England 40 Years Ago — October 11, 1981

There is lots of rain here these days. The way people talk, it is the usual for autumn (NOT fall) weather.

Below is a photo of autumn colour in the town where we lived, Walton-on-the-Hill.

Having said that, I must hasten to add that today, a Sunday, we had a perfectly gorgeous day of sun and brisk breezes that made us want to get up and go somewhere. Catherine and Phillipa went with us to the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court. Those of you who have seen Hampton Court saw the chapel from the balcony. We were invited to park free of charge in a special parking lot and walked around a side way to get into the chapel. We were among the first to arrive, were seated in the congregation, then later invited to go into the choir. The sidesman (usher) said, “Since you are all ladies, would you like to sit on the women’s side in the choir?” John was outside with John $ at the time. They reserve the back row of the choir for women on one side and men on the other.

There were a fair number of people there to worship with the choir of men and boys. The men were fantastic; the boys were not as precise as many we’ve heard, but lovely, nevertheless. I thought the sermon the best of any we’ve heard outside the parish churches we’ve been to. The man took a text, developed it, and didn’t quote any works of fiction or radio broadcasts. After the benediction, we sang “God Save the Queen.” I felt so stupid to know the tune so well and have not the foggiest notion of the words. We wondered if it was sung because it’s a royal chapel.

After the service everyone was invited for a drink in the chapter house. We were intent on finding the car with John and $, but missed our way and ended up following the others. When we came to a dead end and everyone else was going into an apartment, we began to swim upstream. One kindly usher saw us and asked if we had lost our way. He walked back with us, telling us that we were invited for the social hour. I explained we had to find the rest of the family, and he quietly said, “You could tell him about it afterwards.” In any case, we saw parts of the palace that are normally closed to the public.

We had a drink of lemon squash at the car and drove on to Richmond on the Thames. We ate lunch at the Golden Egg, a chain of semi-fast food restaurants. After a walk along the Thames seeing swans, long boats, and ducks, we drove a short way to Ham. Ham House was built in 1610 and remodeled in 1670. Most of the furniture was original to the rooms they were placed in, having been redone by the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale at the time of remodeling of the building. The whole place overlooking the Thames was gorgeous, especially the carved panels about the stairs. I enjoyed the floors with beautiful designs all in wood. The ceilings were equally ornate.

We often walked right by Mere Pond when running errands in the village.

Lisa laughed at me for feeling sorry for the Queen. I read that when she dines alone or with only family members she eats meat, salad and a vegetable for lunch and dinner. No appetizers, no soups, no desserts. She does have a choice, ticking off desired items the day before from menus sent to her. The day I read that I fixed myself a mouth-watering sandwich of thin home-baked bread, crisp bacon, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, and layers of snappy lettuce. As this feast ascended toward my mouth, I said, “Poor Queen.”

Warrants are issued to merchants or companies who supply the royal household with any item for over a period of three years. This entitles them to put the appropriate crest on their adverts, delivery wagons and letter paper. The Queen has issued the most because her household is so large – including Buckingham Palace, Balmoral, Sandringham, Windsor, etc. The Queen Mother has the next largest number and Prince Philip fewer still. Most of his are on sporting goods. I presume Prince Charles hasn’t issued any up till now since he hasn’t maintained a separate establishment. $’s first pair of shoes had the Queen’s crest on the insole, and it took up the whole heel part of the shoe! This week I picked up a high-class can of baked beans with her crest! I can’t imagine her eating baked beans, can you?, but someone in her household does.

The book also said the Queen always has her favorite blend of tea and an electric kettle that travel wherever she goes. Someone must always remember to pack her favorite soap. I feel sorry for her because I think half the joy of using products is in the trying of new brands. Poor Queen! Crest toothpaste tastes superb to me right now because I bought a really vile one put out by Co-op and wouldn’t let myself throw it away till it was finished. The Queen has probably never had the worst of toothpastes to compare with her best!

Another view of Mere Pond.

Friday night we had gale force winds whipping around. Were we evermore glad to be far away from tall spindly trees!

Yesterday Kate and Phillipa went with George to a charity bazaar. Kate didn’t buy anything, but Phillipa bought a pair of shoes for $ for 30p. She has a good eye; I think he could have worn them a month ago! Had to explain to her that they wouldn’t go on his feet, but I purchased them to give to a friend. I know Paula will be glad to get anything for her baby.

Lisa had a croupy cough and stayed home Thursday and Friday. We strung that guitar that Jeremy has loaned us, and she finished the beginner’s book! She’s enjoying it.

Once, and only once, the pond froze over while we were living there. Lisa and Kate were used to the idea of walking on frozen ponds from being on Long Island. We dressed in our warmest clothing, and the girls stepped onto the ice from the sidewalk in the distance here. Nothing could have been further from our minds the day this photo was taken.