England 40 Years Ago — November 2, 1980

The day before our holiday up north was one to forget. I managed to break the washing machine, got upset, became angry when the repair service wouldn’t answer the phone, set the phone down none too gently and broke it! Finally put the phone together, only couldn’t get the cover on properly. You should have seen the mouthpiece hanging on for dear life, balanced precariously atop the little spindles, and the rest bared and looking naked. Later when the phone rang, Kate ran to answer it, took one look and backed away as if she’d seen a ghost. John got the cover put back later. Then back to the washing machine – I decided to empty it and found the problem! A disposable nappy had been included in that load, had stopped up the lint filter and prevented the water from draining. A quick clean and she was as good as new! From all those problems I rushed down for a quick chat at the toddler play group and had a good time. Thank heaven days like that don’t come too often!

Saturday we drove to Newcastle. Took all day, weather was drab until afternoon, and then we got to see some lovely scenery. Newcastle is in Northumberland at the top left-hand side of England. Not too far from Scotland! Wish you could have seen the luxurious suite of rooms John had for us. The girls had one bedroom with two double beds and a bath, there was a conference room next to it with a complete bath, and then our room just like theirs. Can you imagine five of us with three baths and three TV sets? I’m glad to say we used the baths and not the TV’s.

Sunday we saw Alnwick castle, but it was closed until spring. Still, the outside is little changed from medieval times, we read.

The thing we were all impressed with was Hadrian’s Wall. We all walked on it and explored one of the forts built as part of it. Unbelievable! It was built by the Romans from AD 122 – 130 and stretched 73 miles. Some of it was 20 feet high and 10 feet wide, though none of it is left standing that way now. It was abandoned in 383.

Walking on Hadrian’s Wall

Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall

Inside York Minster

Monday we drove around Durham and then on to York. It rained all day, but we refused to let that stop us. York is an ancient town with an old wall around it, and we walked miles. There were parking lots sprinkled around, but all were full. We finally found one out of town and walked in. The huge church there was marvelous. When we walked in, there was a Bach organ work being played with brass (live) on the cantus firmus. That’s the way to see and hear a church! Found the graves of Edward III, Queen Philipa and a son of theirs. Also I found interesting a plaque with the names of the organists of Yorkminster since 1400!! There weren’t as many names as you’d imagine! Maybe church organists are a long-lived species.

York Minster

The National Railway Museum is also in York. Their parking lot stayed full every time we checked, but we finally found public parking not too far away. $ tried out the acoustics, but the building was too large and the crowds too loud for him to use his sonar. John tried hard not to let his extreme happiness show, but the girls let loose and enjoyed themselves to the hilt.

Found the ideal way to introduce drinking from a cup to a baby: find yourself in a situation without the training cup and with your baby wearing his raincoat! Works well! $ drank a full cup of milk minus two gulps and four napkins full. It satisfied him enough for us to get back to the car and drive to find a motel.

The motel by the side of one of the major roads was very nice. We all squeezed into one room, $ being the first into bed, then Kate, Lisa, and us. Also had the worst meal we’ve had in England at a cafeteria nearby. We decided the food was tired.

Tuesday we drove home. It was a very nice trip, and we learned a few things that might help when we next set out.

I’ve just gotten some marvelous Silverstone nonstick cookware. I’m wondering if people ever coat little boys with silverstone so the dirt will slide off!

John $ has a unique way of descending the stairs. He holds his left arm and leg extended straight and uses the right appendages as cogs in a wheel to stop the motion when the speed gets too high. When he wakes up, he comes to with a bang. If you sit in the room below, it sounds as if a trampoline has been rigged up as a drum above.

Cut $’s hair this week. Afterwards, instead of giving him a lollipop, I let him chew on his comb.

I went to a home group meeting where the people were studying a book about Moses. Enjoyed the study and the folks there.

John and I went for an interview at the school at the end of this road and were assured Lisa would probably be accepted there in September. [She would graduate from her present school and had to find another.] We had a tour of the school and saw neighbor Marianne and the daughter of Lisa’s French teacher. There are 340 girls, of which 40 are boarders.

The girls, $ and I went to explore the Silent Pool. We’d seen signs to the parking lot between Dorking and Guildford but didn’t know what was there. It was a lovely pool, must be spring fed and as clear as could be. There were lots of leaves floating on the water, so we plan to return in the spring. We also wandered around country lanes looking for the other school John and I have an appointment to see.

One day I heard John $ softly bleating and followed the sound to the guest room. Found the light turned on, and the baby pacing on hands and knees all around one of the beds! He had sense enough to know not to get off the bed head first. Several days later we saw him try it again and found he’d gotten on the bed by climbing up and through a bedside table.

Yesterday Chris G from the office came for the afternoon. We picked her up at the train station and drove to Polesden Lacey, a big country home with some lovely rooms. According to the guide book, this house was loaned to the Duke and Duchess of York for their honeymoon. (They later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.) We saw the house, wandered around the grounds, and came home for a hot cup of tea. We had a leisurely dinner, put the girls to bed, and Chris went back to London on the train. We enjoyed her a lot. She kept telling John she wanted to come out to play with the baby, and she did. She held him in the car in preference to sitting in the front seat to see more.

Today we rode the Bluebell Railroad, a steam engine drawn train, of course. [Why didn’t I take pictures???] Then we walked briskly through Sheffield Park Gardens because it was cold and almost closing time. Lovely autumn colors!

62 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — November 2, 1980

    1. Thanks for reading our English chronicles. Yes, John and the children were on Hadrian’s Wall. I wish I had been a bit closer. The girls are wearing the classic raincoats that I complained were expensive. The coats were worth every penny. They looked great and were finally given away when outgrown.

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          1. I know, I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, like waiting for a stroke of Doom. There is so much division and near-hatred here now. I hope there is a peaceful decision.

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      1. Ok…I just went back to look at the picture again. I had forgotten that you had three children, the two girls and the baby. So without doing the magniifying glass I thought at first it was John, you, a girl and a boy. Glad I figured that out! lol

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        1. The picture was not very clear. About 20 years ago I scanned all our slides — one of the best things I ever did. The process was slow, so the project took about five years. I was working full time, with not a lot of extra time for fiddly things.

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  1. You broke the phone! Haha. I wish I can see that suite you had, sounds really fancy. Is Hadrian’s Wall still around? Would like to see it. It is so cool to me how normal things we do seem really interesting looking back.

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    1. I wish I had taken photos of that suite of rooms at the hotel. Yes, Hadrian’s wall is still there. The Roman fort had running water through the latrine! A steam was diverted there to carry away the excrement. I’m relying on memory for that tidbit.

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  2. It all sounds so exciting. Wish I could travel and experience such things. Not the broken washing machine and such, just the fun stuff. Lovely. I give it a 5 paw review.

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  3. You had several audible chuckles from me during the reading of this one! The disaster opening and the sippy cup and non-stick moments were favorites. Haha. Still chuckling.

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  4. I´m so glad you got to York. It is my favourite English city. It is where hubby was born and raised and where we got married 43 years ago! It was my very first visit to the UK too. I loved this post. I agree, John$ is adorable.

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  5. I remember visiting York and it was about dreary as your photo of it. I was amazed by Hadrian’s Wall, too. In England when something is old it is REALLY old. Puts America to shame.

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  6. Hi Anne, I enjoyed your post and the photographs of your family from years ago…what a cute baby boy! Thanks for posting.

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  7. Hi Anne. I’m just catching up on some reading. I love reading your old letters. I had to laugh at your day “to forget”. I bet you’re glad to have this letter to remind you of it now. I love the history you share as well. Do the girls remember visiting these places? I bet these letters bring back memories for them as well. What wonderful treasures.

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  8. I am glad you got to intersperse your stay in England with historical visits. That was a real luxury hotel with all the TVs … 3 TV for five people! You made the most out this work move. I slammed the phone receiver down one day and I went to use it and it didn’t work anymore. I put it away and took it out when I had the squirrel chewing the wires and though the current speaker phone had died and that phone I slammed the receiver down was right as rain – go figure.

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      1. Part of the reason I have clutter is I don’t throw things away. A few days after the “slam” there was a fuzzy noise, then I could not dial out, just receive calls. I put it aside and was mad at myself and ordered another phone from Amazon. Then when the squirrel chewed the wires, I thought that new phone was on the fritz. I moved the old phone back – it was perfect. Oh well. When I worked at the ad agency, the writers and art directors had fun but sometimes volatile personalities. They’d sit around playing guitars (for inspiration/ideas), then they get an idea, have a pow wow and critique the idea … I’d hear “that’s stupid” or “that won’t work” … so instead of going back to the old drawing board, yelling would ensue and once the guy in the next office took his desk phone and threw it out the door against the wall across from where I sat, then asked his secretary to order him a new phone. No words.

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          1. Yes – my work life could be fodder for a novel. 🙂 Working at an ad agency in the Creative Department is like no other normal job – creative, but often volatile personalities. My one boss had a 1937 car and he kept it in a garage in Downtown Detroit as he walked to work he lived in an apartment near the office. He only took it out in perfect weather and he took it out at lunch one time, had a few drinks too many and called me and said “come get my car and drive it to the garage” … I said “no, I don’t know how to drive that car.” “Well find someone who does. I’ll wait here with the keys for five minutes.” Yes, I found someone who was none too pleased with that job.

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  9. I was wondering why I didn’t see your posts in my feed, Anne. Then I realisd I wasn’t subscribed to your blog. Now I am 😀

    This was such a lovely read of a trip down memory. Forty years ago and the photos are actually very clear of your trip to England. ‘We decided the food was tired.’ I really like this phrase and it’s such a polite way of saying the food could have been better.

    Have to agree those are lovely fall autumn colours in your photos. It is always lovely to look back on memories.

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    1. Thanks for reading, commenting, and following. Our two years in England were marvelous. Years ago I scanned all of our slides to computer files. I’m not a very good photographer, but the quality of the film was good.

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      1. That is so clever of you, to have scanned all of your slides and made them digital. These days taking photos is easier – and we just have to remember to back them up for future browsing and passing them on 🙂

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              1. Hmm. I know some people I follow on social media use film, and a few of my friends know how to shoot on film. Yes, it is harder to get now. I still remember the days when there were only film cameras and every few months I’d take rolls of film to get developed 🙂

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  10. It’s great that practically every sight in England that you wanted to see wasn’t prohibitively far from anywhere else, right? I mean, in a day’s drive, there you were!
    I also find it cute that you adapted the English word, “nappy” here! 😀
    You saw Hadrian’s wall!!! Cool!!!

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    1. We drove lots more than normal English people. You are right. We could have been anywhere in England within a day.

      Nappy is much easier to say than diaper. New Yorkers say diaper with two syllables, but a Tennessee girl grew up hearing three syllables.

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