Sunday, 27 September 2015

My frugal hero(ines) 3

Ah dear, sweet Aunt Alice!

If my grandmother's life was hard, Great Aunt Alice's was even harder.  At only 47 she was left the widow of grandad's younger brother.  They had eight children but two predeceased their father.  Their youngest son was only six when the children were left fatherless in 1939.  The family lived in a cottage on the farm and doubtless were helped and supported by the extended family but I think it is fair to say that Aunt Alice had  very little.

I can't remember much about Aunt Alice's time on the farm as by the time I can remember she was living in an old person's bungalow in the village.  For a rather greedy little girl that was great!  You see, we could walk down to the village-shop-cum-post-office for some sweets then call at Aunt Alice's in the sure knowledge that she would feed us home-made cake.

To be fair to myself I continued to visit long after the cake was a major attraction and indeed until I was grown up but there was a small ordeal each time I went.  I had to have a cup of tea.  Despite having spent most of my working life as a Christian minister I am not a "more tea, Vicar?".  I loathe tea.  I would rather be thirsty!  However, there was no way that I would hurt my dear Aunt Alice, so when I went to her I made sure I had some peppermints in my pocket to take the taste away.

For Aunt Alice, offering a  cup of tea was one of life's pleasures.  Out would come a pretty cup and saucer and a lacy tray cloth.  The cake would be on a dainty plate which probably didn't match the cup and saucer but it was nevertheless cherished.  Chatting about the little things of life whilst sharing a cake and a cuppa which she had made was something to be treasured.  After I had left she would wash up, still thinking about me.  Later still she would make another cuppa and drink it remembering the things we had talked about, the news which I had brought.

And that is the example of frugality which she taught me.  It was actually a very lavish frugality.  In terms of "things" Aunt Alice had very little but what she had was to be cherished and shared.  In terms of a heart, Aunt Alice's was as big as a bucket and she showed me that the simplest of things can be pleasures and when done with love, they are priceless.


  1. All the people that that have inspired you had so much to share-their wisdom and generosity. These have been wondeeful posts.

  2. My grandparents had a garden in Liverpool where I was brought up. We on the other hand only had a back yard. We would visit every Saturday to help with the garden as they couldn't manage it any more. My grandad would make plant pots for his tomatoes from old lino and I would fill them with compost from the compost heap. Nan could make a soup out of anything and she was the one that took cuttings an grew all sorts of things in the garden. I would collect windfalls and take them in to hetr and she'd make stewed apple, apple pies and apple crumble. I learnt a great deal from them.

    1. And they never knew just how much they were teaching us! Not just the practical skills but the attitudes.

  3. A quiet village life sounds idyllic to many people today, but it would have had its own hardships and there would have been a degree of loneliness. Your visits would have been so important and and as you say, re-lived and thought about for some time after.

    Your great aunt's life would have been so hard when she was widowed; especially with all those mouths to feed - no social services - no NHS. Friends and family would have been so essential to help her cope - an amazing woman indeed.

  4. A priceless lesson indeed.