Whenever I tell anyone about my 40 challenges, they immediately ask how many I’ve actually completed. I find this difficult to answer since some challenges are still at the planning phase, others are partially underway but nowhere near finished, and others I haven’t even dared contemplate yet. Counting up through the original list, I reckon that 21 are completely finished with, so I guess that’s about where we should be halfway through. I’m pleased with all that I’ve managed to do so far, and have some wonderful memories already. But I am also acutely aware that time is slipping by and that I’m occasionally feeling swamped by all I still have left to do. I seem to have less time to myself than ever now, as Charlotte’s daytime nap has to be very limited in length, otherwise she won’t go to bed at night. And by the time she is settled in the evening I am too comatose to do anything other than stare at The Great British Bake-Off or DVDs of Frasier. It’s only going to get harder as winter approaches, when darkness will set in by half-past three and Charlotte may well ditch her daytime nap for good. It’s the challenges that involve writing, learning, thinking and – heaven forbid – piano practice that are proving the hardest to settle down to. Yet ironically they are the ones I want to do most.
And it doesn’t help that every single evening class I might want to take in York to help my challenges along (British Sign Language, pottery, oil painting, knitting) all seem to be on Thursdays at 6pm, which is when my pilates class is. Though making Dave leave work early more than one night a week to be here for Charlotte while I pursue my leisure interests doesn’t seem fair. Of course if someone were forward-thinking enough to run an evening class that didn’t start until 8pm, there wouldn’t be a problem. Apart from the fact that a lot of art classes are very expensive owing to the cost of materials.
And on a financial note, I have no idea how we’re going to be able to afford to go somewhere German-speaking before March, especially now we have to pay full fare for Charlotte on flights. I may have to cheat and just take myself to the cinema to see a German film (I think the wording of the challenge would permit this), if any happen to be in York over the next few months. A further cheat might be to extend my 40 challenges into my 40th year – beyond the celebratory lunch in a 2-Michelin starred restaurant.
But enough of the negative of what I might not manage, and back to the positive of what achievements I have actually made. Here is my first (and so far only) tomato:
It was very nice. I don’t hold up much hope for many more – there are a smattering of green ones on the plants, but as temperatures have dipped again, the sun has left our back yard for good until spring and the nights are threatening frost, I can’t see them managing to ripen before the plants wither completely. Green tomato chutney is probably called for.
And here is some more bread, which even I am starting to lost track of now... I haven't baked any for ages, so need to get myself back on the rails fairly sharpish to keep to schedule. These are loaves 17 to 21. So 21 loaves, 21 challenges. There's a nice harmony in that.