It is the time of year when our garden is full of raspberries. We have several varieties producing both red and yellow fruit. I have to admit that the yellow ones are sharper and less tasty than the red, but they make wonderful jam, and I can use them to make enough to last the entire year. The red ones, though, are best eaten fresh or frozen to make desserts and sometimes we just have so many our freezer is still bursting with them as the new crop nears readiness for picking. Family and friends always know that they can expect a supply and this year again we are inundated with berries.
Yesterday, as I picked another bowlful, I was reminded of a time long ago. It was the days before 24 hour television, when TV's still had a white dot that faded to nothing and the commercial channel in the UK was still in its infancy. We had to find other ways to entertain ourselves. Reading was a passion, the radio evoked visions of characters rather than personalities, Sunday afternoons usually involved a walk after lunch, and so on. Brought up in the south-east of England my memories are mainly of sunny summer days with cold winters, yes, it rained, but those memories have faded into insignificance.
My late Father, was a lovely man. He was unusual in that he could tell us from an early age that he loved us (almost frowned upon in those days) and he loved giving us treats and surprises. These were usually family based, something we could all enjoy. In those days he worked for the BBC. He worked long hours on shift work, leaving home at 6am and not returning until well after midnight, his shift pattern followed a two week cycle which meant that one weekend he would work from Saturday morning until the early hours of Monday morning. However, that also meant that he would be home the next weekend, and that usually meant a treat. Sometimes they were really simple. For example I remember one weekend when my Mother went to the local Church to help with a fundraiser. Unbeknown to her (and to us) my Father packed a picnic and when it was time for the sale to end he bundled my brother and me into the car and we went to collect her. We then drove into the nearby country and had a lovely time. It was the surprise element that made it so exciting. Often he would suddenly announce part way through Saturday that tonight he was doing the cooking. It was very unusual for a man to help in the kitchen, let alone take on a full meal, so this was different too. His meals were always unconventional, using ingredients that went together in an unexpected way.
About four times a year we would have a trip to the theatre. Our nearest was a repertory theatre in Guildford. This was long before the days of the Yvonne Arnaud, and the evenings we spent there were full of magic and delight. The evening culminated with a meal at the Corona Cafe. Like the repertory theatre the Corona has long gone, but the food was good, and a meal in a restaurant was a real treat. It was to these meals that I found my thoughts turning as I picked the raspberries. My favourite dessert was the Raspberry Meringue Glace. Icecream, raspberries, meringues and cream. It was only available during the summer months, for the raspberries were fresh, and this was long before the days of food being carried by airlines. In fact, I thought about our trip so much that I even made an Etsy treasury in their honour. You will have to be quick if you want to see it, it will expire in a couple of days, but here is the link. Just for fun!
My Father? He died in 1992, and tomorrow would have been his birthday.