18 January 2002

INPRAISEOF GREAT BREAKFASTS

They say its the best meal of the day – well if

your letters are anything to go by, thats certainly true.

Weve been inundated with entries for the My Best

Breakfast competition. You told us about all manner

of breakfasts, eaten in all manner of places with all

manner of people. We hope this selection of the best

entries will whet your appetite in advance of Farmhouse

Breakfast Week which begins on Monday

It was 4am. Started helping my husband Barrie relief milking for a hospitalised farmer a mile away.

We were confronted with heavy snowfall which sent both collies back to bed. A quick cup of tea and I was sure wed be back for breakfast by 7am. No problem! Snow was still falling, the decision was taken to walk rather than dig a tractor out.

No power – milking and feeding took hours! I had muscles I didnt know I had. It was 11am, no breakfast yet and the mile walk home was hard!

It was 12 noon…home…and logs were thrown on the fire. No power. Thank goodness we had a woodburner and calor gas cooker.

Gas was lit quickly. Sausages, bacon, mushrooms and black pudding sizzled in the pan, eggs were poached and toast was brown and crunchy.

My mouth was watering, the smell was wonderful. The two collies were now wide awake!

A quick check in the fridge with a torch – yes, potatoes left over from Saturday lunch, just enough room in the pan. Good job I invested in a large one.

Plates warmed, a roaring log fire, table laid, pot of tea steaming, milk and mugs waiting. Food served, the aroma filled the kitchen.

Barrie and I sat and ate and, wow, it was delicious. Breakfast at 12.15 – snow falling, easterly gales blowing…milking again in a couple of hours.

A magical moment with aching muscles forgotten as real British food was consumed in companionable silence. That was a breakfast neither of us will ever forget!

Rosamund Marshallsay

Bucknowle, Wareham

I have had many wonderful breakfasts in lots of wonderful places. Ive eaten lavish breakfasts with groaning tables – creamy porridge (with a glug of whisky of course), the best and tastiest bacon and sausages (both British of course), fresh-picked field mushrooms and eggs cooked in every imaginable way. And Ive eaten these breakfasts in sumptuous surroundings, with crisp napkins and tablecloths and the most efficient and attentive waiters.

But Ive also eaten many a memorable, simple breakfast in sub-zero temperatures whilst looking at a mountain sunrise over the Himalayas, the Caucasus, the Alps or the Atlas Mountains. On these days, Ive appreciated the mug of hot coffee, warming my numb fingers as much as the food.

So many great breakfasts! So many memorable places to eat breakfast. By my best breakfast ever? No contest. After a slow, morning start and tea in bed, my best breakfast ever was with my wife on the morning of our 25th wedding anniversary. We were at home, sitting in our breakfast room, and looking out into the garden on a beautiful morning. And what did we have for breakfast? Fresh strawberries and champagne, followed by rolls and coffee. Simple, relaxed, delicious and unforgettable.

Peter Strevens,

Lyde, Hereford

The best breakfast ever must be the one I couldnt eat! I was pregnant and suffering from morning sickness. My husband and I were staying the night at an inn at Tolpuddle, Dorset, after attending the Great Dorset Steam Fair.

On waking, a cup of tea was brought to our room with two biscuits each. When asked what we wanted for breakfast my husband said: "Some of everything please."

When we entered the dining room there was a choice of cereals including home-made muesli, abundant toast, brown and white pots of tea and coffee.

An oval meat dish was served to each of us. They contained all the usual items, such as fried and scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, plus black pudding, baked beans, liver, fried and mashed potato, kidneys and fish fingers!

My husband hates to waste anything, so he ate both platefuls while I simply stirred my coffee. He said the food was superb.

It was the quality of the local produce that he remembers rather than the quantity. I expect the chef was surprised to see two empty plates. If only he knew that one person had eaten it all!

Gill Horn,

Meonstoke, Southampton.

It was a delicious breakfast, even though I ate it 25 years ago. How can I remember how good it was you ask me. Well, it was due to what led up to it.

It consisted of fried egg, beans, bacon and some chips – it would perhaps be called a brunch nowadays!

I was with a friend called Sue and we were youth hostelling along the Yorkshire coast. We never travelled light (Ive carried Heinz sponge puddings up mountains before now!) Gals need sustenance.

We bedded down for the night, only to discover we were not alone – the dormitory had been invaded by mice! We had to sleep with anorak hoods up as the mice ran across the beds all night.

Examining my rucksack next morning, I found little brown footprints, they had chewed into my cocoa and then nibbled the Kit Kat and fruit cake.

We decided we would skip breakfast and move on across the moors. Several miles later we saw a mirage – a roadside cafe nestling in the moorside. And it was open!

It was there we ate the breakfast. I cant remember how much we paid but it was well worth it.

Looking over the moors to the sea, with our knives and forks in eager fingers, we could even begin to see the funny side of what had led to our bed-and-breakfast being in two different places.

Mrs Christine Freear,

Cottingham, East Yorks.

The best breakfast I have ever had was on Monday, November 27th 1995.

I didnt have caviar, salmon or anything very special. Toast, cold and leathery and a mug of tea, lukewarm and very stewed. It is a meal I will never forget.

It was the first meal I had as a family, my husband was not out on the farm and our three-day-old daughter lay in his arms. Perfection.

Mrs Clare Willoughby

Ardley End, Bishops Stortford

My most memorable breakfast has to be after last years College Summer Ball.

After a really brilliant evening of wining and dining, dancing the night away and really letting our hair down, my friends and I were invited to the third years special breakfast.

As it was quite chilly, although a lovely evening, we thought it best if we got out of our evening wear and donned jeans and jumpers and made our way to behind the floristry block where the barbecue had been set up.

There we found our hosts cooking burgers and sausages. The dawn was breaking as we bit into our hot dogs and burgers and they seemed the best food ever, even the burnt bits tasted yummy.

I suppose the drink from the night before may have had some effect, but reminiscing about all we had done during the year and what we were to do was sad but enjoyable. Some of my friends were leaving to go to further education and others to have a year out before getting a job.

With the sun now shining, we all finished our bangers and burgers and made our way blearily to bed, to dream about the perfect end to a perfect night. What a special breakfast this was, memories like these will never be forgotten.

Helen Reeve

Albugh, Harleston

To celebrate the occasion of our fortieth wedding anniversary we were treated, by three of our grown-up children and their partners, to a short break at a favourite inn of ours in the Lake District.

It was early summer and we were blessed with good weather.

We awoke to the sound of bleating ewes and their lambs in nearby fields, and the fells were bathed in sunshine. A good start to the day.

I was looking forward to a leisurely breakfast, with time to talk about things other than work.

The inn has retained the original old features, and has lots of atmosphere and character, the breakfast room being no exception.

As we entered, we were greeted with the smell of freshly-brewed coffee. A large table with bowls of fresh fruit, freshly-baked bread and a good variety of breakfast cereals was a welcome sight.

This was followed by a traditional menu of Cumberland sausage, bacon, eggs and other locally-produced food. Toast and preserves, and limitless cups of coffee, rounded off a very special breakfast, with a very special husband.

This was indeed, a very special breakfast.

A M Walmsley

Thorner, Leeds

It was after midnight when we passed the spot where four hours earlier I had been rescued by a friendly and sympathetic RAC man.

I had returned home with car in tow and burst into tears! My weekend staying with my boyfriend Phil, who was milking on a farm in Dorset, was scuppered. I couldnt catch a train as the line was closed while a bomb was defused – just my luck! To make matters worse I couldnt contact him, as he didnt have a telephone! With my weekend plans in ruins, I went to bed.

There was a soft knock at my door. Dad came in and sat on the bed. "Come on," he said, "get your things together or well not get there before morning." I couldnt believe my ears and my heart started racing with excitement. After lots of hugs we were in the car, heading west. It was 1am as we threw stones at Phils window – I thought they only did that in films. Dad wouldnt even stay for a cup of tea, he turned straight round and drove home.

In the morning, when Phil returned from milking, I was served the best breakfast ever – prawn cocktail, followed by stuffed trout, with homemade chocolate and orange mousse to finish. Phil must have spent hours cooking such a superb meal, and thanks to my Dad his efforts did not go to waste. In fact, twelve years on Phil and I are happily married with two gorgeous daughters. What a breakfast!

Mrs Tracy Day

Shrewton, Salisbury