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.]


Sunday 17th February, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thanks for weekly letter, to hand as usual. Odd that shortly after typing in that my last letter that it was nice to look out on green grass once again, that the snow should start to fall again. We had a fair dusting next morning, enough for me to have to put on the overshoes for one more time. Managed to leave them off again on Wednesday, and what a difference to the walking. Makes one feel so much later. There have been flurries are snow this morning, but just the odd flake in the wind. The sun is actually trying to come out now, makes the place a bit more cheerful. It is still cold of course but nothing like we had it a while back.

Glad to be able to tell you that Mr Baker is better. We had a visit from Peter and a new girlfriend on Tuesday night, and he was able to tell us that Mr Baker had been able to potter around, and in fact had gone out that day. The doctor called of course while he was out, and registered some annoyance. With regard to the new girlfriend, it seems there is something brewing but we must wait and see the outcome. It is pretty definite that all is finished with Brenda – off with the old etc etc. I do not think Mrs Baker will ever be satisfied with number 17, and I think the matter goes rather deeper than bricks and mortar.

You seemed to have more snow than we did last Sunday according to your letter. We still have some in our garden at the back, but there is now more garden than snow if you follow. The birds are having a time making up for the lack of food, and there are a number of them out on the lawn now.

Glad to be able to report all are fully well again now. I can well imagine you are very pleased not to have to turn out and go to Bristol daily. Mind you there are things one gets used to, and if back in regular working there, you would probably take it in your stride. My colleague, at the last time of reporting, on Friday still had no water although everyone else within miles seems o.k. His wife ran up the Colne Valley or some such water board, and they were quite shirty – said there were 700 on their books just like them.

Mr Baker did have to change his doctor when transferring to Ealing. He now has my old one, the one who attended Miss Baker, Dr Massey. He used to be the police surgeon for Ealing.

Not bad to get Mum’s hearing aid put right for a couple of pounds. They are expensive things to buy. Note you have an old one knocking about. Interesting to hear that Ray Mogg has done so well with his firm. I wonder how he will like living near home again. What a game that lottery is. However if it helps to keep the rates down more tricks like that will be welcome no doubt.

The girls have gone out for a walk together. if you such a nice morning and they have been cooped up for far too long.

When Peter arrived last Tuesday, he immediately asked if there was any more slow wine. Told him no but tried all the available supply on them. He enjoyed them all but particularly the blackberry so I let him take the remains of the bottle with him. Have not heard if he got home alright.

Sorry to hear about Mrs Yandell. I had not seen anything of her for many years. I believe I did see Mr Yandell some time ago, and once saw Gladys, but never saw Mrs. Saw our next door neighbour for a couple of minutes yesterday. He was wandering around his garden making mental notes and plans for the future layout etc. Had a look round ours at the same time and found it in not too bad a shape apart from the fence at the bottom which will need a deal of attention this year.

It must have been very pleasant out in the greenhouse with temperature of 70 degrees. Have you fixed your thermostat in greenhouse to switch on at 10 degrees, or not at all?

Odd about the income tax people to recode you so much for no apparent reason. Be interesting to hear what they have to say in reply to your letter. I gather the Middlesex county rate is down one penny halfpenny in the pound [0.625%], but we do not yet know what the local rate will be. It depends on the county rate as you know (to a certain extent) and the latter was only published in evening papers on Friday.

Our primulas, thanks to June’s attention, as still both flowering well. I should recommend that strain as they had a rough time of it in the window this winter and came through well.

So Hewitts are cruising this year. Where are they going – for a trip around Monkstone Beacon? Note the circumstances of the timber from the Salthouse Pavilion. In London they burn all the timber from the houses they are pulling down. They do not even give it away as there is always a risk of woodworm, dry rot or other timber diseases so they make a huge bonfire on the site of the demolitions, and some of them last for weeks. Many old properties which have been condemned have been accidentally (??) burnt down by the spread of the bonfires. Frequent letters have appeared in the evening papers about the awful waste of wood, but they all get the same answer.

We are going to Christopher’s birthday party this afternoon. The girls have been looking forward to it all the week. Carol goes to school on April 22nd, six days after her fifth birthday. The girls turned up a few minutes ago having been out for about an hour with their prams. They have now dumped the prams and gone out with scooters. Latter well-suited to the day. The sun by the way still shines although there is little heat in it.

Must try to get E.R. Mag posted to you this week. I expect it is out now. I gather that Bill Bryer has been made Productivity Assistant (officer) at Plymouth. It is a new post. Baynton-Hughes has been seen at Bristol where it is learnt he is Assistant Special Duties. No one knows what the special duties are. Lay has been renamed Work Study Officer with no change in pay. Hitherto he was Work Study Assistant but did not specify to whom. George Muirs my Commercial counterpart when I was at Paddington has been made Assistant Goods Agent Paddington. He was at one time Checker in the shed there.

According to the news on the television there has been a lot of flooding around Taunton way so I suppose Don and Co will have another dose of it. Can imagine that melting snow coupled with rain heavy at times would be a bit of a problem.

Well there it is again for another week. There is very little news to report. Nothing changes at Liverpool Street (accept the hours of daylight). Had a visit from a chap from North Eastern region at York to learn all about our activities and how to do them. There may be a return visit to be paid there later on. Having not been to that part of the country, it should be interesting*.

Well hope you are clear of colds and able to get around o.k. Love from us all.

*This is the first glimmering of what four years later would turn into a move to Yorkshire – IMHO a disastrous development for the whole family. 

Wednesday 13th February, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Once again many thanks for your newsy letter received this morning. First of all we are very sorry to hear Mr Baker is so poorly and hope the better weather which should be just round the corner – as it were – will help him to get back to normal. The present conditions are very oppressive and no encouragement to anyone feeling a little off-colour. We are sorry to hear that Mrs Baker still does not care for the move – perhaps as she gets more settled in she will think better of it. It does seem that all possible has been done at number 17 to improve its former condition and I’m sure it must be a relief to get away from the shop.

Now back to the beginning of your letter. Did you get any snow last Sunday (10th February)? It started here about 9:30 a.m. and kept on until about 4:30 p.m. sometimes and sometimes very heavy. I swept the snow off path between back door and front gate at about 5.0 p.m. but  when we got up on Monday morning there was another lot about an inch deep. This weeks too we have had several flurries necessitating use of broom to clear pathways. It is lovely today though – sun shining strongly and it is quite warm sitting here in living room. We did catch sight of some grass before last weekend’s snow and again now the thaw is making a big difference. May it continue with the good work.

Noted your plumbing now in order and no further alarms alarms. Sorry the girls have been suffering from colds and coughs again – as I said before what else can one expect this weather. Mum and I keep going but it is a job at times and I’m really thankful I have not to make the journey to Bristol anymore. The operating side must be having a very worrying time of it. I see Marples was at Bristol last Monday blowing his top.

Your colleague has something to grouse about – no water since 26th January. The neighbours on either side of Aston are still without water waiting for plumber to attend burst pipes. Glad to hear June managing to keep well – good job somebody in the house can keep going but with your house without the necessary heating it must have been rough on all of you while it lasted. You would be surprised what a good slide the children made of the church pathway with so much snow to make a bed with and believe me it was pretty treacherous to step on last Sunday even with fresh snow on top. Wanted Jim White back again to chase the kiddies off. We had already suggested to Aston he should charge for water service to get back a little of what it cost him to keep going. Now we hear of another ceiling down as a result of snow accumulating under tiles. We have a lot to be thankful for here as had practically no inconvenience throughout.

Glad to hear car going alright. I did not keep ours out more than three nights the weather was so severe I put car back into garage even if it meant stopping there for a few weeks which fortunately was not the case.

Incidentally has Mr Baker had to change his doctor since they have moved over to Ealing? This is always a nuisance as you get used to one individual and he or she gets used to you. Mum’s hearing aid still going well and we heard from Fortiphones this morning that cost of repairing her original set will be £2.10s6d [roughly £57.50 in 2023 money] so I have now send off checque for this to be done. I believe mum has a very old set laying about here somewhere but whether she can spare it will be up to her to say. It has not been used for years and was I think her original set when she first started using aids. The cost of phoning London during the day is 2d [19p] for ten seconds i.e. 3/- [£3.42] for three minutes which is not at all bad. After 6 p.m. there as a reduction of course.

Mum went with the T.G. to Yatton Monday to look over the Avalon furniture factory (Wake and Deans in your time). Incidentally Ray Mogg who has been with the firm as their representative in the Manchester area for a long time now returns to headquarters at Yatton as their Sales Manager. Mum was not impressed with the furniture she saw – most of it was foreign wood veneered over.

Yes I expect the cost of clearing snow from the roads will run the rates up nicely but we are all in the same boat with this. What about the lottery for the proposed Lido in Clevedon? I like the story of the footballer and his ‘bonus’. Must pass this one on in due course. Pity the programme ‘That Was The Week That Was’ is so late on Saturdays but some of it is worth listening to especially Bernard Levin who is one of the regulars and comes on towards the end. Whatever was the matter with the girls on Saturday then – could they not get outdoors at all and felt fed up with themselves.

Noted your wine sinking fast in more ways than one. I have now started to sample the first of this last season’s blackberry – very nice too. Not properly racked off yet, still in the sweet jars.

You will see in ‘Mercury’ enclosed at Mrs Yandell (formerly of Clevedon Lodge) has died and also old man Gulliford. The Yandells have been living near the East Clevedon Triangle for several years since their return to Clevedon after leaving the Burden Estate after Mrs Burden died. Mr Yandell still does a bit of horticultural judging at shows.

A letter from Don this week indicates they have not had it quite so bad as we have but plenty bad enough for getting to and fro the station. He has not been out to his ‘local’ for many weeks. This place is right out in the country away from houses. I wonder how they manage to keep going for profit. The publican happens to be a smallholder as well so I suppose this helps.

Yes June we are both looking forward to being with you at Easter – won’t be long now. It will be eight months since we last saw you and the girls. Alec of course was down in December for a couple of nights. We shall also be pleased to go and see Mr and Mrs Baker and hope by that time things will have improved in many ways including the health of them both. Presumably Peter is living there but we guess Pauline maintains her flat in London and gets home as often as possible. Hope they both are keeping free of colds along now.

Noted you do not see much of your new neighbours. Like you we close the shutters early in the evening and stoke up the fire. No gardening as you may imagine but I did see a couple of broad beans poking through the snow today and hope the rest are safe. Another wood pigeon on the lawn requires cremation and I shall have to deal with it. Looks as if a cat had this one by the number of feathers scattered all over the place.* I spent a couple of hours in greenhouses this morning, temperature up to 70 degrees, sorting through the runner bean seeds. About 2% had to be discarded because of mildew but there are still hundreds left. Sowed the tomato seed in a box but shall have to bring it indoors or will they will never come up – temperature much too low (30) at night.

Had a letter from income tax people this morning to say my code number will be altered from 12 to 1 starting next 6 April so have written to ask them why seeing the position will be identical then as it is now. So far I’ve not heard from railway regarding increased percentage of pension but even that should not mean such a big difference in coding. They might as well have the lot and we can starve. Now we are waiting to know what the Council are going to do about the rates for this half year. Do you yet know how you have been re-rated? Thanks in anticipation for the E.R. Mag, always interesting.

We still have Joey the horse with us but he has been fed on hay for many weeks now. Today I noticed he has been scratching about in the patches free of snow but not much there – all dried up. 

Mutt and Jeff still at it – they have been very busy brushing up with so much snow about and the handles are quite suitable for leaning on. It looks as if we have saved a number of geraniums and our primulas are still in full flower. How about yours? This means that ours have been in flower continuously since last October and giving quite a nice splash of colour.

The water cart still going its rounds and must continue so long as people are cut off from the main. I’m surprised it has not been necessary for similar arrangements to have been operated at your end. The plumbers must be getting towards this end of the town now as mum saw one lot at Tom Garland’s bungalow this morning. This place is opposite Mrs Marshall’s field. Have ordered from Smiths of Bristol (big wholesale ironmongers) a pair of steps (8 tread), two dozen pea guards, some netting 25 + 2 yd, and some wire for tying things up. This firm advertises quite a lot in gardening and ordinary newspapers and prices fairly reasonable. Our existing pair of steps (5 tread) have had their day. Your grandfather Fewings had them for many years before they came up here and they have given us good service. Now I have to get a dozen angle iron stakes for holding up some more raspberry canes. In this case Smiths’ price was higher than a firm at Wolverhampton latter being actual makers thereby the difference.

We hear the Hewitts I having a cruise for their holiday this year. Hope sea keeps calm and nobody rocks the boat.

Apart from the odds and ends already mentioned there is no local news again this week – everybody keeping in out of trouble. The Salthouse Pavilion is now being dismantled and one of our neighbours has got hold of a lot of the rotten timber and is making the best use of it. It was free to anybody who fetched it. Just as well – nobody would have bought it.

No more this time. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls. Mum and Dad. 

*I suspect it may have been a bird of prey: a cat would not have made its meal in such a public place, but a bird would.

Sunday 10th February, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thanks for yours of 5th February. Very newsy and plenty of points to answer.

Thank goodness I can say that there has been a vast improvement in the weather this end although according to the news bulletins you have been having more snow your end. I can look down the garden from the dining room window and and see that the snowline has retreated to the level of the end of the garage and in the front garden there is practically no snow left. The grass has reappeared somewhat flattened but a welcome green. Friday night the streets were awash with water which has seeped out of the mountains of snow at the kerbside. (Sorry for Friday read Wednesday – I did not go out on Friday.) However since then it has alternatively frozen and thawed with a slight progress each day so that the amount is now less.

Since writing last we have had no alarms in regard to plumbing, and the house has felt generally warmer. Of course the electricity has mainly been up to the normal supply and so has the gas pressure. One colleague at Liverpool Street has not been so lucky as he has had no water from the main since 26th January although people in the other houses in his street are o.k. He is getting a little impatient and has written a stinking letter to local water company.

The girls colds have given us a bit of trouble this week as they have had coughs. We dropped them down to the doctor on Tuesday night and he prescribe the usual jollop (including penicillin) so we went round to to the chemist who stays open late in Eastcote and got the stuff. I must say they are a lot better now and we had no trouble from them in the last couple of nights although we heard the odd cough or two. June is pretty well and I am just shaking off a slight cold. You might say the decks are now cleared for some nice spring weather.

I had not heard that the slope from the Church down was a good run for toboggans. In old Pugh’s day he would have chased the lot away, but perhaps the present man is more tolerant. It is a silly place to use anyway as I would say there is little fun in tobogganing on a road surface even if it is well covered with snow.

With regard to prospects for next Winter, I have no doubt that your best bet is timber to beat the coal shortage. It is probably easier to acquire odd bits of wood for cutting up where you are and you have plenty of room to store it. What you will do about the potatoes etc. I do not know. It would not have been any good bringing them into this house even if we had the room, as most of the unused rooms were as cold as outside. Aston could have got part of his money back by charging a couple of coppers per gallon for water he supplied these neighbours. Come to think of it the way to beat the cold economically is for one householder to keep water circulating in his house by having all possible heating appliances on and for his neighbours to share the cost of his heating. Meanwhile those neighbours would turn their water off at the main and drain tanks. In this way they would avoid bursts. A bit communistic you say, maybe, but I think it would work.*

Remarks about T.S.S.A. and Guild noted, but I feel that the balance of staff will increasingly be in the higher income groups, and the T.S.S.A. will have to march with the times or go out of business. In any case through sheer weight of numbers they have the whip hand at the moment. For all that the key to the situation is what the N.U.R. decide to do.

Car again o.k. this weekend. I am finding it a lot easier to start then I did shortly after the work Peter did on it. I expect by now that you have got your car back into the garage again as a regular routine. Not much of a joke keeping it outdoors this weather.

We went over to see Mr and Mrs Baker yesterday at number 17 and they mentioned that they had had the cream and had written back. We found Mr Baker in a very poor condition indeed. He was fighting for his breath and could hardly speak. when we arrived he was leaning over an armchair and had difficulty in moving. Later he improved a bit and was able to help Peter get some water in can from the tap. He tells me he has not been able to eat anything [illegible] complaining of a pain in his stomach. It seems he has had no sleep for about a week and has been in the position of having to get out of bed in the early hours to get his breath. From what we saw and heard we thought doctor should see him and with Mrs Baker’s agreement we phoned him and ask him to call. He had not arrived before we left so we do not know what he had to say. We noticed that his feet had swollen in just the same manner as Miss Baker’s did, and if for the same reason this means dropsy. Altogether it is very distressing, and the need would seem to be some medical attention and the onset of better weather. The former can be provided no doubt, but it is a bit early for the latter.

Some game with the hearing aid then. Glad you have got a replacement that is superior to the original. Fancy having to turn down the T.V. Must be a good make this time. By the way if you have any old ones lying about waiting for the dustman, do not throw them away as I can make use of them. That is old ones that you have definitely finished with. What do they charge for phoning to London nowadays? I pretty penny I should think.

We have not had a water cart going around this end to my knowledge. Had no idea they still kept such things. It seems that the Clevedon Council are well provided with snow clearance apparatus according to papers and have in fact been able to lend men and machines to neighbouring councils. I understand they hired them rather than lent and which will help the rates a bit, but I expect you still have to pay through the nose for it later on.

Had a laugh about Mutt and Jeff. Should have thought Mutt (presumably Cornish) would have had more excuses than ever for staying indoors busy doing nothing like the popular song.

Good idea to leave gate partly open for postman etc. We have no difficulty like that as we did not have the accumulation of snow that you had.

We saw something on TV news about a flock of geese in the West Country. Don’t blame them for getting out. I expect a few people will contemplate emigrating to Australia or New Zealand. I think the latter is the better prospect as the people are a little more friendly.

Do not stay up for ‘That Was The Week That Was’ but I did see the start of last Saturday’s, 31st January. It seems quite a good program. Hear this week of the footballer who saw his manager and told him that has the pools panel had given his team the win that day, he was entitled to his bonus for a win. The manager replied that he had no claim as he was not in the team anyway.

Had a trying day with the girls yesterday. They were about as naughty as they could possibly be. Hard to put a name to it but there it is. Hope they are a little better today. Have not seen our new neighbours for some days but hear them about occasionally. It is not very sociable weather, a question of up drawbridge and retire for the night.

Not much news from the work front – will see if the February mag has been issued yet. Have not found out which day it is published and usually look for it about the end of the second week in the month.

Finished the last of my Fig and Tangerine in the week. I have given most of it away. Have now two gallons of wine untouched which I must try sometime. Both have deposits at the bottom, and one of them has one about 1-inch thick. Should have been racked long ago of course, but never got round to it.

Well there it is for this week. Hope you can both report a clean bill of health. Love to you once again from us all. 

*Or maybe everyone just has more efficient heating and water storage arrangements of their own?

Wednesday 6th February, 1963

[Continued from Tuesday 5th February, 1963]

When we looked out this morning we found there had been a lot of snow in the night and it was still coming down – this time the direction is from the East-South East. Already there is a fourinch layer on the ground which depth is increasing fast.  Drifting is also taking place and we seem to be heading for some more hard work clearing paths. Mutt and Jeff (Cornish and Heel) will be busy again too. Latter already trying to clear path has given up halfway down. Small coating of snow already on top of car in garage. Have left front gate half open to enable milkman postman etc. to get in. Last heavy fall we could not open gate very easily hence precaution this time. It must be bad for you at Ruislip getting to station, shops and school – perhaps you will escape this lot. I hope so. Can assure you we shall not venture far away from house and we still keep fire in living room light continuously. Have just been out (10 a.m.) and cleared passage to front gate during a lull in the snowfall. Sky as black as ink and obviously more snow very near. M&J were both at it. Would you believe it – it is snowing again as thick as ever at 10:30 a.m.. Mum has gone down to the post office for a few odds and ends.

As last week there is not much local news apart from the weather. No letter from Don yet this week and I expect they are having a rough time of it at Lyng and Durston.

Referring to the flock of geese we saw last week flying overhead, I see in paper that Peter Scott says a lot of wild geese have left a Slimbridge because of the weather and it is probable that the ones we saw were from that place and en route to Africa. Pity we could not clear out as easily as that for the winter.

Do you look in to the program ‘That Was The Week That Was‘ on TV late on Saturday nights? Some of it is real good. Newspapers, public men and other personalities come in for a good shaking – so much so that the papers concerned are upset and at least one legal action is pending from one individual who was given the works.

No more now. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls.

Mum and and Dad. 

Tuesday 5th February, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for another newsy letter received this morning first post and we are glad to know you have had a fairly comfortable week in respect of frozen pipes and blockages. We continue to be free of these troubles but a number of the people in Old Church Road at this end of the town are still short of water until the plumbers have attended the bursts etc. There is still time for more trouble of course as the winter is by no means over. Yesterday for example we had a good fall of snow continuing from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. necessitating the bass broom being used later in the evening to clear the stuff away from the pathway. Sunday was a nice sunny day here too but it was so cold. Today although sunny there is a bitter East wind blowing making things most unpleasant outdoors.

Glad to hear June’s back is a bit better and hope it will continue to improve. What was Susan up to to be late home*? Query kept in at school for some misdemeanour. Not surprised to hear she had another cold and hope well again now. There are a lot of coughs and colds about – what else can one expect with such contrary weather.

Sorry you slipped down again – under car this time. We have to move about very carefully here especially when there is a fresh fall of snow on top of frozen ice. Mum delivered the magazines one day last week and just after she left the house down came the snow quite thick. I expected her home again quick but she went on and completed the job. Last Sunday the road leading from church house to the church was like a skating rink and no wonder – the children had discovered another place for their toboggans right down the roadway.

Yes one may well ask what about next Winter. What with the multitude of electrical gadgets on the market and a severe spell of weather there is bound to be a repetition of this winter’s shortage of power. We shall get in a stock of coal and a good load of wood to try and cover ourselves and of course something else will have to be done about the storage of potatoes and apples etc. even if this means bringing them indoors. It seems we never finish learning. I think you are right in assuming that anything left in your garage must be dead by now. There will be quite a lot of plant life to be replaced this spring.

Noted your plumber has been in and renewed all washers etc. and reported copper tank in order again. You had an amazing experience this time and no doubt will be on the alert in future as soon as bad weather commences. You could of course have had a very serious mess up in more ways than one. Talking about the cost of keeping the electric lighting and firing going to keep pipes working Mr Aston came over last Friday and said the electrical man had called to read meter and found that they had used over 4000 units during the quarter; this works out to about £25. [£570 in 2023 money.] Our meter has also been read and reading was 1975 working out to about £13. [£295 or thereabouts.] I think the Astons must have been having electricity to eat for breakfast. Anyhow they have a nice sum of money to find this time although they have the satisfaction that all their plumbing functioned throughout the bad period.

I like your suggestion about paying surtax. I went down to Roy Hewitt’s this morning and told him he would get no increase in pension as he retired after July 1958. Noted you have not joined B.R.O.G.. Maybe as the years go on some of your fellow workers will rope you in. The Guild is still only in its infancy but as time goes on it is possible they will accomplish more for the higher rated staff than the T.S.S.A..

Your car starts up very well considering you only use it at weekends. I have had no further difficulty with mine and I let her run over daily whether we go out or not. The trickle charger not yet available but I think it will be one that will charge quickly.

Had a letter from Mr Baker this morning to thank Mum for cream which apparently arrived last Saturday in good order. At the time of writing he said they had not yet one room completely finished but were very grateful with the assistance you had given with electrical jobs and curtain making etc. Mentioned that it was their 14th move. When we came to Clevedon it was our third move. Anyhow we hope they are settling in now and able to enjoy some of the leisure they have missed at the shop. Wonder if you saw them over the weekend.

So you are on the round of the Esso Blue Man then. Pity you could not store some but this would be very dangerous at your place.

Must now tell you of the trouble we have had this week with Mum’s hearing aid. Last  Wednesday the appliance conked out all together and mum was cut off from all sound. Could not get set to work no matter what she did with it. There was nothing for it but to phone Fortiphones direct at their Regent Street office and this I did from Mrs Marshall’s house at 11 a.m.. They had no solution other than the set must be returned to them for repairs etc. but said they would do best possible to get it back in time for you over weekend. When I got back home mum had made some impression on set and was getting some slight measure of sound out of it – sufficient in fact to carry on for a while. I wrote Fortiphones that night and explained circumstances and asked how much a reconditioned set would cost as we had it in mind to have a spare set on hand in case of future trouble and also that present sent could be sent in for attention. Had reply Friday to say they could supply such a set for £25 so we sent off for one immediately and this turned up with your letter this morning. Now we have to turn the TV down instead of up. The new set has made a tremendous difference to Mum. Have now packed up the set she has been using for six years and sent it off today to Fortiphones for overhaul. Who said we could do with a pension rise?

Have not heard of any new law governing the erection of building annexes with glass roofs but it is quite possible and really seems a reasonable requirement. Perspex is the ideal material to have but again this is more expensive than ‘wire impregnated glass’.

Mum and I continue to keep about the premises except when we have to go out for this or that but neither of us likes the cold weather and the sooner the thaw sets in for good the better we shall be pleased. Heard of one house that has had no water at all since Boxing Day. Back to primitive Britain**. The water cart was still going its rounds up to last Saturday but I have not heard about this week so far.

Yes Cornish and Heel still do plenty of talking over their front gates and I suggested to them the other day they might find their feet frozen to the ground if they stopped there much longer. Heel also said he saw two rabbits on our garden other day but I’m afraid they will not find much now after the pigeons have had their share. Three foxes were seen recently on Durdham Down (Clifton, Bristol)*** and I am rather surprised they have not visited Cornish’s and Heel’s poultry.

*I think that may have been the memorable day I joined in a snowball fight on my way home. I was SIX, for crying out loud. You’d have thought I was selling myself on street corners, the way they carry on.

**Maybe, but ‘primitive Britain’ didn’t think it was primitive – it thought it was doing better than the generation before because the Black Death was over and the cow was still alive and there was porridge for tea…

***Urban foxes are a much more recognised phenomenon these days. When we lived in Bristol we knew precisely when and where we could see them, and once had the honour of seeing a vixen and about four or five kits.

[Continued Wednesday 6th February, 1963]

Sunday 3rd February, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thanks again for your weekly letters, arrived on Friday as normal this week. I guessed you would have a fit at our escapades with the frost last week. I noticed it took a full page to write so must have wanted some following.

Well we have had the partial thaw this end too, and it did make a bit of difference to the going. Not all the paths were cleared before the next lot started, but for long stretches one could walk fairly comfortably (for one evening only). We have had no heavy snow since, but one or two steady falls have given us a fair covering again. The going is not too bad now, but Friday night it was very treacherous and I had a job to stand on the concrete outside our garage. When I stepped out of car at the other end my feet went away from me, and I finished up with them back under the car. The snow dusting makes walking much easier. I doubt if we had any in the night but there is an occasional flake in the wind today and the forecast is for heavy deposits in this area today.

By the way the plumber promised to come last Sunday but did not. He came round on Monday evening from work, but as he had no washers on him, he arranged to come yesterday (Saturday). As he had not appeared by about 4 p.m. I rang up his house, but they said he was out but intending to call about 5 p.m.. He duly turned up here about 6.0 p.m. and we let him renew all the washers on the taps upstairs to be on the safe side. He said our hot water tank suffered no damage, and it seems that copper tanks are fairly safe in these circumstances. The only antidote for frost in pipes is heat. He confirms my opinion that lagging is not much effect against continuous cold. I agree that what is wanted is emergency heating (even a 100-watt bulb) to be switched on as required.

June’s back seems to be a lot better. Susan was a bit naughty the previous week and did not come home from school at the right time in the evening, and June had to go out and look for her and wait in the cold. We think this was the probable cause of the trouble.

Sorry to hear about all the broken limbs etc. your end. A wonder there are not more of them. I have not heard about Doug’s wrist but imagine it is getting on better now.

Unless there is a crash programme for more power stations we shall have the same risk of cuts next Winter and for several years ahead. There is just not the power available to meet the present peak demand. With the welfare state, etc., and never having it so good, everybody has obtained all the electrical gadgets. It is logical that on occasions they will use them, and electricity boards should not be so surprised.

We had heard of the milk being frozen in the bottles, but it has not so far happened to us. Some game. Can almost imagine buying milk by the pound.

We do not know much about Peter’s job, we only got the information second-hand. No visit to number 17 this week so no report on progress. Things seemed to be sorting themselves out last weekend so each week will show more accomplished.

Gas pressure did seem to drop a bit at times early last week, but we were able to remedy that by turning the indicator to ‘full on’.

I have not bothered to join the B.R.O.G*. I cannot think that they can do much that the T.S.S.A. [Transport Salaried Staffs Association] cannot. Bad luck about your missing the extra percentage; you still don’t want to have to pay Surtax.

Very bad luck on your vegetable storage arrangements. You seem to have lost a great deal. I do not expect to find anything alive in the garage, and it is too cold to go out and check. Our car gets two outings per week on Friday nights and Saturdays. I start on Fridays by turning several times with handle and engine switched off, then it starts pretty well on the ignition. Saturdays there is no trouble after the previous day’s run.

I would not have put it past Cornish to have seen a pink elephants down his garden instead of rabbits.

What is a trickle charger costing? A charger which charges in a matter of a few minutes is quite popular and costs about 50/-. [£57.00 – a decent one today would be half as much.] I have seen several for sale they send, and when Eric was here I borrowed his. It charges a flat battery to a usable level in about ten minutes to quarter of an hour.

Not much in the way of traffic collisions from this end although there have been many reports of conditions on the M1. A bit far from here though. Not much seems to occur on the Western Avenue – thank goodness.

Pigeon pie then for the Bushells’ dinner. Have had pigeons’ eggs in the past but do not think I had pigeon to eat.

Do we dream of burst pipes? Well I do not know, but with the bathroom tap running (before plumber repaired it) I woke up three mornings following at about 4 am, and there is no peace then until a check has been made that all is well. Can imagine water over the top of basin and running down the stairs etc.

Susan has been kept home from school with a sore throat which subsequently turned into a cold. She has had little or nothing to eat, and not wanted it. Today she had a good breakfast and said her throat was better and she only had the cold. Carol so far touch wood seems all right. June thought she had it coming and I had a sneeze or two, but so far we are clear. Sorry to hear that the cold got to you – probably affected the bronchitis. Best place is indoors if you have no need to go out. The garden can go hang for a bit.

Thank you for the thought about the cream. As we have not been over we have not heard from them that they have got it yet. They are not going on the phone.

The paraffin heater certainly comes into its own in present circs. No reduction in the power of the heat either. Yesterday however paraffin was hard to get for the first time. Tried at Cato’s but none there. Tried over the road at the Northolt Tyre Co. but had to leave can. Got fed up with that and went back to pick up empty can and try somewhere else. Tried the garage, and they were sold out. June tried Skinner and Parker down by the station and they had some. We had enough for the weekend, and the Esso Blue Man calls in the week, so we were alright in any case.

I understand it is now the law that you you put up any building annexe with a glass roof it must be constructed of ‘wire impregnated glass’ in other words the glass must surround the wire netting. This type of glass is more expensive than ordinary glass. An alternative is plastic but this is also very expensive.

I imagine poor old Hewitt has a job getting about these days. Do not blame him for staying put although it must bore him a little. I expect Mr Palmer is in the same boat. Sun shining now and no further snow. It all looks very pleasant through the glass.

Well will close now until next week, and hope we get no further weather to annoy us meanwhile. Love from us all.

*This put up quite a fight and I ended up having to ask all sorts of people before finally tracking it down. It was the British Railways Officers’ Guild, founded in 1947, but which seems to have changed its name to the British Transport Officers’ Guild some time between 1963 and 1974 when it is mentioned as being part of the negotiation process for management staff. I believe – but have not been able to verify – that it later underwent another change of name and has now ceased to exist as a separate entity.

Wednesday 30th January, 1963

[Continued from Tuesday 29th January, 1963]

More snow during the night – about an inch deep and with the thaw the roads are in terrible state this morning. Mum could not get her hearing aid to function at all and I had to phone Fortiphones (London) to ascertain best thing to do. Only solution from them was to return set and they would repair as quickly as possible. When I got back home found Mum had somewhat repaired set and it was working very well. Then Bushell called and said he could now get four bags of Glowcoal from Yeates if it could be fetched so went down with him and brought them home quickly as he was right out of coal again.

Should imagine from the T.V. news that the snow was pretty general and may have started earlier at your end. We have had enough for one winter but we are not out of the woods yet. Marshall told me this morning they are having pigeons for dinner – some of the wood variety that have been alighting on gardens for food. He said they were not too bad considering the lean time the birds have been having lately.

Les Garland’s wife is now home again from Frenchay Hospital but has to take things very quietly. Now understand Mrs Cummings had cracked her shoulder blade and not broken bone in wrist as previously stated but going on alright.

Getting near the end of the page again. Wondering if you both dream of burst pipes and iced-up tanks etc etc. We still cannot see garden and this season’s work on it will be very much in arrears as it will take some time to dry out when the snow has disappeared.

No more now. All my love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls. Mum and Dad.

Ps Thursday morning snowing again from 9 a.m.. 

Tuesday 29th January, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

What a terrible week you have had at number 84. We had to read your letter – to hand first post this morning dash two or 3 times to get hold of all the details. We have had nothing like this here at Clevedon and I expect you are all glad the thaw has set in. We do hope things are alright now after visit of the plumber. Looks as if you had one or two narrow squeaks from serious trouble with frozen pipes and caved-in copper tank. The question arises what can be done to prevent repetition if weather conditions such as those obtaining during the past few weeks return either this or future winters. So far you have the fibreglass packing but is that going to be enough? Seems to me some emergency heating is required for switching on at a moment’s notice to keep plumbing arrangements working. No doubt you have given that considerable thought already.

Sorry to hear about your back, June. Query have you strained it by going up ladder etc. or have you slipped on ice without actually falling down? It is so easily done. Mrs Cummings here fell down twice this week and on one occasion broke (I think) bone in wrist and we hear that Mrs Pearson (opposite) fell full length and had to have some time in bed. Several houses in this area still without water and the council have water carts going about the place with water for those without. Have never seen this before in Clevedon or elsewhere. It became so cold this week that we kept the electric fire on all night in bathroom to avoid further trouble and in this we have succeeded. Cannot quite understand though why you feel cold in bed. With us this is the warmest place in house.

What a greeting to receive from the two girls when you got home to be told through letterbox that there was a burst in water pipe. That must have cheered you up a lot. June seems to have been busy in your absence in freeing some of the pipes. Yes it is all very well to have the various electronic gadgets, clocks, TV, radio, cookers and lighting but when there is a power cut the whole lot is off. This time gas was in trouble to especially in the South West area where it was cut off altogether for many hours per day. But what is the answer to all this? Next winter we could have the same difficulties. Years ago when severe weather was an annual occurrence there was practically no electricity and very little gas, people relying on coal for heating and cooking and oil for lighting. Wonder how they got on – must have been pretty bad sometimes.

Our TV was very poor. Like you we had sound but little or no picture for several nights until about news time. Our milk has been frozen when delivered many times and about an inch of solid cream has been sticking up through the paper top. I liked the story in Sunday paper about the man who went to pick up the milk from the front doorstep and found no bottle round it. The bottle was lying in pieces beside the frozen milk.

Bad luck about the inspection cover – no doubt your hands were cold and the iron slipped. Suppose these can be replaced though – have never had to buy one myself. What a lot of fatalities now happening because of gas leakages. I see one case where three people died – they themselves were “all-electric” but the leakage was in adjoining house and gas escaped into the house occupied by the three people concerned. You were fortunate to get plumber into your house so quickly – here there is a long waiting list for attention. Our stop tap in hot water system dribbled after I forced it and I got Stan James to look at it but all that was necessary was the tightening of the nut.

Now over to number 17 Eccleston Road. What a fright for Mrs Baker when she tried to light gas stove. Glad to know it was no worse than stated but it could have been. Sorry to hear Mr Baker has a touch of bronchitis and hope this will soon clear up. The very cold weather played me up a bit but I kept indoors out of the worst of it. Mr Baker will now be able to take things more easy without the worry of the shop. no doubt they both felt a bit strange without the comings and goings of the customers. Glad to hear Peter fixed up again. Sounds quite an interesting job and query an indoor one. What about the dog? Did he come back to number 17? Nothing like getting on top of fire for a warm-up.

Did you have any lessening of gas in your heater in front room? As I mentioned above it was cut off altogether here for several hours per day. Our neighbour (Bushell) is still unable to get any coal but has some on order.

Pleased to hear Susan has got used to her glasses and takes to them automatically – as it were – now. Does she keep her head away from the writing or reading matter now i.e. getting a better focus? Noted Christopher finding it difficult to settle down in school.

Yes the re-rating of property has caused some heartache everywhere but I’m afraid in has to be faced. Had a letter from the B.R.O.G. last Saturday with a circular giving particulars of increases in railway pensions. I get a 4% increase but had the date of retirement been March 31st 1957 instead of the 27th of April 1957 I should have got 8%. Just my luck again. Anyhow the National Health pension will go up from May 27th to 10/- a week for myself and 6/6d a week for Mum. [Equivalent of £11.40 and £7.40 in 2023 currency.] Anything to come glad of it.

Note Woodward packing up on March 1st. He has stopped to the bitter end then for he is now 65. That is one job you must let go. No good to anyone. Freight train working is in for some drastic overhaul and those connected with it going to have a very worrying time. Crane too giving up. I do not think he is 65 yet.

A letter from Geoff this morning says Hallett of Bristol was given a post under the reorganisation but told the G.M. he did not agree with the reorganisation and offered his retirement notice which was probably accepted. And so it goes on.

Not a lot to report from this end again. Found a dead pigeon on lawn one morning. It had apparently dropped there from one of the fir trees during the night. Plenty of live wild ones descend on garden everyday for anything they can get. Cornish says they have the rabbits over his side again and one morning I even saw a moorhen running down our garden.

Have now been through our potatoes/apples. All the latter are frosted and all except about a quarter cwt. of potatoes. We are using the frosted apples and potatoes as far as possible but it has been necessary to throw away any amount. A really disastrous winter. Onions came through all right but we do not have many of these. No further trouble with car – I start her up every day whether we go out or not. Our new neighbour (Hoile) in bungalow at bottom of our field is getting me a trickle-charger at trade price so should not have any more trouble with battery when can put that one on in garage. There have been a lot of collisions on the roads around here, buses with buses, cars with cars, and cars with lorries. Parking more difficult to because of the piles of snow stacked alongside the road has narrowed the width of the latter. Yesterday I saw one of our neighbours running about with his drainage rods and ascertained there was a block somewhere above us in the Avenue. Fortunately we were clear and not affected but I think normal working was resumed later in day. If it is not one thing it is another. In fact during the past few weeks I would say we have had the lot.

I saw Aston this morning and he is still supplying water to five houses around him and also for a pony grazing in a field near the church. One neighbour could not get gas last Sunday and found all her neighbours were. She called up the Gas Board who told her to apply some heat to the gas pipe which rises from the ground up the wall all outside of her house for about 8 feet as it was anticipated the pipe had frozen. This was done and within a few minutes gas supply was normal again.

What a lucky thing it is that the plumbing at number 17 stood up to the weather for stop. Had it failed it would have been the limit for Mr and Mrs Baker after all they have been through lately.

[Continued Wednesday 30th January, 1963.]

Sunday 27th January, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad ,

Thanks for another newsy letter. Thank goodness I can type this one back in the dining room in some semblance of warmth. When we can call 30 degrees warm, 40 degrees is like a heatwave*.

Troubles with frozen pipes, you have not heard the last of it. One day early in the week I was washing my hands at the hot tap downstairs (only cold water coming out as heating off) when I heard a rumbling sort of bang somewhere above. Popped upstairs and looked round but could find nothing wrong – loft included. Went back to complete wash thinking noise must have come from neighbours freeing their tank. As soon as I turned on the (same) tap, another bang, so back upstairs for another look round. Found the hot water tank which is supposed to be cylindrical had caved in quite considerably although the welding round top and bottom was a strong as ever. (Copper tank.) I realised that ice above the tank, and the withdrawal of some water, had created a partial vacuum in the tank, and air pressure from outside had pushed in the walls. Put an embargo on further use of the hot tap, and did best with hair dryer and heaters, but not much electric pressure, and no luck**. At this time inlet and outlet from cold water tank frozen solid, and inlet to all taps and outlet from bath and basin all frozen up. Also no water into toilet cistern so parade of buckets each time etc. etc. Situation stayed like this for a couple of days, but during the course of Tuesday and Wednesday the outlet from the toilet pan became partially obstructed, and only cleared slowly. Late on Wednesday this blocked up altogether. When I got home, June had put the oil stove in toilet and although this had sorted out the inlet to cistern, the outlet remained to be dealt with. (Sorry one day out this happened on Thursday). Got up the ladder on the outside of the house and poured a kettle of boiling water on to junction of pipes outside wall to no effect. Got through to Public Health Officer who recommended same course of action also blowlamp if available. Tried to borrow one from Webb across the road but neither of us knew how to use it so we settled for relays of hot water. He brought two over and we managed to get one boiled, and that luckily did the trick. Before ringing the health officer, I had tried the sewer hatch to see if there was a blockage there, and the cover slipped out of my hand and split across into two pieces. After I had gone to work the next day day, June nipped up the ladder (permanently in position) into loft with a kettle of boiling water, and succeeded in thawing out the cold tank to such effect that water flowed again from the hot tap in the kitchen, and was replaced in the hot and cold tanks by water from the cold tank and the mains respectively. In addition to this the hot tank was pushed out straight again. I was telephoned with this news and on the agreement that we kept a 150 watt bulb a light over tank, and frequent inspections, June went off to light the boiler. When I got home the children were shouting on the inside of the door that we had got a burst pipe, but neither of them could turn the latch to let me in, June being upstairs dealing with the matter at the time. Sure enough when I got in there was water dripping through the ceiling of the front room and assumed the worst. However it seems that with the thawing-out of supply pipes we had a minor Mrs Bush, because the washer of the cold tap came out and [d]ripped water, which could not run away due to the outlet still frozen up. As a result the basin had filled up and gone over the top. You will have realised that the water had gone somewhere under the floorboards as the bathroom is over the hall. a little later the fall from the ceiling started again, and we thought that we really had got a burst from under the bath somewhere. However I got outside on the ladder again with more buckets of hot water and slung them over the outlet pipes from bath and basin, and after about 15 minutes these were free again. By this time the drips of water stopped again, and can only think this must have been due to a small pocket of water from the previous dose, just finding its lowest level. The paraffin heater left in the bathroom – now – with doors closed eventually thawed out the taps in the bath as well so that all systems were again go. We left the 150 watt bulb on all Friday night to ensure that the cold water tank would continue to feed the hot as the fire was still well alight. Bulb would also ensure that the vent pipe would remain open and risk of explosion avoided. However at about four in the morning June said she could hear the sound of dripping water in our room. Could find nothing, so I went over the house including the loft but no luck. Got back to bed, but again later could hear this drip drip so up again and eventually put it down to our alarm clock which has a spring which jumps every now and then giving a slight thump like a drip of water. At this time I went down and made a cup of tea feeling thoroughly cold. Light at this time was flickering considerably. When we woke up eventually at about 8:45 a.m., found that all lights and power were off, and according to the electric clock had been off from 6:45 a.m.. So much for the precautions of the electric 150 watt bulb in the loft. Fortunately the thaw had arrived and all systems still at go.

At this time by the way our television has been out of action – at first due to picture being reversed on screen, but sound o.k., then no picture but sound o.k., then no picture, and sound almost gone. We (June) fixed up for man to come on Saturday morning, but he arrived during the power-cut so could do nothing. Everybody else’s TV o.k. so we assume ours to be faulty. However power came back at 12:30 p.m. and with it the BBC programme on TV as normal, but ITV a bit of a mess. After about 15 minutes of this, that picture began to break up and eventually disintegrated into a white jumble. Tried again in the evening and found both programs normal, and remained so for as long as I looked so it seems the set is o.k. again now we are back to full power. Have plumber coming today to fix washers on all taps in bathroom so perhaps we can forget the plumbing for a bit.

Well to turn to other news, we went over to number 17 yesterday and more completed. The builder hopes to be out of there by next weekend. Three items of news there. One is that the gas cooker had been out of action while they mended something to wall behind. When again used, Mrs Baker set match to oven only for the thing to blow up in her face including singeing of eyebrows and hair. Someone must have left a tap on. Fortunately Mrs Baker was only shaken up, but a nasty thing to have happened. Item two – the dog which has been roaming around ever since the move – getting acclimatised – always gets as close to the fire as possible. He overdid it in the week by getting his haunches right in the grate, and leaning his back up against the gas fire. As a result his hair caught fire, and he now has a long brown mark from head to tail. He went off one day and fortunately was seen by one of the builder’s men who recognised the brown burn on his back. At that time he was going into the canal at Southall about two miles away. The third item of news is that Mr Baker is unwell with bronchitis. When we were there yesterday he was feeling poorly and had had the doctor. The latter has told him it is nothing to worry about.

Peter has a job now as storeman at a firm on the Perivale Estate. Put up a couple more curtain railways yesterday and June did the curtains. Plumbing is ok at number 17, and they seem to have had no trouble since moving in. I agree that now is the time when the colds start to resume. Always the same at a big thaw. We are all well, very warm in front of our gas fire, but latterly could not keep myself warm in bed. Friday night especially I do not remember when I have been so cold for so long.

Note your episode with the car. I had same trouble some time ago with loss of connection to battery.

Mrs Bush seems to be a bit of a nitwit. If outlet frozen or blocked it is only sense to turn off tap.

Note also your antics getting away from church. It could be very bad up there I should say.

Susan is good with her glasses. She is lazy when it comes to going into another room to get them to put on, but if to hand she remembers pretty well.

That re-rating of £35 to £90 a bit of a jolt. He can always pay by instalments if he insists. The council will not like it, but he can do it provided each instalment is paid in advance.

Christopher seems to like his school o.k. but he is still a bit difficult, and they have a deal of trouble with him.

The thaw continues, and yesterday we had a small pool of water at the intersection of the roads in front of the house. All the road edges are swimming in water and quite wide in places. Fortunately for that sort of thing we are on a hill so someone else has the pleasure further down.

The incident of the transplanting at Westbury occurred after you had done some dividing-up. I was seen doing the same, and stopped, but it transpired that it was the right time of year so everything in order.

I think the Parkestone Quay traffic is quite large, and should say it exceeds the Weymouth to Southampton trade. In the future it should be even greater if the Common Market business get anywhere.

I have little faith in lagging for pipes or tanks unless coupled with a separate source of generated heat. The water in the pipes does not generate heat so that there is nothing to oppose the cold from without. Lagging only provides a barrier which slows up the cold from getting through, it will not stop it. The best form of lagging is that which stops cold draughts from entering the loft; under such conditions a source of gentle heat should be sufficient. What do you say, physician heal thyself, well maybe we have now.

Just a reminder by the way, Woodward is reported to be finishing on March 1st, and so also is Crane of Southall. Woodward’s job has been advertised on this week’s list and is rated (now) at 1450 to 1750***. No doubt he was getting more than that. From my point of view, even for the money, it is not worth applying for, quite apart from what is involved in the job.

Well again we can report we are all well so far as colds etc. concerned but June has hurt her back somehow – maybe lumbago or sciatica as it pains her to bend. Nevertheless she has just completed a week’s washing which is now out on the line. Well I will close now and leave the rest for the kids to say. Love from us all once again. 

*This is of course Fahrenheit: the Celsius equivalents would be -1º and +4º.

**Ummm, he means the power was down, i.e. not quite a brownout but reduced capacity in the system probably as a result of demand elsewhere.

***£33,000 to £40,000 in 2023 currency.