Leaving Home.

This post is not of any historical significance but is a light-hearted look at the life-changing experience of leaving home at eighteen and crossing the border to live in England.

I left Wales to live in England was when I was eighteen and went to university. We had holidayed in England many times as I was growing up but that was mainly in seaside places like Newquay, Paignton, Bournemouth and Whitby. After growing up in such a remote area I was desperate to experience life in a city. Nottingham seemed to me like a big city but not as huge and scary-sounding as London. So that’s where I went. I also fondly imagined that it would have readily accessible green forested areas should I find that I missed the countryside. I had been too influenced by the tales of Robin Hood!

It was so exciting to have big shops (M and S, C & A, Boots, Smiths etc.) on hand, to have a regular and frequent bus service and to see Indian and Chinese restaurants and to know of chip shops which stayed open really late. As a student on a grant I didn’t do a lot of shopping or eating in restaurants but just living in a city so full of life and activity was amazing to a country bumpkin like me. Oh, the novelty of double-decker buses with conductors, a choice of cinemas and the ease of travelling to other cities by train some weekends to visit school friends in different universities like Sheffield and London.

Before I’d left Wales, I and my friends had thought we were all quite cool and trendy. After all, we read Honey magazine and watched Top of the Pops! I soon realised how different the lives of those growing up in or near cities had been for them. Some of the new friends I made had actually shopped in Biba and Carnaby Street and had seen big bands (groups we called them then) like The Stones, The Kinks and Manfred Mann in concert.

Kardomah Cafe, corner of Clumber Street and Lincoln Street, Nottingham,  c1960s. | Nottingham, Nottingham city, Street
There were TWO Kardomah Cafes in Nottingham when I lived there. I can still remember the smell of roasting coffee as you walked in.

I was puzzled in my first term by students commenting on my accent. What were they talking about? I didn’t have an accent, they did! If I became animated in conversation I would talk very fast (South Walean people do talk fast!) and people would laugh at me and say they didn’t understand what I was saying which embarrassed me, made me slow down and made me nearly lose all my accent. People with an ear for accents can still identify me as Welsh even though I’ve lived in England for many decades. And my accent comes back when I’m in Wales or with my Welsh relatives and friends – which makes me happy.

Some of the other differences between me and all the other students were unexpected. When I referred to casual canvas shoes as daps, nobody knew what I was talking about. As we approached the first mid-term I asked a group of my friends whether they were going home for Potato Week and was met with blank looks followed by laughter. We had always referred to the week we had off school in October as Potato Week. I had never known it as anything else. This is because of Pembrokeshire in South Wales being a big potato growing county. Traditionally, schools all over South and mid-Wales closed for a week mid term so that whole families could help out with the potato picking. But at that time I thought everyone in the whole of Britain had Potato Week in October.

May be an image of 2 people
Potato pickers in Pembrokeshire

Some of the expressions English people use mystified me when I came across them. I still remember the time someone was relating a tale which finished with them saying ‘I really had egg on my face!’ and I asked how had they got egg on their face.

Gordon Bennett!! is an exclamation used by the English which is a way of exclaiming without blaspheming. We all know others – Crikey, Jeepers, etc. It was a new one to me. I did, however, know someone back home called Gordon Bennett who had a farm about half a mile from us. Once, when one of my fellow students said Gordon Bennett! when something had gone wrong I had no idea what they meant. I said ‘We’ve got a neighbour called Gordon Bennett.’ much to the amusement of the group.

There was a pub near the university called The Rose and Crown which was popular with students. I hadn’t previously known any pubs called the Rose and Crown but had often come across the name in novels I’d read or on TV programmes. This bit is really, really stupid. For some reason, I thought The Rose and Crown was English people’s way of saying the local. A sort of nickname for your regular pub. One evening, e few students I’d got to know said “We’re going down the Rose and Crown this evening, do you want to come?” I was only just getting my bearings in my new area and there were a few pubs near the campus so I said “Which one? What’s it called?” I could really cringe now thinking of that!

Rose & Crown Pub, Derby Road, Nottingham (C) Roy Hughes :: Geograph Britain  and Ireland | Nottingham pubs, Nottingham, Old pub

The Rose and Crown, Derby Road, Nottingham.

As always, images obtained from the Internet. Credit to whoever is deserving of it. I make every effort to avoid infringing copyright but if anyone objects to my use of an image, contact me directly and I will remove it.

Easter – back in the day

Back in the 1950s and 60s, when I was a child and lived in the depths of rural mid-Wales, Easter was always such an exciting time for us. We had never heard of the Easter Bunny. Perhaps he couldn’t find his way into the heart of the countryside back then! The three of us always received one carefully chosen Easter egg each from our parents. There was a very small choice available in the 50s and they were much simpler than now but we loved to see whether we had a Cadbury’s, a Rowntree’s or a Fry’s. I’ve done a bit of research and discovered that it wasn’t until around the 1950s, when there were developments in production and packaging, that costs lowered and the masses could enjoy Easter eggs. Branded eggs, such as Buttons, first appeared in the 1960s and increased in the 1970s, with attractive, child-friendly packaging.

Easter egg production inside a Cadbury factory (Image: courtesy of Cadbury)

 Easter Egg Packing in March 1953
 Easter Egg Wrapping Bournville, BWM March 1953
Inside the Bournville factory 1953. Credit: Cadbury

But the excitement wasn’t just about chocolate and certainly not the unheard of Easter Bunny. It was a season I just loved so much. A combination of the sound of lambs bleating in all the fields, the sight of daffodils, catkins and Pussy Willow, the feeling of warmer, lengthening days giving us more playing out time, the thrill of something new to wear to church (or if not new, something we hadn’t worn since last summer). We were off school for the Easter holidays and we usually had the same family coming to stay with us who were from my mum’s old home town a couple of hours away. They were a joy to have visiting. The three of us got on well with their three boys and the parents were really lovely people.

In Sunday school the week before Easter we used to make miniature Easter gardens. We used moss for grass, built up small hills, laid out paths with small stones and made flowers, trees and three crosses on one of the hills. We were always so proud to see our little gardens on display at the back of the church on Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday being the end of Lent, I could eat biscuits again, my sister could eat sweets and my mum could have sugar in her tea.

Breakfast on Good Friday was always the traditional hot cross buns. Now you can buy them throughout the year but it was really exciting to have something special to eat on just one day of the year. Chocolate eggs can now be bought through most of the year too.

My mum picking daffodils in the garden Easter 1961. Photo taken by me age 10 with my first camera – a Kodak Brownie 127.

Easter Sunday breakfast was always boiled eggs which my mum used to paint faces on. One year she had made us all little hats for our boiled eggs as a surprise. Then we would walk to church together. In the usual way of childhood memories I can picture we three children, with the three visiting ones, playing out all day long in the woods and by streams and picking wild flowers. We lived in one of the wettest parts of Britain so the truth of it is that we probably had as many wet Easters as fine ones, if not more. But that’s not how I remember it .

Happy Easter to all my readers, regular and occasional. Or, in Welsh – Pasg Hapus.

Every effort is made to use images which do not offend or infringe copyright. If anyone objects to the use of any information or image in this blog please contact me so that I can remove it.

Saint David’s Day – Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant

Today, March 1st is St David’s Day and a very important day in Wales.

Saint David is thought to have been born around 500 AD in Pembrokeshire on the Welsh west coast. David’s reputed mother Non was also a saint, and he was trained as a priest under the tutelage of St Paulinus.

Various miracles are attributed to him, including restoring the sight of his teacher and, most famously, creating an entirely new hill (now the village of Llanddewi Brefi) during an outdoor sermon. The version of this story which we were told in school was that he was preaching to a large crowd, many of whom couldn’t see or hear him properly. A man stepped forward and put his coat on the floor for David to stand on. When he stood on the coat the ground rose up and a small hill was formed.

St David

Saint David became a renowned missionary in Wales and beyond, and is credited with founding monasteries in his homeland, the south-west of England (including Glastonbury) and Brittany.

When I was in Primary School I remember that our village always held a St David’s Day concert. Our little school was used as a village hall for this sort of event. Various people – adults and children – throughout the evening would take turns to sing, recite or play the piano. One local farmer had a beautiful tenor voice and always sang ‘Jerusalem’. There would also be singing where we all sang together, many of the songs in Welsh.

The traditional dish which all families would eat on that day was ‘cawl’ – pronounced cowl – which is a simple but hearty and nutritious stew made with lamb, root vegetables and leeks. Oddly, it’s the smell of it cooking in our kitchen which I can remember more than the taste.

Our version of the traditional spiced fruit loaf is know as Bara Brith which means speckled bread. It is eaten sliced, buttered and with a paned (cup of tea).

When I was in the Secondary School there was always a St David’s Day Eisteddfod in the school hall. Pupils who were known to be able to play and instrument were often pressured into taking part. Others were happy to volunteer. Most children would have a daffodil pinned to their jumpers. Those who hadn’t been able to locate a daffodil would have a leek pinned to them instead, some of them enormous! I can clearly remember the all-pervading smell of leeks as some of the kids got bored in the audience and started nibbling on them.

Cawl.
Welsh cakes are very popular in Wales and are sold in most bakeries and cafes. Cooked on a bakestone or a griddle pan, they are eaten all year round but especially on St David’s Day.

I have lived in England now since 1973. I have worn a daffodil on March 1st every year of my life as I am doing today. Occasionally if I’ve been in my local town shopping on St David’s Day (not this year, thanks to COVID-19) and seen another person wearing a daff we greet each other and have a little chat.

Happy St David’s Day to you all!!

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus!!

As usual – images courtesy of Google Images, Pinterest, Wikipedia. Anyone objecting to my use of an image can contact me and I will remove it.

Thank You!

This is a very short post to say a big thank you to everyone who has ever read, or even taken a brief look at, my blog. This morning the counter showed that my humble little blog had topped 100,000 hits world wide. I’m thrilled!

When I started writing it, just a few years ago, I thought I had enough ideas for maybe a dozen posts. I also thought that it would have a very limited appeal. I haven’t broken any records or made the news but I’m SO happy to have reached so many people in so many countries.

I enjoy writing it and I haven’t run out of ideas – yet!

Thank You In Different Languages photos, royalty-free images, graphics,  vectors & videos | Adobe Stock
I chose this one because it includes the Welsh ‘diolch’ and not all of them do.
The countries in the world where the blog has been seen with the frequency indicated by the shade.

Lent

I have a draft post which will go out in the next few days but as it’s Ash Wednesday today and therefore, to Christians, the first day of Lent, I thought I’d share some of my memories of Lent when I was young. Nowadays, I don’t hear many people talking about Lent and about giving anything up for six weeks but when I was a child we wouldn’t have even considered not doing it.

Every year, for most of my school days, I gave up biscuits. What a pleasure it was, over the Easter weekend, to indulge in not only a chocolate Easter egg from my mum and dad but a couple of biscuits with a cup of tea. I remember one year, when I was old enough to go to the shop on my own, my mum gave me some money (it would have been approximately a shilling – about 5 pence in current money)) to choose my own packet. My current favourites at that time were called Milk and Honey and were a bit like Jammy Dodgers and that’s what I chose.

Image result for milk and honey biscuits
This ad says they were two shillings and fourpence per pound. A standard packet is about eight ounces.

One Lent, when I was about ten, I gave up sugar in tea. Within days I found I preferred it and still take it sugarless. In comparison, my mum gave up taking sugar in her tea every Lent for her whole life. You would have thought that by the end of six weeks she would have got used to the sugarless drink. Oh no! Every year she spent six weeks disliking the taste of every single cuppa and breathing a sigh of relief when she first allowed herself a cup of tea with sugar in.

Image result for 1950s sugar packet
A 1950s pack of sugar. I’d forgotten how different they were!

My sister often gave up sweets for Lent. One year (or maybe she did it more than once and kept it quiet?) she gave them up as usual but every time she was offered one she would take it and pop it in a tin in her bedroom. These were all saved until, when Lent ended, she had a nice little collection to munch her way through.

Image result for 1950s sweets uk
Image result for 1950s sweets uk
Some examples of the kind of sweets which might have been saved in my sister’s tin – with apologies to her for telling the tale!)

As always the images used, in order to add a bit of atmosphere to the post, are sourced from the Internet. I make every effort to avoid infringing copyright but if anyone objects to my use of an image I will remove it.

Tanning – and Burning.

We are all now fully aware of the potential hazards of exposure to the sun. Even here, in the relatively un-sunny climate of the British Isles, most of us know a few people who have had treatment for malignant moles or early signs of skin cancer.

Back in the 1950s, there was suntan lotion available but the emphasis was more on soothing burnt skin after the event. In our house this was done using calamine lotion.

Calamine Lotion for 27 and a half a pence old money | High school memories,  Calamine lotion, School memories
This one is post-decimalisation so 1970s – but it looked exactly the same in the 1950s when I was young.

Doing my research for this post, I have learned that the early creams were meant to reduce the burning whilst allowing you to acquire a ‘healthy tan’. We all now know that ‘healthy tan’ is a misnomer. These early creams and oils were designed to reduce burning from UVB light but didn’t filter out UVA light which gives you a tan but also causes cancer. These early potions were called suntan lotions/ creams because the aim was to help you get a tan. The term ‘sun protection’ was never heard as the wasn’t seen as something we needed protecting from.

The History of Sunscreen
The artist behind this iconic Coppertone suntan lotion ad died in 2006. Joyce Ballantyne Brand drew the image of a puppy tugging at the bathing suit of a little girl in 1959. Her daughter, Cheri Brand Irwin, was the model for this ad.

sunscreens
Ambre Solaire ~ Anonym

In the 1920s and 30s, the very rich and the aristocratic were flocking to the French Riviera whereas the normal working person was not legally entitled to paid holiday leave until 1939. Until the late 1960s, the sunny holiday abroad was still the preserve of the better off. So for many decades a tan had been seen as a sign of wealth. With the rise of the package holiday through the 1970s, more and more people were able to afford to take a holiday in the sun but it was a while longer before our ideas about tanning caught up.

All images gleaned from Google Images, Pinterest and Wikipedia. I make every effort to use only pictures which I believe I am at liberty to use. If anyone feels that I have inadvertently infringed copyright please contact me and I’ll remove the offending image. Thanks too, to Britain’s Science Museum for some interesting facts on the history of sun protection.

Games Which Weren’t On Screens

This rather odd title will make sense (I hope!) once you read on. The number of games which can be played on phones and other devices now is unlimited. One can play with other people or alone. Most of the games are recent creations and new ones are appearing all the time – so I’m told. There are complex, role-playing games but at the other end of the scale there are on-screen jigsaws, patience, Scrabble, crosswords etc etc.

When we were young, in the days before electronic devices, we were never without games to play whenever we couldn’t be outside. There were board games, card games, jigsaws, pencil and paper games and verbal games. I’ll look at each category in turn.

Boards Games

As slightly older children, I remember us playing Monopoly and Cluedo but when we were very young the games I remember best are Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and Draughts.

Ludo | Berwick | V&A Search the Collections
STPMC1993.620
RARE HARLESDEN SERIES SNAKES & LADDERS BOARD GAME WITH DRESSED ANIMALS  c1930's | eBay

Card Games

The favourites in our toy cupboard were Snap, Old Maid and Happy Families

VINTAGE SNAP CARD Game - British Made - £9.99 | PicClick UK

Jigsaws

Such hours of fun! We began as young children with the 8 or 10 piece ones and moved up to more complex ones as we became older and better at them.

PHILMAR 1950'S VINTAGE Jigsaw Set of 2 Puzzles, each around 150 pieces -  £2.50 | PicClick UK

Pencil and Paper Games

We could have hours of indoor fun with scrap paper and pencils. Hangman was a favourite as was Noughts and Crosses. We had many laughs over games of Consequences.

Verbal Games

I-Spy is probably the best known one of these. Another alphabet game we used to play was ‘I packed my case and in it I put a/ an .. ‘. There are different versions of it but whatever the words used in the opening sentence, the game then goes on like this. The first person completes the sentence with an item which begins with A. Taking it in turns, the next person has to think of an item beginning with B but also has to include the A word. And so it goes on. If you get to Z that person has to complete the sentence with all 26 items in the right order. Good memory training!

All images gleaned from Google Images and Wikipedia. I make every effort to use only pictures which I believe I am at liberty to use. If anyone feels that I have inadvertently infringed copyright please contact me and I’ll remove the offending image.

Woolworths – or ‘Woolies’

A few years ago I wrote a post in this blog about High Street shops which have disappeared from our towns. This time I am focusing one single store, our beloved Woolies which disappeared for ever more than ten years ago. Readers in other countries might not be familiar with the chain but might well have similar stores they remember as fondly.

Woolworths started out in the UK in 1909 as F. W. Woolworth & Co., part of the American company that was established in 1879. The first store was on Church Street in Liverpool and sold children’s clothing, stationery and toys. Woolworths took off in the mid-1920s with stores opening as often as every two to three weeks. By 2008 there were 807 Woolworths stores. In November 2008 Woolworths Group entered administration with Deloitte, and by early January 2009 all of its stores had closed.

woolworths 1950's | The good old days, My childhood memories, Childhood  memories

As we lived in the countryside, towns with Woolworths were only visited occasionally which is what made the shop all the more exciting, especially to we three children.

When I was young a visit to Woolies was second only to a visit to Santa’s Grotto. Our trips to a major town with a Woolies happened only a few times a year. Cardiff, for example, was a two hour drive away so a it was major expedition on 1950s roads with three children in the back. Necessities were seen to first. If it was a Christmas shopping trip we looked for presents, if it was to buy new winter coats and shoes or new summer clothes for anyone – never the whole family at once, money was tight! – we went to C and A’s, Littlewoods or British Home Stores first. Then, when the serious shopping was done, we went to Woolies. Our reward for not moaning too much as we trailed around the shops was that wonderful treat – the Woolies Pick and Mix. It was always near the entrance so you could smell the sweet, sugary smell as you went through the door. My mum was really fussy about our teeth so being given permission to choose a bag of Pick and Mix was heaven! Near the sweet stall there was always a peanut roaster and my dad, who loved nuts, would buy himself a bag of hot, rosted, salted peanuts. They were measured out from the roaster into a paper bag. He was happy with his peanuts, we were more than happy with our bags of Pick and Mix.

Splendid 20th Century Pictures of British Woolworths - Flashbak

When we were very young, if we ever had a bit of pocket money to spend on one of these outings, my sister and I used to head straight to the jewellery stall in Woolies. We’re not talking Cartier here! They were cheap trinkets – and we loved them! My sister once spent her pocket money on a little ‘gold’ ring which promptly got bent and then completely stuck on her finger. My dad had so much trouble getting it off before the circulation in her finger stopped altogether! When we were older the three of us used to choose stationery or books or occasionally a record. Not an LP, just a single ( a 45), which would then be played to death when we got home.

Kingsbury Woolworths – Store 538 | Woolies Buildings - Then and Now

I remember that the floors were always wooden in Woolies. I also remember buying a Christmas tree decoration there once – which I still have.

William Pell - Career in Focus

Major shopping centres such as Swansea and Cardiff were such a long drive away from where we lived that it was always a full day’s expedition. Inevitably, this involved a lunch stop in a cafe or a cafeteria. Such a treat for we country bumpkins!! The Wimpy Bars were one of our choices, also a cafe called Peter Jones, and lastly, a big favourite – the Woolies cafeteria. The cafes we went to when we were on holiday were places where waitresses in black with white pinnies took your order on a notepad at your table – which had a tablecloth on it. Cafeterias, were new, modern, shiny, wipe-clean and self-service.

Retail – Woolworth's History – Strategy & Innovation

Years later, as an adult in the 1970s, I appreciated Woolworths in a completely different way. By this time I was living and working in a town and could go to Woolies any time. I could buy dress patterns and fabric, saucepans and crockery, even plants and bulbs for the garden.

In the 1980s, I would go to Woolies with my children to buy stationery, socks, PE T-shirts and bags for school. There was a photo booth there where I would get their bus pass photographs taken every August ready for the new school year. Whenever I was in town and needed something which didn’t fit in to any other shop category I knew I’d find it in Woolies.

As always, credit to Google Images and Wikipedia. I make every effort to use only images which are available for use but if anyone objects to the inclusion of any image in this post please contact me and I will remove it.

A Quick Run Through Some Things From Years Gone


I’ve left it longer than usual between posts. Call it lockdown negativity perhaps! To get me back into it I thought I’d do a quick list of things we no longer hear or see. Most of these have been covered in previous posts at other times. It’s a brief resume.

Clothes

Twinsets

Vintage 1950s Knitting Pattern Women's Twin Set Sweater image 0

Petticoats

Cravats

How To Wear Ascots & Cravats The Elegant Way — Gentleman's Gazette

Boleros

Cars

Push-button ignition

Indicators which stuck out

Trafficators - Wikipedia

Gear change on the steering column

Handbrakes in the dashboard

Bench seats in the front

Gadgetry

Reel to reel tape recorders

Grundig TK14 restored tube tape recorder from 1961-63 | Tape recorder, High  school memories, School memories

Radiograms

Rare vintage retro Ferguson Radiogram 50s 60s side | 60s retro furniture,  Retro vintage, Retro

Kitchen

Rotary whisk

Egg beater  Vintage 50s 60s fully working kitchen appliance  image 0

Soda syphon

Vintage Retro Breweriana - CWS/Co-Op Acid Etched Soda Water Syphon - Circa  1950s

Camp coffee

Blancmange

School

Inkwells

ink | Childhood Memories of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.

Blackboards and chalk

The cane

TV

The test card

405 Alive - Information - TV Test Card Music

‘Snow’

The National anthem at closing time

Presenters smoking pipes and cigarettes

Shops

Loose groceries weighed out on scales into paper bags

Photo of Beamish Museum; Inside the sweet shop. | Shop interior design, Shop  interior, Shopping

Sweet cigarettes

Candy cigarette - Wikipedia

As always, credit to Google Images and Wikipedia. I make every effort to ensure that i don’t infringe copyright. If anyone objects to my use of any image, contact me and I will remove it.

First Aid – as it used to be.

I was remembering recently a day when I fell in the playground at school and took a lump out of my knee. I still have the scar. I was taken in to school and a teacher put iodine on the wound (which stung SO much!), pressed a lump of cotton wool onto it and tied a bandage around my knee. I’m pretty sure those three things were the main, if not only, components of the school’s First Aid resources. Here are a couple of examples of First Aid kits from the 50s/ 60s. There was a heavy reliance on cotton wool, bandages and lint – to be used with iodine, no doubt.

Vintage First aid kit and original contents 1950s Wallace image 8
Vintage First aid kit and original contents 1950s Wallace image 0

Another First Aid incident I recall from Primary School is my friend having a nosebleed and the headmaster putting his big bunch of school keys down her back. After recalling this I, of course, felt compelled to look it up. Keys down the back for nosebleeds is very well documented! Although it has never been scientifically tested, some experts believe that there could be some foundation to this old wives’ tale as the cold keys possibly trigger something called the mammalian diving reflex. I do learn some interesting stuff when researching for this blog.

24th February 2005. What Happened to Milk of Magnesia? | A Date with History

Some of the things I remember my mum having in the bathroom cupboard are: TCP for cuts and grazes (NOT iodine!), calamine lotion for rashes and sunburn , Gentian Violet for mouth ulcers, Milk of Magnesia for indigestion, Marzines for travel sickness, Hactos for coughs, olive oil (small bottle bought in the chemist’s, definitely never for cooking then) for earache and aspirin for aches and pains. The same things were probably in all homes. There were fewer brands to choose from. It’s pretty basic compared with what we have available now but definitely not as primitive as the vinegar and brown paper we know of from the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill. Once again, I felt impelled to look this up. I already knew that vinegar has been used as a disinfectant/ antiseptic for thousands of years but I was surprised to find a lot of evidence of vinegar and brown paper being used together on cuts, bruises, sprains and even nosebleeds. Here is a quote from one of Charles Dickens’ books:

In Nicholas Nickleby,  Dickens describes Squeers recovering from heavy bruising which required “Vinegar and brown paper, vinegar and brown paper, from morning to night. I suppose there was a matter of half a ream of brown paper stuck upon me from first to last.”

Pray For Lilly: With vinegar and brown paper ...

As always, credit to Google Images and Wikipedia. I make every effort to set my search filters so that I don’t infringe copyright. However, if anyone objects to the use of any image in this post, please contact me and I will remove it.