England 40 Years Ago — January 18, 1981

I’m so glad I started last week’s letter early — did it because we’d invited company for Sunday night supper. John and Tina J came to play with the trains. John works for Gotaas-Larsen, and we went out with them a year ago when we were here house hunting. He loves trains, and I guess Tina tolerates them as willingly as I do. Had I waited for Sunday evening to write, it wouldn’t have been done because of the upheaval here. A 24-hour virus hit me, and it was upheaval, indeed. Don’t think I’ve been sicker since the last gall bladder attack 12 years ago. Dear John even sat up in a chair all night to help me! That is true devotion! He worked for half the day Monday, and the girls did everything for $ except change him until John got home. They fed him, played with him, and put him down for a nap. We were all glad to get back to a regular schedule Tuesday when the girls returned to school.

They didn’t even complain about going to school!!! We are definitely making progress!

John $ totes his Paddington bear around all the time by the tag that admonishes one and all to “take care of this bear”. Don’t think $ is following those instructions, but the bear is greatly loved.

I saw a milk bottle commit suicide! I opened the fridge and out jumped the full bottle, hitting my hand, a shelf, and finally the floor. Milk was everywhere! I was cut slightly on the downward plunge and John while helping me clean up. I shall certainly be more careful about stuffing bottles in.

Home group from church met at our house, and we had to lead a discussion on last Sunday’s sermon on discipline. The topic really dealt with SELF-discipline. There was a good group here — all but one chair taken. They all loved the trains, and John had to cut them off to make play cease. After the meeting was over, the people stayed longer than usual to talk. We found out that Marilyn worked for Cunard before she was married. She’d started out as a secretary and worked up to be the assistant to somebody so that she was the one who arranged launching parties. She’d met some of the big-wigs that John knows of in the shipping business. Small world!

Mr. Clewes cleaned out the small garage during a rain storm, and I spotted the giraffe toy that we brought over for $. He has had more fun playing with it. For the most part, he just leads it around and chews on its horns.

Strutting in our garden inspecting crumbs was a Pied Wagtail. It is the funniest black and white bird. I also think I saw a chaffinch. The chaffinch isn’t as colourful (British spelling) as the picture in the book, but maybe he was having a dull day.

The antique market in the high street has been shut. According to Mr. Clewes all those stores had short leases because there are plans for demolition and rebuilding. I was glad to see this week a sign in the window saying they will reopen in Reigate before too long. I just loved browsing in there.

Finally went to the butcher shop near the girls’ school that so many people have said is the best in town. Except for the very modern computerized scales, it was like stepping into another age. It was so spacious, had meat displayed in sparkling windows, was lined in the rear with dark polished wood and old glass, and the men greeted several customers by name and asked how they were. I shall certainly make a habit of going there! I’ll leave here early, park near the school, and walk to the shop.

The night of the butcher shop visit, EUREKA!, we had the first decent hamburgers we’ve had at home since we hit this country half a year ago. I would never have thought I’d rave over a juicy old hamburger, but this definitely is worth writing home about. The rest of you probably won’t appreciate it fully if you’re served a burger here, but half a year of privation whets one’s appetite.

I asked Enid G (Australian) how their Christmas in Germany was. Their family had taken a coach tour. She said it took an awfully long time to get there, but they enjoyed seeing the little town where they stayed, going to the big Catholic church at midnight, and trying the good food. They were a little disappointed to be served hare on Christmas day.

You future visitors will be glad to know I’ve finally purchased a cheap iron. As most of you know, I don’t DO ironing! However, it is becoming necessary for the girls’ uniforms to be pressed. We’ve gotten by so far because the fabrics were new, but are now starting to be “pruny.”

On a rainy day the girls took $ for his first walk outdoors. You’d think we’d choose a sunny day, but this was more fun to put on his Wellingtons and see him chugging away in and out of puddles. They let him walk down the shallow steps to the tennis court and lurch about on the level surface. He loved every minute of it.

All our children had trims this week – Lisa 2″, Kate 1.5″ and $ wisps. The subject is hair, by the way.

Last night we went to Sten H-L’s for dinner. He is the one who went to the church picnic with us one time years ago. He cooked steaks over charcoal out in the rain — a habit started when they lived in Florida. The steaks, not the rain. He’d also cooked potatoes and onions outside while Gunnbjorg (not misspelled) fixed sprouts, macaroni and cheese, and fruit salad inside. In the living room they served coffee, Krumkake filled with whipped cream and a Norwegian Christmas cookie (new to me) for which I requested the recipe. They took us on a tour of their house, and it is lovely. The girls played with their girls while their boy felt left out. We offered to let him play with $. We were surprised and grateful that $ went to sleep with no protest in our playpen upstairs in a bedroom. Whew! That meant much more enjoyment for us.

Today we drove to London, found a parking place with no trouble, and went to Westminster Abbey. The girls and I sat in the choir right next to the men who were singing, while John did baby duty outside. We were impressed with the counter tenors. Marvelous! The boys weren’t there, perhaps still on holiday since Christmas. John $ walked on his two little legs up and down outside. We went to Burger King — might not be your idea of Sunday dinner, but it surely hit the right spot with us! $ fell asleep on the way home.

27 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — January 18, 1981

    1. I wondered for a minute why I didn’t go back to that wonderful butcher shop. In just a few weeks we will move to another town, because the owners of the current house were brought back from Japan. At our new address, we had an excellent butcher just a block from our house. We never had bad hamburgers again in England!!!

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  1. Paddington is my favorite! And all the talk of steaks and hamburgers has made me hungry. Do wish I could hear the music in Westminster Abbey, sounds lovely. What adventures. I spend my days cooped up in a house, going nowhere. One day, I’ll go on an adventure myself. One day. Do your children love to travel now?

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    1. Our oldest, Lise, travels every change she gets. She lives in Denmark and finds that a marvelous place from which to travel the world. On her 50th birthday, she celebrated by being in the 50th country she has visited in her lifetime. Daughter Kate stays in NJ most of the time, but she drives the 800 miles to visit us in one day. I wouldn’t do that. Son $ loves to camp and hike, so his traveling is very different from his sister’s. He can set up camp in minutes and knows how to deal with wild animals. I hope you get to go on a marvelous adventure.

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      1. Wow, I couldn’t even name 50 countries. But I’m a cat, so hopefully I’m excused. If the animals were wilder than a rabbit, I couldn’t handle it. But I still hope for an adventure one day. Maybe I still have time for one.

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    1. I’m glad you saw it my way, or at least the way I wrote it 40 years ago. The thought just came to me that John might have been scared witless to get in bed with me when I was so sick!!! I don’t think he or any of the others caught it from me.

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  2. This post again mentions $’s Wellington’s. It occurred to me that I’ve always called my rain boots “wellies”, but never took the time to figure out where I picked up that expression. Now I know the full term is “Wellington’s”!💦☔️

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  3. I bought a Paddington in England in 1974, just before I conceived my daughter, knowing I would want my child to have him. She later owned the identical giraffe toy which she received for her first birthday. Thanks for reminding me of those two toys.

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  4. I’m breathless from following all your varied fun activities!! Such happy times, eh? Well, except for the milk “suicide”! Ha, you make me chortle, Anne! Also: “The subject is hair, by the way.” – Lol!!

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