The Great British Bank Holiday

Well, my dears, what an exceptional weekend we have just experienced. Someone must have mentioned to Spring that it was a Bank Holiday in the UK and she got her vibe on. Most of the population was too stunned to cope, I am sure, but in EBL Towers we did manage tea on the lawn with home-made scones.

Admittedly, there were some challenges.

The first challenge was how to present tea to my mother, who has a very restricted diet thanks to various medical issues. She has age-related diabetes, so is not allowed treats. Naturally, I ignore this when it suits me but I didn’t want her to stuff down too many scones in case of complications. I decided to compromise by pre-buttering an assortment and regulating her intake.

The big debate in Cream Tea circles (these are not the same thing as Crop Circles, I can assure you), for those unfamiliar with the English Cream tea, is about where the cream goes. Firstly, to be clear, it goes on the scone and not in the sacred brew itself. That is understood by all civilised people, I think. However, there are the two schools of thought: Devonian or Kernowian. The main issue at hand is whether the jam goes on top of the cream or vice versa.

The next challenge, however, was the fact we had no cream. I know! How very unprepared we were. The weather has been a total surprise, what with it being a Bank Holiday and all. We expected monsoons, as usual, despite the Met Office alleging warm weather. I had hot chocolate ready at hand.

Well, we had no cream, and due to the diabetes issue already mentioned, I was against the concept of jam. However, I was also faced with the immutable opposition of Sigoth to scones with sultanas embedded. I need not tell you, I am sure, that what is left after that is a sorry lack of taste. Faced with another challenge I decided to improvise.

As fortune would have it the garden had yielded almost 4 lbs of rhubarb to Sigoth’s knife, and it was freshly stewed in the kitchen. Naturally it made sense to pop some into the scones along with some ginger, and voila – flavour!

Time for a quick stock take: tea in pot, scones (pre-buttered), chairs and table arranged, tray laid out with cups and milk, kettle boiled. Something was missing…

Oh yes, the mother.

I escorted her out across the uneven lawn to a chair in the shade, and she wolfed down a scone before Sigoth had properly taken his seat. Luckily I had counted them and we both grabbed out allotted portions before she lunged for more. She can still strike with the speed of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi on amphetamine when there is cake or cake-related product involved.

Regular readers will know my mother is demented. Conversations are on 30 second loops, but can be enlivened by a judicious drip feed of comments which then get lodged into the cycle of topics and add a little variety. After we had confirmed about a dozen times that yes, it is a nice garden, and yes, it is lovely for a Bank Holiday, and that it does take about half an hour to get all the grass cut, and yes, the sky is a lovely bright blue, and yes, the birds are lovely to listen to, I dripped a new idea.

“It must have been busy at the seaside,” I said.

Mother agreed. We went round the cycle again, and then as if by magic, the seaside cropped up.

“It must be busy at the seaside,” she said. We said, yes, it must, wouldn’t want to get caught in all that traffic.

Reassured she was taking on new suggestions, I dripped in the fact that the daffodils were still out.

“I like daffodils,” she agreed. “They’re a lovely, bright yellow.”

Sadly they did not reappear, although the seaside traffic did make it into the mix again.

Finally, in our wimpy, blonde, English way we decided that was quite enough sunshine thank you, and all staggered back indoors. No point in giving the poor old girl sunstroke on her first dose of Vitamin D since last year.

Anyway, Sigoth had promised me rhubarb crumble for the evening, and I didn’t want to jeopardise that.

I hope your holiday (if you were lucky enough to have one) was warm, and happy, and delicious. I hope you were not caught in the seaside traffic, and that you too enjoyed the bright, blue skies and birdsong or whatever your equivalent pleasures might be.