Monday, April 18, 2011

Sand, Sea & Steamers

My Birthday is April 5th along with Colin Powel, born the same year too. I often used to think I would live forever. Time was a thing you had plenty of, growing up in the 40's there didn't seem such a rush or too much stress at least that's how I remember it. It felt like everything was new and Mum always used to say things will get much better now, no more rationing to worry about, and people going back to work and living a normal life.

We were able to go to the seaside at weekend for picnics etc, A treat was to have a pleasure trip across to Ilfracombe on a Campbell steamer . That was the most exciting thing to do, taking sandwiches and throwing crusts up. in the air for the seagulls, spending time on deck for the round trip and feeling the wind in your hair and the sea air on your face as we made our way on the Steamer to our destination.

Beaches had been cleaned up from any signs of war by then Weston Super Mare was full of day trippers, sometimes I went with my Sunday school class Mum came as well she always sat close to the sea wall, taking time to work out how to put a deck chair together. A blanket was put on the damp sand and equipped with bucket and spade, red spotted woollen bathing suit ready for me to dash into the water. If I can remember rightly the tide was always out you couldn't even see the sea, but it had left little pools of water and seaweed and shells. I liked spending time making castles with the interesting flotsam you could find when the water was way out and you couldn't see it, usually until it was time to go home and we would chase the water coming in. A day was endless to me riding the donkeys, eating fast food of the day, small shrimp, cockles with malt vinegar or winkles like snails, picking them out with pin on the beach, watching Punch and Judy puppets. (Punch was a nasty piece of work bashing people with a stick.) we would complete the day with sand in our shoes, hair with sea salt in it looking like something from Charles Dickens bedraggled but, happy.

We would eventually go back to the train station Mum carrying a bucket with assorted shells and a wet bathing suit dragging a couple of tired kids back to get on the steam train, the rhythm and chugging of the carriage sent us into a contented nap from the fresh sea air.

Going home I felt I had been away for days, and was always glad to go to bed quite happy with the days activity, waking up with sand in-between the sheets and knowing it would be a bath and wash my hair day when I got up. The sea water was quite muddy, apparently quite healthy too with many properties that could cure corns, swelling of the feet and make your hair shine when it was washed the next day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Green Leather Shoes.

Mother was brought up in a large family, consequently she wore a lot of hand-me-down shoes, Unfortunately in her later years she had a lot of trouble, when grown her feet had become misshapen and were quite painful. She had a passion for shoes but she wasn't able to wear high heels.  So when we came along we were always fitted out with a good pair of lace up shoes for winter and sandals or daps for Summer, along with a pair of “wellies.”

Every other year it was a trip to the shoe shop where we had our feet measured a walk up and down the carpet for inspection and we were set for another year.

I guess it was a special day when Mum took me to a place called Saxons a well known expensive shoe store on the High St. It was quite a posh affair. lots of carpet and plenty of variety even bright colours, High heels were called stilettos, the tips of the heels were extremely small but, very fashionable, the opposite style was ballerina flat with no heels, then there was a wedge and Cuban.

Green with a Cuban Heel
I had, according to Mum, become a lady and school shoes were retired so I had to choose a decent, up to date, pair for my first job. That day will always stick in my mind, Mum picked out a bright green pair of leather shoes with a Cuban heel which would look smart and serviceable, then she said I could pick a pair I liked which were black leather 3inch high stiletto heels with pointed fronts. Mum didn't object, surprisingly. The treat wasn't over, to go along with the shoes was my first pair of nylons! Oh heaven I walked out of the store feeling very excited with 3 pairs of nylons with seams at the back, I realized I had no idea how I was going to hold them up! So off we went to Marks and Sparks for a suspender belt.

Stiletto Heels
When we arrived home with the packages in beautiful boxes and my precious nylons in tissue paper I understood I was now all grown up at 16 I could retire long woollen socks and brogues, yes I was a Lady.
On the weekend I was allowed to try both nylons and shoes and walk outside for the first time after a practice walk in the bedroom. I think it took me at least twenty minutes to get used to the idea of a suspender belt attaching the nylons back and front first under the knickers or over the top! then to make sure the seam was straight at the back of the legs. I know Mum was dying to laugh, but, managed to keep a straight face as I walked up the road in the stiletto heels it took a while for me to get a balance, I had a tendency to extend my arms out as though I was on a tight rope. I could hear Mum calling Babs back up straight, don't look at your feet and look confident! With all the instructions I went as far as two doors down and buckled, when I looked at  Mum she had tears in her eyes from laughing! thank goodness no one was outside and saw my first
experience of new shoes grown up style  (I hoped, the neighbours didn't look out behind the curtains)

Last but not least the. Green leather shoes were the most comfortable and I wore them for years. I polished them lovingly every weekend with a special cream and a soft clothe, they always looked good. I could walk with my head up, stiletto's would tend to go in the cracks of the pavement and you would loose your balance and your pride!

When Mum past she had quite a few pairs of shoes in her wardrobe probably never worn, she really loved shoes.