We children were all warned that we had to be on our very best behaviour at all times whilst in the gardens. No running, no jumping, no shouting..basically the very old adage of 'be seen but not heard'! It was all supposed to be a treat but I don't know that any of us children felt that it was a treat but rather something we had to go through to keep the mothers happy. There were tables and chairs all over the lawns where the mothers sat primly, on the edge of their seats, ready to intervene in case we children started acting like children. We were allowed to eat the teeny ,tiny sandwiches and cakes but not too many..we didn't want to appear greedy (or presumably, needy) after all! We children endured the afternoon until the mothers deemed it to be time to go...such joy! We were not allowed to run until we had left the toff's premises..which was quite a long way as he had a very long drive! But once we were on public land again, we were like creatures set free. We galloped home to remove the horrible, stiff ,uncomfortable clothes and become the slightly feral ( in a good way) children that we liked to be. The mothers all relaxed and drank tea while we gambolled about loudly! That ordeal was over for another year!
At Christmas, the same Toff and his Toffette put on an indoor tea for the village children. Once again we had to be on best behaviour, not eat too much, not be too loud..all those things but this time it was in a church hall. There were games and even a Father Christmas. All very exciting and rather hot.
Here's me (on the left) with Little Friend Susan next to me. I look vaguely terrified. I was terrified!!! What if I ate too much...or was loud....or spilled my drink???? The world would surely end and my mother would surely be furious with me for letting her down. It WAS terrifying! Little Friend Susan had no such worries, I remember and chomped her way through countless sandwiches and bowls of jelly. How did she dare??? She was exactly two weeks older than me and our fiancé was exactly two weeks older than her so I was always the baby one in the relationship. I wonder whatever became of the toff and his toffette....in fact, I wonder what became of LFS too..if you know her, say hello from me