Monday, 4 January 2016


Travelling through a wet, bleak and cold Wensleydale yesterday on our way to Hawes for lunch, we passed Addlebrough -a flat- topped hill which was once home to an Iceni tribe.
The top of the hill was obscured by mist and it really did look the last place on earth anyone would choose to set up home.   But, of course, it did give the tribe a good view of any possible trouble approaching from any direction.   (although in those days much of the dale would have been covered in forest too).
I remarked to the farmer what an awful day it was and suggested that the tribe would have been wet and cold in such awful conditions.   
But of course it doesn't work like that does it?   They would no doubt be clad in warm clothing made from skins or something and they would have had great, warming fires and presumably plenty of meat to eat from game they had caught in the surrounding area.
We can speculate on what previous generations have done to keep warm, happy and well-fed, but really each age has its own problems and deals with them.   There would always be poor and needy who would battle hard with the elements, just as there are now.
We then began to chat about our own lives and what has changed.   Of course there are the major things like health care and medical discoveries.   There is the access to foreign holidays whereas in our day a week's trip from Lincoln to Skeggie (Skegness) on the train was a treat to be looked forward to and enjoyed.   There is the availability of vehicles - and the fact that today few even run an old car.   When I was a child only the vicar, the doctor and our neighbour had cars and our neighbour drove so slowly that my brother once passed him on his bike!
Then there are the things that we eat and drink.   I never remember drinking 'proper' coffee - all we drank was Camp coffee (a mixture of coffee and chicory) and as for Olive Oil, which I now buy in large bottles of extra virgin - if you wanted olive oil you went and bought a little bottle from the chemist and usually put it in your ears!
So called 'foreign' foods were almost unheard of.   I remember my mother and father being rather suspicious of my cooking when we were first married because I used things they had never heard of.   Pasta?   Well if you were really adventurous you might make macaroni cheese, or macaroni pudding - but my father preferred rice pudding cooked long and slow in the fire oven so that it came out rich and creamy.   And semi-skimmed milk?   No thank-you.
What changes can you think of to add to this list?   There are no doubt hundreds - some for the better and some not.
One change I have thought about as I typed that last sentence is the way our own native eating apples gradually dwindled in the greengrocers until they were overtaken by foreign imports - all the delicious native varieties seemed to disappear - they are beginning to make a comeback at long last. 
And without all aspects of social media I wouldn't even be asking the question would I?


Rachel Phillips said...

I am still suspicious of pasta.

Heather said...

I miss English eating apples and only realised how lucky I had been when I had to buy some for the first time when I was married. Grandad had planted a little orchard of apples, plums, greengages and pears, all of which the family enjoyed freely. I was quite shocked by the price of them in shops. It was almost a case of 'they don't grow on trees you know'! We have many benefits today, but so many things from the past still have a strong appeal. My father was a traditionalist and referred to any food from abroad as 'foreign muck'.

Derek Faulkner said...

Gawd, it's hard to answer this posting without writing a whole long list of things that have changed for better or worse, best to summarise.
Thinking about the tribe on the hill though, they like us when we young all those years ago, simply got on with eating what was around - no vegans, no nutritionists, no anti shooting/hunting types and definitely no foreign imports. Fruit, veg and meat still had seasons and we looked forward to each as they came around and we could eat dripping on toast without someone tut-tutting.
Fortunately I have a farm shop near me where local apples, plums, etc. are plentiful and cheap when in season and sprouts are sold on the stalk so that they keep for ages in a cool shed.

jinxxxygirl said...

Cooking.... I'am in my late 40's Pat and i do a heck of alot less cooking than say my Mother or Grandmother. A great part of their day was taken up by feeding people. I do quite a bit of convenience food and even if its not convenience food the microwave makes it quick and easy... For example last night i thawed out some leftover ham from Christmas in the microwave and cooked us each a baked potato in the microwave and opened a can of veggies and heated it in the microwave... I had a meal in what 15 minutes... Oh but there are some meals that are very much missed... My mom and grandmother and aunt were all very good cooks! Much better than me. Problem is they all cooked with out recipes and i was not one to hang out in the kitchen when i was younger and pat attention... lol Hugs! deb

Gwil W said...

The fat and scruffy "poor and needy" man constantly begging by the shopping trolleys wasn't there today. Mind you it was a freezing morning and there was a stiffening breeze coming from the Steppes. I hope he's alright. He was there all spring, summer and autumn. One the better turned out beggars overwinters in Barcelona. But these clean and smart types are a rare sight. I think it's safe to say standards are falling. I can't understand why when good clean winter coat from a charity shop can be had for half the price of a packet of cigarettes.

Elizabeth said...

Oh dear, yes, I do remember people talking about 'foreign muck'!
I'm afraid this was in the 1950's - not the high spot of British cuisine - though we had lovely fresh fruit and veggies.
In Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins - the contemporary grandchildren are impressed by Grandad Ted's 'ecological'(!) vegetable garden - they think him very up to date!
Our trip to Veeraswami's Indian restaurant in Piccadilly in 1958 was considered the height of culinary daring.

I do love the easiness of email and being able to send pictures to family over instagram.
I miss getting 'real' letter in the post.....
the TV is really quite informative
but I love curling up with a good book

However much people complain about 'modern life' we have much to be grateful for......
dentists for one thing.....

lots of things good and bad...

Mac n' Janet said...

One-car families, most women didn't drive. We had a telephone, but it was a party line we shared. The doctor made house visits. Nobody we knew had ever flown anywhere. We had no tv till I was 6 or 7. Lots of changes.

Frances said...

I am amused when folks a few decades younger than I am start advising me about accepting change. Surely, many changes entered into my life well before these "youngsters" were born.

Like Janet, I was seven years old before I ever saw a television program, and older still before my family owned a tv set. Ball point pens, Xerox machines, electric typewriters, iceboxes and wringer washing machines yielding to more advanced technology, a family car. This list could go on and on.

Happy New Year to you and yours. xo

donna baker said...

Have heard of the Picts but never the Iceni. I wondered about your post yesterday about the fields standing in water. I thought of the changes made by man, with building and roads and such and wondered if it was manmade instead of nature made. Possibly it was a totally different land during the Iceni days.

Polly said...

I echo Derek's sentiments, so much has changed. When I married my now ex-husband in 1968 he preferred traditional roasts and "meat and two veg" I don't think I even knew about pasta or stir fry or lasagne, they are regulars at our table nowadays, along with garlic bread, Chinese and pizza, and I love going out for an Indian. I think one of the biggest changes is being able to get almost anything regardless of the season. My mum used to make an absolutely delicious rice pudding with full fat milk.

Coppa's girl said...

So many changes over the years, but I realise that I've come to accept most of them - especially anything that will make life easier ! It's the latest changes in technology that I have most trouble with, and being retired find that many of them really aren't that much use to me, and are something I can actually live without. My computer is the one thing I am grateful for - so easy to keep in touch.
As for foreign food, I was lucky that we holidayed abroad when I was young, and though the food wasn't always to my liking, I did have the chance to try something new. Part of the holiday was usually self catering and so my mother loaded the car with food from home, then we'd eat "English" !

Joanne Noragon said...

We had ancients in my state who built mounds for many reasons, several near me, but not the famous serpent mound complex. I used to think about them when I was young and immersed in all things old. My state was covered with trees then; it was said a squirrel could cross and criss cross the state and never stand on the ground. So much has changed.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It seems we are all thoughtful about the past and all agree it has changed for good and for bad. One thing is for sure though - we can't halt progress.

John Going Gently said...

I loved camp coffee
Go figure

Terry and Linda said...

I guess the only constant is change. Excellent post, my friend from across the pond!


angryparsnip said...

Yes, our life is full of changes.
One thing I remember, when I was little we use to drive to the end of the landing strip at Midway Airport in Chicago.
(with several other cars) and watch the planes take off and land. What treat.
Sometimes the Good Humor man would drive by and sell ice cream.

cheers, parsnip and thehamish

Cro Magnon said...

My mother discovered Elizabeth David back in the early 50's (probably), and became a very early foodie. We ate all sorts of wonderful things, that my friends had never heard of. I was very lucky.

thelma said...

A defining moment when we changed, the April fool's 'Spaghetti Tree', it still makes me giggle.

Anonymous said...

There are over 2000 variety's of English apples. How many can you find when you shop?

Bovey Belle said...

I saw an adding machine on tv earlier on, and that took me back to the changes since I was an office junior back in 1968/9. Gestetners? Carbon paper? Tippex? Oh, and doing row after row of columns and having to set tabs.

The changes I like about food is the return to seasonal eating, "artisan" breads and foodstuffs (at greatly inflated prices!) and cooking from scratch (although this is what I have always done).

donna - Boudicca was leader of the Iceni.

Robin Mac said...

Wonderful post and such interesting comments. I remember washdays with the wood fired copper and the wringer on the end of the tub, where you had to be careful not to catch your fingers!
We also had a wood fired stove which had to be cleaned with blacking once a week. It had to be lit even on the hottest days as that provided our hot water.
Here in Oz we were introduced to 'foreign' foods quite early in the fifties with the mass migration of displaced persons after the war, many of whom came to work on the massive Snow River irrigation scheme which diverted a river to the other side of a mountain. You would not be allowed to do that these days, but it was an incredible engineering feat then.
I might feel nostalgic for some of the old ways, but I am so glad to have the modern conveniences and advanced medicine to make our lives easier now.

Tricky Wolf said...

excellent post, definite food for thought.
Every generation has its own demons to battle and takes comfort in different things, that being said we can still all stand to learn from each other

Wishing you all the best,