Writings and Witterings

Memory & Ritual


‘Ooh, an electric blanket
‘To keep my toes toasty and warm.’

Ma said ‘My mother told us,
“We used to have a warming pan.”’

‘A warming pan? What’s that?’

‘With a long wooden handle,
‘And a brass dish with a lid.
‘My gran put red hot coals into it,
‘Took it to beds, swished it around.
‘Then in they’d get, snug and warm. While
‘Ice formed
‘Inside the windows. The ice
‘Stayed all night, left puddles next day.’

Then Nan added her childhood tale,
Of plates put into the range.
When heated up, her ma and pa,
Wrapped the plates in newspaper,
Gave each child one to take to bed.
It warmed them as ice formed
Inside the windows.

‘Ma bought us electric blankets,
‘At 8pm she said
‘Go switch the blanket on’
‘At 9pm, ‘Goodnight, don’t forget
‘To switch the blanket off.’
We were snug and warm as
Ice formed
Inside the windows.

Polly Robinson © 2013

Nederlands: Beddenpan, met geel koperen klep (...


29 thoughts on “Memory & Ritual

  1. My grandmother used to warm house bricks in the bread oven beside the fire and wrap them in towels for us. She also had a ceramic hot-water bottle.


  2. A warming pad in bed? Sounds a little risky for burns. 😉


  3. The advance of technology expressed in what we used to keep warm in bed. Well put!


    • There are some interesting responses to this one, Joe. I was reminded of the old ceramic hot water bottles ~ haven’t seen one in donks ~ technology has advanced us in sooooo many areas 🙂


  4. I love watching ice form on the inside of windows! IT’s so frosty and delicious!


  5. Oh yes. When we heated with wood we needed the extra toasty bedclothes. Of course, that meant no one wanted to get out of bed in the morning–that’s what my mom used to tell me anyway 😉


    • heh-heh … some great replies to this post, including yours Susan. We all remember times before technology allowed us to heat in a different way ~ how did you used to heat your beds before electric blankets? Was it the same in USA as it was for UK? *intrigued* 🙂


      • I know my grandmother used hot water bottles and that fireplace bed warmer looks familiar–my grandmother had something similar propped up against the other fireplace tools, that HER mother must have brought it from France–though by the time I saw either she had switched to electric blankets 😉


        • Wow! That’s great, thanks Susan. Isn’t is marvellous to think that even before the time of the Internet we were doing things so similarly ~ people are very alike, wherever in the world they are 🙂


  6. Aw, that’s lovely, that is! The contrast between warm inside and the cold on the windows….


  7. I’ve never had an electric blanket but hot water bottles are pretty cool and that plate trick sounds great too. Very cute. k.


  8. Lovely imagery in this poem. Really liked it.


  9. I’ve purchased an electric blanket a few weeks back, from the establishment where our life’s dreams are expressed in the form of laminated pictures… (Argos!) I love my electric blanket, but it does make it awfully hard to turf myself out of bed in the morning!
    I love your nostalgic poem!


  10. Can you imagine ice forming on the inside of the windows? I can’t sleep if my feet are too cold…I would welcome a warming pan back in the day.


    • It’s hard to imagine that happening now, but I do recall it when I was very, very young, a long, long time ago 🙂

      There’s something very alluring about a warming pan …


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