It’s a beautiful drying day in Bath today and I have 5 eiderdowns airing on the line, wafting gently and picturesquely in the breeze. Maybe the local tourist board should be paying me!
I wanted to show you a linen tea towel I’ve had for years, though it’s not as old as it looks. It was designed by Deborah Phillips and is called Kitchen Maxims.
It’s now in a bad way and should really be put out of its misery. But before I consign it to rag oblivion, here’s what it says:
Waste not Want not
1. Never waste or throw away anything that can be turned to account.
2. Pare potatoes as thinly as possible.
3. Save all pieces of fat to melt down for frying or pastry.
4. One egg well beaten is worth two not beaten.
5. Put spare crusts in the oven to grate for breadcrumbs.
6. Always save the liquor in which a joint of beef has been boiled.
7. Make tea directly the water boils.
8. Clear as you go: muddle makes more muddle.
9. Pour nothing but water down the sink.
10. When washing-up is over for the day, wash the tea-cloth; it saves the cloths and cleanses the hands.
My housekeeping isn’t quite as good as this: I don’t think I’ve ever cleared as I’ve gone, for instance, nor do I oven-dry crusts nor melt down fat, though I do hoard everything that has even the slightest possible utility (and much that doesn’t) and tend to make tea directly the kettle boils (have you ever tasted tea made otherwise? Ugh!). I can’t find anything about Deborah online but would love to know where she dug up these precepts. They remind me of my grandmother-in-law’s turns of phrase (she worked in service in the 1920s and was a font of common-sense wisdom) and of Enquire Within Upon Everything, the encyclopedic household guides repeatedly published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; I have a 1920s copy kindly given me by Alison at Eco Eco in Hope, Derbyshire.
Though I’m slightly ashamed to admit it, I really enjoy hanging wash out on a line. My last house (an Edwardian semi in West London) had an old restrictive covenant on it which prohibited the pegging out of laundry, presumably as it would have let the original neighbourhood down, implying (Heaven forefend!) that one was reduced to making ends meet by taking in washing. Needless to say, I ignored this and hung out my tea-towels with pride. Anyway, if you enjoy wash-day paraphernalia as much as I do, come back to Scrapiana.com often as there’s sure to be more. Off now to play at being Mrs Tiggywinkle as my white load’s just finished.
PS Must admit that I took the tea-towel pictures at the end of last summer, hence the echinacea, sweet pea and fennel flowers. It’s still a little early for them. Otherwise, garden and washing-line look much the same as today.