Thursday, August 23, 2007

Let them drink coffee

I took the boys to a coffee morning in a beautiful farmhouse. Was not entirely sure of the etiquette. I took off my wellies at the door. Technically, you do not need to wear wellies at the moment but they are the only shoes I can find. I thought you just needed to pay for entry. In reality, you need change for the raffle, sweet peas, cake stall and marmalade. It was more of a small fair. Funds went to the hunt. (God better not be a fox or Northumberland is doomed to hell’s flames and back again.)

I knew a smattering of women there but the vast majority were strangers. I find it difficult to keep walking into rooms full of people I do not know. As if a large, flattened stone is perched at the back of my throat, rocking slightly, waiting to slide down it. Children ran around scavenging luxury chocolate biscuits while smart, silvering women talked about bridge and said things like: “Where is the lemon curd?” and “I don’t think I’ll be riding a horse much longer. I’ll have to take up golf.” I met a judge at Crufts dog show and a lady whose husband used to work in a castle. Plates of buttered girdle scones littered coffee tables. Years ago, the tradition was to put sixpenny and threepenny bits in the girdle scones for children’s birthday teas. I felt I had to keep eating them in case I found one. Builders are expensive to keep; sixpence here, sixpence there and I can pay for them to put up a length of new guttering.

I really like my friend's mother-in-law who organised the coffee morning. One of those small dynamos who make the world a better place by being in it. Twenty years ago, she set up her own agriculture museum on the farm. She raised so much money for charity from it, she got an OBE. She bakes, then distributes cakes to her daughters and her one daughter-in-law. A month or so ago, I was visiting my friend. She made me a cup of tea then pulled the lid of an old biscuit tin and pushed it across to me; in it were four girdle scones, four butterfly cakes, four iced buns, four chocolate cornflake cakes. I have never had a mother-in-law. My husband’s mother died when he was just 18. I always wanted a mother-in-law. I looked at the cakes then across to my friend. I said: “Can I have your mother-in-law please?” She said: “No. ” I said: "OK. Maybe she would just bake for me then?” She said: “No. Have a girdle scone."

16 comments:

Winchester whisperer said...

What are girdle scones? Scones that will force you to wear a girdle? Maybe they're easier to make than choux pastry?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Wifey, we do not hunt foxes anymore, as well you know. It is illegal. We follow a trail.

WW, girdle scones are the flat scones that the Scots call pancakes.

Lorna said...

love this.

Northumberland is wonderful -especially the almost deserted coast (south of Seahouses)

oh and WW anything is easier than choux pastry!

Strickley said...

Girdle (Griddle) scones are perfect for making on an Aga. Mix up the batter and drop spoonfuls onto a griddle (or big flat frying pan). It's impossible to make too many as they get eaten as soon as they're cooked.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I wish you would hunt the foxes, they're causing havoc with my hens.

A lady we know used to make girdle scones for us when I first moved up here but she thought I was making them too so she stopped. She didn't know me very well then.

Crystal xx

Pam said...

I have a late suggestion re the plague of flies. Well, two suggestions:

http://www.hawkin.com/rkmain.asp?PAGEID=20670&STK_PROD_CODE=09130

and

http://www.hawkin.com/rkmain.asp?PAGEID=20670&STK_PROD_CODE=08922

I've been reading your blog for ages, and like it a lot. Perhaps one day I'll learn the art of leaving a topical comment.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I love your blog and reading the various comments thst your posts generate. I'd just say re mother in laws - they can be great and they can also be a nightmare. I was married before and m MIL was a sweetheart and great fun. I am married again and the latest is not someone I would wish upon anyone. It's a shame but there you go. Some you win, some you loose! Keep up the good work, your blog has inspired me to start my own. Cheers and hope life is becoming more settled for you now.

mosquito said...

Great Girdle Scones - very definitely from Northumberland and not Scotland. Very special and not made of a batter. Butter, sugar, flour sour milk and currants. Very easy to make and no need to have any Choux in sight!

It must be good to receive boxes and cakes from your mother or mother in law. It is also excellent to receive a bucket of freshly dug potatoes from your father!

@themill said...

Stickley - you can drop them directly onto the hotplate - saves the washing up.
Can also cook eggs that way. works a treat.

Kaycie said...

I think I need a recipe for girdle scones.

lady thinker said...

There are a quite a few of us who would like a sweet natured mother in law - or a mother. I was careless with mine and lost them when I was still young. Also there are some of us wish we had children and/or grandchildren - so why don't we get together and start an 'Adopt a Granny Scheme'.
I might start a blog on it - and people can then all 'sell/advertise' themselves like a kind of lonely hearts column.
Sorry I'm kinda of lowering the tone of this blog. Lovely post.

Swearing Mother said...

My lovely mother in law always used to make us a Christmas cake, ready in October to be spoonfed brandy until Christmas. She made Easter biscuits, almond slices and fly-cemetries (Garibaldy-like biscuits), jams and pickles. All I ever did was supply the jars. You could never go round to their place without a fresh cake being in the tin, and if she knew you were coming she'd make eclairs or cream slices. Needless to say, I put on 2stone in the first year after I met my husband and regularly went to see his family, but it was lovely doing it.

How we miss her.

kinglear said...

Mrs. Lear's mother in law, my mother, has had praise heaped on her by Mrs. Lear. If that seems a somewhat convoluted sentence, it is because it is odd that a daughter in law should like her mother in law.
As Mrs. Lear says" She never interefered, or expressed a contary opinion. But sometimes, when I confided in her that I had made hash of something, she would say "well, dear, I did think you were on the wrong track but I didn't like to mention it""
Lovely, just like girdle scones

Minx said...

I could strangle mine.

merry weather said...

Following this post wifey, I'm happy to announce that by mutual agreement, Lady Thinker and I have adopted each other!

Your blog is a meeting place for great minds, a cathedral for lonely souls, a virtual coffee bar... But where are you, Invisible One?

farming-frenchstyle said...

My first mother-in-law was great. She dropped everything to help me when I had our kids - she had a hair dressing salon then so would ring round and change the appointments to come to help me. She also had a great sense of humour - sadly her son (my ex-husband) didn't inherit it! I don't know my present moth-in-law as my husband and she don't speak. Life's sad really when it comes to that.