Category Archives: Letters home


Letters home, 2000, October 22

22 October 2000

Dear Dora and Ian

Our NZ itinerary looks like this so far:

  • 13 Dec   Last day at work
  • 14 Dec   Fly to NZ
  • 16, 17 Dec  With Joni in Auckland
  • 18-21 Dec  In Otorohanga with Elizabeth and Ross Marshall – check the farm
  • 22-28 Dec  In Pauanui
  • 29 Dec   Go to Hamilton
  • 6-12 Jan  With Joni
  • 13 Jan   Catch plane to England
  • 15 Jan   Back at work.

We drove all the way up to Leicester last Friday night to stay with Kate and Jack Dalgliesh so that we could have an early Sunday morning start to go even further north to Denstone. Susan, their daughter, took us in her little black Escort. Denstone is way up north near Stoke-on-Trent and it took us 1 1/2 hours to get there because Susan won’t take the M1, which is the short route. Denstone is a beautiful village with mostly turn of the century red brick houses – nothing very old – and a most magnificent stone college built about 1880 in that Victorian baroque style with the round windows. They call it a Lottery College because you have to win the lottery to afford your kid(s) to go there. Elaine met some of the inmates and they said it cost 3000GBP per term to go there. Apart from the rural agriculture, Denstone is mostly famous for the huge JCB factory there. JCB make diggers and this factory is set in magnificent, expansive grounds with a lake that has a statue made up of about 8 stainless-steel birds landing in the middle of the lake. There is also a very comical statue of a one-footed insect looking monster made entirely of grab buckets on long arms.

We got a very good park right on the finish line and were about the second car there. However, lots more competitors arrived very soon afterward. It seemed to me very odd that so many turned up on the day and registered, whereas I had registered a month before. The track went steeply downhill and then turned to go along a disused railway through very scenic countryside with a river on one side and a steep cutting on the other. We crossed the river at a stone cafe and began a 1/4 hour ascent of the most diabolical hill I have ever had to negotiate, then a slight downhill and another 5min grind uphill, then a very long section through the forest on the other side of the river, crossing again at the stone cafe and runing back to the college along the wet, dirt track in the middle of the disused railway, through the village and up the nasty 1/4 mile incline to the college. Everyone I had ever seen pass me I killed …. along the railway track about 6 of them, up the incline to the college another 5 or six, and in the last 200m I ran down another 11, 5 of them in the last 50m. The last one I passed swore, because he had passed me about mile 3 and there, within 5m of the finish he lost a place.

I have just seen the list of the All Blacks; I think they could have done without Anton Oliver, otherwise it looks like a pretty good selection. Remember when we went to Leicester for the first time and had a look around the grounds of the Leicester Tigers? The man who was being shown around was Carlos Spencer! He was negotiating a job there, but it appears he turned down whatever offers they came up with.

I am not happy with my Denstone 1/2 Marathon performance at all. The time was a dismal 1:42:13 and now I have the results, that put me 161/266 overall and 33/64 in the M50 class. I’m down from top third to only half way. One L50 woman beat me and she finished at 1:37:44 and three M60’s beat me. This M50 class is very competitive because the first M50 home was 6th overall and at 1:19:01 was just 2:03 min behind the winner. Only 2 M40’s beat him.

I decided that this morning I’d better put things right so I aimed for 16 miles in under 2 hours. I got 1:58:44 and I ran the hard way – twice over the Nash’s Farm Road hill. And my 13 mile time was 1:36:12. If I’d done that in Denstone I’d have been 114th overall and and I’d have been 26th in the M50. Those few extra minutes make a lot of difference…. I’d have beaten the woman and one of the M60’s. I realised this morning that you have to push yourself all the way to maintain that 7:30 pace, and I think that when racing I’m too conservative so my race times are slower than my training times.

But I am so stiff and sore …

It’s getting close to Bonfire Night, so there are the odd loud bangs outside as people let off fire crackers, the Jersey Farm Residents Association is advertising its bonfire night and we are looking forward to our second bonfire here and a very pleasant evening being entertained by a live band while we watch the fireworks. Last year it was pretty crisp outside and the smell of mulled wine and cordite was a heady mix. It was also the first occasion that we met many of the leading lights around the estate. This year we are going to go over to the field where it’s held and we’ll help them put up the big white tent and add whatever we can to the bonfire.

Lots of the local shops have Halloween masks and stuff, so trick-or-treat day can’t be far off. Elaine’s kids at school are highly excited that some of them might be going trick-or-treating, so Elaine has warned them to be careful. Last year we had a couple of beautiful little kids (with Mum in tow) arrive at the door, so we gave them a biscuit each, but this year we have bought some gold and silver coins, which are really just yummy chocolates, so that we can give them a nice surprise.

The weather is still very mild, but you’ve probably heard of our flooding down south in Kent – it really has been raining quite severely. We are way out trouble here in St Albans so we’ve been watching with some sympathy as people in other communities have had trials heaped on them. Except for a couple of absolutely beautiful, clear days we have had lots of grey skies, wind and scudding, drizzling rain.

Because our little flat is so warm, we don’t have to worry about the conditions outside and since both of us work inside, neither is too upset about inclement weather and most of the time we hardly notice what the weather is doing. It is, odd, tho, looking out the window at work and seeing it almost completely dark at 5:30 when it’s time to go home. In a couple of weeks, daylight saving ends and then it will be dark going to work at 7:30 and dark again at 4:30pm before we come home. Thanks to daylight saving, we don’t get very long in the dark, because all this dark is over come March.

Bother! I’ve just found out that, due to a misplaced marshall, we all ran about 500yds longer than we should have. The race organizer says “Knock 2min off your time!” Even so, I’m still outside my 7:30min/mile target, and it doesn’t change my dismal placing….

Lloyd’s Bank has just allowed internet banking for free (it was 10GBP per month) so I signed up for it and we can now see our account balances without having to go to an ATM and we can transfer money between accounts without having to go to the bank. Very nice. They contacted me last week to say that the small business service was open so I signed up for that, too, so I can see what the balance is on our E&E Tearle Consultancy Ltd account. We may even be able to transfer money into our other accounts, but I’ll have to see the proof first.

In the meantime, be cool!

Lots of love

Ewart and Elaine


Letters home, 1999, June 11

11 June 1999

Some of England is really good fun like the day out in London yesterday. But some of it is just hard work – like trying to get a job. I know I haven’t been here long, so I shouldn’t be asking for too much, but you know the pressures everyone puts you under. I have about 20 job apps live at the moment, so I’ll keep pounding at the door until it breaks!

Money’s ok so far, so that’s a relief, but you have to watch VERY carefully because the dollar is 3 to the pound, and they spend pounds here like we spend dollars in NZ. So far the agencies have been very positive, so I think it’s just a matter of time, and I wish people around me weren’t so damned impatient.

I can’t see the point in keeping Waitomo Computers alive, or the name waicomp, or its web page, or its domain.

I get a few pages on Virgin, so I’ll have a look into it. I don’t know about a domain name, yet. I think Virgin supports Frontpage Extensions, so it won’t be too hard to get a web site up and running once I have a house of my own and a PC that doesn’t continually drop off the net, like this @#$*^% little Zenith laptop does.

Virgin doesn’t charge for access.

After asking for the second time, wave is now sending my email on to me. I still curse long emails, though, because of the fragility of the link from this PC.

Be cool

I’ll keep in touch


Letters home, 1999, June 16

16 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

I watched the cricket. It was very enjoyable, but when the kiwis couldn’t knock over the openers, the writing was on the wall. Their fast bowler was the difference between the teams. There are at least three teams – England, India and Sri Lanka – who finished behind us, who are supposed to be better than were are. I also think that Fleming is not as good – not as intense – a one-day captain as Nash. And I reckon we missed Nash. It’s probably not possible to have two different captains, one for tests and one for ODI’s.

We won’t see any All Black rugby here. TV is horrible here; 5 channels of bleak desert, and if they do have cricket on the BBC they swap it from BBC1 to BBC2 during the day, whenever they feel like it.

Mum’s having her second day at school today, in a high school with 5 classesof English and Geography. She reckons she’s going to be SO tired. I reckon it’ll be great fun. She was telling a visitor last night that all last year she was saying to herself, “I’ll tell him tomorrow I’m not going.” So far she’s enjoying it here. I think she will end up LOVING it.

The British High Commission is no better than the Home Office. Better to contact your favourite travel office; they have better contacts and can get you the info faster than the Brits will bother to do. The Commission (like the Home Office) is not being paid to service the hoi poloi – so they don’t – the travel company is.

Your fingers are cold? Is it cold in NZ? My, my, it’s soooo nice and warm here. About 25 degrees, I should think … nice and sunny, too.

I have another 3 job apps out there (33 in total) and I have two job apps waiting for the prospective employer to invite me for an appointment, one of which is a co-appointment with Mum. I also have a list of 4 agencies who I am to ring today – just to keep up the contact. Looks a bit dismal, doesn’t it? Never mind.

Keep banging on the door.




Letters home, 1999, June 16

16 June 1999

Dear Elizabeth and Ross

Elaine will probably send a reply to your letter in due course but here, it’s about 25 degrees and sunny, only lightly overcast.

Day 3 of the drought.

Elaine is having her second day of teaching, with two more promised on July 2 and 5. She’s at a local high school teaching English and Geography. All day. Six classes. I reckon she’ll love it. She really enjoyed her stint on Tues with the year 4s. She doesn’t want to continue teaching, but I think this is a good introduction to England and besides, how else is she going to get to a shopping spree in London if she hasn’t earned any pounds? When she gets paid, she/we can go to London, if she wants.

We are waiting for a tour company to contact us inviting us to an interview – me to look after their network and Elaine to look after their staff training (3000 of them, although not all at once.) We’ll keep you posted. She’s also applied for a marketing job with Luton City Council and with Hastings CC, doing almost exactly what she did with WEDA. If she gets one, I’ll look for jobs in that area. I have 33 job apps out there and 2 are waiting for invitations for interview.

I watched the cricket, too. The BBC had it for once. It’s an odd system, here, because most sport isn’t shown live – of course – but if it is, the BBC swap it randomly from BBC1 to BBC2 whenever it suits them throughout the day. Five channels of dismal desert. The government is moving to ban cigarette advertising; the GM debate is hotting up – Paul McCartney is spending 3m POUNDS ensuring that no GM material is in the Linda McCartney branded food products. That’s dedication. Someone is cloning human embryos and killing them at 14 days – something to do with their not being human by then – but it’s been pointed out that while it’s not illegal in the US, it is illegal in the UK. It’s disgusting wherever it’s done. They’re finding bodies and graves by the score in Kosovo, killed by the police amongst others, and sackloads of destroyed passports. Nice one, Slobba. (The headlines here are brilliant.)

I’m still running. Did 40 mins yesterday, about 8km, so my fitness is coming back after a 6-week layoff in NZ.

I’m sorry Elizabeth had to kiss the dummy, what did she expect from a CPR course? Arny? Brad Pitt? You have to make sacrifices in the pursuit new knowledge; it wouldn’t be a sacrifice unless it was unpleasant. Next time she goes to the US she can bash Brad Pitt with her brolly and then she can demonstrate her CPR skills. Work doesn’t have to be unpleasant.

Be cool



Letters home, 1999, June 19

19 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

This internet connection is still driving me absolutely NUTS – it is sooooo poor and so @#$%^ unreliable, I can usually only get a connection ONCE a day. I am pleased I have got such a wonderful temperament, so calm, so patient, otherwise I’d be outside torching cars, I tell you.




Letters home, 1999, June 20

20 June 1999

Dear Marlene

Thanks for the letter. The answer to the questions is YES and NO.

No house
No car, but got a hired one for two days last week and whole week this week(hellishly expensive to buy or hire)

Job? None for Ewart yet. None for me exactly yet either, except that I am working – relief teaching. Have been to three schools so far and all want me to go back permanently so I guess that’s something, except as you know it is not teaching work I really want… But, it is money. Currently I get 85 – 90 punds per day, minus tax, minus NHS and anything else they want to take out. Haven’t had my first pay yet.

I taught at a primary school in Hitchen Wilshere Dacre – lovely kids, really old buildings, nice staff, lovely young woman principal – I got on with her really well and I like this school best so far.

Next I taught at a secondary school – Roundwood Park in Harpenden – Kids have rich parents, some classes great, others noisy and quite dependent. I’m off there again for three days this week. Thursday I get to teach religious eduction all day – that should be interesting – haven’t been to church for about 23 years! Had to teach it on Friday at a primary school – looked at the sheets and found out it was all about Moslem religion – know nothing about that, but you know me, I learnt quick!!!

I taught at Ougthonhead Primary at Hitchen – beautiful buildings, wonderful friendly staff and supportive lady headteacher – some tricky kids though. One threw a wobbly but I survived that. Kids are not great at sports period, yell at each other, sulk etc – not exactly my cup of tea – had two periods of PE that day and I go back there again on Wednesday.

Tomorrow while I am at school Ewart is dropping me off at Harpenden then coming back by car to St Albans and canvassing local schools for me (at my request). Its too darned expensive doing all this commuting. I asked Select for schols in St Albans but they have sent me everywhere else!!! Nice couple of girls in there though and I am being sent where I am needed
so I can’t complain – at least I have some work. I have also learnt from other teachers that Select pay teachers the least so I am looking at other options.

We haven’t done anything about a house yet because which ever way we go it is really expensive so we are holding off until one of us has permanent work. Ivor and Iris are OK about this so that helps a lot. We are very happy here.

I sent off two job applications to councils tis afternoon – at Hastings and Watford. Both are interesting jobs. I ave previously sent off my CV for these jobs but they sent me an application pack. Had to tick a box to say I am white again!!! Lots of employers around here specify that they will NOT accept CVs. It is a damned nuisance because filling in all those forms is
time consuming and the final product ends up looking like a dog’s breakfast. I hope the other applicants’ ones do too. They specify ink and then send a form with paper which smudges ink!!!

I have also applied for an IT job, referred by an agency Ewart is in contact with. They have accepted a dual application from Ewart and I so we are waiting to see whether we have been shortlisted. It is with a very large tour company. The jobs sound quite interesting. Ewart has a couple of agencies who have asked him to contact them on Monday so we hope that means
something interesting for him to do.

We watched the full coverage on TV of Sophie and Edward’s wedding yesterday. It was great to be doing it in England. We are hoping to go down to Madame Tussard’s shortly. We are keeping a pretty low profile at present to use aslittle money as possible – basic things cost like crazy. We are just contributing to food costs and paying for transport and try to keep away
from other expenditure at present.

Course I miss you guys!!! Still having fun though and I am glad I came.

Best of luck for Te Kuiti. Have fun. Don’t work too hard.
Must go to bed. School in the morning.

Love Elaine


Letters home, 1999, June 22

22 June 1999

Dear Genevieve

Golf can be addictive, you know! I must say that 55 over 9 holes is a pretty fair score. If you are a left-hander, the set of clubs my mum gave Jase are still in the garage in Whawharua, if they are not under the house, or in the studio.

I’m still running. On Sunday I went 10km, that’s about 6 miles. Whichever way you say it, it’s still along way. I’m still suffering today, but I thought I’d better not let a bit of suffering put me off, so I have been to the Jolly Sailor and back this morning. The Jolly Sailor is at the top of the hill just on the outskirts of the city centre, about 2 miles from here. I reckon the return trip is about 5km, but it’s difficult to tell. Here, they still use the old imperial system of miles and yards, but they run in kilometres! It’s a bit of a trial trying to get some distances that will compute. I need to track out a 5 mile course (8km exactly) and a 6 mile one (close to 10km). Any less than that and the conversion is too difficult. The terrain around here is a bit hard, too. It’s not hilly, but there are lots of slopes everywhere I want to run, and that makes life hard.

I was getting horribly fat, and I am still carrying weight, but it’s beginning to burn off. I dread winter!

Keep up your golf; it gets you outside having exercise in all weathers and it’s a great game for making you a hero one day and a total loser the next. That’s very good for the character.

I’m now waiting on decisions from two more prospective emloyers to interview. So that’s four irons in the pot, and 42 job applications – with CVs – out there. Sheila said she’d send me the job opportunities mag from Milton Keynes. She says ther are hunddreds of jobs in it. That’ll be interesting. The latest two irons are in Frimley and Farnsworth – quite close together.

When Elaine went to Hitchen I took the car and went to Stanbridge. I went to pay respects to James Tearle, my great-great-grandfather and to see Lorraine Simons. I didn’t have any flowers, so I managed to find some in Sainsbury’s in Leighton Buzzard. I went to see Levi, my great-grandfather, in Wing, said hello to him and Jase and left some flowers there. His gravesite is rather badly overgrown. What a silly notion only to keep clear the grass in the newer portion of the grounds. For the extra 1/2 hour per week it would take to mow the grass around the entire grounds …

I went around to see Thelma for a moment or two, but she wasn’t home, so I left some flowers for her anyway. We’re off to LB this Friday, to talk to the bank again, so we’ll put her out of her misery as to who left the flowers.

I went back to Stanbridge and left the flowers for James and went around to see Lorraine Simons again. This time she was home and very pleased to see me. She is one of the church wardens and was so kind and friendly to us when we went to the church the first time with John L Tearle two years ago. She has been very sick and still looks like she hasn’t got long to go.

She wants Elaine and me to come and see her and her family one weekend about three weeks hence, so we are making arrangements. The church expansions are coming along slowly, and they are selling blocks (with your name on them)

for 10 pounds each. Won’t that be nice; Tearle names on the church again. Arthur, my dad’s father, was the last Tearle to be christened in Stanbridge Church. Before that, we go back in the church records for almost five hundred years – to 1562. Levi got married in Stanbridge church then moved to Wing on the other side of LB to set up the smithy, but he came back to Stanbridge to christen Arthur. All the other children he and Sarah had were christened in Wing. Arthur was born 12 Dec 1874.

The same day, once Elaine had finished at the Hitchen school, we went up to Bedford to see Dennis and Betty. Hitchen is over half way there, from St Albans. Dennis never knew Levi! Thelma, Jenny Pugh and Alec all remember him, but Dennis was too young. Anyway, he was brought up in 13 Stewkley Rd, Wing by Harry Tearle, son of Mahlon and Mary nee Paxton. That address is the rightmost Ebeneezer Cottage when viewed from the road.

Next time I see Dennis, Alec or Thelma, I’m taking a pen and I’m going to gets some dates and sequences right about the cottages and when they were owned.

By the way, remember the Wing School was about to be demolished for houses? It is demolished, but the developer can’t biuld the houses – something about planning permits. Anyway that beautiful old school is gone, just a wasteland, now. The local historical society is very concerned that Thelma tells them all about Wing and her family’s part in it, before all that stuff gets lost, too. Good idea. She does not look good. I said we’re going to LB this Friday to see the bank, so of course we’ll drop in to see Thelma.

Love, Dad


Letters home, 1999 June 22

22 June 1999


Good heavens!

Don’t you ever go to bed?

No, you don’t; you sent that at 11:42. Well, well.

I’ve sent another 17 job applications off, and this afternoon I got a call from Scott of Computer Futures. Says he’ll send my CV off and try to get me a job asap. I hope so. I hate this being a kept man.

I keep ringin’ and emailin’ and generally bangin’ on the door and I KNOW it will fall in and grant my wish. I have 4 jobs waiting for the prospective employer to decide if I get an interview and I’ve got 52 job apps that I’ve emailed to. One of these days, soon, something out there is going to give. I’m extremely lucky that Ivor has this office upstairs. Firstly, it’s up out of the way from the very loud TV set downstairs – Ivor is quite deaf – and secondly, it has a desk in it hat I have been able to set up the laptop and attach to the phone and get on-line. Of course this entire trip was predicated on the assumption that I’d have internet access. It’s been very difficult because the line is giving me a huge amount of trouble. But I have been able to get out my emails each day (at least once a day) so, however frustrating it has been, I have been able to make progress.

Elaine is teaching again today in Harpendon and we’re off to Leighton Buzzard on Friday to use the car. It’s 30 pounds per day or 100 pounds for a 7-day week, and no mileage payment except for gas, so we may as well use up the couple of days we have it more or less for nothing. I’ll tell you what, though, gas isn’t cheap – it’s equivalent to $2.50/litre. Can you imagine paying that much for petrol? Good grief.

Hello, Elaine’s back. I’ll get her to write to you.

Kindest regards



Letters home, 1999, June 23

23 June 1999


We’ve been about a bit.  Elaine has hired a car for this week because she’s at a school almost every day and none of them is on a bus route.  Today it’s Hitchen, so that’s about an hour away because of how slowly you have to drive to get there.  Oh, it’s diabolical!  Many of the roads here are just two-way, but cars can park on both sides of the road, almost closing it off.  One car has to stop and let opposing traffic come past the parked cars, and then on you go for a while again.  It’s a nonsense having a middle line, because with the cars parked, there is often only the narrowest of single lanes available.  

Lovely, lovely little villages; beautiful countryside but the roads are terrible and there’s always a car right up your tail-pipe.  Like driving in Auckland in that way – no matter what you’re trying to do, or which sign-post you want to read – it’s always in a strange place, and there’s always someone beeping at you to hurry up and make up your mind.

Better go, it’s 2:30 and Hitchen is an hour away.




Letters home, 1999, June 29

29 June 1999 (to Dave Hearn, Te Kuiti)


It’s wet – if you’re trying to watch Wimbledon, you’ll see how wet. Temperatures are mild, though. I have applied for more than 60 jobs and 8 are still in the system. Plenty of hope. Elaine has had lots of teaching, so she’s keeping us going in the meantime. There’s no suggestion she’ll keep teaching for very long after I get a job.

The roads – and the traffic – are diabolical. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, the roads are crowded. It’s like driving in rushour Auckland traffic all day; and no matter where you are, or what you are trying to do, there’s always a car right up your exhaust pipe. We went to Goffs Oak to take Elaine to the school this morning, for instance, about 20 min from here, and between 8:00 when we went up the road and 9:00 when I tried to come down it, there was a 2-mile long (20 min in the queue) traffic jam.

The roads are too small and they allow cars to park on both sides of the road, so that parts of it are one-car only. There’s also only one road out of this town, and that road has two roundabouts, a set of lights and a stop sign at the top. The town has about 2000 population and they all work in London. Incredible. The roading system here is almost at a standstill. Trouble is, there’s only a very poor public transport system that no-one wants to use because it’s slow, expensive and cumbersome. And when there is rain, you get hell of a wet using it.

Otherwise, it’s beautiful here. Absolutely gorgeous little villages and towns; richly textured landscapes and large fields of commercial crops like wheat, oats, barley and brilliant yellow swathes of oilseed rape. Everywhere there are huge trees, the landscape is glorious with them. The fields are all ringed with trees and the roadsides, both in the country and in the cities are heavily lined with these massive oaks, sycamores and walnuts. Takes your breath away. England is far more wooded than NZ. There’re way more trees.

I’m glad to see your email is working. Nice to hear from you.