Sunday tea time was traditionally the time to go visiting in our family so when I was growing up we were either out visiting or entertaining visitors!

The menu was always roughly the same whichever house we were in viz. salad with meat or fish, tinned or bottled fruit with carnation milk and large plates of bread and butter, which had to be finished before the cake was started!

The meat during the war was likely to be Spam or corned beef and the fish, shrimps or sardines.  When more variety was available as rationing ended, this progressed to ham and tongue or homemade brawn and the fish to tinned salmon (served with cucumber and onion in vinegar) or occasionally crab or lobster. The fruit became encased in fruit jelly and there was a greater variety of cakes and biscuits. The bread and butter remained however!

I may be biased but I think my mother’s cakes were the best. Aunty Cis bought slab cake and jam tarts from the Co-op in her village and it was a bit tasteless but this I could eat. The one I really disliked was the seed cake made by aunt Clara when we visited her and her daughter, aunt Annie. I could not stand those nasty little caraway seeds and would crumble the cake and push the seeds around the plate, only to be reprimanded by aunt Clara who would give me a lecture on the starving children of the world!  If her attention could be deflected elsewhere my lovely brother would slide it onto his plate and finish it off in no time. He was always hungry and ate anything and everything. Most unfairly he remained skinny all his life. The only thing he did not like was brussel sprouts and these he used to secrete into his pockets for disposal later, much to my mother’s fury when she came to do the washing.

As we got older the visiting decreased and we tended to stay in our own homes except for special occasions, but when I was in North London doing district midwifery one of my older cousins lived within my “on call” area so I frequently went there for Sunday tea. She always had a houseful, her three sons their girlfriends  a lodger and me. She followed the family traditional menu, but bread and butter was an option, not a necessity and the fruit was likely to be fresh and served with cream instead of Carnation milk!

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