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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on Running Errands - Easier now than then!

Muriel Wells

When reminiscing about my earlier days I forgot two things that quite often were my responsibility. This time it wasn't Mum that I had to satisfy, but Dad![1]

Coleman's Mustard


A Sunday task could be to make the mustard --- Coleman's of course, the powdered sort from the yellow tin. I don't know what Dad would make nowadays of all the varieties, and his elder daughter's liking for the jars of whole-grain mustard! Anyway the mustard had to be just the right consistency. Sometimes it was mixed with vinegar instead of water, as it keeps nice for longer. We didn't have clear wrap to put over to seal it away from the air, in those days.

Then sometimes the family shoes were my lot! Now Dad spent his formative years in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, with service in India. "Spit and polish" was ingrained into him. He had firm ideas of cleaning and shining shoes, including the instep between heel and sole! (Help, I was so carried away I almost wrote "soul"!!!!!).

Of course, alluding to my earlier missive, errand running was a constant occupation because in the 30s/40s, buying in supplies had to be done on a daily basis since refrigeration was not common. Fish was rushed inland from the coast, packed in ice, and rapidly became very smelly --- you bought only what you required for the one meal. Ditto for meats and other perishables.

At that time housekeeping was still very time-consuming and labour intensive for most. I spare a thought for Mum carrying those heavy shopping bags, whenever I load up the boot --- with the loot --- after a session at the supermarket. I remember her staggering home with full bags, or sometimes using Roy's pushchair to convey the fruit and veges she was able to buy so cheaply late on a Saturday night, prewar.

It hasn't always been so easy for me, either, as in the late 70s, newly widowed, and living 10 kms from town and with our only transport being bikes, shopping was often onerous. A trip to town was OK. But the return journey with the prevailing wind and the gradient of the valley against me, was exhausting.

I had a saddle bag and panniers to hold my purchases --- and besides shopping in town used to roam far and wide to the many little roadside produce stalls. These have vanished now that the grapes have taken over from the orchards and market gardens.

It was hard work at the time, but as Rhoda has said, when she had her family in her tied cottage, we were happy! Down in the fastness of Nydia Bay I had four children in 4½ years, but didn't find them a burden. I never potti-trained them as when I could see that the time was right they stayed dry and I could dispense with nappies! My laziness that way avoided much heartache on both sides!!! And I enjoyed my children's baby days, revelled in bath times and seeing them in clean clothes; but didn't expect them to stay clean for long! They loved their farm life, and fortunately had a wonderful, although too short a time with their father.

I am not my mother's daughter for nothing!, Muriel Wells

Written by Muriel Wells