When I want to write about a local expression used in my little village in a way that helps you to understand it, it can be difficult to convey the meaning behind it when translating from Spanish into English. So, I am going to do my best to share the general idea with you. It goes something like this: ?scrub, rinse and hang?.

Long before we had a washing machine at home, I went a few times with my mother to the nearby river to wash clothes. However, this duty became more comfortable when houses in my little villages were equipped with running water. But, even then, my mother spent a lot of hours washing clothes by hand. To do this, she used a basin and a piece of wood with dents to rub the clothes that you can see in the picture (washing board). My mother was fond of clean clothes, so the procedure was: firstly, scrub the clothes with a homemade soap; and after that, exposed the clothes to rays of sun because it is the best way to remove difficult stains. If it worked, then the next step was to rinse them and hang them out to dry. We have local expressions in Spanish for all these activities, most of them have fallen into disuse nowadays.

Apart from the basin and the piece of wood to wash at home, there were public washing places, some of which have been kept in use to be visited by tourists in some villages. The last one I came across was in Sao Pedro da Afurada, a neighbourhood in Oporto. The place is open to the public and you can see women there, hand washing and hanging clothes in the surrounding area in a very specific way as can be seen in the pictures.

Nonetheless, when it comes to my own laundry, my preference up to recently was to use a washing machine. However, now that my older son, a brave entrepreneur, has set up a self-service laundrette business, I take all my laundry there and within an hour or so, my laundry is done.

As you can see, in my family we have changed from going to the river to wash clothes to going to the self-service laundry. And what about you, dear friends and readers, do you have any story related to laundry? Or any special memories?

(Credit: some photos by Martina Albertini)

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