A father’s plea
The moment you find yourself feeling enmity towards someone of a different faith, you’re letting them win. When we judge them because they look different to me, you’re letting them win. When racism expands in our society, we’re letting them win. When EDL or far right groups allow you to think a faith is the enemy, you’re letting them win. When your own community leaders tell you that another community is at fault- you’re letting them win.
IS want to divide us, they want us be led to division and point the finger, they want us to begin the war.
We will only defeat them if we stand together. All of us.
The 12:13 from Gare Du Nord left on time, and we sit in the carriage, with a mixture of feelings- anxiousness, relief, sadness, excitement, and above all gratefulness.
Dinner on the Eiffel Tower, Disneyland Paris, and then a day of sight seeing on Sunday.
We had a beautiful time on Friday, with dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel, and then a lovely walk around the neighbourhood. Missing our train was a godsend as it meant we got a taxi back to our hotel in Port Des Versailles without venturing towards the hotels and bars affected by the attacks.
I woke up at about 7.30 knowing that we had a busy day ahead of us in Disneyland Paris -and saw about 100 missed calls on my phone over night, and my immediate thoughts were- is everyone ok back home??? Little did I know that we were caught up in worst attacks of terrorism in decades in Europe.
Feeling very on edge, and a little confused we called the embassy and asked the hotel about our options. Turned out that Paris was on lockdown so we were stranded in the hotel and surrounding area.
We couldn’t keep our eyes from the news, even though we didn’t want it to pull us closer into the feeling of sadness we were already keeping at bay.
We spent the next day walking, talking to locals, trying to spread smiles and compassion to a people rocked twice this year by violent extremism. I wondered, would the people pick on me given that I have slightly middle eastern features? How much do they know about other cultures? The backlash of 9/11 on people of eastern heritage was terrible, would the Parisians be the same?
Much to my surprise – no they seemed more comfortable and understanding with us, making conversation, and trying to make us, clearly tourists, comfortable.
I have grown fond of Paris, and the people here. I hear the stereotypes of the French “arrogance” for my fellow Brits however, I find people are innately filled with love. They just want to enjoy life, watch their families grow and earn to provide for them. I see them as my own. This, I feel is synonymous with all people, I cannot help but feel warmth for all.
Leaving Paris, a warm, eerily quiet city today (Sunday) I feel a sense of connection to the beautiful city. I feel I have left a part of my heart in Paris.
A city I love for so much, now a city in mourning. I leave a piece of my heart for the people of Paris, because we were just there, because people do not deserve to be treated like that, because we neighbour them.
I saw the resilience of the Parisians, their defiance against what was, and their strength for what will be.
Paris, you have kept a piece of a fathers heart, and I will never forget 13/11/15.
As a very protective father, I found that managing my son’s food intake as he transitioned into solids a real challenge. I mean, what do I give him? Do I give him chicken? How well cooked? Thigh or breast? Do I give him fish? What about the bones?
You can see where I’m going with this…
So anyway, I started off light… Fresh mash with a little fresh steamed fish… Then it all took off….
Here are he top 5 meals I’ve made for my 1 year old in order of his preference… Enjoy!
1. Fish pie with cheesy potatoe mash sauce
- Oven bake frozen mackerel fillets with a little butter and lemon
- Meanwhile, boil potatoes for the mash sauce.
- Once boiled, drain off the water , leaving a little in the pan with the potatoes and return to the cooker.
- Add to the potatoes, a good splash of milk, butter, and grate some mature cheese and whisk together to make a smooth paste.
- Take out the fish, flake and remove any bones and add to the sauce mix.
2. Steamed fish with spinach and broccoli mash
- Bake haddock with lemon and butter
- Boil some broccoli and chopped potatoes and wilt some spinach
- Once the veg are cooked, remove the brocollli to a chopping board and chop up, adding the wilted spinach which should also be chopped up.
- Once you’re happy that it’s fine enough for the little one, add to the boiled potatoes and pop in some butter and milk. Whisk together and top with the cooked fish.
If you want a sauce for this dish, there are 2 options below that you may like. I use these a lot.
3. Potatoe and spinach curry
- Par boil potatoes and remove from water.
- In a non stick pan, add the following in order
- A glug of olive/coconut oil, heat it up
- Finely chopped garlic (1 clove)- don’t burn it
- Finely chopped onion- stir and cook till golden
- Add a little ginger, turmeric and black pepper.
- Cook for a minute until the mixture is a rich orange.
- Add a little pasatta and stir until the mixture loses a little of its water.
- Add the potatoes and chop in spinach. Cover and cook on a low heat stiring occasionally.
- Cool and serve.
4. Cottage pie
- Heat some oil in a pan, add to it some minced lamb and cook until brown
- Add finely chopped onions, a little garlic, some frozen veg, the ones with peas, chopped carrots, green beans, and sweet corn is a good bag to have in your freezer!
- Make up some low salt stock and add to the cooking meat and veg.
- Cook through and add thickening agent such as cornflour or plain flour.
- Meanwhile make up some mash as in the above recipes and separate the mixture into small storage containers, top with the mash. Cool and serve.
5. Spanish omelette
- Whisk 2 eggs, adding a splash of milk and seasoning.
- In a non stick pan heat up some olive oil, add chopped tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, par boiled small chopped potatoes.
- Heat up in the oil and once the mixture is hot, add the eggs.
- Stir the veg around to make it even and turn the heat to medium.
- Flip the mixture cooking the eggs thoroughly