Winter wayfaring on a full stomach: Country diary, 23 December 1946

23 December 1946: Some austerity may be practised, but the home in the dale produces all manner of Christmas fare

Cumberland
The home in the dale will be full to overflowing to-night, when the last of the travellers, with an enormous rucksack over his back, having been deposited at the nearest railway station, ends his long tramp over one of the mountain passes. Whatever adventures on ski and climbing boots await visitors, the not inconsiderable number of men and women gathered here will begin their day’s wayfaring having breakfasted well and will return in the evening to hot baths and plenty of good cheer.

Some austerity may be practised, but the plum pudding for twenty-four persons contains a pound each of suet, breadcrumbs, sultanas, raisins, one quarter-pound of flour, eight eggs, seasoned with mixed spices, and flavoured with a spirit said to have been shipped from the West Indies. This is the dish of all dishes. There are, however, other sweetmeats that are not lightly to be neglected. The Christmas cake is as good as it looks and it is nothing for having been pricked with skewers, so that there may percolate through it tiny streams of a liquid not wholly unknown by seafaring men. And there are, of course, mince pies, and ice-cream, of which the chief ingredient is the cream from the nearby separator. Our eyes looked wonderingly at the home-cured ham and sides of bacon hung out of our reach, and at the turkeys, geese, and guinea-fowls being plucked and dressed and at the huge round of beef which cook pronounced to be tender and far better than the white flesh she had ready for the oven. Said the mistress: “This is nothing; we had a wedding feast for 200 yesterday. It’s all in a day’s work. There’s nowt so queer as fowks, but if our Christmas fowk aren’t thankful for this fare, heaven help them.”

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