Monday, 28 June 2010

The Joys Of Sunday

pub lunch

Yesterday was Sunday.

Depending on your perception, Sunday is the first or seventh day, a religious high day, or  just  part of the weekend, a day off from work, or school; for many it is a day to work at or from home, doing the jobs for which there isn't time during the week. When I was still gainfully employed, Saturdays were a slog but Sunday morning was for lying in, a leisurely perusal of the paper, a home cooked meal for lunch, and quality time with the family in the afternoon.

By Sunday evening the joys of quality time had palled, and all three of us were  bored to distraction, the kids were looking forward to seeing their friends at school and I was usually ready to go back to work next morning.

Neither Beloved nor I work for money now, our time is our own, all week, Sundays included. However, my catholic training from long ago still makes me feel that Sundays are special, that I must do something to lift Sunday out of the pleasant but mundane routine and make each one memorable, whatever the effort involved. No gain without pain.

It's a feeling I fight very hard to overcome.

Sadly, we lack all the usual Sunday diversions: we have no grannies to entertain, children to bore with family games, or the endurance test of family visits; we are not given to going on strenuous nature rambles - nature is strictly for weekdays. Sunday pub lunches are a definite no-no:  all you can eat of the set meal, the Sunday Roast, two kinds of potato and various vegetables, all swimming in gravy, with a steam pudding and custard to follow, until you need the help of a crane to lift you off your chair at the end of it. The pub is crammed full with robust and hearty eaters tucking in,  granny and widowed uncle Bertie included;  the younger couples have brought their children and small kids are racing each other between the tables. Strong-armed  waitresses, red-faced and glowing with perspiration,  heaving laden plates and heavy dishes, keep the throng supplied.

Carl Spitzweg  -  Der Spaziergang

Childhood Sundays were equally nightmarish. On Summer Sundays one went for a walk.

In those far off days there was still a difference in clothing between work-a-day clothing and Sunday Best. Dad and custom decreed that for Sunday walks in the park only Sunday Best was good enough. Dad set the tone by wearing a light weight, light coloured suit, topped with a hat and a walking stick over his arm. Mother wore her best floral  silk, a fetching hat, gloves, and high heels, which were killing her halfway through the walk.

But the tortured child suffered the most. Picture the poor innocent in her pretty, smocked or ruched frock, often white but certainly no darker than pastel-hued, white cotton ankle socks and tight fitting, black patent leather shoes. Every scuffed step would leave a black mark on the sock, there was no skipping off or kicking stones, no touching anything that could cause a smudge on the dress. "Pick up your feet,", "Don't dawdle",  "Don't touch". All the other families were out too, this was an occasion to see and be seen, to meet and greet. Dad's hat was lifted and replaced every few steps, women stepped aside for a moment to exchange a pleasant word, while keeping an eagle eye on the young, who were required to  curtsey or bow, depending on gender, every time this happened. Adults shook hands formally.

These walks were interminable, from one end of the park to the other, around the lake, and back again.
The highlight was getting too close to the swans on the lake and squealing in terror when these made to
 follow the culprit, who was then roundly admonished to "behave yourself", or "stop being silly".

Once safely back home, suits and dresses were taking off, brushed and hung up again, to await the next outing. Mothers said "just look at your socks and shoes, whatever have you been doing?"

Sunday lunch in the garden

Sundays  chez nous are simplicity itself. Lunch is important to us, but we eat the food suitable for the occasion, considering the weather, the effort involved and our appetites.  Nobody is obliged to do anything they don't feel like doing and we never play games. We might whistle for the dog, grab a stick and take a gentle walk by the river; we might pick up a book and spend the afternoon reading. We might linger over a bottle, sit in the shade of the old plum tree, talk, and even fall asleep. Whether we are joined by friends or we are on our own, the procedure is the same. Relaxation is the order of the day. 

Sunday Best never gets a look-in. 


  1. Hello Friko - yes I remember Sunday outings, after a formal lunch, wearing our best - we usually climbed up the gentle slopes of the mountain behind our house and had a lemonade at an outdoors cafe before heading back home.
    Now our Sundays are much like yours - a leisurely lunch with a nice bottle of wine and then a nap for hubby while I read or quilt.

  2. I love this. I feel the same. I like making Sunday special. It is very different this retiree life. I am 54, and had to quit early. We fill our lives with volunteer work, which is highly fulfilling. We are helping with a Habitat for Humanity home in our town of Bala. This gives us a bit of sense of weekend, as the work is done during the weekdays.
    Excellent post!

  3. Your Sunday lunch looks delightful outside in a shady spot. I relish our Sundays alone where we can do exactly as we please. Most Sundays are spent with nine or ten people over spending the day. Those days are delightful too - but not restful when entertaining so many.

    It's a sweet balance - being with those we adore and carving out enough alone time. Thank goodness those horrid, 'on display', have no fun, walks in the park are a thing of the past!

    Set the table next week for one more - I'll be dropping in Sunday for lunch - may I? Pretty please?

  4. such a rich redolent post drawing my mind back through sundays of the past 53 years. some maudlin and some comprised of the very sweet haziness you describe in your present experiencing. a lovely post friko. steven

  5. May life and time continue to treat you kind, every day.

  6. Friko, you can do the most beautiful things with simple topics. Thank you for helping to remember my Sundays, past, present, and future.

  7. What memories you bring to surface...our own Sundays often included a drive in the family car...finding a winding country lane and just enjoy the journey. Of course gas was literally pennies per gallon. And yes, I do remember those same black patent leather shoes. I even had a detested pair of red socks which I secretly cut up with scissors...Mom was not happy!

  8. My family was big on the Sunday drive -- sometimes there was a picnic.

    Your Sunday sounds idyllic.

  9. When I was a child Sundays were for church and being quiet - no noisy playing. For one strange stretch of time my mother thought that embroidery was an appropriate Sunday activity. When I worked in retail, I worked Sundays, and for a while hated the day. In Germany I remember seeing families just such as you described - Sunday best,entire family groups marching along the field roads.
    Today? TGD and I spend Sunday much as you've described. Sleep in, read, drink coffee, nap, read, drink wine, look at the garden, watch TV and perhaps nap some more. I love it!
    Once again, you've taken a topic and brought us all along - and in my case, encouraged a too-long comment!

  10. Sunday's always had their own 'feel' - maybe they still do after all those years of being made to do special things on that day - wear certain clothes, eat certain food and take part in rituals (family or otherwise).

    For us they are now, as they are for you, uncomplicated and unchallenging. Your summer Sunday lunch looked very appetising.

  11. eine sehr schöne Beschreibung, in der man sich wirklich hineinversetzen kann.
    Hier (oder besser in Luxemburg) sagt man, dass das Essen in England sehr schlecht sei. Dies behauptete auch mein Englischlehrer.
    Nun, mir würde es sicher nicht gefallen, ich mag nicht, wenn der Teller so voll ist und ich bin Vegetarierin... :-)!

  12. For a while we lived in the Outer Hebrides - there the religion was so strict that the childrens' swings were padlocked on a Sunday. That said, it was a great place to bring up a family!

  13. I tend to lose track of what day it is especially in the city where everything is open all the time. Out here in the country though, nothing is open on Sundays so I'm getting reminders.

    Sundays for us was the maid's day off. that meant my mother had to cook so we often had cold cuts and sliced cheese, bread or crackers for dinner. that is until my parents and their friends got into gourmet cooking. The four of them would do these elaborate meals and totally destroy the kitchen and then we kids had to do all the clean-up.

  14. I icould hardly tear myself away from the Yorkshire pudding to even read this. My favourite food of all time, and one of my most consistent failures.

    However, I did read on, and enjoyed my pub lunch despite your admonishments. Those red-faced waitresses deserved their tip, and if it weren't for the bratty kid at the table by the window, I would have stayed longer.

    Your lunch, on the other hand, looks just as copious, although the surroundings seem much more pleasant. I hope you had a little nap afterwards, in the shade, lulled to sleep by birdsong and wine.

  15. Carla HR - Given half a chance, I'll be happy to have a 'power nap' too.
    10-15 minutes is usually enough to refresh me. A glass of wine in the middle of the day makes me feel sleepy.

    Jenn - I feel it is necessary to lift at least one day out of the norm. I need my highlights.

    Bonnie - but of course, any Sunday you like. I'll be happy to see you.

    steven - 'very sweet laziness', the exact words to describe these Sundays.

    marciamayo - you are welcome, hope you have sweet emories too.

    Patricia - thank you for visiting and leaving such a nice comment. I've tried to call on you, but as your blog is private, let me say hello to you here.

    Vicki Lane - At least you didn't have to walk in shows that pinched.

    Pondside - your comments are never too long!
    Aren't we lucky that now, as adults and therefore master of our own fate, we can have exactly the sort of Sunday that makes us happy?

    Cloudia - same to you!
    Aloha, girl.

    mountainear - a salad on a hot day goes down easily.
    You may be right, once something has been drilled into you for years, it is very hard to shake it off.

    Renee - In Deutschland ist der Teller auch immer zu voll. Vor einem so vollen Teller zu sitzen verschlaegt mir sofort den Appetit.
    Essen die Luxemburger nicht auch gerne und ausgiebig?

    Freda - padlocks on childrens' swings? not my idea of a place to be free and happy. It's always people and their attitudes who spoil even the most magnificent gifts of nature.

    ellen abbott - I hope you also got to eat the results of the adults' efforts? Still, clearing up after them would make me cross.

    Deborah - Yorkshire pudding is fattening, i think. i like it well enough, but it has to come with lashings of beef and gravy and all the trimmings. I can't cook it, we only get it away from home.

    I'll have you know that most of my lunch was lettuce, peppers and avocado and very pleasant it was too. The wine was a dream, a bottle of Gewurztraminer Kirchberg grand cru, from Barr in Alsace. Pure nectar.

    Birdsong came a very poor second after that.

  16. Your garden lunch looks tasty and beautiful!
    A tablecloth, even! Far different from our Sunday repasts, which are casual unto un-meal-ish. More like snacking all day long. Which is perfect for us.
    For years . . . years! . . . of my childhood we had Sunday dinner at my grandmother's. Chicken and dumplings. Every Sunday. Newspapers. Quiet. Boring.

  17. Both lunches look pretty good to me. I like Yorkshire pud, and I can cook it pretty well. But I don't like Sundays much any more. Since I am retired all days are alike to me, but on Sunday here in the States the radio gets really stupid. You don't get much news and the music gets all folksy. I like Monday when life gets normal, all the young people go to work, and the news gets serious.

  18. Things have been CRAZY here! Check out my Wednsday post if you can

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  19. I like your idea of Sunday. A good day to rest and reflect. I've always felt that way, but it was very important when I was working and the children were small. I still like to fix a nice Sunday dinner, however.

  20. What a wonderful post. I like the sweeping perspective about Sunday, the traditional perceptions and then your own. That lunch looks absolutely amazing in your garden.


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