When we got married Ernie was bringing home about £1 17s 6d.
Now this was long before we went decimal so in todays money that would be about £1.25 a week, a couple of dollars to you Tess.
Now, although everyone thinks that we have always had free healthcare in the UK that’s not so. A visit to the doctor when we got married amounted to just over half a months pay so it was pretty much out of the question if we wanted to eat. The National Health Service got started in the late 1940’s, before then we had to pay.
Unless it was especially serious we relied on remedies passed down to us over the years, and most of the things we used involved plants, with the occasional bee added for good measure! Usually, someone local had what you needed if you didn’t grow it yourself.
I went to teach the kids crochet again on Monday and we got around to the old days and ended up talking about plants. One of the girls said she really enjoyed her lesson in ‘herbology’. None of us knew if it was a real word, but we liked it so we decided to stick with it.
As an aside, the crochet is going great but I have a feeling I am going to be inundated with scarves and knee rugs this Christmas.
Right, back to herbology…
We used honey a lot back then, far more than most people use it now for medicinal purposes. We stored lumps of honeycomb in jars and the honey would collect at the bottom of the jar. A spoonful when you had a sore throat helped and it was one ‘medicine’ the children never minded.
It also soothes coughs, putting a lining on the throat and helping prevent irritation.
We also spread it over cuts and grazes to keep infection away and to help healing, it worked every time. Minor wounds would be lovely and clean and they really healed fast.
We didn’t grow burdock, but there was enough of it growing wild that you could just pull it up when you needed it when it was in season. We would pick some of the fruits and store them for use later in the year. When you crush up burdock fruits they are oily and this soothes irritated skin almost immediately. The fresher they are the better but they dry very slowly so they were still of some use during the winter when fresh ones weren’t available
Making a poultice helps bring out bruises and a burdock tea is excellent for treating indigestion.
The root of the burdock plant was good for the treatment of boils. You boiled and mashed the root and placed it over the inflamed area. Drinking a tea made from burdock root was said to be good for arthritis…though none of us had it back then so I can’t be sure of that.
Marigolds were used to treat bites and stings, you just crush them and rub them over the affected area and relief soon follows.
These pretty flowers are a boon in the garden as they keep the aphids off tomatoes and other crops prone to blackfly like pole beans. Ernie ALWAYS planted a row of marigolds near our beans and the children used to put them in containers and move them around the tomato patch.
I grew this in a few rotten at the bottom barrels down the far end of the garden, it takes over if you let it escape!
Chamomile is very good at calming people down, and I used to make chamomile and lavender pouches to put in the childrens rooms to help them drift off to sleep.
Chamomile teas can either be just drunk as a drink or held in the mouth to relieve toothache or the pain of mouth ulcers.
Tansy is a pretty yellow flower that grows as fast as a weed if you let it, another one I contained in an out of the way corner.
This stops the bugs biting very well, you just crush the leaves and rub them on your skin. Works a treat. You don’t eat or drink tansy as it’s poisonous used like that.
Definitely contain this plant…it will take over the entire garden if it gets a chance. as well as using mint in the kitchen it is very good for calming upset stomachs and preventing the children feeling like they are going to be sick. If there were lots of colds around I would add mint to tea without milk as it seems to help fighting the germs.
Again, sage is great in the kitchen and almost as great for saving a costly trip to the doctors. Used as a bandage over the honey spread on a cut it is like a little natural bandage. It can also take the heat of burns, not open burns, but the fat splash or hot water type of burn that reddens the skin and makes it swell.
Marjoram makes for a decent disinfectant. Pick lots, crush it up and boil it. The liquid kills germs.
I’ll have to ask Edith if she knows where the box is that has all my old recipe books in. I had a few from mother when she died, all beautifully written out. I know there’s a notebook with them that lists all the medicinal plants my parents grew, and therefore the medicinal plants that I grew. I wonder where the box went? I’m sure we still have it somewhere.
Paul and the children are coming over on Sunday, he’s a strapping lad, he can go up into the loft and look for my box if Edith doesn’t know where it is.
Well, that’s it for today. You have a lovely weekend and I’ll speak to you soon.