Thursday 29th December, 1960

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for your letter of Sunday the 18th inst* which reached us about 11.30 a.m. on Friday and which of course crossed ours posted on Thursday the 22nd.** Perhaps now the heavy post is over we shall get back to normal deliveries.

We do hope you all had a very happy Christmas and that the girls were able to fully enjoy themselves. We thought of them on Christmas morning examining – among other things – their Dolls’ Prams and imagining that a walk in the Park might be necessary to give them an airing. Expect you were both glad when Susan & Carol had gone to bed that night.

We had a quiet day as anticipated but did not go to bed until about midnight. Quite a nice morning but we had some rain in the afternoon and evening. Since then however we have had almost everything except snow and even that fell as near as Tickenham. We have had several very heavy hailstorms – winds at gale force and torrential rain and sleet with thunder – not at all a nice holiday for getting about. Naturally we kept the fire warm as much as possible. I went to Durston on the Saturday [24 December, presumably] to take down a few things for Don & Joan and to bring back the Christmas dinner.*** Apparently the day before Geoff had made a disastrous trip from Paddington and for the second year running arrived at Taunton about an hour late and again at the wrong platform much to Don’s disgust who went into Taunton to exchange parcels with him.

I went down with Saunders as far as Bridgwater – he had been home to Yatton for the night – and of course had a nice chat with him. The train was about 30 minutes late arriving Durston whereas return train was right on time so I had about 30 minutes only with Don. Took car to Yatton and picked it up again there on return. Strange to say it was very foggy between Devonia and Clevedon station but much clearer thence to Yatton than when you returned the previous week.**** Noted from your letter you were also late into Paddington. It was a short visit as you say but we were glad to see you and it gave us the chance to exchange presents. You have had our letter b y this time thanking you for all the lovely things you brought down.

Still having some trouble then with Baynton-Hughes, but what is going to happen under latest reorganisation plan? Seems there will be good reason for keeping a Work Study Section at Headquarters – i.e. higher than at four Divsional levels – What do you think may happen?

Our ringing peal failures may very well be due to insufficient practice but the trouble is that it is a job to get eight experienced ringers altogether as there are so many learners and those less experienced to be found places in the band at practices and on Sundays. We shall probably have another try early in New Year. meanwhile Mum is getting ready for the ringers’ supper on New Year’s Eve when we expect 14 or 15 to be seated at tables in our dining room. (Odd numbers breathe out whilst even numbers breathe in.) The vicar is coming but the curate is in bed with bronchitis and lumbago so am afraid he will be a non starter.

Note your efforts to keep car clean – mine has recently been out in the bad weather and requires a good clean but after every trip I wipe the Chromium parts dry – this is the most important.

Your account of Susan & carol at the carol service and of their antics at home gave us both a good laugh and we can just picture them doing all you said. The congregation of one for instance is delicious and we can see Susan reading out the verses to Carol then presumably “all stand up”. Thanks very much for the photograph too – it is lovely – the little boy we assumed is Michael Benn? Both Susan & Carol look very nice in it.

No local news this time – have had a lazy week myself – no gardening and no work in garage other than to chop up sticks for fire lighting. Yesterday morning after a full night’s downpour of rain little pools of water were standing about on garden but they disappeared during the day.

Glad you got back with the lamp in one piece and that you can find use for it. The standard lamp has had a rest over Christmas but shall press on with it now.

Hope you enjoyed your convivial party with McDonald on the Monday before Christmas. I hear Transom House had a party on the Thursday and finished work at midday on the Friday for the best part of a week. I cannot believe it.

Well no more for now – hope you are all keeping in good health. All our love to you both and a very happy and prosperous New Year to you all.

Lots of kisses for carollers Susan & Carol.

Mum & Dad

P.S. Nearly forgot – thank you Susan & Carol for those lovely drawings – you are improving every time.

[*Absent from the collection.]

[**Also absent from the collection.]

[***Don and Joan kept chickens, so this was presumably what Leonard went to collect.]

[****This would suggest that Alec travelled down on Friday 16 December and back on Saturday 17th and that Leonard drove him to Yatton to catch the train. This arrangement had clearly not been finalised when Leonard wrote and posted his letter of 15 December, however.]

Alec to his paternal uncle Don Atkins and Don’s wife Joan:

Dear Don and Joan

Thank you both very much for the card and contents sent here for Christmas. The children would also thank you but they cannot write yet. Susan occasionally tries her hand at it but until she gets to school it will still be a bit laboured. She draws and colours very well – much better than I could I am sure. She has a fair idea of picture composition and puts in the sky and grass and trees in the background as well as figures. Scrap paper from the office is in great demand you can imagine. Carol’s efforts are formless as yet but after all she is only two.

They both enjoy going to Sunday School and it is one of the highlights of their week. They both learned a couple of verses of ‘Away in a Manger’ and have driven us nearly dotty with repeating it. Can not seem to get the other side of the record. They had a grand time at Christmas. Lots of people came to see us including their small cousin Christopher from Greenford, and they paid a return visit there on Boxing Day. The centrepiece of the “stocking” ? was a large Dolls Pram each. Sundry other games and dolls, and sweets and clothes arrived and they were so confused rushing from one to the other and borrowing each others presents that we spirited some of them away to make a bit of room.

Generally speaking they were very good over the holiday but you can not expect children of their age to be 100%. Their cousin is a little imp and drives his Mother round the bend. He is a likeable kid though but certainly a handful. We had him here for the Saturday afternoon while his Mother did some belated Christmas shopping. He played quite well with our two but wanted a bit of watching.

I passed through Athelney a few weeks ago when the floods were at their height. It certainly looked grim. The men seemed to be shoring up the embankment on the Westbury side of Curry Rivel Box. The train came to a stand in the middle of what appeared to be the sea. I saw the pictures of Lyng in the Bridgwater paper sent up from home. We had very little to trouble us this end except the incessant rain.

Have not been able or willing to do anything on the garden lately. All activity has been confined to the house and garage. I have to put up some shelves quickly before the floor gets covered with all the odds and ends dumped out there from the house.

Well must close now so will wish you both a very happy New Year and hope that you are both keeping well.

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