When I was a little girl, back when the world was black and white, our holidays were spent in Wales. Sometimes my parents rented a caravan in north Wales: my memories are of rainy grey days, sobbing as we visit yet again (at my wish) the grave of the noble dog Gelert. (I always enjoyed a good cry.) Get your hankies out:

Most times, though, we went to stay with my Mum’s parents in Barry, a port just to the west of Cardiff. It was a strange sort of holiday for a kid, looking back. We went to Cardiff, to see what was in Marks and Spencer’s, and we popped to Newport to look at that Marks and Spencer’s and sometimes as far as Swansea, because there was a Marks and Spencer’s there too. I sat in the back of the car and sang songs. And in my grandparents’ house I sat by myself in the room where there was a piano and picked out songs and made up my own melodies. No wonder that going next door to Auntie Teg for a Jaffa cake was such a highlight.

My mother had two siblings, an older brother Denis, who was something Important in the civil service, and a sister who was 12 years older, Kathleen. Auntie Kath was my best favourite person in the entire world. She was thin as rake and worked from dawn to dusk behind the counter in her husband’s family’s grocery shop. Sometimes I could visit her there and I remember the large tins of biscuits which she would weigh into paper twists and the huge mound of yellow, salty Welsh butter, which she would cut into the exact weight her customer had asked for. It was then patted into shape and packed in waxed paper with a big blue cow on the front.

Wednesday afternoons were early closing, and so on Wednesday afternoon Auntie Kath took me to Barry Island funfair.

After we had ridden on the Caterpillar, and I had lost all my money on the penny slot machines, we stepped over the road to Fortes ice-cream parlour, where I could choose whatever I wanted!

I always chose the same, a ‘North Pole’. This was a slab of vanilla ice-cream, topped with a wafer, a layer of whipped cream then more ice-cream, more wafer, more whipped cream and so on. The top was covered in a red sauce, I imagine strawberry. This was served on a silver dish and I ate it with a little sort of shovel.

Bliss it was to be alive, and with Auntie Kath on Barry Island, eating a North Pole.

Auntie Kath, aged 96, skypes with Borneo, assisted by Robin and Horst.

She was such fun.

One of the really great things about Germany is the ice-cream parlours. They all seem to be run by Italian families who are proud of making their own ice-cream. An ice-cream sundae is the height of luxury for me and so far this year I hadn’t had a single one, so when I met a friend in town yesterday we decided to quickly go for an ‘Eisbecher’ before autumn really starts. It was so hard to choose what I wanted; I hovered for a long time over the Spaghetti-Eis:

You can see my final choice, a ‘Karamell Becher’ in the header. It was delicious.

The Cabin fever part:




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