Lemon Drizzle Cake

I returned to Winchester yesterday morning for the start of my second semester, and I must admit that upon doing so, I found a room that was just a little bit tidier than it was when I left it a month ago (not that it was a pigsty). I often live in a state of what I like to call “organised chaos”, in a room that is somewhat cluttered and yet still easy enough to navigate – in spite of any mess, I still know where everything is. When I entered this room, though, in its current condition, I did for once appreciate just how relaxed and satisfied a totally uncluttered space could make me. Having thrown away most of the paper from last semester that was no longer needed, I could actually see most of my desk, and to preserve this newfound neatness Mum stacked my books at the back of it, right against the wall. This simple touch means that it will be much easier to work on it and move things around it as I please. As I sit at my desk now, typing this, with my phone to my left and a coffee and arrowword book to my right, I am calm, and I know this because of how easily I am writing and how well the words are flowing. This feels like a good omen for the weeks to come.

No matter how comfortable I am here, though, I couldn’t leave Somerset without something to remind me of home. In this instance, I have a lemon drizzle cake Mum lovingly prepared the day before we left. My brother got one to take with him too, although Mum informs me that his is slightly misshapen compared to mine, so I’m going to take that as cast-iron confirmation that I am her favourite son after all. Nobody is more surprised than me that the cake is still with us, and that it hasn’t been completely devoured mere hours after my return. At this moment only one slice is missing, and the entire dish sits obscured from my view – on a table behind me, tightly wrapped in foil – so that I can’t be tempted. So far, the plan is working a treat. It needed to, judging by how quickly I demolished most of the chocolate I received on Christmas Day. For the time being, it waits patiently, while fulfilling two important roles. Not only is it a delicious piece of home baking that will soon be very gratefully received by my stomach, but it is also a reassuring presence that soothes me even further – I know it could potentially be valuable comfort food at a time of need.

Mason

Bolt Upright

The persistent itch that drives me to write something can sometimes be a difficult one to scratch. Many of my new ideas pop into my head at the most inconvenient times, in the dead of night or when I’m already pre-occupied. Otherwise, I can find myself attempting to scrape the bottom of the barrel out of pure desperation, and that only tends to produce mediocre results. I’ve recently come to the realisation that my usual sitting position can’t help matters much either. I write most of these posts slumped on the sofa in the living room, and whilst that might be one of the more comfortable ways of achieving productivity, it’s much better to be sat upright at the kitchen table, as I am right now.

I am level with the laptop keyboard – neither straining upwards nor bending down to reach it. That in turn means that I am relaxed, alert and focused on what I want to say. I recently saw a Facebook post that said:

“If you’re reading this, release your shoulders from your ears, unclench your jaw and remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth. We physically tend to hold onto stress in the least noticeable ways. Relax.”

I took a moment to do all of those things and, sure enough, I did notice a difference. I could breathe easier and felt just a little less weight on my shoulders. It might not be stress that I bottle up when I’m struggling to write on the sofa, but it must surely be the case that sitting at the table with renewed focus has relieved some degree of tension, allowing this post and the ideas within it to flow more freely onto the page. Who would have thought that the kitchen could provide such a useful writing desk?

Mason