I remember my first kiss very well and it doesn’t seem like it was all those years ago, it is a memory so vivid it is as if it was just the other day.
I was in my early teens and I’d gone to New Zealand all by myself for a holiday. It was a Christmas present from my parents who were sending me so I could catch up with friends and relatives I’d left behind when we moved to Australia two years earlier.
Towards the end of my holiday I went to stay with my cousins on the South Island. I was staying in a house with my cousin and his friend, Michael and they were both 16. My divorced uncle was never home so the three of us had the house and our time to ourselves. We had the best moments ever, enjoying our freedom, the fabulous weather and the bliss of few responsibilities.
Being young and naïve it never occurred to me that Michael was becoming in any way interested in me. One night we’d been out for some takeaway fish and chips and we walked back to the house and decided to watch the movie that was screening on TV, (hiring a DVD or a video had not yet been invented). The boys wanted to turn out all the lights because we were watching a thriller and they thought a blacked-out room would add to the drama.
We were watching the very scary film and I was quite engrossed in it and at some point Michael came and sat with me on the armchair and I remember thinking how nice and comforting it was to have him beside me during this very scary movie.
The movie finished at around midnight and in those days there was no more broadcasting after that time so the TV just went to a complete black screen leaving us in total darkness. I heard my cousin say, ‘Well I’m going to bed’ and he left the room and then I felt Michael put his hands on either side of my face and he leaned closer and I felt his lips on my lips and then he started kissing me. And I was quite startled at first because it was kind of unexpected but then I thought how nice it was and how lovely he was. And we stayed downstairs for quite a while with him telling me how wonderful I am and I thought, ‘I think I have a boyfriend!’
We spent the next day together being outdoors all day enjoying the summer weather and swimming at the deserted beach but the very next morning he had to leave because his holiday had come to an end. He caught an early bus back to the part of New Zealand where he was from.
I wondered if I would see him again and I hoped I would but with me heading back to Australia in a few days time I wondered how it could happen.
As it turns out, I never did see Michael again. Six months after those special few days I heard from my cousin that Michael was out in the country riding his bike up a steep hill when he collapsed with chest pains. He suffered a fatal heart attack and died just before his 17th birthday.
It turns out that tragically, Michael’s last summer was the one he shared with me. Those were precious moments that are not too easily forgotten.
Do you have precious memories of your first kiss?
And now it’s definitely time for some comfort food.
Slow-Cooked Beef in Red Wine
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Slow-cooked meats are usually cheaper cuts of meat. The meat I bought cost less than $30.00.
- 2 tbspns olive oil
- 1.5kg piece bolar blade
- 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 4 brown onions, thickly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 150ml red wine
- 250ml beef stock
- 400g tinned tomatoes
- few sprigs rosemary
- few sprigs thyme
Pre-heat oven to 160C.
In a large casserole dish, heat olive oil. Season bolar blade and add to casserole dish. Sear on all sides, put aside.
Add celery and onion to casserole dish and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add red wine and cook until wine bubbles and begins to evaporate. Add beef stock and tinned tomatoes. Return beef to casserole dish and throw in herbs. Put a lid on the casserole dish and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.
Break up with a fork.
Serve with wet polenta and wilted English spinach.
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