The Messages #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 98 #100DaysOfOldDays

Kate O’Reilly, from my hometown, recently posted a collection of photos on her Facebook page, that she took in a museum in Limerick; Old Irish Ways. I wish I had some of these photos in the earlier days of our 100 day project. A couple of the photos brought back so many memories of times gone by.

This photo in particular! In the 70’s, some shops still looked similar to this. Soden’s in Bailieborough was one. The old weighing scales and meat slicer on the counter. The old cash register. Newspapers and comics laid out. Cigarettes in 10’s and 20’s, visible to the customers.

“I’m going up the town for a few messages,” Mam would say when was going to the shops.
On a week day she bought something for the dinner, and bread and milk. Nothing that wasn’t needed! Although, sometimes she’d buy five penny bars but end up eating a couple of them on the way home, so we’d get half a penny bar each.

We loved the Friday shopping that was brought home in a big cardboard box—or two. They contained much the same as every other week, but it was still exciting to empty them. Maybe there’ll be a sandwich cake this week, or digestives instead of the usual Morning Coffee biscuits.

When we went shopping with Mam, we had absolutely no say as to what went into the trolley. We wouldn’t dream of trying to sneak anything into it. Christ, you didn’t take those kind of risks when you were a 70’s child! We also took little notice of what Mam put into the trolley. But when the big box landed on the kitchen table, we dived right in.

We were a sliced pan family. Some people were Batch Loaf…religiously!
There would be at least four sliced pans in the box—brown for Dad and white for us. And a bag of wholemeal flour for making the brown cake.

There would have been a pot of Mace strawberry jam, Mace marmalade and Mace diluted orange. (Mam always kept a check on the pennies and bought store brands whenever possible.)

She bought cream crackers, which she had to hide from us. There was always Morning Coffee biscuits, sometimes Marietta. It was later in the 70’s that the bourbon and custard creams became regular items in the shopping box.

A box of loose Lyons tea. It was well into the 80’s before Mam bothered with tea bags. Tins of beans and alphabet spaghetti. Tins of creamed rice and peas. Jelly and Instant Whip for Sunday. She had to hide the jelly with the cream crackers, because in reality it was a big fat square jelly sweet…a giant wine gum! And it smelled so delicious…of course she had to hide it!

Birds Dream Topping was an alternative to fresh cream. It was such a treat to get it, which wasn’t very often.

“Give it a whirl.”

Birds powdered custard. Oxo cubes. A box of Bisto—the one you had to mix into a paste with cold water. Never instant gravy.

There might have been a sachet of Apeel powdered orange drink and Rise and Shine from Kelloggs.

A four stone bag of potatoes. Carrots, parsnips and onions for the stew. And cabbage and a turnip. Always!
We would get some sweets on a Friday. Penny bars, lollipops or jellies.

Porridge, cornflakes and Weetabix were our cereals. And I’ve just remembered…Ready Brek. I hated it!

Apart from the tall plastic container of Saxa salt and the smaller one containing white pepper, Chef Brown Sauce and Coleman’s mustard were the only condiments on our table. If there was a bottle of tomato ketchup in the box we got excited! In the summer we had Chef Salad Cream.

So what fridge items were in the box? Bottles of milk—even though the milkman delivered to the door every morning. Sausages and corned beef. Calvita cheese and Easi Singles. Eggs. A big square tub of margarine; the soft spreadable creamy type that lasted a week. It went on the spuds, the bread and for making buns. And a lump of boiling bacon.

On the top part of our fridge there was a small freezer box so there was very little frozen food in the shopping. There was always frozen peas and fish fingers. Sometimes frozen burgers. We got excited if there was a block of ice cream and a packet of wafers.

Most of these things still exist and some are in my own shopping bag every week. But some are very hard to get or no longer exist.

3 Hands washing up liquid. I’d completely forgotten about it until I spied it on the top shelf in Kate’s photo.

Floor polish in a tin. You had to get down on your hands and knees to polish the floor with this stuff.

Mam used Daz washing powder (and sometimes the Mace brand) to wash the clothes. Daz gave your whites a bluey white.

Remember the little muslin bags that contained a cube of blue stuff? It was stirred around in the washing to make the whites whiter. It was called Bluing. I think it’s still available in liquid form but maybe not in the wee muslin bags.

Vim was a scouring powder for cleaning the sinks and the toilet bowl. It came in a fat cylinder box with holes on the lid so you could shake out just as much as you needed. Waste not, want not.

Mam used Sunlight and Lifebuoy carbolic soap for household cleaning. We had Palmolive and Shield soap for bathing. Although, I have memories of being scrubbed at the kitchen sink with the carbolic soap on a summer’s evening, when ordinary soap wasn’t enough to remove the mud, grass or tar marks on our hands and knees.

There was definitely no liquid hand soap or shower gel in our bathroom. We had bubble bath sometimes. Mam had nice soap for herself; Lux, Camay or Imperial Leather. (She still buys Imperial Leather.)

Camay created a soft creamy lather that gave a woman a complexion as smooth as porcelain. Most of the adverts showed women washing their faces with Camay soap and being amazed at their beautiful soft skin afterwards.
But this particular advert has a more humorous slant to it! I think it’s very funny!

Iodine was used for cuts and grazes. TCP was also put on cuts and used as an antiseptic for most skin ailments.

Any mention of a stomach ache and we were fed Milk of Magnesia or Syrup of Figs. I didn’t mind Syrup of Figs, but dreaded Magnesia.

Here’s an old-fashioned metal list of the messages.

Matchstalk Cats and Dogs #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 89 #100DaysOfOldDays

I loved it then and I love it now! Imelda Traynor taught us this song soon after she started teaching in St Anne’s National School around 1977-78 She sang it with her classes for years – maybe she still does! The song was number one in the UK charts for three weeks in April 1978.

Take a trip down memory lane!

Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs by Brian & Michael

For today’s post, Lucy drew matchstalk people outside Finegan’s shop in Bailieborough as it was in the 1800’s.

Trippy Bathrooms #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 71 #100DaysOfOldDays

Using the bathroom in the 60’s & 70’s was often a psychedelic experience. Everyone blamed the mushrooms, but it wasn’t the mushrooms; it was the interior designers and the parents who went along with it.

If I sat in this bathroom for more than five minutes, I’d experience hallucinations too.

It was the fashion to have a coloured bathroom suite. And if you had a few pound stashed under the mattress, you might have even ripped out your boring white bath and toilet and replaced them with lovely new ones – in any colour you fancied.

I remember visiting my great-aunt Helen in the 70’s, and I’m pretty sure she had a blue bathroom. The blue ones were very popular!

My aunt Marie’s bathroom was avocado green. Although, to us it was just ‘green‘. I only remember light green and dark green! Did we know what an avocado was in the 70’s? Oh…wait, we had jade green too. That’s three shades of green we had!

I once had a pink bathroom suite and a grey one. I’ve seen them salmon coloured, peach, mustard, burgundy, even brown – Penthouse Brown I believe it was called! We had penthouses before we had avocados.

People were still putting in coloured bathrooms during the 80’s. I remember viewing a house that was for sale (it was built in the 80’s) and it had three bathrooms and a toilet downstairs, and each one was a different colour. That’s where I saw the brown one.

The thing was though, the tiles, the carpet, mats, and curtains all had to be the same colour as the bath and toilet. And…coloured toilet roll.

Look at this. It’s like a bedroom!

We couldn’t afford to replace our boring white bath with a coloured one but we could afford a very trendy vanity splashback. There were made from tough plastic and came in different colours. They had a mirror that opened up a little medicine cabinet. Two glass holders and a soap dish. They had five toothbrush holders which would have caused rows in a family of more than five. And you could have one in whatever colour you wanted…it didn’t have to match the sink!

An aunt of mine was very posh with a furry toilet seat cover. Poor mam bought one but with four young boys in the family it didn’t last too long, sadly. I’m sure she was devastated!

Black & White Telly #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 67 #100DaysOfOldDays

A telly with no internet, no pause, record or rewind, no remote control, and worst of all…no colour! Just a humongous black and white telly rented from Kellett’s electrical shop in town.

They were always on the blink and as sure as death and taxes, interference would disrupt a good film or the Looney Tunes. When fiddling with the buttons wouldn’t work, a good thump on the side of it often did.

Sometimes the weather and a dodgy aerial was the problem. It wasn’t unusual in those days to see a man on the roof of his house fiddling with the aerial and one of his children below shouting up at him, “Another bit…turn it to the right…another bit to the left,” as they looked through the window at the telly waiting for a clear steady picture.

And when all the DIY solutions failed, David Kellett would pick up the telly and leave a different one in its place. It was a great novelty getting a ‘new’ telly every few months.

There were arguments about whose turn it was to change the station (there was only about 5) or turn up the volume. It wasn’t a job for the weakest family member because you needed strength to be able to push those buttons!

I’d say it was around the mid-seventies when our neighbours, Anne and Noel Rogers, got a new colour telly and Lynda brought me in to see it. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I was amazed at the vibrant colours and how they lit up the whole room. I wanted to stay all night in front of the blazing fire in the open hearth watching their new colour telly.

We used to look at our black and white telly through plastic coloured wrappers to pretend it was a colour one.

When we eventually got a colour telly, we thought we were brilliant!

I remember thinking we had really gone up in the world the year we got a Nordmende. I have no idea why! Maybe it had a more stylish look to it!

The other brands I remember: Toshiba, Panasonic, Bush, Philips and Sharp.

Thin Arrowroot & Marietta #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 65 #100DaysOfOldDays

Fancy biscuits were for Christmas time and other special occasions. My mam bought chocolate and cream filled biscuits whenever she’d host a Tupperware or make-up party. The parties were usually on a Friday night, so we didn’t have to be in bed early. We weren’t allowed near the sitting room where the party was being held but we’d hang around on the stairs waiting for the women to finish their tea because Mam would always give us the left-over biscuits. It’d seem like hours before she’d come out with the trays and empty cups. Often we’d fight over the last chocolate biscuit, and argue about who got it the last time.

My sister-in-law Margaret, reminded me of the days when buttered plain biscuits were a treat. Margaret remembers getting Thin Arrowroot biscuits from her grandfather; plain on a plain day, buttered on a good day!

Arrowroot biscuits were/are the plainest of all biscuits. I’m not sure if they are still available in Ireland.

A chocolate digestive was the Roll Royce of the biscuit world and an Arrowroot was the Lada.

However, when you’d sandwich two together with real butter and a blob of strawberry jam, they became a Ferrari to a 70’s child.

My great-granny used to give us Marietta biscuits, but not with butter or jam. We didn’t mind either way. A biscuit was a biscuit and it wasn’t every day we got one!

Eye Tasting Mains #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 50 #100DaysOfOldDays

I’m still talking about dinner parties from the 1970’s. First we looked at some of the canapés these super women dished up in the 70’s. You can read the post HERE. And if you’re interested in treating your eyeballs to some very interesting looking starters, you may go HERE.

Today, on our half-way point of our ‘100DaysOfOldDays Challenge’, I’m talking main courses. (These photos are from a little book I got from a friend; 70’s Dinner Party by Anna Pallai.) I’m amazed at the sight of these dishes…really!

🍅 🥑 🍗

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was during the 70’s that scientists began to study how the appearance of our food affects how we perceive the taste of it.

I mean…just look at how creative they were with their dishes. As for appetizing…well, that depends on whose eyes are upon it!

This is veal covered in a jelly of some sort.

Had gelatine only just been invented? They really did enjoy wrapping savoury food in jelly. Good ole ‘Vintage Recipe Cards .com’ has the recipe for these jellyish eggs. Find it HERE!

A similar recipe for the Chaud-froid of chicken can be found HERE – if you’re able for it. Surprise surprise…you’ll need gelatine!

The only thing I’ve ever dressed a cauliflower with was béchamel sauce.

This next dish very much appeals to me. I’m a gamey girl! I found a similar recipe HERE.

I couldn’t help but throw in some desserts! Cheesy desserts because they looked the most interesting.

I’m not sure where exactly the cheese is in this pineapple and apple dessert. It’s called Cheese ‘Pineapple.’ Oh…wait…it is a load of cheese shaped into a pineapple?

I’m sorry, but this blue cheese ball is not visually attractive. I don’t want to look up the recipe for it. Sorry!

This prune whip looks delicious and yes, it would probably keep you regular but…not so sure if I could stomach it. You?

Lucy’s drawing today is of seafood mousse. A dish I actually have eaten before and it’s very nice.

This is only a ‘taste’ of what you would find in Anna Pallai’s beautifully illustrated 70’s Dinner Party Book. If you fancy some more, her book is available to buy here!

Canapé in a Fish Bowl #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 48 #100DaysOfOldDays

A friend gave me this little book a couple of years ago because she knows I love delving into the past and I also love food and cooking.

I wasn’t born into a posh family; dinner parties didn’t happen in our house. I didn’t know what a dinner party was until I was well into my 20’s.

However, I’ve had a few dinner parties down through the years and I love to experiment with food. I contemplated throwing a 70’s dinner party but after looking through the dishes in this little book…I’m not so sure I have the culinary skills to pull it off. My dinner guests would usually expect to be served pasta dishes, curries, one-pot meals, salad dishes, and ice-cream for dessert.

The effort it must have taken to put these dishes together. The detail and presentation involved. This is like something out of MasterChef!

Today we’ll look at some of the canapés from this little gem of a book. These creations have me respecting the 70’s housewife in a whole new light!

As you can see, the images are ingeniously captioned by the humorous author, Anna Pallai.

I found a recipe for the next one – if by any chance you fancy giving it a go! Sardine Egg Canapés Recipe.

I have absolutely no idea what’s in this goldfish bowl!

I found a recipe for these party cheese balls. Here you go, if you want to make an impression on some of your cheesy friends! Party Cheese Ball Recipe. I’ll pass, thank you!

I have no words for the Worcester Beef Croúte. Thank you Esme Salon for finding me a recipe for this. See it HERE.

Lucy’s drawing of a young woman wearing an apron. A very chic 70’s housewife indeed!

Cock HERE to read about some of the starters the 70’s housewife served her dinner party guests! Some of them look more like desserts!

And HERE we look at some of the visually attractive main courses and desserts!

A Pocketful of Time #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 20 #100DaysOfOldDays

Pocket watches were invented by German man Peter Henlein in 1510.

In the fifteenth century only the wealthy could afford to own a pocket watch, whether they were made of gold, silver or brass. They were passed down through generations and were treasured family heirlooms.

Usually if a poor man owned a pocket watch, he would have inherited it or gotten it as a present.

In the early 1940’s the pocket watch ceased to be an essential part of a gentleman’s attire, but they came back into fashion for a while during the 70’s and 80’s.

This old watch belonged to my dad. He had this one since the 70’s…if I remember rightly. As you can see it’s not exactly in mint condition. I keep it for its sentimental value.

They’re not very common these days but they’re still an essential fashion item for some people.

This one here belongs to my brother.

This is another watch that belonged to my dad. It’s only about ten years old.

Lucy’s drawing of a pocket watch

Swing High Sweet Children #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 11 #100DaysOfOldDays

We all talk about the freedom we had as children of the 70’s & 80s. When I think about the places we played as children, I wonder how we came safe. I got stuck up trees, got lost in the woods, my brother fell into a slurry pit. That same brother threw another brother across his shoulder playing kung fu, he landed on his head and nearly died from blood poisoning.

All five of us fell into a river (at different times) and lived to tell the tale. None of this was unusual for the times we lived in. Children swam in the lakes, roamed fields and forests. Stayed outside until darkness fell and cycled for miles on their bikes. We hadn’t much fear I suppose, and we all looked out for each other.

My brothers and I spent a lot of time in the countryside where my father’s workplace was located. We played in the meadow and picnicked by a narrow river. When the dam (further up) was closed, the river was so shallow that we could play under the bridge; either barefoot or in wellies.

(Lucy’s big sister, Gemma age 27, is visiting and she wanted to draw a picture for us. They got very competitive!)

There were rules and we followed them. There was a particular point in the river that we weren’t allowed to pass, and we never did, and we never got in while the dam was open.

Across the field where the dam was, there was a thicket of hazel trees. We used to cross the dam bridge, which was only a couple of meters long, to get to the hazel trees. With the dam closed, one part of the river was four or five feet deep. We would swing from a hazel branch across the river while our bums skimmed off the water. We got a great adrenaline buzz from it. As far as I remember, none of us fell in whilst swinging from those branches.

I got my dip with a simple loss of footing. It was in a very shallow part and I remember it as clear as day. My cousin was standing beside me at the time and for years I blamed him for pushing me in…although he has always strongly denied this! Mmm…