In preparation for this “Long Winter” I have been thinking about ways of staying positive and keeping my mind active and blogging for Gateshead Carers is definitely one way of helping me to do that.

Looking back and remembering the “Good Old Days” is definitely making me smile. I have been talking to my husband and best friend of 45 years about childhood memories and even what we got up to as young adults. So be prepared this could take quite a while!

My earliest memory is from when I was five years old and my paternal Grandad died.  I can’t remember his death upsetting me as such I just remember noticing that this old man was no longer in my life to hand out sweeties especially Bounty bars.  My grandparents’ living room had large cupboards with a smaller one on top on either side of the fireplace and it was in the smaller left hand one where my Grandad kept his supplies. In fact I can remember sitting watching him stretch up and thinking when I get taller I’ll be able to do that when he isn’t looking.  Of course once he died the Bounty’s disappeared as my Nanna didn’t like them and even if she had bought them I would have had to have a serious growth spurt to manage to reach the top of those cupboards.

When I got older and was at Comprehensive School I would go home for dinner and sometimes on the way back to school I would call into the local pub as they had a separate off licence where they sold lots of confectionery and soft drinks. I can remember getting a 10p mix up and getting a paper bag filled with an amazing amount of sweets but they never had Bounty’s on sale which was a shame! I also remember when the price of small packets of Wrigley’s chewing gum went up from 1 and a half pence to 2 pence and thinking “Marvellous!” as I hated half pence coins.  Reading this paragraph back it sounds so bad a schoolgirl going into a pub on her way to school but there was a separate entrance, however, due to it being placed quite close to the beer cellar the smell could be quite overpowering plus it was a very old building. I did think at the time that I wouldn’t be going into pubs when I was older if they smelt like that!

As you may have noticed there is a theme emerging here, yes Food and Drink!  Unfortunately I do have a weight problem these days due to comfort eating and also being restricted in how much exercise I can do, however I must admit I am making excuses as I do like my grub so it could be down to portion sizes, in fact 99% of my problem is portion sizes!! 

I was chatting to one of my friends about this and we were saying when we were young no one talked about healthy eating and yet we never had weight problems and everyone around us, both children and adults, didn’t have weight problems.  Of course in those days we did eat healthily as we always had 3 meals per day and if we were given sweets or crisps it was only occasionally and nine times out of ten on a special occasion or a weekend.

Of course there wasn’t half the amount of the choice of foods we have nowadays plus fast food was almost non-existent.  I can remember not eating a KFC and a Wimpey until I started going out with friends on a Friday night after work down the Bigg Market.

One thing which I think also helped was routine and meal planning. For example Sundays we always had a roast dinner followed by a homemade pudding, rice pudding, semolina or apple crumble or rhubarb crumble and custard. Even the custard wasn’t from the readymade packets you can buy in supermarkets now, instead it was Bird’s Custard Powder and had to be heated up in a saucepan with milk and sugar and had to be stirred constantly.  I remember my youngest brother pulling faces on a number of occasions if there was a skin on the custard.  Mondays we always had a fry up for tea which consisted of bacon, fried egg, beans and the leftover cooked vegetables from Sunday’s dinner fried too.  Maybe that is another reason I have a weight problem as we never have leftovers in our house ha ha!  Tuesdays was sometimes a corned beef hotpot which was one of my favourite meals and Wednesdays we always had a dinner such as mince and dumplings, Thursdays could be anything from beefburger or fish fingers and chips to another dinner and Fridays was always fish day as my Mam would go to the fishmongers and buy fresh fish which she sometimes coated in breadcrumbs and served with boiled potatoes and vegetables. Even though Fridays were classed as Fish Day the only time we had fish and chips from a local chippy was on Good Friday, we also had tinned salmon sandwiches for tea on Good Friday as we were not allowed to eat meat under any circumstances on that day.  My husband still does this which my two daughters think is so amusing as the only times he has ever gone to Church was when he was christened, when we got married and our two daughter’s christenings. No, I tell a lie he went 3 Sundays in a row, mind that was only because our Wedding Banns were being read out and I told him he had to! 

Anyways getting back to menus Saturdays we either visited my Grandma or she came to our house and it was always a tea made up of home baked mince pies or cheese and onion pies, salad and then homemade cake and scones. Thinking about this now you could say we ate Afternoon Tea especially when my Grandma always got out the best china cups and saucers however there was never any Prosecco involved just good old tea with a tea strainer!  That’s something which I haven’t seen for years a tea strainer as we always have teabags, mind saying that my Nanna never used a tea strainer she would drink tea with the tea leaves left in the cup which even now makes me pull a face in fact you should see my face typing this ha ha!  Well I think that is enough about the culinary skills of both my Mam and my Dad (yes even in the 1970’s my Dad was a modern man!)

What other memories do I have of my childhood well there are too many to write in one blog but I will give you a snapshot of some of them.  I think some of the main memories I have are the big changes which happened at home for example my Mam and Dad changing our black and white TV to a coloured one and having the house phone installed was absolutely amazing!  These things didn’t happen until I was around 10 years old which was late compared to one of my Aunties and Uncles who I always thought were rich as they had a house phone for as long as I could remember.  Of course the difference was my Dad was the only wage earner and had a mortgage to pay and 3 young children to support. 

Talking about mortgages my Mam and Dad were the first ones in both families to buy a property. They paid £3,500 for a large 3 bedroomed semi detached house and 2/3 of my Dad’s wages went on the mortgage alone!  At the time very few people we knew were buying their homes and I was often bullied at school because I was thought to be posh for not living on a council estate. Nowadays a lot of people buy their council houses; in fact, on the large council estate near where I live there are very few properties which are still owned by Gateshead Council.

I also have memories of the different ways we entertained ourselves such as watching Blue Peter, Magpie, the Clangers and the Wombles after school and of course good old Crackerjack (how many of you I wonder can remember the slogan “It’s Friday, it’s five to five and it’s Crackerjack CRACK – ER – JACK!)  We also regularly played board games at the family dining table such as Frustration, Headaches, Kerplunk, Monopoly and of course good old dominoes and playing cards. I loved playing Chess but as I was the only one in our family who enjoyed this I only played it when I went round to my best friend’s house.

It’s been great going down memory lane with you. Perhaps it has sparked some of your ‘Good Old Days’ memories too!