Looking across the Towy Valley with Dryslwyn Castle atop the outcrop in the centre.
The alternative title to this was "Doing Without" as this post is about that as well. "Doing Without" is deeply unfashionable in this day and age, but it's a lesson I learned in my childhood and sadly our eldest daughter is having to learn the hard way now, as she doesn't have a job yet - though she did get an interview last week and I have every finger crossed.
My late mother-in-law was born in 1909. Her father was killed in WW1 when she was only 6, the eldest of 4 children. Her mother struggled to make ends meet even before she was widowed. The final insult was the shilling the Army invoiced her for the blanket they used to bury her husband in. "Pan haggety" was a frequent meal - potatoes fried in a little bacon fat. Eggs came from the elderly neighbour across the way who kept hens in her back yard until they started laying soft-shell eggs and she had no money to get more hens. She baby-sat the young ones too, whilst Alice's mother worked 12 hour shifts at the local laundry. Once the old lady's varicose veins burst, spraying the walls with blood, but the Doctor refused to come out to treat her unless there was half a crown paid up front . . . She went without, and they tied old sheets round her legs to staunch the blood.
When money was really tight, it was "kettle broth" for supper. A few pieces of stale bread would be crumbled in a bowl and then boiling water poured over, with a pinch of salt and pepper for flavour. Fruit was a luxury that was rarely seen, apart from the obligatory tangerine at Christmas. Alice's most wonderful Christmas present was a tuppenny exercise book to write in . . .
In the days before Christmas one year, I fell into conversation with the old lady behind me in the checkout queue at Tesco's. She was telling me that she had grown up in the row of houses which used to be where the bus station was now - Blue Street. Her mother had kept a shop, but they weren't ever allowed any "goodies" from the stock for sale. One Christmas there were a few oranges left over and they had their first oranges as a Christmas treat.
Another day, another queue. This time the old post office down by the school my children attended. Again, it was close to Christmas. "Christmas!" exclaimed the old chap behind me, "Christmas! Why, it's Christmas every day for people now, with their two cars a family, and their central heating and their holidays abroad. When my dad was growing up there were families they never even had the money to rent anywhere. They would walk from farm to farm, begging for work. All they asked for was a bed in the hay barn at night, and some fat bacon to eat in return for a day's work. All they had were the clothes the stood up in, and a bit of old sacking to keep the weather off." It is hard to imagine such poverty.
Some of my Ag. Lab. ancestors were buried "on the parish", with just a small wooden cross to mark their last resting place. The final years of their life were spent sharing a room with a lodger (who paid the rent), and they would have a "outdoor relief" which saved them from a bed in the Workhouse and was a cheaper option anyway. They worked into their 70s and even 80s if their strength and their "rheumatics" allowed. All Ag. Labs. had rheumatism - it went with the outdoor life in all weathers.
We had a few years when we first moved here when every arriving bill was a nightmare, and when we really lived hand-to-mouth, but we managed, and at least we had a roof over our heads - even if it was a rather leaky one - and we still ate three meals a day - though sometimes the main meal got a bit repetitive and all the "treats" were baked at home! We didn't start buying Christmas presents until we had the Christmas money from various relatives and added it to the frugal amount we could spare, but Christmas Day was always a happy one and we managed on better than kettle broth . . .