It occurs to me that my readers will be confused by my time line and that is something that I should clear up. We flew to the UK on November 7 and landed in Manchester on Friday November 8, the following morning. I failed to mention that when I posted about being home so I hope this makes more sense for the posts that will follow.
After Norman dropped us off at Ashfield Avenue I of course immediately put on the kettle, made myself a cup of tea and flopped down in front of the television to catch up on what is happening on the Beeb (BBC). Nick went up to the bedroom and promptly fell asleep. Mum kept telling me that I looked tired and should take a nap but I wasn’t in the slightest bit tired, I was elated, and all I wanted to do was drink in my surroundings as well as my tea. After having their cup of tea Mum and Norman headed back to his house at Winchester Avenue and left us to ourselves. Nick continued to sleep upstairs and I flipped channels to see what I could see. Occasionally my eyes would feel heavy but I was determined to fight the jet lag and stay awake so that I could reset my clock and sleep soundly that night.
After a period of time that I felt was acceptable for Nick to sleep I woke him and informed him that I was going to walk into town and exchange our American Dollars for English Money and find myself a meat and potato pie and gravy. We donned our coats and grabbed my umbrella (it was raining) and we set out on the short walk to the town center. Despite the rain the weather was quite mild and we soon found a place to exchange our money and I informed the clerk that the first thing I was going to buy was a meat and potato pie. She recommended a café just a few doors down and we immediately set off. At Diggles I ordered the meat and potato pie, mushy peas and gravy and another cup of tea while Nick (who had indulged in a Burger King breakfast at the service station) just had a diet coke. Being in Diggles brought back many memories. Now it is a pseudo coffee shop (as are many restaurants in Lancaster) back in the day it was a pie and sandwich shop. When I worked at the Judge’s Lodgings being the junior staff member it was always my job to take the lunch orders and wander down to Diggles to purchase our sandwiches and return with them to the break room where I would eat my sandwich with the others while they discussed the latest art films at a level which was completely over my head.
Diggles sandwiches were a sight to behold. Being a vegetarian at the time, my favorite was the cream cheese and cucumber, thick slices of white bread (no sugar) stuffed to bursting with cream cheese and delicate slices of cucumber (so as not to turn the bread soggy). As I sat in Diggles tucking into the steaming plate of pie, peas and gravy, I remembered those days of the lunch run and I smiled.
After lunch we wandered around the town centre and just drank in the atmosphere. We went into various shops and stopped by Greenwoods, a gentlemen’s outfitters to look at a new Tuxedo for Nick. We found Round Pound, the English equivalent of a dollar store (except there is no additional tax, if something is a pound, you pay a pound), I found all sorts of treasures and was filling up my cart until Nick reminded me that we had to lug it all back to Ashfield on foot, at which point I replaced some of the heavier items with a mind to return later.
Mum had recommended the Pound Bakery for me to stock up on pies and pasties that I could consume in moments of madness at the house and I did so, two Meat and Potato pies for a pound, done, two Cornish pasties for a pound, done, two sausage rolls for a pound, done. Two egg custard tarts for a pound, done, two vanilla slices for a pound, done. Pies. I admit that being a Northerner pies are a big part of my life, in the US pies are usually sweet, the only exception being Chicken pot pies (or turkey, or beef or whatever). In Northern England pies are an absolute staple of the diet. From the aforementioned meat and potato pies to pork pies, to steak and kidney pies, to Cornish pasties and sausage rolls, if you can cook it and wrap it in pastry the bakers of Northern England have it down to a science.
This also sparked a vivid memory for me. We had a bakery across from our house at Prospect Street. On the weekends, as a treat, Mum would send me across the street to get two meat and potato pies, one for her and one for Nancy, a pint of gravy, and since I was a vegetarian an egg custard tart for me. The baker would carefully place the pies in a paper bag and then ladle the gravy from a large vat into the jug that I had brought with me, place my precious egg custard tart in a separate bag and I would then carefully carry it back to the house.
It is incredible the memories that the sight of a simple meat and potato pie can bring back. Tomorrow the street market.