Wednesday 24 January 2018

Tunes On A Penny Whistle & Tuppenny Rice and Treacle by Doris E Coates #BlogTour @authoright

The early 1900s were a period of great hardship for many working-class families, particularly in rural areas. However, they were also times of pride and self-sufficiency, with fun and laughter derived from simple pleasures as well as mutual support and courage when poverty could have become unbearable.
This book is a personal history of a childhood in the village of Eyam – known as the Plague Village – in the Peak District of Derbyshire. Doris recalls how her mother confronted tough living conditions without labour-saving devices and often with little or no money.
She remembers, too, her father, who fought for the right for union representation, worked for self-help groups, and organised political meetings and village entertainments. He was a talented self-taught musician, producing a wide range of music on his Canadian organ and penny whistle. His fighting spirit made him a remarkable and influential character within the village community.
Both humourous and shocking, this description of domestic and community life at the beginning of the twentieth century is illustrated with many contemporary photographs, documents, and line drawings by George Coates, the author’s husband.

Tunes on a Penny Whistle  - A Derbyshire Childhood   and Tuppenny Rice and Treacle - Cottage Housekeeping 1900 to 1920, both by Doris E Coates were published on 23 January 2018 by The Harpsden Press.  My thanks to Rachel from Authoright who provided my copies for review and who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour.

I have a real soft spot for memoirs and add the fact that Tunes on a Penny Whistle is set not far away from me, in the Peak District and I was really eager to review this book. I was not disappointed and have spent the past week or so, reading Doris E Coates' personal history of her childhood.

Eyam, in the Peak District, is known as the Plague Village; many stories and novels have been written about it, but this book tells all about the ordinary folk who lived there during the years of the First World War.

The Foreward is written by Doris' grandson Richard, and the book is introduced by Doris herself and was written in October 2017.

Doris Coates' story is warm and wonderfully well written. Her memories, told in her own voice make for a nostalgic read that I really enjoyed. I loved the description of village life, with the many shops and door to door deliveries. All so very different to our modern times, and although sometimes harsh and difficult, the sense of community and friendship shines through.

The book is split into sections including 'Making Ends Meet' and 'No Power to the Workers' and really is a detailed and intimate look at how people coped in rural communities a hundred years ago.

Throughout the book there are lots of excellent illustrations; original photographs, drawings, newspaper cuttings etc, and these perfectly complement the book.

Tunes on a Penny Whistle is a fascinating and illuminating insight, I enjoyed it very much.

Feeding a family on a limited budget is always a challenge. Yet even with a budget as low as ten shillings (50p) a week in the early part of the twentieth century, it is remarkable how interesting and varied the menu could be.
This delightful book draws on recipes compiled by Doris’s mother in Derbyshire and mother-in-law in Cumberland, and contains detailed records of weekly expenditure.
It includes numerous recipes for nutritious and filling meals for working men and growing families, taking full advantage of what was available - hearty meat dishes, with lots of root vegetables, puddings and dumplings to fill them out, cakes and buns, sweets and jams, and beverages to go with them (some highly alcoholic!). The recipes work just as well now as then.
It is also full of household and cleaning hints and products, illustrating immense pride in the home, as well as medicines, lotions and potions that would ‘kill or cure’.

After reading Doris' account of her childhood in Eyam, in Tunes on a Penny Whistle, I was delighted to find her Cottage Housekeeping Guide called Tuppenny Rice and Treacle (and yes, every time I see the title, I want to start singing .... half a pound of tuppenny rice, half a pound of treacle ....)

I have a bit of an obsession with cookery books and have a vast collection. I find it really de-stresses me to look through them and imagine what I'll cook next. I also have my own Grandmother's original Bero Cookbook, as well as her hand-written notebook that contains all of her recipes.

This is not just a recipe book though, it a Mrs Beeton style guide for the housewife of the early 1900s, and Doris talks about how to balance the books, gives expert remedies for cleaning and also tells us how to prepare natural medicines. It really is a fascinating look at times gone by, but there's also lots of useful hints and tips that can be used by the modern family.

Doris' grandson Richard gave me a couple of tips about which recipes I should try out, and I have to admit that I've not yet found the time to do this, but I've decided that my first attempt will be Baked Ginger Pudding as I love ginger and gingerbread was one of the first things that my Grandmother showed me how to cook.  Here's Doris' recipe:

Baked Ginger Pudding

6oz flour
4oz butter
4oz sugar
4oz preserved ginger
2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
grated rind of 1 lemon

Beat together butter and sugar. Gradually beat in the eggs. Stir in flour, then rest of ingredients. Pour into a greased pie dish. Bake in a modern oven for three-quarters of an hour.

Born in Eyam in the Peak District of Derbyshire, Doris E. Coates achieved a successful and varied career as a teacher in both Derbyshire and later in Norfolk. Along with her husband George, she was an active member of her community promoting local groups, enjoyed singing in the local choir and, after retirement, turned her talents to writing. 
Her son, Richard Coates, now based in Bath enjoyed a happy childhood and grew up appreciating the importance of a strong education. After gaining a scholarship at Oxford University he went on to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Later as a management consultant he worked for international companies including Audi, British Airways and Mars in both the UK and oversees and continues to sit on the board of Davos Consultancy. Now retired, and in memory of his mother, Richard has decided to republish her books with fascinating new additions after researching further into his family history 

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