Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Unashamedly old-fashioned



For a while now there's been a noticeable shift in values. Not everywhere, but you can't fail to have spotted it: books, magazines, TV programmes, shops all seem to be jumping on board. Suddenly we're hearing words like 'provenance' and 'local' and 'craftsmanship'. Maybe it's down to the recession, maybe it's a gradual awareness of how a throwaway society doesn't really make you feel fulfilled. Perhaps it's the realisation that 'stuff' - material possessions and endless shopping trips - don't keep you happy for very long.

It's trendy to grow your own, to be a foodie who likes locally-sourced ingredients with minimal food miles attached. And easy as it would be to sneer and cynically dismiss all that as 'middle class' and 'townie' it is, for me, to be celebrated. Even if it has made it that much harder to get your hands on an allotment. And I'm diplomatically ignoring the fact that the Ramsbottom farmer's market - despite selling the same produce as it always has - has been re-named the 'Artisan Market'. Ahem.

Anyway, my point is this: I like old-fashioned and simple. I like the familiar, the comforting and the functional. We grew up eating meals cooked from scratch and toasting bread in front of the fire and sleeping under feather quilts passed down from my grandmother.


For me, pleasure isn't about endless consumption or keeping up with the latest technology. I don't bother with glossy magazines any more. I get the most enjoyment from the garden, from cooking seasonally (the elderflower cordial was a success, hooray), from spending time with loved ones, reading good books, making things, being outdoors, frugality.

Apologies if all this sounds twee. It isn't supposed to. It's just how things are around here.


Anyway, moving on from philosophising... What have we been up to of late? I'm afraid it's another of those 'midweek miscellany' posts as we're gearing up to move house next week (I'm ridiculously excited) and things are a bit this-and-that at the moment. So at the weekend we finally bit the bullet and cleared out the loft.

A whole lot of recycling and charity shop donating ensued. But - to my surprise and delight - I managed to unearth a few treasures. Like one of those very quilts I mentioned earlier. A bit musty but nothing a good old airing outside can't remedy (I've just dashed out into a thunderstorm to bring it in again actually. Crazy weather).


This one's very heavy; pink on one side, yellow on the other. I once had one which was pink and apple green but sadly that disappeared long ago.


Also lurking up there were some of my old books. They're a bit tatty but still treasured, particularly the poetry books: A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson and Hilda Boswell's Treasury of Poetry. The latter illustrated both, and it's a wonderful nostalgia trip flicking through them again.


Speaking of old-fashioned, I'm a geranium lover. Pinks and whites out in the garden, big red ones on the kitchen windowsill. They have to be in terracotta pots. I don't know why. They just do.


We have seedlings coming through (peas, I think)... podding peas is another of those quiet, absorbing, repetitive tasks I love.



And I plan to make some sorrel soup. We used to eat it at my grandma's house - the lemony flavour of it cooked with potatoes, soured cream and stock is a food memory well worth revisiting (speaking of which, I'll be posting about food memories in a future post. It's still at the notebook-jottings stage).


Another simple pleasure: picking the dinky Alpine strawberries. Unfortunately a certain little boy has discovered the joys of this too and has yet to differentiate between ripe and unripe. Basically, they're being picked before they're ready to eat. He'll end up with stomach ache.


The satisfaction of harvesting your own food isn't to be underestimated, even if it's just a few snippings of herbs. Thyme has been added to several dishes of late and the oregano is growing like mad - a liberally-sprinkled tomato salad will accompany tonight's meal.

So, despite things gradually getting busier with the imminent move, we're still managing to find some quiet times for early evening walks, good eating and garden pottering. The things that are keeping us grounded during a notoriously stressful event.

I hope you're having a good June thus far and finding time to do what you enjoy.


38 comments:

  1. I'm with you, Sarah. I like my simple life at home so much. It's very satisfying and I'm glad other people are discovering that. Best wishes on the move.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I'm trying not to get too anxious about the whole thing (imagining it might fall through at the last second etc)... we've got an awful lot of packing to do yet so I'll be concentrating on that!

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  2. What a lovely read. I love your simple living philosophy. I like to buy local from our excellent farm shops but it can be hard to find honest locally produced food with a reasonable price tag, and as far as I'm concerned the word artisan is a synonym for flipping expensive.

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    1. So true... It's disappointing that we have some nice farm shops locally as well, but the 'real' ones - a bit mucky, inexpensive, deli counter-free - have all closed. We're now left with a few 'destination' shops which stock pricey stuff and posh hampers.
      I know you're a simple living enthusiast too. In my humble opinion we were all way ahead of this trend and will no doubt still be doing our thing long after it fizzles out again!

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  3. Lovely post I enjoy living a simpler life too. We try and buy local, grow some of our own food & have plans for chickens. I enjoy nothing more than pottering in the garden/kitchen or doing something crafty. Its a huge stress reliever I find after a day in the office.

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    1. Hello! I'd love to keep chickens too... the thought of baking with your own eggs is such an appealing one. It's nice to see so many of us enjoying the simple things in life - it seems it's catching on!
      Sarah :)

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  4. This is a beautiful article; simple pleasures are at the heart of our life in the countryside and I wouldn't wish it to be any other way. Food memories sounds like a interesting topic too!

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    1. Hi! Glad you enjoyed the post...
      I've been toying with the food memories thing for a while now. There are plenty so it may well become something I do in instalments!
      S x

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  5. Lovely post Sarah - couldn't agree more that simple old fashioned pleasures are best.

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    1. Thanks, Gina - I think our little circle of blog friends are all on the same page where that's concerned and it's nice to read about what everyone's little pleasures are.
      S :)

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  6. I guess that I try to take a middle approach with things like this, I don't go seeking only local, only sustainable etc, but if it is available, is a sensible price and is suitable, I will choose that for preference, not because I think that it makes me better in any way, it is just what I like. I have no idea what Artisan is supposed to mean, sounds like expensive to me! I definitely agree that stuff doesn't make you happy, there is no need not to have it, but it shouldn't be the be all and end all and should be an accompaniment to happy, not the reason for the happy. I hope that your move goes well! xx

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    1. Thanks Amy!
      I agree completely - local for us usually means inexpensive, particularly farm-grown produce. In that sense it should cost less as there are fewer overheads.
      Unfortunately it can also mean overpriced, depending on what you buy and where. I used to boycott supermarkets altogether but realistically that's not very practical for me. So we buy meat from the butcher, fruit and veg at the market and the rest of it from Sainsburys or Morrisons (Booths at Christmas - a bit posher but worth it once a year!)
      Sarah x

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  7. I'm with you on shelling peas - the pop and running your finger along to release the peas. And geraniums - I love the smell. And the smell of tomatoes growing. Our senses hold so many memories.

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    1. Little things - they're wonderful, aren't they? It often takes the enjoyment of them to slow us down and just savour the details of life.

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  8. This post for me reflects what living simply is all about - to see washing blowing on the line instead of in a dryer, enjoying eating and growing your own food - and not spending when you don't have to - such a good philosophy. Hope the move goes well - it can be such a stressful time. I am also with you on growing geraniums in terracotta pots - they are such 'no fuss' plants that give pleasure and colour all summer.

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    1. Thanks, Elaine! I have to say, whenever I go on holiday somewhere hot (I'm a fan of the Greek Islands) I'm always taken aback by how huge the geraniums seem to grow. They reach shrub-like proportions and I stand staring into yards and envying the whole relaxed, slow way of living people seem to have: washing drying outside, produce growing away, porches to sit under...

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  9. I love the simple old-fashioned way of life too, and I still will even when it's not trendy any more. I loved reading this post, so many of the things I enjoy are included, it gave me a good feeling. I do hope the move goes well, such an exciting time. I'll look forward to hearing about your new adventures. CJ xx

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    1. Thank you, CJ! The move's getting ever closer and I keep trying not to worry about a last-minute disaster... I'm looking forward to simplifying our lives even further once we get there. It's addictive!
      S xx

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  10. I know exactly what you are saying. Whilst we are trying to live as simply as possible too (we grow our own veg, shop at op shops and value experiences over 'stuff') I just think it's a bit sad the way it is sometimes portrayed as 'hipster' and "trendy" as if it is just a fad. My Grandparents and millions of people have been living this way for a long time! Oh dear, I think you struck a nerve there...All the best for the move preparations :-) Mel x

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    1. Hi Mel - I know what you mean! The Eastern European side of my family are very resourceful and I grew up watching my grandmother cook and grow vegetables and flowers in her garden. It's what my childhood was about and those skills have been passed down to me.
      Maybe people are starting to realise that life's about how you feel, not what you have.
      Hopefully it's not just a trend - if it is, we can just be happily out of fashion once the next thing comes along ;)
      S x

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  11. Such a beautiful, thoughtful post! It rings so true - not many can appreciate the utter joy, really, it is a moment of complete happiness, that I get when I snip some herbs from my herb border to pop into the cooking pot that's bubbling away on the stove. I think you would understand! Chrissie x

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    1. Hi Chrissie - I do understand! It's so satisfying to be able to produce something yourself - whether it's something you've grown, cooked or made.
      I love the feeling I get from that and even more so from sharing these things with other people. So much better than the short-lived high of a shopping spree!
      S x

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  12. Such a nice post, and not twee at all, I agree with almost everything you said. When I stopped work I understood what people meant by making do, and the whole make do and mend thing was essential, not fashionable. I buy very few magazines these days but always enjoy The Simple Things and Country Living. I am looking forward to your post about food memories too. x

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    1. Hello! I have to say, when I do succumb and treat myself to magazines, they're the ones I go for. I usually wait until the autumn and winter ones come out as I love that time of year most of all.
      Glad you enjoyed the post :) x

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  13. A lovely post, all the things we do too but with our own ways mixed in :). How lovely to find some heirlooms in the loft, a surprise of treasures. I am unashamedly old fashioned too. A homemaker, happy and proud!

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    1. I'm glad you're proud of it! For me, these things are the most fulfilling. I try not to apologise for it any more.
      And I love the idea of us all having our own traditions built around our simple little pleasures and rituals.

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  14. Ooh, exciting times for you with the imminent house move which I hope is hiccup-free. (I think moving house is the only way the loft and garages will get sorted here.) Have you tasted your cordial yet? Mine is currently cooling - can't say the colour is particularly tempting but fingers crossed it will be quaffable, even if I do have to knock it back with eyes closed.

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    1. Ha ha! My cordial looks a bit murky and nothig like the stuff you buy - more like slightly cloudy apple juice.
      It does taste lovely though (should I have given so much away? It's almost finished). And it really is gorgeous with prosecco. My new favourite drink!
      S x

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  15. Dear Sarah,

    Hello there. I'm not sure how I ended up here, but your blog's name is wonderful and I have a complete inability to resist flower photographs, so.

    Also, it's interesting to come across this now. I have just recently begun planning a little herb garden, my first attempt at real gardening.

    Slán go fóill,
    Giselle

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    1. Hello! Lovely to meet you. And thankyou - I'm glad you like the blog.
      I hope your herb garden is a success. As far as I'm aware, good drainage, plenty of sun and remembering to keep things watered should be about all you need!
      Enjoy the gardening (and eating!) Hopefully you've found a new passion!
      S x

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  16. Sarah I loved this post ... it rings true for me too ... simple living is simply the best! Bee xx

    PS I saw your comment on Annie's post re Instgram. Just to let you know I use a Samsung S3 phone for it, so an iPhone is'nt necessary. x

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    1. Hi, Bee! Thanks for that - looks like I need to do a bit of research on Instagram... Find an idiot's guide or something!
      Glad you liked the post. And that all we blogging ladies are on the same page when it comes to simple living!
      Enjoy your weekend.
      S xx

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  17. So much here that resonates with me and reminds me of my childhood. And I'm another sorrel soup fan ... we both have that Polish connection don't we! A lovely post Sarah :)

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    1. Thanks, Annie! Sorrel soup is just wonderful, isn't it? I didn't know about your Polish connections - maybe I need to look back through the Knitsofacto archives...
      I love how the simple rituals surrounding domesticity, cooking and eating have been passed down to me. I just wish I could speak the language (so annoying how my mum would switch from English to Polish once her phone conversations started getting interesting!)
      S :)

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  18. I love geraniums too. And terracotta pots. And I love this post :) xx

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    1. Thank you! My windowsill geraniums are flowering all at once and look lovely - hopefully some regular dead heading should keep them going for a good few months x

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  19. I like the simple things in life too. And I love geraniums especially in terracotta pots! Lovely post.
    Marianne x

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    1. Thank you Marianne! Geraniums in all their different varieties are lovely but I have a real soft spot for lemon-scented ones and the bright red ones too.
      They refuse to die and even I manage to take cuttings from them successfully :)
      S x

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