I would like to bet there are not many women these days that make pastry every week like our mother did, and in the volume now only seen in a super market bakery, (I am exaggerating a bit). But with seven of us in the farm house to cater for at that time, and just when we were growing up, she showed us how to cook and bake cakes, and of coarse make pastry.
Mother made her Pastry
Mother made her pastry, mixed in a great mixing big bowl,
Then thumped it on the table, with the rolling pin she'd roll,
Used all sorts to cut the rings, no proper cutter got,
A glass or cup or old pan lid, something just right size she'd spot.
Jam tarts large with fancy edge, jam tarts small and neat,
Mince pies filled with lid on top, all look too good to eat,
Spare pastry given to us kids, to roll and make our own,
Rolling out and cutting pastry, just like we'd been shown.
It went grey in our hands, our hand got cleaner too,
Currant flap-over sealed down, whipped egg brushed on for glue,
Then we used the pastry tins, greased the inside more,
So they'd pop out without sticking, as mother did before.
Should go on the cooling rack, but ours were not there long,
Eaten soon as cool enough, so as not to burn our tongue,
No crumbs left of what we made, and mothers dare not touch,
Cooled and stored in an air tight tin, to last a week's too much.
Countryman (Owd Fred)
A cold need the cook as much as the doctor.
Well to be honest it did rain yesterday, a reet heavy down pour for a few minuets most of which ran off.
Up to now we haven't had a Drop (rain)
Me cows are out on grass, and the pastures burning up,
The brook is running low, soon be nothing left to sup,
They're roaming round the fields, n' pulling at the hedge,
Even eating at the rushes, and they're pulling at the sedge.
No grass to cut for aftermath, hasn't grown an inch,
And the corn is short and stunted, two tons an acre at a pinch,
Straw is short and brittle, come through combine just like dust,
Need a baler like a Hoover, suck it off the old earths crust.
Feed for winter not enough, and the bedding it's the same,
It's the climate that is changing, and the weather is to blame,
When the weather breaks at last, n' it won't know when to stop,
Flooding and the rain, up to now we haven't had a drop.
Countryman (Owd Fred)
Undertaker in the village, was at the wheelwrights shop,
Lays out and measures them, made a coffin non-stop,
As in all small villages it changes over the years, in some way for the better, in others for the worse. The village pumps went some fifty years ago, these were a meeting point for gossip, and news was soon spread from end of the village.
The school on the other hand has expanded, the frontage is as it was in years gone by, but round the back a complete new complex of class rooms has been developed.
The blacksmiths shop closed with decline in the Shire horse population and tractors took over the heavy work about the farms.
The village wheelwright's work shop closed when the wheelwright retired, which coincided with the metal hydraulic tipping trailers and the popularity of the light metal gates and wheel barrows. The coffin making gradually ceased when the in town undertakers took over with the motor hearse. In the early days the hearse was a four wheel trolley housed behind the church, and the wheelwright took the coffin on the hearse on foot to the house or cottage. For the later years I remember he worked with one of the town undertakers, he made the coffin and dug the grave, they did the transport. Another craftsman and his trade has disappeared from the village.
The village pub has survived up until recently when it closed for some months at the end of 2009. It has been hit by the recession along with a lot of other country pubs, it now opened again for food , and seems to be bumping along, only just surviving. It is hoped that it will pull through as it will take the heart out of the village if it closes for good. (Footnote; in a few days time its opening again third time lucky, as , and I take a deep breath, a curry house) at least its not being demolished
The post office shop closed some years ago when the GPO decide to do away with many rural post offices, that again is or was right in the middle of the village, the shop itself went into decline with the rise of super markets and the improvement of transport, nearly every household has at least one car.
The postman used to come on his bike four miles from the sorting office to deliver mail and parcels, that changed over to a van a long time ago, in fact some forty years its been delivered by van.
The farms have reduced, ours is the only one left in the centre of the village, four other "in the village" farms have been amalgamated with the surrounding farms. Where at one time all the cottages had farm workers in them as they were all tied cottages to the different farms. Now nearly all the cottages have been sold off or let to folk who work outside of the village.
The church itself has not changed but the vicars job is now spread over three other village churches, spreading his message to a greater number of people over a wider area.
A Country Village (1950's)
The Village has its own clock, for to tell the time,
On the tower of St Chads, every half hour it does chime,
This its done for many years, and to wind it up you climb,
Three big weights on cables, crank it many times.
In the tower set in oak frame, sit its ringing bells,
Ropes and wheels for swinging, its congregation tells,
Come to church for service, to have your sins expelled,
All the parish can hear them, peal of Village bells.
The vicar has his job to visit, all parish elderly and the sick,
Take all the Sunday services, with sermon long and epic,
Christmas Easter Harvest, Christenings funerals and weddings quick,
He is kept so busy looking after, all village elderly and sick.
Out and down the church path , is the village green,
Under the lynch gates, standing all serene,
Looks a little weathered, for all the years its been,
Guarding the church yard, on the village green.
Also on Village green, was the village pump,
Standing in the corner, on a grassy hump,
To prime it work the handle, almost had to jump,
Water all the cottages, from this well and pump.
Across the road to educate, is the village school,
Teacher at the blackboard, sitting on a stool,
There to help the children not to be a fool,
Basic reading writing, maths in the village school.
Further down the village, was the blacksmiths shop,
Making all the horse shoes, on the anvil hot,
Hammer always ringing, shaping metal without stop,
Give the horses new shoes, to make them clip and clop.
Undertaker in the village, was at the wheelwrights shop,
Lays out and measures them, maked a coffin non-stop,
Family lines the coffin, his brother dug the grave,
All the week they made farm carts, spokes whittle to a stave.
Next again is Holly Bush, our local village pub,
As well as drink you can get if hungry, a little bit of grub,
For a gathering of the locals, this was the hub,
News and gossip turned around in the village pub.
Down at the post office, in the village shop,
Sells all essentials, also chocolate sweets and pop,
Letters parcels postal orders, have a hefty whop,
Rubber stamp saying S----ford, in the village shop.
The postman came on his bike to visit, six days of every week,
Delivering post and parcels, each morning his bike it creaked,
Collecting all the gossip while, having cup of tea he'd speak,
All about what he'd learned, on his round six days every week.
On all the farms they had cows, and they produce the milk,
Beef and chickens hens and geese, sheep with fleece smooth as silk.
They had mixture of everything, corn for cows and pigs,
Hay and roots, rolled oats and peas, feed the cows produce the milk,
In all the cottages were the families, men who work the land,
Herdsmen, n' wagoner's, n' those to anything can turn their hand,
Early start in all weathers, generally a happy band,
They work late at harvest time, all these men who work the land.
A sense of curiosity is nature's original school of education.
Dr. Smiley Blanton.