It's been another bitterly cold day...no snow though...and the sun did manage to break through the clouds for a brief spell this morning. So, we're still bundled up in layers of clothes and feeding the range as though wood and coal are going out of fashion...we don't burn turf anymore because it doesn't throw out as much heat as a combination of wood and coal. Smells much nicer but you can't keep warm on a smell alone...

I found a couple more unusual occupations on census forms today...a pearl button maker and an ivory carver. These aren't always our people with the now defunct trades that I mention...I read the whole of the census forms to see what everyone did to earn an honest crust...

My Mum...my ex-Mother-in-law...had crochet hooks made from ivory which I inherited and she also had some knitting needles also made from ivory which had yellowed with age...I think they'd belonged to her Mother.

Of course this was long before the trade in ivory was frowned upon.

I haven't investigated how pearl buttons were made...I should think in some sort of press perhaps in order to get the holes in the middle...I'll have to look it up...

It's noticeable from the census forms how few young women went out to work as the 1800's drew to a close...in the 1800's everyone who was able-bodied did some type of work usually as nursemaids or servants...but it would appear that maybe people were becoming better off financially towards the end of the century and could afford for their daughters to stay at home and help with the running of the household and the younger children.

That is something else which is very noticeable, is the fact women were still having babies well into their forties. Dad, my ex-father-in-law was a pharmacist with a funny old fashioned chemists shop full of those huge blue bottles you tend to only see in museums...he was still selling tiny cardboard pill boxes of de Witt's pills for Female Problems when I first knew him in the late 1960's...he'd slide them across the counter, already carefully wrapped in a brown paper bag and shake his head sorrowfully when the customer had left the shop...poor woman, he'd say, as if she doesn't have enough to be coping with...I haven't any idea whether they worked or not and didn't like to ask him 'cos he would have rather I'd not known anything about them...

Just remembered that I did find one lady who had filled in her occupation as 'owning a mangle'...maybe she charged a small amount for running her neighbours sheets through the mangle before they were hung out to dry...

When Dad was nineteen he was almost dying from T.B....his parents put a sign on their cottage door...' No Noisy Play...Walter is Very Sick'...Mum would often repeat this story to me and we'd have a giggle because Dad recovered and grew into a very fat man indeed...he smoked continuously...always having an unfiltered Players cigarette in the corner of his mouth and his jacket was invariably sprinkled with a layer of ash 'cos his tummy was so enormous...

I'm a bit late getting the old dogs tea...better go and do that before there is a full scale rebellion.