Sunny and dry days arriving in concert with my daughter’s latest A-level Textiles project have taken me back to a nostalgic and idyllic recollection of childhood. Bliss!
I grew up in a small market town in a traditional farming area of rural Suffolk at a time when there was no internet, no computers, a slightly-more-frequent than weekly bus service and a marked absence of multi-car households.
Shops closed for half days at Wednesday lunch time, there was one tiny local supermarket and nothing – whatsoever – opened on Sundays. (Sundays were a hallowed Sabbath.) Market days occurred twice per week and were as much a social and community event as an economic one.
Livestock was brought into town for sale to butchers and we, innocent children, used to visit cows, pigs and sheep en-route to our plates without knowledge or appreciation of the imminent connection!
High days and holidays were celebrated as community events with ox roasts in the market square as a traditional occurrence, along with dancing around the may pole –in season- and the inevitable appearance of morris dancers, processions and (high excitement!) the advent of majorettes with twirling batons and high stepping finesse.
At my rural primary school, one of the lessons learnt was the identification, retrieval and use of plants to make natural dyes.
Decades later, that knowledge is still useful and proved its worth in my daughter’s creation of a cave. (The saga of that is a blog for another occasion!)
As we retrieved, discussed and experimented with the dyeing properties of common plants – often identified as weeds – and, also exotic spices, the pleasure and restorative properties, possible to obtain from the simplicity of life, enthralled us.
Useful, harmless, interesting, entertaining and creative knowledge shared and developed.