Tuesday 5th February, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Continued Wednesday 6th February, 1963]

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Tuesday 29th January, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Continued Wednesday 30th January, 1963.]

Tuesday 22nd January, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Once again many thanks for all your letters received first post this morning but we are very sorry to hear of your troubles with frozen pipes etc. Until you can remedy matters it will be difficult to keep the house sufficiently warm to prevent recurrence but heating throughout is the answer to the problem – or so we find it. It is going to cost us a lot of fuel and lighting this quarter but in the end it will be cheaper than plumbers bills. You are certainly having a rough time and unfortunately your plumbing arrangements are mostly on the east side of the house catching the worst of the weather. Hope you will soon be able to put things right.

So far we have had no further difficulty and as you know our plumbing is on the southwest side of house and escapes the keen easterly winds. We keep fire in all night still and put a sixty watt lamp under sink in kitchen. Naturally we do not venture further than is necessary by day but a visit to Elfords must be made occasionally otherwise no food. I went down to Roy Hewitt’s house yesterday morning as it is impossible for him to get about just to see how they were getting on.

Glad to hear the move from 155 to 17 was successfully made last Wednesday but you did not say how Mr and Mrs Baker liked the decorations etc. Perhaps it was a bit early for them to comment. Sorry Peter overdid things but expect he worked like a navvy when on the job and ran himself down. Noted he is alright again now. You have all been busy at number 17 and every little helps nowadays. How about the plumbing there?

If you can eventually get the fibreglass into position under your roof it is bound to make a difference in the long run but you still have to sort out your tank and pipes to start with and until there’s a break in the weather I’m afraid you have a job on. It is good to hear you are keeping very well – the colds will start with the thaw. (Jobs Comforter did you say?) Actually mum and I are warmer in bed than sitting in front of fire but it is a job to break away from fire at bedtime.

Our neighbour Bushell is now push cycling to Portishead to arrive there at 6 a.m. this week facing due east and on a very bad road. Reminds me of the winter of 1915 when I cycled 5½ miles each way daily between Long Sutton and Martock station arriving 6:30 a.m. one week and leaving there 10 p.m. the other in all winds and weathers including snow. Could not do it today.

Last Saturday Bushel and I went down to sawmills in car and picked up two bags each of firewood logs (at 2/6d per bag) [roughly £2.85 in 2023 money]. These were very useful for making up fire in evening. Last Friday morning the coal man arrived with ten hundred weight of coal – really good stuff – that so we are right for the rest of the winter. Plenty of power cuts here and in some parts of Clevedon they have actual blackouts – the top part of town have had several. Our T.V. picture has been almost nil at times but that is the worst we have suffered. Gas has come into its own once again and you are fortunate to have your gas fire and cooker. We have not had to go without a cooked meal or the power down in cooker around dinner times.

Heard that Mrs Bush (number 11 in the Avenue) was frozen up last Saturday but put stopper in wash basin upstairs and turned tap on then went to Bristol at 11 a.m. and return very late at night only to find water cascading down the stairs and upstairs flooded out. The pipes had thawed out in her absence with disastrous result. Had to call out next door neighbour (already gone to bed) for help. What a life. Late last week with car stabled outside back door I could not start her up again one morning and had to call Bushell who soon found that when I put battery back in I had not tightly screwed on the connection. This in spite of the fact I had on two or three previous occasions started car up since I restored battery. One lives and learns. They (Bushells) have been frozen up once or twice but managed to get things going during the day.

Very serious troubles have occurred at various places in Clevedon and plumbers are worked putting things right. We had another fall of snow last Saturday night – the same as you but it did not last long. Just enough to be a further nuisance but on Sunday it was most treacherous for getting about – soft snow on top of frozen ice and previous snow. I nearly slipped up myself coming home from church in the morning on the slope just outside the Lych Gate*. Managed to recover in time and the next trip saw me wearing Wellingtons. All cars have to get up to the church by the direct route near the Church Cottage – it is impossible to go via the road near the cemetery.

The wood pigeons are now a menace, they descend on the gardens in batches and pick off all the green stuff they can see. Yesterday morning a flight of about forty wild geese went over inland from the sea. It is possible they come from Peter Scott’s place at Slimbridge which is situated between Avonmouth and Gloucester. Have never seen so many geese on the wing before.

Yes we thought you would be interested in the picture of Holly Lane in the Mercury – just shows the depth of the snow.

Noted Susan has had another visit to Mount Vernon. Does she use her glasses regularly now? Funny remark that she should be able to see better than she does. Wonder what is behind this. The next visit will be about Easter then.

Sorry to hear Mr Gray has broken a bone in his wrist that it is so easily done. Hope you have felt nothing more of your fall a week or two ago.

Yes it was sad news of Gaitskell – only 56. According to some papers this week he was suffering from some disease that would have killed him in two or three years’ time but the virus infection accelerated death. There will be a bit of squabbling in the party now before things settle down again.

I have just heard that the bungalow at the far end of St Andrews Drive on the right hand side has been re-rated from £35 to £90 per annum. This is the place a man named Pope lives in – just retired from accountancy section at Temple Meads. Noted primulas still alright hours are too but the Christmas cactus are now dying off. They have been a very nice sight.

Gave engine of car a run in garage this morning – no difficulty. I’m glad I had antifreeze put in last month. Should have been in a mess now without it.

How does Christopher like school? Noted you saw them at Eccleston road last Saturday. If I remember rightly Roy and family live not so very far from there. In spite of the cold you are experiencing we had to laugh about putting the butter, milk etc. on dining room table and then running for it. Obviously you are living in front room as we are living in our dining room – these being the warmer places in each house.

The horse still with us. Plenty of hay for him now and he seems to be in very good condition. Norman said if he rolls in the snow there is not much the matter with him and he certainly does this at times. Flattens it out into ice. No more snow has been moved from the roads here and the position in Tennyson Avenue is as mentioned last week. At last grit has been put down Old Church Road from the corner by Wilcocks Garage. Formerly this section had been left out. Generally speaking the main roads in Clevedon are now in good order but the exception is over that part referred to above.

We have forgotten the incident about the front garden in 1926 or thereabouts – you must remind us please.

Have now read Mag and passed it onto Roy Hewitt for perusal. The articles on the various stretches of line I find very interesting and of course it is all fresh reading. The Parkeston Quay Harwich and cross Channel service boats to the continent must be a big job. Query more so than the Channel Islands services from Southampton and Weymouth. 

*Not surprising as there are slopes at each entrance to the churchyard and IIRC nothing much to hold onto.

[continues on Wednesday 23rd January, 1963]

Tuesday 15th January, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec, June Susan and Carol once again many thanks for letters received this morning – second post. Most of our long-distance letters seem to be arriving second post lately including that from Lyng yesterday*. Yes we could see last week’s letter was posted on the Tuesday and guessed weather conditions had delayed dispatch.

The position re snow etc. at your end noted and I cannot report much if any improvement this end. It is a fact the Council men have been clearing the snow from the main roads and dumping it in the sea but the side roads are ghastly. With the help of Bushell I got our car out of garage on Monday (yesterday) and down the drive to the asphalt section but it was a real effort and the spade had to be used continuously. He (Bushell) was anxious to get some coal and I drove him down to his coal dealer only to find the place under lock and key. We then went on to Yeates in Meadow Street who let us have three bags which we brought back in boot of car. They were right out of coal and we have already let them have a few bucketfuls from our decreasing stock. Later Mum and I went to library and I left car in drive with nose up against shed outside back door. Last Friday I got Bushell to take my battery down to garage for charging and Mr Heel fetched it on Saturday so will soon able to get car underway again. We have had some exceptionally sharp frosts and any thaw is restricted to about an hour daily whilst sun is out so very little improvement is being made.

As mentioned in last letter in P.S. Bushell’s guttering came down one night last week and fell through his glass veranda. It also came down on the house next to him and between them they have a pretty good mess. So far we have escaped that trouble but there is still a lot of iced snow on our roof to come down so I’m watching this closely. Indoors our water system has not been too bad. Last Sunday the downstairs cold water tap over sink was frozen until 3:30 p.m. and we eventually thawed it out by placing a 150 watt lamp under sink for two or three hours. No trouble since but we keep fire in living room burning day and night and we find it helps considerably. In garage both the fermentation locks were frozen solid this morning but I put them in greenhouse and noticed they were all right again just now. Potatoes unfortunately have taken the frost and Mum has to be careful when preparing them for dinner – a lot of waste.

Noted your difficulty in negotiating road with car. It is the same here especially on the side roads. The main roads are more flattened out by the traffic but when frosty are very treacherous to those walking. Have just taken Mum down to hairdressers and now parked car in position for the night. This week’s Mercury enclosed gives a lovely picture of Holly Lane taken from the Portishead Road and it is typical of what we have had round about. Your comment last week Re: the rent is ideally depicted in cartoon in Sunday paper which I have cut out and enclosed herewith. Must get a laugh out of it somehow.

We too have felt the power cuts in electricity supply and the people who have all electric fires are suffering most. To us there is nothing like a coal fire but I think you were very fortunate to get your gas fire fitted in October and it is obvious you have not suffered from the cuts insofar as heating of room is concerned.

We are sorry to hear you are all still under the weather in respect of cold etc. but I’m afraid only the warmer weather will help matters now. It is surprising you can all keep going. I’m very thankful I have not to go to Bristol nowadays. Shall be thinking of you tomorrow moving into number 17 Eccleston road but what good news June that there has been such an improvement in the decor of the house. Let us hope both your mum and dad will like what they see and enjoy the comfort of retirement together.

Incidentally how did the new rating affect the premises at number 155? We have gone up from £33 to £79 rateable value. What about number 84? Must wait and see now how much in the pound to the actual rate will be.

Some mini car at Hoddesdon than. Shows how snow can drift. Back in the 1880s your great grandfather Beacham who was a Goods Guard at Exeter worked a double home train from Exeter to Rogerstone and was snowed up for a week. The winter of 1927 you were in hospital at Trowbridge over the Christmas and Mum there too. I was on my own and worked 16 hours per day in Westbury Control to enable others to have the time off. I went back to my old lodge and when later I opened up house for you and mum to come back to found I had a burst pipe and was there a mess. It was a very severe winter and we sent snow ploughs up the M. & S.W. line to clear a path right through from Chiseldon to Andover Junction. I remember a winter at Tiverton something like this but cannot say the year.**

You had a nasty job with your boiler – could have caused a lot of trouble if you had not dealt with it promptly. Expect you have read of one or two explosions of boilers fitted at back of fireplaces. I never liked these and would never have one fitted in any house I occupied.

Yes it is amazing how the public drift back to rail when they cannot use road services when at other times they have not a good word for them. I see the powers that be are going to try and arrange through train loads from one point to another. I hope someone tells them this is not a new idea by any means but in my opinion they will not get very far with it. Some places like Bristol shed and Paddington shed yes, but where do they think they will get other through loads? Bristol shed used to be set up so that no shunting was necessary when the wagons were drawn out. The shed portion was backed on to the non-vacuum rear portion on the higher level and the train was away. Cannot see them improving on the freight train service the Great Western railway had in operation at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Back to your letter again. Yes the toboggan run at the back of Hack’s house is still the number one attraction for the boys and girls of today but the very bad spell of weather has enabled other runs to be made. Glad to hear Susan and Carol both enjoyed the party on Saturday. We do like the one about the sausages on cocktail sticks. – the young idea. I’m sure Dad could have done with a few.

Noted the arrangements for the girls tomorrow. Carol will wonder where Christopher is. Susan manages to get to and from school alright then.

The wood pigeons are being a nuisance now visiting the gardens to pick off what bit of greenstuff is showing above the snow. The horse is still with us and he is being fed on hay now. These last two mornings he has been covered with the hoar frost. Glad your primulas are alright – they are in a nice warm room. Ours recovered after their treatment with the warm water and are still in flower. I’m afraid a lot of things have gone west again this time because of such sharp frost.

*’long distance’ in this case being 35 miles from Lyng to Clevedon.

**Alec had a story about a heavy winter closing the lines to regular railway traffic and also blocking the roads. When a railwayman died at a remote location a platelayer’s trolley had to be sent out to retrieve his body for burial. This would have been in the Templecombe area of Somerset.

[Continued on Wednesday 16th January, 1963]

Tuesday 8th January, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec, June, Susan and Carol

No letter today so thought I would start one for you in anticipation of yours turning up tomorrow. if the weather is anything like what we have been having this last week you must be having real difficulty in getting about. Last Thursday the 3rd inst was about the limit. It raged a blizzard here all the previous night and all day Thursday until about 3:30 p.m. and afterwards you never saw such a mess in your life. I certainly have not. Where I had previously cleared the snow from front path it was all covered up and more so. There were and still are drifts in the drive about 5 to 6 feet high and Tennyson Avenue was almost covered to a depth of 3 ft with drifting well up over the front garden walls. It remained in this state until 4 a.m. this morning when we were awakened by a mechanical shovel pushing its way down the Avenue, having just reached us after doing Old Church Road. Still impossible to get car out and this morning I could not even start it and it appears the battery is right out. Must see Bushell for next move. He had been on nights at Portishead and had to start on the night I mentioned above. Heel and I had to help take his car out from the side of house and he left it in the middle of the road ready to start off at 9 p.m. backing out to the main road. Took his spade and shovel with him. This journey he has done nightly since but I’ve not seen him to know how he has managed it. 

On the roof of house there is no accumulation of snow on side where the netting has been fixed but of course outside on French windows side there is at least a foot depth of snow on roof and this has been easing towards edge daily during the few hours of thaw so that I have had to stand on a chair in back bedroom and knock off the overhanging quietly to prevent breakage of top glass in veranda. Mr Heel told me just now he went over to Churchill today and found about 18 inches of snow on the ground right through Yatton and just beyond to the level crossing at Congresbury a narrow road had been cut through the snow and it was piled up on either side to a height of 15 to 16 ft leaving room for single line working only.

Reports are coming in of guttering breaking under weight of snow and falling down through conservatories causing more damage to glass. All lorries have been pressed into service by the Council to cart the snow to the beach where it is dumped into sea. The frost these last few mornings has frozen the ridged-up snow into a really dangerous menace for road traffic. Needless to say apart from going down to feed horse and mum struggling down to Elford’s we have not been out except on Sunday and again yesterday when we managed to walk up to library in our Wellingtons. We have a drift between shed and kitchen of about 3 feet high and I’ve cut the path through it to reach garden. Except for the tops of a few of the tallest sprouts and the raspberry and currant bushes the garden looks like one large sheet of snow. 1927 and 1947 were bad winters but this one easily beats them both. The east wind too being so continuous has made things much worse for getting about. 

I wonder how you have fared at Ruislip and for getting to station and shops? Most of the schools have announced later opening dates on the radio and TV and what about the football last Saturday? 

Both mum and I have had chills in our stomachs resulting no doubt from the cold atmosphere. With all what I have mentioned above I think we have escaped the worst of the trouble. You have heard and read about the state of the weather throughout the country. No letter from Lyng this week so have no information from Don. Our coal is going down so fast that I have had to order another 10 cwt this morning or we shall be right out in about six weeks. We started the winter with about 27 cwt. How about your gas fire in front room? You have found the benefit of that one many times over by now. 

Have you been able to get enough vegetables this week? We are all right for potatoes and mum has got tinned carrots and steak and sausages from Elford’s which has obviated going into the village or up Hill Road. The bus service has been upset of course and I believe one day they did not reach Clevedon. On the branch train service it is standing room only mornings and evenings. What will they do if the service is discontinued? 

Continued Wednesday 9th January, 1963

Thursday 27th December, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for your letter received first post on Monday the 24th inst. – Post Office people apparently recovered from their Christmas rush. Glad to hear Alec arrived home safely and hope by this time you have all enjoyed a very happy Christmas. The weather here was dry with severe frost and a biting N.E. wind – the best place obviously being indoors.

Yes the weekend you were here went very quickly but as previously stated we were pleased to see you and only wish all of you could have been with us. It’s the journey that one dreads at this time of year – can never be certain of good travelling weather by road or rail. 

What an accident too near Crewe yesterday – have no details yet other than that given over the TV last night. Our paper has not turned up today so far and it is now well after 10 a.m..

We thought of you all on Christmas morning and could picture the girls having a fine time. I went down to Durston on Monday for the chicken and was home again by midday. Don not too bad but Joan seemed a bit under the weather – been working hard I expect with the poultry etc. Geoff had been down on the Saturday but only had about 30 minutes with Don at Taunton before leaving on return train. I saw the new portable typewriter but typist not being provided with machine as I had suggested to him one might have been for the money he gave for it. He did say it may be the last year they would be able to supply Christmas poultry as they may give it up altogether. I gathered Don wants to give it up but Joan wishes to keep it going. We shall see. 

Our pony is having a rough time. The field is frozen and the water in bucket for drinking purposes freezes almost as fast as we put it in.  We take down boiling water and pour on top of the ice to thaw out sufficient for him to drink. Have not been down to river but understand the water there is also frozen over. Mum still takes him down his bread and sugar. 

I have never seen any of Ted Caple’s slides but his coloured mounted photographs are excellent. He turns out some really good stuff – has been at it for years. 

Noted you liked the elderberry brandy and must put some aside to bring up later. At the moment I am enjoying some of the cherry with orange and find it rather attractive and ‘Moreish’. Glad you liked it too. Fancy the girls liking it as well. 

We had a quiet day on the 25th. Mum and I went to church for 8 am service (I was ringing at 7.30am) and I went to 11 a.m. service. Had dinner about 12:30 p.m. then a sleep and the Astons came over about 4:30 p.m. for tea and left at 9 p.m. Yesterday we went over to their place at 4:30 p.m. and home again about 9 p.m. 

During the morning I went down to Mr Palmer’s house as he had not been seen at all over the Christmas period. Found he also had been under the weather but was better again. I think the biting N.E. wind has bowled over a lot of people. Ern Cole was also missing over Christmas and has a chill. 

Have now seen the W.R. mag for December and the recording of your move to the E.R. I took down three E.R. mags to Don and he said he liked the articles on the various stations.

10:45 am and paper just come.

Last Saturday I must have been feeling a bit workish as I got spade out and finished digging the plot on which the runner beans had been grown last season. There was a very thin coating of frost on top but that did not matter. The sun was shining lovely and although the N.E. wind was blowing across garden I was somewhat sheltered. Anyhow I finished the plot by 12:30 p.m. and now of course these latter frosts have done the ground a lot of good. Total number of mice caught in garage now three. 

This will have to be the lot for this week as I have exhausted all local news – there is just one point. June will see a picture of Mrs Rabbage the hairdresser in Clevedon Mercury enclosed.

We do hope you all had a very happy time over the Christmas (with no after effects) and wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year. Now looking forward to Easter. Lots of kisses for Susan and Carol.

Sunday 23rd December, 1962

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thank you for your letter this weeks arrived this morni [missing word]. Yes I agree that last week came and went very quickly and I am afraid it now seems a long time ago. Thank you for a nice week-end [missing word] you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and sorry we were not all able to be t [missing word]* Yes we look forward to Easter and your next visit, but first things first and we hope that you both have an enjoyable Christmas. This year Xmas seems to have crept up on us. Nice to know Ted Caple gave his approval to the photo’s [sic]. I suppose I must have known that he was an amateur photographer but certainly had forgotten. Does he do colour slides? and have you seen any of them? I forgot to tell you that when Rebecca phoned us to thank us for her birthday present she said that Stella was ill in bed with flu. I expect she has got over that by now. Reminds me of the attack I had just before Xmas one year when you were visiting us.

I think this business of closing stations on Sundays and at holiday times is a good thing. About time the public were trained to travel at respectable times. Not much profit in keeping the establishments open for just one or two late persons. So far as the staff are concerned it is about time they learned to live without overtime.**

Glad you reminded me about the Elderberry Brandy. It was very good indeed and I enjoyed it. I have in the last couple of days had a glass or two of your mixed orange and cherry. It required about three glasses before I was satisfied. The girls had a couple of glasses each and Susan got a very red nose into the bargain. Needless to say the level has gone down some.

Well I cannot give you very much this time, as dinner is almost ready and my room is required in preference to my company. Also I have passed over most of the news when I saw you. I shall continue until evicted. More orange etc. in a minute I hope.

We have not looked at our Xmas presents as we like to do that on Xmas Day. Thank you both for the ones you gave me to bring back. I was well loaded.

Some game with Mum’s cooker then What a price for just a switch. Cannot think that the total cost can be much more than that or you will have been robbed with a vengeance.

Give the horse his Xmas sugar mind. Have told the girls that he had arrived and they seemed very interested.

Well will close now until after the holiday and wish you once again a good time. We are all well and hope you both are and remain so until the better weather.

Love from us all.

*There seems to have been some carbon paper slippage in the early paragraphs of this letter.

**Alec’s politics are very much of the “I’m all right Jack” variety; he clearly can’t imagine, for example, hospital workers or other essential personnel having to go on duty in the middle of the night or on Sunday mornings – a time when, I should mention, he was most certainly not to be discovered in church. Nor does he seem to have any notion that the staff required to open the stations at 6 o’clock on Monday morning could have to set off from home at 4.30 or 5 o’clock and if there are no trains they will have to travel either by bus or some other form of road transport, which is pretty self-defeating. All this when he is also saying that if people don’t use the railways they will lose them. The essential point he seems to be missing is that a service needs to adapt itself to the requirements of its users, rather than trying to make the users fit the requirements of the ‘service’ – which then becomes not an essential but a luxury item which people will rapidly learn to do without. Not for the first time in the course of writing this blog, I would dearly love to jump back through the fabric of history and slap him upside the head for his very short-sighted and egocentric views.

Wednesday 19th December, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Well the weekend has come and gone and we hope Alec arrived home safely on Monday afternoon. We were delighted to see him even if only for a little while and wish you could all have been with him. Nevermind [sic] we shall be looking forward to Easter but meanwhile must get past the wintry spell which appears to be on us already.

Thank you all very very much for the nice things you gave us for Christmas we do appreciate them especially the coloured photographs – they are excellent. Ted Caple looked in yesterday afternoon and as Alec knows he is a keen photographer and has his own dark room attached to bungalow so I showed him those you brought down this time and those you gave us last Christmas. He said they were exceedingly good but confirmed your statement that they generally come out much darker as a photograph than when shown on a projector. Their bungalow stands out on the one you took of the house and area from the Hill*. The dark room is the attachment to side of bungalow and you will quickly spot it on the film. We hope you had a good weekend with the children June but I expect they were very glad to have Auntie Pauline with them.

Glad to hear you have got over your attack of the Flu – do not want much of that over Christmas. A letter from Stella in reply to our birthday letter to her says she has been in bed for a couple of days also with Flu. Seems to be a lot about already. After Christmas is the usual time for plenty of that. Perhaps we can get it all over before for once. Noted Alec has had an injection at the office – he seems to have started something over on the E.R.

According to local Bristol paper Temple Meads station closes for twenty four hours commencing at 6 -0 a.m. Christmas morning – what a change. No doubt the staff will complain because they lose the extra time for working that day in addition to getting equivalent time off. Cannot please everybody all the time.

Not much to tell you this week as you had all the news so recently and inspected the garden yourself and tasted the Elderberry Brandy. Am afraid I have not done much outdoors so far and it is much too cold today even thought the sun is shining.

Roy Hewitt came up later on Monday morning for about 30 minutes and returned the November E.R. magazine. Said Mrs Hewitt not too good and laid up a couple of days. This weather is better than the fog though and as long as the wind keeps up there will be no danger of that or the smog returning. From what you told us it must have been very bad up there – we really do not know anything about it.

Well this must be the lot this time except to thank you all once again for all your kindness to us and to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and good health and continued prosperity in the New Year. We shall be thinking of you during the holiday. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls.

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

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for all the nice gifts you sent down. We shall be well away for a bit. Thank your dad and mum for the sweets too won’t you. It was very good of them and perhaps when they move in we can reciprocate with a bit of cream. The weather is much healthier now & don’t mind if it lasts over the holiday although we have to keep nippy. The horse has settled down & has his bread & sugar every day. They came and did my stove yesterday had to have a new switch to the oven that alone is £4 [£95 in 2022 currency] so man says and he was here all the afternoon. Now I have to make another cake, he said I had been getting 300 degrees [F] too much every time I used the oven. Lots of love Mum and Dad.

*This would almost certainly be Church Hill.

Sunday 9th December, 1962

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thanks for letters, again arrived on Saturday, this time well after 9-00 a.m.. I began to wonder if we would get one or not this week.* I imagine it will all be due to the pre-Xmas rush or build-up.

Re: cold, yes it got down on the chest alright, and the fog when it came really made things difficult for stop anything like that is best avoided when the smog is about. Talking about that, I do not recall anything as bad in the whole time I have been this end, and I do not want any more of it. It was much worse than in the 1952 dose.** In normal fogs you can breathe although it is more moisture than air, but in this stuff it is like trying to breathe with an eiderdown jammed over the nose. The soot that goes down inside is nobody’s business. Everyone goes about with a nasty hacking cough which disappears only when the fog lifts. I had no difficulty in getting to work or getting home because of the route I take***. My only difficulty was fighting to get down the escalator. this latter is a bit tricky as they only let a certain number down when crowds build up. A bell rings then perhaps fifty to a hundred search forward to get into a space about two persons wide. This of course gets one a bit compressed by the time you get near the escalator onto which you get literally squirted.**** However, this apart, the rest of the journey is uneventful and only the walk from the station in the fog remains. This is probably the worst part, as by that time the temperature has dropped to freezing, and the density is at its worst. Needless to say we were all very glad to see the rain on Friday.

I am afraid that following Susan’s bilious attack last week, we had a further instalment of the same this week, only June was the victim. She had the morning in bed on Thursday, but was much better in the afternoon. I had the day off to do the bits and pieces, and it was a relief not to have to battle with the fog, although naturally we regret the cause.

Yes our 8th wedding anniversary has come and gone – still as hard up as ever – but that looks like being a permanent state.

Did not know that Hillman’s were going to deliver the firebrick to Clevedon as I imagined them to be a Weston firm. Not bad I suppose, 6/6d. Now you can at least use the fire. We used to have some firebricks at the back and sides which cuts down the space requiring to be filled by coal. We are glad you like it.

Now that Mr Richings has had his driving instruction I have been informed that I should do the same so that madam can have the benefit of the tuition passed on*****. I have not seen any advert by the local police to that effect. No more driving for June. We really shall have to get down to it, but of late the main object of life has been to get there as quickly as possible and get back in the warm.

Talking about the car, I had a bit of trouble in the week. I thought I would start up the car on Thursday just to get the engine moving and loosened up. Touched the starter and got one faint whirr out of it and finish. As it was dark and had the garage doors closed I did not bother to get it out to give myself room to fit the handle, but just gave it up as a bad job. The following night, wishing to go out in it, I opened the garage doors and pushed out the car. I applied the handle and could not get the engine round, it seemed to have jammed solid. I imagined this to be due to the frost. No antifreeze in yet. I routed round until I could find a watering can, and got it sorted out. (The can) then poured in some very hot water and attempted to get it into the radiator. All this in the dark mark you. A lot of the water dropped over the top and went down the outside of the radiator. I think this latter must have done the trick because as I turned the engine it progressively got easier and eventually it started up. Have  had no further such trouble as it has been a lot warmer. Yesterday I got a pane of clear glass from the ironmongers in Eastcote and fitted it in the window frame in the garage. It is surprising how much putty it takes. I bought a 4lb tin and have used half of it. The fitting of the window will mean that the garage will be that much warmer – I hope.

I see your police have caught the vicars wife who crossed the double white lines. A bit near home?§

Regarding the vacancies, I gather certain people have already been identified with the new posts. These include McDonald Productivity Assistant – R.J. Hill (in whatever capacity he will act) – F.D. Pattison Divisional Manager Plymouth – Hilton Divisional Manager Cardiff. These are the only ones so far that I know. The others will be named soon no doubt, then the rest of the jobs will be up for applications. I gather that one of the innovations will be the dispensation with the title of Assistant. Every officer will have a title in his own right, and will not be an assistant to anybody. This is as it should be, and a proper delegation of authority can take place. My frequently made statement that no one on the railway is responsible for anything will just become out of date??

I note you say ‘is something the matter with the ignition of the car’. I believe you may be right as when trying to start up in the dark with the bonnet open I noticed a number of blue sparks coming from the plug leads. This means that there are points where the electricity is being shorted. I must have a look at these soon.

Notley was under McDonald when in the Work Study Section but when he went into Traffic Costing on promotion to Special B, he came under Walton. Now McD takes over Traffic Costing in his new capacity and back comes Notley into  his staff. We do not know what will happen to Walton. Some say he will land one of the Divisional Productivity jobs.

I had Boots’ own antifreeze last year, and it is quite good. It is also cheaper than Bluecol.

Things not too bad in the loft although I have not been up there this weekend. Have ordered more wood to finish it off, but this will not be for a week or two. I have also a couple of hinges for the trapdoor. I think I can fix it so that it swings open. This will save scratching the paint every time it is lifted off. Both the girls have been up in the loft. They insisted in going up, Carol in particular. When it was time to go down she kicked up a fuss and did not want to go down the ladder and would not be persuaded. In the end I had to grab her and plank her on the ladder above me while I went down first. Never heard such a squawk. She has asked to go up again, but once bitten.??

Once a month my colleague Unwin has to act as chairman of a discussion group at the Work Study School. For the last two occasions he has cried off for various reasons, so I have had to do it. It is only for an hour in the morning, then in the afternoon we put onto films for the purpose of checking their rating ability. We have anything from 15 to 25 at a time and they come from all departments.

We are paying guests at this party. Last year we charged everyone and that was probably the reason that Bob Hill did not come although he said he would.

No more news (good or bad) about number 17.

Imagine Soole with a moustache – what a combination.

I hope you remembered me to the Bristol people you met. It is a long time since I saw any of them.

I shall not be in a position to apply for anything for at least a couple of years, as this is frowned on and not supported. I also gather that when the two years are up one does not go on to [illegible] Max as on W.R. but you get another 10% increase on the minimum and the rest some time later (after another two years I believe). I am not very worried about this as I have not been on a maximum for many years. I think I only reached Max twice on Class 4 and Class 2. (The only two promotions I got in the Freight Train Office in a total of 11 years with them.)

Bad luck on the sloes then. I must tell Peter he will have to find the sloes for you. A messy time of the year to go digging in the garden. Probably like digging glue.

Note your news re: Richings and Saunders. Will also read the mercury in due course, but have only just glanced at it at the moment.

I will be down on the 9:05 a.m. Paddington on Saturday (if I get up in time) and return on Monday morning. Hope this is all right by you.

Well I have been having trouble with the typewriter this week. The full stop sticks and so do the ‘1’ and the ‘o’. Makes life difficult so will close and try to clean. Love from us all for now.

*At a time when the Saturday service looks likely to disappear altogether (and rightly so IMHO) Alec’s complaint about a ‘late’ delivery on Saturday morning just looks petty and entitled, although clearly Sunday was his only available day for replying.

** I have distinct recollections of being out in a thick London fog with a yellow tinge, when we had been taken up to the city centre to ‘see the lights’ just before Christmas, and I’m assuming this would have been in 1962. Really, for a family known to have bronchitic tendencies, and who had been advised to take their children to a drier climate – preferably South Africa – for their health, this seems pretty irresponsible in hindsight. I don’t know about their other child – we are no longer in contact, thank goodness – but I still have bronchitic problems to this very day.

***Logic seems to suggest that he would have left the Central Line at Notting Hill Gate and transferred to the Circle Line as far as Liverpool Street. I have no idea why this was considered preferable as the Central Line would have taken him right through the heart of the city, but maybe it was because the Central Line trains were more frequent or likely to be less crowded. Or, indeed, both. I must admit that it’s a tactic I’ve always tended to use myself.

****Am I the only one shuddering in horror at the thought? This sounds incredibly dangerous, but of course it was just this sort of outmoded procedure which led to a number of tragic accidents in later years.

*****And once again we have Alec’s incredibly disrespectful attitude to women – all women, even his own wife and mother. If only they’d just sit down and shut up and make sure his tea’s on the table and his shirts ironed, how much nicer life would be!

§ Cutting enclosed with this letter:

Vicar’s wife fined

The wife of the Vicar of Failand, Bristol, Mrs Eirene Foster Young, of The Chantry, Failand, was fined £5 and had her driving licence endorsed at Calne Magistrates’ Court yesterday for crossing the double white lines in her car while overtaking another car.

This cutting seems to have been taken from one of the Bristol evening newspapers, date unknown, as an advertisement for a local Bristol business appears on the reverse. It is not known why Alec would have seen this before Leonard, unless someone had just happened to bring a Bristol even paper into the office. (Or left it on a train, of course.)

Tuesday 4th December, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Once again many thanks for letter received this morning – second post – and the enclosure from Susan. Note our last letter did not reach you until Saturday. Must be the Christmas build-up or the weather. This is really the reason we try and post on Thursdays so that if one day is missed you are sure to get it on the Saturday and not be in suspense as it were over the weekend.

Very sorry to hear the cold or flu has got to down on the chest – it will want some shifting from there but we hope you can do just this before long. How are you keeping June, and the girls? Hope you have shaken off your illnesses.

Looking at the date we see it is the anniversary of your wedding – 8 years ago today. Congratulations to you both and very best wishes for the years to come.

Yes we had a very sharp frost here on Sunday and although sun came out later it remained cold all day. This morning we have a dense fog – in common with most of the country – and I cannot see the trees at the bottom of the field from the house. Mum went into the village this morning and said not many about and all cars had headlights on. I’ve not been out – this kind of weather gets on my chest so I stop indoors as much as possible. Went down to greenhouse about 10 a.m. just to have a look around and get some Savoys for dinner.

Hillmans have delivered the firebrick (cost 6/6d) [equivalent of £7.75 in 2022 currency] and I soon put it in position. This morning Mum lit up there for first time and everything going fine. It was worth going to the trouble to get the proper fitting and I can assure you the fire grate looks really nice in the sitting room. We told the other firm from whom we purchased the wallpaper to keep the odd roll until we came for it which might mean a fortnight or so. Expect it is there by now but they must hang on to it for the time being.

Understand Richings saw an advert in local paper from the police inviting motor car drivers to visit the police station and receive instruction from police drivers on how to improve driving. After so many lectures they were taken out on the road by police drivers and shown how to put theories into practice. That was all there was to it but no examination or test. Just a demonstration but expect it was very interesting.

Position noted re: Baynton-Hughes. Have also heard of the abnormal vacancy lists out on the W.R. Understand most of the jobs are being advertised at salaries lower than those now obtaining for the posts but the present occupiers will not receive any reduction of salary. Future occupants of the posts will however be subject to the new rates. Perhaps you were also aware of this.

I thought Notley was already under McDonald. If this was not the position who did he come under hitherto?

Noted June has not had any more driving experience lately – sorry about trouble with car – is it something to do with the ignition? Ours is still going well. Have not had Bluecol put in yet but Bushell said if I got the stuff from Boots he would put it in for me. Have had no further news from tyre people re: faulty tyre and to date have not paid for the new one. The local firm said leave it until we hear from tyre people.

What a shocking state of affairs at number 17 Eccleston Road. It is just as well though these things are coming to light now and not later when Mr and Mrs Baker have settled in there. That would be about the last straw.

Could not agree with you more regarding Christmas being an expensive time. It is absolutely devastating – good job it only comes once a year.

Thought you would remember Bray. I first met him at Westbury D.S.O. when he had just joined the service as a messenger and before being supplied with uniform he wore short trousers and I reckon at that time (1919) he was about 14 years of age. Expect you know Hallard left the service altogether to take up other work during the war. Sid Guy is the Passenger Train Inspector in place of Bill Hodge who retired last year. No you have not told me about John Belcher, he must have been mad to get up to tricks like that.

Position in loft noted. How do you find things up there query all nice and dry. There is certainly a nice bit of room there if you can fix things up to your liking. You evidently think the girls will not get that far. You never know. What was your session at the Work Study School for? Query a refresher or just an afternoon out.

I remember your party last year when it was such dreadful weather that the number attending was affected and even June did not get there very early. Hope you do better this year. In any case you will presumably be guests.

Talking about house repairs again I understand quite a lot has to be done to the bungalow into which the Curate moves on the 13th. This is Miss Emly’s former bungalow as I expect I have mentioned before.

Since typing the foregoing the fog has become thicker and it is quite dark although only 3 p.m.

I went up to Bristol on Friday last for Gray’s funeral. Not a lot of his old colleagues there really. Soole and his wife (the former Miss Richards) were there and I see he is sporting a moustache these days – looked horrible. Also saw Griffiths, Bill Williams, Yeandle, Vic Cox etc. I went on a bus from the Old Church through to Bristol travelling via Tickenham, Failand then down over Providence to Long Ashton and thence main road into Bristol. Very interesting but not a nice morning by any means. Got home just after 1 p.m. and enjoyed a good hot dinner.

Yes I guessed you would be content to stay with the E.R. and I agree it will probably prove to be the better investment in the long run. The W.R. seems to be in a state of chaos and nobody knows when or where it will end. Budworth now at York then. The W.R. staff are certainly moving all over the place.

I’m sorry cannot oblige Peter with some more sloe wine. Cornish has destroyed all his sloe bushes and it will be difficult to locate others. I did see one or two when out blackberrying in October but not in such numbers as would have enabled me to gather enough for making a drop of wine. Actually I planted some of Cornish’s in our field but they did not take. I certainly like it enough to go after some berries if can be certain of getting enough. Meanwhile the elderberry I made with the shredded wheat is proving a very nice drink and we both like it. The blackberry is still waiting to be racked off from fermentation.

Since writing last week have had a couple goes at digging the plot from which the runner bean sticks were pulled up earlier. Somewhat hard work but to date have done nearly half-way across garden. Another couple of good efforts will see that piece complete it. Have then to tackle the plot beyond the hedge and that is a good mess and will take some clearing. Broad beans put in in October not yet through and now it will soon be time for the shallots to go in (supposed to go in on the shortest day of the year year). Just been looking at Susan’s letter – another very good effort on her part. She uses her words very well in phrasing little paragraphs. How does she get on with her glasses? Rebecca’s birthday today too – 16 this time. How time flies.

It has been so cold down here these last few days that Mum has kept our all-night fire in since Saturday making it up late at night and closing the ventilator and opening up in the morning. Keeps room (living room) nice and warm to come down to. This could now be done in front room if required.

The Richings are expected to dinner on Thursday this week but must tell you about this next letter. Richings is wondering if John Saunders at Newton Abbot will apply for Swindon which is now coming vacant in which case he (Richings) will be an applicant for Newton Abbot. Obviously en route for Penzance where Michael Richings’ wife’s people live.

Heard from Geoff late last week. Says he is going to Taunton to see Don on Saturday the 22nd inst. so he will take a few bottles of wine I ordered down there and I will pick them up on the Monday when I see Don. Will you be coming down here on the 15th as you tentatively suggested earlier on? Get rid of that chesty cold meanwhile as travelling long journeys this time of year is not helpful. You know we shall be pleased to see you if you can come.

There is a lot more in this week’s Mercury about the development of Nailsea and of the proposed lido for Clevedon if you can find time to read it all. Frankly I do not read it to that extent but one can see there is going to be a lot of objection to both schemes.

Sorry you found Roy had been pretty rough when you visited them on Saturday evening and we hope he too is on the mend now. Pity we have to put up with such weather but it is one of the penalties of living in England. What about going out to Tristan da Cunha? Those people will be glad to get back there in spite of the danger from the volcano.

Our neighbour (Heel) is still busy on his garden and on hedge cutting trying to make up for the weeks they were on holiday.

Yes the mag reached us alright – I had not noticed it was just too large to go inside envelope. Roy Hewitt has it at present then it goes to Bill Aston before going to Don. I like reading about the various stations’ work and staff. Something entirely new for a W.R..

Thought I detected signs of a mouse in garage recently so have trap set but so far without results. I may be wrong about it of course but we’ll wait and see. It is the time of year when the field mice seek warmer places and I have not yet blocked up all the places where they could get in.

Down to the bottom of page again so time to close for another week. All my love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls. I expect they are looking forward to Father Christmas – a lovely time for children.