Monday, 11 June 2018

Land Girl Memories, Gardening, & TV Reviews

LIFE: 27th  May - 9th June 2018
The highlight of my week was talking to a local resident who during the Second World War  worked as a land girl on a poultry farm at Georgefield, near Earlston - all part of Auld Earlston's gathering memories project.  

B.was living in Morningside, Edinburgh, had left school at 14 to work in a solicitor's office in the New Town (actually built in the 18th century).  Then in 1944,  she was conscripted  to join the Land Army, with her sister sent to Munitions. Can you imagine teenagers today coping with such a massive change in lifestyle on the order of the government?  

For B. it was working 7am until late, mucking out the hen houses, feeding them,  carrying 100cwt of meal sacks,   and rounding up  the free range hens  at night to shut them in away from prowling foxes. Living quarters in a bothy were primitive and she learned to cook on a coal fueled stove.  Yet she felt they ate well - macaroni cheese or mince and tatties.  A huge bonus was getting a dozen fresh eggs a week which she often took home on her weekends off.  Making do with dried eggs was one of the mosthated aspects of wartime food.  Leisure time meant going to the dances , often twice a week, in the Corn Exchange, Earlston,  where the band  of the Polish soldiers based in the village was a great draw. 

B. met her hsuband in Earlston when he was home on leave, they married in 1948 and so Earlston has been her home for 70 years. 

              Looking north from Georgefield Farm, Earlston - taken February 2018.

Move It or Lose It
I thought we had decided our new exercise class was “Pilates for Seniors”, but then there was a view. that was neither exciting, nor inspirational nor true,  as we did’nt get down on the floor  - we would never get up again without help! So we voted on possible names and Move It or Lose It came tops - on the principle - keep our muscles and joints moving!

TELEVISION- a better week for me
  • Antiques Roadshow Special - marking 100 years  since (some) women got the vote in the UK.  A fascinating programme profiling women pioneers from the first female press photographer in the early 20th century, the women who made their mark in wartime, in sports, in exploration through to more recent times  with the  Dagenham women fighting for equal pay, the first female bishop,  and women achieving  key roles in politics.    It was only afterwards it occurred to me there was no mention of the pioneering women in the male dominated field of medicine. 
  • "Nothing like a Dame" was an informal discussion between four actress dames - Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins, all in their 80’s, and reminiscing about their lives.  At times the conversation got very rambling, until a disembodied voice  cut in (the producer?) to get them back on track e,g, “What was it like working with your husband?”  The production was a bit odd.  We saw them sitting in the garden,  the quartet being fitted with their mikes, make up touched up, and photographers circling round them, taking still shots - then it was all change as rain came on, so they had to retreat indoors and go through this palaver again.  Did we really need to see all that on screen?

    But the four clearly had a great sense of camaraderie  and it was all very witty, and entertaining, interspersed with old film clips of their early performances. A classic moment was Judy Dench being very vocal about a a medic,  recently treating her for a minor injur,  who enquired  “Do you have a carer?”  Her response was choice,  as she had just finished acting in a six week London run of a Shakespeare play.  Another revelation - Maggie Smith had been presented with a boxed set of “Downton Abbey”, but had never viewed herself in it.  A programme
    worth catching up with, if you missed it

    And here is a tongue twister to get your lips moving and articulating your words - try repeating  “Dame Judy Dench” quickly and repeatedly.
  • WDYTYA (Who Do You think You Are)   - I was delighted to see the return of this family history programme - but I didn’t think it was one of the best.  It featured Coronation Street actress Michelle Keegan (unknown to me) whose maternal ancestors came from Gibraltar and before that Genoa in Italy. On her father’s side there were links with Emmiline Pankhurst and the suffragette movement. The background story was interesting and I learnt a lot  - I never knew that during the Second World War women and children were evacuated from Gibraltar and taken to London.  But I found MK response very cliched - “Wow”,  - with her accent difficult to follow  - and I grew up in Lancashire!

    Country File is a programme that can be interesting, but it's not one I am bothered about missing.   This time it was from the Queen's estate at Balmoral, so the camera work and photography were stunning and I enjoyed the interviews with people working on the land.   But the commentary was "oh, so sycophantic".  Also I cannot stand the practice of introducing a topic for a few minutes and then saying "we will return to this later in the programme" as if we the audience's concentration span  is so limited, it cannot cope with a longer report - and of course when we go back to the topic,  time is wasted with a recap. 
  • Trooping the Colour   I indulged my love of pageantry and military bands by watching the ceremony in London. with central London  looking at its best in the sunshine,
The good weather broke last weekend which was a pity as various events were happening  in the Borders.   But then endless sun morning to evening returned   - very unusual for us to have such a prolonged dry spell  and so my afternoons were spent in the garden - cutting the grass, weeding, doing the edges, transplanting the nasturium seedlings and potting on geraniums and begonias.   Here's hoping for a riot of colour!  

Result by Saturday I was worn out, so had a lazy time, doing  minimal activity. Then we had  a noisy prolonged thunderstorm which at least meant we did not have to water the garden in the evening.
To end with a lovely photograph  of the rhododendrons in a friend's large garden. 


Journal Jottings   
Recording my everyday life for future family historians
Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-MusingsI I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary.

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