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Rosemary and Thyme: Cagney And Lacey Meets Gardener’s World

 

Many of the posts here on Nostalgia Pie are mainly focused on popular culture from the 1970s-1990s – what I consider to be my era.  But today’s post is all about Rosemary and Thyme, a murder mystery series that began in 2003 and lasted for three series, which starred Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris – two very familiar faces from my childhood.

A series about two gardeners turned amateur sleuths sounded like something that was right up my street. After all I did grow up on a diet Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Miss Marple! So I couldn’t wait for this new ITV drama series to begin. And I did find it very enjoyable; maybe a little slow paced but then when the show is about two female landscape gardeners heading towards the autumn years of their life, it was never going to be Starsky and Hutch!

The series centres around Rosemary Boxer, a never-married landscape gardener and lecturer, and Laura Thyme, a former policeman and mother of two whose marriage ended upon discovering her husband’s affair with a much younger colleague. Laura is very close to her son Tom, but we later discover that her relationship with her daughter is rather strained although the two do eventually make up.

Rosemary and Laura meet and become friends  in the first episode and discover that they both have a love of gardening, which culminates in them working together on various horticultural projects through the series. It just so happens that many of these projects that they undertake also involve someone being murdered; a crime which is always solved by Rosemary and Thyme!

As much as I’m getting stuck into my new life in the States I won’t lie, I am very homesick and have a yearning for all things English, which is what brought me  to Rosemary and Thyme because the countryside, greenery, flower beds, stately homes and cottages… You can’t get more English than that! And despite being a city girl, the show does very much remind me of the place I still call home.

I’m disappointed that only three series were ever made but I am enjoying watching them again. Lounging around on the couch with a box of choccies while watching Rosemary and Thyme while the snow’s pelting down outside is definitely my idea of bliss.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in This, That and the Other!

 

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Comfort Food #15: Cherry Cake

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

 

This Comfort Food post is a little bit of a strange choice for me because although I love cake, I am not a fan of glacè cherries at all. Furthermore, because there is a Christmas element to this post, I suppose it would have been more ideal for December, but watching Mary Berry show viewers how to make the perfect cherry cake has inspired me. So cherry cake it is!

 

Image from deliaonline.com

Image from deliaonline.com

A cherry cake is traditionally a sponge that contains halved or quartered red glace cherries, which is then topped with icing, flaked almonds and more glacè cherries. Even though a freshly baked cherry cake is not my idea of bliss due to the use of ghastly glacè cherries, they most definitely do take me bake to childhood Christmases back in the 1980s. When my sister and I were younger – before we were joined by our two other siblings – Mum used to bake an array of baked goodies every Christmas. In fact she used to bake so much, there must have been more than enough for the entire neighbourhood! Of course one of these bakes included cherry cake which was one of Mum’s favourites.

Image from bbcgoodfood.com

Image from bbcgoodfood.com

 

Even though I’ve disliked glace cherries since I was a very young child, I did like Mum’s cakes, so I would always have a slice – and just picked out the cherries. But what was most memorable about these cakes was that, we always had a slice of cherry cake after we got home from midnight mass. So cherry cake -offending glace cherries or not – always bring back happy memories of Christmas, midnight mass, and Mum’s large-scale baking!

Image from nigella.com

Image from nigella.com

But even though I have mixed feelings about cherry cake, I know that most people, like Mum, absolutely love it! It is a very old-fashioned, very traditional English cake which I’ve been told is usually linked to Easter. It’s a very versatile cake and fits the bill for just everything: picnics, afternoon tea, lunch boxes, bake sales and it is the mainstay of traditional tearooms, not to mention one of the most popular cakes to be baked among the Women’s Institute. And although it may sound simple to make, quite often it isn’t as the cherries are notorious for sinking to the bottom of the cake. However people have their own methods for preventing this from happening. One of them being to rinse of the sticky syrup from the cherries before dusting them with flour. Delia Smith believes n mixing two-thirds of the cherries into the cake mixture before poking the remaining third through the top of the cake just before it goes into the oven.

Image from goodtoknow.com

Image from goodtoknow.com

 

Don’t get me wrong, I do love cherries just not glace cherries. But I’m wondering if I can substitute the glace cherries in the cake for dried, fresh or tinned cherries. I’d definitely have no problems with eating it then! But despite my reservations regarding cherry cake, nothing can take away the fact that cherry cake is a very memorable part of my childhood and evokes memories of Christmases gone by…

So here’s a recipe for cherry cake from Mary Berry for a traditional cherry cake. Try it and enjoy!

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Ingredients

200g/7oz glacé cherries
225g/8oz self-raising flour
175g/6oz softened butter, plus extra for greasing
175g/6oz caster sugar
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
50g/1¾oz ground almonds
3 large free-range eggs
For the decoration
175g/6oz icing sugar
1 lemon, juice only
15g/½oz flaked almonds, toasted
5 glacé cherries, quartered

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter.
  3. Cut the cherries into quarters.
  4. Set aside five of the quartered cherries for the decoration later.
  5. Put the rest of the quartered cherries in a sieve and rinse under running water.
  6. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper and toss in two tablespoons of the flour.
  7. Measure all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for two minutes to mix thoroughly.
  8. Lightly fold in the cherries.
  9. Turn into the prepared tin.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
  12. For the icing, mix the icing sugar together with the lemon juice to a thick paste.
  13. Drizzle over the cooled cake using the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the toasted almonds and reserved cherries.

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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Nostalgia Tastes Like This!, Recipes

 

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The World Cup Dream May Be Over… But The Music Lives On

In just a matter of hours, World Cup 2014 will be over. Who will emerge victorious – Argentina or Germany? It won’t be England, that’s for sure! And the irony of two of England’s biggest sporting nemeses battling it out in the final isn’t lost on me.

Argentina-vs-Germany

I recently announced that I’ve accepted that I will never see England win the World Cup in my lifetime – which makes me wish that I’d been born before 1966! However, as this was the first time in fifty six years that England crashed out in the group stages, at least I can say I witnessed a piece of sporting history. That’s me – definitely a glass half full kind of girl!

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However, despite almost fifty years of hurt (and shame) I’ve decided to give England one last chance. No, not to win the World Cup. I know I’m never going to see that happen, but to play much better than they did this year and to go much further in the tournament. We have four years to get over this setback, come up with a better strategy and a better team.

So, in a bid to cheer up disappointed England fans and to instil a sense of hope, I thought I’d share with you my four favourite awe-inspiring England World Cup songs. I remember there was always a great deal of excitement when the official England World Cup songs were released. Us kids would eagerly watch Top Of The Pops to check out the new tune and the feelings of anticipation and excitement were infectious – could this really be England’s year?

The tradition of the England World Cup songs began in 1966. The songs were released with the approval of the Football Association to coincide with the England national football team’s participation in the finals of the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship. Some of the official songs were surprisingly overshadowed by unofficial songs released around the same time. This year’s offering, Noble England was sung by the late Rik Mayall, who sadly passed away this year, making the song all the more poignant.

There are four songs that really stand out for me, and for which I feel there is probably no need for any more England World Cup.

1. Vindaloo, Fat Les

Released in 1998, this actually eclipsed the official song (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World, written by Ian McCulloch and performed by England United (Echo and the Bunnymen, Space, Spice Girls, Simon Fowler.) To be honest it wasn’t really much of a surprise as although the England United song is a great tune, it lacked that special something. Whereas Fat Les’s Vindaloo was humourous and is exactly the kind of thing you’d sing in the pub after a few pints. Performed by British band Fat Les, the music was written by Blur bassist Alex James while the lyrics were written by Keith Allen (lilly and Alfie’s dad!) Although it’s mainly just a series of chants and “nah-nah-nahs”, the song has remained a cult classic.

2. Three Lions, The Lightning Seeds/Baddiel & Skinner

Believe it or not, Fat Les’s anthem wasn’t the only unofficial tune that year to outdo the official England World Cup song. Three Lions, written by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, was originally released in 1996 as the official song for UEFA European Championship. It was such a hit, it was brought out again two years later for the World Cup, though not as the official song. Not that it mattered too much because everyone thought it was! And to be honest it’s pretty much remained England’s anthem for every tournament – the lyrics say it all. It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming – football’s coming home… OK so it never does, but we can always hope!

3. World In Motion, New Order feat. The England Squad

I don’t care what anyone says; this should be the song the players sing before the start of the match not the national anthem (no disrespect.) If ever there was an upbeat number to get you fired up and cause some damage on the pitch, this would be it. The only problem would be that the players would squabble over who should do Barnesy’s rap! Released in 1990 for the FIFA World Cup, it was written by New Order and Keith Allen, and topped the charts. This tune is my joint fave along with Three Lions, and brings back so many wonderful memories. How I long for it to be 1990 again!

4. Goldenballs (Mr. Beckham To You) Bell and Spurling

OK, so this wasn’t actually an official or unofficial song for any football tournament, but rather an ode to David Beckham, who was a fantastic footballer and icon, and the George Best of my generation (but without the excess!) by comedy duo Martin Bell and Johnny Spurling. It was released in 2002 and only got as far as number 25 in the charts, but I still reckon it’s a great tune. My then twelve year old brother could not stop singing the chorus which drove us all mad but as I said – top tune!

And now – let the finals begin!

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Video

World Cup ’98: England Does Us Proud!

World Cup 2014 is still under way but unfortunately England’s early exit from the tournament has dulled our enthusiasm for a sporting event we’d spent the last four years looking forward to. To be honest despite my disappointment, I can’t say I’m too surprised – I’ve never seen a team play with so little passion and enthusiasm. I may not be a football expert or a professional footballer but from what I saw, I don’t think the England team gave it their all. ‘Could have done better’ is an understatement. This, I believe, is the second time that England has been knocked out after two matches, and for me, 2014 will be the year that our national team flopped spectacularly. What did they think this was – the Eurovision Song Contest? No room for nul points here!

The Magnificent Eleven

The Magnificent Eleven

 

I think back to World Cup ’98 in France. It was the very first World Cup tournament I followed closely (thanks to my then eight year old brother) and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s so memorable for me. The other reason is because I still remember how the England team played in their match against Argentina – the match in which die-hard England fans were hoping that England would avenge Maradona’s 1986 hand of God goal. And those England players really did take to the pitch as though they were going to war and totally played their football socks off. Yes, some underhand tactics were used (cough, cough, Mr. Shearer!) there was fury when Sol Campbell’s goal was disallowed (seriously, Ref, what was that all about?) and who could forget the tears, tantrums and frustration as Goldenballs himself, David Beckham, was given a red card. But I remember how  the England squad played and gave it everything they got. No one could ever forget the two goals scored by Michael Owen and the team’s captain Alan Shearer. And even though he didn’t score, Darren Anderton was commended for his performance and I can see why – poor Darren looked ready to drop but he went after that ball as though his life depended on it.

 

At home, we were all on the edge of our seats, screaming wildly at the telly – even Mum who normally has no time for footy. My little brother – who was in his England shirt – was the quietest even though he’s the most fanatical about football, but his little face was etched with worry one minute and brimming with exhilaration the next. We thought that this time, England might just have a chance.

But alas it was not to be as England went home without the cup yet again. It was a tie between the two teams, so it went into extra time, followed by penalties, which Argentina eventually won. But the difference back then was that we could be proud of our team for putting up an almighty fight and for playing as a team – I feel there was a real sense of brotherhood which didn’t sense with our current squad. I really believe they did our country proud. And even though, I never became what you could call a football fanatic, I definitely fell in love with our national team – and all because of one match. Who thought football could be so dramatic?

The night didn’t end so well. Little brother stomped up the stairs; opened the door to his room; switched on the light; slammed the door shut; turned off the light and went to bed – probably while still in his England shirt.

If only he knew that worse was yet to come… and how the team back then could have taught our current team a thing or two.

Do us proud in 2018, England!

 

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Video

Goodbye Gran: Edna Doré Passes Away At 92

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She may have been ninety two years old but it was still a shock to hear about the sad passing of actress Edna Doré  who died peacefully in her sleep just before Easter. Those who knew the Kent-born actress have revealed that she was as tough and as fun as the characters she was known for playing, and to her audience, she gave the impression who would live forever. And through her vast amount of acting work on stage, screen and radio, she will.

In Open All Hours

In Open All Hours

Born Edna Lillian Gorring,  Doré entered the world of showbiz as a dancer in the 1940s. After a long and successful career in theatre, she then turned to television acting in 1960 while still continuing to act in theatre. Over the years the actress had roles in many well known TV shows such as The Liver Birds, Tenko, Terry and June, Open All Hours, The Bill, Casualty, A Year In Provence, Love Hurts, Eyes Down, and Gavin and Stacey. And that’s not even a fraction of the talented actress’s work!

In Eastenders with Pat Coombs

In Eastenders with Pat Coombs

 

However for many, Doré  will always be best known for her role in Eastenders as Mo Butcher, Frank Butcher’s battle-axe mother who really knew how to put the fear of God into her family. This was the first time I’d seen Doré on screen and she played Mo from 1988 until 1990 and funnily enough, she’d trained to be an actress along with the late Anna Wing, who played the legendary Lou Beale. A harsh, bad tempered, old lady with an intense hatred for her daughter-in-law, Pat, not to mention a dislike for her grandson Ricky’s Asian girlfriend, Shireen, Mo was initially not a likeable character.

Even though I was only a little girl at the time, I knew that Mo was not a nice lady, and she was often horrid to Pat – I remember Mo once giving Pat a whack across her face. However, after a while, Mo started to soften a little; she was less sharp although she never lost her toughness. She was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and went to live with her daughter, thus marking Doré’s departure  from the show. The character eventually died off-screen in 1992. It was a storyline for which Doré received acclaim and prior to this, she had also played another character suffering from Alzheimer’s, Mrs. Bender in Mike Leigh’s 1988 film, High Hopes.

As Eastenders' Mo Butcher

As Eastenders’ Mo Butcher

 

Doré went on to star in other films including Nil By Mouth, Tube Tales, Weak At Denise and All Or Nothing and also acted in radio, performing in a number of plays, one of which, Bringing Eddie Home by John Peacock featured ex-EastEnders actors Bill Treacher, Tilly Vosburgh, Todd Carty and Joe Absolom. It seems as though there wasn’t anything that this talented lady couldn’t do.

 

One of her roles which I don’t think is spoken of enough, is her role as Gran in the 1980s BBC comedy series Streets Apart, written by Adrienne Conway. Once again Doré played a tough-talking, no-nonsense lady who did as she pleased but was definitely more likeable than Mo Butcher. Gran raised her granddaughter Sylvia from the time she was a little girl, and even though Sylvia went on to become a huge success as a literary agent and moved a world away from her East End roots, the two characters have a very special bond, despite the differences, which is lovely to see. In fact, it is these very differences between Gran and Sylvia which created a lot of the humour in the show: Gran is very feisty and direct with absolutely no heirs and graces and her antics often annoy or embarrass Sylvia. To most people, Edna Doré will always be Mo Butcher, But to me, she will also always be Gran from Streets Apart. And if ever I’m fortunate to be a gran, I know exactly what kind of gran I’d like to be – a very mischievous one with a great sense of fun!

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Her personal life seemed to be as successful as her professional life. Doré married  the actor, stage director and writer Alexander Doré in 1946 and they remained married until Alexander’s death in 2002 – a feat virtually unheard of in today’s showbiz world. The marriage produced a son, Michael and Edna later became a grandmother of four.

A young Edna Dore

A young Edna Dore

Edna Doré’s agent, Belinda Wright paid tribute to the actress, saying, “I’d known her for more than 30 years and she was a wonderful actress and great fun.”

Paul O’Grady, her co-star in BBC sit-com Eyes Down, also paid tribute, describing Doré as “a remarkable lady” and “a bundle of fun.”

“We got sent home from rehearsals one day for laughing,” began Paul, “I won’t tell you why but Edna said: ‘In my 70 years in the business, I’ve never been sent out of rehearsals’.

“She had a remarkable career. She might be gone but she’s not forgotten by me. I had a ball with Edna, what a laugh she was.”

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Those of us who were not fortunate to have met her can believe that because her sense of fun came through in many of the roles she played. What a lovely way in which to remember her.

Rest in peace, Edna.

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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Gone Too Soon

 

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Happy Anniversary Scott And Charlene: 25 Years Since THAT Wedding…

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My goodness; how time flies…

Neighbours’ Scott and Charlene Robinson celebrate their silver wedding anniversary? No way! Well apparently they just have. November 8th marked 25 years since that wedding episode was aired on UK screens in what was the show’s 523rd episode, watched by 20 million avid Neighbours’ fans. If that doesn’t make you feel old, I don’t know what will! TV weddings have come and gone but Scott and Charlene’s screen nuptials is without a doubt the most iconic and the most enduring in soap history.

sc3

 

I remember it as though it were yesterday…

The slightly nervous but dashing groom; handsome groomsmen, Paul and Mike; mother-of-the-bride, Madge got her hat out; Nell Mangle making eyes at Harold Bishop; pretty-in-pink bridesmaids Jane Harris and Lucy Robinson… and lets not forget Charlene in that dress! In a gown that rival’s Lady Di’s in terms of memorability, Charlene’s wedding dress didn’t disappoint. It was very full on 80s: a huge skirt, sheer gigot sleeves with Chantilly lace, high Edwardian-style neckline, the organza, the tulle, the rose detail not to mention the dress taking on a slight peachy-pink hue. This dress was busier than the bride’s mother with so much going on. And that’s before we get to the 1980s gypsophilia in her hair.  All that was missing was the 100 metre train! It may seem a little dated now but at the time, I bet many real-life brides-to-be took inspiration from Charlene’s gown and there’s no denying that outdated or not, it’s still beautiful.

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As UK viewers were 18 months behind episodes in Australia, fans already knew that Scott and Charlene had got hitched; saw the dress, and we knew who was in the wedding party due to British newspapers and magazines delighting in revealing every detail about the wedding which was hugely anticipated by the media to become the wedding of the year. The were wrong – it went on to become the wedding of a lifetime.  But the coming together of this storyline was devised for less than romantic reasons: apparently viewers back in the 80s weren’t cool about seeing an unmarried couple living together (oh how times have changed!) But had it not been for these complaints, we wouldn’t have witnessed the greatest TV wedding of all time.

Scott and Charlene: two of the hottest characters in Neighbours

Scott and Charlene: two of the hottest characters in Neighbours

 

To say that Neighbours was huge back in the 1980s is a bit like saying that Australia is a bit on the warm side! Neighbours-mania had struck England harder than any meteorite could and two of the show’s biggest stars were… the bride and groom themselves, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. In fact it’s arguably due to Kylie’s pop career that the success of the show skyrocketed. Was there a girl anywhere who didn’t want to copy Kylie’s perm (the ‘Rachel’ cut of the eighties) and marry Jason Donovan? Was there a boy who didn’t want to have Donovan’s surf hunk looks in the hope of catching a Kylie lookalike for himself? I didn’t think so!

As the fans remember Kylie and Jason: performing Especially For You

As the fans remember Kylie and Jason: performing Especially For You

 

It was also well-documented that Kylie and Jason were a real-life couple would have delighted fans and left them heartbroken in equal measure (I was definitely in the heartbroken camp and couldn’t understand why Jason wouldn’t wait for me to grow up!) But whereas Scott and Charlene are still happily married and living in ‘Brizzy’ with two kids, Kylie and Jason didn’t last the course, although they are still friends and delighted fans with a one-off musical performance last year.

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When I watched it as a kid, I was just in awe of seeing ‘Kylie and Jason’ getting married and admiring the all-important dress but it’s only when I watched it again when I was much older that I realised just how moving it was: a young couple overcoming the disapproval of their families who feared they were too young to commit; their closest friends and family gathered to witness the impending nuptials; Charlene’s walk down the aisle with her brother, Henry; the way the couple gazed at each other as they said their vows; tears from the mother of the bride, Madge Ramsay… and who could forget Angry Anderson’s Suddenly that played as Scott and Charlene said their vows? That song has become a classic and will forever be synonymous with the wedding episode.

 

Aussie rocker, Angry Anderson

Aussie rocker, Angry Anderson

 

 

You have to watch it just to understand how brilliantly awesome it was in a classic 80s kind of way. There’ll never be another soap wedding like it.

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Happy anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Robinson!

http://youtu.be/iduvLzKvwko

 

 

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Childhood Legends, Our Idols, TV Shows

 

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