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Heart warming memories of winters past

Posted on 20 January 2017

Those chilly childhood days before central heating

Open plan living and under floor heating?! You must be joking. Staying warm back in the day meant every door shut, heavy curtains, deep pile carpets, draughts blocked and the whole family huddled together in one small room around the fire.

Before central heating changed the way we lived forever, keeping the house warm in deepest winter was a palaver. Just tending the fire was a mission in itself and who can ever forget having to brave the freezing temperatures outside just to go to the loo?

But then there was toast made over the fire with a toasting fork, delicious with butter or even better, dripping. So, boil the kettle, turn up the thermostat and let us take you back to your chilly childhood days.

The house was always cold… very cold

There was only one warm place in the whole house – the room with the hearth. Life revolved around the fire until it was time to venture upstairs to bed. You could feel the temperature dropping a little with every stair you climbed. And who can forget waking up to ice on the inside of the bedroom window?

ice-and-condensation-on-windows

Coal kept us going

Unless you were one of the few with a 3 bar electric fire, coal was the lifeblood of your home and running out of it simply wasn’t an option.

A huge man smothered in soot with black broken fingernails and bright white eyes peering out from under his cap would bring it to your door, terrifying many a small child in the process. Or you had to collect it from the yard in an old pram.

3-women-with-a-young-boy-and-baby-pushing-coal-sacks-in-prams

Keeping the home fires burning

There were endless rounds of fetching the coal in, kindling, rolled up newspapers, matches, holding newspaper up to ‘draw’ the fire, refilling the coal scuttle, poking, prodding and cleaning out the grate.

Small children would act as look outs, playing in front of the fire and letting mum know when the fire needed attention.

young-girl-with-doll-sitting-on-a-cushion-in-front-of-the-fire

Warm clothes and lots of them

On school days, Mum warmed your clothes in front of the fire or on the cooker and you occasionally had to go to school in singed undies! If you were very lucky, she’d also have your slippers warmed and waiting by the door for you when you got home.

Kids ventured out in layered up in flannelettes, jumpers, coats, scarves, hats and mittens, but many boys still wore shorts in deepest winter. Explain that to a kid today!

young-boy-in-shorts-standing-in-front-of-huge-icicles

Frozen milk that took your breath away

The little glass bottles of free school milk were kept outside and it was so cold by break time, you’d catch your breath as you drank it through a straw.

At home, the milkman always came regardless of the weather. He’d come so early the milk would be frozen by the time you fetched it in.

cat-eating-the-frozen-milk-from-a-bottle-on-the-doorstep

Family bath time in front of the fire

Before ‘proper’ bathrooms arrived, bath time was a weekly event either in the kitchen sink or in a tin bath in front of the fire.

The water would be heated on the stove and all the family would take turns to wash in the warm water. There was no time to lie back and soak, it was a straightforward in-and-out affair before the water got cold. You had to pity the person who went last!

housewife-pouring-hot-water-into-a-tin-bath-in-front-of-a-range

The laundry still had to be done

Housewives never used cold weather to let their high standards drop. As well as the extra cleaning constantly needed to control the coal dust all through the house, she’d still have to do the laundry by hand and find a way to get it dry.

There were always clothes drying by the fire but, on a clear day, the washing would be hung outside in the vain hope it wouldn’t freeze on the line.

housewife-taking-frozen-long-johns-off-the-washing-line

The long cold nights

It was so cold no one stayed up late like we do in our cosy homes today.

Bricks would be heated up to use as bed warmers and you’d snuggle under overcoats and blankets piled high over the eiderdown. Siblings had to sleep up together in one bed and if you dared to complain you were still cold, mum could usually find another sibling, or the dog, to throw in with you!

young-boy-under-a-blanket-with-his-dog

And finally, it was never too cold to play outside

No kid would dream of staying in when there was so much fun to be had outside. Not even in the freezing winters of 1947 and 1963! We just buttoned up our duffle coats, donned our mittens and headed out into the icy streets to conjure up a whole new adventure with our mates.

group-of-young-children-building-a-snowman-in-the-street

Didn’t it always snow back then?

Feeling chilled to the bone or warm with the rush of happy memories of winters past?

Apparently researchers have discovered that we feel more nostalgic on cold days and reminiscing actually makes us feel warmer. It’s a lovely thought… but are your memories of scraping the ice off the bedroom window and frozen pipes having the desired effect? We’d love to know.

If you enjoyed our peak under the blankets of British winters 60 odd years ago, you may also enjoy when playing outdoors was a way of life, 10 big weather events of the last century or remembering our school days.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, equity release, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services. Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

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Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.