When we were kids, my nan had a big green ceramic mixing bowl with a wide pouring lip.
It was smooth, heavy and unbreakable even though riddled with superficial cracks.
It was a soft gum-leaf green, still one of my favourite shades.
Everything was mixed in that bowl. Biscuit mix, cake mix and of course, the pudding at Christmas.
The Christmas pudding mix fitted perfectly into that big bowl, with enough room for each of us kids to have a stir for good luck with the wooden spoon before nan put the coins in.
Beyond cooking, this central piece of my childhood also doubled as a hair washing basin, home of the weekly vinegar rinse of my long knotty hair after a good wash with Sunlight soap over the kitchen sink.
This was the same sink that Aunty Heather would make a beeline for each time she came down on the train from Newcastle with Uncle Val. She’d pull a Bex out of her handbag, tap the wrapper into a right angle, pour it straight on to her tongue then wash it down with a glass of water.
Beautiful, softly spoken Aunty Heather died like thousands of women of her day, in the busy renal ward the John Hunter Hospital. All those Bexes and Vincents headache powders killed them.
I can still see Aunty Heather leaning gently over the sink just as I recall climbing up on a chair for Nan who would put the big green bowl into the sink and run the taps into it to wash my hair.
Why she didn’t use just the sink, I don’t know.
Still, down I’d bend, into the depths of the big green bowl, under nana’s generous arms. Her left hand would work the hair while her right tweaked the tap.
“Ouch Nan, its too hot,” I would shriek before she got the balance right.
And then the vinegar.
Acrid, sharp, clean like antiseptic.
I’m surprised it didn’t burn my hair out or take a layer of enamel off the big green bowl.
A bowl like that would be a collectors item these days, a “retro cooking bowl.”
I wish I knew what happened to that bowl. I’d love to give it a home again.