Tag Archives: Diary

The Diary of a Farmer’s Wife 1796-1797

August 21st 1796

Up yester morn att 4 off the clocke, and carters wife cumming we to the washing; getting all reddie for the hangeing out before breakefuste.

John in to saye Dollie the red cow be sicke, so me to make a drink for her good, it bein chill.  I did warme sum milk, to which I do put a spoon full of breesed appel pips and 2 egges, all shook upp with a glass of brandie, which John do give her.  Later she much better, and John did give her milk to the calfs.

2017 version
I was up yesterday morning at 4 o’clock because the carter’s wife was coming. We were going to do the washing so that it was all ready to hang out before breakfast.
Dollie, the red cow, was sick and John asked me to make a drink for her.  Being chill I warmed some milk and added a spoon full of breezed apple pips and 2 eggs, all shook up with a glass of brandy, which John gave her.  Later she was much better, and John gave her milk to the calves.

The Diary of a Farmer’s Wife 1796-1797

This is a lovely book that does just what it says.  Anne Hughes is that Farmer’s Wife and she prefaced her book with these words:

‘Anne Hughes, her boke in whiche I write what I doe, when I hav thee tyme, and beginnen wyth this daye, Feb ye 6 1796.’

These are Anne’s words as we see her story of 20th August 1796:

This be the first time I hav writ in my book for three dayes, bein bussie.
It hav bin a verrie hot day and we to church at night, after the milking be don and the pigges fed.
The passon was new, and did preche a verrie prosie surmon,so I nearly aslepe, and did jump much at the last himm singeing. I was glad to be out once more, and John bidden the passon to sup with us we back home, where Sarah cumming in, we did put the supper reddie in the best kitchen.

In 2017 words this might read:

This is the first time I have written in my book for the past three days because I’ve been busy.  It’s been a very hot day and, after the cows had been milked and the pigs fed, we went to church.   We’ve a new parson and he preached a very prosy sermon, so much so that I nearly went to sleep – so much so that I jumped when they started singing the last hymn. I was glad when the service ended and we were outside. John, my husband, invited the parson to come to supper with us.  Sarah, our maid, was ready and we put the supper ready in the best kitchen.

 

An extract from ‘The Diary of Beatrice Webb volume one – 1873-1892.’

I have read many of Beatrice’s diaries and find them fascinating.  I wonder how many of us have sat and thought something similar to this that she recorded on Saturday 21st July 1888.  She writes:

‘I wish I could rid myself of self-consciousness and ambition in all its forms.  Life is so short and there is so much that needs doing that it is a sin to waste a thought or a feeling on self.  Some days I seem to rise above it, to look down on my own struggle, failures and little successes as something too small and insignificant to be noted, to see it all in proportion to the great currents of life, of all kinds, that surround one.’

Published by Virago in association with the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Jamie copies Mr Samuel Pepys

Jamie always started a new diary at the beginning of the year. ‘Well, how will my children and grand-children know what we did if I don’t keep a record?’ was his excuse.

It was January 2nd and he sat, looking at a blank page. The New Year’s Eve’ celebrations, including some rather good wine, had meant that the first day of the New Year had drifted through as a bit of a blur. Now it was the time for the New Year’s diary records to begin. What should he write? What could he write about for the benefits of posterity?

As he sat there and thought, Susie – the wife – came through the lounge where he was pondering. ‘Stop chewing that pencil’ was all she said as she headed to the kitchen.

‘I wonder if Mrs Pepys was as rude and bossy to her husband Samuel when he started writing his diary,’ Jamie mused.

Samuel Pepys had started his diary on 1st January 1660 and kept it in great detail for nearly 10 years. Jamie had been starting his diary at the beginning of each year for the last 6 so ‘I should be able to match and beat him don’t you think?’ he murmured to himself. Jamie sat back in his chair and began thinking about the similarities and differences between himself and Mr Pepys:-

Pepys had kept his diary all year, every year. Me? Well I can be quite busy you know. Other demands get in the way. Take last year for instance:-

It started off well and was writing something nearly every day – then Susie decided she wanted one of the bedrooms painted. That was in early February. By the time I had finished that it was time to start cutting the lawn and doing things with the flower beds.

I did write some bits in early April – well it was quite wet outside – but then Janice, our eldest, moved in with her boyfriend on the other side of the country so I had to take all her things across – darn near 200 miles each was that was. That took me well over a week to move and by the time I had finished the grass needed cutting again.

I’ve just had a look at last year’s diary and I see that in early June I wrote three whole pages. There would have been more but Susie liked so much what I had done in the bedroom that I was ‘requested’ – that means ‘instructed’ – to do the same with Janice’s room now that she had left home.

I finished that just in time for Susie and me to go on holiday for a couple of weeks. That would be a great time for me to catch up on the diary notes I had missed I thought. When we got to the hotel I discovered that I’d left my diary book at home! I must admit, though, that a thought had gone through my mind that perhaps a ‘certain lady whose name begins with S’ had sabotaged its’ trip! That wasn’t too bad, though, because I could use the hotel notepaper that was in the room.

We had a great time there and were quite sad when it was time to go home. The journey home was a bit slow due to traffic and roadworks but we made it and flopped into bed – happy to be home. Unpacking could wait until the morning.

First thing next morning we emptied the cases and the washing machine was soon going full tilt. Stuff that didn’t need washing was stashed away in its own place. There was just one thing missing – my make-shift holiday diary!

We searched the cases, the clothes and the car – twice. It was nowhere to be found. We – no, me according to Susie – must have left it in the hotel. I ‘phoned them and they said they would check and call me back. They called the next morning. There was no luck – they said that they had checked ‘our’ room and all other possible places but nothing had been found. They suggested that it had probably been put into the tidy bin in the room and then into the main rubbish bin. They had sort of told me it was my own fault because all room rubbish – they had called it ‘leavings’ – was put into the main waste bins within two hours of resident’s departure and that sort of rubbish was collected first thing each morning – earlier than I had called them.

I decided to sit and write up as much as I could of the things I remembered.

I had been at it about half an hour when the ‘phone rang. It was Janice. She and her bloke had been doing nothing but argue since the moment she had got there. He was not like she thought he would be. Would I please come and collect her – NOW!

I did – and she came home with the same things she – I – had taken over there not that many weeks previously.

My diary re-construction for the year was put to one side – and was never completed. Why’s that you may ask.

Well – Janice’s things needed sorting; the grass needed cutting and flowers needed beheading because of our two weeks away.

Also Susie wanted the remaining bedroom to be decorated as nicely as I had done the other two!

I bet Samuel Pepys never had this trouble as he wrote his diaries.

Me? Well you’ve just read the first piece for my diary for 2016. Wish me luck with the rest of the year. I’ll keep you posted from time to time.