I love how old books quite often have inscriptions and notes inside them like little clues into history. I bought the book above "Princess Ottilia" published in the 1890's from a little antique book shop in Rye and it sent me on a little quest... I spent ages trying to read the inscription and I took it to my mum, who is researching our family tree and has had more practise at reading the writing from the 1800's. After deciphering the writing and a little detective work, it turns out that I might even be related to the owner of the book! It was given to a young girl who lived on the outskirts of London in the 1890's. It was given as a prize at the local baptists church for a competition. There was only one girl living in that area of London at that time who it could possibly have been! Needless to say me and my mum were rather excited about it. What are the chances of wandering into a little bookshop a few towns along from where you live to stumble upon a book that was owned by one of your ancestors?
Another little beauty of a find; today I bought a book from the 20's called "the Weekend Book" for 50p. It is a lovely, and at times hilarious, window into the past. There are suggestions for the best poetry to recite to your family on the weekend, songs to sing together around the piano and parlour games. It also gives information about what birds will be singing in your garden, and star constellations that will be seen at different times of the year... even how to avoid "breaking the law" whilst walking in the countryside (bizarre). But my favourite section is the "food and drink" section with tips for the housewife to treat her family on the weekends and how to entertain guests.
"Weekend cookery should be either very quick, a good meal produced in half an hour, or very slow, put on before you go off to tennis or to lazing" (the second sounds more like my weekend!)
The section on using Tinned Foods is particularly amusing... "Use tinned foods, but disguise them. No one should ever suspect that they are tinned." and "remember to always add some fried cucumber cubes to your Heinz tomato soup" (how very bizarre...)
Sandwich suggestions... "When you go picnicking you will, if a pastry hand, take little pies full of good mixtures, but the average provider of picnic fare trusts to sandwiches, good drinks, salted almonds, nuts and perhaps raw steaks and bacon to be cooked over a camp fire on sticks. This is rather amusing because the food usually falls in and gets ruined. So be sure that the sandwiches are good!"
When attempting to supplement your diet from nature's larder... "DON'T cook and attempt to eat young bracken shoots because the Japanese do. What suits the hardy races of the extreme East may not suit you." (haha!)