Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Simple Life....

Had the knee injection this morning, not nearly as painful as I thought it would be, only slight discomfort.  Doctor said it would take about two days to two weeks before it worked, so the pain is still with me, but it does seem not to hurt quite as much now when I stand up. 
Unfortunately late this afternoon and all evening I didn't feel at all well, possibly due more to withdrawal symptoms from the pills than the injection.  Couldn't keep awake and had the most horrendous nightmares.   Perhaps I am just needing to catch up on the sleep I have lost over the last two nights.

Have begun reading a book that B brought me from the library - "A History of English Food' by Clarissa Dickson Wright.  It's one of those books that needs close reading to learn things, so am still only on chapter 2 (it's quite a thick book). but for me - a lover of what I call 'domestic history' - it is making me very aware of how some things have changed and some have not.

Still reading about medieval times, it did seem that in those days there was no unemployment, just levels of class.  Apart from the high-born, everyone worked for someone, even if not paid much.  The only homeless were by choice - usually 'outlaws' (those who had broken the law and run away, and these usually banded together like Robin Hood and his Outlaws).

Here is a paragraph from the book that shows how lives were in rural areas, and to me that doesn't seem a lot different to what we read about happening in World War II (other than the size of housing)...
"Vast majority of English people were poor agricultural workers, living in small one- and two-roomed cottages.
They had allotments for their vegetables, their own field strips for crops, perhaps a pig or two to provide bacon, ham and lard, some chickens for eggs, and a cow or goat for milk and cheese.  In good times their diet was sufficient, in bad times life could be grim."

Quite a lot of food could be found for free, rabbits and many birds, fish in streams and in the sea, plus hedgerow fruits and nuts, mushrooms and wild herbs, and no doubt there was quite a lot of bartering going on as well as raising a few pennies selling surplus at local markets. 
As most folk could neither read nor write, and of course had no TV radio or anything else to detract them, spare time was taken up with hard work in the fields for their feudal lord, while the womenfolk preserved foods for the winter months.

Weather then was as varied as it is now, possibly worse in many years and when crops were ruined due to adverse weather, there were no imports as today to keep everyone well fed.  Today sat in the living room sun shining in (it's been a glorious day today) and thought how lucky we all are.  Probably living a better life than even the kings of centuries ago.  We just don't have the servants - by 'we' I mean us middle and working classes - yet I suppose even that class system has now gone as many working class folk now earn millions (such as those in the entertainment and sport industries).

Yet, however bleak the above life can seem to be, I still hanker after living a life like that.  Probably why I now regularly watch 'Little House on the Prairie' as for one hour in the day I can lose myself and believe I'm part of that family and enjoy or endure whatever befalls them.   A hard life can make many people strong, not just in muscle but in faith and personality.   Incidentally, the extract above from C.D.W's book followed by saying that the simple diet did not mean people were weakened, for in times of war most of the menfolk had to go off to fight and it took very strong arms to pull the bowstrings of the long-bows used in those times.

The average age of people living in the medieval period was 30 years, but - being an average - this took into account the ages of children who died in infancy, and there were many of these. So possibly many rural people (who would be eating the freshest and organic produce anyway), would live into their fifties.

This reminds me.  After asking the doctor if there were any foods I should avoid eating, or any supplements (glucosamine etc) I should take, he seemed to think there was little chance of helping the arthritis now it has once established itself.  No cure has yet been found, it is just due to old age.  He said mine - in the knee - was very severe, and it seems arthritis is increasing quite rapidly as almost every week another joint/knuckle me starts to hurt, but not enough to bother me YET.  It was only the left knee that has caused me extreme pain. The little finger (mentioned yesterday) definitely is now arthritic (doc says so), and as I write the base of my left thumb also feels as though it has the start as it twinges as I type. 
I'm going to get some glucosamine as although I won't cure the arthritis this may help to slow it down. 

That Community Supported Agricultural scheme sounds good CTMOM.  Are you limited to the amount of produce you can take at any one time?  And can you visit the farm/s (is it just one place or several you can go to?) as many times as you like?
The only comparison I can make over here is the organic vegetable box scheme, or the 'pick your own' farms, but neither are cheap (produce often more expensive than supermarkets but of course fresher).  We also have farmers' markets where fresh produce from the locality is sold, again not cheap. 

Can't remember the month that decimalisation started Mandy, it could have been in the Feb. of 1971.  Like Alison who remember using the old currency, we often convert the prices today back to what they would have been.   The problem with decimalisation is that one 'new p', equals two and a half old pence (tuppence ha'penny), so it can seem that some foods that appear cheap now really are not.   When ordering from Tesco I saw a jar of sweet and sour sauce was only 25p!!  That to me is cheap.  B could get three stir-fries out of that.  One branded but small sachet of sweet and sour sauce could be as much as 75p and only enough for 1 serving.

Yet 25p (five shillings in old money) is not THAT cheap.  Even worse, 75p when converted back comes to 15 shillings, and when you think of it in those terms, that's an awful lot of money for something we just pour over a serving as a sauce.  Far cheaper to make our own.

The price we pay for anything is relative to the amount of money that is earned, so the higher the wage the more money we are prepared to part with.  Well, it used to be like that, but now the utility bills have increased so much that we rarely have any pennies left over as 'disposable income'.  Myself have noticed that when once - having a months supply of food delivered by Tesco - the carrier bags used to be packed in several large green baskets (wheeled down the drive on a trolley, the driver going back to fetch another load).  Now - although I still keep my budget to the same - it is noticeable that the number of green baskets is far less.  Perhaps this is why my larder has more open spaces on the larder shelves than ever before.  Even so, still enough in store to keep us going for several months if needs be. 

There was a time when my Beloved asked why I kept ordering such a lot of food each month - because he could see I still had food on the shelves and in the fridge/freezer.  What he said made sense.  On the other hand I was replacing all the 'fresh' foods (milk, eggs....) and all the foods he eats regularly (butter, bacon, cream, fish, chicken, cheese.....) the rest was to keep in store because it had become a habit.  Now we are living on a state pension there is no need to be concerned about whether B is earning money or not (he was often out of work), and so stocking up is not now as necessary as it was.  Maybe I need the security a store-cupboard gives me, also feel that we never know when the next disaster will happen (or transport strikes), and we all have to fend for ourselves for a few days (or weeks, or months).  I still remember the last war, and I like to cover all contingencies. 

The mention of transport has reminded me to reply to Sairy (so am editing this bit in as I forgot), if her garage set her car mileage in metric (not miles) does that mean there soon will be a change and we all have to change?  No more miles, only kilometres?  Hope we won't then have to drive on the right as do most countries.

Never have heard about a Yumpling Jane, not sure whether it sounds appetising or not, perhaps I should try making it.

Poor B is in a very bad mood these days, and can't blame him.  You may remember, some many weeks ago when our sewers were blocked and we had to call out United Utilities.  Being it was Friday late afternoon they said they couldn't come out until Monday.  As we couldn't use the loo or run any water taps due to blockage, we insisted and after several phone calls eventually they sent out another company who cleared the sewer late that evening.  A camera was threaded down the sewer right past our property, into the street where it could be seen there was a blockage where our sewer joined the main one that was under the middle of the road, caused by roots from the roadside trees that had worked their way into the pipes.
The man who cleared the pipes gave B a paper with the details and told him to make a claim to have the call-out money repaid to us by the council.  And then the fun started.  We have been asked to provide details of who cleared the sewer (they apparently have 'lost' the form we sent), plus various road plans showing the siting of our sewer and the main sewer, where the trees are, and also asked us to arrange an arboriculturist to check whether it is the council trees or our trees (we don't have any) causing the root problem.  We have to pay for any council plans and also anyone to come and check the pipes, and as it has been proved (by the camera) that the problem is outside our boundary, so the council problem, they won't do anything unless we provide all the info they want.  If we do this we will have to pay out even more money, although I suppose we can also claim this back.

What I can't work out is that if we have to get the council to provide the necessary plans (at our expense), why can't the (council) person who is dealing with this problem just go and get the details themselves?  Several other houses in our road have their sewers regularly blocked (this is the third time our has had to be cleared since we moved in 5 years ago) and the house opposite to us had to call out Dyno Rod the following day to have her sewers cleared also - blockage caused by roots from the trees in the road.  She will also be making a claim.

The council know the trees in our road are causing damage and have already begun to remove some, and we have been told they say all will be removed within the next two years.  You would suppose with the continual problem with the sewers they would have arranged a regular check and clearance of any roots.  But no - they expect us to provide all the proof while sit on their backsides. hoping that if they carry on asking us to provide this and that (and have to keep paying for it) we will eventually give up the claim.
It does seem that while the council is responsible for the trees and the maintenance of our road, the 'waterworks' system (sewage and fresh water) are controlled by United Utilities, so it could be that the council are putting the blame on the U.U.  But we still have to deal with the problem through the council. 
Beloved is getting very stressed re all this, so hope something can be settled soon.

It's just about midnight, so think - due to me still feeling not quite with it - that I'll finish now and see what tomorrow brings. It could be my knee will be slightly less painful, or maybe will have to wait a bit longer.  But the worst should soon be over.

After the visit to the surgery we went to the Half Moon Bay cafĂ© and had a bacon butty, eating it while we sat in the car and looked at the view.  The tide was out, and although a bit hazy over towards the Lake District the sun has been shining all day. Very definitely the leaves are now changing colour and although very warm it definitely felt like autumn.   Everything that grows, and all creatures seem to know what time of year it is and am sure we instinctively 'feel' it too.  I can sense autumn in the air in the same way as I can sense spring, not even gradually, it just happens on once special day.  These two seasons seem to be more important than sensing winter and summer, and in a way they are. Rebirth, regrow in spring, and then preparing to shut down for the winter (or stock up the larder in my case).   
If we took more notice of nature and what happens during the year we might find life can become less complicated.  We would be aware of what is needed and when, and provide for it in advance.  The simple life you could say.   It used to be like that centuries ago and I'm not sure that technology has done anything for us other than make life easier, and that is perhaps not always a good thing as when we have spare time the devil has work for idle hands and with the 'social network' it is now all too easy to inspire good people to do bad things.   Reminds me of that old game 'follow my leader', a clever person can just about talk anyone into doing anything.

But I'm SO pleased someone invented the washing machine.  That does save time and I can watch TV while it is washing/spinning the laundry.  I don't log on to any of the social networks sites so am not likely to get led astray.  Or maybe I have been already.  Perhaps I spend too much time concentrating on cost-cutting and maybe should go back to cooking simple fare like mum used to make.

Back again tomorrow, then taking Saturday off so that I can catch up on all the culinary chores that are still waiting to be done.  Hope the good weather stays with us so you can all have a lovely weekend.  TTFN.