It is about Robyn, a psychiatric nurse, whose childhood was sunny and sparkling. Until, that is, the summer of 1997. The summer when her life exploded. The summer which made her the person she is today.
When something happens in Robyn's present, it brings everything that happened back then to the surface. The question is, will she let it define her? Or will she let it go?
Although Robyn lives and works in London, she is actually from Kilterdale in the Lake District. This is a place she loved and adored, but now, sadly, avoids like the plague. Unless, of course, she has to make one of the few trips she is guilt tripped into. This time she is returning home after receiving some sad news via Facebook, and her dad picks her up from the train station. Just him, at her request, so they can have some dad and daughter time. They travel from the train station, through Kilterdale, to get to the cafe they've always gone to – Mildred's Cafe.
As Robyn goes through the little town she sees so many memories from her childhood. The swimming bath with its smell of chlorine and the cheers from the crowd – particularly her mother – and the cinema where she would relish that little bit of freedom. She can still detect the whiff of popcorn even though it has now closed down. Here she recalls watching ET and trying not to cry in front of her sister. (I remember doing that too.) Then there's the bench. The bench she used to sit with her sisters and her mum and dad after buying chips from The Fry Up with her mum tucking into a battered sausage. Food is used to provide powerful memories in fiction and in real life. Later on she would sit at that same bench with Joe, also eating chips.
Then she gets into the cafe, sits at her family's usual table, despite the fact she has been back very little in recent times, and orders the exact same thing she would order when visiting with her mum and her dad. A millionaire's shortbread for her with a cappuccino and for her dad, a cup of tea and a teacake. A toasted teacake spread completely and thoroughly with butter.
I thought teacakes would be tricky to make. That was until I found Dan Lepard's recipe in his book Short & Sweet. It can also be found online. They taste rather good. I ate mine with my father-in-law who also had a cup of tea with his. It is a very dadish sort of food to eat, I think. And he very much approved.