The World’s oldest twins, Lily Millward and Ena Pugh will be celebrating their 102nd birthdays today (4th January). I had the absoute pleasure to interview Lily just before her 101st birthday last year. They are both an inspiration. Thanks too, to Lily’s daughter Diane for great input and the tea!
Showing me numerous certificates she has won for homemade chutney and jam at the local Shows Lily told me, “My husband was good at growing fruit and veg, though I always helped him; we’d do it together. We always grew gooseberries, blackcurrants, damsons, plums and apples for chutneys and tarts and then we’d go and pick strawberries and raspberries from the farms as it was easier than growing them ourselves. I still grow my own potatoes and gibbons in an old bath round the back. Fresh food always tastes better, by the time you buy things in the shop all the good has gone out of them.”
Remarkably, each sister still lives alone in their own house in rural villages on the outskirts of Brecon, Powys. Lily is humorous, lively and extremely entertaining as we eat homemade cakes in front of a roaring open fire with her daughter Diane. “I still make jam and chutneys and do a lot of baking. My kidney bean chutney’s a favourite with friends and family, though the tomato one’s good too. My neighbour fills the coal bucket for me and I make him a tart or a pie every week in return. I’m always running out of pickling vinegar and flour and asking Diane to get some for me,” she laughs. “I still cook a lot of broth on the Rayburn. My Mother used to make lots of stews and rice puddings, its good warming food.”
“I was making butter and cheese on the farm when I was 13 years old. It tasted so much better than the stuff you buy now. I’m quite fussy about my food; we used to breed our own pigs and rabbits to eat. It was good food and you knew what you were eating.”
Is good food the secret of her long healthy life? “There’s no secret,” she laughs, “I just keep getting older. You can’t stop getting old can you? I used to eat a baked onion every day, maybe that helped. And a good gossip is better than a bottle of tonic.” She adds. “ I get a lot of visitors and I talk to Ena on the phone every night. She can’t garden,” she adds mischievously, “she’s always been the one to get dressed up and gad about. She wears earrings and make up, I only wear a necklace. She was born 3 minutes before me, so she’s always thought she’s more important,” she winks.
And how will Lily and Ena celebrate their 101st birthday? “Something quiet I hope, she confides, there was too much fuss when we were 100; it was all go.”