Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The Crest of a Wave"

Fitness in the Camp Ground circa 1953

There has been a Boy Scout Club in this small town for several decades, but last year it closed, in spite of plenty of support from the kids but parents couldn’t find the time to help!

Then last week I read that due to the “cuts” in the English government spending Scout groups are expected tp pay as much as 5000 pound a year to rent a hall from a local council that is roughly $7500!

My Dad was in the Scouts, camping 1927
The Scout movement was more use to me than the Grammar School I went to, I learned how to work and play with other teenagers, how to live together in a tent cook on open fires and prepare several gallons of porridge for the next days breakfast. How to chop vegetables without chopping my fingers, and how to peel and eye 100lb of potatoes while laughing and joking with the other boys.

Returning from Jersey at the age of 15
Learned how to wash my neck and both sides of my arms ready for morning inspection, washing being done in a local stream, and how to use a toilet built over a hole in the ground dug by the older boys.

We went on two week camping holidays, over the sea to the channel Islands, down to the Cornish Coast, and up to the Scottish Highlands near the port of Oban.

Every weekend we stayed at a small cabin in the Pennines about 30 minutes away from home, and we got there by piling into the trailer part of a truck and off we went rain or shine, and nobody ever got bounced out!

The Gang Show, see how many boys were involved!
Once a year our Troup put on a “Gang Show” based on the music by Ralph Reader, and there I leaned how to wear stage make up and in some sketches dress up as a woman, do stage falls and trips, and sing in harmony with the other boys.

And during all that time parents weren’t involved at all, other than be the audience for the shows and provide the money for the camping trips.

As time has gone by unfortunately liability issues has changed the rules when I was a member of a troop we had a leader (Akela) his assistant and a couple of Rovers (Scouts over 15 years), now though the leadership is the same there has to be so many adult volunteers per so many kids, and unfortunately parents are too busy earning a living it is very hard for them to volunteer.

And so there are now no Cubs or Scouts and no Girl Guides in our small village of Schomberg. We do have lots of kids playing hockey though so all is not lost!

PS "Riding along on the Crest of a Wave" is one of the most popular gang Show Songs by Ralph Reader

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baubles ,Bangles and Beads.

Bright shiny things

I have always been attracted to bright shiny things, they seem to make me feel happy. When I was quite young about five years old I would visit my Grandmother who lived with us, she lived in the downstairs part of the house overlooking the garden. The room always felt warm and cozy a coal fire always lit two comfy chairs on either side of the fire, one an old Windsor chair that now resides at my sisters house in London.

Winter evenings were best for me, I would sit by the fire and ask if I could play with a "Diddy Box" she called it, it was full of old buttons, from brass ones off my Grandfathers uniform to coloured glass buttons from dresses long gone, beads that needed stringing, broaches that were never worne. It was like finding treasure and kept me fascinated for hours asking Gran what did this belong to, who wore these buttons and so on she always had a tale to tell with each piece or button I took out to show her.

Pill boxes and others
 I think that really started me off loving to look in jewellery stores desperately wanting all the glitter under those special lights that made everything look so interesting. Gran had a saying for me "All that glitters is not gold" it wasn't till much later in my life I understood what she meant, even so I do have a jewellery box with many trinkets, probably not worn as often as I should, I do have a couple of special bits some buttons my grandfather used to wear on his dress shirt and a tie pin with the smallest sapphire you can hardly see, but, they mean a lot me.  Good Ole Gran.

P.S. my Daughter doesn't wear much jewellery, but, my Son loves to wear a ring or three! strange that!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food Glorious Food

Showing my age a little, hopefully it will be worth it!
Fresh veg
From Photo By Lisa Curtis-Rice
Lately both of us are becoming used to the idea of being extra careful regarding the food we eat. Prices right now seem to be going up for staples, bread, flour, cereal, veg meat and milk. We like a variety of food and appreciate the fact we live in a country where there has been plenty of it.

Somehow along the way things have changed so much with eating habits: working parents not having the time to cook because of their stressed lives. It is very sad to realize fast food has almost become the norm along with rampant obesity. It turns out Mum's worry that we would never grow up normally because of  the shortage of food due to rationing  was ill-founded and , boy if she could see some children of today she would know she did a great job bringing us up and teaching us how important it was to eat our veggies and value each meal.

Tripe, calves heads pig's feet etc
Photo from Wikipedia
We both had a moment looking back to our early childhood when we had just enough food to keep body and soul together. Mothers were ingenious at finding ways to make ends meet. Although very young I always knew when mother would try to encourage me, by saying tonight we are having a treat. Offal back then was used a lot more than it is today, and my instinct would kick in and would know it would be something I didn't like, stuffed heart, stuffed marrow or faggots and peas ( a West Country delight of liver, lights onion and bread crumbs made into little balls and covered in caul the lining of a stomach!) When this was served and I managed a bite or two the reward would be a dessert of pink blancmange in the shape of a pear from a mold. Another delicacy of the time bought at the pork butcher was something called chitterlings boiled usually with a little malt vinegar poured over pepper and salt, chitterlings are the pigs inners! I managed not to be around when that was on the menu for tea. Tripe and Onions poached in milk another goody! I don't know of anyone these days delighting in the old traditions

Queuing up for meat
For me (John) rabbit was on the menu at least once a week, very good too when cooked in a pie, I can remember the local butchers shop with dead rabbits hanging in the window!

Kids were privy to orange juice and dried eggs, which came from the USA. Dried eggs could be reconstituted and made into many meals, orange juice was a teaspoon mixed with water, cod-liver oil once a week was given too and  at weekend a good dose of syrup of figs (yuk) all to keep the growing generation healthy as possible,. A small bottle of milk each day at school was mandatory. Crates would be delivered to the school and handed out at morning break, in summer would be slightly warm and winter ice would form on top, difficult to drink that way! There were no refrigerators back then.

When things got back to normal and food in better supply I was to find out what an orange or banana looked and tasted like! When the Vegetable shop put a notice up “Oranges Now In” there would be a rush to the shop with ration books in hand. We stood in a queue waiting patiently, one orange allowed per family member, same with bananas. Many a time I would have to run to the shop ahead of mother and stand in line to make sure we had a chance to get our ration before they sold out! I can remember the first taste of an orange and still it makes my mouth water just to look at them, with bananas I was very suspicious after mother yelled before I took a bite “Wait you have to peel it first.” I found it an interesting flavour but a bit weird when it was in my mouth.

Glorious food how precious it was back then, and our only fast food was the local fish and chip shop,  always on Friday we would have cod and chips lots of malt vinegar and salt, wrapped in newspaper to take it home as fast as we could to enjoy it. Always a treat and even more so nowadays that cod is a luxury becoming almost extinct!

Jamie Oliver
People seem to have lost so much interest in cooking now that there are so many restaurants and fast food chains to tempt people not to cook at home. So I bless the Food Channel and particularly Jamie Oliver who crusades in many countries trying to encourage folk to get back to basics and actually cook fresh food and to enjoy every morsel even if it is just a couple of times a week!.

Today we are having a traditional Sunday dinner: roast lamb with mint sauce!
Don’t turn up your nose it is very delicious!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Old but not yet Masters

Tomatoes by John
When we are not blogging or doing household chores we paint, currently John is painting the bedroom walls, but the real painting we enjoy is on canvas or board.

Both of us have a keen interest in painting anything from landscapes to grandchildren. We must admit we are a little late in our lives to take up the task of trying to make a masterpiece, but, what the heck we thought we'd have a go, and set off 5 years ago to a place in Barrie that was just the job for art supplies, Currys. Going through the door we felt a bit like a couple of old farts that should know better. It was quite an experience picking out canvas, paints and a few brushes.

After paying for our new hobby we got home and Babs realized although loving art she never had worked on canvas or used oil paint! John had done a fair bit of painting in the 70's and we had a few pieces of his work hung up in our kitchen. So at least one of us had a clue!
Tomatoes by Babs
Our first attempt was to paint some tomatoes on the vine, and after a lot of trepidation we  took the plunge with  tiny brushes and small canvases! After a few tries we realized Van Gogh doesn't live here. Babs is what you might call very parsimonious with the paint and not a loose painter either her tomatoes could have been mistaken as red currants as they were so tiny! John on the other hand with great gusto did the same picture and came up with beautiful glowing red orbs of juiciness with lovely green leaves they looked good enough to eat.
Since then we have progressed John more experimental and looser with painting and Babs still berating the fact that talent isn't the word she could use for her efforts, but being determined and stubborn she tries, cries and tries again!

We encourage one another to continue, which is wonderful and it's amazing really  how we both enjoy the practice and effort to turn out our creations. We know deep down our families think we are eccentric but, manage to give us some praise for our efforts when they see our latest product!

One stroke challenge by Babs
One stroke challenge by Jo

One stroke challenge by John

Church Street in fall by John
Over the last few weeks Babs, and her sister Jo in England, are working in the style of Carol Marine doing 6x6 paintings in as loose a style as possible, while John is doing a series on the village where we live, Schomberg.
Doing art is good for the spirit and an excellent way to manage daily discipline.
Give it a go it‘s good for you at any age!.
Lemons in a glass by Babs

Coffee, cherries & cake by Jo

Flossie by Jo