England 40 Years Ago — September 20, 1981

We see so little of the neighbors who live under the same roof, that when they come over for a chat, we try to shoo the children outdoors. Phillipa had twisted her ankle in her own garden, tried to track down her own parents for sympathy, but they were busy getting ready to come over here. She came here for treatment. John filled a basin for a soak and sent four children outside. Quote of the week from Kate: “May we have umbrellas? It’s raining and we’ll get wet.” Would that we had such obedience ALL the time! We shepherded them all to the kitchen for a snack to keep them quiet.

John $ has a new way of going downstairs. He opened a book, began singing, then slid down each step on his bum, facing forward. It isn’t as efficient yet as the cog movement of arms and legs going down on the tummy.

Many of you will be happy to note we had leg of lamb for John’s birthday. It’s the first time I’ve ever cooked one! Surprise of surprises, everyone loved it and asked for seconds! After dinner the neighbors came over for a piece of birthday cake.

Kate’s first day of school, Wednesday, was successful. She had a good attitude to begin with, which is half the battle. Caroline H came here for the morning, we ate lunch, and Gillian took both girls to Dunottar School for Caroline’s La Crosse practice. The games mistress had Lisa join in some of the exercises. They were told secretly by a member of the staff that both are in the advanced section of their form and will be in the same classroom.

Kate on the first day of school this term

On Lisa’s first day of school, John $ and I walked her to the front door. The head mistress was there to greet new girls and tell them where to go.

I thought the rest of the day would be peaceful. Haven’t most of you at some time had the “help” of a two-year-old in making beds? The fitted sheet posed no problem since $ couldn’t get a good hold on it. When it came to the top sheet, he had his strategy prepared. I’d get the sheet in position and he’d dart around to pull it off with all his might, giggling all the while. I chased around several times before using my head: position sheet, hold with knees, lunge across to break $’s hold, tuck like lightning. Whew! After he stole the pillows twice, disrupted the quilt and the spread, he gave up. I’m glad he gave up before I did!

I made a statement early in the week about being in the car an hour a day. Wishful thinking! We leave at 8 in the morning, dropping Lisa first, then Kate, and I get home about 9. In the afternoon I leave at 3 and get home at 4:30. Kate is through at 3:15, Lisa not until 4. [Lisa was attending a new school, having aged out of her last one.]

Lisa came out radiant after her first day, saying how much she is going to enjoy going to Dunottar. Of the four girls from Micklefield, three of them are in the top class. Speaks well for the school, doesn’t it?

We’ve had lots of extra traffic in our town because the Ryder Cup Gold tournament is going on in our back yard. The club house is two to three blocks from here if you walk a footpath or two. We heard the roar of the crowd and saw the same brilliant rainbow they showed on the TV screen. Jennifer said they enjoyed the TV coverage because they take their dog to the gold course every day for a good run. Today we had the TV on watching the final bit of the ceremony, stepped outside, and heard the words first hand!

Last night George (nickname for Georgina next door) stayed with our children while we went to a farewell party for a couple of Americans in Gotaas Larsen. It was held in a small flat in Wimbledon and catered! I was surprised to see a man and woman in uniform attending to everyone’s needs. The cold buffet was beautifully laid out – chicken salad surrounded with lettuce, a delicate green mold decorated with slices of cucumber, lettuce salad, and tomato aspic with caviar. The unusual thing was mushroom rolls. They were warm buns filled with creamed mushrooms. The dessert was a choice of rich chocolate mousse or cheese and biscuits. I had a chance to chat with Phil H and John G whom I’ve met on many occasions. John G is the one famous for not liking anything in England. He did admit last night that he has mellowed somewhat and now enjoys his life in London, especially compared to the hurried pace of New York. Wonder of wonders! I also enjoyed talking to John’s good friend Udo K and his wife. There were about 20 to 25 people there.

I knew from seeing lots of horses around that this area supports riding in a big way, but I didn’t realize what a business it is. In a local leaflet dropped at all the homes was the statement that there are 20 commercial riding establishments in a radius of five miles!!! Riders were being urged to stick to their allotted paths.

This morning the girls and I went to the family service at St. Peter’s. John is going to try going to evensong. He is still in great pain from his neck bones down and has to walk around waving his arms frequently. I know many of you think he does it all the time, but this is exceptional. Wonder if he has warned the rector. Poor [Rector] Derek might think John is trying to speak in tongues and can’t get the words out.

21 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — September 20, 1981

  1. I love the first day of school pictures of Kate and Lisa–it shows how much they had grown and changed since your first letters, and they both look beautiful in their blue uniforms. Laughed, of course, at John $ “helping” make the beds. I think I am going to miss London via your letters once you returned to the US. 🙂

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      1. I can imagine. Do you ever think you will go back, or have you been back? I did not think I ever “needed” to go back after our whirlwind visit, but reading about your experiences makes me rethink it. I would enjoy seeing more of it, as well as Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. It is fun to “know” people from there via their blogs.

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            1. We always loved being with my parents. We immersed ourselves in southern living with them. John’s parents lived in the next street with the backs of our properties joined. There was a well-worn path through the woods from our driveway to their back door.


  2. I think all the whirling of John’s arms has acted like a rain dance and left the UK with terrible weather since you were here.. Before that I can remember we had a sunny day every year. A really good one in 1976.
    Massive Hugs

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    1. The girls had good school experiences in England. The same was true in the US, too. I know one woman who often says she hated school. She graduated from college and vowed she’d never take another course again. There are probably others like her, so I’m thankful my girls don’t complain.

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  3. Kate and Lisa are getting older … I like the photo of Kate on the first day of school in her blue tam. I have never had leg of lamb. We never had lamb for dinner and I’ve only had it in Greek dishes at restaurants.

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      1. I have to say that it’s not something I’d be keen on trying and in Greek food, it was usually ground or in very thin slices. It’s just what you grow up with. My parents did not like fish. My mom would make tuna salad or salmon croquettes and for a treat for me, my mom would buy Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. When I traveled with friends of the family to Spain and Puerto Rico, they really liked fresh fish. They wanted me to try fish with the head on, not deboned and/or bouillabaisse with fish heads floating around in a stew. Believe me, I am not a finicky eater but I didn’t enjoy trying those items.


        1. I loved fish sticks when I was a child. John didn’t have them growing up, so I didn’t push them on him. I had to grapple with tiny bones in crappie that my dad caught, so I am thrilled that most fish today are served boneless.

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