English Rose

June is a month of roses and, for us, of birthdays. Our youngest daughter left her twenties, Mr A achieved 64, who could ask for more. We celebrated with a sunny weekend in a Yorkshire folly large enough to accommodate three generations. Even with a combined age of 94, these two birthdays cannot compete with Great gran, Gi-gi. The same age as the queen, it’s her turn to celebrate today. I took cake and roses, we had a short walk in the sunshine.

Our neighbour’s a collector, mostly of art deco. She was talking of roses this week. She’s got a lovely garden, but she’s also quite besotted with the red and white English Rose kitchen she keeps in a garden room. It looked familiar, and prompted nostalgia in a child of the late fifties. She began to tell the story of how the kitchens were produced post-war in redeployed aircraft engineering works. The story sounded familiar, ‘I think our family’s cooker might have been English Rose’, I said.

I described its hob. An oblong griddle, warmed by the grill, a round hot plate and a single ‘red-ring’, a fierce element that was slow to glow. I was regularly warned it could be hot even when it wasn’t glowing. I tested it for myself, and lived for a while with parallel blisters across my fingers.

Its oven was small, it struggled with a Sunday roast; its grill burned everything. Toast was scraped each morning. It was tough, survived a minor fire to cross the Pennines in our uprooting. It fed our family into the 1970’s.

Marion doesn’t have the cooker. She’d like one, says they’re hard to find.


One thought on “English Rose

  1. June is quite a busy birthday month for us as well…all the best people are born in June (well I would say that…)
    It’s a rather wonderful photograph of Gigi – there’s a wry candidness in her expression. The recollection of the England Rose cooker made me think my Nanny may have had one, too.


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