Wooding, a memory from childhood
(by Mrs Wyn French)
When the spring and summer weather came creeping into our midst, Mother and Mrs Bradley, Who was a good friend of our family, would set off up our road towards the open fields to go wooding. During the autumn and winter months if it had been very windy there would have been many loose branches dislodged from the great trees. These two good friends both pushed their prams in front of them with at least two children in each pram. If it was a very good day we sometimes took a bite to eat and a bottle of pop or failing that water. We could spend all day together out in the open air collecting wood for our fire. The children could spend their carefree time swinging on the low bough of a wonderful oak tree or picking flowers to take home. We didn’t have or need any fancy vase to put the flowers in when we got home. Mother always kept a good stock of jam jars. All too soon it was time to head back home. Our prams would groan under the weight of all the wood. We might have two or three long thick branches to be hooked around the pram handle and dragged along.
The smallest children could be given a lift on top of the wood in the pram, but not before we reached the gate onto the main road home. We didn’t like having to walk home because after playing out in the open air all day we were quite tired. We loved it when there was room for us on top of the pile of wood. When we got going along the road for home the first bit was quite flat and then everyone who could, would help to push the load up the hill to the canal and over the bridge we went. Then it was downhill all the way. When we got home Mother would get out the saw and set to work sawing up the thick branches. The logs were then stacked in our coalhouse all ready for the winter time. It only seemed to be the poorer families who went wooding. In the Autumn when there were horse chestnuts falling from the trees we loved to collect them. We called them conkers. At home we found some string and made a hole through the nuts to thread the string through. Then we had battles to see who had the strongest conker. Some people went to great lengths, even soaking their conkers in vinegar to help make them take the heaviest blow. They might go as far as putting the conkers in the oven or on the fire hearth to dry then out.