You can’t say I wasn’t warned. I distinctly remember the well-turned, neatly lacquered fingernail wagging knowledgeably in my face. I recall the equally smug voice, the contented smile and the words. “Have you done an English winter yet? Have you? Have you? Talk to me in April when you’ve done an English winter and not put on half a stone.”
Well cripes, here I am, less than half way through the spectacularly sodden English winter and I am already 7lbs down, or should that be up? Seven whole pounds! Have you seen what that looks like in bags of sugar or bars of butter? Do you have any idea how hard that is to lose? Yet it appears to slip on, so easily, while no one is actually watching.
Really easily. Rudely easily. I could understand if I had really gone for it and troughed down the roast potatoes, had second helpings of figgy pudding and a double serve of the brandy butter only to end up face-down in a barrel of Baileys, tarred and feathered with petit fours on the shag pile carpet. But I didn’t.
I was abstemious. I was on holiday in the Maldives, staying in two very smart hotels, still wearing my trusty one-piece I grant you, but not watching TV, walking along the beach, swimming, snorkelling, skipping, eating fruit, pretending to be Ms Andres slipping out of the foam mid coconut tree cantata.
I’d been so good, so Amelia Freer… or so I thought…
For what I really had not factored into the equation, while chomping delicately on a grilled prawn, gently pitying those left behind to brave the storms and the Boxing Day sales was: the buffet. Or more specifically, the breakfast buffet.
Oh sweet Jesus, there is nothing more likely to awaken your inner Augustus Gloop than a breakfast buffet.
Admittedly it takes a day, or two, to really get your eye in. At first it can be a bit overwhelming and one contents oneself with a couple of fried eggs and a pineapple and papaya slice. But by day three all bets are well and truly off.
A waffle? Why not! A pancake? Well… they’re cooking them. A pistachio bun? They look good. Panettone French toast? What an amazing concept! And then once you’ve crossed the panettone Rubicon, there is simply no going back. You have to try ALL the infused honeys – including the lemongrass. ALL the jams – the mango was by far the best. Is the peanut butter really homemade? And then there are the seven different types of breads. The hams. The cheeses. The smoked salmon. The smoked eel? Plus the rosemary and pumpkin rock cakes, oh and the banana breads, the marble cake, the pain au chocolate, the tiny bite size croissant that disappeared in one crispy puff. By the end you’re back and forth with three different plates, wrapping up small pastry snacks in napkins just in case you might fancy a little quelque chose later.
And the result? Seven pounds of pure buffet belly and some very tight jeans.
So here I am, again, a little less smug than I was three months ago, staring down the same old twin-barrelled shotgun with Amelia Freer’s sodding name on it. I am half way through the appalling two day cleanse. I have supped on Epsom salts and nothing but steamed or boiled vegetables for the last 36 hours and I already hate my friends, my husband, my children, my life and can only dream of panettone French toast and lemongrass honey. But I have those 7lbs firmly in my sight and am determined to shed them by the end of January.