My grandmother loved roses, lots of them. At Christmas time her garden was awash with their heavenly scent and on a balmy summer night the perfume was heady. The one I remember the most was a variety called Blue Moon, they have the most sweetest and fragrant scent, incredible from such a tiny flower. I still to this day shove my nose in them and soak in their gorgeous smell.
The rose bushes at my grandma’s house were positioned up the driveway, near the front porch. You could smell them as soon as you opened the car door; it was like walking down the aisle of a church at a wedding with each pew adorned in a burst of sweet rose scent. I loved my grandmother’s garden; it was so English, no native Australian species here, manicured lawns (albeit a shade of brown in the summertime) a large English oak and vibrant bushes of wallflowers.
In the back garden were mighty fruit trees (interspersed with a nine hole mini golf course that my granddad had built). They were mainly citrus fruit trees which I must say was a bit disappointing because no child under the age of ten wants grapefruit for breakfast (or any other meal for that matter). The back garden could be seen from the kitchen window and my grandmother regularly called out to us all when it was time to come in for dinner.
Christmas at my grandparents was an altogether different experience. It was English in every sense of the word. My grandmother hailed from Yorkshire UK and we had the very traditional Christmas, turkey, plum pudding, brussel sprouts (gross), roast potatoes, chestnuts and of course Yorkshire pudding.
This menu never changed, even when it was forty degrees outside, we still had a cooked lunch.
My grandmother would bake for what seemed like weeks beforehand just so we could enjoy a very special lunch on Christmas day. For her, this was the highlight of the year, a meal that would be remembered by everyone at the table. As children we got to help in the kitchen, this wasn’t a usual practice; we were on most occasions shooed out of the kitchen. I used to watch my grandmother stirring and scrapping out the mixing bowls and breathe in the scent of warm spices and sugared sweets. It was heavenly.
The “once a year” crockery and cutlery would appear and the solid oak dining table would be transformed into something that looked fit for the Queen. It was very proper and posh and I definitely felt like royalty.