On The Road

IcingI have a relatively sane relationship with food these days. I love it dearly and passionately and still dream of diving naked into a vat of Nutella – but these days it’s not quite as dominant in my thoughts. At the very least not to the detriment of basic things like work, sleep, bathing, etc etc.

Every now and then though, I get that possessed feeling. And more often that not it happens when I’m out of town. Put me on an open road and suddenly there’s nothing in my brain but thoughts of FOOD FOOD FOOD.

Perhaps this stems from the epic voyages of my Australian childhood when my parents rationed one measly Lifesaver per 250 kilometres, but as soon as I’m in a moving vehicle for anything longer than half an hour I think… Ooh I’m kind of peckish. Are we there yet? I start calculating how far it is to the nearest town or motorway services as a mild panic flutters in my stomach… What if I get really hungry? What if I STARVE?

Last month we were heading way up the A9 for a wedding in a tiny village. Despite a generous lunch before we left and an arsenal of fruit and nuts in my handbag my thoughts quickly wandered to chocolate. It’s a pretty boring road, the A9; and as always we were stuck behind a parade of trucks and tourist buses. We inched past magnificent mountains but I was mesmerised by all the signs that warned ROAD LIABLE TO ICING… Mmmm, icing.

It didn’t stop when we got to the Tiny Wee Village either. It really was tiny and wee, and we were going to be there for two whole days and two whole nights! So as soon as we checked into the hotel I said to Gareth, "Let’s go check out the town", which was codespeak for, "Let’s find out where all the food is". I paced down the streets, scanning the smattering of buildings like a robot. Name. Opening Hours. Prices. Menu. I had to have all the information. All the options. You know, so I wouldn’t STARVE TO DEATH!


On the morning of the wedding we had a full Scottish breakfast at the hotel that would satisfy most stomachs for three weeks, but already I was plotting… Wedding isn’t til 1PM… wonder how long it will go for? What kind of gap will there be between wedding and reception? Is the reception like lunch, or dinner? Should I stuff a sandwich into my handbag? Hmm hmm…

The wedding was lovely despite the relentless rain. I love proper weddings. And then there was a bloody delicious dinner about 4PM… I had the roast beef and my first ever Yorkshire pudding. Ooh yeah baby.

Not long after they cleared the tables ready for the ceilidh – that’s Scottish dancing, take yer partner by the hand and all that. And what do you know, I was still thinking about food, especially now that glass of wine had kicked in. I hear these Highland weddings go on all night. And all that dancing. What if I get hungry again? Huh huh huh?

And that was despite the chocolate fountain. As soon as we’d sat down for dinner I’d noticed a mysterious tower-shaped structure in the corner, wrapped in plastic.

"I reckon that’s a chocolate fountain under there," I’d said casually to Gareth.

I tried to act natural but he kept catching me staring at it. And so began the whispered running commentary throughout our meal:

Oooh lookit that fountain, Shauna!
Wahey! The dude’s taken off the plastic cover!
Ooh, he’s switching it on!
Oooh look, he’s adding the chocolate chips!
He’s getting out his marshmallows now!
And his strawberries!
Are you ready to dip? Are you excited?

Well of course I was bloody excited! It was molten, flowing chocolate, three feet from my nose! But then again, I thought, what if it wasn’t really nice chocolate? Even in the depths of ridiculous possession I still had my lofty standards. Besides, I reckon I could do two trips to the fountain before I’d get an attack of self-consciousness. It could be a long evening. What to do?

Meanwhile the backs of my heels had become all blistered from impractical shoes, so I seized that excuse to wander over to the wee shop before it closed to get some Band-Aids. And a Freddo Frog. It was still chucking down with rain but I risked breaking my neck and/or frizzing my hair to hobble across the street. Stomach comes first!

So we danced and drank and chatted for hours and had a lovely time. I felt like such a goose carrying round my emergency chocolate ration, especially when they wheeled out the tea and sandwiches and wedding cake for supper. But somehow, in the midst of that foody mood… it was so comforting and reassuring to know wee Freddo was there, nestled beside my tissues and lipgloss, just in case I needed him.

43 thoughts on “On The Road

  1. That is so funny! Emergency chocolate rations? I guess I kind of do the same thing. I’m always wondering “what if I want more?”. So last week I wandered into the fancy pants chocolate store with the intention of just getting a small snack, and walked out with 3 pounds of delicious expensive chocolate. oops.

  2. Sounds like you had a great time at the wedding! Good for you! And I’m sure the dancing burned a ton of calories. hehe

    I love this post. I chuckled the whole time I read it. 🙂

  3. Them chocolate fountains and their marshmallows – I would’ve been fidgety in the presence of one.

    And hey, emergency chocolate rations should be common practice. I have some in my work desk right next to me, and it makes passing the vending machine near the kitchen all of nine million times a day much less traumatic. My wallet probably thanks me too.

    Great post! 😀

  4. Oooooh, a chocolate fountain – that sounds like heaven (in liquid chocolate form). I’d be so worried that I’d embarass myself by bathing in it or something.

  5. I once took my visiting friend Sara L on an all day shopping trip in the middle of suburban Melbourne. And we were BOTH sussing out all the food options the whole time. Before we started, we stocked up on apples, nuts and bars, JUST IN CASE that giant discount shopping mall had run our of food. Yeah…

    Then, for the 30-minute drive home, as we were packing our purchases in the boot, we looked at each other and I actually said: “better put these nuts and apples in the front with us – we might get stuck in a freeway traffic jam and starve to death”. I was only half joking.

    Luckily for me, Sara didn’t call the nearest mental hospital – she’s as nutty about food as I am.

  6. I once took my visiting friend Sara L on an all day shopping trip in the middle of suburban Melbourne. And we were BOTH sussing out all the food options the whole time. Before we started, we stocked up on apples, nuts and bars, JUST IN CASE that giant discount shopping mall had run our of food. Yeah…

    Then, for the 30-minute drive home, as we were packing our purchases in the boot, we looked at each other and I actually said: “better put these nuts and apples in the front with us – we might get stuck in a freeway traffic jam and starve to death”. I was only half joking.

    Luckily for me, Sara didn’t call the nearest mental hospital – she’s as nutty about food as I am.

  7. Yorkshire pudding! I lived in Yorkshire for FOUR MONTHS and couldn’t get one anywhere. Once, on a trip to (shite, I forget the name of the town.. you know.. Calendar Girls?)I got over excited to find a pub that made those GIANT Yorkshire puds, sat down all eager only to find it was about 3.02pm and the lunch menu was only served until 3. puh.

  8. Heh, Keks comment reminded me.. we were sitting in the car having just had breakfast and the conversation turned to… what we would have for breakfast tomorrow. Neither of us thought this odd, but we understand that some ‘normal’ people may not understand the necessity to always plan at least a day ahead.

  9. OMG Kek, I am so glad you and Sara survived… heheheh 🙂

    Sara – I have fallen victim to the Only Til 3PM thing before so I sympathise with your plight!

    Kathryn – It was tempting, I tells ya. Like that episode of The Simpsons when Moe leaves the bar unattended and Barney just puts his mouth right under the beer tap!

  10. Oh heck, I know where every darn Co-Op is in the entire Cotswalds and I was only there on a three-day hiking trip. One evening I was in some lovely picturesque village with all kinds of nice views and interesting buildings … but I spent an hour in the supermarket down the street. I convinced myself that a 12 mile walk “earned” me several packages of chocolate!

  11. OMG My boss and I are completely simpatico on this. While we eat our lunch, we talk about what we each could have for supper. And of course what we can snack on later in the afternoon. No wonder theres a little chub on both of us.

  12. Jonathan, A week in Hawaii,and the most exciting trip for me was the supermarket. They had all kinds of cool things I had never seen before. I even bought a few things to take home.

  13. Every time Ev and I head to the coast for a holiday we have to have honey-mustard pretzels. If we are in the car driving south on the interstate with children in the back seat and bags in the trunk and there aren’t honey-mustard pretzels in the car I start to panic. Then we eat them until we’re sick to our stomachs and the roofs of our mouths are all torn up (because you don’t really “eat” them, you suck on them until the honey-mustard dust is gone and they start to disintegrate)all the while talking and dreaming about the Cheese Burgers at the Sand Castle Drive-in that we’re going to have for lunch. Crazy.

  14. I used to live my whole life this way, plotting how long it would be till the next food was available, and panicking that I might “starve” in between. After a year of IE thinking I am almost free of it, but I remember it well. No idea what caused it for me, but when I think back I think I was a bit of a psycho! I mean who really ever starves when they are in a modern city with a pocketful of cash?

    As for emergency chocolate rations – where is the problem with that?? I dont see one 😉

  15. Oh!
    I just decided I’m certain I want a chocolate fountain at my wedding.

    And, no, I’m not getting married nor am I engaged. But I feel it’s good to know some things ahead of time, for example that I positively must have a chocolate fountain.

  16. I am so glad you had your little chocolate friend there just in case 🙂 cos you had your lippy too and that means your priorities are COMPLETELY appropriate!

  17. Great post. I loved the comment about icing. I never thought of it that way before. Now I’ll never be able to think of it any other way again.

  18. You needed some party feet by the sounds of it. I’m sure your killer shoes looked great though, dg. 🙂

    Am I the only person who thinks a bottle of water is sufficient in the car? My Northern Irish partner was horrified at the thought of driving 4hours to Dubbo without real food. I said we’d be there for a late lunch and to have an extra piece of toast for breakfast.

  19. Had to laugh… My Husband always refers to me being “it is all about food” whiel travelling.. and it is true! I wonder if I have blocked out the lifesaver rations while we where kids as well!!

  20. Funny!! Not that I’m the same way or anything *cough* *peers around nervously* don’t listen to my husband, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about 😉 bless you wee freddo

  21. Just 2 points to make:
    1. Scottish wedding – you should have known there would be grub later, Shauna. I was at quite a posh wedding a couple of weeks ago near Tranent and at about 9.30 they produced – bacon rolls!

    2. If you participated in any meaningful way in the ceilidh you burnt off every morsel you ate!! (And you should have the bruises to prove it!)

  22. I’m sure that was a wonderful blog entry. I seem to remember soemthing about dancing and chocolate fountains. But I’m afraid my attention was distracted the moment you wrote that was your first Yorkshire Pudding. How is that possible? Even allowing for the fact that such delicacies never made it to the Aussie outback, how have you been here all this time without sampling any. I can’t even begin to imaging what life is like not knowing the taste of Yorkshire pudding (and I’m a southerner, albeit one with Geordie grandparents). ….

    See? You can see how the rest just kinda slipped over me.

  23. I always have food on me in some form or another. I try to convince myself that if I have “good” food on me (i.e. apples, almonds) I won’t be tempted to buy the “bad” foods. That said, I tend to obsess about food related issues when food is so not the focus. For example, when I started a new job, I was thinking about where the closest place would be to get food, did they have a fridge/microwave available, etc., rather than thinking about, you know, starting the job!

  24. Cal and Smaller Sue – I know! I always meant to get to the pub for a Sunday lunch but it doesn’t happen much when you hang out with vegetarians, you see! So when it was on the menu at the wedding… POUNCE! I drenched it in gravy and it was oh. so. fiiiine 🙂

    PsychSarah – Hee heeeeee… I’ve been tempted to ask about those things in job interviews! Salary, hours… yeah yeah yeah – but do you have a microwave?!

  25. After riding for seven hours alone in a car with my father-in-law – who doesn’t do lunch – I am never travelling entirely foodless again. I didn’t quite like to ask him to stop for a sarnie.

  26. A road trip has always meant good food in my book, too. Or crap food, now that I think about it. But crap in a good way….you know?

  27. Yorkshire puds!? Chocolate fountains? Best wedding ever by the sounds of it! Makes me wish I had them at my wedding *sigh*.

    Everytime I’m on a long road trip, I’m always hanging for the service stop. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who counts the distance between her and chocolate!

  28. Refreshingly funny as usual 🙂 But i must admit i do catch myself thinking like that too sometimes. Mostly when i’m travelling because unconsciously i’m always scared that i might not find any food and starve to death or something (stupid idea really seeing as i carry all that extra stored fat with me that could probably last me a couple of months, let’s face it:) ) xxx

  29. I must say, when I first glanced at the road sign, I could have sworn it said “Road to Lickable Icing”!!!

  30. What a great post. I only identified my “travel anxiety” this year, on the regime, and now I laugh at myself (when not mentally wrestling). My brain goes “will travel (by train), must eat”; this is made all the more difficult to negotiate in the food emporia that are stations (just HOW many eating outlets/shops are at any mainline station in London)?! And the trolley that comes up and down the aisles – offering snacks at eye or should that be mouth level!!

    And I’ve also noticed in a weaker moment, the food starts shouting. Out loud. Sounds mad, I know but I have met people who say the same thing. I now have to have back up and even back up for the back up. I guess that would be the equivalent of several Freddos…just in case!

    I loved the way you said “stomach first”; that made me laugh out loud!

    Icing ahead, indeed!!! Ha ha.

    Mrs Lxxxxxxxxxx

  31. I love your blog, girlie! You are so hilarious and honest! And, I can totally relate to your anxiety about food and travel!

  32. I’ve been reading your blog for a bit now and i just had to comment on this entry. It was the one lifesaver per 250km rationing that did it for me- yep, i’m from downunder too!

  33. Do you ever find that your still really self concious about eating in public? Or were you ever?
    I have been terrified of eating in public , or even in front of most people in general since I was a child.
    Even after Id lost a bunch of weight Id starve instead of eating in front of people.
    Once, I took a weekend trip witha guy and his family and I was so horrified at the thought of him seeing me put food in my mouth I actually didnt eat at all for almost 3 days.
    Sometimes I feel like if I had that kind of self control now I wouldnt have gained my weight back.
    Other times I think I was nuts to ever behave that way, but here I am, still unable to eat in front of people. Ive been working in the same place for 6 years and no one here has ever seen me eat. Not so much as a cracker.
    I just wondered if anyone else feels this way, and if it ever goes away.

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