Thursday, October 4

Beaches of Childhood



I was given this award by Marja, of Dutch Corner. Thankyou Marja, I didn't realise you had nominated your whole blog roll! But that is how I feel about my list, & there are many not yet on the listed list, that I also enjoy. So please, anyone who reads here today, consider yourself selected!

Marja has some great pictures of Sumner, a beach I know well, & which we visited often with our children when they were young.

Ali Honey also has some lovely pics of a beach I knew well, as a child, & also as a young adult. It is an oft visited beach, with a harbour side, an ocean side, & a small 'mountain' to be climbed or walked around. Many happy hours were spent as children on that beach, & in the ocean, lying out beyond the breakers, on Lilos as they were called. They were black rubber inflatable floats, & could be hired for a small fee, for the whole day, if you wished. I would be as brown as chocolate, & my mother would refer to me as a 'blue eyed Maori' by the end of summer.

When I was at Primary School, our class would invariably be taken off somewhere for School Picnic Day, once a year. The bus would be filled with excited children who had packed picnic treats, & special drinks. I remember that our school often went to Mt Maunganui, & we would spend the day being herded about, carefully watched while we had a swim in the ocean, & eating our -sometimes sandy,- lunches. My Grandmother always made me something special to take in my lunch & often it was wonderful Raspberry Biscuits - cookies to USA readers. I never did get the recipe for those, but made one of my own for my children & they loved them as much as I had.

When I went nursing at 18, in the City adjacent to the Mt Maunganui beach, which had become the Port, on days off, a group of us would get over to the beach, to sun ourselves, & swim. Or the current boyfriend might take me for the day. It was always a pleasant destination, & I had relatives who lived there, & still do, so the area was well known to me, & still brings a lump to my throat, though it has changed quite vastly from the old township I remember.

I have also been recalling my Grandmother's stove. It was a "Neeco", an electric stove, covered in green enamel, & it had heavy solid elements on the top, & an oven which would seem primitive nowadays. She cooked huge meals in & on that stove, & would cater to her whole family at Christmas time. Usually around 8 adults & 7 or 8 children. It was usually very hot, & I can still see our Grandmother's face, gleaming with perspiration, & a bright red, from her labours. All done with love, & never a complaint.

Our Grandmother was an excellent cook, & I remember her using asbestos mats to 'stop the milk from catching' when she made her sauces, & milk puddings. Knowing what we do today, about asbestos, it is hard to believe how often people used such mats. They were made from the asbestos, with a rim of metal, & fit over the elements to keep the heat down.

She made wonderful Yorkshire Pudding, & a dish called Toad in the Hole, which had fat sausages placed in the midst of a dish of Yorkshire pudding batter, & cooked in a really hot oven. It was divine, back then, & the sausages would come out crisp & brown, in the middle of the wonderful light puffy pudding. I would never dream of eating such a dish today!!

She always made a pudding of some sort, & often in winter it was a steamed pudding or Jam Roly Poly. Or apple pies. She would spend hours in summer, bottling fruit, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, & she would make lots jams & they would all be stored out in a huge old Welsh Dresser, which stood in the porch, as the kitchen was too small to accomodate such a large item of furniture! I have no idea what ever happened to that old dresser. I would love to see it again now.

We always had cake to eat, or biscuits, & seemed to be very well fed, even though times were not financially easy. Our Grandmother could make a meal from next to nothing, & we did have our own vegie garden. A neighbour used to go fishing often, & would give our Grandmother fish. She wasted no part of the fish, & would make fish head soup. My brother & I were horrified with that particular dish, & never would try. My brother swears he could smell a mile down the road, when coming home from school! I didn't mind fish, but preferred the only "takeaway food" we knew in those days- Fish & Chips. They were cooked in hot fat, & the batter on the fish would be thick & crisp. But it was such a rare treat I would doubt anyone got fat from having it once in a while!

When our mother took us for a day out at the beach, we would always have the treat of Fish & Chips, usually for tea, & we would sit & eat them out of the greaseproof paper, & newspaper wrapping. No vinegar for us! That was an English fashion that never really caught on in New Zealand. Salt & perhaps a little lemon juice, was about the extent of 'dressing'.

Split Enz, I Hope I Never.

12 comments:

Molly said...

I could almost see the delectable hills and valleys of Yorkshire pudding! Since we came from such different backgrounds, the OC and I made up our own traditions. One of them was roast beef with Yorkshire pudding at christmas. Nothing like it to make you feel like a gourmet cook, even when you just barely knew how to turn on the oven....

Mike said...

My grandmother was a great cook too and Personally, I would give anything to have some of her cooking right now. You just can't find stuff like that anymore.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Your childhood memories of sea and sand sound idylic. You bring it all to life so that I almost feel I'm there!
I love your stories about your Grandmother. She sounds much like mine..What wonderful managers those women were....

bluemountainsmary said...

Not only is it your memories but the memories that you bring back for me.

School picnic day - we had those too.

And a nana who made the best pikelets - never tasted any so good since. Mum tells me nana always made a dessert - even if it was just fruit and custard (home made of course)

fifi said...

A beach which is most dearly loved in my memory, my favourite to visit in dreams, alas, has lost its name.
I only went there once, and never back, and I think of that day always.

joyce said...

Your post reminded me of my grandmother's cooking. She made the best pies. Too bad I didn't learn some of her trade secrets.

Lucy said...

Hooray for beaches!
Why not eat toad-in-the-hole now? We have it quite often, made with inported Irish chipolatas, French sausages are too chunky and chewy for some, gravy and veg - it's really not unhealthy; it surprises me how little fat goes into Yorkshire pudding. But I've given up doing Yorkshire pud for company,it always sinks!

anne bebbington said...

Meggie - you should revisit Toad in the Hole - it's one of my kids favourites and not all bad for you especially if you use good quality sausages :o)

Ian Lidster said...

Oh, you 'MUST' have vinegar (malt, if you please) with fish and chips, or it's just incomplete. Reminds me of childhood at Lumberman's Arch beach in Stanley Park in Vancouver. I can smell the F&C now. Oh,and I agree with Anne Bebbington about toad-in-the-hole. It's an absolute favorite of mine.

sMC said...

Definitely vinegar with the fish and chips. but did you ever have batterbits (the bits of batter that came off the fish) we got them for free in my first life in Engand :)After Guide Meetings we would walk home and call in for a bag of batterbits.

Tanya Brown said...

Lovely memories; thank you for sharing them!

ancient one said...

Grandmas cooking was sooo good. And we never had any of the things you mentioned. Hot chocolate and cheese biscuits, yum! Granddaddy had no teeth and Grandma cooked everything fork tender which usually took some time. I'm too impatient. I cook most things in a pressure cooker! LOL