Sunday 10th July, 1960

Clearly the holiday in Clevedon was from Thursday 17th June to Sunday 4th July, 1960. Just as clearly, Leonard wrote as usual on Thursday 8th July, but that letter has since been lost. So has everything but the first page of Alec’s reply, which therefore ends abruptly.

Dear Mum and Dad

Thank you for letter which arrived on Saturday. Thank you also for the very nice time we had at Clevedon. We all enjoyed it but of course it was far too short. I agree that the weather was at its best for us, but what a change now. It has been depressing here all day and we have had several heavy thunder showers. As I write it is coming down in sheets. All the time though there is sunshine in the background and for a minute or two it gets quite hot.

As you know by now we got home safely and in good time. We stopped at Chippenham for.quarter of an hour ( pot purposes and to repack back seat of car ) and we got to Marlborough at 9-10am. We popped in to Cafe which was doing a roaring trade. Of course the milk was too hot for the girls to drink right away so we had to wait a while and it was 9-30am before we left.* We found the A4 a better road than the one used for forward journey and without unduly pushing the car we were able to maintain a fairly high speed. We went so well in fact that I decided not to turn off to Henley but to keep on through Reading and Slough. The children meantime were not shewing any signs of discomfort. We turned in at 84 just turned 11-30am**.

I am afraid that grass and hedges were overrun when we got back and due to rain I have not been able to put things right. I managed to cut both the back lawns with mower but before I had a chance to get shears on the tall grasses it started to rain and ground has not dried out since. The lawns now want cutting again. We found all the chrysants alive but a couple had wilted badly. The Budleia are both alive but they had severe checks and are only just now lifting their heads even after all the rain. Slugs have made inroads on the lettuces that have not bolted and altogether that crop is diminishing fast.

I expect you found it quiet after we had gone. No help for it. We were very sorry to hear that Mrs Parker lost her cardigan as indirectly it is our fault. Incidentally June cannot find her tweezers and thinks she may have left them at Devonia – ? any trace.

Sorry we had no tickets for the ‘Great Fire’ would have postponed our holiday a week if we had known. It must be done deliberately. Someone in the Fire Brigade I expect. Note the pond leaks. I feel that had it been filled as soon as set it may have held. As it is the clay may have contracted in the heat but should expand now the wet weather is here. Susan often says little things about when we were at Clevedon” and I know she would like to go again.

We went out on Monday as arranged but I would not say it was highly successful. We went to Kew Gardens ( my idea ) but after admittance at 10-0 am, we found that all the indoor ‘Houses’ did not open until varying times later in the day. We wandered about looking at trees and shrubs until Midday then got out and had our picnic lunch in the car which was in an outside car-park. Lunch completed we made our way home by circuitous route but it rained heavily so that was no pleasure. I was not very impressed with Kew.

I hope your visitors had good weather to-day but the omens this end are poor.

*Twenty minutes in a cafe, with young children? What a wicked waste of time! I can’t help thinking that Alec, being an efficiency expert by way of a profession, found his children inefficient units and was constantly trying to redesign them. June, on the other hand, wanted matching and obedient dolls without personalities of their own. What a shame.

**That would be a decent journey time even today; Google Earth suggests about 90 minutes from central Marlborough to South Ruislip, via either M4 or M40, for a journey of roughly 70 miles, so Alec is clearly maintaining an average speed of 45 mph or so – maybe slightly more, given that the route he took was via A and B roads which can be assumed to be less direct and to have more obstacles on them in the form of junctions, lights, etc.


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