I thought I'd take a brief detour from the knitting today to show you another of the precious heirlooms that have now come to me. All stationery in our house seemed to have 'HMSO' or 'government property' stamped on it - clearly 'liberated' from the office stationery cupboard by my dad, a lifelong NHS worker. These three volumes belonged to my mum.
Whilst we always had everything we needed I know that mum did struggle to make ends meet and was always on the look out for cheap and tasty ways to vary the family diet. Every morning at 11.00am she would get out pen and paper and wait for the recipe slot on the Jimmy Young show on Radio 2 which she would note down in Pitmanscript Shorthand, a skill she learned in her days as a secretary. She would then write them down in longhand in one of these books.
I am very grateful that she didn't attempt to try all the recipes she wrote down.
Although I think I might try one or two of them myself.
Sometimes, if one of the dishes we made in school cookery classes turned out particularly well she would allow my sister and me to copy it into her book.
Many of the recipes became family staples.This Westmorland chutney was the perfect way to deal with the annual glut of plums and courgettes.
After mum died, dad took over the books -he may have disagreed slightly on questions of alphabetical order.
As interesting as the books are, sometimes its the things that drop out of them that can be the most revealing. Here mum calculated the difference in price of the Christmas cake in 1980 compared to 1979, showing how she really did need to watch every penny.
I also found a sheet of paper where she had written out the lyrics of a song that she loved. She wasn't much older than I am now when she died and it's lovely to think that, inside these pages, filled with practical stuff about looking after her family, a trace of the thoughts and dreams that crossed her mind as she worked still remain.
To me these heirlooms are priceless.