Wednesday, 22 August 2018
I Mix A Drink
Back in the extraordinarily hot part of the summer, in Antwerp, just two weeks ago, as things were cranking up to a climax of oven-ready heat, we sat at a café table and drank iced tea. This drink took an immediate place in the top ten of my 'most welcome drinks ever'. It followed a trip to the Swedish Detention Centre (aka IKEA, Wilrijk branch) and a tussle over a double bed, and a table. It followed the discovery that when you rent an apartment in Belgium, the previous occupants will have taken out all the light fittings so that assembling the tussled-over flatpack later in the evening becomes impossible. Not even the EU can protect you from some experiences.
The iced tea gained extra ranking points as I drank it with my son and his friend, though it still doesn't come quite as high up the rankings as the banana milkshake I drank in the German Dairy in Chiang Mai, N Thailand, in 1987 when the temperature was similarly around 35 degrees, but the humidity was at a level I didn't know existed till then. In that case, I'd been backpacking for four weeks and not encountered any dairy products. That milkshake went straight to my bones.
There's nothing like sitting at a table after something exhausting, like backpacking round Thailand or pushing a trolley around IKEA, and being served a drink. There's the choosing, the short wait which feels like a long wait, and then the arrival of a tray, bright glasses, the drink sharpened by stacked ice and lemon slices, and then the exquisite relief of the first mouthful.
I recreated that drink by mixing two pints of cooled camomile tea with the juice of two lemons, sugar to taste, ice, lemon slices and sprigs of mint. I took it to work in a flask, and, though it didn't make it into the top ten most welcome drinks ever, I was grateful for it and all its summer associations as I sat at my desk, looking out at the clouding sky, planning the year ahead.
This evening, I mixed myself a banana milkshake.