Things we don’t do anymore

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When I was little, there were certain things people did. Things which, in todays society, aren't done anymore.
Usually because the service we once used is no longer available.
I live in the UK, and I think fewer and fewer people have their milk delivered by a milkman.
Now, we didn't have that in Germany. Milkmen were unheard of, but I remember going up the road with my milk pail and getting fresh milk from the farmer. Butter too.
I remember being drafted in by friends when they were butchering. I've stirred my share of things people would consider completely horrible. I've trampled barefoot in a vat filled with grapes, after getting roped in to spend entire weekends helping to harvest them. Where I come from, if someone asked you around September what you were doing at the weekend — if you were smart, you told them you were busy…
Or you'd spend it like this:
But wait! There is more.
We have a town festival every year in my hometown. (Yes, I still refer to it as my hometown, even after living 20+ years in the UK.) It's called "Schaeferlauf" (Shepherds Race) It's a BIG DEAL, with millions of people visiting over the weekend.
When I still lived there, well…I had a horse. We took part.

Like this:





There are sack races. Egg and spoon races. Water bucket (Wooden, carried on the head!) races. Monks, knights, noblemen and women, shepherds — and sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.

There is also the actual Shepherds Race.
Participants can only be sons or daughters of shepherds, or young shepherds. No one else is allowed to take part.
These young men and women race along the field — a cut wheat field, complete with the stubbles left — BAREFOOT. Not joking, people. They are then crowned Shepherd's King and Queen. (The prize is a high quality breeding sheep.)

But I digress.

There are other things. Trades that seem to be going the way of the Dodo.
I know people still bring handbags, belts and stuff like that to my dad to fix them, rather than throw them out. (He used to be a saddler.)
Did I mention that my lot is a very tight bunch? As in…hoarding. Oh yeah. I know a thing or two about hoarding. Swabians throw nothing away.
They say Scots are tightwads.
Where I come from, we say Scots are Swabians who were banished for being wasteful. :P

Which brings me to my duvet. (Comforter, for the Americans out there.)

Yes, you heard right. I said duvet. You may wonder what's so special about a duvet…

Well, Paul and I each have a huge, extra length, king size, goose down duvet.
They are fantastic. Warm in winter, and light enough to be comfortable in summer. They weren't cheap, but they are 20 years old now.
Most people would probably throw them out sooner or later, but you see…a new duvet (and bear in mind we'd need two of them) of this quality would be a good £400+ each.
Now, when I was little, my dad used to have a duvet cleaning machine. I remember my grandmother used to sew the coverings. Or "Inlett" as it's called in Germany.
When I moved to the UK, I missed my goose down duvet so much…I couldn't get a decent night's sleep under anything else. It was either too warm, or too cold, or clumpy, or heavy… It was just plain uncomfortable. For someone who has slept most nights of her life beneath feather covers, it's not easy to adjust. (I hate hotel covers. Loathe them.)

So anyway. Our duvets are old and need cleaning. Can I find someone to do it? I've spent a long time on search engines looking for a duvet cleaning and refilling service in the UK.
"Wash it in the washing machine" I hear you cry.
In fact, make that a HELL no. Do not wash a goose down duvet in a washing machine if you aren't sure of the filling inside. Ever. You'll ruin it.
This is how you clean a goose down duvet. Sorry, it's in German.
I'll give you a very brief translation of the process. (The link opens in a new window, in case you want to follow along.)

  1. It shows the before and after of the down inside the covering.
  2. In most cases the covering has to be replaced.
  3. Ignore this point on the website, it just deals with people having the option to replace the covering.
  4. ~ The fun starts here. The covering is opened and the contents are sucked into a "Pre-cleaning" machine. It separates the broken feathers, dust, dirt etc from the usable feathers. They are then treated with UV light, which disinfects the usable contents.
    ~ Now the feathers are washed using a special feather "shampoo" and a lot of water. The shampoo removes all the dirt, but keeps the natural grease content of the feathers intact. This is important for the "fluff" ability, and also for protection against sweat and other influences.
    ~ After this they go into a "Cleaning" chamber, which is also a drying chamber. Essentially it's a big blow dryer, which gently dries the feathers and removes any left over dust or broken feather particles.
    ~ Once clean and dry, the contents are blown to a "Filling / Separation chamber" and new feathers are added and mixed in if required.
    ~ Then the entire content is weighed and returned to the existing covering (if still usable. It cannot be washed.) or a new one if needed, and sewn shut.

And that, my friends, is how you clean a down duvet (comforter)
It should be done every 5-7 years, so mine are way overdue. They are extremely high quality, so they've lasted very well, but now they are starting to get a bit…floppy.

I have finally found a company who does it…but it will take some saving up to get ours done. It's not cheap, but it's cheaper than a new one!
If I can do it, I will get Paul's done first, and then mine.

That's if the company still exists when I get around to doing it!
The way it's going…they may not be around anymore.

Silke was born in Germany, but lives in England. She has written several paranormal romances:   HowlSmittenWatch Me (September 2012) and Caedir (February 2013)

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