England 40 Years Ago — September 8, 1980

Someone commented last Sunday that there must have been a wedding because of the confetti. The girls picked up a few pieces, and we discovered it was paper in the shapes of hearts, flowers, horse shoes, etc. The only confetti we had seen before was made up of tiny pieces of shredded paper.

In talking of beds, we discovered that what we call a cot (folding bed) they call a ZED BED. They’d probably write it as “Z bed”, but of course pronounced Zee as Zed. A baby’s bed is a cot here, not a crib.

It’s odd that some differences show up at once, and it may take a long time for other things to come to one’s attention. I noticed the other day that the home where Lisa has her French tutoring has no front door knob. Then I happened to look at our door, and we don’t have one either!!

John $ is getting frisky. This week he chased me around the kitchen table while I was using a brush and dustpan. He wanted to play with the dirty thing, and I was working as fast as possible to get the mess cleaned up and avoid him. He had a small wooden toy in each hand while crawling and sounded like a child running on stilts.

One afternoon John $ scooted for the stairs, went up three and came back down time after time. He actually discovered for himself how to come down. I was SO IMPRESSED at how smart he was. Since then he has run up the stairs at every forbidden opportunity and absolutely refuses to try to come down. So much for my pride!

We went to the school to pick up a new uniform list, and Kate wanted to read it. Lisa was pushing John, and Kate and I were walking side by side. All of a sudden I heard a thumpy ring and found Kate not beside me – she’d walked right into a lamp post!!! I wished I’d caught her first expression with a camera. I tried my best to soothe her, but that is hard when one is doubled over with laughter. Lisa controlled herself better than I did and managed to calm her down. All that really suffered was Kate’s dignity.

The children and I went to Barbara C.’s for coffee. She’d also invited a woman with two girls, the older of whom is entering Micklefield this term. The woman is a doctor who decided not to practice until her children are older! It was a very pleasant morning. Both the doctor, Penny, and Barbara are active in home groups – church people who meet in homes for different activities such as Bible study, meals, games, etc. Penny invited John and me to join her group. Penny also runs a play group that meets Friday mornings. Ladies with young children take their little ones to the church hall and watch them play while the ladies talk. This is not a sitting service because I don’t think you can leave your child there unless you stay. After school starts, I may go. She said she is looking for committed Christians to be part of the group. Evidently many who come are not “committed.” I don’t know if that is a statement of their lack of faith or lack of church work.

The tea bags I buy have no tags! Gardener Clewes said some brands do have tags, but I haven’t bought any of them yet.

They don’t have sidewalks here – only pavements.

John $ and I had quite an adventure in the car. I had dropped John C. off at the station and drove on to the car place where I had an appointment for a little more work they had not finished the previous week. I had spoken for a car to hire (not rent), but they had none at all. They decided to do the work while I waited. I put $ in the push chair and waited. Before too long they finished and I drove off. Meanwhile, the girls were still in bed at home and not with me. About half way home $ wriggled out of his car seat. I clamped a hand on him until I could get to a place to pull off, but had to go through a round-about. In the middle of that crazy circle he grabbed the shift stick and put the car in neutral! I was able to get off the road, tie him down, and continue but somehow in the excitement missed a turn. I was so glad to get home in one piece. The whole time I was gone was under an hour and a half, but it felt like three! I came in telling the girls that I was there only because the Lord had been with me!

The afternoon’s shopping expedition finished me off. We bought school shoes for fifty pounds, which is over $100. We got outdoor shoes, sandals and ballet slippers for both girls. I realize that is six pair, but heavens! What money!

We were expecting company Saturday night, but the man called it off because of conjunctivitis. His, not ours.

I’m worried about John C. He bought a transformer for the trains Saturday and hasn’t hooked it up yet. He was trying to finish a big job he’d started outside and took the whole day carting us around yesterday (Sunday). I’ll think him more normal when he hooks it up!

Yesterday we went to the Lutheran church, picnicked by the road side, drove through Canterbury without stopping and went on to Dover. We got stuck in a traffic jam coming home that was worse than a New York jam. If that had happened while we were all in our little car, we would have ended up with relativitis.

The white cliffs are beautiful; we walked along the promenade, and the girls ran down to the water just to be able to say they’d had their hands in the English channel.

We went through, or rather, up to Dover Castle, one of the oldest fortifications in England. After going all around the square keep, we went in and climbed up to the top. There were displays of armor, a model of the battle of Waterloo,and a fantastic view from the top. Also went through an exhibit of costumes used in the series Henry VIII, some series about Elizabeth and some other historical people. That is, TV series. The girls were so thrilled to see them in person, having just watched the end of Henry.

Today Kate slammed the front door on her finger. There was lots of blood, a big flap of skin, and a few screams. I thought it looked pretty good, but neighbor Carol was concerned and told me which hospital to take her to. I’m waiting for John to come home to see what he thinks.

Neighbor Mary Ann bought a new fish, decided her bowl was too small and asked for permission to put three of her pretty gold fish in our pond. Everyone, including the fish, seemed to like the idea. I thought the fish belonged to her brother, but maybe not.

35 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — September 8, 1980

  1. That car ride when $ escaped sounded crazy, and you didn’t even mention you were probably driving on a side of the road you aren’t used to. Very impressive you made it through that!

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      1. Hope the finger wasn’t in the bandage that fell off 😉 just kidding, couldn’t resist. I love reading your first-person adventures in England in the 60s. Life in other countries is always interesting.

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  2. John $ was quite the character, wasn’t he? I had a similar experience when my cat got out of the carrier when I was driving on the Garden State Expressway in north Jersey. Yikes! There should not be a living creature loose in a car!

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    1. I was glad when seat belts were mandatory in the back seat. I don’t think our car in England had rear belts. $ was in the front with me when he escaped. Children’s car seats were not very secure back then. I agree with you that living creatures should not be loose in a car. I can’t imagine your cat roaming around the car while you were driving on the Expressway.

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  3. What a scary account you’ve related! I had a similar one with very different results, yet we were lucky! My son got out of his car seat and managed to fall out of the car!! Luckily, we were in a neighborhood and not on the highway. He rolled up in his blanket and when I realized he had fallen out, I snatched him up and laid him on the back seat and inspected him head-to-toe. He had a scuff mark on his chin…that’s all! What a miracle! To this day he says I ran over him in the car, lol. I felt like the worst mother ever. So glad you did not have the same experience, especially going through a roundabout! What a nightmare that would have been!

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      1. No kidding! And I had my infant son in the front seat in his carrier at the time. The only reason I knew Josh fell out is when I heard the air from the open door. I looked up in the rear view mirror and saw him lying on the pavement behind me. Neighbors had come out to help. I was so embarrassed (and horrified) I scooped him up and ran mumbling thanks to everyone

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        1. That’s awful! Once my baby daughter was sitting in her little seat with the steering wheel, and she flew up and down into the under the dashboard space head first. Long before the big efficient carseats of today, and not even seat belts. This was back about 1957-8. Casual witnesses can be SO critical, too…yikes.

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    1. That’s amazing that your son escaped his car seat and got out of the car! Yikes! Thank heavens he was OK!

      I almost fell out of a car when I was a child. Seat belts had not been invented yet, and I leaned on the door handle as we turned at a traffic light. I’ll bet it frightened my parents, and I doubt I got near that handle again.

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      1. I think that’s what he did, he must have been trying to look out the window and somehow engaged the door handle. I thought I was going to die when I looked behind me, but when he lifted his head, I knew he was ok. Traumatized, but ok!

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  4. Kate was accident prone in this newsy letter! We never drove in England, just took taxis as the bed and board was fairly close to town, so I don’t recall roundabouts, but in the last five years they have been building them here in SE Michigan. Most people don’t like them – I am glad there are not any near where I have to drive! John $ sounds like he kept you on your toes all the time.

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      1. There are lots of accidents on those roundabouts as people drive so fast most of the time. I hope they don’t get a notion to put them around here. We had another road rage incident today – the 20th since June 15th, three months ago today, which was the first one.

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