Tickety Boo Or Not So Pukka


Once in late Spring I had occasion to be in Scotland. A marvellous country filled with beautiful scenery and plenty of history. I realised that I was fairly near to a place where I had spent a handful of childhood holidays and decided to drive to the location to ascertain if it remained as I remembered it. I found the estate with ease and followed the single track road trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything that I remembered from our visits here. It was as I turned from the track onto a driveway that I knew I had found the correct place. I halted my vehicle and stared down the driveway. It was lined with scores of cherry trees which were in full blossom. I remembered the first time I saw this drive way and was taken aback at the vibrancy of the pink blossom and how it rained upon us as my father drove us down the driveway, the breeze displacing the blossom and causing it to cascade over us. It was quite the picture and something that I have always recalled although not as much as what came next.

We had spent a week staying at a five star hotel about an hour away from where we were now. This was at the insistence of my mother who had declared,

“If I am to rough it then I want my luxury either side of it.”

Typically a cold fury ensured until my father, as ever, conceded and agreed that we would stay for a week before and four days afterwards at the sumptuous hotel. The place we now headed to was an estate owned by a friend of my father. They had both been in the Royal Air Force together and Geraint, his friend, had removed himself to Scotland to oversee this estate. My mother had said nothing from the moment we had checked out from the hotel that morning. She sat, her icy rage chilling the interior of the car as my father drove us to the estate. My sister babbled incessantly during the journey, commenting on everything we passed in order to fill the silence. My father concentrated on the road ahead being well-used to these frozen car journeys and no doubt wondering how my mother would continue to behave once we arrived. I knew exactly what she would do and I could see my reflection as I grinned with anticipation.

Our car slowly drove along this bright pink tunnel until we halted by a gate. Set on a hillock to the right was a large and impressive house from which a figure, who I assumed was Geraint, half-walked half-jigged. His red corduroy pants housed two legs which skipped across the carefully manicured lawn that embraced the hillock, the colour contrasting with the mustard of his jumper and the green of the shirt beneath. He was as colourful as the entrance to his estate. My father lowered the window as Geraint neared and bellowed into the car,

“Hello hello, well how are you all you wonderful people, tickety boo or not so pukka?”

The rear of the car exploded into laughter at this expression. We had not heard anything like it and coupled with this multi-coloured man who bore a huge grin on his face we were mightily amused. This became the mantra for the week as my siblings and I would ask one another at any opportunity whether he or she was tickety boo or not so pucker. Still laughing I watched as my mother leant towards my father’s side of the car and trilled,

“Geraint how positively marvellous to see you. You look excellent well. I must say we are so looking forward to staying with you this week, it is awfully kind of you to accommodate us. It looks glorious, tell me how is your wife?”

I smirked as what I came to know as the façade was rolled out. I glanced at the rear view mirror to see my father’s reaction. As I suspected it was one of relief.

We children enjoyed our week. We had been housed in a large cottage which was clearly one which belonged to someone who had worked the estate in the past, a farmer or woodsman perhaps. Geraint occupied the main house where we dined three times if I remember correctly and there were fifteen cottages scattered across the estate. We spent our days locating them and adding them to the map we made of the extensive estate. My mother alternated between being fragrant and charming whenever she met Geraint and his family (tickety boo) to then sitting in silence when consigned to the cottage (not so pucker). As usual my father flapped about her trying to extoll the virtue of the cottage and its simpler way of life. The cottage had a permanent musty smell and it was necessary to chop logs outside to burn in the fireplaces and place in the aga range to provide cooking and heating facilities. We enjoyed this difference to the usual conveniences we enjoyed at home but my mother did not. She passed no adverse comment. She did not need to as she had repeatedly berated my father when at the hotel about his choice in coming to stay in this “bloody medieval hovel” and it seemed to me that the lap of luxury which she had insisted on had been not so pucker for her since she spent all of her time slating my father for wanting to see his old RAF pal. The blaming and name-calling then gave way to her iciness for the entire week. I do not recall my mother speaking to my father save when we were in the presence of Geraint and his family when my mother was charm personified, complimentary and quite the star of the dinner table.

Yes this trip stuck in my memory for many reasons but most of all for my exposure to the phrase tickety boo or not so pucker. I saw how these polar states were played out by my mother as part of her manipulation of my father, her quite amazing vacillation between delightful charm and muted resentment. She shone and then she iced over. I have come to realise that this entertaining phrase is most apt for our kind. Either everything is tickety boo, wonderful, marvellous and golden or it is not so pukka, awful, horrible, terrible and cruel. There is never any middle ground. No neutral. We do not do mediocre or mundane. We either give you tickety boo or subject you to not so pukka.

44 thoughts on “Tickety Boo Or Not So Pukka

  1. njfilly says:

    Pukka up big boy.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You mean pucker.

      1. njfilly says:

        No, I don’t. I was just playing with the words. I though you liked games?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Only interesting ones.

          1. Asp Emp says:

            Oh, but, of course 🙂

          2. njfilly says:

            **Thought not though

        2. Truthseeker6157 says:

          Pukka make good pies.

          Northern lass. Likes her pies.

          1. njfilly says:

            No! Pukka pies? Really?! That’s a thing?

          2. Truthseeker6157 says:

            NJ Filly,

            Haha yes Pukka Pies are a thing.

            Fray Bentos make a very good pie, but, there is something that concerns me about a pie in a tin.

            When I lived in the US there were certain things I craved. Expats would text each other when certain items were in stock in various supermarkets. Whole Foods and Publix were the places to keep an eye on.

            Foods I craved in the US.

            1. Pies, actually Greggs bakery really.
            2. Fish and chips. (Soggy chips drowned in salt and vinegar.)
            3. Custard. Birds custard is best but often I was forced to settle for Ambrosia.
            4. Mc Vities Digestive biscuits. I don’t do soft biscuits or cookies, I do crunchy biscuits. Also, bourbons and custard creams.
            5. Proper chocolate. Not Swiss, not Hersheys, Dairy Milk chocolate, not the American Dairy Milk recipe either! Haha!

            The irony is that since being back home, I have had fish and chips only once in 4 years. Custard and pies only a handful of times probably. I actually eat very healthily as a general rule, more so when training. Chocolate and biscuits are my weakness. Let’s not talk about how often I’ve had those!

            It’s the thought of not being able to have something that makes me crave it. I think that applies to other things than food, in fact, that’s me all over. 😂

          3. njfilly says:


            What is pukka pie? Your list is quite interesting. I’m not familiar with most of those items. I also don’t understand some of what you have written.

            1) When you say fish and chips, what are chips? Potato chips or french fries?

          4. njfilly says:

            Oops!! I accidentally sent my comment while I was typing it!

            Can you explain some things on your list?


          5. njfilly says:

            Damn!!! WTF!!! I can’t seem to get my comment written! Something spooky is going on! It must be the full moon.

            Have a nice day.

          6. Truthseeker6157 says:

            NJ Filly,

            Oh you did make me smile there. Xx

            Pukka is just a brand name. Pukka make savoury pies such as steak pie, or chicken pie and here we would find them in the refrigerated section in the grocery store.

            The chips that you get with fish and chips are closest to your steak fries, sometimes referred to as chunky fries, but, they aren’t as crispy, more soggy ( haha sounds terrible I know) and we put salt and vinegar on them rather than just salt.

            Confusingly our custard is closest to your ‘pudding’. Here, pudding refers to any dessert. There, pudding is a sauce made on the hob with milk, eggs, vanilla and cornstarch. ‘Pudding’ is reasonably close, but not as sweet as custard. Also, most commonly we pour custard warm over the top of desserts such as apple pie, we don’t just eat it on its own. It should be noted that if I was any good at cooking I should be able to make custard from scratch, I’m not so I don’t!

            Now that I am back in the UK there are also things I miss from the US. A really good pecan pie, (the ones here don’t come close) and you have far better salads in the US. Also, your Starbucks are far better than ours, particularly the iced drinks!

            You can buy some very strange concoctions in fish and chip shops over here. Never ask me to describe pea wet to you haha! Having lived in Yorkshire, HG will know what pea wet is, and babby’s yed!

            Deep fried Mars Bar anyone?


          7. HG Tudor says:

            Dessert is fruit and pudding is cake and suet based food.

          8. Truthseeker6157 says:

            Dessert is fruit and pudding is cake and other suet based food.

            Accurate, though dessert is commonly used to cover both as with a dessert menu for example. Similarly, pudding in common use could refer to both.

            I think you hear pudding more down south. Dessert is more northern. There’s a class element rather than a food specificity to it.

            I won’t talk about putting the ‘big light’ on then.

          9. Violetta says:


            Treacle tart has some of the burnt sugar appeal of pecan pie. Without the pecans, of course.

            World market and Meijer usually have UK sweets, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx often have Taylor’s Yorkshire tea, but I haven’t found anywhere that does something resembling a Melton Mowbray porky.

            Now you’ve made me homesick for a place I never went to until grad school.

          10. JB says:

            TS, I’ve never had a Pukka pie! Have I led a sheltered (culinary) life? 😂

            For me, dessert can be any type of ‘afters’, but pudding is definitely something stodgy!

          11. Truthseeker6157 says:


            That’s a really good idea, treacle tart does have that similar taste, hadn’t thought of that!

            World Market, yes I used to go to the one in Nashville and replenish my stash, don’t think I saw a Meijer.

            You have discerning taste, Melton Mowbray pork pies are lovely. You might have a fighting chance for something very similar in Whole Foods.

            I was blissfully unaware of narcissists when I lived in TN. Looking back, I can’t really recall anyone I met there as being narcy. Great place, genuine people, happy memories.

            Did you go to grad school at Loughborough? I used to live close to Loughborough 🙂

          12. JB says:


            “Put big light on” – ahh my nan used to say that! ❤

            I always say ‘dessert’. Where I come from (not the north) I have only ever heard ‘dessert’ or ‘afters’ (if eating at home!) Nobody I know ever says ‘pudding’! Xx

          13. Asp Emp says:

            JB, my grandmother used to say “for afters”, especially when she made extra Yorkshire Pudding to have as ‘dessert’, she called it ‘pudding’. I loved that as pudding when I was a kid. Hmmm, happy memories 🙂

          14. njfilly says:

            If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?!

          15. Truthseeker6157 says:


            I’m laughing here. Small confession to make. I say “Could you put the big light on?” too. Hahaha! I would never think to say “main light”. I don’t have many really northern phrases, but that is definitely one.


            You haven’t lived if you haven’t had a Pukka pie. 😂


          16. Violetta says:


            I went to grad school in the US, but had research and conference trips to the UK. When I told a friend I liked the food, he said “Get out of here!” I told him he had to know where to go.
            Pub grub is amazing, and although on the US they only bread fish when it’s starting to go (or should’ve gone long ago), stuff I got with chips and the obligatory malt vinegar was not only fresh but often still on the bone, vs the American pureed mystery-marine-meat.

            The worst complaints I’ve heard are about the vegetable., I’ve said the over-boiled stuff is more in the south and pretty much associated with the generation that lived through WWII anyhow. In Leeds, they cook them a few minutes less than in the US and they are almost crisp. Besides, in the south people can do curry or Chinese, if they want to avoid mushy peas. I’ve had mushy peas, and they don’t taste bad, but the experience doesn’t justify the fact that you’re looking at something with the appearance of having come out of the wrong end of a baby.

          17. Truthseeker6157 says:

            Asp, my grandma said ‘afters’ too.😊

            NJ Filly, that tickled me. Honestly, I think that might be why I eat in food groups. I see my plate as a possible reward system!


          18. Violetta says:

            NJ Filly:

            “Go on, do it again!”
            “Stand still, laddie!”

          19. Truthseeker6157 says:


            It’s true, we aren’t exactly known for our cuisine ! You’re right though it very much depends where you go and what we lack in quality we make up for in variety.

            Pub grub, yes again depends where you are but there are some lovely pubs with really great menus. I’m spoiled where I live currently. Very chocolate boxey, quaint, low ceilings, log fires, and often they are gastro pubs, so the menus are really well put together.

            You made me laugh with the soggy vegetables and yes I think it is the older generation that does that more. That said, I have been asked if I would like my vegetables STF’d on several occasions. (Stewed To F*ck) 😂

            I’m glad your postgrad experience was so positive and that you enjoyed your time here. For such a small country I think it’s also very diverse, nice that you didn’t only visit London.


          20. JB says:

            Asp Emp, so did mine ❤ Tugs at your heartstrings to remember xx

          21. JB says:


            Haha, just not a pie person! Maybe one day!

            I always refer to it as the big light rather than the main light. I hadn’t realised it originated in the north, but I probably should have guessed as my (northern) nan always said it! All these memories, making me feel quite warm and fuzzy today! ❤ xx

          22. Truthseeker6157 says:


            Yes, it’s funny what can take us back. I’ve been thinking about my grandma too. I spent a lot of time with her as a child after school as mum worked and dad worked away. Tough lady, exceptionally funny, honest as the day was long, stubborn as they come haha! Happy times for me too.


          23. Violetta says:


            I didn’t fall in love with London, to be honest. Basically NYC with a language barrier, complete with a Chinatown and people selling crap at Trafalgar Square for £2 instead of $2 curbside in the East Village, but it still breaks within 10 minutes after you bought it. Also, the new BL isn’t nearly as cool as the old BL.

            Research at 3 Oxford libraries was awesome, not least because a kind library staffer sneaked me upstairs so I could into the Christ Church Deanery garden, where Alice and her sisters used to play croquet. A day trip to Canterbury involved seeing not only that Cathedral but a pilgrim’s hostel, where I like to imagine the Wife of Bath hooked up with someone. (Also amazing venison pâté at the Falstaff Inn, followed by a cream tea.)
            Leeds trips involved day trips to Haworth Parsonage Museum & Top Withers one year, and the Royal Armouries another. Basically, if it involved a book I liked, I wanted to visit it. Maybe that’s why I was disappointed by London: a lot of what I wanted to see had been built over Snow Hill, where Evelina’s tacky cousins lived, is just an office area now, no trace of the Haymarket, though of course I went to Platform 9-3/4 at St. Pancras and to Paddington Station (“Please look after this bear”). I also saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, though neither Alice nor Christopher Robin was in evidence.

            One of the things I found so strange about the section of the Tig where Wifey visits England is she didn’t seem to have any of these “bucket list” sites. The list may differ from person to person: some people absolutely have to see 221B Baker Street, neo-pagans and wiccans want to see Stonehenge, and one Beatrix Potter fanatic was determined to see Cumbria someday, but there’s usually something, even if it’s just the zebra crossing on Abbey Road or the mansion where they shot Rocky Horror. Wifey’s list involved places that she had probably been requested to merch, or places she hoped would offer her freebies if she promoted them, or just places she thought would make her look impressive, savvy, and enviable. She’s straight out of The Screwtape Letters. As the Senior devil advises his trainee:

            I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is not actually a sin, even if it is something quite trivial such as a fondness for county cricket or collecting stamps or drinking cocoa. Such things, I grant you, have nothing of virtue in them; but there is a sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them which I distrust. The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the “best” people, the “right” food, the “important” books. I have known a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.

          24. Truthseeker6157 says:


            I can understand your thoughts about London. You had a more specific literary based interest and this was likely drowned out in London. It’s not a place I was ever drawn to particularly. Interestingly when living in the US, we returned to visit friends and family and spent a couple of days in London. I wanted the kids to see it. Then, I enjoyed it, a tourist in my own country, showing my then American kids my home country, strange feeling.

            I’ve visited a few times since returning home and it’s growing on me. I like the hustle and bustle in short bursts, and love the architecture of old London. I’m going for an overnighter on Monday actually, hitting the galleries and museums. No kids in tow, can actually take my time and wander at my own leisurely pace! I have visited Baker Street previously, it felt very touristy, I was underwhelmed. I thought the Beatrix Potter museum in the Lake District was far nicer haha, more atmospheric, but I love the Lakes so am likely biased.

            The Deanery garden in Oxford must have felt very special, how lovely of the librarian to have taken you there. Oxford has such a warm vibe to it, I get a really strange feeling when I walk past the various university buildings and see the students wandering through the alcoves and across courtyards. It’s a mix of past and present, I think that might be the strange feeling I get, that ‘stepping through time’ sensation.

            Agree, Harry’s Wife seemingly has little appreciation for anything outside of what she knows or is involved in directly. That quote sums her up so perfectly. She likes something as long as it’s what is the done thing to like. There’s a real emptiness about not having a true interest or preference. Everyone should have an interest they love just because they love it. Doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant, just something that you truly love.

            It sounds to me like you made the most of every minute of your time here Violetta. I’m really glad. Travel is such a wonderful experience I think, memories stored and accessible whenever we choose to relive them. When I’m old, living on a hill surrounded by dogs, my memories of the places I’ve travelled to will be where I spend most of my time.


  2. mollyb5 says:

    HG you must be working around the clock with your regular job. Hope the current scary situations going on in the world are brought to a halt 🙁

  3. WiserNow says:

    It’s been a while since you posted any new posts HG. Are things tickety boo with you?

  4. Duchessbea says:

    Loved the livestream. Very informative. Only thing I would suggest, perhaps a new microphone as every now and again the sound quality went very bad, the same thing happened aswell when you were last talking to Sonia Poulton.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Nothing to do with he microphone.

      1. Livestream – as explained during it several times there were comms issues which impacted on the quality and why the LS commenced late.
      2. Sonia Poulton – that was the line between us.

  5. WiserNow says:

    Always enjoy reading this post, with its colourful visuals and humour. Beautifully written HG!

  6. Rebecca says:

    My mother just wouldn’t have gone with us.She was a party pooper and she would have complained the whole time,except when she was sleeping. Camping,fishing,hiking,roughing it,she never went with us. That’s OK, we had fun without her. Lol

  7. Sarah says:

    I actually rather enjoy hearing about your childhood, HG. How old were you at the time of this trip?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I was still a child.

  8. StrongerWendy says:

    Why the switch from pucker to pukka?

  9. Asp Emp says:

    I love this story 🙂

  10. Janet says:

    OMG – My mother had a sister from another mother. Shit there were two of them. One was more than enough, now I find out cloning isn’t that new. I have a place or tow that revisited.

    1. Asp Emp says:

      Janet “shit there were two of them” was amusing, thank you 🙂

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