There was one shop in Belton. It was very small. On one side was a Post Office on the other canned goods and dried food was sold. The postmistress thought that my sister and I were wonderful as we still spoke with an American accent having not long since been living in Oklahoma.. She would ask us over and over to call...
The toilet....the bathroom
She could not resist us say Gee...at every oppurtunity..
and so on. nanny did not like all this fuss. We were her English grandchildren now and she found our piroette in the post office "just not the done thing!!!!!". But the post misteress was enchanted and we got candy/sweets by the mothfull. I find this amazing as when I go to the US people love my English accent and ask me to repeat whole sentances over and over...words like gosh and crikey always getting a laugh. No sweets/candy is ever forthcoming. I guess I lost my touch over the years...LOL
The best place to go shopping was Gret Yarmouth. It was a large sea side town with a market. There are about 1,800 markets in the UK and they all hold the royal seal of some long lost King. So we took the old bus through every small village to get there. This was part of the fun.Nanny knew everyone on that bus ride. Who was pregnant, what difficulties they had, who had work, who was stuggling. Gossip was whispered. As if they thought whispering made it OK LOL
Wednesday was "Big Market" day but we could not go then, because it was ironing day? I asked my Nanny why we went on Thursday, when the market was smaller...it didn't make sense to me. But I got my answer "Wednesday we iron...my mother ironed on a Wednesday and we do to???" Still the market sold vegetables, meat, flowers, eggs all local produce. Nanny was a tyrant with the stall holders. She picked out her produce herself. Turning over apples for bruises and putting them back if they were not good enough. The Rumsby's had a market garden in Belton so we always stopped at their stall. Pat Rumsby had been my mother's bridesmaid. years later we got our little dog Candy from them. They were people we knew, Belton people, so we could trust them.
There were 3 large Department Stores in Great Yarmouth. One of them Palmers was owned by a local family...it is still there. Palmers was posh. Nanny and I took tea there. If you are posh you take tea, you don't drink it. Tea was thought of as a luxury, it was very expensive back in the day. People got together and partook of tea as a ritual in the afternoon. "Shall we take tea now Ninny." I can hear Nanny's voice now. We took tea from a real china pot in real china cups and milk jug. The sugar was always in cubes it was thought declasse to take granulated. Oh...you take sugar too????. It had to be China tea too. Nanny didn't dring Indian tea it was not for ladies...lol It was too strong. The men drank Indian tea. It was seen as a sign all was well if you had the pennies to take tea in Palmers. All the ladies on the bus were there. We stayed in Palmers longer when it rained or snowed. But the cruel reality was we could not afford to ever eat there. But chips on the market were magic and filled an empty tummy. When I shop in Palmers today I always eat something and remember those days when we were too poor.
But our lunch was on the market cheap and filling. Chips (fries) a great local delicacy. We still say "cheap as chips" The chips were hand cut and thick and cooked in beef fat. They came in newspaper. There were benches and we sat there come rain or shine on benches chowing down on chips. Then played the lady taking tea at Palmers. Hub and I still eat market chips, they are fried in vegetable oil now. When my Uncle Cecil from Oklahoma came to stay, David took him on the bus to have chips on the market. Like it was a real treat. The more things change the more they stay the same.Cecil said it was "neat".
Going home we all compared prices. Who paid the most for fruit. Nanny bought "scrag end of lamb" to make stew and dumplings to feed a huge, ever growing household. But we didn't mention the cheap cuts of meat. That was just not done. By the time we arrived home I had seen so much. The fancy goods in Palmers like leather goods, fancy dresses. NOTHING HAND KNITTED that had belonged to someone else. But I am glad for all that Nanny taught me about making ends meet. I still never throw anything away. it always goes to the charity shop or the church.Nanny lived through 2 world wars when times were tough. She worked in the factories which made guns. She escaped the bombs. Grandad braved the fires pulling people like me and you out of the rubble. they were good people. Salt of the earth. I still hear nanny's voice..."Shall we take tea Ninny?"