Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically, which we share with Chickens, Cats, Guinea Pigs and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I work as an environmental educator, writer and Forest School leader at Moors Wood . I am a Master Composter and spent 10 years as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council. I offer talks and run workshops and events where we talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. We also make crafts and have fun.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun. To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Childhood memories of washing lines

I was struggling today with damp sheets on the washing line and when I came in and hung them to dry over the indoor dolly in the kitchen, as I hoisted it up to the ceiling I remembered my childhood 49 years ago. 

My family moved to a very rural smallholding in 1969, no mains water, electric, oil or gas,  oil lamps, candles, wood range for cooking, a well for all water, chamber pots inside and a pit privy at the bottom of the garden, the building covering it which was moved once a year to a new location, with copper and dolly and mangle for washing, and a tin bath which we all shared once a week and a kitchen garden, a larder, a cold shelf ( no fridge!) and killing and gutting game, chickens etc.  My poor mum spent 2 years living  like this!

She even made beer in the copper wash kettle! (real Lark Rise to Candleford stuff, and my Mum actually lived in that area in the 1920's! - I was born in 1962 when she was in her late 40's btw) and we had bees and pigs and chickens and rabbits and ducks and geese and sheep and goats and horses and a milk cow.

No electricity for the first 6 months we lived there... so we had tilley lamps and candles for lighting and an iron heated on the range.

I helped with all this and can remember the effort involved even now, nearly 50 years on (I was 7 at the time) helping Mum with the washing and the cooking and the getting water from the well.

I remember washing as an absolute MISERY in the winter. Trying to get clothes, especially sheets and towels, dry was terrible, and the house wreathed in stream, and the pages of my Christmas present book getting damp ( it was the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as I recall!) 

BUT it was also magical and the first winter we were there, it was the BEST Christmas I can ever remember,  which is why I can STILL remember it so vividly I guess :-)

Hard to imagine now, living like that, within a middle aged person's lifetime (me)...but we did,  until 1971 when we finally got the new kitchen and bedrooms and bathroom built, then it was radiators and electric cookers and 'fridges etc, (although my Mum always said nothing she cooked ever tasted quite as good, compared with what she had done on that old range) 

I also had horses and we had chickens and pigs and sheep,  .and I used one of those LETHAL chaff cutters to make food for them, omg child protection laws would have a field day over that now! Whirling, unprotected blades being operated by an 8 year old! The Mangel Worzel cutter was almost as dangerous!

Actually, it WAS ALL dangerous, not all the old stuff is good!

But I do look back on it with immense pleasure, not least because I KNOW I could do it all again ITSHTF (!)

Funny what memories small domestic tasks can trigger :) 

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