Sunday 5th March, 1961

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thank you for your last letter, on time as usual. Another enclosure from the girls this time but I do not know what is in the envelope. We too look forward to the post, and the girls are pleased to be allowed to leave the table to go and get the “Gardeners Gazette” as it is sometimes called.

The route you have received from the A.A. seems to be very much the same as the one that I followed on the way down only instead of passing through Maidenhead we went through Henley, Hope your visit to Heavitree goes off satisfactorily. Note you are having the car given a short servicing before you come up here, Had mine tested last Wednesday, and guess what – it failed. They refused a certificate on the grounds that the reflectors were the wrong colour (Orange ) and therefore illegal, and there was said to be insufficient reserve of travel in the handbrake. The reflectors have been attended to, but the brake will-be done this weak when I hope to have car tested again.

I had heard you tell the story about the walk at Martock many years ago, probably when I first joined the rail. Not very good old days as you say.

Acton Yard L.D.C. not much worse than any other I suppose, but the same principle applies – it’s the noise that is heard. Have got four of them taking an appreciation course of three days starting next Tuesday when they can let off steam in private.

Geoff mentioned something to me about all going over on Easter Sunday but we have not yet decided what we are doing on that day so have not made any promises yet. Glad you are able to look out a couple of bottles of wine for us. I found the bottle of plum you brought up last time ( 2nd grade ) and found it still a bit sharp. Added some sugar to the bottle and put it back for a bit. We drank the ( 1st grade ) bottle some time ago.

No I do not think that I can do with any more chrysants, shall have nowhere to put them. Thank you for offering though.

We had not flown the kite until this week as you know we do not get a lot of gales here and even a strong wind is unusual. This week-end it has been glorious without a trace of wind to spoil it. As a result of the heat, the soil is beginning to dry out at long last. Still too tacky to get on but if this keeps up it will not be long before it is workable. Sounds as if our garden is a small edition of Cornishes, I suppose he does do something to it occasionally.

Bad luck about Mr Heal’s mother. When things move suddenly like that though people even a short distance away often fail to make it in time. It must have been a most unhappy day for them.

I am not sure that Mrs Salway knew Carol, but she certainly saw Susan a time or two. Sorry to hear that Aston seems to have some internal trouble, probably due to too many sandwich lunches in the past. Nice to know that mother helps in the garden, I thought she occupied the deckchair and gave advice.

I am glad that the Clevedon cricket ground is not to be used for building, I do not think It was much of a prospect as a building site.

Was interested to learn of the opinion expressed about Susan’s drawings. She really does seem forward for her age in most things, and her little drawings do have more than a little talent.*

I agree this is lovely weather. Three days in a row and the week-end to boot. Hope we have not had it all by the time you arrive – not long now. I can- see I shall have to arrange for a coin operated parking meter to be fixed outside our place when you are here, may be able to make a bit.

Glad to hear your new shops are having such a good effect on the other traders. Good job they are not too near Elford, it might make him wake up.

Made a gallon of “Braverys Extra Special Jungle Juice” yesterday with slight variation. In addition to the four pounds of potatoes I added about one pound of very old and stale parsnips, ( my own that had lain in the soil since last year ) and used Sultanas instead of raisins which were not obtainable. Threw in a whole oz. packet of powdered yeast and the whole lot is in a state of vigorous ferment now.

We had a visit from Peter and Brenda this afternoon and they brought with them Brenda’s two little cousins aged four and two. The girl is very shy and hardly speaks at all but the boy who can toddle steadily round with the minimum of help joined in the fun. Heard a squeal from the front room at one stage and walked in to find he had pushed Carol over and she was lying all arms and legs and voice between the armchair and the wall, They did not leave until well after eight ( nearer nine ) and both children had been well off to sleep long before then. It was a pity to wake them, but I believe they are quite used to it. Gave Peter plenty of wine while he was here and a couple of bottles to go home with.**

Managed to tip over a cup of coffee with the carriage of this machine a few minutes ago, and that brought the pangs on for a bit. Panic over now but lost the drink. I am afraid I shall have to draw the line here this time, it is now 10-30pm much later than the time I usually do this letter – for reasons already explained.

More next time, love from us all.

[*So why refer to them as having been ‘committed’ or ‘perpetrated’ then? It seems especially ungenerous, but is all of a piece with the remarks about Mr Aston – and his own mother – in this letter.]

[**’Plenty of wine’ does not sound like such a great idea considering that Peter was driving with his fiancee and two young children in the car – and there were no seatbelts in those days.]


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