We all know that horse riding gives us a healthy appetite, and there’s nothing like eating outdoors with your horse or pony, or tucking into a scrumptious tea back home afterwards…
No one knows that better than Jill Crewe, heroine of the Jill Pony Books series by Ruby Ferguson.
Meals and treats for Jill (and best friend Ann Derry) often feature in the book series that bears her name.
But which were the best of the many picnics Jill enjoyed during this pony books series?
And let’s not forget the yummy regular meals she consumed as well. Which were the tastiest teas and treats for after Jill’s ride?
1. Jill’s Pony Trek – sizzling sausages!
Jill worries about everyone having enough supplies, but during the trek they often stop at camping sites or with farmers to spend the night. The meals there are wonderful.
On the first night, the group stay with the Timmins family.
Mrs Timmins gets Bob to put up the barbecue in the orchard and the sausages are soon sizzling. Jill and her fellow trekkers follow it up with slabs of apple pie.
2. Jill’s Pony Trek – midnight feast!
On the second night, the group camp up on the moors. Out comes the supplies, and they tuck into an eclectic meal. Everything from tinned salmon and sardines to cheese and sweets.
3. Jill’s Pony Trek – a bucket of fish and Cornish pasties!
On the third day, the group stay with another farming family, but this family expects them to prepare their own meals. A bucket of fish and sack of potatoes is left for them to get ready for themselves.
However, the farmer’s wife relents a little because the next day she gives them Cornish pasties to take for their lunch.
4. Jill’s Pony Trek – a big basket of buns!
At the end of the trek, Jill and the group reach their destination and participate in a gymkhana. After their guests have left, Mrs Gilpin sends them a big basket of buns and they make coffee on their primus stove.
A great ending to a story that features food a little more than the rest of the Jill pony books series, which is why four out of my top ten choices come from this book alone.
What about the other six?
5. Rosettes for Jill - ‘order what you like!’
It’s a brave man who says to a group of young riders, ‘order what you like!’
However, Jill and her new friends Melly and Lindo are given just such an offer by their host. He even suggests sausages and chips, and banana splits. Jill improves on this by ordering ice-cream sodas to go with it.
6. Jill and the Perfect Pony – the perfect afternoon tea!
When Jill meets Amanda Applewood, she soon realises that Amanda’s lack of interest in riding Plum is more than compensated for by an eagle-eye for what is served for tea.
Amanda confidently orders hot buttered toast, ‘the same cake I had yesterday with the cherries in’ and ‘some chocolate biscuits if I left any’. She’s also impressively precise about the jam flavours she wants, telling the staff that the cook must provide either apricot or strawberry, but definitely not gooseberry.
7. Jill and the Perfect Pony – all my unfavourite foods!
When Jill meets her hosts, she realises that Amanda has neglected to tell them the truth. The Locketts think she’s Amanda.
Their lunch turns out to be everything that Jill doesn’t like: Scotch broth, boiled beef and carrots, and baked apples with custard.
Luckily, Jill evades the pudding by remembering that (pretending to be Amanda) she can be as fussy as she likes…
Afternoon tea is one of Jill’s favourite meals, and her enthusiasm for it appears in three different books at least…
8. Jill and the Perfect Pony – the competitors’ tent!
Despite being told not to eat too much before the jumping, Jill and her buddies tuck right in. There’s even a local boy on hand to confidently steer them to the best cakes.
The Rector’s wife’s cakes are ‘smashing’ and have ‘tons more nuts in’ than anyone else’s, he tells them.
9. Jill Has Two Ponies – so thin you can read Horse and Hound through it!
Training Rapide helps Jill work up a healthy appetite, and she even cuts the bread and butter for tea so thinly that you can read Horse and Hound through it…
10. Jill’s Riding Club – an enormous tea!
It seems only best to finish off my top ten list with ‘an enormous tea’, so I’ve chosen the one from Jill’s Riding Club.
Not only does it have rounds and rounds of hot buttered toast with jam (something we know is an essential component of a good afternoon tea in the Jill pony books series). It also features chocolate biscuits, and (perhaps unusually) shrimps.
I know! Seafood at afternoon tea?
Thank you for enjoying this whistlestop tour of Jill’s favourite and least favourite meals with me.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked up quite an appetite.
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