Saturday, 27 February 2010

Dogs in our life

Wags was the first dog we had. We had her as a puppy when Sue was about 6 or 7. She was half pedigree Springer Spaniel, but her mother Got Out at the wrong time and met the local Border Collie. Wags was never quite sure whether to round us up or concentrate on retrieving us!

She was the most wonderful dog. Very playful, very gentle, long-suffering but an excellent guard dog. She knew when a stranger was coming to the front or back door, and would bark loudly. Just one or two barks, until we had sorted the caller out. Our driveway had no gate, but she would sit on the concrete of the driveway, with her paws just touching the tarmac of the path, and never go out!

She was a very handsome dog, and of course, had a lot of admirers! But she considered herself MY dog, and I felt quite happy taking her for a walk in our local woods even when it was only barely light in the mornings. Had anyone approached me she at once came near, and I am sure would have gone sraight for the jugular had I been attacked! We had her for 13 wonderful years, and I cried for a week when we had to have her put to sleep because of a nasty malignent tumour she had n her mouth.

Our next dog was a rescue dog, called Ben. We were never sure what sort he was, but whatever it was, he loved digging! Many times I had to drag him out from a hole he was investigating and digging into. I had visions of him disappearing into a badgers set, or rabbit hole and being lost for ever! He too was a very good looking dog, neat and tidy, and liked nothing better than curling up next to me.

Ben was a very energetic dog, and on walks would run back and forth, so that he went at least 3 times as far as we did! He would endlessly run after balls thrown for him, but was not the best dog at bringing them back! When we moved from Buckinghamshire up to the North West near Manchester, he came with us, and loved the Park at the back of the garden

We had Ben for about 16 years - he lived for a remarkably long time, and only left us when his quality of life was not what he would have wanted.

Our current dog is Max. In a sense he was a 'rescue' dog, as he belonged to my ex son-in-law. He had had Max, plus another dog, for nearly 5 years, so Max had grown up with my grandsons. When son-in-law moved to the USA the dogs had to be rehomed. So who better to take one than Grandparents! We had vowed not to have another dog, as we were getting older, and really wanted to be able to travel a bit before it was too late, but we got Max instead. He loves sticks, and happily collects as many as he can carry!

Max came with us on holiday to Anglesey, where he was in his element, as the owner of our rented holiday cottage had 13 Cocker Spaniels, like Max! This picture is of a very hot and tired Max waiting at the foot of a monument on Anglesey. A drop of water would not have come amiss! (But he did get some soon after!)

Max loves walks, but likes to keep to the edges of wherever we are, nose down, sniffing his way along. He would have made a splendid sniffer dog for drugs or whatever! Mr. G here is having a rest, but Max is ready to go further!

I know not all of you will be dog lovers, but I hope you will forgive me indulging myself today. It is a cold, grey and wet day, there isn't mch else happening, so I blogged with dogs!

PS I do like cats, too!


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Two days in my very ordinary life!

Yesterday (Monday) I at last managed to get into town. I use a mobility scoooter sometimes, as it means I can get around a bit further, so this time I went to the Library, and then on into the Indoor Market, where I bought a lovely new bag.

The Scooter is dead easy to drive, there is a lever for forward, one for reverse, you keep your thumb on the lever to move and take it off to stop. There is a knob to regulate the speed. No problem? I was trying to get off, and tangled my bag strap round the lever for "go" and the whole contraption shot forward at a brisk speed heading for a pile of plastic buckets on the next stall, with me half on and half off! Luckily no damage done, I managed to get untangled just in time, and reversed briskly back to the rather confused man on the bag stall!

Walking today in the park was a very cold visit. Some of the snow had melted, but then frozen overnight, so the whole place had the look of the northern Tundra.

But there is still plenty of snow on the hills.

On the lake the water is mostly frozen again, and the ducks wait hopefully for someone to come and feed them. They like basking on a little bank, which is in the sun, but as I approached with the dog, they headed for the water! We also have an uncommon winter visitor, a Tufted Duck. We have had four this winter, but I could only see one today.

Don't think there will be much tennis for a while!

But Spring is coming, slowly. There are lots of daffodil bulbs pushing their way up, and the yellow blossom of what I think is Witch Hazel, looks lovely close up.

One keen dog to get back into the garden!

And after all that I reckoned I had earned a break!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Houswives in the past

I have been looking through some of my old cookery and houewifery books - it really is amazing how much things have changed. The differences between the above 'Cookery and comforts' book and the 1950 edition of 'Housewife' are, I think, not as great as the gulf between the 1950's and today.

The hints and recipes here are for little dishes, and a fairly fussy sort of menu. It was not easy photographing these books, the pages are a creamy sort of old, and the printing is not very crisp. But I am sure if you click on the photos you will be able to find the recipe for 'Curry Croquete'.

Meatless meals were becoming less eccentric, and pasta was making an appearance. But only macaroni and spaghetti! Most of those recipes sound a bit boring!

And how about this lovely apron whilst you do your housework?

When we get to the 1950's copy of 'Housewife' it is quite clear that, whatever women have been doing during the war - working in factories, on the land or in the armed services, their place is now firmly at home. And they are expected to do all the housework themselves. Which is why in mid morning, brush and dustpan in hand, our now frilly-aproned housewife goes 'flop'!

Some of the advertisements are lovely! Don't you just fancy this coat in the 'New Look' length? Actually, I had one very like that, with a big snuggly collar, in a dark teal colour. I loved it!

And hands up those who are old enough to remember Oxydol! Ah! How we were supposed to worry over whether our whites were whiter than our neighbours'!

It was too difficult to photograph the pages, but there are several reminders that, even in 1950, five years after the war had ended, food was still short, and rationed. In a short feature entitled 'Recipes for Sick Children' there are instructions for making a fish custard, and a recipe for Tripe Mould, which is supposed to taste like chicken (??) and for disguising rabbit as chicken. As the poor child had probably never tasted much real chicken, he or she could well have been deceived!

(And for those of you who don't know what tripe is, its the stomach of cows - comes in various types, honeycomb is one I can remember. Nasty, flabby white stuff, since you ask!)

I'm off to browse through 'Housewife' again - the hairstyles are wonderfully tight and curly, the babies all chubby and wearing wool next to the skin, and the women incredibly glamorous with minute waists and long flowing dresses!

And some of the recipes aren't bad, either!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Five things I like to do

Lesley, over at her artistic blog has given me an award, "Circle of Friends" which I am honoured to receive!

Now I have to list five things I like doing, and pass this award to 10 friends.

The first bit is easy:

1. Reading. I can never stop. If all else fails, I read the labels on the sauce bottles! But I like good detective stories (not the creepy sort, and not too much of the sex and violence for its own sake!) non-fiction historical accounts, old recipe books, home-making, archeology magazines - ooh! almost anything!

2. Cooking. I love making cakes, although we hardly ever eat them!

3. Reading and contacting all my blog friends - all of you!

4. Walking (as far as I am able) on the hills on a lovely sunny day, or along a deserted beach

5. Visiting my family and extended family wherever they are - Daughter, son-in-law, grandsons, great granddaughter, sister, brother-in-law, etc.

Now the diffiocult part - how can I choose just 10 friends? Please, if you count yourself my friend, copy the logo on the right hand side, and put it on your blog, and then tell us the 5 things you like doing, and pass the award on.

PS. If awards aren't your thing I won't be offended if you ignore all this!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wartime Rations

A few weeks ago, we found a fascinating book in a Charity Shop. "Feeding the Nation", by Marguerite Patten, is full of recipes, reproductions of Government leaflets and loads of general information of how housewives managed to feed their families during World War II.

Rations were incredibly small, judged by today's full plates! Rations for one adult per week were:

Bacon and Ham 4 oz.
Meat to the value of 1s.2d (5p in today's money) The cheaper the meat you bought, the more you got! Sausages were almost unheard of.
Butter 2oz.
Cheese 2 oz (sometimes it rose to 4 oz)
Margarine 4 oz
Cooking fat 2-4oz
Milk 2-3 pints Dried milk was available, i packet every 4 weeks.
Sugar 8oz
Jam, marmalade 1 lb every 2 months
Tea 2 oz (leaf tea, teabags weren't invented!
Eggs 1 shell egg every week, if you were lucky. 1 packet dried egg every 4 weeks
Sweets (candy) 12 oz every month

No wonder recipes were "mock this", mock that"!

Most recipes for main meals - dinner or a hot supper, contained pitifully small amounts of meat!

We were all urged to grow our own vegetables. "Dig for Victory" was the cry, and hints, leaflets, radio programmes giving recipes told us how to make the most of what we could grow or get. "Potato Pete" was a favourite cartoon character!

How my mother managed to put a hot meal in frontg of us every day I do not know! But this was what we as children had - you ate it or went hungry! And we didn't know any different anyway.

There is one recipe I am determined to try! Mock Cream sounds rather like patisserie cream, and as I can't eat dairy cream, I shall try and make this, with soya milk, using real butter (I can eat that, its the lactose content!)


1/2 oz cornflour
1/4 pint milk
1 1/2 oz margarine (thats one and a half oz)
3 teaspoons sugar
few drops vanilla essence

Mix cornflour to a paste with a little milk, heat remainder and when boiling add to blended cornflour, stirring well. Return to saucepan, bring to boil and cook 3 minutes. Cream the margarine and sugar. Whisk in the cornflour mixture gradually. Add vanilla essence

I think you must have to let the cornflour mixture cool a bit before all the whisking goes on! I'll let you know.

I have a lot of old, pre-war cookery books, and they are a delight, and fun to read. Also "Home Doctoring" which sounds a bit horrendous in places.

Subject for another blog, I think!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Bright and Cheerful!

In this part of the UK, and in most other parts too, it is dark, grey, and snowing again. From what my US and Canadian blog friends have remarked, it isn't all that great over there, either!

So I've chosen some bright and colourful pics to cheer us all up!

And, what is more, I have persuaded Mr. G that (a) we need a holiday and (b) he would love to go on a cruise! And believe me, that is a major miracle! So we are going on a cruise around the British Isles, got to wait until September, but it is booked!

(Warm, Mediterranean type next time, perhaps?)