Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bread and Butter Girl

The years following the Second World War were simple times. There was food and clothes rationing so we didn't get much in the way of cakes, candies or jam. We, as children, didn't miss it much--we got everything we needed and we were given the best of what was available. It was the parents who put their needs on hold for us and it was the mothers who had to make sure the meat, sugar and butter rations were managed well enough so that the family could eat and be nourished.

A birthday or Christmas party was truly rare though, sometimes, a hotel or a business would put on a special do at Christmas. As a child, I don't remember worrying about it; I enjoyed what I had and didn't miss what I didn't have. Everybody was in the same position as everyone else.

I didn't have older sisters but I did have girl cousins and was the recipient of hand-me-downs in the clothes department. My mother used to make my clothes but, with the rationing new material for new clothes was in short supply.

The rain water barrel was a good source of soft water. The water that came out of our taps was hard and it was not easy to get a lather for good washing of clothes, hair or body. The rain water was soft and great for washing; we took good care of it and loved the silky feel it gave to our hair when we used it for shampoo night.

We didn't have much in those days but we didn't feel deprived. We enjoyed the special treats we had and enjoyed everyday living as it came.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hens and Adders

The title for this fourth short story in my new book, Welsh Cakes, sounds a little strange. The background for the title comes from the middle of the story, which is actually about the celebration of the Welsh patronal festival, St. David's Day, which occurs on March 1st.

The Welsh national anthem is "Land of my Fathers"--in Welsh, "Mae Hen Wlad f'yNhadae". In the story, the English speaking children take the Welsh words and turn them into the sing-song nonsense of "My hen laid an adder; hen laid an adder."

The story expands on the St. David's Day celebration with its half-day holiday and entertainment of music, song, and words, along with its emblems of daffodils and leeks, and the Welsh traditional costume with the woman's tall black hat.

The typical childhood teasing portrayed in this story is not malicious only fun-loving on a happy, carefree holiday.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Up the Mountain

The background to this third story in the book of short stories, Welsh Cakes, is my own memory of Sunday evening walks with my father and my brother. We would walk for miles while my mother got some time to go to the Sunday evening service and had a little respite from her care of us children.
The photo above shows the ferns that I speak of in the story.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Water Baby

The second story in Welsh Cakes, my new book of short stories, is called Water Baby; as promised here is a little behind the scenes information about this story.

These short stories about Gwen, the Welsh girl, draw on childhood memories of long-ago times. Water Baby recalls the time of the outdoor wash house with its large laundry tub for soaking soiled items and its washboard for scrubbing of really dirty clothes. There were lots of red, raw knuckles after the washboard use!

The wash house held a large boiler in which the water was heated by gas. The clothes were put in the soapy water and swirled about with a long stick. A blue agent was added to the soapy water to give the whites an extra brightness.

When the washing part was finished, the laundry was transferred to the tub to be rinsed before going through the wringer or mangle, as we called it. As much water was wrung out of the laundry before it was hung on the line so that it wouldn't take too long to dry.

Wash day was literally an all day job and usually took place on a Monday. One hoped for no rain so that the drying process wouldn't be impeded.

The cold, damp outdoor wash house is a key part of this story and is a place where Gwen learns a sad life's lesson.

The story culminates on Friday's bath night, the bath that took place once a week in the galvanized tub in front of the kitchen fire.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Proof Copy of New Book Arrived

The proof copy of my short story book Welsh Cakes arrived in the mail yesterday. It is fine and I will now get it into general circulation on where I published it. I am pleased that it is finally here and in six to eight weeks time it will also be up on Amazon and other internet book sellers.
This is the third book that I have published with Lulu and this time I have given it an ISBN so it will be more accessible. I will keep you posted.