Wednesday 20th September, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for the weekly budget which duly arrived yesterday. Glad to hear children on the mend again and hope you too will soon get rid of colds. 

Post your end a bit awry then as it was dispatched by usual collection here. 

Have no more of last year’s cherry wine on hand but will include a couple of bottles of this season’s brew in the boot of car when we come up. By the way no further news of proposed visit to Tiverton and Exmouth and time is going on. don’t want to leave our visit to you too late or shall be in too foggy weather for the journeys. Thanks re: tip about Staines and I must look up alternative route. 

It was very nice of you to drop me a special line re: Mr Godfrey death – it was first intimation I had had and I promptly wrote Mrs Godfrey and had a reply on Monday. The news came as a bit of a shock as although he was not in full health I thought – when we saw him in April last – he would be able to last several years yet. 

Tell Susan that we only see a few donkeys on Saturdays now because like her all the boys and girls have gone back to school. The beach of course is very much quieter now, only a few visitors about. 

Talking about blackberries – Bill Aston and I went out towards Kingston Seymour again last Friday morning and got home about 12:30 p.m. with 11 lbs and as he did not want any I brought them all here. Consequently I made another gallon of wine and Mum turned a lot into blackberry jelly. There are literally thousands of berries to be had for the picking. I think it will make a very nice wine. 

Note you are having trouble with slugs etc again after recent rain and that the dahlias are suffering. 

So you have a little girl up there who calls herself Robin Hood. Has she seen the new children’s comic Wonderland yet? 

Noted position re: honeysuckle cuttings – those in the polythene bags should be given some air when they have actually rooted – the purpose of sealing in the polythene bags is to encourage a humid atmosphere which assists rooting and whilst thus confined the bags should be turned inside out every two or 3 days to get rid of the moisture which lies in droplets on the inside of the bag. You may know all this of course. 

According to this last week’s Mercury the proposed new motorway for the West of England linking up the existing Birmingham and Ross motorway will come through the hill by the Water Station at Tickenham and cross the road by the Tickenham football ground then cut right through Kingston Seymour and on. Looks to me as if it will obviate having to run through Yatton and Congresbury as at present. 

Have ordered the two photographs of Susan on Mobo toy and expected delivery early now.

So Pauline is back from Spain – pity about her friend as it must have spoilt holiday for both of them. Geoff says they enjoyed themselves and that since their return he has tried to get you on phone but gathered from exchange your “number temporarily out of order” so he is going to ring you again – probably has done so by now and unable to understand why phone phone “still out of order”. Well Arthur duly arrived at Weston at 9:30 a.m. on Friday last and having said on phone we would meet him there we were there on time. But can you tell me how long an American weekend is for he is still here, no sign of moving on? 

He brought one piece of disturbing news and that was a distant relative of hours died out in America in 1912 a millionaire. Apparently this man by name of Madge, a son of a sister to your Great-grandmother Fewings, took part in the Gold Rush to Sacramento in the 1880s and struck lucky then bought a ranch and settled down as a rancher. But he had two sons who shared the fortune after the old man’s death. How about that? Could have done with a bit of that money myself.** 

So you are having some fun with your Paddington Yard report. Can understand Bryant – it is first line of defence to say a thing cannot be done and of course the scheme may have to be trimmed a little as a bit of a sop for him. 

Reverting to alternative routes for the Ruislip journey I take it we come out at the London end of Slough and at traffic lights cross right over main London road into the Iver Heath Road? 

Arthur has seen the wine making arrangements here but I’ve not offered him any yet. Says he has made it by gallons over there and it seems everything is done better or that everything is twice as large there – getting a bit fed up with it really. Apparently he once had hundreds of tomato plants fruiting (funny he does not eat any here) in the States but eventually sold the place for $14,000 having only given $4,000 for it himself. I wonder. 

Yes it was quite nice to be in choir again but have already told them I shall be missing for two consecutive weekends in near future. The old ones in are Mr Palmer – Ern Cole – Tom and Les Garland and Norman Baker. It was very familiar as you suggest – there was nothing I was not conversant with but they badly need treble voices – that line is terribly weak. I think the vicar is aware of position and is doing what he can personally and also keeps prodding the organist and choirmaster into action. 

Yes I think both Susan and Carol would have been delighted to have gone blackberrying with us. it was just a little too early when Susan was with us but she did have the odd one occasionally off the bushes by the side of the path around the hill. Latest figures for runner beans 280 lbs and tomatoes 192½ lbs, latter still going well and plenty on plants to come.

Obviously I’ve not done much since Uncle Sam (pardon Arthur) arrived. His place at home Daly City has a population of 55000 but he gets lost here with a population of about 10000. Managed to cut all lawns this morning whilst Arthur was out losing himself in The Triangle thinking he was in Hill Road, for which place he set out. 

Glad Susan likes her school dinners. I wonder what happened at her school today? Did she have a day off because of the teachers? I see the pupils of one school at Swindon had a meeting to decide what they would do when their teachers were out. Results was they also decided to strike. 

No more now hope you are feeling better. all our love to you both and once again lots of kisses for Susan and Carol. See you all soon. Mum and Dad 

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 welcome letter and glad you liked my drawings for Susan. We are having our harvest at church on October 1st but dad says he doesn’t want to be here especially as they have not practiced the Anthem enough. 

We have been selling tomatoes today like hotcakes. I don’t know if it’s something to do with Dad joining the choir but the ladies have been down, I will have to keep my eyes on Dad. We have a few pounds left to ripen anyway. Thank goodness the beans have finished. 

The people are fast going away from here and we shall settle down for the winter soon.

Michael Richings has passed his BA but is doing another year at university to make up for the year he missed. 

Have the children being sent home from schools up your way? T

They have in Bristol and Weston in some of the schools. 

We had a good day at T.G. yesterday. The competition was for an edible hat. Only one entrant but it was very good. It was a sailor hat made of sponge coated with pink icing and trimmed with striped ribbon and a few roses – made of marzipan I suppose. 

Well I think this is all so will close with best love from us both. Arthur goes on Friday morning to Dawlish. Mum and Dad 

*Never mind the ‘Willow Man’, described in the linked Wikipedia article; to a true local the most famous landmark on the road is Humphrey the camel.

**Well, this is a new one.  Alec did a lot of family history research into the Fewings line, but unfortunately all his research – although shared with others during his lifetime – died with him.  The disks he left behind are no longer possible to read, and the paper files are too numerous and disorganised to consult for the time being.  However it will be straightforward enough to trace back the family tree and see if a marriage to someone named Madge surfaces; it just requires time that isn’t actually available to me at the moment.


Wednesday 12th July, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Another week gone – how they slip by. Thank you once more for your newsy letter duly received. Sorry to hear June and the children have been under the weather but hope all right again now. The continuous dry atmosphere must be blamed for a lot of nose and throat troubles at the moment – a great pity that fine weather does any harm. Thought we were in for a downpour yesterday afternoon. The sky was covered with dark and angry looking rain clouds but we had less than five minutes and the paths were not even damped so it was back to the hosepipe again. Note you have not looked at Rebecca’s puzzle yet should very much like to know the proper way of working that one out but it shows the kind of problem set for the children nowadays or did you have anything similar? Nothing wrong with Susan’s ‘thinking box’ in suggesting it was a snake in the pea. I think she worked that one out very well not actually knowing the name of the pest. We both had a little chuckle over it though.

Surprised you did not visit cafe on the beach while you were here but on reflection you did not have many opportunities of getting that far. Bad luck with your fence posts but presumably they will be alright for the job required. Creosote is good stuff for woodwork but oh what a mess one can get into using it and it takes a long time to get off hands, arms and even faces but I don’t think it comes out of clothes. Some of my old gardening shirts and trousers have carried the stain until the articles have finally been discarded.

Yes it is a bit disconcerting to find the pond still has a fairly large leak but yesterday when in the ‘Do-It-Yourself’ shop in Alexandra Road I bought a tin of bitumastic paint and in the near future will try and fill up all known cracks across pond with it. Incidentally I had to go into that shop to get a piece of glass for the end frame 14½ by 41¼ in the original having been accidentally broken last Sunday. I don’t know how livestock getting on in deep portion have only seen the one eel but it was lively enough.

Oh yes Don does drink other than cider but not a lot – usually a glass of Burgundy which he often has, I understand, before dinner says it keeps him going. These last few weeks with weather so sultry I’ve enjoyed a drink of cider about midday and again for supper.

So Beeching is on the warpath than regarding stations – he should see what kind of staff is available to keep them clean. The new rates of pay do not appear to have lured many of the better type of individual to the railway service and I believe some places are still seriously short of men*. Note you have applied for another post – the best of luck. Can you give more details? It will in any case let McDonald know you are not on your present job indefinitely. Expect by this time he has mentioned it to you.

I saw Payne (Binding and Payne) on Monday when calling for petrol and he asked how you were getting on with your car. Said he saw it in Old Church Road a few weeks ago and guessed you were down on holiday. He has changed his car now (one identical to mine) for a second hand model of the later type. He said he was quite happy about having a second hand car. it certainly looks a nice job as he had it with him whilst we were talking so examined it thoroughly. I told him you had covered many hundreds of miles when on holiday and had had no difficulty with the car.

Bill Aston gone to Bristol today for results of X-Ray and I may know results before posting this letter. (Nothing serious will tell you next letter.)

I put blackcurrant and rhubarb wine brew under fermentation lock on Monday but it is only just working. it is however clearing rapidly so maybe worked out. Note you may try some greengage. Not surprised you don’t care for the elderflower – neither do I. A great pity really but trouble no doubt due to too much flower when brewing. Your garden like mine very dry and as hard as concrete. Shall be picking first runner beans this weekend after which they will be plentiful.

Mr and Mrs Baker then up to their eyes in redecorating work hope they are both keeping well this hot weekend – not much shade for them to take advantage of at 155.

Had a letter from Arthur in America this week and we learn from him that Tom Chilton, (Lily’s husband – Dawlish) died a few weeks ago. Lily you remember came to Heavitree Church to funeral service for Grandma. It is obvious Uncle Joe had not heard as we had a letter from him last week but no mention of Dawlish. We do not know at the moment what to suggest about August. Arthur is coming over by Jet Plane early in August and we have not heard how he is spending his time or for how long he will be in the country. As mum has already mentioned Uncle Joe and Aunt Lydia will be here on Thursday 10th August for the weekend. Arthur has been invited to call on us and spend a few days but we are waiting to hear when that will be.  Must keep in touch with you about this but I’m sure in any case you would not want to travel at the peak holiday period so towards the end of the month may be best.

The Spencers moved out last Saturday and the Rees Barretts in on Monday. No local news again unless mum can give you some. Has Susan returned to school?

No more now. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for two little pea shellers.

Mum and Dad.

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

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

Many thanks for letter what a change to the weather. I have a sniffy cold now and do nothing but sneeze. I think it must be hay fever. The wind has been terrific and blown down lots of stuff.  We have today been staking the gladioli etc. The roses snapped through the wind and no sap in the stems. We are still picking raspberries, come to hate the sight of them.

We hope the weather will clear for you later on when you come again.  I wish we knew the various dates Arthur and you were coming don’t want it to clash. He leaves on 6th or 7th August and only takes 10 hours and he said he would be going to Taunton first but now Uncle Tom has died and he has been been invited to Dawlish he may change his plans, at present he is in Canada for 3 weeks then going back to California for one week before coming here.

Some more furniture gone in the newlyweds’ so I reckon they have completed their house now. Gibsons have not moved in yet their paint is a black and white affair far more professional looking than the others who have done theirs. 

Well I think this has to be the lot just now so will close with love from

Mum and Dad

Staceys stayed at Butlins hotel in Hove £13.10 each and at a Brighton hotel B&B 37/6d each and they couldn’t sleep for noise. 

*You would think this might have been taken as an indication that the jobs could be opened up to women, but nobody seems to have thought of that.

Wednesday 28th December, 1960

Alec to his maternal uncle, Joe Fewings, and Joe’s wife Lydia:

Dear Aunt Lydia and Uncle Joe

Just a line to thank you both very much for the books/handkerchiefs you sent the children for Xmas. They arrived on Xmas morning – just right. I imagine you must have spent your Xmas somewhere near to Pat and her infants also possibly John and his. That being so you can well imagine the activity that went on in this camp. Two lucky girls had outsize Dolls Prams (how they came down the chimney we don’t know) and a number of Dolls and their clothes. Of course it was not long before they were proudly pushing the prams up the hill with their noses stuck up. As usual Xmas was very hectic and we are not sorry it is all over and we can slow down a bit. It is all very nice but takes a bit more energy to stay the course these days (poor old man*).

I hope you managed to steer clear of the floods. I saw something of the Somerset and Devon floods when I visited Plymouth at that time. Also a copy of your local paper found its way up from Clevedon. It must really have been fearsome at the time. We had nothing so severe at this end but on two occasions when out in car I had to divert owing to the road ahead being flooded.

The girls seem to have got over their car sickness now at least so far as local trips go. They have been none too well lately though, in fact we have been having interrupted nights due to Carol having a bad cold. She has bad catarrah and coughs a lot. During the day she seems well enough but the fun starts after she has been asleep for a short while. Susan being a bit older and more able to use her hanky looks a lot better and in fact is less affected by Winter ills. They are both growing rapidly and you would hardly recognise them. Pity you are not nearer so that you could see them, and they see you.

Susan will start school at Easter but has been going to Sunday School for about 18 months. Carol has been going to Sunday School for about 3 months. They have a Sunday School Party to attend on 21st, and that should be a short rest for Mother. Fathers are excluded so I have a rare chance to go and see a football match.

Well I hope Pat and John and families are keeping fit and yourselves, and hope it will not be too long before we meet. I read the Bowling results for the various tournaments this end and wonder if any of you get this far. Why not look us up if you do?

Love from us all, June, Susan, Carol and Alec

[*Alec would have been 38 at this point.]

The house in Exmouth

Joe and Lydia’s house is described in the letters as 22 Shelly Road but is listed in more recent address books as 135 Shelly Road. They owned it right up until the time Exmouth Council decided to demolish everything in the area, and in fact they still owned it when all the other houses – most of which were made solely of wood – were in ruins around them. (Some time in the 1970s.) It’s likely that the road had been renumbered at some point, hence the change from 22 to 135; as far as I know they didn’t move from one house to another, but that’s not altogether impossible – maybe future letters will shed some light.

These pictures were taken in about 1970.

135 Shelly Road; Carol and Eva looking out of the window.
135 Shelly Road

Thursday 2nd June, 1960


Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for letter to hand on Tuesday – Mum has already replied to the one she received at Tiverton. Very sorry to hear about Stanley Baker*. I only met him at the wedding but had quite a lot to do with him in the Control days about Rolling Stock matters especially at holiday times.

Saw on TV last night you had had some excitement at South Ruislip with a Northolt plane down on Express Dairy roof – could have been another Southall tragedy.**

Yes we had a very nice weekend at Tiverton and Exmouth and weather was ideal. As Mum has told you we went out to John’s place at Chettiscombe on the Friday evening and over to Pat’s on the Saturday morning before going to Exmouth. The bungalow is quite nice and well furnished. Two double bedrooms – lounge in which is a ‘put-u-up’ which could be used as another double bed – living room, kitchen (electric & gas) and bathroom etc. Situated on what is known as the Docks but in fact is on the estuary of the river Exe and as tide was out on Sunday afternoon we went gathering cockles which Aunt Lydia cooked in the evening and they were much enjoyed for supper.

We arranged for a half pound cream to be sent each to June’s mother & Father and to you, remembering that last time we sent you some from Exmouth you said it was ‘off’ by the time you get home hence the posting on Friday this week assuming you will be home Saturday morning.

Uncle Joe & Aunt Lydia will be coming up here for a weekend 22nd July, that is as far as can be stated at the moment.

Glad you have now all got back to normal health again and hope you will keep fit for your holiday also that all the nice weather will not have left us by then. We do badly need rain now and crops already are being affected by the prolonged dry spell. We picked broad beans yesterday – very nice and lettuces are still holding out.

Mum and I are going down to Lyng on Sunday leave here about 10.0 a.m. and depart Lyng I expect after early cup of tea in afternoon. Although it will be Whitsunday the route over the Mendips will not be so heavily occupied as the main road.

When you have finally settled the route you will take from Ruislip to Clevedon please let me know and also approximate time of starting. I quite agree there will be very little about at Bourne End if you pass that way early in morning. Our next door neighbours (Heel) went to Dittisham (on River Dart) yesterday – started about 7.0 a.m. and stopping for one night only so sometime later this evening they will be back. Expect you remember Dittisham from a river trip on the Dart – it is a very pretty place.

Note position re: Work Study Dept. – not very satisfactory – but can only wait and see what happens. Expect your knowledge of work on Paddington terminal committee will have a bearing on matter. You had a nice trip last Sunday to Chessington – this is where you were doing Work Study with a private firm for a few weeks.

So Peter likes the sloe wine then – pity I did not make a larger quantity. Perhaps can have another try this season. None on hand here not but plenty of other varieties.

Have nearly finished cutting the hedges around the garden and today got the scythe out for the first effort on the rough grass – my word it was hot. A little of that goes a long way. Water carrying too is a problem. Last evening I took down 24 gallons to runner beans alone and then had quite a lot of other plants to water. Could do with a good pump to get water up from river.

The people who bought Cummings house continue to be very busy both inside and outside – somebody is there for a short while most days.

John’s place at Chettiscombe has a walled-in flower garden – shrubs and lawn – with a stream of spring water running right through the middle of it. The stream is about 4 to 5 feet across and depth of water about 1 [and a half] feet. Water is crystal clear and you can see bed of stream easily. This is the actual stream which runs through some of the streets in Tiverton. We did not see any of the folk in the shop at Bampton St***. but as Mum as mentioned ran into Aunt Bessie in Exmouth before we had been there a couple of hours – amazing isn’t it? I had just ordered the cream to be sent off and was then looking for a stationer’s shop to get the views [postcards] of Exmouth to send out before returning to bungalow.

So Susan & Carol both busy with bucket & spade. Don tells me that the people who share their house at Lyng have made a sandpit for their two young children and it keeps them busy for hours – but the tide never comes in. Anyhow we shall see this ‘contraption’ Sunday & will report further.

Well I think this is all – three weeks today and you will be with us – we are looking forward to your visit and perhaps I shall be in better condition this time.

All our love to you both and our darling little girls with lots of kisses.

Mum & Dad

*June’s Uncle Stan had died on 23 May aged 72.

**An Avro Anson made a ‘deliberate emergency landing’ on the roof of the Express Dairy building on 1 June 1960 with the pilot and co-pilot being seriously injured but the two passengers walking away unscathed. Apparently one of the passengers, a BBC cameraman, hitched a ride back to work and acquired a camera before coming back to film the aftermath of the incident for that evening’s news! ( Fascinatingly, this was not the first forced landing on top of a building in South Ruislip; it had also happened in 1946. There was also another incident with a much less successful outcome near South Ruislip station in 1942. The nearby ‘Southall tragedy‘ occurred in 1958.

***I don’t know the significance of Bampton St unless perhaps it was a monumental mason’s. A large portion of the family was in the stone quarrying business in that area; further investigation is warranted.

N.B. a previous (?) letter from Alec to his parents, presumably breaking the news of Stan Baker’s death, has only survived in part. The only way to identify it as belonging to this period is that it mentions Peter and his girlfriend arriving and drinking sloe wine. The rest of the contents are about parsnips, tomatoes, slugs, beetroot and Doug Matthews – not in order of priority – and it does not seem very sensible to include it here.

Monday 30 May, 1960

Eva to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

Many thanks for my pretty nylons also Alec’s letter & June’s card. I like the coloured tops of the nylons hadn’t seen any down here like it. I had a hat & dress, also eau de cologne & three cards.

We got back after a lovely weekend about 12.20 p.m. not a drop of rain all the time. We walked miles or so it seemed. Exmouth is improved very much & the holiday bungalow is a good one, they can sleep six people, 2 double beds and a put-u-up settee in the lounge which is a good size room. The dining room & kitchen are rather small but the bedrooms are nice & there is a bathroom & lavatory. They have company’s gas & electric & water laid on & a shop near which sells everything you can think of including milk & bread. It is 22 Shelly Road & there are 200 bungalows different sizes. The people on either side of them are permanent. You go from the end of Promenade through docks & over a swing bridge & the yacht club also put their boats there.

We found everything o.k. back here. Lydia and Joe are coming for a week end in July & when they visit Exmouth again after their last let which is in Sept. they want us to go with them again for a few days. They have let Bungalow for the winter from October & are booked all Aug. next year. They have honeysuckle & flowering plants all round & a few flowers. The beds have interior sprung mattresses & are very comfortable. All the incomers have to find is their food & gas & electric which run on meters. Somerholme is looking very nice & we went out Prescott to see Pat & Eric & the children. We also went to Chettiscombe to see Eileen & John. They have half of Bridge House belonging to Mrs Moore an old aristocrat & have a lovely garden with flowering shrubs & flowers all around & even a stream running through. When we were shopping in Rolle Street Exmouth Joe felt someone tap him & turned round it was Auntie Bessie*. She has got very thin but is lively enough but very deaf. You would not know Tiverton now, down over the bridge in Westend South [?] they have pulled down the houses & made the road three times as wide & going to pull down William St. which is beside the hospital turning into Barrington St. There has been a big fire in Fore St, Timothy White & Burtons burnt down, a funny business I think.

Well I hope the girls are enjoying the nice weather now, can imagine them playing in the garden in their shorts. You do not want to bother to bring bucket & spade down, we have Susan’s which I bought her last year & I will get another for Carol. Alec can borrow a pair of pyjamas & June a night dress if that helps with the packing. June has an old pair of green slippers here & Alec can borrow Dad’s.

Pat’s youngest is being christened next Sunday so we hear.

Well I think this is all for now & thanks very much again.

Lots of love to all


Mum & Dad.

*This was presumably Eva and Joe’s aunt, Bessie Fewings, who would have been about 73 at the time and who died five years later.

Saturday 2nd January 1960

Alec to his maternal uncle and aunt, Joe and Lydia Fewings:

Dear Aunt Lydia and Uncle Joe,

Thank you very much for card and presents for the children. They cannot write yet as you know or would have replied in person. Hope you don’t mind the typing, I find that I can get along a lot faster and write more this way. It seems an awful long time since we last saw you but I suppose it could only have been just over a year. On reflection it must be more than that as you have not seen Carol as far as I can recollect. She is very much like Susan although her features are supposed to have rather more of the Atkins in them. People are very divided in their opinions as to whether she is like Susan or not. Her build and features are very similar but she tends to grizzle a lot more. They are beginning to be company for each other but there are a few squabbles when they both want the same toy. We hope you had a very happy Christmas. I often think of the Christmasses at Barton Rd. I was too young to remember the parties at Bampton St but understand they were quite something. Hope Pat, John and families in best of health. Have read abit about Eric’s Dad in London papers – something to do with bowls*. Haven’t played since I partnered retired policeman in tournament in Tiverton Park when I was about ten or so, A number of my friends are members of the Paddington Indoor Bowling Club. I should imagine you had a houseful over Christmas and there is a strong possibility of there being more next year. There is no doubt that it is the Children that make the Christmas. We had a small tree and put up a few chains and balloons but they are still a trifle young to get wildly excited. The weather has been shocking this end and even to-day it has poured morning and afternoon. We had to go out to do a bit of shopping this afternoon but there was no pleasure in it. Imagine London on a wet Saturday. Gales and storms have been severe but should imagine they were much worse down your way. At least you should avoid flooding at Somerholme. There is one thing about it, in about eight weeks time the weather should begin to turn in for the better. Had a look round the garden to-day and I am surprised to find a lot of the summer annuals still growing. There are a number of Petunias which are looking very healthy. There has been no hard frost to kill them off and Roses and Clematis are thro­wing out strong shoots. I suppose the first real frost will stop all that. I am afraid the kids have not been too well lately. The wet weather has aggravated the catarrah to which they are prone and they don’t seem able to shake it off. The Doctor is very helpful, he recommends South Africa. Told him we might manage Southend. Was interested in Uncle Joe’s Mesembryanthemums when last at Somerholme so grew some myself this year from seed. Had a hard job with them. First two lots damped off and although the third boxful survived and were planted out many did not flower at all although they made a lot of growth. They were not in the shade either. Just one of those things I suppose. I expect the little greenhouse of your worked overtime during that last magnificent Summer. I am afraid there is not room for one this end and even if we had one I am afraid it would soon become target for catapults. We used to have a rickety Summer House but boys smashed all the glass and we had to take it down. Well must close now but wish you all a very happy new year and hope we are able to see you some time during the course of it. Love from June, Susan, Carol and Alec

*Joe and Lydia’s daughter Pat married Eric Shapland. Eric’s father, Harold Shapland, had a certain amount of celebrity as the BBC’s Bowls correspondent, often providing audio commentary on radio and voiceovers for TV. See this typical listing from 1970.

Alec to his paternal uncle and aunt, Don and Joan Atkins:

Dear Don and Joan

Thank you both very much for the card for Christ­mas and cash content. £.s.d. always acceptable as you might expect. We have entered same in Susans and Carols Post Office a/c s. I am afraid that they have not been too well lately and even to-day when we wanted to get out to pay a few bills and do some shopping poor Carol was very thick in the clear and was very sick in car. It is still a bit difficult with her as although she can walk well, as soon as she feels a bit off colour she grizzles to be picked up. This a bit tricky when out in car and shopping etc to be done. Susan is better able to look after herself and although probably just as affected by the weather does manage to blow own nose etc. We hope you had a good Christmas and now both enjoying better health. It was certainly the weather to stop in and have a fireside Xmas, and what with television it is easy to do the right thing. We determined to have a quiet Xmas this year as both suffering from mental, physical, and financial exhaustion, and in fact did not lay on much in the special line, although we did to and fro a bit to in-laws at West Drayton. Igather that things also quiet at Devonia although many invitations were extended. The children enjoyed their Xmas as you may imagine. A small Dolls House was the centrepiece and numerous puzzles and contraptions also littered the carpet. I am afraid the squabbles have started. Although they have such a lot of toys, they seem always to want the same one. Susan goes to Sunday School now as you may already know and we attended a special service for parents and small children. We took Carol of course but she was not a great success. She was reasonably good till a girl in the row in front hit her over the head with a hand bell, then the fun started. It has been pouring with rain here all day and looks most depressing. I planted out the Xmas tree (hopefully) and raked over a plot of earth I am returning to lawn. The soil was very workable and powdered up quite easily. This is most unusual for this area. I had a wander round the garden to see if anything on the move apart from slugs. Roses well in leaf and bud and am afraid a good frost will do a lot of damage. Considerable new growth made on the Clematis and Iam afraid that will suffer very badly if frost comes. Nearly all the Summer Annuals are still alive and such things as Petunias are looking very healthy. It was too wet to spend much time inspecting the form but I did notice that apart from a couple of special Hyacinths none of the bulbs were showing. Carol put to bed once howled the place down and she is now sitting behind me in her new dressing gown singing all her nursery rhymes. This catarrah really is the limit. Our Doctor says cant do a thing about it except go to South Africa or South America to live. I have heard that Middlesex is a bad county for that sort of thing also for Rheumatism but the difficulty is knowing what counties are any better. Presumably those with sandy or chalk soils. Can only hope that the Spring and better weather will bring about a change. June has not been too well lately. Had a tooth out last Wednesday and has complained of tooth ache ever since. Difficult to see a bright spot sometimes isn’t it. Seems to have been a lot of gales and floods according to the news and papers. Hope you have avoided getting wet feet as your area rather prone to that sort of thing. Well must close now so will wish you both all the very best for the new year. Love from June, Susan, Carol and Alec