I have been watching one of my favorite BBC television series, Lark Rise to Candleford, every Thursday evening. The fact that PBS continues to re-run this engaging British import every year or so is but one of many reasons most of my television viewing centers on these jewels in broadcasting. Watching these period pieces with their sense of time and place, not to mention impeccable costuming and atmosphere is like attending a feast for me.
I adore the mostly gentle folks; Queenie and Twister, Alf, the Timmins, Laura, of course, and Miss Lane. (I think I have always longed to be a postmistress, with all those cubby holes for letters and stamps and the activity that hovers around a post office. Have you ever watched Lark Rise to Candleford?
Each time the series airs, I make a mental note, which is not a good way to make notes as my mental notes get misplaced faster than my paper ones. My note to self is to read the book this series is based on.
I finally did!
Oh what a treat Flora Thompson’s trilogy is. Based on her years growing up in an Oxfordshire hamlet in the 1880’s, it is more of a primer of a way of life that once was in the English countryside, full of folk ways and sayings in a more peaceful time at the cusp of great change. There is no plot to this book, though it was found in the fiction section of the library. It is really more of a memoir of Flora Thompson’s childhood. She calls herself Laura in the book as she recalls going to school, how women dressed, skills and trades, farming, the cottages, festivals and traditions., gathering the harvest, etc.
It was my great fortune at finding this illustrated, abridged edition, which I have slowly read, for it is a gentle read, over cups of tea, in the arbor, on the sofa, mostly wherever the sun set its angel rays, for there is no other way to immerse oneself in the book. Flora’s words are so gentle and the illustrations like those out of horticultural books , with exquisite paintings every fourth page or so.
“Many casual callers passed the hamlet. Travelling tinkers with the barrows, braziers, and twirling grindstones turned aside from the main road and came singing
Any razors or scissors to grind?
Or anything else in the tinker’s line?
Any old pots or kettles to mend?
After squinting into any leaking vessel against the light, or trying the edges of razors or scissors upon the hard skin of their palms, they would squat by the side of the road to work, or start their emery wheel whizzing, to the delight of the hamlet children, who always formed a ring around any such operations . . . “
From celebrations to gathering the “leavens'” of the harvest, going to school to the security of cottage families, this book is a wealth of insight into a bygone era. It is filled with the words to folk songs and the olden sayings, adages, and vernacular.
I must be truthful here, dear reader. I loved stepping into the cottage life of the 1880’s in the pages of this book, even if I would never want to live in those times. “Lark Rise to Candleford” was a serene visit to another time through perfectly placed pages in these early days of Autumn. Here is a segment of the television series you might enjoy. If you click on to watch it on youtube, it should appear.