England 40 Years Ago — August 25, 1980

We’ve had a marvelous week with the my brother and his family [Bob, Susan, Kathie, and Julie]. They arrived Tuesday, and John took the morning off to get them from the airport. We stayed here, letting them unpack and get their feet back under them, until our washer-dryer came. Then we did a quick tour of Reigate and Redhill and walked in Reigate.

Bob, Julie, Kathie, and Susan. Background: John, John $pencer

They took a double-decker bus for a tour of London Wednesday, met Gerhard for lunch, and poked around the British Museum. [Susan and Bob knew Gerhard at college, too.] Wednesday I drove, and Bob navigated us to Windsor Castle. What an impressive thing it was! I’m so glad to have seen it. We ate pasties from a quick food place while sitting on a low wall surrounding a grassy area in the shadow of the castle. John’s push chair had to be left outside whenever we were in buildings, but we shared the burden of him, and he behaved very well.

Kathie, Bob, and Susan with crowds of people at Windsor Castle
The ancient keep at Windsor Castle with the backs of Julie, Bob, Lisa, and Susan. Katie aimed her camera at me.

Friday I’m not sure what all the tourists did – the company chauffeur took them around in the car, and they saw the changing of the guard, the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. They got home after John did!

Saturday we saw Petworth House, which Bob had wanted to go in for a display of carving. I was glad to hear him talk about it. [I was impressed by this portrait of Henry VIII by Holbein the younger. I knew Henry by sight! Bob talked about the wood carvings, a special interest of his because he had carved wood himself. The most impressive carver was Grinling Gibbons. He carved the most delicate pieces. If you have time, Google his name and look at a few of his works.]

Henry VIII amid wood carvings at Petworth

The house was interesting, but the grounds were more so, I thought. It had been landscaped by Capability Brown.

John $pencer, Julie, Lisa, Kate, John at Petworth House

That night we were late getting back to the house, so the men got fish and chips for us. That is certainly better than Wimpy burgers.

Sometime during the week Carol and her children came over to beg boarding for four goldfish, so my family got to meet them. They were setting off for a holiday for a fortnight. Mary L. also dropped by to return a bootie of John’s that had gotten lost at her house.

After church Sunday we had a chance to chat with Rene A. and have a quick hello with Mary again and Barbara C. I was so glad they got to meet these people.

Yesterday after sandwiches here at the house, we set out for a trek on Pilgrim’s Way. I’ll be glad to point out our walk to anyone who comes to visit – looks terribly far from our back garden!

View from our bedroom looking over Reigate to the North Downs, Pilgrim’s Way runs along the ridge.

[This ancient walkway linked Winchester to Canterbury along the south slopes of the North Downs. According to Wikipedia, the walkway has been in use for 3,000 years. In more modern times, people made a pilgrimage to see the tomb of Thomas Becket who had been murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.]

I can’t read the sign, but we were on Pilgrim’s Way.
Kate, John, and Bob carried the baby in the push chair over rough terrain.

The weather deserves a paragraph all its own. Would you believe it never rained on them??? It looked threatening several times. Even today after they left, the rain held off. Susan suggested we take a picture of rain here – they don’t believe all the stories they’ve heard of how wet it can be.

Kathie and Julie were so good with $; I certainly did appreciate all those helping hands. Lisa and Kate were happy to have a vacation from minding him.

Speaking of helping hands, once I went back to my room and found my bed made up before I was even thinking of getting that job done! Everyone helped set and clear the table.

That’s all for now. Hope to be in better writing form next week. Now that we’ve seen how much we can enjoy company, y’all come!

29 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — August 25, 1980

  1. What fun to have visitors. I love Windsor Castle. I once visited the Uk for three weeks in May and it never rained once. I was upset that I didn´t get to use my new umbrella!


  2. We had great weather the week we spent in England. Not a cloudy day and sunny and bright – picture perfect. Especially since you always hear about rainy London. I did Google Grinling Gibbons – it’s amazing how old the carvings are and still looked perfect. One thing about England is that so many of their artifacts and buildings are centuries old, yet have been maintained and will probably be around for many more years. I see the commenter above me mentioned hoping to see pictures of you – I was going to say the same thing.


      1. You’ll turn up sooner or later. 🙂 I was the one taking all the pictures once I got the pocket camera, but that camera was so easy to use, that I never minded handing it over and very few times did I end up with a bad picture as the person didn’t know how to use it. One day I will write about our neighbors across the street. They had four kids, all about a year apart and one camera and used the camera sparingly – so sparingly that they took one group photo of the kids per year, usually at Christmastime. So the parents both passed away and the kids were cleaning out the house and found the camera … film was still good, they saw themselves growing up. Amazing story really – they did not have extra money to buy film or get the film developed … 4 kids, she was a stay-at-home mom. The father took the yearly pic.


          1. Yes, it was an incredible, yet sad tale. It was expensive for film development and in those days, the development was about 50 cents a picture that I can recall from my pocket camera days. I used that camera until the film window didn’t fit snugly anymore and light was coming in. I can remember my parents and me sending in a package of film to Kodak in Rochester, New York and then waiting 2-3 weeks for it to be developed and prints sent back. What a boon when those one-hour services became available.


              1. Just imagine that many people don’t know what it feels like to hold the glossy pic in their hands, or the smudge-free finish nor slides. I never did slides, just prints with the 35 mm camera. Marge was the first one I know to get a digital camera … she didn’t tell me, but came in the yard while I was at work and took pictures of my garden and e-mailed them to me. I was surprised to open up the e-mail and see them. Magical indeed! That was 2006 – I didn’t get a digital camera til 2010 though.


                  1. I didn’t know they were around that long … I guess I figured more like when Marge got hers – she was a big of a “gadget girl” … I am sorry I waited so long to get mine. I took some of my favorite pictures to Walgreen before I got the digital camera and had them scanned into JPEG images … I thought that was pretty cool back in those days.


  3. I did indeed look up Gibbons as you suggested-what a unique wood artist! Windsor Castle and a rain-free day…so many good things in this letter. As I searched for you in the photos, I’m reminded of how years of our family scrapbooks are absent Mama Duck bc I was always the photographer😄. I hope you are in many others from these extraordinary years you spent in Europe!


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