In an old cookery book, given as a present to Joyce in 1951, I came across a small square of paper covered in jottings. There are two or three short lists, and out of context they are quite strange – especially side by side on the same piece of paper:

First of all there is something crossed out which might be about apples and sandwiches for Geoff, and maybe no butter beans; there are more crossings out but it’s easy to read ‘typing; type letter to Dot; Mum and Dad – take brawn, 3 weeks, bib’ – yes it actually does say that! Uncrossed out it says ‘Buy bread, 11:45 bus to – ‘

Then written with a different pencil is a shopping list: bread 1/10½ (1 shilling and 10 and a half pence) dinner 8½, joint 5/4, carrots 6d (six pence). Then it seems to mention something about a farm, and again some prices for meat (£1/6/-) and milk (10/-)

  • 4 coal
  • 2 coke
  • 1 Welsh steam

This must be the fuel for the fire… but what is Welsh steam? I looked it up and found out: “Welsh Dry Steam is a naturally occurring semi-smokeless fuel – much softer than anthracite, but more clean-burning than house coal. Usually used to ‘raise steam’ in railway engines, traction engines and steam-powered boats – also available for domestic use and offered in three sizes – Cobble / Large Nuts / Small Nuts under the trade name of ‘Gloda’ – produced at the Ffos-y-Fran Colliery in South Wales. Best suited for closed appliances and Rayburn-type cookers, not AGA cookers. 

On the back of this small square another list:

  • half pig’s head
  • ½ stewing steak
  • carrots
  • cake

and then a list of things to do:

  • make junket
  • brawn
  • beef stew
  • 201 ginger fingers
  • 227 small cakes
  • 237 raspberry buns

… good heavens! This must be for some sort of function! But what odd numbers…201,227,237…

And finally, after a note that Mother’s day is the 20th March, there is one final shopping list:

  • carrots
  • grapefruit
  • bacon
  • cress
  • fish
  • orange juice
  • toilet roll
  • tomatoes
  • cheese

What strikes me is how economical this lady was, this little piece of paper, about three inches by four, has been used for six different lists and notes.




  1. David Lewis

    My wife put down 20lbs of potatoes with eyes on my shopping list. I asked why she wanted potatoes with eyes and she said because they have to see us through til the end of the month. Gotta luv her!

    Liked by 1 person

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