pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

While Stirring the Witch's Cauldron ...

The day before our wedding the exhaust on George's car  (an old banger) gave up the ghost, and as he didn't have the money for a new one he went to the local garage to see whether it could be repaired in some way.  He explained to the mechanic that he was going on honeymoon the following day and the repair needed to be done quickly and cheaply.  

He was told to leave the car at the garage and come back in a couple of hours.  When he returned he found that they had replaced the complete exhaust and said that it was a wedding present and to enjoy the honeymoon.

An amazing and unexpected act of kindness by the garage owner!

During our early married life we lived in rented accommodation down in Hampshire, which was fine for the two of us.  Once we discovered that I was pregnant and would soon have to leave work we realised that we really needed to buy a house, and quickly, while my salary could be counted towards the mortgage.

The estate agency we approached happened to be a family run business, handed down from father to son.   George explained a little of our circumstances and the agent took us round to view some houses - but after the viewings he told us that there was no way that he would recommend us taking any of the properties we had seen.  

By then I was probably looking a bit green around the gills, as I was suffering from all-day 'morning sickness' because he took us back to his home, a beautiful old thatched farmhouse built in the days of Cromwell.  He kindly made us some tea and we had a chat.  He told us to leave it with him. 

He came back a few days later with the details of a maisonette which was empty and available as it had been repossessed.  He arranged a 100 percent mortgage, based on both our salaries, knowing full well that my salary would not be coming in for much longer!

The houses which he normally sold were top of the range houses, but he really went out of his way to help us.  A truly kind estate agent!  

Like most young families we struggled to make ends meet, especially when baby number two arrived just thirteen months after daughter Davina.  

We used to get our groceries in from a supermarket, shopping together and with the two babies in tow.  We hunted out bargains and lived frugally.  One of the dishes we ate rather a lot was Nasi Goreng (well, our version of it) which called for bacon pieces, a little egg, onions and lots of rice.  It was cheap and filling.

Mary was a wonderful woman who worked on the bacon counter and she knew that we only ever bought the cheap bags of bacon scraps.  She started to save us the nicest scraps and the choicest offcuts "for the cats".  Our silly pride wouldn't let us admit that they were for us, but red haired Mary knew, she was kind enough to keep the pretence going.

Thank you Mary!  

Our parents were wonderful, of course, and helped out in practical ways whenever they could.  My mother knitted so many wonderful outfits for my children, pram suits, cardigans, dresses, leggings, etc. that her knitting needles must have been glowing red hot.

One memorable year - and it still brings a lump to my throat - we were really struggling to manage and Christmas was on the horizon.   Mum and Dad came to us a couple of weeks before the big day and said that we could have our Christmas present early.  They handed over a small wooden box - when we opened the lid and found that it was filled to the gunnels with 20 pence pieces.  My parents had been saving them, from their change, all through the year.  I cannot tell you how much difference that made to us.  It was a true treasure chest given with love.

So many lovely people, so many acts of kindness - all brought to mind by something as simple as stirring a cauldron (okay, okay, a large pan) of pea and ham soup.

While chopping and stirring, I got to thinking about the cost of the ingredients and calculated that I had spent less than £4 on them, and most of that had gone on some Redhill Farm (a really good, local, producer) bacon scraps - in reality they were huge chunks of gammon.  So for less than £4 I ended up with 14 meal-sized portions for the freezer, made from top quality food.

I mentioned the bacon scraps to George -  and this led us back down memory lane to recall Mary and her kindness all those years ago...  

I suppose it is a sign of our impending dotage that we are so easily led down memory lane!


  1. I just called across from Natalie's, as like you, I've got the limerick bug too! I see you're in Lincolnshire; I'm in North Lincolnshire - it must be something in the water.

    I've enjoyed reading your stories from early in your marriage.

  2. Hi Little Blue Mouse,

    Nice to meet you! Indeed it could be the water - but I'd like to find the antidote now - I've just done a twenty minute jog and drafted two more while I was at it!

    How beautiful and special are your first sweet peas! All the more precious because you had to wait so long - beautiful colour!



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