Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Sorting linen, tea towels and oven cloths.  Hotch-potch of tickings   

     Although my grandmother was running a large household most of her life and entertained her husband's business and banking friends on a big scale, she was extremely frugal and wasted nothing.   My mother inherited these habits but very much by necessity - a rambling unoccupied, un-modernised Welsh country house had to be run with the minimum of domestic help and yet everything had to be done in a very proper old fashioned way.  The attic floors had to be scrubbed  on your knees for the great Spring Clean, all paint washed, all furniture polished back and front and every drawer re-lined with clean paper; the leather books in the library polished,  the furniture cream itself was made in the pantry with a mix of castile soap, beeswax and parafin and bottled for a year's supply:  every brass fitting on the doors, windows and all light switches  were polished with Brasso (my job - "and don't you dare spill any as it marks the wallpaper and carpets for life" !
 The carpets were brushed with used tea leaves to freshen the colours and  remove the dust, all the glass lampshades taken down and washed carefully, blankets and bedcovers washed and treated with mothballs, windows cleaned in and out with chamois leathers.  While an awful lot of this care-taking might seem pointless today,  I think it did inspire me with a love of sorting everything into good  order and  piling things neatly in the drawers and on the shelves, all of which continues with my work in the textile business.  I remember quite vividly being taught when I was about 10 years old how to clean a pine kitchen table.by scrubbing it with a mix of sand and Vim (scouring powder) and being told I was wasting too much Vim which was expensive, (6d. a big canister!) when sand was better and for free. See more housekeeping memories in BLOG titled UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS and my 'economic' lifestyle!


  1. Yvette Elkington-Cole27 March 2015 at 21:49

    I love reading your blogs Elizabeth.
    This one reminds me so much of my grandmother home
    in Bordeaux.Everything so tidy and sparkling.After the winter,all the parquets floors had to be steel wool rubbed
    and then waxed,I wished I new her recipe.
    But my question is what did those thrifty ladies do to give a second life to their monogrammed and embroidered linen sheets that had become threadbare in the middle and right across .Shame to cut them for rags.
    Any tips? Thank you.

    1. \+Thanks Yvette, old friend!
      I know my mother used to cut up damaged sheets to make the under-cases for all the pillows and in France they often used to store all the embroidered bits and initials for patching and replacing the top borders known as 'parures' . I have done this myself and used smaller pieces and single initials for lining tote bags - a bit of a show-off but it reminds me of my mother-in-law (also economical) who had a very shabby old mink coat which she used to line her mackintosh coat. Very cosy! In England we used velvet tablecloths to make Dior New Look skirts when all clothes were rationed and on coupons!

    2. Thank you for your tips Elizabeth.
      So far I have cut out and saved the long sides,still
      perfect and strong.