16 November 2003

Milnthorpe Kidside The Cottage

The Cottage was small; in fact the smallest house I remember that we lived in. 2 bedrooms upstairs, a sitting room and a living room/dining downstairs. A single story lean-to had been added at some stage one half of which comprised of a tiny kitchen only able to hold a bench- top cooker and the other half a small bathroom. A cellar leads off the living room.

The cooker had only one element and a griller below. To roast or bake the living room open fire had an attached oven, which was tricky to bake with, but Mum took it in her stride and still produced good food. The living room was not too big either, a dining table and chairs, a 2-seated settee, Dad's armchair and Mum's treadle sewing machine, and they filled the room. Attached to the ceiling was the pulley operated pull-up clothes rack.

I was delighted to see when we visited my brother John and Edith in Morecambe in 2003 that they had retained the old clothes rack and were using it in their kitchen. The sitting room was smaller than the living room, it managed to hold a bed-settee, an armchair, a large set of drawers and not much else but we did not use this room too often, only if we had guests and of course Christmas. Before Pat and I were married Pat used to often visit on Sunday's and Mum, early in the morning would put on the sitting room open fire for us.

The cellar made a good storeroom and a place to keep Mum's homemade wine and store the surplus of eggs in a bath of waterglass liquid to preserve them for when eggs for baking were in short supply.

Outside by the kitchen backdoor was the laundry (washhouse) with its copper boiler built into the corner and a fire grate below to heat the water on Monday washdays. Later we had the forerunner to the modern washer, a squarish box shape on legs into which was poured buckets of hot water and powder, the lid put on and through the lid centre was a shaft which you operated by hand to activate the agitator. When the washing was agitated enough the washing was put through the mangle to squeeze out the soapy water then the washing was rinsed and put through the mangle again to squeeze out the surplus rinse. Monday washday was a long busy day and hard work. How the housewives of yesterday took to automatic washers with great gusto when they eventually arrived in the shops for sale!

Here at Kidside we had our first family car UNA989, a Hillman van with windows fitted in the sides and a backseat fitted. Commercial vehicles could be bought tax free, a considerable cost saving. Both John and Edith and Pat and I went on our honeymoons in UNA98, but I get ahead of my story!

A second backdoor lead from the living room l on to a concrete yard outside across which was a large 2-story building. Garage and stables were below and a large open barn above with rotted holes in the floor, but a good storage area. Dad used to smoke a pipe and he used to grow his own tobacco plants then when ripe would harvest them, the barn was the ideal drying room. When ready to process he would paint the leaves with his secret concoction of honey, molasses and other ingredients leaving them again to dry, turning the leaves over periodically.

The tobacco when ready and smoked used to smell a bit strong but he must have enjoyed it, he kept growing it!

Between Kidside Cottage and Kidside House was the orchard. This was a pain to look after. The grass would grow long and had to be hand cut with a scythe, a hard job. It could not be mowed and kept short as the mowing took the goodness out of the soil. Dad decided to get some Chinese Geese whose diet was grass and the dropping would fertilize the fruit trees. These were slim rather elegant birds, not squat and heavy like the domestic white variety. They did their job efficiently. They also had another advantage, if strangers were about the geese honked loudly, and we knew well in advance that strangers were coming. In China the Chinese used them as watchdogs. We also had a good supply of eggs from them but I don't remember eating any of them. Did Mum use them for cooking?

Mum's pride and joy was her cottage style garden, all grown from cuttings and it used to always look lovely. Even the base of the walled hawthorn hedge separating us from the paddock was used and planted with rockery plants spilling over the wall.

Mum and Dad stayed here for 12 years before moving on. Yet another story for later.

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