Historically Easter is a time to look forward to after the rigours of fasting in Lent. Hot cross buns on Good Friday, a slice of Simnel cake on Easter Saturday evening after the vigil and a lovely roast lamb dinner to enjoy on Sunday.
Christian western churches celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs after the Spring equinox on March 21st, so it can fall anytime between March 22nd and April 25th every year, making it a ‘movable feast’.
Which reminds me of the time the electricity stopped working at our home one Easter Sunday morning.
The leg of lamb was resting and the prepared vegetables were peeled and ready to go on the stove. Creamy Yorkshire pudding batter waited patiently as the apple pie baked and simmering custard filled the kitchen with vanilla goodness; when there was a click and the television went off. After trying all the light switches we knew there was no power and then came the sudden realisation that we couldn’t finish cooking.
As an extended family living in different houses we always tried to spend significant days together and we had already arranged to visit Auntie Rose’s for Easter tea. However with this emergency, it was my job to run through the streets to tell her and my uncles what had happened. Of course she invited us to eat with them.
Not wanting the food to go to waste we decided to move our feast to Alexandra Street. Living in Henley Gardens meant we had to negotiate a couple of main roads in Consett, but we surreptitiously planned our route through the side streets.
Luckily most people were tucking into their Sunday lunch so the town was empty as we loaded my Mam’s shopping trolley with pans and dishes and I carried the lamb joint in my domestic science basket from school – with the plastic budgie cover over the top – being very careful not to spill the precious juices needed for the gravy. My Dad and brother brought up the rear carrying Easter eggs, apple pie, custard and gifts for my Auntie and Uncles. It probably looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings as four figures walked in single file over the station bridge in the snow, heads down to protect their faces from the wind blown sleet.
On arrival a blazing fire greeted us from the kitchen as we unloaded our fayre.
I set the table, happy we were all together. Lunch was magnificent and true to form afterwards my family recited poetry and told stories of yesteryear while they toasted each other with tipples from the sideboard. We exchanged gifts. I’d bought everyone the grown up chocolate ‘Old Jamaica’ while I was happy with my Smarties egg and ‘Spirit in the Sky’ single.
Although I loved family time I was desperate to put on Pick of the Pops with Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman. The highlight of the week when you could hear the charts, so I slipped away as my family dozed. Relieved ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ had reached Number 1, I realised it was time to set the table again for tea as we hadn’t even touched the apple pie!
“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well …”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast