I have always thought the countryside is best seen from a car or train window. But I like images of the countryside and country pursuits. In July 1945 the Ministry of Food issued this sweetie of a leaflet: Hedgerow Harvest. It was part of their massive campaign to get the country doing more making and mending and thus more saving of essential resources for the war effort.
The Ministry leaflets were very nice things. Illustrations and hints and recipes and patterns and such like. Usually they were aimed at women at home looking after the home – as most were in those days.
The copy gives away the probable urban origins of its intended reader:
‘There is a wealth of wild foods in our hedgerows and fields for those who are within reach of the countryside. None of this harvest should be wasted, but be exceedingly careful how you gather it in. There must be no broken hedges, no gates left open for cattle to stray through, no trampling of growing crops.’
As well as these cautionary words, the illustration of a family out berrying reinforces the cityness of it all. The chap rolls up his crisp sleeves and pulls branches down with his walking stick. The woman’s stylish dress and Vogue-meets-Gainsborough sun hat look just so but wouldn’t have done much to keep scratches at bay. Yet their baskets are full. The puppy has evidently had enough though and has sat down to watch the illustrator.
The leaflet gives instructions for jams and jellies, pickles, chutney and ketchup. Sloe and marrow jam might be an acquired taste but mushroom ketchup sounds intriguing. Unfortunately it seems to have involved days watching salted mushrooms stew in a bowl.