Letter to Ethelwyn and Russell

104 Latchmere Road




September 10th 


Dear Ethelwyn and Russell,

Many thanks for your very generous birthday cheque and all the news. Mother will no doubt have told you that I recently sold some pictures and moved from deficit to surplus (short term) on current account – but this does not mean that birthday cheques are not much appreciated and please keep sending them! I’m very pleased to hear you are both in good form – and in answer to your question yes Beth and the children are all very well indeed. Our holiday was highly successfull [sic]. I expect you’ve heard about it already. We stayed in a very old unmodernised traditional wood chalet on the opposite side of the valley from Meg’s new home. She had prepared it for us very nicely with calor gas cooking facilities, nice furnishings etc. We had one week of terrific weather (in the middle) when everyone got very brown and we had breakfast wearing bathing costumes – and we had one week (or more) at the end when we had mountain mist to within 50 yards of the chalet all day and had a huge log fire at breakfast time! We didn’t do anything spectacular like high climbing but went for walks, haymaking, swimming (lakes and baths), shopping daily in the resort 2 miles away – Les Diablerets – and dropping in on Meg, Ernest (her husband) and Mrs Bryant who was staying with Meg together with 11 year old Mr Peter, eldest son of Beth’s brother John. The boys had a great time and were excellent value, more mature than on previous holidays and game for most things. Georgina being very small still was (perhaps) a shade intimidated by the scale of the landscape and the discomforts of walking on or in rough ground, tall grass, etc etc but still enjoyed herself a lot. I think we could go there when ever [sic] we want – but, although we shall certainly go again – I don’t necessarily want to be in the mountains every summer. However – it was a marvellous opportunity and we really enjoyed it very much.

In spite of being there a whole month – inevitably our strongest memories are of the journey there and back. We had a breakdown in northern France going out which put us way behind schedule. But on the return journey we covered a vast distance in one day and still carry a marvellous range of landscape/atmosphere images in our minds from that memorable trip. Both ways we spent one night at a hotel and of course the children had a marvellous time. France (and all Europe of course) has changed so much from the international travelling point of view but at the same time one still has the familiar sensation that things are still very French in France! For at least 10 days after we got back we felt the benefit of all the mountain air every minute of the day. Now however there is a distinct touch of winter in the air, the children are back at school and we are preparing to go back to a winter schedule after hardly having finished with the last one. I know it’s not as bad as Canada but it still is a bit depressing! Actually we are all very happy. Beth is taking on more teaching (English to foreign students) – 3 mornings a week and will be doing 2 evening classes (O level English students). I have returned to my old love – motorcycles – your birthday cheque arrives perfectly in time to buy a new orange crash helmet to go with the 125cc (very tiny) Honda I bought 10 days ago! It is partly for fun and partly to defeat the appalling London traffic. I have of course been having goes with David’s Norton and other machines and feel right back in the game. I wish I hadn’t waited 10 years without a bike. I have also been following the road racing season for the first time for years. I took the whole family to Crystal Palace where they are stopping motor sport at the end of the year after some 40 years. It was a good day out.

I have just started a new series of pictures which I am particularly interested in. I’m sorry you have had difficulty framing my drawing – I knew you would. I should have given you a framed one. I hope it does look OK now. The children (who are a good deal more grown up than you will remember now) have just put on Tarzan on T.V. and I can’t concentrate. Very nice to hear from you both – all best wishes for the coming winter – keep well.

everyone sends love