Visiting Glasgow – Byres Road

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All cities have their iconic streets. One of my favourites is Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End. It stretches from the working class district of Partick at one end, to the beautiful Botanic Gardens and mansions of Great Western Road at the other. With both the University of Glasgow and, until their recent move to Pacific Quay, the BBC Scotland studios close by, it has a vibrant, diverse feel to it.

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Visiting Byres Road on my trips back to Scotland, it remains familiar, and yet new enough, to still excite me. I love how Byres Road honours its past by not knocking down ‘old’ buildings, but by repurposing them, turning an old church into a theatre,  and an art deco cinema into a restaurant.  The city – and street – is alive!

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My grandparents used to live about halfway up Byres Road, and I spent a lot of time there when I was a wee girl. Much has changed since then. The pork butcher shop, which I remember having tiled walls, carcasses hanging from hooks which dripped blood onto the sawdust covered floor, is now an Oxfam shop, while Colquhouns, where we used to go for lunch on a Saturday, now houses a Pizza Express.

Across the road from their flat was Ashton Lane, now a trendy mews, with the famous Ubiquitous Chip restaurant and entrance to the Grosvenor Cinema.

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Byres Road has many of the stores you expect to see on any High Street – Boots, Marks and Spencer Food etc – but there are some great independent shops too where you can buy  unique gifts.

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And if you fancy getting a cup of coffee from ‘The Tardis’ you’ll find that there too!

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The butcher shop I remember has long gone, but down near the Partick end there’s another butcher with a good sense of humour.  I used to hate potted meat!  Yes, I guess that means I was a ‘toff’.

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And if you fancy stepping back into history, pop into Curlers Rest (formerly Curlers) for a drink. Established in the 17th century, it used to stand beside a pond where – you guessed it – they curled in the winter.

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Wartime Rations – Days 27 and 28

My last entry for this month’s wartime rations. When I spent a month eating wartime rations earlier this year it was really easy; perhaps because it was in the middle of winter when everyone hibernates at home. This month, with anniversaries, birthdays, Thanksgiving… well, I’ve probably ‘eaten at the Savoy’ just as frequently as eating rations.

meatballsSo my last entry for this experiment was the final dish I made with the remains of my ground beef ration for this week; meatballs made with the same ingredients as the burgers (chopped onion, breadcrumbs, seasoning, bound with tomato sauce), baked in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes and then covered in gravy. On the side, home-made fries and my newest favourite, shredded cabbage fried in a little bacon fat. For dessert, we chopped up and shared the remaining toffee apple. Given that November 1st brought snow here in Calgary, reminding us that winter has finally arrived, it really was the perfect comfort food.

If you’re wondering why I’ve used archived copies of The Glasgow Herald as my go-to paper during the past month, it’s not just because I come from Glasgow, but my Uncle Alex, Anne’s big brother, used to be a journalist with the paper. An RAF pilot during the war, when he returned to Scotland he became the Voice of Scottish Golf, not just on the radio, but with The Glasgow Herald and then as the editor of Golf Monthly. When he died in 2000, both The Telegraph and The Glasgow Herald published obituaries.

anne2013Anne says: He started as a general reporter; he ‘covered’ the launching of the Queen Mary, I know, because he came home saying, ‘She did it!’ – but whether he was talking about Queen Mary successfully throwing the bottle of bubbly or the great ship successfully floating instead of sinking to the bottom, I don’t know, ships always being referred to as feminine. Then he started covering sport and eventually as you know became Scotland’s prime golf journalist.  He was sent to the first post-war American (Open Golf/Ryder Cup?) and his boss told him proudly that he would be flying there (flying being a great rarity at the time).  Alex of course was disgusted after his years and years as a bomber pilot DFC, so they let him travel one way on the QM.  I remember a photo of him with some famous golfer (Henry somebody I think) which appeared in the paper and of which there was a print at home.

Alec & Anne  crop

Anne with her big brother Alex (Percy) Huggins, early 1940s.

Another memory from Anne: After Alex had done many, many more than the stipulated number of bombing flights he was transferred to the Azores on anti-submarine patrol. Here there were bananas, and when he came home on leave (after VE Day), managed to bring us a few – Mother made sure their skins were put right on top of the rubbish bins so that when the lid was lifted the dustmen could wonder at them!

Having bombarded you with almost daily posts for the past month, I’m going to take a break for a few weeks and plan to return with my usual schedule on December 15th – although I may add the occasional post before then. Looking forward to catching up with you.

Wartime Rations – Day 26

burgerDinner tonight was real hot comfort food before going out into the cold Hallowe’en night trick-or-treating; homemade hamburger, roasted squash and mashed potatoes.  Burger: ground beef, breadcrumbs, chopped onion and seasoning to taste, bound with a little tomato ketchup.  For the squash; I chopped it into  bite sized pieces, sprinkled the pieces with a tiny bit of sugar and cinnamon, tossed them in some melted butter and roasted them uncovered in the oven at 190C for about 35 minutes.

For dessert, my husband and I chopped up one of the toffee apples I made yesterday into pieces and shared it. It tasted so delicious that we decided we’re going cut up the apple next time before dipping it into the syrup and leaving it to harden. Sounds decadent… but within our wartime ration allowances!

I’m heading out trick-or-treating with my granddaughter shortly (her first time!) so a very quick catch up with The Glasgow Herald for October 31st, 1944.  One article in particular caught my eye.

The Population Problem:  Scotland is definitely a younger country than England or Wales, but an examination of the Registrar General’s figures show that in both countries the population is ageing. Women of child bearing-age between 15-45 in 1937 formed 24.2% of the population but within the next generation they will drop to 18.5%.

At the end of the South African War, children formed 1/3 of the population, today they form 1/4. If the same story continues, in 70 years time the number of children in Scotland would be halved to 1/6th.

Population breakdown: Scotland 1944
Population 5 million
2 million live in 4 cities.
1 million live in 26 large towns
1/2 million live in 66 medium towns
1/2 million live in small towns
1 million live in rural areas.
2/5 of the population live within 20 miles of Glasgow

Given that it’s now exactly 70 years since that report looking into the future, I thought I would check out the current statistics. It makes for interesting reading.

In 2011, the population of Scotland was 5.2 million.

The population of the 5 major cities was as follows:
Glasgow:   592,820
Edinburgh: 486,120
Aberdeen:  217,120
Inverness: 56,660
Stirling:  89,850

If children are defined as aged 0-19 years of age, they made up 22.39% of the population in 2011.

If children defined as aged 0-14 years of age, they made up 16.14% of the population in 2011, almost the exact prediction from 1944.  Fascinating!

Wartime Rations – Day 19

turkey burgerI found myself really craving salad today. Maybe it was something to do with the fact we’ve only got a few more days of sunshine forecast before the temperatures start to drop below freezing. I’ve been limiting myself to tried and true winter vegetables so far, but when I had another look at the vegetables in season, I noticed spinach. Yes! Something green and salad-y. But it’s still ‘wartime’ and I had about 2 ozs of turkey and mashed carrots left over from the weekend, so I really had to use them up.

The solution? Turkey ‘burger’ (1 medium mashed potato, small amount of chopped fried leek and chopped up cooked turkey meat all mixed together, shaped into a burger and then fried in a little butter) with carrots, spinach, blackberries and a little chopped apple on the side. It’s funny… just a few odds and ends yet it made a really nice lunch. In fact, it made two ‘burgers’ so I have leftovers for tomorrow. More importantly, I really enjoyed my salad!  Yay!

anne2013Rather than comment on what was in ‘today’s paper’  on October 24th, 1944, I thought I’d let you in on a conversation I had with Anne this morning.

It’s been interesting seeing the blackout times in the paper get longer and longer now that they were going into the winter months, so I asked Anne about it. Basic questions like, what was the blackout made of? What did it feel like once the blackout was up for the night?

The blackout was made of a black material that went inside the normal curtains next to the window. Once it was blackout hours, you couldn’t turn a light on in a room without ensuring the blackout curtains were closed, which often meant stumbling across the room in pitch darkness first. She can’t remember if coupons were needed to buy the material, but it was cheaper to buy than other fabrics. And she can remember some people making clothes out of it.

Outside, you could use a torch, but it had to be taped so only a small beam of light showed. The same with car lights.

Which got me wondering what it was like to be outside in the blackout when there was a fog. Even I can remember the filthy smogs we had in Glasgow back in the 60s, and having to go to school with a scarf over my face to protect my lungs. What must fog have been like during the blackout? Anne’s reply was that the fog didn’t just spoil your vision, but also your hearing. It was the absence of sound that she says she hated more than anything. You’d be standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus and have no sense of it until it loomed out of the fog less than ten yards from you.

She has a particular memory of being sent to the chemist’s shop to pick up a prescription for her parents. It was only a few steps away from their flat in Byres Road in Glasgow, but she especially hated going there when there was a fog outside. The 40s was still a time when chemists prepared their own pills and potions, so there were always vapours hanging in the air inside the shop which seemed to affect her particularly badly when she went back out into the fog, burning her throat. She’d run home to the kitchen and the fire where the family congregated. Not only did fire keep the fog away, but with fuel rationed, it was the only room they were able to keep warm.  “Everyone lived in the kitchen,’ she said.

We discussed a few other wartime nuggets  – little things that you can’t find in the history books –  but I’ll keep them until tomorrow.

 

Wartime Rations – Day Five

fishandchipsI seem to be eating out a little more frequently than I had planned when I started this programme. It’s the long weekend here in Canada, so we went out to lunch at Earls. Trying to stay within my rations I had halibut and chips, but the helping was so large that I think it’ll just be soup for me for dinner tonight!

The Glasgow Herald

Once more, only 6 pages. I wonder why? It’s getting closer to the end of the war, but is this when material was in real short supply?

Page One: Blackout times: 7pm – 7.09am

What I’m finding interesting about the front page of the paper is that this isn’t where to find the top news. This page is about announcements and adverts. For example:

Silver Weddings: At the Bath Hotel, Bath Street, Glasgow on 10th October, 1919, but Rev. D Galbraith, assisted by Dr Chisholm M.A., Donald M. Wilson to Agnes C. Sloan. Present address: Morangie, 19 Larch Road, Dumbreck, Glasgow.

Crystal Palace on St George’s Road, Charles Laughton in The Man From Down Under.

Page Two:  10,000th ‘Fortress’ Completed. The American Association of Aircraft Manufacturers announced in Los Angeles yesterday that the 10,000th Flying Fortress had just been built by Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle.

Page Three: German Positions Taken in Rear. The Landing by Canadian Forces at dawn yesterday in the Scheldt Estuary pocket west of the village of Hoofdplaat was reported last night to be ‘progressing satisfactorily’. The assault in the enemy’s rear was made to ease the pressure on the Canadians holding the Leopold Canal bridgehead, and already (reports Reuter) there are signs that the ferocious German attacks at the canal are weakening.

Page Four: No more ration-free bacon. Cooked belly bacon sold off the ration for the past 6 months was from yesterday issued to retailers for the ration bacon requirements. Coupons will be necessary when buying it.

Page Five: Foot and mouth disease was confirmed yesterday among pigs at Spennymoor, Co Durham. The usual standstill order was made.

Page Six: For Sale. Huntly Gardens, Glasgow. 3 public rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2 dressing rooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen and servants’ bedroom. Entry can be given as soon as the house is de-requistioned by the War Office. (I checked on recent sales at this address. The house has been turned into flats and one recently sold for £475,000. But what I found really interesting is that had been taken over by the War Office.  From whom? How much had they paid the original owners? What was it used for?)

Wartime Rations – Day Four

fishI decided on fish tonight. Although fish wasn’t a rationed food in WW2, it wasn’t always available. Fishermen had to put to sea in dangerous waters to haul in their catches, so often weren’t able to go far from shore. Also, which I didn’t realise, there are also distinct seasons for fish with cod being in season (in the UK) from October to January.  Who knew?

I rarely eat fish – I like it but my husband doesn’t – so I don’t have too many fish recipes to hand. But I do remember, from working in NHS hospitals years ago, that they used to serve up cod in a mustard sauce, which I decided to replicate. (Bake cod in oven at 180C for about 15 minutes. Make a white sauce, add mustard powder to taste, then pour over the fish.) It was delicious, and to add some colour and veggies I threw in some roasted Brussels sprouts which cooked in the oven at the same time as the fish.

berryPudding – because I am enjoying eating pudding every night – was apple and blackberry crumble using some of the leftover crumble mix from the other night. Also, saving energy, the pudding baked in the oven at the same time as the fish and veggies – although it needed a little more time.

The Glasgow Herald – Monday, October 9th, 1944

Only six pages again today, and I’m starting to find myself more interested with the ‘local’ news than the actual ‘war’ news.

Blackout times for Glasgow: 7.02pm until 7.07am- so nights are starting to creep in.

Page One: The writing is a bit blurred on this advert, but from what I can make out, the price at Rowans of 70 Buchanan Street for Officers’ uniforms were as follows:
Air Force Tunic: £9-6-6d
Trousers: £3-10-0d
Greatcoat: $14 – 4 -6d.

For comparison of what money bought back then, please check out this site for wartime prices.

Page Two: Scottish War Plant Closed. A war factory at Mossend, Lanarkshire, closed down on Saturday. When the factory was in full production over 500 men were employed, but recently only part of the plant was in operation. Members of the staff have received their notices. One hundred and twenty men are affected.

The above post is interesting when compared with the following one.

Page Three: Need for Private Enterprise. Mr Anthony Eden on Saturday urged that private enterprise should not be stifled after the war. He told Bristol Conservative and Unionist Association that the issue which would confront Britain when Germany and Japan were laid low was whether British industry would be able not only to re-establish itself, but markedly to raise pre-war levels.

Page Four: Food Facts.  Vitamin Foods. In view of the approaching winter, please see that every child under five gets cod liver oil and orange juice every day.

Page Five: Going My Way. Bing Crosby, after travelling so many roads to different places that all turned out to be the same, has deserted his fellow-voyagers, Hope and Lamour, and has gone up a rather odd side-turning to make ‘Going My Way’ (Paramount). In this he plays a young Roman Catholic priest who is sent to renovate a New York parish going downhill; he reforms the local Dead End Kids and sets them to singing Ave Marias, saves young girls from the streets, and raises money for the debt-laden church by composing and selling a sermon in song, a sort of Crooners’ Creed.

Certainly this sounds like the most dreadful slush, but, oddly enough, it is not. This is largely thanks to the acting – Mr Crosby’s diffident charm remains as strong as ever in a clerical suit, and Barry FItzgerald’s playing of an old priest, dry and eccentric, is as good a character sketch as any the screen has given us for some time.

… Altogether, we are still inclined to go Mr Crosby’s way, whether he is heading for Mandalay or the New Jerusalem.

Page Six: Peebles Auction Market. Owing to foot-and-mouth disease restrictions, the sale advertised for Friday, 13th October, has been meantime postponed.

A terraced house for sale at in Bellevue Road, Ayr, comprising 3 public rooms, 7 bedrooms, a kitchen  and servants’ accommodation was being offered for £2,250. I checked on modern-day prices for the same property. The building has now been divided into flats, with one recently priced at £197,844 and the other at £228,500!

Wartime Rations – Day Three

No food photographs today as breakfast was toast and marmalade, and lunch will be leftovers from yesterday’s evening meal. I’m heading out to ‘the pictures’ with a friend this evening, so will be grabbing something to eat at the mall. Keeping in the wartime spirit, I’m planning to enjoy a fish supper/fish and chips. If fish isn’t available, I’ll make do with chips.

Sunday post 1October 8th 1944 was a Sunday. There was no edition of The Glasgow Herald on Sundays during wartime, so I tried to find examples of other newspapers online, especially The Sunday Post which was a fixture in most Scottish households. I was unsuccessful, but I did find a link to a documentary on the 100th year anniversary of this iconic Scottish paper which also includes accounts of the paper’s experience during both world wars. (Minutes 37.55 – 40.30 for WW2.)

Anne worked for The Daily Record in Glasgow, so I asked her about what Sunday papers were available, and also about her experiences working in a newspaper office.  I also asked:  Given there was no edition on Sunday, I assume they didn’t work on Saturday, but must have had to work on a Sunday to get the Monday edition out.  How did that square the very Presbyterian notion of keeping the Sabbath holy?  Do you remember?

One of the things I love about eye-witness accounts are the details you can’t find in history books, so here are Anne’s memories.

anne2013No memories really of its interfering with church.  I can’t see that anyone would have accepted having to wait till Monday for write-ups about the dozens of football matches on Saturday afternoons.

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The Broons in The Sunday Post, February 1944

Most households would take The Sunday Post along with one or maybe two others; the Sunday Post was the demand of children for Oor Wullie sitting on his up-turned bucket and, of course, The Broons.

Most newspaper businesses did publish a Sunday paper but under a different name. You could perhaps find out by looking up Outram Press on Internet.  I worked for the rivals: the Kemsley Press in Hope Street.  My first job there was to sit with headphones on, from about 3 in the afternoon till 10 or 11 at night, taking ‘stories’ from correspondents all over Scotland for Kemsley’s morning paper, ‘The Daily Record’ , straight on to the typewriter for local calls and using shorthand for ‘long distance’ or ‘trunk’ calls.  These could be anything from the latest news in a court case to the prices obtained at the latest cattle auction, and had to be taken straight to the chief reporter.   Kemsley also published ‘The Evening News’ and on Sundays ‘The SundayMail’.  I got one day off a week and, not being involved in The Sunday Mail’, had Saturday off as well, so was having a 5-day week when most working people were still working half-day on Saturday.

I loved the feeling of ‘things happening’, was fascinated by the men operating the Linotype machines which pulled down the tiny lead (I think) characters (known as slugs) from the slots which surrounded the operator and was used to form the text; loved to go down to the basement and watch the huge, noisy presses in action as papers poured out, and watching as photographs from distant parts printed themselves oh-so-slowly, dot by dot, line by line, and eventually made a picture – do you remember those pictures? If you looked carefully you could see the individual dots, all varying shades of palest grey to black which resolved themselves into a printable illustration.

There were newsboys (sometimes rather old boys) waiting to get their supply to hawk in the city streets; and other boys loading sheaves of papers into waiting vans for further afield.

The Kemsley building was many stories high but with the war, the upper floors were redundant since paper was scarce and the papers had very few pages.  When war ended a decision was made by someone (Lord/Lady Kemsley?) to fit the empty space with hospital-type beds and offer them as accommodation to Empire servicemen who had been serving in Europe and wished to visit Scotland, sometimes the land of their parents perhaps, during their last leave before returning home.  They were also free to use the canteen.  So I met men from all over the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and S Africa.  Have to say I liked the New Zealanders best and happily took four of them (safety in numbers!) to the carnival in Kelvin Hall to have a go on the bumping cars etc.  All good fun.

 

 

Wartime Rations – Day Two

When Anne reads what I’m about to say, she’ll be rolling her eyes, shaking her head and saying, “No, no, no, no, no.” Having reminded me yesterday of the severe shortages of even rationed foods, I have to confess that I used two – TWO – eggs today. One for lunch and one in tonight’s bread and butter pudding. In fairness, when I’m cooking meals for my husband, I don’t try to feed us off my rations alone, so you could argue that tonight’s egg was ‘his,’ or would have come out of our shared powdered egg ration.

mince tarts

Mince tart, with onion/potato hash browns and mashed carrots.

Only two days in and we’re both finding the main courses really filling. (Perhaps I should have served dinner on a simple white plate as the meal and plate combined is an explosion of colour.) Using leftover mince from last night, I made a mince and potato pastry tart, with onion and potato hash browns and leftover carrots. It tasted really good and, as I managed to make four tarts from the recipe, they’ll make a nice change from a sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch.

bread pudding

Bread and butter pudding.

And here is the bread and butter pudding. To be honest, we’re both so full from the main course that we’re going to have to take a break and maybe come back to it this later in the evening. At the time of posting this, I can’t vouch for its taste… but it smells delicious.

The good thing about tomorrow? I’ll be back to my full 1/2 pint of milk per day until Sunday. Making the bread and butter pudding drained the last of my milk ration for the day!

On to the news.

The Glasgow Herald on Saturday, October 7th, 1944. Normally the paper consisted of 8 pages, but on Saturday it was only 6. (Sunday, no edition was published.)

As always, blackout times for Glasgow are at the very top of the front page:  7.07pm until 7am.

Page One: With no edition on Sundays, the churches advertised their services for the following day. I decided to check out The Cathedral Church of St Mary on Great Western Road as – I believe – this is where my parents were married. On October 8th, the 18th Sunday after Trinity, Holy Communion (sung) would be held at 8,9 and 12.15, with Matins at 11 and Evensong at 6pm. The minister was Rev A.I. Haggart B.A. and (very interesting) all seats free.

Page Two: The Battle of the Rhine is again increasing in violence, and according to the German commentator, Sertorius, the British have now succeeded in establishing a bridgehead across the Lek, which is being secured by further reinforcement. It will be necessary to wait for official confirmation from General Eisenhower before the full scale and scope of this attack can be grasped, but any idea that it is species of revenge for the defeat at Arnhem may be dismissed, Sound strategy aims at victory, not vengeance.

Page Three: Among the treasured souvenirs of the Glasgow Highlandersstay in Belgium during the present campaign, will be a beautifully executed tapestry portrait of King George VI, which was presented to the battalion by the Mayor of the village of Bellingham. It had been kept hidden during the whole period of German occupation, and its presentation to the Scottish troops was a spontaneous gesture which was greatly appreciated.

Page Four: Radio times for Saturday and Sunday.  At 8.30pm on Sunday, listeners could hear the final episode of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
It was also reported that during 1943-44, 1,124,255 people had visited the Art Gallery and its branch museums in Glasgow.

Page Five: Several new companies were registered in Scotland this week under the Companies Act:
#22946: James Lees and Sons (Ardrossan) Ltd.  (Mineral water.)
#22947: John G Dunn and Sons (Cambuslang) Ltd. (Wood and lumber merchants.)
#22948: Hillocks of Gourdie Farms (Blairgowrie) Ltd.  (Ownership of landed estates.)
#22949: James Johnstone (Glasgow) Ltd. (Grocers and Provisions merchants.)
#22450: Smedley’s Scottish Estates (Blairgowrie)Ltd. (TO purchase the lands and farm of Welton near Blairgowrie.)
#22451 W. Caldwell and Co. (Paisley) Ltd. (Gum and starch manufacturers)
#22452: James Church (Transport) Ltd. (Hauliers and carters.)
#22453: J.B. Bennet (Glasgow) Ltd (Public works contractors.)
#22454: Peter Robertson (Glasgow) Ltd. (Traders or business of auctioneers.)
#22455: The North-West Highland Associated Hotels (Inverness) Ltd. (To acquire hotels and inns.)
#22456: Saracen’s Head Hotel (Leith) Ltd. (To purchase the business of the Saracen’s Head Hotel from Mrs Jessie Wright.)

Page Six: Classifieds. The price of 750 pounds sterling was paid for a first prize five-month filly foal at Lanark. (If you’re interested in figuring out comparative costs for a house or car in 1944, please check out this great website.)

 

War Time Rations – Day One (again!)

It can get pretty boring looking a food pictures, so I’m not going to take pictures of EVERYTHING I eat over the next month. But as it’s the first day, I thought I’d show examples of what will be my typical weekday morning and lunch.

PorridgeWeekday breakfast will be porridge, a little milk and smattering of sugar for taste. (I’m going to save my egg and bacon as a treat for the weekend.) Because I only get 3 pints of milk a week, I’ve decided to divide that up into Mon/Tues allowing myself 1/4 pint each day and thereafter 1/2 pint daily for the rest of the week.

My weekday lunches will be a variation on The Oslo Meal. Essentially, it’s a sandwich (lettuce and tomato), a piece of cheese, glass of milk and piece of fruit, but given that lettuce and tomato are not in season in October, I’ve modified it to a bowl of homemade vegetable soup with some bread, homemade coleslaw (some days I’ll substitute an apple) and a cup of tea. My family seem to like my veggie soup and it’s really easy, so here’s the recipe.

RATIONSDiana’s Homemade Vegetable Soup:
Pan of water, one stock cube, 1/2 cup of lentils, 1/2 cup of split peas (if desired), one chopped onion, one chopped potato and one chopped carrot. Put everything in the pan, bring to the boil then simmer for at least 1 hour. The longer you simmer it the better.

minceDinner. Having grown up in Glasgow, I’m very fond of ‘mince and tatties’ but I decided to do the potatoes just a little differently tonight.  I mashed them with fried leek, moulded them into hamburger sized patties and then fried them which gave them a great texture.

And then pudding.  Ah, pudding.  I only ever seem to eat a dessert whendessert I’m eating wartime rations – go figure. However, with apples and blackberries as the only fruits available to me for October, I’m going to have to get creative. Tonight I made the old standby; apple and raisin crumble. The crumble is dead easy; rub 2oz of butter into 4oz flour then mix in 2oz sugar. I only used a small amount of the mixture tonight so have stored the rest in the fridge for the evenings I need to pull something together quickly.

Just as well I have to take the dog for a walk tonight as I feel pretty full!

anne2013Anne’s asked me to remind everyone that, “When you’re talking about rationing, don’t forget fuel and soap.  Remember it was a time of coal, electricity and gas, so Britain then didn’t have the benefit of hydropower and nuclear stations, nor did local users have wind farms.  So, electricity often meant blackouts of light as well as heat for cooking (in the middle of making dinner!), and the coal ration was only enough to heat one room, so most families lived in the kitchen, often undressing there and dashing through the cold hall to get to their cold bedrooms.  As for soap, there were no detergents beyond soap in block, flake or powder form and the ration was meagre.  In Glasgow we didn’t feel it badly because we had such nice soft water from Loch Katrine and mother used often to send a soap coupon or two down to relatives in Derby and Nottingham where the tap water was very hard. There was also washing soda but that was extremely harsh on hands and fabrics.”

As for what was being reported in The Glasgow Herald on this day 70 years ago, despite the continued posting of the blackout times for Glasgow – 7.10pm until 7.01am next morning – there appears to be a growing sense that people are looking beyond the end of the war.

Page One: Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit was playing at The Alhambra.

Page Two: The Army, unleashed after its dogged punishing weeks in the Caen sector, is gathering an amazing momentum.

Page Three: Questions were raised in Parliament on the shortage of teats for babies’ bottles, and, as happens too often, the matter was glossed over with meaningless explanations.

Page Four: Soviet troops were within 10 miles of Belgrade.

Page Five: France. Marshall Petain and 50 former members of his Vichy Government were charged with treason and intelligence with the enemy.

Page Six: After a four-day Court Martial, Private Thomas Montoya (24) of the US Army Air Force was cleared of murdering Joan Long (22) in an air raid shelter in Blackpool but was found guilty of manslaughter. He forfeited all pay and allowances, received a dishonourable discharge and a sentence of 10 years hard labour.

Page Seven: A shortage of round coal was accentuated this week by a number of illegal stoppages in Lanarkshire and by a continued high rate of absenteeism.

Page Eight: Situation Wanted.  Scottish doctor, graduate with varied experience, at present doing war-time locum in busy practice, is anxious to settle in Scotland after the war; age 32; family man; temperate; Presbyterian; he would consider assistantship with view partnership, or buying outright; preference for Highlands and Islands area or small county town, but is interested in any reasonable proposition.

Research

My main area of historical interest is World War Two. I’m fascinated by it – perhaps because there were still air raid shelters around to play in when I was growing up in Glasgow. And I can still clearly remember my Dad pulling on his old army overalls and beret before climbing underneath Mum’s car when it needed fixed.

So when I heard about a two-day symposium on The Great War being offered at the Military Museum here in Calgary, I hummed and hawed before deciding to sign up. It’s not ‘my’ time period.

But I’m glad I did.

Here’s what I learned.

1) Two days and 25 papers later, I probably know more about Alberta in WWI than most of my native-born Albertan/Canadian friends.

2) As a writer, ANYTHING you learn is invaluable. Everything can be adapted to add depth, texture and veracity to your writing.

3) More importantly, if you write anything inaccurate in your novel, someone somewhere will pick up on it. And when they do, it will pull them out of the story. From then on they will question everything else you say. Pull a reader out of your story and you’ve lost them.

No matter what you’re writing about, please – please – make sure your facts are sound.