i still haven't put off childish things . . . a bit of nostalgia and a few pancake tips!

Shrove Tuesday pancakes or
the home of The Clangers?
When I was a small child growing up in England, television viewing in the Kelly household was very strictly regulated. Admittedly in those far off days, all television was rather limited since there were only a few television channels and there was no such thing as all-day viewing. Pre-school children had their own programmes with Watch with Mother at lunchtime and again in the late afternoon.

Our television (and yes, in those days, most families only had one), was positioned high up on top of a large wooden cabinet in our living room, out of reach of little hands. (Well my hands in particular.)

In those days, there weren't many programmes but I still remember them vividly; The Herbs, Joe and the Transport Cafe, The Magic Roundabout, Mr Benn, Noggin the Nog or Tales of the Riverbank. I particularly liked Bizzy Lizzy, the tale of a little girl who wore a dress with a magic flower on it. When she touched the daisy-like flower, Bizzy Lizzy was granted three wishes, the first of which she always asked for her favourite doll, an Eskimo called Little Mo, could come to life and they could have adventures with the two remaining wishes.

I don't think I liked the programme because it was any good, it was more a matter of fashion and a little confusion (on my part). One of my mother's friends was a very talented dressmaker and made me two dresses (one was pink and white and the other navy blue and white) complete with the magic flowers. I got a little muddled. I had the dresses and I looked like Bizzy Lizzy (thick blonde hair in a mop bob) and I thought she was me. Oh the power of television! Apparently I would walk around the garden saying "I wish, I wish, I wish . . .” not fazed by the fact that none of my wishes came true!

But Bizzy Lizzy was me, or I was Bizzy Lizzy, so I resented enormously the fact that I wasn't allowed to watch television and Bizzy Lizzy's (or were they mine?) adventures, without an adult being present. I can still remember the sense of excitement I felt at the age of three when I worked out how I could switch on the television and watch my favourite programmes. All I needed to do was to take the drawers out of the cabinet and turn them outside down, with a couple of sofa cushions balanced on top, to create a precarious staircase that would give me enough leverage to reach the television and switch it on.

I crawled up my feat of childish engineering ingenuity and reached the top, flushed with exertion and success. But I was baffled and disappointed by the lack any television when the Test Card shimmered into view. At this exact moment, my mother caught up with me, exclaiming "Oh Rachel!” my perilous structure collapsed and I tumbled to the floor. Since that moment, my television viewing has been fairly intermittent ever since. (It is also probably one of the reasons why I am a big reader - no-one ever stopped me from reading books and I was left to plunder the family bookcases in any way I chose.)

This brings me to one of my favourite television of all times - The Clangers. I still have such fond affection for the little pink moon mice who lived on their own small blue planet, in their knitted chain-mail with a love of blue string pudding and Soup Dragon's lovingly made green soup. Not forgetting the Froglets (for whom I spent every episode waiting for them to blink - they didn't always blink in every episode!)

My particular favourite was Tiny Clanger, especially the episode where she discovers music (and the Music Trees - I want one of those). One of my uncles used to call me Tiny Clanger (my uncle was the Major); I just assumed this was because I was intrepid and resourceful, brave and curious. I liked music, pudding and soup . . . Sadly it was years before I discovered that it was the family joke that I was nicknamed Tiny Clanger because I was anything other than tiny!

I started thinking about The Clangers after making these pancakes in the run-up to Shrove Tuesday. There was something about their appearance that made me think of The Clangers' planet home. All they needed was a couple of metal lids, The Cloud, the Iron Chicken and a Music Tree and the picture would be complete.

Let me leave you with a few tips on making pancakes. I think there are only few things you need to know.

  1. Let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes before using.
  2. Use a non-stick pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan.
  3. The first pancake is the pancake equivalent of cannon fodder. It will never be perfect, but don't worry. You get to taste it as part of kitchen quality control!
  4. Whether you use oil or butter, wipe the excess from the pan with a piece of kitchen paper. After every 3 or 4 pancakes, give the pan a quick wipe with the greasy kitchen paper. It keeps the momentum going.
Happy flipping!


belleau kitchen said...

such fabulous memories... thank you for that... and a fab recipe... it's that first one that always gets me!

Homeandfood said...

What a lovely blog post. Truly inspiring to read before tomorrow!

Hope you are well, all the best x

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Dom - I love the fact that the first one is sacrificed to my belly (and very often the second and third too . . . I need the practice!) Although, weirdly, I made some for breakfast this morning and the first one was a thing of beauty, it was all the rest that were a bit mis-shapen and lumpy!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Yay Hamilton! I hope everyone will be enjoying some good pancakes tomorrow!

Letterslive said...

I bought the complete Noggin the Nog on DVD a few years ago. *sigh*

Made sure we had extra eggs from the market this weekend so we can pancake ourselves into a stupor.


PS And I will have to try that popcorn recipe that was in the Graun this weekend.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

"n the lands of the North, where the Black Rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long the Men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale... " Used to thrill me!

Bought Tales of the Riverbank too - it really is quite surreal!

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

You make me feel so old I was brought up on the Woodentops Andy Pandy and the Flower Pot Men.My love of pancakes never ages however.My cast iron pancake pan with curved edges for easy flipping and removal will be brought out again tomorrow.I fear I will soon be reading the lines in the pancake as a reflection of my age!!!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

I vaguely remember them too, but wasn't so keen. Sorry! And loathed the Flower Pot Men . . . I think I just don't like puppets on strings . . . but feeling a bit elderly myself! Hey ho.

Tomorrow we shall be having stuffed pancakes - stuffed with more cheese (but I am actually giving blue cheese a miss for a week!)

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

No need to say sorry that was all that was available to me in the early 50´s,so had to make the most of it.And this was all watched on baby sitters´ or relations´ televisions.My parents did not have a television in the house until I was eighteen.

margaret21 said...

Weren't you the 'Trumpton' and 'Camberwick Green' generation? I loved those programees (and I was the supervising mum, not the child here!). Great post, great memories. We've already had our first pancakes here in France, because they have them on Feb. 2nd, Candlemas. Apparently the weak winter sun reminds us of pancakes... and we get cooking

stowell said...

Reminds me of watching programs with our children. Our grandchildren, on the other hand, can watch all day although, thank God, they don't. I still haven't made any pancakes, but I suppose I should. I think the problem is that France is full of pancakes and I'm not sure if I want to add to that number.

Fiona Maclean said...

LOL me too! My earliest TV was the Black and White Minstrel show which mum and dad let me watch, telling me I was staying up late and changing the time on the clock!!!

But I remember magic roundabout and trumpton.

They don't make them like they used to!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Margaret - I was the Trumpton generation - although I was the child who wished the whole programme had been about the musical box. It fascinated me!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Roger - teach your grandchildren to make pancakes! (I don't know how old they are, but I am sure they'd love watching you make them. Besides it's a life skill ... :))

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Fiona - Parents are so sneaky. I have a friend who tells his kids that when they hear the music from the icecream van, it is because the icecream van has run out of icecream!

I adored the Magic Roundabout - I have the film on DVD of Dougal and the Blue Cat - frankly it is quite surreal!

But does anyone remember White Horses and Belle and Sebastian? I loved the theme tunes!