On Friday Nanny baked. With a large house full of family members, baking was so important. Nanny always made our bread, but there was so much more she had to do. She made scones, meat pies, apple pies, jam tarts, cakes, rice puddings and cooked whatever was in season.
We didn't have a huge supermarket in those days. I was born in 1958 and England was still recovering from two world wars. For many years there had been rationing of food. If you grew your own vegetables you shared whatever was left over. By the late 1950's England was changing fast. But not for Nanny. She still did everything the way her mother taught her.
In the garden there was an old orchard full of apples and pears.In the fruit garden there was a strawberry patch and fruit canes. Nanny made jam, huge bubbling pots of simmering fruit and sugar. The smell was wonderful. She made apple pies , but any apples we could not store were dried in rings in her huge oven. She did not bottle or can food. We had a large pantry where our jars of jam, dried fruit, pies and cakes were kept.
I have never had baking skills. I was told that my hands were too hot to make good pastry? I handled the pastry too much. Nanny was quick and that was the trick. Her pastry was awesome.A slice of her apple and blackberry pie with cream from the dairy down the road was beyond wonderful!!! We collected our wild blackberries in buckets from the hedgerows around Belton.I loved it when i was allowed to stir the cake mixture and lick the spoon afterwards. Often a pie was donated to some of Dr. Deanes patients who were sick and not able to bake themselves. When Nanny was ill they returned the kindness. Our little village was so close knit.
Packed lunches were made for my Grandad and Mum who worked at the Local Birds Eye Factory in Great Yarmouth. Getting there was difficult for them. They cycled 4 miles in all weather to the river Yare which separates Gorleston from Great Yamouth .When they arrived at the riverside in Gorleston they chained up their bikes in a shed along with so many others. Then took the ferry across the river. The ferry was always packed. people leaving the factory and going home. Others going in the other direction to start a another long shift. Grandad and mum had their lunches in a box made up by Nanny the night before. They had home baked bread made into sandwiches, slices of pie and dried fruit. Whatever was in season in the garden.
The Birds Eye Factory was a huge employer of local people. The fishing industry was flourishing then. The fish was packed in ice out at sea and transported up the river to the factory. It was unloaded, gutted and cleaned then frozen. My mother had the job of gutting and cleaning the fish. She stood with her rubber boots on in ice cold water for hours doing it , her hands were always sore.What an awful job. She was saving up to put a deposit on a house of our own. She worked the night shift to make extra money. By the time she came home she was exhausted. Sometimes I sat with her over a huge pot of tea before she went to bed. She chattered to nanny and I about the girls she worked with. The work was hard and they tried to laugh and joke to make the shift go by quickly. There was always someone getting married or someone having a baby. Women came, then left quickly the work was so hard. Mum had her eye on a new housing estate being built in the next town. The house was modern and up to date. I wanted to stay in Belton it was what I knew and loved. Through a childs eyes Belton which was lost in time so old fashioned was perfect. I did not understand how hard my parents and grandparents struggled.The good thing was we were family and we were doing it together. I didn't want to live without my extended family.
Uncle Darrell was a farm boy. he drove the tractor's, ploughed the land picked the fruit. He started fixing the broken farm machines. He had a natural skill as a mechanic. He loved driving and he eventually worked as a lorry driver. He worked long hours at the farm but always bought home some of the harvest. He also took a packed lunch made by his mum.
Aunt Elanor known as Auntie lane was a trainee nurse. She dreamt of a house for her and Darrell. they wanted to start a family of her own. I loved her irish accent. She was full of fun and so pretty. The best auntie in the world. She still is. She used to love the radio and could master all the difficult dances. Darrell saw himself as a rival to Elvis, he styled his hair the same way. Nanny used to joke that her daughter-in-law couldn't bake. She eventually became a cook. So it was just a mother-in-law thing. It was what nanny was good at and she loved baking for her son, and her big family. She was so proud of her skills and didn't want anyone to surpass her.
The kitchen was always warm on baking day, as enough food was cooked to fill so many growling tummies over the weekend. I was so proud to say I helped but my contribution was small...I just licked the spoon...LOL