Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pancake Day.

It's the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent. In the U.K. we celebrate it by making what the French and Americans would call Crepe's. We call them pancakes.

I remember being in Primary School [Elementary] and feeling like the day would drag by because I was looking forward to the pancakes that evening. It seems such a small thing but it was a fun time. If I remember correctly that is all we would eat. We part ran, part walked home, pushed through the door and shouted "Pancakes!" Poor Mum.

We would always wait until Dad came home from work but Mum would start making them before he arrived. We would pour sugar, treacle and syrup all over them, smile at each other and enjoy. Often my brothers and I would argue over who ate the first one, so usually I think this went to Dad.  Every year we celebrated it the same way. An evening of desert. What could be better?

When I moved to America in 2002 I was horrified to find that this wasn't a day particularly celebrated here. At least not in the same way. In the U.S. a lot of places celebrate mardi gras but being a Brit I missed the simplicity of Pancake Day. I stayed with families for the first few years in the States and would insist on making them pancakes.

One time I asked if they could get the ingredients because I was coming back from work late and then I would make it for them. It was a disaster because the recipe was for American pancakes not crepes. In a culture decidedly similar there are vast differences and these show up most frequently in the little  things. I've never lived that moment down. To this day when I see my 'adopted american family' and the subject of Pancake days come up there will always be a friendly jibe.

Later I became part of a home group at my church. We were a group of between 10-20 people and every pancake day I would insist on making pancakes for everyone. I made the same mistake in forgetting they needed to be told they were crepes. Fortunately I bought the ingredients this time. I would arrive back from work around 4.30 and make crepes for two hours before people began arriving. Sometimes I made over 60. The first year they walked in and realized they were crepes but they liked these as well so all was not lost!

The home group would bring sides such as strawberries and other sweeteners. It was a very fun time and I loved the fact I was able to share with Americans how Brits celebrate shrove Tuesday.  For me a big part of it is meeting together with community, remembering the lent season but having fun and celebrating as a family. It's not as big as Christmas or Easter but it does make for fond memories.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 4 1948-1950's.

Although the move to Africa was precipitated by Iris' being sick it is important to remember that Idris also felt called to the continent when he was a child and believed God wanted him to be involved in mission there. During the next four decades Idris was constantly at work with local churches, hospitals and outreaches.

When he first arrived in South Africa, Idris purchased a black coloured 1938 Ford V8 with red wire wheels from the city of Salibsury. Later this was replaced with a 1941 Plymouth. This was the vehicle his family would all learn to drive in! A number plate was attached to the car when it was first registered. This would remain with the vehicle for the rest of its lifetime. The license was U4472 and was placed on a circular paper disc on the inside [Drivers side] of the windscreen. The number plate would remain with the car whomever it was sold to although the paper disc with the registration changed and had to be renewed each year. The Plymouth was bought in Kempton Park, South Africa but registered in Umtali so the designated letter was U - its place of residence. Later this car was also re painted after Iris ran it into a post at their home. Idris was very fond of cars, another that he rebuilt was a 38 Chrysler, which he then repainted and sold on.

Iris standing next to the 41 Plymouth

 The family first lived in Hatfield, a suburb of Salisbury but around 1950 they moved to Rainbow Ranch, Inyanga, part of the eastern highlands of Southern Rhodesia. This was only a brief stop over as later that same year they moved onwards, to Umtali. [Below a picture of the Inyanga Mountains.]

Muturazi Falls, Inyanga

He also continued to use motorcycles as he had in England. Below is a picture of an old 250 Royal Enfield, built around 1951. Idris would use it to drive to work and back on. He bought it second hand and rebuilt it again. His son Glyn loved playing with it and once, when Idris was away to the mountains on a mission trip Glyn tried to kick start it. It fell on the ground and started to burn. Fortunately some boy scouts were walking by and they helped Glyn put out the fire by piling dirt on it. Glyn remembers never being so scared of anything in his life.

Iris standing next to the 250 Royal Enfield

Idris was a stern father but loving. He forbade swearing of any kind and would not allow his children to go to the movies or play cards. These were places and things of the 'devil' and children should not mess with them. He was also full of kindness, his daughter Wendy always remembering him as her hero, kissing her better and seeing with great kindness to any cuts and bruises that she sustained. He was also not above playing with his children, sometimes pretending to be a horse as they rode him, and as they grew older, fixing up bikes and cars for them to drive and ride.

As the 1950's drew on he had some more great undertakings ahead of him as well as personal tragedy.

Facts and information courtesy of interview with family members Glyn Davies and Wendy Thomas, which took place between 2012-2013.