Autumn was now upon us, and so was "Ducking Apple Night" October 31st, now called Halloween I think it's really sad that Halloween has taken the place of what we used to call Ducking Apple Night. I used to love it as a child.An apple was suspended from a hook screwed into the top of the door frame on a piece of string, or apples were placed in a bowl of water and we had to take a bite without using your hands, but I see little value in what goes on in this country these days. It's sad the loss of a family tradition which involved indoor games with healthy fruit rewards and a little cash if you were good at holding your breath. Nowadays 31st Oct has been grabbed by commercial entities with supermarkets full of ghoulish rubbish, and the elderly locked in their darkened homes dreading "trick or treat."
Next came Bonfire night. Weeks before we had spent hours searching the surrounding woodlands, and dragging back huge branches for our bonfire on "The Lawn" a large piece of waste ground nearby, we knocked on doors in the streets asking if there were any old newspapers or cardboard boxes we could have. On the night the things we got up to with fireworks I'd better not go into,
but not very nice.
Winters were not very nice in those days either. As there was no central heating, the coal fires in the house had to be lit each morning. This meant more hard work. Perhaps a few times a week, Mam, Dad, or some other member of the family, would go down to the coal house, break up the huge lumps of coal with a sledge-hammer, and put the pieces in to a bucket. Then small sticks were chopped from a log that Dad had brought home from the mine, and these together with the bucket of coal, were carried up the steps, and stored on the bailey ready for the morning.
The ashes from the previous day were cleared from the
fire places,old twisted newspapers were places in the grate,
and the sticks were placed on the top.
The paper was then lit, and as soon as the sticks were
alight, the small pieces of coal were laid gently on top.
Then it was time for a cup of tea, that is, if there was water
in the kettle on the stove, because in winter, if the kettle
had not been filled the night before, the chances were,
the tap on the bailey would be frozen solid!
Winters also meant going to bed earlier.
We had no hot water bottles, so
Mam would heat up an old flat iron on the
gas stove, wrap it up in a towel, and pop
it into my bed.
As we had no electricity upstairs, mam
gave me a candle,and off I went to my
I would lay awake for ages, cuddling my flat iron,
seeing how many animals I could make on the the
wall with the shadow cast by the candle,
until either I frightened myself to death, or fell asleep.
The Graig as it is today, apart from cars not much has changed.