Now, technically I am not quite middle-aged. And yet I find I can accumulate an increasingly long list of evidence that would suggest otherwise - and the interesting thing is, I find I don't even really mind. To wit:
- a definite sense of excitement that today I'm going to nip to Boots and pick up the Christmas catalogue. I will turn straight to the food section, and draw rings around hampers of jam, biscuits etc that I am hoping people will buy me.
- increasing reliance on the heady high provided by knowing there are clean bedsheets to get into. Sometimes, if I know there are clean pyjamas too, I start angling to go to bed around 6pm. I note in passing these pyjamas are often of the fluffy, heart-stoppingly unsexy kind.
- an interest in going out sometimes for a nice walk. I have always done this, of course, but this walk no longer needs to terminate with a visit to a pub as its ultimate destination.
- a belief that a quality night out (which still offers all the essentials of good wine, good company, good food, a quick burst of table dancing etc) will ideally end with a chapter of a nice book in bed before midnight.
And the most damning evidence of all? Entire weekends spent in pursuit of the Food Market/Food Festival/Farmers' Market, each of which may as well have a gentleman on the door beckoning me in and whispering seductively "welcome to the pleasure dome" - I can think of no other environment that offers so much potential pleasure within such a small, safely confined area. Last weekend I went to two, both in Ashton - Tameside Food Festival on the Saturday and Ashton Farmers' Market on the Sunday. Other middle-aged readers will share the sense of joy I felt when I won a box of organic vegetables on the Saturday, courtesy of Mossley Organics - I honestly couldn't have been more excited by my prize, which you see here in all its muddy, middle-aged glory. The quality was superb, by the way - I would definitely buy from them in the future if I lived within their delivery area.
And tomorrow's food market of choice looks something pretty special, for Sunday sees the second outing for a new monthly greed-fest called Royton Real Food. This has been brought to my attention by James from Bobby's Bangers (yes - he was the man who brought a bag of sausages to The Mark Addy for me once, although sadly this does appear to have been a one-off, albeit a thrilling one), for his wife Heather (he insists she has no objection to being called "Mrs Bobby's Bangers", but I privately have my doubts about this) has been heavily involved in organising the whole thing with help from the market manager. There is a tremendous list of stall holders set to appear tomorrow (I have included it below so that you can judge for yourself how many middle-aged cotton bags you'll need to take with you, but do beware this is a SHORTENED version), and the main draw for me here is that no two stalls will be selling the same produce - much as I like the occasional cupcake, no-one needs twelve different companies selling them on the same market.
Royton Real Food will be on in Royton town centre between 11 and 3 tomorrow - I'm going to try to get there early as apparently plenty of people sold out last month, no doubt leading to middle-aged tantrums as ladies craving a Mrs Love-itts scotch egg or similar threw themselves disconsolately wailing to the ground. Fortunately there will be two brass bands on hand tomorrow to provide such tantrums with a suitably melodic accompaniment. I'll leave you with some of the suppliers and a glimpse of Chimney Stack Cakes - you'll definitely be seeing me hanging around here tomorrow before I head home to my clean bedsheets...
Keith Gaskell- Highland beef
Carefully Crafted Cakes
Two Roses Brewery - micro brewery
Sue's Spring Rolls
The Tiny Takeaway - authentic Indian spices
Olivicco - olives, hummus etc
Simply Veg - vegetables (obv)
Mrs Love-itts - pies and scotch eggs
The Eatery - home made biscuits & fruit pies
Hog Roast (you'll prob see Mr Liz hanging round here)
Bobby's Bangers - amazing sausages
Bobby's Bangers Baps *smirks* - as above but cooked
Yorkshire Drizzle - pressed rape seed oils
RS Ireland Black Pudding- Rick Stein's food hero
Yummy Nuts- flavoured nuts
Bridge Street Bakery - bread
Scallion Soups and Sauces
Chimney Stack Cakes (see pic)
Dimitri - Greek wraps
You can follow @roytonrealfood on Twitter for all the latest updates.