England 40 Years Ago — June 6, 1981

Instead of “very good” when commending someone, you say “well done!” That is used so often in school that the girls have started saying it at home.

Early in the week I met Derek Bedford, the local rector, while I was walking to the village. In talking we got on the subject of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the composer. Derek says the man lived about five miles from here in Dorking! I looked for a biography on him in the library to see if that would be mentioned, but couldn’t find a book on him. He is one of my favorite composers.

Rescuing damsels in distress in loos is a speciality [specialty in American English] of mine. Philippa locked herself in our upstairs bathroom and couldn’t get the key to turn. She tried the key several times, and I did it several times, and it finally gave way. At least we could pass the key under the door!

This was a big week in our area – the Derby (pronounced Dar-by) was run at Epsom Downs. Mr. Clewes had been telling me for a year, even before we moved to this house, that we should make an effort to go because it is such a colourful affair and so close to home. Paula, John $’s cashier friend in Co op, mentioned wanting to go since it was her day off, but she couldn’t afford the bus fare from Redhill to Epsom. I offered to pick her up after I dropped the children at school, and she jumped at the chance. We walked down a village lane, over rolling hills, and over the grass track. We estimated it to be a two-mile walk on the map. From a distance we saw the grandstands, colourful fair with market stalls, and hordes of people flooding in. We walked into that surging mass of humanity to see gypsies telling fortunes, games of chance, BLUE cotton candy (called candy floss), and blaring carnival rides. John $ looked two ways at once to take it all in. Crowds in the fair area were so thick that cars couldn’t move. Scattered around were booths for placing bets. Until shortly before racing began, cars, buses, vans and lorries were pouring into the huge grassy area in the middle of the “C” shaped track. At noon all seemed intent on their picnics. Some people were dressed in jeans having food from Tupperware, while others a little more formally dressed, had lunch from hampers. I sat down on $’s plastic changing mat in a far area where there were few people and shared a dry sandwich with him. [I took only one photograph that day.]

There were a few small tents erected, but lots of wind shelters – stakes with fabric wrapped around. We had walked by the area where helicopters were bringing in the truly rich – one after another dropped down to the ground, discharged passengers, and flew off for more.

A woman with a camera hanging from her neck thrust a little monkey at $ and asked if I wanted her to take his picture with the monkey. I said no as fast as I could to save the poor animal from $’s clutches. Whew!

I couldn’t stay for any of the races because I had to get the car from its 10,000 mile servicing and the girls from school. I decided the English really know how to do things properly when I saw a man in morning dress (tails) directing traffic. He coaxed one van past another on a one-lane road inch by inch. As smaller cars began moving past after the block was broken, he and two others hopped in a posh car and roared off. They were just intent on getting to the royal box and weren’t to be stopped by a traffic jam.

Paula and I got back here in time to turn on the telly to see the Queen and her mother make their entrance in a royal procession of cars, riding where we had walked earlier! That may be as close as I’ll ever come to the Queen. Paula went to the school with me to get the girls, then we took her to Redhill. We saw a re-run of the race as soon as we got home.

All in all, it was an enjoyable day. I got sunburned on my face and could see colour on John’s arms, but neither of us were in pain.

The current craze here is a puzzle called a Rubic cube. I’m guessing on the spelling because I’ve not seen it written. Lisa spotted one in a gift shop for $10 and was dying to get it. I said it was too expensive. Several days later she said her classmates, who had been to the week-long fair at the race track, claimed the puzzles were on sale for $4. One of the first things I saw walking through the market area on Derby Day were Rubic cubes. I bought one for Lisa, knowing she’d pay me back from her own money. Kate had never seemed to want one. She did when she saw Lisa with hers, and Lisa wouldn’t let her touch it with one finger. I promised to go to the market in Redhill to see if there were one there, because I wasn’t about to walk four miles to the race course to get another. Luck was with me, and I got another for Kate.

Since then, we’ve hardly done anything but work with the silly things. The cube is made of 27 pieces put together with springs and screws so that 9 pieces rotate together. It comes with each side making one block of colour, but with two twists of the wrist it can be jumbled up and is seemingly impossible to put to rights. Kate’s is fairly easy to disassemble, so we did once take it apart and got it back to its original appearance. Numerous people have tried to solve Lisa’s with no success. Any of you soon-to-come visitors have this to look forward to!

Outdoor markets are a feature of English life. I love to walk through them looking at all the things for sale. That day in Redhill I found a coat rack that we’ve not been able to find anywhere else. Didn’t buy it until I could check with John, so will have to go back some Thursday soon. Clothes are most popular. There was even a stall selling greeting cards! Many, but not all, big towns have a market day. Reigate does not, but Epsom has one every Saturday. You can buy pocketbooks, jewellery, fabrics, notions, shoes, candies, carpets, toiletries, housewares, vegetables, fruits, meats and antiques. Prices are low because overhead is nil.

At right is the coat rack in our garage 40 years later. It is holding John’s train jacket and hats. Perhaps it will have a more dignified place in our next home.

$ has another friend at Co-op who is often in charge of the “till” when we check out. She’s taken to letting him sit on her lap and punch the buttons on the register!

Briefly met a woman from Green Lawn, NY, outside school. She’s married to an Englishman, so our girls couldn’t identify her daughter as half-American by her accent. Her last name is Rooney, like Mickey, she said. The girl had told her mother of us and said our town name began with “S”. She thought of Syosset and Smithtown, but not Stony Brook.

England 40 Years Ago — May 31, 1981

Our next door neighbors were here for dinner last Monday, a bank holiday. We were rather glad the weather was nasty because none of us could kick ourselves and say we should have gone to such and such on this particular day. That didn’t help all the people committed to going to fetes and fairs.

Vivien began telling me about hedges. The yew hedge is poisonous to cattle and other animals, so you usually find it in house gardens. It is very slow to grow; the one that divides our garden from the theirs in the back is a yew. He said it was planted at the time the house was built to divide the tennis court area from the pleasure garden area. They have the part that was the court – only holes for the poles are left; must have been a grass court. There is a huge beech hedge at the bottom of our garden. The yew is green year round, but the beech loses its leaves. Vivien pointed out that the plants making up that hedge are really trees, not shrubs. Common hedgerows dividing fields are usually hawthorn. The privet hedge is more of a shrub; I can’t remember what that kind looks like.

There is much to be said for rising early. By 7:30 one morning I had cooked breakfast, washed dishes, got clothes out of the washing machine and into the dryer, besides disinfecting all the lower cabinets in the kitchen and disposing of a dead mouse.

A record is about to be set for the number of rainy days in a row. I had hoped to do some outdoor things with the girls while they were off from school for a week, but it rained every day. We did towns instead. By now I think the count is 15 days in a row of rain. The day we went to Epsom to shop, it didn’t rain while we were in the supermarket, but began just as we stowed the food and prepared to wander about the town. John $ is always the driest one (except for one certain area) because the cover for the push chair completely closes him in, having a visored hood with a zip that leaves only his face exposed.

John $ in his pushchair, covered by the blue rain cover. This was taken at a fort on Hadrian’s Wall in 1980.

Catherine had an umbrella, Lisa a raincoat, and Kate a windbreaker that kept all but her head dry. She’d not put up the hood at first, then dumped rain on herself that had collected in the hood. My raincoat got damp all the way through. Wet!

After he put the girls to bed, John picked up the alto recorder he’s had for five years and never touched before. He sat there in front of the instruction book mumbling and grumbling that his fat fingers just wouldn’t work right. Soon Lisa came flying down the stairs saying, “Please stop!! Kate is scared stiff a ghost is trying to play a recorder!” John rolled his eyes heavenward and said, “I haven’t a ghost of a chance.”

The children, Catherine, and I went to Banstead, one of the closest of the towns around here. It’s a nice town – not too old, not too new – with a wonderful variety of shops. I found wooden spoons I’ve been looking for, a book store that had one book I wanted and ordered another. There are scads of news agents, several groceries, two fabric shops, chemists, a baby shop, and a small department store. There are no antique shops! We enjoyed our stroll there.

You know it’s time for a cup of tea when a neighbor brings back your baby after he’s played in a puddle in their garden, having walked out the front door left open by a daughter. Also,

…when the mouse trap is sprung, bait gone and no mouse.

…when a helpful child strips her bed, brings all downstairs to be washed and finds it isn’t the day for her bed.

…when the gardener comes after 11 consecutive days of rain and it rains again with a little hail for good measure.

…when your son is role-playing Daddy by making a fire with soft coal.

…when a daughter sits on her silly putty in her favorite jeans.

…when someone unexpectedly comes in and sees your husband’s shoes left under the dining table.

…when you find your son happily playing with the portable radio and the tape recorder.

…when you’ve sat down to enjoy that tea, cast an admiring glance toward the hedge and notice rain is coming between you and the hedge, remembering you left the push chair out in the sun a few minutes ago. Never a dull moment!

Catherine went with the rest of us to Redhill and Reigate to shop. We went to Co-op, talked with our favorite people there, and went to several places in Reigate. We exchanged our library books and came home.

Philippa (who also answers to Phillie, Phil, and Pips) was in school last week, but has days off this week. Too bad. We’re going to have some of that next year with our girls in different schools.

Yesterday John and Lisa went shopping all over the map. They were at Gatwick checking into renting a luggage rack for our summer trip, in Epsom, and as far away as Croydon and Coulsdon. After lunch we all went on a wild goose chase looking for a coat rack. We were assured this store had many to choose from, got there and found only one rickety bamboo thing put together with staples.

The sun actually shone for a while yesterday, until we started a charcoal fire to cook with, that is. John had set up the equipment out the back door. We started to move it around to the garage and managed to tip over everything. The fire didn’t seem to mind; all the coals cozied up to each other after their airy flight and glowed together. The sausages and hot dogs didn’t suffer from a dust bath and kitchen shower, and it all tasted delicious. There are easier ways of doing things!

Today we went to Westminster Cathedral. It is Catholic, but the service is more like the Lutheran one than the Anglican. The boys and men’s choir sang Ralph Vaughn William’s Mass in G in the appropriate places and two anthems. It was glorious. I was near the front with the girls and was feeling sorry for John having to grapple with $. I had assumed that he didn’t hear much of the service. He was waiting for us inside the church after the service, and we found that he’d walked with John in his arms much of the time, but actually sat down during the sermon. This is progress. He may not behave when it’s my turn, but we’ve made it through one, now.

Traveling is getting easier with the girls, too. Now they can go to the loo by themselves. Kate has always hesitated to go in strange bathrooms unless one of us is with her. Today at Burger King she announced she was going by herself. We wondered why she was taking so long, sent Lisa to find her, and soon saw Lisa hurrying back to report that she’d locked herself in. Sure enough, she was firmly ensconced behind that door, the stall being the kind that went all the way to the floor and the ceiling! I knew I’d have to talk her out or go to the manager. I asked her to try again, heard the lock being rattled, but nothing happened. Told her to wipe her fingers thoroughly on her dress to remove any hamburger grease and try again. No go. Try the other way. Ah! Kate was restored to us!

England 40 Years Ago — May 24, 1981

This has been sick week – nothing bad, just colds. Kate stayed home from school Monday and Lisa, Tuesday.

At the hairdresser’s I heard about the “rag and bone” man. They were saying the man passes with his cart several times a month ringing a bell. He will take such things as cookers, old TV’s and appliances. Some he might repair and resell, others he would sell for scrap. The dustman will take nothing more than normal household rubbish.

I was invited to Jackie F’s for coffee to meet a couple of other Americans. Margaret R’s husband works with the same company as Jackie’s; their son is 21 months with another baby on the way. Also there was a Tennessee girl!!! She grew up in Knoxville. The “e” in her name is long – Marketta S. She thinks the name is Indian, but doesn’t know how her mother came up with it. Marketta’s husband is the national sales manager for Wilson sporting goods. Their children are Erika 7, and Harrison 3. Marketta herself reminds me a little of Eleanor E – tall, thin, lovely long brown hair and brown eyes. Her accent was a little hard to adjust to! It’s been a long time since I’ve met any new Southerners (as opposed to family who sound familiar).

Thursday was a difficult day starting with a crash. I was turning out of our street taking John to the station when a motorcycle flew around the blind corner and hit me. Our car is so long that he was bound to make contact. The young boy hurt his arm, but seemed to think he was OK otherwise. We took him to his home in Tadworth. Later John went with me to Epsom to report the accident to the police. The rules here are to clear the streets after a crash, exchange addresses, and report to the police within 24 hours if there has been any bodily injury. We were all shook up and said very little in the car. When the boy got out, he thanked us for bringing him home!!! The policeman was very kind, but did explain that any time a car is coming out at a junction, the fault lies with that car no matter what happens on the main road.

I went on to drive the girls to school that morning; the only damage to the car is a big dent just before the front wheel that broke the turning indicator. I find I’m not leery of driving except at that junction – now roll down the window and listen before proceeding! So ends a 22-year stretch of no crashes.

I finally saw a sign pointing to the antique market in Reigate. It has been closed because the building it was in is being demolished. It is now in the basement of a chemist shop. There are a few stalls open, but there isn’t nearly the array of things there was before.

As I parked my car in the car park, I saw a little old lady searching the ground. She came up to me to ask me to help her find her keys. They had dropped between the shift stick and bucket seat, and I found them within two minutes. She thanked me profusely and said she hoped someone would help me some time. I said I was glad to be of assistance and could find things easily because that is my main job in life at home.

Catherine (next door) spent the night with Lisa. She’s fun for me to talk to.

John $ was enjoying seeing Kate in the tub having a bath. He suddenly decided she needed the company of her towel, so he dumped it in with her. Grrr!

This morning Kate and I went to church around the corner; John and Lisa are going for Evensong this evening. Tomorrow is a bank holiday, and the neighbors in the other half of our house are coming here for dinner.

England 40 Years Ago — May 17, 1981

Our car is holding a grudge against John. For the second time it refused to start to take him to the station, but would go to take the girls to school. Naughty! This happened on a Monday morning, to boot. I scooted to Safeway after dropping the girls off and parked under the store. That store is supposed to be one of the largest in the London area, so I can find things there that are not stocked elsewhere. It’s fun to wander the aisles when the store isn’t busy.

The frogs had a rude shock when John $ joined them in the pool. I think he wanted to test the water with his toe, but one leg went in up to nappy level. As I whirled around at his whimper, he was lying half in and half out of the pool. Mr. Clewes was feeling sorry for him, telling him that he would soon dry out, and then picked up the drippy boy to comfort him. I said I wanted him to cry and be upset so he wouldn’t do it again. I lost that one!

Photo taken six months later, after gardener Clewes put a screen over the pond

Jackie F., the American who lives just up the street, came for coffee one morning. She was on her way to the international store in Epsom, asked me to go, but understood that John had to be fed. She says that store has many American things such as cake mixes, corn chips, and hot dogs. I’m going to go when I get a chance just to see what all is there. Cheerios is another thing she mentioned. The thing our family is most hungry for at the moment is plain old pancake syrup. I don’t think this store carries it though, because Jackie said she is having her next guests bring as much as they can carry.

Jackie’s husband works very near the Gotass-Larsen offices in London. Their only son has learning problems and goes to a special school within walking distance of his father’s office. She kept talking about Berry, her husband, until finally I asked how the name is spelled. She said it really has an “a” rather than an “e”, but she can’t pronounce it correctly. I thought I was the only one with problems like that, though I can pronounce “Barry”. “Pin” and “pen” still get me.

One afternoon after school we went to Dunottar to the second-hand uniform sale. Most schools have these, and it is an inexpensive way to assemble the outfits. We were delayed by Kate’s violin lesson after school, so didn’t have much to choose from by the time we got there. We did get a pair of gym shorts. The idea of uniforms in school is good, but you should see some of these oldies. It’s amazing to me in what condition some people’s clothes are in; you’d swear some schools are boarding places for orphans.

While listening to the radio weekday mornings, John has heard this phrase many times: “An articulated lorry has shed its load on the flyover.”

Yesterday we went to Dorking to wander around. It’s a lovely town with lots of shops that we’ve driven through countless times on our way to other places. [We haven’t driven through shops, but through the town.] We didn’t buy a thing, but did peer in all the antique shops for a coat rack. Even furniture shops don’t know where to go to find coat racks! Same applies to the clerks in the shops.

We came home the back way via Box Hill and got out to see the view. It was clearer yesterday than I’ve ever see it here.

Today Kate has a cold and doesn’t feel well. John and Lisa have gone to the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral where the music is to be by a good Lutheran, Hans Leo Hassler. Kate and I caught a youth service on the telly while $ played with trains.

The girls have school this week, but will be off another whole week after that for mid-term. Then it’s a long haul till the end of school in July.

England 40 Years Ago — May 10, 1981

I don’t have much to write this week, since we had a quiet spell after that great holiday in Cornwall. John was home last Monday because it was a bank holiday, and most things were closed. It was so nice to get a few things done around the house with no pressure to go anywhere.

John tried asking for a ruler in the office, but was met with blank stares. What he was told he wanted was a measuring stick.

The car gave us a trying time by refusing to start one morning. John had to walk to the station while I continued working with it. Finally started. Whew! It seems to take several days before extreme moisture works its way into the spark plugs, and then you have to crank and crank away to get it dry.

Barbara C. is one of those who loves children, and I knew I could relax having John $ with me while I was at her home for coffee. Her 3-year-old played so nicely with $, and they have tons of little cars and trucks. John didn’t make a sound the whole time we were there, just played with one toy and then another. We two ladies just sat basking in the sun streaming through the windows and had a long chat.

She spoke of getting over a cold and still having catarrh. I was so glad she put that word in context so I could dope out its meaning. Sounds much nicer than “runny nose”, doesn’t it?

Two days we took Susie S. home from school – she is the 5-year-old daughter of the two doctors who just had a new baby. We were thrilled to see the baby. Took him several blue sweaters Mom had knit for John $. Penny’s eyes lit up at sight of them, because she said she had only pink things after two girls.

Last night the neighbors who share a roof with us had a party to introduce us to some of the people who live in Walton. All of them, with the exception of the rector and the Wilsons (owners of this house), had children the ages of ours. The adults were served elegant finger snacks, and all the children sandwiches. Georgina had helped her mother with the food and over-saw games outside for the children. Suzette Marsh has two daughters at boarding school, one she brought who is Kate’s age, and a 6-month-old boy named Charles whom they preface with “prince”. The couple who live in the house named “The Merlins” explained that it was easier to repaint the sign as it was than to rename the house; they guess the name has to do with the magician. The MacPhersons from Scotland were hard to understand, but brought with them their weekend guest who had just arrived that morning from New York. He sounded like home! The Berrys told funny stories of the training of their pony to pull a trap. It was a delightful party, and so nice to know who belongs in some of the houses I’ve seen here.

We began a game with Kate’s name while on holiday, so will write a few. What happens when Kate leaves office? She abdikates. How do you make her happier? By plakating her. When she’s convalescing, she’s delikate. Her favorite coconut is desikated. How do you talk with Kate — you communkkate, of course. When she’s done something wrong, we adjudikate. When she’s moving fast, we tell of the action in the predikate. Do you think I should stop this and eradikate? When Kate is ill, she is helped by being medikated. She points to things to indikate. If she ever creaks with age, she’ll rustikate. What is the best mode of transportation for her? To skate. When she writes her first book, it will be dedikated. Her vocation must be Katering. For that she’ll move to Katerham. She would never lie, but might prevarikate.

Enough!

England 40 Years Ago — May 3, 1981

Sunday (April 26 in Cornwall) The wind blew and whistled around the house till we were tempted to look out and see if the Big Bad Wolf were there. Before we got out of bed we heard peltings on the windows. Yep, rain, sleet, and snow. The weather wasn’t going to deter us – we set out for Exeter and drove through the most fantastic snow storm. It’s the deepest snow we’ve seen in England – 2 or 3 inches! What a winter wonderland! We can’t believe it happened a week after Easter in the southern part of England. We trudged through the sludge to Exeter Cathedral, a lovely, airy stone building.

After a lunch of hamburgers, we drove to Torquay and rode behind a steam engine along the coast, over some hills, and into a valley with a lovely harbour. This is a resort area noted for its warm weather. We saw palm trees defiantly standing up to the cold wind.

It’s the usual thing in this area to have wrought iron gates at driveways and front gardens. We were asked to keep the ones at this house shut because cows sometimes wander by. Even in the cities, most places have these gates. Nearly all are painted pastel colours – very few black.

We had trouble with the hot water when we got back to the cottage and asked a neighbour for a ladder. He, poor fellow, had just returned from his holiday, but came over to try to help. A plumber is due early in the morning. Just our luck to have to oversee repairs on vacation! The neighbour said we came to a lovely area of the country, but picked lousy weather.

Monday April 27 You might think waiting for a plumber to finish a three hour job would ruin the day. Didn’t! We enjoyed hearing the Cornish accent. Poor man had to dismantle all the pipes to the heater to find the trouble in the bottom of the tank – a wad of fiber glass insulation.

After he left, we had a quick lunch and set off. Went to Buckland Abbey which had been given by Henry VIII to a family who later sold it to Sir Frances Drake. We saw a model of the Golden Hind and some of the banners that Drake had had – among the finest in Europe they say. We had tea in the kitchen there, our first time to have tea in a restaurant. Very nice.

Buckland Abbey

We drove around Plymouth and saw the waterfront where the Pilgrims set sail. In this area, Drake played a famous game of bowls while waiting for the Spanish Armada to come in close to shore.

So many restaurants are empty in this country, it’s no wonder the prices are so high because we pay for those empty seats. We tried a steak place in Plymouth and were pleasantly surprised by the food and service. They obviously don’t cater to children, having no special prices and no booster seats. $ sat on his car seat and had a grand time. As we were leaving, the waiter whisked $’s plastic bib away and cleaned it! That’s probably a first and last event!

Tuesday, April 28. Saw Dozmary Pool on the moor where legend says King Arthur’s sword was thrown and a ghostly arm rose up to catch it. It is a bleak, brooding place. Not far away is Jamaica Inn, the setting for the novel of that name by Daphne du Maurier.

Tintagel is the site on the coast where the remains of a castle overlook the rugged coast. It is reputedly King Arthur’s stronghold, but the buildings don’t date back quite far enough. It was surely impregnable, but what a wild place to live! (At right is Merlin’s Cave at Tintagel.)

Saw Cotehele House, built between 1485 and 1539. It was absolutely beautiful. The feature I particularly liked was the block installed about 1485. It has the earliest clock in England still working and in its original position! There is a big stone for a weight, but no pendulum – a funny balanced gadget swings back and forth. It doesn’t even have a face, just rings the hour.

We lunched on Cornish Pasties, a delicious hearty meal. This is the area where they originated, so had to try it. We understand most bakeries and many butcher shops sell them.

Wednesday, April 19 St. Michaels Mount was marvelous. At low tide there is a walkway to the island, but we arrived too late to walk over. Going over sand, up steps built into rocks, and down the other side brought us to a boat for the trip over. The climb up the steep, steep hill was an effort, but worth it to see the castle. Several hundred years ago there was a monastery; later the refectory became the dining room of the family who bought it. Now the present Lord St. Levan lives in the Victorian part not shown. The tide had come in more while we were on the island so that we rode back in the boat over the walkway and to a different landing since our departure point was now under water.

St. Michaels Mount from land
From St. Michaels Mount – walkway under water

Lands End was windy, but since the sun was shining we didn’t mind. We drove through Penzance and Truro, stopped to see the Cornish steam engines that moved men and tin in the extremely deep shafts and ate at a lovely restaurant. John $ has been an angel – we didn’t get back until 9 p.m. and he hardly cried all day long. (At right is a Cornish steam engine.)

Family at Land’s End

Since we’ve been here, we have wondered why the roads seem to be sunken, yet the fields are on a level with the road. It’s like driving in a maze because you can see ahead only, the sides slope up higher than the car. Finally figured it out by seeing a new fence. Stones, slate, or shale are piled up, often with a herring bone design near the top, and sod put on top. A slightly older fence had sod on top and vegetation growing out. The older the fence, the more vegetation until years later there is only a grassy mound with flowers!

New fence
Medium-aged fence
Old fence

Thursday, April 30 We walked on the moor today to see an ancient ring of stones built about the time Stonehenge was. The wind blew continually, the rain spit, and we could identify with characters in old novels who seem often to battle adverse weather on the moor. Eerie!

Stone Hurlers, Bodwin Moor

The next ancient monument was right beside a cottage. There were some huge stones balanced together that is thought to be a burial chamber which was then covered with earth.

This area is famous for china clay and pottery, so we visited a local pottery. The showroom was rough, but we enjoyed seeing the various things they make.

Spent half the afternoon at a train park riding behind the little live steam engines. The layout was huge and had won some prizes in competition.

The latter part of the day we roamed about a huge mansion, Victorian in style, though parts are 17th century. I was amused at a saucer bath the last lord preferred until his death in 1930. Kate at first thought it was for a baby to play in. It was a low circular shallow tub with no running water or drain. In the huge bathroom was a stone hot water bottle! The man showing the room said he remembered his parents having one before rubber ones came along. The large tub was on feet and so high you’d have to use steps to get in. The rim was made of mahogany! That’s class!

Gate to Landydrock
Landydrock

Friday, May 1 John $ wrote his name for the first time! He did it by having his push chair spell the name in the sand on the beach.

Trerice Manor House

In the Tudor manor house we toured, a lady showed us all the secret drawers in a desk. Reminded me of Woodside in NC. The barn has been converted into a restaurant with lots of home made goodies.

Besides tin mining, this area has many china clay works. We found an outdoor museum that showed the old method of separating the china clay from sand and dirt. Did you know that this powder is used in making paper and medicines? Of course, china and pottery also use it. We were mesmerized by two working water wheels and a paddle wheel. One of the water wheels was 90- years old and still working beautifully.

We ate a marvelous dinner in a lovely little place over looking the harbour in Fowey (pronounced Foy). The streets are the most narrow I have ever seen — winding and steep. During the tourist laden summer, the town is closed to vehicular traffic. The streets are a few inches wider than our car; pedestrians flatten themselves to the sides of buildings at the sound of a car.

Saturday we all pitched in to pack and clean the house. Drove across Exmoor which has some very different vegetation from Bodwin Moor. We squeezed in one more touristy thing by going through Arlington Court, the ancestral home of the Chichesters. Then we settled back for the long drive home, accomplished easily. John $ has been so good – unbelievable to those who have traveled with him when he was otherwise. And so home where the dirt hasn’t moved in our absence. Do you know how to tell someone to go across the street? It’s “go over the way.”

Sunday — Found out our doctor friends, Penny and Andy had an 8 pound 13 ounce boy while we were away. They have two girls and lost a boy a year ago. Tuesday the girls return to school after a month’s holiday. It’s been great fun. Town names we liked best in Cornwall: Harrowbarrow and Catchall.

England 40 Years Ago — April 26, 1981

We arrived in Cornwall this afternoon (April 25). The drive down was peaceful thanks to John’s good driving and $’s lack of crying. When $ looked tired, we put him in the front seat and he almost instantly fell asleep. After resting, he contentedly played with his trucks and stood balancing on the hump in the back. [As I remember it, there were no seat belts in the back seat.]

The weather has been weird. Yesterday there was lots of snow in the north, cutting off many villages. In Cornwall (very south of England) we saw snow on the ground, drove under a warm sun and then through a fierce storm of snow, rain and wind.

We were all eager to see the moor. At first we weren’t sure we were on the moor – didn’t know what to expect. The hills are fairly steep, no trees grow there, and it is bleak.

This slide was named Exmoor in Cornwall.

Many areas we saw are being upgraded – stones removed, tough grasses replaced with good grass, and drainage ditches dug. We were very surprised at the number of homes and farms there. We thought no one lived on the moor. Mostly there are sheep and cows grazing on the better lands.

This was not labeled Exmoor, but the scene has sheep and farms.
Our rented cottage in Cornwall

Last Monday (April 20) before leaving on vacation, Kate and I went for an exploratory drive while John and Lisa kept the sleeping $. We drove to Godstone on fast roads and came home on little tiny twisty roads, some only one car wide. Many were not marked at all, so we did get quite lost. I was having fun, but Kate wanted to hurry home. She said she had a headache and wanted to get home to take care of $. She said, “If we don’t hurry, John might starve to death!”

Catherine from next door, Lisa, Kate and I played a new game I made up – the churchyard game. You go armed with pencils and paper to look for various things. I liked the name “Violet Bashford” best of those we saw. We also played a new version of tag. “IT” had to hold to the old carriage with John $ in it while chasing the others in the confined boundaries of the back parking area behind Churchfield. The little boy loved all the noise and movement.

This week $ danced to music, with perhaps some coaching in disco technique from Lisa.

I was chatting to the owner of the village hardware store about his recent trip to Miami when he told me an American was approaching the shop. She is Mrs. Faulkner – has lived all over the US but was last in LA where their family owns a home. Don’t know what her husband does, but she says they may be in Walton several more years.

Philippa from next door spent a night with us. Both she and Kate had wanted company during their holidays, and this seemed to satisfy them. Philippa is a joy to have around – she’s adaptable, loves to play with $, can make peace between Lisa and Kate and has a face that can light up a room with a smile.

$ is beginning to talk. He can say “ ..isa” and “..ate” and often says a form of “thank you” when handed something. This is going to be a fun stage.

$ ran away from home for the first time. He was angry with me for preventing his throwing stones into the frog pond. He stumped off down the drive, broke into a run and disappeared down the footpath to the next street. Kate rode after him on her bike and I ran on foot. He’s leading us a merry chase, indeed!

Photo taken in September, but appropriate here. $ is peering into the frog pond. Mr. Clewes covered the pond with a screen to protect the toddler.

One day it looked as if $ were conducting a test for strength and durability of toilet paper. We found him dunking a whole unwound roll in the john. We would have loved to wipe the smile off his face, but felt the TP had been subjected to enough already.

Lisa continues to use her loving term for her brother – Beezoo. She decided she should be Beezette and Kate, Beezo. She asked what I should be, and I replied I would very soon be Beeserk!

England 40 Years Ago — April 19, 1981

Do you know what a mail truck is called here? I’ll give you time to think while reading this.

The heating system went caput in the early hours of Tuesday, and the speedy people in this country were able to get a repairman (engineer) to fix it by Thursday afternoon. Heaven forbid we have an emergency! Actually, this house is well prepared for systemic failure. We were able to use an electric immersion heater for hot water, and could have lit fires in two fireplaces. Luckily, the weather was fairly warm.

One day we went for a long walk at a nature preserve, Leith Hill, drove along back roads and on to a second visit to Silent Pool.

Kate and Lisa with azaleas at Leith Hill

The weather all week has been glorious. So lovely, in fact, that there has been no rain and we had to water our new plants by hand since there is no outside tap on this house! One day we fixed up a bucket brigade; I held down the bulb in the toilet which made it overflow into a pipe that empties just outside the front door near the plants that needed water. Lisa, Kate, and Philippa manned the pitchers and doused the flowers. We thought it was a good idea until we found a puddle on the carpet in the bathroom.

Lisa, Kate, and Philippa as bucket brigade

Penny S. has a friend whose mother has just gone blind. The lady has had failing sight for some time, and the last operations were unsuccessful. Understandably, she is very low. Penny asked me to go see her. I intended to, but got stuck at home over-seeing Clewes and waiting for the boiler to be fixed. I did call her on the phone and hope to see her soon. She said she had taught school in Pennsylvania for a year and still hears from her friends there.

Good Friday Kate invited Philippa to go with us to her church, and she did! The rector had a good sermon giving Barrabus’ view of Good Friday. I never thought of it from that perspective. Philippa came home with us and stayed from 10 to 7. I’m surprised the girls didn’t get tired of each other. She went home to get her food so they could have a picnic together.

Meanwhile Lisa invited Catherine to go to London for a service. The two girls and John went on the train to St. Paul’s for the Bach St. Matthew Passion. They left here at 4 and returned at midnight. John said it was one of the best he’s ever heard. The church was full – think of that when you watch Prince Charles’ wedding this summer – and the congregation sang the chorales. Glorious! He recognized a counter-tenor who sings at St. Mary’s. That man was in the choir. The other man he knew happened to sit right in front of him – a man John had entertained in the office because he is on the board of directors from a South African company. That man and John spent the intermission (called interval here) talking.

Mr. Wilson, owner of this house, appeared on our doorstep and handed us a basket of creme eggs for Lisa and Kate. He had another for the girls next door. Wasn’t that sweet? These creme eggs are the standard sweet for Easter. It’s a little smaller than a normal egg, has a shell of chocolate about 1/8 inch thick, white filling, and a round of yellow representing the yolk. [I found them in the States about 20 years after we first had them in England.] There are also hollow chocolate eggs in the stores, but no rabbits and chicks. I was told children color eggs, but there seem to be no kits for it. Wonder if they use food coloring. We skipped that custom this year.

Yesterday we went to the Claremont Landscape Gardens – begun in the 1700’s and recently restored. It features an ornamental amphitheater, lake, island, grotto, and camellia garden. We were glad we took advantage of the good weather because today has been rotten.

We’ve had rain, sun, and wind today with chill temperatures. We wanted to try something different, so picked out a church by the listing of music in the paper. Went to Grovenor Chapel near the American Embassy in London because they were to do a Palestrina Mass. The service was Anglo-Catholic, much like St. Mary the Virgin in New York. There were few people there, the pastor came out to give a few announcements, and I began to wonder if we were in the right church. He disappeared, but was soon back with fancy robes of gold and red accompanied by two others dressed like he was and three men in white. He admitted later while thanking various people for their work this past week that he couldn’t have done his part in the complex service without the coaching and rehearsing of someone who knew all that had to be done. This was his first Easter service there.

What a disappointment the sermon was! He picked a text from a novel and jokingly told people not to look for it in their Bibles. Good grief! He went on to say that everything had been said that needed to be said at the Easter Vigil service the night before. I thought he’d have done better to do a recap of that than talk about a novel.

The music was delightful. John wonders why churches with good music can’t come up with good sermons, too. Those with lousy music often have good preachers. John $ didn’t fare too well, so John took him for a mile walk. He cried lots at some point and instantly fell asleep as we started the trip home. We stopped for a McDonald’s hamburger to tide us over until I could get the dinner cooked. This was at Epsom – you’ve heard of Epsom Salts and Epsom Downs. This town is one of the closer big ones to Walton.

I found the traditional thing to serve on Easter is a Simnel Cake. Years ago it was served on Mothering Sunday because so many girls went into service, but were always given that day off to go home. That was the only day they went home! Now it has shifted to Easter. The cake is a fruitcake with a middle layer of marzipan baked in the cake. After it has cooled, it is topped with a thick layer of marzipan, 11 eggs of marzipan decorate the top edge, and a chicken coming out of an egg is in the center. I did all that the day we waited for the boiler to be repaired.

My homemade version of a Simnel cake. We still have the mugs.

Before I forget – a mail truck is a post van. Did you guess it?

I remarked to someone that I hadn’t seen any iris here. That must have been before they started to come up. We have clumps and clumps right under the kitchen window!! I don’t know that it is the kind of iris I’m used to; will see when they bloom.

All the trees have a greeny haze about them, while some are in full leaf. The fruit trees look like they will burst because they are so full of blooms. Daffodils are fading, tulips are out in riots of color.

We have huge hedges bordering our garden, most of them still clinging to old brown leaves. Caroline told us they are a common hedge here; when young, they keep their green leaves year round; older ones shed theirs. I wish they’d hurry up and turn green.

We rejoice with Susan that her doctor is making encouraging comments after her surgery last week.

This coming Saturday we go to Cornwall for a week. Mail will probably be delayed, so don’t get upset.

Happy Easter!

Watching TV

England 40 Years Ago — April 12, 1981

I thought it was really something the day we flew a kite in church, but last Sunday was the limit. There was a stripper in the pulpit! A young minister who had been at St. Mary’s a few years ago was preaching on Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet and acted out the scene. He removed his stole and used his surplice as a towel, then went on to say Jesus removed his outer garment as he unbuttoned the black part of his vestments.

One day this past week I did nothing but run! We picked up Mr. Clewes (the gardener), drove to Walton, went to Co-op on the way to coffee at Penny’s in Redhill, drove home for lunch, back to Reigate to return Clewes, and then home again. Don’t want many days like that! I started cooking dinner at 6:45.

At Penny’s we met a woman and her son coming out. At first I thought she had been invited for coffee, but it was worse than that. At 7 that morning, she, her husband, and son rang the doorbell and asked, “Weren’t you expecting us? Didn’t you get our letter?” They had written asking for breakfast after landing from an 8-hour flight from Ghana en route to Wimbledon. Penny, only 3 weeks this side of the due date for her baby, had to rustle up breakfast for 7 with no advance warning. I told her to sit down and put her feet up after the woman left, but she and her 6-year-old proceeded to make shortbread. Penny plays the clarinet and hunted up some duets for clarinet and piano. That was fun to sightread with her.

Monday our girls went to play with the girls from NJ – Nancy and Lynda M. The next day Kate, $, and I walked to the next town, Tadworth, via footpaths and met the M. family on the street there. We chatted for a few minutes, walked back to Walton, and met them walking down the street there! That afternoon the older girls were here, the younger ones floated between this house and Lynda’s, but had tea here. Wednesday all four had lunch and tea here, playing together 6.5 hours. They played well until the very end when the younger ones locked out the older ones. It was just as well they were busy getting ready to go to Holland to see the tulips in bloom; think they’d had enough of each other for a while.

Thursday we had all to ourselves. We drove to the supermarket in Banstead, the one the ladies usually go to from here. What a race track! I couldn’t stand to shop there all the time. Think I’d put it off until we were starving! We went early, found a parking place easily, but found the store full of rushing people. When we left, it took me ten minutes to maneuver out of the car park where 10 cars were lined up waiting for the next available space. Give me dear old Co-op any day!

EUREKA! We found crystal jelly!!!! Lisa was almost embarrassed at the way I carried on, but she was excited, also. We came right home and made it up. Have you guessed I’m talking of Jell-o? This is Royal brand, and it’s the first time we’ve found gelatin that is powdery – all the others are semi-solid, rubbery globs to be dissolved. This tasted better than their jelly, but not as good as real Jell-o. I’m going to make Jell-o once a week when we move back to the States!

We drove to a scenic place close to here, Box Hill, and took a short walk. It was very hazy; we must go back when we find a day that is crystal clear.

Kate and John $ on Box Hill

Kate, $, and I walked to Walton to do some shopping. We found a towel holder I’ve been looking for, flower seeds, a good pastry blender, and a salt pig! I asked for a cobweb brush and was told I was looking for a cornice broom. Live and learn.

Friday we shopped at Co-op, the freezer center, Boots, and a carpet store before picking Caroline up. She is the girl Lisa’s age who lived across from us in Reigate. She was here from noon Friday until afternoon Sunday. What a pleasant time we all had! Much of the time I hardly knew there was an extra girl here because all three would disappear together. Friday afternoon we again went to Box Hill for a longer ramble. The girls went down what felt like a mountain to the River Mole which has stepping stones across it. Several were out of place, they were afraid Kate would fall in, so they didn’t go all the way across. We must go there on a hot day to fall in – it’s only two feet deep and is considered a river!!! $ and I stayed toward the top of the hill for our walk.

Caroline, Lise, and Kate

Saturday John and Kate shopped in Epsom, a lovely town not far away with a fair-sized shopping area. He found lots of nice shops, and Lisa and Caroline were left here to enjoy themselves. Later the three from this house played outside with the three from next door. We had an impromptu tea party – six girls outside having “fizzy” drinks (soda) and biscuits (cookies) while the adults had tea inside. Jennifer and Vivien exclaimed over our new map of England. They said the counties are drawn differently on older maps and have longer names. Ours had Cambridge, Gloucester, Warwick, etc. where older maps show them with “shire” on the end.

They also told us more about this house. It was built in 1910. During the first world war, the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, lived in a house on the next street. Many of the big houses around, including this one, were rented by the cabinet members. There were private telephone lines linking them! Our neighbors haven’t found who rented this one.

After we finished tea, we asked if they would like to see the rest of the house. They jumped at the chance. They said English people don’t show their houses unless very good friends move to a new place. They were eager to see the lay-out here. We have servants’ bells, but they have the box in their kitchen. The bells still have their labels, though they no longer work. There was a day nursery and a night nursery! The girls are disappointed that they can’t use them to signal from our house to theirs!

This morning Caroline, Lisa, and I went to the earliest service at St. Mary’s. I wanted to get back to cook, and the girls to see the space shuttle take off. We’d watched the non-take-off Friday. John and Kate went to St. Peter’s where they were having communion. Kate was thrilled to see that everyone in the church went forward; she was so pleased to get a blessing when she went with John. They were also given crosses made from palms, though not nearly so elaborate as the ones Louise Koepchen makes in Setauket. I missed singing the Palm Sunday hymns.

Yesterday we invited our former neighbors to have Sunday lunch with us, since they had planned to pick Caroline up. They agreed and offered to bring the sweet. We knew we had to rush because their older daughter is singing Messiah in the same production we were involved with, but she has been going on Sundays. Everything was ready; we were just sitting down, and then we had to get up to watch the space shuttle take off. When someone mentioned THE WEDDING, Gillian said they were charged a pound extra for Caroline’s camp fee because the leaders decided to rent TV’s to put in the fields so they won’t miss the big event! When it was time for them to leave, Lisa pulled such a face that Gillian invited her to go home with them until after tea. That extended their visit by another four hours. All in all, we’ve had a very pleasant week of holiday.

England 40 Years Ago — April 5, 1981

Did I write about going to church last week? John and Lisa had gone to St. Mary’s for communion, and Kate and I to St. Peter’s for Evensong and sermon. We didn’t want to be late, so ended up being the first there. As we walked in, the man was standing in the aisle ringing the bell to call the worshipers and reached for the prayer books without missing a stroke. Kate wanted to sit in the very first pew, but I insisted that I’d rather sit halfway back so that we’d have someone to follow as to when to sit, stand, or kneel. The congregation behaved as so many do in the States – back fills up first. Wouldn’t you know no one sat in front of us? I had to keep my head turned slightly to see what to do!

Monday John, $, and I did the inventory of Tymberly with Mr. Wolters. It was a trying time. Mr. Wolters counted every fork, every doorknob, every vase. He was entirely correct to do it that way, but it took forever. The inventory for that house is a book, well filled. We did the initial inventory for Churchfield in half an hour, and it is only two pages.

Lisa came home asking about the spelling of “draft” – it is “draught” here, but pronounced draft. Can you imagine playing a game of draughts (checkers) in the same room with a draughtsman who is trying to eliminate draughts from under the door? Boggles my mind. John said they use “draught” in shipping, but it rhymes with “ought”. He’s right, it ought.

There is nothing like moving to change your view of things. In Stony Brook I mainly faced East; in Reigate, North; in Walton, South. The position referred to is that which faces the kitchen sink.

I tried the little butcher shop down the lane and found his meat to be good. He said he likes New York; spent a month with a friend in Hauppague!!! Small world!

April Fool’s Day behaved as you might expect – rain when we don’t need it. I had to use Liquid Paper on “need”. Couldn’t let you see that this typewriter first wrote it “kneed”.

I waited at Micklefield for Mr. Clewes, but because of the weather I can’t blame him for not coming. Went on to Co-op in Redhill, back to Walton to put away the groceries, to Reigate for a hair cut, to Walton, to Reigate to pick up the girls, and home. Then I fed $ and made Brownies for the girls to take to school the next day.

The last day of each term is only half a day. There is very little accomplished – they have an assembly to give out awards and at break time they have the eagerly awaited “feast”. Everyone shares all kinds of candies and cakes that they are forbidden to bring on all other days. Normally they are allowed to take only biscuits or fruit. All the children came racing out of school in high spirits, and I wonder how many mothers faced tummy aches later. Luckily, we didn’t.

The first day of freedom, Lisa slept late, and Kate went with $ and me shopping. Later the girls played in the garden with Georgina and Catherine (two of the girls next door). $ loved the freedom to chase Frizbees and taste delicious looking rocks.

Philipa, Kate, John $, and Lise in the back garden

Kate’s complaint whilst practicing her violin – “My hands are soggy!” It would be hard to play the violin with soggy hands, wouldn’t it? She and I finally decided she meant greasy.

Yesterday Jeremy (rental manager) took out one cabinet unit in the kitchen to prepare for the insertion of the dishwasher. I can hardly wait!

Today Lisa and I are going to St. Mary’s for the morning service. Kate and John will go to St. Peter’s for Evensong.