Saturday, 15 September 2012

A Normal Saturday

 The cover picture shows Barley being carted at Rickling Green in Essex. 

The day started as most Saturdays start, dragging myself out of bed as the alarm insists it is time to get up.  Which wouldn't be so bad, except it was 6.15 and I had been awake between 3.40 and 5 a.m.  Sigh.  I really did NOT want to get up and my OH was like-minded!  Still, car boot sales wait for no-one so we had breakfast and set off, and indeed, were early enough to bag a few bargains.  I spent all of 20 pence (!) on a lovely little book which was just waiting for me to happen along: The British Countryside illustrated.  It has a soft cover (a little like an old exercise book), and illustrated throughout with black and white photographs and probably dates from the 1930s.  The previous owner has noted beside certain places, when they were visited.  London was the most frequently visited - Oct 1927, Aug 1936, July 1937, July 1942, Aug 1945 and Aug 1950.  I should have thought the July 1942 "holiday" there may have been a bit hairy!  Ilfracombe, Land's End, Tenby (twice), Llandudno, Blackpool were also holiday destinations, some of them quite late in the season - October or November.

 Tenby, bearing more than a passing resemblence to Victorian Whitby!  It has been polished up a bit in recent years : )

The photographs show the British countryside which I can just remember little snippets of when I was growing up in the 1950s.  The Botany Bay gypsies still used one or two of their heavy cobs for ploughing, and still drove them to a "trolley" to get about to the bits of land they had.  Horses pulled the milk floats, though milk was in bottles by then of course, and there was a little rag and bone pony called Sally - a chestnut with lots of white on her legs and splashes on her tummy and the filthiest greasy coat you could imagine.  Shires pulled the Corporation dust carts in Shirley in Southampton.  Country lanes were still largely quiet with traffic, and the  photographs evoke so many memories of unmodernized farmhouses still being lived in by actual farmers, barns being used for storage of hay or straw, and although I remember a small-bale harvesting of hay (unlike the big wrapped bales common nowadays), no-ne was still using the old-fashioned reaper and binder any more.   It was a peaceful countryside I recall, one we could safely run wild in.  That's why I am enjoying the Wartime Farm programme so much, as it is so reminiscent of my childhood, and I recognize things like the Tilly lamps (which we used in powercuts), open fires, chopping wood for kindling etc, a "copper" for washing day, and a mangle for getting the worst of the water from the clothes and sheets.

A scene from a byegone age, though I can remember seeing a field of stooks like this in Dorset before we left.  It had been grown specifically for thatching, I believe, using wheat which was much longer in the stalk.  It was like stepping back into Thomas Hardy's Dorset.  The above photo, however, was taken near Ipswich, in Suffolk.

Anyway, this won't get anything done.  I have chutney all prepared and ready to be cooked, so I had best get changed from my decent clothes into ones which need t be washed and will be once they are reeking of Green Tomato Chutney!


  1. Ah yes, car boot sales. The siren song, the hope and promise of treasures to hunt and claim for ones own! That would be on the top of my (very short) list of reasons to roust from a warm bed early on a Saturday morning! :-)

  2. What a find in that little book. My corner of New England still had farms like my Grampa Mac's where some of the work was done with horses in the early 50's--although most of his neighbors had modernized. I tend to get swept away with nostalgia over scenes like this and have to remind myself there was a trade-off in hardships of earlier life in the country. Still, work outdoors was good for all--as long as there was a warm place and a good meal at the end of the day.

  3. Lovely new header! I hope you are feeling a lot better now.

  4. Kath - I am frightened to say I am, for fear of tempting fate again. Put it this way, my peak flow has improved and I am able to do things requiring energy that I couldn't dream of attempting back in the summer . . . The header is our local castle, by the way, Dryslwyn.

    MM - I couldn't leave it behind as it just spoke to me of the sort of Britain I yearn for. As I said, there were still elements of it in my childhood, mostly in the pace of life, and the lack of traffic - in our road, c. 1960, there were only about 4 houses with cars! I always think of the trade off in health care.

    Issy - it's a siren wail and must be obeyed!

  5. Hi BB

    I too am enjoying the Wartime Farm and many of the things I yearn for too. Its been very well done as usual and reminds me of life with my grandparents. There was a Lancaster base at the bottom of the garden which although disused and now mostly back to farm land we used to walk up to. My grandparents had been actively involved in the Home Guard my Nan worked at the NAAFI my Pops was an Engineer and they quite frequently bought the young pilots back home to get them off base and give them some chill out time and a meal. Many of them did not return. Guess what I have been making chutney this afternoon too and have also processed 7 jars of Tomato Passata for the pantry. I am glad you are feeling loads better it drags you down when your system is out of sorts for whatever reason. Car boots haven't been to one of them for ages; I am hoping to learn to drive soon so that I can pootle off under my own steam we shall see what happens I have been there so many times before. Have to dash must check on that chutney. Take care Pattypanxx