Friday, February 13, 2015

Nostalgia of Shopping- Part 1

Before the advent of out-of-town supermarkets and the internet, shopping was an entirely different kettle of fish. Living in a village a good four to five miles from the nearest town, if you needed anything in an emergency, such as sugar or a loaf of bread you could always rely on the village shop, although from what I remember as a child the only shop in Cardington was on the green and run by an elderly couple called  the Misses Stonebridge. I don't think either was married, but I may be wrong. I don't think my mother would have done much of her shopping in there. All I remember is the shop was run from one of the cottages on the Green in the village. I don't think my mother would have done much of her shopping in there. If I went to run an errand for her, such as picking up something like butter or flour for baking, I would get 2d to spend in the shop on sweets. You could actually get quite a lot for that in those days (pre-decimal, which came in in 1971.) Usually I would buy chews or gob-stoppers or even those lovely liquerice chews, sherbet fountains made by Bassett's or some other company. I'm not sure you can still buy them. Most likely not.

We had meat delivered, in a van, from Wood's butchers. Dick Woods, who owned ran the shop which was in Harrowden Road which went into the centre of Bedford. He was a friend of my father's. They kept and ran greyhounds and Dick Woods would occasionally arrive at some time during the day at the farm, usually for morning coffee or tea-time. He was a large, rotund man, short, but he couldn't half talk the leg off a donkey, as they say. A real old hypochondriac. Always going on about some illness or other he had. He had a wife, but I don't recall ever meeting the woman. I think perhaps once, when we went to the garage in the next village, Cople, where we got our cars repaired. Burr's garage I think. Anyway, Dick Woods turned up in his car (perhaps to get it fixed, I don't know.) and he got out and chatted with my Dad, but his wife didn't get out of their car, just sat inside. That as far as I recall is the only time I ever saw her. It was a bit like in "Dad's Army" where Captain Mainwairing, who ran the platoon, would mention his wife, but she never actually appeared. She was always 'off-stage.' The action would be written that she was always in the kitchen, was annoyed with Mainwairing over something trifling. I think she 'appeared' in one episode when she and her husband were supposed to be sleeping in a bunk. He had the bottom bunk whilst she had the upper one. All you actually saw of her was this great bulge in the mattress underneath, her actually face or the rest of her body didn't appear.

I think bread was delivered by a baker called Fitch. I'm not sure where he came from.  The bakers may or may not have been in a near-by village, Willington. The bread was always unsliced and tasted a good deal better than sliced, packet bread. My mum also went up to what was called The Boundary, which was (probably still is.) a parade of shops in Harrowden Road on the way into Bedford. There was a baker's there for a good selection of not just bread but cakes. My favourite were I believe called Viennese Whirls and came in a little paper tray a bit like cupcakes and had a little bob of bright red jam-substance on top, probably flavoured with strawberry or raspberry.  If we didn't have those my mother would buy doughnuts. I don't think we had a lot of bought cakes as my mum usually made a very wide range of cakes for tea, a speciality being shortbread, made to a very trustworthy recipe. My father always had brown bread, and so we had a loaf of Hovis for him. Also in the parade of shops was a greengrocers and a chemists, Peter Micklejohn. I think there might also have been a butchers, but as we went to Wood's for meat (bout a quarter of a mile further along the road towards Bedford.) I don't think we ever bought meat in there.
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