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Home Economics

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

3 minutes

In summer I live and in winter I exist.
— Hannah Hauxwell

Back in the late ’70s, when I was still very young and living in the Pennines, our family got caught out by some very heavy late-season snow. Powercuts were common in winter as the overhead wires froze and occasionally even the water pumping station further down the valley was also rendered out of action. There was no mains gas supply so we relied on a supply of candles, a couple of wick oil lamps, our solid fuel Aga and an open fire.

It was, I think, during the Winter of Discontent – at least strikes were widespread and no snowploughs were operating. Leaving me with our elderly neighbours, my mum and dad set off for the village with a couple of sledges to get supplies (groceries and coal) for the two houses.

This was back in the times where it regularly snowed properly; an amazing time to be a child with the freedom to go exploring – less wonderful for the adults. My parents struggled down – and back up – the hillside through the snow, which was level with the tops of the walls.

Anyway, backstory over. To this day, come mid-October, my mum insists that I go and get stocked up for the winter. I no longer live in the Pennines. Indeed, I now live in a fairly central area of Edinburgh, with reliable utilities, a large supermarket and several convienience stores only a short walk away.

I’d roll my eyes, but nevertheless, I’d still make the trips to the supermarket and make sure I had plenty of tinned, frozen and dried foods to last me several months through the disappointingly mild modern winters. After all, “mother knows best”, right?

Well, she was proved right – eventually. It may have taken a couple of decades and a global pandemic but it turns out that this proto-prepper mentality left me fairly well stocked for the current Covid-19 situation and the associated lockdown.

I’m aware that I’m in a very fortunate position right now, in many ways. The store cupboard that I’ve gradually grown, coupled with the luxury of having had actually cookery lessons at school (as well as at home) means that I’ve not had to venture out for supplies much at all.

Like many others, I’m really interested to see what habits and attitudes change after the experience of all this is finally over. Firstly, I can see myself continuing to – once it’s been restored – maintain a good larder but, expanding on my mum’s advice, not only over the winter months.