Sunday 22nd October, 1961

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Once again the round of letters begins, and yours of this weeks arrived about 9 a.m.. Thank you also for your note sent on arrival back at Clevedon. It seems that you had a very good run and a much more enjoyable one than you thought you would get on the previous day. I think the route is quite good, and will prove much less exacting from the driving point of view when it has been done a couple of times and we are used to it. 

Thank you also for the book sent to the girls, they enjoyed it. 

You certainly had quite a while in Andover – much more than we had, as we only got involved in a traffic jam. I think the best sausages I have ever tasted were the chipolatas made by Maunders of Tiverton. If the Andover ones come up to that standard they must be good. 

Susan and Carol were very glad to see you, and had looked forward to it for a long time. They seemed to accept the comings and goings of people quite well. I do not think they have a great deal of feeling for time and distance yet. 

Susan has been a bit of colour for a couple of days. hard to put a name to it, but she did not have any dinner yesterday, and did not eat much tea. This morning’s breakfast disappeared quickly enough though, and she seems more herself. they have been giving us a duet of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in the front room. 

Glad you managed to spot Stonehenge this time – it is big enough. I was surprised to hear you had missed it on the way up as it is so close to the road. Some walk up to it though I believe. 

I am glad you enjoyed the visit. I am afraid it was over so quickly, and hard to believe that it was made apart from the tangible evidence. That of course is the drawback of long weekends which are so infrequent due to the distance involved. I expect you could come up more often if we lived near Reading. This would reduce the journey to about 100 miles and the time to about two-and-a-half hours. 

Yes I am pleased with the photographs. short of cinematograph films I think that is the best way to do the job these days. The results amazed me as hitherto my efforts in black and white came in for severe criticism. 

Mr and Mrs Baker arrived home safely on the night of their visit – Peter’s driving having improved. It being Mrs Baker’s birthday yesterday, we went over to Yiewsley in the afternoon. We have had to return the projector so Pauline will have to wait now before she sees the large sized pictures. As you know she has already seen them in a pocket viewer.

Our heavy rain occurred on Sunday night if I remember rightly, and we had another dose of it last night. Dahlias still flowering – we were able to take a mixed bunch over to Grandma yesterday. 

Note your clearing up activities going to plan. I noticed that my indoor chrysanths or some of them have flower buds. If we do not get a severe frost I may get some blooms.

I am afraid I cannot guess which bottle of wine you sampled. I thought that I gave you a Parsnip and a Rhubarb. Both of these were fair drinks, but I had to add some sugar to the Parsnip and I had not tasted that particular bottle perhaps you found it not sweet enough. My grape wine is still fermenting, but is obviously slowing down. Have not made any apple wine but with luck I may get round to it soon. Now that you have reminded me of this subject, I have had a swig of the Parsnip for myself – not bad. I must have a racking session with my wines and get them into bottles.

So the mice are still in evidence – I think one must have made a nest in the old wireless set as I got out enough pieces of paper, leaves and straw from underneath the chassis to make a large sized ball. Almost filled up the vacuum cleaner bag. 

Had a series of good meetings last week. The most important thing that happened was an interview for the lecturer’s job. Had my interview on Wednesday at 11:15 and a very good one it was. I gather that I have not got the job as McD phoned up and asked how I had done. It appears they were suitably impressed, but the job went to someone with previous lecturing experience. John Welshman was also up for interview, and the betting was even between us according to the G.M.’s office, so assume he got it. I do not wish to give the impression of quotes “sour grapes”, but although the money was worth having, I am still not sure that the best has not happened. I can see no future in the lecturing business, apart from the initial rise in salary. Of course there is the principal’s job to aim at, but there are others ahead already, and the need to train staff in work study will not continue indefinitely. Visited Reading three times last week – it gets like old times. 

We have decided to retain the telephone and have written accordingly. 

Pouring with rain again now, hope it eases off when the children go to Sunday School. Have not had a chance to get on the back lawns yet due to wet, and the front one looks as if it wants cutting again. All the honeysuckle plants are alive, as are the ivies. It seems as though the Esther Reads are doing well but have not been at close range since last weekend. One in flower is still flowering. The rose you saw is still in bloom. I must say if this continues in subsequently years we shall be pleased.

Have you used the leaf mould yet? By the way, what was the name of the Wiltshire Village that you told me Granddad Atkins was born in. Seem to remember it was a double-barrelled name, but it is escapes me at present*. 

Thought Grandma’s picture was good – could it have been Stonehenge? Well that is all the news etc.l for this week, I think we are up-to-date with most of it. Look forward to your next. Love from us all. 

*If by ‘Grandad Atkins’ he is referring to Tom, i.e. Leonard’s father, the answer is that Tom was born in the Workhouse at Westbury, Wiltshire, to a single mother, and was raised in the village of Road/Rode in Somerset – famous for the Constance Kent murder case – by an unrelated family.  Tom’s father’s identity is unknown.  Tom’s grandfather, i.e. Leonard’s great grandfather, was born and died in the village of Mells, near Frome, but had been in his grave for eleven years before Leonard was born.  Tom’s mother presumably made a special effort to give birth to him at Westbury as she had previously given birth to a daughter (Mary Maud) at Frome Union Workhouse in Somerset and it would no doubt be sensible for her not to have two successive children in the same county as otherwise enquiries would be made as to the identity of the father/fathers.  So far there is no indication as to who either father may have been, but there is clearly more research to do in this area.


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