When your hot water bottle has perished…

I mentioned before that my father-in-law was in Africa during the war; I never knew him so I never was able to talk to him about his experiences. We have his photo album though, and we did have some rather large furniture, and on a smaller scale, The Congo Cookery Book by Clare E. Willet. My father-in-law was nowhere near the Congo so whether he acquired it there, or whether he came across it in a second-hand book shop or at a jumble sale, and bought it, thinking about the time he had spent in Africa, we don’t know.

As well as  recipes, as so often with old cookery books, there is a section on household hints; some are universal and could be applied to any household anywhere, some are more specific to life ‘in the tropics:

  • furniture – a recipe using palm oil – plus turps, meths and vinegar… what on earth did it smell like!!!
  • gloves – all leather goods and silk stockings should be kept in an air tight tin or a screw topped jar
  • hot water bottles  – “When your hot water bottle has perished, use a bag of sand from the river in its place. Sand keeps hot a long time and a hot sand bag fitted into the small of the back can be a great comfort in the chilly stage of fever”
  • ink – keep the lid closed
  • lamp wick substitute – a strip from an old felt hat soaked in vinegar and dried
  • loofahs – “Loofahs grow on a creeper which spreads rapidly and will cover a fence quickly. They make good pot scrubbers as well as bath sponges. Ask a native who speaks Lingola for some seeds of the ‘Linyuka’.”
  • marking ink substitute – see ‘avocado pear and cashew apple’ – turning to those pages, there is nothing about marking ink for the avocado!
  • moths and silver fish – us a spray!
  • postage stamps and gum labels – to unstick them cover with a thin piece of paper and iron
  • shampoo – if you run out use soap, and Borax powder in the rinsing water
  • raw coffee – coat the beans in melted butter or palm oil then roast
  • coffee stains – will yield to a mixture of egg yolk and glycerine
  • damp stains – remove with eau de Cologne


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