It’s an interesting thing – Victoria sponges or Bakewell tarts (or puddings, if you’re from Derbyshire) each taste different, but a cherry cake is a cherry cake and one tastes much like another. That was the hardest – the first two tasted almost exactly alike, the third tasted the same but was slightly drier. All – there were 7 or 8 entries – tasted similar but in all but 2, all the fruit had sunk to the bottom. One was beautifully distributed and one was reasonably so. Sadly, the best looking wasn’t the best tasting. This was the hardest decision of all. Marie and I deliberated, and finally gave it to the perfect looking one – it was still a good cake to eat and was, visibly, by far the best.
Anne had rather wanted us to share the items between us – one to do baking and one to do preserves, but neither of us fancied that, and we promised to hurry up and be decisive. Even so, we were diligent and examined jellies (preserves, that is, not gelatine desserts) for clarity and cakes for density and lightness of crumb before our careful tasting. Usually, we were able to decide swiftly on the top three or four, although we usually had to taste again before deciding on the final order. Marie would have overlooked the less than ideal looking entries, but I insisted on tasting everything, and indeed the best looking often wasn’t the best to eat. After it was over and, having tasted 10 or 12 pickles and chutneys, faintly churny of stomach, we had a final swig of water and went for lunch – I left the ham and cheese and ate home-made onion quiche and salad, including a particularly good, fleshy yellow tomato I’m not familiar with – I’ll have to ask around and see if I can find out the variety.
When all the names had been put out, I looked to see who we’d given prizes to. I was interested to see that De had won first prize for her drink for the third year. She’s helped me judge for the last two years and stepped back, leaving it to me, for the class she’d entered in. She gave me no hint and I had no idea, but she won. This year, there was an elderflower cordial, two elderflower and lemon and one lemon and raspberry. The lemon and raspberry was deliciously tart, an elderflower and lemon was slightly sparkling and delicious and we tasted them a couple of times, before deciding that the lemon overpowered the raspberry and it was slightly too sour with raw lemon juice. The other was marginally sweet, but otherwise perfect and we gave it to that. Having once gained 19/20 points for my lemonade in an Area WI class, I reckon I know my soft drinks – anyway, as I say, De’s was the winner as it transpired.
Ro was out on my bike (he had asked) when I arrived home. He’d gone to visit various friends, one of whose mother has just died. Another friend, who gave him a lift home from Norwich on Friday, lost his father to cancer a year ago – tough on these young men. My father died suddenly when I was 16; I miss him still, and it will be 40 years in January – and the centenary of his birth next July.
Anyway, we had an early meal of bacon (local), eggs (home-laid) and tomatoes (home grown) and I took him back to Norwich. I brought back a boxful of shot lettuces from his landladies’ garden, for the bantams.
Today, there was a car treasure hunt and tea at the Rectory. I thought it my absolute duty as a good guest to eat as much as possible, since Brenda and Gill had cooked so much delicious food. I ate sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, sponge cake and fruit cake. Back to a redoubled diet tomorrow. Size 10 (English, darling American friends) has been determinedly re-won and will not be lost again.