Thursday, 18 August 2011

Larkin and old photographs.




Yesterday was our Poetry Afternoon - as ever it was the most civilised gathering of beautiful poetry, lovely friends,, laughter and chat - not to mention the delicious home-made flapjack.

S read a poem I had not heard before. If you don't know it I urge you to seek it out. She read Larkin all afternoon, and this one 'Lines on a Young Lady's Photograph Album' I had not heard before. The poem brought the young lady to life as you saw her in various guises and we talked afterwards about how snapshots from the past are really moments caught in time.

This morning I looked out three old farm photographs for you to see. They are images of a style of farming long gone but for me they capture so many things. There is innocence there in the image of the farmer and his brother sitting on the old farm horse, their dad and elder sister standing by the side. There is a shot of the hay cart leading hay in the days when it was stored in a hayrick - hardwork and skill here. I don't suppose there are many people left who could construct a hay rick now. And finally there is the shot of the tractor stuck in the snow. The farm got its first Fergie tractor in 1947 - so the bad winter must have been after that. In addition the children are grown up. But, whatever the date, it does make you realise that tractors might well have made many jobs easier on the farm but there is still the weather to contend with.

Which brings me neatly to today, when we are desperately trying to make our last lot of silage. The farmer cut the grass yesterday as the forecast is for showers only. So far we have missed them but this morning there is a very heavy dew and hardly any breeze, so the grass will not be drying. Some jobs in farming remain stressful despite modern machinery.

However, it is an ill wind..... , it is giving the farmer time to pod two buckets of broad beans which I shall then blanch and freeze if I can find room in the freezer. He has brought in such a medley of vegetables in small quantities this morning - one courgette, eight runner beans, six yellow beans, broad beans, the last few peas and a few carrots - so for lunch I shall put them all in a tomato and basil sauce, cover the lot with cheese and hope they taste good.

Back to poetry another S read a poem in Yorkshire dialect (although she is from Lancashire, she made a jolly good stab at the dialect, which made me realise just how closely the two dialects are to each other). In it she talked about a 'wintredge' (not sure about the spelling here). Any idea what a wintredge is? Well I will tell you - it is a clothes horse for drying clothes on. In the summer you could spread your clothes on the hedge to dry in the sun; in the winter you needed to have something to hang them on - hence the wintredge. Those old clothes horses used to make lovely tents for putting a cloth over on the lawn on a summer's day - I can still smell the grass and feel the heat as you lay inside the lovely little tent. Wish I had a photo of it!

13 comments:

MorningAJ said...

I had a bit of a Larkin thing going on last week but I don't know the poem you mentioned. I'll take a look for it.

I grew up in a farming village and I can remember the old tractors. I don't go quite as far back as the photos - but we weren't the most up-to-date place in the world! Nice memories.

Dave King said...

You make me doubly envious. I do recall that style of farming - just - from when we stayed with distant cousins to escape the V2 "blitz". A small hamlet, just one terrace of houses really. No running water. I thought it wonderful! It stirs up that old urge to live in the wilds of somewhere! But mst of all, I think, I envy you your poetry day. Sounds wonderful.

Nora said...

Thanks for bringing back a lovely memory of making tents with the clothes horse in my grandmother's garden with my cousins. I had quite forgotten about it until now.

Elizabeth said...

Love the winteredhedge!
Not too many clothes horses around the place nowadays.
Am thinking a lot about poetry lately. Wish I was near enough to join your group!

John Gray said...

I love old photos like these
They give you a kind of false nostalgia for something you knew really knew....

thanks pat

x

Pondside said...

Lovely photos of the little farm family.
I still have a clothes horse that hangs in the kitchen in the winter and supplements the clothesline in the garden in the summer time. Mine is a sturdy IKEA model, but my mum's was wooden, and quite rickety. We'd make tents that would easily topple over!

Heather said...

Another fascinating post Pat and lovely memories of bygone times. As a child I made a tent with the clothes horse and when we moved into a rather rundown Edwardian house years later with our own children, there was an enormous one left behind, which I took with us when we moved out again! It was so useful but I didn't know it was a wintredge! How could your lovely collection of fresh vegs not be tasty? I'm sure they made a delicious meal. Hope the farmer gets a few fair days to finish the silage.

H said...

My mum had a sturdy wooden clothes horse which we would use to make tents!

I've never helped to build a hayrick. My uncle made hay bales and the menfolk would toss them high into the barn for stacking. My cousin and I would play hide and seek amongst them :)

ChrisJ said...

Yes that bad winter was in 1947. I rember it. We moved to Flamorough that year. They must have bought their tractor before the snow came Yorkshire. And even though I left Yorkshire 50 years ago I do know what a wintredge is. :)

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely post, and I LOVED the photographs. They felt so "right" in my memory. Loved the "wintredge". There is a family up the valley where the lady of the house still dries her clothes on the hedge beside the house . . .

I used to make a bed tent with a sheet tied to the brass knobs of my cast iron/brass bed and a piece of string end to end to keep it higher in the middle. Great fun!

Pomona said...

I remember my father telling me that 1947 was a terrible winter, and coming so soon after the war it really affected everyone. I remember when combine drivers sat on the front in the open air with just a cloth wrapped round their faces for protection from dust! My son is corn carting and the wet stopped them last night. It is sunny here this morning - hoping for a good dry day for you.

Pomona x

Totalfeckineejit said...

Love the 'winteredge'and the etymology of the word. Love also the old photos.Our old photos are similar but donkey was our tractor!
Informative and entertaining as ever Weaver.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I seem to have stirred up old memories for you all - I am pleased about that. It never does harm to look back on the old times and then thank our lucky stars about mod cons.