Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Digging For Victory

During Half Term us Roses went for a ramble up to London to the Imperial War Museum (I can't believe I have never been there before), to see a wonderful exhibition "The Ministry of Food". Little Sister wanted to see the World War 11 children's exhibition, Big Sister wanted to visit the Holocaust exhibition and Cold War exhibits (she is our Modern History buff!), Mr Roses was quite happy to take it all in and I, well, I just couldn't wait to jump into all that Home Front ephemera...

We have been lucky enough to have had a really good exhibition locally about Land Giris and having just looked at the leaflet, I notice it's still on so if you get a chance it's really worth it if you're down on the coast over the next few weeks... We went to see it went it first opened last year and found it absolutely fascinating and it fuelled what was an already large interest in 1940's England. I have to admit it's not the military side of things that get me (perhaps that's why up until now I haven't 'done' the War Museum, but the social history just grabs me every time (and, moreover, those Land Girls uniforms that we got to try on are rather fetching!). What was fascinating about this exhibition was a film made featuring former Land Girls talking about their experiences and you had to notice just how remarkably well they all looked, there must be something in all that fresh air...

A few weeks later Emma (Sew Recycled) and I attended a study morning about 1940s Christmas' which we found entertaining (maybe for all the wrong reasons...) and in between our giggling and naughty schoolgirl acts we gleaned some more snippets to add to our knowledge.

So all this is a bit of a preamble I know to our visit last week but it kinds of describes the anticipation that I had been experiencing as our visit drew nearer. Of course we had to choose the busiest day ever on official records to visit the Museum (I am not joking) and the queues were seemingly endless (try and go out of the holidays if you can).
Lots and lots of photos to share and fewer words you'll be glad to read I'm sure!

So obviously at the start of the war we as a nation were encouraged to "Dig for Victory", grow your own, eat healthily etc.

At the heart of the entrance to the exhibition was a beautiful mock up 1940s greenhouse, full of the most wonderful gardening ephemera.


and posters abound ...

As the campaign to grow and eat more vegetables gathered momentum its influence was soon seen on fabrics etc

"Utility" housecoat made from gorgeous "mushroom' fabric

Delicious chair back showing Land Girl digging for victory

The oh so attractive Land Girl Uniform

Campaigns to make us eat more vegetables grew more and more playful with characters entitled Potato Pete and Dr Carrot.
The importance of women during the war came to the fore and they were encourage to play their role, signing up for National Service, becoming Land Girls, working in munitions factories and actively taking part in life on the Home Front.

Leaflets were produced by the Ministry of Information for women on the best use of rations, health and nutrition as they waged war on the Kitchen Front,

keeping the nation fit and healthy.

I could go on and on but then this post would turn into an essay... so I'll just let the photos do the talking...

A mock up of a 1940s grocer's

With ration size chocolate bars

A tea urn and cakes (perhaps we should have something of that size in our Stockroom) used in canteens and workplaces

Imagine tea being rationed!

My youngest couldn't believe that sweets had been rationed too and she read incredulously of children's accounts of going to the sweet shops after rationing had ended.

Suffice to say I could have spent all day in there!
In the "Children's War" exhibition we experienced life on the Home Front through the eyes of children. Photos and recollections of being evacuated, achingly sad letters from children sent home to their parents, examples of wartime clothes, childhood, and for me, the absolute highlight, a complete reconstruction of a 1940s home.

A three bedroom house

bathroom (my aunty had those tiles)

complete with kitchen
( well, I could have stayed in this room for hours if it were not for the queue forming behind me)

Living room (note the little toy dog by the chair Dottie!)

A bit of "Make Do and Mend" going on in here

Delicious firescreen

And an inside shelter housed in the backroom, looks frighteningly like a cage a "Morrison Shelter"

Examples of wartime ingenuity and resourcefulness in Make Do and Mend - an outfit made from cloth maps...

I could go on and on ... if you get a chance to see it, grab it with both hands and listen very carefully to all the people reminiscing around you, I learnt even more from the snippets of conversations I overheard from fellow visitors' first hand experiences of life during the Home Front. I was born just a decade after rationing finished (it lasted for fourteen years, ending in 1954) and its fascinating to see the advice of growing your own, eating healthily and the basic tenents of recycling, reducing the number of imports and the "War on Waste" are still as pertinent today,

I'm off for a word with Potato Pete and Dr Carrot... Enjoy

Friday, 12 February 2010

Now We Are Six (Months)...

Yes indeedy! Dottie and I are both officially six months old (well a bit more than that actually but I have been suffering from severe blogophobia and it seems that I am very tardy with this post...). When you're young whenever you're asked your age you always have to add on the months to your age, I think my youngest daughter who is ten has just stopped saying "9 and a half", or "nine and three quarters..., as a mother of a new baby you take great delight in knowing just how many weeks, days and even hours old your baby is. In a relationship you know exactly when you were first asked out, your first date, your first kiss etc and Dottie and I, well we know to the very minute when we were born so to speak... and speaking as a "proud parent" we've had a lovely, fun and adventure full childhood!

The Emporium is taking bigger, more confident steps each day, that's not to say we've not had a few wobbles along the way, our enthusiasm for finding new treasures in not waning and there is always, always a sense of fun and mischief in what we get up to.

It is perhaps time that we stuck to and followed most closely the rules of our new staff handbook - ssssh don't tell Dottie but I am going to give her a copy very shortly. Being important business people (tongue firmly in cheek here) we do need to keep up to date with all the new goings on in the world of commerce and this thing they call the world wide web. So I am sure this little book will more than pay for itself...

For example, did you know, and I bet you didn't, that ALL these things are available on the internet? Well, well, well...
This book will teach us all about "cookies" (no, not the custard cream I kind, of which I think we are now connoisseurs), it tells us that Dottie and I are now "e-tailers", it explains what a "portal" is, not the kind in Harry Potter apparently, and, perhaps, most scarily that my fridge or dustbin will be able to update my shopping list in the very near future (but don't ask me how).
Written only ten years ago my how times have changed...

As for Dottie and I, these past six months have taught us an awful too -
1. Give things a go... if you spend hours and hours, months and months chattering to each other about your fantasy shop, then why not make it a reality?

2. Never press a button unless you know for certain what it does! (Dottie will know exactly what I mean here...).
3. If you press a button and you're not sure what it does, then be prepared to spend hours, days, weeks on the phone putting it right again.
4. Always be surprised by the patience and understanding of your customers after you have pressed the said button and the lack of patience and understanding by those who are meant to be "solving the problem."

5. Be prepared to 'meet' lots of friends along the way... how lovely it is to have returning customers, to gradually build up conversations with them and have some idea what it is they're looking for.
6. You can never have enough tissue paper, string and brown paper...
7. Dottie can never have enough sellotape...
8. Thank heavens my phone contract allows for limitless free phone calls to my partner in crime as the need to chat hourly is of the imperative!

9. Take photos while the sun shines... you never know when it'll be sunny again!
10. Realise how lucky you are to have such supportive friends and families, who understand why you "need to check your emails" and are now used to your morphing into your alter egos and now call you "Dottie" and "Milly" too.
11. There are never, ever, enough custard creams in the biscuit tin...

12. And finally, I have learnt, that I couldn't have chosen a nicer person to hold my hand and share this adventure with - thank you Dottie x

Have a great weekend, I hear that love is in the air, hope it blows your way too