Milking it…

Lovely local milk in glass bottles in the village shop!

Sometimes, you just have to give a wry smile and resist saying anything… this was my reaction when I overheard some earnest 20-somethings discussing the environmental benefits of buying milk in a glass bottle from our local shop and what a brilliant development this was. It IS an excellent development and the aim of reducing plastic use is long overdue… but it’s hardly new!

As a child, I used to listen out for the hum of the milk float – a battery-driven vehicle (gosh, how very ‘green’!) and the clink of our pints of milk being delivered to the porch. There was always the rush to get to the bottles before the blue tits had pecked through the lids and got at the cream on the top! Amazingly… we even used to recycle back in the dark ages of the 1950s too! Every housewife would wash out her ‘empties’ and put them back on the step for them to be replaced with new bottles of fresh milk the next day.

We collected the silver foil caps and recycled them (care of Blue Peter appeals) and the trusty milkman provided an excellent neighbourhood watch facility, spotting when anything was amiss if a householder didn’t take in their milk. He also sold eggs, bread and tinned goods, amongst other things, and must have been an absolute lifeline for elderly customers. Fancy that – home grocery deliveries! Now, where have I seen that recently?

It is lovely to see milk in bottles back in my local shop although the realisation that the bottles were one litre rather than one pint took me a moment – I couldn’t understand why they seemed so large! The milk is from a local dairy so there’s no problem with ‘food miles’ and the cows that produced the milk would have been grazing in fields quite nearby. Who knows where the milk in our supermarkets comes from? And it seems sometimes we can’t even believe the cheery information on the label as some supermarket ‘farms’ are completely fictitious.

It sometimes seems to me that we rush headlong into new ideas and don’t think about the possible side effects, as with the dominance of the supermarkets and the loss of milk rounds and many of our high street shops. But most developments are, of course, huge improvements and we must be open to change. However, I for one will be very pleased if the milkman and his humming milk float make a return to our streets, perhaps other much-missed aspects of earlier decades will come back too…



14 replies
  1. Susie Pinder says:

    What goes around comes around!
    We have just had to suspend delivery of our milk as it keeps being stolen from the doorstep – which is more than frustrating when you come down to breakfast at 07.30, having heard the milkman at 03.00 to find the top of the milk keeper and no milk! I am wondering what happened to the bottles – not found smashed on the ground. Hopefully when we resume in 3 weeks the culprits will have moved on elsewhere.
    I don’t really want to cancel completely as he might then stop coming altogether, which will not be good for the older folk who really needed him when the snow was on the ground.

  2. Nannieannie says:

    I agree Joanna. The young people of today think a lot of things are a new invention which we can remember years ago. I can remember the electric milk float but before that we had a horse drawn milk float.

  3. Diana Newson says:

    We still have a milk delivery locally,but I cancelled mine because, like Susie, the milk was disappearing from the doorstep. I think I will start again though because I do not know what the supermarkets do to the milk but I do not remember milk lasting for a full week or more!

  4. Nina Spear says:

    We have a milk station at a local farm. After purchasing an empty bottle you can fill it from a machine (and reuse after washing, of course) Really lovely creamy milk. You can use your own container but I love the traditional glass one they supply. x

  5. Celia Collins says:

    I have wonderful fresh, local milk delivered 3 times a week – and guess what he also sells eggs, cream etc. and will even deliver bags of compost if you ask in advance. Wonderful service.

  6. Eunice says:

    I always looked forward to seeing the Milkman and his lovely horse Prince, I used to take him a carrot on a Saturday and Sunday morning and he used to mount the pavement and wait for me to come out happy days


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