Thursday, June 2, 2011

In the beginning...tea at Grandma's.

Every Saturday, my family would visit my maternal Grandparents for tea. I don't mean a 'cup of tea and a biscuit' type of tea, or a 'main meal' type of tea, but a good old, traditional, afternoon tea, or high tea as it is often called.

My Grandparents house had two downstairs room, along with a very small kitchen. The back room, next to the kitchen, was their main living area, reserving the front room for entertaining visitors.

Grandma was a wonderful host, offering a cup of tea or coffee, before you barely had your coat off. As guests, we would never be allowed to help ourselves from the kitchen.
Tea would usually start with a fresh white 'Bloomer' (A loaf of bread baked on a tray, rather than in a tin, giving it a relaxed oval shape.) which mum would have bought the day before. Mum was also in charge of cutting the loaf, & spreading it thick with butter and jam.
Occasionally, there would be eggs, or jacket potatoes too.
Once the bread and jam was dispensed with, there came the cake. And my, how much cake there was!
Both Grandma and mum would bake a cake each, sometimes two, and it would have been unthinkable to produce one that was not filled and decorated with jam and butter cream.
My favourite of grandma's creations was always her coffee and walnut cake. Beautiful coffee sponge, filled with coffee buttercream, and topped with glacĂ© icing and walnuts. I can still taste it now! Mum sometimes made caramel shortbread, or peppermint slices, which were always popular, and very moreish!
Occasionally, when the mood took her, mum would make 'fancies'. These would be individual cakes, shaped as a diamond or square, and elaborately decorated with buttercream, toasted coconut, chocolate hail, piped icing or anything else she felt like using that day. They looked stunning.
By the time I was in my teens, a bought cheesecake, Boston bun or other bought cake would often be added to the calorific table. So much to choose from!

Once I started dating, it became another tradition that my boyfriend had to meet not only my parents, but also my Grandparents. So it was, that when I finished work on Saturday afternoons, my boyfriend would meet me in town and apprehensively join me for afternoon tea. I can't imagine Grandma's shock when some of the 'young men' arrived at her doorstep wearing eye-liner and nail polish! Thankfully, they always had very good manners and if Grandma didn't approve, she never said.
It must have come as a relief to her when the man I eventually married had no make-up, even if he did have long hair in those days!

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