Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Good Life

Last year John Lewis reported a 24% rise in sales of sewing machines. They sold more last year than they had for the previous thirty years. Not only are more people buying sewing machines in order to 'make do and mend' more people are baking their own bread and loads more people are showing an interest in 'growing their own' food, predominantly to try and beat the recession and to become more environmentally friendly towards our precious earth.

Living on a budget can be tough going and growing your own fruit and veggies is a massive step towards saving pennies. So living 'The Good Life' is becoming really appealing during our present financial climate as families are forced to pull their belts in.

Back in the 1970's Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers made self sufficiency fashionable with their sitcom 'The Good life'. Husband and wife give up the 'rat race' and adopted a more simple lifestyle by turning their front and back gardens into vegetable patches. They got chickens, goats, a pig and a cockerel. They turned their hand to making their own clothes and generating their own electricity. Nowadays the recession is encouraging people to grow their own and to have a bash at beating the credit crunch.

My total love of fresh fruit and vegetables goes back to my Grandparents. My Dad's parents grew their own in their back garden while Mum's parents sold veggies.

During the 1960's and 70's my Nan and Grandad were Green Grocers. They had two shops in the Eastend of London and were good, old fashioned grocers who offered their customers a genuine and personal service, the kind of service that unfortunately you rarely find nowadays.

As a child I loved the shop and would squeal with delight whenever Mum jumped in her little green mini and took me with her to help out over the shop.

I loved everything about being there. The dusty smell of the potato stands, the fruity citrus smells of the apples and oranges, Grandad wearing his crisp white overall all rosy cheeked, laughing in his jolly Irish manner as he chatted with his many loyal customers, the heavy 'clunk' in the background of the old fashioned weights as Nan weighed out carrots and potato's emptying them into brown paper bags that Grandad would hand cheerfully to his customer as he walked them to the door.

I would sit on a stool next to Nan with a cup of sweet tea that I'd slurp from a teaspoon as customers would fuss over me, patting my head and telling me how much I'd grown since last week. I would beam with pride as I thought I must be really growing up now if so many people are telling me so.

Sadly Grandad is no longer with us and neither are my Dad's parents but the memories I have of them still are and they all hugely influenced my love of growing and being out in the garden.

It is so important to me to educate our kids about the benefits of growing their own and to encourage them to develop a love of the garden too.

Both Papa and I aim to educate the kids to have a better basic understanding of growing food which will hopefully stay with them into adulthood just like my Grandparents influence did with me.

Getting them used to handling tools and being able to tell the difference between a weed and a plant will be useful to them in the future if they ever decide to grow their own.

Gardening will be a useful skill and even if they go through phases in their lives when they lose interest in the garden which they often do during teenage years and early twenties the basic skills will still be with them regardless.

It is also important for the kids to learn where their food comes from and to teach them about the environmental aspect of food miles and the carbon cost of food shipping. Growing their own gives them a good environmental awareness. It encourages them to eat more healthfully as they develop their love (over time with some kids) of eating fresh vegetables.

The health benefits of gardening are invaluable both mentally and physically in order to maintain a healthy heart and mind. I personally find being in the garden extremely therapeutic and this is something I remember feeling even as a child.

I hope in the future my kids will naturally have an appreciation for growing and it will become a massive part of their lives.
March is the perfect time of year to make a start with the kids by getting out in the garden or balcony if in a flat and plant some seeds. You could start with some kid favourites like strawberries, sunflowers and last year we grew our own pumpkins with the kids and come Halloween they were absolutely thrilled to harvest and carve pumpkins that they had planted themselves.
So go on get your wellies on....The kids will love it!


  1. Gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing. I used to love The Good Life, always wanted to live like Barbara!! I do now!

    CJ xx

  2. Lovely pics of the kids, and lovely memories. x

  3. I love this post! Not only are they learning something very important, those children will have such fabulous memories to pass on to their own grandchildren one day too! Emma xx

  4. Ahh em lovely memories for me as well. Beautifully worded



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