Sunday, 15 May 2011

Casting Clouts

When I was a child a clout to me was a smack from my mum. But when you’re talking about old sayings a clout refers to clothing so the saying “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” means don’t be in a hurry to shed your warm clothes.

Whether May refers to the month or the tree is unclear.

But anyway what I’m getting round to is that when I was a child I was never allowed to swim in the sea until June or until we had spotted the first jellyfish – a sign that the gulf stream had “discharged its filth” as Pop used to say.

But when I was twelve I knew better than to pay attention to folklore and I went swimming. My mum said I’d pay for it. There was a cold easterly wind blowing and I’d probably catch my death. You know what mothers are like.

Well she was right. I didn’t exactly catch my death but I came down with a bout of bronchitis that took several courses of antibiotics to clear and I ended up not being able to go swimming for ages. My mum’s “I told you so” button had never been so active.

Last week my youngest son’s two little girls Roxy and Charlie came to stay for a few days and for once the weather was with us. I took Roxy and another of my granddaughters to the beach – no swimming costumes (my mum’s warnings ring in my ears still), but Isabel had other ideas.

“No going in the water,” I said and I got on with making sandcastles safe in the knowledge that the shingle between beach and sea would be too harsh for tender little feet. I should have known that a determined two year old would find a way – she made the journey on her behind.

After all the effort I hadn’t the heart to refuse her a paddle so I rolled her trousers up. Well of course she fell in. And so did Roxy. There was no nasty easterly wind blowing though and the sun was warm, so no harm done and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

We had a lovely time while the girls were here – including a visit to the animal sanctuary at Mistley where the girls fed friendly goats, cuddly sheep and dozens of assorted chickens that crowded round their feet.


  1. What lovely photos, Teresa!

    Were you also told (as I was)not to swim for at least an hour after lunch, or you'd get cramp and drown?

  2. Lovely photos Teresa.
    My Mum had the same sayings, I think she went by the May blossom rather than the month- though with everything blooming earlier now, it might be being a bit too optomistic to stop wearing a warm coat.

  3. I was also brought up with 'Cast nay a clout....' another was not to use the water you had boiled eggs in otherwise you'd get warts!
    Lovely photos.

  4. I've had to dig my fleece out the last few days, Carol - it's turned decidedly chilly here!

    Ooh Margo - I'd forgotten that but yes, I was told you could catch warts from eggshells.

  5. We took our two year old twin granddaughters to the beach, earlier in the week. Lots of throwing stones into the water, but a bit too nippy for paddling. Sounds as though you had a great time, Teresa. These days are priceless, aren't they/

  6. Priceless they certainly are, Martin.

  7. How cute, brings tears to my eyes. Truly special moments.

  8. Wonderful pictures, Teresa. The times fly by. As much as I'm enjoying the sunshine, I would love to see some rain too.

  9. What a lovely post! Thanks for sharing Teresa. How special are children and the way they not only make you smile on the outside, but on the inside too!

  10. Beautiful pictures, Teresa. I was brought up with that saying too. I don't take my tights off until June!
    The weather is gorgeous, but I keep feeling a storm in the air that never arrives.
    Your grandchildren are lovely. I love to see how absorbed little children become when they're by the sea.

  11. Thank you, Suzie.

    Me too, Jarmara - the grass has gone brown in places already!

    Yes Diane - so many smiles.

    That is so true about the storm that never comes, Joanna. It does feel exactly that way. Children never seem to get bored at the beach do they - and the sea air tires them out!!

  12. Lovely photos, Teresa - and I like that determination! Yes, I was brought up with thsoe sayings too, including the one about cramp. But nothing could keep me away from getting in the water when growing up.

  13. They all seem to be water babies, Rosemary - which pleases me no end!

  14. Warts from eggshells? That's a new one! What about not swallowing apple pips in case you get a tree growing inside you?! Whenever I heard that I'd picture leafy shoots sprouting out of my ears.

  15. Yes, Joanne - and apple pips get stuck in your appendix! I remember being in a panic about that one! Being a child is not for the faint hearted is it!

  16. I could read an entire book of your Blogs Teresa. Once again thank-you so much for looking after the girls,I know Roxy had a wonderful time ( I'm sure lil Miss Charlie did too, she's just less vocal!)
    Roxy was most aggrieved to find out she wasn't going to be living with you 'Forever and ever!' You and Roxy share the same bond that I had with my wonderful Nanna, and its beautiful! Keep blogging please! I love them!
    Ps.You saying the old wives tales about pips & warts ( they're from frogs actually! lol) from an early age I remember my Nanna ALWAYS saying 'Make sure you get out of bed the same side you got in it! Else a life of unhappiness with follow you!'
    And so ever since I have had a bed of my own from the age of about three I have always been so consciencious of doing just that!

  17. Aw thanks Carrie :-)
    Your nanna sounds lovely. And that explains a lot - I always seem to get out of bed on the wrong side ;-)

  18. What a lovely blog Teresa. I remember when I was at school we always went back in our summer uniform after Easter (whenever it fell regardless of May - month or blossom!) and I don't remember being cold! How hopeless is it trying to keep children out of the sea when you go on the beach? I never learn:-) xx

  19. Ah yes I remember that, Sue - and in September it didn't matter how warm it was, we went back to school in the winter uniform!

  20. Gorgeous photos, Teresa. It looks like you all had a lovely day.

    I was never allowed out without a vest until June.


  21. Lovely pics, Teresa. My mother wouldn't allow me to wear my pretty summer dresses to school until the beginning of June because of that 'don't cast a clout till May is out' saying.

    Some of her favourite sayings were: "We got to go 'cause we got to come back!" and, "Make sure you wear a clean vest, in case you get run over!"

    Even today at the age of 50, although I gave up wearing vests years ago, on a cold day, she'll still ask me if I'm wearing a vest lol.

  22. Thanks Suz - argh the vests. My mum used to tell me I was lucky I didn't have to be smothered in goose grease and brown paper as well :-)

    THank you, Lynette. I hadn't heard that one "We got to go out.." There are some lovely sayings aren't there. Tee hee - I don't wear vests any more either!

  23. Lovely pics, Teresa. I was brought up with all the same sayings and have tried not to pass them on, but old programming dies hard, doesn't it, lol! x

  24. Lovely photos :o) Funny how we end up saying the same things to our children that our parents said to us.

    I kind of hope they never die out!

  25. True, Lydia. It's surprising when you look at it just how much we still pay heed to some of those old sayings.

    Me too, Karen - there is something comforting about passing on the wisdom (even if it doesn't always make sense) :-)

  26. Aw they're such cuties! Isabel's determination to get to that water is adorable =)

  27. I have a whole series of photos of her making her way across the shingle, Lacey :-)

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