My heart is full of joy as I count the days to Mothering Sunday. Why am I so thrilled? Because it’s my very first as a mother. The arrival of my son was a little miracle. Sedgewick and I found him on New Years day, lying in the straw in Great Uncle Tew’s barn. We have no idea who sent him to us, but we’re thankful every day that they did.
We called him ’LittleTew’ in deference to my great uncle and his arrival has blessed our lives in ways that we could not imagine. Of course, our life has become a little chaotic, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy memories of bygone Mothering Sundays have flooded back. I’m a country girl by birth and in my heart and I’ve always lived in this village, but lots of my childhood friends left home at a very young age and took up positions as domestic servants in the town. Leaving friends and family behind. I stayed in Upper Crustington working at my Mother’s side in the bakery almost from the moment I could walk.
On Mothering Sunday all the servant girls are given the day off to visit their mothers and usually arrive bearing gifts of flowers. Some also bring ingredients from their master’s larder and use them to make a Simnel cake especially for their Mother.
This delicious fruitcake is traditionally covered in two layers of marzipan and when I was a young girl, it was decorated with flowers too. Nowadays the fashion is to decorate with almond balls, one for each apostle and it’s become more of a traditional Easter treat, but I still associate it with Mothering Sundays of years ago.
The Simnel cake has been a favourite since medieval times, so there are lots of stories surrounding it. Originally it’s said that the cake was boiled and then baked. This led to a lovely tale of how the cake got its name.
A couple called Simon and Nelly and they planned to make a cake. One wanted to boil it, the other to bake it. They argued, but finally agreed to compromise and did both, so the cake was named after the two of them- ‘Simnel’. It’s a charming story, but I’m sure it’s just a folktale.
As yet, I have no daughter, so I will be making the Simnel cake as usual this year. It reminds me fondly of my own dear mother and of how lucky I am to enjoy motherhood too.