Lovely day. Lovely evening; flat red ribbons of cloud strung out on the western horizon and the crescent of a waxing moon slung up there too. 10.00pm now and still light. Bats flying.
It's been something of a day for tying up loose ends in home and garden. Things crossed off 'to do' lists - that sort of thing. Last of the Winter Squash planted - tick. Geraniums and Petunias bedded out - tick. Tomatoes watered - tick. YFC Anniversary Dinner tickets distributed - tick. Washed jumpers....by hand.
What's this? Hand washing? Well yes - those 2 soft cashmere sweaters which have sat scrunched up, inducing pangs of guilt each time I pushed them aside to use the utility room sink finally met soapy water. Perhaps the correct alignment of planets has made this Sweater Washing Day.
Up to the elbows in something mild and sudsy the inner housewife has time to ponder. Mostly I think, and particularly when it comes to rinsing, about the way washing used to be done. 1 tub of water and a lot of elbow grease. Even early washing machines seem to follow this principle. I also have memories of 'treading' a load of washing in the bath. I consider my one-time landlady's 'modern' 1960s machine, an amalgam of paddles, pumps and hoses. It did a lot of noisy churning (which resulted in laundry forming a tightly bound knot) but still relied on the user to fill, empty and refill it. There was a mangle too which swung out over the sink and greedily ate up everything in its path. Sheets and shirts et al were grabbed from the tub with tongs, disentangled and fed through the tight rubber rollers to emerge flattened and waterless at the other side. I can only imagine that the description 'labour saving' is comparative and that it was far superior to the 'dolly tub' and 'posser'.
Anyway it was dainty stuff first followed by other items in order of dirtiness - filthiest last. I have a sneaking suspicion that some things never really got clean, sloshed around as they were in ever dirtier water.......a bit like washing up before dishwashers came on the scene.
And isn't rinsing grim? That water never seems to come clear. Eventually the inner slut beats the inner housewife and says 'blow this for a game of soldiers' and decides after 3 bowls of water that Enough is Enough. And where is that mangle when a girl needs it? We settle for a gentle squeeze before lying the clean wet sweaters out on a rack to dry. Phew. Job done.
Hopefully that's the year's quota of hand washing done. We've a policy of Machine Wash Items Only up here in the small mountain Kingdom of Trelystan which is successfully enforced by administration of the Scary Look or Glare should anyone attempt to smuggle in stuff needing anything more complicated than a 30 degree cycle. But isn't forbidden fruit always the most appealing? Thus is it that cashmere finds its way into the National Wardrobe and as I'm never likely to be rich enough to do the super star thing of throwing it away when grubby I'll just have to keep on washing.
Next week: A line of washing - no finer sight.