But light and lusciousness were looming on this dreich Sunday. My daughter is 25, and so for a quarter of a century ( she began young) she has known the scintillating glories of Shetland Sunday Hall Teas. And Ollaberry is the king. Or queen. Or democratically elected community leader.
The truth is that all the Hall teas - where local folk, mostly women, get together to produce savouries, sandwiches, soups and homebakes in spectacular style and quantity, raising funds for the hall and local charities - are fantastic. My own local hall, Hillswick, is superb. It's just that Ollaberry, in my experience, has the edge.
In the book my son James and I wrote about our love for Shetland and its way of celebrating through food, Ollaberry and its teas feature heavily (so do Aith and Walls, actually). I know this is a sensitive subject. But today, all roads led to Ollaberry. For Martha, the holidays were set to begin there.
And as we dropped off an old steam ironing press at the Bruckland SCRAN recycling centre, the cloud and haar began to lift. As we arrived at the Ollaberry Hall, just beating a bus party of tourists, the sun began to shine. And inside, a very heaven of sweet and savoury delights awaited.
This was Ollaberry at the top of its game. From the array of sandwiches, including gluten free options, through other breads, cajun and sassermaet sausage rolls, mini pizzas, vol-au-vents, savoury bacon buns, quiches and other such pies, I tried to restrict myself and failed. But the cakes. The fancies, as they're called in Shetland...it was the delicacy and precision as much as the amount. And just when my plate was full, my tray teetering, there were the puddings...
To drink? Tea, coffee, and..."do you still do Coke floats?" asked Martha, wistfully remembering all those childhood Sabbaths.
"Of course," said Frances. "We haven't been asked for one for a while, but..."
And there it was. Forget your Proustian Madelaines. A dod of ice cream in a glass of Coca-Cola and suddenly the past was rushing through the bloodstream (I had to try it) helped along the way by some unexpected Pasteis de Nata action. Because in Ollaberry, baking does not stand still. Fancies are internationally renewed, constantly reinvented.
Damn, I forgot to mention the scones, fruit loaf, home-made jam, and of course the raffle.
The holidays begin in the Ollaberry Hall. You should definitely try it.