Do you remember the craze for home-made wine and beer? Back in the 1970's it seems everyone was at it. Maybe it had something to do with the Real Ale, Beard and Sandals brigade- then, vaguely in fashion; but if I had to point a long finger at any root cause, it would be at the now forgotten concept of "thrift".
This is something that we lost in the Eighties, Nineties and Naughties; but with the onslaught of the credit crunch (dreadful expression, that), I suspect is coming back into vogue. My father brewed his own beer and lager, and my poor mother had to put up with an evil-smelling red plastic bucket, which he kept in the kitchen cupboard (it was exactly the right temperature, apparently). Consequently, our hovel smelt like an outpost of Whitbread's.
Beer making was touchingly ritualistic: there was all the interesting paraphernalia you bought from Boot's, lots of "tut-tutting' over thermometers, and then the excitement of the first tasting. I seem to remember the lager tasted all right (if a bit soapy), but the bitter (how can I put this delicately, needed urgent revision.
Do it yourself wine making might be a noble and arcane rural pursuit worthy of re-discovery. A few years ago, I paid a visit to some Old Boy down in Stoke Poges- ostensibly to value his antique nick-knacks; but of a far greater interest were the dusty bottles lurking in his potting shed. Pigeon Fancying and Wine making were his hobbies- indeed his passions- and spurred on by my sudden enthusasiam, he urged me to sample his wares. Every bottle had been neatly labelled in a spidery handwriting, ready for tasting. Was Dandelion '73 better than Carrot '84? Was '92 a bad year for Cowslip? Had he put too much sugar into the Elderflower "Champagne"? And so on, and so forth.
Now, I'm currently in a money pinching, tight-fisted mood, worthy of that shining example to us all: Ebeneezer Scrooge; and I salute the enterprise of Mr What Not of Stoke Poges.
And on the same tack, what's happened to SodaStream? Those of us of a certain vintage will remember this well. Home-made tonic water, bitter lemon, and ersatz " cola" costing tuppence a shot. They seem to have a website going, though I don't know anyone whose got one. And don't you have to get carbon di-oxide canister refills from somewhere? I'll have to investigate.