A while ago I was approached to join the Ben Shaws birthday panel and after a millisecond of consideration I accepted !!!! Never let it be said I don’t think through my decisions throughly ….. ahem !!!
Memories of the pop man clanging along the road dropping off huge glass bottles of cloudy lemonade and Dandelion& Burdock filled my head . The petty squabbles with my big sister over who would get the tuppence for handing back the bottles , accompanied by memories of days long since past … cherry knocking (Knock a door Run I believe other people call it ) , blackberrying at Qualcast ( We lived just behind the factory) and picnics on the park ….. Bike rides and street games .. Lurkey Lurkey , tic’n’ nic (tig/tag) ….Sunny days and carefree whims ….. Ah happy , happy days !! Now of course Cherry Knocking could see you awarded with an ASBO and the Qualcast factory has long since gone and a housing estate now stands .. and the park ? Well the less said about the park , the better ….!!
So , when asked to review the Ben Shaw Classic collection to commerate their 140 years of providing fantastic soft drinks to the masses ….I leapt at the chance . This was my opportunity to show my 3 boys how it used to be before X boxes , DS’s and a million gazillion nonsensical TV channels … before the shops had an array of eleventyten different drinks to choose from … in the days where you’re curfew was your Mum shouting you in when the light started to fade !!!
I have to be honest , I could hardly contain myself when the soft drinks arrived .. I am that easily pleased !!! There before me lay can upon can of Bitter Shandy .. Cloudy Lemonade … Dandelion & Burdock and … CREAM SODA !!!! Cream Soda folks …. Whistfully drank as a child , from a tall glass with a big dollop of vanilla ice cream floating in the top … BLISS !! Straight away I cracked open a can of Bitter Shandy and was transported back to lazy days lying on the grass watching my dad play cricket ! Shandy pop and a bag of crisps ! The slight feeling of naughtiness of being 8 yet drinking “beer” ! The giggles of delight as my sister and I would roll down the banks of the cricket field ! The lying in the sunshine watching the world just happen around us with scraped knes , a dirty frock and not a single care in the world !!
Who knew how evocative that single can of Bitter Shandy was going to be ! I do have to be very honest and tell you I thoroughly enjoyed every single beer tasting , lemonade bursting drop !!!! This journey with Ben Shaw , I could tell, was going to be a very happy one ! I did , to my eternal shame, get VERY territorial over the Bitter Shandy and no-one else was allowed any … I was not sharing not for anyone .. not for love nor money !!! The boys kind of got the hint and sensibly stayed well clear !!
However … We did all have our favourites … You all know mine by now , although the Cloudy Lemonade did come a very , very close second !!! Billy found a brand new love of Dandelion & Burdock after originally being horrified at the thought of drinking dandelions … “Don’t they make you wet the bed Mum ??? ” …..
Teddy loved the lemonade .. and so being a nice , kind ,caring sharing kind of Mum I let him share my stash !!!
Frankie loved the cream Soda !! Despite my initial joy over cream soda .. I found my adult tastebuds just couldn’t quite get to grips with this anymore .. It was too sweet for me .. But just right for my 4 year old Sweetie monster !!!!
I felt quite sad as the samples came to an end as I hadn’t seen Ben Shaws products in any local supermarkets and was seriously getting concerned about withdawal symptoms …. But my frown turned itself upside down when I happened upon a shop not far from my own front door who I found were selling the very Soft Drinks to which I had by now become accustomed !!!!!! And at a steal too ….. BONUS !!!
Ben Shaws Classic Collection of soft drinks have bought back so many happy memories ….. and made us as a family laugh , smile and share !!! My only reservation ???? Does the pop man give me ‘owt back for me crushed can ??? Pah ….. sometimes the good old days really were the good Old days !!!
Thank you Ben Shaws for this opportunity … I raise my Bitter Shandy to you and start us all off in a rousing rendition of ” Happy Birthday to you ……..”