Congratulations to Val and Trevor who have (correctly) deciphered the Fenland Phrase that forms the title to this blog.
It’s not everyday that you have snails for a mid morning snack but if you did, it would be something really gritty to chew on. I’ve never come across anyone who’s actually eaten them in that way, although I do know from talking to Roma in the past that they enjoy wall fish (a West Country name for snails) from time to time, provided they are the larger Roman ones. Did we or the French get in first?
Beever (or docky as it is known in North Cambridgeshire) is the snack that field workers have mid morning. With a day often starting at 6 am (sometimes 5.30 am if you had horses to feed), you needed to refuel after a few hours.
The traditional beever would consist of home baked bread, hard cheese and raw onion. The bread was uncut, the cheese and onion placed on top and a cut was taken from the loaf using the sharp pocket knife everyone carried. The usual refreshment to accompany this stomach filler and breath tormenter was cold tea: unstrained with the tea leaves still in it had a reputation for “one mouthful keeps thirst away all day.”
The knife was also used with the thumb to convey sliced bread cheese and onion to the mouth. [Demonstrations available on request but, owing to Health and Safety concerns ordinary cheddar is used today, not hard Suffolk farmhouse cheese. Me teeth wouldn’t stand it).
With the riddle having been solved by two people, perhaps the prize should now go to a tie break. If I have hoddiddods for beever after my stile creeper, what have I done?