Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Sewing and Supper with Betty

This post is about Betty. Betty was a lady who featured in my childhood. I have no photo's of her. I tried to sketch her quickly with a pen in my notebook last night. The drawings are just a suggestion of what she looked like. I am glad that the pictures have come out hazy because in my mind I see her in the haze of a warm summer's day. The haze of a distant memory.

As a child I spent a few ocassions at Betty's. Betty was our neighbour. She had a hearty laugh and a smoker's cough. No matter what the weather was like, she went bare armed and bare legged. She always wore her hand made sleeveless cotton frocks and sandals even in the depths of winter.

I loved going to Betty's. She lived in a quirky corner house with tiny irregular shaped rooms. I remember one room in particular where every available surface was covered with plants. She had grown all of the plants from fruit pips and they had grown tall and leggy like huge beanstalks.
Sometimes I went to her house for the day. She would make me Corned Beef Patties served with a glass of cold milk. I used to sit on her stone scullery floor and use the seat of a chair as a mini-table. Nothing was formal and I felt very much at home.
After supper we would sit on the sofa in a room upstairs with Tina the old English sheep dog joining us. Betty would hand me some fabric and guide me through a simple sewing project. It was usually a small present to make for mum. When mum came to collect me I would show off my project with pride.
I believe that Betty inspired me to craft. She was an extremely talented lady who always had a craft or sewing project on the go.
Below is a recipe for Corned Beef Patties. I have not made these for years and the recipe comes from memory. You may need an egg to bind the mixture but I don't recall Betty doing this.
Corned Beef Patties
potatoes suitable for mashing, peeled and quartered
knob of butter
tinned corned beef
onion, chopped
seasoning (salt, pepper)
2 tablespoons of oil for frying
Fry onion in 1 tablespoon of oil until soft but not browned. Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain and mash up with the butter. Add the cooked onion and corned beef and seasoning and mix well together. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Shape handfuls of mixture into small patties. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with something green and healthy!


  1. Where do these wonderful women come from? This woman sounded familiar and made me feel nostalgic for being with someone quiet and in control and simple. I find that now, having my own children and having few local 'practical' friends I particularly miss these women from my Grandparents era. I wonder if I will ever be like them, I do hope so.

  2. Cherry Menlove3 April 2008 at 09:42

    Betty sounds wonderful. I loved reading about your memories of her!

    Cherry xoxoxox

  3. Hi Simone
    Lovely post, isn't it great when someone has such a positive impact on your life and she probably had no idea at the time how she would stick in your memory.
    Julia x
    ps. For my pics I just used lining fabric for the backing but I usually ise old linen if I can find it.

  4. Hi Simone,
    You found my blog and now I have found yours. :) I love stories about people's memories! I'm glad you found my blog by accident. Nice to meet you. :)
    Always, Rita

  5. Thanks so much for paying my blog a visit, I am glad you did, I really enjoyed reading about your childhood memories of Betty, and I am going to really enjoy keeping in touch with your blog, and may even try that recipe for the corned beef patties, they sound, well just too tasty for words. x

  6. Very special memories Simone and Betty reminded me of my grandmother in a way.. Have a lovely week :O)


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