Arriving home at Rushmore Towers one night after a busy night in
the restaurant one could only describe the feeling I had, as I
eased my body out of the car, as being totally cream crackered.
Was this one of the side effects of getting on in years and -
more to the point - what could one do about it?
I sat and read the latest gossip
from the newspaper. Slowly I unwound with a nice glass or
two of a very nice Pinot Noir and a few puffs on my old
favourite pipe and it was at that time of the wee hours that I
decided I would raid the fridge for my late night binge.
Normally this would consist of a good lump of cheese, a few
sliced tomatoes topped with plenty of freshly ground black
pepper and a good drizzle of spicy olive oil, then a good
spoonful of sweet pickle, and half a packet of those crunchy
cheese biscuits that Mrs. R. has hidden at the back of the
cupboard - perfect food for a hungry chef, or is it?
Over the years, I have meet many
chefs and we all have two things in common. One is the
fact nobody ever asks a chef home for dinner. The other is
our lifestyle. When it comes down to consuming our daily
intake of food there is a misconception with the general public
that all chefs live on the finest foods known to man - smoked
wild salmon fished from a little river in the Highlands and
smoked with loving care by Jock a one legged Scotchman over hand
picked oak twigs scented with 12 year old single malt whisky.
This would, of course, be a starter and for our daily main dish
we all live on rare breed fillet of beef that's fed on the salt
marshes. This, in turn, is cooked pink and served with a
light shallot and herb infused sauce topped with baby asparagus
that still has the morning dew on its bright green tips.
Now for all you that believe that this is the case then you will
also believe that little people live at the bottom of the
garden. The truth is that normally a chef will not sit
down to eat a meal at any set time of the day. His energy
is maintained by eating on the hoof as he moves around the
kitchen tasting a spoonful of fresh tomato sauce. Testing
and scraping the remains of a pasta sauce from a saucepan goes
along way to keeping chefs working long hours without proper set
I suppose, in a way, add to this
the long double shifts that the chefs body is submitted to over
many years, then its no wonder that on occasions chef wonders
why he feels a tad bit under the weather.
The next morning, as I stepped
out of the bath and looked through the steam at my reflection in
the mirror - only to see the full Monty - I noticed that all the
parts were still there but sadly not in the right places any
more, and certainly that's not the body of a young man that ran
along Heacham beach skinny dipping at midnight many moons ago.
What is needed is a plan of action - a bit of exercise - a few
press ups. May be it would help if I had a bike. I
remember an old friend saying that he thought that Norfolk was
flat until he bought a bike. So after I had dressed, I
headed off outside to see if the old Post Office bike that Mrs.
R. used for her paper round was in working order. Sadly
not. Then I remembered that my old friend was selling his
mountain bike and it came to pass, after an hour of bartering
and using all the dirty underhand tricks of the bartering game
that had being taught to me by a one handed man that I had met
when I was on holiday last year, I finally became the proud
owner of a bike.
The great day had arrived as I proudly pushed my newly acquired
bike out into the car park at the restaurant. The sun was
shining, the sky was a deep blue as I tucked my trousers into my
socks. I recalled it must have been at least ten years ago
since I last cocked my leg over but its like they say, once you
have done it you don't forget it - riding a bike that is.
And so, with me firmly mounted on the beast and peddling like
mad I headed off towards the North Beach, gathering speed as I
went and I must say enjoying the experience. It was the next
day that the pain kicked in and on closer inspection of the
problem I decided that a new softer saddle may be the answer.
After a week the blisters had healed and I was back riding my
bike again. I can recommend riding a bike to keep you fit.
It gets the blood pumping through your veins. So if you
are in Heacham and see a red faced chef puffing and gasping for
breath on a bike, don't worry its only me enjoying myself and
trying to get fit.