Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Barra

 Well it seems that we in the North East of the country have, after all, got off rather lightly this time.  Storm Barra according to the six o'clock News, has not hit us in the North East has hard as was expected.   Thank goodness for that must be the response of those in Northumberland and Durham who have now been nine days without services.

My old school friend from Lincolnshire rang for a chat this afternoon and we were(as usual) soon  talking about 'the old days' when we were nippers (there's another dialect word for you S) and when, looking back, we were deprived - but of course it didn't seem so at the time.

No electricity so all cooking done in the side oven by the fire which was lit first thing every morning winter and summer in order cook the dinner, bake the bread and plum bread, top up the cake tin and (the opposite side of the actual fire from the oven) fill the boiler with fresh water from the standpipe in the street to keep us going with hot water all day.  And often (and the best bit) put a rice pud in the bottom of the side oven last thing at night to cook as the heat went out of the oven as the fire went out.   By lunch time next day once the fire was going again it would be perfect (or so it always seemed).

No central heating so everybody sat as close to the fire as they could get and all the women 's legs were red and burnt up the front and freezing up the backs.

Ah those were the days.  Oh and wrap the oven shelf in a bit of old sheeting and take it to bed.   In the time it took you to get undressed (no hanging about in a cold bedroom where the inside of the glass froze up if it was a hard frost) the bed was warm.   And when you awoke in the morning the water in the jug and bowl for your morning wash (no bathroom) would be frozen and you would need to break the ice in order to wash.

Thankyou for central heating - an even better invention than sliced bread.

32 comments:

Tom Stephenson said...

Luxury... (to quote Monty Python).

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I remember well those days of crowding around the open fire while the burning logs spat out sparks onto the fireside rug. The same thing happened in the old pub where I started drinking beer. One man habitually stood almost in the hearth with his back to the roaring fire, until one day he managed to set fire to his trousers. I've never seen trousers removed so quickly!

Bovey Belle said...

Nippers was a common name in Southampton too Pat.

LOVED hearing about your memories. We had a gas stove, so could cook in that. We had an open (coal) fire too, and would put candles about the room on saucers. In fact, the storm is howling around outside so I have just got a candle from the candle box on the wall, found an old tin plate and lit the candle to melt onto the plate so I could fix the candle onto it. I was thinking, I bet today's youngsters wouldn't know how to do that and not even have candles in the house! They would use the torch on their mobiles until it gave out.

I can remember Jack Frost on the inside of the windows (and we had that at our old house the year the central heating boiler broke and we were on the list for a free one, so had to wait 4 mths - from Christmas Day onwards!)

Heather said...

I remember frost on the inside of the windows and no central heating. I also remember the 3day week when power was turned off on certain days of the week. But at least we knew when it would be turned off and could make provision for meals to be prepared in advance. In fact my children thought it quite an adventure on days when it was soup and sandwiches instead of a proper meal. I hope those without power have candles and camping equipment to provide some sort of warmth and a method of cooking.

Ellen D. said...

I enjoyed reading your post of the "olden days", Weaver! It makes me appreciate what I have that much more! We have all gotten spoiled by the luxuries and technology we have available. And when the power goes out, we scramble to figure out what to do!

Derek Faulkner said...

I'm only 74 but recall most of what you said and like the others, experienced windows frozen on the inside but one thing you didn't mention was outside toilets. Ours was in the backyard next to the coal bunker and there was no reading the newspaper in a frozen toilet in those winters, with snow on the ground - besides the newspapers were cut in squares and served as toilet paper.

John Going Gently said...

Barra is rough here
Winter and aggressive

the veg artist said...

We had a black range with a fire in the middle, oven on one side and water tank on the other as well. I don't think it ever went out, day or night. When we moved into town and had an open coal fire and an electric cooker that seemed like progress, although I missed the constant heat.
Wind very noisy here, coast road is closed for the night and lots of flood warnings due to high tides combined with 60+mph westerlies.

Chris said...

We had coal fires and what a mess that was with the coal dust everywhere. But at least we were warm (as you say, the front of our legs at least) although I do remember chilly bedrooms. We did have an indoor toilet but occasionally the pipes froze and burst!

ellie k said...

Sounds a bit like my growing up in Ohio. We heated an 8 room house with one coal, wood stove. My Mom cooked on a wood stove, Two rooms were warm that is when we were cooking. When it was time for me to go to bed my Mom warmed my blanket around the stove. I run jumped in bed and she snuggled me in with the warm blanket. We bathed in a galvanized wash tub that was placed in the kitchen by the cook stove. We had an out house and a well for our water. I never lived in a house with indoor plumbing until I got married.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Derek - I remember the outside lav which my father emptied under the damson tree every Saturday - and also the newspaper squares - those were the days

I just popped my head out of the front door on my way to bed(11pm) quite breezy but certainly not a gale and it is not raining or snowing but is very cold. I think (hope) the worst is over.

Debby said...

I enjoyed your reminiscing. As I sit in front of a little gas stove on my computer, I feel very lucky indeed.

Susan said...

Much progress has been made to provide comfort and warmth in our homes and for this we should all be very thankful. Let's remember, things could be worse.

Marcia LaRue said...

Sounds a lot like what I grew up with in N. Illinois. Luckily we survived!

Cro Magnon said...

I was amazed to see the devastation caused by Yarra on the TV news. It was wet and windy here, but no more. I remember bedside water freezing at school. The building I spent 4 years in was the oldest continuously occupied domestic building in Europe, and felt like it!

Hilde said...

I am only 69, and we had an electric cooker, but only for the summer. In winter my mother got up very early and lit the woodstove so that it was not so icy when the rest of the family got up. When my parents finally got central heating, it was always extremely warm at their house. My mother used to say that she had been so cold for so many winters, she now wanted warmth more than anything else.
Hilde in Germany

Barbara Anne said...

When my parents were in their late 60s, we gave them an electric blanket for Christmas as they thought them unnecessary. I told Mom to turn the blanket on about 20 min. before they went to bed when the nights were chilly or cold. After getting into a warm bed the first time, Dad called the next day to say how unexpectedly wonderful it was. :)
Hope those without electricity have the power restored soonest.

Hugs!

Librarian said...

I am only 53 but grew up in a small terraced house where we had to light a proper fire every time we wanted a hot shower or - a VERY rare luxury! - hot bath. We did have central heating in most of the rooms, though; it was an oil-fuelled system and I well remember the smell of oil when the delivery man came once a year to replenish the large oil tanks in the cellar.
Moving to a modern, newly built flat with my parents in 1988 was sheer luxury - turn up the shower and hot water comes out of it any time! No fetching wood and coal from the cellar, no cleaning out the ash drawer at the bottom of the bathroom boiler...

Yes, central heating is definitely one of the greatest inventions!
And I am glad to know Barra did not hit your area as badly as was forecast.

Jules said...

It is early morning here and the storm seems to have blown over now, thank goodness.
I remember our central heating being installed. The neighbour's cat went for a wander under the floorboards. X

Anonymous said...

Nippers mean small children here also, but is the official name given to those in training in the surf lifesaving clubs where the focus is on fun and surf sports, leading to older junior skills which eventually focus on becoming a lifesaver in the future.Evidently there are presently 57,000 Nippers in Australia!
Pam, Sth Aust.

A Smaller Life said...

Lovely memories Pat. We just accepted being cold first thing in the morning didn't we. My Mum used to get up early and lay the fire in the room that served as our kitchen/dining/living room so that by the time we were getting dressed for school in front of it it wasn't quite as cold. But the bedroom was freezing.

We had an open fireplace in the room I shared with my brother but the only day it was ever lit was Christmas Day, mostly to keep us out of my Mum's way I think so we could play with our new toys while she made the lunch. And toys in those days was at the most two larger items and a stocking filled with sweeties and little plastic novelties.

Mary said...

. . . . . deprived of mod-cons perhaps, but still a wonderful Devon childhood, where perhaps it was a little bit warmer being down south!
Coal, then later coke, delivered for the open fire, "don't sit too close or you'll get chilblains" Mum always said! January ice on the inside of my bedroom window which faced toward Dartmoor - often with a touch of snow visible on the Tors. A ton (literally I'm sure!) of Australian wool blankets along with a hot water bottle for my tootsies! The latter I still have every night now the colder weather is here in NC, it's SO comforting and the central heating can be lowered for sleeping. Warming up one's knickers at the electric fire in the kitchen before dressing for school. Dropping shillings into the electric meter for hot water, cooking and lights, and the 'electric man' coming to the house to collect and count them, monthly perhaps?

Oh yes, winters were often very cold, a few had a lot of snow - the worst on record being in 1947. Although I was only 4 years old I can recall a lot of how we struggled that year.
How long did the big snow in 1947 last?
There was no shortage of snow that bitter winter. Of the fifty days between January 24th and March 17th, it snowed on thirty of them. 'The Blizzard' of February 25th was the greatest single snowfall on record and lasted for close on fifty consecutive hours. It smothered the entire island in a blanket of snow.

Now I'm hoping for just a dusting this winter!!!
Stay warm - Mary x



Mary said...

In winter, each day my mother would put my clothes on a rack next to the Aga before trying to pry me up from under an eiderdown in my freezing cold bedroom. I'd race down to the kitchen and dress in the relative warmth--my clothes nice and toasty. Bliss. Bath time was different. The ice that always formed on the inside of the bathroom window meant there was no lingering in there.

Anne Brew said...

Heather reminded me of the 3 Day Week, January 1974.
I worked in a jewellers in the Victoria Centre, Nottingham. The power was turned off each midday so we worked in darkness with no heating with hurricane lamps on the counters to see by - serving customers in our coats!

Mary said...

Me again dear Pat. Just to let you know I linked this great post of today on my blog - I'm sure there are others who will enjoy reading it!
You are so good at stirring memories of our British childhoods in the 40's and 50's which following WWII were perhaps the best of times. . . and will never be known again!
More hugs to you, Mary

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Pat,
Oh, sure those days are well remembered!
It almost was as if life entirely was centered around that stove.
For warmth, for meals and also for putting a brick in there for warming up, wrapping it and taking to bed...
There was ice on top of the blankets as we woke up!
We too, dressed as Mary mentioned, downstairs, near the stove. And we were quick at doing so; almost military style.
Mom was the first to get up, starting the fire and then preparing breakfast.
The younger generations have NO inkling of the times that we had to make do without so many luxuries.
Hugs,
Mariette

Melinda from Ontario said...

Listening to everyone's stories about growing up in cold houses reminded me of my mother. My mother, like most of us, detested being cold. After struggling through a particularly cold event, and she was finally warm again, she'd inevitably recite a line from the Robert Service poem, 'The Cremation of Same McGee'.
"Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

wherethejourneytakesme2 said...

I remember my mum putting her coat and fur boots on to go up and make the beds and we would all huddle around the fire in the dining room when it was lit in the morning and stay in there until the sitting room fire could be lit for the evening.

Helen said...

My grandparents used to call us little nippers back in the 40s! I'd forgotten all about it and am thrilled to see the word in your post. We were blessed as kids to have a furnace that burned coal ... today we would not be as thrilled. Take care, Pat.

Patricia Kellar said...

What an interesting blog post, and I am glad I found your blog via Mary's post. You bring back memories for me too, although I live in Queensland, Australia, growing up in the country south of Brisbane. Although there is no snow, we had a lot of winter frost, water iced up in the taps, milk frozen on top of the jug, etc. A wooden house with no insulation, a wood fuel stove for cooking and for hot water. Clothes boiled in an outside copper over a fire. I remember riding a bike to school with bare legs and teeth chattering, through thick fog. Central heating was unknown. We used eider down quilts to keep warm in bed on a Winter night. Thank you for reviving all the memories.

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

What memories your post evokes for me!
I’m 79, I remember my childhood Christmases in New Zealand following WW2, presents were few and small. We were thrilled to find an orange in our stocking with the food shortages!
No winter snow in Hawkes Bay, but heavy frosts and icy puddles on our walks to school.
We had an outside loo and small pieces of newspaper - loo paper came much later.
The copper was lit for my mother on Monday mornings wash day, laborious work.
We had a food safe in the kitchen with mesh on the outside wall.
There was a small icebox under the house for use in Summer. A man came every so often with fresh ice!
Bed socks, flannel nighties and hot water bottles the norm. My mother was a clever dressmaker and knitter and made all our clothes. My three brothers had shorts made out of Father’s old suit pants, nothing was wasted. Unlike today’s throw-away society.
No heating apart from the open fire.
We had a wonderful happy childhood. In the evenings we sat by the fire in winter and played games while my parents listened to, Much Binding in the Marsh on the radio and later Take it from Here.
They were happy days and I can’t remember ever feeling hard done by - that’s how life was in those days!
Thank you for re-kindling my happy childhood days!

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