The prompt for these mental meanderings was an old ship's washing machine, a tobbe that one of my neighbours in the harbour gave me a few years back. I've never had time to restore it, although I've long wanted to. Koos, however, decided he'd waited long enough for me to do something and took the task on himself. The tobbe was something he remembered from his childhood on board his father's commercial barge. This kind of 'machine' was what his mother used to do their washing. She used outboard water and he recalls 'helping', although whether mum saw it that way might be something else. Theirs was a slightly different model from this one, but the principle was the same. As you can see, it really is a lovely old thing.
|Old tobbe washing machine with mechanical|
Inside the tobbe, or tub, is a four bladed paddle that fits on a central pipe, through which the rod of the driver passes. Using either a small motor, or even a bicycle to operate the pulley wheel on the driver the rod turns, and the paddle is activated in a to and fro action inside the tub. The laundry is thus agitated (physically, not mentally of course). I can just imagine being a child and wanting to help with this too!
Koos has made a fabulous job of restoring it, as it was all in pieces and in a sorry state before he started. I just wish I'd done it as I love restoring old things.
Here's a photo of his father's barge. You can see the tobbe just next to the wheelhouse.
What I do remember is helping my own mother wring the wet washing out with one of these:
|Clothes wringer (courtesy of ebay)|
I enjoyed doing this and watching the water pouring out of the wet laundry. We're now looking for one here that can go with our tobbe. I'm not sure where we'll put them as the Vereeniging is far too small to house such a bulky system, but at least we'll be equipped if all power goes phoom!
Another thing I remember loving as a child was watching the piano tuner. My mother had a beautiful grand piano given to her as a 21st birthday present and it had pride of place in our lounge. The piano tuner used to come about three times a year, and I used to stand and watch him adjusting all the pegs and strings with his tuning tools. Being an intensely shy child, I never asked him what he was doing, but it was a very restful activity to watch.
I also liked being cook's assistant. My favourite jobs were whipping cream (watching it thicken always fascinated me), making custard and sauces, and doing scrambled eggs. I think I just liked the transformation process from liquids to almost solid forms - strange child that I was! Later, when I lived on the farm in South Africa, I loved making butter, which is a similar process. So clearly, the fascination continued. These days, well, let's say the kitchen is not my favourite place...
Do you remember any special activities as a child? What did you enjoy doing most?