Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Just popping to the Shop

I was writing out my shopping list this morning and got to thinking about how we used to shop when I was a child. No popping down the road to the huge supermarket where everything is under one roof like we do now. The nearest small town to our village was Bolsover three miles away; the larger ones were about six or seven miles with a bus once an hour to Mansfield and every two hours to Chesterfield.

We had a village shop in the heart of the village near the church and school where we children would call to buy aniseed balls and banana flavoured gob-stoppers on the way home. This shop was also a post office which sadly closed about five or six years ago and is now a private house.

I remember that across the road from our house lived a little white haired lady called Mrs Frost and her home was called The White House. She kept chickens and my Mum would send me across the road which wasn't anywhere near as busy then as it is now. I used to take a bowl with me and stand in Mrs Frost's huge farmhouse kitchen. When I think back her scrubbed topped table seemed enormous but then I was only small. She would fill the bowl with eggs and I would walk back clutching the bowl tightly. They would be put on the stone in the pantry next to the meat safe and the bucket of cold water where the milk bottles were kept.

We used to have a milk delivery every day to the doorstep. Once a week the grocer from the nearby town would come with my Mum's order. She had two books she filled out for our requirements one was returned with the order the other taken away for the next. It was a lengthy process as the grocer was a friend of Dad's and he would sit and have a cuppa and chat as the items were checked and paid for. We also used to have 'pop' delivered by the Corona man three bottles I remember Dandelion and Burdock, Cream of Soda and Lime and Lemon.

The pub nearby also sold sweets. The landlady sold them from her kitchen - big boxes of liquorish sticks, penny chews and sherbert dabs. We used to knock at the door during the school holidays clutching our pocket money and she would let us in to choose what we wanted.

I also remember the 'fish man' coming in his van and having to run outside when he 'pipped' to buy fish for tea - we always had fish on Fridays. Last, but not least was Cherry's Ice Cream van oh the joy on a summer evening to have a cornet with raspberry sauce or a milk 'lolly'. Mum and dad always had a wafer; ice-cream sandwiched between two thin wafer biscuits and wrapped around by a thin piece of white greaseproof paper.

Saturday was big town shopping day! We would be off on the bus so Dad could watch his sport on television. In the big town there was a British Home Stores, Marks and Spencer and a Woolworth. A bakers shop and a butchers shop called Birds where Mum would queue to buy cold sliced meat like ham and tongue for tea. There was also the market where we could buy fruit. Dad used to grow most of our vegetables in strict rows in the garden. We also had raspberry canes, rhubarb and gooseberry bushes. I remember sitting on the back steps with my friend with a stick of rhubarb and some sugar in a cup in which we dipped the rhubarb stick before eating it. I remember collecting apples from the orchard at Auntie Ruth's house on the edge of the village; I loved their sharp, green taste. You had to watch out for earwigs though especially in the windfalls. We also had a market garden or two - one specialised in tomatoes the other in strawberries. I can't describe the wonderful taste of both of these fruits - they were famous locally and the markets in the big towns would have them marked as Scarcliffe tomatoes or strawberries. We were lucky to live nearby and with just a knock at the door you could buy a bag of tomatoes or a punnet of strawberries.

Things began to change in the late 50s early 60s when we got a fridge and then a small car and when supermarkets started to appear gradually replacing the local Co-op, Melias or Home and Colonial shops.

Well I think that is enough reminiscing for one day - I'm off to the supermarket with that list!


  1. I love the fact that Mrs 'Frost', the white haired lady lived in the White House too! I hope she didn't give you a 'frosty' reception when you went to collect those eggs! I remember that shopping took ages too. My Mum would shop locally and talk to everybody en route. She would buy ham by the slice at the grocery store and I remember the floor being covered with sawdust. Shopping used to be such a happy but rather time consuming experience!

  2. They were such good times, people had the opportunity to talk each other.
    Hope you're having a good week!xxx

  3. I loved reading that, Rosie!
    Mr S and I enjoy reminiscing about our childhood and the shops that we visited. Not only that, the number of street traders that would come along with their goods!
    But of course the best shop had to be the sweet shop!!
    Oh, if only we could go back in time!

  4. This was such lovely evocative reading Rosie. Thank you, it brought back memories of shops when I was a child.


  5. How we loved the Corona man. Dandelion and Burdock, orange and lime, American Cream Soda, those were the days!

    When we first moved to our present house we had an oatcake man on Saturdays.

  6. I'm 41 but remember lots of these things. We lived in the country for awhile so times moved on less quickly. In the 70's mum used to use the local shop in Weston Coyney then a lad would deliver the box later on his bike, quite an old fashioned thing. Happy memories.

  7. I enjoyed reminiscing with you Rosie - your post has brought back memories of my childhood and the shops I would visit on a Saturday morning with my mum and dad. Everything was bought from individual family retailers and we always stopped for a chat of course!

    Wonderful times.

    Where we live now we are lucky to have our Friday fish man who sells his Lowestoft catch outside the village pub! His fish is superb and needless to say it's always on the menu for Friday supper!

    Jeanne x

  8. Lovely, lovely post. I well remember the Ice Cream Man who would come round every now and then, sending panic into the hearts of all us little ones playing outside. We would hear the tinkle of his bell coming up the road and would run as fast as our short little legs could carry us to our various mothers to get the money we needed, worrying all the way that he would pass us by before we got back! Such stress!

    Of course, I also have fond memories of going with my father to the ice house, to get ice to make our own ice cream. That's even better!

  9. I remember being given a old penny and the local sweet shop was called Mason's. We use to buy a 'snowball' they were huge and sweet and nothing like the ones you get these days!
    I enjoyed his post thank you.

  10. Those were the days - your post has certainly brought back memories.

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. that was lovely rosie :o) especially Mrs. frost. I would love some more chapters...i think you could write an excellent book.
    when i was at primary school we had two dinner ladies called Mrs. Pepper and Mrs. Salter, how strange is that!

  12. I really enjoyed reading your blog today, Rosie, it brought back memories from my childhood too. I remember shopping used to take such a long time - visiting all the different shops. I liked the one where you chose your biscuits out of tins that were open for you to see inside.... and the wool shop where my mum had wool put aside and she just paid for one or two balls each week. Imagine that today!
    I hate shopping in the big supermarkets ... but we've lost so many of those little shops near us that there is no alternative.
    I think it would be lovely to stop and chat and spend all day chosing local produce!
    Love Kathy xxx

  13. Do you know I was just thinking the other day, about half day closing. Our shops in Woodseats would close at 1pm every thursday. Heaven forbid if you had forgotten something on a thurday afternoon!
    The only thing that closes on a Thursday is the library these days.
    Rosie x

  14. I remember going to the local co-op with my mum - I still remember her co-op number!!We used to have Dandelion and Burdock delivered too - but only one bottle and on a Saturday. I used to love the orange juice that the milkman brought too. Lovely piece Rosie.

  15. what a lovely walk down memory lane so many things I can relate to.

  16. Lovely stories. I love imagining that little girl clutching the bowl full of eggs as she returned home. Very important task!! It all was very time-consuming then--but much more friendly!

  17. You have brought back some childhood memories for me. My brother's and I would get on our bikes to the village shop (which amazingly is still open) for sweets and also, when the shop was closed, we'd go to the pub which had a window in the door where you could get chocolate and sweets without going into the pub. Everything was so much more sociable then. Most of the time when you go to the supermarket, the only person you talk to is the lady on the till!