When Mum was 6 years old, she came down with Scarlet fever. There was an epidemic sweeping Britain and she was sent to the local infirmary to recuperate. She was there for several weeks. Each time Granny & Grandad came to visit her, Grandad would bring mum tablet. Grandad had to borrow the truck from his workplace. Grandad worked as a carpenter and had a very understanding employer, Charlie Fergusson. The Fergusson business is still in operation today.
Photo Of Strachur House (courtesy of Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia)
Granny also had an equally understanding employer. Granny was the housekeeper for Lady Campbell of Strachur House. Lady Campbell had no children. Granny & Grandad lived on her estate. She took great interest in her worker's children and in fact paid for mums older brother's specialist doctor's appointments, as Granny & Grandad couldn't afford to do so. Granny would often catch Mum playing with Lady Campbell and try to tell Mum off, but as Lady Campbell insisted she enjoyed it so much, Granny had no luck shooing her away. My Mum is now an antiques dealer and gardening enthusiast. She credits Lady Campbell with her love of antiques and gardens. Mum vividly recalls some of the items that were in Strachur house in the 1950s, when she was allowed to roam free in the house. As a result Mum now collects - of all things - ceramic patterned carpet bowls (Lady Campbell had a jardiniere full of them). Mum also recalls being allowed free reign of a mother of pearl jewellery casket full of costume jewellery - and yes she has one of those too.
Photo of Mum next to a stone boat sculpture in the garden of Strachur House.
When Mum was incarcerated (she said it felt like forever as a small child) Granny & Grandad came as soon as they could and Grandad bought a batch of tablet. It was a big deal, as post war, sugar was still rationed. Mum cannot remember just how much of the family rations this batch of tablet represented, but she recalls it was a large portion. What Grandad did not know, was that the nurses upon seeing it, seized it and rationed Mum to just one piece per day - agony for anyone!. The next time Granny & Grandad came to visit he brought another batch, but smuggled it under Mums pillow, so she could scoff it at will.
My Grandad was a great believer in sweets for sick people - he guaranteed they'd make you better in no time. He loved sweets in general, to this day my Mum is horrified that he used to let me eat sugar on toast, which I haven't eaten since childhood, but I recall was very tasty. I think his philosophy may have rubbed off on me, as even know with my youngest, I'll offer him a lolly when he has hurt himself, to cheer him up. Grandad was also the only person that ever let me re-sugar my porridge with brown sugar when it melted. He understood it simply wasn't the same without a good covering that wasn't melted. My Granny preferred salt on her porridge. It's possible Grandad let me re-sugar my porridge, just so he could redo his own, without too much trouble from Granny.
When Mum was a child 2/3 thirds of the recipe was left plain and 1/3 of the recipe had coconut added. Mum tells me Granny's favourite was the coconut, but she used to eat the plain first, so the coconut would be left for her. However once all the plain was gone, Mum & her brother launched themselves in to the coconut, even though they didn't really like it. My Mum now adores the coconut. But I must say, I've yet to warm to it.
When Mum & I made this batch together, I said to her "lets just make it plain!", the look on her face revealed it was entirely necessary to make the coconut. So that's what we did, straight from the recipe book 2/3 plain 1/3 coconut.
Here's the recipe.
2lbs sugar (0.91Kg)
1 tin condensed milk
1/4 pint milk (150mls)
1 TBSP Butter
Put Butter, sugar & milk in a large (important that it's large - as volume grows immensely) saucepan. Bring to boil, boil 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add condensed milk. Stir continuously for 15 minutes whilst boiling. Test for soft ball stage in a cup of cold water, after 15 minutes. Allow ferocious boil to cease in saucepan, once heat has been stopped, continue to stir gently. When air drops, pour in to greased pie dishes.
Grease 2 pie dishes with butter. add 2/3 of mix to one dish. To remaining 1/3 stir in dessicated coconut to taste.
Mark when warm. Cut when cold.