Living off the land

A good store cupboard was vital and every member of the family played their part in filling it. The hedgerows were loaded with blackberries in the autumn and these could be bottled or made into jam. On September 10th 1941 the School Log records that: The children were taken on a blackberrying expedition to the foot of the downs.

Fourteen pounds of blackberries were gathered and taken home by the children. Another ten pounds was collected by the children a week later.

Sue Mears remembers going into Mr Hookey’s fields at Downton Farm where the old goat roamed: That’s where the best blackberries were, you armed yourself with a walking stick to fend off the goat as well as to hook down and reach those big, juicy ones that were just too high to get hold of. We came home with arms scratched and purple fingers, but also a pudding basin full of delicious blackberries.

Home brewed concoctions of potent wines were made out of cowslip, dandelion, elderberry and stinging nettles and for the children on special occasions ginger beer, lemonade and various cordials were made.