Cotton dresses, sandals and arctic weather.
My memories of Easter seem to focus on new clothes and outings. The new clothes always came first and there was always a degree of forward planning. Mum usually took me on the green bus from The Winning, Wallsend to Croft Street, Newcastle and we would go to Marks & Spencer, which carried a good range of smart summer dresses for the fashion conscious eight year old. The problem was making the choice. With shoes it was a bit easier because you always got T-bar sandals, a classic design that were really comfortable and kept you going right through the summer, whatever you were doing.
My favourite pair were red, and I remember them being stored in the walk-in cupboard in the kitchen, where the tin bath was kept. There was absolutely no possibility of wearing them before Easter Sunday, so I used to disappear into this cupboard for hours at a time, putting the new sandals on and just looking at them on my feet. Things haven’t changed really, I’m still a sucker for a new pair of shoes.
Of course, the dress you got had no sleeves and was made of cotton, a fact which guaranteed most years that it couldn’t be worn on Easter Day because the weather would be arctic. I can remember huge debates with my mother about whether it was warm enough to wear the dress to church or dry enough to wear the sandals.
Easter weekends were very special, starting with hot cross buns on Good Friday morning breakfast. This was always a quiet, sombre sort of day, with no shops open. When I was in the Brownies we marched in a procession of witness. Easter Sunday was the big day, when all the eggs arrived and we went out with Grandad and aunts and cousins on some sort of trip out, often to the beach. At teatime we would have an enormous tea, with beautiful salads and fresh ham – a kind of ‘spring’ type meal. After tea I can remember sitting with all of the boxes from the Easter eggs, and the cellophane wrappers from the chocolates inside, making dolls houses. Wrappers from Quality Street and Roses were best, because they had lovely colours and patterns on the wrappers, they made beautiful sets of curtains.
Easter Monday was spent with friends and we would two things in particular. Firstly, we went to the sledging hill near our house and rolled our paste eggs until they smashed into pieces. Then, in the afternoon we would go to the funfair at the Burn Closes, to try and win a goldfish or go on the waltzer. Mother hated it when I brought a goldfish home!