simple living: turn back time

July 27, 2012

Last night I started watching a BBC series from a couple of years ago called Turn Back Time - The High Street. I love it! The series is about the birth of the high street in Britain and the changes it underwent over the course of a century. Each week a group of shop keepers have to run their store as it would have been in a particular era, starting in the Victorian era and moving through the Edwardian era, the 1930's, 1940's, 1960's and finally the 1970's.  

Image Credit: BBC

It's so interesting to see the reaction of modern society to the ways of the past. Some things are probably best left in the past - such as the sneaky techniques some shop keepers used to make their produce go further, like baking bread with plaster of paris to bulk it up! But other things we could learn a lot from. Shop keepers would often greet their customers by name and doing the shopping was not just a necessity but also a social experience where you would catch up with neighbours and friends in the main street.

Image Credit: BBC

I've only watched the first 2 episodes so far, tonight I'll be tuning in to the 1930's. And I can't wait to see the 1960's - how cute is that outfit and apron above? Oh, and the glass milk bottles delivered to your door - I remember this still happening in Australia in the early 1980's. I would go and visit my grandma and it was always a favourite thing to bring in the milk caddy filled with bottles of milk. And then to make various crafty things using the silver milk bottle caps.

It's so sad to see the decline of many main streets in towns across Australia, as people head to the big shopping centres where convenience, one stop shopping, and lower prices are often big draw cards. What do you think? Do you see a place for the main street in modern society? Do you try to shop local? What aspects of the past do you think we could learn from today? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I remember milk bottles on the doorstep when I was a kid in the 80's - we made garlands out of the colourful metal tops! I think buying local is important and getting to know the local shop owners is really great. We live in the Adelaide Hills and Stirling is our local shopping area. The small shops are staffed by friendly people who get to know the regulars and it makes shopping much nicer when shop keepers remember you and have a little chat. I like feeling that I'm part of the local community.
    BTW it was nice meeting you at Bowerbird last weekend - my 7 year old loves the little purse she bought with her pocket money!

  2. I just read today's Craft Victoria newsletter and couldn't help but notice the photo they've used to promote their 'Art of Visual Merch' workshop. What else but a pic of your market stall! How good is that, being the best example Craft Victoria could find of a well-presented stall! I've always loved your stall, it's great to see it's a wide-spread emotion!

  3. Oh thanks Jennie, I hadn't noticed that! It is a nice feeling to know that people appreciate my attention to detail : )


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