**It’s saga week, which gives team member Emily a welcome excuse to enthuse about nostalgic pastimes: making, baking, the culture of thrift, and make-do-and-mend.**
The nation is obsessed – and, as revealed by my studious analysis of Pinterest and Etsy (ahem) – it’s an international phenomenon. Here in the UK, we’re all glued to The Great British Bake Off, and its latest dress-making off-shoot, The Great British Sewing Bee. We saw an uplift in patriotic spirit last year, thanks to the Jubilee and an elated Olympic summer. And as austerity yawns on, we’re ever more grateful for thrifty pastimes that bring us together.
For me, it’s gardening. My dad and granny are keen growers, and are endlessly kind with advice, bulbs and cuttings. We trade photographs when things are blooming (mostly a chance for me to show off the few things that haven’t died), and I take huge pleasure in watching things grow. The herbs save me money and are continually useful, too.
My other grandmother knitted Aran jumpers for every child in the family, and cross-stitched cushion covers at an industrial rate. She had a greenhouse full of tomatoes and a rows of netted raspberries and gooseberries. Something we always dreaded was the ‘plated meal’: leftovers resurrected by microwave and wheeled in on the hostess trolley… but I have much to learn from her thriftiness.
With limited time, though, we have to do what we enjoy. Unlike most of my colleagues, I lack the patience to bake cakes or bread, so I don’t. But I do love making birthday cards, and shopping for second-hand clothes – tea dresses, in particular, the brighter the better!
These days, it’s our environmental future that worries me, rather than invasion (thank goodness!). But I look to the creative thrift of our wartime past to inspire me today. Every time we fix a broken chair, grow windowsill salad, or bake scones for friends, we unwittingly do something wonderful by consuming less. It’s what I’ve heard described as ‘green hedonism’: pleasure, first, but with positive effects – on our wellbeing, sense of community – even our bank balances. And reviving these skills connects us with generations past, making us feel rooted. Just as good saga fiction does, too.