Letter to Ethelwyn and Russell

(Letter to aunt and uncle in Canada)



104 Latchmere Road


Surrey. KT2 5TT

September 12th 71


Dear Ethelwyn and Russell,

Many thanks for your very generous birthday cheque. I had decided to break with a fairly long established tradition of putting such contributions to the banal job of keeping the wolf from the door, and actually buy myself a present. However, a brief tremor on the domestic balance of payments has delayed this reckless fling – but I hope soon to go shopping for something selfish!

Thank you for your long letter – unfortunately I had just made a tremendous effort to write to various people after we got back from Norway and when the 29th August came I was exhausted! I’m sorry not to have written sooner. You will probably have heard from mother by now about our trip but it was really a complete success. An excellent mixture of work and play and a great adventure for Robert and Ben who were really good value all the way. The weather was very good most of the time, the summer school much more rewarding and pleasant than I could have expected before hand, and the visit to Oslo (a British Council paid for semi-P.R. trip highly enjoyable and our few days camping entirely wonderful. Apart from an unforgettable bee sting crisis which you may have heard about – the only thing that went in any way not according to plan was minor starting trouble with the car which was soon fixed. The crossing from Newcastle to Bergen takes 20 hours which is a rather nice length of time. I hate boats for long (as you will recall from my Canadian visit) – probably resulting from spending five weeks coming home from Korea at the end of my National Service. However – 20 hours is just long enough to feel you are on a real journey, enjoy the and the children of course got a terrific kick out of cabins, bunk step ladders, port holes (for almost falling thru), etc etc. On the return voyage – after Beth had gone to sleep I found a band playing to a crowded saloon and, remembering the cost of the ticket, got her up and dressed and went upstairs again for a drink! The children got very used to hardly sleeping two nights in the same place except for the week at Vos where they enjoyed themselves greatly going for walks and picnics with Beth when I was teaching and joining in, even with a bit of painting, for all other activities with the people on the course who were absolutely charming. The course finished on a high emotional wave with speeches and we were presented with a pair of fine Norwegian candle sticks! We camped in typically Norwegian surroundings, waterfalls, granite mount-shaped mountains and fir trees. The sites had excellent modern facilities and were not at all crowded. When we struck a cold night we moved into camping huts which are excellent. Now we have already lost the mood of Norway and are settled into a nice English autumn of September (after a very poor summer).  We have had some improvements made to the back of the house and are trying to tidy up the garden. I am having a show at the end of October which we are now starting preparations for. I am not selling well – but a few and enough to keep going which is more than most people. Politically and economically I think things are looking up and from my point of you [sic] the Nixon package, which you say was a real shock, may not be a bad thing. My work is going well and I feel that my last year’s output, though not necessarily my best work – may perhaps be my most mature – however – that’s up to everyone else to decide I suppose.

It’s time for lunch now. I must stop. We are all well (yes, I am) and Georgina is rapidly moving into the centre of the stage. Walking all around the house and garden and will be talking very soon. Fat no! Small, firm and quite sexy already I am alarmed to say!

Hope you are both in good form to face the winter. Good curling (spelt right?)

love from us all

much love