There are no dinosaurs at the Royal Veterinary College. Although that didn’t stop the kids asking me about 7 times, and carefully examining the skeleton of a horse just to make sure the College got it right. We fared better with dressing up as surgeons and learning to treat pretend wounds on cuddly stuffed animals, in assorted neon colours of bandages. Next time I come across an injured paw, I’ll be able to wrap it like a professional.
The trip was a welcome distraction; I’ve been something of a major stress ball the last couple of weeks. The first 10 minutes of seeing Conor this week I whined (a lot), and cried (a little), and then ate a large bag of lightly salted crisps before feeling a lot better. I haven’t been able to breathe properly all week on account of hay fever and its impacting on the little sleep I’m getting after dark. Breathing through my mouth throughout the day, and even more so at night so I can catch some zzzzzz, takes more conscious effort than I was aware of. Nasal congestion sucks, and I don’t like waking up to a wet pillow.
We’re half way through Ramadan, and yesterday Conor and I finally had our first iftar (meal to break your fast) together, in a dimly lit and loud restaurant, with delicious food and a bunch of other people (friends) at our table. We broke bread, and I let him have the bigger half because he missed suhoor (the meal before a fast). I was still so full from the dinner, that my own suhoor a few hours later consisted of a banana and a mini toaster waffle.
Fasting has been difficult but manageable this year – the stress, my health, my work, and the lack of sleep haven’t made it easy. But catching naps after work, waking up for every suhoor, praying and reading more have all helped. Every evening I watch my mother run around the kitchen to prepare our iftar meal and wonder how she does it. She won’t let me help because she has a “system” in place, and I would deep-fry wrong.
My own contributions are quick and easy. Something sweet and refereshing like this date and pistachio milkshake – inspired by Conor’s love of pistachios and new-found love of dates. When he came round for iftar last week, with a bag of treats, I skipped all the chocolate and went straight for the pistachios so I could make this drink again (and then went back for the chocolate). It takes just 3 ingredients, less than 3 minutes, and zero fuss. It’s naturally sweet, refreshing, and filling, and I love the contrasting textures of the smooth, creamy milk and the pieces of pistachios. With my zero effort attitude, I’m sure Conor is worried next Ramadan when I’ll be responsible for iftar I’ll be serving beans and toast.
Note: do yourself a favour and buy unsalted pistachios without the shells, because then you’ll spend a lot of time and energy removing the shells and soaking the nuts in water.