Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Household Guide, Edited by Aunt Kate

A Charity Shop Gift to Myself

Who can resist a good book?

Recently, I found myself wandering around a large thrift/charity shop in a small place named Ballantrae. (If the name sounds familiar, it could be because of the Robert Louis Stevenson book, 'The Master of Ballantrae'.) It's known as 'BRICC' - Ballantrae Rural Initiative Care in the Community - Ltd. (Further details can be found here.)
 
The shop was packed full of old furniture, crockery, ornaments and the usual shelves of books, CDs and DVDs. The friend I was with is as much a book addict as the rest of us and loves nothing more than a good bargain, so were there for quite some time.
 
While sifting through the titles that lined the corner walls of this shop, I happened to spot a copy of 'The Household Guide', an old hardback with the spine missing - it had obviously seen better days, or had it been extremely well-used, perhaps? Flicking through the pages, it showed the date 8th January 1943 and the index read like a list from the ultimate frugaler's handbook! I was hooked on the old book, so paid my £1 and brought it home.
 
What a revelation it is to read such old treasures, written back in the day when being a housewife was a career choice and being thrifty was what the War years were all about, except that's when everything changed forever.
 
My lovely old book contains handwritten notes, recipe sections for preserves, wines, sweets, desserts and all manner of meals. There's a month by month guide to what to do in the garden, a section on simple DIY and home decorating, a beauty section, home doctor section, pet care and, most importantly, a housewife's calendar that outlines the order in which things need doing about the house, along with a daily time-table! This will be a real eye-opener for many, as the day begins at 7am and ends at 9pm. But then again, most busy working mums still have days that stretch over 14 hours, often even more than that, depending on the demands of younger family members.
 
Some of the articles included are absolute gems! I shall quote a few bits and pieces as I read my way from cover to cover - there's plenty of useful information regarding homemade cleaning products, stain removal, spend and save tips plus the sewing and shopping sections. What I am finding most entertaining, if that is the correct word to use, is the whole aspect of etiquette and how one should treat one's husband, friends, relatives and other visitors. Most enlightening!
 
At the very back, inside the cover, there is a handwritten knitting pattern for 'Gloves on 2 Needles' but, sadly, this has faded over time and may only be legible with the use of a magnifying glass. (Or it could be my eye sight just isn't what it was.) I'll let you know if I can ever decipher it.
 
To round off this post, here are the "GOLDEN RULES FOR HOUSEWIVES".
  1. A place for everything and everything in its place.
  2. Don't put off till tomorrow what should be done today.
  3. Make the most of what you have. Don't worry about what you could do if you had this or that.
  4. Clear up as you go along and you'll never find yourself in a muddle.
I think the above rules make good sense, don't you?
 
Until next time,
Frugaldom.

11 comments:

  1. Ballantrae does indeed ring a bell - I think we've driven through it on our way down to Stranraer... but there again maybe not and it is purely down to RLS!

    I love to have a read through books like these and have found myself wasting a way an evening reading some of the free, out of print, older titles in Google books. The etiquette of past times can be, uhm, interesting!

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    1. Sara, you would, indeed, have driven through Ballantrae on your way to Stranraer. It's a lovely little place that sits by the shore along the main A77. I'd imagine it could get quite busy at ferry times with the lorries travelling through but it was very quiet when we were there on Tuesday morning. :)

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  2. Oh you lucky bunny, I am always after books from just before, during or after the war. Fantastic reading aren't they!

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    1. It's a great book, DC, so I'll keep you in mind once I'm finished with it or if I spot another copy anywhere. :)

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  3. Sounds like my kinda book!!

    Know Ballantrae reasonably well. I grew up in Ayrshire so holidaying down Stranraer way in a caravan was the story of my childhood

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    1. Ali, the BRICC in Ballantrae is on the main road. I have passed it several times in the past without knowing what it was. It was my travel-companion pal who had discovered it's a big charity/thrift shop. (I love all the tiny houses further up the coast at Lendalfoot.)

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  4. Oh that is my sort of book will have to trawl around our Cs to see if I can get a copy.
    I have an old book around same age and the ettiquette is mind boggling especially towards ones husband;-)

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    1. There's no actual husband etiquette in this one, WP, but I did have a laugh at the section explaining how to accept, hold and smoke a cigarette in a ladylike way. LOL

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  5. I love those kind of books; everyone looks so put together, high heels all day and perfect hair-dos. No sweat pants !!
    All gone and their world with them; sad in some ways, not in others.

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    1. I was discussing this topic with my mum who, of course, disagrees with most things I have to say. I believe that we should have the right to choose 'housewife' as a career path, if that's what we want to do. It seems to be frowned upon nowadays for a woman to stay home, run a household on a single income budget and rear her own children. I find that part sad. It also seems as though many men still want it all their own way and expect housewives to be mothers, cooks, cleaners, DIY specialists, hostesses, entertainers, shoppers, bookkeepers/budget balancers and still have time to earn a decent fulltime income while worrying about childcare and what to do if any of the kids become sick. It makes the 7am start and 9pm finish mentioned in this book look very reasonable. LOL

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  6. charity shops have a wealth of treasures in them. That would be my sort of book also.

    Gill in Canada

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