I must be getting old, not only because the mirror tells me so, but because I seem to spend more time wallowing in nostalgia, some days the world is a little bit ugly, the news seems to be all doom and gloom and I fear I may becoming that woman who starts a conversation with ‘when I was a girl…..’

I spend a lot of time with my Mum, who at ninety years young, loves to revisit the past, I love looking through old photographs and hearing the stories connected to them, we always end up having a bit of a laugh. Recently, we were chatting about ‘having friends over for tea’ so for your perusal and for my own personal pleasure, allow me to delve into my vast bank of nostalgia……

When I was a girl…. my parents had friends called Elsie and Albert, they had known each other forever and felt more like family, they lived in an area called Whickham, which is on the other side of the river Tyne, as neither my parents or their friends had cars, it would be two bus rides to visit. Sometimes they would visit us, other times we would visit them, I loved going to see Auntie Elsie and Uncle Albie, partly because she made the best coconut cake in the world and also because she let me play with her button box! So in both cases, whether we went to them or they came to us, afternoon tea was the big event, out came the china cups and saucers, My Mum would put a newly ironed tablecloth on the kitchen table, she would have baked the previous day, scones, apple pie, Victoria sandwich cake, or sometimes the chocolate cake made from the bero book,maids of honour, sandwiches and sausage rolls, the table would be groaning with food!

You would think after all that hard work in the kitchen, the piece de resistance may have been the wonderful cake towering over the table on a pressed glass cake stand, but no, it was the little sandwiches cut into triangles that she would proudly hand around, made with ‘best butter’ and filled with tinned red salmon mixed with vinegar.I kid you not. Awful. But to people who had experienced post war rationing, things like real butter and tinned salmon were a bit of a luxury, the conversation always went ‘lovely bit of salmon that’ despite it having been doused in vinegar and mashed within an inch of its life! I’m not a fish person mind you so I am clearly not selling it very well, that aside, these times were so special, we were always so happy to see Elsie and Albie, they were the funniest people ever and visits were always filled with laughter and so much love.

Elsie and Albie are no longer with us sadly, but I can still taste that amazing coconut cake and every Christmas I make up a little food hamper for my Mum, always ensuring I include a slab of best butter and of course some tinned salmon.

Nice bit of salmon that.