Saturday 2nd January 1960

Alec to his maternal uncle and aunt, Joe and Lydia Fewings:

Dear Aunt Lydia and Uncle Joe,

Thank you very much for card and presents for the children. They cannot write yet as you know or would have replied in person. Hope you don’t mind the typing, I find that I can get along a lot faster and write more this way. It seems an awful long time since we last saw you but I suppose it could only have been just over a year. On reflection it must be more than that as you have not seen Carol as far as I can recollect. She is very much like Susan although her features are supposed to have rather more of the Atkins in them. People are very divided in their opinions as to whether she is like Susan or not. Her build and features are very similar but she tends to grizzle a lot more. They are beginning to be company for each other but there are a few squabbles when they both want the same toy. We hope you had a very happy Christmas. I often think of the Christmasses at Barton Rd. I was too young to remember the parties at Bampton St but understand they were quite something. Hope Pat, John and families in best of health. Have read abit about Eric’s Dad in London papers – something to do with bowls*. Haven’t played since I partnered retired policeman in tournament in Tiverton Park when I was about ten or so, A number of my friends are members of the Paddington Indoor Bowling Club. I should imagine you had a houseful over Christmas and there is a strong possibility of there being more next year. There is no doubt that it is the Children that make the Christmas. We had a small tree and put up a few chains and balloons but they are still a trifle young to get wildly excited. The weather has been shocking this end and even to-day it has poured morning and afternoon. We had to go out to do a bit of shopping this afternoon but there was no pleasure in it. Imagine London on a wet Saturday. Gales and storms have been severe but should imagine they were much worse down your way. At least you should avoid flooding at Somerholme. There is one thing about it, in about eight weeks time the weather should begin to turn in for the better. Had a look round the garden to-day and I am surprised to find a lot of the summer annuals still growing. There are a number of Petunias which are looking very healthy. There has been no hard frost to kill them off and Roses and Clematis are thro­wing out strong shoots. I suppose the first real frost will stop all that. I am afraid the kids have not been too well lately. The wet weather has aggravated the catarrah to which they are prone and they don’t seem able to shake it off. The Doctor is very helpful, he recommends South Africa. Told him we might manage Southend. Was interested in Uncle Joe’s Mesembryanthemums when last at Somerholme so grew some myself this year from seed. Had a hard job with them. First two lots damped off and although the third boxful survived and were planted out many did not flower at all although they made a lot of growth. They were not in the shade either. Just one of those things I suppose. I expect the little greenhouse of your worked overtime during that last magnificent Summer. I am afraid there is not room for one this end and even if we had one I am afraid it would soon become target for catapults. We used to have a rickety Summer House but boys smashed all the glass and we had to take it down. Well must close now but wish you all a very happy new year and hope we are able to see you some time during the course of it. Love from June, Susan, Carol and Alec

*Joe and Lydia’s daughter Pat married Eric Shapland. Eric’s father, Harold Shapland, had a certain amount of celebrity as the BBC’s Bowls correspondent, often providing audio commentary on radio and voiceovers for TV. See this typical listing from 1970.

Alec to his paternal uncle and aunt, Don and Joan Atkins:

Dear Don and Joan

Thank you both very much for the card for Christ­mas and cash content. £.s.d. always acceptable as you might expect. We have entered same in Susans and Carols Post Office a/c s. I am afraid that they have not been too well lately and even to-day when we wanted to get out to pay a few bills and do some shopping poor Carol was very thick in the clear and was very sick in car. It is still a bit difficult with her as although she can walk well, as soon as she feels a bit off colour she grizzles to be picked up. This a bit tricky when out in car and shopping etc to be done. Susan is better able to look after herself and although probably just as affected by the weather does manage to blow own nose etc. We hope you had a good Christmas and now both enjoying better health. It was certainly the weather to stop in and have a fireside Xmas, and what with television it is easy to do the right thing. We determined to have a quiet Xmas this year as both suffering from mental, physical, and financial exhaustion, and in fact did not lay on much in the special line, although we did to and fro a bit to in-laws at West Drayton. Igather that things also quiet at Devonia although many invitations were extended. The children enjoyed their Xmas as you may imagine. A small Dolls House was the centrepiece and numerous puzzles and contraptions also littered the carpet. I am afraid the squabbles have started. Although they have such a lot of toys, they seem always to want the same one. Susan goes to Sunday School now as you may already know and we attended a special service for parents and small children. We took Carol of course but she was not a great success. She was reasonably good till a girl in the row in front hit her over the head with a hand bell, then the fun started. It has been pouring with rain here all day and looks most depressing. I planted out the Xmas tree (hopefully) and raked over a plot of earth I am returning to lawn. The soil was very workable and powdered up quite easily. This is most unusual for this area. I had a wander round the garden to see if anything on the move apart from slugs. Roses well in leaf and bud and am afraid a good frost will do a lot of damage. Considerable new growth made on the Clematis and Iam afraid that will suffer very badly if frost comes. Nearly all the Summer Annuals are still alive and such things as Petunias are looking very healthy. It was too wet to spend much time inspecting the form but I did notice that apart from a couple of special Hyacinths none of the bulbs were showing. Carol put to bed once howled the place down and she is now sitting behind me in her new dressing gown singing all her nursery rhymes. This catarrah really is the limit. Our Doctor says cant do a thing about it except go to South Africa or South America to live. I have heard that Middlesex is a bad county for that sort of thing also for Rheumatism but the difficulty is knowing what counties are any better. Presumably those with sandy or chalk soils. Can only hope that the Spring and better weather will bring about a change. June has not been too well lately. Had a tooth out last Wednesday and has complained of tooth ache ever since. Difficult to see a bright spot sometimes isn’t it. Seems to have been a lot of gales and floods according to the news and papers. Hope you have avoided getting wet feet as your area rather prone to that sort of thing. Well must close now so will wish you both all the very best for the new year. Love from June, Susan, Carol and Alec


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