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Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Book of Me - Snowy Tales

This  post was prompted by Julie at Anglers Rest  and  her  series " Book of Me - Written by You", where she asks us here to describe our snowy memories.

I have no winter photographs of my childhood - cameras must have been reserved for summer and I  can't say I have any memorable weather memories from my childhood either.  I was too young to recollect the notorious winter of 1947.

Winter 2013 in the woods
near Earlston,  Scottish Borders
I grew up in north-west England where winters were relatively mild, but this was the days before tights and girls then did not wear trousers. A Liberty bodice, skirt with short socks (short trousers for my brother), home knitted jumpers and pixie hood, wellington boots, gloves kept safe on string through my sleeves, plus a long scarf criss-crossed over my chest and tied at the back - this was the ritual dress for going out in winter in my early 1950's childhood.

I hated wearing  a Liberty Bodice - the rubber buttons were difficult to do and undo, and if the day got warmer you ended up all sticky inside it.    To those of you new to this bit of childhood underwear, a  liberty bodice was  simply-shaped and made of a warm, fleecy white fabric, with cotton tapes and rubber buttons.  It was noatlgic item for children growing up in the 1950's, but   went out of production in the mid 1960's.

At home in the 1950's,   there was no such things as central heating, so we huddled around the fire in the living room and kept the inner person warm with simple, hearty comfort food - roast meat on a Sunday, cottage pie on a Monday, sausages and mash, corned beef hash,  and steamed puddings, such as spotted dick with custard  or golden syrup sauce, and rice pudding (ugh!), with the weekend treat fruit pies or crumbles and chocolate cake.

Getting a cold, meant my chest being rubbed with Vick and a hot drink of lemon and honey - my mother's medicinal remedy for anything.

By 1963  (another  notoriously bad winter) we were in Edinburgh and I recall my moother worried at the non-arrival of my father from a business trip to London (before the days of mobile phones and instant communication).  He was stranded overnight on a train stuck in the Border hills, with an engine sent to rescue it also trapped..

In the late 1960's I was very proud of my fur hood, the winter fashion statement of the times,  with echoes of the  Dr. Zhvago film.

I  spent a wonderful  year 1965-66  working in Cambridge, Massachussets near Boston and this photograph brings back memories of the kind of winter I had not experienced before.

A picturesque image of  Harvard Chapel, Camridge, Mass.

From 1971 I have lived in the Scottish Borders. My daughter was born in January so an unfortunate time for planning parties. it was always  a question,   will relations  and friends travel  for  her party?  (I know the snow we get is nothing compared to outher coutnries, but this is Britain where the excuse is we do not get bad winters often enough to deal with them efficiently.  Still we went through the ritual of a birthday photograph

1975 - and Gillian not looking too happy for a birthday girl! 
 She is following my childhood trend of having gloves on a string1  


Then came all the talk of global warming, mild and wet winters (umbrellas the essential accessory) and the near decimation of the Scottish sking industry.  2001 was a blip with some of  the worst snow for years, and Hawick where we then lived  was cut off for three days and I could not get to work, with no buses running outside the town.  I resorted to creative  cookery from what was in my store cupboard and for the first occasion in years had time to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.    
Winter 2001
The pleasures of having a dog in winter

We had to wait nearly ten years for real winters to strike again, coinciding with the first two years of my granddaughter's life.   

She is enjoying it ( I think!)
Trudging home from nursery school - February 2013

Winter 2010 - the frozen River Teviot at Hawick, Scottish Borders


February 2012 and the postman adding a splash of colour

I have now reached the stage of rather favouring winter hibernation! to escape snows, unlike this heron - a familiar site on the River Slitrig in Hawic.  
Adapted from an earlier post of 2011.  

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Sue, I cannot imagine living through your winters especially without Central heating. My husband whose ancestors came from Hawick has suggested that he would like to spend a few months there in winter. A visit one January a few years ago dampened his enthusiasm.


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