pieces of apple. Lightly toasted and then smothered in butter, they are a dream. 

The Shrimp and I also took the opportunity to whip up some pancakes for breakfast on Easter Monday. Pancakes of the wholewheat chocolate chip banana variety to be precise. And they were gooood. You'd think most people would be chocolated-out after Easter Sunday but not the Hosie gals. Recipe will be up soon, ma dears, as they were too good not to share. 

That's not to say much chocolate was not eaten, oh no. Much to the contrary, in fact. In our house, we always have an Easter basket out on the island in the kitchen, and it is always choc-full (ha!) of little chocolate eggs and other Easter goodies. I brought reinforcements from Belgium too, natch.

What's more, the Aga in the kitchen means the chocolate is always at that most delightful of temperatures - still solid, but wonderfully melt-in-the-mouth. And as I said, we're ALWAYS in the kitchen (at parties and other times), so it's terribly hard not to nibble from the basket ALL DAY LONG. 

And THEN, the Easter bunny actually brought the Shrimp and I massive Lindt Easter eggs too! That was a rather unexpected surprise on Easter Sunday morning. There's something about chocolate in Easter egg form, much like that of advent calendars, that makes it taste better, don'tcha think?

Auntie Lissie brought these and they are like HEAVEN!
And even though I ate chocolate all morning, I was still more than able to demolish my fair share of the...

- Easter Sunday lunch FEAST

It was so nice to see some of my extended famalam over the few days I was home, and having people over gave us an excuse to make more of a fuss over Easter lunch than we would've done had it just been the four Hosies. (The big brother was elsewhere. That's fine. Not offended. It's not like I live in another country and was only home for a weekend. Nope, not offended at all.)

But anyway, Mama Hosie outdid herself on the culinary front. Once the troop of rellies had arrived, we kicked off with pink Champagne (because why not?), nibbles and canap├ęs

For the main affair, we moved into the dining room. And you know something special's going down if we're in the dining room. Having tried to make the table look a little festive, I was even more looking forward to Feaster (that's the Easter Feast, of course.)

We had a traditional lamb, sausages, cauliflower cheese, potatoes, asparagus, green beans, those adorable mini carrots, mint sauce and gravy


I'm not a lamb girl but I'm told this was crackalackin'.

And it was all really rather top notch if I do say so myself. 

As we sipped and munched and mmmed and ahhed, conversation descended into what it always does when my family get together: heated grammar discussions. Srsly. 

We talked about our language pet peeves (people writing 'on route' for me. JUST NO!), our favourite words, the difference between British and American dictionaries, and I was given the challenge of using 'eponymous' and 'apocryphal' in the same sentence on my blog. Oh yay, I just did it. (Sorry, Auntie Marg, I know that was slightly lame of me.)

But before charades could get too silly, we brought out the pudding: key lime pie and the aforementioned cupcakes. Mmm. 

Ahh watch out chicky!

Chick down! Chick down!
Chick back up, phew.
There was also a load of cheeses which don't interest me in the slightest (c'mon, is this blog called Handbags and Stilton? I think not) so I'm afraid I've no clue what they were, but I enjoyed the grapes, oatcakes and crackers anyway. 

The great thing about family is that you can be as silly as you like and no-one minds. I happen to think we are particularly nuts in my fam, but I reckon everyone thinks that about their own. You gotta let the crazy out sometimes, don'tcha?

Being the dutiful hostess that she is, Mama Hosie soon got up and asked if anyone wanted tea or coffee. After being met with a chorus of 'Tea, please,' the afternoon seamlessly turned into the evening over multiple cuppas and even more chocolate. Well, it was Easter after all. 

After the famalam left that evening, I was left with a similar feeling to that of Christmas Day evening: you've had an epic, long, family lunch (in the dining room!), eaten chocolate throughout the day, played charades, and now there was nothing for it but retiring to the sofa for your fave films. And then making a sandwich of leftovers an hour or so later for dinner. Obvs. 

Which film did I go for? The classic, the comforting, the unbeatable, Parent Trap. There's nothing like a quote-along to one of your all-time fave films, is there? Parent Trap is without a doubt the film I've seen more times than any other, and it was the perfect way to round off a day of family, fun and food. 

The trouble with having a really lovely home is that it's extra hard to leave. I'm now back in Brussels after yet another delayed train but having brought back a suitcase that was about 90% full of food. And when I say food what I really mean is chocolate. 

Well I couldn't just leave it at home now, could I? And yes, I appreciate the irony of returning to the home of chocolate with enough chocolate to feed a small army. 

Let me tell you, when you work a full-time job and get a mere one day off for Easter (yup, strangely enough the Belgians don't get as much time for chocolate egg munching as the Brits), you sure realise how indulgent it is to get a whole month as a uni student! But it's good to be back.

Easter means different things to different people, and however you spent it, I hope you had a lovely one.


  1. This looks amazing! Food heaven!!!

  2. Sounds lovely, Rachel. Must've been wonderful to spend Easter at home :) xx

  3. Your journey made me laugh - I have ran round St Pancras too many times to count. My record is down from Southeastern, round to East Midlands, and along the length of a whole train (helpfully in front of mine) in under 3 minutes. Took me until I got off at Loughborough to recover! x


    1. Ha ha now THAT is very impressive, Chloe! X

  4. This sounds like a fantastic Easter Weekend! Sadly I spent mine writing attempting to write more of my dissertation!

    I am however not jealous of your St Pancras adventure, but it is very impressive you managed to make your connecting train!! :)

    1. Thanks Caitlin. Writing essays is probably what I should've been doing to be honest... Good luck! X


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