No one nowadays lives in a house without some sort of central heating, but as a kid growing up, the only heat was the heat from the kitchen fire ( the front room fire was lit on Sundays when we often had visitors) fuelled with best "steam" coal that had been rolled off the steam loco's that passed through our fields.
It was the main line to Scotland, and the Royal Scott train went through at full steam every day at about four o'clock. It was a couple of firemen on the local shunter steam engines that rolled the coal off the tender ( see Blog Father grew Sugar beet 7th September 08 for a tipical shunter loco) on a regular basis in return for taters or eggs and every now and then half a pig. They were all in the local Home Guard but that's another story.
This is a picture of our suckler cows at pasture June 2007, it is the cover picture to my book that I am trying to put together. Folks localy seem to like whats in it and can relate to all the locations mentioned. I have tried to flesh out the stories a bit with some banter like on this blog and it has a fair sprinkling of pictures.
How we Lived in the Old House
Insulations none existent, big jumper you must ware,
Half timbered single brick, few inches plaster of horse hair,
Frosty weather glistens inside, a fridge you could compare,
Roof half filled with starling's nests, built up over the years.
Kitchens the warmest place, coal fire in big old range,
Heats the oven and boils, the kettle on the chimney crane,
Boils the taters and stew, toast the bread on a fork,
From the ceiling hangs a cloths drier, lifts and lowers on cord.
Bedroom bove the kitchen, only room upstairs warm,
Usually the kids have this room, that is always the norm,
Other rooms are chilled and cold, cool in summer though,
This is how we lived them days, kids now will never know.
Old iron bedstead webbed with steel, straw mattress on the top,
Then feather mattress covered with a white sheet she'd pop,
Mother made a groove up this, dropped us into bed,
A sheet two blankets and eiderdown, feather pillow lay ya head.
Best front room not often used, too posh to use every day,
Used over Christmas and party's, best crockery out on display,
Fathers roll top desk in there, his bills and letters wait to pay,
Always locked cus of cash in their, he always had last say.
Now heating was a big open fire, ingle nook chimney above,
Logs as long as ya can lift, one end on the fire to shove,
The bigger the fire, bigger the draught across the floor,
The heat goes up the chimney, fresh air comes in under the door. (in the form of draught)
A cellar beneath front room, brick steps leading down,
Couple of vents to the garden, the mesh with weeds overgrown,
Air circulation its not good, and musty damp and wet,
Timber in the floor above, gone weak and springy pose a threat.
A room with settlass all way round, there to salt the pig,
Been used now twice a year, doesn't look so big,
Salt has drawn up the brickwork, all through to outside
Bricks are flaking and rotting, replace section of bricks decide.
Mother kept a big tin bath, hung on a nail outside back door,
Brought it in to the hearth, filled with kettle and big jug she pour,
Youngest first then nother kettle, warm it agen for the second,
Cold night our steaming little bodies, hot crisp towel it beckoned.
So we kids lived in the big kitchen, our bedroom top of back stairs,
Long old sofa under the window, father had his own armchair,
Big old peg rug in front of the fire, we played and sat on that,
Large old radio in the window, then hurray first tele in front we sat.
Countryman (Owd Fred)
With four lads in the house it was obvious that discipline was going play a big part of growing up. Father always wore bracers and had no belt thank goodness, but he wasn't shy of using his slipper. It was always the way he came after us that put the fear if god in us, he would slap it hard on anything that made a noise and growl as he gave chase, but he rarely hit us unless it was really serious.
When we got above five years old we could move very fast and unless he ran us into a corner, or got mother to stop us he stood no chance. Looking back I think he did not try too hard at times, but then when he eventually sat down at night after a hard days work, chasing kids was not very high on his list of things to do. It did not help that we had a front stairs and back stairs, and also our bedroom was above the kitchen, so bumping and banging jumping on and off the dressing table onto the bed and sometimes missing, made the white wash flake off the ceiling over dads chair.
White wash was what the cowsheds and dairy were painted with, its bag of burnt lime mixed with water and brushed on the walls or in the case of the kitchen ceiling, and its added to every year or so and biulds up to a brittle thickness that can't stand vibration.
Father Used His Slipper
Father always used his slipper, when we were being naughty,
But we were quick and dodged about, for he was over forty,
He chased upstairs into our room, he thought he'd got us now,
We dived under both the beds, to reach us he dint know how.
Looking back he never hurt us, he slapped his slipper on the floor,
The noise and shouting gave us speed, that we never had before,
The Beeches had two lots of stairs, up one set and down the other,
Dad soon got out of puff; and shouted for our mother.
A couple of smacks across the bum, and on he put his slipper,
And told us off when we did wrong, but never was he bitter,
Respect was what he taught us, and elders must not cheek,
Listen to what you're being told, with P's and Q's must speak.
Pillow fights at bed time, when we should be fast asleep,
Jumping high up to the ceiling, were not counting sheep,
Our room was buv the kitchen, and noise he couldn't stand,
Heard him rushing up the stairs, for piece and quite demand.
When he came in, were in bed, feathers floating round the light,
Pretending were asleep, bulb still swinging from the fight,
Settle down we had to now, if he came up a second time,
We'd all be in trouble, twas the stairs that he had to climb.
He had done a hard days work, and had settled in his chair,
And running up the stairs at night, enough to make him swear,
Slipper slapping on the treads, we knew what he had got,
So fast asleep pretend to be, looked like he'd lost the plot.
Countryman (Owd Fred)
Not until just before dawn do people sleep best; not until people get old do they become wise.