Thursday, 13 March 2014

Growing up in Wales

I was brought up in a remote Welsh country house, where little had changed from the time of my grandmother 'Nain' who raised 6 sons in the rambling,uncomfortable, unheated old place, way before the first world war. She was artistic and actually had drawing lessons in Barmouth from Ruskin, the famous Victorian artist, who had a mission to spread artistic knowledge and skills in the provinces. She taught the village schoolchildren to embroider and sew and produced charming drawings and watercolours of her own family and the Welsh countryside. She furnished the house with the old family oak furniture and embellished it with cushions, borders, and cloths in many different styles, mostly cross stitch, and tapestry work, and used some rich Eastern fabrics brought back from a visit to Egypt and Palestine. From her I have the best Kashmir shawl I have seen - no faults and immense with a beautiful border.

         When my mother who was raised in very different surroundings in a grand London mansion, took over the house which had been unoccupied for 5 years, she had to battle with open fireplaces, no heating and lots of shabby bedrooms upstairs, rusty old baths and basic plumbing. There was no main electricity and the water for the house was pumped by a ram from a stream below the house. The attics, where little Welsh farm girls had been trained as house maids, were bleak with iron bedsteads and plain pine chests for clothes storage. There was no shortage of girls as their families were so very poor, and they got proper food and and sensible clothing in a good household with the added bonus of being much in demand by the local young farmers who were looking for respectable girls with homemaking skills, so there was always one waiting for a job at the 'big house' They used to "walk out " for several years before they had saved up to marry and start a family, and 'the bottom drawer' as in France, was their pride and joy. They walked two miles to the bus, as did all the schoolchildren, and the big treat was a Saturday visit to the cinema in the local town.


  1. I'm really enjoying your "life in Wales" stories.
    Thank you.

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  3. Hello Buff! I love seeing your new profile picture - wonderful! Thank you for continuing to write such a helpful blog...I love reading it whenever I find the time!
    Your old friend, Kaari