A Traditional English Christmas Cake story – sustaining life and enhancing international relations…….

The following is a true story about my Mother’s traditional English Christmas Cake…and how it saved my life and helped to sustain others….:and at the same time enhanced international relations………:)

In 1960 when I was 16 years old, my parents sent me to Holland for the summer.    Travelling by ferry and train,  I was to stay with friends who lived in the countryside outside of Eindhoven.

Before leaving my Mother made sure to pack some of her traditional Christmas Cake into my suitcase.     No matter where I went this always happened.   It was my Mother’s theory that if I got lost, or ran out of food, her cake would sustain me.

A traditional English Christmas Cake xmas cakeFor those who are not familiar with traditional English Christmas Cake – a little more information.

My Mother made the cake months before Christmas every year.    All manner of fruits and spices were mixed and liberally doused with brandy in order to preserve the cake.

During the several month standing process the cake would be fed with more alcohol during two week intervals…..then wrapped in a cheese cloth and put into a north facing pantry to settle.    Christmas-Cake-easyAbout two weeks before Christmas the cake would be covered in marzipan along with a  thick white icing resembling snow….and then Christmas decorations added.

Given that the cake was very rich….there was always quite a lot left over….plus my Mother would make two cakes at a time….leaving one un-iced, filled with booze, waiting for any natural or man made disasters to occur!5245504474_028169b808_zAfter a wonderful summer in Holland…swimming in canals with local children, riding bicycles around the countryside – stopping at farms where we were given the most delicious fresh cheese and milk straight from the cow, and of course sketching…..even back then I carried a sketch book with me.        Alas, it was time to return home.

This was the sort of canal we swam in…boys-in-canalI was put on a train heading towards the Ferry port at Calais France.       

I am not sure when I realised that something was wrong…..I suppose when I arrived in Germany!!

In those days it was quite normal for trains to split – one end going to one country and the other to another, and this is what had happened.    I got on the wrong end of the train.

This meant getting back on the right train, and then arriving at the Calais Ferry Terminal far too late to catch the ferry that my parents would be meeting me from at the Dover Ferry Terminal – which in turn meant a long wait.

And this is where Mother’s Traditional English Christmas Cake came into its own.

Calais France Ferry Terminal – just 29.4 miles from Dover UK. car-ferry-terminal-at-calais-france-BM6WAKWhen I arrived at the Calais Terminal I joined many other young people from all around Europe sitting on the floor waiting for ferries.

Remember this was many years before fast food, mobile phones, and of course the Euro Star train – everything was simple and basic.

I was hungry as were many of my fellow travellers.      I removed the tin containing Mother’s English Christmas Cake from my suit case and shared it with young people from around Europe.      The Christmas cake brought us together. 

Ferry docking at Dover Ferry Terminal   2464338180_d3b492f903_b    After docking at the Dover Ferry Terminal, I found a policeman waiting for me.      Clearly alerts had been sent out…..

The policeman took me and a young German boy I had befriended to the Dover Police Station.     There we were given a slap up breakfast while we waited for my parents to arrive.      I had assured the German boy that my parents would give him a lift to Canterbury and then he could hitch hike on to London.       The German boy and I kept in touch for many years.

So what’s the moral of this story?

Be Prepared and always carry extra food – especially traditional English Christmas Cake. 

(I was reminded of my story when recently a 100 year old fruit cake was found in Antarctica – perfectly preserved.     I rest my case. )

In this watercolour image, Christie the Cat looks down onto the Magical Town of Crickadoon (AKA Crickhowell Wales) hoping to find a home of her own.  

I hope everyone enjoys a lovely holiday season and that we can all help one another during these difficult times.     Janet πŸ™‚

63 thoughts on “A Traditional English Christmas Cake story – sustaining life and enhancing international relations…….

  1. JILLE Kohlmeyer

    I Love You Janet & Soo Much Love Sent your way !β™‘β™‘β™‘
    Merry Christmas !!β™‘β™‘
    Happy Holidays &
    And Much Love & Good wishes for Every Day dear Janet !β™‘β™‘β™‘β™‘β™‘

      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        It is actually quite good, but very rich. Somehow we never got drunk on it πŸ™‚ I did miss it when I lived in the States and so some of my fellow Brit ex pats, would have a special English Christmas Cake party. Enjoy your day…janet

  2. Yellow Bird

    Sharing the bounty with all and sundry, such a natural thing when we are young – sometimes I think the world would be a better place if populated only by the young – imagine the possibilities…….

  3. Jayanthi

    Lovely story and the cake sounds so delicious- full of good stuff. I remember your story and this is the right season to read it again. Hope you have a wonderful seasonal time and a super New Year with more delightful events to look forward to. Hope your book is on its way to completion.
    Take care, dear Janet.
    Much love, Jayanthi

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Jayanthi. I have been thinking about you and if your ears were burning talking about you to my friends in Somerset, who have spent much time in India and love it. I hope you and the family enjoy a very healthy, peaceful holiday season. So looking forward to seeing you in April. With lots of love. Janet πŸ™‚

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Andrea…..My Mother packed it wherever I went – just in case……and normally I never touched it, but on this occasion it was perfect. Do hope you enjoy a peaceful holiday season. Janet πŸ™‚

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much Bette. So pleased you enjoyed and yes as amazing as these cakes are…a little goes a long way πŸ™‚ Do hope you have a beautiful holiday season. janet x

  4. Emma Cownie

    What a delightful story. I am sure your parents were besides themselves with worry! Glad it all ended happily. I like Christmas cake but i don’t like the stuff that is put on it – icing and marzipan, all too sweet.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Emma and thank you for this comment. I am quite sure my parents were beside themselves with worry, but somehow they managed to come across as very calm about the whole thing, until we got home and then I did get a lecture on responsibility πŸ™‚ I quite enjoy Christmas cake, but normally on at Christmas. Hope you are enjoying the run up to the holiday season. janet

  5. davidjrogersftw

    Dear Janet, what a delightful, warm, story you’ve made to begin my day. Sets me in the right Christmas-time mood. Somehow it seems from the many stories of yours that I’ve read, things work out for you. Is that true? If so, I think one reason why is your underlying faith in the rightness of things if you leave them alone and remain calm and don’t tamper with them too much.

    Best wishes, and thank you for this memory.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      You are absolutely right about that. I have this very strong belief/faith that if we put one foot in front of the other and simply do the best we can, and always live by The Golden Rule…things work out. As well as working out, often all sorts of positive developments occur along the way – but only it seems when I leave them alone and keep calm.

      Very pleased you enjoyed the story. It’s as fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday.

      I hope that you and the family are enjoying the run up to Christmas. I have all sorts of things on, and most importantly am looking forward very much to my daughter’s arrival….

      Best wishes to you and all the family.
      Janet πŸ™‚

  6. dancingpalmtrees

    Happy Holidays! My paternal grandmother used to make what we called fruit cakes and put them in a tin. It was too rich for me as a child so I didn’t like the taste. As for now No sugar overload for me. Diabetes runs in my family. Your story brought back a long forgotten Holiday Memory.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Happy Holidays to you. To be honest the Christmas cake was far too rich for me as a child….Today I can appreciate a slice or two. It’s good to re-visit our positive memories. I hope you enjoy a very creative holiday season….Janet πŸ™‚

  7. Katherine

    So horrid and yet funny to be in the wrong part of the train.I am sure Xmas cake would keep us alive fpor a day or two if it were as rich as your Mother’s.I know it keeps for a year.Have a lovely Sunday

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thanks Katherine…oh yes it does keep for a year or much longer…which tells so much. Hope all is well and that you are enjoying life and of course creating wonderful poetry and art work. janet πŸ™‚

      1. Katherine

        I am hoping to do some real art over Xmas after spening the day with friends.I want to get my materials out and relax.My teacher said, never throw away what we do in class.Some I thought were horrible look quite good now and my sister likes them.She did biology and now is taling classes in botanical art.She painted a picture of their old home to give to her children.She’s always imitated me!! It helps her a lot to plan to get to these classes or 1 day painting events.

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        It’s good to keep old paintings for all sorts of reasons, including painting over the top…which I do quite frequently. Sounds good. get all your paints out on a place where no one other than you can touch them….and paint to your hearts content. The best way to spend the holidays. Janet x

  8. inesephoto

    Dear Janet, I was away all the summer and now try to catch up, but it doesn’t work that well…
    What a delightful story about the Christmas cake and old good times! πŸ™‚ It is so fun that your cake almost made it back home.
    Good advice about carrying extra food. Even in the times of global catering everything can happen – and your story is a good example of that πŸ™‚
    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! ❀ xx


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