Monday, 7 October 2013

Shelling Peas

Chris has been suffering from a chesty cold, and so disappeared back to bed yesterday afternoon for a sleep. The dogs had been walked, the household jobs completed, the dinner made and the animals sorted out,
Even Winifred had stopped her fanny rubbing and had fallen into an exhausted sleep in a heap on the floor.. So I found myself pottering around the cottage without any tv, radio or music baring away looking for a job to do.
I picked the last of the peas from bosoms and sat quietly in the living room, shelling peas from their pods for an hour or so
In minutes I was transported back to 1972.....and I was working away with my grandmother at the kitchen table.


Repetitive jobs can be strangely soporific. When I was a student nurse, our clinical teacher was an elderly ex matron called Mrs Hinds. She was well known ( and well loved ) for her storytelling and always incorporated tales of her wartime nursing exploits in a way of educating and supporting her students.
She always maintained a healthy respect for a mundane, repetitive job.
I always remember her instructions for coping with a particularly stressful shift.
" find a minute away from the clinical area and clean something until it shines" she used to say with a smile
She was old school. 
There was non of this " talk about your stress" thing, even though we all worked in a psychiatric hospital.  self help was a flick round with a damp cloth back then.

I think that this " self help" thing is making a bit of a comeback in today's busy world. 
People are baking and cooking more. They are gardening and planting too. Let's reduce all this " tell me about how you feel" stuff...... Go home and polish your silver instead.

Or better still....... Instead of buying a £1.99 bag of frozen peas from Tesco
Get yourself a bucket of garden pea pods 
And get shelling

75 comments:

  1. I loved shelling peas when a kid.

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  2. John, I think this is sound advice and better than any self help book. Where have all this matrons gone ~ won't find that kind of training in a university will you?

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    1. I think there needs to be a balance between pragmatic common sense, a reduction of " poor me" mentality and effective communication

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  3. You have done it again, John, haven't you: Reminding of what I currently miss in my life (when I remember). Like shelling peas.

    Couldn't agree more with Mrs Hinds and you. It's why I never understand when people complain about 'mundane' or 'menial' tasks. What keeps the hands busy frees the mind. Which is why one wonders that dedicated knitters haven't started a revolution yet. Or maybe they have. Enter Robespierre and his hook ... before getting carried away I shall now wield my scalpel. Nothing better to extinguish meandering thoughts than executing an operation which demands all your concentration.

    U

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    1. It's all about balance eh Ursula x

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  4. Sadly our pea crop is finished, shelled (by the farmer) and in the freezer John - but i do agree with the sentiment.

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  5. Nothing like it - the smell, the sounds of pods cracking open, that waxy texture, the sudden blossom of sweetness when you pop a few in your mouth (I can never resist), it is a ritual synonymous with happy times like Christmas Day to me.
    I agree with the action over belly aching thing, although I am a recidivist belly acher. In my defence I am usually hand sewing or doing something equally as useful while doing it. At least while shelling peas I am too busy munching to belly ache ;-)

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  6. Shelling peas - slicing beans - ok but a good long walk with the dogs reduces the stress levels over here - have a good week - Jane

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    1. Dog walking is relaxing but sometimes I feel that I have to have eyes in the back of my head

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  7. The only problem I have with shelling peas is making sure some actually go into the dish and not all into my mouth! LOVE fresh peas.

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    1. Guilty pleasures all round x

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  8. I've always enjoyed 'topping and tailing' beans too; especially in a group.

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  9. I always make soup when I'm stressed. I make a lot of soup!

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  10. That takes me right back to Abertillery in the 1950s, it was my favourite job in summer. I sometimes managed to not eat many of them.

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    1. Funny, just how many people have a warm memory of shelling peas from their childhood...

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  11. Golda Meyer used to polish her tea pot and bake honey cake when life got just a weeny bit fraught. She had a very shiny tea pot and allegedly made a mean honey cake!

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  12. For me it is knitting that soothes my mind these days. Sometimes I watch a movie while I knit. Sometimes I prefer just the sound of the needles clicking.

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    1. Much better than gums clacking

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  13. or dice up enough garlic, peppers and celery to make chili for 100 homeless guys! i am so de-stressed i could fall to sleep!

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    1. Do tell more...sounds like the start of a new chapter!

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  14. I think Mrs Hinds advice for dealing with stressful situations was wise advice. Life is too short for shelling peas, but then maybe life would not be too short if we shelled peas. No, sorry, I am not going to shell peas. They come perfectly preserved in frozen packs.

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    1. Go on andrew give a new experience a go!

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  15. Oh John, I am always transported back to my chilhood when I shell peas ..... my sister and I used to do it and eat more than were left in the colander and got told off ..... I still eat raw peas now.
    Also, my Grandmother used to work belowstairs { very Downton Abbey } and she always said to us that Mr. Sheen and the like had a lot to answer for re depression and stress !! She said that after polishing Victorian fireplaces { she couldn't believe that my sister and I had both bought Victorian houses with all the original fireplaces !! } laying the fire, cooking, cleaning etc. etc, she didn't have time for stress......and, talking about Downton, poor Anna last night ....... what will become of her ? XXXX

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    1. Arrrrggghhh - those of us on the other side of the pond have to wait until Jan 5th for the Season 4 premier!!!
      Nancy in Iowa

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    2. I blame Julian Fellowes! How could he?

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    3. Anna? Anna? What happened to Anna? We don't have Downton until January. Wait! Don't tell me!

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    4. Joanne froggat who plays Anna will feature in my movie

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    5. Oh my goodness John and all of our friends across the pond ....... I'm so sorry ...... I forgot that you don't get Downton until early 2014 ....... don't worry..... I'm sure that it will turn out OK !!!! and, I promise not to say another word !! XXXX

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  16. Shelling peas, snapping green beans and cleaning corn sitting outdoors in the swing gives me time for silent thinking. A good stress buster with thoughts of my grandma in her apron sitting in her old wooden swing on her porch.

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  17. Couldn't agree more, John. When my farmer's wife Mother-in-Law caught me blubbing after my father died she said, 'Oh for Christ's sake Tom, pull yourself together. there's lambs that need checking on!'

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    1. Lol, perhaps that example is a little too extreme thomas

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  18. I knit and bake. there is a deep satisfaction of seeing something produced from raw materials and the sweat of one's brow.

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  19. Sitting on the tractor,mowing the lawn bores any stress away.
    Jane x

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  20. Doing simple tasks away from the chaos does wonders for the mind.

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  21. Shelling peas - yup, takes me back to sitting on Grandma's porch, listening to the ladies gossip and giggle. Good times.

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    1. Funny so many of us have experienced similar histories

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  22. I call it the "Zen" of washing up, knitting or tiding up. It directs an overly busy mind elsewhere. Great post.

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  23. Here's another fan of shelling peas, though it'll be over 50 years since last time. Could never resist eating them raw even though it nearly always resulted in nasty tummy ache.

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    1. Ray
      It's about time you got shelling again!

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    2. Too much trouble, J.G. I'll continue with tins or the frozen variety.

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  24. Weeding and ironing got me through my divorce. There's something very therapeutic about taking something messy and straightening it out.
    As a child, I loved to shell peas and snap green beans. But my favourite food activity was picking blackberries. Loved it!

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  25. I haven't done that in so long! Now to find some here in the tundra of Canada!! lol

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  26. I think doing a mundane job gives your brain a chance to relax. Peeling potatoes or doing the ironing works for me!

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  27. I'm all for the "mindless" activities that actually free your mind. John, you don't just push the memory button, you smash it! Like many others here, it took me right back to my childhood. My early years were in a trailer - caravan to you - but for a while we lived near my Great Aunt Jane who was a farmer's wife. She let me help her shell peas but, like the other commenters, I ate as many as I could get away with. I loved how they nestled together in the pod. Aunt Jane also churned butter, but I don't remember helping her with that - I think it took a lot of muscle! I couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 - and I'll be 70 tomorrow so you can see how far back in time that was! Thank you yet again for a lovely post.

    Nancy in Iowa

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  28. Watering plants and making a fire...

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    1. .....talking to prisoners?

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  29. Wonderfully written.

    We've shared many things in a lifetime around a bushel of peas.

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  30. When I'm really stressed, I do the ironing... That's how I know I'm stressed! But shelling peas -- or Fordhook lima beans -- that's purely meditative and peaceful.

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  31. There were some pea pods to munch on at supper the other night and one grandchild wanted to know why they were called pea pods when there are no peas. I had her strip open the pod and view the minute peas. Then had to promise the garden would include peas next year. She wants to be involved with the real deal.

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    1. The circle, ( thank goodness) goes on eh?

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  32. love fresh peas but i'm one of those who does 'one for the pot and one for me' ending up with very little for the pot... love to Chris, hope he gets well soon x

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    1. Bake off tomorrow!
      Who will be kicked out?

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  33. Peas are so easy to grow, especially the dwarf kind. My favourite variety are Kelvedon Wonder :-)

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    1. My Dad used to grow that variety, perhaps I should give them a go next year.

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  34. I have never had the chance to shell peas but cleaning out a drawer and working in the garden works for me. I get so caught up in it that time flies and like Mrs Hinds said stress goes too.

    cheers, parsnip

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  35. I shelled peas while sitting on the back steps of the cottage with my gran, we'd always end up laughing :)
    She used to make me darn my granddad's socks, now that takes your mind off 'poor me' syndrome, I 'spect nobody does darning any longer, in a world of throw-away and take-aways..
    Lovely post as always John.
    ~Jo

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    1. It's always with your grandmother
      Pea shelling

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  36. And the fresh ones taste a damn sight better too!

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  37. Shelling peas was a labour of love, sitting on the back step while my grandma worked in the kitchen, sneaking the occasional mouthful when I thought she wasn't looking.

    My favourite destressing task at work was stamping forms, concentrating on getting the text exactly square in the box, no bits missing.
    Comes of having a John Bull Printing Set for Christmas as a kid I suppose.

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    1. Like I said before.... It's always with grandma wasn't it?

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  38. My granny used to make us whistle if we were shelling peas. Can't eat peas and whistle at the same time.

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  39. Just recently I heard a quote that would fit this topic: Action is consolatory. It is the enemy of thought and the friend of flattering illusions.

    Well, I thought that the first part of it fits. Don't understand the bit about "flattering illusions", though.

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  40. HATE all the self help whiny books. LOVE banging around pots and pans and the occasional carton of eggs against the barn door. Besides all you are asking...is give Peas a chance.

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  41. This is so amazingly true (although shelling peas, i.e., cooking, would drive me right over the edge). Polishing things sounds good.

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  42. I know exactly where you're coming from with this!

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  43. I like doing runner beans myself.

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