In Memoriam: Helen Constantine

When I was a child, I spent my summers at a large and sprawling house in Plymouth, and these are some of my earliest memories. Playing hide and seek in three gardens, watching baby chicks bathe in a sink of water, sitting in the smallest ‘secret’ garden with a book all afternoon; these are some of the earliest childhood memories that I have. Travelling all day in my Mum’s Land Rover Discovery, sitting in the back seats and pausing on a motorway to eat sandwiches and apples. Pulling up at the house to be greeted by a pair of enormous geese, Charlie and Geraldine, who would chase me around the garden shrieking in a green summer dress. ‘Aunty Helen’, as she was known to us, was a small, smiling woman, always with outstretched arms, a plate full of food and a gentle word of wisdom. She once told me to help her to prepare food in the kitchen, I must have been eight years old or so, and a few hours later, watching many people gather around the table to eat vegetables that I had chopped up (and made a terrible job of it, I might add!) the first seeds of enthusiasm for cooking and entertaining may have been sown. Aunty Helen was a tireless giver; always there with a lap, a cuddle, a handbag she had painstakingly crotcheted...

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