Baking up a Storm #7 – truck

Baking Up a Storm is a new historical fiction tale I’m working on, set in southern California in 1935. Clara Ayers, and the family members mentioned in the tale were real people. In 1935 her baked goods won four places at the Los Angeles County Fair. She placed second with her Light Rolls, Ginger Bread, and Chocolate Drop Cookies. Her Molasses Drop Cookies took first place. She and her recipes are listed in the Prize Winning Recipes cookbook from the fair that year.

Any historical tidbits mentioned in the story are true facts. But the conversations that take place and Clara’s thoughts and actions are all fictional creations from this author’s brain as she tries to honor Clara’s life and bring her to life. Dear Clara, please excuse me if I’ve erred in any way in this historical re-creation.

In honor of Clara Ayers and her four prize winning recipes of 1935, join us as we step back in time, to a time when the citrus groves in the valley south of the San Bernardino Mountains reigned (and the foothills were clear of smog.)

This week we write to the prompt ‘truck.’

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Clara threw her hands up in mock surrender. “Whoa! Boys, calm down. One at a time.”

Lee ambled over to his grandmother and threw his arms around her in a giant hug. “Your baking sure smells mighty tasty, Grandma. Glen and I are famished after our long day at school.” He leaned his head back and gave her sly grin.

“And you’re hoping I’ll share some of my morsels with you mischievous, young lads?”

Both boys nodded their heads fervently. Clara bent over laughing, holder her sides. “You two look like little ‘Swing and Sway’ dolls.”

“What?” both boys asked in unison.

“You know…Swing and sway…the little paper mache dolls in their yellow dresses…”

swing and swayFour confused eyes stared back at her.

“Let’s swing and sway with Sammy Kaye…the orchestra…” Clara wiped a tear from the corner of her eyes. “Never mind. You young un’s aren’t old enough for all that nonsense yet. To answer your question, Lee – yes, I will share. Go wash your hands. Now, Glen, what’s all this about war and a map?”

Glen pulled a paper from his back pocket and proceeded to unfold the creased page. “In geography we’re studying places around the world. We need to label the countries that fought in the Great War. Do you remember any of that?”

“Course I remember that. But you should ask your father. He fought in it. Spent a lot of time overseas. He’d be a bigger help to you.”

The youngster cast his eyes to the floor as his smile turned upside down into a frowny pout. “That’s what Mom says. But my homework is due tomorrow. Dad’s on fourteen hour shifts on the Red Line, then he stops at the filling station to talk politics with his buddies. I’ll be in bed asleep before he gets home.”

“Oh, dear. That is a problem.” Clara sliced a gingerbread loaf and sat three slices on a plate. “Let’s sit down and see what we can do to get this assignment done.”

Clara and Glen mulled over the map as the three almost inhaled the warm, fragrant dessert bread. Clara pointed. “There’s France. Most of our boys went there to fight.”

Glen grabbed the pencil that was tucked behind an ear and started writing.

“There’s Germany. Your dad fought in both those countries.”

Lee nodded his head in agreement. “Yep. We hear those stories a lot. When he’s home and in a talkative mood.”

Clara grinned. She’d heard a few of those too. She looked out the kitchen window as if peering for something unseen to the others. Lost in thought, she jumped when Lee spoke again. “Are you okay, Grandma?”

She shook her shoulders, bringing herself back to the present. “Just lost in time for a moment. My goodness, your mama was a mess when your daddy up and dropped out of school to join the Army. She missed him something fierce. I swear she didn’t draw a breath in between receiving letters from him.”

“They let husbands go off to fight?” Glen seemed almost angry at the thought.

“Oh, they weren’t married yet. They didn’t get married until a few years after the war.”

Lee punched his younger brother in the shoulder. “Doofus. Didn’t you hear the part about dropping out of school? You can’t be married if you’re still in school.”

Glen pursed his lips in puzzlement. “How’d they let him in the Army then?” Both boys turned to their grandmother for an answer.

“Seems to me there was a little discrepancy about what he said his age was.” Not wanting to dwell on their father’s falsifying his age, Clara rambled on to distract them. “He tell you what happened to get him discharged?”

“Probably. I don’t remember. I’m sure we’ve heard though.” Lee stood and stretched, a bored look settling in on his face as if he care to hear any more of the old tales for yet another time.

Clara rose and brushed the crumbs from the table onto the plate. “Broke his arm. After all the fighting he’d seen, it wasn’t a bullet that put him out of commission, it was a bone breaking.”

A shine appeared in Glen’s eyes and his face lit up in anticipation of the upcoming story. “He break an arm fighting those Germans?”

Clara patted the top of her grandson’s head. “He was fighting. In a sense. But he broke it while cranking a truck.”

The excitement faded from the little boy’s face. “Awww, shucks. That’s not a war hero story.”

Pity filled Clara’s heart and she bent down and wrapped her arms around him. “Now, son, don’t be thinking like that. Maybe breaking your arm in that matter isn’t a moment of shining glory, but he went and fought. Along with hundreds of thousands of others. And every single young man that went over there is a hero. The ones that came home and the ones that didn’t.”

“Did Grandpa Ayers fight in the war too?” Hope filled Glen’s face at the chance of finding another war hero in the family.

“No, son, he didn’t. He died before the war started. Now, tell you what. Why don’t you two run on over to Aunt Hazel’s house. I know for a fact she’s got a scrapbook started. And I do believe there’s a letter or two in there that your dad wrote to her from Europe. You might find it interesting to read what he was going through when he wasn’t too many years older than you two are now.”

For more great story snippets, return to TUESDAY TALES here.

Return to TRISHA FAYE’S WEBSITE here.

 

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Baking Up a Storm #6 – Picture prompt

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In honor of Clara Ayers and her four prize winning recipes of 1935, join us as we step back in time, to a time when the citrus groves in the valley south of the San Bernardino Mountains reigned (and the foothills were clear of smog.)

This week we write to a picture prompt, one of five choices. I chose the world map. Picture prompt snippets are limited to 300 words, so reading this week will be quick and easy!

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Clara snorted in disdain. “Not likely. I’ve been perfecting my recipes.”

By the time the trio arrived back in Covina, Clara’s mind spun like an out of control top. Why, the idea! Her own daughter joking about Bessie taking more prize ribbons than her. Preposterous! This year I’m bringing home the most ribbons.

She’d show that child what her mother could do once she set her mind to it. Old Missouri mule she’d been called more than once in her life. Of course, she was born in Dixon, Illinois, not Missouri. But to most people on the west coast, even though most of them came from elsewhere in the nation, the Midwest was all the same.

The next morning Clara was up before the light of day. First up was a new recipe for light rolls. She wanted to get the dough mixed and rising in the warm oven while she mixed ingredients for another gingerbread. She wasn’t happy with the one she’d tried last week. Too mild and bland, she thought – not enough nutmeg and ginger.

By late afternoon three gingerbread loaves lay cooling on towels. The yeasty dough, after its rise-punch down-and rise again process, now filled two muffin tins and were baking in the oven. Clara was melting butter in a small saucepan to brush on the rolls when they were done when the kitchen door flew open and banged against the outside wall.

Two young teen boys appeared, pushing and punching each other’s shoulders trying to get to their grandmother first. Lee, the oldest, got his request in first. “Hi, Grandma. Can we sample some of what you’re baking?”

Glen, younger by just a year, blurted out his request in a rush of words. “Can you help me with my geography? Were you alive during the Great War? I need to label the countries that fought on my map.”

 

For more great story snippets, return to TUESDAY TALES here.

Return to TRISHA FAYE’S WEBSITE here.

Baking Up a Storm #5 (chain)

I’m proud to be part of a group of authors that write for Tuesday Tales. Every week we write story snippets to a word prompt. Once a month we have a picture prompt.

Baking Up a Storm is a new historical fiction tale I’m working on, set in southern California in 1935. Clara Ayers, and the family members mentioned in the tale were real people. In 1935 her baked goods won four places at the Los Angeles County Fair. She placed second with her Light Rolls, Ginger Bread, and Chocolate Drop Cookies. Her Molasses Drop Cookies took first place. She and her recipes are listed in the Prize Winning Recipes cookbook from the fair that year.

Any historical tidbits mentioned in the story are true facts. But the conversations that take place and Clara’s thoughts and actions are all fictional creations from this author’s brain as she tries to honor Clara’s life and bring her to life. Dear Clara, please excuse me if I’ve erred in any way in this historical re-creation.

In honor of Clara Ayers and her four prize winning recipes of 1935, join us as we step back in time, to a time when the citrus groves in the valley south of the San Bernardino Mountains reigned (and the foothills were clear of smog.)

This week we write to the prompt ‘chain.’

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A knot of fear gripped Clara in her gut and she glanced at her daughter, feeling alarmed. Hazel appeared non-plussed, as if this were nothing out of the ordinary. “What’s wrong? Is it serious? Can Ted fix it?”

Ted was already out of the truck and lifting the hood, leaving the driver’s door wide open.

“Now, Mama,” Hazel soothed. “Don’t go getting all worked up about it. Ted’s a genius when it comes to being handy with mechanics and all. Don’t you know that about your son-in-law at all?”

“Yes, but that’s with the dairy equipment. This is a motor vehicle. And we’re too far from home to walk back.”

“Nothing he hasn’t tinkered with before. I know my husband. He’ll have us fixed up and on the road in no time.”

As if hearing his name, Ted poked his head around the opened door, his face unflustered or worried looking. “Hey Doll. Need you two to get out for a bit. I need the tools behind the seat.”

Clara eased out slowly, carefully planting her feet on the uneven gravel shoulder. Hazel followed with nary a glance at the ground, looking more nimble footed in her landing than her mother’s tentative disembarkment. Clara felt her lips tighten with tension. She wanted to ask again about the problem, but didn’t want to ruffle her daughter’s feathers with repeated inquiries.

The sound of distant engine got louder and a black sedan appeared over the crest of the highway. It slowed as it approached the old Ford by the side of the road and came to a stop, a black blanket of exhaust following and enveloping the three stranded passengers.

An older gentleman in a bowler hat hollered out, raising his voice to be heard above the clattering engine. “Everything alright, neighbor? Need a chain and a tow?”

Ted raised his hand in greeting. “Naw. Got it covered. Just slipped a belt. We’ll be off and running in nothing short.”

The kind motorist raised a hand in reply. “Good to hear. I’ll take a gander on the way back though, to make sure.” He stepped on the throttle and the car spurted another cloud of blackness behind it before it picked up speed and disappeared down the highway.

Nestling the large wrench into his back pocket, Ted got behind the wheel and turned the key. With a whir and a squeal, the engine turned and started chugging and humming like nothing had happened. Soon the family was on their way again with the sun not much higher in the sky than when they’d been unexpectedly halted.

TT_Puddingstone ReservoirThe rest of the morning was uneventful. One settled in at the dam, they didn’t speak much. Each of them appeared lost in their own thoughts as they sat on a blanket overlooking the peaceful lake in front of them. A slight breeze rustled through the trees. Ted laid back, his hands locked behind his head and was soon snoring. Hazel left for a stroll along the lakeside, leaving Clara behind to guard her sleeping husband.

In the peace and quiet, punctuated by periodic snorts and gasps from the slumbering man beside her, Clara’s mind wandered. Usually at home she was so busy staying in motion, that she didn’t think a lot. It seemed strange to merely sit and do nothing. It felt downright decadent and sinful, not being industrious and completing necessary tasks. Her mind made up for the inactivity by thinking in double-time. By the time Hazel returned from her little hike along the water’s edge, Clara had made a mental list of which recipes she wanted to submit to the County Fair baking contest this year.

“Penny for your thoughts.” Hazel looked at her mother as she stood beside her husband and nudged him with her foot.

“Just making a list.”

“And checking it twice?” Hazel laughed at her own cleverness.

“Naturally. Figured out what I’m taking to the Fair this year. I aim to come home with more ribbons this year than Bessie Sinkey.”

Hazel looked perplexed. “I thought you two were friends.”

“We are. Doesn’t mean we can’t have some friendly competition. We’ve been baking off against one another for many a year now. Trying to outdo each other. Why…it’s spoil our fun if we didn’t have this little bit of rivalry.”

A twinkle lit in Hazel’s eyes. “So what happens if Bessie gets more blue ribbons than you do?”

blue ribbon

For more great story snippets, return to TUESDAY TALES here.

Return to TRISHA FAYE’S WEBSITE here.

Old-fashioned Onion Toast — A Hundred Years Ago

Sometimes simple foods are the best. Toast toppers are a favorite of mine for lunch or a light dinner, so when I saw a recipe for Onion Toast in a hundred-year-old magazine, I had to give it a try. Mild, sweet onion slices embedded in a rich, creamy sauce are served over a classic French […]

via Old-fashioned Onion Toast — A Hundred Years Ago

Baking Up a Storm #4 (coat)

 

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I’m proud to be part of a group of authors that write for Tuesday Tales. Every week we write story snippets to a word prompt. Once a month we have a picture prompt.

Baking Up a Storm is a new historical fiction tale I’m working on, set in southern California in 1935. Clara Ayers, and the family members mentioned in the tale were real people. In 1935 her baked goods won four places at the Los Angeles County Fair. She placed second with her Light Rolls, Ginger Bread, and Chocolate Drop Cookies. Her Molasses Drop Cookies took first place. She and her recipes are listed in the Prize Winning Recipes cookbook from the fair that year.

Any historical tidbits mentioned in the story are true facts. But the conversations that take place and Clara’s thoughts and actions are all fictional creations from this author’s brain as she tries to honor Clara’s life and bring her to life. Dear Clara, please excuse me if I’ve erred in any way in this historical re-creation.

In honor of Clara Ayers and her four prize winning recipes of 1935, join us as we step back in time, to a time when the citrus groves in the valley south of the San Bernardino Mountains reigned (and the foothills were clear of smog.)

This week we write to the prompt ‘coat.’

For more great story snippets, return to TUESDAY TALES here.

Baking up a storm_ford pickup

Daylight was just breaking when Hazel and Ted rattled to a stop in front of Clara’s side door. A sharp toot of the horn sounded, although it wasn’t necessary. Clara had been up for hours already. She stepped out on the stoop, pulling the door shut behind her.

Ted hollered from the driver’s seat. “You ready for our outing?”

Hazel scooted to the center of the bench seat as her mother opened the passenger door. Clara climbed in and tucked her skirt tightly around her legs. “Ready as I’ll ever be. Seems downright sinful to be taking off a day in the middle of the week for nothing more frivolous than relaxing by Puddingstone Reservoir.”

Patting her mother’s arm, Hazel murmured a soft retort. “Now, Mama. Everyone needs a little time off for recreation now and then. Besides, if I know you, you’ve already put in most of a full day’s work.”

Clara grinned, thinking of how well her daughter knew her. She grabbed onto the dashboard as Ted hit the baked ruts at the end of the drive and jolted the truck and its occupants. “Maybe so. Fed the chickens. Toted some water out to the tomato plants. Did a spec of ironing that I didn’t get to yesterday. Mopped the kitchen floor.”

“This early? See what I mean?”

“I suppose you’re right. Guess I do owe it to myself to just sit now and then.” She wiped a brow already dripping with sweat. “Besides…you’re right. A nice cool breeze coming off of the lake will seem mighty refreshing ‘bout now. This August heat’s about to do me in this year. Must be the getting older part of life.”

“Now, Mama. Sixty two isn’t so very old.”

“Some mornings seems like it is.” Clara pulled a handkerchief from her waistband and dabbed it across her forehead. “One thing about it. We surely don’t need any coats with us today. Last time you took me up here, it was downright chilly.”

baking up a storm_smudge potsTed chucked and looked behind his shoulder for traffic before he pulled onto the two-lane highway. “Why Mama, of course we needed jackets that morning. We haven’t been up to the dam since last fall. We’d already had our first frost and had the smudge pots going in the groves by then.” The Ford gave a shimmy as it pulled up onto the asphalt road, then settled into smoother motion as it picked up speed.

With a shudder of her shoulders, Clara gave a slight moan. “Oh, Lordy, don’t even bring up smudge pots. I’ll take this horrid summer heat – even the Santa Ana winds – over dealing with the nastiness of those tin beasts.”

Hazel turned her head and rolled her eyes, but not before her mother caught her look. She shook her head as if annoyed by a repetitive argument. “You know this whole valley needs them, to protect our citrus groves. Even Myrtle and Lee have their grove in Glendora lined with pots. You wouldn’t want your own daughter and son-in-law to lose their livelihood because they’d lost their trees to freeze, would you Mama?”

Clara had the grace to feel slightly abashed. She hung her head as if acknowledging her defeat in this debate. “Of course not. It’s just that…know how many years I’ve been cleaning up after the nastiness? Wiping down every surface in the whole house? Tucking towels and wadded up sheets into windows and crevices trying to keep the nasty black, oily smoke out of the house?”

Before Hazel could reply, the Ford coughed and sputtered. The engine shook before stalling. Ted frowned and gripped the steering wheel tighter as he eased the pickup off the road and onto the gravel shoulder.

For more great story snippets, return to TUESDAY TALES here.

Return to TRISHA FAYE’S WEBSITE here.

Baking Up a Storm #3

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I’m proud to be part of a group of authors that write for Tuesday Tales. Every week we write story snippets to a word prompt. Once a month we have a picture prompt.

Baking Up a Storm is a new historical fiction tale I’m working on, set in southern California in 1935. Clara Ayers, and the family members mentioned in the tale were real people. In 1935 her baked goods won four places at the Los Angeles County Fair. She placed second with her Light Rolls, Ginger Bread, and Chocolate Drop Cookies. Her Molasses Drop Cookies took first place. She and her recipes are listed in the Prize Winning Recipes cookbook from the fair that year.

Any historical tidbits mentioned in the story are true facts. But the conversations that take place and Clara’s thoughts and actions are all fictional creations from this author’s brain as she tries to honor Clara’s life and bring her to life. Dear Clara, please excuse me if I’ve erred in any way in this historical recreation.

In honor of Clara Ayers and her four prize winning recipes of 1935, join us as we step back in time, to a time when the citrus groves in the valley south of the San Bernardino Mountains reigned (and the foothills were clear of smog.)

This week we write to the prompt ‘crush.’

Baking up a storm_1935 calendar.png

 

Touching a loaf to see if it was cool enough to slice, Clara debated with herself. She shuffled across the linoleum floor to check a calendar tacked up on the wall. The county fair was still three weeks away. Not counting Sundays, which was the Lord’s Day and she couldn’t test recipes on this sacred day, left seventeen days. She ticked off on her fingers as she ran down a list of recipes and spoke out loud, but to herself and no one in particular. “Light rolls, chocolate drop cookies, ginger bread…hope I’m not up against Bessie Sinkey again this year…maybe a nice nut bread…” She turned back to her daughter, feeling resolved and lighter. “You’re right. There’s still plenty of time to try the others and have you all sample them.”

“Mama, you keep it up, I’m going to be as wide as your new Frigidaire.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. Enough goes home with Thomas and the little ones to keep my surplus down. I know he and the children misses Ada and her cooking too. You’re not the only one missing your sister.”

Wiping a sudden tear that accumulated at the corner of her eye, Hazel nodded. “My heart is crushed thinking of how they miss their mama. It’s awful hard on them. That’s why I try to help out whenever I can.”

“They sure do love their Aunt Hazel and the love you share with them. Plus…” Clara hesitated, unsure whether she should add the next part or not. “…kind of helps out with the ache you feel over not having any of your own, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, Mama, it does. Most days I’m fine with it. I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that Ted and I won’t have little ones running around. But occasionally…”

Clara patted her daughter’s shoulder and turned back to the task at hand. “Enough getting sappy. There’s fresh bread waiting for you. A nice home baked load. Always good for what ails a person.” She laid a clean towel out and turned the loaves out. Grabbing a serrated knife from the drawer, she cut a thick slice, set it on a plate and held it out.

Hazel accepted the offering and held it under her nose, inhaling deeply. “Ahhhh…just what the doctor ordered.” She smeared a hunk of butter over the slice, watching it melt into the hot pores before she tore off a corner and stuffed it in her mouth. After making appropriate sounds of delight, she gobbled down the rest of it until only a few crumbs remained on the dish. “This is your best ever.”

Clara laughed, feeling half delighted, yet half matter of fact. “You want to take a loaf home to make sandwiches with for our outing tomorrow?”

“Of course. Wouldn’t want any other. Chicken salad okay with you?”

“Sounds good to me. I’ve got some oatmeal raisin cookies left over from the other day. I can bring those.” Clara wrinkled her nose in mock disgust. “They’re not the best though. Rejects. I’m certainly not using that recipe to submit to the fair committee!”

“I’m sure they’ll be fine. You’re too hard on yourself sometimes, Mama.”

“Suppose it’s a habit.” Clara tucked the uncut loaf into a brown paper sack and handed it to Hazel. “Think the old Ford will make it up the hill to the dam tomorrow?”

For more great story snippets, return to TUESDAY TALES here.

Return to TRISHA FAYE’S WEBSITE here.

Baking Up a Storm #2

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I’m proud to be part of a group of authors that write for Tuesday Tales. Every week we write story snippets to a word prompt. Once a month we have a picture prompt.

Baking Up a Storm is a new historical fiction tale I’m working on, set in southern California in 1935. Clara Ayers, and the family members mentioned in the tale were real people. In 1935 her baked goods won four places at the Los Angeles County Fair. She placed second with her Light Rolls, Ginger Bread, and Chocolate Drop Cookies. Her Molasses Drop Cookies took first place. She and her recipes are listed in the Prize Winning Recipes cookbook from the fair that year.

Any historical tidbits mentioned in the story are true facts. But the conversations that take place and Clara’s thoughts and actions are all fictional creations from this author’s brain as she tries to honor Clara’s life and bring her to life. Dear Clara, please excuse me if I’ve erred in any way in this historical recreation.

In honor of Clara Ayers and her four prize winning recipes of 1935, join us as we step back in time, to a time when the citrus groves in the valley south of the San Bernardino Mountains reigned (and the foothills were clear of smog.)

This week we write to a picture prompt. Here’s the one I chose:

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Clara cracked the oven door and peered inside, checking to see if the bread was done yet. The quiet squeak of an opening door caused her to shut the oven and spin around. “Goodness, child. You ‘bout scared the dickens outta me.”

“Sorry, Mama. Didn’t mean to startle you.” Hazel shut the door behind her with a thud and grabbed an empty coffee mug from the dish drainer. She waited for her mother to move away from the stove before filling her cup from the percolator simmering on the back burner. “Mmmmm. Smells delightful. I could smell the bread baking clear across the yard. Am I in time for a slice?”

“Just about. Few more minutes. I told you to come over for some today.”

Hazel stirred a spoonful of sugar into her steaming brew. “That’s why I’m here. My stomach was rumbling all morning, anxious for a slice of your hot bread slathered with butter.”

Clara winked at her daughter. “Best butter in town. Came from the best dairy in Covina. I have connections there.”

Settling herself at the kitchen table, Hazel clapped her hands together. “Getting excited about your bread I almost forgot to ask you. You have any plans for tomorrow?”

“Trying out a new cookie recipe.”

“Can it wait? Want to take a drive up to Puddingstone Reservoir with Ted and I?”

Clara busied herself with checking the bread again before replying. She removed the hot tins with their fragrant, golden brown loaves and sat them on trivets waiting on the counter. “I’m not sure. I really do need to try out this recipe.”

“Mama…the fair’s weeks away. You’ve got plenty of time for testing. Take a day off and come for a picnic with us. It will be a pleasant afternoon by the lake. The perfect place to cool down a little – away from a hot oven.”

For more great story snippets, return to TUESDAY TALES here.

Return to TRISHA FAYE’S WEBSITE here.

Just for comparison – here’s a view of Puddingstone Reservoir. Construction on Puddingstone Dam began in February 1925 and was completed in January 1928. In 1932, a road across the top of the dam was built, creating a more direct route to the reservoir area. Initially the reservoir acted as a flood control basin and provided water to the local citrus growers. Fishing, boating, and swimming on selected beach areas soon made this a popular recreational site too.

TT_Puddingstone Reservoir