Continuing, in fits and starts, my transcription of Granny’s 1938 diary, I had been pleased to see that they had managed a week’s holiday in Worthing at the end of August. Granny had writtten to Mrs Wenham, who kept the Guest House, back in June and received a reply a few days later. On Saturday 27 August they set off early for Worthing. I very much enjoyed reading of the holiday: buying sea shoes, walks on the prom, afternoons spent in various parks, and the children digging in the sand and having pony rides. Then on the day before departure there had been a bus trip to Salvington, to the Downs, “picking winterpicks”.
‘Winterpicks’ did not mean anything to me and a quick Google search did nothing to enlighten me. “I bet it’s a Sussex dialect word for something else” I thought to myself. The family history community is amazingly helpful to fellow enthusiasts: I had a sudden idea to post the query on the Sussex Family History Group facebook page.
10 minutes later there was a reply to my post from a fellow member in Australia! She had found a reference in Google Books referring to Blackthorn fruit. Ah! The fruits of the blackthorn are commonly known as sloes! Within half an hour someone else had contributed that sloes make good wine, as well as being useful for flavouring gin, and someone else had commented that there is a Winterpick Farm near Horsham. And then someone else shared a link to another online book. How amazing! As with other discussion threads on the site, people are so happy and willing to share their knowledge with one another.
Well the holiday came to an end and the family returned to Croydon. Two weeks later in the diary I read the entry “Corked the winterpick wine up”. There we are: sloe-picking ready for wine-making.
Of course I should have asked Mum first. As soon as I mentioned it she said that she grew up knowing about winterpicks and that it was years before she knew there was another name for them.
A few days later it occurred to her to dig out a notebook of Granny’s containing all kinds of recipes and tips. There she found the recipe for Winterpick wine, sandwiched between those for Elderberry wine and Dandelion wine! Amazing.
This summer when we hopefully have our habitual few days in Worthing, I think we should look for winterpicks and maybe even give Granny’s recipe a go. I’ll let you know how we get on!