The People's Friend

The Farmer & His Wife

Memories of Granny’s fruit pudding land John Taylor in a sticky situation!


YES, dear, Dad will be delighted to do that,” Anne said. “That was Mary,” she told me later. “If she hadn’t rung, I’d have missed the berries this year.”

“What would I be ‘delighted’ to do?” I inquired suspicious­ly.

“Mary wanted twelve pounds of gooseberri­es, as usual. I said you’d top and tail them.”

That summer had been one of the wettest I can remember. And that spelled disaster for the fruit growers.

When it’s too wet, the berries drop off with mildew and go rotten on the bushes. I felt sorry for the farmers – it meant a whole year’s work nearly wiped out.

The first fine day there was, Anne and I headed for a fruit farm near Balmullo. I’d insisted that Anne phone in with an order for ready-picked berries.

I know it costs a few pence more, but I’m past the age and size to reach down to pick gooseberri­es off bushes.

And as for grovelling on hands and knees searching for strawberri­es under leaves – no, thank you!

They’d agreed to have 12 pounds picked for Mrs Taylor by that evening.

After milking we set off for St Andrews and Balmullo. Wet weather or not, St Andrews was teeming with visitors.

At six o’clock we arrived at the fruit farm, and yes, Mrs Taylor’s 12 pounds were waiting in a big basket. She decided to take a punnet of rasps and one of strawberri­es for the next day.

We’d just got the berries into the buggy when Anne said, “John, dear, go back and get some gooseberri­es for us.”

As a dutiful husband, I did just that – and more!

Anne says I can’t resist anything to eat. I bought four punnets of gooseberri­es, some more rasps and, on the spur of the moment, I heard myself saying, “I’ll take two punnets of redcurrant­s.”

Why? Well, it was down to a distant memory of more than 50 years ago suddenly coming to the fore.

Granny’s bread fruit pudding! I remember she had a basin which she lined with bread, then put all sorts of soft fruit in the middle. A bread top was then covered with a plate plus a weight to press it down. Eaten along with one of her own egg custards, it was out of this world.

Anne laughed when I came back to the car.

“You’ll shred them, John Taylor,” she warned.

Well, I did, but oh, boy, what a weary, sticky job. Never again, not even for dear Granny’s fruit pudding.

By the way, Anne and I topped and tailed Mary’s gooseberri­es into the bargain.

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More next week

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