My poor old Nanna Z lost her battle against old age and a raft of illnesses this week, and was farewelled at a small and simple country funeral yesterday. Being a flower freak, she would have loved the floral arrangements adorning every spare surface. As for the food ... while I can imagine her salivating over the range of delicious rustic looking home made cakes and slices; she would certainly have had some "constructive feedback" for the well intentioned caterers.
She was very creative but an absolute perfectionist as well; resulting in her producing some pretty spectacular craft work over the years, including watercolour paintings, flower arrangements, and a visually stunning garden. But the thing Nanna Z was best admired for was her was her baking.
A perfectionist to a fault, she would have made a fantastic pastry-chef. Things that I still struggle with after years of practice - spongecake, eclairs, scones, blinis - she would whip up one handed in a matter of seconds, without ever referring to a recipe. Once I asked her "how do you make your scones rise so high?" She responded, without batting an eye, "don't bugger around with them too much". Another oddly fond - if somewhat confusing - memory, was when she grabbed some exposed skin where my jumper had crept up over my jeans, accused me of putting on too much weight, at the same time serving me up a huge plate of jam drops to have with my tea.
She was your quintessential ex-C.W.A. queen, a no-nonsense, frugal, post-war, straight-talking, teetotaling, grey-haired pocket rocket. Always confrontational, never boring, at times highly entertaining (even if it was occasionally at her expense). She would bring me to tears of frustration and anger many times - I once went through a period of not speaking to her for almost a year, after a particularly fraught Christmas lunch. She could be abrupt and rude, controlling, and downright mean. But that was Nanna. My mother's mother. She taught me how to bake, and bake well.