Surviving the autumn


Have you noticed that Autumn Fairs are springing up?  Some organisers, keen to get in first, have changed Winter or Christmas fairs to these earlier November sales. I went to one at the weekend in a little village. There was a welcoming atmosphere and I met interesting people. One kind person recognised me and said that she reads the Shropshire Star and my column to ‘see what Vicky has been doing this week’. She gave me such cheer.

I have bought a new dress and wanted to wear it for the fair, but it was too long (they always are for me) so I had to hurry and shorten it. One of the stallholders was a woman who had been taught to embroider and sew by her grandmother and then mother. We have both made and altered clothes all our lives. ‘What do the young do now?’ I wondered as not many sew or knit. ‘Well,’ she said, ‘they bring their clothes to me to alter.’ But who will sew after us?

Another thing that I learnt from my mother was making pies. Not that she taught me, but I watched as she put flour and lard in a big bowl to make crumbs before she added just the right amount of water to get a ball of pastry ready for rolling. I am making apple pie today.

We collected our orchard cooking apples just in time. Last week’s winds took the topmost fruit and dashed it to the ground. Thank goodness we have enough stored away in our apple loft for the winter.

I have been thinking about the winter and possible blackouts. I am old enough to remember the blackouts in Ted Heath’s era 40 years ago. There was trouble with oil supplies from the war in the Middle East. Supplies were reduced and the price of oil went up. Added to that the coal miners were on strike, and we relied on coal in those days to generate our electricity.  Businesses had to resort to a three-day week, and we had limited electricity in our homes. I lived in a town and as I looked out of my window, I could see whole swathes of housing estates go black with their lights being switched off. It was a sign that our lights would come on next and I could blow the candles out and fill the thermos flasks for next time.

Remembering those days and thinking about possible blackouts this winter I have stocked up, once more, with candles and am comforted by the fact that if the power is switched off at least my electricity bill will not be so high.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

Apple pies do not last long in our house


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