England 40 years ago — August 3, 1980

August 3, 1980

The question was asked in a letter if we saw the moon. Funny, but so many things are different that it took me by surprise to think we see the moon the same!

We’ve been to Anglican churches until today when we drove into Kent to go to a Lutheran one. It is very small and terribly modern, but they used the liturgical setting we are used to. Nice to have something familiar for a change. The pastor is from Wisconsin and his wife from Canada; been here 25 years.

Someone suggested fired (sic) chicken as American, and I’ve done that – cooked it on a grill here. Fried chicken is beyond me – always greasy and undercooked inside. I’m more busy with housework here: bigger house, no baby food, girls who sleep through first serving of breakfast, etc. We also entertain the gardener twice a week for lunch, run to French lessons, and try to play tennis once or twice a week.

We’ve had a nice week. Went to the library and post office Tuesday. I’ve squeezed in the reading of two books – one about the upper classes and one about Windsor Castle. That afternoon Carol H appeared on our doorstep to introduce herself and her 8-year-old daughter, Mary Anne. Invited the girls to go swimming at the school up the street, but only Kate went. She was asked to stay to tea afterwards, so we picked her up after getting John from the station. She’d had a marvelous time.

Carol was a stewardess for Pan Am 15 years ago and was based in San Francisco. She’s rather glamorous, very slim and wears eye make-up when wearing shorts. Wow!

Wednesday Lisa stayed in her nightgown all day watching TV and reading. That’s probably the last time for that to happen since they are getting to know the children in the street. There is too much going on to be that lazy!

Kate went with me to the hair dresser’s for a hair cut. The lady did a nice job for £1.20. I was amazed at the low price after reading how expensive salons here are supposed to be. I must call the neighbor who suggested this place to tell her how pleased I was. The shop felt about 10 by 10 and was further shrunk by having three customers and three beauticians in it plus Kate and $! I thought she could stroll him about outside, but she wanted in on the action. Didn’t stop talking the whole time I was in there. Maybe that’s why the lady cut hair so fast. I bet next time she’ll stuff hair in Kate’s mouth! Well, she didn’t talk all that much. I had a chance to learn that the owner comes from Germany and that one asks for FRINGE instead of BANGS.

Doubled my dry-power Thursday when I was shown a hook and line (sounds like fishing terminology) outside. Celebrated by doing four loads of wash and getting them all dry!!! I try to refrain from asking the girls to watch for rain because I remember hating being put on guard like that as a child. I felt I should go out to scan the sky and maybe shake an umbrella in its face when I really had no intention of interrupting my own fun for guard duty.

Ran hurriedly to town Thursday to buy swim caps for the girls because they are required at the local pool, and one can’t borrow a cap for two years. Kate again swam as a guest of neighbor Carol. That day Mary Anne and Alexander (10) came here to play after swimming. Both Lisa and Kate swam Friday, and they let us know it is 25p each. I’d much rather pay than be beholden to neighbors. We daringly invited them for tea that day. I say daringly because I don’t really know how to do teas. Bumbled through it in my usual clumsy style. We probably should have gone into the living room, but I don’t allow children to have food in there. Even the dining room would have been better, but $ was awake and wanting to share in the eating. So, we had tea in the kitchen. Only Carol and Mary Anne were here; Alex was playing with a friend. After tea Carol went home to get her racket, and she played tennis with the girls for an hour. She gave Lisa some good pointers. Mary Anne (8) plays as well as I do! I make no moves to play when anyone else is about – can hide behind $ as an excuse!

Yesterday John worked hard resorting things in boxes and got everything extra put in the attic. Mary Anne and Alex were here much of the afternoon playing the game “Life.” I can’t believe how well these four children play together. Amazing.

Late afternoon we went across the street to the home of Gillian and John for a sit and chat in their back garden. It was so pleasant, warm with a gentle breeze blowing, and they had brought out a large carpet for John $ to crawl on! Also had placed three toys on it for him. Such thoughtfulness! Their daughter, Katherine, was away camping, but Caroline (Lisa’s age) was there. They were shy with each other, despite having swum together before and played tennis, so that they didn’t begin to enjoy each other until time to leave. Neighbor John is an identical twin, and Gillian says she can’t tell her husband from his twin on the phone! She says they both have the same peculiar way of walking, too! He is a barrister in London.

After church today went to Knole, one of the largest private houses in England. The outside was impressive, but we weren’t allowed to see much inside.

[Kate was smitten with the deer wandering around near the car park.]

Kate and Lisa with a deer at Knole House

33 thoughts on “England 40 years ago — August 3, 1980

  1. What a history you have Anne! That is quite a grand house you showed there, I’m sure the kids were fascinated growing up in England! You must have written a journal, no way I could remember such detail!!

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      1. > I wouldn’t have the brain power to do that now.

        And yet you do have the brain power. You do it by blog now, for which we are all thankful. 😉

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  2. Very interesting to look back. You must be having some wistful days writing about all these memories. One thing I don’t remember, or perhaps never heard…why did you and John move to England for that time?

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    1. My memory isn’t that good! These are the letters I wrote while living in England. John’s company moved to London because of onerous taxes in the US. They took a number of Americans on two-year contracts to get the company settled in England. It was a wonderful opportunity.

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  3. How fun to read your day-to-day life, discoveries and I always find it interesting how houses have names. Is the “hook and line” for hanging wet laundry out on a clothesline? It is a hook that looks like a huge paperclip with plastic rollers on top and bottom and rolls on the clothesline and keeps the line from sagging and you roll out the line filled with laundry? I’m guessing and my mom used gizmos like that for years before she got a washer and dryer and even after she stopped using the wringer washer and hanging her clothes outside, she still hung up some things to get the outdoors scent and used the small pulleys. They don’t sell them here in the States but she had them from Canada.

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    1. The clothes line was just that — a line that stretched from the back of the house to a side that jutted out. The gardener came with the house, and he must have seen the owners use that line. I had no idea it was there.

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      1. I wonder if hanging the laundry out was a big thing in England? I know my mom hung out laundry because she liked the fresh air smell and hung it out April through November. But it was also since my father said there was no room downstairs for a washer/dryer and the laundry tub. When he was gone, we had an appliance salesman come in to be sure – he measured, we ordered and a week later the washer/dryer were delivered, installed and the wringer washer was gone.

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        1. I don’t remember whether we saw clothes hanging out to dry in England. I think we might have, because at that time Americans had more modern appliances than they did. Every once in a while I comment on seeing clothes drying here in NC. People still do it!

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          1. Maybe the homes were not set up for large modern appliances either – older homes, narrow doorways and difficult to get into the basement. A fellow blogger who lives in Canada (near London, Ontario) just wrote a post a few weeks ago about drying the bedding on the clothesline.

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              1. Yes, the rooms are smaller and they may have steam heat too – configuring the room for appliances may not work so well. Look at during the heat wave in Europe last year … they said so many apartments and buildings were old and could not be outfitted with A/C units.

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