Thursday, 10 November 2011

Saving for a Rainy Day.

'Saving' is not a very fashionable word at the moment - there doesn't seem to be a lot of point in saving (even if you can afford to do so) when the banks are in such turmoil and offering such poor rewards. But there was a time when saving for a rainy day had real meaning.

As I look out of the window this morning, it is thick fog. In spite of there being quite a breeze blowing, all it is doing is blowing the fog from place to place. It is the kind of fog which, up here, usually only goes away with a good heavy rain shower.

Here in the Dales we have always been mostly grass land and I dare say there would often be jobs for the farmworkers to do indoors on wet days. There were cattle to feed and clean out and milk etc. But on arable farms, once it rained the men had to go home for the day = hence the expression 'saving for a rainy day'. Also the reason why they all had vegetable gardens and all tended them after work every night. Imagine working on the land all day, coming home, eating your dinner and then going out until it was dark to work in your garden. But they needed the produce to supplement their meagre wages.

In the days I am talking about almost everyone in the village would be a farm worker; maybe a road man (the road man in the village when I was a child was called Joe Hardy. If you saw a blocked drain or if there was water on the road, you went to Joe's door and told him and soon he would be there with his barrow, seeing to it. As kids we used to go specially past his house on a Monday to see his long combinations hanging on the washing line!) and then the 'posher' people, like the vicar, the doctor and so on. But, by and large, all were farmers or farmworkers.

I have now lived in our village for twenty-seven years and even in that time it has changed. Now the farmer (who was born here - and his father before him) hardly knows anyone. A lot of the old inhabitants have died and their children have moved away - sometimes to better jobs but often because the village has become 'trendy' and houses are too expensive for them to buy. Also there has been quite a lot of new building.

I expect this is probably the way with all villages these days. The trouble here is that because we are perhaps too far away from large towns to become a commuter village, many of the occupants are now retired. The school closed some years ago (before I arrived) and there is no village shop. The pub has changed hands a few times but the new owners seem to be trying all kinds of things to attract customers - they had a Hallowe'en Party and a Bonfire Party and they run a Quiz each week.

But there is our monthly coffee morning, when the hall usually has a few children dashing about on the little bikes provided for the Play Group who meet there a couple of times a week; there is a Village Study Group who meet weekly in the winter and walk fortnightly in the summer and there is a thriving art group and camera club.

All so very different from the days when my father-in-law was a lad. He used to speak of going over the fields in winter with his milking stool strapped on his back, to milk the cows in the barn - before going to school.

It is all a mixed blessing isn't it? Sadness that many of the locals are no longer able to afford to live here (low cost housing is a long time coming), yet when we think of those working men struggling to make a living and dreading the odd wet day when they just had to hope that they had married a careful housekeeper who had a bit put by in the old teapot on the mantelshelf to tide them over until the sun shone again. I am hoping it soon shines again here.


Rachel said...

I like this "Saving for a Rainy Day", very Freudian to have a blank post! I love it.

Robin Mac said...

What an evocative post you have written today, wonderful descriptions of previous times. We all get nostalgic, but I never want to have to lead that sort of life - and imagine a world without antibiotics, neither of my children would have lived. thank you for your word pictures of dales life. Cheers

Rachel said...

Ah, the post is there now. Very nice. Re farm workers, don't forget that they had a house that went with the job and they loved their vegetable gardens .

Elizabeth said...

You speak so sensibly about the past.
It must have been very hard work but the stability must have been somewhat comforting --unlike all our rushing about.
Foggy here this morning and there is a full moon...a nice change.

Dave King said...

Another wonderful glimpse back into the past. So easy to wish it could be that way again!

MorningAJ said...

Even since I was a kid and living in the village where I grew up there have been a lot of changes. My old home is now a popular commuter village and it hasn't really improved as a result.

It does still have a couple of shops but there's only one traditional pub left (where the locals go). The other's a very upmarket restaurant that the majority can't afford to set foot in, let alone eat.

I hope you're supporting your local pub so it doesn't have to go the same way.

John Gray said...

there are lots of people i dont know here... but i do know a few because I only work one night a week.. its a luxury I know.. but it also means that I have the "time" to meet other villagers....(selling eggs help)

steven said...

what a lovely post weaver! the situation with your village is very much paralleled in small communities here where buildings can't be sold because they are either too expensive, too outdated, or simply too far to commute as you point out. steven

Margaret said...

A very poignant post that left me with a mix of emotions. And DO frequent that pub... I bet is is quaint as anything.

angryparsnip said...

What a interesting post today. I love reading when you write about the history of your life and village. A glimpse into the past and present day life a in village.
We may think differently but really how quickly your village and all of our life's have changed.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

We talk about the good old days, but were they really? Living in the country certainly had advantages during the war, when you could grow your own food, shoot a few rabbits or pigeons and keep a few hens for eggs and meat. My father, at the age of 13, grew vegs for his mother and siblings during the First World War while his father was away in the Army. Those in towns didn't have enough space to do that.
Rising house prices affect villages here in the south west too - I think it is dreadful that young locals can't afford to live where they grew up and have to move to a town.
Grey and dismal here all day, but very mild.

Toffeeapple said...

Oh, what nostalgia. I should not like to go back to the old days, too much time was spent trying to get warm on the Welsh hillside that was my home. All that coal dust too.

Reader Wil said...

How hard people had to work! I remember that my father had arather large kitchen garden, where he grew potatoes, carrots, endive, runner beans, lettuce, cauliflower and tomatoes. When he was at sea we, the children, had to dig up the potatoes, to pick the beans and look after the rest. He forgot that we had to go to school and work hard too.LOL.
Thanks for your comment. I thought it fun too. I made something for all participants and sent it to you all.

ChrisJ said...

I remember the old days with happiness, but would never like to go back to living that way again. Your banner photo is extraordinarily beautiful!