Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 31 October 2014

Help Yourself

No prizes for guessing the era for this wonderful repast in the picture above. There are many clues: the decor - two different garish patterns for the wallpaper and the linoleum floor covering; the plastic fruit and the folk-art egg-cups on the wall; the homemade sherry trifle in the cut-glass dish and ‘things’ on cocktail sticks. I see pickled onions and mini sausages, a couple of salads, mince pies, sausage rolls, cold meats, slices of pork pie and some sort of dessert made in a chocolate-covered cornflake flan case. How do I know so much about it? Well, this was my family home at Christmas 1974 and someone, probably my Dad, had taken a picture of the table before the hungry guests descended like a plague of locusts to devour it. This was the kitchen (we didn’t have a dining room) of the Nottingham council house where I grew up, and the scene of many such gatherings.

In this picture, with the guests helping themselves, we can admire the panel of brightly burnished reflective wall covering on the rear wall, the pale tangerine-gloss painted cupboards (slightly ajar), the cooking utensils and yes, the actual kitchen sink!

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week is picture of a dining queue at a 50th anniversary dinner* with people helping themselves from a rather more ornate buffet table in 1952. I don’t believe we ever had an actual cook pot on the table but the 1970s and 80s, we would often host fondue parties. I’m sure many readers will remember the sizzling pot into which we communally dipped our forks!

A year or so later and we’d moved into the living room for a more intimate buffet, where guests could wander over and pick at the canapes as they pleased. I remember the orange plastic device for nuts and other small bites. It toned so well with the curtains don’t you think?

In 1981 a friend and I held a silly buffet party for our families, dressing up and serving cones of chips (French fries) with burgers and hot dogs.

Tupperware dishes of chutneys and relish graced the table and the guests helped themselves to a glass of something at the end of the table. The RAF Married quarters decor wasn’t much better than that of the 1970s. In fact it stayed that way for many years after and wherever we were posted we felt ‘at home’ with the swirly patterns in the stretch covers and the brightly patterned carpets and curtains, none of which matched.

That’s my very own Laura Ashley plastic tablecloth though; I had two small children by then. In case you’re wondering, yes, I am wearing a doily on my head!

It’s Hallowe’en tonight and my daughter’s birthday tomorrow; the grandchildren are visiting and the house will be full, so a buffet-style catering is what’s called for.

There will be lots of visitors so I need to crack on shopping, baking and putting ‘things’ on sticks. I may dress up - but I won’t be wearing a paper doily this time.

Have lots of fun this weekend and don’t forget to go Trick or Treating round your Sepia Saturday friends. You’ll get some nice surprizes in your goody bag!
*Tyrrell Historical Library via Flickr Commons


  1. I love buffets like the ones in the photos. I get bored with the conventional offerings of today. I am also getting fed up with home decor where everything has to match!

  2. Buffets anywhere - at a home, church, casino - Love 'em all. But your mention of fondue parties made me chuckle from a particular memory. We were a few Forest Service wives welcoming a new gal into the 'club' & among other goodies, we had a fondue pot bubbling away. We must not have had it hot enough, though, because the cheese wasn't melting as it should, so it was kind of sitting on the bottom of the pot with the wine floating on the top. One of the gals there didn't really drink much, so she was staying away from the apricot brandy the rest of us were enjoying. But she kept dipping her bread into the fondue pot & we began to notice she was starting to act a bit 'tipsy' & realized why when she mentioned even though the cheese hadn't melted properly, the juice was really good. Apparently she didn't understand what that "juice" was. Oops.

  3. Well let's discuss that balloon decor. Or maybe not. Ahem ~

    So how many fondue pots did you get for a wedding gift? That was the #1 gift for brides when I got married (and I think you and I are from the same century). Fondue pots are making a come-back.

    1. Funny that! The balloons caught my eye too!

  4. all the buffets are making me hungry

  5. Sausage rolls never went out of vogue at home buffet dinners, did they? Don't forget to take a photo of the table tonight.

  6. A silly dinner party serving cones of chips! Sounds just like my kind of meal! As for the wallpaper and decor in your parents house - it is a perfect match for the house I grew up in. Indeed I think we had exactly the same pattern of wallpaper in a slightly different shade.

  7. I get a strong sense of familiarity from those wild curtains...:)

  8. Fondue? Goodness, I haven't thought of fondue in ages...I remember a party that had nothing but fondue pots on the table; plates of all kinds of things to dip into 'em. It's a wonder we all didn't come down with anything, eh?

  9. I'm not supposed to be eating so much these days and now you are torturing me with pictures of buffets like these.

  10. The lovely foods, guests dressed up, and especially the room decor...what great memories!

  11. my mother-in-law's buffets still look a bit like that top picture…don't think there've been many changes since the days of the Galloping Gourmet. Have to say, the last time I did a buffet I made a grapefruit hedgehog with cheese and pineapple spikes, and it went down a storm! Love 70's stuff, even the over-use of orange and clashing colours/patterns, though my husband isn't so keen! The other day I spotted a Le Creuset fondue set (orange, obviously) in a Charity shop and was sorely tempted…
    Hope you are having a lovely time with your family x

  12. All these buffets are making me think that it is time for a small party! When we get back from holidays :)

  13. Yes, I remember fondue, always worried not to lose the peace of meat from the fork. Vintage (or even fake) 70s stuff is very 'in' nowadays. The headware you're wearing is certainly not :-).

  14. My house used to look like that in the 70s!! What were we thinking?

  15. For some reason I feel a bit peckish. Hmm ... what's in that bowl at the back?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.