Category Archives: Letters home


Letters home, 2001, April 15

15 April 2001

Dear Mum and Dad

I have received my latest Marathon Update magazine and with it the registration card. Someone has to go to the London Arena near Greenwich and get me registered because I’m not allowed the time off work.  Elaine has volunteered to go because she will still be on holiday that day. With registration comes a gear bag, my running number and a big sticker with my running number on it that has to go onto the gear bag. There is also the ChampionChip that I have to wear on the day of the race. No number and you can’t run, no chip and you won’t get a time. You wear the chip on your shoe, and relace it to take the chip.

The gear bag gets taken away just before the race starts, and they will only accept the official LM gear bag. You pick it up after the race and hopefully it will still have your warm clothes in it. I’ll put in Elaine’s cellphone, too. If it gets pinched, too bad we can always get her a new one.  Elaine will have mine because that phone has better reception in London and its number is the one all my agents ring me on and it’s cost me an awful lot of money to get that number known. I have photocopied the relevant pages from my Runner’s World mag and from the Marathon Update. I’ll ask Elaine to go on the Wed so if there is anything missing, she will have time for a return visit. We looked at the railway timetables yesterday and found out that if we catch the Thameslink train to Brighton, get off at London Bridge and catch the Connex South train to Blackheath, I will be there on Sunday morning around 8:00am ready for a 9:30am start.

The marathon starts on Shooters Hill Rd in Greenwich Park and ends in The Mall, outside Buckingham Palace.  At about the 6-mile mark we go past the Cutty Sark, cross Tower Bridge just before the half-way point, run past the Thames Flood Barrier at about the 30km mark, then along The Embankment to Birdcage Walk, with St James’ Park on our right, swing past the Victoria Monument outside Buckingham Palace and finish a couple of hundred yards up The Mall.

There is an area in Horse Guards Road where they have put up A-Z letters on poles. You arrange to meet under the letter that corresponds with your family name. Good idea. But the best news is that I have a BLUE start. Only the elite and serious runners get to go from the blue start. The green start is for the not serious and the red start is for the Football Challenge, the fancy dress runners and other team and fun events. I can only guess that from my entry form where I said that my best time was the Petersfield 1/2 Marathon at 1:38:12, and was aiming for a 3:30:00 time, someone must have deduced that this was my first marathon and I wasn’t mucking about.

After having watched me start, Elaine can walk through the Greenwich tunnel under the Thames and see me pass the 6 mile mark, then walk about 1/2 mile further along and see me pass the 20-mile mark. We’re still trying to work out how she gets to Buck House to meet me at the finish, but it looks most likely that the Docklands Light Railway will be able to deliver her very close to The Mall.

The weekend before last we took a trip to Birmingham so I could to run a 22-miler with the Runner’s World magazine pacing team and that was quite interesting. I rang the Sutton Court Quality Inn hotel to make sure the park was still open, and they said it was. I thought that was a bit unusual because there should be deer in the park somewhere and the Lake District, where the heaviest concentration of foot and mouth disease cases is to be found, isn’t very far away. However, the park was open, and in spite of the rain on Saturday afternoon it looked very pretty.

I looked up the postcode for the Sutton Court hotel on and printed the maps to get there. We followed the maps carefully and then, when the landmarks looked right I said, “It should be here, on your right.” And there it was! A Victorian building, with creaky oak stairs, tarted up with modern signs. We thought it would take about 3 hours to get there, but going up the M6 was very smooth and we were there in around 2 hours. The locals call themselves Brummies.

Sutton Park is huge – 2400 acres – and it was easy to devise a 22mile run there. A while ago it was used for a leg of the International Motor Rally. There’s a forest in there of a 750 acre stand of oak trees. The town itself is called The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield and Sutton Park was a hunting ground of Henry V111, that man again. He was there with Bishop Veysey in 1528 when he was charged by a boar, but before it hit him the boar was felled by someone’s arrow. Henry looked around for the huntsman and a rather attractive young woman came up to him, bow in hand and it was she who had killed the pig.

In gratitude, Henry gave her family some land and gave her village the Tudor Rose to use as its emblem. The town charter for Sutton Coldfield was given to the town in 1528 by Henry himself and you can see the Tudor Rose on many of the civic works and, of course, in the town’s coat of arms. There’s not much of the old village left, apart from a few Tudor buildings in the main street but there are lots of very nice Victorian buildings and evidence of an enormous amount of 1930s and 1950s building.

Running with the paced group in Sutton Park has highlighted the need for much better organization on my part. I didn’t organize my Saturday well enough and I didn’t organize my breakfast and drinks well enough for the Sunday run. Unfortunately, there were only 2 drink stops, one at 10.5 miles and the next at 20 miles. We were told at the beginning that the laps were 7.5 miles each, so I was not prepared for such big laps with so little water.

As a result, the last 1.5 miles I spent almost walking. It was so humiliating. If it had been the marathon, I’d have been 5 miles short and looking at taking at least another hour to finish. The time for the run was 3:15:00hr and I finished in 3:17:00hr, so that’s not too bad, but it has woken me up to the perils in store. Physically I think I’m ready but I suppose because of the lack of race experience, made worse by all the races I have entered being cancelled, I do not have a good organization worked out for race days. I’m very pleased I went and got such a knock to waken me up – it would be truly horrible to put in so much effort and then have it all ruined because I ran out of energy 4 miles from the end. Proper organization for London should get me to the finish on time.

For a while, I ran with a small group that included a young woman who said she’d run London before and this time, to raise funds for her charity, she was making pizzas. I told her I was running London as my first ever marathon and she said, “You’ll enjoy it so much, the atmosphere is huge. There are bands playing and groups singing and people all along the track; you’ll love it.  Don’t try too hard for your time because London is to be enjoyed rather than raced.” She said she had run it several times but that running the London Marathon was still the most important thing she had ever done in her life. “At the end of my life,” she said, “I don’t care what they do to me, but I want to be buried with my London Marathon medals.” How cool.

I wish someone would make some decent socks! All of the socks I have worn so far have got raised seams and most even have knots. The 1000 Mile socks were no good, either. The only ones that are ok-ish are new Nike terry socks. As soon as they are washed, they are too stiff and scratchy to run in for a long distance. All the rest are too scratchy anyway. I couldn’t find any Thorlos socks, but I’ll try them next. The main thing I have missed out on in the build-up to the LM has been racing.  I have had so many races cancelled on me. I realised last weekend that if I’d had more races, I’d have been better prepared for the event. My organisation would have been better. So fun runs and races are good. Fun runs, where no-one expects or wants you to race, will be good out-and-about stuff and won’t harm training.

At races you meet people who are different from people you have ever met before. Elaine and I have been very pleasantly surprised at the friendliness and quality of the people we have met. I think the reason for their extra qualities is their willingness and ability to concentrate on a task and organize themselves to achieve a goal they have set themselves. It’s quite interesting. If you are a member of a team, you help the whole team achieve its goal(s), but usually those goals are set for you. As a runner, you set your own goals and only you care whether or not you achieve them; most of the time, also, you are the only one who knows.

Thank you very much for your letter explaining your situation. The last time I spoke to you, you thought you would be out of the house within a month and you have lasted two months.  Well done. I couldn’t see how you were going to get through the winter lugging all the wood in and keeping things going while you were so obviously not very fit. Elaine and I are very impressed with the huge amount of work you have done and the responsibility you have shouldered in sorting out your affairs and taking care of all your property.  Sheryll has emailed me to say that you have given Bryan all the photos and correspondence to look after until I collect them.  She and Bryan are quite happy to look after that material and I will pick it up in due course, or arrange for Joni to collect it.  Rest assured it will be well looked after.

I have spent a most interesting weekend reading all that material that Janette Stallman and Jim Spence sent me.  When I read it first I saw it only through the fog that was left of my brain after Jason’s death and I got all sorts of facts wrong.  This weekend has been most enlightening. Mum’s parents were born in NZ, but her father’s parents were all from Ireland while her mother’s parents were English. Janette Stallman’s father, Robert, was my grandfather James Ewart Dawson’s (Mum’s dad, Lofty) brother.  He would have been Uncle Bob to Mum.  Did she know him?

That makes me and Jeanette second cousins, though I have never met her. The Dawsons have been in Lisburn, just outside Belfast in what is now N Ireland, since at least 1776. They were Presbyterian. It’s interesting to speculate whether they considered themselves Irish or British, isn’t it, in the light of the division of Ireland. Anyway, if we skip to 1852, that was when Richard Dawson’s son, William (1821-1889) married Ann Ewart, in Lisburn.  

They had 9 children; one, William, was to be Lofty’s father, and another, James Ewart Dawson (1860-?) is of interest to me.  Lofty’s father, William  (1857-1910) served in the Royal Irish Constabulary in Sligo, Eire, until he was dismissed in 1881 and soon thereafter he emigrated to NZ.  Janette Stallman says that the Dawson name is Scottish and the Dawsons would have gone to Belfast from Scotland, a distance you can almost row, to work in the plantations.  

She says that Ewart is a Saxon word to do with sheep-herding, so that the Ewarts probably have an English ancestry, but from where is unknown.  Ann Ewart (1826-1898) was the daughter of John Ewart and Jane Kirk, also of Lisburn, married in 1809. She names her fourth son, James Ewart Dawson.  Now, Mum’s grandfather, William goes to NZ in a ship called Crusader, in 1882.  My bet is he went from Belfast to Christchurch.  8 Years after he arrives he marries Margeurite Matthews.  Married in The Manse, Leeston, Canterbury, 12 April 1889.  Look at that name, Margeurite.  Mum’s grandmother.

The Matthews come from the other side of what is now N Ireland.  Remember the Omagh bombing?  The Matthews come from near there, in County Tyrone; a place called Lisnacloon, 11 miles south-west of Strabane.  They were a farming family, paying rent on properties which were let to them “for life.” Margeurite’s parents were Matilda Kinnear and John Matthews. Matilda’s father was David Kinnear, born in the 1790’s. So they have been in the area for a while, haven’t they? And it clears up the mystery of Mum’s two names. There is another very interesting point, though, and that is that John Matthews’ older brother, James, married a girl called Marianne KYLE, in 1827.  John and Matilda are married in the 1840’s so Matilda would have known the Kyles well.

Now, when she gets married in NZ, look what Margeurite does:  

  • A daughter, Matilda
  • A son, James Ewart
  • A son, Thomas Edwin Kyle (whom Mum called Uncle Kyle)

Isn’t that interesting!  And Lofty, in his turn, called his only daughter Margeurite Matilda.  He probably called Mum Matilda after his sister, Tilly, who died at only 36yrs, of TB, but you can see where the name came from – Matilda Kinnear of Linsacloon.

And then I had a look at Mum’s mum and I got an awful shock.  Elsie’s parents were English.  Not only that, but they lived not far from here! Elsie’s father was Albert Edward Orange (1865-1942) and he was born in Glen Parva, Leicester. He came to NZ in 1878, via Garonne in France and Melbourne.  Now Leicester, as you will know from a few of my earlier letters, is about 2 hours up the M1 from here and we go there to see Elaine’s cousin Jack Dalgliesh and family.  So Leicester isn’t exactly unknown to us.  

There are several Glen … places to the south of Leicester city and just in the crook of the M1 where you turn onto the outer ring road is Glen Parva.  Next time we go to Leicester, we’ll have a little wander and see what’s still standing from the 1870’s.  All of that would have been familiar to Albert.

When he got to NZ, Albert married Helen Hinkley (1888-1928, div 1924.)  She had come out to NZ in 1883 and was the daughter of John Hinkley and Susan Henderson.  She was born at home, 53 Union St, Southwark. That place name rang all sorts of bells and I found it on a street map of London.  Union St, Southwark is about ½ a mile from Blackfriars.  It’s on the south of the Thames, you just cross Blackfriars Bridge and keep going south until you get to Union St.  Simple.  We are going to go there to see what remains of 1860’s London.  There could be a lot, there could be a little.  But it will be interesting.  

Frank’s mum (Sadie) came from Wing in Buckinghamshire and his grandfather, Levi, came from Stanbridge in Bedfordshire, six miles away, on the other side of Leighton Buzzard. I have

walked from Leighton Buzzard to Wing and it’s not very far. Levi and his new wife, Sarah, shifted to Wing very soon after they were married and their first son, Arthur, was born in Wing but baptised in Stanbridge.  I found out recently that you can’t baptise your children, nor be buried, in just any church. Levi’s mother was still in Stanbridge and he went there often all through her life to see her.

Because of where he had been born, brought up, got married and only just left, he was required to go back to Stanbridge to have Arthur baptised.  As I said, it’s not a very long trip from Wing to Stanbridge.  Arthur grew up in Wing, where Levi built a very prosperous blacksmithing business. Sadie’s parents were killed in unusual and tragic circumstances and her brothers were sent to an orphanage where they were very badly treated while Sadie grew up with her maternal grandmother, Catherine Scarlett, in deep poverty in the almshouses in Wing.

She and Arthur courted while working for the Rothschilds in Ascot House, Wing. Dad’s brother, Fred was born in London and Sadie and Arthur emigrated to NZ in 1911. Dad was born in Hastings in NZ in 1915 and his father died the same year, aged just 40. If Dad had been born in London instead of Hastings, I’d have a right to a British passport the same as Fred’s kids do. They don’t want it.

The most interesting thing to me is that almost every Tearle in the world is from the same family. Unfortunately, there are now a few people whose first name is Tearle, but it just migrated there, like my name is Ewart and that’s my Irish great-grandmother’s maiden name, hence it was my grandfather’s middle name. Mum wanted to call me after her father, but she didn’t want to call me Jim, so I got his middle name. Bryan was called Bryan because Mum liked the name, Theodore after Dad (but I’ve never found out who the original Theodore was) and Richard after Mum’s brother.

I had a very interesting night late last year when Ivor Adams, Donn Heath and I all met for the second time. We were discussing our respective grandparents. Mine is Sadie, Ivor’s was Joe, Sadie’s brother and Donn’s was Fred, Sadie’s other brother. When they got it clear, both Ivor and Donn sort of stopped and looked me. Their relationship to their Adams grandparent was exactly the same as mine. They thought I was a foreigner and in the end, it’s just my accent. It was a fascinating moment – even though I had lived with Ivor for over 6 months and he knew what my relationship with Sadie was. It sometimes takes more than just saying something actually to make real sense of it.

My contract at Tesco is on its last legs but may go until the end of June. So it looks like I am about to find a new adventure. It’s been very nice working there and it has been very good having a steady income for such a long time, that has certainly helped us to stay here AND we got home for Christmas AND we got Elaine a nice little car AND we paid our taxes, both in NZ and in Britain. All of that doesn’t help us to save very much, but at least we are still here, we have a nice little flat and we are still debt free.

Oh, yes! I got an award. It’s called the Tesco Values Award – for living the Tesco values, you see. “No-one does better for customers,” and “Treat others as you want to be treated.” It seems that a whole department nominated me. It came right out of the blue and is relatively rare. I was quite chuffed, still am.

It was very sad to convey to you the bad news about Clarice. She was a lovely lady and when we needed her, she was there. She and Thelma and Sheila came all the way to NZ to be with us in the year Jason was killed.  I spoke to Thelma about it last night and it was one of the great adventures of her life.  Thelma and Clarice had always been close, but their trip to NZ was a special bond.  It depends on when the funeral is, but we’ll try our best to go and we’ll go and see Keith and Jill soon anyway. Let’s hope they like Ilfracombe, because they have only just shifted there – they moved farm, stock and everything to be closer to Clarice. We have bought a card to send from us, but we have also bought a card to send for you and Mum.  I know it will be deeply appreciated and it was a privilege to be asked to send it for you.  It’s also a lovely card.  The English make beautiful, thoughtful and memorable cards.

Outside at the moment the weather is doing its best to imitate the blasted heath in King Lear because the wind is noisy, the rain is being whipped along and the sky is a deep and heavy grey.  However, the cheeky daffodils are nodding and if they are not overly bothered, why should I be concerned?  And I have the funniest news.  You know there is quite a decent sized pond outside our flat; it’s kidney shaped and about 30m x 10m with trees planted closely around its banks but heavily overgrown with raupo.  There’s a lot more reeds than water.  

About three weekends ago, I noticed a lot of fish jumping about near the bank closest to our flat so I went over to see what was going on.  It wasn’t fish, the disturbance was being caused by dozens of spawning, brown froggy things.  I contacted the University of Hertfordshire by email with a message to Christine Shepperson, in which I asked her to pass on my worries about whether the creatures were frogs or some nasty little noxious toads.  If they were the latter, I reckoned that someone who knew these things would have a very good opportunity to clear out lots of toads.  

Christine said that she would pass on the message about the frogs/toads but would I like to keep an eye on the pond and let her know when the dragonfiles were flying.  So I said I’d keep a lookout.  Next thing I get in the mail is my membership of the Hertfordshire Dragonfly Group … unbelievable. Their bi-annual newsletter is theBrachytron and I am the proud owner of issue only number 3.

My job for the rest of my sad life is to haunt the ponds of Hertfordshire, beginning with our little Milford Close pond, on the lookout for Small Red-eyed Damselfiles, Azure Damselflies, Blue-tailed Damselfiles and the Large Red Damselflies.  Keep a sharp lookout for the Brown Hawker and the Norfolk Hawker, both true dragonflies.  Elaine says if I go out on a Sunday afternoon, with flask, binocculars and hamper at hand wandering the countryside looking for dragonflies then she’ll know that I will finally have totally flipped and there’s no further hope for me.  

But I suppose that means that you can send a search party to retrieve me should I ever write to you in great excitement that I have found only the second breeding site known in Britain of the Lesser Crinkle-back Banded Demoiselle.  The dragonfly enthusiasts are migrated bird-watchers. I’ll keep an eye on the pond because Christine asked me, but don’t worry I won’t be wandering through the copses looking for mating dragonflies.  The toads, by the way, turn out to be common English brown frogs and perfectly respectable to have as neighbours.  At the moment their frenzied efforts of a few weekends ago have become thousands of tiny, black, wriggling tadpoles.  Good luck to them.  May the herons be blind.

Keep well, won’t you.

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, July 3

3 July 1999

Dear Genevieve

We got all enthusiastic and raced off to London on Saturday. Bad move. Talk about expensive. I’ll tell you what, I won’t do it again before I’m working and earning pounds.

But anyway, we went to Madame Tusauds. There’s a 50min queue. Yes, it’s about 150m long. Once you get in, the whole set is in three sections – modern (with the royal wedding, lots of prime ministers and movie starsand that sort of thing) The idea is that you pose with these statues and get your picture taken – photography is allowed – so it looks like you’ve met the real person. The statues are very lifelike. Then there’s the Chamber of Horrors with vistas of the French Revolution and the guillotine chopping people up, as well as medieval torture chambers and Newgate Prison.

I’ll tell you what – if you ever wanted to see man’s inhumanity to man, esp in the name of religion, you won’t be able to go past this. Why treat people like that? Why not just kill them, if you have to, but they went to so much trouble to torture them! Why bother? Then there’s London Story where you jump into replica of a London Taxi and get raced through little scenarios of the history of London in about 10 minutes. The time taken is about two and a half hours. We arrived at 11:00 and, after queuing for nearly an hour, left at about 2:30pm. With very sore feet.

Hey, you see the damnedest things in the most peculiar places. I found some Jane Austin writing paper there. I’m sending it to you. It is absolutely beautiful. You’ll be very reluctant actually to write on it. Mum found you two neat little tops. When summer arrives, you’ll be THE cool one.

After this we caught the underground and went to Westminster Bridge. Elaine had her photo taken on Westminster bridge because her mum says one of her ancestors commissioned its building. She doesn’t know which one – ancestor, I mean. The whole day’s train fare from St Albans to London return and anywhere around the underground is 8 pounds each and it goes until the last train leaves at about 1:00am. From Westminster Bridge we took a City Sightseeing boat cruise.

It can’t be much of a city because the boat only went from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge – about 3 miles! You see what City Cruises means now? Yeah, The City. Not London city, which one would think at first. Well, the trip cost 4.50 pounds each and then, when we got to Tower bridge, the crew passed around the Captain’s Hat so we could pay for the commentary! The crew did the commentary because the owners didn’t want to make the fares more expensive by hiring a professional guide. Yeah, right.

We took the return trip, which of course was nearly double the single trip, and they passed the Captain’s Hat around again when they got back to Westminster Bridge. Needless to say, we didn’t put money in either way. We thought the trip would go a lot further and hoped to see the millennium dome and a few other interesting sights. Most of London’s most interesting sights are hidden from the river behind ghastly modern glass structures you can see any day in Auckland and even in Hamilton. You wouldn’t want to pay to see those.

We took the underground back to Leicester Square, had a nice but cheap meal upstairs in a pub where we saw the day’s cricket test highlights on channel 4 (the Kiwis lost) then we had a wander around Leister Square itself. There was an Australian singer and a Gypsy band we listened to for a while each, then had an ice cream in the Sanyo centre, took a quick trip through Planet Hollywood, where Mum bought a T-shirt and went back via underground and train to St Albans. £100. Please. No more trips to London until I’m earning. There’s lots of other things to do, like Whipsnade Zoo, Woburn Abbey and even lots of the free local attractions and sights before we have to bust a gut going sightseeing in London again.

That reminds me – I’m off to London on Tuesday afternoon. One of the IT agencies (ITA) contacted me and has asked me to sit a test in London at 2:00pm on Tuesday. I said yes, of course, because if I do well at it then that will be a qualification all by itself. They are only offering a permanent position, but we’ll see how much they are willing to pay before I say definitely that I won’t take the job.. I suppose how much I’m paid may depend on this test. Wish me luck.