(by Yasmine Barrett)
On days when I think about my Nan, I feel as though I am forever trying to grasp the highest cloud in the sky. She left us almost two years ago—I can’t believe it has been so long. Some days it feels like I’m sitting in a café with her, catching up on the gossip, but then I blink and see an empty chair. Every day I am reminded of her tenacity, determination, sense of adventure, mischief, stubbornness, and humor. I realize now that all these qualities live in the greatest gift Nan ever gave me: my mum.
My mum, Julie Samantha Delamore, was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, on the 21st
of January, 1965, to Marie and Michael Delamore—their fourth daughter and little sister to
Christine, Janette, and Ann. In February of the following year, the Delamore family migrated to Australia, extending their family with my Uncle John and my Aunty Marie. It was Poppy who decided on the move. He could see that their life in Leeds wouldn’t progress because of his lack of work, and he wanted a life for his family outside of the working-class districts of Leeds. His hard grafting meant that he would work many trades. (There was a joke in my family that he worked every trade except milkman, but not long after his passing, Nan remembered that for a short period, he was the milkman.)
Before they left Leeds, Nan looked at a map of Australia, closed her eyes, and pointed to the place where they were going to live. Her finger landed on Tasmania. “I looked at that map, Yassie,” she told me, “and I thought: There’s nothing but trees. We didn’t think that people lived in Tasmania.” She didn’t want to leave Leeds, mainly because it meant leaving her mother, with whom she had a very close bond—she always compared it to the bond I have with my mum. I struggle to comprehend what effect their journey had on Nan, with communication not nearly as accessible as it is now. I think what got her through was the prospect of a new lifestyle and employment opportunities, but she always referred to Yorkshire as her home.
(Mum and Nan)
It was the way my mum felt too. In 2018, Mum went back to the U.K. for the first time in 52 years, and she brought me along. When the wheels of the plane touched down in Manchester, Mum turned to me and said, “I’m home.”
Growing up, my brother, Sean, and I were instilled with the example Mum set to work hard for what you want in life. She spent most of her career in the private sector, starting as a junior secretary when she was 15. When she started, she was told to make tea and coffee for the male managers, a task that was outside of her job description. She thought, I’m not serving these old bastards anything. So she would mix the tea and coffee, over-pour the sugar, make the drinks too hot, and add salt and pepper. The next time she asked if they wanted any hot drinks, they all looked horrified and said No thanks. It was the first and only time she served them.
She empowers me never to tolerate “any crap from anybody—especially in the workplace.” A few years ago, I worked in a restaurant for a tyrant of a man who would constantly try to set me up with random people, comment on my status as a single woman, and make remarks about my “looks.” I came home crying after a hectic understaffed night; he had threatened to take the cost of a bottle of wine from my wage because it wasn’t written on the order correctly. The next day, Mum had me him call to inform him of my resignation. When he tried to browbeat me, Mum grabbed the phone and called him out on his behavior, demanding he give me an apology—which he did.
Mum has fully supported me in my pursuit of an acting career. She’s helped with recording tapes for auditions, is brutally honest about every take, and has driven me across the state for many jobs. Nan too was always at the ready to write the show runners of TV programs and say that “Yasmine Delamore” would look fantastic up in lights.
Mum would actually make a brilliant comedic actress herself. Once she was trying to squeeze between the dishwasher and my chair and said, “I feel like a bloody ventriloquist.” We have a sacred bond, and nothing could come between—I am certain. But when it comes to chocolate, my girl makes no promises. Nan used to tell me how she would hide a tin of Quality Street chocolates underneath her mattress so Mum and her siblings couldn’t find them, and would shake the tin regularly to check on the quantity. One day she opened the tin, unwrapped one of the chocolates, and discovered a rock was in its place. She soon realized that there was a tin full of perfectly wrapped rocks under her bed. My mum is that good.
Mum’s love of food by far outweighed the idea of making it. When she met my dad, Andrew, she hit the jackpot: Not only did he look like Robert Redford, but he knew how to cook. She avoided kitchen duty like the plague. But after we were both confronted with gluten intolerance, and potentially celiac disease, her focus shifted to baking treats that will satisfy our new dietary requirements. She has been experimenting with almond and ginger biscuits using mainly lentil, tapioca, and rice flour, as well as a cacao slice with a small amount of dark chocolate—otherwise the chocolate fiend inside her couldn’t cope.
Arguably, one of the most famous things Yorkshire has given the world (aside from the first-
ever football club, the first commercial steam train, the Brontë Sisters, and Judy Dench) is Yorkshire pudding. Cousin Barbara told us that traditionally it is served as a starter with gravy. The idea was that you would fill up on it because many families couldn’t afford much meat. There are many variations, and if you ask any Yorkshire woman, hers is the best (and that’s that, love.) It was not until I was in my early 20s that I experienced the joy of a Yorkshire
pudding, made by my aunty Ann. I had tried to make one once, but at the request of a vegan friend, we had to alter the ingredients, and it failed miserably. (To this day, I am suspicious that the spirits of my Yorkshire ancestors intervened.)
I have been so lucky enough to have Tasmanian Yorkshire aunties who have given me a strong sense of family. My mother and her siblings never knew their grandparents, aunts or uncles, so they made it a priority that the next generation did. Through Aunty Ann’s love of genealogy, she has been able to establish contact with many of our relatives in the U.K. Recently Mum, Dad, Ann, and I had a group FaceTime with Nan’s cousin Barbara and her daughters, Michelle and Ruth. Barbara was showing us the view of a paddock outside her study window. In the middle of this broad, green land stood a huge Tasmanian blue gum tree. Barbara had no idea where it came from, only that it appeared eight years ago, shortly after Nan’s last visit. I noticed how similar it looked to the one around the corner from Nan’s house, and I remembered. Nan told me that she packed some seeds with her and threw them over Barbara’s fence. Even in the afterlife, she is leaving pieces of her with us.
The last moment I had with Nan was a couple of days before she died. I was sitting on the bed with her, sobbing, and felt her arms guide me towards her with frail strength, holding me. It was like feeling all the love she ever gave me all at once. When she passed away, a local radio station played a request from Aunty Ann for a song by Nan’s favorite singer, Matt Monroe. “On Days Like These” filled her quiet room. Knowing that she wasn’t in pain anymore kept me somewhat grounded, but I was lost. I wasn’t ready to grow old without her.
(with Nan at graduation)
But I needed to be there for Mum. A week after Nan’s funeral, Mum, who was already devastated, found out her cat had liver cancer, and we had to put her to sleep. Then the pandemic hit us. For two months, we lived in a home of grief and isolation. Then one day, we adopted a kitten we named Winnie, an exotic-blue, copper-eyed, fish-loving gift of life who helped us overcome our despair.
The highest cloud in the sky seems a bit closer when I’m around the Yorkshire women who helped raise me. Shortly before Nan left us, she requested that she wanted to have her ashes spread at Yorkshire’s Ilkley Moors, where she had gone as a girl on a school trip.“I’d never seen so much green in my life,” she told me. “I loved it so much.” Hopefully, when it is safe to do so, my Yorkshire petals and I will be able to take our lass home.
Yasmine Barrett is an English-Australian actor/writer who lives in Tasmania, Australia. She
holds a Bachelor of Contemporary Arts degree from the University of Tasmania and studied screenwriting at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. From 2018 to 2020, she served as a committee member for Launceston’s Three River Theatre Company in Tasmania. She can be found at Backstage and Instagram.
(adapted from A Taste of Yorkshire in Food and Pictures)
4 rounded T. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 c. milk
boiling hot meat drippings
Sift flour and salt.
Make a well in the center.
Add the egg and half the milk, mixing to a smooth paste.
Beat for 5 – 10 minutes, add remaining milk, and beat 5 minutes m
Thin with cold water to the consistency of thick cream.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In an 8-in. square pan, heat 1 large T. beef drippings.
Just before pouring in the batter, add a few drops of cold water to the batter and stir with a fork.
Bake for 30 minutes at the top of the oven.