Monday, 2 July 2012

The best thing since sliced bread...

My Dad's Mum, my Granny, Phylis, was known to all of her ten grandchildren as "Barnham Granny"

She was an amazingly resourceful cook. My cousin Kate & I both strain with guarded but keen desire for her old handwritten recipe notes. They speak of how to create peppermint creams within the confines of the rationing that became her commonplace in World War II. My aunt used to tell me of tuck boxes sent to her at boarding school, filled with sweets, made from complicated substitutions of cornflour, essence and glycerine.

My Granny lived in a toll cottage, on Lake Lane, in a tiny Sussex village called Barnham. She and my Grandpa retired there, and lived opposite a bakery - Holt's bakery. (Which has since been demolished and turned into townhouses. Such is life.)

She was a strong woman.By the time I came along, nearly the last grandchild, she had aged and mellowed. My fondness for her was, quite simply, beyond measure. She had a grin that warmed the whole world. My perpetual memories of her were her beautiful voice, her huge bust and the cigarette the was her constant companion. She was a coffee afficionado. Of her and her gurgling coffee machine, and her laugh: I was so fond. With her red hair and her cuddles and her protection, I was so comfortable.

She smelled so good. Of baking, of tea rose, of cigarettes, of coffee. She was strong and tough and gentle and simple and sophisticated all in one hit of loveliness. I search for photos of her - the snaps never do justice to her persona, at all.

But due to the nature of her proximinity to the bakery, her bread baking days were done! She could concentrate on less arduous baking; and quicker treats, often with me at her side. She taught me so much.

She served tea. High teas. Jam tarts, and scones. Fruit cakes and iced fancies - sugar & butter and eggs and fruit in the 1970's were a long way from rationing, and she made the most of it! And sandwiches, made from bread from the local bakery across the lane.

Always at the dining table, we would wait for her to slice extra bread. A whole fresh loaf. A 2lb loaf, no less, to entertain her grandchildren.

And she would hold that bread under her arm like a baby, against her bust, and slice the most perfect thin slices. No squashed crumb. She evidently had had years of practice to get the tension and pressure just right. Never a nick or a cut, and certainly she never caught her cardy or her pinny strings with the end of the knife.

Just perfect slices of easy bread.

I miss her.

She was the best thing since sliced bread.

AND, all that said, I have a winner for last weeks bread baking giveaway....this was kindly sponsored by Brad Russell and the team at Kitchenware Direct - thank you!

Kell from Mad Mummas Sweet Randoms

Thanks to everyone that entered, and Kell, could you please email me with your postal address please?

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PS That image up there? Of my Granny's cottage? I managed to get that by going to Google Maps and moving up and down the lane until I spotted the house. A house I have not been to for thirty years, but I knew each curve of the road and spied it easily. How cool is modern technology?!


  1. What a really heartfelt story about your grandmother! I am not close to my grandma at all and my mom's mother died when I was in kindergarten.

    She sounds wonderful!

  2. I really get the smell bit - I can often remember the smell of a persons house, or clothes more than what they looked like.

  3. Such a beautiful story, Lucy. Your grandmother was a lucky lady. x

  4. She sounds like a total love Lucy. So good to read one of your posts again. I miss you blog buddy x

  5. I love modern technology for that. I love your words and your story beautifully told. xxx

  6. She sounds so lovely! Both mine dies when I was little so we never got to get to know each other very well. Very touching post Lucy!

  7. Oh Lucy, how gorgeous. Go Google maps!
    I can just imagine her. And you know who I felt when I did? ....YOU.... There's a lot of her in you, is there? xxxxx

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  9. I miss my grandfather. He made bologna sandwiches which were lopsided and barely stable. I would do just about anything to try to keep one of his sandwiches together again.

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  11. I could feel the love you had for her, and I can only hope to leave such wonderful memories of myself with my loved ones and child.

    Have a nice Martin Luther King Day --Weekend. :)

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful memory or a great person in your life.


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