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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 3 (June 1, 1938.)

Our Women's Section — Timely Notes and Useful Hints

page 59

Our Women's Section
Timely Notes and Useful Hints

A Wet Saturday.

I Had to dash into town before going out to Vera's for the weekend. There was little in the fashion line to be seen, but raincoats showed that they were following umbrellas in the trend towards colour. Oiled silk capes and hoods, and oiled silk coats, hats and kerchiefs (for the head) are beautiful in their printed or plain semi-transparency. They cannot take the place of a real “weatherproof” in downpours, but they are useful in showery weather, and have the advantages of weighing light and folding small.

Several women were wearing zipped boots warmly lined—an excellent idea, especially in avoiding splashed stockings.

By the time I had dodged in and out of shops, from one dripping verandah to the next, and strap-hung for twenty-five minutes in a tram full of moist fellow-creatures, and walked for ten minutes through a miserable downpour trying to hold my umbrella over an attache case and a couple of parcels, it was a cross and dripping specimen who finally tottered on to Vera's porch and pressed the bell.

“Oh, you poor thing! Come in!”

“How can I?” I said fiercely gazing at the hall rug (Indian) and the immaculate gleam of boards round it. “I'll go round to the back.”

“No! Wait there. I'll get something.”

I laid the parcels on the dry doorstep and gingerly removed my coat and hat and hung them on a handy peg. That felt better. My cold fingers fumbled with shoe-fastenings (buckles are not as easy as buttons) and I kicked off my shoes. By this time Vera was back again.

“Here's a towel to wipe your face. And your skirt's wet! Take it off—and your stockings. Here's a gown and some slippers.”

Comparatively dry, I stepped into the hall, snuggling into Vera's very best house-coat—a soft crimson woollen with wide rounded revers, a fitted waist and full tucked sleeves. I preened myself before the hall mirror. The waist and sleeves were definitely flattering.

“Come on, vanity, here's a fire.”

There was, and I stayed by it for hours, intermittently admiring Vera's industry in knitting an oatmeal angora jumper in lace pattern.

That evening, the weather clearing, Vera rang a friend for bridge. The friend, a nice girl, beautifully fair, wore, over a plain black frock, a jacket I immediately coveted. It was in gold and black brocade, with wide rounded revers (rather like those of the house-coat), a fitted waist, flared hips and slim sleeves. Its chief beauty had to be pointed out to me. It was lined and interlined. To keep her hair tidy out-of-doors, the visitor wore a black veil fastened round the head by a wisp of gold, and with its gold-trimmed edges floating free.

Not to put me out of countenance, Vera had changed into a very simple frock of dull black crepe with a little pointed collar of coral shade, fastening high. There was a glimpse through the front opening, round which the bodice was gauged, of coral vest. Very plain—but very attractive.

At supper time, Vera brought out her latest birthday present—a new type of handbag, like a hold-all in shape. I handed round Retta's latest letter, and George, the husband, who had made an adequate fourth at bridge, but who was not interested in women's clothes chat, perked up at the mention of rock gardens.

Vera laughed. “George will be inspired to get some fresh catalogues—and we're sure to have an alpine lawn.”

Here is the garden part of Retta's letter.

A Flower Show.

“We were given tickets for a flower show at the Royal Horticultural Society's Hall. These shows, which take place fortnightly, are great advertising for the exhibitors, and a grand opportunity for garden lovers to order just what they want.

“I was particularly impressed by a large oblong tulip bed near the entrance doors. The tulips, in massed colourings, were arranged so that they rose to a rounded cone in the middle, and to smaller ‘hillocks’ near the four corners. The effect was beautiful—far more interesting than that given by a flat flower surface.

“At this season, of course, ‘blossom’ made a wonderful show.

“I was surprised to learn from an attendant at a daffodil stand that Cornwall is a great bulb-growing district. Some of the most beautiful daffodils have typically Cornish names—St. Ives, Pencoys, Coverack, Treffry, Trevithian. Some of the flowers I took a fancy to were terribly expensive—up to £5 a bulb.

“What charmed me most was the rock-garden display. Though I had just looked at the most glorious orchids with their long and graceful page 60 sprays of blossom—sulphur green, rust, delicate pink, a gamut of shades—I preferred the tiny saxifrages against their background of grey rock. Next to the saxifrages I liked the primulas, beautiful in single tufts or massed according to colour. In these rock gardens, great use was made of dwarf trees and shrubs. The berberis which I had seen making a great show at Kew, was here represented by a neat golden-flowered bush, an ideal rock-garden accent. Unexpected also were the dwarf rhododendrons with massed blossoms of violet or of rosy-red. Dwarf cypresses, spruces and pines formed a dark and shapely contrast to the delicate flowered ‘carpet’ plants. I was delighted with a tiny, fairy edition of the Iceland Poppy, and with miniature daffodils and jonquils. And the gentian is as heavenly a blue as one can imagine.

“I'm writing to friends in Auckland to tell them to root out the grass turf which grows here and there in their rock-garden, and to plant instead an ‘alpine lawn,’ consisting of a close sward of Thymes and other carpeting plants. This ‘lawn’ is more interesting than grass, and never requires mowing.”

H. G. Wells on Hats.

From a newspaper article: “It is not generally known in Europe—possibly I have been carried away by some misunderstanding—that in every considerable American city, large gatherings of mature, prosperous, well-dressed women are in permanent session. They sit in wait, it seems, for any passing notoriety, and having caught one, insist ‘on a few words.’ This year they are all wearing black hats. These hats stick in my mind. Ultimately of the most varied shapes, the original theme seems to have been cylindrical, so that the general effect of an assembly of smart American womankind of 1937 (New Zealand winter 1938) is that of a dump of roughly treated black tin cans.”

Letter from Retta.


Dear Helen, 13th April, 1938.

London has had a record March—the warmest for a hundred years. Every lunch time, the parks, the gardens, the converted church-yards (such as that charming open space by the Royal Chapel of the Savoy, so surprisingly hidden just off the Strand) have catered for the crowds of workers, mostly young, who come bareheaded, carrying their lunch packets and perhaps a newspaper, book, or fancy-work, to spend every available minute in the open. Each day, it seems, one can notice the further budding of the trees. The flower procession is more marked than in New Zealand. First there were the crocuses, which I saw first on a sheltered slope at Kew. Then suddenly they were in the parks, nodding their white and gold and purple heads at the strollers in the sunshine. All at once, two or three weeks ago, a glory of daffodils had taken their place, blooming simultaneously, as if each bulb had said, “This week we will blossom. All together now—ready!” Last week the daffodils in the square near here were browning. But everywhere the tulips are in bud, beside the curving entrance to Hertford House, near a gateway to Lincoln's Inn Fields, and in all the other gardens where I haven't been.

It's exciting. I'm wondering what will happen next. Last week I found out what is happening in the country. We took train from King's Cross to Hertfordshire, and then walked by a circular route for ten miles or so along footpaths and lanes. Twice only did we cross great North Road, with its strings of cars and horrid odour of petrol.

Surprises? Violets were still in bloom on banks beside the way; in a wood I saw my first English primroses, growing there so gaily and casually among the tree stems.

“What next? What will come after the primroses?” I asked our guide.

“At the top of this little hill you'll see.” We went up a narrow path, scuffling brown leaves with our feet, and then on either hand were dark green spikes, and, further in among the trees, the first blue-bells. It was wonderful, intoxicating.

We came, via public footpaths, through a park belonging to Lord Brocket, to the village of Lamford. Cottages, two hundred years old, nestle there. There is no village green with pump (we had passed by several) but we found a tea-shop, with its charming cream and green paintwork hardly dry, in the “upstairs” room raised above what had been the old village smithy. Bread and butter and strawberry jam and cups and cups of tea, while we sat at a green-topped table and gazed at the green of the park across the way. How we enjoyed it, and what a truly New Zealand thirst we quenched! Price? Sevenpence each!

Though I have read about the English spring and the English countryside, I had not realised its beauty. If I never come back to our bright, rough, new land of New Zealand, it will be because the English countryside has claimed me.



Health Notes.

It is essential that every household should possess a First-Aid box, containing: (1) Roll cotton wool; (2) bandages; (3) packet of sterile gauze, or soft old linen which has been sterilized; (4) bottle of iodine; (5) bottle of methylated spirits; (6) pair of scissors; (7) safety pins; (8) a small enamel basin; (9) boracic acid powder; (10) bottle of carron oil; (11) castor oil; (12) milk of magnesia.

First-Aid Hints.

Burns and Scalds.—Apply oil immediately, and exclude the air. Carron oil should be used, and failing that, olive oil. Bi-carbonate of soda is also efficacious, if the oil is not available.

Cuts and Abrasions.—Clean the injured part thoroughly at the earliest opportunity. Use cold boiled water or a lotion made of one teaspoonful of

page 61 boracic powder dissolved in one pint of boiling water. Wash with sterile cotton wool.

Common salt makes a useful antiseptic used in the proportion of one tea-spoonful of salt to one pint of boiling water.

Bites and Stings.—Application of ammonia. A solution of bi-carbonate of soda. Methylated spirit or eau-decologne usually give immediate relief.

Sprains and Strains.—A sprained ankle, knee-joint or wrist must be attended to immediately to save trouble later. Apply a cold compress and renew frequently. Alternate cold and hot compresses are also beneficial. Bandage firmly.

“Live Within Your Skin.”

The above advice was given to a woman who persistently overdrew her Health Account, and was steadily going on towards a definite crash that would mop up all her resources. She would not realise that she was 20 h.p. and was always urging on towards a greater h.p. If the 20 h.p. faithfully did her work she would accomplish far more than having the spasmodic greater volume to her credit. This would be offset by the lesser volume which would ultimately be debited to her Health Account. It is absolutely no use urging a tired body to keep on either working or playing. It is not fair to oneself or to one's family.

“The Scrap Book.”

Moths in the Carpet.—When a carpet has been attacked by moths, if a damp towel is put over the part affected, and this ironed with a hot iron, the heat and steam will destroy both the worms and the eggs.

Leave the oven door open after roasting or baking to allow the moisture thus caused to escape. This will prevent rusting.

Rub window cords with melted candle grease occasionally. This will strengthen them and stop them wearing out so quickly.

One tablespoon of vinegar, added to the water in which cauliflower is soaked will help to prevent any odour while cooking.

Let your scissors stand in a bowl of water for a minute or two before using them to cut out flimsy materials. This enables them to give the material an even, clean edge.

To store oranges and lemons, hang them up in a net. By keeping them from contact with shelves, they remain sound much longer.


Although eggs are not at their cheapest—far from it—at this time of the year, they are still the housewife's favourite standby when a light, nourishing meal is required.

It is quite surprising the various tempting meals that can be concocted at short notice with a few eggs, a little butter and milk and the usual seasoning.

Here are a few hints for the omelette maker:

Don't beat the egg yolks and white separately, except for a souffle omelette.

Don't be afraid of the omelette.

Don't use a thin frying pan.

Don't wash the pan out. It should always be wiped clean with soft paper after use.

Don't cook the omelette until it is time to serve it.

Don't forget to stir in a dash of cold water at the last moment before cooking.

Having in mind all these “Don'ts,” a perfect, puffy omelette should be the result.