England 40 Years Ago — June 14, 1981

This time 17 years ago we were saying goodbye to my folks after our wedding. Today I said goodbye to John for a week and almost hello to my folks who arrive Tuesday for a two week visit. John will be in New York for a week.

Do you know how to tell someone here that he is crazy? “You’re a nut case!”

Had a crash course (not literally) to prepare us to take the very strict driving test here. Someone at the office suggested a 2-hour lesson, so we booked in for that at a driving school in Epsom. John kindly let me go first at 10:00 while he strolled $ around the town and ate at McDonald’s. At 12:00 John took his turn until 2:00. What a grueling thing it was! Before five minutes went by the tiny man said to me, “You just failed your driving test!” He was very pleasant – explaining that he wasn’t criticizing my driving, but preparing me for the test. I had failed to visibly check my rear view mirror every eight seconds. How picky they are here! It’s a fault against you if your wheels ever touch the curb. Each time you stop for a traffic signal, the handbrake must go on! He said I usually approached a stop too fast and took a little long to venture into traffic. By the end of two hours, I was almost afraid to go over 10 miles per hour, and that would have been a fault for not proceeding normally!

Kate brought a new friend home from school one afternoon. This girl moved to Reigate about six weeks ago, having lived in Yorkshire and Cornwall before.

John $ can now open the small oven of the cooker as well as fiddle with the controls of the dryer. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always am, to open the dryer door when the cycle is finished and find the clothes sopping wet. He can put more wet clothes back in the washing machine than I can put into the dryer. He can also throw more stones onto the front stoop than I can sweep off.

Yesterday the girls worked all morning at the school fete. Kate’s class was in charge of the raffle tickets, and Lisa’s of a stall selling anything red, white or blue. There were several games of chance, second-hand clothes, baked goods, games, toys, books, and plants for sale. We bought a shirt for $ and a pair of almost new Wellingtons for 20p. John bought the girls little mirrors with the school emblem on the back. The playground was gaily decorated, the event very well attended, and it was great fun.

In the afternoon the two Johns stayed home while we went with the womenfolk next door to the village May Pageant. (It had been postponed.) The parade of floats, clowns and a small band went through the town and to an open area. The new May queen was crowned, the dance of the May pole was performed, costumes were judged, an award given to the shop with the best decorations, and a clown performed. There were a few stalls selling cool drinks, plants, ice cream and chances to win goldfish. It seemed as if the whole village turned out for the affair. It was quite warm bringing on great thirst, so we all came home to have tea at our house. I opened the biscuit tin to find all the biscuits gone and had to improvise by making toast and serving it with lemon curd. It was nice to have a chance to sit and talk with our house-mates.

John needed to pick up some things from the office before flying out today, so we went to Westminster Abbey for church. (It is within walking distance of the office.) The choir was really on its toes today, the counter-tenors being especially good. We drove to Epsom where we ate lunch and John caught a bus to the airport.

This morning I picked up my parents from the airport. I dropped the girls off at a friend’s home to go to school with her girls. Despite my making two wrong turns, we met in the airport only 10 minutes after they finished the formalities. Couldn’t have worked out better; I might just have had time to get lost in the airport had I gotten there sooner.

They took a short nap, we got the girls from school and went to Box Hill, the nearest National Trust property with a fantastic view when you can see it. Of the four or five times I’ve been there, this day was the clearest. So many times the weather can be gorgeous, but slightly hazy.

After setting Mr. Clewes to work one day we drove to Leith Hill, a protected area noted for rhododendrons. We were able to see all the lavender ones; all the others were through blooming. The plants are more like trees here – we’ve never seen such tall ones.

We drove to Epson Downs race track, Epsom, Leatherhead and on to Ripley, Surrey. [Ripley is the name of our home town in Tennessee.] The folks said their council had been in touch with our city government back in my grandfather’s day. Dad also mentioned that he and Mother had sent a care package to the town here in England after the second World War. We took one picture, got lost, practiced a few U turns, and came home. [That one picture is missing, either lost or mislabeled.]

We treated ourselves to a cream tea in a hotel in a neighboring village. It was a great experience except for the price – rather steep. Scones were served with clotted cream and jam, and we had a plate of cake wedges. I thought we wouldn’t have enough food to keep $ happy (he eats more than Kate at times), but a cat that looked just like one we had in NY kept him occupied. That black and white cat entertained us by strolling under tables and coming almost within petting reach. The resemblance to Tor was uncanny – the only thing different was that he had a tail.

We watched quite a bit of TV in the afternoon as the Queen and her party arrived each day at Royal Ascot in open landaus. That race course is near Windsor. I put up with the horse races to see the people. Lady Diana was the big feature this year. All the men have morning dress and gray top hats; the ladies wear short dresses and the fanciest of hats. Also on TV were the preliminary matches for Wimbledon which begins tomorrow. Any time we aren’t out, I’m sure the oldest and the youngest of us will be lured to the screen to watch the games. The next door neighbors were able to get two tickets for the center court tomorrow. They said the children will be allowed to wander about watching the outer courts, and they will all take turns sitting with a parent at the center court.

Yesterday John arrived home from New York looking slightly rumpled about the mouth. From the account of how little sleep he got, I’m surprised he wasn’t in one heap. He slept while the rest of us went to Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s home. He thought it would take us an hour to get there, but it was only half that. This time the girls and I saw much more of the garden than when we were there nearly a year ago.

Today we worshiped in St. Paul’s Cathedral and spent the afternoon at Hampton Court. $ learned how to get out of his push chair; he practiced getting in and out for an hour while I was walking him in the garden. Below is a sunken garden at Hampton Court.

Below, my parents at Hampton Court.

Mom and Dad

Note: for months I have added captions to photos. Today that wouldn’t work.

37 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — June 14, 1981

  1. I enjoyed the May Day village pictures! And your mom and dad were so dressed up for their touring! WordPress has removed the picture caption option; I just discovered that a couple of days ago and looked it up. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I evidently looked at old instructions. The caption didn’t work as they explained. In bumbling around, I found I had put a caption under the last photo. I couldn’t see it and was surprised it showed up. I have no clue how I got it there, so I failed my teaching moment.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Blogger Linda Schaub just wrote me this:

          I just now made a caption on my picture, (within the media library), then uploaded it to my post, and CLICKED PREVIEW!!! The caption was there. Yay! I didn’t think I could type blindly and cut-and-paste did not work. So, I’ll live with it. I’m not sure why they would eliminate captions – kinda dumb.


  2. What a very busy week that was Your parents must have been worn out keeping pace with you. It doesn’t sound as though John had much of a rest away either. Quick thinking with the toast and lemon curd. Did you solve the mystery of the missing biscuits? At the moment we have weather like you must have had then, It’s wonderful.
    Massive Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t remember why there were no biscuits. Someone might have eaten them without my knowledge, but I probably forgot when we finished them up. Our house was a busy place!

      Sweet Sugar Hugs (Did you know that Southerners often said, “Gimme some sugar.”? It was usually an adult talking to a child and wanting the child to hug or kiss them.


  3. How wonderful to have your parents there with you. I’m sure they had a great time. We took my mom and dad to England with us in 1989. They just loved it. My dad with his white stetson was very popular. Everyone wanted their picture taken with him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think my folks enjoyed being with us. They always lived far away and were able to see their grandchildren only a couple of times a year. They had no requests for things to see in England, relying on us to choose for them. Easy guests!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Arlene! I’ve been thinking of you and hoping you are feeling stronger. I’m looking at posts quickly, because I must get David’s dinner on the table. Tomorrow and the next day we’ll be preparing for a family visit. Busy days!


  4. Your mom looks a lot like you Anne. You certainly were busy while you were there … $ seemed to always be busy getting into things. 🙂 I have not been able to do captions for a week and I usually did them when uploading the photos into the blog post … no go. Yesterday I tried loading a test photo in the media gallery as I know that a caption could be put in there, but that didn’t work either. I was thinking of contacting WP – did you get back the ability to do captions yet?


    1. Blogger Suzassippi said the block editor no longer supports captions, because she looked for instructions. The last photo in my post has a caption, but I don’t know how I got it there. I typed where I thought words should go, and they didn’t show up on the screen. Lo and behold! They appeared in the published post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hate that we can’t do captions! Fellow blogger Joni uses captions and they worked for her in a recent post and I mentioned it to her last week. She said my template might have been too old (I have a 2010 template) and that made sense to me. I don’t like how they have this new feature “insert text in an image” … I tried it and couldn’t drag the text to the top of the photo. I wanted to use that feature in today’s blog post … I purposely took a photo with a lot of space in the upper right-hand of the picture to put a title in. Well you saved me contacting Word Press to ask them. I’ll try that typing blindly and see if it works. I am planning on a funny post with geese and goslings for Father’s Day and had planned to use captions. And though I never added captions in the media area, I knew it was an option. Come to think of it, I think Joni is using a hybrid Classic and Block Editor.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I remember Joni (see prior comment) told me she had drafted a post, wherein she centered her captions, then returned to finish the post and they were uncentered. I just did a test caption and the field is not there but I typed blindly like you and it worked. I checked on preview. I guess we trust it will post okay? I wish they’d quit tweaking things.


          1. I got one word in a sample caption … I don’t how an entire sentence would work as I could not cut and paste it in there. That is a feature that should have stayed in my opinion.


  5. The beginning of your post took me back to my first driving exam. I flunked first thing when I didn’t check the side mirror before pulling out from the curb. The second time I flunked by driving over the little cones I was supposed to park between. They were as ruthless in Oregon as in England at the time it appears.


    1. New York was tough. When I handed in my written test, they accused me of cheating because I got all the answers right. I just stared at the person. If I’d had time to think, I would have suggested they watch me take the test. My brain was young then, and I had studied the booklet thoroughly. I guess my perfect score was grudgingly accepted. The driving test was nerve-wracking, but I passed it. I’d been driving for five or six years then.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Me too, though no one questioned my written driving test. But when we moved here and changed our registration the State cop asked why in the world we had moved from Oregon to Connecticut!


  6. I’m still catching up. So you just recently celebrated your 57th wedding anniversary? No post on that? because that is admirable!!!! I can’t even stand being around Salem for more than a week!!


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