Sunday 2nd June, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Once again your weekly letter to hand for which many thanks. Glad the postman managed to call on the 27th ult. Hope all received satisfactorily.

Yes I allowed Susan and Carol to have a go on typewriter last week, but found the thing all upside down this week (both literally and figuratively). The machine (packed back in case by Auntie Eileen) was upside down, and some of the settings at the back had been moved so that could only type about one inch then stop. They can have another go sometime, but not this week as we have a bit of a hustle on. That was Susan’s idea for the longhand. I am not sure if they have started to do that at school yet.

The heat certainly takes it out of one when it comes as such a quick change. I must say the last couple of days here have been marvellous. I had Friday off this week and by gum it was hot. I gather that Roy took Delph and Pauline out to Chorleywood on Sunday of last week, and had his second accident with the new car. It appears that someone bumped into him from behind after he had stopped quickly in a narrow road. This is about the fourth time that has happened to him. Should think he would learn to drive within a more gradual braking distance now. Mrs Baker still doing pretty well. We went over to see them yesterday and found things much the same. Peter and Pauline have been mending the wall which had broken down. They have about got it half done with bricks that came out of the wall originally. They will have to get some bricks from somewhere as what are left are only brickbats.

Sorry about your garden. Had thought you would be in better shape. Ours of course is nothing to write home about at the best of times, so the winter weather has not affected us much. Buddleia now at the top of the fence – about one month earlier than last year. Hope it will go on my higher yet as we have no roses there this year.

I hope your day today goes well and visitors arrive on time. We are having June’s friends Les and Barbara with their daughter Jill arriving sometime later this morning. We have not seen them for quite some time now although I forget how long it has actually been.

Yes the mower at the bottom went on for a long time after I commented on it. I think that it only had the blades powered, and man had to push it manually. If so that probably explains why he was at it so long. What with that and his yapping dog, it was a case of “One man went to mow” with a vengeance.

We were not very surprised about the gas bill at number 17 as it was no more than to be expected that it would be a very high both because of the cold weather, and the builders’ men who had to have heat on for drying out cement etc. in a hurry before occupation.

Spoke to Susan about the spearmint, and asked her where mine was. She said it had all been eaten. I told her that you cannot eat spearmint, so she said ‘well anyway we have taken the taste out of it’.

Last time car had a clean was so long ago that I cannot remember. It wanted doing very badly. I have got chrome back on wheel hubs, but it took about two hours on that alone.

Nothing much new in the radio line for stop I have been at Retford all week so little was done. I shall be there again next week so not much likely that week either. Have had a small modulator lent me and coupled it to the transmitter yesterday, but cannot make it work properly yet. When okay I shall be able to transmit speech. So far have got as far as Greenford with it but output so low as to be useless from a practical point of view.

Sweet peas doing very well and the two lots of beans are up. Have put the runners next to the garage and the broad ones down in the plot. The latter will probably not come to anything as put in too late, but it will give the girls something to watch.

We did not see any special service for the Scouts etc. this end. There may have been one, but we were not aware of it.

I will keep the old W.R. News for your next visit, but please remind me or I may forget to take them home.

I suppose the cruise is nearly over by now. Hope they had good weather.

Did you manage to keep any cuttings of the bronze chrysanth brought back from us? All ours are gone now.

Interested to hear about the closure of the Goods. Also noted the remarks in the paper for which many thanks.

Your piping job quite extensive then. Had no idea you were on that game. Cannot understand mum’s remarks on the subject last week.

Some bean row to all accounts. I wonder what the average crop from one bean sown happens to be. Have you kept any such stats and if so can you forecast your probable crop in advance? (Not quite the same as counting chickens.)

We had a picture show last Sunday but it was quite hot so we did not set up the usual trappings, by just held the projector fairly near the wall in the dining room and had the pictures about 18″ inches to 2 ft across.

Only local sides played at Chorleywood. I think I have played there but not altogether sure. I have played on most grounds in and around London.

I do not know if there is anything in Sylglas that would harm fish. If so it would be necessary to let Sylglas weather for quite a while before letting any fish in. Not a bad idea, but a bit difficult to apply I should have thought.

On Friday feeling a little energetic, I went over to the field with barrow and cleared about eight full loads of earth. This I dumped at bottom of garden and have since sieved a lot onto right-hand lawn. This is to provide something more than rocks for the grass to grow in and also to level up to the path. Could only work at it for a couple of hours after which the heat put paid to it. Had another go yesterday and got one more load but the quality of soil not so good so did not get any more. I’ve got some grass seed ready to plant, but have a bit more earth to save before the levels are right. Our one solitary sunflower – now hardened off – is growing quite well. Slugs not causing much trouble now or else I have put paid to them. It could be of course that they have vacated all the food I have provided for them and moved on somewhere else.

Good news about your garden produce, sounds as if things are just reading reaching the eating stage. We shall have to call.

Well I must close this letter now as I think you have all the news. The girls like their postcards by the way, and Susan took hers to show her teacher. She has been on to me for some time to take her to Walton Castle* when next we visit Clevedon.

So for now, love from us all. 

*Nothing like as posh sixty years ago as it is now; it was probably just a private house at that time.


Sunday 19th May, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thanks once again for weekly letter duly received Friday as usual. Thanks also for doll etc for Susan’s birthday, she will be writing herself in a few minutes.

Yes weather last week not so good. This week it has been a mixed bag with warmth at times quite like summer, but every day has been a coat day really.

I agree about the slugs, and wonder how they managed to survive the winter. You said at one time that you were not troubled by slugs your end, but here they are out in force again. Have put down some slug pellets and these have seen off a few slugs, but have had a lot of rain since and although the things are supposed to be shower-proof some of the effectiveness must have been lost by now. I shall have to lay some more.

Cannot have a more powerful set as limited to maximum of 10 watts on this band. I already have six watts, and the additional four will not make all that much difference. The only thing that can be done is to increase the effectiveness of the apparatus by attention to detail of the various parts including aerial system. All takes time, and in the end the effectiveness of the operator counts for quite a lot. You will be interested to learn that on Tuesday I hooked up* with the chap at Cam near Dursley in Gloucestershire, and on Saturday with a man in Cardiff. Gradually pushing further out. Although both these contacts were made, conditions change so quickly during the calls that signals had practically disappeared at the end. Not knowing Cam, I looked it up in Handbook of Stations and found it to be on branch from Dursley to Coaley Junction. It has probably been closed long ago.

I remember the set Saunders made. It was a simple three valve receiver built in a stained wooden box with separate speaker. The corners of both being decorated with beading that had the form of dots and dashes (e.g. .. – – ..).

I planted out the sweet peas in pots as you gave them to us – two at a time. Also put in the beans so we shall see something come up. No more earth since last time. Each bathload goes only a little way, and in fact when scattered on the lawn can hardly see where it has gone. It will all help to cover up the Stones that are now showing too well.

No more from the Eastcote Timber Supplies. No further move in that direction yet. Good idea about the Aunt Sally. I think it will be cheaper in the long run to collect it oneself – less broken glass. If  the transfer of the property at the bottom of your field goes as hope, you would do well to collect a substantial amount of topsoil over a period of time, as it all comes in handy. I am not surprised about the dog being sick. Rather him than Mrs Gardner.

When we first went to Clevedon the quarry was used as such, and they used to take an old traction engine down there to work the stone crusher. I think it was just before the war that they removed the crusher and ceased to blast the rocks there. The large galvanised-roof shed that was there was also removed a little later. For a while after stopping the work of quarrying the Council used the site for holding contractors’ railway lines and tipper trucks. The shed before it was taken down housed stacks of these lines, and also large heaps of rotting potatoes – which made very presentable ammunition.

Nothing further about the holidays but a bit early to be definite yet.

Rather a good idea one year to have a go at dandelion wine especially if plentiful. I know the main difficulty is that when they are about you are at your busiest in the garden. You have had rather a lot of trouble with your grass this year. Ours has not been much trouble but wants cutting again. I have only cut the new lawn once but it is getting very straggly now and could do with a haircut.

Susan went to the Brownies on Wednesday and I gather she enjoyed herself. She came home on the bus with some other girls. She will not be going again this week as she has now to wait at home for a letter saying she can be accepted as there is a long waiting list apparently.** There is only one group in the district.

Trouble with the driving business is that now you must take the test when you have had three provisional licenses or before you get the third. It would be a waste of time and money for June to take the test at this stage, and licence is probably nearly out by now.

Your friends having a good time at Dunoon and Malta. you will have to have a trip to Weston to compete.

I had to go to Retford again on Wednesday and stopped the night this time. I may have to go again as there is a lot of information there that I need and it has to be kept up there. It is not a bad place really. I thought it was in Lincolnshire but it is in Nottinghamshire on the edge of Sherwood Forest. Some parts of the country are very nice but the town is a mixture of wealth and poverty. The shops themselves compare more than favorably with some of the London suburbs (West Ealing for example) and the population is about 20,000.

As you will see by Susan’s letter we went to London Zoo yesterday. Our party went by train although the rest of the school went by coach. We were 10 children and five adults for stop. Of course there were the usual muddles and waits for the group to collect for this and for that and most of the time was spent in waiting for someone or something or other. However we went via Marylebone, walked about half a mile and waited for bus to Zoo. (Number 74) As it happened we could only get a few on the first bus, and a couple on the second, and we finished up on the third. (8 minutes service). When we got to the Zoo entrance we had to link up with the main party, that meant waiting for one of our number (on first bus) who had gone to find them. After this we went to a further point and waited for main party to arrive. Once assembled we moved off to Children’s Zoo and had to wait to get in. Once inside there was a general dispersal to see various of the exhibits – chickens, geese, rabbits, ponies and the like. I suppose we were inside here for just about one hour then we made our way to penguins and seals. After this we waited again for the whole party to assemble and moved into the Lion House. Of course we had one bright boy with us who was a plague of everyone’s life. He dropped his sandwiches over the safety barrier and promptly went over after them. I grabbed him by arm and seat of pants and yanked him out. Tiger, which had shown great interest, had a disappointed look after that. Same child then disappeared and we all had to wait till he could be found before moving off. (Said he had been to Scotland.) All then went to the monkey house (usual cracks permissible) and found a few long lost relatives. After that we trooped to the giraffe house and on the way passed the antelopes (and Susan’s crack about unclelopes); last and largest were the elephants (two in number) who stood on a rocky island and passed their trunks over a wall to take food from passers-by. The girls were very keen to have the food but not to hold it out to the animals. The person in charge of the train party had some business to do before going to the station so asked if we would take train party back to Marylebone. We were successful in getting all ten back to station with help of one teacher, and concentrated them around chocolate machines etc. One herb kept putting sixpences in machine for dispensing milk. I told him not to waste his money that way but he said ‘I drink plenty of milk that’s what makes me so intelligent’? I gave up. In the end he took one carton home in bag for his mother – can’t think what she thought of it. By the way we only took light jackets and it turned perishing cold there with a strong wind. As a comparison with Bristol Zoo I would say they have more exhibits and probably a greater variety, but the horticultural side is not so good. There is a whole lot of new building though which promises much in the way of scenic effects.

I see from the window that it is blowing well outside again, but the sun tries to warm things up a bit.

June reminds me that you had a gas water heater to dispose of some time ago and she wonders if it is still available or if you have since got rid of it.

So far as any future holiday (possibly abroad) is concerned, we can discuss that one when we see you.

Well there it is again for another week. Hope you are both well as we are here. Love from us all once again. 

*Of course, the modern sense of ‘hook up’ is slightly different!

**This was the 5th Ruislip pack, and I did end up joining – and remember going to Brown Owl’s wedding in my first week – but it was deemed too far to take me after a while. When the 1st South Ruislip opened up I was also briefly part of that – but then I discovered a scheduling conflict (to wit, ‘Batman’ was on that night) and the Brownies ended up suffering.

Wednesday 8th May, 1963

[Continued from Tuesday 7th May, 1963]

Could not finish off last night as felt too tired after cutting all the grass again – had a job to get mower moving over it because it was so long again. Today I started to dig another big piece of ground alongside Heels’ but rain came on at midday and has continued since hence early start on this letter.

The thief of the sandwich sponge and eggs has now been found – it was Bushes’ dog. He evidently does not like jelly, this being the only commodity left.

It was election day here yesterday and somewhat of a surprise the Labour candidate got in for this Ward. Have put an E against those elected on the photographs in the Mercury and will try and cut out full results from this evening’s paper and enclose herewith. The Communist (Searle) got in again. After voting yesterday Mum and I went on to Bristol for a look around in Lewis’s etc. We parked the car at a garage at Ashton Gate and went into the city by bus. Quite a good arrangement. Arrived home about 12:30 and half an hour later the T.V. was returned from Bells. They had had it since Friday with suspected spent tube but when man brought it back he was not sure if tube had been replaced but he did say that three valves had to be replaced and that they had found the rectifier faulty. I did notice they had brought back the same case but that must have been nearly all of what they took away. The set goes all right now – it ought to. When we get the bill we shall be back on bread and ice cubes again.

This afternoon because of the rain I have been busy in greenhouse stringing up the remainder of the tomatoes and apart from the usual daily attention there is nothing else to be done with them.

Have just realised it is three weeks ago today we came back from Ruislip – how time flies. A week tomorrow it is Susan’s birthday too.

Bushell next door has half a dozen white leghorn pullets on the point of lay. Got them from a friend recently but at the moment his housing arrangements are not too good. He has a good house but has not sited it nicely and will reposition it as soon as possible. He told me he is getting a load of slag for making pathways and I can have some as it will be more than he will want – all free. Could do with some on this wide rough path running parallel with Heels’ garden and if it turns up this is what I shall probably do with it.

The erection of the two houses in the quarry at the top end of the Avenue is proceeding apace and the framework for the doors is now in position. Strange to say when they dug for the foundations they found very soft ground and the remains of an old rubbish tip which caused them to lay in a good concrete base. I should have imagined they would have had to quarry out stone to make a base in that particular spot. Now some of the older inhabitants are recalling the time when the quarry was used as a dump.

One last thought for the week – have you restarted driving lessons June?

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

Wednesday 23rd January, 1963

[Continued from Tuesday 22nd January, 1963]

A very bad night. Our hot water circulation is now out for the time being. I found the hall tap in tank under roof frozen up and released this but still no water would come through indicating pipes also frozen. Have had electric fire burning in bathroom all morning but it makes no difference. Now we hear the mains water pipes are frozen in parts of Clevedon and people are running around from house to house with buckets begging water. The South West Gas Board to are on the warpath cutting off the gas for many hours of the 24th. This does not of course affect us as we are all electric but power is reduced quite often. Harder frost forecast for tonight so look out. Not many houses now without some water trouble or another these days.

Had a most difficult job early on trying to start car and apparently another hazard is that even the antifreeze is freezing. I got ours going eventually and we went into Hill Road and the Library. Everybody looking fed up with themselves. The sun is shining lovely now at 2 p.m. and it is quite warm outdoors but it will only last for a few minutes. Has the gas cut made much difference to your gas fire in the front room?

Incidentally when in attic this morning I had a look at the insulating material a box about 3 in wider in every way than the tank surround the latter and the space is filled with small shavings or this is what it looks like. There is also a wooden cover which is covered again with asbestos sheeting. There was a very thin layer of ice and water in tank which is about half full. All pipes leading to the tank are lined with felting but even so the frost got in somewhere. Suppose we shall have to leave it now until the thaw sets in and hope for the best.

Well this is about the lot for another week – a pretty dismal picture I’m afraid but you are having your share at number 84 .

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

P.S. Hot water system going again at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Tuesday 20th November, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for your letters and drawings from the girls received this morning usual post. Very sorry to hear you are suffering from colds and catarrh – hope they will soon clear up but the weather at the moment is not very helpful. It has been bitterly cold here for several days with the keen north-east wind coming in from the Bristol Channel accompanied at times with rain and sleet. We have not actually had snow but on Sunday we could see some had fallen on the Mendips. According to TV London had its coldest night on Saturday in November for ten years. The cold snap has come in too suddenly for people to get acclimatised to it. Mum and I keep in out of it as much as possible but have to get out most days for something or other.

You had rain on Sunday by your letter. We had rain and sleet early but this tailed off and we had to put up with the cold wind rest of day. Good job it was not the Parade Sunday – would have made a difference to the attendance. Anyhow we do hope you will be able to shake off those colds soon.

Regarding increases in salary as I understand the position you will receive a total increase of 9% over the salary operating prior to April 1st last which includes the 3% already being enjoyed.

Noted some of your geraniums have had a touch of frost – these plants take it quicker than anything else. Mum has already put ours away in greenhouse where I now have the heater on again. The outdoor chrysanths are over of course and dahlias. Gardens generally looking a bit of a mess now. Yes we are on the track of ‘Mr Chevins’ now. As stated previous latter we went into Weston last Thursday and called at a couple of places. Neither had the article on hand but Hillmans (who have showrooms just outside the railway goods yard) said they could get what we wanted within about a fortnight. They asked to hold the pamphlet for reference and would return it when they have the firebrick. These people were most obliging about the matter. Will report result in due course. We  did not do much running about in Weston but bought paper, paint etc. for sitting room. The paper had to be ordered so we shall pick it up later.

Got home about 12:45 p.m. when Mum prepared dinner and we settled down for the afternoon. At 4:15 p.m. ratatat at the door. Mr and Mrs Richings had arrived from Weston unexpectedly. Fortunately mum had bought a cake at Weston which could be put on the table but we did not tell them that we had been to Weston that morning or that the cake was bought there. They stopped until about 7:30 p.m. First time we had seen them since August. Now we have to go down there this coming Thursday when incidentally we can pick up the paper ordered last week. One of the Bristol Work Study staff had told him of your move to Liverpool Street and they were of course interested in all the news of all of you. Michael and his wife have a flat at Reading and he drives an old van to his school at a village outside Reading. Apparently he has learnt to drive and passed test first time otherwise his wife would have had to drive him there daily before starting her work at the University library and of course fetching him in the late afternoon.

Richings tells me they have received a circular from Bristol telling them they must not in future accept gifts from traders at Christmas or at any other time and where they have been in the habit of receiving such gifts they must contact the firm or firms and discreetly inform them of the ruling. Moreover no Christmas cards will be issued by the various departments as hitherto. It is also now Western Railway and not Western Region. Wonder if there has been any such direction from the E.R. management?

Yes that was a lovely incident of Susan and her school teacher. Not many of the latter would have played ball with her like that. Carol too had a lovely time and looking forward to her own schooldays. Better this way than some I can remember when mothers had to drag crying children to school. Can remember this from my own schooldays seeing other boys and girls being dragged along and getting a hiding along with it en route.

Glad to hear June has renewed driving licence – keep off icy roads June. The trouble comes when you put brakes on too quickly. Have had some of this myself on the top of Failand early mornings when en route to Bristol. Fortunately for me there has been no other traffic about. I’m sure though you want to get on with it so that you can get around the local district for shopping and the school. Our neighbour (Bushell) is still risking his neck by going out on his own quite often. The police will I’m afraid catch up with him one day.

Noted no more news of number 17 Eccleston Road but that the auditor has called at number 155 High Street.

Expect you would have heard by now if the E.R. sell off their spirits and wine at Christmas. Incidentally I wonder if the W.R. have not stopped this along with the other  recent restrictions. Nice for Pauline to be able to get a bottle at reduced cost. Makes a difference sometimes whether you have one or two bottles.

Yes I too could see Ted Caple stuttering et cetera when tackling the offending motorist. It is an offence to cross the double white line under any circumstances and the police will prosecute anyone caught doing so. I have seen reports of such cases in papers from time to time. A couple of years ago when coming back from Ruislip via the A40 a motorist passed two or three cars (by crossing the double white line) on the Oxford bypass but at this point there is a mobile police cabin and the policeman on duty spotted him and immediately rushed out of his cabin and stopped him. Two or three cars following (including us) then pulled up because we could not pass the individual being questioned without crossing the double white line. Another policeman then came out and waved us by. We never saw the other motorist again.

Sorry to hear you have lost one of your succulents. Must see if can replace later. Mrs Richings brought Mum up one or two on Thursday including another bridal-wreath the original of which we lost by the frost last winter.

Decorating after New Year’s Eve certainly – could not tackle that before. Hope it is warmer then than now. Mum’s Christmas cacti are beginning to show signs of flowering – a very small red tip at the end of the leaves.

Buses still run from the Old Church but all run direct to The Triangle so if we want to go to Hill Road it means walking to Wilcox’s Garage. It is a silly arrangement and I hear it may be altered. Certain of the Bristol double-deckers now run  right through to the Old Church and thence back to Bristol.

Thank you in anticipation of the E.R. magazine and reasons noted for non-receipt this week. I let Pope (St Andrews Drive) see the October one because he has met Vincent who was mentioned in the mag as having been transferred from the E.R. to Bristol W.R. Accountancy Dept. Pope is the man finishing up on December 1st. The latest increase would not affect his superannuation because the average would not be affected in a period of 40 years.

Yes the plots of land around this district are for houses only and the two for the quarry site will I think be looking straight down Tennyson Avenue – some outlook!

Wonder how you got on on Sunday afternoon with your visitors? Expect you would rather have been on your own with the colds you all had. It generally happens that way though. Hope the children were on their best behaviour. With this weather you are having the benefit of your new gas fireplace. I take it first impressions have been confirmed. It was certainly doing its job when we were there.

Well I seem to have exhausted most of the news again. We had a couple of nice days here last week that I pulled up all the runner beans sticks and stripped off the haulms. Since then I have sown three boxes of sweet pea seed in greenhouse and I noticed a box of lettuce sown several weeks ago is now showing through. Have picked up two or three more hampers of Bramley Seedling apples and stored them in garage. Incidentally have you examined the Blenheim Orange apple since we left? We are eating some of ours and they are lovely. Should  however keep until Christmas if you prefer them then.

Norman Baker is coming along this week to put fence right for the horse to come back. Will do good if he will eat out the thickest part of grass for a week or two.

[Continued on Wednesday 21st November, 1962]

Wednesday 13th June, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

It’s just about 7:15 p.m. and I’ve just come in off the garden, but first things first. We had a good run back today and after calling at Marlborough (10:50 to 11:30) arrived home 1:50 p.m.. After leaving Bath we took the country route from Newton St Loe and avoided Bristol. Called at Marksbury for petrol and at Clevedon for a loaf of bread.

You gave us a lovely time and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves but sorry Alec was off colour with the cold and that the car was in dock. We thought the girls had grown quite a lot since we last saw them and they are obviously older in manner. The time went very quickly but we have something to look forward to in your visit in August. Meanwhile we must get busy to have things a bit shipshape.

It was nice to see Mrs Baker even if only for a short while and we hope the operation and rest will do her a world of good. We realise the real worry is the business and can only hope that something will turn up to satisfactorily deal with that situation. What about the car Alec? Hope you have had the news you have been waiting for and that car will soon be back in your garage. My car appreciated the use of same during our visit but its presence hampered your activities somewhat.

The wine travelled safely and will be tasted presently. The wireless set, for which again many thanks, is connected up in bedroom and programmes are good and clear.

When I went down garden about 2.0 p.m. I could see things were very dried up and some of the tomatoes in greenhouse were also very dry so I changed quickly and after dinner got busy with hose pipe. Later I coupled up the plastic hose to the rubber one and used to the new circular screw clips to clamp the holder in position. It is a perfect job. After tea had hose pipe with extension on runner beans and gave them a good soaking together with other crops needing water.

We hear that Mr Heel (next door neighbour) was taken ill during the night of 12th -13th and ambulance was called for this morning at 7:30 a.m. and he was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, Bristol for emergency operations. Apparently one was for the prostate gland and the other – to be performed this evening – for haemorrhoids. Mrs Heel had to be in the hospital this evening for surgeon to tell her the results of operations.

The rats tail cactus we told you about now has about 25 flowers on it, each of them about 3 inches long, trumpet-shaped and a lovely magenta colour. It is really a picture. We have two or three more rats tail cacti but no flowers on them.

This evening just before coming indoors I drained out the deep part of the pond ready for drying off before treatment with snowcem. There were several live small eels and a flat fish about the size of a penny.

According to this week’s Mercury a new Curate has been appointed to the parish and started last Sunday – this is the first I’ve heard of him.

A picture in tonight’s Evening Post shows a three car accident in Bristol today involving a Clevedonian who was taken to hospital with injuries.

Well I think this must be all this time. It hardly seems possible that we have been to number 84 and are back home again, still it will not be long to August.

Again many thanks for all your kindness to us. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls.

Mum and Dad

Eva to the family on the remaining quarter sheet of Leonard’s paper:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Just a few lines to say we arrived all in one piece, and thank you very much for a nice time with you. I nearly forgot the bread, as we were passing through Clevedon a baker’s shop which only keeps open on Wednesday afternoons reminded me so got one.

Soon got busy when we got indoors. Dad put up the new shade and looks very well and the old one will go nicely in the bedrooms right colour for it. This morning Mrs Heel also heard from her sister-in-law that Mr Heel’s brother had died, they were coming down in three weeks time he had cancer of throat.

Hope the colds are all better and the children are o.k. We miss their chatter love from Dad and Mum.

P.S. Card here from Norway having a wonderful time.

Wednesday 21st March, 1962

Leonard to the family (continued from 20th March):

Thank you all very much for your letter received this morning with best wishes for my 65th birthday. A very nice card from Susan too, thank you Susan. Not quite so quick with the pension Alec, the starting date for that is the Monday following the 65th birthday – you must remember that.

Sorry Susan had to have a day off but just as well to take no risk – hope she is better now. How did you get on at the hospital? I certainly should not have gone back to work for another couple of days, the weather is still very cold and wind keeps in the northeast.

Fancy Carol remembering the church bells and that I go ringing. Susan using her brain saying they don’t have weddings on Sundays – working things out in her own way.*

Yes well wrapped up is right so far as we are concerned. Even when working in garden I’ve had to keep my coat and cap on which I am generally loathe to do. Last Saturday I put in a couple of rows of peas and on Monday most of the small seeds but I was glad to get inside the greenhouse again. 

The seawall had a severe pounding earlier this winter and if repairs had not been effected quickly the spring tides with a north-west wind behind them would have been disastrous. Fortunately for us the wind veered to south-east, consequently the south coast had it.

Note your kitchen repairs still not started. Everybody seems to be in the same boat nowadays, waiting the convenience of the workmen.

Talking about lawn mowing I got my motor mower out on Saturday and was able to start it up within five minutes so cut the grass on the big and small lawns. According to my gardening diary however I am a week later than last year with it.

So your neighbours are almost decided on Weston – hope they will like it in the West Country. Just as convenient for him to get to and fro to Bristol as from Clevedon by road.

Had one surprise this morning. A letter arrived from Swindon from Bernard Carver who retired in 1947. He used to attend the freight train meetings long before Armour arrived on the scene. Carver knew it was my birthday and that I was 65 which was most amazing as in the first place I never knew he had any idea of it and moreover I have not seen or heard of him since he retired. He finished at 60 and is now 76 and has been to America twice since 1947 to see his son and family who are there.

Yes I remember you started at Clevedon on the 21st March 1938 so have now got 24 years service in. Whatever you do stick to the Work Study until there is no more to be had from it, but I should imagine it would see you through your career.

Heard from Geoff and family this morning and from Don and Joan. Also cards from Mr Newman and Miss Spellings (Bristol TM) not to mention a card from Mrs Marshall who was told by mum the date.

Your bottom fence is a bit of a problem. Pity you have not a thick rose hedge along but I suppose really you must have some sort of a fence.

Don was much impressed with the typewriter and thought I had a good buy. He has since sent me a felt pad for same and a couple of ribbons although it is a new one already in the machine. Will keep one of the ribbons for you but query if it will fit a portable. Can but try.

Note plenty of work waiting at the office. That is the usual procedure.

Have noted June’s remark on back of envelope and thank you all very much in anticipation.

You will be interested to know the old caravan which has stood at the end of the garden in Old Miss Martin’s premises has at last been dismantled and removed. It has been an eyesore for years and was right in our line of vision looking down the garden path. The present owner of the house got some junk merchants in to demolish it.

Well I think this is about all for another week but once again many thanks to you all for your kind remembrances of the 21st.

All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls. Mum and Dad

*Well, yes, children have brains – how astonishing!

Eva to the family on the remaining one-eighth of a sheet of Leonard’s writing paper:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

Many thanks for letter and glad you are all going on alright. Hope you had good news from the hospital and are able to start work again. It is not quite so cold now but could do with it warmer. I don’t get on with the typewriter very well it’s quicker by hand. We have to be busy gardening now. Hope June’s mother is feeling better. We are having a jumble sale at the Guild on April 7th – any junk? Will tell you next time where we are going on a outing, hope it’s the Isle of Wight.

No more now lots of love Mum and Dad. 

Sunday 11th March, 1962

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Well thank you very much for two letters, one received on Monday and the other on Friday. I will work through them in date order.

Glad you like the drawings from the girls. Susan’s pictures get better and better especially now she is able to put some titles to them. (How did you like Mr Krooschop – worked it all out herself, we did not know she had done it .) They are both pretty fit again now.

Regarding the weather, yes we have had ‘best mixed’ for a while now. At the moment it is raining lightly, but practically all yesterday it was a very heavy. If you have been able to go through the winter on 25 cwt of coal you must not have done so badly. Perhaps a few logs would help out. Must watch the river again in the summer for flotsam.

I would not have thought the east wind would have made a lot of difference to the inhabitants of the Swiss Valley, as it does not blow from that direction all that often. Note you comment on our house roof having come through the storms intact, but we have other troubles of which more later.

We are getting no trouble with the envelopes now – all arriving in one piece.

Should not have thought there was much future in the St. John Ambulance Brigade. Perhaps your neighbour knows better though.

I am not surprised that Mogg does not remember the incident of taking me around a corner in a gale. It was mid-day, and I do not think he was very pleased at being called from his dinner.

Have not touched the lawn since last writing, but shall have to do something pretty soon as the grass-growing weather is now arriving.

I think I know what caused the tyre to go flat. The Sunday before I tested all tyres to see if they wanted pumping up. All except that one were okay, but oddly enough that particular tyre was reading about 10 lbs more than it should have been, probably due to miss reading the airline meter at the filling station. I promptly let out some air to get pressure back to normal, and my guess is that the valve must have stuck open a little and let all the rest out gradually.

I have not been having any wine lately, but hope to resume shortly.

I agree about being only in the fringe of Work Study. It has a tremendous future and the great thing is to go with it for the time being.

Glad your hand is now better, and in good condition to use the new typewriter.

I do not know what is going on next door about moving but Dorothy was at Bristol again yesterday, and I think they are still looking for a suitable place.

No they still have not found that small boy who was missing from Hayes. When I came past the canal at Hayes on Friday afternoon (returning from Reading) I saw half a dozen police with a boat raking through the reeds etc.

I note all the comment on the improvements proposed for the seafront, but I do not understand why they have written off that part from the Pier to the Flagstaff as having no potential for improvement. I would have thought what that there was a long stretch on the pier side of the bandstand that could be improved.

Sorry about the box in the church. It must be the same person all the time, as cannot think there are many who would help themselves.

I did not hear that Dawlish Warren had been washed away again, but as we had trouble this week in the area I cannot think there can be much left now.

The tooth question so far as I am concerned is not serious. I try to go regularly, but six months is a bit too regular for me. Had not been for quite some time so as the girls and June were having theirs seen to I thought I would have mine done as well.

We have selected our gas heater, but it will be a few weeks before we order it. We ordered a water heater for the kitchen on Saturday and hope they will fix it in this week.

I would not be definite about the Esther Reeds as, although I have not seen them, they may well be rooted underground.

McDonald tells me that the Acton Yard Report has had an impact on all who have seen it. Remains to be seen what it provokes.

Had the car tested on Wednesday, and it passed okay. The man at the garage said the brakes were good, but had quite a bit of travel on them (same as last time) and they had to lower one of the headlamps. No extra charge.

Interesting about Bushell’s motorbike. Should have thought Puddy would have had the sense to keep his mouth shut.

Sounds as though your church party went off well despite the absence of the vicar and Curate. The new hall also sounds to be a good place. We must see it when  next in Clevedon.

I saw the article about the man washed up at Clevedon in the Daily Telegraph towards the end of this week. I see that they have identified him.

It sounds as though you have got a good buy for your typewriter. For the price you certainly have not been robbed.

Well for news from this end. On Thursday having a heavy cold, and some trouble with my neck (more later) I did not go into work. By the time I had had my dinner I was not feeling too bad. Susan had gone to school, and June and Carol had gone out shopping when I heard a faint tap tap coming from somewhere. Rushed upstairs and found that water was pouring through the ceiling in our bedroom and cascading on the bed. It was also pouring through the ceiling of the landing and running down the wall of the little back bedroom. I rumbled that the cold water tank had burst, and nipped smartly down and turn off the main. This of course had no immediate effect and by the time I got up again with bucket etc. the lights have come on. Dragged the bed and bedding to one side, turned on the cold water taps in the bathroom and down again to turn off the electricity. Back with more buckets and swabs to mop up, then down again for the ladder out of the garage. By this time June had arrived home, and water was already downstairs in the front room, Carol started to cry and got the wind up properly so she had to be taken next door. I got a rag to jam in the cold water tank to stop the flow, and promptly put my fist through the bottom it was so rotten. Managed to stop the flow there, although by this time the whole of the floor of the loft was covered to a depth of about half an inch with dirty black water which was sleeping through at every crack. By the light of three candles and a dim torch we mopped this up, and the flow through the bedroom and landing ceilings gradually ceased. Of course everything was soaking wet, so put oil heaters on the landing to start drying things out. After a while I took a chance and switched on one of the electric circuits. The one I had put in. It held so we put a couple more electric heaters on. This also gave us some light as we could move your standard lamp up into the girls room, and had the TV lamp ourselves downstairs. June and I slept on the studio couch in the front room. Next morning the ceiling was sufficiently dry to chance putting on the other electrical circuits, and they were then alright. Plumber arrived at 8:15 a.m. and put in a new tank. Apart from stains on wallpaper that has to be replaced anyway, we have only the bedroom carpet that is the worse for wear. The insurance people will pay for them to be cleaned so we shall be only the price of the tank worse off. What a life.

Regarding my neck, for some two months I have had a swelling in a gland on the left side, and although I have been attending an ear nose and throat clinic they have been unable to do anything about it. They are not certain what is causing the trouble and I shall go into hospital later today for a minor operation on Monday for them to discover what it is. I have asked June to hold this letter over until Monday so that she may have some later news for you. it appears that the gland is inflamed due to some infection but they cannot find anything wrong with ear nose or throat yet. There is no pain, but it has become large enough to hinder turning the neck, and it looks a bit unsightly. We have told the children I am going to see the Station Master at Bristol, and they are going over to Grandma Bakers this afternoon while June and I go to the hospital.

By the way, while we were waiting for the plumber to ring on Thursday night, the man to do the work in our kitchen turned up. He is so-called starting this weekend but, but we did not see him yesterday.

Well there it is again for another week. Will leave a bit of space for June. Love from us all.

Wednesday 7th March, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for letter and excellent drawings received once again on Monday but I wonder what happened to the one you should have had on Saturday – my guess it was wrongly sorted and arrived on Monday with an extra postmark on it. We make a practice of posting for the 1:15 p.m. collection on Fridays. Anyhow in case it might happen again this week we will post on Thursday. Hope the last one did eventually turn up safely.

Sorry to hear Carol under the weather again but hope it was of short duration and – the winds are still very  treacherous. One day I can work comfortably in garden and the next has to be spent in greenhouse or garage but however bad it is here I’m sure it is worse in your area. Just heard on 1 p.m. news that the south coast has had another battering and Dawlish Warren has been washed away again. I suppose the better weather will come soon.

Note your visit to dentist and latter’s method of getting the girls confidence that makes a wonderful difference. Sorry to hear you all have a bit of bother with your teeth. It was in 1939 when I last had trouble and then had the lot out – good and bad. A bit awkward getting used to false dentures but everything alright since. Mum can tell you what trouble she had today we all get it at some time or another. Susan was a good girl then when it came to her turn – she sent us some nice drawings again and gave them titles as well. No doubt about it she is improving quickly.

Did you finally make a selection at the gas showrooms? You must have warmth in the house during these icy blasts. Is not the trouble with the electric heater that so many are using electricity for the same purpose heating that the generating station cannot properly cope?*

Noted re: Forsythia and Esther Reeds – will try and take cuttings off former and have plenty of roots of latter to replace – shall have to start another list of things to bring up on our next visit.

Very interested in your Acton Yard anticipated savings per annum – what was Phillips’s reaction? Should like to have seen his face when he went through the report. I see the South Wales people are kicking up a tremendous row over probable loss of passenger services on the Eastern and Western Valleys. Presumably the cut in the West Region passenger service came into operation last Monday but I have had no reports about it yet.

So Notley has got a job in Costing Section of B.T.C. – he has not done so badly since he came back to the railway service after completing his National Service.

No more trouble with car then – that was an extraordinary occurrence for tyre to go completely flat without apparent cause.

Have not heard from Geoff since our last letter to you so we do not know how he is progressing. I believe he is doing a bit of travelling in connection with a committee he is on.

Your kitchen waits then for workman to turn up – hope he does not arrived on a washing day. It is a bit of a nuisance though to be left wondering when the job will be done.

Fancy car due for another test already but this time there should be no query about this or that.

So Leslie Morgan did not relish Raymond’s economy drive? Some of those individuals have been having a right royal time and obviously do not like being cut off without – as it were – the proverbial shilling.

Our neighbour – Bushell – who recently obtained a job with the St John Ambulance people in Portishead bought himself a motorbike to do the journey and a few days ago his uncle – who is is Puddy of the East Clevedon Garages – chivvied him about it and said he would have sold him a car for £10. Anyway Bushell went back to him and asked to see the car but he said he was only joking about the price. Anyhow having quoted £10 he let him have it – a Morris 8 1936 in good condition and with a test certificate. Bushell says it is in good condition as and as he himself has already learnt the trade of fitter he can look after it properly. I think he has got a good buy.

It was the parish church and St. Peter’s annual social last night in the new Pavilion at the community centre. It is a fine structure and will certainly be an asset to Clevedon. Should think there were nearly 200 people at the party which started at 7:30 p.m. and continued until 11 p.m. but we left about 10:20 p.m. Not a bad do really. Mr Palmer was there – his operation due that day having been postponed by surgeon for a fortnight.

Frantic efforts are being made by river board to rebuild the sea wall behind us before the high spring tides are on us – a matter of days only. Fortunately at the moment the wind is southeast and this would not affect the wall so much as if northwest.

No typewriter yet as you can see but I have to go down to Houghton’s house in Coleridge Vale at 7:30 p.m. tonight to get the one he has picked out. Cannot tell you any more about it at the moment but may add a P.S. to this letter. I hope it is one that can spell properly.

In the Mercury to you with with this letter – there is a paragraph under heading of Spade and Plough about homemade wine thought you might be interested to read it.

Presumably no more news from your neighbours removing to West Country. Hanson the Town Clerk told us at party last night quite a lot of non-townspeople were having houses or bungalows built here and were going to occupy them themselves – the last few months having seen a remarkable increase in such building.

Vicar and Curate still absent owing to sickness and neither could be present last night. Three retired clergyman took charge of proceedings and made a very good job of it.

Did you notice in national press and exhumation of a body in the Clevedon Cemetery had been necessary to establish the identity of a man missing from Radlet (Herts). He was washed ashore here last November. **

Not much local news again this week – gardening still subject to weather but I did manage to dig up up up a small plot yesterday morning. Greenstuff  getting very scarce now – the east winds having shrivelled up what little there was. Broccoli should however be soon turning in but they will be very small.

No more now hope this letter arrives on time. all our love to you both and lots of kisses for Susan and Carol

Mum and Dad

P.S. the typewriter is an Oliver – Four Bank – Model 21 in excellent condition £6 but source of origin must not be disclosed or Houghton might be in trouble. I am very pleased with it. Dad.

*I don’t really know whether or not this was ‘a thing’ at the time although we did sometimes have ‘brownouts’ which June insisted were caused by excessive use of the system – everybody making a cup of tea at half-time in the football match, or after ‘Doctor Who’ for example; the same was also said of the gas supply, and was reputed to be due to ‘low pressure’ – especially on Sunday lunchtimes when ‘everybody was cooking their dinner’. It’s not impossible that the demand for these services occasionally exceeded the supply, and it’s also difficult to convey to what extent – at this time – everyone was presumed to be doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time; anyone who actually didn’t cook a big Sunday lunch or watch ‘Doctor Who’ for any reason would really have been considered an oddity!

**I have not been able to track down any further information about this poor man, whoever he may have been.

Eva to the family on the remaining three quarters of a sheet of Leonard’s paper:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for letter & drawings which were very good this week. it has been blowing us nearly inside out again, hope the sea wall will stand it it. We saw on TV about Cornwall and Torquay, dreadful. Wonder if Aunt Lydia’s bungalow is alright.

We have the typewriter at last this evening, but Dad had already written his letter. I must get into practice to as I mean to use it.

The party was very good considering that three retired clergy had to stand the racket. The hall is really an asset to Clevedon. It was designed by Mrs Plant of Tickenham one of the W.I. members. We each had a sausage roll, roll and butter, an iced cake and cup of coffee but it was an awful scramble to get it. I grabbed the eats while dad got the coffee and Mrs Cornish waited, there were 200 or more there. Of course the object was to bring the churches together but I noticed that St. Peter’s kept down one end of the room while we were at the other end.

The council want to make a roadway behind Joe Reed’s place down to the end of allotments but Cox whose property Joe Reed’s house is on is kicking up about it.

The lorries are going along the seawall at back from early morning till dark filling up the breaches in sea wall.

Lots of love from Mum and Dad.

Eva’s drawings are enigmatic; there is what may possibly be a washing line, a woven mat, a Wellington boot, and three oddly shaped shoes, with stiletto heels, labelled ‘winkle pickers’. 

Wednesday 25 October, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for your long and newsy letter duly received yesterday morning – also thank you Susan and Carol for your lovely drawings and Susan’s little letter about the comic. Grandma and Grandfy thought you would both find something to interest you in it. Hope you are feeling better now Susan and able to go to school again this week. 

Yes we had a nice run home on the 16th but with the mileage up a little it takes a drop more petrol. No doubt about it we had the best weekend for weather in spite of fog on the Sunday. It has been rather poor since our return – gale force winds and frequent heavy rain storms but there it is – we were fortunate for our stay with you. 

Sorry Susan a bit off colour but presumably alright again on the Sunday. We thought they were both looking and feeling very fit – they improve every time we see them and my word we can see a difference – they are both growing up fast.  

Glad to hear Mr and Mrs Baker with Peter and Pauline reached home safely on the Saturday and that you were able to make the journey to West Drayton for June’s mother’s birthday. It was Geoff’s on the 23rd and we dropped him the usual – he was 53 this time. Says he –”another 7 years to do”. Sounds like a sentence for some crime. 

It was excellent news that you had had an interview for the lecturing job but I quite agree with your comments. On a job like that you are not getting any practical experience, which experience must count for very many higher positions. One thing about this incident however indicates that you were recommended by your own department otherwise I do not think you would have got as far as an interview. Keep it up, you will get something one of these days which will be worth having. Do you know if Jeff has heard any more about his recent interview for another job? 

Noted also you have had some interesting meetings at Reading – query with what results – also when do you find time to write up the minutes or is this a job for others to do? 

Grandad Atkins was born at Beckington Somerset, a little village that is at the crossroads made by the Warminster-Bath and Frome-Trowbridge roads*. When visiting Salisbury regularly during the war with Mr Pole for meetings with the Southern Region we used to always pass through Beckington. 

Did you see in London papers last week a Clevedon boy named Prescott aged 14 was missing from home? Disappeared on the Wednesday because of some alleged trouble at school but was found at Tickenham on Sunday in a pretty pretty distressed condition because of the rough and wet weather. His father is in Parish Church choir, he was actually a member in my time but left the town and recently returned. He has a younger son aged 12 who is in Wells Cathedral Choir. Quite a rumpus here for a few days. Now we hear on wireless there is a 13-year old girl missing at Glastonbury. 

The chimney sweep arrived at 6 a.m. on Monday – raining in torrents – but mum must tell you more about this. I stopped in bed out of the way. 

No work on garden this week so far – the ground is soaked and more rain coming down. Last weekend managed to lift all the gladioli corms and put them in the frames to dry. Also made the first picking of runner bean seeds (the ripest) but there are plenty more to come. Now is the time for broad bean seed to go in but ground conditions just hopeless at the moment. 

Have put the 35 chrysanths in greenhouse after taking out all the tomato plants – the fruit is ripening off in drawers in garage – as mentioned in last letter your chrysanths are in full flower quite a nice reddish bronze colour. 

We are still picking runner beans to eat and I think they will continue wearing until frosts finish off the plants. Will let you know no final total weight for tomatoes and runner beans in due course. 

No more mice about in garage and for time being think we are free of them! It is quite possible some of them made a nest in the old wireless set – strange to say it was one place I did not investigate when trying to trace them. 

The wine I have tried was the one other than the parsnip – a cloudy wine which I thought was the Jungle Juice but which you suggest is Rhubarb. It was not labelled but tastes very nice. The grape wine continues fermentation but not quite so vigorously as when we came up to Ruislip. Have racked off all the others into sweet jars for storage purposes – the best tasting at the moment being the Blackberry. The liquid yeast you gave me seems to be working very well but I have have no further winemaking prospect at present. 

Have not used any of the leaf mould yet but have tipped it into a box to keep. It is most valuable stuff being mould from beech leaves which – with oak leaf mould – is the best you can possibly get. When in the vicinity at any time you should get some to dig into your soil – bound to improve it. 

Last Friday after a dry night – about the only one for a week – I managed to cut all the grass with the motor mower. It had got very long since previous cutting but it came off very easily. May have to have one or two more cuttings before closing down – as it were – for the season. 

The clock goes back next Sunday so it will be pretty well dark by the time Susan comes home from school. Any more driving lessons yet June? Or is weather getting too bad for this year? Since our return from you we have only been out twice – shopping and library. May pop into Weston one day next week – weather permitting. 

You will hear about Stonehenge from Mum in a minute or two. By the way it was not by side of road we took but well over to the right on a branch road in the direction from Ruislip to Clevedon. It was certainly adjacent to the branch road one I think leading to Devizes**. Do you remember this? 

No more now dash all our love to you both and more kisses for two little girls from Mum and Dad.

*As formerly mentioned, Tom was born in the Workhouse at Westbury, Wiltshire, and raised by a couple at Rode/Rode in Somerset, although Road and Beckington are pretty much side-by-side and there must be some doubt as to where one starts and the other ends.  Either Tom and/or Leonard were deliberately not told the whole story, or the story had become garbled over the years.  On reflection it is quite possible that Tom grew up having no idea who his mother actually was, only that he had a sister named Mary.  His marriage to the fiercely moral Emily may have ensured that this particular aspect of family history was ruthlessly suppressed thereafter and never mentioned again.

**A quick look at the map suggests that Leonard and Eva were travelling west along the A303; the ‘branch road’ described no longer exists – it would have run past Stonehenge to join up with the A360, but now seems to be solely an access/service road for the ancient monument itself and its visitor centre.  The A360 does indeed – eventually – find its way to Devizes.

Eva to the family on remaining three quarters of a sheet of Leonard’s writing paper:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for letting us and drawings which were very good. We looked into Charlie Drake’s Bingo tonight, and Michael Aspel mentioned there was goings-on at Ruislip and they were supposed to be going down there, he was a scream. 

The sweep came 5 minutes early had gone at 7. He said he had to go to Mrs Cummings next but didn’t think she would be up because he believed his wife had mixed the dates. Anyway I saw her today and he had only come a fortnight too soon, still she had it done – she has the old people from Cornwall there too. 

I should think we have had enough rain since coming back everywhere is soaking so gardening is out for the time being. 

Lots of love from (Grandma and Grandfy) Mum and Dad

[NB: there was of course no reference to Stonehenge but Eva did contribute a drawing which I was going to attempt to describe but to be perfectly honest my powers of description failed me.  It is attached below, together with a photograph of what probably inspired it.]