England 40 Years Ago — August 30, 1981

When Derek B, the rector, heard from Kate that we had been to Norway, he said he loves brown cheese. His deadpan humor is hilarious: “All English cheese tastes like soap. There is one good one, but I forget its name.” Turning to his wife, “Pat, what is the name of that good cheese that has maggots in the middle? Ah, yes, Stilton.”

Lisa was complimenting Kate on her thoughtfulness to a guest and said, “You’re getting quite hospitalic.”

This is a photo not related to anything I wrote. Caption says $ loves hats. It is Kate’s uniform hat. Aim was no good.

I have searched England for a dolls’ baby bottle that will hold water. Doesn’t seem to exist. Phillipa has loaned me her Tiny Tears for working with John $ and potty training, but no bottle. [The idea is to let the toddler feed the doll and see it wet its pants afterwards.] We’ve tried $ on the pot for two days, but he simply doesn’t get the idea. Even when we stuff him with salty snacks and lots of drinks, he only wets about four times a day. Bet that would make some women jealous!

We’ve spent several afternoons working jigsaw puzzles. Princess Diana in all her white finery billowing about her is something else again. [I wish I had that puzzle now. I don’t know what happened to it.]

We spent a delightful afternoon with the neighbors who lived across from the last house we had. Friends of the family were there – Kirsten who is Lisa’s age, Bryony who is 11 and goes to Micklefield, and their mum, Lorna. First everyone but $ and I went swimming at Dunotter, the school on our former street. $ loved watching on the sidelines, but the extreme heat got to us, and we went out in the sunshine to cool off. Caroline has a French girl as a guest; her family wanted to improve her English so sent her over for two weeks. The poor girl was really thrown in the deep end, if you ask me. She looks tired – and with reason. It’s a real struggle to try to follow a strange language. Both Muriel and Caroline want to see our recording of the Royal Wedding this week.

The girls have been good about running errands in the village. My voice has been out of commission for almost a week; I’ve diagnosed my trouble as either emphysema or pneumonia. I’ve been tickled at the various reactions of the people who call on the phone. I scared the telex room man who called to report to John; he must have thought with such a wild voice, I must be totally out of control. It was obvious he thought he’d gotten hold of a nut and couldn’t wait to hang up. Others are sure they’ve gotten the wrong number or that I’m at death’s door. The neighbor girls like to make me talk to see what will happen next; our girls are used to it by now.

Another stray shot of Kate, Phillipa, and $

Friday night Sarah M, the assistant of John’s boss, came home with John for dinner and spending the night. All were up early Saturday to set off for Dunkerque (Dunkirk), leaving John $ and me to play together in near solitude. We had a good time. I fed him lunch and then went next door for a sandwich with the neighbors. That was a nice interlude.

The others came home much later than they had intended. They boarded the dirty coal ship and were fed a five-course lunch that lasted over two hours – everything superbly cooked. The tour of the ship took longer than they expected, so they were late leaving. A slow ferry and unhurried dock workers delayed them further. They got home at midnight.

The girls enjoyed their day in France, though they didn’t see anything they hadn’t seen before. Most enjoyable was being with Sten’s children whom they’ve seen on several work-related occasions before. Sarah was taken back to her home by the other family.

Today John went to morning service with the girls, and we’ve enjoyed the summer weather in the afternoon. We cooked, ate dinner outside, and even had tea outside. Pleasant.

Below are two photos of the lovely little town we lived in, Walton-on-the-Hill:

The travelers had to clean the car inside and out. It was filthy with fine coal dust.

21 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — August 30, 1981

  1. I love the shot of John $ in the cap–I thought it was a beret. J loved hats and caps when he was younger, and would wear my caps, his dad’s cowboy hat, and finally started asking for his own. He was always so cute in them. This sounded like a fairly leisurely and ordinary few days, except for the vocal chord issues!

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    1. It was lovely to walk in English villages. Back then I wasn’t looking for places to walk like you and I do now. Just living called for lots of walking. I went past the stores in those two photos every time I went to the little grocery store or to the fruit and vegetable shop.

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    1. The coal dust was from a one-day trip to France to visit a ship John had chartered for his company. The girls went with him; I stayed home with John $.

      The little town of Walton-on-the Hill was a marvelous place to live.

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