Tuesday 19th February, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

Here we are again with many thanks for another long and interesting letter duly received this morning with incidentally a very small cut out (about postage stamp size) from presumably one of the girls.

We are glad to hear June’s father is feeling better again and hope the improvement will continue although I’m afraid there is not much chance of that whilst this winter weather is with us. Last Saturday we had about two inches of the stuff and the bass broom was in use again and believe me this morning it has been on again – not very much but the sky is dark and every prospect of more. It is so cold too and the weatherman on the TV at dinner time told us there would be no break in the freezing conditions for some days yet. Job’s comforter.

Yesterday started off coldly but then the sun came out and we suddenly made up our minds to run into Weston to, among other things, pick up a roll of paper which must have been on hand there for about three months. Back in November (cannot remember if I told you) we bought seven rolls of paper for doing out the front room but one of them was defaced badly and I refused it and told them to get another and yesterday was the first opportunity to run in and get it. It was a lovely sunny afternoon but bitterly cold. We left here at 12:45 p.m. and were back home again by 3 p.m.. Today during a break in the snowy ran up to the library but within minutes of reaching home again down it came again. Such is life. We saw on TV dinner time that it was snowing on London.

Noted you have been glad of your overshoes quite recently and I think you will be using them for a while yet. Except for about two occasions I have been regularly using my wellingtons for all purposes and find them most satisfactory. They seem to grip the icy roads better than ordinary shoes and certainly keep out the wet. Yes we had a flurry or two on Sunday morning same time as you.

Noted Peter and a new girlfriend came over on Tuesday and gave you the news of Mr Baker. Did you like the new girl? I’m afraid Peter would want a lot of blackberry wine to upset him but I’m glad he likes it. Shall be bringing up a drop more in April together with some of the stronger elderberry brandy. Am thinking about trying to make some ginger wine. Went rash one day this week and brought a bottle of Stones Green Ginger wine at 9/3d a bottle [£11.75 in 2023 currency – the current price is a little more than half this] and is very nice indeed.

So the doctor would not care to find Mr Baker missing when he called – should have thought he would have been pleased to know that he was sufficiently recovered to want to get out.

Glad to hear the girls are keeping very well. Also good news of Carol starting school so soon after her fifth birthday. I’m sure she is looking forward to the day. Makes you feel a bit older to I expect to have them both at school. A chance perhaps for June to get her feet up for an hour or two with both away. (Alright June I did not hear you say anything).

So your colleague is still without water. So are the people on either side of Aston but I now understand the trouble is that the pipes between the main and the houses are frozen and that it is not a case of burst pipes. It’s the same in the end – no water. I read of one man in Bristol who has been without water for several weeks who had his water rate come and told the Water Board what they could do with it. Adding insult to injury.

Yes we thought the cost of repairs to Mum’s hearing aid was quite reasonable. There are two very old sets Mum says you can have. What on earth are you going to do with them?

What has happened to your bottom fence or is it just ordinary wear and tear> Our fences seem to be alright but I have not been down to river for a long time. It is sufficient to know the horse keeps within bounds. Late last week he was able to forage a bit for grass but after Saturday’s downfall it’s back on the hay again. Norman Baker tells me that present-day cost of hay is 7/- [£9] per bale. And he is only keeping Joey for sentimental reasons.

Yes I have had thermostat of heater in greenhouse set for 30 degrees all the winter and it has kept out the most severe of the frosts. The primulas however have been kept in the kitchen on the shelves around the window, Mum putting newspaper between them and the glass at the night. Most of them are still one mass of flowers and plenty of buds forming. Pleased to know you have kept yours alive. They give a nice splash of colour during the darkest of the days at this time of year. Have now finished all our eating potatoes after throwing away about 1 cwt. Mum bought some in Woolworths yesterday, English grown at 4d [42p] per pound. Had some for dinner today and they were quite good. Am waiting to get down to Lyng to pick up the 1 cwt they have for us there. These should then keep us going until the new ones come in.

Our two rows of broad beans which have been under the snow for weeks are now showing again and look fine. Also the winter sown onions and cabbage plants but latter will not be available for the table for many weeks yet. The pigeons and rabbits have departed and now they can find grass in the fields. Mum says the Hewitts are cruising in the Adriatic at the end of May. Understand he has now lost the £1 per week he has been drawing from a Sick Benefit Society ever since he first went off ill several years ago. Suppose they have rumbled him at last.

I agree about burning all timber taken from houses during demolition – much the best to get rid of it on site. Wonder how you got on at Christopher’s birthday party? Hope the girls enjoyed themselves.

Thanks for news on various people and the moves about the Region. Fancy Bryar gone to Plymouth – another house move for him. Is there such an upheaval going on at the E.R.? Should think not or you would have mentioned it. I should look forward very much to a visit to York although you will not have much opportunity to see much of the city. Probably be away one or two nights. All new territory and most interesting.

I get your point re: daylight at Liverpool Street. It was closing in when you started there and now only just opening up again.

Not a lot done here this past week – the weather still against outdoor work – but I did start to give the garage clean out after pushing car outside. Garage was in a good mess, rotten apples and potatoes all around and plenty of dirt on floor carried in there during the bad spell, tools and other gear all over the place. Gave it the once-over and promised to have another go later.

You will see in this week’s Mercury where a Clevedon BR checker has got himself a heavy fine for falsifying the number takers’ records for Yeates the coal merchants. The merchants themselves are also in the soup and their case is being dealt with today. If any news in Evening Paper will cut it out and enclose.

Your remarks re: Mrs Baker and number 17 Eccleston Road. If that is the case nothing will ever alter her mind about the place. It is a great pity as I am sure you have all done your best to make it a nice home and as you said some time ago something had to be done anyway. What is Mr Bakers reaction to not having to attend the shop? Must be a little lonely for him as he has not the customers to talk to.

You mentioned birds earlier in your letter. There has been a heavy toll of birdlife here but still enough left to cause a lot of damage. I see Peter Scott thinks that one or two breeds will become extinct as a result of the severe conditions. The goods we ordered from Smyths of Bristol arrived this morning and appear up to specification. Quite a useful pair of steps.

[Continues Wednesday 20th February, 1963.]


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