One of the first things I do when I arrive at a home swap home is to look in the kitchen cupboards. We have always arranged to swap dried goods, including tea and coffee, with our partners, so it's great fun to check what they've got that you may never have used. I have twice changed my brand of instant coffee after home exchanges.
But what has been the greatest fun is re-discovering things you like which you'd forgotten about. The first time it happened we were in Chester preparing to take a stroll along Graham and Sue's favourite riverside path and, as it was a picnic friendly day, I was making sandwiches with the remains of the previous night's roast pork. Sorting through the cupboard for something to enliven the cold meat I came across the lime pickle. My taste buds prickled at the mere thought. I hadn't eaten lime pickle for years. That certainly was a packed lunch to remember.
In one house they had real drinking chocolate. You know, the sort you make with hot milk rather than hot water, taking me back many, many years, and in another house they had Greek honey. Now in case you think I was plundering a carefully hoarded holiday souvenir, this was a normal supermarket brand but it made me question why I'd stopped buying this darkly succulent concoction. So now I do.
But best of all was the millionaires shortbread we feasted on at Jo's home in Dublin (photo is of me in Jo's kitchen). Indicative of the amazing hospitality and friendliness offered to us in that city (ever been on a tour bus where the driver sang ballads all the way round town?) this was not the everyday shortbread that I used to relish but a wonderful confection made for us by Jo's sister which she called caramel slices: buttery, crumbly biscuit, rich, sweet toffee, thick milk chocolate.
As a point of etiquette, if you get carried away with a newfound fancy or a long forgotten favourite do remember to replenish the supplies.
I wonder what will tickle my taste buds on my next home swap?'- Sandra Newnham, London