Oh how does one pass the winter months when the joys of ice and snow and clear cold air and prairie sunshine and blue skies and the band playing on Wednesday night at the skating rink are all just a fond and faded memory??
Well, one can bake - muffins usually.
Or read - still devouring Ackroyd's London Tome and his history of the River Thames. To embellish these I have The Golden Age of the Thames by Patricia Burstall, an entertaining story of the frivolous life on the Thames above Richmond between 1870 and 1914. It is 'a poignant evocation of a golden age before the carnage of World War 1 made a mockery of its innocence'. And the pictures are delightful. I especially look for references to Teddington, where my grandparents were married and where all their children were born and baptised, including my mother, of course.
They lived on Luther Street, and just around the corner was the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, - this is the new version. The old church was damaged and demolished in the Second World War. As was their home on Luther Street.
And as a little light dessert after a reading of 'London', I have 'The Four Londons of William Hogarth', - a gossipy little tale of London in the mid 1700's.
I read with interest -
"This corner of London, near to St. Bartholomew's, was where the weavers had settled, as you could tell by the steady clack-clack of heddles, the regular thump-thump of batten on beam. Even had you been deaf as a post you'd have known by the street names, Cloth Fair and Cloth Court, and among these of old taverns and inns, long vanished, such as Rising Sun Court, Barley Mow Passage and Half Moon Court. The houses, wattle and daub, half-timbered as in the days of the Tudors, had escaped the Great Fire of 1666, and leaned their heads across the narrow passages, seeming to gossip of time long gone when London Town had liv ed almost entirely within its protecting walls. Now it was spreading outward, a rising tide, north and west, embracing moor and marsh and farmland as the lusty thriving population expanded year by year and the beginning of the Inclosure Acts deprived the country folk of wood and grazing ground, bringing them hopefully to London to seek new livelihoods.
But the weavers had been here for a hundred years and more; they were cockney born, though many still spoke their native tongue and the powerful Cloth Guild held a mort of Flemish members. There was a song they sang sometimes; they were singing it now, to the thump of the treadles.
'The weaver knows his shuttle
The shepherd knows his dog.
Clack, clack, clack! Bow wow wow!' "
Having both a shepherd in the family and a weaver I have an empathy for those East Londoners who worked so hard at their trades, whilst to me weaving has been a wonderfully fulfilling hobby.
My grandfather was a Milk Boy in Hammersmith in the latter part of the 19th century. I am fascinated to read of the villages, the streams and the country-side that gradually disappeared as London stretched and grew.
These are both mighty weighty books, and in between I knit (socks) and lose myself in technology that enables us to transfer taped interviews with pioneers to more permanent and secure CD's. I am blown away by the advance from the ham radio my father had in our basement to the fabulous cell phones my grandchildren sport, - and which I also covet!!
I also dream about gardens, tend the recalcitrant amarylis and Christmas cactus, wash a little woodwork now and then. I play a bit of Scott Joplin and skim over the hymns for Sunday organ playing. We watch the birds, and feed them copiously, and somehow the winter passes. As the days grow longer our spirits rise, and the lengthening light strengthens the sinews of the soul....
Well, it is time to go and play cards and feed the little dog his biccies before we go out for a small walk...and so to bed...