As previously mentioned, there should be a letter from Alec to his parents for Sunday 9th April 1961 but it seems to have vanished – and, although I have an undated partial letter floating around loose in the box, it is very unlikely to be from this particular date due to its contents.
Leonard to the family:
Dear Alec June Susan & Carol
Many thanks for letter received on Tuesday with all the latest news. It does not seem a week ago yesterday that we left Ruislip after our holiday – time just flies. Thank you Susan & Carol for your very nice drawings – we have been thinking of you this week going to and from school – Susan to stop and Carol to come home again. How do you like it Susan?
Weather here typically April although Monday was as bad as Easter Monday – kept raining continuously until 4.0 p.m. All outdoor work at a standstill for days including grass cutting. The lawn has not been touched since the day before we came up to you.
Note you were soon busy on the decorations after our departure and I expect the front room now looks very nice after your efforts. Can quite picture the rearrangement of the twin beds in the girls’ room – are the young ladies pleased with it? No crayons taken to bed presumably. We are still waiting for the electrician to come and rewire the house then have a spot of painting and papering to do here.
Am enjoying your plum wine – a wineglass full dinnertimes but it’s nearly gone now. Some of the best home brew I’ve ever tasted. By the way I did not think to pay you for the sweet jars when you handed them to me so will put right in due course.
Note Susan had a booster injection last week – expect she has fully recovered by now. What a wonderful thing these injections are – never heard of them in our time and we caught one illness after another until we were almost immune from the rest. Let’s hope they work on Susan. Should just like to peep in on her in the classroom – have you had a full report from her of her doings?
Had a call from Norman Baker last Saturday morning “Could he come down & put up fence & bring horse along?” Replied Yes and he duly arrived with posts & cross pieces and barb wire. The horse (Joey) is 26 years old and quite docile. Norman still uses it at horse shows for playing Musical Chairs on horse back. So far he has not made much impression on the field but his appetite is good and he eats quite a lot of grass. Am hoping it will save nme some of the work with the scythe later on. Will report progress in future letters.
I see in last week’s Mercury the Council have agreed to donkeys on the Front this summer for the children. In fact the animals are already here and foraging on Wain’s Hill – something else for Susan & Carol to see at Clevedon. I think I read they are to be used on part of Salthouse Fields.
Last Sunday morning just as I was about to go over to the Church for ringing the telephone bell rang – Mrs Richings Weston – said she had phoned four times over Easter. Told her we did not hear as far away as Ruislip. They wanted su to go and see them again so we went down yesterday afternoon and after about two hours prowling around the shops – Woolworths etc. – we called on them at 4.0 p.m. Left again about 9.15 p.m. and home just before 10.0 p.m. Mr Richings I gather is now learning to drive a car and is he passes test proposes to buy one. Also heard that Michael had taken a test at Reading & failed. He was home for the Easter holiday & returns to Reading on the 29th inst.
You mentioned the Peach cutting in your letter. I’ve not put it in garden yet – have however repotted it as it needed a larger pot. Not made up my mind so far as to most suitable site.
The Parsnip wine is still working under fermentation lock but it is getting clearer – a lovely golden brown colour. Richings says he is going to make some as he has a lot of old parsnips lying about which otherwise would be dug back into the ground. Note your cider getting low – am sorry cannot replace just now. I still have a crop on hand and have a glass most nights at suppertime.
Have started to get greenhouse ready for tomato plants & am still in doubt whether to buy a few or not. Mine are coming along nicely but may be about three weeks behind the time I usually start picking so may buy 8 or 10 just to give that earlier picking and make up complement with own plants – the next fortnight will decide.
Hales have delivery vans over the South of England. They leave the bakery with fully loaded vans and are away for two or more days. I’ve seen them at a number of places distant from Clevedon. Still it must have been a bit of a surprise to see one of the vans so close to Queen’s Walk.
The chrysants I brought back are still looking nice & fresh and I’m more likely to get them to take than you will the rose cuttings which are most difficult to strike. Still you must let us know what happens. The tendency apparently is for the cuttings – if they are not going to take – to turn brown from the top.
It was a nice compliment to get a copy of the report on C.P.C. sent to you by the B.J.C. – something to look at when the children are in bed?
Carol’s birthday on Sunday – three years old – as I said before How time flies. How does she get on without Susan to play with? Query keeps closer to Mummie.
Had a letter from Tiverton yesterday asking us to go there at Whitsun and on to the bungalow at Exmouth for a few days but as Geoff & family are coming down here on Whit Monday we had to decline the invitation but we may be able to go down at the close of the Season. We understand they are fully booked up at the bungalow from the beginning of June – nice work. John & family have now moved from sharing a house at Chettiscombe to the school house at Chevithorne – the school now being closed. It is a mile or so further away from Tiverton but he has a little car to get to & fro.
Between somewhat heavy storms today managed to put in remainder of potatoes but soil was like a wet cake mixture. Have quite a lot of plants of one sort and another waiting to be put in but ground is so wet that very small seedlings would be swamped so they must wait for drier weather. Got 50 lettuce plants out last weekend – working from concrete path – and am protecting them nightly from slugs by putting flower pots over them – so far with success.
Well I think this is the lot for another week. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for Susan & Carol.
Mum & Dad
From Eva to the family on the remaining two-thirds of a sheet of Leonard’s paper:
Dear Alec June Susan & Carol
Thank you for the nice drawing you sent. I am putting them with the others. We have been pretty busy since coming home. I tore strips off the milk people & the next time they forget me will change, but they simply pass the buck from one to the other.
Had a good chin wag at Weston for a few hours. Michael was there but his fiancee had just gone to London en route for Italy with the school. She is at a boarding one & getting £7.5.0 [roughly £168.50 in 2021 money] plus food not bad at 24, she is two years older than Michael. They are thinking of marrying Mr R says but he won’t be able to earn for a year if he passes his finals in July. Mrs R was interested in news of the children.
I bought some small check material & made a skirt on Monday & Tues to wear it to Weston on Wednesday. Wish we could work as quickly as you in the decorating business, it takes up time when you have to stop & get a meal.
I get on with the horse alright, take him some sugar lumps & he tries to see into my pocket. He is being made a fuss of by the neighbours so hope he won’t go overeating.
Wonder how Susan got on with her first day at school. I bet June missed her the first time. You will be having plenty of ‘school’ in future. I must leave a space for a drawing.
[Biro sketch of the school (front elevation with clock tower) and a little girl with hair ribbon, pleated skirt, cardigan and odd shoes, and randomly a flying book.]
Love from Mum & Dad