Apple Charlotte is one of my favourite foods. Szarlotka in Polish it has a magical texture of just cooked apples, syrupy liquid which has not quite solidified on a crumbly sweet pastry base. Delicious. Not to be confused with the Polish cocktail szarlotka which is a heady mixture of bisongrass vodka and apple juice. Not for me, but if you like that sort of thing…
Charlotte as a name conjures up many memories from my childhood, though. It wasn’t a popular name in the fifties but I remember reading a book when I was very small called Lottie and Lisa by Erich Kastner, about a pair of twins whose parents got divorced. The book was full of their adventures and plans to get their parents together again. So far so good. Because they were twins I did not relate the story to my own experience at all.
And then my father asked me if I wanted to see a film With Hayley Mills in it. I had already been to the cinema once to see “Pollyanna” which I loved, so of course I said yes. And off we went to see “The Parent Trap”. And then it hit me. This was a film about me. No twin. Just me. And my parents who were going through the most acrimonious split.
I remember emerging from the cinema in a state of utter shock – whatever the message of this children’s s film was, it wasn’t a positive one for me. Which was a shame as I adored Hayley Mills.
The best Charlotte I have ever heard of is the one who had the most beautiful villa and gardens dedicated to her- the Villa Carlotta in by lake Como. She was the daughter of princess Marianne of Nassau who was given it as a wedding present when she married Georg ll of Saxen-Meiningen. Every year when we go to Italy we make a little pilgrimage there because it is the most gorgeous and romantic house on the edge of the lake, and the gardens are stunning in their variety and colour.
And lastly the name Charlotte conjures up one of the loveliest experiences in my life: one of my closest friends from my school days came to visit when my eldest daughter was about two. Kasia was the sweetest and funniest little toddler and knew how to charm. And charm she did. Apparently my friend went home that evening, decided she wanted one of her own, dumped her boyfriend, acquired a new one whom she married, and proceeded to have a sprog of her own. Little Charlotte! I haven’t ever actually seen her, as they emigrated to the US but maybe one day I will. Won’t tell her the story, though.